Follow my Existential Exile. . .

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Learned Behavior

So, its been almost a month since I've been back. 25 days to be exact, but who's counting? Took a couple of weeks to get used to the time zone, and "daylight savings" business. I'm happy to be home, to smell grass, and trees, hear the crows, scare the squirrels and watch out for deer. My parents work later than normal so I get to smell real breakfast food in the morning instead of rotten dog meat or whatever it was cooking in the hem next to my complex. I can drive a car again, yaaay, and listen to the latest hood music on Atlanta's r&b/hip hop station. I can bop my head along, snap my fingers, do a twist and have no one stare me up and down. . . well they might stare, but not too hard.
Its almost like I never left! I mean, it's not hard getting used to something that hasn't changed in two years. However, since I've been back there are certain habitual Southeast Asian tendencies I have yet to let go. Here are a few learned behaviors or things I've grown to appreciate while living in Vietnam:

1. I can honestly say I am comfortable being over heated until I break a sweat. I can drive in the car and not turn on the AC. Instead I roll down the windows and keep it movin. Nothing wrong with sweat, its melted fat. Though I can't do this with my mom in the car, she has hot flashes.

2. I rinse out every glass jar till its clean before I throw it away. I think this is a good habit, it will keep the trash from smelling rotten, but the habit started to keep the ants away.

3. (My mother had to remind me) "Do not put water on my floor!" Okay, ok, I've gotten used to showering directly on a tiled bathroom floor, no bathtub, no inclosed structure just shower and floor. In Vietnam structures are built to hold or repel water and built strong to hold high winds. But it gets me thinking, How come U.S. houses in flood/hurricane zones aren't made with concrete?

4. I live for juice. . and water, I'm always thirsty! Unfortunately I don't have a juicer, so I put my 'rents blender to use. I made my mom a cucumber/lemon juice/mint/honey smoothie to die for!
Add a little rum. . . It's the drink of the summer ;-)

5. I'm extra conscious about my surroundings and security. Always checking my back, people walking behind me, and I still turn my check card around so when I open my wallet you don't see the words "Bank of America". You don't need to know where I'm from. For all you know, I could be Guyanese. And, I refuse to be a victim of identity theft. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Calm? before the storm

So a typhoon came through HCMC the Sunday I had to fly out. I got out of Vietnam safely, though it was pure craziness up to the hours before my flight left. Seemed as if everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Electricity went out, stiffed with a crazy amount of money (USD) bill written in vietnamese which lead to being cheated out of my security deposit, freelance project almost went awry, typhoon came, bags too full, luggage broke, my thumb is bleeding, I mean really???

But lets count our blessings, I have the world's greatest friends, who came to the rescue to help me escape out of my apartment before the landlord could ask for more money. So thankful for the extra luggage they spared to help save me some dough for over-sized bags. Their wit also helped me sneak my super extra heavy carry-ons on the plane, though neither bag could fit in the overhead or underneath the seat. The small black bag made it to Tokyo when the handle snapped off as I exited the plane. Awesome! Now I have to drag the bag behind me, which already weighs about 40 pounds, while carrying a 30 pound-child of books on my back. Blessing number two, Narita has handy carts available for no extra charge. This made my 8 hour lay over very pleasant. Once I get to the gate I noticed a group of Black Americans waiting to get on my flight. After I get my seat number one of them offers me a seat and starts chattin it up. Not really in the mood to talk, this dude quickly mentioned he's with a traveling singing group called "The Platters." Yeah, I figured they were singers. The name doesn't ring a bell, but I smile and nod and watched the video footage on his ipad of their performance in Manila. Of course he was trying to spit game, but Blessing number three, he was kind enough to help with my bag all the way to Atlanta. He got it on the plane at Narita, in the over head bin, then took it down once the plane landed, stood in the customs line with me holding it, and took it down to the baggage claim area before security check in. I miss Black men! It dawned on me later in the flight, that the older Black man sitting behind me on the plane, who was part of this guy's entourage, really was part of the original singing group The Platters, and helpful-kind dude was his son. Crazy, "Only You!" lol I guess they have an international following.

Well I still had 3 large bags to lug to the second security check point, and stand in a long line again, with this 30-pound-child like back pack just to go through another set of metal detectors, then to the "plane train", then to baggage claim. The silver lining was knowing that my dad, who I have not seen since Christmas 2010 would be waiting for me on the other side of the black tape at Hartsfield-Jackson. There he was looking the same, with glasses and sweat suit. His face is skinnier, looking more like an older Barack :-) There's nooo place like home!