Tuesday, July 20, 2010

School's Out for the Summer

The name of this post is a bit premature as I am not officially finished with classes yet. But at the end of today I will officially be on "summer vacation" until September 7th. I am leaving tonight for five days in Bali, will head back to Hanoi for 2 days and then off to the US for a whirlwind 5 weeks jumping between NYC, San Fran, and Florida. I worked it out that between now and July 29th I'll be in seven different cities. It'll be hectic, however it's the first time in my life that I think that I'll be able to properly appreciate a summer vacation.

Summer vacations are wasted on little children, who don't appreciate how good they have it. In fact, they don't even need summer vacations. Back before I started teaching, i thought teachers had it easy, that they had the good life filled with all of these breaks. It wasn't until I became one that I realized how the breaks are necessary in preventing the teacher from losing their mind. It is now apparent that these summer breaks are actually designed with the teacher in mind rather than the students.

I wish growing up, that I had appreciated the long breaks that I had. That I had recognized that it's not actually normal to spend 3 months a year in Europe, and that my ability to do so was a privilege. That one day it would end. That day came when I got my first job at a PR firm in NYC. The contract had the glaring "10 days vacation" jumping off the page at me and it wasn't until then that I realized that my days of lazing about all summer were over. That I'd have to manage my time better. That I'd have to make every day off count.

The idea made me miserable and it didn't take long for me to concoct professions that would allow me to indulge in the life I had before working, one with the greatest luxury of all: time. I've toyed with the idea of becoming a movie star, writing a best selling novel and starting my own business. These are all still active works in progress. I fell onto the idea of teaching quite early on, it seemed like the obvious choice. Great hours and long breaks. It seemed like an easy choice and it didn't even bother me that I don't like kids. As I said before, once I actually started teaching I realized two things: 1. I don't dislike kids as much as I thought (in fact I think they're ok) and 2. Teaching is hard work. Very hard work. Very draining and teachers are more than deserving of the break.

I am not sure of what my blogging will be like while I am away, but I can assure you one thing...my offline life will be fully enjoyed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Little Miss Muffet/I am an Idiot/L'Hopital

Early Thursday morning, around 1:15am, I rolled over, and while doing so cracked open my eyes and noticed a shadow on the wall. "That's odd"I thought to myself. I am still a little bit afraid of the dark so I decided to investigate further. I don't know what's worse: if I had or hadn't done this. Upon switching on the light, I came face to face with a MASSIVE spider and lost it internally.
My first instinct was not, in fact, to kill it...but to get it the hell out of my bed. Being me, I tried to reason with the spider...I spoke softly to it and said, "I don't want to kill you but you really have to leave my bedroom" I got a piece of paper and ushered it outside. The adventure should've ended there, but being the crazy hypochondriac I am, I spent the next two hours psychotically searching my room for evidence of a web, researching poisonous spiders in Vietnam, and panicking that it laid eggs and that I'd be attacked and devoured by spiders on night.

I blame the spider for what happened next. I made the biggest fool of myself in Vietnam to date. We all know that I am challenged in the grace and coordination department. I am always covered in bruises from one of my accidents that i have with myself, usually tripping up stairs or falling in the shower, or simply crashing into a wall. It happens daily and people usually laugh at me which is ok. Thursday night was my first evening teaching a new family and they, for some reason insisted on walking me to my motorbike. This was very kind but we all know how awkward and flustered I get...and while they were asking me questions about my life I was fumbling around for my keys. I finally found them and put them into my bike, I turned the bike on but decided to walk the bike out of its parking spot. While doing this i hit the clutch and the bike roared forward. Their faces were shocked which made me all the more flustered and instead of hitting the brake I git the clutch again. The bike charged forward and knocked over another parked bike. I got all sheepish and the dad had to pick the other bike up all while asking me if I was "going to be ok" to drive home and probably wondering how someone incompetent like myself is responsible for the education of their children. As I got onto my bike to drive away they all started BACKING AWAY in fear. I drove away with the knowledge that I publicly humiliated myself in front of new clients and students of my school by getting into an accident with a parked bike while I wasn't even driving. Seriously.

The last adventure of my weekend resulted in a trip to the hospital. I wasn't the patient but I was still involved. My friends and I were having a lovely day at Thang Loi pool and went up to hit some golf balls. After several rounds and several g&ts, my lovely and adventurous friend Ruben decided it would be a good idea to jump from the second floor that we were on into West Lake. First of all, West Lake is disgusting and dirty, secondly we had seen people standing up and fishing there so we knew it was shallow. We warned Ruben against this endeavor but he was determined. He jumped in anyway. As he came up he said, 'Ow my leg!" and I, like everyone else, thought he was joking. It wasn't until he pulled out of the water that we noticed his leg was all mangled and had bends in it where there shouldn't be. We called the ambulance, his dad and gf and went with him to the French Hospital. Ruben broke his femur in two

He had surgery for 5 hours and will be in the hospital for 4-5 days and then in recovery for several months.

That's the end of my weekend story as I'd rather not share the bits about my World Cup finals antics where I sent aggressive texts fueled by tequila, made an idiot of myself and then shouted at the tv show hot Spain was and why couldn't they just show #4 over and over again.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Kind of Flawless I Wish I Could Be

I'm always blown away by my life here. I don't really talk about the daily things that I find so fascinating, maybe because they are so integrated into my routine that they seem normal, but the truth is that I am still able to surprise myself.

Take, for instance, that fact that I drive motorbike around the city. My drive to school is thirty minutes each way and I do it on autopilot now. There are the odd moments as I'm driving that I think to myself, "Wow you're driving a motorbike around Hanoi as if you know what you're doing." Granted that June was my first accident free month, but I still DRIVE A MOTORBIKE. People back home who hear about this find this shockingly hilarious since I'd never driven a motorbike before and let's face it, I am a really clumsy person. I regularly trip on a smoothly paved sidewalk. I'm always covered in scratches and bruises.

I'm also in a place that is forcing me to get over my (almost crippling) insecurity and complexes. My fear of public speaking and being judged is put to the test daily as I am responsible for getting up in front of four to five classes a day and teaching them while another teacher is in the room taking notes on my performance. I must admit that this throws me off and that there is always an anxiety and panic bubbling inside of me but I have no choice but to soldier on in the classroom.

People who know me are often surprised when I describe myself as shy, because with those I am comfortable with I have a larger than life personality. The truth is, that I am incredibly shy around new people, it takes me a while to become comfortable with them (but, once I am watch out!!!!) Around new people, I can seem boring or almost rude because I just have no idea what to say. I worry that they won't like me or find me offensive and that kind of rejection is a major blow to my already low self esteem. However, living here has been good for me, in a way. I'm not going to lie and say that I run up to new people and ask them to be my friend or anything crazy like that, but I am constantly thrown into situations where I don't know people and I am getting better at engaging in conversations with them.

I've always been jealous of people who are so sure of themselves that they conduct their lives in a manner that people would be lucky to know them and it seems to work, as they are usually magnets in the social world. I am not sure if I'll ever get to that stage but I think the more time I stay here the more comfortable with myself I'll become, and the more comfortable with myself I become the happier and more enigmatic with new people I'll become.

Sometimes it takes extracting ourselves from our comfort zones to make us reevaluate ourselves and make the life changes we need to. I am have no doubt that each day I am growing up and as uncomfortable as I can be at times that everything I do out here is only enhancing me as a person.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


In my experience, humans are tactile beings, we need, to some extent, some kind of physical contact in our lives. I am no exception in this matter.

I've been without a boyfriend since January (we broke up in May but have been far away from each other since I left NYC) and have to admit it’s been tough to go from living with someone and having daily cuddles and kiss to nothing. I like affection. I don’t want late night antics as much as I crave the intimacy that comes with being physically comfortable with someone.

A huge problem is for me is my extreme awkwardness and complete inability to connect and feel comfortable with most people. I’ve always failed miserably at random hook ups so simply can not bring myself to engage in them.

I am sticking to my resolution of singledom, but have found another means of getting complete physical gratification and that is in the form of regular spa treatments. Asia is great for indulging in pampering sessions with most massages, mani/pedis, etc being of the highest quality but for a low price. This evening, for example, I spent $10 for an incredible two hour massage…one hour for my feet and one for body.

I found myself in an almost trance like state of bliss and couldn’t help but think that this could easily replace any kind of desire I could potentially have for a physical relationship with another person. I can’t think of many men who would happily give me a two hour massage without wanting something in return. Something, at this point in my life, I just don’t want to give. Call me selfish, awkward, or weird but I’m just not interested.

Where else but the spa will I be able to find someone whose only concern is making me feel relaxed and good? Where else but the spa can I just lay there and enjoy myself without caring about what the other person wants? Where else but the spa can I leave feeling great AND looking better? I don’t have to worry about feeling awkward, or looking fat or anything stupid like that. I just pop in, zone out and leave feeling unbelievable.

So even being single, I CAN have it all. I already have a great job and lots of friends. I can get my romance fix by obsessively reading Eluard’s poems and my need to be touched and pampered by heading down any random road in Hanoi. Being alone isn’t so bad after all.

(Spare me the jokes about “those” kinds of spas. It’s immature and clearly that’s not what I am talking about or where I am going)