I’m back

I spent an extra day and uncomfortable night at Inchon airport in Seoul because I missed my connection to home. I ‘m still wired, on Saigon time so here are some pictures.  My sister Kandi picked me up at the airport and I gave her some highlights. More highlights below

I got hooked watching this, it’s really commercials for designer clothes but has some great, off the wall “what the heck did I watch?” moments.

www.fashiontvplus.com 

click on “fashion films”

The dreaded black egg. It takes 4 months to do this, it’s a delicacy. It tastes like a gummy egg, but I didn’t go for seconds

This was my room, the first night. Upgrade

My real room. Ptetty good, it had a mini fridge

From breakfast buffet

Good but no syrup

What I really came for

Tiger and Bear, Korean version

I think that’s spam but don’t quote me

Don’t know what it says but looks impressive Inchon airport

Book store, that says it all. Unfortunately no English language books

Welcome home, cart rental $4. Free at every other airport I’ve seen but in OKC?  Nooo. I schlepped my bags instead

I’m here

I came to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) for my son’s wedding. It’s been worth it. I listened to my Wings lose to the Rangers, with ice cream flavored oreos in a nice hotel room instead of at home with plain oreos.

Traveling was rough, no matter how well planned when there’s a 13 hr nonstop flight in the mix. I have a flat Indian butt, like the Princess in Princess and the Pea, I can feel it no matter what. I squirmed and shifted in my seat over several countries and the International date line. It took me nearly 2 days to adjust to the time difference, climate and the idea my child was going to be somebody’s husband. 

There was a lot going on, manoeuvring not just me but his 3 friends from OK. 2 of them have never traveled outside the US and none of us speak Vietnamese. When he took us out for bun bo hue (like pho) we recreated the cover of the Abbey Road album, all in line following Bear across the streets. He looked like a mama duck with 4 confused and slightly terrified baby ducks behind.

Tokyo Narita airport 

Saigon jewelry store, took this before security told me I couldn’t take pictures 

Indoor market stalls. 

Oanh told me Bear got his hair cut here, blue sign with gold scissors.

The church Nha Tho Nguyen Duy Kang

Some of Bear’s friends, including the Oklahoma Three

On the road to the bride’s village 

Food was good 

Karaoke list. 

Views from rooftop cafe and from my balcony 

Getting ready 

I’m flying to Saigon in 2 days. I’ve planned for this, had those plans changed, thwarted and planned again. 

I’ve learned how much can be stuffed into a suitcase and been amazed. I learned that suitcase is heavy as heck and might need to be emptied a little so I can move it. The wheel really is the greatest human invention, especially those tiny ones. It’s up there with spandex. 

I’m going to see my son and attend his wedding. There’s a lot of emotion in that sentence. I know his dad would be proud and thrilled and anxious. Bear admitted he can hear his dad’s voice in his head sometimes, and remembers little things he used to say. He also admitted he doesn’t think about his dad every day like he used to, but he misses him especially now.

I’m bringing stuff from home, things Bear can’t find in Vietnam. Most of the stuff he asked for is American food like grits and my suitcase has a substantial grocery section. 

Family members are sending gifts, small ones fortunately. I’m also taking a few presents for my future in-laws. I was able to tuck most of them into the suitcase and make it fit somehow; it looks like Tetris.

My clothes and personal stuff are in the 2 carryons. It’s interesting how a pair of jeans can fold down to a tight little cube. Also how that cube can explode and nearly hit you in the eye when you open that bag to stuff in a pair of socks.

Since most of this stuff is staying there I’ll have room for souvenirs. A couple of co-workers collect shot glasses and I promised to bring some back. But the main space is going to be full of strawberry, blueberry and coconut oreos. 

There are a few things to do before I leave. I still have a load of laundry, a trip to the bank to let them know any charges coming from Vietnam will be legit and to let them go through. I also need to have at least one more diet cherry limeade from Sonic. My sister is going to look after Porkchop and the house, because Porkchop can’t open cans. Yet. 

Another thing I’m taking with me is family pictures, old ones I’ve found in photo albums and saved on my phone and a USB. 

Mawwage 

Last night about 11 pm local time my son called to tell me he was married. He and his fiancee signed the official papers at a government office about an hour ago and were now legally husband and wife.

I was expecting the call and even though I was still stunned hearing him say the words. He told me it was low-key, they were at her dad’s house and after eating lunch would be going back to Saigon. He to his apartment and she to her aunt’s house. They hadn’t told family because they didn’t want any fuss (translation:people in their business ). I told him his dad would be thrilled and happy for him. He didn’t say anything but he did send me a few pictures.

Government office where they signed the marriage papers. He said an official gave Oanh a hard time when he saw she was older than Bear, by 6 months, and that they might not be able to get married. Seriously, not kidding or joking. She gave him the stink eye and they both signed. So there.

Wedding rings. 

Bear’s father-in-law, with chicken. Chicken was lunch. 

Humility, or learning to stop

I went for a long walk today, I felt good , the weather was comfortable and I nearly passed out from heat stroke.

Hubris is the main reason. I was convinced I could keep going because I felt fine and because I had done it before, when I was in better condition. And I didn’t take any water because I am just an idiot.

I did accomplish a long walk, which was my goal. However I had to stop about 4 times because I could feel my heart rate was too high, I was weary and at one point I was barely sweating in 90 degree heat.

Stopping and taking breaks is almost against my religion. It smacks of laziness, weakness and I know I can keep going, power through and ride it out. I am stubborn and tenacious, I do not give up or give in, I will push my
self harder and go farther. These can be good qualities, in some cases. In others, stupid and potentially dangerous. Today was a stupid and dangerous day.

I did that, but forced myself to stop awhile and sit under a bridge for a few minutes. I tried not to think about the poor quality of Oklahoma ‘ s bridges and waited for the heavy breathing to stop and for my heart rate to slow. I forced myself to sit for 4 minutes before getting up. I took 4 breaks, not counting the time I spent at the most wonderful and beautiful convenience store in the world. Each break was like a tiny defeat, proof I was not the badass I thought I was. But my body knew it needed short rests and it humbled and saved me.

There is no shame in taking breaks or in slowing down. If you need to, do it.

This insight came to me while I was walking, trying to get to the bridge ahead. I was listening to Depeche Mode as is my habit; Dave, Martin and Fletch were out there with me. I realized that Dave took breaks during concerts, he would wipe his face with a towel between songs or take a swig of water. He would even let Martin sing a couple of songs while he had a cup of tea or just sat. If it was okay for Dave then it was okay for me too. Neither of us is as young as we used to be.

I took one break when my son called from Vietnam. I was breathing hard and he noticed, so it was a good time to stop. After that I had another break and told myself I would make it, only one more street left.

That’s when I knew I wouldn’t, not without some water. It was now in the 90’s and I hadn’t drunk anything since 8am and it was noon. Then I saw it, the most wonderful and beautiful convenience store in the world.

I could make it, I would make it there. It was an oasis, a paradise with water, food and most of all, air conditioning.

It exceeded my hopes. They had water, food and air conditioning. They also had bathrooms, with toilet paper and soap. I had made a necessary pit stop at the scary port-a-potty near the halfway point and this was almost enough to
make me weep.

AND THEY HAD TABLES AND CHAIRS.

I bought a liter of water and energy bar. I chugged the water, it was cold and I couldn’t help myself. I had to force myself to eat the energy bar, which told me I was most definitely in trouble, because eating has never been a problem. Stopping eating has, and my Indian name is “Yeah, I can eat.” It sounds all noble and impressive in Muscogee, trust me.

I sat there and recovered for awhile, even bought my first coconut water. An unusual taste but I drank about half. I finally got up and finished my walk.

I was so glad to see my car and just sat there for a moment, checking my pedometer. I felt better but was still thirsty. I started the long walk at 8:44 and it was 1:10 when I checked my phone in the car. The walk should have been over about noon. I am still a little worn out.
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I was frustrated and went for a short walk tonight. I had to get out of the house, felt like I had to move because I’ve been eating too many protein bars and felt dull. Something that I’ve known for awhile made itself known again tonight, with force. I love Depeche Mode, I have since I was in high school and Dave’s voice, touched by God, has seared itself into me. Jerry wasn’t a big DM fan, the only song he knew was Just Can’t Get Enough, an early Vince Clarke pop number. I didn’t know this until after we were married and I won’t say it would have changed things but I’m not saying it wouldn’t but it’s a little late for that.  I listened to my DM playlist while I walked, hit shuffle and shuffled myself.

First song up was Halo, the Goldfrapp version from the Sounds of the Universe tour. Something perfect happened; the combination of the music, the red leaves on the trees, the cool almost cold air and my fragile mood all blended. I was alone out there and let myself cry.

When our worlds they fall apart

When the walls come tumbling in

Though we may deserve it

It will be worth it

DM, rather Dave Gahan has an extraordinary effect on me. I understand the power of music to create or even force a mood, to provoke memories, to annoy and to give strength and comfort. That’s what Dave and his voice do for me. I listen to Dave sing and I become strong, I feel good, I feel acceptance, empathy, comfort. I feel energy and strength being poured into me. I feel like I am capable of doing anything, of achieving something worthwhile and being a person of consequence and power. Dave makes me feel like I’m a badass.

It doesn’t matter what era. I love Puppy Dave from the early 80’s, whose voice was still immature but beautiful, a hint of what was to come. Dave from the late 80’s, when DM hit it big and he was at his most gorgeous, after his unfortunate blond period. His voice still had softness at the edge, still open and innocent. Then the dark days, the 90’s and Dave during his heroin period, when he was skinny, sick and had long hair. He looked good with long hair. Ironically he was at his peak and his voice was like beautiful polished stones. Despite his body falling apart he sounded great and even sick and addicted he was still Dave. Dave was still in there, the addiction was terrible and strong but he was stronger. He was Dave Fuckin’ Gahan and no one could deny he lived through those words. After Dave got clean he was older, he was a grown-up but he still had the power and intensity inside, it came out rolling in waves of melody and a deeper sound. His voice was deeper, the puppy softness had long gone and there was some strain in his voice. What looked effortless now took some work. Twenty first century Dave, in his 40’s and now 50’s is amazing. He’s still performing, still can hold the notes and work an audience like nobody else 30 years later. He’s officially middle-aged, he wears suits and looks more like a movie star than a rock star. But he is still Dave and he never lets you forget it. He’s no nostalgia act even though he’s still singing songs Martin wrote over 20 years ago but they still sound fresh. It’s almost like a conversation, memories shared between friends, bittersweet and triumphant, over what was, what happened, what didn’t, and that we managed to live through it, to somehow survive only Lord knows how. Or why. It’s resilience and regret, pulled into a beautiful, delicate and sharp edged ornament.

Dave’s voice sunk into my heart, my ears and emotions a long time ago. I liked DM, like Martin, liked Vince and liked Alan, different as they were they were pure DM. I even like Fletch, I remember when he seemed to be important to the band, I like Christian and Peter, who are still technically hired hands but to most younger fans they are members of DM too. I can see them that way but DM is still Dave, Martin and Fletch far as I’m concerned. The band changed over 30 years, that’s putting it lightly. Dave changed, I changed and from a vantage point I can see that we both survived some hard painful times, our own tragedies, dealt with being parents and along the way we somehow became adults, real functioning adults. That Dave is a rock star and I’m obviously not, that we’re total strangers doesn’t make a difference.  Dave understands, empathizes and he doesn’t judge. And I’m healed, at least for awhile. Behold the phases of Dave.

adorable puppy Dave, Vince Clarke era

Rock Star, late 80’s, perfection

Heroin addict, mid 90’s, listen to that voice

Rock God or Oh My Lord, early 2000’s

Soulsavers Dave, this week. Still in awe

Jerry’s favorite DM song as it was back in the day