Contradiction

A lot of life, my life anyway, is a contradiction. I want to be strong and fit but I don’t want to do anything that requires effort. One new contradiction has appeared, like a zit you notice when you are brushing your teeth in the morning. An irritating surprise you hope no one notices, that you hope goes away soon.

After my husband passed away nearly 3 years ago I knew I’d be alone the rest of my life. I could not, cannot imagine ever dating or getting married again. The idea repulsed me at first, and just considering the idea made me feel guilty and odd. I still feel it is not for me, and I’m okay with being alone and celibate. I am not ecstatic about it but comfortable and peaceful with it.

I acknowledge that I am a solitary person, with my peculiarities and I’m old enough to know what makes me content, to surround myself with books, music and those things that I enjoy. I don’t worry that my likes or opinions are not typical for a middle-aged woman in this part of the world. I’m finally comfortable with my weirdness and frankly don’t give a flying rat’s butt anymore.

Part of being deviant is being alone, having no desire to “get out there.” Some widows do date, want to date, have romantic relationships and even get married again. I think most people want this for widows, to restore balance and in some cases, for economic reasons. I have nothing against widows living their lives and if dating is part of it, fine, but it’s not for me.

So I am an old weird broad, and accept that I’m alone. I did consider what my options would be and they were not good. As an old woman my dating pool would be old farts. Likely boring old dudes who want someone to take care of them. Schedule their doctor’s appointments, do their laundry, clean and cook, be a nurturer and someone who essentially puts her needs aside for his. That is not me, I don’t want to take care of some cranky sick old man but hey, fortunately there are women who do. Some will even do it for free, if marriage or living together (shacking up, as my aunt used to say) is offered. I’m honest and admit I’m not little and cute so that’s another reason I’m not a good candidate. I am selfish, I enjoy my freedom and independence. I haven’t had the luxury of being allowed to be selfish for long and admit it can be wonderful to do what I want without having to consider someone else. No way I’m giving this up, not for servitude in exchange for economic security (if I was lucky) or being part of a couple so I had something to talk and gripe about.

The main reason though is I had a good husband. He was kind to me, loved me, was a good father and a good man. He put up with my weird little self, even enjoyed some of it and tolerated the rest without much complaint. I would not find someone else as kind and decent who would cherish my weird introverted personality and put up with me, that I could put up with in turn. My husband was a jealous man, though he never had anything to worry about and if I did date I’d worry he would be upset.

So I’ve established my position and reasons why I’m alone and plan to stay this way. Now for the contradiction.

I want a companion, someone to lie in bed next to me at night, to talk with, to go places with, that I can depend on, who is interesting, has my back, laughs at my jokes, does nice things for me because it makes us both happy, that I can do nice things for as well, that I can trust and lean on whenever I need it. Not much really. Oh, and thinks I’m pretty neat. And this extraordinary person needs to be male because I’m straight. It would be a bonus if he looked and sounded like Dave Gahan.


Yet I don’t want a romantic type relationship, don’t want to date or {shudder} meet people.

The next inevitable step is to get a cat. Already have one and neither of us wants another cat.

Thanks fanpop.com for the great picture and youtube user Eddu Sounds for the video

Post race

Last Sunday morning I was downtown, in the dark and cold with 19,000 other people. I signed up for the Memorial Marathon, the 5K weenie race. I want to say it was because I believe in supporting the museum and as a remembrance to those who died April 19,1995. I admit it was more about a tech shirt and keeping up a pattern of doing this race every year. The other stuff yeah, the main reasons why there are nearly 20,000 people out there every year and why they keep coming back.

I went downtown Friday after work and picked up my packet. I decided last minute to go ahead and do this thing so my name wasn’t in the self check-in computers. I got my packet from a kindly volunteer, an older woman who assured me I was okay to go. She handed me a clear plastic bag with my bib in it and I mentioned I was just doing the 5K not the half or full marathon, the real races. She replied that every person, no matter which race they were doing, GOT THE PLASTIC BAG. The same bag. This is a big deal, because 2 years ago when I went to pick up my 5K packet I was told that only the half and full marathon people were deemed worthy of a bag. 5K people were not. I had a little feeling of shame that grew and multiplied when I learned this. I did not run or walk much that year, I was slow, old and knew I was good to do the 5K but not to ask more of my body. I had done the half, that was in 2012 but that nearly wiped me out because I ran more than I should have but still, I knew my lumpy little body was capable of doing more.

I had a good excuse for not running or walking. The previous June my husband passed away and most of the usual things I did I stopped doing. Although I enjoyed getting outside and solitude most of the time this year was not the same. It felt like a burden and the endorphins just weren’t kicking in. But I still managed to do the freaking 5K, in part because I knew he would have expected me to do it. So I did, I took my sad little loser 5K shirt and did the race in 2015.

I didn’t do the race in 2016. I couldn’t afford the $60 entry fee and somehow it didn’t feel like something I wanted to do. I was tired and didn’t want to hear about remembering the dead and being positive, about being better or stronger for the experience.  It seemed personal and intrusive in a way the previous year hadn’t. So I slept in and went to Mass instead.

This year I thought about it and tried to decide if I would or not do the race. My mind said to train for the half again, the sticker on my car needed a replacement. My body said forget that, do the 5K, it’s enough and besides you got other stuff to think about. The other stuff being my son’s wedding in Vietnam. My body won this round, as it usually does and I was not ready for the half. So I debated the merits of doing the race and the merits of sitting it out. My pride won out, as it often does, and I signed up online. i told myself to prepare to pick up my loser shirt and bring a bag.

So when this woman handed me the bag I felt grateful and humbled. Grateful that I had a bag to swing around like the big kids doing the real races. Humbled because it’s just a 3 mile race but it is important enough to provide every person with their own gear bag. I stammered something about picking up my packet 2 years before and how I was, wow, surprised and thank you.

The next step was getting my shirt. There was an expo, booths selling running shoes, clothes, protein gels, display racks for your medals, any and every thing that could be imagined for sale. I walked about five minutes before I got distracted and nearly forgot where I was going. But I found my way out of the maze and found several people in line for their shirts and took my place in line. When I got closer I saw only blue shirts. I told the man behind the counter I was just doing the 5K, that I didn’t get a half or full race shirt. He just asked what size I wanted. All the shirts were for the race: 5K, half, relay or full. I was stunned again. I babbled that last year there were different colors for the 5k, half and full. All blue and I told him I’d take a large. There were finisher shirts after the race, for the half and full but we were all in the same shirt starting out. Different bibs but the same shirt.

The race was not bad, almost anti-climactic for me. The real effort was getting up at 4am and driving in rush hour traffic trying to find a parking place in a downtown perpetually under construction.  I finished, not my best time, but I felt good after. Getting free food and finding a short line at the port-a-potties helped too.




That’s a soccer ball on the right, it floated around before the 5K started. 

Without WiFi 

I cancelled my ISP, it was a long time coming. My service sucked, too slow and occasionally dropped,  usually when I was downloading music or podcasts or trying to watch netflix. So nameless provider and I parted ways. I think I will be happier with the $49.00. 

The downside is I have no Internet at home, and internet use at work is strictly enforced so I can’t be checking my Facebook or bidding on stuff on ebay. I can’t check email or ordinary crap like I was used to doing. I was, I am spoiled, it’s a First World problem. 

Since then I’ve been looking for all the places with good free WiFi.  This is my list so far, 3 days without internet.

Public libraries. Bonus is they have computers. However there may be a wait. I cannot say enough about how wonderful and helpful and useful public libraries are and how their funding should be increased, doubled and all staff, even the lazy and surly ones (yeah, even them) get raises. But that’s another rant for another time. Shoutout to Southern Oaks, my home library. www.metrolibrary.org

Dunkin’Donuts Surprise,  you can get your coffee and a donut with your internet. Caffeine, sugar and wifi, what else do you need? Best time is after the morning rush, afternoon is beautifully quiet and slow. Staff does not care as long as you don’t make trouble and buy something. I recommend the blueberry bagels with strawberry cream cheese. www.dunkindonuts.com

Wal-Mart Where I spend most of my life and nearly all my money, I feel they owe me. Warning, not all Wal-Marts are equal and not all, especially those in rural areas, offer WiFi. Worth checking out though. If it makes you feel better think of it as a passive aggressive protest against a corporate superpower when you check your email while buying groceries.  www.walmart.com

 Starbucks Yeah, a cliche but they are everywhere. 

Bus The buses in Seattle have WiFi and I was so impressed with them when I visited there 2 years ago. No big deal, I was told. My local mass transit system finally caught up and now there’s WiFi here. I haven’t tried it yet, the bus stops near me don’t go where I need to go and I usually drive. Most cities offer WiFi on buses and trains now.  www.embarkok.com

Miscellaneous stuff I left out

I always learn new things when I travel. I see and eat things and have experiences I wouldn’t have at home. Overall it’s a good thing. However there are a few things I wished I knew before and will hopefully remember next time.

  1. An empty plastic water bottle is your best friend.  You can re-fill that bad boy as often as needed for free from airport water fountains and save a buttload of money on bottled water. Also empty it, chug that precious water before going through customs or security.
  2. Bring favorite packaged food, for yourself and as a gift from foreign parts. This obviously applies internationally but regionally too. My brother-in-law brought a ton of Ale8 home to OK from KY. I wished I had brought protein bars and Diet Sprite to Saigon. Put chips, a muffin or anything non-liquid in your carryon, you will be glad you did.  
  3. Consider using a backpack for your caŕryon. Not only can you stuff a lot into it but use it once you arrive at your destination. I used mine when souvenir shopping, sightseeing and just getting around, made my life easier.Best $3 I spent, bought on sale at Wal-Mart 
  4. Wear comfortable clothes, especially comfortable shoes that come off and on easily. Important for  domestic security  (international didn’t care ). If you don’t have stinky sweaty feet you might slip off the shoes during a long butt numbing flight, as long as you put them on when you leave your seat. 
  5. Neck pillow. You may look goofy wearing it through the airport ( I know I did) but it’s worth it, especially on long butt numbing flight. Coopmart, 99,000 VND, about $4.35 USD, best souvenir ever
  6. Backup  earbuds/headphones for phone, laptop or tablet. 
  7. Uber app, just in case. Cheaper than cabs. 
  8. Depending on airline, a sturdy taped up box can qualify as luggage and be checked as baggage. As long as your name and address are on it in big, easy to read letters it’s probably a go. If I go back to Saigon I am so doing this. 
  9. Thank everybody you meet or encounter along the way. A lot of people are jerks when they travel and good service often goes unappreciated so be nice. 

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.