Two weeks went by too quickly. I didn’t do enough. I wish I could have seen more people. Squeezed in a trip to San Francisco or even Dallas. That would have been good. So many things going on in my head and my heart. I’m not sure I got enough hugs from my niece. Will she remember me when she see’s me on skype through the computer? One more week would have been good. I could have checked a few more things off the list. But then again, these two weeks were not about checking lists. It was about taking a breath and reflecting and just having a good time. And that I did.
I return to Hanoi with a renewed spirit, a new outlook and a host of ideas for what’s ahead. I’m really thankful for having a couple of weeks at home. It did me a world of good. Cheers.
When you live abroad for a good chunk of time, coming home for a visit can bring about a flood of emotions. I love seeing my family and friends, but I always feel a bit like a stranger or even a foreigner in my own country. Living without has been my m.o. this last year and so stepping into a life full of excess always feels a little awkward. That and all of those drug commercials on TV. What the heck? Of course one visit to Target usually helps me get past my judgement on these superficialities as I can happily stock up on really necessary stuff like flavored coffee and a cabinet’s worth of hair products. And after my first cheeseburger at InNOut, I can sort of fall back into the American way of life. (OK I tease. That’s not going to happen anytime soon, but I do enjoy my vacations home!)
Vietnam is also a country and experience which is hard to describe to people without sounding completely negative. Everyday of my life is filled with a multitude of small to complex challenges. And this past year was a rough year of transition for me. Vacation came at a really good time. I needed to refresh and refill.
During my holiday, one of my favorite friends I’ve visited with is one of my oldest and dearest, Holly. The best way to describe how I feel when I visit with her and her family is NORMAL. Not a very exciting word, but at the heart of the emotion, I simply feel like ME. And remembering where I come from and the person that I am, having a good chat and a laugh with a friend I’ve known forever is really good medicine for a wounded soul. 2009 was a rough year for us both and I am grateful to have the chance to jump these hurdles together. We should never forget who we are and how far in life we’ve come. Thanks for the reminder, Holly. Love you oodles!
Whenever I make a visit home, I always split my time between San Diego and Los Angeles. L.A. is like the other place I grew up in the sense that the five years I lived there were really remarkable years of growth for me both professionally and personally. And it was in L.A. where I met some the most important friends in my life.
The tough part about making a visit these days is splitting up my limited time between everyone and having those too-short moments be meaningful. But I think I managed to do well this visit. Even stopped by the City Club and after a good chat with Larry, remembered exactly the stuff I’m made of – important during this challenging time in my life.
Worst part of Los Angeles – the traffic! THAT, I do not miss. It took me two hours+ to get out to my friend Sheryl’s house. Absolutely maddening. Even in the slower lanes, you have the jerks who get right up on your tail and ride your bumper. And for some reason, the drive between San Diego and Los Angeles seems to have gotten longer. Well, driving in the pouring rain up to L.A. probably doesn’t help the situation any. But for as many times as I’ve driven that route, it seems to have been stretch out a bit! It has – right? ;p
One of the fun things I got to do in L.A. was go see my hair stylist. Josef is my favorite. And I’ve gone to him for years now. Even living abroad, I usually plan a visit to Umberto’s in Beverly Hills. I’m not really a Beverly Hills kind of girl, but I have always splurged on my hair. In Japan even, I found a great stylist in Howard and would visit him on my visits to Tokyo. My hair is kind of my thing. And I let Josef do whatever the heck he wanted, because the look on his face when he first saw me said it all…The no bangs, one length thing was NOT working for me! And you know he made a good point. Bangs point to the eyes and if you have a pair…well then. So the bangs are back and my hair is all layered up and ready to grow…let’s hope that it will continue to grow quickly and get past my shoulders soon! This photo here shows off the new look the day after it was cut.
With two of my dearest friends in L.A. I discussed the issue of SKYPE. I’m telling you now, this is a fabulous tool to stay in touch and communicate. It doesn’t matter if you have video or not. Just to be able to talk live and hear your voice – that’s a lot of goodness right there. I use it all the time for work, as our offices are spread out over SE Asia. We chat, speak, hold conference calls and even send documents. So please….please please please. Load up skype on your computer and let’s stay in better touch – I MISS YOU!!!
This little girl is quickly becoming the highlight of my vacation – and only on day three! My cutie-pie little niece, Laniah will be two in April and boy is she full of personality already. This picture is from one of the many moments we spend in the front yard. NiNi loves her little chair and umbrella. She is never without her sippy cup and her “nummy nums”.
I am delighted to have the time to bond with this little one. I had about 8 months with her before I moved to Vietnam and while I know she recognizes my voice, I want her to remember me…cool, wacky, fun and playful Auntie Shanna.
My sister, Angie, will have her hands full with this little one in year two. Laniah is very clear as to the things she likes and doesn’t, the things she’ll do and wont. NO is said very distinctly and with lots of conviction. But for goodness sake, don’t tell this child NO – ever. Say this to her and her lower lip goes south, her hands are on her cheeks, her head slightly bows and she looks up at you as though you are the meanest person on the entire planet. Say NO to her for something particularly important to her and you get these gestures coupled with her elbows propped on her knees and a fake cry. Diva-licious!
I hope two weeks will be enough to get my fill of this little love-bug. But my hunch is that I could spend all day every day of my vacation with this adorable munchkin and not quite get my fix. Maybe I need to get one of my own? ;p
I knew immediately that I had landed back in California. Standing around the luggage carousel, I watch as nearly everyone put their phone to their ear or talked loudly with their hands-free robotic ear piece safely clipped on. I’m sure every single person on my flight was some super major important person who just couldn’t wait one more second to retrieve all those way super important and urgent messages!
Walking though the terminal on the way to the United desk, I heard a smattering of “right on” and “dude” and “cool” with a sprinkling of “that’s how I roll” and “you know what I’m sayin’?” Aaaaahhhh…California. Home.
With boarding pass in hand to San Diego, I waited at the gate and heard the following conversation between two ultra-hip dudes, sitting right behind me…
Dude 1: Have you ever been to that restaurant Helen Back?
Dude 2: Hell and back? What?
Dude 1: No. Helen Beck. It’s play on words. It’s a pizza place. Do you know it?
Dude 2: Oh, that’s funny. No. Is it good?
Dude 1. That place rocks, dude. It’s like my favorite pizza place.
Dude 2: Really? Sounds cool.
(1 minute pause in the conversation)
Dude 2: So what’s the style?
Dude 1: Of what?
Dude 2: Helen Back. What style is it?
Dude 1: What do you mean what style?
Dude 2: Like, what kind of toppings do they have?
Dude 1: Dude, it’s a pizza place, you can get whatever you want. Their sauce is the bomb.
Dude 2: That’s cool. I’ll have to try it out sometime.
Dude 1: Yeah, you should, it rocks.
Dude 2: Yeah.
Dude 2: Do you know about McGuires?
Dude 1: No, never heard of it.
Dude 2: Oh, it’s the best. But I don’t think they have one in San Diego yet.
Dude 1: Probably why I don’t know it.
Dude 2: Right on. If it was here, you would totally know it dude. It’s really good.
Dude 1: Oh yeah?
Dude 2: Yeah. It’s good to go there when you are like totally starving and stuff cuz you’ll leave full. That’s for sure.
Dude 1: Cool. Sounds awesome.
Dude 2: Man, I love that place.
(pause and then the beginning of a conversation about a co-worker)
Dude 1: I don’t really know him that well, but he seems cool.
Dude 2: Do you know what he does when he’s like, hanging out?
Dude 1: You mean like activities?
Dude 2: Yeah, like what kinds of things does he like to do?
Dude 1: I really don’t know. But he’s cool.
Dude 2: Yeah, he’s cool.
At this point as I was jotting down notes from their mind-blowingly intelligent conversation, I had the urge to turn around and smack the two of them and yell, “You two are exactly the reason I don’t live here! You idiots!” But I imagine that random act of anger would be met with a really profound come back such as…
Dude 1: Wow. That was like totally unnecessary and uncool of you.
Dude 2: Yeah, totally uncool.
Welcome to California! Let the vacation begin!
During a few recent and very news worthy events, I was watching CNN to try to get some solid information on a few stories. What I saw was a screen where the reporters kept quoting twitter and facebook entries and using these notes as news. I was not impressed. I’m sorry, folks, but that to me is lazy reporting.
In the past week or so, there have been a few news stories which I’ve bookmarked because they simply made me shake my head and think, “This is why I do not live in the U.S.” I’m not saying that Vietnam is better or perfect or whatever, just pointing out that there are many ridiculous things which happen in the U.S., too. Land of the free? Sure, so long as you don’t tweet. And God forbid you offend anyone with a nude nymph. Since when did Americans become so easily offended? It’s a stupid wine label!!!
While it is always good to be on alert and be aware, the whole big bad world is not out to get you and there is no danger lurking around every corner. I hate travel stories like the one on the front page of MSN the other day. That does nothing to boost travel & tourism.
Anywhoo… just have a look at these stories and tell me what you think. I’m sure there are many more out there to make my head keep shaking, and I am quite certain you would find plenty of head-shaking material in Vietnam. So we are even….
Woman sued over tweet about mold
An apartment management company is seeking $50,000 in damages in one of the first libel lawsuits involving the social-networking site Twitter.
Posted by Mai Ling at MSN Real Estate on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 11:35 AM
Be careful what you tweet about.
A Chicago woman is being sued by her apartment management company, accused of writing a Twitter post that “maliciously and wrongfully” criticized her apartment and the management company. <read more>
Wine ban in Alabama could mean big bucks for vintner
The label with a nude nymph offends the state’s liquor control board.
Posted by Elizabeth Strott on Friday, July 31, 2009 8:09 AM
A ban can mean big business. At least, that’s what Bill Leigon, president of Hahn Family Wines in Soledad, Calif., is hoping.
The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board recently told stores and restaurants to stop serving Cycles Gladiator wine because of the label, which features a naked nymph, The Associated Press reported late Thursday. <read more>
The World’s Worst Travel Scams
There’s no shortage of thieves out there, both at home and abroad, cooking up ways to get their hands on your money. Here are some of their favorite travel scams. <read more>
On the Bright Side,
It was the summer after seventh grade and Randy Close and I were a couple. In preparation for a road trip to Magic Mountain with Danielle, Tiffany, Ginger, David and younger brothers Kevin and Chris, Randy and I listened to the Thriller cassette tape over and over again until we knew every word to every song.
As we all piled in the Close’s van, we begged to play the Thriller tape. Without hesitation, Randy and I could sing, “Ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa” as our friends looked on in amazement that we actually knew the words.
Our group of friends always loved to go dancing, and we tried very hard to copy those moves, the fluid movement of the legs, the kicks and that unforgettable moonwalk. Who can forget the Grammy performance where Michael Jackson moon walked across the stage inspiring hours and hours of practice among any of us who had an ounce of desire to capture that coolness?
I remember very clearly the day that upperclassman Camille got to go to the Michael Jackson concert. Everyone knew that she was going. And the next day she returned from the concert without a voice, it was that ridiculously fun. We wanted to hear every detail of the concert. Super jealous.
High school airband competitions were popular during my high school years and I remember the junior class members doing the entire Thriller dance sequence on our theater stage.
His songs were a part of every teenage year of mine and my friends’. His music shaped our childhood in so many ways. Even when he came out with Bad, and returned to the pop-music scene physically altered, he still remained the “it” guy for us.
I don’t know what happened to Michael, what made him become the sheer freak of nature that he was, the Wacko Jacko that made headlines. I don’t think any of us want to imagine what it was like to live his life under such scrutiny. Who wouldn’t turn a bit fruity?
I’m choosing to remember him in his Thriller days. That is the Michael Jackson I want to mourn. That is the Michael Jackson I’ve mourned for years, already.
On the Bright Side,