I feel like I should be telling them a Christmas story.  No I don’t think so.  TA Darius. 


Because there will be too many words they don’t know.  Remember when you told them about baby Jesus? 

Haha.  Yeah.  That could have gone better.  Not your fault. 

In 2003 someone valued my openness, someone else asked if because of it I’m misunderstood, inferring that’s the case 

& still I wonder, my poor heart lying around over all of the spaces.  I hope you’re sitting down,

up until dawn and around, worlds within worlds.

Within worlds.


Cheersing my own reflection in the mirror tonight it occurs to me that I have become my own best friend.

My new mind-set is not without problems: I am getting a little tired of knowing how I feel all the time.  But as there is no one around to tell me not to analyze it, I know that the FACT that I do know counts for something.  And what it counts for.  Exactly.

So I am halfway through my contract here in Vietnam as of this past Wednesday.  As these things go i.e. fractions, the end of the second third is coming around.  I will have gotten back from Thailand 8 days before its commencement, unless that word means “begin.”

I have a new routine which enables me to write a lot these days which means I get to spend a lot of time rearranging words, and everything I write gets shorter and shorter, and with each word I take away something, like another word that may make sense, takes its place.

Significance of the image is only revealed in the act of preserving it, & the vow to be the one who sustains that significance must continually endow it with attention to the exlusion of real life, the everyday passing… -Fanny Howe

So I am thinking of this quotation even after I am at work making asinine comments about the Haunted House schedule.  But I have an idea what I am going to be for Halloween.  And it was an amazing day today, I hope that you believe me.


You kind of have to have seen Steel Magnolias for this to make sense.

I wanted to learn how to do the bangs French braid and Teacher Linda (TL), being Linda, put together an evening to remember. I don’t think I even cried at prom, and that’s what it was titled.

“Steel Magnolias, French bread pizza, and French braiding: my apartment, Wednesday, 8 p.m.”

“I’m in,” Teacher Nicole said, not even looking up from her papers.

Amy and I get there at the exact same time as Nicole who has brought two bottles of wine.  Linda has got all the fixings chopped up already including mozzarella cheese and salad.  The dvd is in, playing the credits.

Linda suggests we start the movie while the pizzas are cooking, and then take a break from the movie to get them, that way we get the chit-chat out of the way at the beginning of the movie.  Pizza and chit-chat means we wouldn’t actually watch the movie.

I have had this movie on VHS, the title written with Mr. Sketch markers, my whole life.  The significance of it is lost on me until Jon, Linda’s boyfriend, comes home and all five of us are crying, and Linda tells him to go into their room and shut the door and he does: we are kind of like those women…

our friendship is on a smaller scale, we just live in the same town; we haven’t known each other long in the grand scheme of things, but living and working abroad have a way of leveling people plus we are in this crazy place, same page, same scene, and they even let me be Daryl Hannah, the most lovable dork of all time.

After the movie TL showed us how to do the bangs braid as promised.  I’m going to show Nicole how later, as she was tired and didn’t feel like being in the bright lights of the bathroom which I totally get.


Birthday letter for my grandfather

Yesterday all of the summer school classes at my school had a field trip.  Twelve kids from my class came, as well as two teaching assistants who did most of the work.  We had a lot of fun.

We went through the zoo a little fast for my liking, but they did have almost 600 kids to get through.  The highlight of the day was probably the waterpark–there was this big bucket that filled up and dumped water on the kids, not a lot of water really, but it was the anticipation.  When is it going to fall!!!

We played a lot of that, crawled around like crocodiles and I guess bonded–at the end of the day one of the little girls who had been holding my hand all day asked if she could go home with me.  I looked at her ready to laugh and she was looking back like what?  She is only six.

I caught a ride home with another teacher from Australia on the back of his motorbike. We stopped along the way and ate some fried corn flour, bean sprouts, and about fifteen different kinds of greens wrapped in rice paper.  I also drank four glasses of iced tea, all less than $1.

On the way home he showed me the biggest and most beautiful park in Saigon that was the golf course for the American soldiers during the war, and we also drove past the famous Cu Chi tunnels, didn’t stop there but now I know where they are, and there is a wildlife rescue station I want to visit in Cu Chi as well.

Maybe you and Nana could write me back?  I will tell Nana my address and hope that you do.  I can’t believe I’ve been here a month already–it actually has gone fast and I am sure it will continue to.  I will try to post some pictures of the kids and the food and the city now so you can see some small parts of this truly amazing city.

Gaga, I love you!  Happy birthday to you.

Jamie Lynn.


Hello again family and friends; welcome to everything it took to get here. Starting with my immediate surroundings, I am at 11/10 Nguyen Van Mai, Phuong 4, Quan Tan Binh, phone #01223655363. Have not set up Skype yet but am planning to do it soon.

I guess I am still “getting my bearings,” although I am now at the point where I can see for the first time a little bit more clearly what it is going to be like to live here. When I was staying in the Van Trang Hotel, it was still in effect my landing. I am now in another part of the city called Tan Binh which is closer to the airport and my school.

The reason I said Bui Vien/District I it is super touristy is because it is. Tourists here might be walking around anywhere but they are walking down Bui Vien in the heart of Saigon, ignoring or acknowledging other blue eyes amid the madness of it all, occasionally smiling when the fifteenth person that breakfast tries to sell you sunglasses.

Bui Vien.

I kind of love it so far: I love the craziness of it. Some of it makes me feel like a big fat privileged dork, like how hard the kids work and how much I get paid to slacker-teach them just because I have “experience” but I shouldn’t put it in quotes, I do have experience and this is why I get to walk down the hallway the exact minute class starts with my laundry basket which is actually pretty cool. I’ve made up my mind to concentrate on doing the best job I can and so far I do not feel like running away, on the contrary.

The job is the easy part for me so far, like flying was for Mave Rick, and if I were to make a Top Gun comparison I guess my romance with the city/culture would replace Kelly McGinnis. There is so much support in the other teachers, the staff at the school it is like walking a balance beam on the floor and the ground is all one of those special mattresses invented by NASA. It is much easier than other teaching jobs I’ve had.

This morning one of the kids did this wheelbarrow move which happened fast and his his shoe lifted up my skirt and the kids all started laughing, I felt my face turn red and I looked at Lan and she was laughing too and she just said “accident” and I was able to go on, it just really helps to have someone else in the room, needless to say when they are there to help, not judge or critique you. Even though we do 22+ hour weekends I notice myself actually taking the time to do things like use the bathroom and eat food during the day whereas other teaching jobs I’ve had were either too busy or too stressful or both to do either.

One more on the staff, Uyen, is Rose’s wingmate, Rose is the angel for me here so far and as I’ve lived abroad I know you need those. Rose got me the apartment I’m in now, with French lighting, marble floor, coy randomly swimming under the stairs, for 200 a month, friendly prices. The guesthouse was 300 and was chock-full of foreign teachers, but here I get invited to dinner with the family and eat a couple of bites of pork or something because I am not the biggest bitch in the world and am going to push away food people are giving me when I am starving.

The guy is French and I say Merci when he pours beer out of a 40 oz. bottle about 8 ways for all of us eating, he likes this. Finally, I find out there is a Taiwanese guy named Johnny living upstairs from me, a chemical engineer who has lived here in Saigon for three years and at this place for a year and a half. He rides his bike to work as it is only ten minutes away, and says I can use it whenever he’s not. He has a rice cooker in his room; I love that he’s told me this right off the bat.

Wow, I’ve been typing like crazy and I still feel like there is so much more of course I am sure that there is, we had bamboo soup for dinner, and some crazy drink that tasted like grass. I have had several remarks that I am good with chopsticks. They actually act like you are a guest in their country; I can see why people do not want to leave and don’t. That said, I miss all of you family and friends greatly. Think of you all the time, always. Am ready to have visitors. Although you will have to let me know in advance so Madam Thuy can register you with the Vietnamese officials lest she get fined 500 bucks.

Time to see if I can get some work done now…ooh except there is a cat here with a broken tail that sat by my feet during dinner and when they were all talking in Vietnamese I held my finger down to its nose and it nudged it as cats do and I thought I spoke its language as much as anyone else’s.

I don’t know who is reading this but as these things go, if it is being read you are reading it, hello and thank you. Feel a bit like I’m throwing it out into the void, not that I am going for definitive lines around me.