Monday, August 24, 2009

Quirky Me in Quirky Ho Chi Minh City

Today I released my motorbike from the castle front gates, got on it wearing a dress, heels, helmet and sunglasses and rode to work - just like any other professional woman in Saigon. Except that unlike those cool cats, my heart was pounding right out of my chest, and even though I spent much of Saturday and Sunday riding my hip Honda manual (which I then traded in for a much more expensive yet much less hip Attila automatic- manual was a bit much for me at this point), I was SCARED to DEATH to be in such heavy traffic in the morning, especially on my first day of school. First Days of School really bother me.

But Brian, you are mother did train me well. It really, truly was no big deal; the traffic moves slowly and you just follow everyone else and go with the flow of it. But I realized this after getting to school. All the way there I was somewhere in between hysterical laughter and hysterical sobbing. Laughing because I was thinking of what a sight I would be dressed like this riding in Seattle, crying out of complete fear. And there's this portion of road around the construction that gets really muddy and sometimes friend Steven says I need to think about it like dirt biking - dirt biking in a dress and high heels though. But that went OK, too. The guards at school - ones that I consider friends now - gave me a thumbs up when they saw me on the bike. So has everyone else: Sweet Seamstress, T and T, etc.

So here's what I did about Nam: I went and found Minh Sunday morning. I gave him the Seattle Firefighter hat from Sue and some jam from my parents to give to Nam when he saw him. Then I told him that I got a motorbike and that I would drive myself to school, but that I had friends coming to visit and would like him to be their driver. All of this was met with no emotion from Minh, but that is probably because his parents woke him up to come and talk to me.

And I admit it - I got up extra early this morning so I wouldn't pass Nam on the street. I admit something else...I do feel bad about this switch in more ways than just Nam. I joined the most expensive gym in Saigon because it's within walking distance of the school - it's deluxe with TV monitors on all treadmills, new weights, great classes, a lap pool, sauna and steam bath - anyway, in only one week I had befriended the xe-om drivers outside of the gym and they were very happy to get my business. These guys just sit for hours on end with nothing to do and many of them are so nice. With one motorbike rental, I removed myself from this community. It is sad.
So...about school. When I arrived today feeling extra brave, I was met by my principal on the stairs. He told me that my schedule had changed from two Ancient History and three English classes to all English. I am very, very sad about this. It's a long story as to why it happened and I don't feel like going into it, if you wanna know the truth. 6th grade English All Day Long will be my life this year. And right outside my classroom lives a crazy family who sings really bad karaoke all day long or has knock out, screaming, yelling fights. And the construction outside makes the building shake like we are experiencing a constant earthquake. What a quirky place, what a quirky life.

HOWEVER, all of that aside, you cannot imagine how much fun it was to see my kids from last year. It was really fun. And the kids this year seem just as perfect. Even if I can't make them into gods and goddesses.

I am going to leave this quirky day on that note.


Brian Bowker said...

I'm sad that you won't be teaching ancient history also, if for no other reason than to at least mix up your day a little. And you were really good at it!

I say you get really drunk and go to your principals house and wave your finger at him, demanding that the "Teacher of the Year" should be able to teach ancient history. Then your training shall be complete.

Mungo said...

He Da Nam stories will be replaced with groovy stories of you riding a bike in a dress... I'm okay with that.

Anonymous said...

Oh My U Wild and Wonderfully Brave and Competent woman! U r dirt biking and everything!!!! By the way-What Brian just said to the left is hilarious. I can't stop gigglin thinkin about you cruisin and looking so feminine! You are truly what it means to be "I AM WOMAN!" YOu need a theme song! I love you-keep it up! xoxoxo me(Jaci)
ps jazzed about your gym too!

Cecilie said...

I know how much you loved history, so it is really SAD that you´re not teaching it anymore! But, head held high: you are one of the best English teachers I know, so these kids ar SO lucky to have you!

Keep enjoying your bike rides!

Oh, and I got my swimming suit. Thank you! :0)