10 August, 2018

My Own Personal Solstice

NOTE: I wrote this on August 8th, but apparently I got distracted and didn't click "publish". 

I wasn't going to leave the house today. I walked for 7 hours yesterday. Literally, except for stopping for coffee. We left the apartment at 8:30 and got home at 3:30.

So I wasn't going to leave the building today. There's no need to actually go anywhere.

Then I saw the date: August 8.

In June, as the Summer Solstice neared - which is the point when the sun is directly above the Tropic of Cancer, I did a little math (followed by research, tbh) to determine when the sun would be directly above Da Nang, 7.5 degrees south of the Line of Tropic. The answer was something like May 4th... and August 8. Since I'd missed the May date, August was locked in my brain.

August 8. So I had to leave the house. My inner geography nerd needed to get a picture of my noon shadow!

It's overcast today, so there is no shadow, but because it's overcast I could get a shot of the sun!
You have to trust me. I'm looking directly overhead. See the sun? By the powerline?

We had decided to walk to a very popular Italian restaurant. Now, I'm not a huge fan of Italian, but this is one place that has acceptable pizza, and knows how to package it properly in a flat cardboard box.

In China, several Italian places would smash leftover pizza into a plastic container. Talk about turning me into HULK!

Now, I've recently decided not to bother with pizza here, because it is so often disappointing. Then again, I don't like pasta, and these guys do acceptable pizza, so against my better judgment, I ordered a pizza. I ate half, to take half home for supper.

The leftovers were placed in a clamshell container -
Which They Secured with Rubberbands!

Holy Hell. 
This is what you get when you leave your home country, people! Poorly packaged leftovers! Stay home!

That said, it is my own private solstice - a day when the sun is directly over my head - so I will be happy! I'm determined. How do you bring yourself out of a solid pout? I'm not depressed, just extremely annoyed. Any advice?

05 August, 2018

Relocation: AGAIN

I apologize. I mentioned that we signed a lease, and haven't yet followed that with details.

Honestly, I'm tempted to do a series of posts, because I have a lot to say about all the ideas we have for what to do with different areas, but that is probably tempting fate: We signed, but our contact is really the current tenant. When we met the landlord, he came over from his house next door with a notebook, hand wrote the basic facts of names and dates, and he and Brett signed. Then he tore the page out of the notebook and handed it to Brett. I'm not really sure what kind of rights that gives us, and my prayers daily include this entire situation because it seems kind of iffy, don't you think? 

Keeping positive, though, we are moving forward optimistically. Here is a bit of a tour of what we signed for:

From the front gate.

One thing that makes this house superior to the one we thought we had last month: I will not be responsible for the plants. The landlord takes care of them. And there's a papaya tree back there alongside the house!
That stairway looks so long to me! But it's not. It's normal.

I want to move the TV to the wall with the art on it. It gets glare now.

The fridge will be moved, to free up that bar-top.
That's the first floor, in a nutshell. Missing pictures are the guest room and the powder room, also on this floor. The guest room will also be my workspace.
Master bedroom, with a balcony.

Brett's classroom/office, with a balcony that connects to the balcony over the front door!
All three bedrooms have their own bathroom, too!
We overlook a peanut farm!
There is a third floor, too. A large storage space, and a large balcony. I didn't get any pictures of the balconies on the 2nd floor. Balcony-space! Another thing that makes this house better than the last one, IMHO.

Just because we've made a big deal about bathrooms, LOOK! There's a glass divider between the shower and the toilet! The bathrooms are all like this, except I think one has a washing machine in it, too.
We'll no longer be 8 minutes from a beach, but we are 5 minutes from a river. It's a very lush area.

01 August, 2018

Taking Stock of July

I got this list from a Linkup with Denyse Whelan here, but I'm using it just for a periodic prompt to take stock. There is no link up right now (that I know of) but it's a new month, and July was active, so what better time to Take Stock!

Making: A book. I'm nearly done and ready to look into finding an agent and seeing about getting it published! Very exciting.

Cooking: Still nothing. I boiled eggs the other day, though.

Drinking: Cheap Vietnamese beer in celebration of SIGNING A LEASE ON A NEW HOUSE!
Our new place, in a couple weeks.

Reading: Midnight, by Dean Koontz - my first Koontz, and it will probably be my last. He's mighty wordy. Miss Spelled by Morgana Best - light and fun. I'm enjoying it. Still making my way through Atlas Shrugged, too.

Next read: I don't know. I recently asked for "Chick Lit" suggestions. Probably one of those. Any suggestions? (By Chick Lit, I am referring to a female protagonist who goes through some stuff, not romantic)

Wanting: A rest from the house-hunt. It ended today, so tonight begins a short rest before packing.

Enjoying: Thinking of new possible stories/books to write.

Liking: The fact that the mat that I bought to go on the floor in front of the kitchen sink is a GREAT match for the kitchen in this new house!
My floor mat has flowers in that same deep orange.

Pondering: How often I move. How often my husband has moved. Will we be able to stay settled for longer than 2 years?

Considering: Characters for a new book, as I let this first one sit and percolate.

Buying: Housewares. Soon. The current tenant is taking a lot with him when he moves, so our first run down to the new house with suitcases will be illuminating as to what is or is not there.

Watching: I'm slowly making my way through The Office. I married a man who's a big enough fan to call me "the Pam to his Jim", and I've seen occasional episodes, but I'm going through it methodically. I could never abide Michael Scott for very long, but seeing it from the beginning, I'm a little more tolerant of him.

Next watch: Desperately waiting for seasonal shows to start back up again. For some reason "People of Earth" has been on my mind lately.

Hoping: To go at least 3 years before the next move. 

Marveling: About the mail in our new little community. Our new house has no specific address, but if we are having a delivery, they will send it "to the area" and everyone knows each other, so someone will direct them to us!

Wearing: The comfiest shorts I've ever known. Found them in the market in Hoi An, the town we'll be moving to this month!

Getting: Used to the climate. I often prefer to go up to the terrace rather than sit in the air conditioning. This is a win, to me.

Feeling: Excited to move!

Hearing: "Welcome to the Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance. I love this.

29 July, 2018

Photo Flash Fiction?

This is my first time, but I've seen this on a couple different blogs. Sunday Photo Fiction!

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a story of less than 200 words, based on a photo prompt. To join the fun...
Click on this link 

image: Joy Pixley

“Here. It’s perfect.”

“Out here in the open? They’ll find us.”

“No, the big hollowed out boulder! Perfect hiding place. We could practically set up house in there.”

“I’m not hiding in a skull.”

“You are such a wimp, Bobby.”

Sally clambered up the rocks from the shore. She reached back to offer her little brother a hand. He was never a bold one, but she didn’t think he was superstitious enough to decline shelter. Standing in front of the rock, she agreed with him. “It really does look like a skull. Oh well.”

Sally slung the backpack full of that morning’s pickings into the eye-socket and searched for a foothold, so she could join the bag. She looked back at Bobby, mesmerized by the rock, eyes wide. “Bobby! Get up here! They’re coming!” 

Finally hearing the distant sirens, Bobby accepted her hand and joined her in the eye. Within minutes, it started to rain. At least that might wash away any footprints they left in the sand.

Sally opened the backpack to see what kind of goodies they managed to grab from that electronics store in town, as the sirens passed on the road behind them.

Word count: 197

What Else Am I Going to do With my Time?

Now that I'm writing a book, everything is fodder.

Oh, yeah. Now that I'm almost through (ish), I guess I'm ready to say that I'm writing a book.

Any person who stands out to me through a random experience might turn up in a scene sometime. They might not recognize themselves, but if you are in my head, you might come out sometime. Or, a version of you might come out.

The owner of an Italian restaurant we once visited was so warm and open - the epitome of "When you're here you're family", except we weren't at that chain. This guy greeted everyone with a smile and handshake, and asked your name, then handed out musical instruments and invited you to play along with the pianist. The best Italian experience of my life. And a colorful enough personality that he's easy to convey on a page.

I'm working on a character who is sort of a blend of two people I know. I'll never tell them though, because neither one is fully there, and even if I completely made a character after one person, I'm not trying to write that person, I'm really just writing my perception of things that have happened. I could be totally wrong!

For months, I've had a loose idea of a story vaguely inspired by a wide variety of experiences I have observed family and friends go through. 

So I have a new perspective on social occasions: Observer for inspiration. 
In the US, I had more social anxiety than I've had here, but I still don't love being part of big groups, and even one-on-one sometimes takes getting in the right frame of mind to get me out the door. But now I think: What will happen tonight? What will I hear that might become a character's thought? Will any tiny instance relate into a larger story? 

I think of things like the checkout girl at Target in Indy who gave me some good advice on bargain shopping. Like the guy who cut my hair once and told me about overpricing of women's hair products. Like the woman at FedEx who told me I brightened her day because I was patient and smiled. 

My book has dozens of these. Tiny instances that didn't exactly happen to me the way I write them but were inspired by something like that. 
Do you ever think of the intricate life behind that random person you interact with once or twice and never see again? What do you think happens?

Taking a Sick Day

I was supposed to be helping at a Children's home today, but I woke up with ... how to put this delicately ... discomfort in the guts? In Asia, I have learned that if I have any doubt about my digestive system, I'd best stay home. So I canceled at the last minute and said I'll get to next month's event instead.

I didn't eat crazy food yesterday, although my husband thought it looked like they had put ham on my chicken pizza last night. I didn't notice pieces and didn't taste it, but if it was there, my body does not know how to digest pork products anymore so that might be it.

Then again, during my lovely, restful day yesterday, he was busily looking up new houses and apartments to visit, expanding our rental parameters, reaching out on forums, trying to contact our agent, etc. At the end of the day, we have two places to look at tomorrow, and three in a neighboring city on Tuesday. That's enough to cause a little anxious-tummy, too.

I am excited to get into a bigger place, but the actual deciding is a bit stressful. It's not a conscious stress, but every day is a "what if" and that wears a person down. 

So I'm home again today. Writing, writing, writing. How's your weekend going? Big plans for the coming week?

25 July, 2018

I Spoke too Soon

You know that saying "Don't count your chickens before they hatch?"


That beautiful house from my previous post (here) is not going to be ours. It was just a handshake and verbal agreement, so no harm, no foul.

The landlord's wife wasn't 100% on board with renting it out. Her parents live in the little cottage next door, and I guess she got used to being there so much. Now that the house is almost done, she decided she just can't part with it.

Poor guy, he was SO apologetic. But I have to hand it to him for the way he dealt with this. Monday night we got a message asking when we'd visit the house again, so we said we could come by Wednesday (this morning). We met our agent before going there, and she clued us in a little to her conversation with him but was encouraging about the prospect.

We all sat down together and he told us straight up what happened. He didn't say, flat out, "you can't have the house" but he said that his wife was not happy about it and they were arguing and she loves to be by her parents. I added that it seems like she wants to live there, which I think helped him open up about that. We all understood very clearly. I give him credit for 
  • a) telling us face to face and not through text 
  • b) standing with his wife - next time he will hopefully discuss things like this with her first 
  • c) not beating around the bush and wasting our time.

SO DIFFERENT FROM CHINA! In China, no one likes to tell you "no" so they tell you all kinds of yesses until you find out that it's an actual no. Such a waste of time.

Today has been a good day! We didn't get the house we thought we were getting, but we learned a lot about the process from our agent, and we have a new friend in this landlord. He was SO apologetic, I honestly feel worse for him than for us.

Back to the drawing board. But as I told Brett, we started this process early enough that we were ahead of the game, now it's like we're just "on time" to begin the search.