The quote in the image above feels right, for this moment.
I will put it into the Cojournal. More at the end about that. Talk there.
This last week, I got to really slow down and see the place where I am now with fresh eyes. It was lucky that I could, and did. Sometimes you need a little nudge to set things into alignment.
I got to go through some articulating, too, of difficult moments in the last 1.5 years. Most of this time I was processing the weird moment that was a 20-month ‘waiting indefinitely’ for the pandemic to ‘end’ while national borders kept me cut off from the people from my past, my culture, my home, my life. The one from ‘before Vietnam,’ anyway.
Out in Ho Chi Minh and before that Dalat, I had to forge a new life, out of thin air, resourcefulness, bartering, asking for help, grit, and the beautiful thing I discovered in only Vietnam when it comes to the remarkable capacity of people to band together and help each other. Neighbors. ‘In Vietnam, the word neighbor is more important than daughter,’ TL had said, over email. She was part of Atelier S P A C E in Dalat, the first few months after the borders closed in 2020 I was there, waiting, and gathering people for zinery. (Still at it, but virtually now.)
District 3 in HCM became a kind of base. Not that I will say I miss it, because it’s not my home, but it was familiar. The way mountains of a terrain you know after viewing it for a long period become familiar, or the hills of southwest Ireland can because you drive through the same ones at the same times for many days. See The Elopement.
Living in Solitude, I observed. I studied on my own. I listened and listened out for how to hear the sounds of Viet Nam. This was important because it helped me with survival. Yes, basics.
And I saw, too, a lot about collectivist culture’s up sides, having grown up in the United States which loves loves loves its ‘rugged individualism.’ That stuff will not get you home-cooked meals from across the street, secretly delivered tickets to get out and walk about when you feel so, so stuck, eggs that you can’t get without such tickets, free pineapples in the market because you’re really quite stuck and looking so, language lessons, shoulders to cry on, translation help for your zines, a fair exchange rate on dollars to dong at the jewelry place that knows you now and has a kid that reminds you of The Dive which is why you go there to give them your money, waves from your VinMart friend who sells cigarettes in front of it after lockdown lifts and oh that’s why you hang out here becomes obvious while you acknowledge each other, waves from the bakery person who you buy the same thing from, waves and even a joyful, teary goodbye from the person who prints your zine for you week after week after week after week and one time, a US election ballot.
I fell. I landed. I caught myself. I grew.
WHAT IS COJOURNAL? An ongoing conversation for people to meet, talk, and discover things together over emails. International, and asynchronous. It’s no more than four people per circle. Also, there are 12 prompts ready to go for you, and to get them, you can register through the link below.
COST. It’s USD $10/week, pay-as-you go. You can cancel anytime.
Here’s how to sign up.
Register with PayPal >