Everything's So Bitch!

My view is pro-existance. ~ils veulent juste baiser~

Vietnam Adventure Part Five: Maybe you go back America you fuck fuck fuck your uncle.
- The food here is delicious
- In the first week, meals were offered/forced upon us around once every few hours (though currently now we're only offered full meals 3-4 times a day (we usually accept 2) with copious snack offers in between)
- It is almost always given to us in portions 3-4 times bigger than that of our relatives
- I was able to almost keep up eating it for the first almost-a-week or so
- In which I had the disturbing feeling of forgetting 'the feeling of being hungry' to the point where I was slightly afraid I wouldn't know it if I was forgotten by my relatives for a day and felt it again
- And also given the feeling of being in a reality TV show in which the producers try to fill my stomach with Vietnamese food and coffee and if I can't keep up I'm going to be voted out of Vietnam.
- Feeling was not helped by the fact that my relatives with their non-reality-tv-show-sized portions tend to linger around the table after they're done eating staring at us with great amusement and almost continuously screaming "EAT FINISH!!!!" in my ear in either English or Vietnamese.
- Or by that one time during second breakfast in which the room was filled with nearly ten people who were not even served food, just started, and then who TURNED THE WEB CAM ON US SO THAT MOM, DAD, AND ALL THE COUSINS BACK HOME IN AMERICA COULD WATCH US EAT, TOO. (And of course we could see ourselves on the computer screen as well.)

- As I survived the first week, the challenge was upgraded to include ia chay (the running poop)
- And feels-kind-of-like-I-swallowed-something-corrosive stomach pains whenever I eat to more than half way full or so
- And somewhat debilitating bouts of nausea (possibly at least partially caused by lack of sleep due to the family waking up around 4-5 am or so and usually not letting us sleep much later)*
- And steadily growing portions whenever we're cooked something at home

- It is difficult to turn down food or not finish a meal because people will do lots of the aforementioned screaming
- Along with telling Clay to say, "Tell her if she doesn't finish, we have to throw all the food away."
- And complaining about having to throw food away to each other later, which Clay can understand and irritates him but luckily I can't so well.
- (An extra dose of sadistic is added to these practices by the family occasionally, after the usual yelling and messages about food wasteage through most of the meal, will tell me with around 2 or so bites of food left, when I've gone well past the nausea-and-stomach-pains barrier and may as well just finish, in a kind, concerned voice that "...You know, you really don't have to eat all that if you're full.")

- Recently, we learned that the reason for this was because they're worried I'll go back to America and complain to my mother that my family didn't feed me enough while I was here.
- Just after that, Brother and I did our usual complaining about being fed too much to our mother on the phone while here, and about how sick and almost constantly miserably nauseous I was getting, and Mom sounded very sympathetic to my situation and very concerned, and then gave my brother a talking to about getting me better at turning down the relatives
- Because, she explained as she finished, "We don't want her get too fat."

- I'm not really sure what kind of reality TV show I think I'm on anymore.**

EDIT: In the last couple hours, Fappy II stopped turning on. T_T Apparently this is a problem common with its series of HP Pavilion laptops. T___T I want to read more about it but they're making me get off the internettttt. T___________T


*Once, I almost slept a full 8 hours (till 9am) and since I've had a reputation for sleeping excessively, which my relatives are now pretty sure must be the reason I'm so fat since I EAT SO LITTLE OF MY FOOD (though as mentioned before I don't tend to take naps the 3-4 times a day they usully try to get me to). While at first we laughed, I'm realizing now that in a way they must be kind of right, because lack of sleep tends to give me nausea, which tends to make me eat less, so I guess getting a full night's rest MAKES ME EAT MORE, so INDEED IT MUST BE MAKING ME FAT.

**When I was around 3 or 4 years old, I used to pretend to have a TV show, "The Nora Show", which would most often be run while I was sitting on the toilet in the bathroom. I don't completely remember what the show was about, something sort of like a talk show, and something that occasionally required me to do something slightly magical with excessive amounts of toilet paper. I think it's kind of cool that my TV show now also requires me to spend a lot of time in the bathroom. It's kind of like things are coming around full circle, you know? Even if the bathrooms here often don't have any toilet paper. Or soap. Or toilets. (Is it weird I can abide the idea of lack of the latter more than I can combined lack of the two former? As for lack of all three, well, one may as well be holding a TV show in there for the next couple minutes, because I'm really not sure what other business one's supposed to get up to in a room like that.)

Vietnam Adventure Part Three: Good relief for burning pain because of sun-bath at the seaside.
Uncle: *Talking in Vietnamese*
Clay: (Translating) Did you take your pills say yes?
Me: ...Yes!

No one ever told me the tubes on the sides of the scooters were incredibly, scaldingly hot. Clay didn't even remember let me know when he was telling me to pose (or “sexy pose” as he does love to request) next to one. And that's how I ended up with this:


Later, it developed many puffy blisters. When we tried to go to the medical shop to buy some gauze, we were instead given ointment and a Vaseline patch. Though I'd read on the Internets not to put anything much on the burn besides bandages, I was still a little relieved, since when the lady came from behind the counter to put the patch on my leg, I flinched slightly at the sight of her tiny pointy scissors. (HEY. I have a mother who BLEEDS HERSELF when she's sick. I feel bad for even thinking it, but I don't trust anyone from the same culture to come around my blisters with pointy things.)

The Cau Bai, the uncle who was around when it happened got upset we didn't mention it earlier, only of course we had but I suppose he didn't understand (or didn't try very hard to. When you express a concern he seems to like to say 'Yeah, yeah, yeah,' dismissively, and it's hard to tell if he's being dismissive about your concern, or dismissive about trying to figure out what you're saying to him.)

The next day (or two?), when another uncle's family saw the burn, they came into my room with no new clean bandage or Vaseline patch to replace the disgusting dirty one, but another more different ointment and Mystery Pills in lots of pretty colors:


Pill takeage patterns over the next couple days:
First set: Spit into my backpack when giver turned away
Second set: Swiped into a plastic bag when left alone in the room with them
Third set: Thrown into my bra while making a mock tossing-into-mouth motion (when pulled out, they were slimy, slightly dissolved, and the smallest either entirely dissolved or missing. Also, one fell through the keyhole in the bra I forgot was there and had to wiggle to get it down into the waistband of my pants. Clay said it was very skillful, though.)

At the time I couldn't really remember what exactly the doctor lady we talked to before we left had said about taking local medication (later Dad confirmed we should not), but considering the way the next day when we went to the same medical shop to get clean patches they tried to sell us an other more different kind of ointment (that makes three), again as if it was the usual thing they always used for burns, I was feeling cautious.

I'm scared for when the blisters burst, because I'm not sure the water here is clean. :( The ladies liked to grab my calves and squeeze them and say how pretty they were. Clay and I think this is the price we must pay for the vanity of my family.

Since this post was written, we were with the help of mother able to convince the family to stop giving me pills (that, or they ran out) and instead get me some turmeric and giant aloe:


I was really happy about the aloe, and took and broke off a tiny piece to keep in my room, leaving the rest in the big bag o' aloe they'd brought, figuring I could go get more when I needed it. That night when for desert we were served something milky and sweet with large, rectangular clear chunks in it, I realized I had made a mistake.

Still, I conserved what I had and the burn is almost better now, even if everyone still keeps asking me why I keep washing it all the time and wiggling bottles of medicine in my face.

Uncle Number Seven, Cau Bai, who speaks some English:

mommy-san for you say uncle uk fung
give nora go work
i say i say i say
i say mommy-san you nora don't go don't go
maybe i get nora go bisikoo
tied tied
no big big
her sleep beaucoup big big
maybe sick too
yeah yeah
maybe go long way neba neba happen sick
got drink whiskey...? maybe no big no sick
ah nora
same same ba wai
you know before ba wai
beaucoup big big sick
ba wai mama
right here
beaucoup big big sick
beaucoup big
every long way no more
beaucoup big sick
sick die
ba wai
ba wai you know
i say mommy san you say
give nora go work do
give nora work do!
mommy san you say my say uncle uk fung
you know
nora don't go don't go
yeah maybe sit someday with me
get him do
get him go work
never happen
maybe afternoon i give nora you
drive bisicoon
yeah good good good
tired good good good
sleep big big
you say american
beaucoup big big
give money titi
i say nora you say nora
nora six o'clock
go bisicoon
i give nora one
bisicoon die throw away*
you know bisicoon here throw away
maybe i tired
you know
ride bisicoon tired
good good good
tired good
maybe sleep beaucoup sleep too
sick too
beaucoup kilo
sick too
no go work
beaucoup kilo
sick too
go work
go work
no sick
maybe petiti sick you know
petiti sick
now sick o'clock i come here
i say got six two scoon
yeah go
six o'clock

Nora sleeps a lot (Note: While here, sometimes nearly seven hours a night, though not usually, and though I never take naps during the day when they tell me to accept once when I was feeling sick.), and it makes her really fat, and maybe even sick. Your grandma got really fat and sick and then she died. Your mom, she told your youngest uncle to make Nora work (Note: At making rice noodles. You can see the very skinny rice noodles making ladies here.), but I said no. I said maybe I could take Nora for a bike ride this afternoon at six o'clock. If a bike breaks we can just throw it away (The night before, the kick stand on the bike Clay was riding wasn't working, and the in the process of drunkely fixing it, Uncle Number Seven rendered it unridable.). She'll get really tired and that will be good, and she'll get skinny.

Thusly did we go on a five minute bike ride to the house of a girl who could speak English and wanted to practice. Hours later, we took a five minute bike ride back.


*Note: I'm rather sad he didn't say 'die and go to hell' here. Usually he does. The first time I thought I was supposed to laugh when I heard one of my relatives had 'die and gone to hell,' till Clay explained to me he'd learned English from GIs during the war and that it wasn't meant in a mean way. Before that I'd also been continuously been reminding myself that as much as it *sounded* like he was saying “mommy-san,” surely I was, in my desperation to understand, just trying to draw knowledge from the wrong language, as I sometimes do.

Vietnam Adventure Part Two: Idon'twanttodieearly. I don'twanttodieearly. Idon'twanttodieearly.
(This picture contains foreshadowing. What do you think is about to happen?)

After we got out of the airport, we were greeted by our family and taken home in a rented van. From my seat in the middle of the second row I had a really good view of the road in front of us, and consequently spent the entire trip trying to suppress the urge to laugh.

Most people here get around on scooters. As I watched them, I kept getting the suspicion no one on the road was headed anywhere really important. Probably anyone who actually cared about getting to their intended destination in this lifetime would not travel around so many other scooters and cars either without having or without following any rules regarding speed, distance from other vehicles, turning, passing, or trying not to die Traffic signals seemed more a suggestion to stop rather than an obligation.

The sheer, constant life-threateningly dangerousness of it all was fantastically, horrifyingly amusing. Any time at which I as a driver would have slowed down to make sure not to kill someone (multiple scooters I would have sworn must have grazed the vehicle, people on foot running across the road and looking likely at their present speed to cross paths with the van, swarms of scooters turning in front of us to get to the other side of the road), my uncle would honk the horn and otherwise decline to react in the slightest.

I know humans are all the time disconcernedly doing things that are bad for them or will lead them to an early death just because that's how they've learned to act, but I have never seen such an incredibly immediate display of that behavior. If I had been at the window seat, I could have reached my arm down and patted crazy people on the head (or helmet, rather. In the few years since Clay's been here, it seems they've started actually requiring the scooter riders to wear helmets for some reason) the entire way home!

Only I'm a crazy person, too, because I rode around Saigon on the back of one of those things earlier this week now. And also later while my driver uncle was drunk, because I had no other ride and didn't know any way to insist on some other means of transport, which ended with us stopping to discuss a drink at the cafe (just after we slowly and calmly drifted into a near head on collision with a large blue truck, though I don't think anyone else noticed).

Earlier while we were chatting with the family back home, Clay tried to suggest to Cousin Liem that he should go swimming in a canal, to which Liem said back, “I don't want to die early.” (This conversation also included Thao discussing her hopes for her baby's gender with us: “My husband, he say if baby is girl he happy, if baby is boy he hit me.”) I liked his response, only now it keeps running on loop in my head as we swerve to turn in front of buses and screech to halts as we nearly hit other swarms of scooters on the other sides of buses.

If we get to go to Saigon again, I want to go by bus. This doesn't actually mean I *will* get to go by bus. I'm just saying.

Vietnam Adventure Part One: The stuff in the stuff you put in your children makes them spit on me.

Brother talked to me before we got here about Vietnamese coffee. It's pretty much a shot of espresso mixed with lots of sweetened condensed milk, served with so much ice it's almost more like a slushie (though just in general they serve everything with too much ice, which is fine with me because I've always loved too much ice). Sometimes they'll have it with lots of sugar but no cream. It's good but incredibly thick and sweet, and I'm constantly tempted to pour the tea they serve it with in the cup to water it down, only I'm a little afraid they'll all think I'm weird (though I'm not sure if it would be any weirder to them than the way Clay insists on drinking his coffee with NO SUGAR OR CREAM.)

What Clay didn't warn me about was just HOW MUCH coffee they drink. This probably does have a little to do with the fact that we live next door to the cafe, but still. Every time you go to someone's house (which we did a lot the first few days), they will insist you drink coffee with them. Every time you've been on the road for a little while, someone will insist on stopping at a cafe. Every time you're sitting around at home around the time intervals at which you might be offered water or something else to drink in America, someone will come at you with a coffee. I think I had under ten cups of coffee my first day here, but not MUCH under. And that's with trying to turn them down.

Usually, at least, there's a pot of tea with it to drink afterward, but never water. It's always a little surprise to see water when we're out (at home there's a big jug of it we can drink from, though I've almost never seen anyone else in the house but us do so), especially in restaurants. A couple days ago we were having some sort of fruit-salad-drink-thing at a roadside stall and they actually served some to us, though.

But they served it with shot glasses.

And that's usually how it seems to go. Coffee = large glass, tea = small cup, water = pewny tasting vestibule. I guess I shouldn't be surprised I've almost never caught anyone here actually using a bathroom.

Maybe after reading all that you know better than to wonder, but in case you had any doubts and are trying to figure out what the children drink, I did indeed see a maybe-seven-or-younger already hyperactive child served the espressosweetmilkdrink (later, she spent a good couple hours tirelessly spitting on us and trying to pry the digital camera from my hands. In a friendly way, though) together with all the adults. When Clay tries to tell people he's had trouble sleeping and doesn't want to drink coffee at 10pm, sometimes they answer back, “Why?”

When he tried to look up the word for caffeine in the Vietnamese dictionary, he instead found a phrasal definition that said, “stuff that is inside coffee.”

Since we've been visiting people less and they're maybe starting to learn we don't want to drink coffee that often, I think my coffee intake has gone down to four or so cups a day. Someday, when we can, we hope to sneak away to the market to buy bottled water to smuggle in our rooms. Till then, I only feel sickly dehydrated sometimes.

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A Summary
I really hate 'summary of what I'm doing posts.' They're not fun for me to write, not fun for me to read later, and I suspect not really fun for other people to read. So for my Vietnam Adventure I figure I'll write in themed posts on...whatever's fun to write about. On the other hand, when I know someone who's gone somewhere interesting, I do like to have at least a little bit of a general picture of how life goes, so for the first post, here is your boring introduction:

We are staying in Cuchi, a district that is pretty much the suburbs of Saigon, in the house of our youngest uncle and his family. Despite the fact the house is only three bedrooms and I've yet to be able to count exactly how many people live here, we've each got our own room with our own fan, our own room-wall-crawling lizards, (and in my cause my own slightly see-through locking door) and our own surprisingly hard pillow.

I don't think our family really trusts us to go off by ourselves, and I'm not sure I trust us to go off by ourselves, and I'm not sure what there is to see around here in walking distance, so as going Places and doing Things goes, we're pretty much at the will of our uncles. And since for reasons I'm not entirely sure of they object to us traveling very far from where they live here in Cuchi, our days so far seem to be spent (in general order of how much time is spent on the activity) being tired at home, being taken to the homes of relatives in the area to visit, eating, drinking coffee at the cafe of our other uncle next door, (in Clay's case smoking and drinking whiskey, whilst I am distracted with a bottle of soda or group of females), and going to the “market”*.

The farthest we've gone anywhere so far is Saigon, and that was just to visit a couple family houses. Our family seems reluctant to take us places very far, though I'm not sure how much of that is time constraints and how much is just that they don't see why we should want to. The house we stay at has a computer with internet, but other people are usually on it and even when they aren't I feel a little mean staying on it for long in case someone wants to use it. On the other hand, we feel bad trying to go to the internet cafe, since likely the parents will insist we use the computer in the house and yell at the kids for using it so much.

I barely have any diarrhea at all, I sleep a decent amount despite the family waking up around five in the morning, and I'm only a little worried my leg is going to get infected and fall off (due to a scooter mishap. While the scooter wasn't moving). Occasionally the people here teach me how to do cool things, like how to eat peanuts or ride a bike.

And since any post about a trip surely needs at least one, here's an obligatory picture of me in Vietnam:

*Note: Not actually a market.

I've had an awful lot of pizza lately.
Location: Vietnam
Doin What: Goin to.
Objective: To distribute bars of Irish Spring soap, chocolate, and vienna sausages to the people of Cuchi.
Will probably get: Dysentery.

I really wanted to give Michael one of the bags of M&Ms. I remember too well the times in my childhood that mother packed away shiny toys and other attractive items I already had a fair amount of (though to my credit, mine were never so SHINY) to send to children my age in Vietnam and the poison green jealousy which I felt.

Instead, I gave him a mint and let him pet my cat. And he totally SCRATCHED HIM ON THE JAW. I didn't even teach him to do that cause I figured it was beyond his 2.5 year ability. Then he tried to steal Best of Sam Part I and II.

Goodbye, Michael.

Also the rest of you.

(Stupid Gmail is stupid and has not let me check my mail for the last half a day and will likely not work again till after I am gone. Mean. T_T)

Happy Birthday Jennies
I'm sorry we made you only one musical sing and dance routine.

I'm sure you've all tried it at some point.
I think it was yesterday when Mom told me that this time when she gave Benji a bath, she used laundry bleach to "make he more apricot." He's not orange, blue, bald, lime green or any other weird color, so I'm hoping that's an indication she didn't leave it in very long. That, or maybe she mistook one of the copious jars of sauerkraut for a jug of bleach, the same way she mistook an old, inbred, single-toothed, hard and unappealingly proportioned brown toy poodle for a home decorative item.

It's a good thing they didn't get us barbies. Toys like those are just unwholesome.
If there's actually anyone out there that reads this that doesn't know yet, I was accepted as an alternate for the Jet Program. So if enough people turn down/quit the job some time from now till the end of December, I may be asked to replace it. Bleh, almost worse than getting a 'no.' Supposedly they're pretty good at guessing the number of alternates they'll need and most eventually get offered the job at some point. But I'm a pessimist who does not find much encouragement in neither that nor the likelihood of the number of people who usually turn down the job staying the same considering the current zombie apocalypse.

In other news, long before the days of The Rotten Lettuce (a recorded play in which a late elementary school-aged Brother and I with three of our friends from the neighborhood acted out a mostly nonsensical story which eventually climaxed in the marriage and make-out session of two elderly same-sex couples.), Brother and I played extensively in the world of Ponyland, a rich, complex landscape which you can see some of the fascinating details of through these bits of conversation.

Spurred by a link to an analysis of the My Little Pony (tv show) world as a feminist utopia.Collapse )


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