Aside from my chaperoning duties, I have been keeping busy. Teaching 3 different classes is still kicking my butt and the files of grading are never-ending, but I manage to still have fun on the side.
Before we left for Week Without Walls, we did manage to celebrate Halloween in Vietnam. A co-worker was part of the cast for Rocky Horror Picture Show, so a few of us dressed up and ventured into District 2 to support the theater group. As always, I was not as enthusiastic about Halloween as I should have been, but as the night went on, I had a great time. After the show was over, we went to Cargo Club to dance. At some point, Mark and I decided that everyone needed a snack and we bought the best pizza ever. Is it bad that I want to go back to a dance club only to see the name of the pizza shop next door?
After Halloween, we left for Indonesia early Sunday morning. When we returned, it was time to kick off Alison’s 4 day 30th birthday celebration. She had to go to the chiropractor on Friday morning as she is trying to recover from a back injury she sustained back in Oct. I slept in and did a little schoolwork before meeting her around 2 for a glorious session of manicures and hair washing and styling. Then, we got ready for the night (a surprise for Alison), and went to meet the crew at a work sponsored happy hour. The school was buying drinks because everyone not on Week Without Walls had to attend professional development training that day and many of them had sessions over the weekend, too. My school is lovely about rewarding us for our hard work.
Ricki had planned a full weekend for Alison complete with a decorated door and presents when we returned from WWW, a special dinner Friday night, a stay-cation at a hotel downtown, and dinner at our favorite local restaurant on Monday (Alison’s actual birthday). Apparently, Alison had been dropping heavy hints to Ricki and Rebecca that she wanted to stay at the Legend, a hotel downtown and eat their fancy brunch and lay by their glorious pool. As luck would have it, they were running a special deal for expats living in HCMC. For a very reasonable price, we could rent hotel rooms, get free food and drink in the executive lounge all weekend, get free movie tickets, and lay by the pool until 5pm on Sunday. I wish more people had birthdays to celebrate before this special deal expires because I thoroughly enjoyed living at the Legend for a day.
Last week of school was pretty typical. I was exhausted after WWW and birthday extravaganza, but all went pretty well. Wednesday was Greg’s birthday so we got to go to a delicious dinner downtown. I registered for my first overseas 5K even though I haven’t been running for months. I did run twice this week and workout 3 other times to start trying to get ready for it. Unfortunately, it is only a week away, so it is a good thing that it is more about the music, dancing, and light show than running. However, I am feeling like I need to start training for something and stop making excuses. There is a half marathon in my neighborhood in January, and I am trying to talk myself into registering. Right now, that seems too ambitious, but I miss running. I just need to pick a few special trees in my new city that I feel motivated to go check on during daily runs. I do miss my tree at Fort McHenry and my tree at Walker Lake.
This weekend, I had a bit of grading to do, so my plan was to just find a cafe close to home to hole up in for the weekend. Luckily, Rita convinced me to take that work downtown and try some cafes there. We had lunch at L’usine with Jason, Stacey, and Melissa, and then I graded most of my 9th graders essays at Ciao Cafe. The music was great and the coffee was good, and it was just the first cafe I came to on my walk. I am sure next time, I can do even better, so Rita and I vowed to try 2 new cafes in D1 each month. I am pretty excited about the plan to get out of our neighborhood more. I also learned to take the bus a couple of weeks ago which is super cheap and easy. After cafe work, we got pedicures (a must since Week Without Walls had destroyed my feet) and had dinner at TukTuk, a Thai place that Alison and I found one night long ago but that I had forgotten.
Then I turned in early on Saturday night because my Sunday plan involved the fabric market and a tailor shop that closed at noon. My goal was to get a dress made for our staff Christmas party which is happening in just 3 weeks. The tailor has a 2 week turn around time, so I was cutting it pretty close. I am not sure that I was successful. I looked up some pictures of cocktail dresses that I liked on Amazon. The problem is that I tend to like simple and not so fancy things. Finally, I settled on this dress, which I do think could work if I had been able to replicate the fabrics. But, when I tried to pick out fabrics, I of course loved everything that was cute and bright and fun rather than anything that was sophisticated and sexy. I might actually be a grown-up first grader mixed with an elderly woman when it comes to clothing. So I settled for a black fabric for the top, but a grayish/black fabric with colorful polkadots for the bottom. It might not scream Christmas party, but I am sure that I will like it. I also bought 2 other pieces of fabric. I am having one made into an imitation of my favorite dress that I bought in India. I brought the other home because I didn’t know what type of dress it should be. I will have to consult friends better at this tailoring game than me.
I didn’t take any photos of the fabric market this time, but I will have to do so next time so that you can see how overwhelmed I was. It was an awesome first attempt at tailoring. And, I still have plenty of the tailoring money given to me by the Chumney family, so I think another trip is in order soon!
Other big life news includes that I have successfully memorized my Vietnamese phone number, and I feel pretty sure that I will know my passport number by heart soon. Something is wrong with my stove, so I have been eating out and ordering in for most meals lately. Hopefully Trang can solve the problem tomorrow. I finally woke up in time for a morning run today, and it was a blustery 76 degrees F. I was super amused when I passed another runner wearing pants, long sleeves and a scarf. Seriously. A scarf? That happened.
When I returned to work after Week Without Walls, my mailbox was brimming with love from home. I had 2 cards from Bess (with pictures!), a card from Rachel, and a 4 letter/package series from Matt Ward that culminated with terror that was meant to arrive for Halloween. I am not sure if I told Matt that I find My Fair Lady/Pygmalion the scariest show in the world, or if he just guessed that every good feminist would be horrified by it and its popularity, but my scary surprise was indeed horrible. Today, I got a postcard from Kate. I am feeling the love! Unfortunately, I haven’t been great at returning the love lately. Hopefully, I will make time for letter writing soon. Maybe on one of my impending cafe dates… I just need to have less schoolwork to do when I sit down at cafes.
My other big news is that I am going back to DaLat. I am missing mountains, and so is Rita, so we booked cheap tickets for the weekend after Thanksgiving. Some other teachers are coming too, and I am so excited to try traveling with another group. Maybe it will be cool enough there that I will want to wear a scarf when I run. Maybe DaLat should become my weekend home. Maybe this trip will make it seem more like the holiday!
Hope all is well at home, and I can’t wait to hear from you!