A nice but strange homecoming

I think I had forgotten exactly how much I had missed winter in Michigan. Despite wreaking hell on my nasal passages, there is something electrifyingly rejuvenating in inhaling the crisp outdoor air, with its ubiquitous scent of campfire. Even its chilly caress on my...

A reflection on hospitality

Sometimes, I will not have walked 10 yards before the next invitation into someone’s house. It has happened so often that the motions have sort of become joyfully repetitive. I remove my shoes and step through the colorful, low-hanging doorway, sit on the raised bed...

The slipperiness of time

“You know, this day isn’t really important for Vietnamese people,” my friend said as we sat on the balcony overlooking the market. The morning sun lit up her face in crisp relief. There was a fair breeze in the air from the nearby river. I picked at my chocolate...

Learning Vietnamese

A couple of months ago, I finally broke down and hired a Vietnamese tutor. This had come after nearly two-and-a-half years of trying to self-study the language, with some success. In that time I was able to cinch much of the alphabet and pronunciation, which, to say...

Always in search of the sublime

Oh, the air wafted sweetly from the sea. Not like the humid, oppressive torpor of Vietnam: lighter, crisper. With the sun kissing my face, I walked amid the amber wheat, the green pastures and the rolling hills, walking, becoming lost in the brambles and then found...