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...

Observations from the scooter seat

It is evening. There is that restlessness that comes from being in my hot, confined apartment for too long. I figure that the night is ripe for exploring. So I go downstairs and mount my trusty red scooter, then putter off. It’s a good night for what I’ve...

Imagination on razor’s edge

“Made in Japan”—labeled barber’s shears, specked with hair trimmings, lie inside and outside a segmented box on the shelf before me. The mirror on the wall behind it reflects my wide-eyed gaze. Elsewhere on the wall, fake roses hang in cascades of...