Ersatz Remarks

One of the benefits of being [cough] 40, is that I’ve been on the Internet for a long, long time now. I made my first website in 1994. Back before ‘bots trolled these parts. But now they are everywhere, with all sorts of supposedly tricky ways of getting their links out there. The ones I hate the most may be the comment litterers. Not the ones that are blatantly trying to get me to “click here,” but the sneaky ones that feign interest in the blog post. I get a boatload of these on our family travel blog. Here’s just a sample from this week…

On a post about hanging out with aunt and watching a kids’ movie, someone wrote:

“Hey Great post. This is a bit off topic but im making a site on gold pawn shop [link removed]. I was just wondering what theme you are currently using for your website .Thanks :)”

On a post where I talk about visiting the Peterson Rock Gardens near Bend, Oregon, I got three of ’em:

Hi! Is it ok to use these information in my prject? thanks!

Your blog is awesome. Thank you so much for giving plenty of awesome content. I have bookmark your blog siteand will be without doubt coming back. Once again, I appreciate all your work and also providing a lot great tricks to the audience. [tricks?!]

Blasphemy! Hehe Just kidding! I’ve read similar things on other blogs. I’ll take your word for it. Stay solid! – your pal.

Don’t worry, chum, I’m solidly solid.

I wrote that I’d finished another chapter and put a little snippet of it in and got this response:

I am doing research for my university paper, thanks for your excellent points, now I am acting on a sudden impulse.

Excellent points like “I want to eat bun cha at the Thanh Hoa market. I want to sit on the porch breaking open red watermelon seeds with friends.” Yeah, I’m sure s/he’s using that for that sudden, impulsive research.

One of my favorites on a post with ZERO comments:

Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained I’m sure you had fun writing this article.

I read them, I delete them, and more often than I’d like to admit, I see these same posts on other blogs. The same comments that I’ll receive a half-dozen times this week. Usually it makes me smile at the sheer idiocy of the Internet’s evolution.

whose happiness?

Sitting side by side in the back of the taxi, we are heading back from Sam Son. I know I don’t have enough money in my purse and already it’s taken several phone calls, undercooked chicken and a sunburn to get us this far. The are exhausted but not asleep. I stare out the window so they won’t have to see my face as I mentally bludgeon myself for putting us, putting them in this position. Here we are in a far-off, foreign country, unable to even manage getting a taxi on certain days. I can’t speak the language. We’re constantly being gawked at. Most of the time we’re stuck on or near the campus where I teach. It’s boring for the kids and I have to wonder if my happiness is worth it.

Back home, my father’s heart is giving him problems. My grandfather is dying. My daughter is losing weight off her already thin frame. She misses friends and cousins. My son wants to see his own friends again. I seem to be the only one who wants to stay and I feel like a terribly selfish mother.
Continue reading “whose happiness?”

It takes passion, they say

And that I seem to have in spades. I had, what some might describe as an insane, drive to get us to Vietnam. Twice. And now it’s on for the book. It will get finished. I will have a rough draft done by the end of summer.

SheWrites has just announced a new contest for unpublished non-fiction/memoir writers who have works in-progress. That’s ME! They’re offering a bunch of different rewards for the final winner, helping her to develop the best proposal/query possible. I certainly could use the help and it is a good impetus for me to keep working on what I’ve got. More info here.

Visit She Writes

Today I was able to get the first half of another chapter done. Up to nearly 60,000 words and about half done (maybe a tad more) with the story. It’s getting to the really stressful part of our adventure and while I thought it might be fun to write, I’m finding it difficult to relive those moments. I was determined, but scared and feeling more alone than I had in a very long time.

But I’ll struggle through it and make it back to the parts that made me really happy to be in Vietnam.

slow and steady wins the race

I was blessed with sunshine and the company of a dear friend this weekend and in the end I came home with four chapter outlines, a narrative arc, a tentative ending and, even, a completed chapter. I got to write about my experience with the fortune teller in Tam Ky.

Three years later his predictions still have not come true: I’m still single and don’t even have a Chinese boyfriend, let alone a Chinese husband. I also haven’t been to jail. He was right about the traveling apart; living abroad is good for me.

So are long weekends at the beach.

synopsizing is hard

So I’ve spent two days trying to coalesce the major events and themes of my book into a readable synopsis and still I’m so unhappy with it. There are bits that I think are good, but things that I know are not quite right and it’s killing me. There are so many bits and pieces of what I wanted to do/prove/be by going on our adventure and I’m having a difficult time narrowing it down. There’s the whole theme of single parenting, lost love, seeking adventure, finding home, shifting life paths, and understanding what it really means to love. There’s more, too, like international adoption and colonialism and classism and too much to include. But I keep trying.

The next three days are pure writing, editing, figuring out some sort of plan for this monster so I can get it finished without getting too much more unwieldy. Hopefully I’ll come back to town with a well-written synopsis, a complete story outline and even some chapters written. Here’s to some hard work…


Writing this book constantly gives me moments to relive and every time that a memory hits me particularly hard, it surprises me. Today I wrote about saying goodbye to a fellow volunteer and more so about having to watch as my daughter suffered the pain of having to say goodbye forever to someone she’d truly grown to love. I wrote and I cried and I felt that same guilt all over again. I suppose it’s good for me and for the writing, adding a depth of reality to things.

And sometimes I wonder if the reliving of the moments is part of why I’ve embarked on this endeavor to write my story, our story. I never want to lose those lovely moments when my heart was filled with love for my children, for the orphans, for the country. But to remember those, I have to remember the sad times, the scary times, the mother-guilt that pervades so much of what I do. I have to feel those moments again, too, as I write. I don’t like it, but I think it has to be done.

pacifying the soul

I don’t know what reminded me of them, but for some reason the band This Mortal Coil came to mind today and I couldn’t shake it. I missed their album Filigree and Shadow so much I actually bought it.

Then I sat there for the next hour, bathing in it, drowning at times, and wondering just what it is that makes me feel so blissfully content.

Six weeks

I’ve got six weeks to finish my book if I want to have the draft finished by the time of the writers’ conference. Six weeks. It’s taken me two years to get half done and now I need to get it done. We’ll see what I can accomplish when push comes to shove. Again.

2000-2009: What a decade it’s been.

Back in 2000, I was freshly divorced with two kids and little life experience. Ten years on, I’ve earned my BA, my son’s nearing graduation, my daughter is bumping into her teen years and we’ve been able to visit Vietnam (2x), China, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

Ten years of marriage and being a stay-home mom, followed by ten years of single motherhood. I wonder just what the next ten years will hold for each of us.