Sunday, May 4

Disparate Activities

[Disparate Activities]

Yesterday was a busy day.

In the morning, I participated in Bark in the Park, a 5K walk to support the anti-cruelty society. Nope, I don't have a dog, but I went with Keely and her puppy Milo. After the walk, of course, we had to walk another 3.5 miles to Keely's . . . . tough getting a cab with a puppy.

In the early afternoon, I went to the open house of a new flower shop in my neighborhood [Atmospheres on Taylor, just east of Racine]. They've actually been open for a few weeks, and I purchased flowers there on my way home from work. It is refreshing to see a store open in my neighborhood . . . . . closings are so much more common.

In the early evening, I went to a bridal shower for Suzy at Glam to Go where, along with participating in the expected girly bridal shower festivities, I drank too much wine, purchased tchotchkes I do not need, had a massage, and got my makeup glammed up.

Later, I went to a release party for number none | apartment thunder. The album is a fascinating experiment in sound manipulation . . . . alternately haunting, silly, beautiful, dramatic, aggressive. The party itself was fun. I drank sangria. Jeremy and Chris took voice samples for their next project. I had conversations about the gullibility of the masses, Nina Simone, ill-fitting bikinis, war and peacekeeping, the process of restoring and antiquing silver-backed mirrors.

When I returned home, I was too wired to sleep.

All in all, when I awoke deservedly hungover this morning, I reflected upon it as an interesting day.

That was, until I got an email from Zack Webb, who recently, in defiance of "threats of SARS" and "rampant anti-Americanism," decided to go to Vietnam.

I now feel my life is utterly pedestrian.

Zack wrote:
I strolled the crowded streets of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), cruised on the Saigon River, crawled through the tunnels of Cu Chi, soaked in the hot springs of Binh Chao, walked the beach and rocks at Ho Coc, and spent a day in the Mekong Delta. I saw a naked madwoman running through the rain and traffic, drank snake wine, and lounged in a traditional garden.

Simply stated, old Saigon is a madhouse, a blur of constant overwhelming traffic, blaring horns, exhaust fumes, staring eyes, beggars, and air like hot rancid butter . . . . .

. . . . .The traffic and industry don't fade away in the Vietnamese country side. Every highway and dirt road is crowded with motorbikes, some modified with flatbeds and trailers hauling everything from pigs and ducks to timber, bricks, and mangos. The roads are lined with open front houses, some made from straw, corrugated metal sheets and wood, others of brick or stucco. Every house has a group of people working diligently in the mud and exhaust fumes. They dry rice in the sun, sell mangos, pineapples, t-shirts, hats, sunglasses, and anything they can find. Great tracts of land are covered with neat rows of rubber trees, peanuts, and all manner of tropical fruit. There are water buffalo in the rice paddies, motorbikes on the dikes, and the children work as hard as the adults. . . . .This was no Club Med vacation. It was raw reality, staring into the faces of people who have known little outside of war, poverty, and bone-breaking labor. Much of what I saw was not pleasant, but it served to whet my appetite for the more remote reaches of the world. Now, twenty-eight years after the fall of Saigon, Vietnam is not so fearsome as places like Afghanistan and North Korea, but it is far from the polished comforts of the United States, Japan, Britain or France. It's a small country scratching to make its way in the new millennium, and I'm thrilled to have seen a small part of it.
I am jealous, not of his experience per se, but rather of his drive to have such experiences. He has such an enormous and unflagging lust for life.