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welcome to the good life?

mildly coherent ramblings about life transitions
…and the time I punched a neighborhood dog in the face

Yes I did start this post with a Kanye West quote. No I won’t apologize. Ok yeah…I’m sorry.

I haven’t really been happy for months. I have had moments of happiness, many of them, mixed in and around the moments of sadness…but on the whole…March and April were about watching a relationship crumble, wanting to be with someone who no longer seems to want to be with me, being willing to risk more pain for someone who didn’t feel the same. It was about endings, and then June and July were about NEW.

I told myself… I’ll cut my hair short on one side, like I’ve wanted to do for months. I’ll buy a badass Honda 67. I’ll be a bit busier than I need to be. I’ll drink wine and eat delicious food with handsome European men. I won’t think about the fact that the idea of trusting someone with even the faintest sliver of my heart makes me cringe; deal with that later. I’ll wake up to Ethel face licks with the sun streaming into my apartment,  and get up for some yoga and time with the mutt. I watch old episodes of Arrested Development and drink good coffee while doing so. I’ll get book recommendations from old friends and good friends and new friends and spend a bit too much money acquiring them here in Hanoi so I can read in bed with said mutt.

There are days when I manage this. I ride home on my peppy little Cub (and soon on the 67!), feel the 1/2 exhaust fumes 1/2 breeze (especially on the right side of my head) and…appreciate…nay love my surroundings. I buy 25cent baguettes and eat hummus sitting on the roof looking at the sunset with Ethel sniffing through the flowering trees…and I feel calm. Happy. I work late into the night without worrying about someone feeling neglected, I go dancing without the guilt of leaving someone at home who doesn’t feel particularly social, I can have nice things without someone insinuating that I’m nesty [bad thing] or shallow for liking nice wine glasses. I drink good wine. I smile. Flirt. Laugh with friends over delicious meals. These are the good days, this is the good life.

And then there are days like today. There are days when Hanoi is a struggle. When all the lights turn red as you approach, when the torrential Vietnam rains catch you on a stretch of road with shelter and no poncho, when hostesses insist the one table left is “reserved” until you point out that the restaurant doesn’t take reservations and they begrudgingly give it to you, when the waiters then insist that you ordered the ham & cheese panini. Note to everyone not here, the word for ham is nothing like the word for vegetable. There are days when everything at work seems like a hopeless uphill struggle for which I shouldn’t have signed up, when the to-do list is exhaustingly long, when you realize your wallet is on the counter after you’ve walked down three flights of stairs, and when the milk pours out of the container and into your coffee in chunks.

I spent today trying to stay on course. Wrote a few reminder post-its to this effect.Try to be productive with little moments of fun/enjoyment scattered throughout. Let’s face it, I’m Type A enough to get moments of enjoyment out of crossing things off my to-do list anyway. I spent an hour and a half with an awesomely smart 14 year old; a one-on-one writing class, emphasis on creative. I had coffee with a friend. I bought gin and limes and tonic and chick peas and a lemon (the expensive yellow one!). But the limes are still on the counter, the tonic in the fridge. I don’t feel like hummus.

Today is a day where I feel the difficulty of being alone. Where the difference between the “hah listen to the annoying things that happened this morning” banter with a friend and the supportive “yeah some days are just…rough” hug from a partner seems immense.

I punched a dog in the face today. Yes, intentionally.IMG_3519

There’s a dog in our neighborhood who either doesn’t like Ethel or…who likes her in enough of an intense way that she is very skeeved out by him and he, in turn, offended by this. I’m not sure which. He’s rarely out, but when he is – inevitably at night – he’s VERY up in her business and snarling/barking ensues between them. Did I mention people quite often leave their dogs to roam around their neighborhood here? This is a thing. Most of the time they stay in the close vicinity of their house, and are well socialized and thus inquisitive but calm. Not so with this one. Anyway, we saw him coming, Ethel bristles, he’s barking and running at us. I pick her up, because she’s marginally more controllable this way. Close her mouth with my hand. Put on my best angry face and stomp at him while yelling (in Vietnamese!) for him to go home. I figure the chance of him going home is higher this way. Ethel is squirming like…the weirdly long short dog that she is. I’m pointing at the beast, telling him to go home in the lowest voice I can manage. She squirms out the back, trying her best to join the attack on this 25 kilo beast that is between us and our house. I have to regain my grip on her, and so am momentarily focused on Ethel. This is when he decides to jump up to get to her. I’m fairly sure he had no intention of biting, because…well he didn’t bite me. But he did jump/claw at Ethel under my arm. And so I punched him. Well…ok so I’ve taken enough kickboxing classes to feel guilty calling that a punch. I clubbed him over the head with my fist. Hard. That’s better. Needless to say it was effective, and a few more stomps and yells and he was off and running.

I came home sweaty and with muddy clothes from Ethel trying to escape and the beast trying to eat Ethel. I have welts all over my arm where his claws tried to free her (no blood drawn mom, chill out). Somewhere between the gate I couldn’t quite open easily with one hand and the apartment on the fourth floor, I burst into silent tears of frustration with this day. And when I got upstairs, threw Ethel in timeout for her participation in the melee, and sat down…I had no one to tell.

So here I am. Healing is difficult. I need to carry what the locals call a “dog stick”.

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3 replies »

  1. OMG, I felt every feeling as I read along with you, and then that picture – a perfect representation of loneliness. I’m sorry for you, having these feelings are part of the experience, makes you appreciate when you do have someone waiting home to tell. But, you are far away from “us” in the States and I miss you! I wish to have coffee with you, and wish we could do anything together, and, I’m sorry I missed your FaceTime call. I was alone too, so was doing too much yard work and laundry on a hot day and then got a migraine for the evening! Another great read Cristina, made me miss you and wanted to be able to give you a big hug so you’d feel loved.

    • :) thanks mom

      I always feel loved…the end of a romantic relationship doesn’t erase that. Just…one facet. I actually FaceTimed you on an entirely unrelated note. Will try you again soon. Xoxo

  2. Yes, in anyone’s book, that day would rate a capital S for “this day Sucks”. When I just happened to Facetime you a few minutes later, it was apparent that something above and beyond had just transpired. Hang in there CMB…

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Today entailed [scheduled, not emergency] outpatient surgery and Season 1 of community and Frank cuddles.
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