Let’s start things off with a good old-fashioned apology.
I’ve been writing less. Not only in the blog department, but the fiction department as well. As the old adage goes, when you’re a writer, you’re either writing or your constantly thinking that you should be writing. I remain guilty of this, sure, but what I won’t do is list off reasons I’ve neglected to pursue what I claim to be the namesake of my supposed passion.
I will, though, take a moment to inform you that things are expected to pick up soon. These last two months have been rife with stress, obstacles and distractions, and while more are on the horizon (the good kind, as in planned travel adventures), I feel very strongly about what will happen in the near future. Good things a’coming, as far as writing is concerned.
Lately I’ve been spending more time teaching English than I’ve been doing other things. I’ve been doing it in a variety of situations; teaching groups of adults in my home, individuals in their homes, meeting in cafes and even wrangling a small group of young kids. But none of that compares to teaching in a public school, the most recent gig I managed to acquire. Being held responsible for teaching a group of 20-25 screaming children brought to mind imagery of Kindergarten Cop.
Minus the whole cop thing.
But perhaps more interesting is the chance meeting of like minds. Here in Sài Gòn, there are activity groups for things I did not know existed – such as a square dancing group. And geek/nerd boardgame groups. There, in a delightfully secluded and comfortable café known as Cliche Coffee, over in Downtown Sài Gòn, we meet to play fantasy and science-fiction themed boardgames – some of which took me by surprise on how awesome they are.
Just as much for the games themselves are, of course, the joy of having like company. For those just tuning in, yes I live in Sài Gòn, but more the point, as of the writing of this post, I’m living in the outskirts of the city, far from other foreigners and surrounded by millions of Vietnamese. I chose this for a number of reasons, but in recent months have come to learn a number of things — not only about the culture, but about myself.
For one thing: turns out I’m not quite as antisocial as I may have thought I was. Turns out I rather enjoy the company of other people, and while I’ve made some great (local) friends, there really is something special about hanging out with people who’ve read the same books, played the same games, and seen the same movies as you. I’ve come to learn I need to interact other geeks; it helps pull my head out of the dust and poverty of outskirts Sài Gòn, helps me remember there’s a wide world out there, and that — yes, as a matter of fact — there’re people around who have an interest in fantasy and science fiction.
I’ve been told by a number of folks that they couldn’t live the way I do. I see why and was able to carry on. Surrounded by nearly everyone who cannot speak your language, that’s tough enough as it is. Sài Gòn is an industrial town; everyone is studying to work in accounting, or construction, or engineering. There are very few creatives to be found, and even if there were, they’re hard to find.
People have seen some of my doodles laying around and haven’t remarked things like “Hey, neat,” or “Oh cool, a dragon,” or even “You call that art?” Nah, the reaction I mostly get is: “Gee, you have a lot of free time, don’t you?”
That is, of course, not to come as any surprise in a developing country. Creative projects such as writing novels or making sculptures and paintings seems to be relegated to privileged people. As with so many things, it’s one thing to live a comparatively cushy life in America and read this stuff in books; it’s quite another to see it first-hand.
But back to the idea of like minds — not only have there been discoveries of fellow geeks in Sai Gon, a possibility I did not even entertain in the past, but some friends from my hometown will actually be headed over to this side of the planet. Serving as an anchor, the “point man,” if you will, I’ve essentially opened a door for others to follow and see this mad, wondrous country in which I currently live and work.
I’ll get into more details in a future post, but suffice it to say the idea of having four friends — one of whom being none other than the Firebeard, the Thorneater himself — fly to meet me here has me most excited. Việt Nam is a veritable fantasy realm, as I’ve said in the past, rife with strange culture, food, people and landscapes.
Being able to provide the first few steps into this place is something I’ve learned I’ve thoroughly come to enjoy.