Tag Archives: Vietnam

Lunar New Year

It’s New Year’s Eve in much of the world today and I’m getting ready to celebrate here in California. I haven’t celebrated this holiday much since Hoat died. He always used to whirl through the house on this day; cleaning, preparing the meal, putting flowers in vases, getting the incense ready, cooking the chicken and the sticky rice. He had everything ready by midnight, when he put the food and flowers on the cold porch to lure out all the bad spirits and feelings that had settled in with us during the year. The smell of the food and incense would attract the good spirits in the neighborhood and they were invited when we brought the food back in. Then we would feast. I know he missed his native Vietnam and the family he gave up to be with us. I love ritual and this particular holiday is one of my favorites.

It’s been nearly eight years since he died and in recent years I’ve let the holiday go by without much notice. This year I’m getting ready to meet our daughter MaiLynn in Vietnam and all things Vietnamese are interesting me again. Mai is already there, celebrating with the friends she’s met on her journey to discover what being half Vietnamese means to her. This holiday, I hope, is bringing her closer to an answer. I’m traveling some of this journey with her.

New Years Decorations in Hanoi

New Years Decorations in Hanoi

So, in a house I share with a Jew, an atheist and a non-practicing Catholic, I’ll be doing the ritual tonight. I’ll be cleaning my room, making a meal for the spirits and staying up late to honor memory and the journey forward.

Happy New Year!

photo URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/motiqua/6764067835/

Using That Good Advice

I went to my first critique group yesterday and met several new people who all became my allies in the struggle to become a better writer. I was so impressed with their work and I’m sure that I’ll learn a lot from their comments. This morning I used their suggestions to edit and do a little rewrite of the first chapter of the memoir and it looks much better.

After a few more changes, I’ll be sending it off to my daughter, MaiLynn, so she can read it and comment. We’re working together on this memoir. It brings us closer even though I’m in California and she’s in New Zealand.  We’re still working on the on-line communication and sharing aspects but I think we can handle it with Skype and Google Docs.

It’ll be great to work together a bit when I meet her in Vietnam for three weeks. Mostly we’ll be exploring the country, but we plan to put some of this book together too. I’m getting ready for the trip by taking Vietnamese lessons from my brother-in-law. Some of those sounds are tough to pronounce. I hope I get better soon or I’ll be embarrassing myself and confusing others. It might make for some funny stories.

Back to work. I have to figure out how to write a flashback for one of the events in that first chapter.