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Shrooms, cracks, and anniversaries

November 1, 2010

Today I’m feeling extremely discombobulated. My left ear has been bothering me off and on ever since we got to Vietnam. Sometimes it feels like it needs to pop, and I can hear myself talking and breathing inside my head. It’s annoying and makes me not want to talk (or breathe.)

I also have no energy and just want to nap – in spite of the fact that I slept until 9am. Maybe it’s because we’ve been sleeping with the windows open and the noise never ends. It’s either honking horns and semis, or roosters crowing at 2am. I used to think they slept all night and crowed in the morning when the sun came up, but that’s not true – at least not in Vietnam. Here, the roosters crow ALL THE TIME. Just ask our friends who live on the second floor.

We didn’t leave the house until around noon, and when we did I had the strangest feeling like I was, for the first time, realizing I lived in Vietnam. Maybe the amount of time I’ve spent on facebook lately is distorting my reality. Have thoughts of Halloween parties and Piedmont Park made me forget where I am? Between this and the noise in the ear, I wonder if I’m going a little crazy.

Jonathan and I went to the market today. It’s a new, local one we found last week where people aren’t constantly reaching for you, grabbing your arms and asking “Madam, madam, what you looking for?” Here you can shop in peace – even though you may have to wake the shopkeeper.

Our first stop was a little electronics kiosk where we found a voltage converter. Unlike yesterday, the lady plugged it in for us, verifying that it did, in fact, work. We’ll have to consider the one we bought yesterday a wash since we don’t have a receipt and the taxi ride to and from the shop will cost nearly as much as the worthless converter. Now Jonathan can use the precious coffee grinder that was shipped to us (an expensive ordeal that is a story for another time.)

We wandered through the household stalls picking up some towels to take to the gym’s sauna and a big pitcher for water (since you could die of thirst in the amount of time it takes our five gallon tank to dispense a glass of water.)

By this time most of the meat and seafood was already being cleaned up for the day and the rats were coming out to collect the remains. (I have never seen so many big rats in my life.) I pulled out my phrasebook, hoping for some basil, limes, and mushrooms. Our friends recently bought a whole bunch of ‘limes’ and got home to discover they were weird oranges. The mushrooms were right in front of our faces, but we didn’t recognize them because they are completely round and don’t have stems. The ‘basil’ she showed me was either not basil or just not what I was hoping for. Two of three isn’t bad though.

Once we got home I started investigating the mushrooms. I don’t really like them so I have never learned to cook them, but since I’m married to a man who loves them, it’s time to learn. Thinking they were regular mushrooms with the bottoms cut off, I broke one open, and was surprised to discover a little mushroom inside. They are like the Russian stacking dolls version of mushrooms. Extremely perplexed, I spent about twenty minutes googling mushrooms, Asian mushrooms, mushrooms within mushrooms, and pictures of mushrooms. Why must everything be so much work?

I finally discovered that they are immature straw mushrooms that haven’t been peeled. Evidently, they are much tastier and more nutritious when they’re unpeeled, so we just chopped them in half and threw them in the stir-fry.

All the while I’m googling, Jonathan is discovering that there is something wrong with our kitchen floor. I heard him exclaim and move quickly to the side of the room. He said it felt like the floor was about to collapse (not a good feeling when you’re on the 25th floor.) I walked across it and felt like I was back on the warped, wooden floors of our 160-year-old farmhouse on Roscoe Road. A heavy step at the front door could knock something over in the china cabinet at the end of the hall.

So why are we feeling this way in our fairly new, concrete ivory tower? Turns out, the floor is shaking because about half of the two foot square tiles have bowed up. I find this strange and extremely disturbing in a building like this (possibly connected to all the hairline cracks in the walls.) The maintenance man came to look at it, and we all pointed and nodded together. He said 9am tomorrow, so I’m curious/anxious to see what they will do to fix it in the morning.

On a brighter note, five years ago, on this first day of November, I had the pleasure of making Jonathan’s acquaintance. Contrary to what many believe, him being a pilot and me being a flight attendant, we did not meet at work. Along with my roommates and a couple friends, I had invited a pilot friend over for dinner. He was hanging out with two of his friends, so we told him to bring them as well. One of them was Jonathan, and the other was Joe (who has been married to my old roommate for three years now.)

According to Jonathan’s sister, Julie, shortly afterward he said he was going to marry me. We had tacos that night, and many months later he confessed that he threw up when he got home. He borrowed my Calvin and Hobbes comic book, was evidently not scared off by the tacos, and the rest is history.

This was taken shortly after – our first photo together.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen permalink
    November 1, 2010 15:40

    Love your blog, Grace!! And you……
    I hope you feel better soon…..

    • November 1, 2010 17:18

      Thank you so much. Knowing you enjoy it makes me keep writing :-)

  2. Tanya permalink
    November 1, 2010 16:16

    I don’t even remember Joe from that night. And I am glad the tacos didn’t scare off Jonathan :-) So happy for you both!

    The thing about your floors scares me too and it did remind me of your old farmhouse. I am going to call you soon – great job with the mushrooms, it looks delicious.

  3. Jonathan permalink
    November 2, 2010 00:51

    My must read in the morning with a cup of joe. Keep it up beautiful as I’m always entertained to read about our days in Viet Nam from your point of view.

    Love you. Five years down many more to come!

  4. Erin Schroepfer permalink
    November 2, 2010 14:14

    Grace,
    I love reading your blogs, always so interesting and unique. You are a sweet girl.

  5. The big brother from up north permalink
    November 7, 2010 16:19

    Make me a shopping list, like a coffee grinder, for us to carry down. remember it’s probably made here anyway.
    If you find some basil seeds save me some – it’s hard to find here too.

    • November 8, 2010 15:03

      The coffee grinder has been arranged and Mama should be shipping an extra packet of basil seeds for you. I’ll get with you on other things you might have that we don’t. Thank you xox

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