The First Night

This is where I’ll be sleeping tonight, on a one-and-a-half inch mattress pad surrounded by my kids and husband. I love it. It’s so surreal to be here in Vietnam. It had been such a mad scramble to the end, and the whirlwind of activity made the hours and hours of travel speed by in a mindless blur. In the blink of an eye we had arrived and were assaulted by strange and strangely familiar scenes, sounds, and smells. The hum of traffic and commerce, the heavy smog of pollution that sits on your skin and in your lungs like an oppressive blanket, the constant stream of horns blaring at each other as our taxi wove its way through a sea of sun-weathered faces on motorbikes. It’s like revisiting an alien planet that you had seen in your dreams. Tom and I had stayed in Saigon for a few weeks during our honeymoon over 13 years ago. So much has changed since then, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what, other than there are a lot more cars now. It’s vaguely familiar and yet enthrallingly new and exciting to be here with our kids and experience it through their eyes.

Crunch Time

The house is a mess, I haven’t finished packing and am still doing laundry, the kids need a bath and our red eye flight is tonight. Not only did we meet some friends on the strip for lunch, I absolutely must get a pedicure before we leave. I have poor prioritization and planning skills.

Last Day: Part II

Friday the 29th was officially my last day at work but I brought the kids into the office today to wrap up some loose ends. It’s been pure madness these last few days as we try to organize and pack for a year. Getting ready for vacation is so stressful. Poor me. I’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief once we’re on the plane. Despite how much left there is to do, Tom and I are trying to squeeze in some movies that we’ve been wanting to see. Last night we started watching Argo after 11pm and we rented Zero Dark Thirty to watch tonight. We have poor prioritization and planning skills.

What I Plan To Do During My Year-Long Sabbatical

In no particular order (or maybe from most significant to least), below is my to-do list for the following year:

1. Sleep.

2. Home school my kids. I figure I’m way smarter than them, so how hard can it be?

3. Sleep.

4. Facebook stalk each of my friends. I’m pretty judgmental so if you can’t handle the scrutiny, now would be a good time to unfriend me.

5. Sleep.

6. Have (more and better quality) relations with my husband. Considering the sorry state of our current affairs (or lack thereof), this should not be difficult.

7. Sleep after having relations with my husband.

8. Explore Vietnam and travel to other amazing, unforgettable places throughout Asia.

9. Read for fun. No purchase agreements or indentures for a year, yippee!

10. Do some soul-searching to see if I have one.

11. Write a total piece of crap and become instantly rich and successful. It worked for Fifty Shades of Grey, right?

12. Achieve symmetrical eyebrows. They each take turns being arched and rounded, but never both at the same time. I do not understand what causes this.

13. Gain 20 pounds from eating everything in sight.

14. Lose 10 pounds from the diarrhea resulting from eating everything in sight.

15. Take naps in between bouts of diarrhea.

Not a particularly admirable list but hopefully evolving.

I’m a Hypocrite

I never read Eat Pray Love but I was not a fan of the movie, specifically the main character played by Julia Roberts. She led a charmed life and by her own admission was supremely unhappy with the outcome of her very own choices. The antidote to her ennui and dissatisfaction was to travel to exotic places to eat delicious foods, meet intriguing people, explore her spirituality, and generally find herself. She was so annoying. It seemed incredibly self-indulgent, even offensive, that she bemoaned the self-imposed, practically perfect circumstances of her life and had the means and audacity to change the course of it. Talk about first world white women problems. There are countless people in this world who struggle with far worse with far less. She had the nerve to be unhappy for no apparent reason.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably luckier than I deserve (not that I don’t work hard for what I have — I work very, very hard). I have the best husband and children ever; I’m just about to have a terrific career. And yet lately I’ve been suffering from some inexplicable dissatisfaction with the course of my life and a nagging urge to experience something completely different. Like third-world-Asia different.

In all fairness, it’s not really an inexplicable dissatisfaction. I can explain it pretty well: I want to spend more time with my family and enjoy my life. I want to run away from reality instead of dealing with it. I want to be happy, even though I already should be. In short, I have turned into Julia Roberts. To my dismay I can’t distinguish myself from her stupidly annoying character in Eat Pray Love. I’ve thought about it a lot and the best defense I can come up with is that I would rather be hypocritically happy than miserably principled.

And so the family and I are about to embark on the biggest adventure of our lives to date. For the first time in a long time, I’m excited, terrified, elated, curious, and hopeful about the impending future, and eager to see what it holds for us.  Life is going to be unpredictable, and the promise of endless possibilities is a beautiful thing.