Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Our departure is early enough in the morning that I am staying up all night. I'll wake Sunshine up and we will leave for Dulles around four thirty am to print our tickets and get through security as early as the international dos-and-don'ts list asks us to. Luckily, we will have access to the business class lounge. I am breaking with the usual focus of this Update Stuff to tell you what is going to happen rather than what has. You probably know that flight delays have become epidemic. I hope this doesn't happen to us because we are being met at our destination by a nice lady who should not have to stand around all night waiting for us. We only have one connection that a delay might affect, and that's our domestic layover in San Francisco. But, knock on wood, if everything goes as planned, we'll be in Vietnam by Thursday morning around ten-thirty EST. It'll already be dark that evening in Vietnam, eleven hours on around the world. So why am I posting about a day I know nothing about? I am posting to say goodbye for a while, because the definition between now and Friday will be blurred for me, and because after six am or so I won't feel fresh air on my face again until I'm in Vietnam. But this is also goodbye for the time it takes to wrestle up internet service in the days after we arrive. Lastly, this is a petition to think warm luck at your distant friends who will be flying through the air today, and a note that I'll be doing the very same for mine: our friends from NYC and our very own honeymooning Dan and Ellie will be somewhere up there with us. Godspeed. [Cavin]


My mother arrived in town last night and treated us to a lovely Indian meal. She's here to help us get ready for our trip tomorrow, and to see us off. Today, she was joined in this pursuit by Sunshine's parents, who not only brought us one last home-cooked meal, fresh from the Kentucky garden, but also brought the dishes on which it was to be served just to keep me from having to wash ours one last time. How sweet is that? Off the to do list is my mobile phone: I canceled service today, meaning that my beloved number will stop working whenever the billing cycle is up. I don't even know when that is. I changed my voice mail greeting to reflect that no messages left there will ever get to me, and will be handing the phone off to my mother when we get to the airport. During the home-cooking tonight, I removed myself from the busy dinner-making turmoil in the kitchen to discover that not everything I wanted to take with me to Ho Chi Minh City would fit in the baggage I've spared for it--not without a lot of jamming and sitting on the suitcases to make them shut at any rate. What remained fit easily into Sunshine's extra space (she's checking two bags) and my carry-on (now become entirely unwieldy, oh well). After dinner, Sunshine packed her own stuff; then we, in rapid succession, gave away everything in the kitchen, took our largest suitcases to the caravan, and drank about one-third of the remaining Pappy Van Winkle's Kentucky bourbon in several seemingly lighthearted toasts to our impending lengthy departure. No tears yet, but at four the parents return to the house and we travel, by sleepy caravan, to the airport. [Cavin]

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Two more things off the to do list tonight: I finished reading Of Human Bondage,1 and we've watched the first season finale of Heroes.2 I liked the book better than the show. I finished the text of the novel late Friday in a North Carolina hotel, and just minutes ago finished the extensive introductory material in my replacement edition (material I frequently skip in other books, but since this was by the likes of Graham Greene and Theodore Dreiser, I couldn't ignore in this one). Heroes, on the other hand, mildly racist and mindlessly enslaved to a soapy compulsion of the creators' to subvert any possible internal consistency to some grandiloquent display of dramatic tragedy, strives to be ignored. The vast number of irritating plot spasms, inconsistent with reality and also within the parameters of the fantasy, are easiest to complain about; but these are also spoilers. More irritating was my general feeling that I was watching a band of stereotypes mark time between predictable ends; that the show hinged on a collage of X-Men and Watchmen ideas, themselves derivative. But ultimately I was most annoyed that, with the purpose of superheroics again represented as selfish power brats squabbling among themselves--indeed striving to save themselves from themselves--the world has been given one more comic-inspired opera of the opinion that superheroes are not just part of the problem, but all of it. Enough. I was very interested in one delightful peripheral character, appearing in about one-and-a-half episodes mid-season: a woman with the stone numbskull power of sending email with her mind. I am certain that this is the type of ability a miracle of genetic mutation would saddle me with. So I'm very interested in that character's heartbreakingly preposterous cantrip, and how it possibly enriches our world. [Cavin]

Monday, October 15, 2007


In difference to what I was saying before, about how this weekend home was all about a wedding and not about us, we decided to get up and leave the hotel first thing. No bittersweet goodbyes today. We checked out, got gas, and left NC for the last time. I suspect I'll return sometime before it gets really hot next year, but tickets from across the globe are pricey and the trip is long; I don't think it's going to be very soon or very often that I'm able to make it back before finally returning in 2009. It is impossible for me to return for the holidays this year, not the smallest reason being that we will be unable to reenter Vietnam on these one-entry visas before getting an upgrade that might take months once we are in-country. Today's drive home was nice. With no really bad Sunday traffic inbound, we were seated at our neighborhood Italian place about five and a half hours after hitting the road. After dinner, we had an evening to decompress, to get a little organized, and to ready ourselves for the next two days before leaving. Our plan was to get some paperwork things done around the house, and then watch the last disc of Heroes--one more bulleted thing to scratch off my to do list. But apparently the Netflix mail arrived just after our address forwarding kicked in, and therefore the post office has sent that disc on to Ho Chi Minh City. Undaunted but determined, we drove first to two video stores looking for a rental copy before realizing that these are kept on the "Hot Television" instead of the standard "Television" shelves. But we got it, and we watched a couple of episodes before going to bed. [Cavin]

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Today our very good friends Ellie and Dan were fabulously married among lanterns and vines in the pretty twilit courtyard of Greensboro's fine O'Henry hotel, completely surrounded by friends and family. The ceremony was low-key and a lot of fun. Because the O'Henry was overbooked, we were unable to stay here last night after driving to town. But we'd been put on a successful waiting list, and eventually we were allowed a room. We checked out of our first hotel and into the proper one before the ceremony. The O'Henry is nice: a wood-paneled and bronze space with leather upholstery and the best bathrooms I've ever seen anywhere. We spent the day pitching in here and there as tasks presented themselves, but for the most part today was very laid back for a wedding day, and between lunch and donning a suit I spent most of my time memorizing the faces that go along with names I've been hearing over the years. It was very nice to come home for one last weekend that had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I'm leaving. I like being the center of attention as much as the next guy, but I'm tired of saying goodbye--you know? This weekend just wasn't about me. I really enjoyed getting to take part in something else, something important, and spare somewhat less thought to the scarcity of my presence in the lives of these people I love. It was diverting to sit back and relax and have fun and dance and just be happy for Dan and Ellie. Sunshine and I got to sign as official witnesses on the nuptial paperwork, which makes me feel proud. Adjacent to our names on that sheet we wrote our address as Ho Chi Minh City. [Cavin]