Friday, November 07, 2008


Even though today's title is Alien Poltergeist Reality, it's still just as prosaic as usual. That title is only a list of today's elements in reverse order. A journal title. If it was a descriptive clause, a story title, that would be exciting. See: I covered the Reality part already. That's what I call prosaic. Since my birthday I've had trouble returning to the gym. Except for this trip to Cambodia (and the in-law visit, the trip up the Mekong, the long election, and most Saturdays), I've been exercising every night for months. Whenever I slightly lapse, I become concerned about how difficult it’ll be to begin again. Ironically, once I finally stop worrying, I find the workout itself to actually be easier than I remember it being before. Apparently, resting is a worthwhile part of exercising. Last night I ran four kilometers cold; what had been difficult before my birthday was surprisingly easy. What was difficult was making myself do it: going downstairs was harder than running. The gym is usually dark after ten pm. But last night the television was left on and the gym was bright blue. On screen was continuous footage of two men riding horses toward me along a trail, ebbing and flowing in relation to the POV. The show was silent, hypnotic, and as seemingly pointless as creepy static. The TV is too high to reach and I couldn’t find the remote, even in the unusually bright room. It made for an eerie run, and afterwards I could see my sweat patterns. Something learned from exercising every day: apparently my sweat is acidic. I never noticed when I was essentially inert. My new body is beginning to eat tiny holes in my gym clothes. This reality of bodily pH is somewhat unnerving. [Cavin]

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Yesterday was a great day. It was also a long one. Whenever I do something at six in the morning I stay up all night (especially on topsy-turvy election days beginning with a dinner engagement and ending at a sun-up party, in clothes the official invites refer to as "smart casual"). This certainly contributed to my feeling of setlag throughout yesterday. After the last few elections I was stunned this one played out so handily--ballyhooed, as it has been, owing to certain hot-button expectations that never really materialized into reality. What Bradley Effect? Indeed, the four hours set aside for the official State Department shindig was nearly enough to accommodate everything from Kentucky going red at daybreak to the President-Elect's rousing and almost content-free acceptance speech. By then it was lunchtime, thankfully; when eyebrows weren't going to rise over the election night drinking I usually do. I joined a Voters Abroad afterparty in the smoky backroom of O'Brien’s Bar and lived the whole thing over again via CNN's twenty-four hour recap. And the day frittered by. I returned to the apartment in time for housekeeping to kick me back out again. Surfing the web, I marveled that my home state, generally red as a happy circus balloon seconds after the polls close, was still undecided hours after the race was called (and, in fact, remains yellow as of this report). I was exceedingly happy to read this. When Sunshine got off work, we returned to O'Brien’s before sharing a celebratory meal at the nearby Refinery where I ordered something called an "Obamatini": coffee-infused vodka and crème de cacao, with unmixed heavy cream doodles floating on the surface. It looked for all the world like a Hostess Cupcake in conical stemware. Later on I slept for eleven hours. [Cavin]

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Today has been an interesting observation of situational incongruity, something I'd never experienced before coming to Asia; a concept I'm growing comfortable enough with to somewhat attempt coining here. I've been living twelve time zones from where I grew up for almost thirteen months now. So it's been quite a while since I've experienced that odd disconnection between the clock, measuring increments of solar movement in relation to the curve of our horizon, and my physical expectation of elapsed time based solely on observed habitual intervals. Jetlag is measurement incongruity: the time which has elapsed in memory does not align with the time of day. Right? Eventually the memory of elapsed intervals fades into an expectation centered around the clock itself, and jetlag fades. This morning I woke up at six for a party at the White Palace convention center. US Consulate HCMC was throwing an election day party. We got into our cab at seven and arrived at the venue thirty minutes later. The party started at eight am, just as polling closed across the US eastern seaboard. Usually, I follow election returns sitting at Café Europa's solid wood bar, beer in hand, "I Voted" sticker on my shirt, surrounded by neighborhood regulars. Early this morning, suit-and-tie US expats and Vietnamese notables piled into a room with twelve chandeliers and a brace of huge televisions projecting a red-yellow-blue map of US states and each candidate's accruing tally of all-important Electoral College votes. I was enjoying coffee and the circulating platters of local fruit-and-pastry breakfast fare. I was sleepy. Situational incongruity can be divorced from that memory of elapsed intervals characterizing the disconnection referred to as jetlag. It was a really weird setting, even after all this time: evening things done in the early am. How about "setlag"? [Cavin]

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

US Election Tuesday

I hope you had a wonderful Halloweekend. And, hey, Happy Super Tuesday, too. All these memorable times are still aligning. I almost delayed this triumphant return from October's Silence of the TombTM until tomorrow, when the US campaign trail finally reaches its conclusion. These events aligning already made me drop updating during October, after all. Sunday we returned from our holiday-focused retreat to the Kingdom of Cambodia, just in time for election stuff to steal our lives once more. That's why I almost returned here, triumphantly, tomorrow instead of today. But tonight we were invited to Sunshine's boss's house for a party, just a little while ago, an ostensibly work-related dinner which became an election-themed thing because it happened to align with the polls opening back home. It also turned into a pretty thrilling impromptu bourbon tasting, the unexpected revelation being a bottle of Baker's. So I'm returning early to provide the following uninstructive anecdote, which glibly fails to align, in any meaningful way, into commentary on US political events. The partygoers were staged at company headquarters, to be bussed out to the boss's house in the suburbs. I'd walked there in my dress pants and nice shoes. It was tropically humid, but it wasn't raining. By the time twenty-ish coworkers had piled into vans for the ride into District Two, I'd noticed a five-inch tear along the seam of my dress crotch. When did that happen? Had I mooned a thousand passing scooters along Le Duan Street, innocently leaning over? Did some protocol cover asking my hosts for safety pins? Should I just sit down all night, knees pressed together under my napkin; some porcelain ingénue? I managed to keep my dignity right up until this post, but it certainly made for a pretty awkward election celebration. [Cavin]