Sometimes I manage to worry or dread myself into quite a state about really silly, unnecessary things. I mean, I guess all worries are unnecessary, but some are more ridiculous than others. Including most of mine. Sometimes, I dread something and put it off for a long time and make it into this huge, terrible thing in my head; then when I finally get around to it, I am pleasantly surprised at how non-heinous it is.
Like tonight. To step back a few weeks, I have found myself coming off of a couple really incredible months in which I have honestly been loving life in Viet Nam, to a couple of weeks that have been inexplicably blah. So, I was already in an easily-annoyed mood.
My past few weeks of annoyance with life have been contributed to by my dear/aggravating bicycle, which has been struggling. Just the other weekend, I spent a whole morning finding a repairman and then getting my back wheel's tube replaced after having a perpetually flat tire, and yesterday--much to my annoyance--the flatness returned, even after the third time getting it pumped.
So the plan: take the bike to the MCC office, so that our guard can take it somewhere to get a tune-up while I am gone in India for a week (!!). The thing is, the only way I could figure out how to get the bike there was to walk it from my house, along the aptly-named "Smelly River." Now this walk--probably around 4 km, give or take some-- wouldn't be so bad for a strong girl like me. But have you ever walked a bike any distance before? Yeah, its annoying. Sometimes it even kicks you. And here, I expected that I would have an hour of "Allo!"s and stares to put up with--things that sometimes only make me laugh, but other days drive me crazy. And, given my recent history, I figured today was likely to be one of those other days.
Anyways, to make this already-long story short, I finally did it, and it just wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. As far as the catcalls go, I think I just got one compliment and one exclamation of "foreigner!!!" until I got to this one group of guys who really wanted me to come into their restaurant; but by that point I was able to just laugh off their comments (which were probably just responses to my height, white skin and "tall nose"--in other words, my astounding, exotic beauty--anyways).
Then, after dropping off my bike, I needed to find a xe om (motor taxi) home, because while I could have walked or ran, I really needed to pack. I found a group xe om men, and after some spirited bargaining and timely use of the walk-away tactic, I got one of them down from 50,000 (a truly ridiculous price) to 30,000. I was happy. And, of course, the men complimented me on my Vietnamese, which was really a load of BS considering that I had really only said the words "so expensive!", the name of my street, and a bunch of numbers, along with various noises of disgust. And considering that my Vietnamese really isn't good at all, as I've been reminded of a lot recently. However, these days I have been feeling particularly down about my lack of Vietnamese and--as a result--about my interactions with people, so I couldn't help but feel a little good about the encounter.
I realized two things. One, about the actual xe om bartering situation: so much is really just about confidence. I didn't speak Vietnamese well, but I was confident about the fact that the man's price was absurd. My dad gave me some advice recently that I have found to be profound. Paraphrased, it was something like this: sometimes the only way to gain confidence is to act like you are already confident. I'm not always good at living this out, but when I am, it often pays off.
The other thing was just how often I blow silly situations way out of proportion. Which is a lesson you would think I might have learned by now; clearly I still need reminders.
Anyways, remember how I said I had to get a xe om home so I could pack for India? Yeah, about that...