Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Goodbye, Vietnam!

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    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    Sticky Balls!!

    Misleading title, perhaps (but that's what they're called); however, I received these in a care package from the states. They've been a LIFE SAVER in the classroom, especially in a classroom with 43 second-graders and no assistant. Thanks, Dad, for the gifts!
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      Tuesday, October 2, 2012

      New Toys!

      Finally came out of the ice age and bought a flat screen and a washing machine.
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        Sunday, September 23, 2012

        View from the Outside

        Shot this from the balcony this afternoon. Living room, dining room, and kitchen. Loving my posh pad.
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          Sunday, September 16, 2012

          My Condo at Night

          Pretty cool, eh?
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            Monday, August 27, 2012

            My New Crib (pre-move in)

            I'll be moving on up this weekend!!! The best thing about my new apartment is this awesome living room on the 9th floor, overlooking the city of Bien Hoa.
            The other best things are the floor to ceiling wardrobes in both bedrooms!
            A view of the dining room and living room.
            Looking in from the front door.
            The exterior of the building.
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              A Care Package from my Pops!

              When all other friends fail, I can always count on my dad for a care package. Need to keep my immune system strong around all those preschoolers I'm teaching!!
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                Saturday, August 18, 2012

                Moving on up!!

                Here's a look at my new, posh apartment building as seen from my school's rooftop. I'll be moving in and up in exactly two weeks. Here are the Top 10 things I'm looking forward to from getting away from my current neighborhood, Tan Mai, for where I've been over three years:
                1. NOT having to say "Hello" to every stinking kid in the neighborhood who sees me pass by only to be replied to with "F*CK YOU!" that they've clearly seen in a movie and have no concept of the meaning.
                2. NOT having to rush to work as the school is not even half a mile away. NOT having to zig zag my way through shortcuts via alley ways and dirt roads to get onto the main road. Actually, not even having to get on the main road at all is a plus.
                3. Having an actual living room and NOT having to park motorcycles and scooters in it since the apartment building has ground level parking. I'll actually have a living room I can enjoy.
                4. This ties in to Number 3, but NOT having to open the door and open the gate to get my scooter in and out, then having to close both the door and gate behind me. At the new apartment, I can just hop in the elevator, take it down to parking level, get on my scooter and GO!
                5. Definitely looking forward to the amazing views of the city. My apartment is on the 9th floor allowing for some great scenes.
                6. PRIVACY!! OH how I'll enjoy the privacy of an apartment building and not having to be gossiped about, being the only foreigner in the entire neighborhood! There are several foreigners in the building. I'm really looking forward to that.
                7. HANH PHUC BAKERY!!!!!!!! Western Style cupcakes and treats, frappuccinos and more goodies will be just across the main road!
                8. An exercise track! My treadmill is the most boring thing EVER, especially working out alone. There's a workout room in the complex, but I'll for sure make use of the track!!
                9. FRIENDS!!!! My friend, Anandi is on the the same floor as I will be - two doors down, actually, and Mr. Thom and his wife will be just two floors above. No playing hooky from work since both of my bosses are just a few steps away!!
                10. SECURITY AND SAFETY! The complex is gated with a security guard station. No unexpected visitors or lottery ticket sellers can just pop in! And no having to enclose myself in or worry about petty theft. Peace of mind!
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                  Sunday, August 5, 2012

                  Retail Therapy!

                  I spent yesterday in bed fighting off a cold. Luckily, I had the day off. So today I went shopping to cheer me up. When I went home in June on vacation, I brought back my senior book from high school. I've been wanting to scan all the pictures, so today I went out and bought a 3-in-1 printer, copier, and scanner. Can't WAIT to start scanning and posting these old photos to facebook.

                  Tuesday, July 31, 2012

                  Vietnam Considers Gay Marriage

                    via the huffington post

                    Vietnam Considers Same-Sex Marriage

                    Vietnam Gay Marriage
                    By MARGIE MASON   07/29/12 05:23 AM ET  AP
                    HANOI, Vietnam -- Dinh Thi Hong Loan grasps her girlfriend's hand, and the two gaze into each other's love-struck eyes. Smiling, they talk about their upcoming wedding – how they'll exchange rings and toast the beginning of their lives together.
                    The lesbians' marriage ceremony in the Vietnamese capital won't be officially recognized, but that could soon change. Vietnam's Communist government is now considering whether to allow same-sex couples to marry or legally register and receive rights – positioning the country to be the first in Asia to do so.
                    "Our love for each other is real and nothing changes regardless of whether the law is passed or not," said Loan, 31. "But when it is passed, we will definitely go get registered. I can't wait!"
                    Even longtime gay-rights activists are stunned by the Justice Ministry's proposal to include same-sex couples in its overhaul of the country's marriage law. No one knows what form it will take or whether it will survive long enough to be debated before the National Assembly next year, but supporters say the fact that it's even being considered is a victory in a region where simply being gay can result in jail sentences or whippings with a rattan cane.
                    "I think everyone is surprised," said Vien Tanjung, an Indonesian gay-rights activist. "Even if it's not successful it's already making history. For me, personally, I think it's going to go through."
                    Vietnam seems an unlikely champion of gay-rights issues. It is routinely lambasted by the international community over its dismal human rights record, often locking up political dissidents who call for democracy or religious freedom. Up until just a few years ago, homosexuality was labeled as a "social evil" alongside drug addiction and prostitution.
                    And Vietnam's gay community itself was once so underground that few groups or meeting places existed. It was taboo to even talk about the issue.
                    But over the past five years, that's slowly started to change. Vietnam's state-run media, unable to write about politically sensitive topics or openly criticize the one-party government, have embraced the chance to explore gay issues. They have run lengthy newspaper stories and television broadcasts, including one live special that won a top award.
                    Video of Vietnam's first publicized gay wedding went viral online in 2010, and a few other ceremonies followed, capturing widespread public attention. The Justice Ministry now says a legal framework is necessary because the courts do not know how to handle disputes between same-sex couples living together. The new law could provide rights such as owning property, inheriting and adopting children.
                    "I think, as far as human rights are concerned, it's time for us to look at the reality," Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong said Tuesday in an online chat broadcast on national TV and radio. "The number of homosexuals has mounted to hundreds of thousands. It's not a small figure. They live together without registering marriage. They may own property. We, of course, have to handle these issues legally."
                    Globally, 11 countries have legalized same-sex marriage since the Netherlands became the first to do so in 2001. Only a few U.S. states allow it, but President Barack Obama provided hope for many couples worldwide after announcing his support earlier this year.
                    The issue has remained largely off the table across Asia. In Thailand, many tourists see a vibrant gay, lesbian and transgender community, but it exists largely as part of the country's lucrative entertainment industry, separated from politics and conservative Thai society.
                    Muslim-dominated nations such as Indonesia have strict laws against homosexuality. Sodomy can result in up to 20 years in jail and caning in Malaysia. But that hasn't stopped some from continuing to fight for more rights and visibility.
                    In Singapore, more than 15,000 people – double last year's turnout – recently held up pink lights in a park at night to support acceptance of the community in a modern city-state where gay sex remains illegal, even though the law is not enforced.
                    In Taiwan, a 2003 bill to recognize same-sex marriage failed to receive enough support to make it law, though a lesbian couple is expected to tie the knot in August at a Buddhist monastery.
                    Vietnam will also hold its first public gay pride parade Aug. 5 in Hanoi. The country is socially conservative, but the government restricts the kind of politicized religious movements that typically push back against same-sex marriage in other countries. Gay pride events also seem to pose little threat to Communist Party's dominance.
                    The same-sex marriage proposal still has several hurdles before it could become law. The Justice Ministry will consider opinions from the public along with government agencies before submitting its draft proposal to the National Assembly next May on whether to recommend same-sex marriage or some other type of legal recognition with rights. Then, it must be approved by a majority of parliament.
                    "Some people told me if Vietnam could legalize it, it would be very good example for other counties to follow," said Le Quang Binh, head of the nonprofit Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment, which is consulting on the marriage law. "People think that talking about it is a big step forward already. ... I hope it will lead to more openness or tolerance for gays and lesbians in Vietnam."
                    As for Vietnamese partners Loan and Nguyen Thi Chi, who share a one-room apartment down a narrow alley in Hanoi, they say their love and commitment is real, regardless of whether a law exists to recognize them when they marry next month. But they hope the new proposal will ease stigma that lingers around same-sex couples.
                    Chi, 20, knows the pain of discrimination all too well. She recently dropped out of college after being publicly outed by a note taped to one of her classroom doors saying she was "diseased." She was harassed and bullied for a year and a half on campus until finally deciding she'd had enough.
                    "Things must change," she said. "Even though it was not a nice experience, more and more people are interested in knowing about the community. And the more people that know about it, the more people will have a different view on it."

                    Saturday, July 7, 2012

                    Hi, Big Ankle

                    My huge, swollen ankle after the 16-hour nonstop flight last week from JFK to Hong Kong.  Sexy.

                    Monday, July 2, 2012

                    Apparently, I'm a snorer...

                      No one's ever brought this to my attention before.  On the last leg of my USA tour, I stayed with my good friend, Toan, in New York City.  He said he couldn't sleep in the same room with me because I was snoring so loudly.  I thought he was being dramatic and just wanted to sleep in the other room.  So, he and his sister videoed me while I was sleeping.  Talk about a wake up call (no pun intended)!

                      Sunday, July 1, 2012

                      Houston, We Have a Problem

                        If you've been keeping up with my blog, you know I went back home to the states last month for 3 1/2 weeks.  I'll post pictures of my adventures this week.  First, I have a bit of an addiction to Bath and Body Works.  Anyone who knows me knows that.  This is what I spent the majority of my money on.

                        Saturday, June 16, 2012

                        In the Boonies

                        I'm now at my dad's in remote North Louisiana where there is no cell phone reception.  Thank goodness for wifi!!  Below is a photo of my location.  Yes, in the boonies - I'm not kidding!  Be sure to enlarge the photo for the full effect.

                        Thursday, June 14, 2012

                        McNeese and SCA Cheer Reunion

                        After nearly two weeks now in the states, I've had a chance to see lots of old friends that I haven't seen in at least four years.  On Tuesday, I went to the McNeese rec complex to attend a cheer camp of the organization I used to be head instructor for.  I ran across some old teammates and staff members.  It certainly has been good catching up with everyone.  I still haven't acclimated to the time difference.

                        Saturday, June 9, 2012

                        Meet Marlee Henry, Miss Teen Louisiana USA 2012

                        So my gal pal, Patricia, wanted me to meet with Marlee to give her some tips for the upcoming Miss Teen USA Pageant next month.  We met up at Starbucks and had a great chat.  This girl's got her stuff together.  She's from a really.. REALLY small town in Louisiana, and I think she's gonna do well at Miss Teen USA.  Everyone, wish her good luck and go vote for her online!!

                        Some funny pics from our little get-together.

                        Thursday, May 31, 2012

                        I'm Going Home... FINALLY!

                          Since I arrived in Vietnam four years ago, I haven't been back to the states.  I've traveled to Cambodia, Thailand, and around the Southern and Central parts of Vietnam, but that's as far as I've been in four years.  I got caught up in work and being comfortable here.  Tomorrow morning, I'm finally going home for a little over three weeks, and here are some things I'm looking forward to.

                          1. Of couse, seeing friends and family
                          2. EATING Southern food
                          3. Sweet tea
                          4. EATING at fast food restaurants
                          5. EATING at chain restaurants

                          I guess I'll return to Vietnam 20 lbs heavier, so that treadmill and ski machine in my spare bedroom will finally be put to use when I come back.  See you when I come back because I doubt I'll have time to blog while at home!

                          I'M GOING HOME!!!!!!!!!!!

                          Friday, April 27, 2012

                          American Idol Care Package

                            So, if you read my blog, you know that my preschoolers here in Vietnam made it onto American Idol with their cute video supporting my hometown contestant, Joshua Ledet.  You can see the video here: http://gymnastmike.blogspot.com/2012/04/my-vietnamese-preschoolers-on-american.html

                            Today, I got a care package from Joshua's family that included 14 little t-shirts for my preschoolers and one big one for me.  So thoughtful!  Look for another video soon from them in these t-shirts!  A big thank you to the wonderful Ledet family.

                            Monday, April 16, 2012

                            T'was a good Sunday

                            My life is pretty routine here every day. I do the same things and rarely stray from daily life. Yesterday, was an exception as Vuong and I scootered it down to Thu Duc to visit Michele. We had pancakes for brunch - REAL pancakes! I can't tell you how long it's been since I've eaten pancakes!! They were delish!
                            After brunch, we went to her pool and swam a bit. I'm a tad sunburned this morning, but it was worth it. We found a coconut, which we threw around in the pool before I got lazy and rested my chin on it while kicking around.
                            After coming home, I went to Jun's tattoo shop and got my tat worked on.
                            And FINALLY (duh duh duh DUHHHHH), it's FINISHED!! It's been a work in progress since October, but it's finally done. Overall, I'm happy with it. I think maybe I'll stop the tattoo obsession now :)

                            Saturday, April 7, 2012

                            My Vietnamese Preschoolers on American Idol

                            Last week, my preschool class here in Vietnam made a video message for my buddy, Joshua Ledet, back in Louisiana. And can you believe it??? The video actually made it onto the show! Here's a clip from the actual show. I'm so proud of my little ones!!

                            Friday, April 6, 2012

                            American Idol Debut

                            Last week, my preschool class here in Vietnam made a video message for my buddy, Joshua Ledet, back in Louisiana. And can you believe it??? The video actually made it onto the show! Here's a clip from the actual show. I'm so proud of my little ones!!

                            Wednesday, April 4, 2012

                            A Message from my Preschoolers in Vietnam

                            My preschoolers practiced this message, and we sent it to a friend (Joshua Ledet) back home in Louisiana who's competing on American Idol this year. How cute are they!??

                            I'm a Happy Camper

                            I'm going home in June!!! (to visit for 3 1/2 weeks) - I haven't been home in the four years that I've lived in Vietnam so I'm really excited about seeing friends and family in Louisiana.

                            That said, I paid for my tickets today, got my itinerary, AND treated myself to a new global iphone 4S that I've been wanting for the longest!

                            Yes, a bit self-indulgent, but I'm worth it :)

                            Saturday, March 31, 2012

                            Great Things from my Preschoolers

                            For the past few weeks, I've been teaching my preschoolers how to write their names in English. They haven't even learned how to write their names in Vienamese yet so we've been doing a lot of tracing sheets and abc singing, etc. 10 out of the 13 students in class are now writing their names on their own, so as a treat I let them write their names on the floor instead of the tracing sheets. I'm so proud of them!!

                            Belle and Austin (you can also see Justin, Zack, and Timmy's work)
                            Tom and Alice
                            Amy and Kate
                            Tom, Alice, and Alana

                            Wednesday, March 21, 2012

                            Fat and Old, but still tumbling!!

                            Okay so.. the company that owns my school has a talent show every year, and last year they gave out gold bricks to the winners. This is my first year with my school, and I'm going HARD for this talent show. Show me the gold! I want the gold! I'm doing a gymnastics slash all-star cheerleading routine (yes, back in the day I was a gymnast and college cheerleader - my university was the national champion). So I'm a few years older, a few pounds heavier, and have lost a lot of flexibility.. but still trying to recapture some of my youth.

                            Today, I worked on my routine and cleaned it up a little. I'm opening with a triple toe back, and imagine the look on all those thin Vietnamese faces in the crowd when this big, old, fat white man opens up with this. I got a video of it today, and you can see it by clicking the following link:

                            Tell me what ya think :) P.S. The vid cuts off a little early, but I promise you I did stick the landing on that back tuck.. several times, actually. And you KNOW I'm gonna be hurtin' tomorrow!!

                            Wednesday, March 14, 2012

                            School Photo Shoot

                            Last week we had a photo shoot for my school, Asia Pacific College Dong Nai.
                            Below are some that I thought were blog-worthy. Enjoy!

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                              Tuesday, March 13, 2012

                              The joys of teaching preschoolers in Vietnam

                              As I mentioned in an earlier post, every Tuesday I travel down to Thu Dau Mot to teach at Bambi Preschool. In the afternoons, I teach little tots who don't even speak Vietnamese yet so it's fun to just sing with them. Today, as usual, they were more interested in their bottles than in singing.

                              And, this.. well.. this you don't see every day in the states.. unless you're from Mississippi, I guess.

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                                Monday, March 12, 2012

                                Preschoolers: Itsy Bitsy Spider

                                My preschoolers singing Itsy Bitsy Spider :)

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                                  Sunday, March 11, 2012

                                  Self Esteem

                                  I have a lot of self-esteem, which is amazing, because I’m probably somebody who wouldn’t necessarily have a lot of self esteem as I am considered a minority and if you are a woman, if you are a person of color, if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, if you are a person of size, if you are person of intelligence, if you are a person of integrity, then you are considered a minority in this world. And it’s going to be really hard to find messages of self-love and support anywhere. Especially women’s and gay men’s culture.

                                  It’s all about how you have to look a certain way, or else you’re worthless. You know, when you look in the mirror and think, ‘Ugh, I’m so ugly, I’m so fat, I’m so old.’ Don’t you know that’s not your authentic self? But that is billions upon billions of dollars of advertising.

                                  Magazines, movies, billboards, all geared to make you feel shitty about yourself, so that you will take your hard earned money and spend it at the mall on some turn-around crème that doesn’t turn around shit. If you don’t have self-esteem, you will hesitate before you do anything in your life.
                                  You will hesitate to go for the job you want to go for. You will hesitate to ask for a raise. You will hesitate to call yourself an American. You will hesitate to report a rape. You will hesitate to defend yourself when you are discriminated against because of your race, your sexuality, your size, your gender. You will hesitate to vote; you will hesitate to dream. For us to have self-esteem is truly an act of revolution, and our revolution is long overdue.

                                  -Margaret Cho

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                                    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

                                    2012, the end of time? I think not.

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                                      Sunday, March 4, 2012

                                      Tattoo Day

                                      Almost finished with my tattoo. One more visit, and I'll be done. Here are two photos from today's visit.

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