E-mail to Phuong 9.11.2004

Hello Phuong,
 
I’m preparing to leave Tokyo and I’m getting rid of all my things.  It is a little sad to leave Tokyo but I am getting excited about coming to Vietnam.  I’m sure I will have a better life there. 
 
Of course I don’t want to live in Hanoi, so I won’t accept any jobs there.  I have one interview at a consulting company in Saigon and they told me to come when I arrive in HCMC.  So I will go there on October 3rd for an interview.  I have also made contact with a few English teaching schools although I hope to find a business job soon and not have to teach English. 
 
I’ll arrive in HCMC on October 2nd at 10:00am on flight 750.  So I think I should be outside of the airport at about 10:15am. 
 
I’m happy for you that you will go to America and see Axel!  I’m sure that you will have a lot of fun and please say hello to Lizard for me!!!
 
See you soon and have fun in America!
 
M
 
————————————
 
Hey M,
 
How are you? I got your email last weel. Sorry I didn’t reply sooner. Have you prepared everything to leave Japan yet? Are you sad to leave Japan? Don’t be sad I think you will be happier in Vietnam.
 
Have you found work in Saigon yet? Axel said you only could find jobs in Hanoi but you don’t want to stay there. right? If you haven’t found work before you leave Japan, don’t worry, still come to Vietnam and I will help you find a job here.
 
I will go to America on the 15th of September and come back on the 1st of October. I will meet you at the airport on Octorber 2nd. Let me know your flight details so I can pick you up at the airport.
 
I will go to America to meet my goods friends there and Axel. I am sure that We will meet in Viet Nam on Octorber 2nd.
 
It is now 11:25pm on Tusday, I just came back home. I go to bed now. Have a good sleep tonight.
 
Take care!
Phuong

E-mail to Sarita 9.8.2004

Dearest Sarita,
 
Congratulations on the engagement!  I’m extremely happy for you and wish you the best.  Please be certain to send me your address around the wedding date so I can send you a nice little exotic present from Asia. 
 
I always enjoy hearing from you and reading your insightful e-mails.  You are the only friend I have who can write an intelligent e-mail with no spelling mistakes and proper punctuation. 🙂  Also, it’s full of good solid information instead of those ridiculous forwards I often receive.  I also think it’s important to keep in touch with old friends and to be honest, you are the only one who I actually keep in touch with throughout the years!  Being abroad for the longterm causes many friends to fade away much more quickly.  I’m always astounded when I take the time to survey my life and realize that most of my friends are married (many with children), have houses and careers already!  I don’t like being considered an adult and prefer to think I stopped aging at 24.  Simply writing my true age and then acknowledging the numbers I’ve written is distressing. 
 
Also, congratulations on your first serious teaching assignment.  It makes me smile to think that a friend of mine is now a true teacher!  But then again, I realize that Tory Jacobs (remember her?) is a high school Spanish teacher, another friend is a high school French teacher and an old fraternity brother was actually my T.A. in my last year of college. (But that is another story all together.)  Again, I’m forced to realize that we are in fact adults.  You are well on your way to being a prestigious professor!  Congratulations. 
 
As for me, my life will also soon change dramatically.  I’ve decided to leave Japan and move to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) Vietnam.  I was struggling the last few months of Japanese class trying to decide my next move when I took a Spring Break trip to Nam with an equally outgoing friend.  In Vietnam I discovered a paradise yet undiscovered by the world.  There are not so many tourists there due to the image of war and thus many beautiful beaches yet undisturbed by commercialization.  The people are extremely friendly even in the face of their insurmountable poverty and if we can accept that the beggars are just good people trying to make a living in their unjust circumstances then Vietnam truly is a paradise.  It was during spring break that my next move was revealed and I knew where I would go next. 
 
I have many clear headed reasons for such a move and I’ll share a few.  In Tokyo, if I chose to work in the business arena, then I would be a “Salaryman” who works all day long, is paid a lot but then must spend most of it due to the high cost of living.  This place is a concrete jungle and there is no room to think.  The #1 recreation here is drinking and that is no good for long-term health.  Also, Japan and America are mature markets while Vietnam has just unregulated (quite a bit anyway) and is growing very fast.  If I move there, I can: learn a new language, visit a beach with no tourists every weekend and thus think and write more easily, get a more exciting job where I make a difference, become even more knowledgable about the world.  Also, I have a few powerful Vietnamese contacts there including the son of the Chairman of the People’s party Ho Chi Minh, and the director of a computer company.  I’m going to stay at the directors house while I get settled with an apartment and job.  We actually met them by chance at a bar while on vacation.  They immediately took to us due to our outgoing personalities and ability to understand broken English easily. 
 
As for Americans, I understand your point all too clearly.  You probably don’t want to get me started on them but here it goes. I have no intention to ever go back to America and I actually don’t like associating with new American ex-pats.  Some of the long term ex-pats are ok but new ones are morons.  They are the most uninteresting, unknowledgable, monolingual buffons who actually support Prez. Bush!!!!  Nobody, and I mean Nobody supports President Bush abroad since his foreign policies have made the entire world unhappy.  My image of America is formed by the media and when I see so many people cheering for his rhetoric who understand nothing about what is happening makes me very sad.  I have almost come to believe that “the people” shouldn’t be allowed to govern themselves if half of America believes that Sept. 11th is related to the war in Iraq and Cheney can say things such as “If you vote for Kerry, then another terrorist attack will happen.”  I am thoroughly disgusted and have had thoughts of changing my nationality. 
 
As for pop-culture, I’m currently listening to the internet radio and the song is Outkast’s Rose which main lyric is “Roses smell like poo poo” or something like that.  American culture is going down with the speed of a 400 pound olympic diver.  When I return they always ask me if I’ve seen “The Bachelor” or Donald Trump’s show.  Actually, when I went back for a family reunion in Tahoe there was a show on called “Who Wants to Marry My Dad!!”  Needless to say, I’m never coming back to America if fortune is kind to me. 
 
Ok, I’ve written a novel.  Actually I’m due for a major website overhaul and I’ll put more writings and pictures up in the  months to come so you can keep tabs on me.  Sorry for my rants!!!
 
Abrazos,
————————
 
Hi M,
 
How have you been during the past few months?  I hope you’re continuing to enjoy Japan.  You have the most fun and exciting life of anyone I know.  Life has thrown us a lot of surprises and exciting things recently, so I wanted to fill you in!
 
First of all, Jorge proposed recently!  Our wedding is set for August 2005 in Austin, TX.  We are super thrilled and our families are delighted too.  Jorge even called my dad the night before he proposed to ask permission.  The next day we flew out to Cape Cod, MA, for a vacation with my family, so it was really fun to see them face to face and celebrate.
 
Jorge came to Spain to visit me while we were all there.  He and I were not dating at that time but he LOVES Spain and understands why I’m crazy about it. SO he shares my passion for international travel and getting to know new cultures, which is important. In fact, we were considering moving to Spain together a couple years ago, but then I was advised that I should just start my Ph.D. was I was still pretty young–after all, it’s a 5 to 6 year program.
 
Also, my folks have recently bought a home in the Austin area.  They are tired of cold winters on the East Coast, so they’re planning to move down here within the next few months.  Austin is so fun that everyone who visits us just loves it–and some people love it so much they decide to move here.
 
This summer was busy because I “taught” my first class to undergraduates.  It was a two-hour statistics and w
riting lab twice per week.  I had to prepare lectures to them about various topics, and also have them work in groups and advise them as they completed their research projects, etc.  It totally took over my life for about nine weeks, but it was an adventure and it was fun.  I’m doing the same class this fall, but the challenge is to balance it with my own classes and research projects.
 
I can see why you’re happy to be in Japan.  Americans in some ways are learning to just watch TV and not think for themselves.  It’s scary.  It’s better to take an active role in life, just like you are!  Anyway, can’t wait to hear about all you’ve been doing.
 
Talk to you soon.
Abrazos,
Sarah
 

E-mail to Phuong 9.2.2004

Hi Phuong!
 
I made my plane ticket reservation today!  I will arrive in HCMC on October 2nd and arrive at 10:00pm.  If you are still in America on that day, then I can always go to a hotel and wait until you return.  I’m very excited about coming there but also nervous about leaving Tokyo!  It’s such a big change.
 
When I come, I’m looking forward to talking to you about your business and life.  I know you are feeling stressed now and I think a good discussion would help! 
 
I hope you had a relaxing time in Thailand!  Take care and see you next month!  Please tell Mr. Minh that I said hello!!  
 
Matt

Letter to Dad 8.29.2004

Good Morning Dad,

Thanks for having C. call me.  It had been ages since I’d last spoke to
her and it was good to have a chat.

It’s almost September now and the weather has become cool and a bit wet here
in Tokyo.  It’s a fitting season to be leaving Japan; a place where I’ve
developed so much and had my eyes opened a little more.  Everyday, I
struggle with the thought of leaving here and try to imaging what life will
be like in Vietnam.  However, I believe it’s the comfort of Tokyo that stirs
these fears since I have established myself quite well in this concrete
jungle.  Yet, I’m determined to go to Vietnam for a few main reasons:

1.  It’s developing and many American businesses are setting up operations
there.  If I contrast it with America I see Vietnam as a place where I could
advance my career as well as my character much more rapidly than I could in
the United States.  The entire city is developing and is filled with the
excitement of opportunity and a better life.  Plus, I could add another
language.  I’m happy with my Japanese ability and after this language,
Vietnamese shouldn’t be too difficult.

2.  The people are so poor there that they remember what it’s like to be
friendly and kind to strangers.  I’m less afraid of losing some rights there
than I am of the gangs in America and indiscriminate killing that goes on
everyday in our own town.  I’m also against this hyper-materialism that has
taken hold of America.  I’ve become quite fond of Grandpa’s generation and my
image of America at that time.  Everytime I go back home, I do meet many
nice people but most are superficial, shallow people who display their worth
by the things they buy and constantly sizing up the other person in terms of
material things.  It’s so refreshing to go to a country that is so poor,
they cannot behave quite as badly yet, although give them time and I’m sure
they will follow the trend.

3.  The quality of life should be much better there for someone like me.  If
I compare the salaries with the price of products minus the poverty, I’d
make out better in Vietnam (so long as I spend all my money there).  In
fact, since my salary here is paid a month in arrears, I should have plenty
of money for rent and all expenses for about three months.

These points along with many others drives my motivation to go and work
there.  I’m very excited to go and I’ve gotten some invitations for
interviews; one from a consulting agency and one from a language school.
However, I will do my absolute best to try to get a business job and am
applying to language schools as a backup.  I’m confident that I’ll land
something is business eventually however.

Finally, I read an excellent article that confirms many of my thoughts about
people not really being smart or informed enough to vote intelligently.  It
also talks about how the elites form most of the masses opinions about which
candidates to vote for.  I’m sure you’ve already read it but it’s a
masterpiece.

http://www.newyorker.com/critics/atlarge/?040830crat_atlarge