A Totally Impractical Guide to Changing Everything All At Once (Again)

study time


I should be studying right now.

Four units into the first module of a master’s degree in applied linguistics, I’m painfully wrapping my head around the idea of a lexeme’s paradigm (not to be confused with a gangsta’s paradise, though I will admit that I now can’t get Coolio out of my head) and filling every non-work, non-Thwack crevice of my time with reading way too many words about words.

Did I mention the MA before?

Did I mention the job?

I’ve been distracted. That and everything has completely changed yet again.


hanoi helmets

All dressed up for work, Hanoi style.


You know how when we moved here exactly a year ago I was a full time stay at home mother to a mad infant, living in an unnecessarily large four story house in expat family dense Tay Ho, scrambling to find minutes of calm in which I could scribble off the required 20,000 words needed for my succession of relocation guides to Chinese cities I’d never even been to much less moved to? I was the rare foreign woman in the neighborhood without a nanny, without an expat income, without either a) a job at an embassy or NGO or B) a husband with a job at an embassy or NGO.

It was a weird and tricky season.

Well, that’s all changed.

Can I tell you where I’m at right now, just so we can keep this blog up to date?

  • We live in a tiny (but very pleasant) flat overlooking Truc Bach lake, where John McCain was patriotically shot down during the war of American aggression (you know the one).
  • Thwack now has 2.5 nannies. Or maybe 1.25. He has three part time nannies. THREE. We’re totally making up for last year’s solo parenting experiment.
  • I’m working full time. Very full time. Out the door by 7am, back in at 5pm. Four back to back hours of intense, advanced academic English teaching every freaking day of the week, followed by another four intense hours of planning and marking. Thankfully not of the white-face tefl-tastic edutainment  variety that is rife here. My first job back after two years away from the chalkface is as serious as they can get here (yay?). Another Australian uni to add to my growing list of antipodean tertiary gigs.
  • I’m doing my MA in Applied Linguistics, via Nottingham distance learning (hello moodle and covertly acquired pdfs of required readings). We may have quietly slipped away from our nearly-year in Leicester (remember Leicester? I lived there for 10 months. That was a lifetime ago. We had a great spice collection) but I’m now at least academically tethered to the east midlands for a few more years to come. The university’s student’s union keeps sending me invitations to parties around campus. The commute from Hanoi would be a bit too rigorous, I think, and the cost of a babysitter prohibitive.

Remember how last year, as we were packing up to leave the UK, having left our little terraced house in Clarendon Park (the groovy, fun bit of Leicester), I wrote about packing for the person you’d like to become?

I packed a specific mix of clothes and shoes, ready to rearrange my internal and external universe to fit an optimistic new version of my no-longer-Shanghai, no-longer-pregnant self.

I’ve just started wearing some of them. A year later. A year ago, I wasn’t ready for them- wrong weather, wrong situation (can’t nurse in this one, feel ridiculous carting a baby around in that one, etc). I’m not sure, however, if my projected anticipated self bears any resemblance to what now feels like a haphazard slapping together of circumstance, concession, resignation, anticipation and optimism.

And shoes.

I’m rebuilding my shoe collection, bit by bit.

Next, to find gringo-friendly bordeaux tinted hair dye.

It’s a start.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About MaryAnne

I live in Hanoi. I used to live in Shanghai (hence this blog’s title) but I left in 2013. I tend to travel. I cook stuff. I read a lot. I try to scare myself silly with regularity. I write about it all. A lot.