How to View Your First Dead Body

When you are told that you will be visiting a mausoleum

Specifically the one of a questionably celibate Vietnamese communist leader

Do not think twice

Hanoi is Vietnam’s D.C

The mausoleum is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Do not question your guide when he tells you

Bring your camera and bags

Do not question the guards when he tells you

All are prohibited

Leave your cash, ID, camera, and voice with your guide

All are prohibited

They will wake the resting leader

Do not shiver when you step into the stone

Tell yourself

It just seems cold because

The heat index outside is come celsius degree

That only means hot to you

Ignore the thought that the temperate seems to be

More for the dead than for the living

Ignore all the signs that say

There is a preserved body in the next room

Tell yourself

He will be under stone

When you turn the corner

Do not meet eyes with Ho Chi Minh

When you hyperventilate

Do not meet eyes with the guards

Avoid their bayonets

You do not want to share a coffin

With a man who has been preserved

40 years too long

When your legs go numb

Stiff like the ones you have come to revere

Do not grab the mourner next to you

Sexual advances are not to be viewed

By celibate Uncle Ho

Focus on the stone wall

Try not to think about the hammer and sickle engraved on the wall

Try not to think about the boy engraved on your fovea

Try not to think about Ho Chi Minh

Was on the other side of your first

Face-to-face encounter

With a dead body

To Share Feelings I Like

Inspired by this video, I want to share with you some of my favorite feelings.

1.The moment when I know I have taken a good photo, which will probably turn out to be my favorite from that series of photos.  Not only am I proud of the photo, I am excited to get home, to edit it, to share it.  It’s this serendipitous combination of both instant and delayed gratification that I simply love.

2. The moment when a sentence, or a segment more accurately, just forms in my head when I’m taking the dogs for a walk, or at school learning Calc, or when I’m in the shower, and I can tell that the segment is going to be the start of a poem, or short story, or is simply just a line that I will come to love. As much as I love this, I need to remember to write even when this does not happen.  I often fall into the trap of waiting to write until I feel like something is waiting to jump out, but I must start letting the words crawl out as well.

4. When I am reading a good book, such as Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood (which I am currently reading), and I cannot wait until the day is over so I can get in bed, curl up with my creature-of-choice (my dog Spencer) and read with a cup of freshly brewed loose-leaf tea next to me. The book acts as the light at the end of the tunnel for a very long day.

5. When I put on a song, such as Rollercoaster by Bleachers, and it takes me back to where I first listened to it.  I listened to the Bleachers’ album while I drove through Big Sur in California, so now every time I listen to that album, I get to enter into that beautiful place. Sometimes I think that music gives me more powerful memories than smells.

6. As someone with food allergies, I love the moment when something that I think will contain my allergen, and it doesn’t.  This has happened with Oreos and Cookie Butter, two of my favorite foods. (I do realize they quite aren’t actually foods).

7. My favorite time of day is right before I fall asleep, when I’m in bed.  I love listening to WYNC and having a few moments totally to myself.

8. Returning home from a long journey and having my house smell slightly different than when I first left.  I then take the best shower I’ve ever taken, as I finally have water pressure and my own body wash.

9. I love being in an airport by myself.  I feel like once you get past security, the rest of the airport belongs to the travelers.  The airport terminal places everyone on a nearly equal playing field; everyone is slightly uncomfortable; everyone is ready to explore.

10. I love completing a project that I have been working on for a long time.  As the editor-in-chief of my school’s newspaper, I got to experience this feeling at the end of every month.  There is such a huge release when your project leaves the nest and enters the world.