“There’s an old Vietnamese saying …”

October 23, 2014 § 3 Comments

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Vietnamese and American veterans, 2013, Binh Dinh Province, Viet Nam

In all the stories of the United States and Vietnam there runs a mysterious emotional and psychic connection that weaves through the increasingly frantic and desperate actions of the war, persists in the sad and unresolved aftermath, and shows up in the stories of individual people. « Read the rest of this entry »

Wise and Otherwise

October 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

In one of my favorite board games the players hear the first part of a saying from a particular country or culture. They then make up an ending that they think will be convincing. The dealer gathers the responses, includes the real one, and then reads them out. The object is to guess the right ending from among the clever imposters.

For example: There’s an old Welsh saying, “The first to be a thief …”

Or this one: There’s an old Japanese saying, “The road of time … “

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October 9, 2014 § 2 Comments

10703518_4717179543178_3291343549720035313_nMark and I have been assembling, discussing, ordering, and editing his writing about his two tours in Vietnam for a little over a year now. We have taken care of the thorniest problems, come to agreements about what to leave in and what to delete, and now it is mostly a question of me working my editing magic on the rest. « Read the rest of this entry »

Clean sweep

September 4, 2014 § 1 Comment

chaos“What on God’s green earth are you doing??”

Coyote stood in the door of my office. He sounded genuinely alarmed.

“Cleaning,” I said, flinging the contents of a hanging folder onto a precarious pile  and tossing the folder in another direction. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Rifle on the Beach, 1967

July 29, 2014 § 1 Comment

Beach in Gaza Strip, tb040305579_thumbForty-seven years ago, July 19,1967, I was traveling in Israel with a university study group. I had anticipated this trip for months, reading whatever I could find and watching as our itinerary began to coincide with sabre-rattling and then the explosion of the Six Day War. I was old enough to fill my journal with grand ideas about the world and my place in it but young enough, and protected enough, to feel excitement about going to a place where something was happening. « Read the rest of this entry »

Writer’s Retreat, Day Four

July 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

344024659When I had a one-year appointment at the Johnson Museum many years ago I had a phone very much like this sitting on my desk. It wasn’t red and I don’t remember those buttons on the right but the ones along the bottom were for the different lines and they would light up when a call came in. It was very distracting. No matter what I was doing at my desk, if those buttons lit up, my concentration was broken and invariably I would wait to see if the signal came that the call was for me. « Read the rest of this entry »

Cultural Encounter

June 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Central Highlands, Vietnam

Central Highlands, Vietnam

President Johnson: Things are going reasonably well in the South [Vietnam], aren’t they?
McNamara: Yes, I think so.
President Johnson: What are these 6,000 men doing? They’re trying to locate the enemy, I see, and they’ve run them into caves.
McNamara: Yeah.
President Johnson: Do you know anything about that?
McNamara: Yeah, and they’ve–but it’s a small–it’s just so typical, Mr. President. It’s a relatively small enemy force. We think we’re taking a heavy toll of them, but it just scares me to see what we’re doing there with taking 6,000 U.S. soldiers with God knows how many airplanes and helicopters and firepower and going after a bunch of half-starved beggars … And the great danger – and it’s not a certainty, but it’s a danger we need to look at, is that  they can keep that up almost indefinitely.

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