Peer pressure has won out. At the behest of family and a few good friends, I decided to start a blog. I have recently relocated to Vietnam in an effort to put more focus on music. Ideally, this blog was supposed to be centered around food, but I figured, why not make it a combination of my two passions:
Putting things in my face circle (EDIBLE)
Writing music (ARRANGEMENTS)
I absolutely love writing music, but it’s not a medium that I naturally unveil emotions through. I enjoy coming up with melodies and jingles, but writing has always been a form of expression that flowed naturally from me. I thought about doing a vlog, but it doesn’t mesh well with my personality.
I know, I know, I should evolve with the times. I wish I wasn’t so stoic on certain aspects, but there is something about rambling off free form, without worrying about presentation, lighting, video editing, or vocal recordings that just..
..fills my heart with unbridled happiness.
This is more organic for me, it rests well with my soul, it’s happenin’.
So, I’ll be making bi-weekly or twice a month (EDIT, October 2nd) blog posts about music work that has been done/is being done, my thoughts on where I am in the profession and my thoughts on the composition profession in general, and my experiences travelling and eating in SE Asia!
So, let’s jump into it!
I love food. Actually, it’s a love hate relationship that is slowly veering into a more grounded sense of love, but I find solace in food. When I decided to move to Vietnam, I was ecstatic about the culture, but most importantly, THE FOOD.
A lot has gone into relocating. There are a few strands that rest frayed and unkempt in my transition, many of which I realize now should have been remedied back in the U.S., but that’s okay! Food makes everything better. That’s what my stomach tells me, anyway.
My first week in Vietnam, which was in Hanoi, my Mom came along. I definitely wanted to go on my own (because I am a masochist who enjoys making her life harder), but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t grateful that my Mom shouldered the weight of the transition with me. I tend to take for granted the beauty that stems from experiencing life with someone by your side, especially when they deeply care for you.
We ate a ton of food. Sadly, I ended up losing (?!) the photos of food we had during our first week. We ate Pho, had dinner at a fantastic restaurant called Lau 43 (I believe), consumed multiple versions of Banh My, and made it our mission to frequent a tasty french bakery inspired cafe called Paris Baguette.
What I will do, is start you off at the earliest part of my edible journey - life in Vietnam while on my own!
SWEETS are my kryptonite. I should have taken more pictures of these scrumptious cakes, but after the first picture, I literally lost all sense of time and went to town.
The apartment that I live in sits in front of a series of city roads littered with local shops and eateries. There are also four, count’em, FOUR bakeries within walking distance. As of now, I have sampled desserts from three. I’m slowly rounding the bend, like the glutton I am. The picture above is a select group of pastries from Nguyen Linh Bakery.
The green cake is matcha (very common here). I’m not a fan of matcha, and I should have known that would be the flavor being green and all but I.. wasn’t thinking. It was green, and green cake is unfamiliar to me, therefore I wanted it.
The filling was practically whipped cream, which works for me, because I LOVE whipped cream.
The orange creamy cake was DIVINE. The nutty dessert I don’t quite remember. I definitely enjoyed it, though.
I will leave you with a photo from my apartment building, 21st floor!
Phew. With this being my first post, I decided to focus on the why of my move. Why did I relocate to Vietnam? Why did I choose Vietnam?
Why did I relocate to Vietnam?
Back in the U.S., I taught music. I went to university for music education and had my doubts about it leading into my junior year. I had dabbled in composition a bit and was starting to realize that I thoroughly enjoyed it. More importantly, I yearned to master it. This is one thing that sticks out to me about composing - No matter what, I have always wanted to top my own work. I never want to settle, and I have yet to find a profession that stirs a similar desire in me.
Well.. I do it in teaching, but I do it out of obligation. Staying stagnant as an educator effects my students and I, morally, can’t abide by anything that hinders progress.
Fast forward to 2019, I’m in my 5th year of teaching and am now balancing work as a public school teacher split between two schools, while also trying to maintain my health, write music for 3-4 projects (totally my fault), and maintain a sense of togetherness ON TOP OF a social life.
I was failing miserably, and it was starting to negatively effect my mental health.
I was at a point where I felt bitterness creep in, a seed that I didn’t want digging its roots into my heart, and a sourness that was slowly seeping into my work as a teacher. My kids didn’t deserve that, and I felt something had to change.
My end goal is to make writing music my career. I want it with every fiber in me, and I know there are a plethora of other people who can relate.
Hustle culture is a thing in the U.S., and I really don’t enjoy it. I don’t want to work 3 jobs, I don’t want to work 40+ hours Monday through Friday and spend 5 or 6 working my side job on the weekend, and yet that was my reality.
Meeting people with multiple jobs is insanely common. I feel like a petulant and entitled child, but I feel as though people shouldn’t have to slave away for a chance at contentedness. Granted, even here in Vietnam, I work on average about 14 - 15 hours a day, but I get 2 unadulterated days off. It’s insane that this is the upside, but it is!
There were a few options on the table, but when I took into account what I would need to thrive switching into this profession (i.e. financial stability), coupled with a desire to experience life in a new country, this felt like a no-brainer.
I had planned to come to Vietnam regardless, but I made it my mission to try and at least find a job before relocating here. The criteria -
Work no more than 20 hours a week (more time spent writing)
Make sure those 20 hours cover all my expenses (money from writing goes to savings and business)
Mornings free (most effective time of writing for me)
No matter what, music comes first. The fact that I made it a criteria in my job search is mind-blowing. I felt as though I was slowly making progress.
That was enhanced when I found a job that actually matched with my criteria and I’ve been working that job for the past 3 weeks. Balancing profession and career has been interesting and I will save that post for another day.
Just so you know - 10 times better already.
I love a good underdog story, and that’s how I felt when I researched Vietnam.
My sister calls me a hipster. I’ll admit, I tend to gravitate towards things people tend to overlook. China, Korea, and Japan were all options, but I felt as though those are countries that everyone wants to go to. Vietnam felt charming with an aura of beauty that is easily appreciated but isn’t taken into account because of a lack of modernity.
I’ll be honest, Vietnam felt like me. There are so many great things to be found, you just have to give it a chance and dig beneath the surface.
So far, I haven’t been disappointed. Not in the least.
Musically, I have spent my time finishing up work for Ciel Fledge. As I type this, I can say that all music work is COMPLETE! The last little bit is sprucing up the Kickstarter sheet music and prepping for streaming services.
Majority of September will be spent trying to get Gigabuster cleaned up and ready to go. I have a bunch of live recordings coming in that I can’t wait to replace VST samples with. The last 3 pieces need to be mixed (FINAL BATTLE, YEAH) , and then it’ll be on to the Kickstarter backer extended soundtrack and guitar tabs!
There is a huge personal project that I am planning to start, and once I finish Gigabuster, I can mobilize and begin working on it. More information on that, soon.
I also plan on streaming! I do morning warm-ups 3 times out of the week. I’ll make an announcement on Twitter when that starts, but it’s nothing serious. It’s me practicing skills/techniques that I feel need refining, along with making it my mission to consistently create as much as possible and put myself out there in a way that is authentic for me.
It also doesn’t hurt to let people look into my horrendous work-flow.
Having all of this time is invigorating, and my appetite is voracious! I am so, so hopeful for the future. Here’s to working hard in the right way!