In July of 2009 I retired from the Alliance for Education, a Seattle non-profit supporting public education, and in August I accepted an offer to become the Development Director for East Meets West Foundation in Saigon. For 30 years I told people I wanted to write and for 30 years I used work as an excuse not to write – so in August of 2009 I started blogging about the experience of living and working in Saigon. The blog became my discipline and for three years I posted reflections on the Saigon experience at http://jackbernardstravels.blogspot.com.
After three years in Saigon the job with East Meets West came to an end and I posted my last Saigon Diary entry on September 27, 2012. I have no excuse now. I am retired from full time, paid for service, work. It’s time to get down to the business of writing. It didn’t seem appropriate to stay with the Saigon Diary website, so this is a new blog with an entirely different theme. I could call it Seattle Diary, since I’m back in Seattle, but that sounds a little provincial for what I have in mind. Surviving Seattle, seems more targeted since I want to explore all the options – culture, art, literature, politics, nature, and even travel – that might help me mitigate or overcome SAD (Sunlight Affective Disorder). As a dedicated sun worshiper who has lived in Sun Valley, Berkeley, LA, Salt Lake City, St.Tropez, Saigon, and the like, Seattle is a challenge -lots of rain and very little sun. But, there are options indoors and out. Seattle offers an expansive menu of ways to amuse, educate, entertain, and recreate, so my goal is to write about whatever pops up on the menu on a particular day or week. I’m going to write about whatever seems interesting as I move around this and/or other cities – music, plays, movies, restaurants, books, adventures, politics, current affairs and the like. I’m jazzed and curious about where they will take me – the writing and the adventures.
When I was in grad school at UC Berkeley and living on a buck a day I worked out a plan to keep myself from getting bored. The Daily Californian, the student newspaper, published a list of events taking place on the campus – lectures, movies, music, speakers, writers, poets, political rallies, sports events, dance demonstrations, art and architecture shows, etc – something of interest for almost everyone. I promised myself that I would take advantage of the opportunities and, if possible, do something on the Daily Californian list every day – and I did for almost three years. It was a broadening experience to say the least. Later, when I was poor and living in New York I used the Village Voice as my resource to find similar things in Manhattan. There are an amazing number of free or inexpensive events happening every day in almost every city.
I’m not living on a buck a day now but I’m also not working, so I need to have a plan to keep myself from getting bored. I’m not as poor as I was in Berkeley or New York, so I’m going to include plays, concerts, restaurants, and the like in this blog. Many of my co-workers at Pan Am, my classmates at Berkeley, and my friends and neighbors are retired now. They play golf and fiddle with their portfolios. I don’t play golf and there is not enough in my portfolio to fiddle with. My friend, Dennis, used to say “I’ve invested heavily in pleasure and it has paid great dividends.” I think that also sums up my life. So, I plan to scan the papers, websites, and bulletin boards for things that might be interesting. There will be some surprises, both good and bad. You can read about them here in the future. I hope you find them interesting.