Dana Filek-Gibson needs a new attention span and she needs it now.
If there’s one thing that grinds my gears, it’s home cooking. You say delicious, slow-cooked meal, I say a colossal waste of my time. Anyone who knows me is aware of this. My contribution to every potluck is wine and/or anything from the cheese aisle at Family Mart. Nothing offends me more than turning up to a house party only to find that the food isn’t ready and someone is standing over the stove telling me it would be ‘fun’ if I chopped those carrots.
Say what you will, but I blame it on my attention span. I’ve never had an especially long patience streak but whatever will to endure that was previously there has been removed by Saigon. In traffic, I am the person who honks behind you until you get out of my way. Much of District 2 is off-limits because if I hear children crying I will put them in their place. At home, I sometimes forget that I have a kitchen. I could slave over a hot stove for several hours to make a delicious, home-cooked meal or I could exercise my thumbs for 30 seconds and have a burger in my hands within the hour. It’s that simple.
In the Year of the Goat, I feel that it’s time to embrace patience. It makes my stomach turn to say it, but I have a feeling the answer lies in hipsters.
But what this lack of patience has done – beyond ruin my ability to befriend the older, slower coffee ladies – is create an environment in which I do not handle problems until the absolute last second. I know how many days I can be late on my electric bill before the lights go off. Do I ever call for a taxi? Of course not, because the dispatcher will inevitably tell me that I’ll have to wait 10 minutes for the next vehicle and I will always find someone else to solve my problem within that time. It’s become so dire that I no longer finish most of my sentences unless pressed to do so. This is an excerpt from most stories I tell: “……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….”
What all this amounts to is something of a dilemma: one day, I will leave Saigon. And when I do, my frighteningly short attention span will make life elsewhere something of a hardship. This city, love it or hate it, has everything available all the time. Need gas? Someone out there is waiting to sell you a plastic jug of potentially flammable fuel. Want to buy shoes/movie tickets/a rice cooker? There’s the internet for that. Ever wake up at 4am and feel like it’s just the right moment for sushi and green tea Kit-Kats? If God did not want us to have these feelings, He never would have agreed to Family Mart.
And so, in the Year of the Goat, I feel that it’s time to embrace patience. To focus on the long game. Barreling through your day with zero forethought or preparation is surprisingly less terrible than you might imagine but, like all good things, I feel as though this truth will eventually turn on me. So now that we’re all done with the four-month, alcohol-fueled, glitter-infested holiday bender between Thanksgiving and Tet, let’s focus on the future. Where do we go from here? How do we train ourselves to become more forward-thinking and patient?
It makes my stomach turn to say it, but I have a feeling the answer lies in hipsters. Those flannel-loving, lumberjack-bearded, grow-my-own-coffee, build-my-own-furniture misfits are all about slowing things down. After all, it takes an immense amount of time and patience to find a good reason to wear mom jeans. While I won’t excuse antique pipes, unicycles or obscure band names, these people might have some good ideas. And so, while I refuse to wear a newsboy cap or grow a beard, if you see me at the supermarket or cleaning my house or quietly waiting in line at the gas station, thank a hipster, for it is these strange, moustachioed individuals who are making me a better person.