Are there remnants of your father’s experience in the Vietnam War that affect[ed] you in some way in your childhood and/or in your adult life?
The obvious way my father gave Vietnam to me is through a love of the music of the era – it was almost constantly present in my childhood. I think he also tried to protect me from a lot of things. I was a scared little kid and I’m still an adult with a lot of fears that other people don’t have. It wasn’t that long ago that I couldn’t order a pizza on my own because I hated talking to strangers on the phone. I’ve never made much more money than I’m making now as a graduate student and my parents have never gotten angry about me for it. I think in these ways, I have the opposite experience of some other children of veterans. I was very coddled but I also kept to myself – I didn’t make friends easily. I was alone a lot. I never rebelled against my parents, or did drugs. I never ran away from home. I felt guilty if I had one drink at a friend’s house. I can’t prove my childhood and the war have anything to do with each other, but whenever I sit down to write about Vietnam, it somehow inevitably circles back to certain fears: that I will always be judged on my ability to speak up/schmooze/socialize and that there will be those who die before their stories can be recorded.