she pointed to a small brick house
and said it was where she grew up
the lights were out
she asked if we could stop for a while
her hair was still just getting wet
water running down her neck
collecting in the hand printed cement beneath her feet

If You’re in the place where I am now…


…it’s not so wonderful, and your life sucks.

A few months ago, I thought I would want to be a non-fiction writer. Though the thought still left a few traces in my consciousness, it’s getting harder and harder each day to picture myself as a non-fiction writer.

I wrote on my posts that I wanted to be a writer. I lied. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for my life. I don’t know what I should do for my life and it’s scaring the crap out of me.

Sometimes I just want to forget all about it and make T (my current boyfriend) promise that he’s going to take care of me for the rest of our lives. I know that’s undignifying, but I’m too stressed out thinking about what I should do. He just goes along with me. His words are like those cookies that I consume to calm my momentary hyper-maniac desire for comfort; they’re temporary treats and they’re bad for your long-term well-being.

I did have a start somewhere. One of them is a PR related work for a non-profit. The truth is, as much as I enjoyed working with the people there, I didn’t really enjoy myself in it. I couldn’t give it 100%, and found myself reluctant giving in all the energy that I have. I couldn’t tell the problem why I just feel really unmotivated.

I’m helping a friend founding a start-up but that’s also going nowhere. I see we have a bit of hope, a bit of cash but nothing for the long-term. Again, I just can’t picture myself in it for the long-term.

I kept blaming my parents for what’s happened and reminiscing over how I wanted to be  fashion designer and lamenting how late it is now to start over.

I’m sick of the expectant eyes of people asking me when I’m going to graduate and where I’m going to work. Like I know it… I’ve been bearing those eyes for almost 4 years now and I wouldn’t risk going through that same horrid experience again to start over with my fashion career. I have so many things to be scared about.

And I’m too scared to be a non-fiction writer and too occupied by fear to give my 100% in it, I’m scared that I’ll have to rely on T for a living for a long time (that’s like eating cookies and fooling myself that it’s okay to do so for the rest of my life). And that’s exactly what I really DON’T want to do.

Is there a person that I should go talk to? like a career counselor?…

On the Lord of the Rings. The Books. The Films. A Personal Journey.


Pippin-and-Merry-merry-and-pippin-7669635-859-403

I love the Lord of the Rings. I’ve been reading the trilogy for more than a week now and am almost done with it. I am also watching the movies. Yep. All three of them. Day and Night. I watched the trilogy before actually, just last Fall. Now I am seeing them again, experiencing the visualization alongside with the book’s imaginativeness, pausing every now and then to go back to the pages just like when you read real history. There’s a certain joy in doing that, I can guarantee you; one that’s both weird and profound at the same time.

Now beyond the plethora of academic studies and reviews  (which I’m madly excited to find out about), that have been showered upon the books—the LOTR trilogy, I am pretty sure I don’t have yet another fresh perspective to offer on the books’ merits through this blog. My new understandings (as laid out below) are hardly applicable to anyone but me—an outsider who’d been banned from going anywhere close to popular Western readings and films until her teenage years were over.

1. A Different Outlook on Heroism

I must confess I used to have an inherent distaste for nowadays heroic stories. I’ve heard that the (modern?) Western consciousness was built upon and around them—legends of men as conquerors and masters of major adverse forces coming from the larger world outside (which is the nature, in most cases).

dragon-and-knight-desktop-backgrounds

As always, there could only be one clean defeat that sets forth permanently man’s invincibility status and righteousness against the nature’s unruly beastliness. Perhaps as someone who’s obviously outside the culture, I find this heightened heroic feat a little bold and annoying sometimes (especially if it’s being reproduced too often). When I start to see this in a book, honestly, I’ll put it down forever.

The LOTR however does not unravel as an epic voyage to heroism, or this kind of heroism. With diverse spacial and temporal span and sufficient depth for each of the characters, it focuses on no one in particular. It reads almost like a history where an individual’s action could never be the sole course for victory but a thread on the tapestry of larger things. All the magical wonderfulness about the books aside, this is actually the main reason that keeps me reading.

2. Binarism–When They Are Turned into Movies

The movie dictates that Caradhras is actually under the spell of Saruman while it is not implied so in the book.

The movie dictates that Caradhras is actually under the spell of Saruman while it is not implied so in the book.

In small and large ways, the movie’s plot-line differs from the original story, as movies always do and the audience are way familiar with this. A stunning and almost accurate re-imagination of fantastical lands and creatures, the movie has its own wonders and I don’t really mind the plot being shifted here and there for the purpose of economy and conciseness.

The thing is this: Tolkien’s creation is a harmonious system of all the forces existing in the human world, the world of other creatures and the supernatural world. There are things that aren’t necessarily bad or evil or good (mount Caradhras or the Ents, for examples). If something happens to thwart our path in life, it doesn’t automatically mean that that thing is evil and vice versa.

Leaning toward the popular structure of heroic tales, (with a heavily-focused plot line, more highlight on core characters and  the binary depiction of “good” and “evil” etc), the movies leave out this nuance (much to my dismay). They also eliminate all possible complications other than the grudge between heroes’ fated mission and the will of the evil side. Because of this polarization (that happens in most Hollywood movies anyway), I appreciate the books better for its fuller depiction of the state of the outside world.Additionally, I also hate the film’s favoritism through the addition of the Elves’ screen time in the battle of Helm’s Deep. But I watched them anyway, repeatedly even, for the “good graphics” as they actually help me follow the books.

3. Outside the Books and the Movies–An Irrelevant Note 

My colleague knew Lord of the Ring since his childhood, telling me often how he read it till midnight when sleep folded on his eyelids. On a large sidewall in his office parade the grace of the Middle Earth’s heroes clad in shiny armors and thunderous landscape unfurling behind their backs.

I’m not sure if he reads the story the way I do now but he said it founded an important part of his and his peers’ younger years, memories and imagination. I can totally empathize with this. Although I didn’t read or watch anything alike in my teenage years, the stories that followed me to bed had very much similar aspects, characterization and structure at least.

All those at being said, I can say I  finally get to read LOTR. If you haven’t, you definitely, definitely should. It’s not a life-changing book and it won’t turn your life upside down or change you in any major ways. Instead, it’ll be like something you’ve always known and understood, a part that’s always inside you.

How I Write–Another Blog Inspired by My Long-Lost Muse.


This is not helping either :(

**Below is a typical day record of a tiresome writer-to-be on a rainy Sunday morning–you know–a time when She’s forgotten to visit me :(.

7:00 AM. Start with a large mug of coffee. Smell it. Smell it one more time. Inhale the warm, rusty aroma blended with a creamy twist. Inhale all the way from the kitchen. Walk past rooms. Open a door. Check on the cat. Open Self’s room’s door. Shuffle in. Desk is ready. Laptop is on, screen opens to a blank, unwritten landscape. Keep mind clear and excited. Because Writing is bliss. Self proudly thinks.

8:00 AM. Reading bookmarked blogs, hoping for inspiration, hoping to come across a beautiful, inspiring passage. Coffee mug is drained. So is Self’s Writing Juice. Back to the screen again. Author A has just updated; gleams of cloudscape photography glow on Self’s screen. Beautiful. Remind to stay focused now. Scroll down. “She remains as she is–fickle and feckless.” Somebody is complaining about her muse. Not so inspiring. Also did not like the writing. Self hits “close”. Self browses Author B. Self uses to like the author’s writing, it’s so deep and dark and scathingly philosophical. But so not the mood I want for now. Self clicks on yet another blog. Too practical. This is like business writing!

DISTRACTIONS”.

An muffled scream sears across Self’s chest like red-hot iron. Too many DISTRACTIONS: the pile of dishes staggering atop the oil-tainted sink, the empty fridge and subsequently self’s empty stomach. The broken desk lamp.They’re parading the dimensions of Self’s mind. DISTRACTIONS. Self panics officially.

8:30 AM. Digging up old essays written by Self. Some inspiration and self-esteem start to trickle back to that secret closet in Self’s mind.

Essay will be, again, about Modernization. Self hates Modernization. And prefers Childhood. Distraction: Childhood is like a Puzzle with candy prizes. 

8:45 AM. Words: 110. Start to crave for good words. I can never write like them. Those writers with vivacious, youthful voices that just bloom and ooze with aqueous imagination. Why do I want to write like them? Distractions again, obviously. Distractions are tiresome.

Start to crave for some sleep.

9:00 AM.

PROGRESS:

Plot: 55%

Description: 45%

Reflection: 0 %

Essay is 80% happy.

Reassuring Self that if this sucks now, it will not necessarily suck later. Reassuring that being focused is good.

10:00 AM. Self may want some snacks.

10:45 AM. A Skype message flashes. Call from Mom/ Close or Answer. Distraction.

Me: Mom, I’m writing an essay.

Her: I know. Just a minute. Listen, important, Aunt Ann called…(rumbling noises of her opening a bag of chips)…She said you…

Self panics from the inside. There are ancient emails to reply, books to read, an economic project that has been overdue and this essay which could take a whole Sunday. Most importantly, Self as just been rescued from the Horrible Block and is wanting to write so desperately now. In her mind, Self imagines this white room where everything was white from the wallpaper to furniture and there were just Self and the Keyboard.

How sad.

11:15 AM. The most painful part: trimming. Don’t want to leave out anything. Self loves all these descriptions, all the beautiful sentiments so beautifully expressed, the rising of rhythm and crafting of words that has been done to almost perfection. It’s such a devastation.

12:00 AM. Leave for brunch. There’s this new restaurant on Buford Highway that has real, authentic chinese food. It is a little crowded on Sundays but a perfect place for Self to take refuge from that horrible room. Try to eat slower to stay longer. When coming back, Self tries not to look at the fish tank (which has been caked in filth for weeks!).

2 PM. Make another giant coffee mug and obediently sit to desk. Manage to open Essay and not cringe at the paragraphs. DO NOT read what’s been written. Begin afresh. Sip coffee. No distractions for now.

Self is sure. 

2:20 PM. Start with a gigantic mug of coffee… 

“The School”


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I’ve been apartment-hunting for the past four days. I guess it’s one of the most exhausting things people will have to get used to in their younger age. But then I’m glad now that I can choose and afford a place of my own.

So anyway, I was reading this short story on my ipad on one of the house-viewing occasions: “The School” by Donald Barthelme. You can read it through on here: <http://www.npr.org/programs/death/readings/stories/bart.html>. It was a pretty short read, but one that has stuck in my mind for days; I could say it was the scariest thing I’d read for a while now though I couldn’t precisely explain why.

To be specific, “The School” isn’t exactly a thriller, not a flesh and blood, Stephen King’s type of horror, but one that pierces and clenches onto one’s living soul just as well. The story starts with this class of thirty children and their subsequently “failed” experiments, told from the adult vantage point of the teacher. Every time the experiment goes ruined, the children find themselves witnessing a kind of death: of their orange trees, of the herb gardens, the snakes, a puppy named after their teacher, a Korean orphan and two of their friends. It is as surreal as I love it to be and yet deeply horrifying: There was no violent physical confrontation, no brains smashing on the concrete or splendid crimson blood spattering on walls or children’s bodies splayed piecewise; the students watch death creeping on the hinges of their lives with eyes of surprisingly uncontrived curiosity and indifference.

The things that die show to be more and more significant each time: a plant, a small animal, a larger animal, a distant friend and then close classmates, as if mirroring the typical order one experiences losses in life: from the little things to larger, more meaningful existences. Its inevitability can leave one deprived and hopeless about life or the future, but it doesn’t for the people in this story. The children grow “curiouser and curiouser” and has somewhat learnt to enjoy the spectacle of life as it is. I think that was exactly what shocked me in my first read.

“Then there was a knock on the door, I opened the door, and the new gerbil walked in. The children cheered wildly.” The story ends in a circle and the students find their new distraction, as a way to carry on. There’s this sense of something slipping away, something precious and a deep grief rippling from beneath the façade of indifference of the bewildered narrator.

***

I remembered a blogger mentioning the “loss of innocence” as displayed by the children’s indifference to deaths and losses; I partially agreed, for this story is about the loss of innocence of the children as much as it is of the adults, of us, the readers.

It is established from the beginning, through the narrator’s tone, that the audience takes the vantage point of an adult, assuming adults’ thoughts and beliefs. In our minds, children are innocent, or we simply would like them to be. We projected ourselves on this group of thirty students and they represent that part of us that we would like to be protected, that room we would like to keep impeccable, so that we can take shelter in it.

I guess the reason why this story is scary to me is that it seems to scratch at that fundamental idea buried deep in my consciousness. In that shapeless room, children are surrounded by deaths, vulnerable and exposed to the adults’ “reality” that we know and suffer. They are unprotected and their surrounding world seems blank. The introduction of this idea through Barthelme’s surreal plot makes us feel confronted and vulnerable; and our sole shelter taken away from us.

A few also has suggested that this story is about hope, but I doubt it. Anyway, I’ve only scratched on the surface of its meaning and I really hope to come back at it again in the future.  Currently, I’m a little curious and surprised as to why this story isn’t named “The Classroom” instead.

Watering Heaven and the Role of Magical Realism. A Review and Other Things.


As much as I’m excited to review books, I don’t often find it a pressing priority to publish my views. Rather, I would like to sit and wait, for those views which have been mere initial impressions, could evolve into an understanding best compromised between me and the book. But I found it hard to keep my sentiments secret after reading Watering Heaven- Peter Tieryas Liu’s first debut, which has apparently inspired a number of astounded readers to epic verses: “Exuberant.Wildly inventive.Grungy with global resonance for the 21st century.This debut collection of fiction rides bareback over the metaphysical divide of Asia and the USA. An astonishing energy prevails. This is definitely a writer to watch.” As a reader of magical realism, I felt betrayed by these very words. Putting the book down, I couldn’t help but find myself sinking in the bitter knots of disappointment. In an insurmountable rage, I made the mistake of registering my somewhat irrational emotions on the public site of Goodreads and the review itself was filled with irritation and anger.

In retrospect, I wasn’t proud of my words, but Peter replied to me, just like he did with the rest of the comments. He courteously apologized that the book did not work for me and asked a polite question about a detail in my review. Unfortunately, that made me feel subdued a little.  Among the astonishingly, overwhelmingly positive reviews of his book, mine was the only one-star rating; surely it felt hard and confronted already being the outlier. Part of me wondered how this book worked for anyone but me (the most negative review that was detailed enough was from a woman who admitted she was given the book in exchange for a review, who also very gently confessed it didn’t work for her and gave the author a neutral three-star), the other part in me battled with the doubt that my own deficiency had left out perhaps some of the quintessence of the book. But all the more, I was embarrassed about the crudeness of my hastily-crafted words as such manner is very unfit and undeserving of my original aspiration of later becoming a writer.

Manners aside, I still feel now that I am entitled to a moment of rage. Magical realism is my favorite sub-genre. Because of the many flawlessly creative novels and writings I have read,  a bar has been set that has forever marked my own standard regarding the genre’s unique literary characteristics. Of course the specificity of my standard and values changes as I grow, the source of my frustration has more to do with the fact that the genre itself besieges a special place in my heart. On a more personal level, novels with surrealistic elements remind me of the many things in my memories that don’t feel real or make sense, things that nonetheless fit into the realm of my experiences the way they couldn’t otherwise, no matter how untrue they seem in the stark light of the factual present. Reading magically realized writings, the purest joy has been to understand the absurdity of what is observed and noted; that is to suffer, for a moment, the disorientation and emptiness of the happenings in the world of the novel, and then with all values enmeshed in one’s being, all memories one can possibly summon to make sense of such nonsensical. I guess I have been so obsessed with this delightful process that it feels personally violated as Watering Heaven turns out to be absent of these experiences.

On a less personal level, it’s a pity the writing in Watering Heaven deprives readers like me of such an experience, when it has all the potential to plant and nourish it. The stories are crazily inventive to begin with, but nothing else. If this is authorial reticence, it has been stretched to the point of authorial abandonment. The author though supposedly withholds his logical explanation of fantastical details, restrains altogether the level of specificity and deliberation a narrative- any narrative-deserves. Perhaps it is because the stories are far too short and there aren’t enough room for much sensitivity but in the end the impact of the magical elements has been mistargeted because of this roughness, this lack of deliberation; in fact, the writing is purely bad narrative without these elements. The strange settings and surreal details are smartly invented  but soon left unexplored, since they aren’t (and can’t be) supported by the drafty and sometimes forceful turns of events in the stories. This collection reminds me of a supposedly awesome movie in 2010 called Inception, which also begins with a fabulous idea and innovative notions about the nature of dream and reality and such, but ends in a series of suck-y, meaningless killing, cliche’ American action scenes with a corny dialogue dropped every now and then about “dream” and “reality” to remind the audience of its awesomeness and inventiveness. That being said, though I still feel bad about how my words behave sometimes, I’m not regretting of how I feel about Watering Heaven.

The First Part


Every time a month was about to end, I kinda got an inkling that something bad was about to happen. Or as my aunt had put it, “an ominous feeling that your number is up”. I’d get really insecure; and my whole system would spark a defense mechanism so sensitive I could burst into flames upon the slightest infraction. That, I was pretty sure, bore no chemical connections to my body and the moon, but it was frequent enough and annoying enough. Sometimes, it felt as if someone was trying to poke the end of my nerves with a blunt knife; as if I was made of shards of fiber-thin glass that shook to crumbles under the finest pressure.  Andrew casually jokes that I must be following the monsoon cycle of some tropical country in Asia, since I was born in a tropical country in Asia.

Three or two days later, I was returned to normalcy often exhausted and beaten.

When the mid-July sun was no longer blazing across our apartment complex and the sky turned grey and stormy at 3 PM in the afternoon, I knew my time was up. Today was approximately four weeks away from the last time that intense sense of anxiety had taken over me. On that day, I was sitting in an Asian bakery/ cafe shop when a rolling shiver thread through the bare of my back and into my spine.  I felt woozy and suddenly nervous about my Dad. I didn’t know he was going through a surgery at that very same day and thought I just wanted to hear his voice badly. I didn’t understand exactly where this boiling urgency had just come from, like I had to talk to him immediately.

I called. I messaged. I buzzed all the contacts within my family. Of course it was mid-night there and it took my Mom nine hours later to tell me that  the surgery had finished and he was o.k. The wait almost smothered me.

But I was still wondering what this omen meant for this time. I had been restless for one whole day and up until mid-night, thoughts were running wild in my head. I remembered Andrew’s hopeless look before he went to bed. “How about lying down?”- he said, looking as if he knew something was eating inside me. He stroke the soft hair on my forehead. “Don’t worry, I bolted the door, chained it and bolted the chain with the extra locks we bought.” He assured me.

“Did you draw down the curtains?”  I asked and he softly nodded. We always drew down the curtain upstairs and in case someone’d try to break in our apartment, we always turned on the light to make it look like we were awake. To always feel conscious, even if it was the sort of consciousness that blinded and numbed the brain. This was a strange place after all. A different culture. A different way of thinking.

While Andrew’s slow breath melted into the night, I felt the hours slipping away with my head deep in doubts and thoughts, trying to find something to be anxious about. I thought of getting out of this place, of the lease and of the grim-faced apartment lady who’d threatened me not to break it. “It’s probably that you didn’t lock your door. No we don’t call the lease off because of break-ins. Yes you’ll have to pay for penalty. Three month rents. It’s in your contract. I know people who just leave get their credit scores screwed. And I mean it!” I didn’t even try to stop her.  I thought of the mortgage and of the house we wanted to take and how my non-profit aspirations could live up to it. I knew of the many years I’d moved to live here and thrive here, my sole purpose should be stability and status and enjoyment of them both. And I felt bad I wasn’t spending time earning and enjoying them as much as I was “caring about the well-being of random people”.

I thought of that girl whom I interviewed and who soon would be my colleague. I thought about what it meant to her to be my colleague. Working for a job like this, it was hard enough to be qualified, much harder for the people who doubted they’ll ever be. The interview lasted for the standard an-hour-and-a-half but something about the glossy curl of her lips, the shadows of her eyes and the impatience beaming from behind them had me feel like I was filled with holes several days afterward. I knew she would be on my committee and I thought about how to communicate with her without feeling as if I was looking down a steep valley. Would she push me over the edge? What would I do?

I thought of my Dad and the nameless disease he’d lived with for the many years I’d been away. I spoke with him after his surgery. A day or two ago when a gunfire blasted through the complex. A loud bang flitted through the gap on my barely open windows. “Fireworks” I said. “It’s America’s Independence Day”. I could see his vague stare on the computer screen, wasn’t sure if he’d grasped my words. But I’d stopped expecting him to know what I meant behind them, and I’d stopped responding more than I should to a question he asked. It was like speaking with a person from the other end of a bridge while being handcuffed.  You had to read their blurry expressions. You had rather reached your voice over and be precise and clear with less words but it was tiring either ways.

Away from him, six years it had been since the day I’d asked whether I should be an architect or pursue banking. Many years it had been since I was small enough to ride around the city at the back of his cackling bicycle. “So small. When you were born you were so small I could fit you in the palms of my hands.” He would say as I was sitting across from him and my Mom in our tiny house west of the Saigon river. Six years old I was and never had I the slightest doubt about the golden sunshine trapped in shapeless patches on our front veranda. Even when there wasn’t a sound but the innocent smell of wax apples. When the flood season came, he’d wait for me at the school gate in an embarrassingly yellow raincoat. The monsoon rain was pouring down his face, dampened his darkened eyes. So many years it had been since then. So many mistakes it had been and I had never really come back.

——-

I gasped, realizing I’d slept for quite awhile. My heart was beating loud and fast. I glanced at the stairs leading to our second-floor bedroom and waited for a shadow to flit across the open at the stair top. Upon expanse of the side wall, the extended dark shades of the furniture danced like monstrous black fingers. I squinted and held my breath. Something had slid under the air and worn it like a cloak. Something made a sharp swish and soon vanished. I reached for the gun.

After Dark and The Wanderer’s Vanity.


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After Dark was the first Murakami’s writing I’ve ever read. Enchanting, surrealistic, yet tumultuous and confounding were the constructs of the world in After Dark or rather, of the urban streets Downtown Tokyo at night. The novel follows a wanderer’s footsteps in and out the night’s dangerous deeds and his meeting with yet another lost soul.The trail of Murakami’s prose and acuteness of words for the first time weaken my doubt regarding translated literature (especially literature translated from an Asian language). I find myself troubled by the same sentiments as the characters’, by the very similar secrets and musings that also once almost led me to risk my own security, just to find a place to belong. In the void of his eerie urbanscape, there’s strangely this heaven of consolation. Murakami’s employment of darkness as the fundamental setting accentuates the feeling of unfamiliarity and desperation that has its root deep in the seed of our modern lives and underscores the bound of uncanniness one always carries but never speaks of. In the darkness, it isn’t the wanderer’s freedom that is found but intense insecurity of the beings that are already so vulnerable. In the darkness, shadows on the streets of Tokyo shift and contort. In and out the neon-lit cafes, rugged faces of people who are long detached from memories and childhood hide beneath the dark hems of their hoods, beyond which their fierce eyes gleam and threaten. Yet, there are no evil forces to fight, no journey to conquer as everyone’s already lost in the inter-webs that make our beings. In the end, one may wander as much as they desire into the fathomless night and the mind may lose its bearing and sanity as often one’s own security can afford until the first streak of dawn, until the grind of routines claims our living souls. In the night, the evil lives get loose but so are our hearts. Maybe that’s why despite the desperation and meaninglessness of the story’s wandering, there’s yet something consoling and liberating about reading After Dark.

Ten Articles of Faith


 
  1. Literature is any written material that stands the test of time, works of imagination constituted by mastery of style and expression and themes that uncover the beauty or complexity of the human soul.
  2. Literature is a narrative, a story, a history. It is the most vivid and fundamental proof that humanity, with all due complexities, ever exists.
  3. Reading literature is a way of exploring dimensions other than the lonely one we’re living in.
  4. To read literature is to study thoughts through the study of language.
  5. Any metaphor, imagery, symbol is the author’s attempt to connect to reality.
  6. Works of literature should be valued for ideas and engagement with the world as well as for aesthetic qualities.
  7. The value of a written piece of literature is purely subjective and contextual. So are the theories developed revolving judgment of literary value.
  8. Although interpreting and evaluating literature are purely personal matters, it’s always useful and important to acknowledge and understand others’ ways of interpretation (or evaluation) and the values or systems they’ve based their judgments on.
  9. The most important question to ask is whether literature should be ascribed a “universal” quality.
  10. Although one type of literature or one particular work of literature tends to prevail over the others in any time period or geographical location, its attention shouldn’t be motivated by external forces other than its own quality i.e. there shouldn’t be any man-made system or scale that privileges one over the others.

Machinarium


Each morning I wake up, it confuses me that I keep dreaming about one person, seeing the familiar face in several nights and several conjectured places. Sometimes he’s distant, his face and eyes cold, lost and transparent as I try to reach over to him with my muted confessions.

Sometimes he’s closer, wildly closer it feels painful even when I already wake up. He would be in that familiar shirt, his face angled and breathlessly happy…

I would dream of that place too, of the lake at Central. and winds so fierce. But it’s dead and desolate, like in Machinarium.

How many more years when I’m already old and tired… how many more years do I have to wait?

Update-


Just too busy to really post something with substance.

-Lately-

The fishes died.Two others died the next few days. It dimmers the light in my heart a little bit more. All were buried in the backyard. He did not tell me about the latter two, maybe was afraid of babysitting my tantrum, maybe was just too busy to tell.

Been in a “car accident.” First time ever. No worries. Felt just like a computer game. CRASH. And your perceptions skewered. The whole vision did a little swing. When back to Earth, time rushed and it felt flustering.

-Later-

Planning to bake an apple pie. or just some plain vnmese desserts. Kinda miss the “intensity” of cooking.

Interview tomorrow. Not mine. Hope he will live up to it.

And books to go through. I’ve grown to like this kind of work. I learn bits and pieces. And fun discoveries.

-In conclusion-

Yes, you can’t break the balance of this woman’s spirit from now on, ever!

 

Poem that loves.


For her, love isn’t intimacy.

but

shredding of the soul. into pieces. collecting the pieces. locking away the pieces.

It isn’t the holding of hands, of my whole body or touching of my skin or flesh…

Somewhere in the well, my feeling, those pieces. are always there. imprinted with the memories of you. sworn. with the memories of you. They can’t be awaken again. or taken away. or replaced.

I don’t love. by the holding of hands, of my whole body or touching of my skin or flesh…

I love

by keeping you in the well, in my feeling, in the pieces…

In that windy night, love is my silent tremble. behind your back. your hair’s smell. and the wind. the longing. the little contact. tear that trails behind our path.

and your eyes. different. shielded. locked.

You hurt me that night.


Things feel convoluted

But I’ll try to keep it calm

a submissive animal

with a subversive heart

I’ll dangle mine on a maple tree

Hear the red leaves sing my song and let past Wind sooth the raging wound

I miss you like crazy

you know….

The burden of 20


I haven’t yet come out of an internal, psychological torture ritual that I have self- inflicted for making a fool of myself at this job interview I had a week ago. Yes it has been a week, but the storm of self-anger, of vicious self hatred hasn’t subsided. It is waging maliciously at my heart, overwhelming it with the shadow of depression and immersing every effort, every life purpose with a sense of pointlessness.

 

“Hàng rong, v…


“Hàng rong, vỉa hè

ganh hang rong 300x225 Hàng rong, vỉa hè

Tôi viết những dòng không đầu không đuôi này với góc cảm của một con nhỏ 21, sinh ra khi cuộc sống đã qua thời gian khó, có chút mường tượng trong đầu về những chuyện xưa qua lời kể của những người đi trước.

Tôi còn nhớ thuở nhỏ, sáng sáng tôi vẫn thường cố tình dậy trễ một chút, đánh răng rửa mặt chậm một chút, để đến sát giờ học, mẹ quở trách tôi và đưa cho tôi tờ 1000đ được vuốt phẳng phiu, để tôi mua ổ bánh mì, gói xôi hay cái bánh bò ấm bụng. Đó là món quà nhỏ trong suốt những năm tháng tuổi thơ theo tôi cho đến tận bây giờ.

Tôi thích nhìn kẹo bông đủ màu, thích bứt một nhúm dinh dính và đưa vào miệng để nó tan ra. Thỉnh thoảng đi ăn quà với lũ bạn, lê la hàng quán, cái gì cũng có, ngồi dọc vỉa hè và ngắm người qua lại.

Bây giờ, đi xa rồi, có những hàng quán khác, nhưng cứ mỗi lần về nhà là lại phải đi cho bằng hết những nơi đã từng đi. Đôi khi chỉ là ngồi trò chuyện với nhau, đôi khi giãi bày với cô chủ quán, và đôi khi ôn lại kỉ niệm xưa.

Chắc cũng nhiều người gặp trường hợp giống tôi. Đang ăn thì phải bỏ dở vì bị dân phòng lại hốt, đương nhiên không phải hốt mình. Nhiều người với mẹt hàng be bé thì chạy loạn như chạy giặc, số còn lại thì đành chịu. Có khi chỉ vì việc này mà tôi mất đi một địa chỉ ăn quen, bởi cũng chẳng biết họ chuyển đi đâu khác hay đã chuyển sang nghề khác.

Tôi thích lang thang trên những con đường lớn ở quận 1 vào những chiều gió, hay sau những cơn mua. Đơn giản vì tâm trạng lúc đó nó vậy. Sài Gòn ngược xuôi xuôi ngược.

Thi thoảng tôi gặp những cô trung niên hay những bà cụ gánh hàng rong, với nón lá, đòn gánh và thúng mẹt, giữa lòng một Sài Gòn rạo rực như thế.”

.


Nước mắt giả

Cảm xúc cũng giả

Không phải là em…

Anh…

Phài chi em tìm lại được anh

Cho dịu nhẹ bớt cho hết thù ghét hết đắng hết mù quáng

Em chỉ muốn ôm

ôm ôm ômmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

biết hong dương

 

Before the car runs again.


Image

Before the door on my right is closed and the scenes dart with velocity of wings of the birds

Before I prop myself up upon the stick of perseverance

And responsibility

Before I choose to forget

your face

To close my eyes to the scent of sweats

Before I immerse in the sea of principles

my own principles

colliding and melting

Before I fight again, for an abandoned dignity and fortified values

Before they stretch the fabrics of my soul with selfish hands

again

 

Before I lie again,

I think of you

of crescent moon and pearly dew

of summer at the sixth station

In these meaningless gaps in-between

You.  My imagination.

That’s all I think about.

Hummingbirds.

I think about you.

 

 

to D


Anh,

I’m really tired. I’m tired of loving, of fixing all the gaps. I’m tired of resisting, of walking, of being tired.

I’m sorry. You won’t understand what I did. I don’t think you could ever do.

You won’t hear my words. They’re losing their sanity. You don’t hear my words. You don’t want to. I love you. I can only love you. But there are things you know. Things rooted in me way back in my childhood. Embarrassing things. I can’t keep your love any longer. They are duties. They are my principles. They are my scare. They exist to  I live and carry on this burden.

You are so little you can’t comprehend. And I. I am little too. Little and ordinary.

You thought I was selfish. Ordinarily selfish. You don’t know how much pain I endure

Grey October Day


it’s raw

and brutal

i’ll wear a white shirt, after all

they’ll give me a smoke

and a blur

after which,

the world is grey, cement-like grey, realistic grey

it’s still

eating on my sensitive

chipping away delusional sweetness

just raw

like metal teeth

and sharp

and breaths 

so unappreciative

like rocks

the patches of emotion dangling on my skin

so real 

they invade my dreams, wreak havoc and collapse heaven

trample garden and dessicate leaves

 

only if the smoke,

it doesn’t clear out

A firey breakfast incident!


After I ate my breakfast this morning, there was an unexpected, incidental occasion of explosion, which budded on the right side of the tongue, on the smaller region leaning toward my tongue’s tip. It was a sudden, but mild sensation; an insipid, cold and ignorable throb that, after a trice of innocence and confusion, had quickly ignited into an uncontrollable fire disaster and spread like electricity all over the interior of my mouth.

What could I have eaten? Urgently I eye-searched amongst a bunch of confusing, stained wrapping papers and paper cups for the lurking criminal. It must have been a spice. Red pepper. Or a sauce. Spicy sauces that the lady in the cafeteria often sprinkled by habit onto whatever it was that I ordered.

The spice, or whatever it was, quickly drove me to the state of relentless craziness. In my visual mind, my mouth was exploding; fire emanated from the back of my tongue was engulfing my flesh tissues, melting my frail nerves. Water- Shouted my mind. I need water. Without hesitation, I stood up and veered like a mine detector toward the possibly closest water source-  a thing that never really had a clear definition in the casual course of my life.

The search did not took so long before I found a water fountain (yes, the epic fountain of salvation) in Alston building. I hunched over, clung onto the metallic basin, let the water wash away the fire, pain, my agitation.

As my nerves were restored to equanimity and normal functionality, I started to remember the “spartan” breakfast that I had: a veggie burger and a cup of yogurt. I witnessed with my own eyes the process of the burger being made and with solid certainty could conclude that no spices or chemical spices were added. Moreover, after finishing the burger, I read a couple of pages from my history book before starting on the yogurt cup. It must have been the yogurt, then.  I thought but then wasn’t so pleasant at this inference. How could it be possible that a spicy thing is “dropped” into a yogurt cup?

 


When it pains so much, attachment does not matter anymore.
Yes, undeserving love is always permanent. it persists in our heart in a destructive sort of way… like alcohols. or viruses. I guess I do have choice and the foolish years of being in a platonic love have already ripped innocence and (false) hope right off my now restless heart.

Moody


At three AM, I woke up in the midst of my roomie’s blasting snores. Alcohols and pizzas didn’t really help with insomnia. I knew they never did but I had believed they would give me a reason not to go anywhere or do anything and to just sleep. Wrong. The pizza stuffs kinda turned cold in my stomach and sat solid there stubbornly amidst my sufferings.

Alcohols were a deathly mistake though; it’s not like *you want to get over someone, you go get a drink* but rather that when you were drunk the whole mechanical operation of a sane mind wasn’t so sane anymore. The cloudy thoughts and blurry images began to run wildly like unherded sheep that magically fused into one another when they clashed. And when they did clash, a plethora of memories spilled from hidden corners and pooled your un-fenced mind. Memories that you kinda hoped would just vaporize like the effervescence in your liquor glass. Memories that left you swam hopelessly. The suppressed balm of intense emotions.

There went the misery.

True.  I was a little sober before went to bed. A little unconscious of action and speech. I cut my wrist with a knife, twenty times in a row saying this was my distraction. I saw beads of blood, crimson red but I did not panic. Nor did I feel any pain. I was fucking calm and I knew I wasn’t rationalized at all doing this.

Over the phone, a friend was frantically begging and yelling at me in turns like you do to a maniac. I wasn’t any maniac. Sometimes I thought people needed to get those cliche’ out of their stubborn heads before thinking. I wasn’t cutting myself to death nor was I doing on purpose of blaming anyone. I knew with sunlight clarity that it was all on me. I did not say that it was the fucking fate that I was living this way. I just need a little understanding, that sometimes it was hard and I squeezed myself a lot through this limbo world. Now I need a little of easing out. That was exactly how I cut myself…

The cuttings became scars, over the course of a few restless days. After that fogginess of the mind cleared out, multitude of scars that was painful both to look at and to touch surfaced on the subtlety of my wrist and arm. They were ugly like wriggling worms and excruciating on the touch, exactly like what they embodied.

when it’s over.


Talk to the person that needs to be talked to.

Speak of the things that need to be spoken of.

That’s all I will do.

And the rest, be assured that I will continue to tramp on your lives, any possible way I can- be it just a grainy friction force or a total knock-out smash.

You, never realize what you did. I don’t have the strength and motivation to go over stuffs with you again. I thought I wanted to be understood and as clear as a crystal about when and how things were over. But you, the person I find almost impossible to handle, adhere to that unjust perception of me and what I did so rigidly that concepts outside your system are to your mind, undoubtedly intangible. I will have to stop trying for any more of my effort will be misunderstood as sign of remnants of affection, or worse, new feelings.

Just… wake up.

 

 


letting go… letting go

someday I’ll start a new journey again

where better opportunity awaits me

but for now, happiness will just wither away, like the desiccated petals of a dying rose while I’m trying hopelessly to grasp its shrivelled body

I am so much worn and torn from this battle with the human fallacies, against all my insights and beliefs

For now, just let me rest, free of all constaints and pains.

Like a kitten, snuggling into a distant dream.


Sáng giờ tui bị bịnh nên nằm ì một chỗ, tay chân thì hột hột đỏ đỏ nhìn không khác gì mấy con cá lóc bông- chả dám ra khỏi nhà. Chị K nhìn nhìn cười cười rồi đánh trống lảng “Chời phòng đó giờ thành cái ổ dịch rồi”

 Chắc là nhìn tui thê thảm lắm.

Đêm hôm qua tui khóc nhiều lắm. Phần vì đau đầu và sốt hong ngủ được. Phần vì áp lực. Phần vì cô đơn. hay là cô độc gì đó- hai chữ này với tui là như nhau, đều có nghĩa trực tiếp là tui-chỉ-có-một-mình, hoặc là tui bị ngu tiếng việt.

Sáng nay lúc mơ màng, tui thấy có hai ba lượt bóng người đứng ngoài cửa. Thỉnh thoảng thì cửa hé mở, người đứng ngoài rón rén nhìn vào. Lần đầu là ba tui. Mấy lần sau là mẹ và nhỏ em. Mọi người đều âm thầm. Tui vừa ngủ ở ngoài hết một đêm mà. Tui nằm quay lưng lại co ro, mọi người nhìn vô như nhìn thấy con vật nào đó bị thương ngoài đường phố, thương cảm nhưng ko biết phải làm sao. Tui vẫn còn bị đau, thể xác lẫn tâm lý. Thường mấy lúc vậy tui quạu lắm, chả ai dám tới gần đâu.

Nhưng mà người ta không có biết là, chính trong những lúc như vậy, tui rất cần “được tới gần”. Tui cần được ôm ấp, nói chuyện nhẹ nhàng. Cần có bạn kêu tui ráng lên, hay đưa lưng cho tui dựa mà hong sợ bị tui lây bệnh. Tui đang bị tránh xa rồi; hoặc ít ra là tui có cảm giác như vậy- chỉ là người ta quá bận rộn để có thể cho tui- một đứa lúc nào cũng sợ cô độc- cảm thấy được quan tâm.  

Tui sẽ vui vẻ dễ thương trở lại, khi mà vết thương này vết thương kia bớt đi rồi. Tui sẽ lại làm cho người khác thấy hạnh phúc- tới nỗi mà người ta quên đi tui đang cảm giác gì. Sẽ nhanh thôi… 

Nhưng mà bây giờ thì tui buồn lắm

It is despairing to, again recognise that the unique one who could understand you most is yourself


Though, you will find that the title has nothing to do with this passage below.

Having abolished several of my blog entries and essays, criticised and jugded myself to the point that my thinking appear incredulous and irrational, I realise now that I have failed to escape the ravishing, sporadic temptation to face my real emotions and as tragically as I did every time I attempt to force myself into something that I dont’ really like. For a sufficiently long time, I was mentally tottering out of balance . I thought I was unjust and non-sensible, unable to creditise my thoughts and feelings. I was sick of the ignoble way that I use to perceive the world, which, as far as I know now, doesn’t really need to be “noble” at all. 🙂

That is to say, I’m re-establishing the habit of blogging; though I know it’s pragmatically no use declaring this, to a practical person but to my weird instincts, it’s sort of giving a profound confidence (why would I need this here?) and commitment push-( the commitment that I would write everyday T_T) Despite deliberate rationalisation of the deed as the pressing necessity and seriousness of the problem I’m experiencing , I do enjoy writing, as much as other forms of arts. To me writing itself embodies a kind of perpetually inconquerable freedom- that of the human creativity,  fathoming and conceptualising capabilities, the extension of which is we all know, virtually endless; the sort of freedom that enriches one’s living experience and empowers one’ spirit to go beyond any earthly physical bondages. With this infatuation for spontaneity, I naturally dislike premeditated, topic- centred high school essays with the excuse that when things exist with a purpose, the scope for their experience of existence tends to be limitted; just like when you’re tied down by the topic and teacher’s marking scale, writing becomes an assiduous torture, a responsibility-bound exercise of adapting or assimilating to predetermined standards. 

In essence, writing should evolve around and from the freedom of self-expression, publicisation and celebration of individual identity; it should also speak of the selfish desire of one to create as well as to preserve such creations. 

Not as grandiose as the rationalisation above and more than usual, blogs are my retreat from misunderstandings and disappointments, my escapade where I can bitch about the world and its vexing fallacies, or just simply temporarily hide away from constraints and exposures that are placed on the life of everyone.

Habitually, I dont’ have much socialising as even out in the public I tend to “socialise” with myself, with the comforting and understanding voice in my head and because of this, my blog wouldn’t be reaching out to the confining outside world, but rather the invaried inner mental, emotional turbulence, which I can’t help if you find circuitously dull. Like most writers, or people-who-love-to-write’s, my writing mainly evolves my secretive, obsessing concerns; strange things that happen and encapture my mind, ideas and notions that I peruse over for days, on the streets, in the bathroom, in front of my computer screen and in conversations with people. If you know me for a sufficiently long time (which is normally rare), and I find that you’re trustworthy enough, you’ll see that I actually talk a lot, mostly aimless, non-sensical rambles- exactly what I’m doing now.

 Though I am in many ways fond of writing, it’s always terrifyingly confusing (if not bland) to read what I have to say. Generally I have this tendency to digress aimlessly into sub-topics, which will then proceed, without any further notice to readers,  into some other slightly related subjects that I inadvertently find intriguing. Furthermore, I have a punctuation problem, like random placing of commas that is grammatically wrong and figuratively invalid (or undecipherable) to many but it does resembles my habit in conversation, like a contemplative pause, and it is sort of contributive to the flow of my words.


I don’t know what to write anymore. All my senses are now overwhelmed. What should I say? I’ve lost the strength to string my words together, I don’t have that sense anymore. Why is it so burdening to me? Why am I ever so depressed? Why did you choose to end it this way? Did you think of me at all? Oh, and your birthday, it’s coming in less than two months. What am I ever going to do about it? Do I just sit in front of the screen lamenting over what should have happened or do I just bleach it out of my mind? What are you to me after all? One of many or just one? Which would be better for me? Why are the lies? Why did you have to make it sound all good despite that it wasn’t? I hate you more than any word could describe. I’ve lost my senses. I don’t know what I am saying. I’m not sure what sort of feeling I’m having but there’s this distinct, scorching pain withering in my chest. Why did you have to torture before letting go?

After all…


…tomorrow is another day

I like this saying. In a sense, it keeps me going unaware of how bad a situation I’m in and without much rhetorics, impress me with the simple fact that no matter what happens time flow will wash away all, and as I said… no matter what can happen at all…

Tomorrow is another day, yet, another try at living this sad life, at looking through the meaninglessness and emptiness that prevail the whole universe, another opportunity, another change of scenario, another family, another person, and another life, perhaps