i know what you mean!

misc. for mid May

Posted on: May 18, 2014

I still have a lot to say these days, but the urgency to record my thoughts are fleeting.

A week ago, while Son was sitting on the sofa idly enjoying his morning, I came up to him and said “Congratulations, Son, you are… still a father of two children!” “My cycle started today and I can finally go pick up the pills, ha!”  I swear he held his breath.

Yesterday I lost my original wedding ring, gaaaah!  It just slipped off my finger while I was buying vegetables at Berkeley Bowl =_=  I swear I should just give up on trying grrrrrr.  Son now has his on, but me, I need to go find a new pair or something.  I’ll probably just put mine away.  I hate wearing rings.

ah, now I remember what I wanted to write down the other day.

The shadows looking in.

I wanted to write about them.

There’s this song I like to listen to, and the lyrics are as follow:

There are times when you feel sad and blue
Something wrong and you don’t know what to do
When you feel that way stop and think awhile
Just make believe and smile
Make believe when you’re glad when you’re sorry
Sunshine will follow your way
When things go wrong
It won’t be long
Soon it be right again
Though your love dreams have gone
Make believe don’t lead on
Smile though your heart maybe broken
Though when bad luck have departs
You’ll find good luck starts
Don’t grieve
Just make believe…
When you think your luck is bad
And you’re feeling mighty sad
With all your cares and trouble far behind
Keep on smiling that’s the way
And remember what I say
Perfect happiness is just a state of mind
Though your love dreams have gone
Make believe don’t lead on
Smile when your heart is still broken
For when bad luck departs
You will find good luck starts
Don’t grieve
Just make believe…
Though your love dreams have gone
Make believe don’t lead on
Smile though your heart maybe broken
For when bad luck departs
You will find good luck starts
Don’t grieve
Just make believe

I like to listen to this song because whenever I hear it, and the way St. Vincent sings it, my heart breaks just a little bit more.  It makes me want to cry.  Sad songs, melodramatic scenes, they don’t make me cry.  Sometimes they have the reverse effect on me.  But happy things, beautiful things, they make me sad.  Songs that try to act happy like this one are the saddest of them all, because I pay more attention to what the words are not saying.  And what they are not saying is that whoever sings this song must have been through it all, and she’s had to force herself to be glad when she is sorry, that she has known what it’s like to have her love dreams gone.  How sad is it to smile when your heart is still broken.  And the question is why? Why can’t you be sorry and just wallow in it.  Why must you make believe? How terrible is a life that has no room for sadness to run its course.  Make believing is a departure from reality – how terrible is your reality that you must depart?  It makes me think of what many sexual abuse victims do when they are completely helpless – they turn their mind away and let it crawl into a safe space of make believe.

When I was younger, maybe starting around 4-5ish, I remember the sensation of falling asleep.  I would close my eyes and wait patiently, and in my mind’s eye, I would see a space opening up.  Sometimes on the wall that I know was right in front of me if I opened my eyes, but most often, the vortex was on the floor, right next to me.  Round and round it went, a hole with mesmerizing motions, pulling me in, closer and closer to the rim, and then I would start falling, and everything turned black.  It wasn’t scary to me, but I look forward to it with mixed emotion.  I was fascinated by that vortex, and I was anxious at the same time.  I don’t know when I started to lose it, but I know for sure by the time I was 10, I was drifting off nightly to the sounds of Khanh Ly or Tuan Ngoc or Elvis Phuong singing one depressing ballad or another from my sisters’ cassette player.  3-D objects, when graphed, fascinate me visually, because they remind me of the vortex I used to see as a child.  Sometimes I look up illustration of space/time continuum or worm holes etc. for the same reason.

I think the sleep vortex is somehow inexplicably linked to the shadows looking in.  These shadows have always been there, they are quiet and somber things.  I mean, figuratively, of course.  I’m not hallucinating.  Part of them is sadness, part of them is regret, part of them is nostalgia, these shadowy things.  And I have kept them at bay all of my life – don’t start talking about depression, because that’s not it.  These shadows are linked to me, but they are not part of me.  I let them in, a few at a time, all throughout my life, in order for them to move on.  I don’t know where they go, after.

I let them in through poetry, songs, books, stories, art, music.  When I was 7,8ish, I remember I let a few in when I read Nguyen Binh’s poems.  All of his poems are sad to me, the verses are so melancholy even to a very rambunctious child that I was.

thấy rét, u tôi bọc lại mền / Cô hàng cất rượu ủ thêm men

The beginning of that poem always makes me want to weep.  Even before I could understand the specifics of the verses, i felt their sadness seeping through me.

When I was a bit older, maybe around 8 or 9, I read Tolstoy’s “What Man Lives By” (short story collection), and the uncanny description of someone dying from cancer in “the death of Ivan Illich” or the terrifying imagery of the fallen angel regaining his wings in the tiny humble shack of the cobbler, ultimately all converged in a tidal wave of sadness that washed over me time and again, as I kept on reading them until I had some passages memorized.

Or that Daudet’s book, “Lettres a mon moulin” ?  Sad.  That sweet shepherd with his angelic mistress’ head resting on his shoulder under the bright stars of the highlands?  He should definitely treasure the moment while it lasted, because when she wakes up, she will be long gone and forever out of his reach, and he can spend the rest of his life daydreaming about what could never be.

Then there’s a song I learned in church that always make me on the verge of tearing up.  It’s this song:

Xin giữ gìn con lạy Chúa con ơi!
Tha Thiết cậy trông mãi mãi nơi Ngài.
Hạnh phúc đời con là tin thờ Chúa
tháng năm miệt mài chẳng bao giờ ngơi

Whenever I sing it, sadness just wash over me for some lost soul out there.  The song feels like it’s all about loss to me, and it’s from what the words don’t say.

In the US, I used to spend my meager birthday money once a year, during my school’s book fair.  And the kind of books that called out to me were the ones – I can’t remember the title anymore, but it has “sweet” and “brook” in it – the main character, a child, eventually could not withstand the viciousness of small town small mindedness, set herself ablaze before she ran and drown herself in the said sweet something brook.  I picked it not knowing the ending would be like that, but somehow when I opened it and read the first few pages, the deceptively quiet and beautiful words drew me in, and I immediately sensed that there was something terrible underneath it all.

High school was a total trip, because I read every single Thomas Hardy book, and they were total downers.

The thing is, if you know me personally, I’m not the downer type of person.  I don’t mope for too long, I dislike pathos, I am practical when it comes to problem solving, and I joke a lot.  Quite a few people have said that from what they sense about me, I’m the type who laugh on the outside and cry on the inside.  If they read this entry, it would totally confirm their belief.  But that’s not it either.  I know sadness.  I know how it feels to be depressed.  I know the bottom pit.  I have felt and lived through them, and I know what I felt were my own emotions.  But the sadness that come to me through words and images and music, I know they are not mine.  They are from the shadows out there, where the edge of my consciousness forms a barrier against the unknown.  Sometimes I wonder if they are from others, you know, people walking around me.  Like I’m experiencing a form of compassion.  But why just sadness, though?  The feelings are with me in the moment, but gone once I’m done.  Poof and away.

it’s not all I want to say for mid May, but this will have to do.  it’s past midnight and I have me some Kim Soo Hyun DVD’s to watch.



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