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Posts Tagged ‘family

90’s

Posted on: April 1, 2011

I think that was the temperature in OC this afternoon. I let May nap in just her panties, and she still woke up sweaty. Fortunately, it was perfect weather for May’s favorite chore around the house – watering the lawn.

The babe is growing by leaps and bounds on this trip, but because I

have been too lazy to record down specific instances, I have forgotten them all. Oops. Oh wait, here’s one: There was one week she was just quick to get frustrated, and was ready to burst into angry tears much sooner than usual. After a few days of me telling her she has x amount of time to quit crying, then I’ll give her a hug, and she can tell me what’s bothering her, one day she started acting up and, at that point, I was too annoyed to give her my full spiel, so I just got up and walked away. Soon, I heard her saying “May ni’n, con ni’n. Me. be^’ con ” (I quit crying, mommy pick me up), and she stopped crying altogether. Then I heard “Me. dda^u ma^’t dzo^`i ?” (Where did mommy go?) in such a funny tone that it cracked me up.

Here’s another
me: May, con sờ coi cục gì ở đít con funny nè (see what’s that funny piece on your butt)
May: cục gì funny đó? Con gấu! (what’s that funny thing? it’s the bear)
me: con gấu ở ngoài đây mà, cục gì trong đó vậy? (the bear is out here, what’s in there?)
May: cục cứt (piece of shit)

it was actually a loose button from her onesie


Viet Nam beloved land of the bold

We are like rising water overflowing, we will not be put out
The infinite road ahead only means our laughter will reverberate
Dragging behind our feet are the chains of passed times
Our eyes shine bright to the rhythm of the chains jangling

We rattle the chains in the face of the world
an everlasting smile is a not a smile of joy
a distant smile is a smile of seething grudge
Our trides rush forth, flinging chains in the face of Man

Our blood was pressed from Văn Lang’s citadel
same flesh and bones our forefathers had forged
with each passing day
we laugh defiantly in our seething grudge
we’ve become a corps of bold people
on grounds of spikes we sing-laugh-jest
as long as there’s Viet Nam
these million hearts continue to hold infinite valor yet.

we are a race flowing forth on fired kiln
our faces cool as bronze,  gazing to a faraway
the hides of our feet drip with sweat, enfolding veins
holding bleeding wounds we laugh under the heat

We teach our children – keep on being humans
being a glorious people – must keep on being Viets
being a bold people in the face of this world
To all those who have fallen: sit up then bravely walk again

———————————–
Nguyễn Đức Quang, song writer, visionaire
spouse, father, grandfather, brother, son, cousin, relative, friend, neighbor, citizen
uncle, grand-uncle
human, and many more.
1944 – 2011
In memoriam.

————————————————————-
Việt Nam Quê Hương Ngạo Nghễ

Ta như nước dâng dâng tràn có bao giờ tàn
Đường dài ngút ngàn chỉ một trận cười vang vang
Lê sau bàn chân gông xiềng một thời xa xăm
Đôi mắt ta rực sáng theo nhịp xích kêu loàng xoàng
Ta khua xích kêu vang dậy trước mặt mọi người
Nụ cười muôn đời là một nụ cười không tươi
Nụ cười xa vời nụ cười của lòng hờn sôi
Bước tiến ta tràn tới tung xiềng vào mặt nhân gian
Máu ta từ thành Văn Lang dồn lại
Xương da thịt này cha ông ta miệt mài
Từng ngày qua
Cười ngạo nghễ đi trong đau nhức không nguôi
Chúng ta thành một đoàn người hiên ngang
Trên bàn chông hát cười đùa vang vang
Còn Việt Nam
Triệu con tim này còn triệu khối kiêu hùng
Ta như giống dân đi tràn trên lò lửa hồng
Mặt lạnh như đồng cùng nhìn về một xa xăm
Da chân mồ hôi nhễ nhại cuộn vòng gân trời
Ôm vết thương rĩ máu ta cười dưới ánh mặt trời
Ta khuyên cháu con ta còn tiếp tục làm người
Làm người huy hoàng phải chọn làm người dân Nam
Làm người ngang tàng điểm mặt mày của trần gian
Hỡi những ai gục xuống ngồi dậy hùng cường đi lên

– Nguyễn Đức Quang – Saigon 1966

May will turn 17 months on Friday. The grandparents are leaving Monday evening. This trip has been a great success except for the church hiccup and also the fact that grandpa spent 3 days sick in bed. When Son’s mom came here earlier this month, she was also sick for 3 days. Is it my house?? It wasn’t that cold!

May’s nose is still blowing bubbles and producing viscous snots, yuck, but she’s sleeping much better. She is very happy to have extra company. Mom has been very helpful in keeping May entertained while I ran around the house doing my things (cooking, cleaning, chores, etc etc). When I tell her to leaves things to me, she does. When I ask her to do something she does. Great. She has aged so much while I spent my years living away that holding her hands to examine her bulging veins, I was taken back by the sight of old age and frailty. Unlike old people I’m used to being around – Helen, Jim, Les, who are active and more muscular or have more body fat, mom is just your little old Asian lady with skin and bones. She spent the last 2 nights not sleeping a wink. Or maybe she winked for an hour this morning, she said she wasn’t sure. Mom’s system is all messed up, and I can see where my insomnia comes from.

Dad has changed a lot too, like An has said. He has mellowed out considerably – more patient and accommodating with mom, more appreciative and considerate with others (at least to May and me). He’s shown sensitivity to May’s comfort and safety, appreciation for the efforts I’ve put in to make him comfortable at my house, and gives out a lot of compliments when he likes something. He used to have criticisms for many many things I did, the least of all being my driving skills (or the lack thereof). Yet he has witnessed me parallel-parking in the most godawful fashion the last 2 visits here, and not said a thing. He only gave some directions when I asked him for help. Awesome!

So anyways. I’m glad May has had this opportunity to get to know her grand parents. I’m going to start booking for the Holidays soon. With May being older now, we’ll spend more time at my parents’ house when we go back to CA. I’m thinking maybe the beginning of the holiday at my parents’, and the end at Son’s. f

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đang trên xe nói phone với bà ngoại SM, đang hỏi bà ngoại:
– đi xe bus xuống Richmond VA có thấy cảnh hai bên đường đẹp không?
phía sau lưng mình nghe cất lên một giọng quả quyết:
– đẹp!

———————————————————–

biết leo xuống cái giường cao ngất rồi, chết với nhau cái màn này nhá. Giờ thì đang hì hục tìm cách LEO LÊN. Vắt chân lên tới mang tai rồi mà chưa ăn nhằm gì, nhưng bên cạnh có cái ghế rocker khá cao, để xem con khỉ con này thuộc loại biết ngó ngang ngó dọc xem xét tình hình hay là thuộc loại cắm đầu cắm cổ rán sức làm cho đến cùng, không cần nhờ vả. SM nghe nhiều hiểu nhiều dạo này. Khi nào đang bận mà con phá quá, mẹ chỉ việc nói con đi lấy cái tã cho mẹ, hoặc lấy giày, hoặc chai nước, hoặc một món đồ chơi nào đó đem cho mẹ, là con đi lấy liền. Hôm bữa con đi khá lâu mẹ tưởng sm chán không lấy nữa đang quay ra phá office của ba, mà không phải, một hồi thấy con cầm tã chạy te te vào, xong mồm a a, chân leo leo vô tã ra ý là biết sắp mang tã mới vô. Mẹ ngó cái thùng tã thì mới thấy là con phải thò tay vô khá sâu để móc bịch ra, rồi còn phải mở bao nylon gỡ lấy 1 cái tã ra, thành ra mới lâu như thế.

Con không thích kẹp tóc – hễ thấy kẹp thì dí lên đầu kêu mẹ kẹp, mẹ kẹp xong thì vài phút sau con tháo xuống liền. Riêng cột cây dừa thì con không tháo, lạ chưa. Thế là con mà tìm ra cọng thun đòi cột thì tóc con thành cây dừa nguyên ngày.

Hồi đầu hè mẹ để máy lạnh ban đêm 80 độ cho sm mang tã mặc áo mỏng đi ngủ thấy ok, mà từ tuần này trở đi con lại đổ mồ hôi đầu ướt đẫm. Suốt ngày, lúc nào mẹ thấy mát mát ok mà rờ vào con thì lại thấy rịn rịn mồ hôi. Con vẫn khoẻ mạnh ăn uống chơi đùa như thường. Mẹ thấy con tuần này tiếp thu rất nhanh, nói nhiều hơn trước, và hay lặp đi lặp lại các từ mới học. Ví dụ sáng nay con trèo sao mà quần bị tuột xuống, mẹ nói “á, tuột quần rồi!” thế là con cứ chỉ quần kệu “tụt tụt.” Lúc lột áo ra con cũng nói tụt tụt, thấy mẹ đi restroom cũng chỉ kêu tụt tụt. Vậy chắc là đâu óc con đang làm việc overtime. Nhiều đêm nằm ngủ trở mình cũng phát biểu lung tung, ví dụ hôm bữa mẹ nghe con chép chép miệng xong nói “xchịt.” Con thích ăn thịt lắm mà, cho proscuitto là tít mắt lại.

Mà dạo này con ăn uống giỏi vô cùng. Một ngày ăn đủ 3 bữa cộng với snacks yogurt trái cây bánh này nọ ì xèo. Bú vẫn đủ các cữ, có khi nhiều hơn nữa. Mẹ nấu basmati rice trong nước gà cho thật mềm (loại gạo này nấu nhiều nước thì nó mềm nhưng không nhão), xong lúc ăn thì mẹ hoặc cho ăn vậy với thực ăn hoặc trộn với canh hoặc nước lèo con đều ăn được. Con đã bắt đầu chịu ăn trái cây tí tí. Phần lớn con thích cầm cục gì đó dồn vô má cho phính ra xong nghiến nát từ từ. Thoạt đầu mẹ cho con grape tomatoes mà các trái nhỏ nhất. Con nhai hút hết thịt cà chua xong nhè cái vỏ ra cho mẹ. Hôm nay con ăn được 2 miếng cantaloupe và 4-5 miếng đào chín đã gọt vỏ. Nếu xắt nhỏ hoặc xắt mỏng thì con không thèm, phải to to để nhét vô 1 bên má mới chịu.

Potty train chả có mẹ gì để khoe. Chưa train luôn. Chắc chuẩn bị đem potty trả lại cho chị MA thôi, hahaha.

I finished my walk in about 1 hour and 45 minutes with An, Son’s sister. Son took off running with Ron first, while I waited for An. We caught up with them 2 hours later to find Son limping. His knees gave out after Haight street. There are so many muscles hurting on my legs that I have never knew they were there. Like 20 minutes into the run, something was cramping on my upper thigh. An image of stirfried frog legs flashed across my mind, I remember seeing several muscles making up the thigh of a frog. Whatever it was, that was the first time in my life that it was hurting. Tons of naked men were there too, some with funky tan patterns, but half of them were saggy-butt men, nothing pretty to behold. We ran past the smurfs and their giant mushroom, Luigi, Banana man, Pacman, Monty Python’s holy grail people, Red China, and a school of fish. We didn’t see that many Elvis out there.

The event was fun, if nothing else, it gave me a chance to catch up with what An’s life and what her future plans are. The weather couldn’t have been better. The clouds were a blessing in disguise, because otherwise it would have been too hot. Son was in pains, so An’s housemate came to pick us up, and afterward An drove us to lunch. We decided on Brother’s after finding out that the other Korean restaurant was close, and of all coincidences, we met up with chi Hanh, my friend from SJ, the one person I thought I would not see after hearing from her that she was still waiting for her party to catch up in Golden Gate park as we waited for our ride to lunch. 2 hours later as I walked into the restaurant, I heard someone called my name and turned around to see that chi Hanh was already there with her company.

Son just tried to put on a pair of jeans and could not get them past his knees, he then said “oh, these are not my jeans!” Uh huh, they are my NEW skinny jeans, duh.

5/13/06

Posted on: May 13, 2006

Image

I called my mom today just to catch up, since I have been laxed about my calling home once a week practice for a year now. She was at home, evercheerful since the arrival of my nephew, so it’s good to hear. We were talking about the babies for a while, then we got to that – *gulp* – church part – again. My mom doesn’t get crazy and change personality 180 degrees, but because it has been such a persistent pain in the ass for many of us kids (all), the automatic reaction is to roll eyes and quickly find an ally via Yahoo IM or silently rehearsing what I want to say as soon as I’m through with this Godly conversation and quickly dial any of my sister’s numbers to ask for commiseration. So my mom started talking about how her wishes is for us all to get married in church and receive blessings of the sacrament, and I started saying well-you-know-mom-I’m-not-too-crazy-about-it-but-I’m-working-on-it-and-will-try-my-best-but-I’m-not-promising-anything. Then my mom went completely silent, choked in sobs. It’s not unusual. In the past, I just felt awkward and weary, so I would wait for her cue “Well, I’ll let you get back to work, I’ll be fine…” to hang up and end the conversation. I decided not to let her go this morning, since I was not disturbed at all by her tears, and the more I thought about it, the more I felt that my mom seems to have more to say, but she’s always choking at this stage, and then we all ended the conversation with her this way, and many things had remained unsaid. I waited a bit and coaxed her out of her silence, and yes, she did move on, and our talk started 🙂

She got her chance to tell me how important religion is to her, how her faith is what makes her feel at peace in old age, and what motivates her to change for the better, and to make sense out of the world that has always been confusing and frightening to her. I got my chance to tell her I appreciate the importance of religion in her life, and told her I support her faith, her church activities, and her wish to have us come to realize and benefit so much from religion. She told me how much she had learned these years, and cited examples of how much she was hurt when Chau refused to have a church wedding inspite of her pleads, and how Chau scorned her afterward and acted as if she didn’t care at all whether my mom would show up at the wedding banquet or not. My mom swallowed her sense of “injustice” and thought that it’s only right for her to attend the banquet, inspite of having all of my aunts and uncles snubbing the invitation due to “non-church” wedding style. She just wanted to make Chau happy and shows Chau that they are indeed mother and daughter. She told me she is resolved to start living her faith, not superficially but spiritually, to truly follow the teaching of the Bible, so we talked a bit about that. I assured her that her way of handling Chau’s wedding was in true spirit of living God’s love, and that if she’s able to separate religion from our mother-daughters relationship, then it will bring progress to both.

The source of my mom’s tears has been her sense of guilt. This didn’t come as a surprise to any of us. As distant as we have been to my mom in the past, we all can read her emotions quite accurately, a sort of animal instinct, watching her and anticipating her motives, fearing she might spring on us by surprise, that sort of thing. But it’s a great relief to be able to hear it from her, to hear her said “I feel as if this has been my fault, the way I have been living my life in the past that now my children pay for it by being godless…” This is not a pretentious statement, coming out of my mom. She has always been a meak and humble woman, we have all seen people taking advantage of her in the past, people putting her down, people manipulating her, and we as children got the butt of the mess. Some of the Vietnamese catholic’s ways of reasoning definitely got into her, the sense that God is vengeful and that she’s underserving of his grace, that there are payment to be made somewhere, so if she’s got too much blessings, the deficit is eating its way into her children’s souls. Therefore, it was a relief to hear that statement from her mouth, and for me to reassure her that no, she should believe in the God that is giving her peace of mind right now, the ever loving God who sees that she deserves everything good that she has got, and who loves her children too. We talked about the Bible’s message of patience, and that everything is as should be in God’s plan. Perhaps from her point of view, I asked her to see it as our time has not come yet, and she should not push us, because maybe it’s not her task to do so. Being able to quote the Bible has always saved me in time of need, and this time is no less effective 🙂 An hour’s worth of heart-pouring on my mom’s part was packed with details of her inner life, her worries, her thoughts, her wishes, her joy, her plans… The more I heard, the happier I am that we were able to have this conversation. My mom has been pretty lonely in terms of having someone to discuss truly personal things. Her conversational English is limited, so she does not hold long, eloquent conversations with her church friends. Vietnamese lady friends are mostly wives of my dad’s friends, and in large gatherings, my mom is too timid to reveal too much of what is her own. My sisters are too busy, and we all have been rolling our eyes and sought for a way out, or confronted her with skepticism whenever she approached the subject of her inner life, since it is so infused with church language. My dad doesn’t make an encouraging soul-sharing buddy. So this morning, I thought, we all need to talk, right? We all deserve our chance to show what it is that we would like the world to understand about us, so why not my mom? I used to be adversed to her church talks, but that harks back to the days when she said things like “I would rather have my children die than to have them live without God” (ouch). Her life has always been one of searching for salvation, and I think my mom has found it. The ease that she’s living her life, the tollerance that she has shown, and the willingness to be what she believes in, all of these things mean that she has been able to sort out things and make sense of them for herself, people are not just merely dictating thoughts into her head anymore, thanks God.

When telling people about my past, I always feel bad about the details in which I use to describe my mom back then. These details are not flattering to say the least, and the sense of desperation I felt as a child is still close to my heart. But I know she has changed greatly, since the summer all but one of her kids moved away for various reasons (marriage, school, cats…). The duty of a busy mother hen suddenly lifted, and my mom finally had a chance to pick up the loose ends of life and identity that left her when she was 27. Before we left her, each of us confronted her in our own ways, and tried in our own ways to find closure for our pasts. I have never bonded with my mom as a child, and I have not quite bonded with her as an adult, bonding in the sense of developing homesickness or have 1-st rate motivation to run home and be with mom whenever I can. No, I don’t have that. I used to disregard and avoid anything coming out of her as much as I could. But I’ve come to like the fact that at some point, I have given up my yearning to have someone else as my mother, I have given up thinking “If I had a mom like her, we could …” I’m happy with having a mom like mine, all eyes rolling and grudges and grievances, ignorances and bad judgments, as well as wisdom, humility, meakness, generosity, and gentle-heartedness included.

Happy Mother’s Day !

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Posted on: April 28, 2006

city of cat ...

while searching for the correct version of the fairy tale Son told me a few nights ago, I came across Irina Zheleznova’s translation of Latvian and Estonian folktales, with illustrations by Anatoly Belyukin. How I know which book these stories came from, how I know these illustrations too well!

A long long time ago, 18,19,20 years ago, my dad brought home a book jull of those images, a thick, shinny, beautiful book, with words incomprehensible to us all. That book was in English, and it’s the same Irina Zheloeznova book that I saw. It stayed with us until 1990, when we left VietNam. Now I don’t know which of our relatives have it. The picture I saw brought to mind the cool air of one late afternoon in VietNam, I sat with that book on the balcony, flipping through each page, looking at each picture longingly, searching for clues to what the words would not tell. I made up stories sometimes, just to make sense of the pictures. The pictures seemed bursting with meanings, beckoning for interpretations. That afternoon was basked in golden sunshine, slight breeze, green leaves, clean tiles, happy mom, adorable baby brother, blue sky, white clouds … a beautiful world. I was always sitting in the balcony like that, many afternoons, committing those pictures to my memory so that I can recognize them at first glance years later, and finally understand why I love Kandinsky’s “riding couple” so much.

The feelings upon seeing these pictures and the mystery of the words revealed at last are mixed. First came the nostalgia and remembrances of golden afternoons. Then came a sense of overwhelming love for … myself, for the child that sat on the balcony many afternoons ago, tracing the geometric pictures and searching for meaning in the eyes of princes and cats. I could see that child all over again, I wanted her to look up at me so that I could tell her, so this is it at last. Then came the waves of sadness, ebbing, crashing, ebbing… What ideals did my dad have when he came upon that book? Did he like it for the pretty pictures and bought them just to selfishly read and then discard? No. He must have imagined how his children would sit around him, as he translates the tales to them line by line, word by word. He never got around to doing that for us. He never got around to do many many things for us, which should have been done. Instead, he did get around to doing so many things to us which should not have been done at all, so that in old age, we have no longing to come home to him, to seek his advise, his approval, his anything. It’s the sadness for my father’s life that I felt, the sense of irretrievable loss, of seeing his good intentions in the past, and knowing too, that when meeting the forked road, he did fail us all.

You can experience the mysteries of the world here


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