Hey Dave

Photo by Charlotte May on

Dave came to the bar late. He said he was busy doing something till 10 pm on a Friday. Right! He was probably fooling around with that girl again. I already told him she was notorious for being kind of a slut. She wasn’t there to stay. But well, Dave was a sweet guy to begin with. It wasn’t really a surprised that he would get tricked.

“Hey Dave, over here!”

“Hey sorry! I’m late!”

“Dude, you’re late to your own Dbirthday party.”

“You can’t say it’s a party when it’s only me and you!”

“Hey hey, it’s because I’m all here for you! I’m the nicest!”

Dave just smiled before pulling a chair out to sit next to me by the bar. It was the Friday before break and the bar in a college town would normally be empty. So at 11:30pm there were still seats at the bar.

“Dave, ok ok. Choose your poison!”

Dave laughed. He shook his head a little.

“You can choose. Choose for both of us too.”

I turned around to grab my wallet from my purse. I took out my credit card and pushed it towards the bartender.

“Two shots of Grey Goose please and keep the tab open.”

“You don’t have to get me Grey Goose.”

The bartender brought out two shots of Grey Goose and he took my credit card. I gave one of the shots to Dave and lift my own shot up in the air.

“Nah. I said I’m buying you your first legal shot. I’m not being cheap”

Dave smiled and lift his shot in the air too. We clinked our glasses loudly.

“Dave, happy 21!”

“Happy 21!”


Reread the Awakening

I was never into the idea of re-reading and re-watching. I knew many of my literature folks love re-reading their favorite books, and many of my movie folks like re-watching movies. They do that in their good days, and even more so on their bad days. When you read something or watch something the first time and they gave you a good feeling, you would love to re-watch and re-read that wonderful thing, looking for that good feeling again. Especially, on bad days, since you know exactly what feeling that old book or movie delivered, you looked for it to soothe yourself. I don’t do that often. And I’m not that pretentious to say things like I don’t feel sad or doing those things are for the weaks. I’m saying, when I’m sad, I would rather just sit there and cry. I don’t read books to soothe myself. That’s just me.

I read when I’m relaxed and I have time. And just like everyone else in this world right now, nobody has enough time. So I want to spend those few spare moments to read more and read something new. Same with movies. I rarely ever have an urge to re-read or re-watch anything much. But, I’m here to talk about an exception. And I don’t re-read that book for sadness or happiness either. I re-read that book because I grew.

When I was 17, I read the Awakening by Kate Chopin. To simplify, the book is about a woman who supposedly had everything well and right: she came from a good family and then married into a good family. She had a kind husband, but he was often occupied with work. She was friend with a more modern and open woman who taught her things that she couldn’t imagine a woman could do. She then drew and played piano, exploring her own self interest. She had an intense affair with a young playboy guy, who eventually left her. In the end, the book was had an open ended ending with her jumping into the water and contemplating suicide.

I came from a very happy family with a loving mother and father. We were not perfect, but my parents were there. I also left home for school when I was 16. All I could think of was if there was anyway I could go to school without having to leave my home I would definitely do that. And this woman, this woman in The Awakening chose to leave home for herself and for an affair. She was willing to leave her two small children behind. When I was 17, I remembered writing a full on essay disagreeing with what she chose.
I’m 27 now. It has been 10 years. And I sometimes thought about the book. Life had changed me. It changed the way I looked at the book. It changed the way I looked at her. I still don’t agree with all the choices she made but I understand much more about why she does what she does. And I appreciate that as a process of growing, of being less naive and knowing life isn’t as black and white as I used to think it is. And I would sometimes reread things to see how far I’ve come.


I wish you were happy

He drew a long puff from his cigarette, the old school one, not his usual vape. I thought he didn’t smoke old school cigarettes anymore. He switched a while ago to vaping for a healthier option. But he pulled one out today and explained to me the old school cigarettes made him feel different, and he was in that mood. We had quite a few beers before this. We both held our alcohol well but I knew we were more than tipsy at this point. He struggled to light his cigarette.
For some reasons, his Russian features stood out so much under the shady street lights. The way he held his cigarette, his slight wrinkles on the forehead, the puffy worker style jacket, all screaming Russian. How could someone pass by and not tell that this guy ran away from Russia?

Tomorrow is my wife’s birthday, he said.
Oh, that’s nice. Are you guys doing anything special? I asked.
She has Type 2 Diabetes. He ignored my question. Not from being fat though. It’s strange. He drew another smoke.

She is technically Ukrainian. She went to an elementary school right next to Chernobyl. It was a few years after Chernobyl. The Ukrainians didn’t know shit back then. They thought after a few years, everything was fine. They re-used the trashed out materials from Pripyat to build her school. And she got Type II diabetes. You know why is that a problem?

Oh man, that’s some crazy shit. I was trying to process the strange information he just said. Why?

Because when she carried my first child, it was a shit show. So many complications. And I couldn’t leave her because of that. He said it with no sight of emotions, stating it as straight as if he was discussing a play in football. Because of this so that.

I just sat there, in the cold, not knowing how to reply to that.

I don’t love her An. Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t love her. His hand shook a little when he pulled the cigarette out of his mouth for a breath. His breath formed a small fuzzy foggy cloud under the street light.

I hugged him tight. His beer belly made it difficult to wrap my arms all the way around but I tried.
I told him. Denny, let’s smoke one more. I signaled him to pass me a cigarette.
He lighted it up for me. The fire flickered in the winter wind. It was weak but it got the cigarette lit.

I wish you were happy Denny. I drew a puff from my cigarette. Could you still be happy? Or is it too late?

Fiction · Life

World Wide Web

We are children of the World Wide Web

We smiled, we cried, we put it on the net

We weave nothing into relationships

We like the people we never met

We share ideas faster than we ever could

We spread good cause cause we know we should

We shorten distance into bandwidths

We create brilliance through a few clicks

We can change the world in a flick

Oh, the power we now have

The poem is a response for the prompt on Go Dog Go Cafe.


Little John

Photo by Alena Koval on

Last time I visited California was a long while ago. I was young, very young, going to college at the time and trying to find a place to stay during the holidays break.

I stayed with a couple that my family knew in Orange County. They were a couple that immigrated from Vietnam about 15 years ago with their 3 children. They were such happy and nice people. They took me in for weeks asking nothing in return. She was working at a nail salon and he was working at a factory. The 3 kids were 2 older boys and a little girl: Sam, John and Sarah.

Sarah was an adorable little girl. She was wicked smart. She played sports, and got good grade. She was completely immersed into the American culture. She had no problem blending and rising to the top. The little girl was his parents’ American pride. She was the one that would always take care of herself and not worry her parents.

Sam didn’t talk much. Actually, he barely said anything to me besides hello the whole few weeks I was there. He seemed like a studious kid. He read most of the time. His mom sometimes suggested he wrote a few book reviews for the ones he read. He said no.

Unlike Sam, John talked a lot. He talked about everything but he couldn’t really hold a conversation for long. John talked like he was 5 years old. I always find John adorable. He could only focus on one thing at once, but he went full on for that one thing. He had so much energy and he drew so well. He talked like a little kid, but who care, that was in exchange for his imagination. His creativity showed up clearly in all his little doodling.

Years later, I was told Sam and John had autism. And everything made sense in my head. That was why they were so absorbed in their own things. I met John again years later, after knowing about his autism. John was then a huge guy, 6 foot tall and weighted 200 pounds. He still talked like a little kid. He was adorable. I remembered looking at him and feeling bad for him while loving him more. He welcomed me to his home again, as cheerful as the first time I visited. He still doodled, but he was so much better now. He drew whole big pictures with shading and coloring and everything. They all looked amazing. And all that was him self-teaching himself.

He finished high school with all the special ed classes. He graduated. And everyone was so happy for him. But that was it for his education. His parents didn’t want to put him through college and it didn’t look like he would want to do that either. His mother, in his sophomore year of high school, had gone to mat for him and Sam at all of the social service offices. She wanted benefits for them so they could be taken care of when they wouldn’t be around anymore. John and Sam should be fine.

Now, I lived thousands of miles away from the family. I didn’t visit them much anymore. But once in a while, when I saw someone sketching on the subway, I always thought of John, his naïve smile, creative talent and kindred spirit. I wondered how he was doing, and I wished the best for him, always.


Dear Michael

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Dear Michael,

By the time you receive this letter, I’m probably far away. I can’t tell you where I am, but trust me it is somewhere good. I’m probably lying in the sun while reading a book or drinking a margarita. Yes, a margarita. I haven’t had one for a really long time because doctors said I shouldn’t drink. You even gave up your wine in solidarity with me. But I’m drinking margaritas now, and you should pick up a bottle of wine for yourself as well. Now that things are almost over. There’s no need to hold back anymore.

First off, I wanted to say I’m very sorry. I knew you probably panicked when you couldn’t find me. I hate to leave you this way, but if I ever face you, I would never be able to leave and you would not let me go. I didn’t leave you because of anything you did. I left because I chose to have the last few days for my own. I’m selfish and I’m eternally sorry for that.

Next, I wanted to thank you. Thank you for everything, Michael. I’m grateful to have met you, to have live my life with you, to share every meal, to cuddle on the same bed, to have you on my hospital bed side. You know I’m not a religious person but I believed ever since I met you. How could I not? I met an angel and I felt in love. A literal angel from heaven. The ones that people often seen drawn naked in fancy art museums. That would make anyone change their minds.

Michael, you are the best thing that ever happened to my short little life. You are my dream, my love and my life. I don’t know much about all the rules of Heaven but I knew you had to fight to be here with me. Then, me, being the selfish jerk I am, had to get sick and wither away. I didn’t want you to see me in the last moments of my life. I didn’t want the last image of me you see as a living person was on a cold hospital bed. I wanted you to always remember me as the young, bright 18 years old girl you met in front of Central Park. I will live a short life. But you, you’ll live for eternity. When I die, everything ends with me. But you, you’ll have to carry the image of your love dying in your arms. I would rather not, for both you and me.

Michael, take good care of yourself. Love yourself, love someone else. Find peace in the pain. May God give you a blessing. Please forgive me and forget about me. In the end, we were just a moment in your eternity.



This little quick write was a response to the Tuesday Writing Prompt of the Go Dog God Cafe. Such a great prompt this week.


Being the normal person I am

Photo by Jacob Kelvin on

When I was in middle school or high school in Vietnam, there was a trend of blogging on Yahoo 360. That website was no longer available now. Back then, everyone owned a blog online. As kids, we wrote such naive, optimistic, cheesy things on there. Long essays of how we liked rains, how “loving someone” was so difficult, how angry we were at “life”. Everything that seemed so big then was so little now, so trivial. However, I always thought back about those blogging days and really much appreciated it. Rarely ever again, in the social media network life, was there a trend that encourage teenagers to write. And there should be one.

Teenagers were ones filled with the most emotions. They were young, curious, easily impressed, sensitive and dreamy. That was basically the definition of an artist right there. No wonder teenagers are always so chaotic. Being a teenager was one of the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I had a quite happy teenage years: wasn’t bullied, happy family, good grades, and good friends. Still, I would never wish to go back to those years again.

I didn’t feel like anything was enough when I was a teenager. Maybe because I was at the age where I thought I should be the center of the world, but I wasn’t (obviously). So I didn’t feel like it was enough. I had amazing parents and very good relationship with my sibling. Back then, I felt like they didn’t love me enough and they liked my brother more. I had crushes and even a boyfriend when I was a teenager. I felt like I wasn’t attractive enough romantically to anyone. My boyfriend then wasn’t romantic enough and I was always dreaming of a charming prince that would show up one day. My first break-up was almost like the end of the world to me. I felt like I would never be able to get over it. I listened to sobbing songs I felt like my life wasn’t enough. My life should be something marvelous and not just the simple life of going to school then getting back home. It should be like one of those sci-fi or adventure movie. That one day, someone would show up and tell me that I am the chosen one, that I am the truly special one. Yes, that was probably it. I used to want to be the special one. Not just to a person, not just to my parents, but to the world. I am one of a kind and I have a function that besides me, nobody in this world can do it. I’m irreplaceable and indispensable. So many “should be-s”.

Then I grew out of those feelings. I live a decently normal life. And it was excellent in it own way. I’ve learned to feel gratitude towards the smallest little things in life. To aim for more while being satisfied. To be standing out in a crowd but a normal person during the days. It isn’t easy. It’s a learning process. Everyone is jealous with others’ achievements: whether it’s money, or status, or talent. Everyone is jealous of someone else because they are not the ones standing out. I do too. If you think you are not the jealous type, I bet you are wrong. Everyone is a jealous type. That’s why it’s one of the Seven Sins. It’s not good but it’s normal. I’m learning to suppress those negative feelings. Being better than someone else may do nothing for me. But if I’m better than myself yesterday, it’ll do a lot for me. I’m a normal, average person. I probably would never be the savior of the world or the super human that is so important for the Earth. But I’m trying to get myself to move further, to do better and to be well. In the end, you’ll have to sleep with yourself every night. So care less about others.


A good life

Photo by Daria Shevtsova

When John was twenty five, he had a decent job. It was not the most well paid one yet. But he knew where he would be years from then and how much he would make. So he was satisfied with his job. Next, he had to find himself a wife. This one was not as easy. He could try but in reality, whether or not he would meet a girl he liked that was also willing to settle down with him one day was kind of pure luck. And John wasn’t very good at gambling. Meanwhile, he dated around. He traveled places. He tried new things. He was living his best 20 something life.

Then he met Rachel. Thank God he met Rachel. The dating game was getting exhausting mentally and physically. He was so glad he finally found someone stable for at least a little while. She was a nurse so she was all he could ask for in the caring department. She was soft and sweet and he knew she was the one. Naturally, they got married.

Married life wasn’t that hard. Of course, there were times they argued but nothing that could really break them. They tried to squeeze in a vacation or two. They couldn’t really go on a lot of vacation though they make money. They didn’t have time. It was difficult for John to leave everything for his subordinates. And Rachel, needless to say, the woman was a nurse. She didn’t even sleep.

Rachel was pregnant. They were both happy and worried. Rachel had a good pregnancy and there came little Boy. It was hard taking care of a child. They never really fully knew what they did was wrong or right. But it was very much fun. So much fun that they decided to bring little Girl to life with just a little year apart. They barely had enough sleep for three years. They were busy with work, with children that they couldn’t think of anything else. They were happy but tired. They were satisfied but busy.

They both were making more money year by year. Their kid grew up and stopped waking up at night crying. Then schools came. They had to take turns taking the kids to school. Little Boy wanted to do karate and little Girl wanted dance lessons. They had to take turn to pick them up from school then extracurricular activities then pick them up to get home. John really really wanted a vacation. He missed getting away from home. He missed laying on the sand under the sun. He missed skiing down the Black Diamond slopes. he missed hiking up the tough trails with beautiful views. He missed not hurrying anywhere. But they had to spend weekends taking the kids to away tournaments or family gatherings or someone’s birthday parties. It was the good life that everyone else wanted. He shouldn’t complain.

It took them a while but they were finally close enough to having their time and freedom back. Little Boy grew up so fast. He soon would go to college, then little Girl a year later. John and Rachel could get the vacations they always wanted now. Though, they couldn’t really go climb or hike on the mountains anymore. Their knees and back were aching. Maybe they could do some yoga and be flexible again to climb those one day. They couldn’t go skiing. Getting older, they got much more sensitive to temperature. Their poor souls couldn’t handle staying in the freezing mountain resort for days to skii. Guess, they could still go to the beach. They shouldn’t really swim far into the ocean where the tides were strong. They were much weaker now. That was probably a bit dangerous. Now, with all the time and freedom they finally got back. They could take their time to go anywhere. Or, maybe just the beach.


We’d know

Photo by Pixabay

A tree growing up was pliable

Its leaves were weak and so were the petals

Then its physique changed for the tougher

Bark got rough and the leaves got hard.

That’s when it died.

When we were born

We were torn into this world

Our skin soft and our fingers curled

This whole new place was a blur.

And the years added on

Everyday from dusk till dawn

We were a step closer to bygone.

We were eons of anguish

We were decades of dismay.

We had overstayed our places on Earth

We got rough and numb

And we’d know it was time to go.


What if I were 10 years old

Credit: Inga Seliverstova

What if I were 10 years old, again?

When I was 10, I was living in the first house my parents ever bought. They used all of their savings to buy a small house deep in an alley. I remembered seeing my mum cried the first time after moving into that house. She lost the money they saved up to furnish the place. All we got was a big wooden cupboard and a few mattresses. My brother and I shared a mattress on the floor for months. My parents shared another in another room for months. Then we got a small foldable plastic table to be our dining table. All our plates and bowls were mismatch. We rarely ever ate grapes since they were often out of our budget. Our second floor in our little house had a floor so squeaky that I was always afraid to walk on too heavy footed. Our TV was only a little bigger than the stretch of my 10 years old hands. It was place on the ground since we didn’t have a TV stand.

And I never complained. We had food for every meal. We had a home to come back to and my parents had a place to call their own. I didn’t know any better and I didn’t need any better.

When I was 10 years old, my life was lacking everything. But I never thought about it that way until I was much older. When sometimes I told people how I lived when I was younger, then they told me that I was brought up not-that-well-off. And I thought back and started to re-evaluate my childhood: what I had and what I didn’t. And I realized how amazingly I had lived when I was 10 years old. When I was 10 years old, I couldn’t care less whether I had a lot of money. I was happy with just everything I had. That TV on the ground, my brother and I had laid on our bellies watching shows after shows. That foldable plastic dining table, we had all our homemade meals there. The freedom from material wealth was truly freeing. And being an adult, I would have had that again.

If I were 10 years old again, I just hoped this second time around, I had a life as good as when I was 10 years old the first time.