Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Resolutions

1st Jan 2010

Happy New Year. Welcome to a new decade little bro.

By the time you read this, I hope we are together over a wine to celebrate the new year of a decade later (unlike tonight when I'm alone with cheap pre-made sushi, white Australian wine, Vietnamese strawberries, and Ben & Jerry ice cream). I hope we will laugh about what I have and have not accomplished in 2010. The thing about resolutions is that it hardly came true, although I have exceeded some of my resolutions last year. So here is a quick run down of what I want to do this year.

- Move on with my work. Complete this project. To either get a new job assignment, a new designation, or to change to a new firm that can provide what my heart truly wants.

- Commitment to my language study. I wish to reach at least JLPT 2 proficiency in Japanese, and then restart my French language. I need to keep practicing

- Got my GMAT. Or at least got my GMAT preparation ready for Feb 2011 application for Fall term. I need to focus and make time.

- Increase my commitment with Photography and Painting. I already had a good head start with a new camera and a lot new materials. I need to practice practice practice.

- To travel. Either Japan or Europe, depending on budget availability.

- To move on. To get to know, or at least to be ready, with the next person that could be my "heart to wrap around to find my way around"

- To be a better person to my friends, to my family, to myself. To make time from work for life and not just work 24/7 like this year. To try to work on volunteer work

- To get fitter. Run a marathon. Swim twice a week. Lose my "pregnancy" :)

- To be responsible and save. To at least clear 80% of my study loan and save up for MBA studies.

Seems like a hand full, but I guess I'll try to make it all.

Let's review in 2020 if your brother is as good as he thought, ok :)

Happy New Year

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

About Cyclop and Cyclop Jr.

31st Dec 2009

Dear brother

I guess this will come as a good news to both of us. After much considerations and months of reading reviews, I have decided to adopt baby Cyclop Jr., a brand new camera body, and an additional lens.

But before getting into Cyclop Jr., let me tell you about Cyclop, the priceless camera that I would give you, as per your and Mom's request.

I got Cyclop on March 2006. It was my first ever item that would cost more than 500USD. That was my first full time job (even as an intern, it's full time). That was the first time I bought something I truly wanted, with my own hard earn cash. It seemed a little impulsive at that time, but until now I have never regretted for even a second the decision to get it.

Cyclop was with me in most of my memories of the wonderful 2006, where life took a drastic positive turn and opened doors for me. He was with me through the roughest and yet the best moments.

He also marked the beginning of my would be much desirable Photography career, and later on my courage to pick up painting. A lot of things have changed since then. I still have a lot more to improve. But I'm learning.

After 3 years and 9 months, he still functions perfectly. That's why even after months of being tempted by a much more talked about and much more expensive Nikon, I still didn't want to replace him. And that is why I decided my next system would be an Olympus, and his name shall be Cyclop Jr.

I guess I have good fate with Olympus. After contemplating so long, everything points back to the familiar. In a world where everyone has a cool iPhone (more about iPhonology as a religion later), talked about Mac, and use well-advertised brands like Nikon or Canon, your brother is an old techno-dino who prefers to be cool by not buying supercool things EVERYONE ELSE has. Plus I love to indulge in the familiar.

That brings us to Cyclop Jr. a Evolt 620 system that is known for Image Stabilizer (something that is very useful for Olympus since their camera shake is quite bad), 270 degree Live view (so I don't have to crawl on the floor or take pics without seeing preview), Noise reduction, and other semi-pro specs. So far after reading A LOT of reviews and using it for 3 hours, I kinda love it. Something like Cyclop, but very much improved.

And he fits into EVERY single accessories baby Cyclop has.

So, this means I'm gonna give you the biggest responsibility in your life yet: to take care of my Cyclop.

It's great that you love photography too. It's great that you want to be better at it. So well, I'm giving you my precious baby, take care of him well.

10 years down the road, I hope we will be sitting together, over a beer, reminiscing over our both FIRST ever DSLR camera. I hope we will be able to talk about photographs that capture moments that would last forever.

With love.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


3:30AM, 30th Dec 2009

Dear brother

I think I'm lonely.

To the point where even when I worked 14-16 hours a day, I still prefer being at work.

To the point where I go so angry with my friends and myself I decided to lock me up again. I hate myself for being so childish and selfish, but I can't stop the stupid voice of "No one will ever be there for me"

To the point that I even hanged on to a possibility that is impossible, to hang on to someone that would belong to the past.

To the point I re-install an online games just to talk to someone I know.

To the point I named virtual fish after my co-workers and feed them every 2 minutes.

To the point I think I'm going fucking insane.

Forgive me, for I am human.

I wish you were here, 24, so I can tell you how much it sucks being 24, and all alone.

I miss mom, dad, and you. I will go home soon...

With love.

(Still I'm NOT suicidal. I will go back to work tomorrow as firm and strong as I always have. I need this. I'll be fine. Maybe not right now, but 10 years down the road when you read this I will have already been)

2010 Wishes

29 Dec 2009

Dear brother,

I cant believe 2010 is already coming knocking at our door. Seems like yesterday when we were fearing 2000 will be the last of mankind. Now it's already a decade and we are 6.7 billion strong (with about 4.5 annoying and 9 million gays). I thought I give you a break from the lectures and share with you my hopes and wishes for 2010.

2010 I wish for progress. Change. I realized last month I was so freaked out of my new job posting because I was afraid of change, I was afraid of uncertainty. That's not what I am about isn't it? So yah, I'm ready to embrace change and the possibilities it bring. 2009 witness no major change in me, except for the location. So 2010 is all about changing, for the better, I hope.

2010 I wish for solitude and quiet time. 2009 has been all about screaming, yelling, trying to move forward, trying to get the people I care for to notice me. It's too tiring. Time to stop all that struggles altogether. Time to crawl back into my comfort zone with paintings, photographs, and Dharma.

2010 I wish for more time, time to prepare for bigger changes in life. 2009 has been ALL about working. I need to start to study for my MBA entrance, and do all the necessary preparation. I need to prepare for life post-Singapore. I need to lick my wounds and recover to be ready to settle down. I'll be 25 anyway... 1/4 century old, mid-life crisis.

2010 I wish for choices. My contract is sort of due. My study bond is over. I always sort of knew what I HAD to do. But now, by the end of 2010, I wish for the wisdom to know and to CHOOSE what I WANT to do. After mom's visit, it seems all of you will do fine for a while. Perhaps it's time for me to be selfish and really BE what I want, rather than the responsible son I tried to bring myself up to be.

2010 I wish for love. Not necessarily the romance kind. Just the feeling of having someone in my life who cares, whom I can rely on and talk to. Some will never live long enough to find it. I hope I'll find it.

So yah, 2010 is all about ambitions for bigger things in life.

I hope I have enough strength, wisdom and perseverance to get there.

With love,

Saturday, December 26, 2009

About Facebook

26th Dec 2009

Dear brother,

Let's take a break from Mom shopping 12 hours day, and in the end after all the paying I still cooked my own dinner, did my own laundry (and hers) and cleaned my own room. Anyway let's talk about Facebook.

By the time you read this letter, Facebook has become history, probably a case study in an entrepreneurial textbook or a geeky encyclopedia. But let's come back 10 years, right now it's a buzzing social networking sites for attention whores, stalkers (and people who fail to tell their friends they just proposed to their fiance).

The thing about facebook is that it's for losers, stalkers, and attention whores. Losers that don't really have real social interactions with people (due to 14 hours work a day, inability to comunicate, ugly faces), and yet they want to hang on a little to that connections that made them human. Stalkers like those who loves to hear stories of what's going on with other people, how terrible others feel, so to make their lvies less miserable, to feel superior, to feel human. Attention whores who posts pictures of themselves, stories of how superior they are, their so called half fucked artworks, to seek for attention, comments, and likings.

By now I access Facebook about 5 times a day and spent 1-2 hours there (hope you get what it implies).

It's just, somehow it's so much easier to talk to an imaginery brother 10 years later, or a whole bunch of strangers, than trying to talk to an actual person here in this country. Thanks guys.

OK, time to Facebook this letter.

(Anyway, side note, just read this news about a Vietnamese student who died mysteriously in her cupboard in her hostal room 5 mins away from where my house is. Some speculated murdered by boyfriend, some, by depression suicide. If ever I mysteriously disappear or die, know that I am as sure as hell NOT suicidal. Yes I'm stressed and I write dark and morbid-inclined letters, but I am NOT suicidal. If I do die, please be as sure as hell get that son of a bitch who did it to jail. K? ;p).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

About Christmas, and Faith

10:00 AM, Dec 25th 2009

Merry Christmas, little bro

Christmas has become much of a commercial event worldwide, for some, it is an important event of faith and religion. So I guess it is an appropriate time for me to tell you a thing or two about faith.

By now I hope you have chosen yourself a faith you can rely on. Notice I didn't say, the "right" religion, because there is NO such thing. If there were, I have all the confidence in the world you'd pick the right one.

It can be difficult to grow up in a traditional Buddhist family and choose another faith otherwise. However, I encourage you to learn, to understand, and then choose. Simply because, faith is something that where everything else fails, it's the ONLY thing left you can fall back on. I'm a Buddhist not because my parents picked it for me. I'm a Buddhist because his teachings were with me in the darkest hours of my life.

Here's a quick guideline of DOs and DONTs.

DON'T follow a faith because it is COOL. I mean Madona can be pretty cool, but whatever she is promoting for Buddhism isn't really what it is about. Don't follow your friends, especially the loud mouth ones, as each person's life is tremendously different.

DON'T choose a faith because of fears. Am I afraid of hell? Maybe. But I'm even more afraid of being afraid of hell my whole life I kept praying, not out of faith, but out of fear for hell. If I were a Christian, or a Catholic, as most of my true blue friends are, I'd, just like they would, pray out of my true believe for God and his Might.

DON'T choose a faith because of the promise of an easy life. Buddha or Guan Yin can't make the pain go away. They can't make your hours of party turned to As grades. When you pick a faith because of expectations and promises, you'd be disappointed and turned around so much easier. The ultimate of any religion is the same: Eternal Peace (heaven, nirvana, etc.)

DO question, re-question, and understand. I'm a Buddhist but I questioned my monk teacher at every lesson. Do not simply accept what is told, as human interpretation of divine teachings may be skewed and biased. A book written 2000 years back ought to be misunderstood by modern human later on, and some are no longer applicable.

DO pick a faith of hope, love, and tolerance. A faith that treats ALL beings equal, man or woman, black, white or Asian, gay or straight, animals or plants, etc. A faith where each person can become an image of God, each person can become Buddha, each person can enjoy the promise of Eternal Peace.

DO embrace other faiths and others' faith. I passed by a Muslim Mosque the other day and they had this banner of a teaching "What Jesus and Mohammad's teachings have in common, and how Blessed you are to be muslim at Christmas". In a time where some (backward countries, like America) still consider Islam to be the enemy, the fear, such embraced view is so wonderful (made me almost wanted to go in and listen, if I weren't wearing shorts and slippers). And I'm thankful many of my friends embrace my hardcore Budhhistness as I embrace their Christianity (though I wanted to smack a Christian dude that said "It's just so odd that there are still people believe in Buddhism these days").

DO listen to your heart. It's your choice. It's your faith. It's your life.

Anyhow, it's Christmas. It's time to celebrate. It's time to be with family. It's time to indulge in love, hope, and tolerance, throughout the world, whether or not you believe in Christ.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

About a son

Tuesday 23-12-09

Dear brother

Mom is coming today to Singapore. For you it would be 5 days without perfect home-cooked food and special attention, for me it'd be 5 days of accompanying 2 women to shopping malls and sales.

I guess Mom does pick the worst time to visit me, as I've been working night shifts for the past 2 days and still is in office now. I cleaned my slump at 3am in the morning, continued after I woke up at 10, and now in office looking like a zombie.

It is also an incredibly difficult time for me to pull off the normal cheerful, all-got-it-together kinda son image that I always try to have around our family. I'm sorry if that image has affected you because sometimes parents do compare. However, as cliche as it sounds, a son's responsibility is to "be" all successful and got it together in front of his Mom, especially when she's with a female friend/cousin with 2 sons.

You see Mom has very few important things in her life. As a smart and rich girl whose life got turned around by war and has been through a lot of hardship, as a (wonderful) wife and mother who has spent most of her time at home taking care of Dad and us, her pride in her two smart, good sons (and her love for saving, shopping, shoes and bags) are the simple things that made her happy. That's why I want to give her that. And as much as you can, within the limit of your life choices and wishes, I encourage you to give her that as well.

I'm not proud to teach you this, but sometimes we do lie to the people we love the most. A little white lies here and there. A little bit of exaggeration of how happy and whole we are with our life, our jobs, and our perfect vision of family and romance. The thing is, when we love someone, we want to give them the best they deserve, and Mom deserves a happy and whole son, the way she raised us to be (Sadly, circumstances denied that). However, with that being said, I want you to be honest with me. I've been there. It's not easy being young and restless. You will make mistakes and it is ok to share it with your brother, the same way I'd do to you once you reach an appropriate age for all this "dark" materials.

Anyhow I need to get back to work. It seems Migration is finally done. I need to get all this shit done before leaving to the airport to fetch her.

Just thought I have a heart to heart talk with you before I put on my pretense this week

With love,

Monday, December 21, 2009

The year that did not move

Tuesday 1:00 PM 22-12-09

Dear Brother,

By now it's the end of 2009, many things are coming to closure. How every your brother, well, for the lack of better word, has come undone.

2009 has started as a very promising year. New job. New places. New people. New prospects. Even new dreams and new hope. New inspirations.

2009 has ended with me smoking, working 14 hours night shift, broken hearted to some extend, bleak future career prospects, and never felt more isolated by the team.

Sometimes in life, no matter how much you try, no matter how hard you struggle, to fight or to give up, you end up all alone. You do what you have to do, sometimes not the right thing, sometimes not what your heart desires, and in the end no one will appreciate you for it. Sometimes you do some things for a long time, and when you ask someone to help, they spent 15 minutes and yelled at you for making them do it.

2009. I'm throwing in the towel.

Mom is coming... I don't know whether I still have enough strength to pull off the "I'm so happy and together and I got everything figured out" image that I always have. I'm too tired of being a cheerleader for people around. There you go, now you know something about your bro, a cynic and a hypocrite.

2009. The year I did not move.

I just wish, for once, it's not so god damn hard...

Friday, December 18, 2009

About Vietnam

7:00 am, Saturday 19-12-2009

Dear brother,

By this time you have already been overseas for a few years, as you have always talked about. So let us talk about Vietnam, the country you and I were born in.

I did not use the word "our country", simply because we did not have the choice of where we were born in. We should not let a place define who we are. The fact that "I am Vietnamese" should not define who I am, how far I desire to go, and how I live my life. It's funny when you just say that "V" word and people form all sorts of impressions about you.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing but pride about the country, at least the way it used to be. How can a race so poor, so fragile defeat even the strongest of armies? How can a race so small, so quiet go into places in this world and change the way things are, the way things will be for a booming economy? How can mortal men, like Ho Chi Minh himself, ravel and summon such united strength to achieve in the impossible? It's simply amazing.

But the truth is, what Ho Chi Minh (by the way was not related to us given the Surname) said "Vietnamese are hard working, are more ready and willing even in hardship and in pain. They are brave and persistent. They are kind and loving to their people. Nothing is more valuable than independent and freedom", no matter how true in was in 1950s-1990s, is utterly outdated (Hope I don't get banned from "our country" because of this). The fact is there are 90 million Vietnamese. Each with their own family. Each with their struggles. Each with their choices.

I've seen young people, youth that is supposed to change the nation, supposed to bring change, indulge in what it is, for the lack of better words, the easy lifestyle. Instead of fighting corruptions, they indulge in their parents' relationship to go places in life. Instead of bringing forth and sharing wealth (ok I sound like a liberal), they indulge in a luxurious lifestyle with spa, clubs, drugs, etc. using their parents' money. Instead of preaching love and tolerance, they embrace even more radical views about minorities and other races. I always called soldiers years back "my people" (although back at the days of those wars, they might have called my grand father "traitor"). But, to call some youth these days "my people", I cant help but fear.

And then we have our brilliant government, who said things like "When Obama was sitting across the room, as he looked at me with respect in his eyes, I feel truly proud" in public speeches, as if it's straight out from a homoerotic novel. Where is the "Yes,we can!", the "Educations and youth is the future of the nation", not even the simplest thing Ho Chi Minh said. Mr Ho, I miss your brilliance dearly in our current political affairs.

I heard they imposed a tax on Vietnamese citizens who study and work overseas; because "as Vietnamese you have responsibility to your country". No wonder people leave. In a country that used to embrace so much of choices, of freedom, of independence, a government only imposes the so-called "responsibility" without the care for citizens themselves. Did they take care of us when we were apply for our scholarship? Did they help and subsidize when we were struggling with our lives abroad, trying to make ends meet? Did they tax the same group of youth who're living in excess wealth and went to prestige international schools in the country itself? I wonder what would Mr Ho. (not us) say about a country he has spent his entire life fighting for?

People's lives have improved for the better. Yet, some's lives are going to a direction that is no where close to Mr Ho.'s prophecy of Vietnamese. Forgive me if I may sound judgmental. I've seen young girls who dressed up like street hookers going out with old westerners and married out. I've seen kids who dressed up in hip hop fashion even though they cant even speak up proper. I've seen 5 year-old holding iphone dancing and singing that Korean song from the Wonder bra singing words they or their parents don't understand. I've seen people commercialize, ab-using and promoting the promiscuity of homosexual lifestyle. I've read radicals who say gay people are sick, unnatural and a disaster to mankind when still saying the arts and possitive reflection of gay culture is "outdated" and "overdone" in other countries. I've seen singers and artists who have colored hair, stripped off shirts on stage, and sing words like "Bitch if you don't love me it's your loss because there are girls out there that would die for me" or "Too bad girl, no matter how much you love me, I'm only into boys, cos I'm a homo. Yeah. Yeah. Homo." I've heard Ms World and Mrs World representative saying things like "We Vietnamese women only stay at home and look after our farms and animals". I have a feeling I've seen this all before. The future that Mr Ho. and "my people" have invested so much time, and blood, in, has turned into... America.

All that said, I still love the country we were born in. It's noisy, messy, terrifying at times, but it's nevertheless wonderful. It's full of choices, full of love, full of struggles, and full of the people who will turned us back from America to the true country we once were. I hope by the time you are my age, this prophecy of a much smaller and much less wonderful Mr. Ho will become a reality.

As one of my favorite Vietnamese's novel of all time said "A place holds a a person, when there buried a loved one, or lived the persons he most truly love". Since Vietnam was where we grew up together, where our parents fall in love and argue most of their lives, where they brought us up and taught us about choices, and tolerance, and love; it does hold my heart.

I do hope it holds yours, too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Heartaches and Warfares

Wednesday 16th Dec 2009, 8:08pm, Singapore office

Dear Brother,

This is a letter about how to fight and how to win. It's also about how to lose and how to give up. It's an important lesson in life I wish someone had share it with me.

1. How to FIGHT

To do this, you have to KNOW what you want, and what you deserve. This is a very important starting point. Because once you know what you cant compromise, then you won't.

You are a good boy. And you have to know you deserve to have the best in life. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be recognized for what you have done. I can't tell you what you want, because it's entirely yours.

Then fight. When you are given less than what you deserve, or when they force you to do what you do not wish to do, FIGHT. Use words and tacts, of course. Every battle can be won the diplomatic ways. Go through all people you know and can maneuver. Go through all sources and possibilities. Analyze your strength, and weaknesses. Bring out the pros and cons and why you should get what you want and it's a win win for all. Be there. Be persistent. Be firm. Be true to your will.

Sometimes you will Win.

2. How to lose

Most of the time, you will lose. In work or in life. Sometimes no matter how hard you find, the person you want will never look at you the same way you wish for. Sometimes no matter how hard you work, no one will recognize what you have done. Sometimes, no one cares about what you want.

Then, learn to give up. As young guys in the twenties, sometimes our ego is bigger than ourselves. Sometimes our hope and idealistic faith is bigger than the cynical facts of life. Most of the time you cant stand losing. You MUST learn to let go. Please.

I should know. I got hang over about a girl for 5 years. I fought day in and day out in a dead end job for 6 months. Until now I'm still forever struggling with my hope to be whole, and happy. I wish for once I could learn to lose.

The fact is, it's harder to lose than to win. But you have to get through it. Each failure makes you stronger. Each failure force you to learn to stand up. Each failure makes you into a man you are and will be. And it only happens if you let it go, throw in a towel, and move on with new possibilities.

3. Summary

You are a good boy. You deserve to be loved, and you deserve the very best in life. Never settle for less than that. Fight for what you truly believe in. I wish I can be there to help you, but if I might not be, KNOW that you CAN win.

But when you cant, know it when you cant. And just let it go and move on altogether.

In life, there will always be heartaches. There will always be warfares. At the end of the day, be happy with what you do. In the end, all the steps that mattered are the ones you take all by yourself.

No matter how lonesome that might sound.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

About Work

Wednesday 1:00 AM 09-12-09

Dear Brother

I'm still at work, and while waiting for my disaster recovery batch job to run, I shall tell you a thing or two about working as a young adult.

As young adults we tend to come out to the world with all our ideals about where we want to go, and what we want the world to be. We fill our heart with passion and eagerness to learn, to suggest, to improve, to excel. Until we got a cold slap from reality.

There will be days when you feel like whatever you do don't make any sense, and yet you have to fight with your team people to get them to do it. There will be days when you help others complete their jobs and get blamed for mistakes they made. There will be days where authority takes over logical explanations and rationale thinking. There will be days when you feel like no matter how much you try, it doesn't matter, and it never will be enough. There will be days when you feel like all your work is taken for granted. There will be days when you feel like smoking (DON'T. Because you'd end up writing letters to your future son on a dead bed like me).

Those are the days when you asked yourself: "What is it that I truly want? Does this all worth it?" You need to look at the people around you and do what you need to do, the right thing you should do. You need to stand firm with your belief. You need to FIGHT back.

You see the problem with us young people is that we are afraid. We are afraid of our career path being threatened because we don't follow orders. We are afraid of changing (job scopes, jobs, bosses). We are afraid of being stuck. We are afraid to speak. We are afraid to chase after what we truly want.

Don't be.

Life's too short. Do what you wish to do. You already know the right things to do. Don't be afraid to make that choice. Even if it's a mistake, it's gonna teach you MORE than any normal days where you keep your head low and listen to others.

Be kind, too. To the people around you. Your family and those that are close to you did nothing wrong. Do not let your work affect them. Leave work at the office and be kind elsewhere. Your life is yours, make an effort to make it work, even you have to work 14 hours a day (although I'm working this hour just because you'd have a better future than mine).

If you have a chance to lead, make sure you are kind to your people too. Bosses can be harsh to you, but don't become them. Treat your guys as human. Chase them home when it reaches mid night. Teach them rather than just scold them. Listen to them. And learn from them. Always.

That's all I know as of now, since I'm just a very young guy who's just been working for 2-3 years. I hope you find it useful.

Work hard, but don't forget the people around you. I'm sorry I couldn't have been there more for you because of my work and my distance. I hope I can be a good brother to you too

With love

Saturday, December 5, 2009

About heartbreaks

Monday 12:42 am 07-12-09

Dear Brother

Just finished the movie "(500) days of Summer" (By your time it'd be a classic, so I'd suggest you check it out, together with "Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind". Seriously chicks will dig you like crazy when you talk about these films). Anyhow the film reminds me to talk to you a thing or two about heart breaks.

Awww, your first heartbreak, huh? It sucks, I know. There are many typical way an average male would do it: Get drunk, get angry, smash stuffs, get emo, get a lot of random sex, and get over it.

Or you can do it the artsy way, like write a song about it (Taylor Swift's style. By this time she's only 5 years older than you. She'd be the next screwed up Britney), write a hit movie about it (500 days), or just like your brother, painted a painting of a dead naked body in a coffin. It helped.

Anyhow, that's not the main point. That's just the how-to, as always in these dumb letters. The main point is, people are people. Sometimes they do cruel things. Sometimes they do things they are not sure, and they break your heart in the process. Sometimes they came to you, being all sweet and understanding and perfect, and then they cut you off for weeks and ended up telling you "I don't think I can go through with this". Just to demonstrate I know how you feel right now.

When it happened to you, be angry all you want. Be sad and childish and smash everything you want. Kill her as many fictional times as you want. Beat yourself up and blame yourself for as long as you want. Just know, that it won't change anything.

Instead, have faith. Believe. There are someone out there for you, and she's coming as fast as she can. So just hang in there. I don't believe in faith, neither do I believe in destiny. I do believe in persistence, and being real. If it's not meant to be it's not meant to be. Someone will see you for who you are. Someone will love you because you are a weird, morbid, nerdy, sometimes awkward dude that you are. Someone will be there for you. Someone will wake up beside you, with her messed up hair and sleepy eyes, and yet it's a Picture Perfect.

Until that day, just SUCK IT UP.

With love,

P.S: If you are not into Arts, I'm willing to paint your ex naked, and dead, inside a coffin for you. Brothers should be able to share, right? LOL

About friends

Sunday 2:13am 06-12-09

Dear Brother,

I just got home from a long night out with my friends (I got you the "Transformer" Calendar you love, btw. I expect you to keep them till you see this letter). I just want to share with you a little about friends.

You see we the HOs (ok that sounds wrong) do not really have a lot of friends. Perhaps because the way we are, you know, Vietnamese and all that. But I'm SURE that you have trustworthy friends, just like I do, and you care about them. Here are what you can give them:

- Be there for them. Whether it's their birthday, their loss of a loved one, their bad day at work, etc. As long as you know, and you can, try to be there for them. Life can be difficult. And I know, just like me, you will thing nothing top growing up in Vietnam during postwar period with a family who was destroyed partially by that war. But trust me some got it worse (and you got 11 less years of suffering compared to me :p). So, be there.

- Forgive them and accept them for what they are. There will always be the one who works too much, the one who got married and disappeared from the circle, the fat one, the noisy one, the "I hate relationship" one, the hopeless romantic ones, etc. Sometimes they let you down. Sometimes they ditch you and disappear for as long as their heart won't ache, and come back to you for advice. Let it go. Sometimes you hurt more and become angry just because how close they are. If they are your true friends, at least be fair to them. Even if you are ever their first choice. Well, you can choose not to be a choice at all...

- Treasure the moments you have with them. There will be the guy who changed job and work too much more. There will be the guy who got married and never looked back. There will be a cute brave little girl who can only come see you once a year. There will be the friend you once thought you are in love with and it all turned out to be heartaches. The point is, nothing is permanent. People are people, sometimes they change. Life changes everyday. So whenever you have a good time with your friend, treasure that. Keep that to revise in the next meeting. And keep it at that. Soon you'd change to.

So that's my piece about friendship. I trust you are honest, and true, and generous with your friends. You will have many good ones to come. Just remember, friends are people too.

Sometimes the best thing is to hold on to them, to be there. Sometimes the best is to let them go, to vanish yourself.

And with me, you always have a friend.

With love

Friday, December 4, 2009

About our mother

Sat, 12:38 am, 05-12-2009

Dear brother

Just got off the phone with Mom. Gosh, she can really talk, cant she? :) I guess she's excited to come over here to see me (and spend my bonus gift card on Christmas shopping spree). Which reminds me, there are 3 things I need to teach you, on how to deal with mom, when you reach 20s.

1. How to mother-proof your room/house

- If you are my brother, and you are a normal healthy 20 year-old, I assume you keep porn. (Duh! See. I'm cool. I know these stuffs) I assume at this time, technology has advanced so that you will not have them in physical forms. In case you do, DO NOT hide them in typical locations like under your bed or in your wardrobe. That's the first place she will try to tidy up, cos she's a hygiene freak. Instead mix them with your language books (in my case, Japanese) and order them nicely. She'll be so uninterested in those things. Also keep the soft copies in a portable drive. Hide the cable behind the books. She's can be pretty savvy with IT.
- Keep morbid/dark/emo artwork out of her sight. I do hope you do not go down the same road I did. But seeing the way you love Cold Play songs, I'm pretty sure you'd end up loving Six Feet Under. When she's around, try something more "High school musical", which you happen to hate, when you were 13 (i.e. now).
- CLEAN your room. She'll end up cleaning it for you again, and iron your clothes too. But she'll nag less.

2. Pretend to be nice, and happy. Stand your ground. And ONLY argue once a year.

You see my relationship with Mom used to be terrible. She knows nothing about me. I cant stand her nagging and I shut her out of my dark, morbid, sometimes drunk, life. Until when I was 21 and I snapped. She was nagging and crying because I bought my DSLR, which was the first thing I really wanted and I bought with my money. I raised my voice back. I told her how I was sick of being reminded to be poor and suppressed my entire childhood/life. I wanted something and I earned it with hard work. That was when our relationship got better. (I know, our relationship is more complicated than with any girls I've been with).

You see generally pretending to be happy makes her feel safe, and worry less (She can worry, like, A LOT). It also gives her a sense of achievement of being a good mother, which she is, most of the time. But you HAD to argue, ONCE a year. You have to prove to her that you are big, and strong, and all grown up. You have to show her you know what's going on with your life, and you are ready. She'll be unhappy for days, but she'll be proud for years. (Plus she shuts up for a while).

3. Just, love her. Simply as that. She can be annoying, naggy, noisy, occasionally cheap, argumentative, and conservative. But she's also loving, caring, and so so generous. She spent the whole day nagging at me so that I can buy air tickets, arrange a room, and plan for another auntie to come along with her for the trip to Singapore (which makes me sleep on the floor, of the living room...)

Just, love her. Care for her in subtle silent ways (and occasionally send part of your salary home), the same way she cares for you, subtly. Care for the details, the same way she looks out for every details of your life.

And god, she cooks amazing meals!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Friday 4 Dec 2009

Dear brother,

By the time you read this note, you'd be around my age now. And I have either die of cancer because of smoking (though I really doubt it), or I'm working my days and nights away (even in my thirties) to really tell you everything I want to tell you now. Twenties can a be difficult time...

First I want to applaud you for your language proficiency, as to understand your brother's broken language is not an easy task. I decided to write these notes in English because I want you to learn, to appreciate and understand (without our parents reading them). You know how Mom and Dad can sometimes simplify our lives to perfect children's life and they will freak out if it's not. For many years I painted a very simplistic pictures of my life to them.

Secondly I want to re-innate that growing up is difficult. I understand what you are going through now. I've been there. So it IS ok to once in a while break down. It IS fine to not be the perfect one, the sane one, the strong one, and the dependable one. Just do not make mistakes you will regret.

Lastly, the reason for these letters is that, I want to be there for you. I'm sorry that I have been overseas for all these years. I love family, and being with family. I want to be there for you, when you grow up. I'm sorry for being a bad older bro. I know how difficult growing up is. Even more so when you are on your own. There are so many things you just wish someone told you. Mistakes you can avoid. Times when you wish to hear "I know. It sucks". A pat. An embrace. I hope these letters can do that for you, as you move through life. Because, as brothers, I love you.

I will send you several notes from now, base on my daily life experience. Read it. Disagree with it. Debate it. Agree with it. Do whatever you want with your life. Just know that I'm there.

With love

Big Bro