Monday, July 9, 2012

The Travelers - Bali Edition

Bali, 3-6-12

Dear brother,

I'm typing this from Ramayana hotel in Bali where we are having some brothers vacation time. I'm glad I could get you away from mom's constant nagging (and get away myself). I'm sorry the school result is not as good as we have hoped for.

We had dinner today at Bubba Gump restaurant today, a restaurant that is inspired by the film "Forrest Gump". I can see why you find the resemblance between you and him. People sometimes passed on judgement and stereotypes so easily, and you need not be the smartest man on the planet, as long as you are genuine, hard working, and focus, you can achieve amazing things in life, and even inspire a few people along the way. And just like Gump's mama, I never have any doubts you will be super extra successful.

With that said, I really enjoyed the quality time we had during this trip. I'm hoping we can have more of those in the future, wherever we might end up at.

For now, enjoy this trip! More fun time ahead!

Monday, May 21, 2012

High school

May 21st 2012

Dear brother,

I am glad you are opening up more and more about your life and your struggles with me through our weekly cafe session. I love it and I hope we can continue throughout our lives as brothers. Thank you for trusting me. Thank you.

Yesterday we talked about High school. It's such a difficult time isn't it? When you do so well at something people call you a bragging jerk. When you do poorly at something they made fun of you. When you are nice to a girl they think you like her like her (and thus the boyfriend's threat). When you are nice to a guy they make gay jokes. I'm sorry you have to go through all that.

The good news is, high school doesn't last forever. It ends before you know it. So hang in there and be strong, brother. The bad news is, people from high school don't change after that. There are mean people and bullies everywhere, in life, at work, at supermarkets, etc.

Sometimes, for some, it's easier to drag others down if they are insecure and inferior about themselves, than trying to live up to that person. That's just human nature. Mean people and bullies, especially the rich and powerful ones (like my ex boss) will haunt you and torment you until they have their ways. But then again, brother, good will prevail. It does. Once you stay true to yourself and be who you are, everything will fall into place. They may be rich, but you have your conscience and you can be living a happy simple life. Trust me, that is underrated.

I've been through high school. I've been with bullies. There were times I was the bully myself just desperately trying to fit in. There were genius leaving school and blaming it on me, there was teen gay suicide, there was love triangles, there was me quitting the best team in school for info tech and did history instead, etc. There were many drama. So trust me when I say this "It will all be ok. And at the end of the day, you'd be laughing so hard at what you have been through"

At least I do now

With love

Your big brother

Friday, May 18, 2012

Who you are

May 18th 2012

Dear brother,

They say "Don't lose who you are, in the blur of the star".

We had a chat on Tuesday about your career path. I am glad you trust me and share with me one of the most decisions of your life. Thank you.

What i told you, and I will say it here again. Trust your instincts. When you are young it is hard to be self confident, because you are yet to know who you are. That's why, my dear brother, find that core. Find the pieces that put it together.

Like your love for English and English music. That's part of you and I can see how you light up when you learn English. It's natural when you are the best English student at the school. I am proud of you, as always.

I'm also glad that your teacher made the class do "anonymous feedback" among students, and some (girl) find you kind, and helping to others. That's reassuring, isn't it? I am glad. Because that's part of who you are too, someone who is kind and ready to help others in need.

And there will be many more parts of who you are that you are gonna find through life experience and through soul searching. How I wish I could be there through it all and see how you grow into the awesome guy I know for sure you would become.

Trust yourself, be more confident. It's easy to doubt. I told you and I will say this whenever you doubt yourself. Everything will work out alright. Trust me. I trust you.

Summer is coming brother. Get out have some fun!

With love,

Your "old" brother

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


May 8th 2012

Dear brother,

Congratulations on finishing exams. I know it is such a relief for you. I'm sorry it's so hard. I was glad we got to spend some quality together on Sunday, brunch, Avengers movie and games. I'm sorry mom and dad are so harsh on you. And I'm sorry you think that I was perfect.

I know it's not easy, that I did so well with school and university and everything. It is hard to live with irrational and over-expectation from our parents. It is. But as I told you, trust me, my life has never been easy, and I have never been on a fast lane or fast track. In fact, sometimes I am jealous with you. Mom and Dad (and me) look over you and help you and was ready to jump into your rescue, sometimes we tell you what to do too much. However, when I was your age, I was utterly alone, alone with even the biggest decisions in my life. I know your life is not easy, as my wasn't. So please know I am trying to help as much as I can.

The truth is, 2-3 years down the road, or maybe more, when you read this letter, you will probably doubt me and my intentions. You will probably also laugh at how we all are over-protective of you. I know you are old enough, and I trust your decisions. I just want to make sure you don't regret any part of life. I just want to make sure you will have the best childhood you can, because that won't come back.

I know you are searching for your identity. I know. This is such an important time in your life that you need all the space you can, which I am trying to fight mom and dad for you. And I KNOW in my heart you'd turn out to be an awesome man.

I can't help but think, 10-20 years down the road, (if we still keep in touch, I sure hope we still are close), that you will have some arguments. Maybe over the girl you love, maybe over your career choice, maybe over a mistake you made, maybe over something as silly as who should own the house mom and dad has right now. But then, if you see this, know, that I care for you, deeply. I care as brothers, and fathers, and family do; as I care for you right now. That doesn't change and no time or circumstances will change that.

So be brave, and enjoy your time as a teenager; because, before long, you'd be 26 thinking of what you have done to lead you there, the way I did.

I hope you'd be proud of yourself as I am of you. I hope you'd be proud of me too.

With love,

Big brother

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Black and White

April 14th 2012,

Dear brother

I am glad we went out tonight for the flee market, and then decided to go for coffee instead. I'm glad you confide in me just a tiny piece of your teenage angst and struggle. Thank you. I know it takes a lot of trust and patience to tell an adult about how you feel. I've been there.

The truth is, sometimes you feel like you are all alone in life. You are with your struggles and you just have to carry on no matter what. That's life my dear. I am sorry you have to go through it. But I am glad, and proud, that you are making it pretty fine on your own.

I know sometimes you feel split up inside, as if you are a room of half black and half white, one person with so much angst and anger and yet you have to remain quiet and defeated in front of people. I know how that feel. I'm sorry. But as I told you, and I will tell you every step of your way, you are not alone in this. All you have to do is to look around and ask, I'll be there. I promise.

So brother, the future is scary. I know you are doing the best you can. So let us hang in there together. Things will change so fast and one day when you look back, you'll realize how silly the challenges today are and how much you learn from overcoming them.

That said, when you read this note a few years from now, if you still want to have that room that is half black and half white, I'll be damn sure to paint it for you


Your "old" brother

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Shake it out

April 1st 2012

Dear brother,

I know it has been a while (3 months?) since I last wrote. Much has happened. And I guess when you see someone everyday it's hard to write to their future self in 3-5 years. I know you are struggling a bit with school, but I also know you are a good kid and you are doing your best. I am proud of you. Although you don't like it when I say it too often, I am proud.

So let's me tell you, today, about loss, and how to shake it off, and move on with your life. You sure need that.

I lost my job. Well, technically I quit. But then again, being unemployed is unknown territory for me. Of course I'm putting on a straight strong face about it (and deep down I want a break anyways). I guess the loss was more of me losing my ideals. I came back here to change, to help, to build my legacy. And I got slapped in the face. You cant help people who don't need help. And when they do, they only need you for the ONE specific thing, and when they are done with you, you are tossed aside, like a piece of trash. That's reality. You are young, and I can see somehow, this place has made you cynical too. But brother, be idealistic, be a fool. Because you are too young to give up hope. You just need to shake it out and move on to the next ideals that are not crashed and burned and shit all over.

I lost my phone. Street thief. I love that phone like a part of my extended organisms. But hey, shit happens. What troubles me is how people reacts to it. To my foreign friends, they were so worried about my safety and shocked with the events. To my local friends, most of them just laugh it off. Apparently it is so common and it is my fault to be so careless. My mom almost laughed when I told her I would inform the police. How can we be in a place where everyone "accepts" insecurity and abuse as a way of life? I'm worried for you, your future. You will have to grow up accepting injustice as a part of life. Not that it isn't, but you don't have to be so hopelessly bound by it.

I lost my friend. My best friend. Not that he'd ever considered me that. I guess at one point you just get tired of being taken for granted. You try to be there. You made an effort. And when you just want the simplest form of respect, you'd become a crazy person who expect TOO MUCH. I asked a question, and I just needed a simple Yes, No answer, was it too much? He said he would do something, and he forgot about it, even after I asked about countless time, and when I reminded it him when the deadline draws near, was that too much? Sometimes the way people treat me as if I am crazy makes me crazy. I'm human, too. I have my needs, too. At one point I just give up on people. I stop expecting even the most basic form of courtesy. You will meet so many people in your life. You just need to deal with the disappointments of them, and move on...

I guess, the thing i lost the most, is my confidence. With the whole work situation, and my scholarship rejected, I'm beginning to question myself and my abilities. You see when you are alone for so long and without much help, you are all you've got. And your confidence is very important to go on. I just feel I don't really have that anymore.

So anyhow, what is lost, is lost. It can never come back. But that is a part of life. We live, we gain, and we lose. I just need to hang in there, shake it out, and plan for the next steps of the future. You too, little bro. Things don't look so great right now, but I know it'd be better for all of us. I don't know how. Quite frankly I lost the faith that it will be. I just need to remain in this state of in-between-ess and try not to drive myself crazy.

I'm such a mess, aren't I?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Looking forward, 2012

Jan 2012,

Dear brother,

I'm sorry 2011 ended in such a low note for you (and for us). You are not doing too well in school right now and I know you are under a lot of pressure. I know what it's like to grow up in the house of expectation. I'm sorry you have to go through it too. I didn't want it for you. I'm sorry.

Well, I guess the good news is, 2012, I'll be home more often. I'm planning to leave my job. And unlike 2011 when I just resign without a job offer, without a plan, without a clear vision of what it is like; In 2012, I have a plan. I have enough to sustain life for a while. I have different directions I can take. I have a long list of things I wanted to do. And I'm gonna do it.

Life takes waiting, and planning. But most of all, brother, life takes courage. It's so easy to be afraid. Afraid of uncertainties, afraid of disappointing people you love, afraid of being who you are. But well, at some point, you'd be afraid of being afraid. And you have 2 choices, to adapt or to break free. 2012, I'm breaking free. I hope the same for you.

I hope and i wish to be a better brother for you. The fact is, my life is sometimes such a mess I didn't even know where to start being there for you. But I'll try harder this year. I guess the best way to be the best brother for anyone is to be the best person I can be myself. And that, I need to be courageous enough to stop waking up feeling like I'm going to be tortured to the day to get paid.

Change is coming. For you too. I can see that. So hang in there!

With love