Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013. Hello 2014

My dear brother

Happy New Year 2014!

What a year it has been for both of us! Looking back, I can't help but be proud of both you and me. Here are the things I have got, and the things I want to do in the next year. Most of all, I just want us to talk more, write more, and eventually reunite as the awesome band of brothers in Canada!


2013 was a rather exciting and challenging year for me. It might have been the second best year of my life (the best is 2006 of course, with the NOC experience). It was very difficult as I am again back on my own, in a new country, starting a new school, with a new career start. If 2006 was the year of awakening. 2013 was the year of a reminder of the guy that I have become since. It has been an awesome year. Here are the things I've got.

- In January, I officially started my Master in Software Engineering, this time with scholarship.
- In Feb, I celebrated my birthday at Rimrock hotel (a 4 star luxury hotel), in the middle of the Canadian Rockies Mountains. I was in the room with a view, (and I had my birthday sex :p)
- In March, I won second prize in 2 categories of the UCalgary International photography competition
- In April, I got my first A+ (and I was really concerned that after 5 years I'm not academic anymore)
- In May, I got my first paper published, and attended a conference in San Francisco with the likes of Likned In, Mozilla, Microsoft, Googles, etc. authors
- In June, I got news that I was awarded Graduate Award Scholaship, to be awarded in installment over 12 months (I shall not reveal the amount to avoid jealousy)
- In July, I attended 5 different Canadian Festivals, and was the official photographer for 3.
- In August, I got my photography displayed in an independent coffee shop. An ad exec saw it and bought 1 piece for ATB bank commercial.
- In September, I finally got work permit and started working (almost) full time.
- In September, I rode a horse, through the breath taking valleys of Canadian Rockies, with the full colors of the fall
- In October, my second paper got published, and I got to go to Baltimore and Washington DC
- In November, I went to Hawaii, with my best friend for 10 years, @Kelly Chan. Amazing trip.
- In November, my joint business proposal with my prof got government funded. It's a Finland project. So Europe, here I come...
- In December, I got another A. I really think I got this study thing in order.
- In December, I re-visited Philadelphia, and NYC, and my god family in WV. A time for reflection and rest and love
- In December, I got to see "Peter and the Star Catcher", a fantastic Broadway prequel of Peter Pan

And here are the 14 action items I will do in 2014. 

1. Graduate. My 2-year-Master program. I need to get good GPA, graduate :)
2. Forgive. "Not because someone deserves forgiveness, but because I deserve peace".
3. Read. More like find time to read. But you get the picture.
4. Travel. 4a. Europe. 4b. Japan. 4c. South America. Either one of them or all. We'll see.
5. Play. I need to remember to take a break now and then, play an awesome PS3 or NDS3D game. 
6. Communicate. Say hi to an old friend once in a while. Life is short and relationships are precious. God knows how many of us will still be here tomorrow. Not that I believe in God :p
7. Meditate. I get too worked up too easily. I need to breathe and remember not to try too hard. Things will fall into place, maynot be the place I want them to be, but they will.
8. Quit. I need to learn to quit and let go. I sometimes hang on to pain as if it means something. Nothing is false about hope, but hope without ground is just stupidity.
9. Shut-up. I need to stop giving advices to others (job hazards of working with consultant firms). a) no one listens to my advice. b) when something blows up in their face I will have to help clean it up, even without the basic right of a smartass comment in place of "i told you so"
10. Go. Go offline, go hiking, go skiiing, go swimming, etc. anything that involves movements and not FB. 
11. Hug. Give more hugs to people and get more hugs from people. Because sometimes, all you need is a hug.
12. Smile.
13. Date. Continue my 2013 slutty phase and widen my date profile. LOL. (Guess who just has a date scheduled with a dancer?)
14. Love. Stop dating. LOL. I'm kinda sick of the whole thing and going through with the motion now. Would be nice to fall in love again. Other than that, loving my family, friends, and animals will do too!

Thursday, October 31, 2013


"When you lost someone, you are not simply starting over. You are continuing without" - Mitch Abom

Calgary, 31st Oct 203

Dear brother,

I never thought the idea of leaving the keys on the counter, picking up my last bag, and walking out the door of my old apartment could be so iconic. We attach ideas into things I guess. I'm moving on.

As I sat down and settle things with the banker at a bank near my new address, I realized how far I've come. For a 28-year-old without much financial support from my middle class Vietnam family, I've come pretty far, as far as financial responsibility concerns.

I also realized the goodbyes I had to say to get here. Moving on has always been in my dictionary. Leaving behind the people I love, and being left behind. Yet, as Pace implied, and as most cases in life, it is about moving forward.

So everything ends. Soon, a whole new world begins. Or has it already? It's been exactly a year since I got here. Felt shorter. Felt like I just got up from a hazy dreams of hurt and struggles. But hey, sunshine Calgary is out there waiting.

Someone with mesmerizing eyes and beautiful heart is waiting.


"Everyone's waiting" - Six Feet Under

Monday, October 28, 2013

The bachelor

Calgary, Oct 29th 2013,

Just an update on my exciting dating life, this is it, the season finale. This is when the bachelor took home all 3 roses, and toss them in the trash. I let all 3 of my pursuits down easy.

Single again it is.

I guess, if I have learned anything in my 10 years of failed relationships is that, I fall in love with the same people: people who care for me, but do not fall in love with me for the right reasons; people that make me feel like I am not good enough; people who keep silence from me, who leads me on with indecisiveness.

I guess the first step in getting what you want is to know and let go of what you don't. I have always been afraid of being alone, of being rejected, of being not good enough. It is both poignant and empowering to be in the place to choose.

Choosing nothing is a choice. I chose me, to stick with my standards. It is a scary lonely dark cold winter out there.

Love is also out there. I think.

Be brave, brother. You deserve the best love there is

Your brother

Monday, October 21, 2013

Next to me

Monday, 21st October 2013

My dear brother,

September has registered to be the worst month of the year, while October was the month where everything "fall" into place (Since it's autumn, get it?) Heartbreaks, work stress, study stress, moving, etc. all that seems to be happening at once. Yet, as chaotic as it is, I feel a sense of incredible peace. More so, I feel a sense of being invincible. Am I?

Perhaps, the one thing that changed was that I stopped trying to make others happy. I stopped trying to control life. I tried to stop hurting. I accepted the fact that I can never be "good enough" for someone who is not even looking at me. I do have abandonment issues. I am afraid to be myself because I am afraid people would leave. Yet, leave they did. It wasn't the end of the world. New people appeared. People who sees the real me and appreciate the actual me. People who would say foreign strange thing like "you are so beautiful", "you are amazing". Without the terms and conditions coming after that "can you do this for me" or "you need to fix your teeth".

Perhaps I am worthy of affection. Perhaps I am worthy of love. Perhaps I am worthy of happiness.

With my dating life in full swing (i.e. messy), we were having a nice conversation. The date was going well. Somehow, the topic of the exes came up. And D. broke down and cried.

"It is just so sad. I hate people."

I stood up and gave D. a hug. And another. We said goodbye. There were still tears lingering in those beautiful haunting blue eyes. I was puzzled. To think someone I just met would cry for my story. Is it all that sad? I don't know. Maybe the anti-depressant is making me numb. Maybe, after 5 failed relationships in less than 10 years, I finally reach relationship Nirvana. Either way, I'm haunted by the tears.

"If God created us, why would he put us in the world that is full of tragedies" How damaged is this person to feel empathy for someone as damaged as me? I couldn't help but wonder, can love conquer all? Will these wounds ever heal? Or I am just falling back to my superheroes complex to just date and protect vulnerable people who will never fall in love with me?

All I can see are the tears in those beautiful blue eyes, the color of the autumn sky in chilling Calgary

All I can do, is coming back, next to me, caring for myself, and my wounds. Maybe, maybe one day I will be whole and healed. Maybe one day I will be ready to be with someone who wants to be with me, for me.

Until that day, brother, let us all pray

Your brother

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Up in the air

08/10/2013. Somewhere in the sky of Canada, near Manitoba
My dear brother,
It’s been some time. What a roller coaster it has been! Life has been moving so fast since September I barely got a hang of it. Much have happened. Much have changed.
Fall semester started. Everything becomes a blur of work, study, activities, and an emotional roller coaster. New people emerged in my life. New events happened that opened up old wounds. New found hope for the old lost me. Sometimes, I couldn’t help but wonder whether, only in all my hopelessness and despair, I can strive the best in my life.
My love life has been a bit of a mess. Between horrible dates and my ex dating HIV positive men, it seemed at time a downward spiral. There is a sense of conflict in me. People in their 20s all said I am missing out on all the “fun” of hooking up and random sex. Why commitment? Why seriousness? Why long term? When you can have fun and be fabulous and be desirable. I guess that is my problem. I have never seen myself as being desirable. I grew up with people telling me how ugly I look. I am not insecure, I’m just hopelessly realistic about my looks. And then it happened. 3 people are now vying for my attention. One had said they were falling for me. I couldn’t help but wonder, “WTF is wrong with them?” What is wrong with me? With all this new found confidence, I still can’t seem to move on.
Second science conference this year, as a Master student. My photography got sold for a TV commercial for ATB Financials (Alberta Banks). I got paid for the first month. I got a 6000 scholarship. I am amazing. I don’t feel amazing.
For the first time in my life, I’m facing my demons heads on. Anti-depressant, counselling, support groups. I want to take care of me now. Not family. Not relationships. Not friends. I want to now do what is right for me.
In the air, I realized, for far too long I have ignored the amazing me, while chasing after making others happy. Others are selfish. Others take care of themselves first. Others have never chose me. I need to choose me. I need to be me.
And brother, when you do that, amazing things happen. When you choose you, others will see how amazing you are. When you want the best in life and not compromise, you will get the best in life without compromise.
I may fall in love. I may not. It may be one of the 3. It maybe someone new. I may be alone my whole life and it will be ok. I want to adopt kids, open orphanage, and build a future. It would be great to do it with someone. I’m fully capable of doing it on my own.
For all there were, for all there is, I am on my own. I was born alone. I shall die alone. I am one of the universe and the universe is only one. I just need to breathe, and move on with life, no matter how hard and hurting it is sometimes.

Everything that drowns me makes me want to fly…   

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How I met your...

September 24th 2013

Dear brother,

The weirdest thing happened today.

I met someone very cute the other night at a mixer event (a last year English major, nonetheless). And me being the low-selfesteem/shy guy, I did not give him my number or ask for his. It was one of those "What an idiot I was" moment. I told myself if I ever see the same person again, I will walk up, completely embarrass myself, and ask him out.

You know what? I saw him again today outside of the library. Talk about the universe sending a sign. So I did what I promised myself what I said I would. And he said "yes, why not?"

I know this probably doesn't go anywhere, like most of my recent dating endeavors. But it is kinda funny when you are not looking, and events like this happen. Just like Ted Mosby (that guy on a TV show that spent 9 years dating without luck, hurting over a girl) and he finally met the girl of his dream totally random at his ex's wedding. I have been moping over my ex for weeks now, and the universe is sending me this signal.

So I guess I write it down, save it for 25 years, and see if there is a "How I met your mother/father" moment.

Let's hope when you read this letter, we will know.

With love
Your brother

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Zen Tuesday

September 17th 2013

Dear brother

Do you believe in cosmic coincident?

I had a really terrible Monday. I felt inadequate in class. I felt betrayed by my ex for their promiscuous behavior. I felt hurt and angry and devastated.

And somehow it was a preparation for today, which was a totally Zenned out experience.

I met my doctor and all was well. I had a meeting with my labmate (who is struggling with his work) and was able to offer some really good advice. I then had dinner with a new (girl) friend who has similar frustrations when it comes to relationship, study, and work.

And then, I went to meditation in a Soto Zen Sangha. 40 minutes of sitting meditation, 30 minutes tea ceremony, and 30 minutes of loving kindness sharing. I smiled so much.

And I forgave. I forgave the person that hurt me. I forgave not because of them, but because anger and sadness is bad for my health. So I forgave.

Buddham saranam gachami
Dharnam saranam gachami
Sangham saranam gachami

Brother, as a Christian to be, will you be Zen too?

With love

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to Self

Calgary, 6th September 2013

Dear brother
I often am fascinated by taking photos of living organics out of death and decay. Sometimes, that is how I feel. Being alive and hopeful in a hopeless world.

Today I learned to smile again. Actually, I'm learning to breathe again. Heartache happens. And as much as I want to just "get over it", grieving is a long and painful process.

That said, today is the first step. I don't think about it as much anymore. I got things done. I was able to take compliments for my work done. I was able to see. I was able to mourn for what was loss and what was never there to begin with.

I am a good person. I have been so far and achieved so much in the brief life time I have in this earth. I am curious to see what more I can achieve if I continue living. That, now, will be my hope to carry on.

Not yet, but maybe one day, my heart can bloom like the flower in death and decay too. Today is only the first day of the rest of my life.

You too, brother. Focus on yourself. Row your boat. You will get there.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pick me. Choose me.

September 4th 2013,

My dear brother,

Oh, the darkness I know well. I laid my soul down on someone's feet, and get it trampled on all over again.

My ex is dating someone HIV positive, a student 15 years younger who has no job, no VISA, and an uncertain future. Someone they just met after 2 dates. When we broke up, they said they weren't physically attracted to me (after 3 years) and couldn't bring themselves to be in love with me. After 2 dates, they are ready to risk their health and their emotional stability for someone new, simply for physical attraction.

I'm devastated of course. Because, even there was a tiny part of jealousy involved, the most part, I just want to protect them. I care and love people to a fault. And even when my soul shattered, and darkness engulfed me, I allowed myself to be hurt, simply not to see them hurt.

Still, they chose someone else. They chose to leave behind a 3 years friendship, love, connection, for something new and exciting. Something physical.

No more, I guess. I cant let this happen to me anymore. Maybe it was stupid of me to care. Maybe just let them be, let them get hurt, let them make their own life choices. I should have never asked "Pick me. Choose me.". Because when you need to ask that, you already know the answer. Because when you start a war, you'd already lost. I decided not to see or speak to them again. Not because of the overwhelming grief, anger, and darkness in my heart, but because I cant stand seeing them get hurt.

How pathetic is that...

Brother, I know life doesn't come easy for you either. But I hope love will. I hope you will find someone who sees you, loves you, and embraces you for the person that you are. I hope I can protect you from harm and hardship.

I couldn't help but wonder, brother, if I see you are making a mistake, do I let you experience the pain, or do I try to protect you from it? If you fall for someone that might harm you, and I try to stop you, will you forgive me? Will you pick me?

I hope that day will never come

Your brother

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The photographer

Calgary, 25th Aug 2013

Dear brother,

By the time you read this, you would know I am into photography for almost all my life. It's been 7 years now.

I realized the reason I love photography: hiding. I'm hiding behind the lens, in the corner, the way I am always in life. It's a comfort quiet place to be, as I observe people and lives passed me by.


Behind the colors and the scenes and the people and the smile and the intimacy, there's that incredible loneliness. It's like there's a wall made out of black holes that I made. I wonder if I will ever change, or be included.

Behind every pair of eyes, there is a soul. Behind every layers of mirrors and lens, there's mine.

Your brother

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The lone adventurer

Vancouver, 15th August 2013

Dear brother

I typed this to you in a hotel room in Vancouver. At 23rd floor, with the view to the mountains and ocean, it does feel like I'm on top of the world.

It's my 4th solo trip. And as much as I enjoy it, I think I'm getting a little too old for these solo trip. I wish you were here brother. I enjoy travelling with you.

So, here are a few things I learned during this travel, and I want to share them with you

- Reading map is such an important skill. I walked collectively around 20 km in 3 days. I got lost often. Yet, every place that I was, I had wonderful surprises and images to prove. The best way to travel, and to experience a culture, is to walk, and get lost, and talk to the people. I had interesting conversations with coffee girls and park walkers, etc. It's a great experience

- Blue-collars are such delightful people to hang out with. Living a long time in elitist society (and to think a Master in Software Engineering is a white-collar profession is rather obnoxious, but I'd take that notion), I have always find delights and amazing lessons from others who might not have the same educational background. Perhaps that's because of dad and our humble background when I grew up. But more so, people who work hard for an honest living can be so wise, and down to earth, and so friendly at the same time. (Not that white collars aren't. They are just a little more judgemental at times).

- Young people need to learn respect. There were 2 young men on the bus, who look and sound like they were on drugs. They were loud, obnoxious, and when the (African) bus driver (politely) asked them to shut up, they shouted "Is that because I am white?" To think we live in this day and age, and to think these are college kids going home for vacation, it makes me sick to my stomach. Not that all young people are like that (I met some delightful young wise ones), but it just shows how much more we need to do to teach respect and kindness, than just academic.

- I might be a closeted mountain person. I mean I love the beach. I was born and grew up near the beach. But I miss the mountains almost immediately. Well, maybe in Calgary I can have both :p

- I'm secretly a romantic. I might be cynical and bitchy and acting all intellectual and shit, but I'm all mushy inside. There were a European couple sitting at the next table, and when the guy lean over, kissed his partner, I was just like "Awwww". I know. I know.

- Travelling alone can be emo-inducing. But when you make the most out of it, it can be all-empowering. It makes me believe "I can do this". I'm a planner, a walker, a photographer, and most of all, a loner.

So, there we are. A memorable short trip that is much needed before I explode with stress. Now, back to the 5th email my prof sent this morning. LOL

With love little bro. Next year we will do so many amazing trips together

Your brother

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pride and Prejudice

Calgary, Aug 8th 2013,

Dear brother,

I met with Gary and Ray today over coffee. And after 6 months of meeting you, they still tell me how much they are impressed with you. Simply not only you speak amazing English (their words "his English is better than you. There's no hint of an accent") but also your knowledge in culture, history and politics. 

I am proud of you. I know you are sick of hearing it from me, but I am indeed proud of you, more than anything or anyone.

I know Vietnamese people we know, including mom and dad, are unreasonably harsh on you and they always say you are too quiet, too "lam li" and not enough social skills. I think they are wrong. You are just an introvert with amazing soul and wonderful wisdom of life.

I know sometimes when we hear negative things about ourselves long enough, we believe it to be true. But trust me brother, you are a great kid, and soon to be a great man. I know of it. I am sure of it. And I am damn proud of it too.

With love
Your brother

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Depression 101

Calgary, July 30th, 2013

Dear brother,

I think the last time I wrote you, I wrote about stages of grief and what they mean. I am now at stage 4, depression. Turns out, accepting and moving on is harder than I thought. Maybe I'm just older so it's harder and harder to move on. Maybe.

So what's wrong? What's wrong is that everything is going in the direction I wanted it to be, and yet I feel like everything is wrong. I find it hard to get up in the morning. I find it hard to go on my day as I am. I find it hard to keep up with the person I used to be. I find it hard to be around people and even harder to be without people. I cant sleep. I cant even breathe sometimes.

I don't know what leads me here. Perhaps it's the disappointment that life here is not as I expected it to be. Perhaps it's the grieving for the love of my life I thought I had. Perhaps it's the loss of faith in mankind. Perhaps it's the loss of faith in love. Perhaps it's the loss of faith in me.

I wish you were here. I wish my friends and family are here. I wish somebody was here. It's funny. For someone who spent the last 10 years venturing out in the world on his own, I am finally losing that power, the power to survive the world alone.

I can't tell you what to do. I don't even know how long more it will take for me to get out of this. Funny, lots of my friends who are at a distance ask me everyday how I do, and get disappointed to know that I am STILL depressed. As if it's a bad food I can just shit out. As if it's something so small so insignificant I can just toss it out the window and move on singing aimlessly about life.

I'm just hanging in there I guess. I'm just taking the best care of myself that I can. One day at a time. One minute at a time.

525600 minutes in a year, the one that matters is right here, right now.

With love
Your "big" whining bro

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

1000 Days of Pine

Dear brother

If you haven't got the reference in the title, it is "500 Days of Summer" reference. It's a story about boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, she took him for the ride, and told him "I cant be your girlfriend" and get married to someone else over 500 days.

Three years have been like that for me, following the shadow of someone who could never fall in love with me. Yet I stayed. Yet I worked the hardest I could to be around. Yet I wanted it to change.

Your heart is only broken as you allow it to be. I allowed the last 3 years to tear mine apart, look at it, cant decide what to do with it, and put it back. I lost faith in love. I lost faith in self. I wish to settle for someone. "You are like a brother to me"

It's funny, I'm only 28.

Yet, 1000 days is already 10% of that and 35% of my adulthood.

I hope you have a better chance with love

Your brother.

Buses, Trains, and Planes

Life is a journey. And the past 2 weeks reminded me of that.

The first week was travelling with my best friend, and a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, stopping at a Zen center. Peace and tranquility. Lots of walk. Lots of reflection.

Your heart is only as broken as you allow it to be. Loneliness is only as deep as your yearning for companion. Everything ends. Peace is the end.

The conference is interesting and exciting. I didn't get Booed for my presentation so it must have been good (My prof gave 2 thumbs up and complimented me today in front of the lab). I networked and met so many interesting folks from Silicon valley. Oh, the days of NOC.

So everything that I learned in life, every challenge, every bridge that I burned, have led me here, on top of the world (or the ocean), wine in my hands, and gratitute in my heart.

Some days it's just so fucking beautiful to be alive.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The almost affair

Calgary, May 10th 2013,

Dear brother,

No worry, I am not having an affair or involved in any others'. It's just this matter has been annoying me for a while. As I have always told you, honesty is important. But today, I want to look at infidelity from a different perspective.

I had to tell my friend I am not going to hang out with him anymore. His partner was jealous of me (yeah, gay people...) which was not the reason why. The reason is that, after which, he becomes very secretive whenever we meet. Yes, I know, right? If we are not doing anything wrong, why go the extra length to hide it? This is why it is so wrong in 3 level:

- For his partner: He is already jealous, by being secretive you are giving him more reasons to think he is right. Yes, he is an ass. But when you hide details of your meetings to him, and he finds out, then you become an ass. Same goes if you hang out with a girl, especially girls, because they tend to take their friends for granted and desert you whenever the boyfriend is uncomfortable with you.

- For him: He is in the difficult position. At least if he really is cheating he has the sex to satisfy himself. But we are just hang out friends, why do you want to go through the stress? Same for girls, if you are having affairs with them (or not), lying is such stress. And like all lies, it will come out and explode it everyone's face.

- For me: I am not doing anything wrong. I have no wrong intention. Why am I being stuffed in the corner? I have seen "the other woman" before. And truth be told, I am more sympathetic towards them than judgmental. They have to live with the lies, the stress, the judgment, and they don't even have the guy for a decent quality time. But at least they have the sex. Seriously, I am not ashamed of myself, and I am not gonna hang out with people who are ashamed of me for things I did NOT do.

Of course I am upset to lose a friend, especially when I don't have many friends and support system here in Canada. However, it is important in life to do the right thing, and be confident of yourself when you are doing the right thing. There's no need to hide, because it's not doing anything for your self esteem. There's no need to be involved in others' relationship drama because it is not your fight. And lastly, sometimes, you just have to accept a lost and move on.

The lesson here is that it is so important in any relationships to be open and honest with each other. That will give you the way to security and trust, and no matter how many friends your girlfriend/boyfriend has, you will be at peace with it. And don't cheat. Don't be the other man in an affair. You will be hurting others. But worse, the hurt you bear yourself is definitely not worth it.

Either that or you just have to be straight and Caucasian, or Tiger Woods. Then you can cheat all you want :p But no, don't cheat.

Your brother

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Calgary, May 7th 2013

Denial - Anger - Bargaining - Depression - Acceptance.

Dear brother,

Loss happens everyday. Death. Heartbreaks. Failure. Rejection. The more things we do/wish for, the more chances we are exposed to loss. So, dealing with loss is a constant process.

In a week, my research grant got rejected, my research poster got horrible review, I lost a friend and my ex found someone new. Of course I will not bore you with the details, but needless to say, the grieving process hasn't been easy.

Of course I kinda expected this to happen. It doesn't mean it doesn't hurt when it did happen anyways. The cynic is ready for the worst, but the optimist in me is forever hopeful. "We must remember that disappoint is finite and hope is infinite" - Nelson Mandela. And there it is, the first stage of it all. Denial. I was still hoping. I was still wishing. Until it happens.

I was angry, of course. So much hard work was done. So much preparation. So much effort to maintain a good friendship/relationship too. And then it comes the bargaining, the waiting for it to happen, the wanting to do even more than what I have done. Now I'm just plain depressed.

I want to be done grieving. I want to be out there again. I want to wake up with the infinite hope of doing my best and getting recognition for what I do. I want to be surrounded by friends and a supportive environment.

I am not as strong as I used to be. Brother, if only I can share all this with you right now. I cant wait for you to grow up fast enough. But then, you will have your own loss to grief and to overcome. Am I too selfish to want you to be an adult? By then, will you, too, grieve your loss of innocence?

Life. Growing up sucks.

Big bro

Friday, May 3, 2013

Learn vs. Study

Calgary, 3rd May 2013,

Dear brother,

You are having your final exams today, so I thought I would talk to you a bit about studying and learning.

I'm back at school. At my age, it's not an easy task. Somehow I am doing pretty well. I guess when I put my mind into something, I tend to do it well. I know you will be too. Your score might not be great right now, and your studies may not be stellar (yet), but I know you are a great learner and a great adapter.

The problem with studying is that, in academic settings, the goals being set and the method of transferring knowledge is too different than reality. In life, we don't often get to sit in the same room, listening to everything, and then get exercises to do it. We have to pick up experiences along the way, and then make connections and apply them when the circumstances arise.

I'm struggling a bit with the busy lifestyle of both working and studying, especially with the salary I got. But learning is important. Getting the experience that you need in life is important. I guess sometimes when we are young, we trade time for knowledge, and then trade knowledge for money. When we do have enough to wisdom (and money), will it be too late for time to do what's more important in life?

This is your last year of high school. I know you don't get along well with a many friends at school, but 18 is a pivotal time in your life, I hope you live it the way you wish for.

I will be there with you every step of the way

Your brother

Friday, April 26, 2013

Square One plus

Canada, Apr 26th 2013

Dear brother,

It's been almost a year since I last wrote a letter. Much have changed. Much have happened. I blamed the lack of letters on technology (We Facetime every week). But I am back, and I'm determined to write all these letters to prepare you for what will happen in the next two years, before all of these letters will be sent to you: The day you turn 18.

So, just to recap, previously on "The six months without letters"
- I moved to Canada to pursue my Master in Computer Science
- I'm struggling to settle down here, make new friends, and catch up with a lot of work.
- There have been some challenges, but I'm coping with them
- The winter here lasts 6 months, but spring is in the air
- I am determined to get you over here and help you get out of Vietnam

So here we are again brother. I hope when you read these letters, you are already in Canada. I know you have not yet been here, but I know this is the place for you, at least for the first part of your life as an adult. I know you love the liberal attitude of the people here. I am sure too that the education system here will do you a lot of good too.

Hang in there brother. We will do this together. We will reunite. For this is me 28. I'm no longer 18 and helpless, running away from Vietnam just for myself. I'm 28, experienced, (sort of) mature, and I am a responsible parent to you.

Let's realize dreams.

With love
Your brother.