Sunday, December 28, 2014

Loser like me

Cambodia, 26th Dec 2014
My dear brother,
I’m writing this note to you from Cambodia, the city of temples and monasteries. It is beautiful and untouched, yet ridden with poverty and sadness. Maybe it was just me.
I am sad. Travelling with a Caucasian reminded me how much it sucks to be a colored-Asian man. I am second class citizen in Western countries. I am second class citizen right at home in Asia. That, is my truth.
I told my friends the other day “Happy ever after do not happen to people like me”. What is people like me, I wonder? Someone who is kind, generous, with integrity. Someone who is not traditionally beautiful. Happiness is meant for beautiful people…
I hope your life will turn out better. I hope you’d belong. I hope for a world in your next generation where who you are, what you do matters more than a Facebook profile and a series of one-night-stands.
I wish happiness ever after for you. Because it is never for losers like me…

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New chapters

Calgary, 25th Nov, 2015

My dear Chester,

Sorry I have been out of touch (again). I promise I will write more than once every six months. I promise.

Much have changed for you and me. We are both inching ever closer to new chapters of our life.

You got into college! Business school. You seem to be doing amazing. Vice president, in charge of English department, making new friends and new progress. I am proud of you. I will always be. I am sorry you did not get to Canada this year. But fret not, with the new almost perfect TOEFL score, you will get there. I know it well.

Me? Much have happened since March. I drove across Canada in July. I traveled 3 European (Scandinavian) countries in August. I am graduating next week. All was well. All was progressing.

I struggled a bit with being on my own (and working - studying full time). I guess it is the essence of my life. No rest for the wicked. I am excited, really. New job, new career prospects, new life awaits. I think I will settle down here, in Canada, in Calgary even. Maybe. Possibly. We will see.

I will write more next week after the graduation. I can't wait to see you back home in 10 days.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Death Medication

March 24, 2014 at 1:24pm
Dear brother,

I went to bed after watching Cosmo (a scientific program about space time odyssey) and woke up to the news that the vanished plane has been assumed to be lost in South Indian Ocean. I couldn't help but wonder "How small, and helpless, we humans are, in space, time, and in death?".

On my way to work, a (very drunk) guy asked me for change to take the LRT. I am sure whatever coins he gathered from strangers, he would probably buy more booze. I couldn't help but wonder "What is this guy's back story (to be so drunk at 9AM in the morning)? What sort of life that he has been through that he has to go on from one intoxicated day to another?"

I meditated on these facts. (I know I sound like a New Age sensitive hippie by saying I meditate a lot) It is both disturbing and comforting, to know how fallible we humans are. For every amazing being and scientist, there would be a countered idiotic, bigoted, and violent hundreds of others. "No wonder aliens don't want to talk to us".

There was no answer (in my 9 years of meditation there has never been an answer). I wish I could have been simple, believing in simple if-else conditions. Good Christians go to heaven. Good Buddhists attain Nirvana. Good Muslims have 72 virgins (Apologies for my ignorance to all my Islam friends, this is just a metaphor). Sometimes I feel our own fallacy lies within our own complexity. If only I can live for the now, acknowledging the fact that no matter how vulnerable or invincible I feel on different days, I am only human, I was born alone and I will die alone. Therefore, everyday is an extra chance to live a little better, to love a little more, and to be a little better of a person. Everything ends, in the end.

And with that, I end this note with a quote from Andy Botwin:

"Life is just blah, blah, blah. You hope for blah. And sometimes you find it. But mostly it is blah. And waiting for blah. And hoping you are right about the blah's you made and then just when you think you have the whole blah damned thing figured out and you are surrounded by the ones you blah death shows up."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Third place

March 20th 2014

My dear brother,

Congratulations on your third place at the city level English competition. I am so very proud of you. I know you can do it.

I know sometimes you don't feel that way, but you are amazing, and you will go so far in life.

When you read this, brother, even when I am with you or not, know that I will always be proud of you, exactly the way you are.

Your brother

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sex and the City

Calgary, 3rd March 2014

My dear brother,

I know sex is not a proper discussion among dudes who are brothers. But what the hell. When you read this you are already in your twenties and a little birds and bees talk doesn't harm at times. In fact, I am a little worried that as a teenager you are not watching porn or exploring sex. But then again, conservative Vietnam :D

So, let me just come right to it. I've been having a lot of sex lately. Well, for any "dude" in their teens or early twenties, it should have sounded like an accomplishment. For me, it feels like I'm losing myself. I mean, it is kinda strange and unfamiliar for a guy like me to be having all the attention now. Someone in their 40s were trying to pick me up and said "You look as cute as a button".

To be honest, I'm a little lost. I don't feel like myself anymore. I mean I am okay. But define okay. Work is great; study is great. I got laid 3 times last week. I finally found a person who would travel across Canada with me. Still, I'm feeling a little lost.

I was out with a date the other night. Well, if we can call it that. We had sex earlier and we agreed on the whole Friends with Benefit thing. I know. I don't recognize myself anymore.

There are plenty of men at the bar. They are all preying on the naive, low-self esteem women (especially the Asian ones). It's like Shark weeks on Discovery channel. I was thinking to myself that it is rather pathetic for a man in his 30s to still be hanging at bars picking up strangers, but you should see the ones in their 60s.

I couldn't help but wonder. How did I end up here? I mean when I was in college I hate people in stuffed up shirts and ties; and then I became a consultant, loving the suit career. I have always hated promiscuity (you know, deep within, I was a romantic) and now I ended up sleeping with strangers just to stroke my ego, one night at a time. What happened to me? Am I so scary and damaged that I have to become someone else to be the likable loveable "cool" dude. Every time I tell someone about my hook-up shit, I was secretly hoping someone would stop me, someone would tell me this is not who I am. Instead, I got even more encouragement, "cool! Dude", and "This is so much better for you".

As I knocked down another whiskey, another young girl left with the (much) older man at the bar.

I feel lost. I mean, I used to know where I am going and I know who I am. I am not so sure I like that person anymore. Why is it that He who has confidence and He who is me are so worlds apart?

I sighed as I swallowed down the last smoke of my cigarettes. If only there are as many people who hate the new me enough as those who hate the fact that I am smoking. My date waited patiently at the door of the bar. We had sex again that night.

I don't know why I am telling you all this. Well, perhaps just to let you know that your brother, too, struggle. I am, too, a nerd. I am, too, feel insecure about relationship and sex just as you are. It doesn't get easier. It just gets more routine, and like marijuana (which, I do smoke occasionally) the high gets less and less frequent, and harder to get.

I hope you are luckier than me, that you meet someone and fall in love and not having to struggle the way I did. When all fails, keep your head up, because you are a good looking, smart kid, and you are totally capable of being on your own.

Unlike your pathetic lonely big brother.

With love

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Be water, my friend,
As anything could happen,
and everything ends...

The heart aches
(No matter how much you hold on,)
your heart breaks.

Winter, spring, summer, fall,
the moon is dark, then she is full.
The ocean holds your heart,
as she soothes your (longing) soul.

Jan, 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014


(Wheeling, WV, US – Jan 2nd 2014)
(Just so you know I still write poems little bro)

There is always tomorrow… (Or is it?)
There is always enough time, in our little finite lives of infinites
To love a bit more
To feel a little more
To laugh once more
To cry again
(Or can we?)

All around us are miracles.
The snow vastly cleanses the mountains high and the river low,
(the shaken branches, the shivered bears, the swimming fishes, and the broken souls)
The sunlight falls over the shades of turquoise in the ocean,
(and illuminates all other colors that you and I both once loved)
The lingering sound of the rain deafens the cries of the wolves,
(of the young mothers who lose their babies, of the fallen dying deer on the side walk)
The quiet scent of spring awakens in each cherry blossoms, wild dandelions,  
(each of the gentle strands in your hair, the lasting touch of your fingers the morning of goodbyes)
That gaze in your eyes
is the miracle of life itself,
(that made me fall in love and broke my heart)
all condensed in exact one moment.

Why wait my darlings,
when all surround us are miracles?
To love a bit more
To feel a little more
To laugh once more
To cry again
(Shall we?)

There maybe tomorrow
(that I really don’t know. I was once sure, but I am no longer)
There is today
Life is both infinite and finite
Life is both fragile and everlasting
(Life is kind of like you and I,
star-crossed yet ever-loving.
Or was it just me, alone in all this duality?)

Tomorrow. Today.