Asia Vacation 2015: Day 3

Onto Day 3. Wednesday, February 11th, was an interesting one. We were off to another ceremony (there are a lot of those around the holiday!), but this time we were visiting my grandfather on my father's side. I'm not sure what I expected, having been there before, but it was eye opening.

The first time we went over in 2009, it was just my grandfather, his son (my uncle) and daughter (my aunt). This time around, there were these little kids there! Not related to me whatsoever, they took to my sisters and I quickly. Or perhaps it was our cameras they took to since they just loved taking pictures.

Either way, we were enamored by them. But it only took some time and eavesdropping on the conversation from the adults to pick out the unfortunate upbringing of these little bundles of happiness.

There was this six-year-old girl, bright as the sun with such an enigmatic smile. It's hard to think that she had an abusive father. She and her mother left him, but those type of memories are something you can't ever run away from.

Then there was this little guy. Only three, he was quiet, shy, and polite, but loved to hold hands. And yet his father didn't want him. Rather he left him and his mother and took up a new wife and child. Replacing them like broken dishes.

Even my own aunt, had a disabled full grown son. He couldn't walk. Couldn't speak. Spending his days at home. He would never see the rest of his country. He would never see any other part of the world. He wouldn't even get to see a movie in a theater.

It's difficult after learning their stories not to notice the difficult cards life had dealt them. Tiny, skinny, with scabby feet, they didn't come from a wealthy family, but a hardworking one. And yet, a hardworking one may not be able to provide them with the opportunities to build a better future.

It's definitely something that hits close to home. As a child with a single immigrant parent, I knew it wasn't an easy task to make ends meet. Yet in a country of opportunity, there's always the chance to rise above. But in a country devastated by war, with the majority of families low income, the odds for them are stacked even higher.

These are things we already know, but not something we encounter on a everyday basis. So when you come across kids like these, you can't help but feel for them. You want to help, but sometimes help can only go so far.

It's encounters like these that really humble a person. I found myself that night counting my lucky stars that I was blessed with a loving family and a courageous mother who conquered land and sea to a place where we could grow to our full potential. Though we were not rich, we were rich in love, and memories.

That night at my grandpa's house on my mom's side, I took comfort that though I wasn't fortunate to see our extended family on a daily basis, I would take these few days to heart. It's in the limited time you have with people and even the day-to-day menial things that really are the best. Like roasting clams on the sidewalk and eating skewered shrimp. The small snippets in time where you are completely yourself and bare, enjoying the moment.

Asia Vacation 2015: Day 1

My Asia trip came and went! I still can't believe it's over. I'm still suffering from vacation hangover.

[[To recap, this was a family vacation to visit my relatives in Da Nang, Vietnam for ten days. Afterwards, my two sisters, Michael, and I spent 4 days in Seoul, South Korea instead of dealing with the originally planned 12-hour layover.]]

For our first day in Da Nang, my grandfather (on my mom's side) hosted a ceremony (an offering to the ancestors), which really turns out to be a huge feast for those alive. With everyone all in one place, it was a good place to start reconnecting with family I hadn't seen since our first trip in 2009. If you didn't know, my mom is the oldest out of nine kids! Only 2 out of the 9 kids are in the U.S., so you can bet the family gathering was a big one!

Going into it, I was really nervous. With so many people, it was daunting trying to remember everyone's name. Not to mention, I also brought Michael with me. What would they think of me dating a white American instead of a Vietnamese American? Of course my mom approves, but how often did my relatives in Vietnam interact with foreigners? Then of course, I was so embarrassed about my language skills. Vietnamese is a difficult language for me to speak considering I grew up in the U.S., where I hardly ever interact with people in Vietnamese.

One thing I should have known, was how welcoming my big family was and all the worrying was for naught. They greeted us with open arms, and though it was difficult for Michael and I to fluently communicate, I realized genuine communication comes from within: whether it's the look in someone's eyes, a smile on the lips, or the position of one's body.

And did I mention the food was amazing? I mean check out that spread!

After the big feast, a few of us went to the beach. Soft sand, blue waters, and the sun. Just as I remembered it. One thing I didn't remember? How salty the water was! Good thing I only like to walk in water and not swim.

To end the night, we had a big celebration for my sister's 28th birthday!

Reason #9: Jars

This one may seem a bit weird, but I love jars. After using them for one day, they have made my life considerably easier; and it's those little things in life that we don't necessarily notice, but deserves some thanks (even if it is an inanimate object). Move over tupperware, jars have come to steal your thunder!

For breakfast I made overnight oats with strawberries and placed them in fridge along with a jar of coffee. When I woke up, I just quickly stuffed them in my backpack and went to class. Awesome for on the go. Now you're probably thinking, "Well, you can do that with tupperware." Yes, although that is true, I like the fact that I can make individual servings of liquids (such as coffee, tea, etc.) and grab them whenever I want them. Better yet, I can make them cold, and beat the heat. These 8oz on the go servings are perfect when I want them. Plus, drinking liquids from tupperware is silly, and my thermos is pretty clunky carrying it all day with Summer coming upon us; cold drinks are what I need.

And their are even more possibilities on the horizon, like yogurt parfaits, fruit salads, green smoothies, sweet/herbal teas, and etc!

You have to admit, eating/drinking out of a cute jar is just way better than tupperware :]

Reason #8: Teachers

It was my Honors English Teacher of my Junior year of high school, Ms. Davis, who said that I should major in English, and it was her class that made me fall in love with the subject.

My first fiction workshop I took at Davis was with Julia Jackson. This is her last quarter at Davis, soon she'll be receiving her MA in Creative Writing. She's such a wonderful person. I kinda wanna be like her in a few years.

This quarter, my poetry fiction professor is Greg Glazner. Yesterday, some classmates and I went to his reading for his new book he also performed some songs he wrote. I was seriously impressed.

I never wanted to be a teacher, but seeing how some teachers have made an impact on me, makes me think that I shouldn't rule it out completely.

Reason #7: Mothers

One think to always be thankful for are Mothers. I cannot even put into words everything my mom is to me. My hero and my savior. If only she knew just how much I loved her. I just hate the fact our relationship isn't as close as I would like it to be.

The blame lies upon me.
I'm unable to communicate through our language and I'm not the daughter everyone hoped me to be.

I saw her for about five minutes today.

I decided not to go to the family dinner tonight. It may seem selfish not to go, but I think my presence there would just bring everything and everyone down. I don't want to ruin the holiday for her nor the rest of my family. Tonight, everything would be better if I did not exist, so I took myself out of the equation.

I hope my phone call and my unconditional love for her will suffice. Because that's all I have left of me.

Reason #6: The New and Old Relationships

Relationships must be reciprocated in order to form a long lasting bond. Therefore, those involved in the relationship both have to want it. That goes for all types of relationships: familial, friends, romantic, work, etc.

Growing up, you make a lot of different types of relationships, but you also lose some too. You learn to trust and at the same time you learn that people can betray you. Others can love you, while some break your heart. And the rest simply come and go. Nonetheless, all of the people that enter and exit your life make an impact on you.

Reason #6: Education, Creative Writing, and James Franco

I am literally shaking right now. Maybe it’s from having four cups of coffee (when I usually just have one or two a day) or maybe I’m having an epiphany. My mind is racing, that I can’t keep track of all of my thoughts. I’m sure that it will show in this post, since this won’t have any logical order. It’ll just be pure thought. Stream of consciousness? Probably so. Virgina Woolf, it seems you have rubbed off on me. I can’t get out of my head it seems.

Another reason to live? Education. Doing something/majoring in something you love. I know I complain a lot about school. I want to be done with it like all of my friends who are just a year older than me (if I was only born one year sooner!!!!), but I’m not. I should take advantage of my last year and make the most of it. I had a midterm today about 20th century writers and theory; after studying about all these dead writers, I realized I wanted to be one of them. Not dead, obviously. But a writer who matters. Who did something. Was a part of something. Anything. I always say I HOPE to be a writer, never having faith in myself or my abilities; but today I thought to myself, I WILL be a writer. I may not be the best, but damn I have a story to tell, and someone’s going to want to listen. I will be published, and if someone is moved by what I wrote, then that is success to me. That’s a life lived if I made someone’s life a little bit better by my words.

This week I’ve been constantly thinking about the future. Daydreaming and hoping. Well that’s enough of that, I’m gonna make it into a reality. Just you wait. For a while I wondered if I could really do it, write all my life… I thought of the long process of writing and editing, all the heartbreak that I would endure being rejected… but yes, I want it. All of that. The heartbreak, long hours of writes and rewrites. Words are eternal. I’m gonna get my words down.

I’ll have my own studio and library to create my books with big open windows… Yeah, I will.

So what brought this on? Well I’ve been obsessed with James Franco. Like seriously obsessed. My role models have always been my family: my mom and my sisters for all their strength and support; but now that I have committed myself wholeheartedly to writing, I had the urge to find a role model for my career. Which is…. JAMES FRANCO. He seriously does everything. I want to do that too. I won’t limit myself to just writing. I’ll do it all. Screen writing, directing, art. I admire his passion for education. It reminds me that I am lucky to learn. The grade doesn’t matter, only the knowledge that I get from the class. I don’t need a 4.0 GPA to write. I need to live life in order to write.  I want to and I am going to live life. I'll be the female version of James Franco (without the acting part).

One day James Franco, we’ll have coffee and discuss books, movies, music, literature, everything. We will be talked about when we die. We’ll make an impact. 

I love my major. Seriously. Writers are so cool and interesting, not to mention we’re just so weird in an awesome way.

I think of all the people I’ve met in class this past year and I realized… We are the next generation. Let’s fuck shit up (in a good way) and change the world. I may never see these people again, but knowing them for a little bit has changed my life. I want to remember everyone. Like Nich, one of the US bank protesters who gave me a hug right after we met (no one does that much anymore, I wish people did; and he totally looked like Will from Parachute), Olivia who I met this quarter in Telemark (having a good conversation, telling me about the senior thesis, and about herself), even the guy Orion who’s in all of my classes (who I find pretty intriguing), and everyone in my workshop class, like Summer, Ceaser, Ted, Lindsey, and Katie (to just name a few). Best of luck to all of us.

Now the most important thing: I’ve finally found a story idea for my first book. Something that I will commit to (not like all my other stories where I write a few pages and quit). The whole story idea came to me today in bits and pieces as I was running during my workout and walking to the ARC for a work meeting. I need a story board STAT!!!!

Life is amazing. And no, I’m not on drugs right now. :]