Cherry blossoms

Posted on 28 March, 2016 in Emo, Happy Moments, Jabbers

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It’s another year that I haven’t got to see the beautiful cherry blossoms in Washington, DC, due to absent-mindedness, messy schedules and what-not. So my friend Mai and I decided to go to Fearrington Village for the pretty cherry blossoms. Wasn’t too shabby, eh? It was kind of relaxing to just walk around, adore all kind of flowers blooming there, and have some girly chit-chatting over wine and gelato – chardonnay for me and strawberry gelato for Mai. It reminded me of when I was on the Suzuki Yamaha Maxim not too long ago for a motorcycle ride. There was one part of the ride when the sky ahead of us was of a deep blue shade, and as the wind was blowing at me it felt as if we were soon to enter a secret time-warping door. I wish it were truly a time-warping door, or even better, the What-if phone booth of Doraemon. That moment was almost magical.

In other news, I’ve been doing pretty decent with my running 500 miles resolution this year. I’ve run a bit over 150 miles this year, and I’ve done quite some intervals at 8mph on the treadmill. I’ve been trying to beat my previous year’s monthly distance total, and I’ve succeeded so far. I’m still 6 miles behind for March, but I’m confident I can catch up with four days left. May is going to be a tough one though – last year somehow I ran 68 miles in May. I think it was the month when I got crazy running four times a week, 3-5 miles each time with my officemate Victor. My running log can be here, or on the top right of this page, if you’re interested :).

The void and the missing

Posted on 23 March, 2016 in Emo, Reads/ Writes

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There were two kinds of absences: the void and the missing. The void was the person, place, or thing that was never there in the first place. The missing existed but was no longer present. One was theoretical loss. The other was actual. Which was worse? I never had a child. or, I had a child but she was no longer mine. Either way, there was a hole.

(Monique Truong- Bitter in the Mouth)

Superman’s Honda Dream II

Posted on 01 March, 2016 in Family, Happy Moments, Jabbers

This was originally posted on Facebook, and is kept here for archiving purpose.

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My Dad used to ride a Honda Dream II motorcycle just like this for a very long time. I remember the times when I was sitting in front of Dad, and my two older sisters sitting behind him, heading to our music teacher’s house. I can’t remember the teacher’s name anymore… Giang or Van Anh, I think, and she used to live on Co Giang Street. Several years of taking keyboard/ piano lessons didn’t really help – now I can barely play the notes, and maybe have two sections memorized from two songs. But I still remember that my keyboard teacher was quite beautiful. She used to wear a floor-length skirt, and once in a while she would buy ice-creams for all of us. At that time, it was popular to sell ice cream in paper cubic boxes, maybe 2 inches each side, lined with plastic. Ice-cream was such a treat for us back then!

On this same motorcycle, Dad took my sisters and me to visit our grandmother. Now that I think about it, she lives only 15-17km from us, but the trip always took anywhere between 35 and 50 minutes because of the traffic. We would go on Ly Thuong Kiet St, then turn on to Hong Bang, then Trieu Quang Phuc, Hai Thuong Lan Ong, pass Cha Va Bridge, down to Tung Thien Vuong, pass Nhi Thien Duong Bridge to Quoc Lo 50. Starting from here, the condition of the street would get worse, and you cal totally a thin layer of brown-ish dust blown up from the ground because of all the vehicles passing by. When I was really little my feet barely touched the foot pegs; I had to grab Dad’s shirt super tight every time we passed by a pothole. I was too little to memorize the route back then (hey, I’m still bad with navigation now…) but good thing that Dad always liked to tell little stories about special locations on the route and that really helped me remember. It always smelled like Eastern medicine when we were around the Hai Thuong Lan Ong area. There would be three super tall buildings (Thuan Kieu Plaza) on the way. We would also pass by Dad’s elementary school, and passing by the school means we’re super close. Keep going for another 5 minutes and there will be a small country street to turn into. One time, somehow my dad overestimated our ability to navigate ourselves from the main street to Grandma’s place. I guess he thought that he’d taken us SO MANY TIMES on that Dream II motorcycle, and there were maybe two turns we had to make so there were no way we could have failed that mission. Obviously we had to prove him wrong. After several minutes posing next to pretty flowers and touching the shy plant (because the leaves fold inward and droop upon being touched), we almost got lost had it not been for some random guys pointing us to the right way. Thank goodness everyone knew everyone else in that neighborhood…

All those times, Dad always seem like a Superman to me, taking three little children to all kind of places on that motorcycle. Good thing there was no helmet rule back then, no way we could all fit on the motorcycle with helmets. That same Superman always rode the Dream II to pick me up when I was in elementary school. And several times, I was too focused on the jumping game with friends to notice the familiar plum Dream; Dad always just stayed there patiently to give me a few more minutes. After many years accompanying Superman to all the places, to grandma’s home, to the market, to take Supermom to business meetings, this beloved plum Dream II finally had to retire around 2007-2008. Dad switched to a Wave Alpha, and recently to a Click. Today, somehow the beauty of browsing the Internet make me come across this photo of Superman’s old motorcycle, and it really brought back lots of sweet memories.

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Originally posted in Vietnamese:

Ngày xưa bố chạy chiếc Dream II màu nho giống thế này một thời gian rất rất dài. Từ lúc mình ngồi phía trước, 2 chị ngồi phía sau, bố chở đến học đàn ở nhà cô giáo piano (Giang? Vân Anh?) ở trên đường Cô Giang. Học cho lắm vào đến giờ khả năng đàn chỉ bập bõm được đồ rê mí, nhớ thêm vài đoạn bài Nỗi nhớ dịu êm và Bốn mùa thay lá gọi là lòe thiên hạ là hết. Nhưng vẫn nhớ cô giáo hơi bị xinh, mặc váy dài chấm đất và thỉnh thoảng mua kem cho 3 chị em ăn. Kem lúc này bán trong hộp giấy bé hơn hộp mực, bên trong có lớp nilon. Cũng chiếc xe này bố chở các chị em về nhà nội. Quãng đường chỉ tầm 15-16 cây số nhưng đi phải 35- 40 phút. Từ Lý Thường Kiệt xuống Hồng Bàng, rồi Triệu Quang Phục, Hải Thượng Lãn Ông, đi qua cầu Chà Và, Tùng Thiện Vương, cầu Nhị Thiên Đường, xuôi theo quốc lộ 50. Đường đi bắt đầu xóc xéo dần, đất đỏ tung bụi mù. Lúc bé thật bé chân chỉ vừa chạm chỗ chống, mỗi lần đi qua ổ gà phải bám thật chặt sợ ngã xuống đường. Lúc còn nhỏ chưa nhớ được đường, cũng may bố rất hay kể chuyện và gọi tên các mốc nên mình vẫn nhớ. Khu Hải Thượng Lãn Ông sực lên mùi thuốc bắc. Chắc chắn sẽ phải đi qua 3 cái nhà cao tầng (Thuận Kiều Plaza). Rồi bên trái sẽ là trường học ngày xưa của bố, đến đấy là rất rất gần rồi, chạy thêm tầm 5 phút nữa sẽ có ngõ để rẽ vào. Có lần bố đánh giá quá cao khả năng tìm đường của các cô con gái, liền thả cho đi bộ từ đường lớn vào một mình. Lối này bố đã chở đi lại lắm lần trên chiếc Dream nho đấy mà sao lúc đi bộ tự nhiên thành… lạ hoắc. Các chị em sau khi mê mải õng ẹo hái hoa dâm bụt và sờ soạng hoa mắc cỡ thoải mái rồi thì tý nữa không tìm được đường về, may nhờ có người vẽ cho. Sao lúc ấy bố thật siêu nhân, một mình một ngựa thồ theo 3 đứa lít nhít. May hồi đó chưa bắt đội mũ bảo hiểm, chứ không chắc khó mà vừa. Cũng là siêu nhân bố, đem giấc mơ đến trường tiểu học đón mình. Nào ngờ mình mải mê chân đất nhảy dây, mắt thì cận thị hoàn toàn không thấy chiếc xe quen thuộc. Và siêu nhân bố kiên nhẫn dựng xe đợi cho mình nhảy thêm một hơi mấy vòng. Sau nhiều năm theo chân siêu nhân trên mọi nẻo đường, đưa bọn mình về quê, đi chợ mua cá tôm, đưa siêu nhân mẹ đi gặp đối tác (và kiên nhẫn chờ đợi dưới một tán cây rộng lớn nào đó), chiếc Dream màu nho này cuối cùng cũng phải ngậm ngùi nghỉ hưu. Bố đổi Wave Alpha cho nhẹ, rồi cách đây 2-3 năm lại đổi xe khác. Đột nhiên nhìn thấy hình chiếc xe siêu nhân ngày xưa, có chút xao xuyến trong lòng…

Happy Lunar New Year!

Posted on 11 February, 2016 in Emo, Family

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As I rushed to Harris Teeter to get some flowers, cookies and fruit to perform the ritual offerings to the ancestors on Lunar New Year’s Eve, I truly miss the Tet-preparation days in Saigon.

Dear parents, I wish you lots of health, laughter and happiness in the New Year. I love you and miss you a lot.

Dear sisters, hope we’ll have a reunion soon. Even though we’re all grownups now, I always feel like a cheerful happy kid whenever I hang out with you guys. We can relive the ridiculous but glorious childhood memories together, when we played princesses with long hair made from towels, pretending to be princes fighting in place of our fathers. Or when we sat around a little floor fan for days, taking turn telling stories about three boys and a witch. Seriously, I don’t know where we got all that imagination from. And Tran, I promise not to fool you into folding clothes for me anymore even though I still hate it. I’m glad we have the Whatsapp group to gossip and giggle with one another.

Có những thứ thật sự nằm ngoài khả năng của mình, và cho dù mình mong muốn đến mức nào cũng không thể đưa tay ra nhào nặn theo ý mình được. Đôi khi điều tốt đẹp nhất mình có thể làm, chỉ là im lặng mỉm cười và chờ đợi cho cơn sóng đi qua. Có thể sẽ là một tuần, một tháng, hay nhiều năm. Nhưng mình biết mình đã làm tất cả những gì có thể. Ngay cả những trận bão kinh khủng nhất rồi cũng tan thôi mà.

Ẩn sau một vết thương lành
Là mê cung gió hay thành quách mưa?
– Nguyễn Thiên Ngân