Andrea Long Chu writes in The New York Times:

Next Thursday, I will get a vagina. The procedure will last around six hours, and I will be in recovery for at least three months. Until the day I die, my body will regard the vagina as a wound; as a result, it will require regular, painful attention to maintain. This is what I want, but there is no guarantee it will make me happier. In fact, I don’t expect it to. That shouldn’t disqualify me from getting it.

100 Notable Books of 2018

Selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review, this is an impressive list. Here are books I would like to read:

  • Heavy by Kiese Laymon
  • These Truths by Jill Lepore
  • Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
  • Why Comics? by Hillary L. Chute
  • The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea
  • Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

Being Vietnamese

Nguyễn Thanh Việt:

I never said “I love you” when I was growing up because my parents never said “I love you” to me. That does not mean they did not love me. They loved me so much that they worked themselves to exhaustion in their new America. I hardly ever got to see them. When I did, they were too tired to be joyful. Still, no matter how weary they were, they always made dinner, even if dinner was often just boiled organ meat. I grew up on intestine, tongue, tripe, liver, gizzard and heart. But I was never hungry.

The memory of that visceral love, expressed in sacrifice, is in the marrow of my bones. A word or a tone can make me feel the deepness of that love, as happened to me when I overheard a conversation one day in my neighborhood drugstore in Los Angeles. The man next to me was Asian, not handsome, plainly dressed. He spoke southern Vietnamese on his cell phone. “Con ơi, Ba đây. Con ăn cơm chưa?” He looked a little rough, perhaps working class. But when he spoke to his child in Vietnamese, his voice was very tender. What he said cannot be translated. It can only be felt.

Literally, he said, “Hello, child. This is your father. Have you eaten rice yet?” That means nothing in English, but in Vietnamese it means everything. “Con ơi, Ba đây. Con ăn cơm chưa?” This is how hosts greet guests who come to the home, by asking them if they have eaten. This was how parents, who would never say “I love you,” told their children they loved them. I grew up with these customs, these emotions, these intimacies, and when I heard this man say this to his child, I almost cried. This is how I know that I am still Vietnamese, because my history is in my blood and my culture is my umbilical cord. Even if my Vietnamese is imperfect, which it is, I am still connected to Vietnam and to Vietnamese refugees worldwide.

And yet, when I was growing up, some Vietnamese Americans would tell me I was not really Vietnamese because I did not speak perfect Vietnamese. Such a statement is a cousin of “love it or leave it.” But there should be many ways of being Vietnamese, just as there are many ways of being French, many ways of being American. For me, as long as I feel Vietnamese, as long as Vietnamese things move me, I am still Vietnamese. That is how I feel the love of country for Vietnam, which is one of my countries, and that is how I feel my Vietnamese self.

A thoughtful perspective on being Vietnamese American. My Vietnamese is also not perfect; therefore, I have been relearning it in the past few years. It is such a joy rediscovering my native language. I encourage the young Vietnamese generations, especially those who are born in the States, to learn Vietnamese. It is a very special language.

How to Dodge An Interview Question

Terry Gross tells Jolie Kerr:

Say, “I don’t want to answer that,” or, if that’s too blunt, hedge with a statement like, “I’m having a difficult time thinking of a specific answer to that.” Going the martyr route with something like, “I’m afraid by answering that I’m going to hurt somebody’s feelings and I don’t want to do that,” is another option.

The entire article is worth-reading.

Practicing Patience

Anna Goldfarb on “How to Be a More Patient Person”:

If your impatience trigger is killing time in waiting rooms, designate a game on your phone that you play only when you’re at the doctor’s office. If you detest being in traffic, leave for appointments earlier. If you abhor crowded grocery stores, run your errands at off-hours.

I always carry a book with me wherever I go so that I can read to kill time.

Chết khô

Một ngày đẹp trời, tôi ra sau nhà nhổ chút cỏ dại. Đạo cũng theo phụ. Bỗng nhiên nó báo tôi biết có đôi chim đang bị nhốt trong cái máy lạnh (HVAC outdoor unit). Tôi vội vàng tắt máy quạt khổng lồ và lấy đôi đũa gắp đôi uyên ương ra. Tuy vẫn trong vị trí ngồi bên nhau nguyên vẹn, bọn chúng đã chết khô từ bao giờ. Chỉ còn lại thể xác giòn rụm. Bọn chúng chết một cách thê thảm.

Không hiểu sao bọn chúng có thể chui vào đó được mà lại chui ra không được. Cũng may là bọn chúng chưa bị rơi vào cái quạt. Hậu quả chắc đã bị chém ra nghìn mảnh. Thế là bọn chúng chỉ có thể ngồi yên một chỗ cho đến chết. Làm tình cũng nên chọn chỗ nào ăn toàn. Chơi kiểu này quá mạo hiểm.

Đạo cũng xót xa cho cặp tình nhân dại dột nên đề nghị tôi chôn cất bọn chúng.

Reigning In My Social Media Presence

I refuse to jump on Mastodon and Micro.blog because the last thing I wanted to do is keeping up with more social media networks. I am tired of them all.

I never joined Instagram, which was a good decision. Google+ shut down and I didn’t even bother to download my content. I lost interest in Pinterest. I could not get into Dribbble. I no longer care about Medium. I still have a presence on LinkedIn, but I don’t do much with it. I still check Twitter every once in a while, but I hardly tweet anymore. Facebook is still hard to let go because I still want to keep up with family and friends. I did quite a bit of cleaning up on Facebook and also turned on privacy.

I still read blogs via RSS. Free blogging platforms are ridiculous. WordPress.com, in particular, is filled with ads. My kids’ dentistry keeps popping up on the blogs I read on WordPress.com. It is irritating that I just want to take my kids elsewhere.

It’s funny how social media comes in full circle again. Not so long ago, social media is a skill that most professions, web design in particular, most have. Now the less noise the better. I don’t even bother to cross-publishing my blog to other platforms. If you want to read it, you’ll just have to come here or subscribe to my RSS. I am not being cocky or anything like that. I just don’t want to creep you out everywhere you go.

The C-Section Experience

Honor Jones writes in The New York Times:

You’re fully conscious, but nothing hurts. You might as well not have legs for all you can feel them. A sheet hangs from the ceiling, covering everything from your chest down.

But while I was removed from the pain, I wasn’t removed from the experience. If you believe people have souls, a C-section is probably good preparation for the afterlife. Your body is completely out of your control, but you are not your body.

Your partner holds one arm down. A nurse or maybe the anesthesiologist — some stranger toward whom you feel a desperate sense of gratitude — holds the other. After digging around your organs for a while, the doctor says from behind the sheet, “Now I’m going to apply some pressure.” And then suddenly there is another person in the room and both you and your baby gasp the new air and begin to sob.

I was holding my wife’s hand as well until I got blacked out.

Thank You, Mr. Bol

Katharine Q. Seelye writes in the New York Times:

Todd Bol was simply paying homage to his mother, a schoolteacher and lover of books. He built a doll-sized schoolhouse, filled it with his mother’s books and put it out for his neighbors in Hudson, Wis., as a book exchange.

Today, just nine years later, more than 75,000 such “Little Free Libraries” dot the globe, from San Diego to Minneapolis, and from Australia to Siberia.

I have seen several of these libraries around our neighborhood.

Vì sao?

Hôm nay đến Eden tôi gặp lại một cô gái người Tây Ban Nha xinh xinh với mái tóc xoăn xoăn. Cô cầm tấm bản giấy viết “Xin giúp đỡ mẹ tôi đang mệnh nặng ở quê nhà.”

Sáu năm trước khi mới bắt đầu công việc, tôi gặp cô cũng cầm cái bản đó đứng trước đèn xanh đèn đỏ. Thấy cô rươm rướm nước mắt tôi cũng xót xa. Định giúp đỡ cô nhưng tôi và cô đang ngược đường.

Rồi tôi lại bắt gặp cô ở những địa điểm khác nhau. Mấy năm nay cô vẫn lừa đảo tình cảm người khác để xin tiền. Sao cô có thể làm như vậy?