Nội và Ngoại

Thằng con thắc mắc tại sao grandma chữ Việt lại có bà nội và bà ngoại? Tại chữ Việt mình phong phú thay vì phải nói mẹ của mẹ (mother’s mother) thì gọi là bà ngoại hoặc mẹ của ba (father’s mother) thì gọi là bà nội. Như thế dễ phân biệt.

Nó hỏi tiếp, vậy nội và ngoại nghĩa là gì? Từ nhỏ đến bây giờ tôi không để ý nhưng cũng trả lời theo dự đoán của mình. Nội là bên trong (inside) còn ngoại là bên ngoài (outside). Truyền thống của mình thường thì mẹ phải về ở nhà chồng làm dâu. Các cháu ở chung với mẹ của ba nên gọi là bà nội. Còn mẹ của mẹ ở riêng nên gọi là bà ngoại. Tôi cũng chả biết giả thích như thế có đúng không.

Nó lại hỏi tiếp, vậy mẹ của mẹ đang ở chung với chúng ta thì phải gọi là bà nội chứ? Ừ ha, cũng có lý. Thôi thì gọi grandma đi cho chắc ăn.

Ray Romano: Here, Around the Corner

After 23 years, Ray Romano returns to standup for a Netflix special at Comedy Cellar. His materials included growing old, marriage, and sex while raising kids. With ease and wit, Ray proved that he still has the chops to pull it off. Definitely fun to watch.

Sống Chung

Lúc mới qua Mỹ tôi rất sợ buồn nên thích được sống chung với nhiều người. Sau khi chị tôi lấy chồng, chỉ còn tôi với mẹ sống trong căn nhà trọ nhỏ. Mẹ tối ngày quanh quẩn trong bếp nên tôi cũng lẻ lời.

Thời gian sau khi vợ chồng chị mua nhà rủ tôi và mẹ về ở chung tôi rất mừng. Ít nhất nhà có bốn người và tôi rất quý anh rể. Chẳng may đó là sự sai lầm. Lúc đầu thì vui nhưng sự xích mích giữa mẹ và anh rể ngày ngày bộc lộ. Ngày này sang tháng nọ từ chuyện nhỏ đưa đến chuyện to đã đưa đến sự đổ vỡ hạnh phúc của gia đình chị. Tôi vẫn hối hận về cái ly dị của anh chị.

Từ đó tôi rút ra được một bài học rằng sống chung với những người không ruột thịt không đơn giản như tôi đã từng nghĩ. Giờ đây tôi đang sống cùng mẹ vợ. Đã gần mười năm nhưng tình cảm giữa mẹ vợ và tôi vẫn không thay đổi. Có lẽ mẹ vợ không khó bằng mẹ ruột và tôi không mặt cảm như anh rể.

Giờ đây tôi cũng ngại khi phải sống với người ngoài hoặc anh em cột chèo. Tôi sợ nhất là họ thấy được bên trong của gia đình tôi. Không biết vợ chồng ai sao nhưng vợ chồng tôi có lúc cũng cãi cọ la hét nhau từ việc con cái đến việc nhà cửa. Và như thế càng lớn tôi càng muốn một cuộc sống thầm lặng. Tiệc tùng không còn phù hợp với tuổi già nửa. Chỉ cần có vợ thủ thỉ, có rượu vang ngon, có sách hay, và có blog để tâm sự và quá đủ.

Beat That Pecker Up, Mr. Bezos

Jeff Bezos writes on Medium:

Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.

Good for you, Mr. Bezos.

Neal Brennan: Here We Go

This half-hour Netflix special is part of the “Comedians of the World.” There are four parts of this series, but I skipped the rest and only watched Neal Brennan. Unlike his full-hour special 3 Mics, Here We Go takes on a more popular topics such as Trump, #MeToo, and pornography. Of course, Brennan puts his own spins on them. His writing is still on point even though the subjects are sensitive.

Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias: One Show Fits All

Unlike his weight, Fluffy’s jokes are light. His subjects include his son, his mother, and his celebrity status. He’s famous. I get it, but it becomes a bit of a brag. The car effects also get annoying. It’s a family-friendly comedy even though he said “shit” once.

Expired Friendship

The last time we talked was almost five years ago. He wanted to spend the weekend at our house, but my kids and I were sick. I asked him to come another time when we weren’t sick. He must of thought I made up an excuse and hanged up the phone on me. I thought we would get over it in a few weeks or few months.

I thought about him yesterday and was going to call, but I hesitated. I guess our friendship was expired. I missed the good old time we had. He and I had nothing in common except for food and hip-hop. We could eat chicken wings and listening to 90’s hip-hop all day. We were tight, which could step over the line.

In one particular incident, what he did still haunt and enrage me today. We were at another friend’s house. Even though I knew the friend well, I had never been to his house. The friend’s stepdad was a white man who loved guns. He had guns locked up in the case as well as a few laying around. As we walked into a living room, he picked up a shotgun on the coach and pointed to my head. I was dead serious when I asked him to put it down and do not pull the trigger. Because we were close and too comfortable with each other, he did not see the seriousness in me. He pulled the trigger and I felt the air hitting my temple.

I knew he was just fucking around and he knew the gun had no bullet. Even though I was also 99 percent sure that the gun had no bullet, I was not comfortable with someone putting a gun to my head, especially a close friend. He still thought it was just a joke and probably had forgotten it. As for me, I forgave but never forgot. That day had put a huge dent on our friendship. As much as I wanted to renew our friendship, the incident still leaves me sour. Maybe I should just let it expired.

How Can I Tell Her?

Through Facebook I reconnected with an old friend. She and I were in the Upward Bound program together. We were not close, but good friends since we spent several summers together.

Through her timeline I have learned that she had went back to Vietnam and opened a restaurant. I admired her adventurous career. When I looked at the logo of the restaurant, I immediately recognized the London Underground’s mark. The colors of the line and circle remained the same; just the text changed to the name of her restaurant. The logo is already incorporated into a huge neon light in front of the restaurant as well as all over the menu and marketing materials.

I did not want to tell her that’s a rip-off; therefore, I sent her a message carefully worded that her logo looks just like the London Underground’s. Her response was, “That is what we were striving for.” From what I knew of her back in the days, I do think that her response was honest and it came from a genuine place, but taking someone’s work is unacceptable.

Authoritative vs. Authoritarian Parent

Pamela Druckerman writes in The New York Times:

In the “Hidden Tribes” survey published last year by the nonprofit group More in Common, respondents who valued self-reliance in children more than obedience, and creativity over good behavior — staples of both authoritative and permissive parents — were more likely to have voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Those with more authoritarian views on parenting were more likely to have voted for Donald Trump.

An authoritarian parent voted for an authoritarian president? That makes perfect sense.

Reading for Black History Month

If you have to pick one book for Black History Month, check out Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns. I am just starting and already loving her writing. Here is how she described one of the main characters who had been through the Great Migration:

She has an endearing gap in her teeth, which go just about any which way they please, and her hair is now as soft and white as the cotton she used to pick not particularly well back in Mississippi. She is the color of sand beach, which she had never heard of growing up but had never seen for herself until she arrived in Chicago half a lifetime ago. She has big searching eyes that see the good in people despite the evil she has seen, and she has a comforting kind of eternal beauty, her skin is like the folds of a velvet shawl.

So beautiful.