Friday, June 26, 2009

Love love love

Today will be about love. Love like the torrential rain that comes after days of dry air and wind so hot they wither even the hairs on your arms. Love like you.

At last, you came, with the dawn. You've come again, and again left in your place and empty space. Where have I heard this before? Somewhere far away, somewhere in the city of fogs perhaps. I use this phrase to describe what is mine but this phrase is not mine, and I don't know who it belongs to. To the wind now, I suppose. Who knows where it came from, I don't remember, and it will probably continue on after this, it probably has already continued onto elsewhere at the same time that it made its fleeting stop here.

But, enough about the phrase. The subject. The subject always seems to be that of loss and recovery, but the recovery always seems to be lost again. I had him. Then I lost him. Now I had him, but I'm afraid I've lost him again. I'm always afraid of loosing him. But it is not him that I am afraid to loose, even if it is true that I am afraid of loosing him, because the other is always replaceable, an-other will do, like when I lost him for the first time, I went out and replaced him with another, and when I lost him again, I found several others to take the space he left behind. Rather it seems to be the loosing that I am afraid of. Always afraid, always loving as if I am forever at the moment before I loose love, before love leaves me cracked and empty.

But love has a funny way of being. Love can be big and it can wrap its arms around you warm and tender like a mother's breasts, but love can also prick and prod and pound you to the ground. But love, whatever form it takes and however shape it fills, is always fickle. It comes to you unheeded, unannounced, sometimes it creeps up on you and catches you unawares until one day you suddenly realized you've been loving all this time without knowing. It also leaves as quickly and sneakily as it comes. One night you wake up and feel empty and suddenly know, or not for a great long while (because some would go on living their lives exactly as they always do without knowing that love has left them and they would live unknowingly like this for a very very long time, some even die without knowing) that you no longer have love.

Like this morning, at 4 a.m I woke up from a dream and asked love where'd you go? Where'd you go last night when you weren't in bed with me? Were you out gambling? I know you. You gamble because you hurt. You gamble to make up for the loves you've squandered and the loves you want but don't have. You gamble because you've been poked through and through and through. I know, and I understand, and I forgive. Just don't gamble with me. Don't gamble with what I've given, what I've worked so hard to gather and build for us. Love, what you and I have borne together, use them as gifts, for you to make more love, to proliferate, to duplicate, to clone. Clone yourself, and throw yourselves to the wind. Don't worry, when I need to, when the time requires, I will gather all of you up and plant you deep in me, root first like a seedling.

Henri Salvador, "Jardin d'hiver"

In a listening mood...

Je voudrais du soleil vert
Des dentelles et des théières
Des photos de bord de mer
Dans mon jardin d'hiver

Je voudrais de la lumière
Comme en Nouvelle Angleterre
Je veux changer d'atmosphère
Dans mon jardin d'hiver

Ta robe à fleur
Sous la pluie de novembre
Mes mains qui courent
Je n'en peux plus de l'attendre
Les années passent
Qu'il est loin l'âge tendre
Nul ne peut nous entendre

Je voudrais du Fred Astaire
Revoir un Latécoère
Je voudrais toujours te plaire
Dans mon jardin d'hiver

Je veux déjeuner par terre
Comme au long des golfes clairs
T'embrasser les yeux ouverts
Dans mon jardin d'hiver

Ta robe à fleur
Sous la pluie de novembre
Mes mains qui courent
Je n'en peux plus de l'attendre
Les années passent
Qu'il est loin l'âge tendre
Nul ne peut nous entendre
[ Jardin D'hiver Lyrics on ]

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gnarls Barkley, "Who's gonna save my soul"

I got some bad news this morning
Which in turn made my day
When this someone spoke I listened
All of a sudden, has less and less to say
Ohhhhhh how could this be?
All this time, I've lived vicariously
Who's gonna save my soul now?
Who's gonna save my soul now?
How will my story ever be told now?
How will my story be told now?

Made me feel like somebody
Hmmm, like somebody else
Although he was imitated often
It felt like I was being myself
Is it a shame that someone else's song
Was totally and completely dependent on
Who's gonna save my soul now?
Who's gonna save my soul now?
I wonder if I'll live to grow old now
Getting high cause I feel so low down

And maybe it's a little selfish
All I have is the memory
Yet I never stopped to wonder
Was it possible you were hurtin worse than me
Still my hunger turns to greed
Cause what about what I need
And oh, Who's gonna save my soul now?
Who's gonna save my soul now?
I know I'm out of control now
tired enough to lay my own soul down

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Nick Drake, "Time has told me"

Time has told me
You're a rare rare find
A troubled cure
For a troubled mind.

And time has told me
Not to ask for more
Someday our ocean
Will find its shore.

So I`ll leave the ways that are making me be
What I really don't want to be
Leave the ways that are making me love
What I really don't want to love.

Time has told me
You came with the dawn
A soul with no footprint
A rose with no thorn.

Your tears they tell me
There's really no way
Of ending your troubles
With things you can say.

And time will tell you
To stay by my side
To keep on trying
'til there's no more to hide.

So leave the ways that are making you be
What you really don't want to be
Leave the ways that are making you love
What you really don't want to love.

Time has told me
You're a rare rare find
A troubled cure
For a troubled mind.

And time has told me
Not to ask for more
For some day our ocean
Will find its shore.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Robert's poem, bắt đầu và kết cuộc

(I have a lot of little thoughts but none convincing enough to write about, so I send a poem instead. Not written by me. Written by an ex-boyfriend, who gave me mostly hell and not much else, although many times he certainly thought he had given me pleasure. I threw the original away but kept my translation. Don't know why. Bài thơ dở ẹt. )

Postcard từ R.R. (I titled it)

(translated from the English version của Robert Raddock)

Q mến,

Giữa Đức Mẹ Đồng Trinh
và sống mũi em, Q, là hai quả
môi em
miếng dưa gan mùi hồng mềm
sau khi làm tình ngực và lỗ rốn em
gương mặt ban sơ mắt mở
và hàm râu:
một hiện sinh khoắc nác
người đàn bà mang cặp kính-sóng-mũi-dị-hình-
ti tí eo để hở,
đủ cho tôi ngâm mình trong ấy
thượng-hạ giới— vườn bếp thể xác đất
hữu cơ
đặt lại vấn đề
đùi: bơi qua.
nách: chui nhủi
(hai dấu chấm chồng)
đục khoét những kết cấu đóng ngoặt, từng dấu phẩy, từng chữ “c” cố gắng diễn tả
lỗ tai em, Q.

But anyway, in light of recent news of arrests and confessions: some thoughts on beginnings and ends, to commemorate the abrupt arrest and equally unexpected confession:

Trong vở kịch “Kết Cuộc” của Beckett, đoạn giữa có câu: “Tất cả sự bắt đầu đều là kết thúc, vậy mà chúng ta vẫn tiếp tục.”

Bắt đầu bài thơ “Trong bồn tắm” là câu: “Tất cả sẽ bắt đầu ở điểm kết thúc.”

DeLillo cũng có viết về sự kết cuộc, không có kết thúc.

Đi một hồi lâu, tưởng chừng đi xa lắm, rốt cuộc cũng trở về với nơi khởi đầu.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another thought

Tôi thích chiêm ngưỡng những người đàn ông đẹp. Hôm nay tôi may mắn nhìn thấy 2 người như thế, nét đẹp nhẹ nhàng, nhưng rất đàn ông, làm tôi đã quên mất một hơi thở nhỏ. Một người tôi thấy thật. Người kia tôi chỉ xem được hình. Hắn nhìn gầy gầy, mang mắt kính, trông tao nhã, một sự quyến rũ nhè nhẹ, thanh thanh. Hắn đẹp như người anh họ bị khùng của tôi (tất nhiên là trước lúc anh ấy bị khùng).

A thought

Perhaps my marriage would be much happier if my husband's mother would just drop dead. I will have no regret. Ugly ugly ugly woman. Nasty old woman. She will either have to die, or he will. That's what he said anyway, when I took the car and went out for a drive around the city in the middle of the night. I was so angry, so mad I suddenly wanted to smoke. Half a cigarette is all I can take now, but it was so good, it calmed me, for some reason, despite knowing that the cigarette is a nasty nasty thing. I couldn't stay in the house and cry anymore. I needed to get away, even if the act is temporary and I know I will come back to it afterwards, to him, to the kids. But how I wanted to drive away! To drive so far so far away. Across the ocean, to a different place, where coffee isn't coffee and love isn't love and I can stand or fall wherever and whenever I like.

Speaking of crying: before, I used to think that it was shameful to cry outloud in front of the person who made you cry, who caused you enough pain to make you cry, that whenever I felt enough chagrin against whomever (usually the boyfriend, this time around, the husband), I would cry silently. I was too proud to let them know they had made me cry. Having pride as a woman meant something like, "I am not going to let you see me cry, you fucking asshole." And I would let the tears run and hold my breath to stifle the sniffling. Even in the dark I would turn the other way so they wouldn't see me crying. But now, now I think differently. I don't know why, but one day, I just got tired of crying by myself. Tired of trying to hold my breath to stifle the sniffling. I just bawled out loud (not wailing, I don't wail). So now, it's more like "I want to let you know that you have made me cry, asshole. See the pain you've caused. See the damage you've done. See my crying, feel guilty, and eat it!" Now it's more like that.

"If you want me to die soon, then just say it, you don't need to do this." My husband said this to me in place of an apology to try to get me to stop driving and come home. I think it's the funniest thing in the world to hear someone say. It's hilarious because it doesn't fit! It's neither here or there. What he wanted to say was, "If you want to kill me..." but because he was thinking in Vietnamese, but being used to speaking English, it came out a half-breed, English words but Vietnamese..what would you call it, grammar? Vietnamese one can say, "Nếu bà muốn tôi chết sớm thì bà nói..." and I guess that was what he was trying to say. My poor husband. He doesn't know how funny he sounds to me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Còn sót lại trong học tủ

Vấn đề cần bàn tới: chuyến đi.

Lần này, lịch trình sẽ thay đổi như đường rầy rẽ. Tôi không trở về với ai ngoài những người mang cùng bớt xám trên khuỷu tay, móc không gian tạm bợ. Từ hố nước chảy cóng từ bắc cực đến thành phố gió, tôi sẽ đi tiếp, đến một nơi khác thật xa những hố sâu, sự um tùm và im lặng thôi bóp chết tôi. Tôi không làm gì, ngoài việc tìm kiếm một số khuôn mặt quen thuộc và đại từ, lộc cộc những thể trong túi tôi, cuồn loạn đập phá, đốt hết khung cửa sổ kệ sách học tủ, để lại duy nhất mảnh vụng dấu dưới móng tay. (Duy nhất trần nhà vẫn sót lại một góc xanh lơ nhám cháy.)

Như lúc này, nó keo kiệt, không ban ân huệ cho tôi trong hiện diện của nó, chỉ có một cái xác nhử tôi với nụ cười răng xún. Tôi không thể chấp nhận sự có mặt của nó đong đưa như bọng máu, tôi muốn ôm lấy nó, dí nó vào giữa ngực cho đến lúc chúng tôi toạc khỏi hạ hàm.

Sau một cuốn phim và chai rượu đỏ, cái chết không còn ngẩm nghĩ đáng sợ. Nó giựt lùi, không thèm muốn, không động tĩnh, không lời nói, không vết rọc, dìm chúng trong bóng tối ẩm ướt. Tôi phải tự tháo những mảnh vụng suốt ngày cứ đập vào nó; nó bắt tôi lục tìm lý giải cho chúng, cơn tức giận, ngôn từ, một bàn tay vội vã. Nhưng mệt mỏi cũng là một niềm vui, để được nghỉ ngơi chốc lát sau lần nguyệt thực, khoảnh khắc sót lại còn chút cân lượng để đè mình xuống.

Thường những việc tôi làm người ta không biết, cho đến khi người ta đập đầu vào nó. Nhận thức được mất mát sụp đổ, khi đã bị trút vào một cả thể khác (một em bé chẳng hạn, vị giác của vãi, thể xác trần truồn làm tình, ngôn từ và âm điệu, tên gọi, vv ...) mong đợi trong kinh nghiệm của đồ vật.

Đã trải qua thời kì tự sát, khi nó trở về với tôi rồi tiếp tục mất dạng, khi tôi bỏ dở mình.

One night at Gaylord

Đêm nay Larry đến, Larry vô giới tính, trên cốp xe hắn đậu giửa đường, hút thuốc và đọc sách; hắn đang đợi cắt giấy phép đưa hắn về khu chung cư ở góc đường, trên sân thượng mền gối đang chờ hắn. Chiếc nghế dài trước cửa, chiếm ngự trong mỗi đêm hắn tới. Đêm nay Larry thay dây cột tóc. 11 giờ khuya thứ 3 là thời gian của neon hồng.

Hắn đi đâu cũng thấy cái xác khô cằn trước quyển sách. Bọn chúng đua nhau yêu đương, kẻ lùn tịt, kể què chân, kể hói đầu, bụng phệ . Hắn gật gù, thì ra chúng chỉ là những linh hồn chờ đợi sự siêu thoát .

Hắn ngồi ở đấy thật lâu, lục tìm dưới chân thông tin về vị tuyến của thiên đường . Lần đầu tiên Larry thấy dáng thiên thần, ở Gaylord’s, thiên thần rải rác đầy quán, lông quoăn tít, dấu dép và giầy đầy đất, làm từ nguyên thể hữu cơ của địa đàng . Ở đấy hắn uống trà nuốt cơn nức cục, bức tóc, và rà tìm những cơn sóng trên đầu ngón tay.

Bổng hắn phát hiện, xúc giác là một chướng ngại. Hắn kiếm cho mình một vị trí khác bằng cách đu lên dây đèn treo dọc trần nhà. Khi cần chuyển động, hắn nhẩy lên từng cánh quạt đang quay, xoay tít theo chúng rồi bung người ở một tốc độ khác . Hắn gọi đó Lực Ly Tâm. Sau đó là những bản nhạc thúc đẩy khúc xương sống và tiếng còi xe cấp cứu hù hụ băng ngang toàn thể lỗ chân lông. Thú thật, không thể không bất động nhìn địa hình của logic chạy trước mặt rồi mất dạng trên chiếc xe tải đường dài.

Lên xe thôi Larry. It's time to go.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I love thinness, Adrienne

(inspired by Adrienne Rich)

I love thinness, Adrienne –
it’s a waiting, the lack space between my amble breasts.
I miss it, uttered,
And I can’t breathe anymore,
that feeling of desire,
of clothes drying in mid autumn sun.

Thinness is wanting everything, especially both.
It’s like now, I’m wanting you and him
Too thin to walk against the winds,
So you float.

Easily inspired, all you need is a woman,
Fashionably wrinkled at 70, knitting
rainbow colored yarn and you’ll want to run home
with sewing needles
poke yourself until you’ve bled off
one hundred pounds.

But, I’ve gone and made it seem theatrical. It’s less
performative than that. Listen for it
On the telephone, after movie hours. It will call you
And in a moment,
You will have said all that needs to be said.
You can’t stretch it thinner than that anyway.

Empty empty waiting

No thoughts come tonight. Just the droning night noises of the city. And the quiet snoring of a body exhausted from midnight sex. Doubt. One almost always is in doubt. Doubt follows you as if it was your own shadow. A shadow that doesn't need light. It shadows you even in the dark, like now, when everyone has turned off everything except the porch light. A warming, I guess, or a repellent, against ill doers, come ye not here. A modern day version of sheep blood. (I don't know why people leave their porch light on during nighttime, when everyone is asleep, certainly the people inside their lighted-porch houses are. If they wanted to leave the light on so they can see in the dark, who's going for a walk when they're sleeping? Except maybe sleepwalkers. If they wanted to discourage burglars, it can't be a very persuasive method. )

Today is a true rambling. I had wanted to write about a book, two books actually, "Snakes and Earrings" by Hitomi Kanehara and "Book of Night Women" by Marlon James.
Both are about violence and so are also themselves violent. Both are extremely disturbing, the disturbance from the latter helps one to contextualize (and by so doing contain) the violence of the former.

One, the former, is violent with etiquette. I say with etiquette because while its violence is seemingly sense-less (violence for the joy of it, the act of it, where the demarcation between it and love, between pain and pleasure, sense (reason sense, smelling sense, feeling sense) and sense-less, quaver and disappear, where each act of violence leads to a disappearing of a demarcation, it is nevertheless Limited to a group of individuals. Limited to certain causes, be it personal, psychological, social, or unexplainable. Limited and contained. Contained in the underground world of Tokyo. Contained (mainly)in the bodies of the narrator, nineteen year old Lui and her two love interests: Ama, her also underage boyfriend, and his tatooing friend, Shiba-san, who later becomes Lui's man. Contained also perhaps because we are given a narrator that's so soft (soft body, soft skin, soft voice), gentle, even if freaky in her masochism and disturbing in her ability to accept and deny everything that's (normally) morally right and wrong at the same time. Contained also because the violence our characters inflict on themselves and each other don't really hurt anybody (just the drunken thugging gangster, whose death we could accept because he asked for it) until we find out that Ama has died from such a violent and sadistic death--cuts all over the chest, hair ripped off his scalp, nails ripped off his fingers, an incense stick stuck up his penis. And we aren't really disturbed until the very end, when we realize, just as our narrator does, that the torturer and murderer is Shiba-san, Ama's friend and whom we have developed a bit of an infatuation for because he's so mature and worldly even if freaky and sadistic. And what's most disturbing is not the nature of the death, or the fact that Ama was alive throughout the torture, or even that Shiba-san is the killer. What's most disturbing and incomprehensible is that our narrator, whom we've grown to accept even if we don't understand her, continues to live with and even cover up for Shiba-san. How can anyone inflict such savage pain on another being, let alone find pleasure in doing it?! What's more, how can anyone live with it as if it's a normal part of life? But, after we get over our disturbance, we can deal with it, because while we don't understand it, we can continue to live our lives in our healthy and logical and understandable world. After all, these people belong to a subclass of society, the outcast, the misfits. Moreover, contextualized within human history, one can say violence here may actually be gracious. (I remember the same disturbance when I read Ryu Murakami's 69, a few years back, and have managed to, thankfully, forget why it was so disturbing to read).

This is how this next book helps me to swallow the last book:

"The Book of Night Women" is a re-telling of the history of the Atlas Uprising in slavery Jamaica. It tells the lives of the slaves and masters of Montpelier Estate, through the eyes of a Creole slave, Lilith. We are told the familiar stories we read about slavery, the savagery, the inhumanity, the violence, but all are amplified a thousand times in this book. It is as if the author wants to make sure that the reader understands, sees, and FEELS, this savage history, a history that he learned and had to unlearn. The book is filled with violence, is spilled over with violence. Every page is a rape. Every page is a decapitation, a whipping, a scream, endless soundless screams, a torture, a hanging, a burning, every page, every page. Death and dying are everywhere. Every word is pain, every sentence contained so much rage it blinds. And there's no way out, no way out, because the whole world is enslaved. You become enslaved in that world, trapped in that world, the more you read the more you're trapped and saturated in its cruelty. You get sick from seeing so much pain and feeling its aftermath, pain so deep its tentacles have reached you through the passage of time and space. You become nauseated and you have to break away, put the book down, get away from it, to compose yourself, to regain yourself and seek comfort in your reality. Then, when you're ready, maybe even unthinkingly, you pick the book up again and take another plunge into its sea of blood and burnt human flesh. But, the book does give you some hope. Lilith has hope to the very end, and life does continue even if it is enslaved by death. But this hope, even for you, is hard earned. The book doesn't let you come away free. Even for you, so far away and so removed from its world. It is as if the book is saying, "Look here you, you fortunate, ungrateful ass, look!" And you have to look, to see the ultimate expression of evil, to see the flesh of slaves involved or not involved in the uprising torn inside steel cages, hanging from tree branches like perverted fruits. You smell their flesh burning as they die a slow death from a small fire. You hear their screams get smaller and smaller until screams become whimpers and then no more. It seethes with violence, infectious in its violence, diseased by its violence, outraged by its violence.

In "Snakes and earrings," the story is a world isolated, which gives the feeling that its violence is also isolated. In the latter, we are immersed in it, violence is not even appropriate a word anymore, crueler words must be used, like monstrosity, inhumane, evil.

For those books that can give you not only headaches but nightmares and depression, I heartily recommend.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Thật ngộ, nhìn qua nhìn lại, chợt phát hiện mình không còn cần sự bình an, vì bình an đã có. Bây giờ cần cơ hội. Và sự nhẫn nại.

Không bao giờ nghĩ rằng anh sẽ đọc được blog này, cò lẽ vì vậy nên viết thoải mái, tha hồ "gửi hương cho gió" ... .nhưng ở chốn sâu nào đó, cũng có một chút hy vọng, hoạ mai, anh sẽ tình cờ đọc thấy, chả để làm gì, chỉ để biết, và "để gió cuốn đi." Tôi đã tự tạo cho mình một đối tượng tình yêu tuyệt vời, một mô hình vô cùng không-tầm-thường, và cương quyết trung thành với nó. Không tình yêu nào khác thay thế nó được, luôn cả tình yêu rất-tầm-thường và bình-thường và an bình mà tôi đang có.

Nhưng tình yêu tôi đang có sẽ được an bình luôn mãi không? Những tình yêu an bình trong sự tầm thường luôn có nguy cơ sức mẻ vào những lúc hoàn toàn không ngờ được, nếu như những kẻ đang yêu không cùng chung mẫu hình tầm thường với nó, hoặc họ không luôn giữ cảnh giác trước khả năng mục nát của nó.

Bây giờ ngày và đêm trôi qua như những hạt lần chuỗi, tôi cứ đếm và cầu nguyện. Cầu với Chúa cho tôi luôn biết cảm ơn Người đã cho tôi những chuỗi ngày bình yên tầm thường này. Còn cái tình yêu tuyệt vời mà tôi chưa từng có ấy, nó như căn phòng với cánh cửa sổ nhìn ra biển, những lúc cần, một mình tôi nghỉ mát ở đó, mệt tôi sẽ nằm xuống, thích tôi sẽ đến đứng bên hóng gió và nhìn ra ngoài. Như căn phòng trong cuốn "Người Tình" của Marguarite Duras.

If I were to have an affair

I've been thinking of him again, of Berkeley, of my studio apartment on the hill... I want to forget him, forget everything, all of it, every last bit of it, and move on and on and on... but I can't. I keep going back to him, him who never writes, not anymore. The last time I got an email from him, it was a translation, of Coehlo's "The Alchemist." Memories of him are like the rats that run around inside the walls trying to find a way out but there's no way out because all exits have been sealed so they just run around and around inside the walls until they get tired, then they rest, and then they get up and run again.

Today this thought came to my head: that if ever I have to decide, I would allow myself to have an affair with him. I would make love to him, just once, or maybe twice, and not feel guilt or remorse. I could, because him, my memories of him, my love of these memories, all are quarantined somewhere in the basement of my heart, and whatever act I do with him can (it is very possible) remain in that quarantined basement.

There was a moment when I missed him so much I searched for found him...his address. But when I found his address, my feelings and desires for him crumbled onto the ground like dry, parched dirt. And I could live my life again.

Hôm nay là một ngày vô cùng tầm thường, thiếu hết những hứng thú, họa may chỉ còn những niềm vui nhỏ chợt tìm thấy trong tiếng cười con trẻ rồi mất tích khi tiếng cười bật tắt. Lại phải gặp những dai dứt nên đã hát hết cả giờ đồng hồ nhạc Trịnh, nhìn những note nhạc và đinh ninh rằng mình có thể học đánh guitar trong vòng thời gian ngắn nhất. Những bài hát ghê ghớm thật--chúng nhận tôi ướt sũng trong vũng sình ký ức mà không cần động đậy tay chân. Không có gì hứng thú nên tạm gửi ở đây một bài thơ của Trần Dần (to speak, in place of what I cannot put into words, for that love which I never had):

Tôi có đủ tình yêu

Nghìn lẻ một đêm chưa yêu thỏa sức

Tôi có thừa đắng cay

Nào có kịp đắng cay đâu?

Sao đã cho tôi những phố xào xạc?

Sao đã ghi tôi vào mép sổ buồn rầu?

Tôi biết gọi về đâu?


Ai có đôi lời an ủi?

Ai kẻ vỗ về trái đất mồ côi?

Để tôi đó? -Tôi cô đơn

Tôi cô đơn trời xanh cô đơn trời tía

Cô đơn nắng đào cô đơn mưa tái nhợt đầu ô

Cô đơn lang thang trong các đám đông

Trên quảng trường nham nhở gió

Cô đơn lòng ngõ ngõ rỗng trăng chênh

Cô đơn sân ga tàu chạy tốc hành

Không đỗ lại các cuộc đời xé lẻ.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tribute to my loved loves

Poor guy, for three years we were together but I was never really in love with him. I was in love with being in love with him. I loved the idea of loving someone who could speak Vietnamese, sing Vietnamese, and who, when they make love, could grunt and moan in Vietnamese. I loved equally the idea of loving someone who could play a Vietnamese song on his guitar, or any other song for that matter. I chose him because I wanted to stand by my Vietnamese men, their fresh-off-the-boat tongue and ideas, ideas about love and life, about men and women, about chivalry and gender roles and male responsibilities. I hated them and fought them but loved them at the same time.

Of course, it being what it was, it couldn't, and didn't, last. I cried and cried and cried the day we broke up. I don't know why; I was the one who wanted it. I guess I cried because all good break ups require a good cry, whether you are the one that wanted it or not. It must also have been because he cried. He cried a lot. Cried out loud. It was sad, pathetic even. It was that side of him, that soft, vulnerable, bendable, breakable side of him that I disdained and despised. I wanted to be the one who cries, who doubts her intelligence, feels insecure about her self, not him. He was supposed to be the strength onto which I can lean, but I couldn't lean because wherever I leaned, he leaned with me. We were like two young bamboo stalks twisted this way and that by the tumultuous winds of our emotions and inexperience. Instead of strength and shelter, I found a fellow crier also fumbling in the dark. So I had to break off. Had to. Had to leave and go learn something new from somebody else. Another man of another race of another language of another age.

Poor guy, he was really a good guy. He was (maybe still is, I don't know) the kind of guy that would pay for everything, made sure you got your drinks and the food on your plate was warm (or cold, depending on how you like it). He'd sing you to sleep with your head craddled in the crest of his armpit. He'd do all the hard work--carry your books, hold your jacket, open the door for you. He'd write songs for you, and whenever he reads something beautiful, a poem for example, he'd think of you and remember to email it to you. He'd also cry when you tell him you want to break up and damn it, seeing him cry makes you feel so bad you tell him you were just kidding but you're really thinking to yourself this really has got to be the beginning of the end, stop crying already.

But it wasn't even really him that I was in love with being in love with. It was him. Yes, I believe it was him that I wanted to be in love with. Him. He was and is still. He was, and is, the love that never was but continues to NOT be.

This is the impetus from which my ego-saving blogging adventures began:

Người xa mấy rừng xa mấy ngàn vực sâu
Người xa mấy mùa không thấy nhau buồn rầu
Người xa cách người khi cất lời hẹn sai
Người chưa biết khóc mộng bay

Người chưa biết tình đang hát gọi mùa đông
Tình đang hát dài như chút hơi cầm lòng
Là ta nhớ tình ta dấu đi hàm oan
Tình yên ấp nhé đừng tan

Tình yên ấm rồi em sẽ nghe
Tự nhiên khóc oà khi có nhau
Lệ rơi sáng loà không dấu nữa tình đau
Tình đau miễn là em sẽ về
Về ta nối lại tơ tóc xưa
Để khi có tình ta đón đưa
Và em sẽ gần ta chút nữa tình ơi
Vì ta sẽ cần em suốt đời

Gần nhau vẫn là xa cách ngàn lần đau
Một manh áo nhầu ta cố lau giận hờn
Một câu hát buồn sao thấu được lòng sông
Mà ta vẫn hát tàn hơi

Mà em vẫn chờ vẫn chờ mùa đông
Mà ta vẫn còn thao thức trông đèn ngồi
Vì em sẽ về cho ngỡ ngàng rồi đi
Mùa theo gót ấy mùa ơi.

I listened to this endlessly at Berkeley. Just me, my one room apartment hidden behind a thick bush of crimson bottlebrush. Perhaps it was the temperature in the car. Or the way the sun shined too brightly I could not see the road. Or the song being a memory marker. There was a pressure in my chest, and I was brought back to a time and space full of crimson bottlebrush, stems sticking out every which way like the thistles of their flowers. Wet, chilly evenings, ducking under dripping branches to get to the front door. Emtpy, quiet nights, so empty no other sounds bounced off the walls except this song, and out in the sparsely lit street someone kicked an aluminum can, it hit the sidewalk and tumbled back out to the middle of the road, and everything was quiet again. I have written about this before. I have marked this memory already. I have recorded it, but it comes back to me again, and I can't breathe. Quang Dung sings it over and over and over. I sit immobilized. Catatonic. Memory too heavy. The coffee plant I bought from Home Depot is dying. All the leaves have turned brittle and brown; even the stems are dried.

Him. Since I begun missing him, I dreamed of him twice. Both dreams hard and full of love still. Perhaps I have never really known him and he me, so that when we came across that dropping gap, it turned our bodies into parallel lines, constantly stretching, extending ourselves up and down but never towards each other, never manage to meet each other anywhere. Perhaps we'll be running alongside each other forever, never meeting.

He was my friend. My mentor, my soundboard, my confessor, my ideal, my quest, my adventure, my boredom, my curiosity, my humility, my blessing, my entrance into a text, into many texts, my safe space, my drive to be better, my better,. And now he is not any more. Like a poem written on a rainy afternoon driving through the northbay's marshlands. I told you, I could not drive on that slim road wiggling between the mountain and the sea. I get nervous. I think I would swerve and send us straight down to the sea. An elegy for a disseminated friendship.

Music is so powerful. It can make you travel to memories you don't want to remember. It can take you to friendships that are gone and make you nostalgic for ones that you haven't got. Music can hurt you.