Sunday, June 26, 2011

tôi thích ngồi như cái hố rỗng

tôi thích ngồi như cái hố rỗng,
để người ta té lên
rồi đi tiếp.

tôi thích mặc áo thưa,
xem nỗi buồn nhẹ như manh vải mỏng,
cho dễ bề tung gió tốc nó lên.

tôi thích đi trên phố chậm.

tôi thích nhìn nắng chảy nhòa
giữa buổi trưa buồn ngủ
đang nhíp người dưới bóng chiếc váy xanh.

tôi thích khung cửa mở
và kẻ ngồi đợi tiếng chào đi ngang.

All kinds of bitches

Cái này lấy từ website này

Chuyện kể là cái list này được một cô giáo lớp 3 ở một trường charter, thành phố D.C., nhặt được sau giờ học.  Riotous. 

I am: definitely 5, 43, 84, and 89.  Sometimes, I am also 2, 6, 12, 37, and 64.  I may subconsciously others on the list as well (or maybe conscious but not willing to accept).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

love letters, batch #2: profanities, the breakdown, and survival

Mon, 8 June 2004

Dear Rob,

No need to call.  I don't think you'll want to hear more complaints and rants anyway.  Last night I
went out drinking.  Got drunk enough to tell them that I have decided to try it again with you and am roomming with you next year and that I am asking them to understand and trust that I've spent a lot of time thinking about it and that it was not a rash decision. Long ass run-on. I realize the risk and am willing to take it, and I want them to support me. One said she does not support my decision, but she'd be there for me when I need.  The other went off the handle, accused me of making "rash" decisions (she specified that  just because you spend a lot of time thinking and debating and doubting does not necessarily mean that the decision is not "rash."  I guess now I know all the parameters of what constitutes a "rash decision," and I completely agree.)  She also said that she does not respect me, because I am weak, because I don't have strength in myself, because I am so dependent on a man.  And that no, she won't accept it, and that if i choose to room with you, then when i fall, when the decision turns out to be wrong, she will not be there, etc.  I was drunk, nauseated, pissed off, hurt, and every other goddamn peachy feelings, so i couldn't help it--i cried and hiccupped and wanted to get the fuck out of there.  This morning I drove the landlady to the airport, then cried some more when I got back.  Now I'm thinking, "Fuck it."  I want to give it another try with you; I believe that you do have something you genuinely want to offer, and that's all I need to go with.  I want to know what's it like to have a peaceful relationship, even if it means I have to adjust to a different kind of relationship with different rules.  So you see, no need to call me back, because I'm not crying anymore.

I also want you to know that this has put me in an awful mood and I dont really want to talk to anybody for a while. 

Remember Rob, the gate is always open; leave when you have to; change your mind whenver.  I would be fucking bored out of my mind if both of us have to think that we're stuck with each other just because we fuck.  I want you to be clear: I am only two dimensional.  No expectations of further depth, further strength, further whatever else, okay?  I can't handle being reminded that I am two dimensional like this all the time.  There's a lump in my throat and I am imploding into it.  Fucking A.


Fri, 18 June 2004

Dear Rob,

In Clarice Lispector's "Passion According to G.H.," there is a quote: "For now, the first timid pleasure
that I feel is being able to say that I have lost my fear of the ugly."  This quote is even better: "During
the time that I am writing and speaking, I'm going to have to pretend that someone is holding my hand. ...In the mean time I am inventing your presence...I shall invent your nameless presence and with you I shall start to die until I am able on my own not to exist, and then I'll let you go.  For now, I have you, and your warm, unknown life is my only internal organization, I who without your hand would feel unattached within the enormous space that I have discovered."

"I'm going to create what happened to me, only because living isn't tellable.  Living isn't livable."

Love you--you know that, don't you?  Tell me if you still love Christina and still want to live/be with
her, because that would be okay too.  Don't know why I have this damn nagging idea that you do.  I would still care for you--I don't think it's something that one can just cut out or delete. 

I'm slowly reading Fanon's biography, along with Said's memoir, Culler's book on structuralism, and
finally, finally, finally, Foucault's Archaeology of knowledge.  The Culler book goes very well with
Foucault's AK--at least the ideas in there are making connections for me.  Reading these two makes reading the two biographies very difficult. 

I'm going to munch on some bread then head out to the bookstore to read.  Still sick and nose running, but I have to get out of the house for a while--have been couped up in here for two whole days.

It's raining outside.  Perfect weather--so very me!!

Don't forget to miss me and love me!


Tues, 6 July 2004

hi rob,

i'm at home.  got back yesterday. this morning my brother took a butcher knife, cut down all the plants in the back yard, then drove somewhere with the knife with him.  my mom sat at home, scared into immobility.  she was thinking that he was gonna kill someone with that knife.  she asked me if i know how we could get him into a ward.  i said not unless we can prove that he's a threat to himself or others.  fuck.  i guess let's wait until he kills someone, or chop their arms off.  then he came home,
eyes all red and bleary like he'd been crying for hi life.  relief to my mom--no sign of blood.  my dad
asked me in hushed tones if i could go see the nun at the local budhist temple and ask her if she knows of any ancient indian way of curing madness, since she was in india studying for her phd in budhology.

Wed, 7 July 2004

hi rob,

my brother's in the hospital.  inpatient treatment.  he talked and cried so much while we were waiting for the doctor.  i'm going back to the hospital in a little while to drop off his clothes and things.  i'm
tired.  warning: i may change plans about next year.  i want to save money, so maybe i'll do the work
exchange thing.  if i get my thesis in at the end of this summer, then i could do some part time job in the fall and maybe full time in the spring.  lots of possible plans are going through my head right now, with strong preference for quitting school and looking for a job.

anyway, gotta go.  talk to you later.


Thur, 8 July 2004

hi rob,

i'm sorry.  thanks for understanding.  i have headaches.  my mom cries all the time.  i have been
driving my parents to see my brother for the past two days, and it's been very hard.  i was with him when they took him to the hospital, and i was hardly able to keep calm.  now everything reminds my parents of my little brother.  he tells us and the doctor that he wants to try to fight the voices himself, but they're trying to convince him to take medicine instead.  my parents are so upset...they don't like the restrictions of the hospital (makes them think he's in prison) and wants to bring him home.  they're also freaking out because they'll be in vn for a month.  i told them that i'd come visit him everyday while they're away, but that doesn't seem to help any.  don't know, maybe they're gonna cancel that trip.

i'm trying to think structurally...i don't know, grab onto something stable.  my mom is a huge believer in the vnese traditions of spirits and feng shui and stuff, which is great thinking material.  for ex: we're going to have to throw away my brother's bed and repaint his room.  only my parents or two of my brothers (two specific brothers) can do this, for reasons that she won't tell us until it's done.  she also said that a couple of days before he went to the hospital, she saw his "aura" changed into something very strange.  she also saw some kind of vase that he had in his room, very "dark" and "foreboding" looking, so she took it out and smashed it.  she would tell me all these fun things in between sobs. 

i think my mom's reactions are very typical of the southern colloquial culture.  there's certainly a lot
of fun materials in this particular stream, and certainly influenced by other southeast asian

my dad told me earlier today (after going in to see my brother and seeing how strictly guarded the place is) that the reason the place has security all over the place is not to ensure the safety of the patients but to ensure order for the outside world.  and he's never read foucault.

i've been playing billards on the computer a lot.  no reading at all. 

it's good to hear you are doing well and reading and writing and working hard on your persian and stuff. 

my whole jaw is hurting..i have a habit of crunching my teeth together under extreme conditions.  now i have to go prop my mouth open.

don't worry, i'm doing well.  i just need to know that you're thinking about me and still want to be with me and i'll be good.


Fri, 30 July 2004

you fucking me over again, rob?  will you please get the fuck off your ego and be there when i need you, you fucking selfish asshole?  you need to stop screwing me with these irritating little hints.  you've already used them once, no need to use them again.


Sun 5 September 2004

dear rob,

thanks for your email.  i'm healthy.  i have gotten a new place in the hills, and i like it much.  it's
quiet and peaceful.  and it's mine.  i have your things.  i'm in hiding at the moment, but i can box
them and leave the box in the office for you on tuesday. 

k, bye.


Love letters, batch #1: movies, Murakami, and nightmares

Thur, 20 May 2004

Dear Rob,
I tried calling you calling you calling you but you weren't there.  I woke up exactly 1 hour and thirty
minutes ago.   I dreamed of a girl--a rebel, my age, sometimes she was me, sometimes not.  But I saw her, and I saw her rebel.  She walked on top of things--cars, chairs, tables, climbed out of the window up high in the wall.  She had locked all the doors to the house and lit it on fire from inside, before she climbed out to the balcony and watched the flames flare up.  It wasn't regular fire.  It was
congealed air; plasmic; globs of clear plasma, thin enough to move like fire.

Then she was running.  And I was running with her.  And there was another girl. We were
running from something evil.  I was very scared, not scared for my life, I wasn't afraid to die, just afraid to be caught, because if I was caught, it would be by something greater than death.

We were trying to find a hiding place.  By this time, there were only two of us--the girl, and me (and sometimes, I would be her).  We ran into a club.  It was something like a dancing club, and there was a moving stairwell, like an escalator except instead of steps there were round metal rollers, and we were rolled up towards the upper floor.  At the top of this rolling escalator was a room; we were approaching it from the side--there was no door, just a whole side of the wall opened to us.  There was a body, bloody, dead.  A man dressed in white took a gigantic brush with red paint, stroked it once over the body curled on the floor, consecration of some sort.  He said something, but I don't remember now.   Then he took a hammer, a big hammer, and smashed the head of the dead body.  He scooped out the brain, dipped it in flour of some sort, like how the chefs in Chinese movies often do, then dropped the flour soaked brain into a bowl, for soup.  A woman dressed in black drank it, commented on its consistency, how the mental state of the brain matter when the body was alive immediately before death affected the consistency and taste of the brain.  The she showed it to me--a clear liquid with clear bubbles, like fish bubbles.  I remember an image of a girl--she was screaming, or something...  I woke up, and I was scared.  So scared. I also had a nightmare a few nights ago.  I remember waking up with my eyes shut tight, afraid to open them, afraid to look over to where the chair was else I might find some black shadow sitting there staring at me.  I went to sleep because I couldn't stand being awake and not thinking, not living in a way, but now I can't go to sleep, too scared to go back to sleep else I might go back to my nightmare.  It might catch me in there.  I might burn.  

So I woke up and began reading Murakami again, just to finish reading that book that started so horribly.   Dance dance dance--that's what it's called.  What do you know, another nightmare.  The book is about nightmares.  I woke up from one, then opened up someone else's.  From one to the next.  Everything's so dark.  My dream was dark; this book is dark; outside it's dark.  Better someone else's than my own. Wish I could go to you now.  



ps/ the john felstiner's biography on paul celan came today!  and yesterday i read an interview with murakami--i really really like him!  superstar.  wonder if i will cross path with him someday....when i'm 50 and visiting tokyo, and if he's still living there, perhaps i will?

Tuesday, 25 May 2004

Hope you are well and content and happy with family and mom's cooking.  I finally finished my paper in 2 hours yesterday (after a couple of days of not being able to write a word).  I wanted to write you yesterday and tell you about it, but the excitement fizzled out when I remembered that you're not here to go to the movies with me. 

Anyway,  it looks like I'll be moving my stuff to a storage after all.  I was just told about an hour

ago that I need to rent storage to put my stuff because my best friend who is moving into my old apartment is going to need the closet space.  I said I would move my stuff, of course. 

Moving and boxes and things--these are too big for me.  Usually I would have somebody else do it, that's what brothers and boyfriends are for.  Now I have a headache just thinking about it.  Of course, this means that I'll be sorting out all my stuff again, throwing out more books and more clothes.  I just may give them all away, leaving just the bare necessities--meaning 75% of my books and clothes for a month. 

This email must be very boring.  I am very boring.  I am also bored.  I think I'm going to walk up the hills and hide there somewhere until evening.  Then I"ll go to the movies.  I want to see
Shrek 2 and Spring Summer Fall Winter.

I miss you, did I tell you that already?  I know I don't have you--you have not ever really loved me, you were always busy loving too many people--but that's okay, doesn't change the fact that I miss you.

Last week was great--greatest week as far as I can remember being happy.  But let's be honest--you
probably can't give me more than a week's worth of your time out of a year--the rest is divided between your work, your self, and your other loves.  Somethings I should never ask.

Sorry, I guess I'm tired, uninspired, unconvinced, and feeling so damn if i've been fucking abandoned....feel like packing up and going home.  You don't want to live with a person like this, do you?  You may have seen the side of me that gives a lot, but you haven't seen the side of me that needs a lot, and it seems that a lot of the things that I need others for are the same things that you need others to do for you.  The practical stuff.  The big stuff.

I'm off to the hills.  I send you love. 


Sunday, 30 May 2004

Dear Rob,
I accidentally erased the message you left on my voicemail, and now I'm mourning! :(
But, I look forward to getting a letter from you!  Yay!  It's been four or five years since I last received a letter from someone.  So I guess visiting you in Ohio is out of the question huh?  In any case, it'll be good to be back home.  Can't wait to take my brother driving all over the place.  I'm sure my dad will be going along too; he'll want to.  I want to drive for a do nothing but drive and sing along to love songs, for a week.

I miss you.  I try not to form expectations as far as you are concerned, because that will (as it did) put
pressures on both you and me.  That, of course, means "no LOW expectations!" 

I like writing emails, can't you tell?  Helps me feel like I'm actually in communication with you (duh!).
When you called today I was out in Thoa's little garden, weeding.  Weeding can be a lot of fun.  I did
hear the phone ring once, but it was somebody with the wrong number.  I had thought it was you; what a bummer it was when it wasn't you!!

I go now.  I've bored you enough, yeah?  Oh, forgot to tell you: last night I dreamed about you.
There were two of you--one was real, one was a double.  When I finally figured out which one of you was the real you, you told me that you were married--and with a mistress!!  What do you think that means??  Rhetorical question.  Its cause and significance are already very obvious.

Good night, sweet.


Thur, 3 June 2004

Dear Rob,
I received your letter on coffee filter paper, recycled and too thin, ink running and smearing your
thoughts.  I want to write you a reply, but my thoughts ran out and smeared as well.  I read your
letter while walking to the elevator, by the way, while stepping down the Dwinelle front steps and while sitting on the benches next to nobody.  So no, I wasn't drinking.  Neither was I smoking.  What I did do afterwards is drive to the bookstore.  A grand partnership, you and I. 

I also realized that when you asked me about writing, you meant my thesis.  Well, as far as that goes, it's not going--I haven't written a word or given it anymore thought since I last talked with you about it.  However, earlier today, I did stop by the library and got the call numbers to a bunch of books
from the Cornell stacks.

From margaritas and barbecued fish, I got myself two ibubrofens and sporadic minglings of sleep and dreams. That was last night.

Today, I know that you don't really care for this email, this kind of babbling uncontrol-ability, so
I'll stop. 


Friday, 4 June 2004

Dear Rob,
I went to the Serendipity bookstore on University Ave this afternoon.  The place is a great mystery.  I
spent about an hour in there, still couldn't figure out what their shelving order is or how much they
charge for their books.  It was overwhelming, the amount of books and journals and leaflets they have in there.  Next time I go back to that place, I would like to go with you; I think you will figure that
place out quicker than me.

I also went to the Signal bookstore on Euclid.  Bought a book of poetry by Paul Celan (it's great! AND it has the german version next to the translation), the first volume of Robert Musil's "The Man Without Qualities," and Murakami's "South of the border; west of the sun."  Didn't you say you like this one of Murakami's? 

I've also been on a movie marathon, one movie per night.  Saw Dirty Pretty Things, but don't like it so
much.  It was great at first, but by the second half of the movie, the hero's clean-cut righteousness and
the filmic cliches about love and justice really went to overkill.  Have you seen Russian Ark?  I like it--es ist sehr schon!  (there, i can now claim my knowledge of the german language!)

"Under My Skin" is morbid (to the max!), but highly captivating and ruthlessly haunting.  I recommend it!

I miss you, Robert.  This is unnerving; you are becoming metonymic of a safe space.  I have to be
Wish you more luck finding a place for the summer.  If worse comes to worst, you can always cook your heart out in the fall.  Revenge of the chef, part I.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thêm một lý do để tôi cảm ơn cuộc đời

Một buổi tối tôi đang chìm trong bình yên giấc ngủ của kẻ khác, tôi lại nhớ bạn.  Sự tình cờ. Sáu năm trước, sau khi tôi đi khỏi nơi ấy, về lại cái thành phố này, cũng một đêm chìm trong giấc ngủ của kẻ khác, tôi lục tìm và rốt cuộc phát hiện rằng bạn cũng đã dọn về thành phố này, cái thành phố lẽ ra chỉ có tôi.

Tôi nghĩ, cho đến ngày tôi chết, tôi sẽ nhớ thật rõ từng chi tiết của buổi chiều hôm ấy. Không, tôi chẳng nhớ gì về đoạn phim, hoặc có ai đã cùng ngồi trong căng phòng chiếu phim với chúng ta. Tôi chỉ nhớ rằng tôi đã đến đó vì bạn, vì tôi biết bạn sẽ ở đó, và tôi đã biến thành một khúc gỗ trước sự hiện diện của bạn. Trước đó chúng ta đã liên lạc qua email. Tôi đã tỏ tình. Chắc bạn thấy tôi rất tội nghiệp, một con bé thật ngây ngô, vụn về và quê mùa hết sức. Tôi nhớ bạn ga-lăng lắm. Sau khi xem phim xong, bạn đã cùng tôi tản bộ về nhà. Trời lúc đó khuya, tối đen nhưng thoán mát lạ kỳ, không khí của một bầu trời sắp đổ đợt mưa xuân.  Khi đến ngã tư đường, tôi nhớ mình cứ nhìn ngọn đèn đường chăm chăm, ra lệnh cho nó phải đỏ, đỏ đi, để tôi được đứng lại với bạn thêm tí nữa. Đi bên bạn tôi chẳng suy nghĩ được điều gì, chẳng biết chung quanh mình ra sao. Lúc đó, thế giới có nổ tung chắc tôi cũng đã không hay biết. Chỉ biết tim mình như đang muốn tông chạy khỏi lòng ngực, và trong tâm trạng đang nỗi cơn nội chiến, giữa thèm muốn được nắm tay bạn, hít mùi nước da ngâm nâu của bạn, và sự hèn nhát, cái sự hèn nhát được sắp đặt trong tôi từ rất lâu đời.

Rốt cuộc thì bạn đã đi London. Và tôi vẫn ra ngồi quán càphê đợi ngày bạn về.  Nhưng bạn biết không, có quá nhiều sự việc xẩy ra trong lúc tôi ngồi đợi.  Một đàn kiến đã bò lên người tôi, bọn chúng cắn vào da thịt tôi đau điến.  Tôi vẫn không hiểu tại sao chúng lại cắn tôi.  Chỉ có một lần, tôi nhớ rồi, một buổi trưa dư nắng lâu lắm rồi, vào cái năm đầu tiên tôi đến nơi ấy, tôi có đứng nhìn một đàn kiến bò qua khung cửa sổ, một số đã mất mạng trong bát nước ai đặt ở dưới tường nhà, và tôi đã đứng nhìn chúng ngoậy ngọ đến chết.  Sau đó tôi có làm một bài thơ, để ghi lại hình ảnh bò ngang cửa sổ của một số con kiến và cảnh tượng chết đuối của một số khác, nhưng bài thơ rất dở, bạn tôi đã nói như vậy.

Tất nhiên tôi vẫn ngồi cho chúng cắn.  Tôi phải đợi bạn.  Chúng cắn tôi sưng phù.  Người tôi phồng lên như cái bong bóng.  Đến nỗi tôi không còn nhận ra mình được nữa.  Lúc đó tôi mới đứng dậy ra về, vì tôi nghĩ, nếu chính tôi còn không nhận ra mình thì sao bạn có thể nhận ra tôi, khi bạn từ London về, đến quán tìm tôi, bạn sẽ chẳng thấy tôi đâu, chỉ có một cái bong bóng khổng lồ ở góc quán.  Rồi bạn sẽ nghĩ gì?  Bạn sẽ làm gì?  Bạn sẽ thất vọng không?  Thất vọng của bạn có được lộ qua nét buồn nào không?

Chắc tôi sẽ không chịu nỗi, nếu phải chứng kiến sự thật vọng ấy, nên tôi đã ra về.  Tôi muốn viết như vậy, chứ thật sự sự hèn nhát đó là cho chính tôi.  Tôi không dám ngồi cho đến lúc bạn về, vì bạn sẽ không tới, và tôi sẽ phải, nhưng không đủ can đảm để đợi mãi.

Bây giờ tôi phát hiện bạn đang ở thành phố của tôi.  Thế là cái thành phố chật nít người này, trong đó có bạn.  Điều này mang đến sự thấp thỏm bất ổn cho tôi.  Những buổi sáng, những buổi trưa, những buổi chiều, chúng không còn có thể bình thản trôi như nước.

Trong những lúc đen tối nhất, khi tôi một lần nữa (đã hơn một ngàn lần) nhìn thấy mình là một cái bong bóng khổng lồ sưng phù, tôi vẫn ý thức được những điều tốt đẹp mà mình đang có trong cuộc đời, dù ý thức này không giúp biến tâm trạng tôi tươi sáng hơn.  Tôi vẫn có nhiều lý do để cảm ơn cuộc đời, và bây giờ, tôi lại có thêm một lý do nữa, đó là sự hiện diện của bạn trong cái thành phố chật nít người này.

beginning, middle, and end of a love story that didn't happen

Mon, 5 May 2003 10:43:33 -0700 (PDT)
From: quan
To: rahul
Subject: coffee?

dear rahul,

i want to ask you out for a coffee-date (if i have permission from your girlfriend to do so:) after you're done with the semester. i would take you to a more date-like atmosphere (like a library or a church or something), but i thought that would be a bit intimidating. i've been meaning to send this email for sometime, but, you know....yeah, that's how it goes.

we can go someplace that serves alcohol if you're more comfortable with that idea, but if that's the case,i hope you would not mind if i drink milk there--i have a tendency to spill all secrets when i'm drunk (my secrets, other people's secrets, even made up secrets) and i don't want you to know that i've got mad love for you on the first date. maybe later. i'm kidding (try to believe it). don't be scared. let's go have some coffee in a few weeks; allow me to cut in front of you, yeah?


To: quan
From: Rahul

Hi Quan,
That sounds really nice. Let me know when you would like to get together.
After Monday I am relatively free until I go to India on the 25th. Talk to
you soon.

Mon, 19 May 2003 12:28:07 -0700 (PDT)
From: quan
To: Rahul
Subject: Re:

Dear Rahul,
There's a song:
Trời mưa mãi mưa hoài
Thần tiên giấc mơ dài
Vào cuộc đời sỏi đá, biết mình si mê
Buồn ơi đến bao giờ
Còn thương đến bao giờ
Khi muà thu còn mang tiếng buồn đêm hè
Vòng tay đã buông rồi,
Chán chường in trên nét môi...

Realize that I'm on my cheesy, sappy, sentimental i'm going to translate this, just to share this moment with you. It's only part of the song...

The rain keeps falling,
while the immortals dream their long, long dreams.
As the rock becomes a mortal, it knows that it desires...
How long will love last
when sad summer nights linger on your smile
when arms have already let go,
and despair imprints on your lips...

[[Thus my horrible translation. This is an illusion to The Dream of the Red Chamber--in which a rock from Heaven descends to Earth to pay back the tears that a fairy has shed on him. As an immortal, the rock falls in love with a girl (who is the fairy incarnated) but because of various reasons, their love could not happen. In the end, she dies, and he disappears---supposedly he goes back to Heaven. Well, at least that's what I think the song's alluding to.]]

Anyway, I dropped the book in your mailbox in the department's office. I hope you will like it.

ps/ I envy Penny. I truly do.

From: Rahul
Subject: Re:

Hi Quan,
I will try to pick the book up as soon as possible. Thanks very much. I have
to go and pick up my passport now so I'll write a little more later. Take
care. I hope that you feel better and the despair departs. By the way, don't
envy Penny, I put her through hell daily.

Thur, 23 May 2003 11:30:00 -0700 (PDT)
From: quan tran
To: Rahul
Subject: Re:

can i call you tonight?


From: Rahul
To: quan
Subject: Re:


Thu, 29 May 2003 13:36:43 -0700 (PDT)
From: quan tran
To: Rahul
Subject: Re:

Dear Rahul,
I hope you arrived in India happy and well. I was walking along the pier down to fisherman's wharf yesterday when i saw a badly drawn map of the world. of course, i had to locate where you are--could only locate the city, not precisely the street corner as you would have done. i take it you're still in calcutta? hope you have a beautiful week with your family and that you're enjoying yourself.

a note to say hello, how are you, and the like.

my best,
btw, i am building up my alcohol tolerance so that when you come back, i can hold a longer and more
reasoned conversation with you over beer. :)

From: Rahul
To: quan
Subject: Re:

Hi Quan,
I am still in Calcutta and I don't want to leave. It is really wonderful to be here. Thank you for writing me. I hope that you have a nice summer and learn to speak French with a real snobby accent. Good luck with the drinking. It is not easy to be a drunk. It takes patience, perseverance, tenacity, courage, money, and other such words that I can't spell.

Sunday, November 23, 2003 1:48PM
From: quan tran
To: undisclosed recipient
Subject: None

Dear Rahul,
This is a Non-Email. Do not read. It contains sentences that are of little or no value to you (or to anything) except the chitty, blathering, whose incessant feeling of ..something is gnawing at a particularly pesty pace. Unfortunately, the chit does not believe in private diary entries (that would be as useless as unwritten thoughts) thus she writes them as emails and sends them to the intended unfortunate you. However, there remains enough conscience in her contorted ego to prompt her to put this disclaimer at the beginning. You read on at your own risk, and truly, you must forgive her.

Dear Rahul,

A number of things crumble, and together, they create a hole that could only be filled by Danish tobacco. When I was little, my grandfather told me that tobacco could help sterilize a cut and stop the bleeding, promotes coagulation. It would hurt like hell though, my brother was warned thus when he chopped a section off his finger along with the chicken leg. It's a good lesson to remember, except there is no cut for me to stop the bleeding. So what to do with this tobacco that I have? There is only one thing for me to do. Either Danish tobacco is spicy, or it is beginner's tobacco that is spicy. And potent. Almost as potent as my grandfather's tobacco, which he rolled into rolls the size of cigars, rythmically inhaled and exhaled in his little corner by the south china sea. What a long and winding sentence. Doesn't tell you much about what I want to tell you, does it?

When I told you your cigarette smells good, I meant it. Although I was unprepared for the taste it leaves in my throat. And certainly very unprepared for the gliding feeling afterwards. I only wanted to know what you may smell like; did not initially plan on smoking it. My grandfather's tobacco did not have that effect, although it may be because I was too young to remember.

The first time was excellent. The scent was intoxicating, and it brought back to me what I wanted to bring back. The second time I cannot remember because I was too deep into what went on at that moment. The third time made me want to stop breathing. But, this fourth try, I am loving the taste and its smell. I imagine that this is what I would smell if I press my nose against your body.

My friend at first scolded me when I told her about you. She said, Would you please stop and remove you from yourself? He is not in a position to do anything. Leave the man alone. stop being so preoccupied with yourself. Then, a week later, she changed her mind. She said, because she saw how truly happy I was. It wasn't much, was it Rahul? But it was enough to make me high for a little while. It was a very nice moment, and it truly made me happy, and remembering it makes me happy still. For that, she said, she is happy for me. Furthermore, I recognize that it does not extend outside of that moment, thus it is perfectly safe to be happy and accept it as special and bask in it.

But, in this particular minute, I am tired of basking in a suspended moment, dangling, removed from all things, as if those hours have been cleanly excised from the mumbling whole. As if such a thing is possible for more than one single second. Thus I am also in suspension. Who knows, perhaps a minute from now I will return to embrace them again.

I'm sorry--you are receiving this email as a result of many knotty things. I have written enough. I am beginning to have second thoughts about sending this to you. I will stop here before I change my mind. Perhaps that would be a good thing, but you know, I never do things that are good. Try, but most of the times I fail. Like now, or in a few seconds, when I press the send button. I'm very afraid. Torn, actually. Afraid that you will find this so utterly beyond stupid. That perhaps you will read this and raise your left eyebrow in utter disdain. My friend says, in being crazy and crazy as I am (like now, in this email and many other emails besides), I set myself up for failure. That perhaps I do this to purposely freak people out, chase them away. Do you think so? I dont' think so. I'm so used to doing things this way, in telling things this way, that I know of no other way to do it. I will insist on being stubborn. I cannot hold things within. I do not want to keep things to myself. And what is the use of thoughts written down when they are not read? For countless reasons, I have always hated not knowing and not making things known. My philosophy: bring everything out and make everything known, so that nothing is hidden, nothing is kept, nothing is suffered or manipulated.

Will you respond to one question, Rahul? Will you tell me if these emails irritate you? Will you tell me if it is alright for me to keep sharing with you these kinds of thoughts? If you want me to stop sharing with you these thoughts, tell me, and I will stop. I share them with no expectation, except to share, with you only, and, in a sense, to seek(or demand? or force?) acknowledgement. Of course you know already, but you don't know how it is from moment to moment. They come in waves, you know. Like storms. Except there is no weatherman to predict. Atmospheric science is not that sophisticated here.  One cannot know before hand when the storm comes.  It just come, and one can only hunch down and survive until it passes.  I am still wondering why it's acting up now, now of all times. Perhaps El Nino operates here too.

I began this email early this morning. But was afraid to send it, so it sat in my draft box until now.


And in the draft box it remains.
I wrote my reply to you yesterday. I don't think you will write to me again until at least a week later, and only if i send you a nonchalant email, one that does not reveal anything, thus threatens nothing. then you will reply to me, with one or two sentences, telling me about the weather or some other unimportant topic of sort. My friend says she admires you, for the way that you have been responding to me, but I do not. Of course, it is effective, because after a while I cannot help but give up. Then all will be well.
Months later: and why not? all is well.

Monday, June 13, 2011

letter to a one night love

Saturday, March 27, 2004, 1am.

Dear C,

I am extremely tired, but not for lack of sleep. For a variety of reasons, I am feeling too disturbed. When I got back home, I spent the rest of the day with two friends of mine, catching up (for us, one week is a very very long time to be away).

Reading your email last night was painful--too emotional a response. I swear, that'll be my undoing--overly intense responses to things. As hard as it may be, I just have to say it, I guess. It's over, C. I'm sorry, you're so wonderful and kind and interesting and awesome, and I am not. I can't give you what you need. I'm sorry.

I write this email for two reason, both of which are for my benefits:

1, to share with you what I'm feeling and thinking with regards to Friday night. This benefits me, because it will help get things off my chest and let me breathe a little better. And 2, to allow you an opportunity to look through the crack into the 'Inner Circle of Fabulous ME.' This benefits me because...because it'll help get things off my chest and...get you on it. Ha.

Okay, so, to begin. Where do beginnings start? Mine started at the car. No, even before that. A different beginning, but a beginning nevertheless. Even before
that beginning too, but maybe that's going back too far, and its significance would have little meaning to this present beginning (whose meaning rides on its direct relation to you and me after Friday). Well, so I choose--it's that beginning, that one, where I began to contemplate without reservation the possibility of us--you and me--getting together. I was then still calm and very cool--something that I have learned to know, talk the talk but sit the walk. But that beginning wasn't supposed to begin anything until much later, after you've left, after which I
was going to decide to write an email (or perhaps a letter...or perhaps send a telegraph, or invisible message, or message in a bottle, or postcard from the North Pole, or in codes) letting you know of my then current contemplation. So that was the very different beginning.

I was happy to be seeing you again, but I was cool, until I saw you approaching in the car. In that beginning, I experienced a little jump, and that was very surprising, so surprising, in fact, that I allowed myself to slip into cruise control and just...let things slide. [Fact to know about Quan: she uses a lot of commas and parenthesis.]

And then the rest, you were there. [Fact to know about Quan: she's a lazy writer, which affects her semantics.]

I know you are hurt, which explains why receiving your email was painful. You are hurt because you feel rejected--of course, it's natural, that one should feel hurt when one is rejected. I had a doubt--when you said, "I've said it (I am sorry; I cannot give you what you seek)" two Chinese." I had a thought to ask you if you think you're going to need to say it again in English, but, eh, that was before everything started to happen. The jist of it is that I think I have reason and control, and I always think I can handle it, but in the end, always, my emotions get the better of me, so I slip and let myself slide, and then afterwards, unable to get up.

It was a one night stand, C. But despite my rationality (rational and rationing; personality of me), despite what I may be saying and what it may sound like, I've somehow managed to invest quite a bit of myself (physical nakedness aside ...from aside, and that's how a song was born, Louis Armstrong, That's How A Song Was Born).

So, after coming back, I started to replay the story, scene by scene, checking and rechecking, reading and rereading the dialogues, diatribes, even the elegies
and silly-loquies (had there been any, which would still make perfect sense). Then I didn't like you very much for a moment because you, your tenderness, your quiet patience, are making it very difficult for me to be rational.

In the end, it has gotten so much more complicated than I had anticipated from the beginning, but then again, that's how it always goes. I asked my best friend, whose opinions I trust, whose heart I find precious, why that is--why it hasn't ended when the clock said 6 A.M. She said, that's because you really like(d?--I couldn't really tell--that's my non-native speaker ear, could never really tell when someone's speaking the past tense or not, except when it comes to matters
of the verb to be) C, and you were exposed. Then I laughed and said, well, yes, I was, but there were blankets all around. [Fact to know about Quan: repeat:
she often talks the talk and then go hide, cause she gets scared shitless after the fact.] [Fact to know about Quan: she always could not prevent herself from
doing.] [Fact to know about Quan: when she's in her head running around in a closed room, her sentences suffer.] [Fact to know about Quan: you are able to
see read this because she wants you to see this incoherent part of her; now it's up to you to listen to what she says, but don't jump to the conclusion that this is all there is.] [Fact to know about Quan: maybe it is.]

Make up a tune, any tune, as long as it fits, and that's how jazz was born, and that's how jazz was born.

So I end up: I don't know. Friday was weird. Yes, it was a weird Friday. But, today is only Saturday, and there's still Sunday left.

Which leaves my request: do not go out of your way to be kind--it won't do me any good. I know you already as kind and gentle, so you don't have to do anything to be so. When I stabilize, I will write you.



never ending story

i should be cleaning. doing something really serious.
but instead i'm sitting here grinning
from ear to ear, for no good reason.
i'm not even happy.
or feel like grinning. but i'm grinning anyway, because there doesn't seem to be anything else more fitting. or necessary.
on our date i had half a hot dog.
a half bodied hug, but it felt complete and left me satisfied. there are things that need to be done, aren't there? there are always things that need to be done. and i am always not doing them. things that would help make me a better mother. a better person. a better daughter. lots of things that i could be doing to be better. but i am always not doing them. i don't know why i am not doing them. i want to. i plan to. but somehow they never happen. but i am beginning to notice that i am not unique. this is not something that only happens to me, (or i happen to it.). i've been going to group (so that's what all this is leading to, going to group). it's stupid, really. it's like a feel good session for yourself except you don't feel very good afterwards and it's not really for yourself and it's not just yourself. i go to group and i sit and listen to people tell each other bits and pieces of their problems, and then i tell mine, and afterwards i am not sure if the stories i tell are my own or theirs. i always walk home with the unshakable suspicion that i've just co-opted their stories, took little parts here and there and put them into one big fabrication and called it mine. i do so as the story progresses, of course, as their stories progress, so does mine.
who am i sitting next to now? i don't even know. i don't dare even look up to find out. cautionary tale: do not look up to see who is sitting next to you. don't do it. for no reason other than fear. it's a trap. i fear everything, because everything is a trap. no, it should be like this: i fear that everything is a trap. i am continually scared into inaction.
i would go now. it's getting late. not really late late, but it's getting late, and i should go. i should get up, go home. i should.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

you learn

when you meet a woman
who hates her body
and her self, don't feel that you have to give her love
or pity.
instead you should give
her time.

it is difficult to love your body,
riddled with imperfections petrified
pock-marked callousness.
it takes a long time to love your body.
it takes a lot of waiting.
to learn that your body is not
the enemy.
in fact, it is the only certainty that you have.
but that takes a lot of pain, and patience,
to learn.

loving your self is even more difficult.
it requires desperation,
an unrecognizable will
to love.
it may take a lifetime, maybe longer,
because you need to forget
the things you are,
and are not,
forget too, yourself
you have to
scour away the self hatred
that has cunningly made itself
shadow of your soul.

and just as soon as you learn,
you may very well forget.
and then you'd need to
learn it all over again.

but you learn.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

my body

suốt cả đời tôi với âm hộ chưa từng nhìn mặt nhau. hôm nay tôi cố vạch để nhìn rõ bộ mặt nó, nhăn nheo và méo mó. nó làm tôi muốn khóc. hình như nó cũng muốn khóc theo tôi.


on hot summer days, my body gives
a smell, pungent and sweet and
earthy, like fresh composting tomatoes.
i've learned to like the smell
and love my body for it.


i like my body best laying down.
it's beautiful and agreeable
all around. i am spread
across the greatest surface area,
and i am happy with myself.

when i stand, my body slouches, it spins the room
breathless, directions are directionless as it drags me
from one task to another
guided by muscle memory.
i am not there. i have no will.
i do as my body does,

so when i feel rebellious,
i lay my body down
and sleep myself
to death.


sao bạn lại run như thế kia?