Rachel Louise Snyder: No Visible Bruises

This has to be most heartbreaking book I have read this year. Snyder’s deep reporting and compelling writing shed light on the deadliest corner of domestic violence. She recounts stories of men controlling, beating, and killing the women they claimed to love. In her meticulous research, Snyder busts the myth of reasons women don’t leave their abusive partner even though they know that they have put themselves in danger. They take the beatings to protect themselves and their children when the system fails to protect them. In familicide cases, the men kill their wifes, kids, and themselves. Snyder’s research also shows that gun is the deadliest cause in domestic violence. It takes the bargaining power away from the victims. As a father of four sons, this book instills a new responsibility on me: to make sure they never put their hands on women, particularly the ones they love.

Page Design: New Layout & Editorial Design

Light on text but load of editorial design examples using typography, grid, and imagery. One of the magazines stood out to me was Format Wars simply because its main text is set in Fira Mono, which seems like an odd choice for a print publication. I would love to have a physical copy to see how Fira Mono holds up for long-form text. Most projects showcased in this book are good to drawing inspiration from for students and graphic designers.

Me and My Nephews

When my mom, my sister, and I migrated to America, we lived with my oldest sister, who sponsored us, and her family in Willimantic, Connecticut. I was eleven and my two nephews were a few years younger. I didn’t know much English and they hardly spoke Vietnamese. We got along most of the time and fought once in a while. They fought each other more. A few months later, we moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

In retrospect, I wonder how my life would have turned out if we lived there. Would I ended up dropping out of high school, hanging out with crackheads, and cussing every other word? Or could we helped guiding them toward a better future? It probably would have been more of the former than the latter.

I love my nephews and we get along better now than when we were kids. We had a wonderful time together, but our lives diverted after I moved to Lancaster. A few years later, they would come visit us over the holidays and I noticed a change in them. They seemed angry. They used loads of profanity. They talked about having a crew in school so that no one could fuck with them. A few years went by, they smoked when they visit us. I was horrified, but I didn’t feel like it was my business to tell them not to smoke. The probably wouldn’t listen to me anyway.

We grew further apart, but we could always bond over our love for hip-hop. For me, rap music has always been an art form. I appreciated the lyricism, but I always separated the music from reality. Other than wearing baggy jeans, I never picked up the hip-hop lifestyle. I never let the braggadocious, misogyny, and profanity affected me. They, on the other hand, were influenced by rap. They emulated the hip-hop lifestyle, particularly in the way they talk.

Now we are grown-ass motherfuckers in our late 30s and early 40s. We have wives and kids, but we have not become fully adults ourselves. I don’t use profanity when I talk, but I still use plenty in my writing. Cussing doesn’t come easy to me in conversation, but it seems so fucking natural to them.

We choose our own path and how we live, but we are still family at the end of the day. I love them and support them as much as an uncle can. I do miss the good old days.

Lảm nhảm

Tối nay uống hơi nhiều cocktail (cam tươi, nước xoài, và vodka) nên nổi hứng viết nhảm. Gần đây tôi mê cách hát nhạc jazz của Đồng Lan. Phê nhất là nhạc phẩm “Xuân này con không về.” Thấm thía nhất là khi cô hát câu này: “Bên mái tranh nghèo ngồi quanh bếp hồng / trông bánh chưng ngồi chờ sáng / đỏ hây hây những đôi má đào.” Nhớ Việt Nam quê hương tôi quá.

Suy nghĩ có nên trở lại Facebook hay không. Đã deactivated cũng khá lâu vì những tin tức giả nhưng cũng khá nhớ bạn bè và người thân. Đắn đo cũng cả tuần rồi nhưng vẫn chưa quyết định mở lại.

Trong nhà càng ngày càng nhiều đồ. Tôi cũng chẳng biết phải dọn sao cho gọn. Mỗi cuối tuần tôi đều bị căng thẳng. Dọn dẹp nhà cửa thì phải để bọn nhỏ chơi iPad. Không dọn thì đưa chúng nó đi chơi. Gần đây tụi nó hơi bị nghiện. Cuối tuần chỉ biết ôm iPad với mấy đứa anh em họ hàng. Gặp nhau mỗi thằng ôm một cái. Dường như người lớn cũng phải bó tay. Giờ đây bọn nó cũng chẳng muốn đi đâu cả chỉ muốn được ở nhà ôm iPad là đủ rồi.

Gần đây cuộc sống cũng tạm yên lặng. Mọi chuyện cũng tạm yên ổn. Tôi không quan tâm đến những chuyện xung quanh không cần thiết. Tôi cũng đã mất đi cảm xúc viết về những suy nghĩ riêng tư của mình lên đây. Nó không phải là góc riêng như tôi đã tưởng tượng. Khi viết xuống tâm sự tôi chẳng muốn chứng minh điều gì cả. Tôi chỉ nghĩ đơn giản đây là nơi an toàn của tâm hồn. Nhất là những lúc có rượu vào muốn có một nơi riêng để bày tỏ những nỗi niềm.

Giờ suy nghĩ lại mới thấy được mình khá ngây thơ và khờ khạo. Tuy nhiên tôi vẫn khao khát có được một chỗ để trải lòng tâm sự. Nhất là những gì không thể nói được cho dù là người thân nhất của mình.

Thôi bài nhảm này cũng khá dài mà tôi vẫn chưa bộc lộ được những gì mình muốn nói. Hôm khác sẽ tiếp tục.

Maureen Corrigan’s Favorite Books of 2019

I am glad to see Ocean Vương’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous made Corrigan’s list. I am adding the following titles to my to-read list:

Whitehead’s and Choi’s book are fiction. I might read them for a change.

Mike Birbiglia: The New One

Birbiglia’s latest Netflix Special runs for an hour and a half, which gives him plenty of time and space to tell his journey of becoming a dad. Although he was clear he didn’t want a kid, he went through the process, which included surgical sperm retrieval, to conceive a child. Birbiglia is a master of storytelling. He is calm, articulate, and taking pauses to give us a chance to digest his jokes. He sticks to his well-structured script except for one particular moment in which he addresses an eleven-year-old girl in the audience. Even though he uses profanity sparingly, his materials aren’t suitable for a young kid.

Đán Turned Eight

Our second born turned eight last Friday. He is a strong, sweet boy. He loves seafood, especially lobster. He loves his family, Vương in particular. He bonds with Đạo even though Đạo always cajoled him. He and Xuân are getting along better than before.

Although he doesn’t enjoy reading, he has made tremendous effort to read with me. Before bedtime, we would read a chapter together. As a result, his reading level has improved tremendously. We’re a third way through My Life as a Meme, by Janet Tashjian and Jake Tashjian. After our reading session, he would pluck my facial hair and white hair with a tweezer while I read my book. I love our time together on weekdays.

He got a few complains from his teachers for not following instructions, but he is a good student. He has his moments of emotional outbreak, but he has a kind heart. I am very proud of him.

Eating in Đà Nẵng

Sebastian Modak writes in The New York Times:

[Đà Nẵng]’s main specialty is seafood. A seemingly never-ending chain of restaurants on the eastern side of the city, just across the [Hàn] River, serves octopus, crab, clams, squid, prawns and fish cooked in delicate sauces of garlic, tamarind, chiles and lemongrass. All meals come with a smorgasbord of optional additions.

I have to take my sons, especially Đán, to Đà Nẵng in the future.

Times’s 10 Best Books of 2019

The Times Book Review listed “The 10 Best Books of 2019,” but my interest is primarily on nonfiction. I am half way through Rachel Louise Snyder’s No Visible Bruises. It is a gut-wrenching read. I am adding the following titles to my to-read list:

Although Chiang’s book is a fiction, I am considering it.

The Proper Gin

Anthony Lane writes in The New Yorker:

Beryl is the one and only still at 58 Gin, a small but purposeful firm, founded by an Australian named Mark Marmont, in 2014, and now tucked away down a mews in the East End of London. You go through an archway, and there, at the rear of the premises, stands Beryl, a steampunk dream in copper and steel. If you didn’t know what you were looking at, you would probably ask yourself why the brass, woodwind, and timpani sections of the London Symphony Orchestra had been moved to the lair of a Bond villain.

On the left is a pot, as bulbous as a genie and as big as an igloo. Polished to a blinding shine, it can hold four hundred and fifty litres. There’s a lockable metal hatch, which swings open, as if to admit a deep-sea explorer. (Marmont is a former dive instructor. He must feel right at home.) Down the hatch you tip your personal potpourri of ingredients; inside, they mingle politely with near-pure ethanol and demineralized water. Once heated, the mixture emits vapor, which steams out of the top of the pot and passes through a network of pipes, cooling as it goes, and eventually emerging, from a column on the right, as a clear liquid. This you dilute. And that, give or take a hundred adjustments, and a few perspiring years of practice, is how you bring gin—proper gin—into being.

I’ve always loved the distinctive taste of gin.