Chúc mừng
năm mới

Đỗ Bích Thúy: Cánh chim kiêu hãnh

Mai, một cô gái xinh đẹp người dân tộc Tày, được Chúng, một chàng thanh niên khoẻ mạnh và hiếu thảo, giải thoát phận nô lệ để trở thành vợ. Mai và Tày sống trong một căn nhà nghèo nhưng tràn đầy hạnh phúc. Mai diễm phúc được mẹ chồng thương yêu. Nhà thì đầm ấm nhưng non nước bị Tây đàn áp nên Chúng quyết định theo Việt Minh để chống lại giặc Tây. Vì thèm được “ăn thịt vợ” nên Chúng lén về ăn vụng. Lần đầu để lại cho Mai một đứa con. Một năm sau, Chúng lại trở về. Chưa kịp biết mình đã làm cha thì Chúng đã bị Tây bắt và chặt đầu để đe doạ hậu quả của những kẽ đi theo Việt Minh. Từ một người ở rồi một người vợ đảm đang, Mai trở thành chiến sĩ dũng cảm của Việt Minh.

Thú thật tôi không biết đây là quyển tiểu thuyết về chiến tranh và tôi càng không biết Đỗ Bích Thúy là nhà văn quân đội. Đọc vài chương đầu tôi thích cách viết về mối tình đôi lứa đồng quê của tác giả. Sự rụt rè của cặp vợ chồng trẻ không dám làm tình đã lôi cuốn tôi. Không ngờ đã lạc vào câu chuyện chiến tranh. Cây bút của Đỗ Bích Thúy trôi chảy và tự nhiên. Truyện chỉ gọn 170 trang nhưng đẹp đẽ lẫn đau đớn. Nếu ai không ngại về phần chính trị thì nên đọc.

Explaining JAY-Z to My Kids

I have been exposing my two older sons to JAY-Z. I am not sure if this is a good parenting thing to do. Of course, my wife wouldn’t approve the idea. I figure if they can get past the “B-word,” the “F-word,” and the “N-word,” they might appreciate JAY-Z’s lyrical genius. The first two words are easy since they already know them. The third one, well, is not that simple.

They seem to enjoy The Black Album, especially the bouncy “Dirt Off My Shoulder.” Đán asked me the meaning behind the line “Middle finger to the law.” My explanation was, “Well, he gives his middle finger to the law because he doesn’t think the law works for him.” Đạo loves “December 4th” and he thinks JAY-Z is like Vương because they are both forth child and they didn’t give their mom any pain when they were born. Vương didn’t give his mom any pain because she already had anesthesia before they cut her open to take him out.

Đán kept asking me to play “Threat,” but the violent is a bit too much for him. He doesn’t quite understand the metaphor JAY-Z created in that song yet. Đạo’s jaw dropped when he heard, “If you’re having girl problems I feel bad for you son / I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one.” I had to explain to him the “B-word” in this case isn’t bad. He meant to say is that he could not be harassed. He also asked what does “doing fifty-five in the fifty-four” mean? I explained to him that the police pulled him over for driving 55 miles in the 54-mile zone. JAY-Z uses sarcasm to illustrate the absurdity that cops can use anything reason to pull him over. Đán asked, “What are sarcasm and absurdity?” Good question, let’s ask Siri.

Leslie Jones: Time Machine

In her latest Netflix special, Jones shares what it was like to be 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. At 52, she doesn’t give a fuck. Jones screams quite a bit—even in her audience’s face. She calls a girl in her 20s a bitch. Jones is both vulgar and energetic. Her material is not bad and she understands her audience. Her performance is entertaining.

Emily Bernard: Black is the Body

Emily Bernard penned her personal essays in the hospital. A mentally ill white man stabbed her stomach. Whether writing about her violent encounter, interracial marriage, adoption experience, motherhood of the Ethiopian twins, or tension with her grandmother, Bernard is a candid, eloquent storyteller. On race, in particular, she is open, daring, and unexpected. An important, informing read on race in America.

An Open Letter to My Nephew

Dear Chris,

I am sorry to hear that you have been hospitalized, but I am glad you are OK. I hope you will recover soon. The most important thing now is to take good care of yourself. Your family needs you. You need to stay strong and keep your heart beating.

I know what you’re going through. It feels like living in hell, but if you can make it through the night, there’s a brighter day. You’ve might have hit rock bottom, but you can always get back up. You are not a useless piece of shit. Don’t let anyone gets to you. You have to believe in yourself. I believe in you.

Everyone makes mistakes. The important lesson is to learn from your mistakes and to move forward. You are smart and technologically savvy. You will do fine once you find the right opportunity. You have a good heart. You love your family. You are kind to the people around you.

For me, I have always admired your frankness. You tell it like it is and you keep it real. Your language is colorful, but your heart is in the right place. I don’t have what it takes to be as blunt as you. I am learning to be unapologetic.

Just remember, I am always here for you. You can count on me. I got nothing but love and support for you. Keep your head up.

Money Talk

My wife is annoyed whenever I shared my view on money. It gets to the point that she is no longer wanting to talk to me about it since we don’t have the same perspective on it. I am cool with that. I can always take it to my blog. The risk of blogging is that I will offend people, which I had on numerous occasions in the past, but you blog and learn.

As I get older, I have a more realistic view on money. Right or wrong, it is my own perspective. They say that money doesn’t bring you happiness. In reality, you will be more miserable without money. Let’s face it. Everything costs money. Every time I get an oil change for my car, the dealer recommends repairs that would run two to three grants. Every time I call an HVAC company for a small job, they suggest a few grants worth of fixes. A plumber inspector suggests replacing a toilet for $700. Really? Do they think money just come out of my ass?

Even in my own marriage, money plays an important role. My wife and I both work and contribute to our family expenses. I am glad that she is not as calculated. If she ever decided to stay home with the kids, I would be fine with that. She would probably be OK with me being a stay-at-home dad, but I would never put myself in that situation. Even if she doesn’t think so, I know I would be viewed as a piece of shit for
not making money. I don’t want to be a useless piece of shit.

When I first graduated from college, people looked down on me because I didn’t have a job. They thought I was too lazy to work. When I was younger, I didn’t think money was important, especially in a relationship. I was dead wrong. If you have no money, no one wants to fuck you. People say that if they fucked you for your money then that’s not real love. Well, at least you still got fucked. In a Vietnamese ballad, Duy Quang had written a memorable line: “Tôi xin người cứ gian dối nhưng xin người đừng lìa xa tôi.” It is literally translated as, “I beg you to keep lying to me, but I also beg you not to leave me.” Yes, keep fucking me for my money, but please don’t leave me. I knew exactly what he meant.

As you can tell why my wife has been annoyed with me. I don’t blame her. She didn’t marry me for my money. I didn’t have shit. I am not rich now either, but I make enough to be self-sufficient. I don’t have to rely on others. I am not a parasite. I am glad that my wife has a more rosy view on money than me. Then again, we are in a good relationship. The truth will only come out if shit doesn’t work out between us. I hope I never have to find out the truth, but if that time ever comes, she knows exactly where I stand on this issue.

I am just keeping it real. Even if money is not important, it solves lots of problems. I am not a slave to money, but I recognize its power. I wish I can proudly say I don’t give a shit about money, but I would be lying. I am witnessing guys hitting rock bottom because they have no job. People treated them like dirt. I had been there experienced that as well; therefore, I know how they feel. It’s a shitty reality. Stay strong, kiddos.

Maybe that’s just my world and the way I grew up. I should stop talking about my view on money to my wife and ruin her optimistic view. I am sure her parents went through tough times as well when they first migrated to the U.S., but for me it was first-hand experience. Working alongside my mom in sweatshops for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week in the summer, for a few dollars an hour, had left a deep impact on me and shaped my view on money. It was definitely not the American dream I had imagined. The kind of shits she had to put up with to make money to raise me broke my heart. I hated my dad in those moments for abandoning us. He didn’t hold up his end of the bargain. I felt like a fucking bastard no one gave a shit except my mom. Those emotions and experiences changed my perspective on money.

Even now I give my kids lectures every time they don’t finish their food or they waste money on dumbshits. They have no idea the value of money and how good their life is. I do not want them to be spoiled. They need to know that money does not just fall off trees. The sooner they understand the hardship of earning money, the easier they will navigate through life. I learned early on from seeing my mom struggled. They won’t see their mom and I struggle like my mom, but I make sure that they know we work our asses off as well.

Arming or Not?

Our marriage has come to the point where anything coming out of my mouth would piss off my wife. As we were having breakfast this morning, the kids watched some music videos on Vietnamese New Year. Seeing firecrackers bursting on the screen gives me nostalgia of tết. I didn’t address my wife directly. I just made a comment that banning firecrackers is good because of serious injuries and even deaths. She blew up saying if I think the communist is so good why don’t I go back and live there. Easy lady, don’t “Nguyễn Ngọc Ngạn” me.

I don’t believe in communism, but in some cases the power to make the decision is good, especially on issues that can harm people. The problem with democracy is the political toxic and divisiveness. Guns, in the wrong hands, had taken so many innocent lives in America, and yet the law had gone nowhere to protect us. Mass shooting after mass shooting and more lives have been lost, yet all that politicians can offer is thoughts and prayers instead of solutions to prevent the tragedy. If the government can’t do anything about it, then we must do what is necessary to protect ourselves.

Lately, I have been thinking hard about arming. We’re now living in a gun nation. If someone else has guns and I don’t, guess who is going to die? I hate to even have to think this way, but not having a protection will put me at a disadvantage in a life-threatening situation. I am responsible for at least five lives and it is irresponsible for me not to protect them. Just a thought to ponder upon.

Thơ Hồ Xuân Hương

Tôi muốn đọc thơ Hồ Xuân Hương nhưng khi tìm đến trang Thi Viện thì chả muốn đọc. Cách thiết kế lộn xộn quá và trình bài không ưng ý nên tôi tự tạo ra một trang riêng gọn gàng hơn và dễ đọc hơn. Đặt biệt là chú trọng vào phông chữ cho nên tôi làm ra một trang để vào trong phần samples của nghệ thuật chữ Việt luôn. Chừng nào có dư một phút tôi sẽ mở lên đọc mấy bài thơ của Hồ Xuân Hương và học tiếng Việt luôn. Mời các bạn cùng đọc thơ của Hồ Xuân Hương.

Nếu bạn nào có ý khiến hay để tạo những trang web nho nhỏ hữu ích và để giới thiệu đến tiếng Việt của chúng ta thì liên lạc với tôi nhé. Không hứa trước nhưng có thời gian và cơ hội tôi sẽ làm.

Portfolio Site Updated

For a while I have wanted to include some logos I have designed on my portfolio website. I finally got around to put the branding page together. I also brought back the good old slideshows. I reset the type in Roslindale, by David Jonathan Ross, to experiment with its variable fonts, which David has released over the years for his Font of the Month Club. I am not sure when David will complete this typeface, but I am sure it will be a fantastic variable font system. Take a look at the homepage of Donnytruong.com.

Replacing a CV Axle for 2011 Toyota Sienna

Another day, another high pay. Replacing the left-font CV axle for our 2011 Toyota Sienna cost:

Total cost: $640 (tax included).