Elizabeth Warren

Xuân Hảo: Bản tình trầm

Xuân Hảo có giọng ca trầm đẹp. Qua Bản tình trầm Hảo cover lại những ca khúc lãng mạn như “Tháng giêng và anh” và “Niệm khúc cuối” (Ngô Thuỵ Miên) rất trung thành. Những bài hoà âm cũng đơn giản không có gì mới lạ. Hảo cũng cover lại những bài trữ tình như “Tình bơ vơ” (Lam Phương) và “Mùa đông của anh” (Trần Thiện Thanh). Chỉ có khác là không đủ sến thôi. Album nghe cũng tạm. Không dỡ cũng chẳng có gì nổi bật.

I am Still Down With Warren

I have not kept up with this election as closely as I should. I had to stop following the news for my own mental health and sanity. From early on, I had decided who to vote for on Super Tuesday and I have not changed my mind. Elizabeth Warren is still my choice. Even if she won’t get the nomination, I am still down with Amy, Bernie, Joe, or Pete. Any if these candidates will be much better for America than the clown in the White House.

What will be at stake in this election isn’t just the presidential race, but also the Congress. Democrat needs to take control of the Senate. In the worse case scenario if the lunatic gets re-elected, Congress can impeach him again and actually remove the motherfucker.

I have learned to not let him get to me. My life has been much better without paying attention to him. Although I don’t give a fuck about him, I still want to see him go away after this election. Then again, I have many family and friends, the Vietnamese-American community in particular, supporting him. I respect their choice. I just don’t want him to ruin our relationships or friendships. I am not mad at you. I have nothing but love for you. Who you vote for is your prerogative.

After almost four years of hell, I am optimistic that our democracy will survive the tumultuous time. It has been challenged, but not dead yet. It has been damaged, but can be restored. I love America, its democracy, and its freedom. Even with a horrendous president ruining our country, I would rather be here than anywhere else in the world. The fact that I can write down this post and speak my mind without fear is what I have come to appreciate about America and its freedom of speech.

Sorry Sir, But I Can’t Support You

As I walked to the public library, an elder Black man approached me. He asked if I registered to vote. I replied, “Yes, sir.” He asked if I would put him on the ballot for Congress. I looked up at his Trump 2020 cap and I asked, “Are you running as a Republican?” He replied, “No, I am running as an Independent.” I smiled, “Really? But your hat says it all.” He responded, “I am wearing a swim-team jacket too and I don’t know how to swim.” I shook my head. He followed up, “You know, my grandfather got shot for the right to vote.” I shot back, “Then you should not support that racist. I am sorry, sir, and I am not trying to be disrespectful, but I can’t put my name down for you.”

Our Sweet, Caring Đạo

On the way to Whitetail for a skiing trip on Saturday, I had a conversation with Đạo and I was touched with what he had shared with me. He told me that at school kids were being mean to his friend because he is Chinese. Kids read the news, but they had a misunderstanding about the Coronavirus. Đạo stood up for his friend and hang out with him. I told him that I was proud of him for doing the right thing.

Đạo also shared that another friend forgot his lunch and didn’t have any cafeteria money left in his account. Đạo used his own account to buy lunch for his friend. He asked me if that was OK for him to do. I told him it was not OK, it was great. I let him know that what he did was an act of compassion.

On Friday, Đạo’s Cub Scout had a meeting at a local fire station. I was glad that I came along to learn about fire emergency. The firefighters asked the kids a few questions including “What do you do if there’s a fire in your home?,” “Do your parents have a place where everyone should meet?,” and, “Do you know your home address and home phone numbers?” Đạo raised his hand and was called on for “How often do you test your smoke detector?” His response was, “Every time my mom cooks.” The whole crowd laughed. We have a smoke detector right by the kitchen and every time my wife opened the oven door when she baked something or if she burned something, the alarm would go off. One of us had to fan off the smoke to turn off the alarm; therefore, Đạo immediate thought of his mom whenever she cooked.

Đạo is going through the transition of discovering himself. He will soon wanting to be more on his own. Damn, ten years had passed by so quick. Our first born is growing up too fast.

40 is the New 20

We went skiing again this weekend at Whitetail. The kids went on the blue and black slopes. I was still on the greens, but started dipping in a blue. I took a level-three lesson in the afternoon. The instructor was helpful. He gave me confidence to go back on the blue slope I fell horribly on the first day I skied. I thought I would never go back, but I did five runs without falling. Because the kids didn’t use their ski lessons, I used them for myself. I took another lesson in the evening, unfortunately it was not as good as the earlier one. I was a bit disappointed. Nevertheless I am loving this expensive sport. We went nearly every weekend and I didn’t even want to look at the charges. I felt a bit guilty about it, but my wife encouraged us to go. She kept saying winter is almost over; therefore, go enjoy while we can. Isn’t she a fantastic mom? Since this is our first season, we just dived in. Next year, we will plan better with seasonal pass, rental, and advance booking.

I feel fortunate that my wife and I have jobs that allow us to spend on these activities on top of other expenses. I am not bragging, but acknowledging the importance of having a stable income. If I were to do freelance for a living, I would be dead broke. I had quoted three potential projects earlier this year, but none sealed the deal. The latest one came from an old friend in middle school. She reached out to me to redesign her business website. I gave her a quote with a generous discount and we both agreed on the price and the services. Before starting the project, I asked her to provide me access to her web server. She seemed startled and wanted to know why. I explained to her that in order for me to make changes to her existing website, I would need to upload the files (webpages) to the server, which is a standard practice on any web development project. Of course, the client has to trust me with the credentials. She went completely silent and didn’t respond to my emails. It felt weird. I guessed she didn’t trust me.

I wanted to do freelance to give me opportunities to do more creative projects than my full-time job. These incomes cannot support me full time, but more like bonuses for vacations or ski trips. Still, they are much harder to land these days. It’s all good though.

In addition to skiing, I am also getting into ice skating. We went to the rink near our house every Sunday. I also discovered a rink near my work with only a dollar on Tuesdays. I am going to incorporate that into my lunch break. I am taking my time to learn one technique at a time from watching YouTube. I am still in the process of learning the hockey stop. I am a grown-ass man trying to learn these sports. I guess it is true: 40 is the new 20.

Sarah M. Broom: The Yellow House

Broom’s riveting memoir recounts the sweeping details of her big family, in which she is the last of the twelve children. Broom traces all the way back to her grandmother’s upbringing to her mother’s incredible love stories and the house she built in East New Orleans to her siblings accounts of growing up in the house until hurricane Katrina destroyed it. Broom’s personal report, in which she interviewed her brothers who got stuck on the roof when the water kept rising, of Katrina was devastating. The injustices of the aftermath were even more troubling. By combining the New Orlean’s language with her extraordinary prose, Broom has written a stunning literary work of nonfiction. It was an engaging and enlightening read.

Losing My Relationships

As I grew older, I dismantled more relationships than I acquired. I screwed up so many times. Some relationships just died, but some truly flourished. I deeply treasure and appreciate the latter.

My relationship with my family has not always been easy. I had done many things that hurt my mom and she had said things that crushed my soul. At the end of the day, we forgave and moved on because we can’t abandon each other. The same deal applies to my sisters. We fought, argued, and made up without any apology. Right or wrong, we heard and understood our perspectives.

My romantic relationships started off great but ended up on bad terms. How did we go from lovers to hating each other? I must have fucked up real bad. I have not heard from them after our relationship ended. I wish we could have been friends rather than foes, but I don’t blame them. On the positive side, those failed relationships taught me to be a better partner. I learned to avoid the mistakes I made.

My relationship with my wife had not always been smooth-sailing. We had been through storms and tornadoes, but we survived this far. She has been tolerable and understandable. She has not been shied away from pointing out my flaws. Some flaws I corrected and some I simply neglected. We fought and argued, but we were being completely honest with each other. There is nothing we cannot talk about. We love, trust, and respect each other. I can’t ask for more than those in our relationship.

I am terrible in the friendship department. I regret that I didn’t hold on to the friendships I had in middle and high school. We grew apart as our lives had become more complex. My college experience was isolated. I passed in academics, but failed miserably in social life. Now it is impossible to create new friendships. I tried, but failed. I can’t even find a drinking buddy, except for a friend from Canada. I am grateful that he had always reached out to me when he came to town. Although we don’t hang out everyday, I consider him an exceptional friend. Even though we only meet once or twice a year, I have always been happy and comfortable around him and his company.

The most uncomfortable relationships are the forced ones. I had a hard time dealing with those because I couldn’t tell the boundaries. I didn’t want to step into their space; therefore, I didn’t know how to communicate. In retrospect, I should have been open and upfront before the tension built up. Instead I let all hell break loose and the damage I created is unrecoverable. I regret that I handled the situation with thoughtlessness. I let my mind speak without addressing the issues directly. Now nothing has changed except for the awkwardness. That bridge has collapsed. We’re just pretending it still holds up.

Tom Papa: You’re Doing Great

Papa indeed sounds like a dad on his latest Netflix Special. His message is positive. He encourages us to live a simple life, turn off the news, and find someone you love and trust. His delivery is calm and his material is light. Life is good. Just don’t die. You’re Doing Great. Thanks Papa!

My Physical Checkup Results

My nephew who had a serious heart failure a few weeks ago begged me to get an annual checkup. The doctor told him that he now has a 90-year-old heart and he’s only 38. He thought he was going to die.

Two weeks ago, a friend’s son passed away at 27. He had a heart attack. I was horrified. After attending his funeral, I made an appointment to see my internist. It turned out I haven’t seen her for three years. I had to draw two tubes of blood. I almost passed out. The test results came back and they are not good. At 42, I am going downhill from here.

In three years, I gained nine pounds. I need to exercise more. My cholesterol is high. I need more exercise and less fried food. My glucose is also high. I need more exercise and less sweet intakes. My uric acid is high although I have not had a gout attack in a while. I need more exercise, avoid most of the food I like, and give up alcohol. What’s the point of living? Fortunately, my private parts still work fine. At least I can still enjoy life every once in a while.

In all seriousness, I just need exercise, exercise, and exercise. I’ve been skiing with the kids. I have been dragging them to ice skating. These activities are only on weekends, which aren’t enough. Đán wants to play soccer. That’s something I can get back into. I also need to get back to jogging once the weather gets nicer.

In addition to exercise, I need to be more disciplined with food, especially with fried dishes and sweet desserts. With meat, I have a good control with beef because it is my biggest cause for gout. I still have phở or steak every now and then. As for alcohol, I have been pretty back to the pre-gout days. I haven’t controlled myself much. I know I should, but life is too damn short.

Vì sao tôi viết

Tôi không viết văn, chỉ viết lách. Tôi không viết hay, nhưng hay viết. Tôi viết theo cảm nhận của mình nên thỉnh thoảng không phân biệt được những gì nên chia sẻ và những gì nên giữ lại. Một khi viết xuống tôi không bỏ, trừ khi có va chạm và dĩ nhiên có nhiều lần không tránh khỏi. Thế thì tạo sao không viết vào tập hay nhật ký riêng mà viết trên mạng? Lý do đơn giản là tôi sống trên mạng và nuôi sống bằng mạng.

Viết không phải là nghề nhưng có liên quan đến công việc tôi đã chọn và đang thực hành gần 20 năm. Lúc mới vào nghề tôi chỉ thiết kế trang web và rất thích thú mỗi khi sản phẩm của mình được tung lên mạng. Nhưng một quá trình có thể kéo dài đến một tháng, ba tháng, hoặc một năm. Tôi thiếu nhẫn nại nên đâm ra chán. Nhưng trào lưu blog đã cho tôi một thú vị mới. Trang mạng không chỉ để trưng bày thiết kế của mình mà còn cho tôi thêm một tiếng nói. Từ đó thiết kế và viết trở thành sự liên kết giữa niềm đam mê và nghề nghiệp của tôi.

Không ai trả tiền cho tôi viết (nhưng nếu bạn muốn đãi tôi ly cà phê thì tôi sẵn sàng tiếp nhận) nên viết là sự tự do của tôi, muốn viết gì viết. Viết khác hẳn với thiết kế vì thiết kế nhiều lúc không theo ý mình mà phải tuân theo người trả tiền hoặc theo cấp trên. Có khi không ưng ý cũng phải chấp nhận. Cho nên sự tự do trong viết rất cần để tôi cân bằng với sự gò bó trong thiết kế. Tôi còn tồn tại theo đuổi nghề gần hai thập niên là nhờ vào viết để nuôi dưỡng niềm đam mê cho thiết kế.

Mười mấy năm qua tôi đã tạo cho mình một ngôi nhà riêng trong thế giới mạng. Nó chỉ là một ngôi nhà nhỏ trong hàng tỷ ngôi nhà nhưng nó là một ngôi nhà rất riêng của tôi. Một ngôi nhà mang một cái tên rất riêng và địa chỉ riêng (Visualgui.com). Một ngôi nhà được thiết kế rất riêng. Một ngôi nhà được xây dựng từng đoạn mã chứ không phải lấy khuôn mẫu của người khác tạo ra. Từng mẫu chữ, từng màu sắc, từng thẩm mỹ được chính tay và mắt tôi tuyển chọn kỹ lưỡng để cách trình bày gọn gàng, rõ ràng, thân thiện, và quan trọng nhất là dễ đọc.

Dĩ nhiên ngôi nhà của tôi lúc nào cũng rộng mở để đón nhận những ai viếng thăm. Thích thì vào đọc không thích thì đi. Không tốn kém gì hết. Tôi không tự hào hết những gì tôi đã viết nhưng tôi rất quý trọng nơi cho tôi một không gian để chia sẻ những cảm xúc của mình. Đúng hay sai chỉ là những gì tôi cảm nhận lúc viết. Đừng bận tâm gì cả.

Theo thói quen, tôi viết vào buổi sáng lúc mới thức dậy hoặc vào đêm khuya. Dĩ nhiên là không ngồi vào bàn viết mà nằm nướng trên giường gõ iPhone. Buổi sáng đầu óc tỉnh táo nên lấy từ những nguồn cảm hứng tươi đẹp. Trái lại những đêm khuya, nhất là những lúc khó ngủ, đầu óc mệt mỏi nên thường viết về những phiền muộn vì thế nhiều lúc những gì không nên chia sẻ cũng thoát ra. Dù vui hay buồn, sâu hay cạn, tư hay công, tốt hay xấu, tôi viết để trị liệu tinh thần. Viết để giải thoát căng thẳng. Viết để xoa dịu tâm hồn. Và như thế tôi viết trong từng ngày. Và như thế tôi viết trong cuộc đời. Và tôi viết bằng trái tim của tôi.