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Untitled love story (part 1)

Charlie ruthlessly grabs his coat, which has been loosely hung in his chair since yesterday morning, and rushes to the cafe. His feet felt frozen the moment he stepped out of his house, but he couldn’t care less. He loves the feeling of the New York winter even, often marveling at the way the cold sneak inside him, reminding him that he is, indeed, alive. Head held high, nose reddened by the cold, he looks almost like he’s running. He has to get to the cafe before Erin does.

Since when have he developed the habit of being the first person to arrive, he cannot remember. What he knows is that on every date with Erin, he always sit there, at the corner of their favorite coffee shop, looking out of the window and waiting for her.

Perhaps he likes seeing her walking into the cafe, light and elegant, her eyes always looking directly towards his corner, her lips turning into a smile the moment she sees him there.

It rains seconds after he gets on his seat. Suddenly, he is reminded of the time they first went for a walk together, two years ago. She told him that she would never get sick of him, ever.

What she said didn’t assure him. He didn’t like it when she stated it like a fact. One day she’ll stare at his face and says “Please, leave me alone”. That is a possibility with a much too high chance of happening, considering the current stage of their relationship.

She lives in LA most of the time now, and he’s still stuck with unfinished business in NY. Cafe dates like this are monthly, and never last for more than two hours. Their “loose contract” doesn’t help either. He agreed with her proposal that he would stay with his wife, and she would date someone else, and they would still love each other as long as they still meet each other. But now, he regretted it.

She could be in a relationship with some guy right now. What’s worse is that he has no right to be jealous, or angry, or disappointed because technically, they’re just friends. But of course, parts of him can resist the somewhat cruel hope that she’s single and just spending days and nights thinking about them together.

The two of them has been so close, yet they never really defined their relationship. They do everything good friends do with each other, and things beyond the common definition of friendship.

They say “I love you” to each other, but he never knows what she really means with the word “love”.

But he knows exactly what he means.

The first time they met, Charlie offered a shy Erin, a bit arrogantly, “I’ve been here for a while, I can show you around”.


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Reading poetry

Poetry is hard to understand, even for the people who are familiar with the poem’s original language. It requires a “feel” of the nuances of the language. And so, it is quite a challenge for a foreigner to fully grasp the meanings of an English poem.

I fear of the day when my frustration with my inabilities would kill my desire to understand English literature altogether. I know that it takes a while for pieces of a new concept to connect inside a human brain. But that assurance is losing its power over me while my impatience finds its way to creep in.

I wonder whether the cause to the frustration is my overestimation of my own English skills. Now that I’m able to read modern prose with ease, the inability to understand old English or the strange language of poetry is like a tap of cold water to my face, reminding me that I’m not that good of a foreign reader.

Fortunately it’s getting cooler in Hanoi these days, which means I’m finally gaining some more willpower due to the fine whether. Here’s hoping a new online course from UPenn can help me become an okay poetry reader, eventually.


https://gianghuonglearningenglish.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/podcast-from-listenaminute-bad-habits/


The King of Cats – part 1

Since the day I was able to walk with my mother along the lakeside, and sneak among the twisted twins and twigs of the trees nearby, I have always wished to be the king of cats, to have anything whenever I want it. I feel a sensation all over my body whenever I imagine that other cats have to hail me as king, and follow my every order.

Little did I know about the misfortune that would happen to me. One day, I woke up without my mother by my side. I yelled until my throat burned but she never came back. I searched for her everywhere but in vain. At that moment, I swore to myself that I would do anything to be the king of cats, so that I could force my army to find my mother and punish her for what she had done to me.

How I survived until this day is a matter of mystery. I could write my story into an epic poem, but I would not, because my energy has to be saved for planning – planning is something not to live without if someone really wants to achieve something big, like I do.

For a week after my mother left me, I was starved. My mother had always found food somewhere and brought into our cave for me. The only times she let me out was when she wanted me to stroll with her along the lakeside. I had no food finding skill whatsoever. There was one time I found a tiny dead fish near the lake. It smelled familiar so I tried, and it kept my stomach still for about three grummms – three-eighth of a day!

Humans always tell one another, “Lady Luck favors ones who try”. I didn’t even try once, but I guess Destiny just does anything to make me the king of all cats. One day, when looking for another dead fish, I was lost and found myself inside a strange garden. I was too hungry at the moment to try finding a way out, so I just lay down and slept.

But I was awaken by a very strong smell of fish. I couldn’t believe my eyes. A bowl full of tiny fish and something incredibly white and fluffy was right in front of me. I shoved my mouth into the bowl without even thinking.

Barely had I finished the food when I saw a creature so big – something that I now know as “human”. I was not terrified at all, but I still reminded myself to be vigilant. However, that creature just watched me, and then walked away.

The hunger was over, and I was able to find a small hole that allowed me to squeeze through and get out. But I couldn’t help but coming back into that garden the next day, and many days after that. Each time, the creature brought me a bowl full of food similar to what my mother had always fed me.

 


Me and mom

[Summer 2015] If I ever have any kids, it will certainly be one, or two, no more. I’ve learned the hard way by going through the exact same situation that my kids will experience in the future if they have too many siblings.

Things seem to have gotten a lot worse recently. I’ve been doing much more chores around the house and also managed to be quieter, but she still yells at me, even more than before, and always speaks so loudly near the street, trying to get our neighbors to know how bad of a daughter I am. Somehow she also makes my sister involved in our conflict by telling her off, but in fact implying me. This morning she yelled at my sister for eating too slowly and not sweeping the yard, and also added that “If you don’t do it, I can have nobody else in this house to do it”. I smiled in triumph, knowing in advance that she was going to say this to diatribe me, yet I was sad at the same time. Perhaps me being quiet and obedient is not what she wants. But it’s always been what she wants. How can I know? Maybe if our relationship has become that awful, I should just do my thing to be happy rather than just try to fix it. She knows my skin is overly sensitive; she knows it’s a disease. I told her it makes my feet itchy every time I sweep the yard because of the dust. Does she no longer trust me enough to believe I told her the truth? Sometimes i think perhaps it’s not so terrible if my skin disease is cancer, because at the time my mother finds out, she’s going to know how badly she has treated me, how ignorant she has been to me. But it’s also terrible because she has the exact same disease. I feel like she’s the one doing the worst things to me, yet I can’t bear the thought that something would happen to her.
Whatever the problem is, my conclusion, after years of feeling either awfully guilty or incredibly suffocated, is that we just can’t live with each other. I’ve tried so many times I can’t even count. Each time everything would be fine in the first few days, but anger and discord would always, inevitably happen and by the time I got on the bus to come back to the city, my staying at home had been disastrous. The characteristics, the lifestyles, habits and interests of ours are so conflicted. We have been in disagreement for so long that whenever my mom sees me, something is triggered inside her and she’s more likely to get angry than ever, and I, no matter how hard I try to be otherwise, just feel so uncomfortable and uneasy every time my mother is around.

What to do? Maybe it’s a bad idea to come back home too often or staying at home for too long.


How To Ruin Your Life (Without Even Noticing That You Are)

Thought Catalog

Erin KellyErin Kelly

Understand that life is not a straight line. Life is not a set timeline of milestones. It is okay if you don’t finish school, get married, find a job that supports you, have a family, make money, and live comfortably all by this age, or that age. It’s okay if you do, as long as you understand that if you’re not married by 25, or a Vice President by 30 — or even happy, for that matter — the world isn’t going to condemn you. You are allowed to backtrack. You are allowed to figure out what inspires you. You are allowed time, and I think we often forget that. We choose a program right out of high school because the proper thing to do is to go straight to University. We choose a job right out of University, even if we didn’t love our program, because we…

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