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.


Writing in another language

It’s been months since I last wrote something meaningful in this blog. I promised three months ago, after sharing two of my favorite opera performances, to keep up my weekly writing. I have produced nothing since then.

I blamed this on the Common App essay nightmare. But it’s partly my fault. The process of writing my personal statement was filled with anxiety and dissatisfaction. I hated boasting about myself, but always felt pressured about making myself look desirable.

The fact that so many schools rejected me just makes me much more inclined towards thinking that my writing isn’t good. I don’t want to think it’s because I chose to represent myself as an artist in my application, and those people don’t trust an artist enough to give her 50,000 grant a year. If it’s true, it will prove the saying that I’m most scared of, “Society always kills the artist”. It’s easier to assume that I was rejected because my grades developed downwards, or because my essay was not interesting enough for them.

But that is not a comforting thought either. I chose to say something interesting to me and it ended up being boring to the admission staff? I kept writing and writing until I found an idea that was good enough, and then I edited it repeatedly until it became perfect. Now that the application is a failure, I come into thinking that I have illusions of competence. I was scared to write again.

What makes me come back? Yesterday my teacher complimented me on my writing. No one has ever done that to me before. Throughout my 12 years of school, my teachers just graded my assignments, never praised, which makes me assume that my writing must be boring as hell. My mother has been telling me since I was in third grade until now that my writing is like Math. It’s clear, but dry. (Yes, dryness is her definition of Math, after her many years of teaching generic Math solutions to primary students in rural Vietnam.)

It’s so ironic that the first time someone praised me on my writing, it was when I wrote in English, not Vietnamese, the language I have been using everyday since I was 10 months old.

Maybe I do write better in English. In fact I have written much more in English than in Vietnamese recently. Writing in Vietnamese reminds me of what my mother always says. I can’t repress my habit of thinking,”Oh My God! My writing really sounds like a generic Math solution.”

Here, without any shame, I make a second promise of writing regularly. My Writing teacher probably didn’t know how big her compliment is to me. Writing in English gives me a fresh start. And it’s so nice to have someone’s encouragement from the beginning.




Apply to US colleges as an international students (part 1)

The application process is my no means finished, but the main work is done and now I’m free like a bird.

One week before my last deadline, I already planned everything I’m going to do after I finish my application, simply because I just can’t wait to move on. Applying is a long, stressful process to many students. It’s complicated and competitive, and much more so to international students who need financial aid. And guess what? You have to show off yourself in the best way possible in your application. If you are a very private person like me, congratulations! Now brace yourself for the challenge.

It all begins with the personal statement. I spent two years preparing for it. Three months of writing, and 21 months of trying new, sometimes really stupid things, thinking and writing and reading, just to find out as much as possible about who I really am.

So that’s why I have to thank Common Application for this. I am required to write an essay about myself, and to me it’s the most important part of my application. Of course there are many other parts that play an equally large, or larger role in colleges’ decisions, but the personal statement, along with extracurricular activities, is the only thing that I can almost fully control. I can’t control the standardized tests (and yes, my SAT test did go wrong). Every school regard GPA as important, but little do they know that scoring in Vietnamese is usually a mystery.

Also, I want to be a good writer, someone who master the way she convey her ideas and use writing as her weapon, and believe good writing requires serious research and serious thinking. I prepared for two years for just an essay, but it’s something that affect my future a great deal. A good essay might get me into the college of my dream. And even if it doesn’t, I already somehow understand myself, so now I am much more confident and happy than ever before. It’s definitely worth it.






Favorite quote on Films

Films are like visiting a city. Mainstream movies cover the big attraction: Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedra, and Musée du Louvre. Indie films take you through the back streets and occasionally you get a tour of the underbelly of a city.

– Brendan Mikeska on Imdb-

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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Wonder of Voice

Have you heard about Estill? It is a great way to learn about your voice – if you are the right type! I mean, if you are something like a vocal nerd. There are singers who just want to sing freely and certainly don´t want to be too aware. For that type of singers I would´t recommend Estill, because in Estill awareness is everything.

How do you know if it suits you? If you are like me, and want to know exactly what is going on in your throat, your mouth, your body and everywhere inside you when you sing – then Estill might be for you. That´s how she was, too: the founder of this training, Jo Estill herself. She was an American classically trained singer, who became so passionate about the instrument itself that she went on a quest to understand it in great detail. Through her ground-breaking…

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