When we are rectangular

It’s an illusion.

It’s an illusion that we are apart.

It’s an illusion that I am here, and you are there, and our hearts beat slower alone.

It’s an illusion that behind the screens we can hide from the sadness of our souls and share only the sunny parts.

I can cry onstage too.

I can cry on Zoom.

I can cry even when there is a bright smile on my face.

I can cry even when the tears refuse to make themselves known to the earth.

It’s an illusion that we are not who we really are, when we are rectangular,

When we need to navigate our interactions with buttons

When we need to mute and unmute ourselves, consciously

Unlike when we are in the same room together.

It’s an illusion that this is not real,

It’s an illusion that this ever is

We can be together even when we are apart

We can be apart even when we are together

It is in moments like this that I realize many things that used to matter do not matter anymore

And for good reason, and it will be fine to go forward like this

Because there is no way back anyway, and whatever life hands to us

We will take it like the champions that we don’t usually know ourselves to be

And take it for as long as life allows us to.

It’s an illusion that this will forever last

It’s an illusion that there will ever be an end

Don’t Look Up (2021)

“Dearest Father and Almighty Creator, we ask for Your grace tonight, despite our pride. Your forgiveness, despite our doubt. Most of all, Lord, we ask for Your love to soothe us through these dark times. May we face whatever is to come in Your divine will with courage and open hearts of acceptance. Amen.”

This prayer from the final dinner scene from “Don’t Look Up” (2021, Netflix), spoken by Yule (Timothée Chalamet), brought me to tears.

*Some spoilers ahead*

It’s a brilliant film; a political satire, dark comedy, a brilliant attempt to illustrate the impact of climate change and humankind’s role in it via the easy metaphor of a comet on its way toward Earth, and via just-enough chemistry among members of a high-profile star-studded (no pun intended) cast. 2020-2021 are undoubtedly the best time for this film to be released.

Leonardo DiCaprio (Randall Mindy), Timothée Chalamet (Yule), Melanie Lynskey (June), and a bit of Cate Blanchett (Brie) were where I sense the harmony and power the most. Jennifer Lawrence (Kate Dibiasky), Meryl Streep (President Orlean), and Jonah Hill (Jason Orlean) are great, but it felt a bit too much like they were playing the stereotypes of their roles than the roles themselves. In the case of Lawrence, her character Dibiasky was certainly designed and depicted with a sense of many underlying issues: complicated childhood (as seen in the scene at her parents’ house) and growing up (as seen via the drinking, the boyfriend, and to a strange degree the fact that she would hang out with the young and chaotic crowd of Timothée Chalamet’s character Yule). Yet given the time left for her and Dr Mindy (with a host of his own issues) on Earth, literally, there was no real estate to explore any of those things. With such, Dibiasky carried an air of aloofness not so different from that of Yule, and in some weird way almost the opposite side of the coin from that of Jason Orlean (played by Jonah Hill). Dibiasky’s passion for the science didn’t come across as much as her distaste for the media, and to a degree for the world in which she was named after the object that was about to end it. This of course would work with the storyline, though it might not be the most consistent with Dibiasky’s character and potential backstory, and in some way that showed in Lawrence’s performance. Whether or not this struggle was completely intentional, it worked out fine for her, and you could feel that her closest two fellow actors/characters, DiCaprio and Chalamet, played their parts well to make it work with her.

The hardest character to relate to was certainly Peter Isherwell (played by Mark Rylance), not because he was robot-like and socially awkward and terribly selfish, but because he too didn’t seem to embrace the science that he was supposed to strongly stand strongly and vocally for. Whether Isherwell was supposed to be a caricature of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, or any other weird tech genius billionnaire with a penchant for both conquering the Earth and getting the hell out of it, in Don’t Look Up, Isherwell fell just a bit short of the dual edges that made both Musk and Bezos such tantalizing characters of our time: a bizarrely passionate expression of their belief in the science/business, and a practiced charisma when engaging with those of power to get what they want. Isherwell felt a bit too distant from both angles, and a bit too explicit in treating President Orlean with a not-so-subtle “I own you” attitude.

Fun fact — most of Don’t Look Up was filmed in Massachusetts. https://www.boston.com/…/dont-look-up-wraps-filming…/

Enjoy the film!

thăm nhà cô làm gốm 11/2021

Đi đâu? Cuối ngày rồi,
những con đường đã trở thành quá cũ.
Đến đây, tôi nhìn thấy một ngôi nhà xây năm 1745,
tường sơn vàng, viền xanh lá,
bên một căn nhà kho đỏ sậm
với những khung cửa sổ nghiêng và kính vỡ,
như thể thời gian đã ngả vào đó
từ rất lâu rồi.
Tôi nghe tiếng xe từ phía xa lộ,
gần rồi xa, không dừng lại
như lịch sử không dừng lại
như chúng ta đã trễ hẹn với ngày mai.

Tôi tới, tôi im lặng
ngắm ngọn lửa từ từ dâng lên
trong một chiếc lò tự xây
của một người làm gốm
đến sống ở đây hồi đầu tháng mười một
sau khi bão tuyết tạt ngang bang Texas
và cô nhận ra mình không biết cách sống chung với mùa đông như thế nào.

Nên cô học cách tự sưởi ấm mình từ Montana,
và tìm đến ngôi nhà xưa cũ này ở Massachusetts,
học cách sống với những xoay vần đổi thay của vùng đất bốn mùa.

Crime of Hatred

They said – it was not about the color of your skin,
or the fact that you were a woman, none of those things;
your death was simply
a tragedy, an accident, a sad coincidence
caused by someone with a mental illness.


Such an insult to your truth, to what it means to have a mental illness,
to your being an Asian woman in a world where you were seen as a woman, an Asian,
a person who was not white, not male, not anything
for whom the media so readily provides an excuse.
They choose the narrative that brings them the least discomfort,
not one that shows the darkness of the world in which you can be executed
by someone who had the audacity to claim his act of murder was about lust.
The killer lusted for blood, the same red blood in his veins,
only beneath a different appearance from his.


And yet so many of them are saying, no,
that is the self-victimization mentality.
They’re saying that to you who literally were the victim of a hate crime,
whose life was taken away – not even because you were at the wrong place at the wrong time,
but because the murderer invaded your space,
as if this earth were not big enough for everyone regardless of their gender, and race,
and everything else that makes us different and makes us one.


You are dead. Many of you died. Many of you will die, if they keep breeding the lies,
convincing themselves and others that this could have happened to anyone,
that they choose to not see colors when one of the colors were red, that of your blood
spilling over their head, their conscience – does everyone not have one?, their rhetoric.
But the truth is this:
this. is. a. hate. crime.
this. is. a. murder.
and anyone who claims otherwise is an accomplice
in an act against humanity, against what we all want for our country,
our children, our future.


And now every time I walk out on the street, I would wonder
if my mask and clothes were enough to conceal me, to protect me:
my woman’s body, my Asian skin, my identity
that should matter and not matter just as much as anybody’s,
but it doesn’t:
in Atlanta, just the other day,
people who looked just like me were murdered
just because of how they looked.

Christmas 2020

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a great day wherever you are.

It has been quite a year. “2020” in itself has become a meme. It is the year during which we have to reinvent everything, and discover that once again, we are a species that can learn to adapt. We learn to wear masks. We learn to social distance. We learn to stay in quarantine. We begin to check in with one another more on each other’s mental health, asking “How are you” and actually meaning to know the true answer to that. We learn to appreciate those who have chosen professions that put them on the frontline of dealing with COVID-19 and those impacted by it. We are reminded of how fleeting life can be, and how resilient humans can be, at the same time. We work and study from remotely, while some of us adapt to working and studying in a different way in person. Some of us remain in the city, rediscovering our own neighborhoods. Some of us go out to the countryside, learning to grow our own food, tend our chickens, and adapt to a whole new way of life. Nothing was the same. Nothing will ever be the same. It is the nature of a world in, and after, a pandemic. An event that sweeps through the entire globe, leaving no corner untouched, leaving no one unknown to its effects.

In a year like this, on Christmas Day, Boston is almost 60 degrees, with pouring rain. Unusual for December, for Christmas, for winter. Another reminder that nothing about this year has been common, or dare we say, boring. Many people are no longer with us. Many have been infected with the new coronavirus and recovered. Many are still fighting the virus. Many are not touched directly by the virus yet very well affected by the presence of it in the world. This is the year where we are reminded, often with agony and sorrow, sometimes with strength and hope, that we are in it together.

So wherever you are, however you are, today, know that you are not alone. That if you are hearing these words, you belong in the world that you’re living in.

Merry-2020-is-coming-to-an-end.

Faith In The Dark

Eventually you learn
how to feel your way in the dark. Everything looks the same,
but feel different; unlike the usual days
when all looked different yet felt the same
as if time never moved, neither space
nor you in it.


In the dark you start to remember
where you came from, before your mother
heard you cry
(you sounded like a child who had strong opinions
and an abundance of tears
and something resembling the other side of the gate.)
It feels cathartic, like redemption
from an opportunity unchosen
where you make the best of it.


There is an unspoken word of grace
when you bow down on your knees, and legs,
your forehead touching the cold floor,
your heart shaking as if every beat were a prayer
that would somehow be answered, as if
your faith had been restored.


It still worries you that if you didn’t believe enough
god wouldn’t hear your voice, and how sad would that be – to carry a voice unheard,
an identity unbeknownst,
a lifetime unchanged
by a power larger than yourself
manifesting itself in so many ways
even your darkest doubts gradually turned into beliefs.

(October 21, 2018)

The pains of my being

I feel that everything I’ve ever done goes into the flow that would keep bringing me down the stream, that one day I’ll reunite with the ocean of my truth, my being, my permanent impermanence.

I feel that this life, with all its trials and tribulations, can still embrace me with a tenderness that moves anger to tears. Can I be angry and still be loved? And still be able to love? And not wanting anything back but candor and fairness?

There are no eyes in parts of the woods. I can stand there and listen to the trees. They speak the same language, one that is written in its own meanings, allowing no deceit. They tell me what I will have always known. When I weep, they hold me with the same winds that make their leaves sing.

I sometimes break myself apart in order to put it back into another order of my choosing. Or at least what feels more like a choice I am free to make. Freedom, in this world, is still relative. It exists within boundaries that are a bit wider than the last ones that I grew out of. As I keep on growing, I am yearning for a larger container, like how my plants tell me when they need bigger homes to accommodate their thriving roots. The bigger the roots grow, the deeper and wider the containers or the holes in the soil need to be — to have more of the earth, to become more one with the earth.

Whatever one’s personhood entails, it goes beyond a list. Yet sometimes there are attempts to break it down into bulletpoints, because everything is easier when you look at its parts rather than the whole, which is always larger than the sum of its parts. How do you define a person?

“Who are you?”

“I am.”

That’s all there is.

All there is, is a world in which I am, you are, we are.

did you?

did you walk on this earth five hundred years ago?
did you hear the voices of the ancestors?
did you taste the sweat from long journeys across the continents?
did you write the words that would later be misinterpreted?

did you ask questions because the answers were never enough?
did you assemble your own truth among others’ lies?
did you look for the things you could never find?
did you meet those you were always meant to meet?

did you say anything you truly meant?
did you do everything you could ever do when you said you did?
did you believe enough to take a leap of faith?
did you see in your heart that which resembled a heart?

did you seek to be understood or be loved?
did you feel what it was like to have said goodbye without knowing it?
did you realize the way everything turned into something exactly the same?
did you know that you too one day would become someone different?

did you love because love was all you could ever do?
did you hate because love was all you had given away?
did you know there would always be another way?
did you understand the meaning of that moment that day?