One thing peculiar about my childhood was that I would always have two birthdays in the same year. One on December 24th, another exactly one month later on January 24th. In December I would bring a pack of tiny little invitation cards to school and send them out to my friends. The cards are folded into four; outside were the words “Happy Birthday” printed on a party-themed background, either a bunch of balloons in festive colors or a cute brown bear wearing a fake party hat. I would have my mother, with her beautiful handwriting, write down in the blanks here and there between the printed script: “Dear friend, in the event of my birthday, I, Linh, would like to invite you, ____, to my birthday party that will be held on December 24th at 4pm to celebrate with me. Your presence is my happiness. Sincerely,.” I have always thought such things were fake, but I did it anyway because it was the trend to give out such meaningless cards to your friends at school. And those who didn’t get them, because either I ran out of those stupid cards or because I simply didn’t want them at my party, they would get mad and ask me if I wanted to die as they pressed their knuckles. I was the smallest among my classmates, I have always been, and the boys always tried to bully me, but I would always run away to the girls’ bathroom door. But whether I liked them or not, I could not prevent or encourage their presence at the party anyway as it was to be held at 4pm, the school out time, right after class ended, in the very classroom that everyone was in. The party was nothing fancy; it was kind of customary to bring candies and sweets to school and share with friends for the occasion. And it was customary too to bring notebooks as gifts. Such a lovely party it was, such meaningful gifts I got.
At the party I would tell my close friends that they would be invited to my real special birthday party in January. Why I would have two birthdays in the same year, they all wondered. And I would hesitate, telling them that my family, who are all Catholics, celebrate December 24th, the day before Christmas, the day Jesus was born, that my parents felt that I deserved another birthday because people would ignore mine for its special counterpart. My friends would all be in awe for both reasons; it was special to be Catholic and no less special to have two birthdays.
No one would ever show up on January 24th though. It was quite an expected scenario, as primary school children in the capital were strictly forbidden to leave the house after dark. My friends would call me on the phone, wish me a happy birthday and tell me that they could not go because it was after sunset. Besides, it was the lunar new year anyway, who would show up at a friend’s house instead of being with his or her own family. Good thing I only had to share the cake with my little sister, who would always demand half of it as if it was meant for her.
I told my friends lies too. My family were never Catholics, just as they never believe in Jesus now. When I was small, my mother pushed me to kindergarten when I was only two. She could not wait to get me to school so she had time to resume her work. Up I went with the grades, with my forged birth certificate. One of the officers at the hospital where I was born must have mistaken the Georgian calendar date with the lunar one. I was always one month older than my actual age, qualified to attend classes with friends one year senior.
I stopped having dual birthdays when I started high school. One of my teachers found out about the truth and pressured my parents into turning in my correct birth certificate. My mother went crazy with the paperwork, traveling to attorney offices and community centers to get it right. She told me it cost her a hell lot of money. I did not care. Now I had friends to share my cake with, even those who pressed their knuckles and asked if I still wanted to die.
Got sick because the weather changed too fast. Reminds me of New York city and crying myself to sleep with three blankets for ten nights straight, but I couldn’t sleep, because I couldn’t breathe lying down. Crept down the bunk bed in a stranger’s house in the middle of the night, metal steps icy cold, to cry in the bathroom with the faucet running, nose dripping. I cried torrents to the mirror and the frosted windows and my reflection disdainfully looked back. I did not know whether my nose ran from the illness or the crying. I still do not know where the sickness ends and the sadness starts.
When I hurt, I can’t write in metaphors. I want to spit out the details without the bullshit romanticizing. I’m pained constrained contradictory free worried lonely reclusive resigned despondent desperate desolate unbridled untamed unwavering. I want all the adjectives with no prepositions no connectors no nouns. A bundle of nerves and no substance. I feel like shit, alright? I want to throw up all that makes me sick inside but I might hemorrhage. I also want to eat homemade soup, and not throw that up.
This sucks as a piece of writing but some things must be written for the self, not for aesthetics. It’s so easy to look happy and bright and beautiful in photos (though I adore photography) even when I do not feel it (and vice versa). Don silk and painted lids but my interior’s rough. I don’t know where the need to balance out my self-images comes from; just, I must do it. It’s my head telling my body, “It’s okay to feel like your insides and outsides do not match up sometimes. It’s all of you and you are allowed to look that way but feel another way. It’s okay to not want to talk, but still want to express yourself. Who gives a damn what people think - let them think, because you’re being honest (though all of this is also bullshit). Write.”
I’ll try to write something more uplifting when I get better.
Found another similar old draft. My life repeats itself in spirals. My body sheds the skin: sheds everything and nothing at the same time.
Dec 14, 2010
Tried to catch the flurry of snow on my tongue, but looking up only added to my dizziness; boots kicked up the fine layer of dust-like snow as I shivered inside my jacket.
My head is spinning. I miss my mom.
Tưởng như rất gần mà ngờ đâu đã rất xa
Tưởng như rất lạ mà ngờ đâu sao quá quen
People can not magically feel that you miss them, or are thinking of them, or a watching them from afar. You have to tell them.
It’s difficult. I can’t even tell if people think about me at all. I suppose it’s the same for them, so the mutual silence continues.
"I still think of you. I miss you from time to time. Perhaps we will never meet again but I cherish the times we spent together, even if they hurt me.
On the other side of the globe, what are you doing? What is it that you dream of? Whose face do you see first in the morning? Who is it that you miss?”
I want to say.
I want to say, “Please talk to me.” Because if we never speak again, you will be reduced to a memory, and I want to continue knowing you as a person.
diary entry from November 26th 2013
The entry hit me like a bullet: two months since I wrote it, I am thinking the same exact thoughts again. Sometimes major events in my life make me think I’ve grown as a person but then I look back at my old entries and see not much has changed at all. The core remains stubbornly constant. I visualize loneliness as a white, empty space, like an untouched expanse of land after a snowstorm, in the middle of my soul. People come and go and in the wake of their footsteps the next storm comes - though I keep yearning (perhaps selfishly) for people to stay by me, hold my hand through the storm, fight for me, risk for me (say the word and for you I would) - they don’t, and I am torn apart every single time. The storm erases all traces of human presence. And so, remade, the loneliness stays cold, untouched, pristine, glistening. When I look at that part of my soul, I can not tell if I have fundamentally changed as a person at all.
Hold me close when you could leave us alone
Why would you just leave us alone
When we have been close, close
You leave with the tide
And I can’t stop you leaving
I can see it in your eyes
Some things have lost their meaning
The XX - Tides
Thỉnh thoảng khi đang đi trên đường, bỗng nhận thấy trong lòng có môt sự nuối tiếc mơ hồ trỗi dậy khi thấy một gương mặt. Nhỡ đâu người ta sẽ là một người tình hoàn hảo vừa khít với mình hay một người bạn tri kỉ với mình, nếu như mình và họ quen biết nhau?
my city in film
and the embers never fade in my city by the lake
nhân tiện nói về chuyện nhiệt độ
thật ra ở Nhật kể cả những căn nhà cổ tường giấy và căn nhà hiện đại bê tông đều không giữ nhiệt tốt, cũng không có hệ thống sưởi toàn bộ nhà mà toàn dùng lò sưởi ga hoặc điện nhỏ vì đất nước thiếu tài nguyên quá. lạnh hơn VN nhiều nữa khiến tui lúc nào cũng ngồi ôm lò sưởi đặt ở mức thấp nhất cho tiết kiệm, đêm đi ngủ thì tắt đi xong sáng dậy sớm trước nửa tiếng để bật lò sưởi rồi sau đấy mới dậy hẳn. trong nhà mọi thứ cũng đều lạnh tanh (trừ cái bệ xí cũng được sưởi ấm… nghe hơi vô lý tại sao không sưởi nhà mà lại sưởi bệ xí?? tuy nhiên bệ xí sưởi ấm dùng rất sướng)
lạnh và ẩm thì dễ ốm đương nhiên rồi xong ở cái đất nước bé tí này cảm cúm lan truyền rất nhanh và khi cảm cúm thì bị bắt nghỉ hai ngày nên cố gắng giữ gìn. người ta dùng phương pháp quần áo công nghệ cao (ý là heat tech) với cả đeo khẩu trang cả ngày. tui cũng đã mua một hộp 50 chiếc khẩu trang và các gói nóng đem theo người.
ở Nhật không ẩm bằng VN nên có lẽ không độc bằng, nhưng VN học mấy cách làm ấm sẽ tốt. dần dần mọi người cũng dùng lò sưởi nhiều hơn, nhưng cả các cách thủ công nữa. tui sống trong căn phòng tường giấy ở phần nhà 100 năm tuổi và tự học được nhiều cách để làm cho ấm tui hơn. tới giờ chưa ốm về cơ thể, về tinh thần thì hơi (rất) bất bình thường nhưng là vì seasonal affective disorder và sự thiếu ánh sáng mặt trời ở đất nước mặt trời không mọc vào mùa đông
đi làm bài tập tiếp nhé ja mata
20130801 day before I left for Japan