A Mouseketeer

Having been spending quite a lot of time at temples lately. It’s easy to forget the troubles of the world when you’re on top of a mountain hastily breathing in after climbing 700 steps of stone stair or rowing boats through dark caverns of old North. It’s even easier to leave it all behind - all the hassle of living, hustling in a hard and unforgiving world - to just sit, breathe and pray silent words of modest wishes for a good year. 

Vietnamese has six different words to call a temple. I don’t know why but I think it’s significant. Maybe one day I will find or invent a meaning for it, like how the French don’t have a word for ‘home’ yet their word for missing someone is still the most beautiful thing I have ever heard of. 

I met this man who has been rowing boats for twenty years. Two kids in college while he’s working to keep them there. There were these mountain goats wandering across the steep cliffs as if they could fall at any moment, picking up alpine vegetations that keep their blood running. The boat man told us how every year, people would find their way across these cliffs to catch these goats and families and customers would watch from their boats underneath with a brazier aglow with warm fire and burning alcohol to keep the heat inside. It’s amazing how living things manage to survive in any condition they are thrown into. Life just goes marching on. 

"Some hustle for respect. Some hustle for love. Others hustle for truth. But we all hustle to survive."

Given the choice between doing the ordinary thing with an honest conscience and doing the extraordinary thing but with a sullied conscience, what would you do? 

kim ga eun // clementine

On some day, I have this intense longing for Korea. My ex-Korean girlfriend used to send me indie songs when I was at work in Seoul. It was a nice feeling knowing someone out there was thinking about you and wanted to make you happy with just a little song. I couldn’t believe it had only been two months since I left Korea. Felt like it was a different life from decades ago. My friends still ask me if I miss Korea, and I often brush them off, saying there’s really nothing there to miss now. But the fact is, Korea was where I spent the most youthful and beautiful period of my life, it gave me wonderful friends and great memories to look back to, and for that alone, it’s enough to call it home. And do you ever miss home? Always. 

teen daze // ice on the windowsill

It is amazing what you can achieve in one week. Today is the first day in the last 8 days of marathon running which will probably become the most memorable career-turning point of my life that I can take a proper breath and reflect on what has come to pass. And if I factor in all the little coincidences and chance-happening, it’s nothing short of a miracle that things have gone the way they did. There’s still so much work to do but the possibilities are endless now. Everyday there’s a new purpose, a greater goal to strive towards, an impossible dream to make true. 

It has been the greatest summer of my life. A summer filled with new friendship, great colleagues, beautiful family moments and a little summer romance that will fade away in time, but the sentiments will probably be there for the rest of my life. 

To the sunrises of the coming Autumn and Winter.

With deep fondness, 

H

Parting Words

Tell me again of the night we hugged our dead cousins for the last time

rain water so cruel it turned my warm hands cold

we tucked them in their favorite Halloween clothes

kissing them goodnight like lighthouses to the ebb tide of evening sea

Tell me again of our summer beneath the tree

we talked of dead poets, sunken cathedrals, of flying in make-shift contraption together 

I could hold you up while you flapped those wings of glued linen until we glided

we would finally learn how the wind tasted like, what the night was hiding

dining up on smoky canyon ranges with stars for our candlelight

your skin against my skin, we would lick the years away like sugar cubes

our bones yearned air, but our feet still scratched the ground

echoes of our fathers murmuring through the scorched earth, calling us home

but we didn’t care, for we were busy

finding words to name each new sensations

fighting for memories against forgetting

we carried on, but for how long?

you left one day with the window unclosed, silk curtains waving me apologies

our ember still smoldering ashes on the winding road

our flesh still scarred with fresh promises and never-ending goodbyes

I often thought I would meet you there, my Annabel Lee, 

and together we would sail to forgotten places where days gone by were no longer

we would sing winefully in our heads of daze

tired ballads in sad cafes drown in smoke and skin, 

some stranger, enraptured by our felicity, would burst in a barely intelligible accent:

“Beautiful couple is beautiful,”

and we would drink with him until the morning light

Roman wine in crystal chalices, that could only get darker with time 

we would build our own Kubla Khan, our Bethlehem, our Jerusalem

watching Constantinople burn from our balcony, laughing, holding on tight

I would see my reflection in your tears, and yours in mine 

tears we didn’t think we had left, tears we didn’t even understand

when we stood in the ruins of lost civilizations

we would cry — yes we would

we would fall on each other and cry

torrents, waterfalls, hurricanes

and then we would fuck 

like mad men, dead men, men clinging to life

we would cry and fuck and cry and cry

we would fill our trembling bodies with stars, with time, our stolen dreams returning

but nothing came true of my imagining 

I would always have to be gutted by the cold blade of reality

nothing occurred as fantasies.

You couldn’t wait for me, my poor Annabel Lee

you said we were bags of bones dragging through an unknowing life

skeletons dancing on a soundless xylophone, aching, breaking

you were lonely, you were scared, and I was not there

you took the river bottom, and so I took the pills

“End it all” – we said. “Nevermore” – we chanted

we moved lightly once we lived and quietly we would go

with words collected and thoughts rained down 

we were never here, we’re not now.

The things I saw in Paris. 

What I realized when I first studied French is that they don’t really say ‘I miss you.’ They say ‘tu me manques’ which is ‘you are missing to me’ as in you are already a part of me. Such perfection in expressive language. I will forget to miss Paris ever so often, but Paris will always be missing, to me.

"It’s raining women’s voices as if they had died even in memory."

Walking around Hanoi on a morning like this is such a good therapy. “If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe and Aloysius in a good temper…”

Nha Trang, Vietnam | Lullaby from the East Coast Sleepers

Diving in Nha Trang. It’s been such a long time since I was last here. The city has changed so much for the better. But the heat is still intense as ever.

"The Ocean At The End Of The Lane"
Nha Trang, Vietnam