This Goes Out to My Dad

I haven’t been online in weeks because my family and I moved houses and are still settling in what is now our new home. It feels strange to walk into a house that is so different, but it also feels nice—it’s a new start which is healthy and needed. Our new house is not far from our old one, which was a benefit when moving the treasures we’ve collected. We are somewhat still living in the same neighborhood. It’s quite quieter and calmer, and can I say safer to go out? Well, maybe I am exaggerating a little. It’s always been safe, actually. But this house gives off more of a “home vibe” because of the kitchen. The kitchen is spacious and we have formal lunch and dinners at the dining now. We also cook and set the table together. It’s been a while since then. And just the other day, our family photos were finally taken out from the faded cardboard boxes, unwrapped from the crinkled newspapers that protected them for over years, and hung up on the walls of our living room. We have a lot of old but memorable family portraits that were rediscovered and are appreciated more now. With the portraits up, the atmosphere of the new house is warmer.

Some of my favorites are the very, very old ones—the ones with faded colors and rounded edges. I am talking about the ones that are older than I am. One is of my dad in a green uniform and black boots, posing in front of a forest, holding a gun. Believe it or not, in our house, my dad has his own wall of fame. On his wall of fame, displayed are his framed certificates and accomplishments. My dad was a Secret Guerrilla Unit soldier in Laos prior the Secret War. As a young child and even to this day, my dad would tell stories of his experience. I think if I were to write them down, it would be an autobiography with continuous volumes—Sandpaper Hands, Chao Wathao Richard Vang—from a surviving fatal sickness which killed his older siblings, taking the role as the oldest and oldest son, providing for the family, joining the army instead of furthering his education, the inspirational people my dad met who inspired him, the goals that he accomplished, his love and kindness for all, his sensitivity and his soft heart, his humility and respect for others, his talent and knowledge, his generous spirit, his faith.

There is a Hmong saying that goes, “Txiv zoo li lub poj zeb thaiv teeb meem thiaj li tsis los raug peb,” which means, “Father is like a rock that protects us from all sorts of circumstances.” I believe this saying is very true. The repeating wrongs that my siblings and I do, my dad is always the one who protects us and intercedes for us all because he loves us and we are his. I am grateful and very appreciative for such a blessing that has been bestowed upon me.

(Maybe someday I will write that autobiography.)

Actions Really Are Louder Than Words

I have been around family and relatives everyday for the past week and for more weeks to come. The reason for this is because there has been a tragedy in my immediate family. My uncle, who is my dad’s very own younger brother, had devastatingly died after years of suffering from numerous illnesses. Therefore, we are comforting and assisting the family—his wife and children—with all that we can. I know that their hearts will not be completely healed and the things that we do and say will not even mend their heartbrokenness, but we want to be physically there for them, and that is what I admire about the Hmong culture. Sometimes words are just empty sounds, but the physical presence is what matters most and is what will be remembered years later. “Actions are louder than words” is true. Plus, in a time like this, no one wants to be alone. 

Heart of a Child, When Parents Fight

My friends and family congratulated me about two years ago when I turned twenty-one. Congratulated me? What for? I didn’t feel any different. Honestly, what I felt was more pressure, more expectations, and more responsibilities. Stress. I am twenty-two years old, almost twenty-three. My heart is still of a child. I was reminded today when my parents had one of their many mood swings that led to a huge dispute. My parents argued, fought, and had their many grudges since I was a kid. You would think that parental disputes would grow on someone by now—well, it doesn’t.

As my mom ignored my dad, gave him the silent treatment with pouting lips and rolling eyes, I was brought back to my childhood. I hate when my parents fight. Seriously, if we were not Hmong, Mom and Dad would have divorced a long time ago. They fought and sometimes still fight over the smallest, silliest things. The atmosphere gets thick and heavy with vibes that suffocates, causing me to shrink and wither into an inactive, lifeless ball. It pierces my heart as if a dagger had shot through my chest, coming out from the other side with my heart and lungs pinned to the wall. My world darkens to outlines of blacks and grays. I feel like crying but nothing is coming. The chemicals in my brain that so desperately want release explodes inside me, streaming down to my heart, gassing my insides for hostage, causing ache instead of tears. I hear the words, “Breathe. It’ll be fine. It’ll be over.” But I’ve heard those empty promising phrases too much to give in to them. I end up just cringing as I lye sleepless in my bed because no matter what I say to them, their anger and stubborn hearts will not listen.

I was a child and am an adult now, and I speak for other billions of children. Parents, when you fight, just know that it hurts your children. Broken and disruptive homes are the last things a child needs. Demonstrate love so that your children can learn mimic.

Marriage Questions

This summer started off as a clump of non-stop celebrations—yes, I am talking about weddings. I have at least five friends who are getting married this summer. I’ve already been to one in which I was honored to be a part of, and in just a few days and months, I will be attending more. Pretty crazy to say that I was actually going to be part of three weddings this summer as well—bridesmaid for two and a traditional green-lady (Hmong culture wedding) for one. However, the honor and humbling opportunity comes with a vital self evaluation. If you are a single woman like me, you know what I am referring to.

“When will it be my turn? … Will I ever walk down the aisle? … Who is the ‘one?’ ”

Being Hmong and the youngest daughter in my family, I am expected to be like my sisters. My two older sisters married when I was in middle school—I think—and around that age, I couldn’t understand nor did I care about it. In just a few months, my older sister will be marrying her Navy fiancé, leaving me with a lot of pressure and more expectations from family and friends. The number of relatives that asks me, “When will you get married?” is innumerable. I cannot tell you of the number of direct or indirect attempted hook-ups I’ve received from relatives, and most of these offers were arranged by the elders. I’m only 22, and have not even been in a relationship (confession; is that strange?) I am not just going to marry just anyone. I guess some traditional elders in my extended family have different views on marriage.

Honestly, I am not ready for marriage. I have not even been in a relationship. Shouldn’t I at least date before I wed? (I can also go on and on about my view on dating.) I do hope to marry in the future. I believe that marriage is a lifelong covenant, made and kept by two people, man and woman, and it should be done in love—nothing else.

Yes, I am still alive.

A year ago, I thought my presence on WordPress would be active–I was wrong. Gee, it feels like ages since I’ve touched this account and WordPress all together. Actually, just a couple months ago, I was in a Social Media class where we were assigned to create our own blog posts (new ones.) No excuses, I know–but that got me more comfortable with WordPress. Here I am again.

I just want to thank you, person on the other end of the screen, for taking your time to look through my writing. I honestly don’t know what to write. Nothing interesting ever happens to me. Gee, I feel like a dull person. That aside, my goal this summer vacation is to post up a ton of writing even if I am just rambling about nothing and nothing interesting.

Thank you. Stay tuned.

There’s Gotta Be More To This Life

I’ve been with my current employer for what is coming up on five years, and a couple weeks ago, I was invited to an Associate Appreciation Luncheon Celebration. The luncheon was on a nice, fancy boat, and after the luncheon, I rode in a nice Mustang convertible sports car (my very first time ever).

On the boat, we had a well prepared, classy meal while the boat flowed down the Mississippi River. The conversations we had over lunch was 79% business related and 15% vacationing; don’t even ask about the remaining percentage. After lunch, we stepped out of the dining hall and onto the balcony where we chilled and chatted some more. Men and women were circled around one another, sharing jokes and stories in that business-like manner.

The luncheon was a taste of “real life.” In a way, it was a taste of the famous “American Dream” dream and I appreciated it and am grateful. However, I don’t think that dream or that style of living suits me. Strangely, I felt guilt overcome me when I stepped onto the boat, ate the food, had those “pretending to be interested” conversations, and rode in that convertible. Honestly, I couldn’t enjoy that treat knowing that around the world–even in my city, there are homeless men, women, children, families, who have not even dreamed of the all luxuries offered to us on that day. Call me dramatic and exaggerating, but it’s true.

On that boat ride, we passed by huge, beautiful houses surrounded by woods up on high cliffs, with views that must be amazing. We were on a boat chilling, relaxing, practically vacationing. We rode in a car that costs thousands of dollars. In summary, this was the American Dream right before my eyes, yet I couldn’t enjoy it.

My parents–who did not have the opportunities of good education or work–have always dreamed of living the American Dream: big house, nice cars, good food, vacationing…etc. For a long time, I had wanted to live out their dreams, make it come true for them, for me. But the truth is, I really don’t. I don’t want to enjoy my life when I know that others can’t enjoy their own. Sure, call me a democrat, a crazy Christian or whatever… but the truth is, there’s gotta be more to life than just, well… that.

There’s gotta be more to life than driving off to a well-paying job in a nice sports car and coming home to a nice, huge house. There’s gotta be more than just cruising on a ship, enjoying a vacation in the Bahamas. There’s gotta be more to life… There just gotta be.

I believe there is more to life. There is.

Is Being Good Enough?

Last night, I laid in bed thinking, reflecting, reminiscing about my life. I couldn’t help but feel a strong, vigorous draining overcoming me. Alive and breathing for what’s about to be 22 years, I had to mentally step out of my self-portrait and observe myself from a distance with a new lens.

About to be 22 in exactly a week, I question whether I’ve lived life being good enough. Have I truly lived my life as a good person? I once told two people that when you lie in bed at night and your day re-plays itself in your mind, you would either be proud of your day or regret your day. When you lie in bed, you either fall asleep or stay up, thinking. Whether we’ve lived our days proudly or regretfully, it was all on us, on our choices, and our decisions that we had made. I believe in the freewill of choosing and deciding for oneself.

A moral that has stuck to me since forever is from the silly comedy called Mean Girls. In the movie, Cady (Linsday Lohan) finally realized–right before solving the math equation that gets her mathletes team first place at the championships– that hating, sabotaging, destroying, bringing vengeance on others will honestly not make you, as a person, an individual, any happier.

So, my point is…  basically just treat others the way you want to be treated–this is the golden rule that we’ve all been taught in school and it’s the one thing that Jesus had taught when walking the earth. I believe in strong morals and ethics.

But I guess the real question that I have is… Is being simply “good” enough?

I think not. I think we must live righteously.