Archive for May, 2007

Lots of reflection going on this week. The little soap opera I’ve got going on in the background has only increased my need to look back, reflect and attempt to get some idea of where I am and where I want to go.

It’s odd to look back at my own mental landscape, see where I’ve been as compared to where I am now. I keep referring to my life as constantly going back to square zero. In a way that’s true, but in way it’s not.

History has not always meant a great deal to me. I figured the past was the past, there was nothing you could do to change it so why bother? In my younger days, I didn’t think to ask. As I grew older, I didn’t want to ask. Now, all I seem to do is ask.

It’s the whys that stand out to me. As a young child, I still thought I was like everyone else. My family’s history was my history. I knew nothing else but life as an American growing up in this little Texas town. My life rarely breached the borders of my county much less those of the US.

Slowly, I was forced to view my world across racial and ethnic lines. There was nothing for me to relate to as the lone other. As I’ve said before, I relied on television, movies and books to find some place for myself. Stereotypical or not, it was something and there was always ET and Tarzan. I laugh sometimes thinking back at how I found my closest associations in the science fiction/fantasy genres.

It was all I had at the time to fill my need to belong to something. Now I can kind of look back on it with a sense of humor, but at the time it was very lonely. I did whatever I could to rid myself of that loneliness, turned to what was available at the time. It’s a consistent pattern throughout my life as most of you know.

I’m not sure how much TRAness plays a part in all my searching. I’m sure it’s had a lot to do with it. Would I have gone to such lengths if I hadn’t been a TRA or even adopted? Would it have been something I just took for granted? I guess it’s just another one of those unanswerable what-if questions.

Now my mind turns towards history and where I belong within it. It’s strange that it took me so long to even consider myself an immigrant. I don’t think I wanted to in my early years. It wasn’t something that I wanted to accept. I’d left Vietnam with a war on my heels. It wasn’t something I wanted people to know so I ran from it and just kept on running.

When people heard “Vietnam,” they immediately thought “Vietnam War” and with that came all the hate, stereotypes and sometimes even pity. I think it was that look of pity that I hated the most. Well, there was the pumped up look some would get as if they’d hand-saved me themselves. “Operation babylift? No, I wasn’t a part of that particular ‘miracle’.” Was I suppose to thank them? That’s another annoyance of mine, but that’s a whole other blog post.

All I really wanted at the time was just to be American. Forget everything else, it was in the past and I’d left it behind to forget about it. I wasn’t a part of it anymore, and I certainly wanted no part of it in my life.

The problem I didn’t foresee was that I didn’t really know what “American” meant any more than I knew what it meant to be “Vietnamese.” My idea of “American” was handed down to me in its small town, Texan, white, Christian form. It was living life as a Muslim that opened my eyes to the narrowness of my thinking. An unusual route to take, I suppose, but one that brought me to this place. Despite everything, I’m glad to be here.

In this here and now, I’m no longer running but have turned around in an attempt to learn and understand my history. On a smaller scale, my genetic history means a lot to me but equally important is my place in the history of Vietnamese adoptees. There were thousands of us and each of us were a part of an even larger picture in how we came to be here. We were immigrants just as much as non-adoptees who came by other means.

I use to bemoan feeling like an outsider when it came to other Vietnamese Americans. It felt as if I had somehow been left out of the history of immigration to this country. Maybe it was just my own isolation speaking, I don’t know. What I do know is that I am a part of that history and the history of Vietnam. It’s mine to claim and that’s what has led me here to blogging and writing.

I must seek to understand how I came to be “here” and write my own story. It’s not up to history to claim me and my part in it nor should I allow others to attempt to speak for me. It’s up to me to grab hold of it and let it become a part of me. I am no more a miracle than I am a tragedy but one small story within a much greater picture. However small my piece may be, it’s mine to tell and it’s time to set the record straight.

And so should it be for all of us.

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Sadiq Alam and Tiel Aisha Ansari have done a beautiful job of putting together the first ever Sufi Poetry Blog Carnival.  They have posted it in two parts, one on each of their blogs.  Just click on the links and take a look.

It’s both humbling and inspiring to be among so many beautiful souls.  Thank you both for putting this together and offering yet another reminder that we all still have much to learn from one another.

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Moments of peace

“convergence” by sume

I’m probably going to start sounding weird, but ya’ll should be use to that by now. I blame it on Soon-Young for writing such an inspiring post. 😛

Excuse me while I chase a tangent…

Sufis have a saying, “The Beloved is living, the lover is dead.” The first time I read this, I freaked out a little. What does that suppose to mean? It took me a long time to even begin to grasp the meaning of oblivion of the Self, to become an emptiness ready to be filled. While I’m not Sufi and as most people know by now, am spiritually wandering again, the concept in regards to the nature of love itself hasn’t been lost to me.

I’ve put much thought into the subject which may seem impossible given the tone of my blog. But yeah, I do other things other than rant and spit. Love interests me not only on an emotional and physical level but also on a spiritual one. In fact, it’s the spiritual aspects that interest me most of all. From all my experience, I’ve learned that the spiritual part of love endures beyond everything else.

I think too many fairy tales, books and movies among other things have completely fubared my notion of love and what it means. It’s only now that I’m coming out the sappy, shallow illusion that I too readily swallowed in my younger days. They taught me that love was conditional, dependent upon the actions of the object of the emotion. Love created a debt and if the debt wasn’t paid, too bad. I’m not just talking about romantic love, but also love between family and friends.

It was very confusing to me as a child, because I’d always been told that love was unconditional, independent of everything else. “For God so loved the world…” Yet even there, it seemed conditional on our returning that love in the form of obedience and worship. I was told that if I sinned enough or refused to worship God a certain way, I’d be doomed to burn in a pit of molten lava for eternity.

Then it was explained to me that it was like parental love. If we disobeyed our parents, we were punished. “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” The punishment was to teach us a lesson. Okay, I can accept that, though I didn’t much like having my ass tanned by that belt. And no, I didn’t think of it as abuse even though I don’t spank my kids. It was just the default punishment back then. I prefer the non-violent alternatives for my own children. I get better results. But I digress.

So why didn’t God just kick our asses here on earth to teach us a lesson? What lesson am I learning roasting in hell for an eternity other than it’s damn HOT? To confuse little Sume even more, I was told that no one loved me, could ever love me as much as God. The only way I could resolve this as a child was to think the greater the love, the greater the punishment. The more someone loved you, the more unforgiving they were when you fell short.

Is it any wonder I learned to love or how to be loved at all? Why would I ever want anything to do with it at all? Fortunately, it’s part of what makes us human and something we don’t thrive very well without. We seek it out because something in us needs to give it as well as receive it. It’s part of what connects us to one another.

So what does all this have to do with the quote? If I take it down to a purely human level, what it says to me is that spiritual love in its purest form is independent of everything else. It can cross time, distance and difficulty in tact. It just is and will remain so.

On an emotional level, love for my parents has faced some serious challenges. I don’t hate them for their mistakes nor do I feel I owe them love for all the things they’ve done for me. I appreciate everything, but it’s not why I love them. We are connected by something much deeper which allows it to survive all the battering. It’s a connection that binds me just as strongly to them as it does my Vietnamese mother. I can’t explain the how or why. It’s just something that I know.

I can say without any doubt that I love my Vietnamese mother. Emotionally yes, I want to see and touch her. I may be freaked out initially if I ever found her and she turned out differently than I’d expected. It doesn’t change my deep spiritual connection to her. Nothing can touch that.

When I seek to find peace within myself, that is where I’m learning to look. The inner wars and the outside battles are all there, but my deep sense of connection to the universe is what saves me in the end. It’s there that I know I’ll find love in its truest form and for a moment, everything else falls away.

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I’m having a serious blogging spurt but oh well.

Another book that’s in my reading list is When Heaven Fell by Carolyn Marsden. A fellow TRA sister pointed it out several days ago. Right off the bat, the idea of this one just flat out pisses me off.

It’s bad enough when people put words in the mouths of adoptees, now they’re doing it to our birth families? And on top of that, she writes a book from a supposed Vietnamese perspective involving war and poverty? Reading this book is going to be about as enjoyable as reading Digging to America.

Maybe I should just read the other book also entitled When Heaven Fell. Ironically, the plot summary reads “Human mercenary Athol Morrison returns to Earth after serving in the legions of the Master Race. It’s been 20 years, and his friends, and Earth, have changed.”

Will get back to you on this one.

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Random sets of 3s…

Random sets of 3s…

I was tagged by Peace of Rice by way of being in her sidebar. 😀

3 things you WILL do in this lifetime:

  1. Be the center of at least one more huge scandal. It’s totally unintentional, I swear.
  2. Change my name.
  3. Learn to make a decent bowl of Pho.

3 songs with lyrics that have made you cry:

  1. Why – Annie Lennox
  2. Needs – Collective Soul
  3. Honesty – Billy Joel

3 TV shows you enjoy watching (old or new):

  1. Battlestar Galactica
  2. Heroes
  3. The 4400

Dreams you once upon a time had, but that haven’t come true and you’re okay with that:

  1. Marry Sulu and live on the Enterprise. Who knew?
  2. Get my bachelor’s degree in psychology and make a 6 figure salary.
  3. Bleach my hair, get blue eyes and blend in with the rest of my family.

3 places you go/have been where you found a sense of peace:

  1. Wheat field across from my childhood home.
  2. Long drives down empty highways, plentiful in Texas.
  3. The shooting range

3 minor regrets in life:

  1. Being the center of the last major scandal.
  2. Not smacking my childhood bully upside the head when I had the chance.
  3. Not learning Kung Fu

3 cliches or common phrases that you tend to believe are true:

  1. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
  2. True love knows no bounds
  3. You can pick your nose and you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your friends’ noses.

I tag whoever wants to do this one. You can do it in my comments section if you’d like.

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I’m still sorting and trying to make sense of the senseless so what I write these days may look like the garbled ramblings of a lunatic. I have pried one small piece of information from that great vault of secrets. It’s very small but enough to shatter everything I thought I knew about my past except for what’s on my adoption papers.

The funny thing is that the old paradox once again comes in to play.

I’m probably not my father’s biological daughter. I don’t have to rewrite the adoptee part of my identity.

My father never even knew my mother’s name. She may still be alive.

Identity-wise, there’s a bit of twist there. There is the smallest of possibilities that I could be a Vietnamese/Chinese hybrid, but that too might never be known. Remember all those people who kept telling me I looked Chinese? As one of my TRA friends pointed out, I may have to go back and apologize to all those people for yelling at them.

That all hinges of course, on whether he’s telling the truth.

See my dilemma? I thought not to share this at all, but decided it’s just too hilarious not to. I suppose I should be more angry than I actually feel having found out that everything I’d been told was a flat out lie. Then there’s the possibility that I couldn’t get any angrier without offering proof that spontaneous human combustion actually exists.

So as it stands, I must begin in Cholon, Saigon with a woman named Ta Kim Cuc whose father owned a large trucking company back in 1970.

I think I could deal with everything beginning and ending there. However, if this turns out to be another fabrication, I hope there’s a fire extinguisher nearby.

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