Monday, August 28, 2006


"Cruise-Paramount split" the report about Paramount ended the 14-year business relationship with Mr. Tom Cruise, one of Hollywood's most bankable movie stars, took up the entire front page of the business section in St. Louis Post-Dispatch. CNN reported the story as Breaking News and the discussion about this break-up dominated the evening news.

I have enjoyed movies starring Mr. Cruise and thought he was a good actor and a decent person. I don't have any opinion about his personal life or his support of Scientology. To me he is only an entertainer and not someone I need to know beyond the characters in the movies. While I don't hold anything against Mr. Cruise, I could not understand why the story about his personal life or business deals should be considered "breaking news" or worthy to be on the front page.

Our service men and women are risking their lives defending freedom, serving America and the rest of the world. The fighting in Lebanon and Israel is sadden for those of us who could not understand why countries don't resolve their problems without killing each other. People of New Orleans are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, working hard rebuilding their lives and their great city. Around the world, there is so much suffering, yet this business relationship is worthy more of attention. I guess if I was an employee of Mr. Cruise, I would probably have a different opinion.

I have changed jobs a few times and the announcement never became breaking news. Come to think of it, when an employee leaves a current job, he/she should give two weeks notice so the employer could have time to find a replacement. If an employee does not give 2-week notice, it would be considered unacceptable and he/she would never receive a decent recommendation or the supervisor would not be willing to serve as a reference. When I left my job in Michigan, knowing that we would be moving to Missouri, I informed my employer far in advance. I notified my boss and provided him with 6 weeks notice. I helped trained my replacement and gave her my home phone number in St. Louis. I maintained a good relationship with my former boss to this day.

However, when the company decides to terminate an employee or the entire department being eliminated, there would be no advanced notice. There would not be 2-week notice or any kind of assistance. And if there is any offering, the options would not be so attractive. My brother, T, recently loss his job working at the Internal Revenue Services (IRS). He was offered to move to Boston or Philadelphia but he chose to stay in New York. I am sure not everyone could just pack-up their belongings and moved out of their comfortable environment.

Come to think of it, nothing could be more dramatic than what our family and thousands of Vietnamese people did. With the clothes on our back, we crambled into little boats, no real naval equipment, yet we crossed the ocean and survived. When someone asked me how bad a situation at work is, I always respond, "I survived the communist, the boat ride, made it in New York, this is just a piece of cake". So, for those fans out there, don't worry about Mr. Cruise being unemployed. I am sure it would only be a few million dollars, a dent in his fortune.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


I enjoyed The Andy Griffith Show. It is a black & white television show in 1960's. I don't care for the later shows after Don Knotts (Bernie Fife) left and it is in colors. I love the stories, the characters and the lessons behind each episodes.

The setting was in a small town called Mayberry, somewhere in North Carolina, in the United States. Yet, for a Vietnamese American, I appreciate and could really relate to the stories. From the loving relationship between Andy Taylor and his son, Opie. How Andy raised Opie as a single father because his wife died (I am not sure if the show ever explained what happened). To Aunt Bea who took care of Andy and Opie. One of the early episodes was about how Opie learned to love Aunt Bea after he initially rejected her.

To the caring ways Andy and his deputy, Bernie Fife, who happened to be Andy 's cousin, treated each other. They protected each other, tried to save each other's face and made peace after many conflicts. The many girlfriends Andy had, or when Bernie tried to set up blind dates or forced Andy to meet some of the wildest characters such as the Fun Girls.

I love Mayberry - The Andy Griffith Show because it represented a simpler life where people treated each other with respect and decency. Even the town drunk, Otis, was treated with kindness and gentleness. Floyd the barber, Gomer the gas station attendant, Guber (Gomer's cousin) and so many other town people living in harmony and trust. Children don't have to face so many dangers and parents were able to trust other adults to keep an eye on the kids in the neighborhoods.

However, the character I enjoy the most is Ernest T. He was from the mountain, a wild person, illiterate, uncivilized and not yet evolved into a full modern citizen. Ernest T. threw rocks at windows to get people attention when he came into town. One episode where Ernest T. wanted to get an education to court a village girl. Andy tried to help Ernest T. learning georgraphy. Andy explained the boundry of the United States being Canada in the North, Mexico in the South, Atlantic Ocean in the East and Pacific Ocean in the West. Ernest T commented, "I hope they don't change the boundaries when I take the test." I love it, because that is how I feel when unexpected situations threw at me at work or in life. We all learn the rules and what to do or what not to do, but there are times when the rules are changed or people who are in power changed the rules while the rest of us just have to start learning new rules all over each time in order to survive.

Oh, how I wish we could go back to the good old days.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


I never watched the popular television daytime soap opera called One Life to Live. I do believe that the title is exactly just that ONE LIFE TO LIVE.

I saw a writing that if you want to evaluate your life or what you have done with your life, try writing an orbituary or a eulogy about what contributions you have made to the world. Some of us are famous, most of us just live a simple life, unknown and the world never recognize or celebrate our accomplishments.

During a recent visit to NYC, I spent a lot of time sitting alone on the bed where my Dad slept and spent most of his time resting because of the effects from chemotherapy treatments. I also stood by the door looking in and crying because I wanted so bad to see him sitting at the desk reading Chinese newspapers. More than 5 years since my Dad passed away, I still feel the pains and at time getting emotional when someone talking about their Dad or a scene from a movie showing the loving relationship of a father and his child.

My Dad was not a famous person. He was not wealthy nor was he a powerful politician. He was a good man who was a good husband and a good father. To me and my siblings, my Dad is the greatest person and he accomplished so much because of all the loving and nurturing he had provided to us.

I have always been active in the community and I volunteer with my parish. I try to help people who are in need and donate generously to many charity organizations. There are times when I question my life whether I am making contributions to society or just taking up space. I doubt my accomplishments and whether my life is meaningful or whether I am successful based on the definition in television commercials. As a Vietnamese regufee and a naturalized US citizen, I question whether I have achieved the American Dream as defined by the media and others in society.

At the risk of pretenting to be a preacher, I guess we each have one life to live. How we live our life and what we do with the time and talents we are given by God the Almighty will be different. At the end of the day, it will be what others say about us and what we did to help make the world a better place.

I like to think that I am a decent person and in my limited skills and talents, I am a good citizen in my community. In my Christian faith, I am an instrument to do God's work by helping others. Whether I will be on the cover of TIME magazine as Person of the Year or receiving the Presidential Award, I am always proud to be my Father's daughter. I am proud of my accomplishments and how I live my life.


I normally am a friendly person. I talk to strangers, especially at sport events. I would talk to strangers about the Detroit Red Wings or about the New England Patriots. I would compliment someone about their purse (ladies) or about a nice baseball hat (men), especially a nice Notre Dame (ND) shirt.

My pet peeve is when strangers stand so close to me during checkout lines at the stores or fastfood ordering process. That really ruins my day. The person would stand so close that I had to move. The person would say to me, "You are OK". Like I need his permission not to move away. There were a few times I would turn and say to the person, "Pushing me won't make the line go faster", or I would use the shopping cart as buffer zone.

I draw the line and will say something when it comes to the lines at the bank. I would calmly say to the person, "Would you mind leaving some room between us?" I don't want anyone looking over my shoulder while I sign my check, writing a deposit or counting my money.

It is just common sense and yet some people are just so ignorant about this etiquette. "Don't stand too close to me", as the song goes. Maybe I should carry a ruler and keep it out as a measure of distance or an orange cone so no one would be breathing down my neck.


"I want to be buried in my T-bird", my husband, C said. The T-bird is like a baby in our family since last August. C loves the car because it is what he has been searching for the longest time.

It is a 2004 Ford Thunderbird with the right color, burgundy. C saved his money for 2 years, waiting for the right moment. He searched the internet but both times when he found the car of his dream, the sellers told him that the dream cars were already sold. The first seller was in Colorado and C called immediately after he saw the posting in the Auto Trader website. The seller told C that someone also called about five minutes ago and they agreed to the terms, no haggle or price negotiating. The second seller was in Buffalo, New York. Again the seller told C that someone already called and was on his way to pick up the dream car.

The third seller was from Chicago, Illinois. C called me at work around 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday (August 2005) and told me that he found the dream car and the seller agreed to sell the car to C if he could get to Chicago the next day with a certified check. I said without hesitation knowing that C has been waiting for this opportunity. I told him that I would go to the bank and transfer the money. I could hear C excitement and relieve that I did not question his decision.

The next day, C drove to Chicago (5 hours from St. Louis) in a rental car with a certified check over $20K. I was nervous and concerned that someone might stalk him. My imagination went wild that he would stop for lunch, someone killed him, took the check and I would be out of a husband and of course our savings. Just kidding. I don't care about the money, seriously.

C picked up the T-bird and drove carefully home. He had the biggest smile on his face, bigger than the one I saw at our wedding 16 years ago. Our first weekend driving around in the T-bird. Since then every time when we go somewhere, strangers, people we don't know (mostly men) would stop and admire the T-bird. Men would talk to C as if they were long lost brothers. I usually go into the restaurant, order the drinks and patiently wait for C to finish his discussions.

I am not a car person. I have learned a few things from C about Mustangs and other minor things about car. C loves the movie "Bullit" starring Steve McQueen in the famous car chase. I pretended to know the year and compliment the design just to tease C. I love to say, "That is a 1957 fastback" or "Let's look under the hood" because it was just a lucky guess.

I think we all have things we passionate about or items that we are proud to possess. I am somewhat a materialist but I try not to let my life be defined by a big fancy house or an expensive sport car. Whatever makes a person happy is important. Since whatever it is, you can't take it with you when it is your time to leave the earth.


"Welcome Home", my younger sister, V. said when she called after I arrived in New York City (NYC) during a recent trip "home". We talked about our plans to get together for dinner to celebrate her birthday. It would be the first birthday dinner as a family for over 10 years. Since I moved away in 1988, I don't remember if we ever got together as a family to celebrate birthdays or any kind of anniversary.

"When are you coming home?", my mother often asks when she wants to know when I would be visiting New York. If I told her I would be visiting within 3-6 months, she would begin planning the menu and go into details of the dishes she would be cooking to show off her cooking to my husband, C who is more than happy to flatter her for her skills. If I told her I did not know when I would be coming "home", she would be unhappy and said something like, "If you lived nearby I would bring you some food.".

I lived in NYC from 1980 to 1988, moved to a small town in Michigan & lived there for about 5 years and have been living in St. Louis, Missouri for the past 12 years. The move from NYC to the little town by the lake after I married C. was a cultural shock. I had to learn to drive in the snow and ice and all kind of winter weather including white out. I also learned to enjoy a few weeks of summer when we were able to walk along the boardwalk and admired fancy boats docking by the pier. I learned to enjoy simple pleasure such as eating corn dogs on a stick and ice cream after a walk that was supposed to be an exercise.

I don't know where "Home" really is and what is the definition of "Home". There is a saying, "A house is a home when there is love". Our family left Viet Nam in 1979 and lived in the refugee camp for 7 months. We started a new life in NYC in 1980. I am the only one who moved out of NYC to Michigan and now to St. Louis. My sister, V, travels all over the world. We gave her a nickname, "Wondering Feet" because she takes at least 3-4 trips every year, most of the trips are oversea. V visited almost if not all the countries in Europe. In fact, V. is on a 2-week cruise to Finland and Russia at this time. My two brothers, T and L, don't travel often and never moved out of NYC.

I have a few close good friends from college, M, S, and A, and they all lived in NYC. Well, S moved to New Jersey about 15 years ago. M works for the same company since we graduated from college in 1983. S and A changed jobs 2-3 times but pretty much in the same industry. I am the only one moving away to the Midwest and changed jobs about 10 times and also jumped from one industry to another.

So, what is "home"? I guess "home" is where a person is comfortable, feeling that they are loved and needed. Home is where you know someone is waiting or concerns if you are not in the house when you are supposed to. Home is where you are able to drink coffee, read the newspaper in your underwear with messy hair and no one would call the police to report indecency. Home is where you could cry, laugh, share a few words with your family members and not worry about being judged.

Living in NYC and then the small town in Michigan, I like St. Louis because it is just about right. Not too hectic like NYC but not too sufficating like MI. St. Louis offers some metropolitan activities (the Fox theater, Science Center, the Zoo) and for sports fanatic like myself, hockey (the Blues), football (the Rams) and baseball (the Cardinals). After 12 years, I begin to feel comfortable that I may pick a high school and pretend that I went there so when someone asks me "Where did you go to high school?" I would be ready with an answer that would make me really feel at home in St. Louis.

Friday, August 04, 2006

My First Entry Into Blogosphere

Hello, world! It was a dark and stormy night... THANKS to my little brother, L. I finally created my very own blog. Not much to write yet. I am visiting my family in New York, enjoying my little nephew J. , spending time with my Mom. It is too warm for my thinking - I will write more when I have a chance to put on my writer hat.


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