Thursday, May 22, 2008


I hope you enjoy these photos taken at St. Louis Zoo. Please come back later to read stories from my childhood that are fitting with this song "I Get by with a Little Help from my Friends" by Joe Cocker.

What would you think if I sang out of tune.
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song
And I'll try not to sing out of key.
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Sweet Lotus was my classmate in 6th grade at Quang Nha School in Viet Nam. She was a picture perfect of what a lovely young lady should be. Each morning I would walk to her house, then patiently waited for her to fix her hair, putting on the pretty ribbons that would match the color of the tiny flowers on her white socks. We had to wear school uniforms, white shirt with either dark blue or black skirt (no tight fit), skirts must be in length below the knees and black leather shoes (of course, no high heels).

To this day I still remember the morning when a teacher assigned Sweet Lotus (who had won many singing and dancing awards) and me to sing the national anthem. After the first verse, I could hear the students started to giggle while the teachers tried so hard to hold back their laughters. No matter how low my voice was, my off-key and flat tone still carried above the beautiful voice coming from Sweet Lotus. As we were leaving the podium, the uncontrollable laughs drown out the applause. Sweet Lotus gently comforted me and said that it was her that could not carry the notes. We were good friends until 9th Grade but no one ever asked me to sing again. Sweet Lotus and her family tried to escape from Viet Nam in 1978. I never heard from her. Her relative told me that the entire family died at sea when their boat was capsized after the pirates robbed and rammed the already damaged tiny boat.

What do I do when my love is away

(Does it worry you to be alone?)

How do I feel by the end of the day,

(Are you sad because you're on your own?)

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Do you need anybody
I need somebody to love
Could it be anybody
I want somebody to love.

Also at Quang Nha School, I had three male friends and we would play basketball, ping pong and tennis after school. JX, KH and GL all were a year or two younger than me. Even though they all addressed me as "Elder Sister", I was just another male friend when it came to sports. JX left Viet Nam in early 1979 and was sponsored to resettle in Germany by his sister. I re-united with KH at the refugee camp in Indonesia and again when he settled in New Jersey. KH came to New York to visit me almost every month. I took a trip to Seatle, Washington to visit GL in 1983 after we re-connected thru letters and phone calls. Somehow after we crossed the Big Pond, I suddenly was no longer the "Elder Sister" or sports buddy. When KH and GL expressed romantic intentions, I did not know how to handle the situations and ended our friendships. And so that was part of my childhood memories in Viet Nam. I never heard from JX, KH and GL again.

Would you believe in a love at first sight

Yes, I'm certain that it happens all the time

What do you see when you turn out the light

I can't tell you but I know it's mine.

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends.

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