Friday, November 26

Travis' First Letter to the Vietnamese

Dear Vietnamese,
Moi ong chu thinh ong ba cha me va quy vi.

Silence. For just a moment. Maybe more than just a moment. Maybe a whole life time that I’ve pushed my Vietnamese culture to the side. That kind of silence. Moments when didn’t want to be just another minority to report and for that I apologize. I apologize for the slightest identity crisis and not living up to my customs on levels higher than bamboo shoots. I apologize and I will apologize more than One Republic has sang, will say, will be played swiftly quickly or digitally delayed. Hold it. I’m sorry for not being able to hold a decent conversation with my Ba Noi. For being too afraid to try thit canh because they don’t offer it at pizza hut. For every time I choose a Cheese burger over ca cau tho. And knowing more lyrics from Biggie and Pac than Duy Manh and Lam Truong. I’m sorry for treating every question asked about my culture as if it were a rhetorical one. I plead the fifth. My absence without leave, silent Vietnamese aside from my talkative tendencies. Damn it’s missed. And the most proud I’ll ever been of being Asian is winning 30 times bonus on baccarat at imperial palace casino, as if it’s Asian owned. And I feel bad every time shreds of dialect from my mouth come out misinterpreted and drowned in stuttering murmurs of mumbo jumbo to relatives. For using the foreign diseases as an excuse for not stepping foot on our motherland, when really, I’m just afraid to be labeled foreign in Vietnam! The pointed fingers, snickering remarks with words I can’t understand. Sorry for my silence. See my native tongue is an English one. See Vietnamese is my second language, but it should never be second culture, not even in the same vicinity.

However, I’m proud to be Vietnamese. I’m fighting racism. Saying anything racist with your chap lips, I’m might hit you in the mouth and hope your chop sticks. Or I might hit you with a radio for a stereotype slur. See some treat ethnicity like a competition but our race ain’t an arms race. We’re just different, something to be proud of, nothing to look down on. We may not always relate, but we can incorporate. The world may only see everything as black and white. See me being yellow it adds more depth into your color spectrum. My eyes are brown, my hair is black, my lips are pink, my skin is yellow and teeth are eh well an off white. That means you can get a glimpse half the color wheel just looking at me. So you can spare your kaleidoscopes. So I’m proud. Not many are fortunate to be Vietnamese. To be smart in math or have a cousin who is and let you cheat, too smart to get caught. To get monetary tenders from the elderly every Tet and Phap Tham Suc. To eat the finest of food in the smallest of holes in the walls. To have an assorted array of foods, even the best French pastries from Dong Phuong. Shout out to Kevin. To stay at a size 2 on rice alone. Nouc mam smells like piss, but nouc mam is the shit. And my eyes might be small, but that just means it takes half time to send winks at the girl that you’re crushing on. And we stay fresh. We know that Dong Khanh has a new rice crop out after Thanksgiving. So we hurry up and buy. And that Hong Kong Supermarket has cheaper salmon than Sam’s. And I’m bach so I eat pho on Sunday’s. And that rocks because I’m hung-over on Sundays. So that we have the fight racism, introduced the color wheel, make the grades, get money, wink faster, stay fit, eat fresh, and have the cure hangovers. Like damn… Reasons to be Vietnamese.

But I’ve been silent. So I’ll wear a back brace just to carrying on the little bit of tradition that I withhold. Even if it means coloring 3 red stripes on my body to show them where our flag went. Like yea we’re still here. Even it if means dulling out as many pencils necessary bubbling in the circle that I’m Asian on standardized tests. Even if it means adding “nguoi yeu oi co biet anh yeu em nhieu lam” into my wedding vows. Even if it means being buried in dep ga with an ao dai and koi fish tattoos underneath. Or even if it means to start with just ceasing my silence.

Like by saying I am Vietnamese searching for the American dream using southern hospitality, an improper native tongue speaking wannabe immigrant. I’m not here to give you reason why being Vietnamese is the shit, although I’m should. I’m just proud to be proud. Praising Alvin Lau, Jiles Le, and Kelly Tsai because they bring the Asian in me. Then, Dat phan and Bao Phi because they bring the Vietnamese in me. So, to the Vietnamese I’m sorry for my silence. For maybe more than just a moment.

Sincerely yours,

Travis Tran

Other Videos:

P.S. Here's an easier link Thao and Uyen:

Wednesday, November 17

"It's good to know that you are doing well"

Semi-update: I haven't been writing. Maybe because I've been occupied with extracurricular activities. Maybe it's because I'm more lazy. Maybe it's because I've been reading instead, informally and formally. Reading is like doing homework so that I can be a more creative writer. I'll get to writing everything I proposed, but for now i have to write something of content for LASO's poetry event by tonight so I can memorize it by Friday. Sigh. On another note, one of my cast members has sent me an offer to be an extra in a movie. They contacted me today!!! The movie is probably low budget, but another foot in the door. Oh yea, I have a performance at Xavier University. Sweeetness... Doing theater is pretty nice.

"Do well for yourself, but do good for others."
The word well is an adverb, so "doing well" means that whatever you do should be done to your best ability. Good is a noun, so to "do good" is performing the actual benevolent actions for someone.

Pictures from Crowley, LA:

Stage being set-up early for rehearsal the night before.

The theater before morning performance for middle school students.

The Rice Theater before the evening performance.

Found a song I like by the band Travis (only the best name to grace a sheet of parchment):

"What's a wonder wall anyway?"