Monthly Archives: January 2017

into blueness

how often are you
early enough
to see that perfect shade
of twilight blue
or is it always sunset
your morning
and the evening blue
is not that different
only tougher
and sadder
chased by darkness
not light
day and night
are pretty much the same
when you live in your head
where space and time vanish
a gap
infinitely blue.




I saw a feather caught in the hedge. It was tiny and light, white as a snowflake – a pure and immaculate white. I gently picked it up, careful not to let the needles tear it apart. When my fingers met its soft texture, I was struck by a mutual fragility. I was touching my own vulnerability. I put it away and thought, if I could shelter it from harm, then I would keep myself safe as well. We would be each other’s guardians.

I guess that’s why I collect stuff in nature – nuts, leaves, seeds, pieces of bark, bits of branches… They are an extension of my body. It’s true that I’ve always wanted to be a plant. It’s the most harmless and selfless thing on earth. And yet sometimes people cut down trees, saying trees cause accidents. But it’s not the trees that are dangerous. And I want to be a tree because I don’t identify myself with humans. In another life, I might have been born as one. Now I’m merely finding the pieces that once made up me. One day when my collection is complete, I will be able to reassemble them all and recreate my own existence, one that doesn’t feel alienating, one that is truly mine.

He never gave me flowers, but he gave me seeds. I carried them to the other side of the globe so that I would always have him with me. And I never gave him flowers, but I gave him pressed leaves. I gave him other stuff in my nature collection as well, so that parts of me would always be with him, and they would never wither. He’s the love that is forever kept unborn. I’m the love that, even dead, refuses to leave.


I put my stuff and my floor-mates’ back to the kitchen shelves, these abandoned belongings that have been piling up in my room for a few days now, which starts to slightly annoy me. I have my coffee, and feel comforted by a sense of serenity as everything is finally back in its place. People have been going in and out my floor from early morning until late today to do the big cleaning and prepare the rooms for the new students who are coming tomorrow. These little distractions from the routine fill me with a vague sense of excitement as it reminds me of the spring-clean before Têt at home. Speaking of which, I don’t know exactly which days will be Têt this year, nor do I want to look it up. I can simply ask my parents, but something inside me resists it. It will open up memories and feelings that I’ve been trying to put away, and I’ve succeeded in doing so by concentrating on my life here. Because Têt will be about Hanoi, home, and ultimately, him. I’ve been safely guarded against unnecessary sentimentality since nothing here reminds me of them, not a single Vietnamese friend or acquaintance, nor any element of the landscape and the weather.

I’ve been talking to myself on an excessive basis lately, and I guess that must be a symptom of loneliness. Surely I’ve always felt alone, but this time it’s less my subjective perception than an objective, sensible reality: him walking out of my world, friends writing new stories in which I’m not included, and me living a life unknown to them. I have this feeling that I keep losing things – people, places, myself, my sense of attachment to them. I’ve tried in vain to convince the world and myself that I’m a proud loner, while all I’ve done is to passively reach out to people. Or rather, I secretly hope that someone, some soul, would accidentally drop in and ‘find’ me someday. I’m so absorbed in the thought of such possibility that it feels almost real; in fact, there’s a high chance that no one knows about my existence. However, I’m simply witnessing all of this happening with placidity. I guess there’s nothing exceptional about it, though. I’m merely sharing the same kind of life as many other globalized individuals to who ‘local’ is more a state of mind and a temporary matter than a permanent geographical place.

Tilburg has taught me how to care for strangers and to share again, how to embrace ‘easy’ love and intimacy, and how to do all this without getting attached, to be ‘normal’ without feeling betrayal to myself. Maybe it’s easier to love the things that hurt less, or to miss the things that we love less, meaning things external to and not an integral part of ourselves. Everything in the last 5 months has happened exactly the way I’ve always wanted it to: like a sitcom that leaves no trace and no consequence behind, and I’ve been an excellent and engaging spectator.

It’s unusually sunny today, a crispy, crystal early spring sun. The kitchen is at its tidiest, for the first time since I live here, and probably for the last time as well. I finish my coffee break, which gives me just enough time to ease my sore eyes and make up a monologue. Soon there will be new faces, new gossips, and new alcohol nights – all the ingredients needed for first world debauchery – but right now, I’m just content with going back to my never-ending reading list on a world that I’d rather read about than to live in.

L’hiver est un long sommeil

Quand je me suis levée ce matin, ma vision était remplie d’un blanc éblouissant. Perçant, même, presque anesthésiant. Le ciel opaque et grisâtre prenait de la pesanteur, alors que la terre, blanchissante de neige, devenait si légère qu’elle s’élevait. Le monde se mettait à l’envers. Le blanc correspondait à l’intensité lumineuse maximale, face à laquelle j’étais aussi aveugle que dans l’obscurité totale. Je ne voyais plus rien, tout comme je ne sentais plus rien avec le nez bouché par l’air glacé. Et s’il n’y avait plus rien, ni forme ni couleur, ni odorat ni goût, la vie elle-même disparaissait. Tout extrême tue.

J’avais pensé que si l’éphémère avait une forme, ce serait la neige. Du flocon tombant jusqu’à la couche fondante, la beauté de la neige réside dans l’instant. Il s’agit simplement de l’eau qui se transforme d’un état à l’autre. La neige est plus un mouvement qu’une substance fixe et définie. Elle défie tout effort de la saisir et de la conserver. Elle est ambiante et omniprésente.

Et pourtant, aujourd’hui, la neige est devenue l’éternel. Le manteau de neige revêtant l’herbe a refusé de partir. La température négative a maintenu l’eau cristallisée qui était censée de s’évaporer. La légèreté est devenue la pesanteur. Comme si le temps, le paysage, moi-même, tout a été bloqué, de la même manière que les feuilles ont été emprisonnées sous la surface gelée des lacs. L’éternel n’est pas un mouvement à l’infini. L’éternel est un arrêt, un instant figé pour toujours.

J’en suis venu à penser que la solitude prenait bien plusieurs formes. Aujourd’hui, elle était constituée d’un blanc impérissable. Elle pourrait prendre des formes plus concrètes, comme le gobelet de café brûlant qui réchauffait mes mains étourdies et que j’ai siroté en observant les gens depuis le pont de passage menant à la bibliothèque de l’université, lors d’une pause entre les lectures. Mon univers est peuplé de mots, de feuilles noircis de caractères qui sont insufflés de plus de vie que les êtres humains vivants. Puis, quand j’ai regardé par la fenêtre de la cafétéria — un espace spacieux, lumineux, vitré et complètement vide à l’heure où j’étais — j’ai pensé que cette vie m’allait très bien. L’attachement est né de la familiarité, et qu’est-ce que la familiarité si ce n’est pas les habitudes. Il suffira de créer les habitudes moi-même, partagées avec personne autre. Comme ces promenades interminables dans la nature qui entoure mon université, les mêmes coins qui offrent néanmoins une vue nouvelle à chaque fois que je leur rends visite. Il me semble étrange de réclamer la possession de tout ce qui appartient à ce lieu — l’université, la ville — puisque je devrai bientôt tout quitter.

Je suis toujours prise entre deux états — être là et être nulle part, en dehors de ce monde matériel et de ce temps linéaire qui régit les activités des autres. Il s’agit moins d’une rupture physique qu’un état mental, ou plutôt c’est ma pensée qui façonne le monde extérieur. Bien sûr que ça se passe dans ma tête, mais il n’y a pas de raison pour que ça soit moins vrai. Parfois, c’est la seule réalité que l’on connaisse.

La givre déposée sur l’herbe scintille dans la nuit comme les étoiles terrestres.

The only reality we know

I think I’m connecting with you. In fact, I’m just interacting with a machine. But what difference does it make if I change the medium? If I write you a letter or call you on the phone? There is always an intermediate. Even when we meet and have a face-to-face conversation, words still separate us.

Another party, cheep bears and non-stop catching up, smoke smoke smoke, weed weed weed, bad music, how was your trip, it was nice, what did you do, it’s really cool, play play play, fun fun fun, fuck the exams, wish I had studied more, easy hugs, alcohol split all over the place, room filled with smoke.

Sometimes I joined a party just for the people, because I like people in ‘my’ group. Not anyone in particular, but them as a whole. I never genuinely wanted to, but I just went and at some point, I would be in the mood for a few drinks. But today there was nothing. Perhaps it was not the same people that I’d got used to. Perhaps I was just sleepy and tired. But this time there was something different. I knew exactly what was going on with me. I didn’t know why I joined at first place, maybe I was expecting something to happen, like all the other times, that it would distract me for a while and even lift up my mood. Maybe a little voice inside me was saying that I could use a drink to forget. That was when I knew that I didn’t want to forget. I wasn’t looking for anything. It wasn’t even an effort to socialize and to belong. It became very apparent for me that I didn’t want any of this. Not a shadow of doubt. Something has changed forever after last week. After the new year’s eve that felt like apocalypse, after the morning when I nearly passed out in the bathroom and lied lifelessly in the kitchen, after the paper that I thought I would never finish, and after the impulsive, dreamlike, almost unreal trip to Paris. Something is reigning in me now, I wouldn’t say calm, rather an indifference toward nonsense. A sense of senselessness, not about my existence but about other people’s. I just see it very clearly now and don’t feel any unease about it. Like I’ve been imprisoned this whole time, and I’m finally released.

Moon on one side, Venus on the other. It was a full moon night. The moon was strikingly bright as if she wanted to murder you with her light. In the middle of the crowd, I kept hearing that song in my head and was seized by the desire to go on a solitary walk and sit on a bench to listen to the whole album including that song. The weather was unusually warm for a January night, dry and windy, like a late autumn day, so I took advantage of this weather to resume my habit of taking late night walks. Clouds were floating in high speed over the moon. The sky was agitated, yet the moon stayed still and firm, like a love that refused to fade. If forever had a form, it would be the full moon.

My steps led me to the lake nestled in the parcel of woods that constituted a part of my university’s campus. A starry sky opened up above me. Spots of light reflected in the lake kept twinkling because the water was gently, but very gently, rippling. The area around the lake was sunk in darkness. I sat at the foot of an age-old tree and stared at it for a while until it got too cold, so I headed home. The music kept me warm on the way back.

All of the sudden I realized how real all of this was. For years I’ve been struggling with being present, for I’ve always felt like my life is somewhere else. But this is real, and I’m absorbed in present. The same way my relationship with coffee is grounded in the present moment. My mind didn’t wander to anywhere else when I watched the moon and the stars tonight. There was no one to miss. In fact, the reason I was there at first place was because I wanted to be alone. Not to run away from something, but to be by myself. I wasn’t longing for a company I couldn’t have. I’d certainly love to. I’d die to. But it was fine if the circumstances didn’t allow it. Je m’en vais, je m’en vais. The sadness has turned into something else, not positive, but at least less tragic. I can’t quite grasp what it is. All I know is that it’s as clear and still as the full moon that I met tonight.

The moon is often associated with illusion because her light isn’t her own. But what difference does it make whether the light that we see comes from the source or not? In the end, we see the same thing, because it’s our eyes. It’s not the moon the illusion, but our trust in vision. Seeing. It’s misleading from the start. Our illusion becomes our truth, and it’s the only reality we know. There’s no other reality than the one that surrounds us, the one that we’re seeing, sensing, breathing. Our own physicality and spirituality.

Maybe it explains the disconnection that I feel toward people and how I don’t make any effort to cure it, or even to question it. Because I finally come to term with it. I recognize it. It’s not something wrong or alien. It’s real. Or more exactly, it’s my reality.