My Nguyen

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My grandfather’s English was limited.

Or, maybe, it’s more fair to say that my Vietnamese is limited.

Ong–as I called him–was born on on March 19, 1934 in Binh Duong, Vietnam. He was an accountant at Binh Duong’s Youth and Sports Department and later managed his family’s ice-making plant. In 1959, he laid eyes on my beautiful grandma for the first time, setting the course for my life and our immediate family history.

In 1984, he immigrated to the United State with my grandma and their children. In the United States, he worked in the print shop of Riverside Furniture until his retirement. He spent the rest of his days reclining, fixing his car, traveling and loving us and a black pit bull named Onyx. Continue reading

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The Beautiful In-Between

They say there is a certain kind of sacredness that comes with being a hometown.

A kind of revered stance, venerated designation–an indelible seal that can never be taken away. No matter how vast the distances you travel, how divergent the paths you take, or how desperately you may try to shed its traces from your being, this is this place that pulses through your body and provides the foundation for the way you see and approach the world.

Yet in the end, many times, your hometown is not where you choose to lay your head at night. Instead, you settle in a place that you have chosen carefully. That is, you have a hand in the matter. It may be where you have found professional or personal success; where the schools are enviable; where the real estate market is agreeable; or, perhaps, simply where you have fallen in love. In the end, home may be a suburban neighborhood, the fresh air of the open wilderness, a cozy loft in the Upper East Side, or two arms that hold you steadfastly through it all.

What then, can be said of a place that is neither a hometown nor the home you choose in the end? What then, can be said of these beautiful in-between places–these fleeting midpoints that nurture you, espouse you, mold you for more? Furthermore, how do you leave a place that is not your home?

How do you say goodbye to a place that is not your home?

This is how you say goodbye. Continue reading

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Re: the cost of growing up

“Every human being has paid the earth to grow up. Most people don’t grow up. It’s too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older. That’s the truth of it. They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they don’t grow up. Not really. They get older. But to grow up costs the earth, the earth. It means you take responsibility for the time you take up, for the space you occupy. It’s serious business. And you find out what it costs us to love and to lose, to dare and to fail. And maybe even more, to succeed. What it costs, in truth. Not superficial costs—anybody can have that—I mean in truth. That’s what I write. What it really is like.”

– Maya Angelou, Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 119

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Friday Favs: 1989 Aerobics video, long-lost LEGO pieces and Tunde Adebimpe’s best performance


1. Shake It Off – 1989 Aerobics Workout Edition

A brilliant soul by the name of Thomas Jung ingeniously set Taylor Swift’s pop-friendly hit “Shake It Off” to a dated aerobics workout video from 1989, and the result is absolutely mesmerizing. Truth be told, “Shake It Off” is actually my least favorite song off of Tay’s new album, but upon my tenth viewing of this video, it might just be growing on me.

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Music Monday: Vance Joy

music monday

Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy is absolutely my favorite male voice that I’ve come across in 2014 (well, it’s a tie with Hozier). I’m completely enamored with the idiosyncrasies of his voice and the quiet intimacy of his lyrics. His back story is pretty cool, too: Joy began his music career when he started playing open-mic nights in Melbourne as he was finishing his law degree. Explains his cerebral, higher-level song-writing skills.

“Riptide” got me through the summer, but I can already tell that “Mess is Mine,” from his newly-released album, Dream Your Life Away is going to keep me warm this winter.

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Special Edition Friday Favs: Summer 2014


As I left my apartment this morning, there was no denying one glaring–yet welcomed–truth: autumn is nearly upon us. The final days of summer, with their capricious thunderstorms and humid, sun-beating afternoons still manage to sneak in here and there, but from female footwear to grocery store goodies, the fall is winning.

Sylvia Plath referred to this in-between period as that “odd uneven time,” which it certainly is–but I like to refer to it as a time for reflection.

I’ve been fortunate to have had an amazing summer filled with new experiences and challenges, surprises, art, excellent live music, delicious food and lots of love and laughter.

Below, you’ll find my “favorites” from a truly special summer:

1. Jeff Koons Retrospective at Whitney Museum of American Art

The Jeff Koons Retrospective at Whitney Museum of American Art is one of the most unique, provocative exhibits I’ve possibly ever seen. While I understand how cliche it must be to describe Koons’ art in those terms–it’s true! There is a sense of irreverence and playfulness to his work that feels you’re like staring dead-on at a huge middle finger.

jeff koons

Of all of the series shown, my favorite was “Celebration,” Koons’ artful manifestation of the joy and victory he felt in having his son Ludwig return from Rome after an impassioned custody battle with his ex-wife. The large-scale balloon sculptures made me smile from ear to ear, but it was “Play-Doh”–an enormously radiant replica of a Play-Doh sculpture that Ludwig had once created for his father–that struck me most. Koons worked on this particular sculpture for over 20 years, completing it just this year, in time for the Retrospective exhibition at The Whitney.

Beyond seeing the works of Koons, my experience at The Whitney felt all the more special because it is the last exhibition that will be shown at The Whitney’s current home on the Upper East Side before moving to a new building in downtown Manhattan next year. Way to go out with a bang. Continue reading

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Music Monday: Jessie Ware

music monday

By default, 2014 is now a brilliant music year for me, because Jessie Ware is releasing a new album.

The tracks that have been released so far–“Tough Love,” “Share It All” and “Say You Love Me”–have been noticeably more pop-centric and pull away from the more dramatic 80s vibe that I came to admire about her music. All of the soulful sweetness that I love about it is still ever-present, however.

My favorite of these new singles is “Say You Love Me.” It’s quietly powerful and entirely swoon-worthy.