A Letter to Myself | P.S. Punny

I don’t often converse with myself out loud. No pep talks into the mirror before speeches. No self-motivation during workouts. No, “That was embarrassing,” after inanely awkward moments. Instead, I write and think… a lot.

I welcome playful thoughts because adults are not encouraged enough to be imaginative. I am introspective, lean into my feelings, and try not to let my too oft existential crises consume me after 2 AM. Nothing good happens after 2 AM.

Hence, it was unusual to get a letter addressed in my own handwriting. After marathoning the Back to the Future trilogy (twice in two days), I did ponder if my past or future self was warning me of some imminent danger.

Dated March 4, 2020, written as a work assignment two weeks before quarantine, it felt like reading a horoscope. As much as I believe in magic, fate, and destiny, I’m a huge pragmatist. Of course some blurbs could apply to anyone, but at what point do you concede it’s more than just a coincidence?

Well, I’m letting myself believe it’s perfect timing, and even though Past Vietca had no idea lockdown was coming, she really knows Future Vietca, a constant hopeful. She also has a great sense of humor. Lots of cheese… you have been warned. Enjoy!

Dear Vietca,

You will always feel like there isn’t enough time to complete all your goals, even if there is. You feel like you could be more successful. You feel like you could be a better person.

The feelings will persist and there are others like you, and others who will help you through this. There are resources out there for people like you.

You’ve achieved so much already. Give yourself permission to celebrate even while continuing to build on what you’ve created. You are a rock star and someone or something made you forget that. Get it back and get back to it!

Love you!


P.S. Where does a king keep his armies? =)

Anniversary Update | Hi Dad

Hi Dad,

A lot has happened in the last year, and even if it’s a relief you don’t have to deal with it, if only you were here to deal with it with us.

  • COVID-19 is still rampant in the US because people struggle with caring about themselves versus others, while the rest of the world knows they’re not mutually exclusive. If you were here, you may convince Mom to stay in, but then I’d have to worry about you both.
  • Racial relations have elevated from where not being racist is no longer enough, and being anti-racist is an active choice. It’s too bad I never got to know more about your thoughts on matters like this.
  • I did my first oil change! Took three hours, BUT it’s a step up from when you taught me how to check my oil and coolant levels.
Vietca's First Oil Change
  • I started dating and met a lot of… different types. They weren’t keepers, but the stories sure are. Remember the kid who “proposed” to me from another car at a Houston intersection? I still have the ring.
  • I went camping for the first time in years AND finally saw a bear in the wild! Remember that huge bear you got me when I was four, and someone stole it off the truck on moving day?
  • I built my first computer. I mean, I kinda built the others, but was more hands on this time. The first one you got me had a black and green screen. I just found my diary entries on floppy disks.
  • My friends helped me make a pumpkin Halloween costume, but everyone thought I was a strawberry, hot chili, or tomato. I was a… Viet Cà (cà = tomato in Vietnamese). Now that I think about it, I think you told me my first pun, in Vietnamese no less. Something about a lady with a lemon waiting for a boy with a bottle, haha.
  • I used my bilingual skills to make students feel more comfortable in the classroom! Remember the Vietnamese teacher who said my name wasn’t real, and seven year-old me said if she didn’t know it was, she’s not qualified to teach us? I got to spend the whole summer with you learning to read and write.
  • My friends and I had a fierce debate about how to close takeout boxes. I think I won. Remember that bigger-than-me barrel of fortune cookies from your restaurant? I’m taller now, but still collect fortunes. I have a feeling you had something to do with me getting this one.
  • Mom needed a couple of surgeries, and was stubborn about letting others care for her. Guess it runs in the family. She’s better now because we caught it in time. I still wish you told us sooner.
  • I visited Filoli Gardens for my first time, and it was absolutely beautiful! I still love Christmas as much as I did when you bought us our first Christmas tree in the first house we lived in together.

Finally, the Chargers didn’t do very well, but at least the AFC West won it. I still remember that Chargers-Steelers game we watched together that led to the Super Bowl. They’ll get there… soon, I hope.

Sorry, that was a lot, but it was all to say that however much you missed doesn’t amount to how much I miss you this year, today. It was nice catching up.

Love, Việt Ca

Digital Love

Love in the Time of Corona…virus

I’m an analog hopeless romantic in an online dating world. I openly favor face-to-face instead of Facetime, hashing it out instead of hashtagging, and talking on the phone instead of staring at it, but the rules have changed, so I’m adapting as we all should.

Digital Love

Since getting on the apps last summer, I had sprees of six-date weekends followed by weeks of self-declared social distancing. This is not dissimilar to my pre-digital love life–I was lucky to have loved deeply twice for a combined 11 years, and follow that with a treasure trove of hilarities in sporadic singledom.

In light of recent events, or, now, lack thereof, solitude is no longer a choice, and honestly, this can be the start of an awesome silver lining. Coronavirus Disease 2019, a.k.a. COVID-19, is changing the landscape for love and language. While some are happy to rely on sexting and flirty wordies, others feel restricted they can’t get physical, all in the name of preventing community spread.

Well, I’m no chemist, but I have solutions! Here are my top 10 virtual dates so you can get down digitally with a little help from my analog friends. Have fun, be safe, and get wild, creatively wild. The possibilities are virtually endless. #seewhatididthere

Minimum requirements | text (📝), talk (🔊), video (📹)

  • Netflix and Chill 🔊
    • Have a watch party of a movie you both love and create your own commentary. When your Youtube channel blows up, you’ll have a story for the grandkids.
  • What do you bring to a picnic? 📹
    • Discuss the five items that make up your perfect picnic basket, and grocery shop with their list. Then, dine a day in your date’s shoes, one bite at a time. Not only will they think, “I’ll have what they’re having;” they’ll wish they were there with you.
  • Safe Fun 📹
    • Exchange Instagram stories using the conversational filters; it breaks the ice and may pave the way to deeper understanding. Feel safer knowing it’s not live while confirming you’re not getting catfished. Lucky for you, I have a list of a lot of them. Seriously, like… a lot.
  • Sound the Alarm… Clocks 🔊
    • Set YOUR alarm clock so you can wake up the other person up, so not only will they be pleasantly stirred from their slumber, but you’ll get to see or hear what your forever feels like. And no, you cannot wake up early to put your face on before they call. Come on, people.
  • Talk about TED 🔊
    • No, not about Mosbey the Architect. For the intellectual high, select a few TED Talks to watch and see where that leads you. If nothing else, you’ll learn something new about the world and yourselves.
  • Video Games 📝
    • If you weren’t a gamer before, it wouldn’t hurt to try being one now. It’s cheap, fast, and easy just like how I like my banh mi. If you’re competitive, this will be a true and fun test.
  • Storybuilding 📝
    • Start a story via text or email by sending one sentence/paragraph at a time, letting the other person take it wherever with their paragraph. Maybe it’ll become the next Harry Potter. Probably not, but who knows?
  • Open Bar 📹
    • Crack open a beer or pour yourself a whiskey neat and have a drink with one another via video. Share stories behind how you amassed your collection, or the first time you had a certain cocktail, or why you don’t drink. The topics are bottomless like your mimosa.
  • Karaoke Time 🔊
    • Sure, you can download Smule (no, I’m not sponsored, but can be convinced), or just video one another, pick your go-tos and whale away. My friends reading this should know a Karaoke Hangout is pending.
  • Iron Chef 📹
    • Can you already tell I like food? Find a recipe you both would like and cook it together. Set a time limit, and have a rubric ready to judge on presentation while you argue adorably over whose tastes better.
  • Teach Me Something 📹
    • Select a teachable talent, and teach one another something new. It can be tangible like guitar chords, or cultural trivia from your heritage. Accepting help allows us to feel vulnerable, and helping someone feels great. You’ll start feeling close in no time!
  • Go Virtual… Literally 🔊
    • If you’re lucky enough to each own a set, play a game together. The haptic feedback along with your other senses will do wonders until you can perform your own wonders… literally.

Photo Credit

  1. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.