what ifs?

Content may be triggering.

It began with how I started noticing things around me. Although I did not know the specific term for that. It just started with the sense of being “wronged”. I was 9 or 10 in elementary school. I was an innocent girl knowing nothing about gender stuff. Because we were so innocent, and the teacher wanted to believe in the innocence of her pupils, she would let us take a nap without separating boys and girls. Next thing I knew, a boy told me that he touched my thighs while I was sleeping and I kid you not, he did not apologize me. I was terrified. I was a child, didn’t know how to handle the situation. I boycotted him using the power of a class monitor and I remember vividly that I was so mean to him as a way to revenge. I did not tell anyone the story at the time though. Last summer, I met up with two of my “best elementary school friends” that I haven’t seen them for years. (I put them in quotation marks because we haven’t seen each other for years but we still considered each other best friends in elementary school). We talked all afternoon and the story somehow came up. Only then, 12 years later, I realized that I was not the only victim. A lot of my girl classmates had that same experience. And we all kept silent. Some talked to other friends, but no one has ever told the story to our parents or our teachers. We were that afraid.

I was 14 and we got parts of our house repaired. I had to open the door for a construction worker and there were me and that creepy man alone in the elevator. He started asking me questions, how old I was, and asked how I looked “mature” considering my age. I felt unsafe, but there was no way to escape the elevator so I was just desperately waiting for the door to open. Just by the second I heard that clinging sound and felt relieved, he grabbed my butts and walked out the door. I stood there, shocked, horrified, but said no words.

I was in high school and there was this classmate who pat on my booties as I was running pass him. Once with his hand and once with the stick you use in PE (the one when you do a relay race and you pass it to another member of the team). Just like how I was in elementary school, I did not confront him. (Confrontation has never been a thing for me). I blocked him on social media. I told my girl friends the disgusting story and boycotted him. I did not tell it to a lot of people, but there was no such thing called “secret” in high school. One of his friend somehow heard the story, and she said she confronted him for me. And his answer was he didn’t know anything, he didn’t do it, what was I talking about etc. He sounded so innocent and convincing to the point I wondered if I was just an attention bitch and made up the whole story of being harassed and blamed the wrong innocent person. “But no bitch I know when someone touched my body so how about you shut up”. I could have said that. But I did not.

All that time, I remained silent. I was scared. I felt ashamed. But then, now I realized silence is also an act of violence. My silence has given all that people the thought of being powerful. The thought that they have the physical strength and since they are men, they can do anything to my body.

It’s all about “what ifs”. What if I told my teacher and that boy got a lesson for himself, and for all other boys that were about to touch my friends’ body, could I possibly have prevented those incidents? What if I didn’t let all those catcalls or dickpics go so easily, so they don’t ever get to think that they are always able to get away with such attitude and behaviors to women? What if I stood up for myself?

My friends sometimes say they “don’t see gender” just because it doesn’t affect them that much and things like that don’t happen to them. But it doesn’t matter to you does not mean things don’t happen elsewhere. It doesn’t affect you does not mean you don’t need to raise your voice and help others.

I will tell two more stories to wrap up the post (which are not really related to what I’ve written but also related in a way and it’s not that long to write the whole post so I’m just going to say everything now). Once my friend’s boss told her that she, at some point, is going to be a housewife. He also cited the Bible, saying how he was made of a man and such and so, men and women are not equal from the beginning. In another discussion, my friend told me that heterosexual is the natural orientation, because our ultimate life purpose is to reproduce. My thoughts. First, the Bible was written forever ago, and I believe in something more recent, which is called science. Context matters and it also applies to reproduction problem. We are living in the world that has too many people and I’m sure human reproduction is not the most important natural thing that need to be done. Theories and things that once were true doesn’t mean they are still true and will be true forever. Sciences and technologies have developed and given us so many opportunities to have a better life, and with that our society is constantly changing, and so should our mind be.

Thank you so much for reading.

– dgna –

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The Hague | Crossing Borders Festival

I am pretty lucky to get to travel every 2 to 3 months and I indeed take a lot of photos, record also vlog footages. However, it takes me a lot of motivation to put those videos together, and editing photos is even worse.

I went to The Hague in the beginning of November (yes, it’s the end of November now) and stayed there for the weekend to attend Crossing Borders Festival. It is a music and literature festival, which was amazing. There were authors and artists from all over the world, gathered together in The Hague, performed, talked about their arts, their books, poetry, politics, society, everything. It was such an eye-opening experience and I would love to attend the festival again next year.

The Hague in fall was lovely, a bit windy but it was sunny as well. We had a walk along the coast, listened to sea gulls (which remind me of Finding Nemo all the time), drank lots of coffee and got to visit some excellent exhibitions.

I brought my analog camera with me along the trip. Unfortunately, I don’t own a scanner and it costs 10 euros to get 20 photos scanned, which I can save to buy another 2 film rolls, so I just scanned them myself with my dsrl. Here are some of the photos from my travelling, hope you enjoy.

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All photos were taken with my Canon AE-1 and Samsung Galaxy S5.

Much love,

– dgna –

 

rambling session: on bubbles and being relevant

I went to bed at 4 AM last night. The consequence is I had to debate with my lazy self if I really need to go to my 10 AM class this morning. And I’m glad I did. We watched Hannah Gadsby’s standup comedy show called Nanette on Netflix, in which she talks about genders, sexuality and her stories. The show is brilliant, powerful, hilarious and extremely sad at the same time. It was quite a lot for me to digest, content wise and emotion wise, to the point I wanted to cry afterwards and I had to deeply inhale a few times to get a little bit of the tension out of my head and my chest.

I looked around the class. There are 10 girls and 1 guy. He is gay. And I wondered why. Why aren’t there no straight male person in a class talking about feminism, besides my teacher. There was one, actually. He quit after the first session. He told my teacher he didn’t see any points for him to take the class and he is more into classic literatures. I was shocked when I heard that. It does matter to him and to everyone. I mean, he is a heterosexual white man and there are endless possibilities that he can do to change the world. Sadly, he doesn’t see it that way. As so many male fellas out there. They don’t see it that way.

We talked about bubbles after watching the show. Academic bubbles. How we were in the same bubble at that specific moment. In our bubbles, we have access to information, to literature, to art. We have tons of opportunities to educate ourselves, and we are willing to do so. However, outside all these bubbles, and even inside, is the rest of the world. Racism, homophobia, sexism, discrimination and ignorance exist in all kind of shapes and forms.

I now understand why I am always frustrated talking about gender equality and feminism to my friends, especially guy friends. I feel like I am not listened and understood. It is not that they are incapable of understanding what is happening everywhere, they just don’t want to, maybe they are lazy. From their points of view everything is fine and they don’t see any problems with gender equality. I sometimes wonder if they really think so or it is just so easy for them to have the privileges so they don’t feel the need to see the world in another perspective. Well, privilege is often invisible to the ones who own it.

I am lucky enough to be a part of the bubble. It’s a privilege. And there are responsibilities and duties going hand in hand with the privilege I own. I first started the blog simply as something to get stuff out of my head, but I want more now. I want to make the bubble bigger. I want to share my thoughts and I want to inspire people. I want to reach out. I have a small ambition of contributing to change the world, little by little, although I don’t have a lot of faith in humanity. Humanity is not trustworthy, but let’s not lose all the faith. Even though it is much easier to just ignore all the bullshits and pretend that things don’t matter to you, it is not the solution. Take Trumps and Brexit as examples. That’s what ignoring turned out to be.

I listened to a conversation with Paolo Giordano last weekend, and he said something like this: “When you’re at your 20s, you are energetic and you want to achieve so many things. You want to change the world. Human might have spoiled everything but you still believe you can protect the it…At that time, there is nothing worse than being irrelevant.”

So yes, please be relevant, since every action counts.

 

Thanks for reading. Much loves and appreciations.

dgna

 

rambling session: on women, men and things that matter

I’ve always wanted to write about this in a serious way but it is such a big topic and I never can just focus on one point. I don’t know where to start and where to end and what and which and who should the post covers. Well, that’s why I have this rambling session.

*little notes: I know gender matters everywhere and there’s a lot of different aspects but I write this in the context of an assumingly-binary-world in Vietnam.

So, let’s start with a little story. For some reasons, beauty pageant contest is a thing that people care about in Vietnam. There is nothing wrong with such contests, people love beauty and so do I. I normally only watch the top 5 girls answering questions. And I remembered vaguely that one of the contestants, given the question “What makes Vietnamese women different from women all over the world?”, answered that it is “sacrifice”, and she meant that since the time of wars Vietnamese women have given all what they have to take care of their family and so on. I don’t remember her exact answer, but I do remember how confused I was. On one hand, I was like “okay, well, not bad, quick answer, I am too really proud of Vietnamese moms in the history”; and on the other hand I hated that answer. I mean, we are not at wars anymore. I don’t know if sacrifice is even a positive trait. Of course, it is a choice and can bring happiness and joy, but also, there are much more of a woman than just about family life.

I find many little things in our daily life disturbing. I hate big family gatherings when all male adults sit together, drink alcohol and have the food served, while their wives sit with the kids. Who clean up afterwards? You know the answer. I notice how that also effects kids’ mindsets. After dinner, all the girls will help clean up, wash the dishes, and the boys, most of the time, will just sit there with their phones, like it’s not their business. I hate when adults tell me that I have to know how to cook to be a good-wife-material later on. People don’t tell their sons that. But cooking is a life skill that everyone, regardless of sex and gender, should know to feed themselves, isn’t it?

It all starts at a young age. That’s why how we teach our next generations is extremely important. In my generation, most of the girls are expected to make their life choices with marriage put on their 1stpriority. Boys are not. In Vietnam, when a woman is not married at the age of 27, she will be silently judged by this cruel society, as if it is a failure. That’s why I’m already preparing my family by saying that I’m not going to get married until I’m 30, although they probably think I was joking.

We’ve been taught as if it’s our fault to be girls. “Close your legs!”, “Sit like a girl!”, “No short shorts!”, “No spaghetti straps!”, and even “Cut the banana in half!” – sounds ridiculous, but that were what I’ve heard all the time growing up, as if I’m guilty just by being born as a girl. There are news pieces everywhere and everyday about girls being raped, being harassed on the streets, on taxi, busses… and yet when I scroll down the comment section, both men and women, blame the girl for being “too sexy”, for wearing “inappropriate”, or she might be a slut. A rapist said that the girl was too pretty he couldn’t control himself. What kind of argument is that? These people have been raised thinking that women are inherently guilty, and the idea of men being unable to control themselves is more acceptable than women being sexy. I’ve never heard a man being criticized for not having his T-shirt on.

Yes, many of my male friends tell me all the time that it is also really tiring to be a man in this society. You have to pay bills, to work your ass off to feed the family, to get lots of money to get married, so on and so forth. See how most of the struggles with being a man are all related to money? It is again because of our stereotypes and mindset that men have to be strong, tough, masculine, and we tie power and masculinity also with money. On dates, men are expected to pay to prove his manliness. On a book called “We Should All Be Feminist” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi, she said:

What if both boys and girls were raised not to link masculinity and money? What if their attitude was not “the boy has to pay,” but rather, “whoever has more should pay.” Of course, because of their historical advantage, it is mostly men who will have more today. But if we start raising children differently, then in fifty years, in a hundred years, boys will no longer have the pressure of proving their masculinity by material means.

Another thing I hate about these stupid stereotypes is that it oppresses people’s feelings. Boys are taught to not show their vulnerability, fear, tears and weaknesses… and that sucks. I hate feelings and emotions because I feel too much sometimes it’s overwhelming.  And I think we all do. I don’t express my feelings often but then that’s why I know how confined and restricted it can be. After all, we are just human beings, aren’t we?

Sex is biologically determined, but gender (stereotype) is a social construction. And as it is constructed and also constantly reproduced, it can always be changed. And we need to change it, for the better.

Much love,

dgna

22.

My last blog post was a year ago. I have no excuses, I was lazy.

Anyways, I’ve just turned 22 today.

22 is an ugly number, isn’t it? It’s when you’re not that young anymore but you’re also not that mature. I want to be like “I don’t care, I’m still young, I don’t want to do anything” and on the other hand, my best friend forever “Responsibilities” starts yelling my name. Horror story in real life.

Well, today was not that bad. After quite a peaceful day I am now sipping tea, listening to my new John Lennon vinyl, reflecting on myself and trying to put my thoughts into words, absolutely random stuff. I definitely have not changed drastically from 21 to 22, but there’re actually quite a lot of thing I’ve learned this past year.

So, I’ve been working on self-love, little by little, and I’m proud of how far I’ve come, although there are still tons of stuff to do. There are tiny problems I’ve never noticed until I started taking care of myself. For instance, I have trust issues and also commitment issues. Although I know I do have them since quite a long time, I just haven’t seen any big problems and have done literally nothing to “overcome” them, which make everything even worse at some points. It’s just extremely hard for me to trust someone and I don’t even feel the need to put my trust on anyone ever. My friends say that it’s unhealthy to live in doubts, but I don’t. I mean, I can totally trust people, I just choose not to.

However, I do see how it is unhealthy since I cannot open up to anyone and I just keep everything for myself. Sometimes I feel like there is myself for me and myanotherself to meet people, which is confusing af because sometimes I cannot even distinguish between those two, like I don’t even know when I’m being honest and when I’m hiding myself. Definitely something to work on, but of course with no pressure.

This year I’ve been also quite overwhelmed with feelings and thoughts from myself and others. I met people that were broken hearted. I talked to some of my friends who have just witnessed their family teared apart. I heard stories about loneliness, worries and depression. I shared the same fear of seeing family members getting weaker every time you see them and there is just nothing you can do about it but blame it on age and time. I listened to people living with abusive parents. I met a 5-year-old-girl growing up without parents and has HIV in her tiny body. The way she held our hands for the first time we met and kind of forced us to go everywhere with her, how she climbed up my body demanding to be hugged and carried showed how much love she lacks.I met other kids who also were born with HIV and yet they are striving to live their best, with hopes and dreams. All of those stories make me think a lot, and I realized how strong human being are. And suddenly my problems shrink down to the size of dust particles.

See, that’s what I hate about growing up. Aging is not a problem, it doesn’t depress me. Thoughts do, though. You just automatically think more about deep shit stuff in life when you get older. How disturbing.

Alright, after 20 minutes straight typing what’s on my mind, I’ve realized that this post could be forever long and getting nowhere and no one wants to read such a novel, so I’ll just end my “birthday reflection” here. Thank you all for reading my no-point-life-story.

And also, thanks for all the birthday wishes and loves.

I love you, too.

dgna

rambling session: on today, and on “milk and honey”

To be honest, it has been an exhausting day. I’ve just got home from work. The restaurant is so crowded these days thanks to the climate change conference. Well, tiring but at least I got something to keep my mind busy.

It’s so weird because yesterday was still alright. Or at least it seemed to be so. I got my problems solved, had a nice conversation with a friend I haven’t met for a long time, worked without procrastinating and crossed out everything listed on my journal.

Today, on the contrary, was not so productive. Maybe it’s because of my 8 AM class, or maybe it’s just my mood swinging up and down, like it always does. I made a few decisions, can’t tell if it’s the right thing to do or not. One of them is dropping my Medieval Studies course after 5 times attending the class, with a little hope that it would be more interesting the next time. Well, I gave the course 5 chances, and that’s it. I still hate it, so I have to do what makes me feel right.

I spent 3 hours in a café, had two cappuccinos and wanted to be productive. The thing is, you don’t always get what you want. I left the café with my brain feeling heavy, and my mind feeling useless. I headed to the book store looking for something that could lighten my head and my heart a bit. And I chose “milk and honey”.

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milk and honey – rupi kaur

I don’t think I am poetic and critical enough to write a review about anyone’s works. Some people really love this collection of poetry, some don’t agree that this is deserved to be called poetry. To me, it actually doesn’t matter. I like the message she wants to deliver and I admire her ability to transfer so much pains and sweetness at the same time and in such few words. I really enjoyed reading it although I actually expected more, but just because I’ve seen her poems all over Facebook and Tumblr being called a masterpiece.

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milk and honey – rupi kaur

It’s almost 12 AM now. It’s been really a long day so I’ll end it with 3 little things I appreciated, just to ease my mind:

  1. I’ve found a childhood friend that I’ve lost contact with for almost 10 years.
  2. I’ve just bought a ticket for Oh Wonder’s concert on Monday.
  3. I talked to my mom and dad.

 

And that’s all. Thank you so much for reading.

Much love.

-dgna-

 

21 things I’ve learned at 21

Hi all it’s me, long time no talk. I actually have a lot of things to write about but I’m just too lazy to edit photos and stuff.

So yes, I turn 21 today and that’s why I finally got the motivation to write something. Turning 21 is pretty exciting and scary at the same time. I feel like I have to be an “adult” now and it is sure the last thing I want to be. But whatever, I’m also super young and I still have my whole life ahead of me to experience and grow.

Anyway, I just feel like writing something very casual to mark my 21st birthday, so I took a little time to reflect and share with you a few things I’ve learned. So here we go:

  1. Family is all. I love them unconditionally.
  2. Friends. I am really really thankful that I have such amazing and supportive people around me no matter what.
  3. A good coffee determines your productivity all day.
  4. It’s okay to be an introvert. 
  5. It’s okay to be average. 
  6. No one’s perfect. We make mistakes, a lot of mistakes. But that’s the way we grow up.
  7. Everyone has a different point of view. Don’t force anyone to think the same way as you do.
  8. Treat yourself. Treat yourself well. Here I mean with delicious food.
  9. Modern family is a great series. So is Friends.
  10. Have fun and enjoy being young. 
  11. Stepping out of my comfort zone is actually not that bad. It’s pretty scary and I’m still practicing it, but I like how it feels at the end.
  12. Reading is important.
  13. Always appreciate the present and cherish every moment. Nobody knows how things will turn out.
  14. Procrastinating is not a good thing but it works sometimes. I seriously need to manage my time better though.
  15. Moisturizing and sunscreen are essential.
  16. You have to let go at some points. Things, and people as well.
  17. Don’t let other people make you feel bad about yourself. They simply don’t have the right to do that under any circumstances. You don’t live to satisfy anyone and there will always be people judging you if you don’t have money, if you are not skinny, if you do not fit in, etc. Well, screw them.
  18. Traveling opens your eyes and your mind. 
  19. As a waitress/waiter, smile when you serve others, it will make the food taste better. And also, as a guest, smile and say thank you to the waiters/waitresses, it will make their work day easier. I’ve learned this thanks to my part time job.
  20. A clean house is key. I miss my squeaky clean home so much. I only realized this after living with two male flatmates and they never clean after cooking and that just irritates me more than anything. Sadly, I cannot afford an apartment alone so I have no other choice but living with that mess and never cook.
  21. I still have a lot to learn. 

That’s all. Thank you so much for reading.

Happy birthday to me.

Much love,

dgna-

an untitled poem

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Another day’s just gone away

without saying —

goodbye.

 

 

It’s time —

to sleep.

It’s finally when I can live

my imaginary life.

 

 

Sunshine will softly touch my lips,

the wind will slowly kiss my hair

and the daisies will gently –

lie down next to me.

 

 

We’ll talk til’ eventide,

then the wind will start to scratch my skin

and the daisies will suddenly cry.

And there’re droplets — in my eyes.

 

 

Is it dawn, or is it bright?

Is it day or is it night?

Am I awake or am I asleep?

Or I am —

living someone else’s life.

 

 

A random poem I wrote on a random night (that I’m too embarrassed to put it on facebook)

-dgna-

July 2017

let’s talk about feelings

So we’ve just hugged goodbye. Me and my mom.

I really thought that I would be fine but I guess I am not. Goodbye hugs mean hello to emptiness, hello to being alone, hello to missing everyone and everything.

Not that I don’t like hugging people goodbye but it just irritates me so much when something makes me turn into a weak, emotional and vulnerable bitch. I like being strong. Even when people say that I’m cold, emotionless or unapproachable, I’m totally fine with it. Actually I wish I could be like that because dealing with my emotions was never easy for me.

Thinking about this makes me realize that I’ve always denied my negative feelings. I’m scared to face those “difficult thingies”  so I would just pretend that they do not really matter and say to myself from time to time that I am doing well, I am happy and I am “fine”.

One reason why I hate being alone is that those annoying stuff keep coming back to me. That is why I always need someone to talk to, why I always keep myself busy with books and korean dramas or netflix. I need those distractions to push my negative feelings away and wish that they would just disappear themselves as life goes on. Well, they won’t, as I know now.

I thought I do understand myself but seems like I don’t. Sad huh?

Anyway, I don’t think I’m ready to absorb those emotions so I’m just going to write this note, post it on my blog and then sleep my mind off. It’s not healthy, I know. But that’s my way dealing with it and I know I will be just fine.

Thank you for reading.

xoxo,
-dgna-

voorlinden museum | netherlands

One thing I love about studying in Germany is our 2-month-break between each semester. I believe new experiences and adventures breathe fresh life into our heart and soul so I always try to “run away” whenever I am able to do so.

I took a bus to Amsterdam to visit my best friend right after the last final exam. We spent a day to go to Voorlinden Museum in Den Haag (which was a tough trip to be honest). It was a dark and stormy day, we missed a train, got delayed and we were freezing. However, the museum was worth it. It was really impressive, inspiring and we were like two excited kids running everywhere and posing in every corner.

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xoxo,

– dgna –