“It’s hard to imagine you sleeping,” a casual friend of mine said to me over dinner a few months ago. She stated this in the context of how I like to move, how I like to get things done. Indeed, as a fifth year PhD student, I have published a little over a dozen peer-reviewed publications, I have read and reviewed about 80 to 90 books a year for the past decade, and most importantly I try to engage in consistent self-reflection and self-compassion to improve as a friend and a person. When anyone mentions my “accomplishments”
accomplishments in quotes because I’m literally just a Gaysian nerd who wants to sit on my couch and read novels all day lol and also “accomplishments” don’t determine people’s worth I feel a desire to crawl into a pink-colored cave and never come out, which my therapist calls “modesty.” People often ask me though: how do you do so much?
On one hand, I have a lot of privilege. I present as male, and I grew up in one of the ten wealthiest counties in the United States. Without a doubt these factors influence my achievements. I want to own their influence and take action to deconstruct the systems that create these forms of privilege in the first place.
At the same time, I do my best to minimize distractions. Continue reading
As a former anorexic, on rare occasion I struggle to figure out what I look like. While 9.87 times out of 10 I could not care less about my appearance, I sometimes feel the urge to figure out and then control my physique especially when life gets stressful. On a trip to Boston a few weeks ago, my non-severe body dysmorphia manifested in interactions like these on one of the gayest apps to ever exist, Grindr Continue reading
I turn 26 in a little over a month and am unsure about whether I want to raise any kids in the future. While I feel okay about not knowing, at this point I lean toward not having kids so that I can maintain my independence, a core value of mine. What frustrates me more than not knowing whether I want kids: the stigma against those who do not have kids, as well as the glorification of those who do have them.
Flash backward to a conversation I had with one of my ex-friends about two and a half years ago. Continue reading
The other day I had a conversation with a close friend that freaked me out. Whereas in the past this friend and I used to bond over our shared feminist singleness in the patriarchy, this conversation felt more like a defense of settling for mediocre men. While I love this friend, parts of this conversation stressed me out so much I literally opened a Word doc to draft a blog post titled “What If I Date a Man and Sacrifice All My Values and Become a Husk of My Former Self.”
Imagine this: I, a queer red-haired Vietnamese man, recline in an office chair in the guest bedroom of a generous friend. A near-empty glass of orange juice sits on the turquoise desk where I stare at an open Word document, journaling about my anxieties surrounding men and patriarchy. Continue reading
I have had pretty bad luck with men. From neglectful family members to abusive professional advisors to subpar dates, I often want to throw my hands up in the air, climb a ladder onto the roof of a tall building, and scream “men are trash” at the top of my lungs. I once told the therapist I saw in my undergrad years, L, that if someone gave me a pill to swallow so I could stop feeling attracted to men, I would swallow it without a moment’s hesitation – not because I dislike my gayness, just because I dislike my attraction to a gender that is socialized to value stoicism and achievement over emotional openness and caring.
Over the past week I have spent time processing my most recent somewhat failed crush, perhaps my oddest one yet. While the support of my close friends, my therapist, and myself have helped, I still feel this tugging resentment, like a voice saying “ok, if this guy didn’t work out, I might as well declare a vow of celibacy, never try to invest in a man again, and channel all my love to the people who deserve it: Ariana Grande and BlackPink.” But, because I work as a therapist and have gone to therapy, I noticed my thought pattern (i.e., a cognitive distortion, if you want to get boring about it) and went, “wait a second, not all the men in my life have been trash, even if a large number of men do practice toxic masculinity and are subsequently trash.” I have had deep and healthy relationships with three men in particular aside from the fictional men I fanboy all the time, looking at u, Willem from A Little Life. Continue reading
2018 has been an excellent year for reading. This year I managed to get through 91 books, all while finishing my first and starting my second year of graduate school, staying connected with close friends, stanning Ariana Grande and BlackPink nonstop, and getting back into tennis. I feel kinda bad for the books both on and off this list because I read so many stellar books this year and the competition to emerge on this list was intense
not like any of these authors or books actually cares about getting onto this list lol I just like to derive some vague sense of self-importance from what I put out into the world ok anyway. I chose to cut off my honorable mentions at ten per category just to keep the list a little more manageable. I included links to my full Goodreads reviews of each book as well as links to past years’ top ten lists for easy reference at the bottom. I’d love to know what you’ve read, what you haven’t read, and what you’d recommend. Without further ado: Continue reading
Your memoir Appetites saved my life. I first read it four years ago, at 18, the summer after my freshman year of college. You see, I had anorexia too, several years ago in my early adolescence. I starved myself for many of the same reasons you did. I wanted control over my life and didn’t have it, so I starved. I wanted to erase all the emotions I felt but I couldn’t, so I starved. I learned from my mother and the media and so many other sources that I could and should change my body, so I starved.
But I didn’t truly understand why I starved until I read Appetites. Continue reading
How do you deal with a long-distance friendship? I ask because one of my closest friends, A, moved away from the DC area about three months ago. Though we still text almost every day and FaceTime about once a week, I still feel sad. As I write this, I sit alone in my apartment’s living room space with all the lights on, covered in a semi-thick blanket, though I wish I were sitting a few feet across from her on her old apartment’s worn-down yet comfy grey couch. I am mourning: remembering the closeness we once had and confronting my life where I still have it in some ways, yet in other ways, no longer.
A and I met when I moved to the DC area for graduate school in August 2017. Continue reading