This is for you, brother.

Hello, it has been a while since I updated this blog. This is a really personal piece, so I hope that I could share my experiences and help those that have a similar circumstance like me to make something out of their own.
As I am currently working at Skipping Stones, I hope that in the future I could put some of my work there or repost some of my favorite pieces here for reference on my blog. Until then, I’ll keep working hard!

I have came to a lot of realization this past few days. It is amazing how reflecting on myself could help me understand myself so much better. I have realized that the things that hurt me the most is what actually makes me so much stronger.

I have a brother, who is handicapped since he was born. When I was a child, I used to envy him, because he would get all of the attentions from my parents and my other relatives. I still remember when I was young, my mother would often cry because of my brother, and I hated him for that. But how ridiculous could a child be, hating on someone who couldn’t even speak for themselves. Not until when I grew older that I knew how childish I was, and I sometimes laugh at myself for that.

However, as I came to the world and people ask me about myself, I would often emit the part “I have a brother, he’s handicapped.” self-introduction. What’s worth mentioning him anyways, so that people would only pity me? For a while I have been telling people, that I am “technically” the only child in my house, because my brother is just “an existence that is just existing”. I regretted so much for have ever thought of him that way.
I made a trip back to my home country last year, and stayed there for 3 weeks with my family. While being at home, I spent time taking care of my brother and talking to him, even though he couldn’t understand me. However, as I looked at him, and seeing him smiled at me, with love in his eyes and his pure and innocent smile, I realized how stupid I was. HE was the reason I went to study abroad in the first place, for better education, for a better job and future, so that I could take care of him when my parents no longer could. HE was the reason I am as strong as I am now, because I understood my mother’s tears, how mentally devastating and isolating it is to have an unwanted child in a society where a person like my brother is useless because he cannot contribute to the community. I would get pitiful eyes, people asking me questions, and showing me sympathy. But then I realized, that they couldn’t understand how it feels like to have a handicapped brother, to care for him, to see him grow older but still resembles a child, to desperately wish that I could have a normal brother, someone who would share my thoughts and what happened in my life, how envious and lonely I was when I saw people with their siblings and when they cared for each others.

It took me 19 years to realize that something I wanted to hide from myself was actually the most important thing that keeps me going and working hard and trying my best all these years. However there is no time for regret. My brother is disabled, and because of him, I am the most capable human being that I could be. My brother is handicapped, and I am proud to be his little sister. When I am successful in the future, I hope that one day I could look back in say : “This is for you, brother.”

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A Smile In the Picture

I still remember that smile

It looked at me wide-eyed

The sun was in it

The rain was in it

The wind was in it

My heart-was in it.


That smile stayed in a picture

It stayed inane


Even though…

The warm spot in front of the door has already went cold

The water bowl in the kitchen has long drained

The corner spot on the bed has long been emptied

The space in my heart has already been filled.


Have you ever asked why a smile could make you cry?
And how a smile that goes with a smile are the happiest smiles in the world?
Why, because it is just a smile.

A smile in the old picture.

A smile that could lift up a heart.

Pia Pham- 03/16/17

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I still remember those days when I was a child and my dad drove me to school every single day.
And yes, by everyday, I meant including weekends.
And no, by drove I didn’t mean by car, grammar mistake…
I meant by his old Yamaha blue motorbike that is 5 years older than me, whom, is eligible to drink in America.
And how could this motorbike survives through all the heavy rains and boiling heat and dust and old age?
It’s a good question – I’d say.
But let me tell you something about its backseat.
The seat that would heat up to over 100 degree because he waited for me to come out of an exam for 2 hours under the scorching sun.
The seat that has sloughed and shed because he went through a total of 9 miles, twice, 3 days per week, to pick me up after class despite the breezing rain.
The seat where I could leisurely and freely look around left and right, when he instead had to focus and looked straight ahead.
The seat where I could see his broad shoulder and the sweats that were so wet that his brand new work shirt has stick tight to his back.
The seat where I could see all of his white hair beginning to appear, more and more, day by day as I counted.
The seat where I don’t have to deal with all the burning heat and the piercing rain because he had me at his back.
The seat where I could hug him from behind.
The seat where I feel safe and protected.
So how could that 24 years old motorbike survive through all those rains and heat and dust and old age you asked?
I’d say it’s fueled of love.

Pia Pham- 08/03/17

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Little stars

Red, yellow and green
The little stars upon my head
Somehow you’re always there to guide me
Run, slow down, or stop.

Red, yellow and green
Your life begins at green and ends at red.
A peaceful dream when you put yourself to sleep.
Is it me, or the stars blur into a river
Streaming down my cheek, as I put you to bed?

Red, yellow and green
A little wish upon the star
I wish to know who you are
Which star is you, and which star am I
As we stood on the same stage, blinded
For the auction of life.

Red, yellow and green
The stars that stayed after I closed my eyes
One, two, three
Four, Five, Six, the clock tickings
A yellow star on the blood red theme
Bed time stories, heroes and dreams
What have I done for everyone else, instead of, myself?

Red, yellow and green
3 colors of the Rubik cube
3 phases of life
Or is it 3 colors of mine?

Red- passion and love- the thorns that bleeds my soul
Yellow- sunshine and happiness- the light that blinds my mind
Green- a peaceful night in the woods staring at the stars
You little dreams upon my head
Are you trying to flash my guides?
Because I am lost in my own forest.
Because I know how to walk, but don’t know where to head
Because I am trying to read an intangible signal
But I went at red and stop at green
Who even created that rule anyways?
Why can’t I just stop, slow down and look around
How many people have gone
and How much have stayed?
How many memories I collected
and How much I remember?
How many nights I counted
and How much words on the page?
Red, Yellow, and Green,
Maybe you’ll tell me, someday?…

Pia Pham- 08/02/17

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Pretty hurts

Well if you’ve listened to Beyonce’s “Pretty hurts” then you think you know what I’m talking about
But no, it’s not what I am trying to say.
But yes, pretty hurts.

Comparing yourself to others
You’re too fat, too skinny, too dark, too pale.
I’m like a hippo, a stick, no one likes me.
You want to be pretty
But pretty hurts.

So you stood up strong.
You stood up for the weak.
You stood up for yourself, the ones that put you down
You stood up sound and tall, non afraid of all those clowns.
You became hard.

Lacking empathy, emotions, no excuse.
Turned away from the toxic, the unhappiness, the negatives.
While they’re there trying to make themselves look better
You are here trying to make yourself feel nicer.
Friendlier, bolder, spicier, brighter
Fire, a fighter, no whiner, a winner
Going higher, be kinder, a dreamer
But at night, you are still, no prettier.

If you become hard, someday you’ll crack
If you become pretty, you’ve got to try.
Repetition, faking perfection, seeking affection.
But pretty, no matter whether you think you’re beautiful or not
Stay soft, it looks beautiful on you.

Pia Pham – 07/29/17

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Do you believe in Magic?

The carousels, the circus, the smiling faces
The make-believe, the lies, the tricks.
There is no such thing as magic
But false belief human made up to fool themselves.

Do you believe in Magic?- someone asked
The love at first sight? The wishes came true?
The little fairy with her golden pixie dust
The childhood dream of being able to fly.

Do I believe in Magic? I whispered
The taste of mom’s cooking that healed my wore down heart
Is it magic? A smile that came out of love.
I don’t know, maybe it is, or it is not.

A thousand million wishes upon the stars
Have you ever wished to see a loved one from afar.
But realized that the person’s gone, and the pain aches?
Or have you ever wished for something good you lack
And ended up not having it, your smile cracked?
I would say if my wishes came true
Then it would be magic- the truth.

But what is magic really?
Is it to make you happy?
To make you believe that you’re full when you’re hungry?
Or to make you hope and make things easy?
Then isn’t magic a lie?
A performance carefully staged, cheated?
But why do people still believe in magic?

So what is magic really?
A small flower for you when you cry
Making something disappears then reappears
Making someone to come back
Making someone to come back
Making someone to come back.

A smile that warms the heart
and a smile that haunts
I don’t know the answer, so I shall ask you
Do you believe in magic?

Pia Pham- 07/27/17

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Blueberry Picking and The Yellow Umbrella

Blueberry Picking

Life is like blueberry picking
You pick the ones that are ripe and sweet
You don’t pick the ones that are sour
Unless, you like sour.


The Yellow Umbrella – inspired quote from Himym

“Somewhere out there, there is a yellow umbrella for everyone.
You just be patience.”
Somewhere out there, there is someone walking under the rain, caring less their body damped by the breezing water.
Somewhere out there, you are going to be caught up in the rain, being dumped by your friend, carrying an extra umbrella.
So somewhere out there, you might want to share your umbrella with that someone out there.



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