Fish Sauce by Anhthao Bui

Fish Sauce by Anhthao Bui
Fish Sauce is realistic fiction, and Anhthao’s second anthology collection.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Condoleezza Rice—the Captivating Connoisseur

By Anhthao Bui with editing by Daniel Lambert

I wish to sit in front of a grant piano and let my fingers freely dance on the keyboard. I wish to earn a PhD degree, and make book tours around the world to glorify my incredible father. Condoleezza Rice’s fruition reflexes my mind trip, which hooks me to trace her steps since I have known her on Facebook. I know that I, a working new immigrant, am not able to compare myself to Ms. Rice, a widespread noble lady, and we were raised in different cultures. However, reading her story, I have learned that we share some correspondent values, such as an educational backbone, a childhood surrounded by love, and an orientation toward family.

Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 was an unsafe place because of the hatred of African Americans. The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing by Ku Klux Klan members was not the only conspiracy that abused African American emotions, but it was a chronic event. Ms. Rice experienced Birmingham’s turmoil, so she ironically changed “Birmingham” into “Bombingham.” The fearsome events in Birmingham shocked me and challenged my knowledge. Growing up in Vietnam, a war-torn country, I was jealous of the peaceful United States. I thought that after the U.S. Civil War, the United States was the most secure place in the world. Thus, currents of people around the world poured into the United States to seek protection. However, my understanding about the United States was encapsulated. In the United States, few places were untrustworthy to live in. The explosive event at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was not the first or the last attack, but it has happened like that until today, with the September Eleven terrorist attack. While Ms. Rice encountered her local violence as a child, my immaturity confronted the national disturbance of the Fall of Saigon in April of 1975.

As an only child, Ms. Rice received her parents’ full benefits of love. Her parents wrapped her in a cozy cocoon of affection to protect her from danger. As well-educated and sociable people who occupied themselves with community services, Ms. Rice’s parents still kept their eyes on their only daughter with serious guidance and high expectations. Ms. Rice's father accepted the community’s critics regarding his indifferent African American political norms and movements because he did not want to end up in jail: he needed to protect his own family. Ms. Rice communicated well with her parents. She trusted her parents and always shared her true feelings and emotions with them. While Ms. Rice directly won her parents’ abundant attachment and care, I shared my parents’ love with my siblings. My father did not have time to talk to his youngest child when he was alive. Like many Vietnamese women, my mother stayed home to take care of us, but she almost ignored me because the older siblings needed more attention than I did. Until now, our communication was limited. However, I indirectly tasted my parents' inestimable love and incredible sacrifice.

Ms. Rice’s parents realized that education was the only way to escape from discrimination and prejudice. They invested their daughter's knowledge and nurtured her mind with the best education: religion, music, sports, politics, and books. Ms. Rice possessed an outstanding Intelligence Quota and extreme determination. She learned how to play the piano at age three; she practiced a difficult piece of music for eight hours in order to get her own piano from her parents; she graduated from high school at age fifteen; she was one of a few female African Americans to receive a PhD degree. Like Ms. Rice’s parents, our parents honored education. They fed us with books, arts, and diverse philosophies. We all learned how to play musical instruments and had our own library. Our parents also prepared us female spirituality with “công, dung, ngôn, hạnh,” (“public services, appearance, communication, and virtue") and “cầm, kỳ, thi, họa,” (“singing, undertaking, writing, and drawing.”) However, my intelligence was below the standard. During my youth, I suffered my family and friends’ mockery about my stupid and silly acts. Ms. Rice reveals that her parents are extraordinary people. To me, my parents are the greatest creatures in the world and more powerful than God.

A few years ago, when I first got to know Ms. Rice, I admired her with a lack of reason. However, since I have followed her book tour, I have learned more about her and noticed that she obtained the same dreams that I sought. I chose her as my role model to motivate me to work harder to achieve my goals. Ms. Rice’s superiority is derived from prominent elements of the fertile earth—her environment; devoted agronomists—her parents; and the exclusive seed—Ms. Rice.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Meeting with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: Proposition AB 32 versus Proposition 23

By Anhthao Bui with editing by Dan Lambert

I am not Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s fan nor am I interested in the global warming subject, but I wanted to attend the governor's speech about proposition AB 32 at the Santa Clara Convention Center because of my curiosity. I wanted to see the Governor in person. Perhaps meeting outstanding politicians is one of my weaknesses to satisfy my vulnerable self-esteem. However, I persuaded myself that I wanted to learn new things; like the Vietnamese proverb says, “Đi một ngày đàng, học một sàng khôn,” ("Travelling broadens one's horizons.”) I agree!

I came to the Convention Center early; I did not need to pass through the security checkpoint. The security officers only checked the audience’s belongings: bags and purses. I entered the theatre and noticed that not many people attended the event. On the stage, the Bear Flag and the American Flag comforted me and made me feel secure; a small coffee table with two mugs on it sat between the two overstuffed chairs. I wondered if the Governor with speak with the audience standing near that table, like President Lincoln does at Disneyland's Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. I have never seen a speaker deliver a speech near a coffee table like that.

Students with their green uniforms came in and filled up the reserved seats on the right side. I remembered chaperoning Bachdrot students to the San Jose Convention Center to see President Bill Clinton in 2000. I had to be held outside the Center more than one hour for security checks. I stood during the event and waited too long for President Clinton’s appearance. Growing up in an Asian country where male makeup was not accepted, President Clinton’s makeup gave me an initial negative impression of him. Moreover, at that time, my English skill was limited; I could not understand President Clinton and Congressman Mike Honda’s words. I only knew that they came to San Jose to support Al Gore’s presidential campaign.

A lady in a white dress approached the podium to the left of the stage; she talked about the upcoming event and introduced the event’s agenda. We clapped our hands to welcome the speaker, Governor Schwarzenegger. The Governor appeared; there was no music or standing to greet the leader of California; this brought a friendly, cozy atmosphere to the proceedings, and created a close connection between the attendees and the speaker. The heart of the event was green energy and dangers to the environment, as the Governor educated the audience about the danger of climate change, and encouraged us to support the environmental group called Climate One.

The Governor said, “Two thirds of Californians approve our state's landmark law to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. Do you know who the two most prominent opponents of the law are? Valero and Tesoro, also two of the state’s top polluters. They are behind an initiative on the November ballot called Proposition 23, which would suspend our law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But in reality, because of the fine print, when it comes to unemployment, they really don’t want to suspend it. They want to kill the initiative. They want to kill our laws. And when they are not creating a shell company, they are creating a shell argument that it is about saving jobs….It is about their ability to pollute and thus protect their profits. Those who seek to overturn the carbon reduction law say that the green-tech future is too costly.”

I have learned the reasoning behind Propositions AB 32 and 23. AB 32, the Global Warming Act of 2006, required reducing greenhouse emissions in California; by contrast, Proposition 23 is against the reduction of greenhouse gasses because it is too expensive. However, in response to the Governor’s points, the cost of diseases and infections from pollution, as well as the cost of rising oil prices because of exports from other countries, are much higher than the budget for saving energy. He proved that if more consumers would use solar energy for transportation, heating, and other necessities, the cost would be reduced (like the reductions in the cost of internet service and cell phones). Governor Schwarzenegger stated that clean energy creates more jobs for Californians.

Global warming and clean energy projects are Governor Schwarzenegger’s passion. He is determined to protect AB 32 and fight against Proposition 23 during his term in office, and he will continue to fight when he leaves office, because of his love for California. He calls on all California voters to vote "No" on Proposition 23. Good luck, Governor!

Santa Clara Convention Center: September 28, 2010

October 2, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The United States is in Our Hearts: Former Mayor Esteves Comes Back

The United States is in Our Hearts:
Former Mayor Esteves Comes Back
By Anhthao Bui
with editing by Dan Lambert

I knew former Mayor Jose Esteves before we made friends with each other. My students often told me about him with their innocent and proud voices and manners, because they knew and spoke with a politician who held a high rank and position in our society. Although I had not met Mr. Esteves yet, I pictured a “cool mayor” who was friendly, easy to get along with, and a role model for students.
Indeed he was!
By chance, I met former Mayor Jose Esteves in one meeting in our community. At the reception, Mr. Esteves came, smiled, and said to me, “I like your poetry. Nice to meet you.”
I replied to him, “Thank you. Nice to meet you too. I admire your accomplishments. Milpitas has developed and changed very fast over the last few years. I would like to know what inspired you to become such a successful politician.”
Mr. Esteves gave me his business card and a friendly tapped on my shoulder. “Please give me a call or visit me at the City Hall.”
We became good friends, often discussed, or shared things with each other. Mr. Esteves proudly told me that during his term, Milpitas became a great city with new business centers and the new library, and hundreds of new housing units. Moreover, Milptias was also a safe city. In return, I showed him Yellow Flower, my book of poetry, as an example of my accomplishment. We have something in common; we both like Carlos Bulosan, a Filipino politician and writer for 50 years and Mr. Bulosan’s philosophical ideas about America; we both love the United States and wish to make the United States better because the United States is the heart of men who die for freedom. The United States is not only for white people, but also for anyone who lives in the United States, from the eloquent African Americans, the hard-working Hispanic Americans, to the patient Asian Americans. While Mr. Esteves showed his love to the United States through his political acts to serve the country and its people, I praised the United States in my poetry and in my other writing.
We were busy and disconnected; I haven’t heard any news about Mr. Esteves.
Once, my friend invited me to attend Mr. Esteves’ Campaign Kickoff Event to reelect the Mayor of Milpitas. We were happy to see each other again.
I asked Mr. Esteves, “Why do you want to run for mayor? Political campaigning is a risky business and hard work. Especially, in this recession, everything faces toward the budget deficit.”
Mr. Esteves agreed with me, “Ann, you are right, but I want return to the City Council to work on the challenges facing Milpitas. Moreover, I want to complete my unfinished work that I left behind.”
Mr. Esteves continued, “Ann, do you remember Carlos Bulosan writes that the United States is in the hearts of people who die for freedom and in the eyes of those who build a new world? Because of our love for the United States, we contribute our ability to the country we love. Moreover, the United States is a country with opportunities for all the people, no matter who we are: native born or alien, educated or illiterate—We are America! Ann, I cannot work alone and need your help and others' help."
I smiled. “Mr. Esteves, your words are persuasive. Please count on me."
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Meg Whitman at Christopher Ranch

By Anhthao Bui with editing by Dan Lambert

The Christopher Ranch was located on California Highway 25 toward Hollister. There was no sign about the Christopher Ranch. When I changed to Highway 25, I almost got lost, but the Jerry Brown activists saved my life. They waved their hands and raised their posters, which read “Vote for Jerry Brown.” I made a right turn, gave them a glad smile, and said "thank you" to them.

I drove to the Christopher Ranch area and drove around: there was no sign about Meg Whitman’s event. In front of a building, some people gathered at the two booths; Madam Whitman was standing, shaking hands and talking to another group of people. After I parked my car, I went to the booth to sign in. A young lady asked me my full name and wrote it on the roster and directed me to come inside the building. I heard that Madam Whitman spent a lot of money for her campaign and advertisements. Thus, I expected that the campaign should give the audience some free gifts with her name on it. Also, the audience should have free soft drinks, and participants should be able to give their contact information, so the staff members could contact them. At least her campaign staff members did not try to bother the voters. The simplicity of Madam Whitman's event tamed my heart.

I came inside the building; my eyes were stuck on the yellow chrysanthemums which were my favorite flower; the chrysanthemum was the soul of Gilroy and Salinas that reminded me of John Steinbeck’s "Chrysanthemum." The yellow chrysanthemums brought me back to my childhood villa in Vietnam. Garlic, green pepper, and other crops were surrounding the stage. I hardily sniffed the garlic aroma into my lungs. The Christopher Ranch’s big truck with a picture of Gilroy farm land was along the left wall; next to the big truck was a tractor; big posters which read “Meg’s Plan for Jobs” and “Meg 2010: Creating Jobs for a New California” were in front of the stage.

Farmers are the working class who play an important role in our daily lives, but their living conditions are often below the standard. Farmers and peasants need a lot of help and our government’s attention. I wished Madam Whitman would be a true friend to farmers. I read the poster again: “Meg 2010: Creating Jobs for a New
California,” and thought, Oh no, Californians were proud of the long history of seeking wealth; I did not want any politician to change our California into something new at all. The Bear Flag was on the right side of the stage. Oops: the setting's environment was missing something else. I looked up, I looked down, I looked around, but I could not find the United States flag. I was upset; I liked to attend political events in order to wave the flag, to sing, and to hear patriotic songs, but I did not have the chance to enjoy myself.

Mr. Christopher and Madam Whitman appeared on the stage; we stood up to welcome them. Mr. Christopher quickly introduced Madam Whitman as the guest speaker of the event. He then gave the microphone to Madam Whitman. Madam Whitman briefly told the audience about her biography: E-Bay was her most noteworthy accomplishment, but she did not talk about it much. She clearly shared with us the factors that urged her to run for governor and her plans for California with three main points: first to provide jobs and create tax cuts; second to recruit new industries and to retain existing employers; and last but not least to solve California’s water crisis.

She said, “I have plans; without a plan, things never happen.” I thought, “Yep, we often teach and encourage our students to make an outline before writing an essay; the outline is like a plan; without an outline, one can hardly write a good essay. Your outline for your plan is neat and clear, Madam Whitman.” I clapped my hands and yelled loudly. She smiled at me. Her radiant smile bloomed on her mellow face. Her voice was warm and clear: not too fast or too slow. She did not yell or raise her voice at the main points to drive the audience’s attention. Madam Whitman acted well in the role of a mature female leader. To Vietnamese people, a woman with a full face reveals her benevolent and sophisticated virtue.

Gilroy, California: July 22nd, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Long time ago the Pilgrims left behind their motherland and sailed to the boundless ocean in the hope of finding a place to practice freely their religion. Day after day, night after night flowing in the adventurous sea, they caught land and built huts in the new world; they confronted the alien jeopardy. Ultimately they gathered to thank God for helping them survive during the adventure and to thank the native Indians for helping them overcome the brutal winter.

Like the Pilgrims, after the Saigon's Fall in 1975, current waves of Vietnamese launched to the risky sea with the determination: freedom or die. They traded their freedom by tons of adversities. The United States is one of the countries to receive the jumbo Vietnamese population. In regards to the American tradition, many Vietnamese Americans celebrate Thanksgiving; they get together to thank those, who accept and assist them, and those, who share land, bread, and job with them.

I personally thank my family to care and to sponsor me to the United States. I acknowledge my professors and instructors who give me the ability to express my heart and mind in English. I applaud my friends’ support, cooperation, and motivation me to pursue my dream. I cheer my students’ love and trust. I adore my Blue Eyes’ democracy, magnificence, and magnetism.

I love you; you love me; we are the happy United States of America.

Thanksgiving 09