Fish Sauce by Anhthao Bui

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

Friday, November 14, 2014



The Authentic Thanksgiving

The more we get together
Together, together
the more we get together
the happier we'll be
Cause your friends are my friends
and my friends are your friends
the more we get together
the happier we'll be

Thanksgiving is the moment we leave behind labors at the office, lock unfinished assignments and projects in the drawers, and run away from pressures and stresses to return to our family to get together. We burn anger, jealousy, and negative emotions in the fireplaces to have more room for peace, joy, and delight. “The more we get together, the happier we’ll be. Our family is your family and your family is our family.” We welcome new babies into the world; we greet new siblings-in-law to expand and add more members to the family. In the United States, Thanksgiving becomes a multicultural holiday for everybody, reflecting diverse cultures with plenty of foods and traditional activities. The other cultures not only have turkey at the feast, but they also add their authentic foods, such as Mexican tortillas and tamales, African stewed beans, beef, and pork, Italian pasta, European pastrami, Indian Curry, Japanese Sushi, Korean barbeque, and Vietnamese spring rolls.  

Dan introduced me to his extended family members on Thanksgiving at Dan’s Cousin Danielle’s house. Dan’s Aunties, Uncles, Cousins, and Second Cousins curiously looked at me, a Vietnamese woman, who was as tiny and fragile as a Chinese porcelain doll in a glass cupboard. They welcomed me with charming smiles, warm-hearted acts, and gently talked as if I might be broken easily. They were happy for Dan to meet a good match and congratulated our love. Ashun, Danielle’s daughter, liked to learn how to pronounce my name and its meaning. Aunt Mickey asked me about my family, the Vietnamese holidays and culture, and wished to taste the Vietnamese dishes. Cousin Claire felt sorry about the Vietnam War and our great loss. Jackie, Danielle’s sister-in-law, admired my writing skill and was interested in my poetry and stories.  Taylor, Danielle’s daughter, invited me to the terrace to view the tired, crimson sun as it lingeringly said “goodnight” and disappeared into the borderless marine bed stretching to the horizon.

While Rob, Danielle’s husband, took the turkey out of the oven and put it on a round, silver tray, Danielle and her daughters set up the table. Flower vases were in the middle of the big, oval table. They put the white, linen, folding pocket napkins around the silver utensils on the plates decorated with turkeys. Clay turkey designs carried name tags to mark the guests’ seats. Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, salad, and cranberry sauce were displayed on the long, narrow table covered with a burgundy tablecloth. Dan showed me our name tags on the table. I held my plate and followed Dan to put food on it. After the family members sat down, Rob said thank you to the guests for joining the Thanksgiving dinner. Rob welcomed me to the big family and hoped I was feeling comfortable. He introduced the family members to me. I smiled at each individual and nodded my head to reply to their greetings.

 Rob’s Mother, Ms. Frances, prayed and thanked God to give us work, bread, successful lives, and health. She prayed for homeless people and those with not enough to eat. We held glasses up and toasted, “Cheers!” We started eating. I ate a small piece of turkey: it was juicy and tasty. I finished the turkey, ham, and salad on my plate. I came to the food table, took a big piece of turkey, and finished it. Dan looked at me; he said, “Honey, I never saw you eat so much like today.”
I murmured into his ear, “The turkey is so good. This is the first time I like turkey.”
Dan talked loudly, “Chef Rob, Anhthao likes your turkey.”
Rob laughed, “Thank you, Anhthao.”
Taylor gave me a piece of cheesecake. She said, “Anhthao, eat my dessert.”
I looked at her and said, “Wow!”
Dan told Taylor, “Anhthao does not cook often, so she admires you.” 

A friend of mine told me if I wanted to be a successful writer in the United States, I should immerse myself in American culture. Thank you to Dan’s family for accepting me as a member of the family. The more we get together, the happier we will be. Your family is my family. My family is your family.

 November 10, 2014


Monday, November 3, 2014

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Oct. 20 Additional Readers' letters
From Mercury News readers
POSTED:   10/20/2008 11:42:34 AM PDT

NOTE: The following letters are unedited and reflect only the views of the author
I disagree with Michael M. Rosenblatt's opinion about Madison Nguyen's recall is anti-communist (Page 16A, Oct.16) It is not the right time to show anti-communist while we have so many things to concern.  If the recall would succeed and bring the anti-communist fame for the Vietnamese-American community in San Jose, so what for?  It will contribute another deficit budget burden on San Jose working taxpayers. Thus, I cannot breathe without eating and drinking like great hero Lý Tng, or I am in the qualified category to receive welfare. The Nguyen's recall act is the prediction of the President Richard Nixon's great quote, "Others may hate you, but they don't win unless you hate them back, and then you destroy yourself."
Anhthao Bui, San Jose

Don't blame teachers for parents' failures

Jan. 31 Readers' letters: 
From Mercury News readers
POSTED:   01/30/2014 03:19:49 PM PST
Don't blame teachers for parents' failures
I feel sorry for Daniella Martinez, who could not read at the third-grade level ("Teacher rights getting needed court scrutiny," Page 18A, Jan. 26). However, I am disappointed that she blamed her illiteracy on her teacher. If her parents were concerned about her achievement, they would have noticed her failure in the first grade and contacted her teacher to learn about their child's failure and how to help her. The Alum Rock School District has Student Success Teams to help student achievement. The district's policy requires teachers to attend parent-teacher conferences at least three times per school year. Many parents have ignored notices about these conferences. Without the parents' help, the school cannot perform its duties.
Anhthao Bui

San Jose

Editorials should not dictate votes

Nov. 5 Readers' letters
From Mercury News readers
POSTED:   11/04/2008 03:53:21 PM PST

 Editorials should not dictate votes
I think the media's mission is providing readers accurate and fair information with neutral points of views or different opinions, such as pro and con. However, I was disappointed when the San Jose Mercury News and some Bay Area newspapers recommended politicians, measures and bonds for voters as if they led readers to follow their political philosophies. I think it is not fair for those who do not receive recommendations.
Anhthao Bui
San Jose

Cultural Mosaics

Cultural Mosaics

          American culture values individualism. An Individual is a center of the universal circle with spinning communities to the self, such as family, extended family, neighbors, friends, learning environment, religious organizations, and workplaces. The widespread and diverse loops tangle with one another to build a solid, silky cocoon to conceive and develop a human identity, to shield the individual, and decide the person’s fate. The relationship between a person and a community is the reciprocal status: individuals form a community; a community nurtures individuals as a self-center.

          Family is the closest community that a human naturally attaches to at first. Researchers say that a fetus feels and interacts with the mother and the people surrounding her. The mother’s emotions and temperament transmit to the unborn baby. Music and poetry are staples of Vietnamese culture.  The rhyming verses calmed me down, so I did not hit my mother’s belly from within. The lullabies called me to leave my mother’s womb to crawl the Earth in order to participate in our family’s bookish worships and to practice the Vietnamese social rites. The melodies cradled and carried me to Lala Land. The bookshelves nurtured my creativity, fed my hungry caterpillar mind, and sowed the seeds of charisma. The charisma gradually sprouted, grew, and harvested a ripened literary fruit.

          The hurricane of liberty whirled me and the aesthetic fruit to the United States and dropped us on the dry Rocky Mountains in California. The artistry fruit hit the rock and cracked it down into many pieces. Day by day, I watered my writing passion with rainy tears, fertilized it with hardships. The American society patiently cultivated the promised tree with education and kindness. I absorbed the Western culture and the American prominent values: independence and individualism. I solely split the Vietnamese cultural tree, but deep down in my uttermost veiling the Vietnamese value: an orientation toward family.

          Individuals and communities build the concrete bond that relies on each other. Individuals engage with communities to develop physical needs, to strengthen social skills, to regulate emotional competency, and to stimulate potential. Communities need individuals to exist and to structure social laws, morality, and cultural trends.

--San Jose: Friday, October 31, 2014

Sunday, August 10, 2014

California State University Los Angeles ‬ Sonnet

In two thousand thirteen 
First stepped on the campus 
The view has been seen  
Fascinating Confucius    
Inspiring His Genius     
Eastern culture reveals  
Igniting learning trust   
Knowledge brings zeal  
Proud Bald Eagle stands still 
Praising the mighty United States
Cal State provides all fields  
Promising radiant fate        
For those who are working hard
For those who play triumphed cards

July 15, 2014

The Top- Notch College

I am spending another summer in Los Angeles with Dan. This summer we did not plan any activity because Dan is working in the summer session at California State University Los Angeles. Dan got a one-year contract for teaching as a Lecturer in English at Cal State Los Angeles. We exhaled the financial worries and insecurities we experience each semester. In the California State University system, no college guarantees a long-term teaching contract to part-time instructors until they are on the seniority list or sign a contract. Dan told me that the teachers’ union helped him to prepare his portfolio, and Dr. James Garrett, the English Department Chair, wrote good comments and feedback about him. Thus, Dan got the contract. We considered Mr. Ruben Quintero, the former English Department Chair who originally hired Dan, our well-wisher. We regarded Dr. Garrett as our backup.

            Every day, Dan called me with updated information about the University. He excitedly told me about the union meetings, the English Department meetings, the new President’s Inauguration, a retirement party, his new office, and those people Dan met and talked to. Jackie, the union representative, and Yolanda and Jeanne, the administrative assistants from the English Department, often asked about me. Dan liked to communicate with his colleagues and students. Sometimes I warned him not to take his coworkers’ valuable time, but he assured me that he only talked to them for a short time before or after the class meetings. Dan has taught for two years at Cal State L.A. He also feels as comfortable, welcomed and supported at Cal State L.A. as he does at East Los Angeles College, where he has taught for nearly 15 years.

            At Cal State Los Angeles, the instructor-to-student ratio is low. Dan often teaches only 15 to 20 students in each classroom. Therefore, Dan has more time to work with each student on their individual needs. The online student feedback system is new to me. Dan has learned new teaching strategies and methods from his experienced colleagues to enhance his teaching techniques. This quarter, Dan teaches a new course for entering freshmen to prepare them to write academic college essays. Jim, the English Department Chair, hopes to familiarize high school graduates with new writing tools so they will not panic when writing university-level essays. The course syllabus is simple, and all instructors teaching this course use the same teaching methods.

            In addition to the campus’ fascinating view and friendly community, I choose California State University Los Angeles as a top-notch university because of its daily updates on Facebook. The campus offers free activities, such as concerts. The information is posted everywhere, so students can view it easily. Once when I accompanied Dan to the school, we came early and stayed in the parking lot to work. I accessed the internet on my laptop. I provided my information as a visitor, signed in, and was using the internet within five minutes. Amazing! Last but not least are the restrooms. I have visited the campus several times, and have used the restrooms in different areas. I have always been happy with the clean restrooms.

            California State University Los Angeles provides a high-quality education. The administration keeps building the campus structure, upgrading the university’s technology, enhancing its scope of teaching, expanding its social network, and adjusting and taking care of the personal lives of individuals like a big family, to meet the needs of education in the twenty-first century. California State University Los Angeles is a top-notch university in the titanic city of Los Angeles.

Anhthao Bui

Los Angeles: July 17, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Chop! Chop! Chop! California Legend

By Anhthao Bui

            In 2014, the California media talked about and mentioned rumors about Neel Kashkari (a young, minority republican with little political experience), to compete with the wise giant Caucasian Jerry Brown (with two terms of experience in Governor’s affairs and a lot of organizations’ support and backup from the Democrat Party and the White House). Therefore, Governor Brown confidently runs the gubernatorial campaign for a third time without working hard and with no commercial advertisement.

            On Neel Kashkari’s Facebook Page, his cover photo is the picture of Neel with the ax in his hand and the Redwood background that he used as the commercial campaign at the primary election. The background is symbolic for the natural California and Neel’s love of nature. Neel’s ax represents a young republican Abraham Lincoln’s ax that is similar to Lincoln’s strength in both physicality and intellect, which changed American history. Describing Lincoln’s early life as an “axman,” he used his ax to build rail fences. Once he challenged a strong man in wrestling matches. Similar to Lincoln, Kashkari played wrestling matches when he was in high school and his first job was bagging groceries.

            Both Lincoln and Kashkari use their axes to chop their opponents. Each chop is a potential power: the power of risk-taking, competition’s power, hard-working strength, team-building steadiness, and knowledgeable vigor to contribute to the society and the United States of America. Lincoln was self-educated to become a lawyer. Lincoln’s challenging campaigns to get the congressional ticket and became the sixteenth great president of the United States. Neel held the master’s degree in engineering and business. During his undergraduate and graduate years, he bagged groceries and mowed lawn to earn extra money for his tuition. Neel’s knowledge and hard work helped him become a young rich businessman. Neel’s risk-taking competes with Governor Brown, the California democrat experienced politician.

            John Henry is the American legend about an African-American mighty steel driving man who challenged a salesman who had a steam-powered drill. The salesman declared that the steam-powered drill was the best to drill the tunnel; none could beat the steam-powered drill. John Henry won the competition, but he passed away amid the thousands of people shouting victory. Similar to John Henry, Neel, a young ethnic background, with the intellectual powerful ax, challenges Governor Brown, with the democrat Party’s backup and the union’s support, as a steam power drill to build the train’s system that swallow the millions dollars of the California taxpayers with the reason that building the train transportation is to create more jobs for Californians, eliminate pollution, and reduce traffic.    

Is Kashkari the California Governor in November? The answer is depended on you, Supporters. Thank you.

Los Angeles June 23, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014