If my past self could talk, this is what she’d say

Photo by Alessandro Porri on Unsplash

In 2017, we took a trip to Disneyland to celebrate my daughter’s fourth birthday. (Oh, how I miss Disneyland). While driving to our hotel, our stomachs grumbled, reminding us that we hadn’t eaten in hours. Couple that with our desire to “try out” an In-N-Out burger, we stopped by the first one we saw, somewhere in the suburbs of Los Angeles. While my husband looked for a booth, I went to the front counter to order our food. The employee who took my order looked very, very young — he did not appear to be older than seventeen. …


A tale of slight narcissism from yours truly

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Think about all the great moments of your life. Your first kiss. Your first car. Your first job. Your high school prom. Your college graduation. Your wedding day. Your firstborn. The list goes on. We all have those moments where everything seems to be going just right, where you think, “Nothing is better than this.” And for many of us, that thought is usually followed by a hint of gratitude. We think to ourselves how lucky we are to be in that position, that there are many others who would die to be in our shoes.

Recently, I had one…


On slowly losing my native tongue and getting it back

Photo by Steven Wilcox on Unsplash

In my 20+ years of living in America, there is one question that I’ve been asked the most, which is, “Were you born here?” Here, the person gestures without gesturing, designates America, or specifically where I live, Oregon. I tell them, “No, I was born in Vietnam.” The person would always respond with a look of amazement. Their eyes light up and become wide. “Wow, you speak such good English! You don’t have an accent at all!” to which I’d reply, “Thanks.” The conversation would inevitably roll into the next question, which is, “When did you come to America?” …


Then I’ve got plenty of them

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September 1, 2021

This morning, I dropped my daughter off at school — her first day back after learning from home for the past year and a half. As expected, cars lined up along with the school busses on the quiet, narrow streets behind the school’s playground, where we were all instructed to arrive.

Shortly after finding a parking spot a block away, Lily and I walked to the playground, where a long line was forming — we were all waiting to be allowed (or should I say, “welcomed”) in the school. This year, the rules have changed. As an…


I’ve learned a thing or two about writing online and I’m trying to implement them

Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

It’s a common occurrence — you send off an inquiry email, an application for a job or a contest, or pitch to a publication, only to get no response back. You wait…patiently, of course, for someone to recognize you and your fabulousness. And yet, no one does. After a while, you dust yourself off and try again.

That sounds like a terrible thing, but I’m here to tell you that silence is worse than criticism.

Why? For a variety of reasons that I’ll highlight below.

Take, for example: the job interview process. Many years ago, I traveled four hours to…


It’s less complicated than you think

Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash

Most mornings, I put on my workout clothes and lace up my running shoes to go for a run at the park down the street from my house. I say goodbye to my husband and kids, put on my headphones, arrive at the park about six minutes later and start jogging.

All of this takes approximately fifteen minutes, maybe. But it isn’t until I’ve run three laps that I begin to feel the wind in my face (on colder mornings) or the breeze (in the spring and summer) and my body adjusting to the activity. That’s because from the time…


For my mother, the past may be gray, but the future is green

My mom’s growing collection of indoor plants, circa August 2021

Like many millennials, my mom has become a plant parent.

Unlike many millennials, she does not have a YouTube channel or an Instagram account. My mom is a 73-year-old grandmother of seven who dotes on her potted plants with the grace and attentiveness of a new parent. She lives by herself in a 500 square foot apartment on the top floor of a senior housing facility. Her apartment’s window faces the north side of the building, giving her access to great lighting. …


The place that defined my twenties

Our apartment at Colonial Gardens, apt 3.

October 2021 will mark the two year anniversary of my husband and I becoming homeowners. Not only will we celebrate the changing of the seasons but also our official move into a “grown up” place.

Since the summer of 2007, we’ve lived in an apartment off a main thoroughfare in Portland, Oregon called Colonial Gardens. …


A tale of a scooter ride gone awry

Yes, it really was that beautiful. From our 2012 Hawaii trip.

The first time I went to Hawaii, I felt invincible. I was amongst some of the happiest people in the world, it seemed, and the happiness rubbed off on me. Perhaps it was the sun, or the palm trees, or the endless opportunities for fun; or it could’ve been the fact that I was there to celebrate my 27th birthday, that I felt I was on top of the world. Literally, that was how I felt standing on top of Diamond Head. …


An alien, a little boy, and a lot of self discovery

Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf on Unsplash

If you’ve ever been the new kid at school, or new in town, then you know the feeling. You don’t know anyone; the social interactions are awkward. You have to learn the local jargon, how people talk and behave with one another, and so many things that you don’t understand. You know it’s going to take a while before you get used to things, but in the meantime, your internal monologue tells you that you don’t have much of a choice.

That’s the premise of a new show streaming on Peacock called Resident Alien. What appears to be a typical…

Hoang Samuelson

Editor @ BooknBrunch. Writer of personal essays, short stories, fiction, and the occassional book review. More at hoangsamuelson.com

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