Yesterday I turn 33. I have come a long way within the past 33 years on this planet. I was born in the small fishing village of Song Doc, located in the Province of Camau, Vietnam. With very little, my parents left Vietnam in the late emigration wave of the 1980s after the war. With only the clothes on their backs and me, 2, and my older brother, 5, we managed to escape on a small fishing boat to Malaysia where my younger sister was born. We lived in Malaysia for a year in poverty-stricken conditions as refugees before heading to the Philippines where we prepared for entry into America. We were lucky. Others weren't. Nearly half of those who left Vietnam were either captured, tortured, raped, or died of starvation on the journey. My parents' courage back then allowed me to be where I am today.
Today, I live in relative luxury. I have access to clean water and medical care. I received a UC Berkeley education. I own a home. I married a wonderful man and I have two beautiful children. Life is good and I'm grateful for that each and every day.
As a birthday present to myself, I treated myself and husband to a home-cooked lobster dinner. I also treated myself to a beautiful bouquet of yellow tulips because they were simply too beautiful to pass up. Although my husband had plans to go to a fancy-smancy restaurant, I preferred to be home. That was how I enjoyed my birthday. Happy Birthday to me.