When we were kids, my younger brother Greg drove me bonkers. His favorite activity was lying like a corpse on my bed while I screamed, “GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT!” until I finally dragged him into the hallway. He also liked hiding, then jumping out and scaring me. He wailed like a cat in an imitation of my singing in the shower. I found out he read my diary. (How? By reading his.)
But we were still fiercely protective of each other, especially as the only Chinese kids in a neighborhood rampant with racism, and as we got older, we became more friends than squabbling siblings, banding together against our nagging parents and their disapproval of our non-traditional pursuits (book writing for me, screenwriting for him). But it was when I was going through the toughest time in my life that Greg became not just my ally but my voice of reason, my Cassandra, the one person I knew who was unafraid to tell me the truth. Keep reading »
I’d always been told my engagement ring was special.
“Very high quality,” said my mother-in-law, who bought only high-quality pieces for her collection. “You’re very lucky.”
“You don’t want to know how much I paid for the resetting,” said Joe, my fiance-then-husband.
I didn’t care how much the ring cost, whether it was a hundred bucks or 18 G’s like at Tiffany’s. All I cared was that Joe was finally taking that final step, that after years of disapproval, his family had accepted me. I was finally good enough in his mother’s eyes, and had one of her prized baubles to prove it.
Or so I thought. Keep reading »
I still don’t know why June* stopped talking to me.
We had been friends for over 10 years when she suddenly stopped answering my emails and calls. We hadn’t argued. She was OK. She simply disappeared from my life, and now five years later, I’m still obsessed with why. Keep reading »
I knew that I had gained some weight in the past few years. While I wasn’t 100 percent happy with my extra pudge, I didn’t feel motivated enough to lose it. Ten pounds wasn’t really that much. My boyfriend accepted me no matter what, and even my mother couldn’t tell I wasn’t as skinny as I once was. Besides, maybe I could find security somewhere besides my appearance, and as long as I was healthy, who cared about my chunky arms, the extra roll on my belly, and my bulbous hips and thighs?
Then I went for a check-up. “I need to talk to you,” my doctor said, “about your cholesterol.”
My breath caught. A shadow seemed to fall over us. Keep reading »
Recently I was complaining to my cousin Lei about my mother.
“I tell her I’m happy,” I said as we waited for our table to be called, “but she doesn’t believe me.” I had money in the bank, a dream career, and was in a sickeningly loving relationship with a guy she adored like a son. Yet every time we spoke, she asked with fear in her voice: “Is everything okay? Are you okay? Is Alex’s job okay? Are you guys okay?”
“She’s your mother,” Lei said. “She’ll always worry.” My cousin watched her 3-year old zoom past us, her husband close on her tail. “Before I became a mother, I didn’t understand that worry. Now I do.”
I sighed. There it was again, that exclusive club. Motherhood. Keep reading »
Little does the guy on the treadmill next to me know, I’m winning. He was ahead of me at first, but I’ve caught up. Now I’m out in front. He’s run 4.2 miles to my 4.4 in the same amount of time. Ha! I’m winning! I want to yell. I’M WINNING!
In reality I know the stranger couldn’t care less about me, and my competitive spark is just a way to motivate myself during an otherwise boring run, the way it pushes me at work and with my writing. But if I’m not careful, that spark can escalate into a wildfire, threatening to burn everything in its path. Keep reading »