Categories
Non-Fiction

Covid Virgins

Should Bill and I continue to guard our Covid virginity like medieval maidens? Do we stay in the tower?  I am wracked with cognitive dissonance. One minute, I think, “I am going to die, and take Bill with me!” And then I go, “I should just enjoy my life.”  I am jealous of my friends’ trips […]

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Classics Fiction

“A Christmas Carol” Dance Lessons

‘Tis the Season! For forgiveness, generosity, renewal! So, of course, we’re going to talk about A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  A Christmas Carol is a thin book, a novella really, that has resurfaced in many iterations: the 1938 movie with the Lockhart family as the Cratchits; the 1951 Alastair Sims version; and friend Laurie’s favorite, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas […]

Categories
Movie

The Loneliness of Childhood

“You! Go up front,” barked the teacher as she pointed with her chin for me to join the half-dozen children milling at the front of the cramped classroom. I shuffled from my seat toward the group. We were the kids who had failed the fingernail inspection. As we faced the class, the seated students broke […]

Categories
Fiction

i sleep with other people’s dogs

A guest review by Susan Caba Susan Caba is a writer who has been house – and dog – sitting around the country for the past few years, caring for beloved pets while their human companions travel. She and her son read many dog-focused book when he was a child, including Where the Red Fern Grows. Spoiler […]

Categories
Being Chinese History Non-Fiction

Civilians in Wartime: a Family Story

“We fed thousands of people. They kept coming, running from the Japanese soldiers. We had to find food for them.” My uncle Zachary Luh (陆德林), Dad’s older brother, spoke with animation, his words expressing excitement, fear, and also resolve and courage.  The plight and flight of Ukrainians being terrorized by Russian soldiers, tanks, and rockets have […]

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Non-Fiction Self-Help

Sleepless in St. Louis

Do I have an Ambien habit? I am twenty years over the “short-term use” recommendation for these sleeping pills. I worry about running out before the refill date. I fantasize about having a stockpile against the day my doctor cuts me off.  Ambien doesn’t even work well! I get sleepy, yes, but only for a […]

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Fiction

Libraries: So Much More Than Books (but the books are good, too!)

Who’s ready for a GOOD NEWS review? Yeah, me too! 

For my birthday, Bill got me The Metropolitan Opera Murders by Helen Traubel. He knows I love opera, and I love murder mysteries. I have written about both. How did these two loves bring me to write this essay extoling the goodness of libraries? Well, read on!

Categories
Fiction

Role Models: In Books and in Life

Scooch over, Lizzie Bennet and Jo March. Make room for Becky Paulson. For decades, my favorite literary role models have been Lizzie from Pride and Prejudice and Jo of Little Women. Both lived in the 19th century, Lizzie in England and Jo in New England.  I admire them for their smarts, independence, and if the term is not too old-fashioned, “goodness.” […]

Categories
Memoir

Does the Universe Make Sense? Should We Care?

She held tight to the slowly rising rope. When it had hoisted her far enough, she bent her knees to lift herself off the ground. Everyone – family and servants – took a turn.  Holding up the rope, and below it, the round scale, was the family cook, and the strongest man in the compound, Shi […]

Categories
Essays Non-Fiction Picture Books

Natural World Musings

I feel like a voyeur. On the pond down the hill, Canadian geese have paired off for mating. I watch them from my kitchen window. Couples circle around each other, splashing and bobbing their heads in and out of the water. I do not avert my eyes when he pounces on her back, his beak […]

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Fiction

Black and White and Yellow

“Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.” Debate continues about this line from the 1974 noir movie Chinatown. Interpretations include: You are in over your head. Things don’t make sense. You can’t win. In Chinatown.  How should Chinese people consider this comment? Are we different? Charles Yu explores the question of being Asian in America in his National Book Award-winning novel Interior […]

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Fiction

Hillary and Louise’s Excellent Adventure – Or – Hillary Gets Even

State of Terror, the political thriller by Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny, is a satisfying romp.  Sticking close to her bailiwick, Clinton casts her heroine, Ellen Adams, as the US Secretary of State. Ellen’s girlhood friend, Betsy, functions as her Counselor. I googled whether Secretaries of State really had Counselors. Yes, they do.  Both women […]

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Non-Fiction Self-Help

Who You Going to Believe – You or Your Lying Brain?

I’m going to let you in on a secret. The reason I can claim over 11,000 views on my blog this year is because husband Bill – God bless him! – stacks the deck by running up my numbers. Come on! What are the odds that some person reads over twenty essays every morning before […]

Categories
Classics Poetry

Bad Parenting

What are you doing for Christmas? Hannukah? Chinese New Year’s? (Or for my lucky grandkids, all of the above!) In the second holiday season of our pandemic, everyone is improvising what festivities they feel are safe for them. As we slouch into our third year of global death, everyone faces choices for how best to […]

Categories
Fiction

Over Seventy: Miles Per Hour and Years of Age

Highway driving used to be like playing Pac-Man. I’d catch up to a car and gobble it up, or at least put it in my rear view. When did I get so timid? Fearful, even? Bill had already packed the car. We left at St. Louis at 8:15, only fifteen minutes late. For once, we […]

Categories
Fiction

Good Grief

I’ve been thinking about death. Why?  Could it be because US Covid deaths are closing in on three quarters of a million lives? Could it be because I’m 74 years old, and I’ve already lived the bulk of my life? Could it be that, just this week, I’ve had to write condolence notes to two friends? […]

Categories
Essays Memoir

The Body Geologic – Metamorphosis

Muscle weighs more than fat. That is indisputable. What’s weird is that the muscle in my thighs morphed into fat and then, like grains of windblown sand, migrated upward and deposited themselves as dunes on my torso.  I did not suspect this shift in body shape because my weight didn’t change. My exercise routine hadn’t […]

Categories
Fiction Picture Books

Believe Your Beloved

Relationships are hard, Covid or no Covid.  Many of us have squeezed into too-close quarters going on a year and a half. We assumed at the start of Covid that our enforced togetherness was make-shift, temporary. With the delta surge and vaccine-resistance, normality keeps retreating into the future.  But, it’s not too late – or […]

Categories
History Memoir Non-Fiction

Rice and Race and Politics

“In the 1700s, South Carolina was the largest exporter of rice in the world.”  So read the display at the Rice Museum in Georgetown, South Carolina. That must be a mistake. I remember my disbelief, even now, over twenty years later. Which part of the statement was wrong, though?  Rice! I am Chinese. I know […]

Categories
Non-Fiction

Inspiration

Not long after I started my Dr. Bookworm blog three years ago, I found out what I really wanted to do with my life. I aspire to blog about a book the way each episode of the podcast Aria Code cracks open a single operatic aria. This is my first podcast review. In Dr. Bookworm, my goal is to introduce the reader […]