Categories
Being Chinese Self-Help

The Joyce Chen Cook Book or Mom, Tofu and Crappies

To us Chinese, there are only two kinds of food: good Chinese food and bad Chinese food. When I was a kid, wherever our family went — Chicago, New York, DC — we always ate at Chinese restaurants. Only after I grew up and realized that I wanted to try local food – BBQ in […]

Categories
Fiction

Tell Me A Story

“How can we convince people that we are right?” “The best arguments in the world won’t change a person’s mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story.” The Overstory, by Richard Powers, a monumental book that takes us across the globe and across millennia of time, contains dozens of overlapping stories. […]

Categories
Non-Fiction

This Too Solid Flesh

I have a lot of second thoughts about commenting on Roxane Gay’s Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. Here’s why. Roxane Gay is black, 6’3” tall and fat, weighing 577 pounds at one point. These are not incidental details. This is exactly what her book is about. Do I dare to comment on such emotional […]

Categories
Classics Picture Books Poetry

Shakespeare Cats: My Version of Cute Cat Videos

I am a cat person. I have lived with, in the order of appearance, Wolfie (for Mozart), Moose (who walked with a swagger despite his small size), Salt (who was all black), Kitty (aka White and Black Kitty) and my current cat Lily, a Siamese with the sky-blue eyes of her breed. They all had […]

Categories
Non-Fiction

The Caribbean: Not At All What I Expected

“How phallic!”                                  I blurted this out on my first Caribbean cruise when Bill and I came upon this huge column rising out of a fountained plaza in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was called the Totem Telurico, and […]

Categories
Classics Poetry

With a Little Help From My Friends

“What would you think if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me? Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song And I’ll try not to sing out of key Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends Mm, I get high with a […]

Categories
Self-Help

Of Moms and Money

“Don’t we have any money?” This plaintive question came out of the mouth of then three-year old grandson Edin, his face at once forlorn and beseeching. We had reached the wall of the Charlottesville Alakazam toy store where the heavy machinery lived: bulldozers and excavators and dump trucks and backhoes. Edin had his eye on […]

Categories
Non-Fiction

Taxonomic Justice for Puerto Rican Todies

There are only five species of todies in the world. Two live in Hispaniola, the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and one each in Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. I have seen THREE of them. What a kick! And now, I have met the man whose life mission is to make the […]

Categories
Fiction

The Life I Want

We all have an image of what our “best” life would look like. Mine would include having a perfectly supportive husband, eternally appreciative children; insightful conversations and gourmet dinners with friends; disciplined daily exercise and writing routines; and a wildly successful blog. Before I retired from doctoring, smart and considerate co-workers were important. So, if […]

Categories
Being Chinese Non-Fiction

The Small Are Eating the Old

“The small are eating the old.” My cousin, Yu, whose name means Jade in Chinese, said these words to me when I was in China in 2016. Yu’s point is that the older generations are sacrificing too much for the youth. (In English, I call him “cousin.” In Chinese, he is the grandson of my […]

Categories
Self-Help

Deep Breaths, Everyone

Me, a yoga instructor? What could go wrong? Quite a lot, according to William J. Broad in The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards. The chapter called “Risk of Injury” talks about strokes from extreme neck contortion, disk ruptures in the neck and back, ribs popping out, rotator cuff tears, torn Achilles tendons […]

Categories
Fiction

Mending the Living

“There’s been a car accident. The ambulance is taking your son to Barnes Hospital,” said an unfamiliar male voice. On the way to the hospital, I tried to block out the “What if’s,” but scenarios clicked through my brain like a photo slideshow. Fractures, casts, crutches. Scars. Or the more ominous “internal injuries.” Or worse […]

Categories
Self-Help

Shake It Off: How to Escape From Your Pain-Body

“You are going to tell me that you didn’t say anything, but I can tell what you’re thinking,” I say through gritted teeth. “I’m sorry,” is my husband’s reply, but his face shows puzzlement and the resentment of the wrongly accused, not contrition or concern. He does his curious head-turning move, which is a full […]

Categories
Classics Fiction Picture Books

The Little Prince and Me: It’s Complicated

Everybody loves The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Except me. Every time the name comes up, there is a universal “Oh, I love the Little Prince,” accompanied by a wistful, faraway look. I’m never sure if they mean the book or the character. I quite like the little guy myself, especially from his pictures: […]

Categories
Classics

A Moment in Paradise

I am sitting on the back porch of my son’s home in Charlottesville, Virginia. I am seeing my four-week-old grandson Edin for the first time. My daughter-in-law tells me that Edin means “delight” in Hebrew. I’ve taken Edin downstairs to let his parents sleep. As we sit together, I watch. I inspect the faint bruising […]

Categories
Non-Fiction

First, Do No Harm

“We need you to pronounce someone,” said the voice over the phone. I was a third-year medical student on call overnight at St. Louis City Hospital. It was 1978 and I was 31 years old. I had only been out of the classroom for a few months and had never been asked to certify someone […]

Categories
Fiction

A Birding Guide to “War and Peace”

To say that War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is about a bunch of aristocratic Russians during Napoleon’s 1812 invasion is like saying that Games of Thrones is about politics. This is a grand, epic story. There’s war and peace, love and death and a cast of thousands. But wait, there’s more! Here are the […]

Categories
Self-Help

Geezer Sex

“Couldn’t those stiletto heels really hurt someone?” “Doesn’t it hurt her neck to lean so far back?” “How is he balancing?” Bill and I are watching a porno movie on our 52” Sony TV in our family room. I ask the questions in rapid succession, as if the subject matter was usual for us. Bill […]

Categories
Being Chinese Picture Books

The Third Reading Group (or, How I Became a Blogger)

My mother called me a bookworm. She was rather proud of her knowledge of this idiom in a foreign language. She was oblivious to the “lack of social life” aspect that this word implied. She was not wrong. I was usually reading at the dining table, in the bathtub and under the covers. Not resourceful […]