Baby Battle (#205)

My parents procreated like rabbits. Then they got divorced and procreated some more. Given that having children is pretty much the worst thing a regular person – not an Exxon Executive or a Donald Trump – can do to the environment, I figured someone in my family owed it to Mother Earth to NOT have children.

There was just one problem. My husband wanted a kid.

I came up with a brilliant solution. We’d adopt an existing child. And since my husband was Chinese-American and I was a feminist, I thought a little girl from China would be perfect.

My husband had a slightly different take. He said, “No.”

My husband NEVER says a flat no. He hates confrontation. I asked, “What do you mean, ‘no?’ No Chinese baby girls? Do you hate the land of your father or what?”

“No adoption.”

“What? Why?”


“Because why?”

“I want my own kid. I want our kid. Not someone else’s.”

I should have expected that sort of response, given my husband’s reaction to the neighborhood kids who stopped by to play with our dogs. Like many men, Andy was the lion who wanted to kill any cubs that weren’t his. (Though he didn’t actually want to kill them so much as have them conveniently disappear.) I glowered and said, “I do not understand you. We adopted our dogs and you love them just fine.”

“A baby is not a dog!”

“And you,” I informed him, “are not the one who will have to host a parasite and swell up like a hippopotamus with gland problems in order to have a child of your own. YOU won’t throw up constantly. YOU won’t get ripped to pieces. ”

“It might not be that bad—”

“It will be that bad! I saw what happened with my mom and Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister. I can expect all that and probably more.”

“I thought your mom loved being pregnant.”

“Mom’s mental health always was questionable,” I said with a sigh. “What’s unquestionable is that her body was a mess afterwards. You’ll owe me all kinds of surgery.”

“No problem,” Andy assured me. “I’ll start saving now.”

I snorted. “You say that, but the baby will take all the money. You’ll have to max out the flexible spending and health care spending accounts.”

“Of course, of course!” Sensing victory, Andy rushed to promise me everything.

But I had some ammunition left. I knew how much Andy adored his niece and how ambivalent he was about his nephews. I told him, “And you know what, honey? If we have a baby, it’s NOT going to be a girl.”

“What?! No!” Andy yelled. “You can’t possibly know that!”

“Oh, yes, I can,” I told him. “Our child would be a boy.”

“Is this like your grandmother’s witchy sixth sense?” Andy demanded. (My father once caught an illegal ride on a milk truck when he was a teen. At the exact moment he fell off the truck, or so the story goes, his mother dropped her hand of bridge, said, “My son is hurt,” and took off. She drove to the exact spot where Dad lay in the road, put him in the car, and took him to the hospital. Supposedly this was the only game of bridge Gram never finished.)

“I dunno,” I said. “I just know we’d have a boy. So if you want a little girl, the only way you’re going to get one is if we adopt.”

“I don’t believe you,” Andy scoffed. “What if you’d married Ethan?”

“Ha! I would NEVER have married Ethan,” I told him. “But if I had, we would have a girl.”

“You — you can’t know that. Or this. Or anything like that or this!” Andy sputtered.

I shrugged and said, “Maybe not. But I do anyway.”

Andy glared at me. The desire for a sweet little girl and the desire to pass on his genes warred for a few minutes before he told me, “I still want my own. And you might be wrong.”

“I might,” I conceded. “I mean, when you think of all the times we’ve disagreed in the last five years or so, I’ve been wrong how many times?”

Andy mumbled something.

“What was that?”

“Two!” Andy answered. “Two, okay?”*

“I like my odds.”

Andy mumbled something about Ashbough witches and then said, “So we’re agreed? We’re gonna have our own kid?”

“Not so fast, mister. We can TRY. But we might not succeed. And then what?”

Andy rolled his eyes. “You’re kidding, right? You’ve been telling me for years that your family conceives at the drop of a hat. You insist on backup birth control. And now you don’t think you’ll get pregnant?”

“It’s possible,” I argued. “There might be something wrong with your sperm.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my sperm!”

“You don’t know that. You’ve never had it tested. Maybe your little spermies are drowners, not swimmers. Or maybe they go in circles and bump into walls.”

“My guys are fine!”

“Okay, but what if they’re not? What’s Plan B? Do we use your brother’s sperm?”


“No spermy, no baby. Are we going for an anonymous donor?”

“I’m telling you, we won’t need one!”

“And I’m telling YOU, I need a plan,” I crossed my arms, planted my feet, and said, “No plan, no baby.”


It took 4 days for Andy to capitulate. Then it took a week to hash out the details:

We’d spend 6 months trying to get pregnant. If we were unsuccessful, there would be testing.

If my eggs/ uterus were problematic, we’d find a donor/ surrogate.

If Andy’s sperm were problematic, we’d look into adoption.

Andy remained quietly convinced that Plan B was utterly unnecessary.

And me?

I was kinda hoping for drowners.

*Andy wants everyone to know that this conversation took place years ago and that, as of December 2017, he has been right 7 times. But I tell him the last one doesn’t count because it’s become very clear that Donald Trump cheated. So he’s really only been right 6 times.


Winner, Winner, Olive Dinner (#185)

My Chinese-American husband and I live in Los Angeles. Since my husband is an excellent cook, we don’t go out that often. But when we do go out? There’s always a new Japanese, Indian, or farm-to-table restaurant to try. Andy’s up for anything, which is nice. Most of my white girlfriends won’t even consider sushi. And my friend JM will only go to one restaurant — the Corner Bakery.

When my in-laws visited, my husband and I cooked for them for weeks. Near the end of their visit, Sunny announced that they would take us out to dinner.

I cheered. “Yay! What kind of food would you guys like? A new bistro opened in the Village, or you could try our favorite sushiya in San Pedro.”

Sunny said, “Is there an Olive Garden nearby?”

I sighed. “Of course.” Continue reading Winner, Winner, Olive Dinner (#185)

When the Cavalry Sucks (#181)

You know those big, dysfunctional but lovable white families you used to see in television and film? They were all about siblings being super shitty to each other. Yet when one member of the family was threatened, the family closed ranks and fended off the attacker.

I grew up in a huge, white, broken, dysfunctional family.

I thought those stories were bullshit. Continue reading When the Cavalry Sucks (#181)

Hostess with the Mostess…Dysfunction (#179)

I’ve had a lot of comments from incredulous readers over the last few months. Apparently, no one believes that I have not lost my shit yet with my provocative Chinese-American in-laws. Not even when they nearly burned down the house and never apologized.

Spoiler alert: I have, indeed, lost my shit. In as spectacular fashion as any of you could want. It just wasn’t on my in-law’s first visit, the one I’m blogging about now. (Yes, my reward for surviving the first visit was a second visit! Whoo-hoo!) If you’re waiting on the East Dates West version of The Real Housewives, check back in a few months. Continue reading Hostess with the Mostess…Dysfunction (#179)

Doggone In-laws (#177)

These yogurt-covered almonds don’t look like they produce a deadly gas, do they?

Our rescue dogs learned a lot of commands and tricks — sit, down, stay, roll over, etc. Their favorite command was  “vacuum.” Woofie, our Dane-Lab mix, would eat anything — even rocks. (He couldn’t digest rocks — or cabbage, or corn cobs — but he’d still eat them. And then throw them up, of course. Preferably on the nice carpet. Or my shoes.) Continue reading Doggone In-laws (#177)

Pets Versus Dinner (#176)

Christmas Bunny, just prior to attacking a confused cat.

My family has always had a multitude of pets. I grew up with dogs, cats, turtles, rodents, and more. We even had a very special Siamese rabbit named Christmas. Yes, Christmas. Normal people have bunnies named Peter, but, hey, my little sister was only five when she found him in a New Jersey parking lot. Christmas was a New Jersey street tough masquerading as an adorable bunny. He spent ten happy years terrorizing the family Labrador and several cats while eating the antique Italian Provincial dining room set. Continue reading Pets Versus Dinner (#176)

Rules for Shopping with Chinese-American In-Laws (#174)

My Chinese-American husband loves Costco, the giant shopping warehouse. He had a Costco membership when I met him. Every Sunday morning, he did all the bulk-buying. I went with him. Once. Even though he insisted “it wasn’t that crowded, cuz church” there were still hordes of meandering, food-sampling shoppers in my way. I hated it. I’m a military shopper – my mantra is get in, get your objective, and get out. I revel in weaving among supermarket shopping carts with only a hand-held basket, like a sports car weaving through traffic. (And, like those sports car drivers, I probably get flipped off a lot.) Continue reading Rules for Shopping with Chinese-American In-Laws (#174)

A Tale of Two Immigrants (#173)

My maternal great-great grandfather was the most recent immigrant in my family tree. Enraged and disgusted by the rise of German nationalism in the late 1800s, the German patriarch came to the United States. He was so angry with the Fatherland, in fact, that no one in his household was allowed to speak German. Ever.

It wasn’t until recently that I understood exactly how he felt. Ever since the Inflated Tangerine Fascist took office, I’ve regretted not learning Cantonese. It appalls me that such a vile, morally bankrupt cretin is not only human, but American.

Maybe I’ll start speaking in pig Latin. Continue reading A Tale of Two Immigrants (#173)

A Morning with My In-Laws: Part 4 of the Visit (#172)

Orange you glad my in-laws came to visit?

There’s a whole horror show going on in America right now, but it’s time to take a break from protesting the Orange Pustule. Today we’re headed back to a time when my greatest worry was leaving my in-laws unsupervised.

My husband has limited vacation and sick leave. When he had knee surgery, we carefully scheduled part of his recovery to overlap with a visit from his parents. I had visions of them fetching food for Andy, or keeping him entertained while I worked, walked dogs, cleaned, did yard work, etc. Continue reading A Morning with My In-Laws: Part 4 of the Visit (#172)

Night Terrors: In-Law Visit Part II (#166)

Yes, when coping with in-laws, much “resolve” is needed.

The holidays are over. Brace yourselves. Back to my Chinese-American in-laws!

Way back when, Jay and Sunny had just arrived at LAX, ready to spend an ungodly amount of time visiting us – in our 1,100 square foot house. With our 2 big, in-your-face-I-love-you-so-much dogs.

I never imagined the dogs would be a problem. I mean, Sunny and Jay had a small dog named Biscuit. Continue reading Night Terrors: In-Law Visit Part II (#166)