Poker Face (#155)

If I had known that buying a new house would inspire inspired a visit from Andy’s parents, I’d have barricaded myself into our old townhouse for life. I knew that we wouldn’t be able to keep them away if we ever had a son (hence my ongoing lobbying to adopt a little girl from China), but I had no idea a new house would be such a draw. Given my father-in-law’s obsession with photos of the house, I should have known what would happen.

As soon as Andy and I finished our year-long, DIY remodel of our new house,  my Chinese-American in-laws decided they needed to make sure we’d done it right. Jay and Sunny informed Andy that they were coming to visit in April.

I was not consulted. Continue reading Poker Face (#155)

House Calls (#153)

img_0053Andy’s Chinese-American father is a bored retired civil engineer. He has far too much time on his hands and his only interests are his sons and on-line video poker. He’s also got the patience of a toddler. When Jay wants something, he wants it NOW.

The man called every week after we got married, demanding a grandson. Not a grandchild, mind you. No, Jay wanted a number one son from his number one son. And he wanted it yesterday. Continue reading House Calls (#153)

Calls From the Dark Side (#152)

img_0958Two weeks after our honeymoon, I made the mistake of answering the landline. (Yes, we had a landline. Yes, we didn’t pay for caller ID. Yes, my husband is sometimes a cheap bastard.) A gruff, low, male voice I didn’t recognize barked something about a son or a grandson.

I said, “Wrong number,” and hung up.

Ten seconds later, the phone rang again. I answered again.

The same voice muttered, “….my grandson?”

“Look, dude, there are no kids here, I’m not a kidnapper, and you have the wrong number!” I hung up.

Continue reading Calls From the Dark Side (#152)

Many Mothers. No Mom (#131)

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The Aisle of Pain

It was the year after Andy and I got married. It was the week before the United States would indulge in an orgy of brunches and flower arrangements.

Mother’s Day was coming at me. Much like a Mack truck. Of manure. Continue reading Many Mothers. No Mom (#131)

Battle of the Bloggers (#127)

Get ready to rumble!

In today’s post, blogger Mary of The Ruby Ronin and I go head-to-head on Tang Dynasty Trivia.

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This is Weina. Don’t be fooled by how nice she looks. She’s devious.

Weina Randel will be officiating the match. Randel spent six years researching China’s only female Emperor. She’s got some brutal questions for us about both her books (The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon), as well as Chinese history and culture in general.

Who will win? The woman who actually speaks Mandarin and lived in China, or the woman who took one class on Chinese history over a decade ago in college?

Let’s find out. Here’s the completely slightly edited version of our game show, conducted primarily via Skype. Continue reading Battle of the Bloggers (#127)

West Meets an Eastern Novel (#117)

Guess what? I’ve gotten so famous that I’ve been asked to review books!

Translation: book needs free publicity and I’m a sucker for historical fiction. Especially for time periods and cultures I don’t know much about. The best historical authors spin information, entertainment, and angst into a yarn that is pure magic. Continue reading West Meets an Eastern Novel (#117)

When Lions Eat Lettuce (#114)

Gung hey fat choi! It's the Year of the Monkey! (Better give the lion some lai see if you don't want to get eaten, Monkey.)
Gung hey fat choi! It’s the Year of the Monkey. (Better give the lion some lai see if you don’t want to get eaten, Monkey.)

Early one February, Andy asked if I want to go to dim sum with his aunt, uncle, and cousins on the weekend.

I said, “So long as you don’t make fun of me for not eating the chicken feet.”

“But they’re so good! And you won’t even try them!”

I shuddered. “It’s the toenails. If you have to spit out toenails, you cannot pretend you’re not eating another creature’s feet.” Continue reading When Lions Eat Lettuce (#114)

What My Chinese Father-in-Law Said (#111)

IMG_5799My new father-in-law was not a talker. This was a good thing. The first thing Jay said to me was a horrified “no!” when I tried to hug him. He followed this warm welcome up a half-hour later with a Cantonese joke about giving his son a hand job. Four days later I got a long lecture, and understood none of it. (Andy says thank God, because if I had heard the religious, misogynistic instructions, I’d have thrown a drink at his dad. Also the glass. And possibly the table.) Continue reading What My Chinese Father-in-Law Said (#111)

Son-in-Law vs. Daughter-in-Law (#110)

IMG_5730When I butted heads with my in-laws, I had a secret weapon. Well, more like a secret label, really. I was able to avoid taking their criticism personally by calling it “a cultural difference.”

Doubling the number of bridesmaids to 8 due to Chinese superstitions about the Voldemort of numbers? It’s a pain in the ass, but fine, I’ll respect your superstition.

Ignoring the fact that I hate seafood and making sure every dish at the Chinese Wedding Banquet was marine? Well, each dish had some cultural significance and my in-laws paid for it. I fed my portions to my new husband and said nothing. Continue reading Son-in-Law vs. Daughter-in-Law (#110)

Sunny Daze (#109)

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My new, China-born mother-in-law had cornered me in the guest bedroom. She’d told her son that she wanted to have a talk with me about “woman” stuff. He couldn’t get out of the room fast enough. Possibly because Andy’s father had already subjected him to the “Ultimate Over-sharing Sex Talk, Given Fifteen Years Too Late.”

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The original cover of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Courtesy of their awesome and useful website.

Well, if Sunny thought she was going to intimidate educate me with some superstitious old world sex misinformation, she thought wrong. Continue reading Sunny Daze (#109)