Hand-Me-Downs & Halloween (#266)

There were two great things about being taller than my older sister by age five.

  • She couldn’t beat me up anymore.
  • I didn’t have to wear her hand-me-downs.

Instead, I got a new dress for the first day of kindergarten. My parents actually asked what color I wanted. I wore that dress at least twice a week until my growth spurts made it into a crop top.

Big Brother, however, was still tall enough to hand down items. It wasn’t until second grade that I got my own winter coat in faux blue fur, with white trim and a massive hood. My siblings told me I looked like a Star Wars Jawa; I ignored them because I knew I was a snow princess and they were just jealous.

The first three cars I drove were used car hand-me-downs from older siblings.

When I finally bought my own new car? I was high on the new car, no-one-else-owned-this-but me smell for months.

When I moved across the country, I bought new furniture. From Ikea.

By the time I married, much of furniture I’d spent so long putting together had fallen apart. A sofa arm had been shredded by one cat. My box spring had been shredded by the other. I’d been in multiple car accidents and found that registration fees and insurance get cheaper as your car gets older.

When I learned my Chinese-American husband had gotten his couch when a neighbor died, I shrugged and put a slipcover on it.

I was pregnant when Baby Sister got engaged and moved to California with her boyfriend. She and her boyfriend rented a U-haul for their stuff. I offered her cash to bring my old bed and any family furniture various older siblings or parental units didn’t want.

She arrived with a chair, dresser, secretary, two infant carseats, a stroller, a crib, a baby swing, a vibrating baby chair, a portable crib, and twelves boxes of baby and toddler clothes.

It was hard to say whether my frugal husband was more delighted with our hand-me-down haul or whether I was.

When Baby D was born, the only thing we had to shop for were diapers. Score.

Unlike me, my older sister had the holy grail of in-laws: the doting grandma who followed my sister’s childcare rules and also sewed. Doting Grandma made First Niece adorable Halloween costumes. Older Sister shared First Niece’s pictures online, garnering thousands of likes each year.

My own mother was dead (and she was seriously crap at sewing when she was alive). I wasn’t remotely crafty. I figured Baby D was doomed to mass produced costumes.

Until a special box arrived the week before Halloween from my older sister.


The greatest hand-me-down I ever got.


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)

Lucky (#180)

Once upon a time, Andy headed off to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. When he came back, I asked how many strip clubs they’d hit.

He said, “None.”

I said, “Liar.” Continue reading Lucky (#180)

To Capture the Castle (#133)

Once upon a time, the handsomest king in Europe (i.e., the only one without the Habsburg jaw) married the most beautiful woman in his court. On their honeymoon, they stayed at a charming castle. Then they lived happily ever after.

Nah, just kidding. The King was Henry VIII. You know this didn’t have a happy ending.

Unless you’re an American, in which case you’re hazy on all history before 1776. Continue reading To Capture the Castle (#133)

Why Andy is Handy (#48)

Andy installs his own tile floors and fixes toilets. For real.

My Chinese-American fiancé isn’t confrontational. As a child, if Andy so much as disagreed with his father, he’d get a knuckle in the head. Andy’s parents didn’t care what he thought, what he wanted, or whether he agreed with their plans. Jay and Sunny did what they thought was best. They expected their children to fall in line. Continue reading Why Andy is Handy (#48)

Invitation to Disaster (#38)


The wedding invitation designer put her head in her hands.

“You can do it,” I told her encouragingly. “I’m sure you can find some way to fit them all in.” Continue reading Invitation to Disaster (#38)

Badge of Shame (#33)


My Chinese-American boyfriend’s birthday came less than a month after we started dating. I got him a polo shirt, carefully cut off the tags, and wrapped it up in tissue paper. Andy opened it, thanked me, and sat in expectant silence. Continue reading Badge of Shame (#33)

The Big Money Question (#10)

In which that which is NOT DONE is done to the white girl.

In my white world, there are exactly two times when it is acceptable to ask how much something costs.

1)  SALES.  When a white person tells a friend about the great deal they got on apparel or automobiles, it is acceptable – no, mandatory – that the friend ask for both the original price and the sale price. Continue reading The Big Money Question (#10)