Sunny, with a Chance of Travel (#303)

Many readers have requested more “when the in-laws visit” stories.

I see you, sadists.

The only good thing about my Chinese-American father-in-law’s decline was that he could no longer visit. (This is why I am not in prison.) Instead, Andy flew to Hawaii to help his mom with Jay’s care.

The one time Sunny briefly left her husband for her niece’s wedding, I told her how pleased I was that she had gotten away. (Jay was in the hospital for tests and procedures.)

“I feel terrible,” Sunny told me. “So guilty.”

“Why? You should get a chance to see your sisters and have a break. Jay’s fine, with round-the-clock care.”

“But he always said it was my job to take of him. And now I’m not.”

How was it that a man who could no longer speak was still imprisoning his wife with words?


After years of dementia, feeding tubes, and immobility, Jay died.

I asked Andy about Sunny’s plans now that she wasn’t caring for his father 24-7. “I hope she sells the house and travels.”

“She doesn’t want to sell the house. She’ll take a hit on taxes.”

“But she could buy a little condo! And not have to take care of that huge house and yard!”

Sunny did not sell the house. She merely called weekly, complaining to Andy about the neighbors and the yard.

“You know,” I told Andy, “if your mom would go on a trip with Yee-mah to Europe, she could complain about the VAT tax instead of the neighbors who don’t pick up dog poop.”

But Sunny didn’t go anywhere until Andy’s brother Denny asked her to come take care of his three kids. Both Denny and his wife worked. Normally Denny’s retired in-laws were responsible for childcare, but they were traveling back to Taiwan for a few months. Sunny would be their temporary (and free!) nanny.

When Andy gave me the news, I said, “That’s not exactly what I had in mind when I suggested your mom go travel.”

“At least it’s getting her out of the house. It’ll be a change of scenery.”

“Denny has a baby and two kids under age six. Changing diapers is literally a shit change of scenery.”

“Don’t worry, she’s planning on having a side trip while she’s on the mainland.”

“Thank God. She’s going to Vegas with her sister, right?”

“Well, she was, but Yee-mah is going to be out of town.”

“What about Sam-yee?”

“She’s in China.”

“Your sister in Iowa?”

“Too far,” Andy said, carefully NOT looking at me.

The penny dropped. Hard. “She’s coming to stay with us, isn’t she.”


“Well, Baby D will be excited to see his Nai-Nai again.”

Andy snorted. “And the hundred dollar bills she showers him with.”

“Too true. When is she coming?”

“So, well, uh…she’s going to visit us before she sees Denny. At the beginning of April.”


Andy winced and said, “Your birthday.”

“Did you TELL her it was my birthday?!”

“Yes. And she’s really pleased. She said, ‘Oh, I have never been with Autumn on her birthday! And she will be so happy that I am taking her advice and traveling!’ So, um, happy birthday, honey! I got you a visit from your mother-in-law.”


Belated Chinese New Year (#275)

My husband is Chinese-American.

I’m so white looking, I make a point of assuring any new neighbors of color that I did not vote for Trump.

Our son took after me.

Occasionally, an Asian-American woman would ask me if Baby D’s father was Asian, but no one ever appeared to be surprised that I was his mom.

It was different for my husband. He took Baby D to the grocery store when Baby D was about 2. An old white man got in Andy’s face and asked, “Is that your son?”

Andy said, “Yes.”

The old white man snorted and said, “He don’t look a thing like his daddy!”

Andy replied, “That’s because his white mama traded up races.” Continue reading Belated Chinese New Year (#275)

Not By Any Other Name (#227)

When I married my Chinese-American husband, we planned on hyphenating our names. Andy’s parents objected.

A multi-month battle ensued. In the end, Andy kept his name. I kept mine.

This means I lost. I don’t lose gracefully.

I lose grudgefully. I swore that if we ever had a kid, said kid would definitely be an Ashbough-Wong. Continue reading Not By Any Other Name (#227)

Very Telling (#224)

No sooner had my husband and I returned from our honeymoon than my Chinese-American father-in-law called, demanding to know where his grandson was.

He called every week. In vain did I explain family planning and birth control to my husband’s parents.

After three years, Jay finally quit calling. Continue reading Very Telling (#224)

West Versus East: The Birthday Edition (#219)

In my childhood house of a thousand siblings, there was only one day more exciting than Christmas.

My birthday.

On my birthday, I got to sit at the head of the breakfast table and preside over a plate of powdered doughnuts with candles. Powdered doughnuts might not seem very exciting compared to the Krispy Kremes and Voodoo doughnut delicacies of today, but back then they were a huge treat. Especially to a kid in a big family on a budget. Continue reading West Versus East: The Birthday Edition (#219)

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)

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)

The Daughter-in-Law Tea Ceremony (#100)

Not actual Tea Ceremony teapot. (Actually teapot under a house in Honolulu.)
Not actual Tea Ceremony teapot. (Actually teapot under a house in Honolulu.)

So this is my 100th blog post! Imagine confetti everywhere!

I’m shocked. I mean, not shocked I’ve written approximately 400 pages. All y’all know by now that I’m a loquacious monster with polysyllabic tentacles. Standard blog posts are apparently a page or less. Mine are more like 4. But that’s fine. I take pride in the fact that my blog is for people with above average powers of concentration (or possibly extra-long train commutes). Continue reading The Daughter-in-Law Tea Ceremony (#100)

Sunny, with a Chance of Thanksgiving (#98)


My in-laws lived in Honolulu. My husband and I went there for our first Thanksgiving together.

You’re probably having the same reaction as most new acquaintances and coworkers. “Your in-laws live in Hawaii?! How awesome is that?” Continue reading Sunny, with a Chance of Thanksgiving (#98)