I am not a patient person. I was the kid in the car asking “Are we there yet?” every 10 minutes. My many siblings were equally impatient. Road trips were an endless chorus of questions about how long it was to the bathroom, restaurant, and destination.
Unsurprisingly, we didn’t go on many road trips.
My Chinese-American husband is patient (sadly, he grew up on Oahu, which is too small for road trips). I’m not sure if he’s naturally mellow, or if the tropical “hang loose” vibes worked on his personality the opposite way that the intense, political atmosphere of Washington, D.C. affected me.
Perhaps our different levels of patience exemplify the difference in our cultures. My Western mindset insists that I can control my destiny if I work, scheme, and worry enough. At the very least, maybe I can get someone incompetent fired if I document the crap out of his failings. But Andy doesn’t see the point; people are gonna be stupid and other people are gonna cover for them. That’s life, and you have no control over your own fate, let alone anyone else’s. Why exhaust yourself changing nothing? Continue reading Waiting (#314)
I used to play volleyball with a big group of women. About half these women were Japanese Nationals, living in the Los Angeles area while they or their husbands were working for Toyota, Honda, or other Japanese corporations.
These Japanese women never played volleyball professionally. Many hadn’t played since their school days. And yet they were amazing. They could run down and set a ball like pros. They never gave up on a play, wearing down and demoralizing the strongest, biggest, hardest hitting white women (like me).
Continue reading Belly Up (#249)
I didn’t have an easy pregnancy. There were six months of puking. There was weight loss, weight gain, anemia, and cankles.
Pregnancy was miserable, but I didn’t think you could actually become allergic to being pregnant.
Turns out, you can.
My arms started to itch. I looked for bug bites. Nothing. Just light redness.
Continue reading The Itch (#248)
I’ve never been fragile. Born into a large family of semi-feral children, I learned to guard my food and my stuffed animals early. I mowed lawns, lifted weights, and fought dirty with siblings when necessary (also when unnecessary).
Sympathy and coddling were in short supply. Like most young women, I powered through feeling like crap when I had cramps, headaches, and nausea.
The “I can endure misery” mindset was helpful when I was pregnant. I continued working out and playing volleyball, since the endorphins helped me not puke all the time. I still walked my rescue dogs for miles. My only concession to pregnancy was lighter weights and no squats.
This astounded people.
Continue reading To Coddle, or Not to Coddle? (#246)
I love food. So do my siblings, probably because there wasn’t quite enough of it to go around when we were kids. Free Candy Night — i.e., Halloween — was my favorite holiday. I dreamed of being able to eat all the Little Debbie Snack Cakes I wanted.
Once I grew up and had money, though, I discovered that I could not, in fact, gorge on Little Debbie. Not if I wanted to fit into my work clothes. And if I wanted to fit into the skin-tight costumes for competitive dance? Hell, no.
Some people are blessed with the kind of metabolism that allows them to eat a lot, exercise moderately, and not gain weight.
These people are called men. Continue reading The Weight of Pregnancy (#234)
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)
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)
I lost my mom when I was a teen. It was awful. It was untimely, a tragedy, etc. She left six kids with a) a mentally unstable father/ stepfather and b) a ton of unresolved issues.
I understood that it was better than the reverse. A mother should never outlive her children. Continue reading Try As You Might (#223)
Every mother has secrets. Some are dark — a deeply buried history of domestic violence or mental illness. But some are light — generations of wisdom on everything from gardening to cooking.
My mother died before I was fifteen. As a “liberated woman,” she turned her back on domestic wisdom. She had no helpful hints to give me regarding makeup, stain removal, cleaning, sewing, or baking. She was, in fact, terrible at all those things. She had a hell of a green thumb with houseplants. Our neighbors exclaimed over all the hanging baskets of greenery in our D.C. dining room. At the time, I shoved errant leaves out of my hair and glowered. Now I wish I’d asked how she did it. Continue reading Lost & Found: Mom Edition (#221)