“Toothless pregnant woman”

I hate visiting the dentist. There’s really no health appointment I dread more. I might have even said this on this blog before, but I would truly rather have ten pap smears back to back than have two dental cleanings a year. There’s nothing worse than having sharp instruments prodded in your mouth with air and water pointy things going everywhere. It’s the worst when you have sensitive teeth and just want the torture to end.

The dentist is not happy with me because I still haven’t had my loose baby tooth extracted. His wife, who is also a dentist but now runs the front desk and does all the paperwork, said to me, “Are you planning to have children soon? You know you cannot have an implant done when you are pregnant, right? You don’t want to be a toothless pregnant woman, do you?”

I’m so good and anal with dental hygiene, but genes tend to trump hygiene in these cases. I can’t help that I was born without two adult teeth and needed to keep these two baby teeth for as long as possible.


My mom is wallowing in the post wedding period, grieving the fact that her daughter is now officially married off and part of another family. That sounds very gendered to say that the daughter gets “married off,” but hey, wouldn’t you want to be married off into another family if your family were as dysfunctional as mine? I’d say that for a guy or a gal.

She finally launched in a tirade against my mum-in-law, stating that she’s a cheap, ill-mannered “statue” who has no emotions and doesn’t want to spend a dime on me, and apparently wants to take me for everything I’m worth every time I see her. The assumption here is that every time I see my in-laws that they “force” me to pay for everything. This really couldn’t be any further from the truth. She’s angry that the last two times she’s had meals with my in-laws that they didn’t pay the bill. Well, they never had the chance to because my mom instructed my dad to secretly pre-pay the bill while pretending to go to the restroom. No one even gets to see the bill. So, she’s angry she’s paid, yet she never gave them the chance to pay. She created a no-win situation and has made herself out to be a “victim.”

There are a lot of stupid things about Chinese culture, but one of the dumbest and most frustrating ‘traditions’ is fighting over the bill at the end of a meal. My mom is short-sighted and has no knowledge of any culture outside of her own and my dad’s, but she doesn’t realize that people do not do this in every other culture; it looks embarrassing for people on the outside, and it’s just a ridiculous act. If you want to pay the bill, pay the bill. If you don’t want to pay the bill, then don’t. It’s really that simple. Don’t pay the bill and then get angry about paying it later. Also, don’t pay the bill and just “expect” the other person to pay the bill the next time. You’ll probably be disappointed. None of this does anyone any good. She made herself into a ‘victim’ when there’s no victims in this situation.

This reminds me of the time when years ago, my mom made a black friend in her JW congregation. She gave this friend a gift. The friend was happy and said thank you, then proceeded to open the gift in front of her. My mom was angrier than angry. She came home and yelled about it, saying this person had no manners and embarrassed her. I explained to her that in Asian culture, you typically don’t open the gift in front of the giver, but in Western culture, many people do this. She ignored me, insisted I was defending this friend, and said I was wrong. Well, the same thing happened in this case with my mother-in-law. She’s always right. Everyone else is always wrong.

I don’t know how anyone gets enough energy to have so much hate against everyone. I just cannot fathom it.

Mental list

As I’ve become an adult and had to deal with my parents and their foibles, I’ve realized that increasingly, my fear is that I will become just like them as parents when and if the day comes that I have my own children. As a parent, you always want to try to do your best, but the scary thing is… what if your “best” isn’t enough? Before people become parents, they often think back to the things that their own parents did that they liked and did not like and hope to replicate the good and not repeat the bad. Over the years, I’ve talked about a “mental list of things not to do when I am a parent.” I kept telling myself I would write it down and put it up somewhere to remind myself. Well, maybe I will put it up here.

  1. Don’t tell your child “one step wrong, and then everything goes wrong.” No one is perfect. We all fuck up and make mistakes. That is what you call “life.”
  2. Don’t tell your child you will do something for them and not do it. They will remember it forever.
  3. Don’t name call your child. Then, you are being childish, aren’t you?
  4. Don’t call your child stupid or an idiot. This reiterates number 3 above.
  5. Don’t hit your child with a metal fly swatter.
  6. If you end up sending your child to private school or college and paying for her tuition, when you have arguments, don’t scream at them and demand they pay every penny back to you.
  7. Don’t make your child feel guilty about having an education. Education is compulsory in every developed western society.
  8. Never tell your children that they “owe” you and the debt can never be repaid. You brought them into this world. That was your choice, wasn’t it? (well, we’d like to assume so).
  9. Don’t make up stories about your child’s life and then start accusing them that these things are true when you are angry.
  10. Don’t tell your child that you are the best parent in the world. No one is the best. No one.
  11. Don’t tell your child that every other parent is inferior, especially her in-laws once she gets married. This is just not nice. Enough said.
  12. Don’t tell your child that she is a bad daughter. Again, not nice.
  13. When a great event happens in your child’s life, don’t nitpick and scream over the tiny details that didn’t go as planned. Glass fully empty and the faucet doesn’t work, anyone?
  14. Don’t open letters/cards addressed to your child. That’s none of your business.
  15. Don’t badmouth people your child likes to her face. And don’t badmouth your spouse to your child.
  16. Don’t call your daughter a prostitute.
  17. Don’t tell your depressed child that he needs to try harder.
  18. Don’t tell your child that she should learn to ride a bike herself.
  19. Don’t call your child weak or dumb when she cries.
  20. Never tell your child that he is worthless or that no one respects him or cares about him.
  21. Don’t expect your child to spend 100 percent of her time at home with you. That’s being selfish.
  22. Don’t pay for meals for your child and get mad when she doesn’t offer to pay. Then, when she does offer and pay, get mad at her for paying. See the no-win situation here?
  23. When your child gives you gifts, don’t scoff and say it “only cost X amount — that’s just peanuts.” You are just asking for no gifts ever again.
  24. When your child points out something you do that is a flaw, don’t come back with “Well, what about you?” and point out something completely unrelated. Remember, act like an adult with your child.
  25. Don’t accuse your child of loving or liking other people more than you and your spouse.
  26. In fact, don’t accuse your child of not loving or caring about you.
  27. Don’t compare your child to his face with other children. Would you want to be compared as a parent?!
  28. Don’t demand that your child call you every single day after s/he has left home.
  29. Don’t tell your child that she lacks wisdom and that you have a lot. If you have to say it, then you don’t.
  30. Don’t assume that just because you are the parent that your child will respect you. Respect is always earned. Demanding respect doesn’t get you anywhere.

Cabrillo National Monument

This morning, Chris and I visited the Cabrillo National Monument, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and has a really spectacular cliff walk. The cliffs have these beautiful edgings from all the erosion that has occurred over the years. The actual Cabrillo statue at the site was pretty underwhelming; we mostly came for the cliff walk/hike and the ocean scenery, which did not disappoint one bit.

As we walked around the cliffs and along the edges, I thought about how comforting it would be to live in California again, to be this close to the Pacific Ocean and see views like this every day or every weekend whenever I wanted. The smell of the ocean and the sound of waves crashing — we don’t and can’t get that in the urban jungle that is New York City. And then the idea deflated immediately when I thought about being closer to home. Being closer to home is not a comforting feeling.

And that was when I started getting vertigo and couldn’t walk along the very edge of the cliffs anymore. All I could hear was my mother in my head, yelling at me for coming to a place like this where you could easily fall over and die.

Travel blog advice woe

When I was researching San Diego to see what we’d do here, I was getting bored of looking at TripAdvisor and looked to some travel blogs for some semi off-the-beaten path ideas. One of these ideas was what was labeled “the seven bridges walk,” which was supposed to be an interesting walk around the city or what the travel blogger called “an urban hike.” There are few changes in elevation, and the walk takes you to seven (actually eight if you count *all* of them) pedestrian bridges through the city. I thought it sounded like it could be different, so I put it on our list. And then as we went on it, I realized how annoying it was.

Not only was it a seemingly meaningless “hike” with little interesting to see, but it even backtracked and made us walk across a bridge… to then walk right back across it again to where we came from. What kind of “hike” is that?! If you ever try looking for “different” things to do in San Diego, by all means avoid this “walk” completely!

We would have been better off sticking with wandering around Balboa Park.

San Diego food

We’re spending a long weekend here since Chris was here for work this week, and the main thing on my list was to eat, eat, and eat. Of course, the ocean and sunsets also excited me, but San Diego screams Mexican food to me, and I barely remembered any of the food I ate the last time I was in San Diego, which was almost 18 years ago. Chances are that it wasn’t that good and was mostly touristy, too.

Last night when I came in, Chris took me to the Marriott Marquis hotel restaurant, where I hesitantly ordered the California wet burrito on the menu because I was craving burritos. I wasn’t sure what to expect of it until it arrived, but when it did and I took my first bite, I was thoroughly satisfied: the steak was grilled and cooked perfectly, and it was stuffed with guacamole, sour cream, and even French fries that managed to retain their crisp. This was a darn good burrito for a hotel restaurant.

Today for lunch, after waiting about half an hour, we went to a no-frills hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a more run down area of San Diego. We walked through tents and tents of homeless people to get there. The restaurant reminded me so much of the places I’d eaten at in Mexico — the plain tables, the minimal signage for the food, the cheap white plastic chairs. We had crispy chicken tacos, flautas, a tamale, and a “small” (it was quite large) helping of rice and beans with house-made flour tortillas. I usually don’t want flour tortillas, but these were the best and softest I’d ever had with just a slight char. This place couldn’t have been any better: they made all their own tortillas, made all the tacos to order, gave you ample cotija cheese, cilantro, limes, and onions, and even soaked chunks of pork fat into their hot sauce. And our massive lunch cost $15 total. It was like we robbed the place.

I wish we had Mexican food this delicious in Manhattan. I will be salivating about these meals for a long time.

Platinum status kids

I was headed toward my gate for my San Diego-bound flight this afternoon at JFK airport when I noticed two girls who couldn’t have been older than 13 checking their boarding passes and loudly speaking to each other. “They just announced they are boarding executive platinum and platinum fliers,” one of the girls said. “We’re platinum, so we should board now, too.” There wasn’t even a semblance of a line, just a big crowd in front of the “priority” and “main” aisles to board the flight, so I rushed ahead of them into the priority line, scanned my electronic ticket, and got on the plane.

As I sat on the plane, I thought about how crazy it was that these two girls who were barely teenagers had platinum status on American Airlines; that’s at least 50,000 miles flown each year, assuming economy class tickets and that we’re going by mileage only. I just started getting this level of status in the two years, and that was when I was 28. When I was 13, I had only boarded one dinky flight, and that was from San Francisco to Las Vegas. I wondered if they argued about their upgrades and tracked their frequent flier status all the time, too. It’s certainly a life I never had when I was that young. I also wonder if they try to talk about platinum status and frequent flier privileges with their peers, who have no idea what the big deal is and what all these terms even mean. Maybe one day I will have children who are like that, all because of the privileges that their mommy and daddy gave them.

A grandma and her granddaughter

I was on a crowded train going home this early evening, standing in front of a grandma and her granddaughter, sitting down and talking in Cantonese. It was clear that the grandma had picked up the little girl either from school or some after-school program, and the girl was explaining to her grandma what her little pez dispenser was and how you get candy to pop out of it. The grandma laughed when she watched the girl dispense candy out of it, and she tousled the girl’s hair affectionately while commenting how interesting toys are these days (never mind that pez candies have been around forever).

I thought about my own grandma and how I lost her in October 1995. I was only nine years old, probably just a little older than this little girl I was observing. Rarely was she so interested in things I brought home from school, nor was she ever affectionate or touched me kindly, with the exception of holding my hand when I was very young while crossing the street. I think about how pretty much all of my friends have living grandparents, and it made me wistful and wonder what it would be like if she were still around. If she were alive today, she’d be 100 years old this September.

It’s a good thing she isn’t still here, though. It’s sad to say that, but too many terrible and destructive things have happened in this family since her passing. I don’t know how she would have handled knowing her youngest grandson committed suicide. She loved my brother very much and was often accused by my parents of spoiling him rotten (hardly the case). She wouldn’t have accepted a daughter in law fleeing to Boston.

On the side of things that aren’t “bad” but in her eyes would be horrendous, she wouldn’t have liked that two of her grandsons married non-Chinese women, nor would she have been a fan of my new brown husband, or the fact that he is from Australia. I also think she would have screamed endlessly at the idea of my going to college in Boston, and then again at my moving to New York after graduation and not moving back home immediately. I guess it’s all timing.

I wonder if she is screaming at Ed in heaven or wherever they are. If she is, poor Ed.

Purse organizers

In addition to following a handful of food blogs, I also follow a couple of fashion blogs for inspiration. One of these blogs specializes in fashion for petite women like myself, so I’ve actually gotten a lot of good tips regarding petite-friendly brands, how to wear certain pieces I never thought a small person could wear, etc. One of the latest posts from this blog was about purse organizers for large totes. Most large totes, if you are lucky, have the main compartment, maybe one zip compartment, and two pockets.. at most. This has always been a huge gripe of mine regarding hand bags and purses; why do they make it so difficult for you to organize all of the belongings that you need to carry with you? Why won’t they just factor these compartments into the overall design, especially given how expensive women’s purses can be?  And the bigger the bag, the more pockets and compartments you’d typically need, but no, these handbag companies do not care. They are sticking with their one-main-compartment schtick, and they don’t care what you want. Because of that, all these companies are coming out with “hand bag organizers” like this in an effort to cash in on the areas that these hand bag companies won’t help you with. Yes, I can see that these things are necessary, but my point is that it is frustrating that the handbag companies don’t take care of this on their own and require external companies to charge us even more money for dumb organizers like this.

Unexpected wedding card

We received a wedding card in the mail a few days ago from one of my San Francisco friends I met through my mom’s Jehovah’s Witness congregation. The card had a very long, thoughtful, and sweet message. I’m always touched whenever I open a card that anyone gives me nowadays and the written message is more than just a line or two; pretty much no one seems to do that nowadays, nor do people value it. But it always makes me happy and wish that more people would value little things like this that require a lot of time and thought. I feel like I am getting old and dating myself by saying this, but there’s such an emphasis on things being fast and convenient nowadays that we rarely stop to appreciate things like a handwritten card or a homemade meal. My eyes feel like bleeding when I think of future children and how they may or may not value these things.