Tuesday, September 26, 2017

cozy autumn things.

Dear autumn,

Hi again, from another coast. Yes, it's still me and I'm still obsessed with you, only now I'm in a sunnier place and hoping we can still meet this year.

Cold Spring, NY

I've forgotten a bit about what you're like down here in Southern California. Growing up, autumn was my favorite because the giant tree in our front yard became brilliant, and then bare. It was a metaphor for something I couldn't articulate at the time. Decades removed from it, I see now that it was a reminder that things will always change.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

'the tiger hunter' is a love letter to the immigrant story.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might already have seen me tweeting about The Tiger Hunter, but I wanted to dedicate a blog post to it because I don't know how much I was able to really express in 140 character chunks.


I honestly wasn't expecting to be moved by this film as much as I was. (Truthfully, I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting.) It was the small anecdotes, the short scenes, that hit me the most: when Babu offers Sami a place to live, no questions asked; the single suit the roommates shared for job interviews; Sami's efforts to study up on being a "professional American" so he can fit in at work; the optimism that, in America, even the street sweepers own cars. 

And isn't it true that every immigrant family has a version of that optimism? My parents dreamt that the streets were literally paved with gold. In America, they imagined, there was equality and opportunity. Nobody told them how hard it would be to be looked down on because your accent was too strong or because you didn't understand the pop culture references. In China, my grandfather was a teacher. He had an engineer's mind – like Sami, who fixed radios and electronics for his neighbors – but communism and danger drove him and the family away from it. When he got to America, he washed dishes. If he were still alive today, I'd want to know if he ever learned the rules of baseball.

On my father's side, my grandmother was a nurse, but in America, she worked at a canning factory. It's where she lost the hearing in one of her ears. I wonder if she struggled to learn about the Winter Olympics the way Sami does in the film.

Monday, September 11, 2017

5 reasons to love having alopecia.

There should be more positive content about alopecia, in my opinion, so I figured I'd use this week's blog post to highlight a few of those things. These are 100% based on my own experience, so if you have others, share away!

1. No need to panic about finding the right hairdresser.
OK yes – there's a lot of drama around figuring out how to handle your hair (or lack thereof). Wig? No wig? Headscarves? But if there's one thing I've gathered from my friends and relatives who haven't yet found that perfect hairdresser who gets them, it's that there's a lot of stress that comes with finding your Hair-y Godperson. And even if you find that person, what happens if you move? Or they move? Just hearing people discuss this makes me anxious. I don't even like buying a new brand of soap.

2. You can see how the back of your hair(style) will look.
There's honestly nothing more relaxing than being able to sit in front of the TV and curl your hair while it sits on a stand in front of you.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

alopecia storytime.

I was 7 years old when my hair started falling out. It was a really hot day and my school was this 100 year old building that didn’t have central A/C. So we were having this quiet reading time and I reached back to tie up my hair into a ponytail.

A few minutes later, I started hearing this whispering behind me...and then it started getting closer and closer, and it turned into laughter. A girl tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to my head.

“Maybe you shouldn’t tie your hair up,” she said.

I wasn’t really sure what to say. And then she said, “You’ve got a bald spot.”

I quickly pulled the hair tie off my head and sunk back into my book, mortified. When I got home that day, I asked my mom about it and she said that it’s normal for people’s hair to fall out. But it’ll grow back. That’s just how it is.

Except...it didn’t grow back. It actually kept falling out. I started wrapping my head in scarves and tried to disappear as quickly as my eyebrows and eyelashes did from my face. I spent recesses on the bench reading, and at lunch, the librarian would let me spend the period inside the library instead of having to be outside with the rest of the kids.