Thursday, December 18, 2008


Hello, Everyone,

We'll be traveling for the next two weeks, so I will probably be off-line until the week of January 5, 2009. I hope you'll come back and visit then.

In the meantime, warm and happy holiday wishes to all of you!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Evening of Panic

Everything felt perfectly fine yesterday morning when I dropped Jeff off at the airport at 10:30 am. He found out last week that he had to go on a last minute business trip to Israel, and we hastily booked his flight for Saturday and made plans for me to join him on Thursday when he would be done with his work and I, with my doctor's appointments for additional tests. From the airport, I rushed back to the city to pick up my dear (and as it turned out, hungover) friend Paul who was waiting for me at a Bart station. We attended an information session on USF's MFA program and then spent the rest of the afternoon having lunch and loitering at a Border's.

Around 4pm, I headed back home, looking forward to reading Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer, a book recommended by a friend and one I was sure would launch me into writer stardom. I pictured myself, curled up on our chaise lounge, under the lamp, complacently absorbing words of wisdom and the key to my future.

Thirty minutes later, I found myself feeling strangely panicked. The house was too quiet and everything too still. The house felt too narrow, the walls too close. I looked at the clock, and it was only 5pm. The thought of facing the whole evening alone felt suffocating and daunting. I dreaded another minute alone in the house.

I wrapped myself in layers, put the leash on Sherlock, and headed toward the doggie park less than two blocks away. When we neared the park, after many No!s, Sit!s, and Sherlock, No Pulling!s, I scanned the park to survey the visitors of the hour. When I saw the lone owner and the lone doggie packing up to leave, my chest fell, and I pitied the two of us about to enter a soon to be empty park. We walked in, and much to our relief, other moms and dads with their little pooches entered the park within minutes. We did the usual greetings. What's the name of your little one? How old is she? Oh, mine's a little nutty. He doesn't really care to play with other dogs. Oh, really? Well, at least yours isn't OCD like mine. All he cares about is that ball even around a cute poodle like yours. We stayed for at least forty minutes in the unusually cold evening, mainly because I was reluctant to return to the quiet of our house.

When we returned, the quiet was still there, as palpable as the wall. I felt gripped by some strange pressure, making it difficult for me to breathe, making me feel too alone and slightly panicked. I turned on the lights in the kitchen, the dining area, the living room, the hallway, and even the bathroom and the bedrooms that were completely separated from where I was sitting. I popped in a CD, first Puccini's La Boheme, then irritated by what now sounded too distant, Eurythmics' Greatest Hits, the music of my college years. I sat on the couch, checked my gmail, read the latest stories on the NYTimes, the Huffington Post, SFGate. Then I went onto iTunes, looking for some movie I could click on and impatiently scrolled through a couple of categories. I made Sherlock sit on the couch with me. Within a few more minutes of clicking, I found myself darting off of the couch, pacing the room, feeling suffocated, wondering if I should just step outside and walk around the streets in the dark aimlessly.

What was wrong with me? I am a woman used to solitude. I spent big chunks of my 20s and early 30s living alone, coming home to an empty house. There had also been many nights when I had worked late in the office, at ease with the fact that I was alone on the entire floor. Even during the past two years, Jeff had been away for days at a time for his business trips, and I had felt perfectly fine. But today, I felt panicked. I had felt this kind of panic only twice before, once after a bad break-up and another when I was visiting relatives in Korea and realized that no one there, possibly no one in the entire country, really understood me, not the way I needed to be understood.

I found myself typing out a panicked email to a few girlfriends and clicked the send button, knowing how busy they usually kept themselves, wondering what they had already planned for the evening, and regretting that I hadn't planned my weekend in advance.

I put on my jogging gear, got in the car, and drove to the gym. It was 6:30 on a Saturday night. I never went to the gym at this hour on a weekend, even when I had no plans. I found the gym surprisingly filled with people and felt relieved. I jumped on the elliptical with an enthusiasm I rarely saved for this machine and focused on following the plight of the gorillas in Rwanda and Congo on Planet in Peril.

About an hour later, I returned home and found that six of my girlfriends had already responded to my panic email. On a Saturday night. They left email and voicemail messages inviting me out, suggesting get togethers for the following day. And I felt a wave of relief come over me. My friends were out there, making time for me even on a busy night. I felt the panic subside, the loneliness dissipate. I made plans for the following day and had a glass of wine. I spent the rest of the evening talking to my sweet friend Sarah who was taking a break from consecutive late nights of flirting (and depriving many bar hopping men of her wit and charm). And by the time I went to sleep, I felt once again at ease in my world.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jeff's Glass

Jeff blows glass as a hobby. I thought I'd post a photo of one of his pieces. Here's how he described it when it was auctioned earlier this year at the Bay Area Glass Institute Great Glass Auction:

"Inspired by Davide Salvadore, Lee Militier, and The Smurfs. A tubby thing, with a white core, coated in two-tone blue transparent veil cane, with a chubby split neck."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I think I'm buckling under the pressure I'm putting on myself to figure out my career while trying to have a baby. I keep thinking that it has already been over seven months since I was let go by Paul Hastings and that should be more than enough time to have figured out my career direction, studied the ins and outs of this new career, and written the great American novel. Since I failed my two attempts at having a kid, I should at least have succeeded in that, right?

Instead, I've barely gotten started. I am only now starting to become comfortable with the idea of giving up my career as a lawyer. Maybe it sounds shocking that I'm not long past this. It's not the job but the security that comes with it that I find hard to let go. But it dawns on me (belatedly) that this security is no longer a given, not just because of the state of the economy, but because I've been booted out. To survive as a lawyer at my level, I have to be willing to fight like a shark, and I can muster neither the motivation nor the energy. Frankly, the idea of working again as a full time litigator fills me with dread. When I see listings on or for litigator positions, I find myself articulating reasons why the position would not work for me.

There are times when I regret having spent the past ten years working as a lawyer. The Obama's and the Michelle Rhee's of this world make me feel like I've spent my time so poorly. I keep thinking of where I would be had I invested the past 10 years working on my writing instead. Yeah, maybe no Pulitzer Prize to my name, but at least I could be writing professionally and have some by-lines to point to. And who's to say that I would not have succeeded? I'm not sure how some people nurture the confidence to forge ahead in the face of unlikely odds, but I would surely like to have some of that rub off on me.

I spent an inordinate amount of time in college fretting about my career. Too earnestly, I believed in the importance of one's life work, the product that sums up your human effort, ideals, values. At the same time, I struggled with the need to create a sense of security in our family. Our immigrant way of living in the US - with no relatives and few friends - felt so vulnerable, and I obsessed over the fear that my parents - who worked in a dry cleaner and had no health insurance - would be stricken with cancer. And for some reason, I thought the solution to finding our family's security and redeeming my parents' decision to live such difficult lives in the US rested entirely on my shoulders. Talk about being self-absorbed.

So I talked myself into law school. I told myself a lot of things. Knowing the law empowers you. It will give me a sense of authority. I'll make good money.

And all those things happened. And lots of other good things, like meeting some incredible people along the way, learning how to write and think precisely, learning some discipline, working on some fun, high-profile cases.

But it still does not feel like enough. I keep thinking about how I am using up the limited days of my life. I have some skepticism toward people who blindly tout following one's passions because it does not take into account any practical considerations. And I don't take lightly the need to feed oneself, pay rent, have health coverage. But I am at a different place in my life now than when I graduated from college. My parents are happily retired with a good enough nest egg. Jeff and I are financially secure, and he has been incredibly encouraging about my writing, urging me repeatedly to take the risk of going for it. And I have all the time in the world - at least for now.

So a part of me feels like I should be grateful for having had my miscarriages. It buys me time - at least for the next several months - to work on my writing, take more courses, try to get some pieces published. And I have to remind myself that seven months really isn't enough to draft up a Pulitzer Prize worthy tome, especially since I had to set aside some of that time to simmer down after the Paul Hastings dismissal, to deal with the fallouts of two miscarriages, to flail aimlessly, to do some mindless contract work, and to build up an obviously prize-worthy blog.

So here's my new mantra. Even babies get a nine month gestation period. Shouldn't I give myself at least that same amount of time to find my way into this new world?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Limits of Blogging

I guess the past few posts have been kind of depressing, huh?

I hope I'm not coming across as one of these self-pitying bores. The fact is that generally, I'm a pretty cheerful person, and I laugh very easily. When I'm with Jeff or my friends, we're often laughing, even if we are talking about the most unhappy events of our lives, not because we don't know how to talk about unhappy events but because we make each other happy. I am surrounded by amazing friends, the kind you know to cling onto your whole life, even though I don't blog about them very often, since I'm assuming they haven't abandoned their sense of privacy as casually as I have.

There are a lot of facets of my life that I haven't yet blogged about. Probably because as Tolstoy said (to paraphrase), happiness really isn't much to write about. The past month of my life has been difficult with my second miscarriage, for sure, but it hasn't been spent in the depth of despair, as it might seem from my blog alone. The rear of our house, wall to wall glass, looks out onto the garden, and my life is usually lived surrounded by California poppies, fuchsias, snapdragons, abutilons, and roses of all colors. But that is a view I haven't shared with most of you.

Here's how my life usually unfolds outside of the blog. A few weeks ago, through facebook, I found my fourth grade best friend from PS 20 in Queens, NY, and it turns out that she lives in the East Bay. The last time I saw her was when she was in college. Now, more than fifteen years later, we have reconnected, and we've spent several jolly hours catching up. Yesterday, she came over with her family along with a few other friends, and we passed the whole afternoon laughing, playing with our dog and their kids, eating, and then eating some more. I find nothing more satisfying than stuffing my friends with my cooking and then sending them home with leftovers.

And today, I am off to my book club, which we've had going for about 5 years now. The members of the club are the warmest bunch, and we love seeing each other. I'm sure we'll hang out for hours, as we usually do, gossiping, talking about the book (Christopher Buckley's Supreme Courtship), giggling, empathizing. Together, we have read over fifty books. And tonight, Jeff and I will be off to have dungeness crab (yum) with a high school friend of mine who's visiting from Michigan.

But would I have thought to blog about any of these events? Probably not. Because... well, because I don't assume that they are interesting to any one other than me. Also, I don't want my blog to be just a record of my daily activities, but a place where I can store some emotional truths (as pretentious as that sounds). In that process, this blog may seem a little weepy at times, perhaps a little intense, possibly somewhat imbalanced, hopefully not too neurotic. But I hope you will have the patience to bear with me.

If I ever have the occasion to meet any of you anonymous readers in person, I hope you will do me the favor of saying, "Wow, you're so different than what I expected!"

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Biding Time

I tell myself that I don't want to become one of these women who do nothing but obssess about having a child, but I feel like I'm turning into one of them. It doesn't help that I'm not working right now. My contract job ended several weeks ago, which seemed perfectly fine when I was pregnant and felt both a sense of purpose and the value of my limited free time. Now, my free time stretches out indefinitely. Having too much time to think feels a little suffocating at the moment. So, I've been desperately scouring the web for a part time job to keep me somewhat busy while I continue working on my writing. And the economy flicks me a finger and says, bad timing, lady. Frankly, I wouldn't mind working at a Starbucks right now (if they're even hiring), but working as a barrista probably isn't the most constructive use of my time in the long run. Not to say that I look down on it because I would do it in a heartbeat if we needed the money.

So I'm trying to recall those days when I worked 6am to midnight and whined about wanting more free time. And dreamed of taking classes, throwing pottery, gardening, volunteering, reading, writing. I'm trying to get to a point emotionally where I can focus on my writing projects, get interested in reading about subjects other than miscarriage, where I can stave off the sense of depression that weighs me down, keeps me in bed in the morning, and questions what is the point of all this. And when a friend calls for lunch, I drag myself off to meet up with her, somewhat reluctant to go but grateful for the fishline.

I'm trying to keep it all in perspective. I know how lucky I am in so many respects compared to so many others. And I know that having this time is a tremendous privilege - and can be extremely fruitful if I can force myself to focus. And that two miscarriages is not the end of the road. Compared to what some of my friends are going through, these are just small bleeps. So I plug in my ipod, get into my jogging gear, and drag myself to the gym. I prepare my to do list for the day. I research my writing subject. I send out emails to people to propose ideas and solicit advice. I try to put my thoughts to paper. I take the dog for a walk. And before I know it, it is already evening.

And then, only then, do I look at my google calendar, count how many days it has been since my miscarriage, project how much longer until we can try again, and start to hope for another beginning.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Praise for Chutzpah

Reading about DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee makes me rethink the career choices I've made. Like me, she is a Korean American woman. Like me, she graduated from college in the early 90s. Unlike me, she didn't opt for the safe choice of going to a law school to work at a law firm making a high salary. Instead, she joined Teach for America, taught at a Baltimore elementary school for three years, and then founded The New Teacher Project, a non-profit organization that recruits new teachers to work in under-performing urban schools. In 2007, DC's Mayor Adrian Fenty plucked her from relative obscurity and threw her into the fray to fix the failing DC school system.

Now she's out to overhaul the public education system. We've all stood by on the sidelines and impatiently wondered why the public education system is in the state it is in, why no one can fix it. We've pointed our fingers at the usual villains: the union, the parents who don't spend enough time with their children, tv, the politicians, society. We've sighed a quiet sigh of relief that we have the option of sending our children to private schools, even as we bemoan the ridiculously high tuition and the waste of our tax dollars, believing there's no stopping the sinking ship. Instead of standing safely ashore, Michelle Rhee has jumped onto this Titanic, enrolling her own daughters into a DC public school, and started throwing over the deadweight, greasing the engines, and adding coal to the furnace. She's taken on the politicians, the unions, the parents - with an urgency and chutzpah we don't often see in public administrators.

Whether she will actually accomplish all that she has set out to do and how many bruises she'll suffer in the process are yet to be determined. And I don't know enough about the DC public schools system to assess whether her strategy is the most effective. What I do know is that she has come out swinging, taking on the most established of establishments and refusing to take no for an answer. She is out to change the power structure, to upset what many often assume will always be. And that is pretty damn inspiring.

We need more like her. And the surprising thing is that it is not out of our reach to be another Michelle Rhee. Especially those of us with privileged education, some amount of smarts, chutzpah, any of the above. Just think of the mess we can clean up if more of us followed in her footsteps?

Maybe it sounds silly to say that a woman my own age is my role model. But she is. And I can certainly use one.

Reading about her makes me think that safe choices in life aren't always the prudent ones. Maybe rarely.

Good thing I'm only 37 with more than enough time for additional careers.

Monday, December 1, 2008


There are some things that have the power to heal.

Like watching Sherlock romp through the doggie playground, chasing the green soft plastic ball with the dedication of a professional athlete, before he crashes into the wire mesh fence like a right fielder flying for the ball;

Fighting with the shells of a dungeness crab with all of my fingers dripping with garlic butter and then slurping up a forkful of garlic noodles as we banter about the election, Thanksgiving, the health risks of eating chicken skin;

Standing above the butternut squash and sweet potato soup, stirring, tasting, and stirring some more, as I strive for perfect spoonfuls that will feed our family;

Feeling the fleshy softness of Jeff's fingers each time he reaches across to hold my hand;

Reading my book under the warmth of Sherlock's body draped across my lap;

Seeing a new bloom on my fuchsia.

I gather these moments and place them side by side. As surely as there are broken days, there are moments like these, filled with life, shaped by happiness. With these moments, I build a giant band-aid to wrap around me, to give me space to heal.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I spent most of last week trying not to fall into a crevice. You know, those little cracks that can suck you up and swallow you whole. Funny how you can go for months never noticing them but then all of a sudden, they seem to be everywhere when you find yourself feeling rather small. Like the tiny green baby shoe that someone had dropped in the middle of the sidewalk. Or at the doctor's waiting room where I found myself surrounded by pregnant ladies in chirpy excitement over their due dates. Or in my backyard where I found my blood colored camellia dead surrounded by thriving giant weeds sucking up whatever energy the sun had to emit. I don't want to ponder the meaning of life or death or its cruel irony. Not this week. I don't want to get stuck in these little moments that can swirl into a giant vortex of meaning.

I want to tread lightly over the tricky letters in the word miscarriage, especially the concave c with its wide open mouth and the slippery g that winds around itself like a little maze. I want to fly over the loopy s's in loss even as I find myself curled up like one giant s on my bed with my legs bent at the knees and my head curled into my chest. And avoid slipping down the diagonal of the y in baby and getting stuck at the bottom with no way to climb back up. I want to bounce off of these letters so that I can find my way to the next word and then the next, past the punctuations and the spaces, and eventually onto the next sentence and then the next paragraph.

This is my life unfolding, page by page. And I tell myself not to get stuck here. I need to refocus my lens, gain some distance, so that I can see past these few words, these few sentences. I have to find my way onto the next page, the next chapter. I want to end up ensconced in the warm embrace of o in love, buoyed by the peppy p's in happiness, and resigned to the decisive t in fate.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NY Observer Article

Here's a fun little article by Glenna Goldis in the New York Observer about "email-retentives."

Miscarriage of Silence

I reject silence because silence is not for me.

Silence is for the criminal in hand cuffs who has something to hide.

Silence is for Charlie Chaplain who danced with the world that laughed with him.

Silence is for the adulterer who hangs her head in shame for stealing the life of another.

Silence is for the Buddhist monk in meditation who empties his heart and mind by choice.

Silence is for the lambs as they wait to be slaughtered.

Silence is for the dead.

Silence was not for my friend Jemma's mother who screamed and clung to the coffin as her daughter was lowered into the grave.

Silence was not for my mother who wailed with the cry of an animal I had never before heard when she learned of her mother's death.

Silence is not for the angry who take to the streets in protest for the deaths of innocents.

Silence is not for those who feel cheated and seek to reclaim what was lost.

Silence is not for the heartbroken.

I want the world to know how I cry for my lost baby.

Silence is not for me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Bruise

There is a bruise on my right arm. It is a black, brown, purple oval, yellowing along the edge, about an inch and a half long, half an inch wide, in the inner part of the arm just below where the elbow bends.

I saw it the other morning in the shower as I was washing myself of what does not belong, what is not a part of my body. There it was, a smudge of something that did not belong but would not wash off.

It is there where the doctor had inserted the needle. After the greeting, after the droopy eyes to express her sympathy, after the warm touch of her hand, after the tears. After we made some jokes because that is all we had, likening it to two glasses of martini. After the injection, she had me lie on the table, feet in the stirrups, bottom all the way down to the edge. As my head dropped, I felt the drug ride through me, soothing and numbing, and I gave in without resistance.

And I lay there, staring at the ceiling where little cut out women dangled in the air, pretending I was drunk on fancy martinis without olives, as the noise of the suction whirled around in my ears. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the nurse dangle some tissue, bloody and wet and glistening under the florescent light, before dropping it in a test tube, and I tightened my grip on Jeff's hand.

Later, I staggered out of that room, not only drunk on the injection but weighted down by the pain of the cramps, even though I was leaving lighter than when I had entered. We went home where I lay in bed, clutching my stomach, smelling my own smell from the night before.

Today, I find myself looking at my bruise, touching it. It provides a strange comfort. It is the only thing that remains after the process of removal.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I am pruning the over grown tree in front of our house. It has been two years since I took the time to tend to it. During that time, I have seen its gaunt branches threaten to take over the sidewalk, slap the faces of unsuspecting pedestrians, and lurk over fragile windows of innocently parked cars. Today, I go at it with my lopping shears in hand, forcefully severing its limbs with broad swaths, watching the flutter of leaves as they dive to the ground, hearing the heavy fall of its parts. And I find myself wondering, why this sudden enthusiasm? Why today? Why am I so eager to cut through this life?

I sit with my laptop on my lap. I click impatiently, scanning the page for some magic words I have not yet identified, before moving onto the next link to begin scanning again. There are so many stories, so many women, so many lost children. I leave little notes here and there, desperate to connect, secretly begging for sympathy. When I look up, it's already noon. How could that be?

I run into an acquaintance I hadn't seen for months. I scrutinize her smiling face, wondering if I should say something or stay with the small talk. In the middle of Market Street with the buzz of cable cars and buses and pedestrians. When people are already starting to prepare for the holidays, and tourists bounce past the stores with maps and shopping bags in hand. And in my baggy green camouflage pants, raggedy fleece with a hole on the left sleeve, nondescript black shirt, I'm dressed as if I have disappeared, as if I no longer exist. I wonder if she wonders where I have gone, if I am lost.

I don't want this to be my life. Not the whole of it. I want to move on, not get stuck here. Please, not for too long...

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I don't want to wallow. So I turn to anger, that all too easily accessible, less than authentic, wonder bread of emotions.

On Friday, I found myself on the couch, clutching Darci Klein's To Full Term until I had turned the last page. It is the story of a mother who, after having a daughter prematurely at 28 weeks, suffers two subsequent miscarriages and then goes onto another pregnancy with twins. At 20 weeks, the twin boy's sac ruptures and she is faced with the impossible choice of having to agree to abort both twins. By the time she becomes pregnant a fifth time, she had spent an inordinate amount of time researching miscarriages and learning more about the subject than some of her doctors. By insisting that she receive the tests and care she would not otherwise have received, she saves her pregnancy and carries her baby to full term.

I read her story, and my attitude about miscarriages has changed. I have been so passive about my pregnancies, accepting what my doctor told me and just waiting to see what happens. Now I wish I had insisted on the whole set of tests after my first miscarriage and demanded additional monitoring during my second pregnancy. I accepted my doctor's cursory statement that 70% of miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities and that the causes of the remaining 30% cannot be determined. Apparently, this statistic is not correct for women in my age group. And for miscarriages that are not caused by chromosomal defects, there are a slew of tests that can be used to assess other possible causes. I know I read about the other tests after my first miscarriage, but for some reason, I focused on the language regarding chromosomal defects, possibly because I wanted to believe there was nothing that could have been done to save the baby. Now I wonder if I could have saved this baby had I insisted on testing after my first miscarriage?

So I am angry, about the poor quality of research available about miscarriages, the wait and see attitude that I had accepted for the past several months, my failure to inform myself, the unanswered questions. According to Klein, NIH spends not even 1% of its funds to research miscarriages, indicating that they treat miscarriages as inevitable conditions instead of treatable disorders. So I focus on this anger and map out a plan. Compliance and complacence will be checked at the door. I will put on my litigator hat, put skepticism and scrutiny on high alert, and filter for glib responses. I will scour the web and bookstores and squeeze whomever I can for answers.

Even with this anger, I know that I could take the entire slew of currently available tests and come up with no answers. That the tests could say nothing is wrong, even though something is obviously not right. That months and months later, we could find ourselves helpless, with not much more knowledge than we have now. And that we could find ourselves traipsing from day to day, wondering again what the hell went wrong.

But that thought is more than I can bear right now. For now, I will embrace this anger and let it nurture me and nourish the emptiness echoing throughout my body.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Not Again...

I am sad to report that I had another miscarriage yesterday. We went in for our genetic counseling and CVS and found out that the fetus did not have a heart beat when we did the ultrasound. Apparently, it stopped growing shortly after my last ultrasound when we saw the heartbeat at 9 weeks and 3 days. For the past two weeks, my placenta and ovaries continued to nurture the little thing as if it were still alive, which is why I continued to have pregnancy symptoms. At least this time, I was spared the pain of watching the life leak out of me and having to drain myself every few minutes.

So, we're back to the drawing board. I'm not sure how I'm feeling yet. A little numb still. We are planning to undergo some tests to see if they can figure out what went wrong. I'm trying not to get too discouraged because I've heard so many success stories from many of you who've had a much tougher time. So for now, I'm just going to hang in here and try not feel too sad for myself.

Monday, November 3, 2008

On Stolen Time

I am 11 weeks and two days into my pregnancy. It is now one day after the length of the last pregnancy, and I feel as if I'm living on stolen time. At times, I find myself stealing glances over my shoulder, looking to see who's out to reclaim this time and declare that this time was never mine to enjoy. When I tell my friends that I'm pregnant, I speak sheepishly, feeling like an interloper staking a claim to what isn't really mine. At other times, I find myself flinging back on the couch, relieved as a mound of silly putty that we've survived this far, we, this baby and I.

I still have not told my mother about my pregnancy. She calls every few days and always makes a point to ask, "How is your body?" A seemingly strange question, but one that asks without asking, are you still fertile? are you still trying? are you pregnant yet? My answer is always a curt "I'm fine" because I am a terrible liar and I can feel her staring through the phone into my blushing face and wondering what it is I am hiding.

I think of Jeff's 74 year old father's response back in March when we told him I was pregnant. He counted out six fingers on his hands and said, "I can last that long. I'm going to last long enough to take him to the Wild Animal Park." We also haven't yet told him about this pregnancy. We'll wait until the shadow of disappointment recedes into the closet, or at least under the shadow of our happiness.

I am counting the minutes until the second trimester as if it is my day of reckoning. I feel as if in five days, I can start breathing again. I haven't read any baby books since April and I haven't opened any of the documents I started back then, the list of baby gears, the list of to dos and don'ts when the baby arrives, the list of things we should know as parents. I don't have time for the future yet. I need to focus on keeping this little being alive, healthy, inside me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Longings and Expectations

I had planned out the whole weekend. First, a quick drive to Half Moon Bay from the airport to see the magnificent view of the Pacific. From there, a drive up Highway 1 straight to the Mark Hopkins where we would have brunch overlooking the beautiful city. Then, a quick tour of the city and then Vietnamese dungeness crabs for dinner. For the overnight stay, a room at a Sausalito hotel over the Bay. The following day, a drive through the Marin Headlands and a stroll through Muir Woods.

It was my parents' first trip out to San Francisco. I had been living here for a few years, and they were finally coming out for Labor Day weekend. Because they opened their store on Saturday, they were flying out on Sunday morning and then flying back Monday night. Abridged by six hour flights on both ends, the weekend was not much more than a respite between two flights. For them, it was an unusual two back to back days off, and they were spending precious 12 hours of it on a plane in order to visit their daughter who lived on the opposite end of this country.

So, I carefully mapped out the weekend. I wanted to make it worth their time. I could count on one hand the number of trips they had taken in the past decade and a half. Two to visit relatives in Korea, one to visit me in Chicago while I was in college, fourth to attend my sister's college graduation, and the fifth to DC as I started law school. In addition to my planning, I had cajoled and bribed my sister with airfare to join us for the weekend. Living in NY, she saw my parents regularly while I saw them no more than four or five times a year. I was worried that I wouldn't know how to talk to them and keep them entertained for two consecutive days on my own. I redeemed my long accumulated miles for my parents' tickets in business class, and for my sister, I purchased her ticket, but upgraded her to the same class so that they could sit together.

From the minute I picked them up at the airport, things didn't go according to plan. As soon as I met them, I asked how their flight was, only to hear that the airline had refused to allow my sister to sit with my parents in business class, even though I had already used my miles to upgrade her. Citing some rule that upgrades could only be used by the mileage holder, the airline had placed her in coach, despite what they had told me on the phone when I placed my order. This little mishap upset me more than it should have, and I quickly turned the conversation to our schedule.

When I announced that we'd drive straight to the restaurant after seeing Half Moon Bay, my mother asked, "But what about all the food I brought for you? Shouldn't we put them in the refrigerator right away?"

"Oh, Mom, you didn't have to do that. We don't really have time to go by my apartment first. Our lunch reservation is at noon..."

"What if it keeps leaking?"

"What if what keeps leaking?"

"The food. The kimchi is starting to leak a little. It was leaking on the airplane and the stewardess was giving us funny looks. I think the other tupperwares are ok..."

"Oh, you brought kimchi?"

And so it went with my mother, who shows her love through food and then worries that her children are becoming overweight. She must have known that there are Korean grocery stores even in the hinterland of San Francisco but couldn't resist an opportunity to show her affection the best way she knew how.

Leaving the decision to a later hour when we'd be denied the inconvenience of having a choice, I drove them across CA-92 toward the California coastline. Even from the airport, I saw the fog looming in the distance. It was as thick as velvet. Yet, I continued to drive because that was the first stop on my schedule. I wanted to show them the coastline along Half Moon Bay, the breathtaking beauty of this land that I now called home. And I hoped that as we neared, the fog would miraculously dissipate.

As we approached, the fog seemed to be getting thicker and thicker. After our twenty minute drive across 92, I turned right onto Cabrillo Highway and entered a parking lot. When we stepped out of the car, the wind slapped our cheeks and whipped our hair. We turned our backs against the wind to catch the front flaps of our jackets and zipped up. When we turned to face the ocean again, all I saw was a swath of fog across the entire stretch. There was no vision, no vista, no ocean. All that appeared to us was whitness. And all I could think was that the ocean stretched out in the distance in all of its beauty and magnificence behind this stubborn sheath.

So for the next few minutes, we stood there, staring at the fog obscuring our view. Then disappointment set in. This view - my view - seemed deliberately to choose this day to hide from us, to taunt us. How I had wanted to share the view, to show it off. This desire came with an urgency that made no sense, even to the point of making me want to throw a tantrum. As if seeing this view could make a difference or change our lives somehow. As if so much depended on it.

As I loudly lamented the cloaked beauty of the place, my mother turned to me and said with such earnestness, "I imagine it is very beautiful."

As poor as the imagination seemed compared to the real thing, we stood there for a few minutes while my mother imagined the view. In my poor Korean, I tried to describe the gulping vastness of the Pacific, the translucent blue color of its water, the anger in its waves. And with her fluid Korean, she supplied the words I lacked and helped appease my eagerness to share. After a few more minutes, we loaded ourselves back into the car.

The rest of the weekend was more or less the same. There were a few moments that went according to plan and others that didn't. Like when we went to my apartment after lunch and my parents fell asleep for the next three hours on my bed. Thinking of the limited time we had together, I impatiently waited for them to awaken so that I could take them on a driving tour of the Embarcadero, but they were simply too exhausted from their days of working 14 hour days and the flight from NY. Or the Vietnamese crab place that couldn't seat us indoors and we huddled under the space lamps as the garlic noodles quickly turned cold.

Looking back, I can see how much I was trying to pack into a mere 30 hour period. I had wanted to share a piece of my life with them, my life that was now so different from theirs and so filled with freedom and beauty. Maybe by sharing, I thought I could alleviate some of the guilt I carried about escaping their grueling lives. I had also wanted to show them a world they did not often see from their neon lit storefront window. And I guess I had wanted to create some memories as a family because we had so few beyond my childhood days. These desires, neatly laced together by my anal planning, held together so well until the fog got in the way, until my parents expressed needs of their own, until the world put my plans in their place.

I remember that weekend with wistfulness. There is so much to long for, so much that is not ours even though we plan for it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

To Begin Again

So we left - the unmovable high rises, the corner deli packed with Italian men with mustaches, strong accents, and leering eyes, the pizzeria down the street with its stacks of steel plates that had been reused year after year. We packed all of our belongings and left behind that city where lonely trees were confined to two cubic feet squares of growing spaces in slabs of concrete, where we children were confined to handball courts and paved inner city blocks devoid of grass or flowers.

We left behind the elevator that took us up to our fourth floor apartment, where we had once been mugged at the point of a dinner knife by two scrawny teenage boys who looked so daunting to my eight year old eyes. After my mother hurriedly handed over the $48 in cash, the thugs skipped out of the elevator on the third floor. When we reached our floor, how madly we had rushed from the elevator to our apartment at the end of the hall across from the fire escape. And to prevent those thugs from running up the stairs and overtaking us, my eleven year old brother held the fire escape door shut with all of his strength while my mother nervously fumbled with the keys. How quickly we had locked all three of our deadbolts once we jumped inside our apartment and breathed a sigh of relief that we weren't tied up in our bathtub waiting to be found as Mr. Kim on the second floor had been the month before.

To begin again. That is what I wanted. To begin again, in a new world, where our sense of security didn't shatter at the point of a dinner knife, where we didn't have to look over our shoulders wary of teenage thugs. Leaving NYC was to begin again. I dreamed of living the life of a character in a Judy Blume tale, where inner city worries faded as you drove deeper into the suburbs, where summers were meant to be spent poolside - at a real pool, not the indoor pool of a YMCA where the sun didn't reach, where kids had pets and real playgrounds with sand boxes and swing sets, where families lived in houses with lawns.

For this new life, I began my preparation.

A new beginning meant a new wardrobe, a new look, and most importantly, a new name. So I announced at dinner shortly before the move.

- When we move to Houston, I'm going to change my name to Christine.

My startled parents stared at me.

- You're what?

- I'm changing my name.

- What's wrong with the name we gave you? Shinyung is a beautiful name.

- My teachers call me Shin - and I'm not a shin. I want an American name.

I had thought about my new name for weeks. I picked one that sounded the best with my last name. I wasn't going to have a funny name anymore.

From then on, I enforced my new rule with a heavy hand. I only responded to Christine going forward because beginning anew required determination. No one said it would be easy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Our eyes were fixed on the black screen. When she moved the wand, the black gave way to flickering swaths of white, like milky ways arching through space. I squinted my eyes, trying to make something out of the undefined fuzz morphing in front of us. Then, suddenly a hint of a recognizable image appeared before us. In a split second, an image of the empty uterus flashed before my eyes. No, it can't be... And it wasn't. As I lurched forward, the uterus filled with a murky image - something, rather than nothing.

- Here is the little guy, said Dr. C, with her finger on the screen.

- Where?

- Here, see him? He's upside down. Here's the head. See the heartbeat?

- Where?

- Right here. See it?

As we looked, there was the smallest flicker of light moving in and out. And as I saw the little thing move, my body heaved, my chest filled with a surge of emotions, and tears sprang to my eyes. It was relief that set in, relief that said thank goodness, it's alive. Relief against the fear that I hadn't realized had taken front row seat.

Still, I'm not ready to believe just yet, even as I hold the photo of the ultrasound in my hands. My hopes are tempered, my enthusiasm curbed, my excitement muted. I'll wait until the 13th week, until a week after the last little one left me.

Monday, October 20, 2008


We walked in - a classroom, much like one of the classrooms where I sat for three years, learning the law of perpetuity, the exception to the exception to the hearsay rules, and other such obscurities. As we walked in, there was a buzz. Of people chatting to each other, making small talk, trying to make a connection, expressing eagerness in their common purpose. We sat off to the side, not ready to claim the place just yet. We felt like guests, even though we belonged as much as anyone else.

We sat there and waited for the training session to begin. We were there to learn how to be poll monitors on election day in Nevada. The session started at 5pm but people were still streaming in through the double doors. The room that had been less than a third full when we walked in was now completely full, with stragglers filling the aisles and standing along the walls. There must have been over 200 of us. Just in this one session. There are more than 30 such training sessions for Nevada alone.

The person training us was an attorney from the NY office of White & Case who had obviously taken a leave from his paid position. The room was filled with lawyers from Berkeley and its surrounding area, their hair unkempt, dressed in raggedy sweatshirts, many still bearing the markers of the bygone hippie days, still carrying their notions of social justice.

I sat there happily, proud to have my legal background serve some useful purpose, for something greater than just a paycheck. It dawned on me that I've been waiting for something like this, to be part of something larger than mere survival. And what a relief to cast aside the cynicism, disappointment, and the indifference of past elections and volunteer with my doe-eyed optimism. Is this what democracy feels like?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I had a scare the Saturday before last. We were in Tahiti for a friend's wedding to be held that evening. Sometime in the late morning, I went to the bathroom, and as I usually do, I looked down to make sure I didn't see anything unusual. When I wiped myself, I saw a smudge of blood. The sight of it stopped my breath. The first thing to come to mind was, oh, no, not again. I walked out of the bathroom, crying and muttering, not again, not again. I went to Jeff and bawled for a good thirty minutes. Then we just lay in bed for a while, afraid to move.

I wondered what was wrong with my body and if it was defective somehow. I feared that motherhood would be denied to me. And I regretted having made the trip to Tahiti. We had taken the 8 1/2 hour flight two days earlier, and even though my doctor said flying was safe, I kept hearing the voice of my mother who had repeatedly admonished against traveling during early pregnancy.

I waited for the cramps to start. An hour passed, then two, then three. Nothing. Then we dressed for the wedding and celebrated my friend's happy day with preoccupied minds. We left the reception early after dinner and lay in bed, waiting again for a repeat of what happened the last time. Every time I went to the bathroom, I scrutinized the bowl. Nothing.

We passed the next day and the day after straddling apprehension and hope. The day after brought us cautious optimism. It is now over 10 days later and I seem to be still very much pregnant. All I can think about is getting past the next three weeks until I hit my second trimester.

When I brought this up with another pregnant friend of mine yesterday, she reminded me that we are signing up for a lifetime of worrying. Just wait til the kid hits puberty. I'll have to start working on my worry face now...

Monday, October 13, 2008


I lived outside his mile limit. His profile identified a range of 0 to 25 miles. I was in San Francisco, he in San Jose. A distance of more than 45 miles.

We had never met before. A random email dropped out of cyberspace into my inbox. And tickled me with expectancy.

He had seen my profile and decided to drop me a line. Extending himself outside of his zone of comfort in the hopes of making a connection. With a stranger who could cease being a stranger.

And that is what happened. We met for a drink, then a dinner a week after, then many more drinks and many more dinners. Soon, I was no longer a stranger. I became a girlfriend, a fiancée, then a wife. Today is our one year anniversary.

A change that began with a few written words sent outside one's defined radius. That is how we found each other.

Now or Later

(This was previously posted on Kimchi Mamas.)

We had been sitting next to each other for the past four hours, and we were about to go into the final hour, the home stretch. We had spent the past week together, vacationing in Hawaii. There we were in a row, me, then my mom, then my dad. My dad was conked out, snoring with his mouth open. My mom prattled as she usually did, telling me this or that story, sharing her snack of roasted nuts and rice crackers, occasionally flipping through Airways Magazine.

"So," she said. "You're planning to get engaged, aren't you?"

"Uh hum, we probably will. We talked about it, so we'll see how it goes."

She had met Jeff for the first time a week ago over lunch. She had watched me talk to him nightly during this vacation. She had asked a question here and there about our relationship, his background, his family.

She nibbled on a rice cracker. Then, she said it so nonchalantly that I almost missed it.

"Well, then, why don't you try to have your baby now?"

I looked back at her. "What?"

"Try having your baby now. Why wait?"

This was my mother speaking. The same mother who prohibited me from having any boyfriends all throughout school, including law school which I attended until my late 20s, who was horrified by the stories I told from college of girls showering with their boyfriends, who believed men and women should never cohabit before marriage. Before their visit this time, I had, like a silly schoolgirl, made Jeff remove all external signs that he lived with me. Quite silly, since I was already 35. For all I knew, my mother thought I was still a virgin. Or so I thought.

So who was this woman urging me to have a baby out of wedlock? And with a man she had met just once? And whom I met just five months ago. And a non-Korean at that. Surely, this was not my Korean mother.

She's had her notions before. Like the time she got a friend of hers to mail in her nephew's resume in time for one of my short visits home. When it arrived, she and my dad huddled by the lamp to examine it, beaming with the excitement of kids receiving their happy meal toys, before announcing to me that there may be someone suitable for me to meet. As they encouraged me to look over his resume, they pointed out no less than six times that he got his graduate degree from Columbia.

Or that other occasion when a random guy called from a 212 number and announced, "Hi, this is Paul… Paul from Harvard? Uhh, didn't your mom tell you about me?" Another nephew of some Korean woman my mother knew, who had been given my San Francisco phone number. My mother had taken the liberty of telling him that I would soon be moving back to New York.

So, we've had our different approaches to relationships and sexuality. But I had always assumed that I was reliably to her left on these issues. Until this moment.

"Mom, I'm not going to get pregnant before we get married! We're not even engaged yet."

"Well, just think about it. You're not that young, you know…"

So, there it was. Practicality above all else. Maybe this was my mother after all. Practical advice from a woman who had all three of her children in her 20s and could not imagine starting a family so late in life. A woman who insisted that I marry a Korean-American who came from a good family, who earns a higher income, who has a graduate degree, yadda, yadda, yadda... That is, until I entered my 30s as a single woman and then she decided that any male would do. Turns out the absolute values she projected came with expiration dates.

Needless to say, I dismissed her suggestion out of hand. I was only 35, and as I saw it, well within my fertile bounds. And no way was I going to risk carrying a child before we were legally wed. Besides, weight gain, expanded waist, and morning sickness just weren't compatible with my idea of a perfect wedding.

Now, two years later, I look back on that conversation. Two months after this conversation, Jeff and I got engaged. Eight months after that, we were married. Now, almost a year into our marriage and four months after a miscarriage, I wonder if I am running out of time, especially to meet our hopes of having two or three children. Now, I am pregnant again, but I am beset with worries that this one too could end in a miscarriage.

Not to say that I would have taken her advice knowing what I know now. I would still have opted to take my chances - and turned to fertility treatment, if necessary. But I have wondered about our different outlooks - me, who was looking forward into a future unwinding slowly with so many possibilities - and my mother, who was looking backwards, counting my numbered days and fearing the blockades already in place. I could not have imagined getting married in my early 20s and having three children by the age of 28 with no means of supporting myself. In me, my mother sees a woman near the end of her fertile years just starting to work toward having a family.

And the irony isn't lost on me. I grew up watching my mother negotiate her realm of motherhood and wife in this foreign country, often taking the backseat to my father's decision making and power. Her battles and losses fueled my desire to secure a career, to fortify myself with a degree and independence, to ward against just motherhood. And here with are, me securing what she didn't have, and her fearing what I may miss. With both of us praying at this late hour that it isn't too late to have it all.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Hi, All,

Thanks so much for your wonderful comments and warm wishes! I'll be traveling for a couple of weeks, and I'll be back here on October 13th. Write to you all then!


They shouldn't have surprised me, but they did.

Less than five feet away was an elderly gentleman, probably about 65 or so, dressed in a brown cardigan and donning a black beret, driving a convertible. And he was Asian.

Then less than thirty minutes later, I saw another peculiar thing. As I was strolling through Golden Gate Park, I saw an elderly Asian couple, also in their 60s, leisurely riding their bicycles. And they were not delivering Chinese food.

I had come out to San Francisco for a week to look for my new apartment. I was moving here to flee the neurotic monkeys that I saw in the faces of overworked New Yorkers, to escape my parents' ridiculous expectation that I live with them until I married into a new household, to find myself in my own space, outside of the strictures that had been imposed on me. Two weeks earlier, I had announced to my parents that I was moving to San Francisco. Somehow, their confused brains heard San Francisco as Newark.

"What, you're moving to Newark?"

"No, Dad, I said San Francisco."

"Why would you move to Newark?"

"No, Dad, not NEW ARK. San Francisco.... SAN FRAN CIS CO."

Then it dawned on them that I was escaping to the other end of this country. Had I been a lesbian, the conversation may have been easier. Well, maybe... At least, they could have latched onto a more coherent reason for the move. I had none to offer, at least none that I could tell them, besides the simple truth that I wanted to, which probably sounded incredibly indulgent and needless to them. But why not indulge myself? Wasn't it about time?

I had never been to San Francisco before. After my announcement to my parents, I scheduled my trip to San Francisco. A week later, here I was, taking my first good look at what would become my new city, my new home.

I had expected to find the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge, the tie-dyed hippies left over from the 70s, and the fancy restaurants glorifying California produce. What I had not expected to find were Asians like these. You know, ones who seemed so unlike the Asians I saw in New York, Houston, Chicago, Washington DC, all the cities I lived in before I found myself in San Francisco.

Before this day, I had never seen an elderly Asian man behind the wheel of a convertible. I had seen them behind the wheels of taxis as they asked me if I needed any change back after I gave them a $20 for a $12 ride. I had seen them next to their fruit carts filled with bananas, apples, pears, strawberries as they goaded me to get one more apple for just one more dollar. I had seen them maneuvering those huge steering wheels on Queens buses as they sneered and ignored requests for transfers. I had seen them behind church pulpits, arms raised, invoking the power of Jesus.

As incredible as it sounds, for the first 28 years of my life, I had never seen elderly Asian Americans bicycling for recreation. I had seen them ringing up cash registers behind deli counters, waiting in line at the Korean grocery in Flushing, working behind stoves in Chinese restaurants, or picking up empty soda cans from trash cans in the streets.

Now, after nine years of San Francisco living, it seems unbelievable that those sights should have been so unusual. These sights now seem as banal as Asian police officers walking the beat, Asian gay couples walking hand in hand, Asian judges and Asian politicians campaigning for office, elderly Asians speaking flawless English.

Until I moved here, I wasn’t even aware that I had bought into those images. You know, those images that sneak in somehow and lock your brain into imagining US presidents and CEOs as tall white men and school teachers as perky little ladies with brown bobs. And I had somehow relegated Asians to ghettos, small businesses, and churches.

And it makes me wonder how many people can imagine an African American president. No matter that he’s half African and half white. No matter that he is a Harvard law grad and a former editor of The Harvard Law Review. No matter that we’ve had the likes of Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice fill our tv screens in the past decade, not to mention 24.

If the election were decided by people like the person I was nine years ago, would we have voted on the issues or our failure of imagination?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Volunteers for Obama

The Obama Campaign is looking for attorneys to volunteer on election day to prevent some of the shenanigans we saw in 2000. If you are available to help, please sign up. I am planning to vote in advance by absentee vote and volunteer in a swing state on the day of the election. Please join me!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Another Morning

As I awaken, my eyes are closed, but my brain is one step ahead of me. It startles awake and asks, is it still there? Can I feel it? I shift my body a little to see if I can feel that dull pressure, the little something that tells me that my body is diligently at work even as I take my time emerging from asleep to awake. I breathe better when I feel the mild discomfort. My brain conjures up a labyrinth of wheels and tubes operated by lilliputians in hard hats, little helpers churning and scrambling to make my body do what it must to ensure the safe development of this new being. I move my hand to my belly to lend it a little extra warmth, to supply whatever extra energy I can.

I drag myself out of bed, stumble slowly to the bathroom, and plunk myself on the pottie. My eyes are still closed as I linger in the warmth of sleep, and the body does what it needs to. But as I start to wipe myself, my contact-less eyes pop open and I scrutinize the bowl for any trace of blood. Nothing alarming. It is relief that sets in, even though I know the routine will be repeated throughout the day. But for now, it is back to bed.

Back in bed, I snooze a little longer, warming up once again against Jeff. And here, I delay facing life for another few minutes, this life marked by fear, worries, possible loss. But in these few extra minutes in the haven of our smell, our warmth, our togetherness, I shore up the strength I need to face this code orange life. I remind myself that it is a life filled also with hope and possibilities, that there is life growing inside me, that today leads to tomorrow to the next day and possibly to that day in May next year when we will welcome this new life. And today is another day to be good to myself.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Little Secret

I have a secret.

For the past few days, I've been guarding it close to my chest lest a jealous god slap me down again. Hiding it from the light of day so that no harm can come to it. I am almost afraid to say it out loud. I want to pretend it hasn't happened yet so that nothing can undo it.

I'm not sure if I want others to know yet. I want to indulge in it for a while, like quiet moments in a bath. Protect it until it has the strength to stand up to this world.

Maybe wait a few months as so many other women do. I don't want another roller coaster ride, the sudden high and the sudden low. To see again those uncomfortable faces that don't know quite how to say, sorry... But could I bear it alone if something goes wrong again? Live alone - for however many months - just because I am afraid of what life may throw my way?

But I don't want to say it out loud. So I'll whisper it.

I am pregnant.

I am excited and afraid. I want it to happen this time. I don't want my body to fail me again. I don't want it to give up and leave me. I want this one to be a fighter. One who will stand up to whatever this crazy world may sling its way and say, Shove it.

And yes, I feel incredibly grateful.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Silent Noise

She scoops out the rice for each of us, always a big scoop followed by a smaller scoop, because only one scoop would signify stinginess of affection. My father gets the first and the biggest two scoops. Although my mother is supposed to serve herself next, she always skips herself and serves my brother, then me, then my sister, and then herself. We wait until everyone has been served, and we pick up our chopsticks only after our father has his first bite.

We sit in our semi circle, the legs of the children dangling from the chairs. The father at the head, mother to his left, his eldest son to his right. The scent of the pickled cabbage and radish infuse the air. Steam from the grilled beef rises in a stream before diffusing under the dangling lamp. Our rights arms rise and chopsticks move like mini swords in the air, criss crossing and clicking, as we reach for a bite of this, a bite of that. An ensemble of utensils ring against the dishes, sounding an unlikely orchestra. In the midst of the chewing, words and ummms are thrown out randomly to fill the silence as others respond with more words and ummms, our minds preoccupied by the task at hand.

In the midst of the chatter, my mother stops chewing, leans down and moves her head closer to mine. For a few seconds, she listens, and turns to me and listens some more.

Are you singing? she asks.

All the heads turn to face me and there is sudden silence.

Me? No, Mom...

We return to our chewing. The chopsticks fly again and words and sounds fill the room once more. After a bite of the beef and a bite of the cabbage, my mother stops chewing once more and leans down again to listen. I can smell the pungent cabbage on her breath.

Are you sure you're not singing?


Hmmm, she says. You're making some sound, do you know that?

I don't think I am...

As she resumes her dinner, she ponders out loud what she had heard because she is the mother and I am her child. It is a mother's job to know her child better than the child knows herself, to know she is cranky because it is feeding time, to know her child needs her sleep even as she protests.

I think you're humming to yourself. Hmmm, I wonder what you're humming. Do you want to sing for all of us? Or maybe you have something to say?

It is an open invitation, but I keep my head down and focus my eyes on my plate. I can feel my cheeks burn and I can feel their eyes waiting for a response. I swing my dangling legs slowly to do something and I finger my chopsticks now resting on the table.

But I wasn't humming...

Ok, that's fine. Why don't we all finish our dinner. Here, have some more beef...

And she plops a big mound of beef on my plate of rice.

Chew slowly, she says.

The noise in the room stirs again. As I start chewing in my little corner, my breathing softens and I stop swinging my legs. My head stills, and I move my jaws up and down slowly, taking care to land my teeth softly on my food. I quiet myself so I can listen secretly, to see if I can hear what she heard. And as I listen, I wonder what it is that I have to say, what it is I want others to hear.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lessons of Silence

It happened one day. When it started, we didn't notice. We must have gone through the day like any other - and perhaps unlike any other. We probably didn't notice even after a week. I don't know when it was a week later because I don't know when it started. But I know when it built up, when the silence became deafening.

It started out as something in the air. Something that felt off, no longer what we had always known, but what we couldn't quite place. Over time, the air became thicker with it until it started to crawl onto my skin, and I scratched to get it off. I wanted to scrape it off as one does a swarm of bullet ants, but it kept getting thicker and thicker, enveloping me, and eventually building a wall around me, around all of us.

After a while, it became normal - a part of our every day lives, like the furniture, a plant - something that wasn't even worth mentioning because it was with us all of the time. We didn't know that we could pierce through it by reaching out. It was easier to ignore, to pretend that it didn't exist.

There we would sit at dinner and talk - but only among us - and try not mind that our father had gotten more and more quiet over the years. We would talk, and he would often just nod in response. We would ask questions, and he would answer a yes or a no, but no more. Sometimes we talked at him. Every once in a while he would talk, but only to repeat his refrains, about school, about money, about the tidbits no one cared to discuss, like checking the stove before going to bed or setting the security code on the burglar alarm. But otherwise, we would talk among ourselves. And the day would pass by.

We understood some things. That this was the sound of a crushed dream. That this was the silence of the night because he had put all of his ambitions to bed. That he wanted to quiet his mind and no longer second guess whether he had made the right decision. That he had returned to a safe place from his childhood where silence had been his shield. And that this was how he preferred it now.

And under the weight of this silence, we desperately clung to our voices. I never let an argument pass without vocalizing my position, and I took unusual pride in my opinions. My sister took the other fork against silence - writing journal after journal, poem after poem. We are the fortress against the eerie silence that pervaded our house as we traversed from teenhood to adulthood, bypassing the silence that read the newspaper in the evenings, ate dinner with us every night, showered, went to bed, and even snored.

At Kafka's Gate

Here we find ourselves. There are throngs and throngs of us. A few stand and wait patiently. Many others roll up their hands into fists and knock, knock, knock until their knuckles turn bloody. Others roll up their sleeves and bang on the door with the sides of their fist and arms, throwing their whole bodies into creating a noise. The thud, thudding does not even reverberate through the massive cherry wood door, and it is unclear if it even makes a noise on the other side. Can anyone hear?

The only thing to do is wait, they tell us. But we also know time is against us, and each passing day could be like a death sentence. When that sentence may come, no one knows. But the only thing to do is wait. And not to give up hope. We are a sea of women clinging to hope.

Some of us have been here for a few months, and others for years. It's like standing in line for tickets to a rock concert. But standing in line does not ensure a pass, even if you were the first ones here. The one who came last could be the lucky one or the one who came after you. Or the younger one, or even the older one. You try to find a pattern. Is it the ones who are the fittest, or the softest? Or perhaps ones who consume this or that? Or the ones who fret less? But no one tell you. Perhaps no one knows.

In waiting, we turn to each other. Don't give up, we tell each other. It will happen. We speak with a certainty we don't allow ourselves. We bring back stories of triumph. So and so waited for years, and after five years, it happened. It could happen to you. We want to believe we could be the lucky one someday. So we try not to cry too much. What will tears bring? And why turn to pessimism when optimism may put you in better stead? In quiet moments, we fight the desperation that could suffocate us.

We never thought it was a matter of luck. We had grown up feeling entitled. I am a woman. Of course, I will bear a child. Of course. It is my role to carry an infant in my arms and call it my own. Because we're meant to and because nature intended it so.

So we stand here to claim our right. A voice then slyly comes around and says, why did you not claim your right when you could? Why, why did you wait as long as you did? Didn't you know this could happen? You should have known better.

Stunned, you turn to that voice and recount the years that you spent. You had to finish school, you had to work, you had to meet somebody, you had to wait until you had saved enough, you wanted to be ready, you had to this and that... But no one is there to listen. You're talking only to yourself.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Everyday Moments

They are everyday moments, no different than the countless other evenings we've had before. On the couch, his head resting on my lap, our eyes focused on someone else's drama unfolding on the screen in front of us. I reach down to stroke his hair, and for no reason, an image emerges -- of me, forty odd years later, alone, on this couch. Of time churning forward, producing an unbearable catastrophe that has to be borne. Me, looking back from the other side of time, reminiscing of these moments.

I lean down to kiss him and take in his smell, knowing these are the moments I will remember when I think of the good days, those happy days. And I know that right here and now, I am living those moments, the culmination of what is precious, of my life at its most sacred. As I sit here, I want to live these moments as intensely as I can, as I would if I were giving a performance, acing a test, or marking an achievement. To not fail myself and ruin the moments, but to give them all that I have and to live up to what the moments require.

If I could, I would store these moments in a bottle, as one does preserve, perfume, a genie. I would open the bottle in moments of need, evoke the power of the moments I saved, and pray to be granted the wish of today.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Shoutout for Obama

For the past few days, I've had difficulty focusing on anything else other than the DNC, the designation of Sarah Palin, and now the RNC. If we have another four years of a Republican White House, I'm going to have to move to Canada. After watching and reading the reviews of Palin's performance last night, I have to vent. Why are we always up against an unqualified candidate who suddenly wins the media's approval because it turns out she can speak in coherent sentences after all? Didn't we do this eight years ago with Bush?

I found Palin to be smug and mean. Her attacks during the speech last night were unnecessarily personal and flippant about the facts. If the Republicans win the election, McCain will likely croak and we will be stuck with her. A candidate who believes in censorship, a vindictive power monger who fires those who dare not support her. A woman at 44 who has never traveled abroad before she had to in 2007, who mocks constitutional rights, who believes that our invasion of Iraq was sanctioned by god, whose notable achievement is raising taxes to build a sports stadium. I am waiting for the post-appointment vetting process to dig up more dirt. We cannot be ruled for another four years by someone who views the world through provincial lenses.

It is an insult to women (like me) who voted for Hillary at the Primary to have McCain tout someone like Palin as a substitute. She is no better than a Clarence Thomas taking Thurgood Marshall's place. It is also annoying to see McCain use her superficial appeal (and superficial speech) to garner support when he has attacked Obama for being a "celebrity."

I grew up in Korea until I was 8 where almost everyone hated Japan for its military invasion of Korea and surrounding countries. Like most Koreans, I grew up resenting the Japanese because I did not distinguish the people from the government. I could not understand how people could let their government commit the kinds of atrocities that Japan did (and still largely denies). I now better understand their historical constraints under a monarchy, but what excuse do we have? I am mortified to find myself a citizen of a country that so easily disregards human rights and uses its military might (and threat of it) so flippantly. How did we let ourselves get here? Isn't it incumbent of us to say no more?

We have so much to undo and fix. Another four years of the same (or even worse, if that's possible) will be the biggest mistake.

I'm not necessarily out to change anyone's opinion with this short post and smattering of facts or to turn this blog into a political blog since there are much better resources out there. And we all have our complex web of experiences or perspectives that shape our political views. But for those who already are leaning toward Obama/Biden, I urge you to not take anything for granted, to speak up, and to make a contribution.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Markers of Privilege

Yesterday, I ran across some blog that had posted my Paul Hastings email. Most of the people commenting were contract attorneys who expressed annoyance that someone like me would complain about getting fired from a big law firm job. The gist of the comments was, what a self entitled princess to think that she should be guaranteed her job when the rest of the world never makes a portion of the kind of money she used to make. I got the sense that some of them would have been gleeful to bitch slap me.

While I can see why, it feels foreign to think that some perceive me as one of those privileged people. It is true that I had been paid a very generous salary for the past ten years while working at a law firm. I too am baffled that there were people willing to pay me that kind of money for the work I did.

During my last year at Paul Hastings, I was billed out at approximately $600 an hour. I've never done anything that commands $600 per hour. I frankly don't know anyone who has. What kind of work can you do that is worth $10 per minute? Maybe putting out a fire on a house filled with infants, paraplegics, and caged animals. Maybe standing up while Colin Powell is giving his UN presentation on Iraq's purchase of uranium yellowcake and crying out "Liar!" Maybe digging for land mines in Cambodia.

But writing nastygrams to opposing counsel because he inserted too many objections to your interrogatories? I always just assumed that I was overpaid. And that my days of easy money were numbered, and that I should shut up and do the work while the money was there. How could I turn away a job that paid multiples of what my parents used to make?

When I was at Cardozo High School in Bayside, New York, there was a kid named John. Like us, he was from a family of Korean immigrants. His parents ran a fruit stand in the Bronx, and his mom, unbeknownst to her husband, used to take $20 out of the cash register every so often to try (unsuccessfully) to fulfill her tithe to the church. You could see John's jeans tautly stretched at the seams exposing the less faded fabric because he hadn't bought a new pair of jeans in years, even though he was bulking up like most guys do in their late teens. That's my world, where everything was stretched beyond their means and the only justifiable indulgence - to be taken sparingly - was for the salvation of one's soul.

I tried to escape this world by moving to San Francisco in the late 90's. But until three years ago, when my parents finally retired from their dry cleaning business, I was never far from the hand wringing that came with the question of whether to charge an extra quarter for the sequin studded blouse, the nights of grief and arguing after a silk tie was ruined and the customer reimbursed. In my mind, I am still that girl working at the counter on Saturdays who quietly seethed when a customer asked to have her dry cleaning brought to her car because she had just had her nails manicured, who watched her parents tally up every penny after the end of a fourteen hour work day.

There were hundreds of me in my school. Many of us escaped Queens by going to Cornell, Yale, Harvard. We're scattered all over this country, blending in as attorneys, doctors, investment bankers. Some of us have checked some things off of the list of the things we'd like to do for our parents, like getting them health insurance, paying off the mortgage, or sending them on a vacation. For some of us, just getting by wasn't really an option (which isn't to say there weren't others with more creativity and smarts to figure out something better). And saying thanks, but no thanks, to those who offer a six figure salary doesn't feel so wise when every quarter seemed to matter way back when.

And if we over did it and became self-entitled princes and princesses in the process, is that so terrible? What I would really like, though, is a fairy princess wand to turn some of those Paul Hastings partners into toads. Oh, right, they already are.

In the meantime, maybe I've earned enough credits to turn to this soul saving business.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


This is probably the last month we'll try to make our baby without third party intervention. You'd think a man and a woman doing what they figured out how to do before puberty would be qualified to get it done, but there are times you need to call in the professionals.

It has only been four months since my miscarriage. But I am 37 year old, six months, and 21 days old, and already my 38th birthday is looming over me. The idea of getting old doesn't bother me. It's just this damn pregnancy business.

I have to admit that there is a side of me that wants to put myself in nature's hands. Completely give in to that sweet faith as I would at a revival or a Madonna concert. Trust my body to perform for me as it has for all these years when it memorized the multiplication table, lost those ten pounds, passed the bar. To believe that I won't be left behind while everyone else is saved and allowed to move on to their family scenes. Surely not me, I won't be singled out, right?

But then, a quick perusal of the daily paper reminds me that this same nature is unable to fend for itself against the extinction of the dodo, global warming, and basic human idiocy. If cosmic forces can't align to save a whole species of the Bali tiger, what would it do to ensure that my one egg meets Jeff's sperm? I don't want to go the way of Liu Xiang for one of the most important events of my life. So once we are through with the current box of ovulation sticks, I am going to put in a call to my ob-gyn and put my hands in hers.

Jeff and I are not good at wait and see. If we had been, we may still be single, waiting for that cute guy or gal at the bar to notice us or sitting in front of the tv clipping our toenails while feeling sorry for ourselves. Now we can do the clipping together. We had enough wit to plunk down our hard earned money for six month subscriptions to Yahoo! personals. Yeah, we could have signed up and still not met each other, but that's not the point. The point is that we did. Wouldn't we be fools not to make that kind of a bet again?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I suffer from an overdose of guilt. It probably has to do with my upbringing, like everything else we can't explain away in one sentence. Maybe partly because I asked my mom if I was adopted and didn't believe her answer until she dug out my birth certificate years later on a two week trip back to Korea after rummaging through moth ball scented clothes and mildewed photo albums that had been left behind in the attic of our old house in Seoul. Maybe because I screamed as if someone were pulling my toenails out with a plier every time my brother exceeded the speed limit when he was trying to learn how to drive. Maybe because I hadn't washed my hands each time I said I did. Who knows what dramas are constantly being replayed in our complicated little brains and which scenes make us shudder and close our eyes?

All I know is that guilt chases me throughout the day. When Sherlock sits by my feet, rests his head on my keyboard, and peers up at me with his lollipop eyes, I can see the bubble rise out of his head with a plea on why I should take him to the beach that very minute, even though I took him for an extended romp yesterday. It is just a matter of minutes before I start to contemplate the grey line between neglect and abuse, wonder whether I am fit to be a mother, of a dog or a child, and debate whether I should pick up where the old dog walker left off and take him to the beach for three hours a day now that I'm working from home. I then feel his mortality looming and wonder if he is getting out of life what he should and if I am failing to do my part in that endeavor.

I probably read too much Ayn Rand when I was in high school. I believed her too earnestly when she told me that every minute of life is precious. A part of me wants to live by the creed to live every day as if it's your last - while helping Sherlock with his - but it does seem to conflict at times (with itself and others'). It also gets exhausting after a while to imagine the obituary that you'd appoint your most loyal and creative friend to write, especially when you aren't living up to your mental image of how you should be living.

And if you are living your life like it's your last, how about everyone else? Are they doing the same? Who would then make the funeral arrangements? I'm the kind of person who never asks for a ride to the airport because I would rather lug my suitcase on a bus, then a subway, and then another bus, and walk through three different terminals before arriving where I need to be three hours later than ask someone to take an hour out of their day. That, or pay $60 for a cab. When I went off to college in Chicago from NY, I arrived at the dorm with two suitcases while other kids showed up with their loaded u-haul trucks with their nuclear and extended families in tow, including the grandma in her wheelchair. It's easier to be self-contained and not impose on others when you can't return the favor.

Even now, when Jeff returns at 9pm after an hour's commute from work and sweetly insists on doing the dishes after our quick dinner, I hover over him to make myself useful in any small way. I worry about how I'm only working four hour days doing my contract work after spending $14.50 at lunch with a friend and $21.32 for black mission figs at Whole Foods while Jeff works at least eight more hours, dining on his company's gourmet cafeteria food.

In my mind, it always boils down to the sum of human effort. And it often feels like a zero sum game.

In a perfect world, we would have absolute equality all of the time. Jeff and I would work the same hours at the same level of effort, squeezing the same level of enjoyment from our life's work. Or I would do a tad extra so that I would have a small reserve for the day I want to slack off.

Or we can squat on some remote beach and teach Sherlock how to fish.

I haven't thought through the part when (if?) one of us gets pregnant.

Monday, August 25, 2008

New Beginnings

A friend celebrated her new beginning this weekend, as one celebrates a new birth, the coming of age. She invited her friends to witness, as one witnesses a union between a couple. There we were, almost a hundred of us, dressed in our fineries, small patches from different parts of her life brought together to form a protective quilt of warmth and comfort around her. We toasted her, holding our glasses of wine and champagne, warmed to the brim with our best of intentions and hopes for her new beginning.

She had emerged from a dark place. A year before, she found herself in the midst of a sudden separation and then a divorce that had seemed unfathomable months before. It had seemed so alien, that they should be severed, like facing the sudden loss of a limb after a tragic accident. After years of being part of a twosome, she found herself alone, facing the unknown future, questioning the past.

Even as we stood by her with our hearts and hands extended, the aloneness was hers to bear. She lived with the quiet, the unused pillow, the empty seat in the car after we went home. The weighty questions about what happened could only be raised - and answered, even if only incompletely and imperfectly - by her. We wanted so much for her to find a way out of the fear and doubt that could have easily consumed her. But with nothing more than a band-aid to offer after a tragic event, we stood by, waiting for her to emerge from this dark tunnel, not without changes, but unscathed and intact.

And it is this that we celebrated, a new beginning where she embraces life, not despair. A determination that says she will be okay. The sense of security that gives her room to be vulnerable. As we watched her beam, dance, and flirt throughout the evening, we knew she found her way out.

Then I realized that these are the moments we should celebrate, not the mere passage of time or the good fortune of having met someone, but the act of becoming unstuck from what could have suffocated us, of finding our way to the life we want to live. Not curling back into fetal position, but finding something to hold on to that helps us forge our way to a better place.

As we left at the end of the evening, I hugged her tightly and clung to her a tad longer because I wanted to borrow from her strength. I think she has a surplus now and would be happy to share.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I boxed up ambition today. I laid it on top of the grey tissue paper in an old Aldo shoebox and flapped the ends of the tissue paper over it. I replaced the lid on top and stuck a rubber band around the box. I carried it downstairs to the corner of the garage and stashed it in the far left corner along with my worn out running shoes.

I didn't want it lurking around anymore, reminding me of what I should be doing, where I should be in life. I don't even know where it gets its notions. I mean, how should it know where I should be when I am clueless myself? I am tired of it nagging me to go out and network, to advance my career, to be on top of my game. And then the hypocrisy of clicking on its watch to remind me of my ticking biological time bomb while holding up images of how I should look, how I should dress, how I should carry myself. I am done with fending off failure, living against death.

I'm going to try just existing for a change, existing for the sake of existing. I'll wake up and lounge with my hair unkempt. I will stop accounting for the things I have done throughout the day to tally up my time. I'll embrace my job that is just a job that carries no prospect of advancement, a simple exchange of time and labor for money. I'll stop answering to that voice that keeps goading, what do you have to show for yourself?

A few months ago, I heard from a college friend who summed up her past few years with belly dancing, hat making, art history, and archeology. One thing led to the other, she said. I want to try this type of living, where there is no neat sum, but a collage of different experiences that answer to the divergent needs and wants of the body.

Monday, August 18, 2008


It's the kind of cold that hurts your teeth. I try to keep my mouth closed, but the wind pierces through as I breathe. My cheeks are numb to my touch, and my ears are seized by the roar of the wind. My hands curl into themselves, forming fists to ward against the invasion of the icy wind cutting through my two layers of gloves.

My feet tread on the swath of white that had looked so majestic from the inside. The snow seeps through my soles, the inner sanctum where my feet had been encased in dry wool socks. I trudge on even though I have nowhere to go. I carefully land my feet at 90 degree angles to leave as much of the snow undisturbed, to preserve the pristine whiteness. I look back, and I can see each imprint I had made on the white canvas, one step after the next in a clean sequence that looks so deliberate, decisive.

I can no longer feel the warmth of my own breath when I blow into the hood of my coat. The shrill, howling wind overpowers my internal generator, and I know I am but a speck. The lake is undulating, as if beckoning me closer, and I edge closer. There, I find blocks and chunks of ice, as large as pianos, once frozen together, but now free to dance their own dance. And in this dance, they slam and crash against each other, as if to defy the containment, as if screaming for more space. There I stand in the pristine snow, feeling the rumble inside of me grow.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


We are riding down the LIE at a steady 50 mph on a 65 mph limit freeway lined with drivers going 85. My father sits with the steering wheel at his chest, white knuckles, back propped up by a cushion from our polyester couch from the 80's that was added after the electronic seat adjuster broke, eyes staring out above the dashboard. Other drivers dart out from behind, stare us down as they rush past, and plant themselves firmly in front and reclaim the lane with an angry screech.

I'm staring at the back of the passenger seat that cradles my mother's five feet two inch frame. Her head barely reaches the tip of the head rest. Puffs of her short hair bounce in the air, and her head bobs up and down as she talks with animation. The car is filled with the cadence of her words. As she talks, her fingers gesticulate in the air, as if conducting an orchestra, and she breaks out into pearls of laughter as she tells and listens to her own story.

She's telling a story about some Korean couple in San Jose who suddenly lost their convenience store and started collecting ginkos from a tree planted outside of some hotel.

- But what do you mean? Why would they do that? I ask.

- They had no money. How could they keep paying rent and buy food for the kids? They collected the ginkos and sold them to the grocery stores, just for a while until they could figure out what to do next. Anyway, they went out early every morning to collect the ginkos. The husband would climb the tree and shake down the branches, and his wife ran around collecting the fallen fruit. One day, they looked up and noticed a whole row of cars lined up on the road and they realized that they were blocking traffic. The whole time, no one honked. Isn't that amazing? People are so different in California. So patient. And the police came and asked them to stop picking the ginkos because they were causing traffic problems, and they were just grateful that they weren't arrested by the American policeman.

A second later, she turns around, pops her apple cheeks above the seat, and cajoles, Translate for him, won't you? You don't want him to get bored, do you? Did I mention that this couple lives in San Jose, where Jeff used to live?

So I turn to Jeff, sitting to my left, who looks back with a what's going on? I start with, so she wants me to translate for you..., and I wonder how to translate this story. Collecting ginkos for a living? How does that make sense? Could I compare it to the diminutive South East Asian ladies with rice field straw hats that we see in San Francisco, the ones who carry trash bags hanging from the ends of their poles, as if they stepped out of the pages of the National Geographics into our streets of Noe Valley, to rummage through our collection of empty wine bottles, tomato sauce jars, and Schwepps cans?

I skip the editorializing and dutifully translate. Jeff, with all of his sweetness, responds with a smile.

As soon as I finish, she launches into yet another story about another Korean. This time, it is the story of a poor, old man whose grown children neglected their filial duties and stopped visiting. A wily guy, he constructed a huge shed in his back yard and secured it with the biggest lock he could find. When one of his sons finally visited, he told him to open the shed only after he had died and to divide the contents equally among his siblings. From then on, the children started visiting regularly, and the father lived a happy man until his dying day. When the father passed away, the children broke away the lock with a heavy plier only to find the shed piled with mounds of rubbish.

These are just two of the stories she collected over the months while we lived our lives on the other end of this country. She wants us to meet them, these other Koreans who live in America, who also brought their Korean ways to this foreign land. They keep her company and fill her mind with amusement, diminishing the suffocating loneliness that has like cobweb become another part of her everyday.

So I listen, with my head bent, nodding along, with an occasional uh hum and laughter when appropriate, with my reserve of English words for Jeff, to let her know that we converge here as we ride through time, as time slows down just for us.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Reading List

I've added a reading list to the blog. My goal is to read (or re-read) anything well written. I've heard so many people say that reading well written material can help one write well. So my list will help me to focus my reading and to be more attuned to good writing. And I hope people will write in with suggestions for books (either fiction or non-fiction) that they found to be well written. I'm putting an asterisk by the books that I would recommend (there are only two listed so far, and I found both quite beautiful), italics for books on the craft of writing, and ~ by miscarriage related material. I also have a list of my favorite books on my profile page.

Happy reading, everyone!

Here's my ongoing list:

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (8/11)*
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, by Jean-Dominique Bauby (8/11)**
House of Splendid Isolation, by Edna O'Brien (8/13)
The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold (8/15)
Breath, Eyes, Memory, by Edwidge Dandicat (8/21)
Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson (8/22)
Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway (8/25)*
Being Dead, by Jim Crace (9/12)
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing (9/15)*
Escape, by Carolyn Jessop (10/4)
Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane (10/14)
The Custom of the Country, by Edith Wharton (10/15)
In Full Bloom, by Caroline Hwang (10/24)
Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama (11/1)*
To Full Term, by Darci Klein (11/7)~
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ismael Beth (11/10)*
The Road of Lost Innocence, by Somaly Mam (11/11)
Safekeeping, by Abigail Thomas (11/13)**
Waiting for Daisy
, by Peggy Orenstein (11/23)~
Coming to Term: Uncovering the Truth About Miscarriage, by Jon Cohen (11/29)*~
Supreme Courtship, by Christopher Buckley (12/6) - Not as funny as Thank you for Smoking.
On Writing Well, by William Zinsser (1/9)** - Basics of good non-fiction writing.
Den of Lions
, by Terry Anderson (4/25)** - Heartbreaking memoir by an AP journalist who was held hostage by the Islamic Jihad for 7 years. Reminds me to appreciate my every days.
The Tears of My Soul, by Kim Hyun Hee (5/31) - Disturbing story of a woman who was trained to be a spy by North Korea and bombed a Korean Air Lines flight 858 in 1987, killing 115 passengers.