I’ve been home for two days. Home being Houston. It’s so relaxing. There isn’t pressure to network and scramble and succeed like how it sometimes feels in the Bay. Everything’s just more leisurely. I even drive slower (although I do miss my 330 ci… I had the top down today… wheeeeee- I’m spoiled… a lady on the train used to call me “little rich bitch”). I really love these days off, even more so because my parents had to work the last two days, so I could meander around the new house, just me and the cat.
House update: the interior decorator came by and added accents all over the house. Most of them I like, although I’m not 100% they really say “my parents.” The living room looks like a freakin’ jungle, but all in all, the house feels lived in and not empty. I’ll post pictures after I get back.
My cat’s getting the royal treatment here. Even my mom, who said she didn’t want anything to do with the cat, spent some time to get to know Mon Petit Coeur and pet her. I can’t wait to have kids because if they dote on my cat like this, think of all the freedom I’ll have once I bring kids over!
It’s been a bit difficult keeping up with the blog, while I’m trying to write the novel, so sorry for lagging. I promise to be better, especially because I’ve been reading so many books and have lots things I want to talk about. I posted an excerpt from my novel below. Hope you enjoy!
She opened her eyes to stare at the ceiling. The plane was firmly headed on a downward path, making her stomach lurch towards her throat. Lying on her mother’s lap, she rotated towards the seat in front of them, digging her face into a blue bag with white letters. She actually wasn’t sure how long the flight has been. Her eyes swelled into her head and her lips were chapped from throwing up for so long. She felt her mom stroking the back of her neck as she continued to heave into the foreign bag. At this point, she had no idea what there was left to throw up. During the flight and countless meals, the only thing she had been able to keep down was a slice of tomato. The only activities she knew was curling up to sleep, hurling and praying to some unknown entity that all this torture would soon end. She felt bad for her mother, who was also motion sick and had to take care of her child, while trying to communicate to the German flight attendant. She felt sorry for the flight attendant, who had to take care of the two Chinese country bumpkin look alikes that threw up everywhere and didn’t speak a word of German.
Finally the tires bounced gently onto the tarmac. She couldn’t remember what happened next. Her mom whispered in her ear that her daddy would be waiting for them. She was so excited to see her daddy again; it seemed like too long. Then, as they were walking down a walkway, she let go of her mother’s hand and started to run. At first she couldn’t recognize any of the faces around her. Everyone seemed completely foreign. Blurs rushed to the left and right. People were picking up their bags from the luggage go-around. She dodged in between people and weaved through legs in every direction. When she started to feel utterly lost and overwhelmed, she noticed a huge blob of blue. Hands reached down and picked her up. Big eyes meet hers. Shyly, she looks into them. She’s afraid to speak. This man had simply picked her up and was looking at her expectantly. She didn’t know what she was supposed to do to make him happy. Her hands rested on his shoulders, her chin tilted down and her almond eyes looked into his. He was smiling.
“There you are!” Her mother called from across the room. She has just emerged from the hallway and was making her way towards them. She was holding their carry on bag. “Well, don’t just look at me. Hug your daddy!”
She looked into his eyes again. Obediently, she gushed, “Daddy!” Her mom and aunties had been telling her for a while that she was going to see her daddy again, but she didn’t remember him all that well. This man sure didn’t look like anything she thought. That didn’t matter though. Right now, she loved the prospect of having a daddy, and if this man was it, then she was going to love him and hug him and call him daddy.
As her parents were waiting for their luggage, she looked around. There were a few other Chinese people in the sea of foreign faces. She wasn’t used to seeing anyone unlike her, and now, they were everywhere. Blonde hair, brown hair, people with big feet and legs that lasted forever. She’d look up to see if they had heads at all, they were so tall.
Sometime during the commotion, she had fallen asleep. There was a car and murmurs. By the time they arrived at their destination, it was already the dead of night. Honestly, thinking back, it was probably only 10 or 11pm, but to her four year old self, it must have seemed like the witching hour.
The room is small and bare. French doors looked out into a lawn and then trees. On the opposite wall was a couch that folded out into a bed. Prior to her and her mother’s arrival, dad had acquired a double mattress that was hidden behind the couch during the day and pulled out for her parents at night. She didn’t remember anything else about the rest of the room. There had to be a TV, and probably shelves and closets, but none of those things were particularly important to her at the moment. Her mom spread out sheets on the sofa, and she soon felt her cheek melt into the cushion and drift off into candyland.
Sometime in the next few days, she toured the graduate dorm and met all the other Chinese families. There was Meimei and her family. She was always haughty and stuck in her ways. Her mother would walk around praising her, but her father’s advisor was very kind, and she was always the one with bunches of new toys. From the child’s point of view, she had a heightened class because of the toys.
One time, she and Meimei were having an argument. They couldn’t decide how many seconds were in a minute. Knowing that she was right, she suggested that they would walk ask an adult. They both walked up to Meimei’s mom, who was cleaning in their apartment.
“Ay yi (Auntie), Meimei and I are wondering a question. How many seconds are in a minute? I said 60, but she says 100. I know I’m right. Tell her that she’s wrong, and there are only 60 seconds in a minute,” she pleaded bossily.
The woman knelt down to be at their eye levels. Her look seemed confused and a bit distraught. Clearly, she thought her daughter was the best and here was this lesser child, who was proclaiming that she was smarter. Not wanting to see her daughter in tears, yet again, she proposed, “Both of you are right. There are 60 seconds in a minute and there are 100 seconds in a minute. It really depends on how you look at it.”
“Hah! I told you so,” Meimei’s sharp voice rang from her left year. She rolls her eyes. Clearly this woman was either tremendously stupid or too spoiling of her daughter. After all, how was Meimei going to learn that there are only 60 seconds in a minute if her mom was lying to her like that. She runs into another room, where there were a group of men talking. As she approaches, they all look up and smile at her.
“Yanyan, how are you?” One of them questioned.
Furious that she was just denied, she launched into her debate anew, “Meimei and I are wondering how many seconds there are in a minute.” She didn’t want to bring up Meimei’s mom’s indiscretion. It might make her look bad.
“Why there’s 60 seconds of course.”
“Meimei says there are 100, and her mom said that she’s right, but I wanted to ask you because I knew I was right and she was wrong.” It all slipped out of her. It was like she just had verbal diarrhea.
The man laughs and looks at both the girls. Finally, he says, “Well, you’re right. Meimei 100 seconds sure does sound like it makes sense, and that’s a good guess, but the right answer is 60. Now, which one of you can tell me what time it says on my watch? Meimei? Yanyan?”
Meimei, pissed that she was just proven wrong and didn’t get her way, smiles and runs away to her mother. Her dad, having heard the conversation and disappointed that his wife would teach her daughter a lie just to appeal to the girl’s ego, also leaves. All of a sudden shy and taking too much time, she looks over at the man’s watch. It seemed like forever. Locating the bigger hand and counting until it stopped, she determined it was 5 o’clock. Now, the shorter hand was past that. 5:36pm. She repeated her answer to the man.
“That’s very good. You did a splendid job. Now, you need to practice on being able to do that faster. That’s something you need to work on. Just because you’re right about the minutes and seconds with Meimei doesn’t make you perfect. Instead of yelling at her for what she got wrong, you should be working on learning more. Do you understand?”
She was shocked. She was the one who was right. Meimei was always the one who got what she wanted, and now she of all people was being chastised because she finally got her way. Numb and bright red, she nodded and looked down. If there weren’t so many strangers hanging out in the room, she would have started crying.
From out of the corner, another man jokes, “Oh, Cao, don’t be so hard on her. She can tell the time; she was just a little nervous, weren’t you?”
Still looking at the floor, she nods.
“See? Now, you’re just being mean to this precious girl.”
The man makes his way to her and scoops up her face with his right hand. She looks up at him obediently.
“Do you think Yanyan looks like her father or her mother?”
Some chimed in mother and others father. “What do you think, Yanyan?”
“Both. I look equally like my parents.”
The men laughed. Most girls would tend to say their mother. “Well if you had to pick between your parents, which one would you pick?”
“I wouldn’t pick. I’d want both of them.” Again, most girls, especially after being separated from their fathers for over a year, would have picked their mother.
“Well, what if you had to pick? What if you didn’t have a choice?”
“I don’t care. I would pick both.”
“Leave it alone. Clearly, she’s getting upset. Yanyan, go and play. Shushu (Uncle) was just messing with you.”
She nods furiously, so hard that her mom jokes that her head was like a bulanggu (drum), and runs off.
[This pretty much has nothing to do with the excerpt. I just love this pic I took of White Sands in New Mexico.]