Complete strangers often ask me how I got my name. They think this is an acceptable question. But for me, for the longest time, it was like being asked to tell the origin story of a scar....more
Posts Tagged: family
The curse of being a writer is knowing other people. I need other people (to write about) but I can’t handle other people (the way I can literary characters)....more
I could not bring myself to talk about losing my last living grandparent, because talking about her would mean talking about the literal and figurative ocean between where I come from and where I am now....more
McBride has said that she wants this book to be read fast, letting it wash over you, but the struggle to make sense and to fill in the unsaid is hard to resist....more
The history of the whole world can be told as the stories of conquerors and the conquered—the former consumed with thoughts of destiny and tyranny, the latter knowing only the persistence of time and the pure grit of bodies....more
The mountains of Alabama are small mountains—foothills, really—but they are mine like a sports team is mine—like a football game (which I have for so long been near but have not really, really seen) is mine—as in the phrase “We scored! We scored!”...more
I want to leave the party through the window and find my uncle standing on a piece of iron shaped into visible desperation, which must also be (how can it not?) the beginning of visible hope....more
My cousin and I are in matching dresses with purple buttons, lavender yarn in our braids. Our mothers take us to Sears Portrait Studio, where we sit together in front of a marbled blue sky. I’m into it, all of it....more
For me, although the decade would also give us disco and Norman Lear sitcoms and my absolute favorite bell-bottomed striped green pantsuit, the 70s were all about Nixon…...more
The truth is you didn’t want to disappear, but you were already disappearing. Your skin burned clean away, your body no longer recognizable without the flip chart at the foot of your hospital bed....more
Sari Botton sits down with humorist Samantha Irby to talk sex, family conflicts, and the creative freedom of being an orphan....more
I had no idea who Saddam Hussein was—or what band had just made that big, big noise—but I was sure of one thing: I was pissed off....more
The day my father died was the day I started falling in love....more
You think your mom was a harsh critic? Slate published an excerpt of criticism about Mansfield Park from Jane Austen’s friends and family. Austen compiled the criticism in an 8-page document, which just shows that even successful novelists are insecure....more
My mother died suddenly at a dining room table, in the middle of a wonderful meal, surrounded by a large, extended family that loved her. One minute she was completely immersed in the world—talking, laughing, eating—and the next minute she was gone....more
Does it seem now like I believe in God and he is a comfort to me? I don’t, and he isn’t. And yet this story is a comfort to me....more
My mother’s body horrified me. Nine years old, I watched her dress. Her belly was rippled and sagged and scarred—a used-up bag of nothing....more
When my father died my mother was still alive. And I think when your second parent dies, there is that shock: “Oh man, I’m an orphan.” There’s also this relief: It’s done; it’s finished; it’s over. Because I had felt for so many years that there was this sense of going through this whole passage, this whole last part of their lives, and all the emotional and practical difficulties of that.
For reasons I’ll never understand, I am my father’s rooster. My life is filled with farmers. We find our farmers where our interests are, I guess....more
What does not occur to me at the moment of this bloodlust, will not until much later, is that I am actively seeking the violence. I want to witness the worst....more
In the years before he showed up in Lubbock, he wandered the streets of downtown Dallas near Fair Park. He hung out in abandoned apartment buildings, run-down hotels. He huddled in crack houses. He slept under bridges and a few nights on the air conditioning unit of a hotel....more
If you loved Jerry Stahl’s essay “Bad Moments in Parenting” as much as we did, be sure to check out the beautiful, devastating account of of one woman’s experience with dementia by Gerda Saunders. Her deeply personal essay gives insight to how a person reckons with keeping her identity as she struggles to remember her family, how to take care of herself, and even who she is....more
In middle school, “Yo Mama” jokes infuriated me. My mother was so Chinese she couldn’t eat a hamburger without pinching her nose. She was so Chinese she wore bamboo slippers.
In a stunning essay for the Michigan Daily, Carlina Duan writes about growing up as the child of Chinese immigrants in America....more
Everything I have, aside from what I’m wearing, is in a light brown vinyl purse with two outside pockets. I hold the purse close at all times, and I sleep with it under my head like a rigid, desperate pillow....more
It seemed like nature might be offering up something fraught with emotion, a beautiful image that a writer could imbue with heartbreaking symbolism. But I couldn’t come up with anything. It was just fall, and so the leaves were red....more
I choose to believe the label “godmother” means something. I was connected to my godmother by the ceremony, and the birthday cards, and the word itself. She wanted to be that for me. I don’t believe in the holiness of the water fountain the priest dunked Sasha’s head into, but I believe in my love for my friend and her daughter.
For Human Parts, the dazzling collection of essays curated by Stephanie Georgopulos on Medium, Djenab Conde writes about the complexities of eating at a Chinese restaurant with her Chinese mother and Guinean father.
Conde writes about how frustrating it is to never be recognized as Chinese even when she speaks the language, but the really heartbreaking part is the subtle ways she tries to protect her father’s feelings....more
My daughter likes to bang her head off the floor. It makes a point—an especially guilt-tinged one, given that we had to get rid of our carpets due to a mold infestation, so now there’s no cushion between baby cranium and wood....more
I’m sitting across from the man who looks exactly like my father would look if my father had lived to be fifty-seven. If my father hadn’t died sixteen years ago when I was thirteen. But he did....more