The Permanence of Memory

They call me a dirty chink and a gook, using the tips of their forefingers to slant their eyes upward while speaking to me in the tones of an Asian language. Ching chong choooww, and they laugh and laugh. One wants to spit on me, and I can see...

In Media Res

When I first saw Việt Nam, it was the year I got into UC Santa Cruz, the second-to-last in a string of colleges that kept my eye on the education prize while my mind still wandered, angry and discontent with the person I had become or angry at people...

Dear Adoption, I’m Tired.

Worn out from years of explaining who I am and who I am not. I have grown weary of trying to assimilate into countries and cultures that ask me to be for them and not with them. I have grown fatigued of tracing a story that befits only a partial narrative, left only...

Trade Off

Randy punched me in the mouth when we were ten. He said it was an accident; I thought it had something to do with my baseball card collection and not loaning him my Willie Mays. My upper lip swelled on the right side and the inside was slightly cut...

Writer’s Block

Richard sat down at his desk for the fourth time that day and stared at the blinking cursor, counting them.  He tried a couple of different things: batting his eyelashes in time with the blinks, holding his breath for twelve, thirteen, even fourteen blinks.  He tapped his index finger...

Vizzini Academics: Kneeling? Inconceivable!

One of my all-time favorite movies is “The Princess Bride.” There’s so much to love about the movie, especially with its witty lines and characters. One of my favorite characters is Inigo Montoya, played by the talented Mandy Patinkin. His most famous line, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya....

Paper Trails

With the recent worry about providing paperwork to affirm one’s citizenship, I have been sorting through files and boxes in my basement looking for my naturalization certificate. I just recently received a new passport, but in this political climate, I’m worried that it may not be enough. When I...

When Difference Matters

First published on The Adoption Exchange Blog: https://www.adoptex.org/the-adoption-journey/blog/ Over the course of my life, people have been curious about my adoption story. It is a story that begins in the Vietnam War. At the time, adopting from Vietnam was as much a humanitarian movement as it was an opportunity for...

Rule Number 1

I have given birth four times. Three of the four were actual babies. The fourth, well, labor lasted six years and granted me a degree that apparently only 1.7% of academics actually earn: a PhD. Oddly, the process of giving birth and finishing my PhD are quite similar. I...

Lost Time

Over the past forty years, my biological father may have remembered me now and again. He may have remembered my presence in the passing of a young, Khmer girl, a furrowed brow resembling my own even though she was not his daughter. He may have wondered how my mother...