Mar 2019 – For an Asian-American Family, the Cost of Education

My parents bought a foreclosed farmhouse during the 2008 recession. For a decade afterward, we made hourlong weekly trips from Kentucky, where we lived, to the farm, which is in Indiana. My parents spent long days there renovating the termite-ridden 1970s farmhouse while I played in the fields or read in the car. I was in middle school when they bought it, too young to question their motivation for spending weekends toiling over a house in the middle of nowhere…

Essay available from the New York Times, in English and Chinese.

Jan 2019 – This is Not a Ghost Story

Once upon a time, in the kindergarten I was to attend, a girl who loved to draw died. I would learn of her after my markers began disappearing from their yellow plastic box, through the stories my classmates told. I do not believe in ghosts, and thought my classmates superstitious or playful, but to date I cannot explain how these markers kept disappearing even when I held the box closed. Eventually, I lost all my markers. Only a handful, and only the ugliest colors, returned to me, reappearing in trash bins and girls’ toilets. I remember spending afternoons at school long after class ended, the autumn sun pulling my shadow long as I hunched over a toilet bowl, stuffing it with toilet paper so I could flood the marker out without touching the water…

Essay available from The Yale Daily News

Dec 2018 – My Old Indiana Home

The house was a vivid reminder that the seventies were real, and that hippies once existed. Its classic red-brick, white-plaster exterior belied a ceiling lined with mirror tiles and a shag carpet that might have once been electric green. Decades of dust had darkened the furry fabric into a puke color, and the hardwood flooring of one bathroom had grown soft, like carpet. The termite inspector later took out a chunk of the ground, creating a hole that connected the house with the crawl space beneath the bathroom, so that the toilet rose like an island in the midst of a drained pond, from a pit as wide as a kiddy pool and as deep as my waist…

Essay available at These Fifty States

Dec 2017 – Plum Blossoms in Sichuan

The two cylinders connect to a pipe with a nozzle, into which the patient breathes. My uncle says the spirometer is an exam. The thinner cylinder tests the stability of his breathing, and the fatter cylinder tests the capacity of his lungs. He sucks on the nozzle, and the cylinder displays 50 percent lung capacity. My aunt leaves for work, and she reminds me to heat soup for my uncle this afternoon. Today is Christmas Day…

Essay available on SupChina.com

Nov 2017 – Biking to Xiangshan

I envy my friends who grew up in Beijing, because they remember their childhoods. When I immigrated to America, I was old enough to miss China, but not to remember it. My homesickness never manifests in yearning for a particular place. Instead, I have moments of paralysis, when I go still at the conviction, I have been here before…

Essay available from China Daily