I struggle to come up with a concise description of the aperture between my Asian immigrant mother and I. It’s an amalgamation of various gaps: cultural, generational, economic… So after hearing the raving reviews of Everything Everywhere All at Once (that the film is a true representation of the Asian-American experience, filled with seamless code-switching and a narrative that would open a floodgate of tears), I was eager to bond over it in theaters with her.
To be fair, the movie was a lot less sad than I thought it would be. Rather, it’s absurdist and fast-paced, its sad moments not developed enough to sink in emotionally. There was, however, one moment between the main character, Evelyn, and her husband that made me tear up. By coincidence or fate, the story shared characteristics with that of my own parents. My mom had recounted it just that morning to me, and said she might have had a much different life (perhaps a better one) if she hadn’t married my dad. Back then, she had no concept of true love.
During that poignant scene, she turned to me in the theater. I thought she was going to note the similarities between her and Evelyn. Instead, she asked, “who is that man? Is he the husband or not?” Not understanding that the characters were in a multiverse, she had missed the whole premise of the plot. I held back my tears and blabbered an explanation, but she only grew more confused.
But even if she had grasped the multiverse concept, I doubt she would have accepted the film’s overall message. “The emphasis on success (especially academically) is engrained in Chinese culture,” she said just a few days later regarding various WeChat conversations on the graduating high school class’s college admissions results. There was no changing this fact, even though she recognized its toxicity.
In the end, Joy, Evelyn’s rebellious daughter, still cares about how her mother perceives her. They hug, cry, and reconcile. I don’t think my mother and I will ever reach this stage of true understanding, but I’ve come to accept–and even embrace it. Our different worldviews make our conversations stimulating; it’s why I voluntarily accompany her to pick up groceries, why I ditch my intense morning run for a long walk together. It’s a dissonant harmony.
(A lot of my writing explores our relationship because it’s constantly evolving and so central to how I perceive myself and my various relationships. So if you’ve read all of it, thanks for sticking with me🥲)
💫 Life Update
I moved to Cambridge, MA for the summer. It’s a lovely city, so New England with its cobblestone side walks, mini neighborhood libraries, composting initiatives, and quaint coffee shops.
The Charles River and Esplanade is my favorite place. I approach it in two different modes. The runner: energized by the other runners, cognizant of the breeze and the slight slopes of the paths, the contrast between the fast pumping of my limbs and the slow, controlled choreography of the elders practicing tai chi. Or the leisurely stroller: a bit self-conscious around all the cardio junkies, noticing how each bridge that spans across the river has its own character, stopping to take pictures of the boats and wildflowers. Unlike Georgetown, where I can expect to see a certain set of people each morning, Boston has a constant stream of bikers, student athletes, and marathon runners. There’s no smile or wave when we cross each other. Each person is in their own zone.
(An aside: I’ve noticed that many group runners consist of mostly dudes and then one gal—why is that?)
I had a really good day this past Friday. Probably my favorite day so far. It started with an energizing morning run. For lunch, I got sushi with my manager at a previous internship (she’s such a girl boss, wow). In the afternoon, I headed back to the office and had a “decaf tea chat” with a consultant at the company I’m interning for and got to bond with the other interns. I also attended my first coaching session (gotta take advantage of employee benefits), then closed off the day doing New York Times crosswords with my housemate and her friend.
Of course, the sunny days in Cambridge means acai bowls. I’ve only tried three so far, but there will definitely be more coming soon.
It’s been a year since I’ve had to go grocery shopping and meal prep. I’m extremely inefficient. I go to the super market three times a week and never have the right ratio of ingredients. I spend hours planning and then replanning my meals for the week, and watching cooking videos for recipe inspo. And while usually I hate inefficiency, my desire to experiment and be creative (and take advantage of coupons) get the best of me.
✨ Monthly Favorites
- Newsletter: Tending Gardens by Kana Chan — the author shares “a slice of life from rural Japan and what it’s like to live in Kamikatsu, Japan’s first Zero Waste Village.”
- This is One Way to Dance: Essays by Sejal Shah — In the linked essays that make up her debut collection, Sejal Shah explores culture, language, family, and place. Throughout the collection, Shah reflects on what it means to make oneself visible and legible through writing in a country that struggles with race and maps her identity as an American, South Asian American, writer of color, and feminist.
- Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay — a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself.
- Podcast: Tim Ferriss and Matt Mullenweg in Antarctica: Exploring Personal Fears, Bucket Lists, Facing Grief, Crafting Life Missions, and Tim’s Best Penguin Impressions (#578) — I loved the questions that were posed in this episode, such as:
- What is one fear you would like to conquer?
- Do intentions matter more or less than actions?
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about your life, the world, or anything else, what would you want to know?
- What is your life mission?