The Bamboo Mat: A poem

the bamboo mat – xuan chen

I cannot bear to put away the bamboo sleeping mat;
The night I brought you home I watched you roll it out.



My mom lies on her side in bed and watches Taiwanese TV shows on her iPhone every night. She gets into bed early. Around 9pm. Even on the weekends.

I came home late today and quietly set my bags down. I crept into her room. Laughter erupted from her small device and I knew she was still awake.

“Honey, I set the temperature in your room a little higher today. So you will be warm. Don’t worry about Mom. I’m very warm under my goose down covers.”

And a tear rolled down my cheek. Because that was the sweetest thing that has ever been said to me.


I’m going to post some great quotes right now. I know they have nothing to do with each other and they may not mean a thing to you but they are funny/true/interesting to me.

I apologize that this blog has been sliding downhill for awhile now and that I’m not writing/posting things that are valuable to my readers. So feel free to unsubscribe. But if you are still interested in reading random posts about random things (and occasionally good stories or interesting articles) then stay tuned.

“You can’t choose who you love. Sometimes they choose you.” -Jess from New Girl

“But I want you to know, no matter what happens or how shitty you may feel some day, out there there’s someone who loves you.  And I do, truly and sincerely love you, and I probably always will.  If the day ever comes that everyone has failed you and you have nowhere else to turn then I’ll be there for you, but I hope it never comes to that.”   -anonymous (who probably doesn’t want this posted on the internet…If you are reading this now then I’m sorry.)

“Cut your losses.” -Pastor Mike of Harvest Church in NJ

“What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature.” -Voltaire

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. That’s how you grow… That’s when you have a breakthrough.”  -Marissa Mayer

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” -Mother Teresa


The One Trait to Look For in a Partner

I posted this on my other blog awhile back, but since it is so good, here it is again =). How many of us are really honest with ourselves about our flaws and weaknesses? Like truly, painfully, heartbreakingly honest? Most of us are too afraid to accept that we have character flaws. And since most of us can’t even accept it, we definitely can’t work on on them. That’s where relationships come in.Through the eyes of someone else we are able to step back and see ourselves for what we are.

The One Trait To Look For In A Partner

MAY. 24, 2013 

There were a few comments from people about my post on how to date amazing women saying it was too extreme and that everyone has faults.

Of course, everyone has faults. It’s impossible to find someone without some emotional baggage or insecurities.

The real question is, what does that person do with it? In the first two articles of this series, I pointed out how to notice emotionally manipulative behavior and how to avoid women who display it. These were women who had problems and baggage and used them as a weapon with the men they date.

In this article, I will be talking about the traits that you want to actively look for in a relationship parter when deciding to date or commit to them. To give a hint, it’s looking for people who manage their personal flaws and baggage well.

My first handful of significant relationships were mired with a lot of manipulation and victim/rescuer dynamics. These relationships were great learning experiences, but they also caused me a great deal of pain that I had to eventually learn from.

It was until I managed to find myself in relationships with some emotionally healthy women who were able to manage their flaws well, that I really learned what to look for when dating someone.

And I discovered in this time that there was one trait in a woman that I absolutely must have to be in a relationship with her, and it was something that I would never compromise on again (and I haven’t). Men are usually unwilling to compromise on superficial traits: looks, intelligence, education, etc. Those are important, but if there’s one trait that I’ve learned you should never compromise on, it’s this:

The ability to see one’s own flaws and be accountable for them.

Because the fact is that problems are inevitable. Every relationship will run into fights and each person will hit up against their emotional baggage at various times. The determinant of how long the relationship will last and how well it will do comes down to both people being willing and able to recognize the snags in themselves and communicate them openly.

Think of your girlfriend/wife/ex-girlfriend/love interest and ask yourself, “If I gave her honest constructive criticism about how I think she could be better, how would she react?” Would she throw a huge fit? Cause drama? Blame you and criticize you back? Claim you don’t love her? Storm out and make you chase after her?

Or would she appreciate your perspective, and even if she was perhaps a little bit hurt or uncomfortable, even if there was a little bit of an emotional outburst first, would she eventually consider it and be willing to talk about it? Without blaming or shaming. Without causing unnecessary drama. Without trying to make you jealous or angry.


Then she’s not dating material.

BUT! Here’s the million dollar question. Think of that same girlfriend/wife/ex-girlfriend/love interest, and now imagine that she gave you constructive criticism and pointed out what she believed to be your biggest flaws and blind spots. How would you react? Would you brush it off? Would you blame her or call her names? Would you logically try to argue your way out of it? Would you get angry or insecure?

Chances are you would. Chances are she would too. Most people do. And that’s why they end up dating each other.

Having open, intimate conversations with someone where you’re able to openly talk about one another’s flaws without resorting to blaming or shaming is possibly the hardest thing to do in any relationship. Very few people are capable of it. To this day, when I sit down with my girlfriend, or my father, or one of my best friends and have one of these conversations, I feel my chest tighten, my stomach turn in a knot, my arms sweat.

It’s not pleasant. But it’s absolutely mandatory for a healthy long-term relationship. And the only way you find this in a woman is by approaching them with honesty and integrity, by expressing your emotions and sexuality without blame or shame, and not degenerating into bad habits of playing games or stirring up drama.

Suppressing or over-expressing your emotions will attract someone who also suppresses or over-expresses their emotions. Expressing your emotions in a healthy manner will attract someone who also expresses their emotions in a healthy manner.

You may think a woman like this doesn’t exist. She’s a unicorn. But you’d be surprised. Your emotional integrity naturally self-selects the emotional integrity of the women you meet and date. And when you fix yourself, as if by some magical cheat-code the women you meet and date become more and more functional themselves. And the obsession and anxiety of dating dissolves and becomes simple and clear. The process ceases to be a long and analytical one but a short and pleasant one. The way she cocks her head when she smiles. The way your eyes light up a little bit more when you talk to her.

Your worries will dissolve. And regardless of what happens, whether you’re together for a minute, a month or a lifetime, all there is acceptance. TC mark

“Moment of Inertia” by Debra Spencer

“Moment of Inertia” by Debra Spencer

Moment of Inertia

It’s what makes the pancake hold still

while you slip the spatula under it

so fast it doesn’t move, my father said

standing by the stove.


All motion stopped when he died.

With his last breath the earth

lurched to a halt and hung still on its axis,

the atoms in the air

coming to rest within their molecules,

and in that moment

something slid beneath me

so fast I couldn’t move.


Oh Angelina Jolie. Your words are beyond inspirational. Thank you for being brave enough to live your life honestly and without reservations.

“Nothing would mean anything if I didn’t live a life of use to others.”

Simple Life

I’ve seen circuses and dances. Happy movies and fireworks. Babies in strollers and dogs skipping along their way.

I know the heavens exist. I know the sun is fair. It shines on everyone on Earth whether you’re here or there.

I know you can try to trick time. Fly to LA for the weekend and reclaim a few hours. But at the end of your trip you still have to go back from where you came. And the sands of time, again, slip through your fingers.

I realize that anything can be broken whether you’re careful or not. Sometimes life comes barreling at you like an out of control bus. You can’t stop it. You can only say:

Give me what you have to offer, good or bad. Let me walk the path I was set on, though I may not finish intact. Come at me with seven horns and a grotesque face so I may be scared into motion. Sit still with me in feeble moments. Put me through failures if that’s what I need. Stroke my hair and let me cry. Wake me up to wily lies. Tell serendipity to look after me. And lead me to my dreams.

And if none of that comes true, then will you just let me be? Let me meander through the grasses alone. Admire the view from a distance. I used to care about being loved and I used to care about being somebody. I don’t ask for so much now.

I know you have every right to take me sooner. But if you just wait, you can have me after I am finished with my observations. After I have poked and prodded at human nature itself, and written pages and pages explaining what I have found. Maybe I’ll take up residence in Paris. Hold a warm body when I get too lonely. But expect nothing, because there is nothing to expect.

I will come to you myself when I am done with the earth. I will willingly give you me by walking into the sea. The sand will climb up my ankles and the waves will ravage my pink dress. I will give in when I take my last breath. Life, with your confusing twists and jealous ways. You’ve always had me, me without any say.

It’s the Weekend!

ImageEveryone on WordPress, please let me introduce you to my new best friend. She is the reason why I haven’t been posting as much. Let’s all take a moment to be mad at the GREs (and simultaneously hope that I do well on them in January!).

And here are some interesting links for the weekend!

A powerful story from a doctor about healing and growth.

Beautiful snowflakes.

I’m very much a meerkat! What are you?

If you want to take the Myers-Briggs test, here is a link.

Do you abide by the “Hell Yes” Rule? (I’m sorry I’m not comfortable enough with the F word to post it here. It is a learned discomfort…but one I’m ok with not changing.)

I’m moving back to NYC in January!!! Should I make this my new bucket list?

And this for a food bucket list?

Very intriguing ideas here: “If you can’t take advantage of someone, you shouldn’t interact with him or her” and “If someone can’t take advantage of you, you should stop interacting with him or her.” I very much agree. Do you?

God’s lessons during seasons of unemployment.

Paid friends. Interesting. Wonder if I will ever experience that kind of friendship. Probably only as the one who is getting paid.

Finally, another funny interaction between my mom and I.

“Mom, when I move back to New York, I think I want to take up volunteering.”

She paused. And hesitated. She spoke slowly.

“That’s great. But….maybe you should go to the gym.”

“Mom! I haven’t gained weight!”

She click-clicked her tongue. “Yes, but you don’t exercise too much. That’s not healthy. Go to yoga class or something. Look at Mommy. I am so so healthy now.”

“I did exercise today. I accidentally ordered lunch from a sushi place I thought was 2 blocks from my office, but it turned out that they moved to a place near Penn Station. And I walked 20+ blocks to get my lunch!”

“What did you get?”

“Thai Fried flounder and rice.”

“I see….”

“Fine, I’ll join a gym.”


Well, that’s all! Have a great weekend, guys =)


“Mom, I think I want to write.”

“That’s nice, dear.” And she reached across the table for more tofu.

“I think it’s my passion. I want to write all the time. And I can’t find satisfaction in anything else.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yes. Today I stared at the VP of Finance while we were all in an early morning meeting. He scratched his balding head and asked what the standard percentage increase in the industry was for insurance. I thought, God, how I would hate that life.”

“Well, you’re terrible at math, dear.”

“I know. But even for the VP of Marketing and CEO and everybody. All their work will be so meaningless in 100 years. Who will remember it?”

“That’s everybody’s life. Look at me, I live a simple life. I have been a librarian for over 20 years and no one will remember me when I’m gone.”

“And I think that is the right decision for you. But I want something more. In 100 years, I want someone to read the words I’m writing now and feel exactly how I feel at this moment.”


“So I think I need to be a full-time writer.”

“No, no, no.”


“Don’t rush into it.”


Later on that evening I heard her talking on the phone with my aunt. “Sigh. Kids. You can’t tell them what to do anymore.”