Where’s Wang? Taylor Swift, Taeok Lee Make a Magical Pair in ‘Willow’ Video – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my latest post titled Where’s Wang? Taylor Swift, Taeok Lee Make a Magical Pair in ‘Willow’ Video, where I take a look back at a Swift video featuring the singer with an Asian “boyfriend”. Here’s an excerpt:

Taylor Swift fans have grown restless this fall as they await the October release of her forthcoming album “Midnight”. That makes this a perfect time to put Swift in the spotlight, through a music video of hers that cast a spell around the world (and here at WWAM BAM): “Willow”.

The video, dressed largely in a “prairie chic” reminiscent of a Laura Ingalls Wilder novel, follows Swift on an ethereal journey through a rabbit hole, enchanted forests, a carnival fair, a witch gathering, and cozy log cabins, as she traces a magical golden thread leading her straight to “the one”. The soft and subdued lighting — whether from candles, fireplaces, strings of lights, mystical orbs, or the golden thread itself — lends an intimate, crepuscular atmosphere to the video that fits the acoustic folk-infused sound of the love ballad. If only our dreams could be this beautiful.

But at WWAM BAM, we are also enchanted by Swift’s handsome co-star in the video: Taeok Lee, a Korean American man who, in fact, has history with the singer.

Read the full post at WWAM BAM. And if you like it, share it!

People Assume We’re ‘Foreigner & Translator’ in China; Sometimes, We Just Go With It

“Where is she from?”

“The US.”

“How long has she been in China?”

“For some time.”

“Where does she live?”

“Around here.”

I listened to the dialogue, in Chinese, between my husband Jun and the hairdresser trimming my chestnut brown tresses. But even though I was fluent in Mandarin and could easily have responded to every question, I remained silent, resting in my chair while wearing a shy smile.

It was easy to appear abashed because I genuinely felt that way, wondering, What if they all really knew the truth? And every now and then Jun and I swapped knowing grins, in recognition of the success of our “performance” that very evening.

Once again, we played “foreigner and translator” for a captive audience — and nailed it.

“Foreigner and translator” are the roles my husband and I adopt for certain public situations in China, where I pretend to be just another outsider who can’t speak Chinese, and my husband the local providing language assistance.

It’s actually an easy sell in China, where marriages between Western women and Chinese men still remain overwhelmingly rare. Instead, when people see me and Jun in public places, they automatically assume the man at my side serves as hired linguistic support, rather than a romantic partner.

While it might seem strange to engage in this subterfuge in a public place, like a hair salon, it has its benefits.

First of all, if people know we’re a couple, it immediately piques their curiosity, because they probably never saw a Western woman married to a Chinese man before. The surprise triggers a cascade of questions, including some that get intrusive — and which we’d rather avoid. “Foreigner and translator” helps us to sidestep a lot of awkwardness.

Plus, sometimes I just want to unwind — to savor the scalp massage and stylist’s work — instead of getting grilled about my life. So with Jun as “translator” I can just relax and be the “foreigner” enjoying the moment.

In the end, the haircut turned out perfect — one of the best I’ve had in years.

Before we walked out the door of the salon, I couldn’t help saying “Xie xie” — thank you — in Chinese, which once again sparked awe from our small audience, remarking how “good” my Chinese was.

Ah, if only you knew, I thought. If only you knew.

As Many Foreigners Exit China, I’m Still Here to Stay – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my latest post titled As Many Foreigners Exit China, I’m Still Here to Stay. Here’s an excerpt:

“I attended multiple going away parties in one week,” confessed a foreign coworker of mine not long ago.

After living in China for years, he had become accustomed to the annual wave of departures that invariably rippled across every expat social circle. But what was once a steady drip had now become a deluge.

It was sweeping up a lot of my friends too. Among them were people I’d pegged as China “lifers”–including a fellow foreign woman with a Chinese husband who had always seemed so happy about life in Shenzhen. But the death of a close family member, whose funeral she couldn’t attend, prompted a dramatic reshuffle of her priorities, leading her to pack up her life and say goodbye to China.

Headlines such as “Foreigners Are Leaving China in Droves” and “China’s Foreign Firms Are Running Out of a Key Resource: Foreigners” shout out the stark reality of the times we live in.

And yet, as foreigners flood out of the country, I’m one of the few going against the current. I’m staying here, and still committed to living in China for the rest of my life.

Head on over to WWAM BAM to read the full piece. And if you like it, share it!

The Sauna Days of Summer in China – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my recent post titled The Sauna Days of Summer in China, a reflection on the extreme heat we’ve had to endure in recent weeks. Here’s an excerpt:

It was 2 pm on a sultry weekday afternoon when I left the refuge of our air-conditioned office to brave the heat with my colleagues. We wouldn’t have chosen to leave then, apart from the mandatory meeting we had. And even then, we did everything we could to avoid the elements, even opting to cross the grounds in the underground parking tunnels, instead of striding across that infernal square and its blinding white hot concrete that almost seared your eyes just staring at it.

Even so, once we emerged from the elevator into the shaded corridor, we were immediately buffeted by the waves of heat which rose, much like steam from an oven, from that square. It felt like a scene from Dante’s “Inferno” and yet it was no fictional account, but our summer reality on a day which delivered record temperatures and no relief in sight.

Welcome to the sauna days of summer in China.

Read the full post on WWAM BAM. And if you like it, share it!

5 Tips to Survive S China’s Monsoon Season in Your Home – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my latest piece titled 5 Tips to Survive S China’s Monsoon Season in Your Home. Here’s an excerpt:

Once again, a mantle of gray clouds the heavens, which have been steadily “weeping” all day, dispelling thoughts of hiking or picnics.

Yes, we’ve entered southern China’s monsoon season, that time of year when the humidity reaches 100 percent under a curtain of rain as everything from hiking to even hanging laundry out to dry becomes impossible. And don’t even get me started about the mold that creeps into the corners of your rooms and closets indoors.

So how can you survive?

As someone who has experienced many years of monsoon seasons south of China’s Yangtze River, I would like to share some of the ways I’ve learned to adapt and even thrive:

Head on over to WWAM BAM to read the full post. And if you like it, share it!

Domestic Violence in China: Helpful Resources for Foreign Women – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just recently published my short post sharing some domestic violence resources for foreign women in China. Here’s an excerpt:

Not everyone finds themselves happily ever after in love. Breakups, separations and divorces happen, and so does domestic violence or abuse, including to foreign women in China.

What do you do if you’re in China and facing domestic violence or abuse?

Since this question surfaces from time to time within the WWAM community — including in online discussions in which we’ve participated — we wanted to share some resources…

Head on over to WWAM BAM to read the full post — and if you like it, share it!

What It’s Like Amid China’s Current COVID Outbreak – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my latest post titled What It’s Like Amid China’s Current COVID Outbreak. Here’s an excerpt:

Here in China, we’re experiencing the worst nationwide COVID-19 outbreak ever since the pandemic began.

Of course, “worst” might be subjective for those of you who live in a country that has been continually ravaged by COVID-19 since the pandemic first swept across the globe.

As I write this post, in China we’re seeing around 1,500 to 2,000 new confirmed cases and over 2,000 asymptomatic ones across the nation per day. That’s in contrast to what previously used to count as a “severe” outbreak — around 100 to 200 confirmed cases daily nationwide.

What does it mean for those of us on the ground?

Head on over to WWAM BAM to read the full piece. And if you like it, share it!

Why ‘Auspicious Snow Heralds a Good Year’ in Chinese Culture – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my latest piece, inspired by a magical snowfall that greeted us one morning, early in the Year of the Tiger. Here’s a snippet of the post titled Why ‘Auspicious Snow Heralds a Good Year’ in Chinese Culture:

A heavy “goose feather” snowfall had dusted the landscape outside our window, drawing my husband out of bed with a childlike thrill as he stood there, aiming to capture the magic of the moment in the lens of a camera.

And of course, he couldn’t help deeming it a propitious thing, with that traditional Chinese saying: 瑞雪兆丰年 (ruì xuě zhào fēng nián) — auspicious snow heralds a good year.

Such a warm embrace of snow deep into February would surely find a chilly reception in my hometown of the Cleveland, Ohio area in the US.

Read the full piece at WWAM BAM — and if you like it, share it!

via GIPHY

Season of Super Savings for Veteran Singles Day Shopper – Pub’d on China Daily

push cart and a white paperbag

China Daily just published my latest column titled Season of super savings for veteran Singles Day shopper. Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve already made my list and checked it twice-my shopping list, that is, for Singles Day, which traditionally falls on Nov 11 each year.

While some have compared Singles Day to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it has since eclipsed those two to generate more sales than both combined, becoming the world’s largest shopping event. It is also the most wonderful time of the year for many shoppers like me, with 2021 marking my eighth consecutive occasion to take part online through Alibaba’s Taobao platform.

After so many years of participating in the shopping spree, I’ve witnessed and experienced how it has evolved over the years, for the benefit of consumers like me.

You can read the full piece here. And if you like it, share it!

P.S.: To those of you participating in the shopping festival, wishing you a very merry Singles Day! 😉

Seeding a Lifelong Love of Autumnal ‘Super Fruit’ – Pub’d on China Daily

sliced pomegranate

China Daily recently published my latest column titled Seeding a lifelong love of autumnal ‘super fruit’. Here’s an excerpt:

The arrival of autumn has left me enchanted once again with its bountiful harvest of pomegranates. And as I savor this gem of the fruit world, I can’t help but reflect on how living in China actually introduced me to the wonders of this unique food.

While pomegranate juice had always been a favorite of mine, for a long time, I couldn’t say the same for the actual fruit. Admittedly, appearances played a big role in my anti-pomegranate prejudices. It’s a bunch of pulpy little seeds, I had thought. How could anyone possibly take pleasure in eating that?

But by chance, my bias was challenged, thanks to a family gift several years ago.

A handful of small, spindly pomegranate trees grow just outside the gate of the family home in rural Zhejiang, and the branches were pendulous with the fruit every fall. So one autumn, my mother-in-law gave me and my husband a bag heaped with pomegranates she had picked herself.

At first, I shunned the seemingly burdensome pile of fruit on our dinner table, as well as my husband Jun’s every attempt to cajole me into taking a bite. But with each passing day, where he continued to nibble on pomegranate and offer me a taste of the seeds, eventually curiosity prevailed.

I popped a handful in my mouth, preparing to be underwhelmed, and instead found myself stunned in the best possible way. The seeds were bursting with that same rich, sweet-tart flavor I had come to cherish about pomegranate juice, except it was superior to anything I had encountered in liquid form. These weren’t a bunch of forgettable, pulpy seeds-they sparkled that day as ambrosial jewels of fruit.

Just like that, one taste converted me into a lifelong fan.

You can read the full piece online — and if you like it, share it.