I’ve had quite a few people tell me that I am not in an interracial relationship and my baby isn’t of mixed of race. The reasoning is that my husband isn’t black. I find this kind of puzzling. Isn’t Chinese a different race? He speaks a different language, has a different cultural heritage, and is from a different geographical area. It seems more interracial to me than two people born in the same country.
The issue of race in America is complicated. It is probably a matter of perspective. The people who have told me race is only black and white have been people who classify themselves as either black or white. Plus I live in the south.
The government considers us to be different races most of the time. We are asked about race on standard forms where my husband and I check different boxes. If different race boxes are checked, doesn’t that make us interracial? I always thought an interracial relationship was one where two people of different races were in a relationship together. It apparently depends on which races are checked. Some are more applicable than others. Continue reading
I have fulfilled my duty as a daughter-in-law by selecting the Y chromosome. My 18 week ultrasound confirmed that my little baby is a boy! My in-laws said they would have been happy either way, but they only said this after we found out we are having a boy. They are quite happy to say the least. After all, there is a shortage of Asian men in the world.
My sister-in-law was not so happy though. She is four months further along than I am and didn’t find it fair that we found out the sex of our baby before she did. Yup, it’s illegal for doctors to tell a couple the sex of their baby in China. In fact, this caused a bit of confusion because after we announced we are having a boy to the Chinese world, everyone wanted baby pictures and congratulated us on the birth. Continue reading
When a Chinese person buys a wallet, he/she looks to see how much cash it will hold; when an American buys a wallet, he/she looks at how many credit cards it will hold. (Useless fact: Chinese wallets are actually larger than most American wallets because 100 RMB bills are larger than US dollar bills) The entire concept of money seems to be different between the two cultures.
As soon we came back to the states, I started building my husband’s credit. I found a credit card with a terribly low limit but no fees, and we bought a car with a high interest rate even though we had enough to buy the car in cash. Sadly, the bank representative told us this was very common. As she explained, even though immigrants often have plenty in cash to buy a house or a car in full, without credit, they can’t get a loan. I’m sure there is logic in there somewhere. So we paid interest to have a credit score because credit is king. Continue reading
The mid-autumn festival is a holiday I have always liked in China because it is the very first holiday I celebrated here. I love walking around at night when everything is decorated with lights and lanterns and the air is lightly crisp. I also have a fascination with mooncakes. Maybe it is an obsession.
It does not make much sense, but every time I celebrate the mid-autumn festival, I buy a bunch of mooncakes because I hate the taste. Seriously. As the first holiday I ever celebrated in China, I wanted desperately to understand it and mooncakes were a large part of the holiday. Mooncake stands popped up everywhere and everyone was buying and giving mooncakes. I figured they must be good or they wouldn’t be so popular so I kept trying different mooncakes to find the good ones. Some advice from my experiences, any mooncake that costs 1 yuan or less is not worth eating. Traditional mooncakes are heavy and oily and terrible. Some people like the yokes, I don’t. I have since found that the modern mooncakes actually taste pretty good though many chinese don’t consider them to be mooncakes. The ice cream ones are wonderful, the fruit ones remind me of fig newtons, and the mochi ones are delicious!
Mooncakes apparently vary by area as well. This one above is the local traditional mooncake. It is perishable and doesn’t last forever like the other mystery cakes. It reminds me very much of fruit cake and I have grown accustomed to eating it because there are tons of them in my house.
This is the amazing mochi mooncake. It seems somehow wrong to buy a Chinese mooncake at a Japanese bakery, but mochi is so yummy. These are actually very expensive, almost comparable to the mochi I buy in the US.
Much like American holidays, we did not do anything special during the day and then simply had dinner together as a family to celebrate the holiday.
My husband has been refusing to have his wisdom tooth pulled for months saying that American dentists are too expensive. Excuses. So here we are in China getting his tooth pulled. Through a little guanxi, he’s getting it pulled for around $10.
So how are dentists in China?
The dental industry is not very developed, though it is a common destination for dental work for people from other parts of Asia. When I lived in Japan years ago, I broke a tooth and my host family almost took me China to have it repaired because it is more affordable. Years later when I broke the same tooth again, I had it repaired in Xi’an. The dentist was great, he’s the reason I can understand Sichuan hua. The office was very clean and they imported all of the materials for quality. He told me that most of the people who come in for cleanings are foreigners. The majority of Chinese people simply don’t think about dentists until it’s too late. The Chinese patients that do come in are generally older and have major dental issues. My husband certainly had never visited a dentist until he met me.
Originally the entire reason for our trip to China was to attend my sister-in-law’s wedding, but the wedding date changed after we booked the tickets due to some sort of astrological mismatch with the wedding date. This was unfortunate so my sister had an engagement party during our stay instead.
I don’t know if an engagement party is usual custom in China, but the whole affair greatly resembled a small wedding reception.
This morning our house was suddenly full of boxes and people as we sorted out the wedding mantou (馒头 being the main staple in Shandong) and 双喜 double happiness candy. Then all of the guests moved to my uncle’s restaurant where about 50-60 people were seated in the wedding banquet room under a giant double happiness. It was certainly not a small gathering by any means. Each table was served the usual local wedding foods including pricy abalone. The soon-to-be bride and groom poured tea for all the guests and later toasted with every table. Continue reading
Whenever an American holiday approaches there is a lot of work in my family’s kitchen. Things like desserts are started the day before and then a few family members spend all day in the kitchen while everyone else watches tv. The food is always great, but especially for holidays, we all sit in the formal dining room with big chairs and a long table. Everyone seems so far away. Then after hours of cooking and preparing, everyone finishes eating in about a half an hour and gets up from the table. It seems like once everyone has eaten their plateful, there is no reason to stick around. Hours of work for 30 minutes of eating.
For Chinese holidays with my husband’s family in Shandong, there is still a lot of prep work. Dumplings, for instance are a day-long endeavor, but take very little time to actually cook. Stir-frying doesn’t take very long either, especially with everyone helping with chopping and peeling. Then everyone, it seems like almost 20 people, sits at a tiny table that one would think fits 4. With toasting of tea, beer, and baijiu, the meals last for hours. When the food looks like it is about to run out, more is made or found. I recall a couple of 11am lunches that didn’t finish until after 6pm.
Now in America, husband and I invite people over for Chinese meals all the time. We’ll have 10 or more people over and fit everyone around a table that by American standards should only seat 6. Sometimes, we’ll just stir-fry up a few dishes and serve some fresh pickled veggies, or, even easier, make hot-pot. It takes less than an hour to make everything and everyone is cozy. Without having defined portions on a dinner plate, the Chinese style meal allows everyone to graze for hours. Conversation seems to flow better and everyone is more literally sharing the meal.
Every family is different, mine seems to get restless once they are full. The only way to get them to stay at the table longer is to eat Chinese-style. Surprisingly, no one has complained about being cramped or about reaching for food.