This Is Us

Reckoning with anti-Asian hate in a country my grandparents loved

Illustration: Draden Ferguson

“Lucky to be here.”

It’s a phrase I hear all the time about being an American — more specifically, being an American whose family came from someplace else. We live in a powerful, prosperous country full of opportunity and abundance, and there is no better place to be, which is why so many people risk their lives and leave behind their belongings to live here. At least, that’s the way the story goes.

But in the aftermath of the Atlanta shooting spree, I tell my therapist I have misgivings with this phrase. That I’m not sure how to balance feeling…

Five tasks to stave off the Sunday Blues.

Photo by Cristian Rojas from Pexels

Like wet socks and the word “moist,” Sunday evenings are notoriously unpleasant. Even if you work for yourself, you don’t work at all, or you have a job you like, Sunday evenings still seem to carry that last-day-of-vacation vibe. The end of the collective week is kind of a drag.

I once came across advice that argued you should do a small amount of work on Sundays. This way, Monday morning feels less shocking, less like jumping from a warm bed into a cold shower. I gave it a try and used Sundays to catch up on emails. Turns out…

‘What you can plan is too small for you to live’

Photo: Charlotte May/Pexels

When I was 12, I plotted out my entire life on a ream of perforated printer paper. It was a long, skinny timeline of events and milestones: go to college, teach, publish a book. Maybe even get married and have children. I brought the ream of paper to my mother and pointed to each milestone — I needed a witness — then I rolled up my entire life and shoved it into a desk cubby.

I’ve always been a planner. It feels good to make a goal, work toward it, then check it off your list, even if your goal…

All you have to do is cooperate with a demon

Illustration by Draden Ferguson

Sometimes hard work pays off, but sometimes it makes things harder. If you’ve ever struggled to fall asleep, you know what I’m talking about. It’s always easier to fall back asleep when you stop trying so hard.

Writing can feel that way, too. Sometimes I brainstorm, I outline, I edit, and I end up with a blah draft. So I brainstorm and outline and edit more, and the second draft is a little less blah, but it still needs work. I continue this process until I have a draft that’s pretty good — or at least not completely terrible. …

There’s a reason we’re drawn to the wild, especially when it feels far away

Illustration: Draden Ferguson

One morning on a hike in my neighborhood, a massive gray bobcat emerged from the bushes and onto the trail in front of me. I dug my heels into the ground and tugged on my dog’s leash, but she was too busy sniffing a rock to notice. Some bodyguard.

The bobcat stared back at me with wide, yellow eyes, like a startled housecat. I took a step closer, but a voice snapped me out of it. “What are you doing?!” my husband whispered from behind. “We gotta get out of here!”

It’s not uncommon to see wildlife where I live…

Complaining about small talk has become the new small talk.

Illustration: Draden Ferguson.

On my morning walk, I wave to my neighbor and ask how he’s doing. “Oh, just waiting for the sun to come out,” he smiles, working on his truck. It’s been two days of gray, damp weather, but it feels like weeks. I tell him this. He agrees. Looking up from the hood, he squints and points to the hills in the distance. “I’ve lived here for twenty years,” he says. “Watching that sunset never gets old.” We exchange a few more pleasantries, and I’m on my way.

Maybe it’s a year of being in quarantine, but I miss talking…

Creativity doesn’t need to have an expiration date

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

The phrase “unfinished project” brings something specific to mind for each of us. For you, it might be the novel you’ve been working on for the past decade, or the pile of knitting supplies sitting in the corner of your bedroom, or the stack of half-read books collecting dust on your coffee table.

Whatever it is, I’m willing to bet that thinking about it makes you a little uncomfortable. Anything uncompleted tends to have that effect. Oftentimes, the discomfort is not even about the project itself — it’s a reminder of all of your shortcomings and failures. “I’ll never finish…

Illustration by Draden Ferguson

Confession: It’s been over a year since I’ve had my teeth cleaned. Let’s blame it on COVID and not the fact that I hate going to the dentist. Or at least, I thought I hated it.

During my first routine check-up in over a year, I plopped myself down in the dental chair. The dental assistant prepared my x-ray, and the sun shined through the leaves outside. It was nice to see a different view from the one at my kitchen table, where I work all day. I inhaled the plastic smell of fluoride and dental equipment and exhaled my…

This Is Us

Maybe we’re all a bit like my shelter dog Murphy — we’re just trying to protect ourselves

Illustration: Draden Ferguson

It’s noon, time for my daily meditation. I open the app on my phone and press play.

“Let go. Feel your seat.” My butt is already numb.

“Now gently close your eyes.” I open my eyes — a little kid watching the bad part of a movie — then close them again. Why is the refrigerator humming so loudly? Should I get that looked at?

“Allow your thoughts to pass. Notice them, like a fly on the wall.” Will the refrigerator explode in the middle of the night?

“Notice your breath.” I suck in a gust of air from my…

3 strategies for making mistakes you can learn from

Photo: Flashpop/Getty Images

Usually this is the point in the year when everyone finally admits that their New Year’s Resolutions were terrible mistakes. Run three times a week? Quit Instagram cold turkey? What was January-1st-you even thinking?

But in Covid times, New Year’s Resolutions seem like a relic from another era. Most people aren’t exactly crushing goals, or even vaguely thriving. Most of us are barely keeping it together, each individual stress exacerbated by the stress of feeling like we’re failing at everything, all the time. …

Kristin Wong

Kristin Wong is a journalist and freelance writer. She’s written for the New York Times, ELLE, The Cut, and Glamour.

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