Ecuador bus in Canar

A year of do-overs

Perhaps it is too soon to reflect on the year past, but I’m currently occupying that space between here and there. In other words, I’m getting ready to move from Northern Thailand to Central Thailand. And instead of doing the impatient-dance, I’m diving into deep creative waters (at least as much as I can).

Last year around this time, I was getting ready to move from Cambodia back to the U.S of A – or so I thought. What followed instead was a period of uncertainty and great stress after where we thought we were going to live fell through.

I had always considered Hawaii home, the home in which I could return to if my life fell to pieces. But what happened during this time was a tug-o-war between my mom and me regarding what to do with my life, with my BF standing in between. And so for the first time, I turned my back on Hawaii with the harsh realization that it was no longer my safety net.

Although you could say, I now understood what it was like to be turned away from family. And I’ve taken that experience to heart; it’s something that has made me contemplate what home is. While it was shocking, it was short-lived as my Thai family contacted me soon after I had returned to Thailand with the news that my mother wanted me to call her.

In the beginning, our conversations were strained, but mostly they felt as if nothing had ever happened. Sometimes I didn’t want to contact her because the thing about my mom is she doesn’t use email, social media, and she doesn’t even know how to check her voicemail on her flip phone. So I’m limited in when and how I contact her; there are times when I feel like I’m communicating by snail mail.

Recently, the BF walked in on me talking to my mom, and afterward, he made a remark about how I sound when I talk to her.

“You say ‘yeah’ a lot.”

“Oh, that’s just Hawaii,” I said, as in, that’s the way we speak in Hawaii.

But he got me thinking about how I have to adjust the way I speak, and the language I use when I speak to my mom because we don’t share a common mother tongue or culture. At this point, my speech is probably unconscious, habitual, and yes, I’m seriously considering recording our next conversation.

The good news is it feels like my mom and I are back to our old selves. I’m grateful. Despite our differences, we are close in a way that transcends verbal or written communication. My relationship with my mom is something I definitely talk about in my upcoming memoir…

looking up from under the water…

Interestingly, a lot has happened since I posted all the reasons why I haven’t published my memoir yet. First of all, I haven’t done anything which might confuse some people, but basically what I mean is I’m continuing to grow distance and perspective between what I’ve written and where I’m at now.

Secondly, I signed up for a free “conference” called the Memoir Summit hosted by The Village Writing School in which writers like Marion Roach Smith and Ruth Wariner shared their advice and stories about writing memoir. I won’t go into all of it here but watching the videos really helped me think about my book in a new way.

For example, Marion has this algorithm she uses for memoir writers: It’s about X, as illustrated by Y to be told in a Z. So that got me thinking…My story is about BELONGING as illustrated by my Asian + American upbringing and experiences abroad as told in a memoir.

I knew my memoir had to have a universal theme, but this simple sentence helped me hone in what exactly my book is about. Sure, there are subthemes of mother-daughter relationships and the Asian American experience, but I feel like I have greater clarity moving forward. And this isn’t to say, I might fine-tune or shift my theme.

Something I’m also considering as a broad hook is HOME, what does it mean, where is it, and so on. Funnily I ended my book on this theme, called Finding Home, and the only other person to read this late addition said she really enjoyed it (which surprised me), so I think I was starting to put my finger on the pulse, so to speak.

I’m so excited.

Over the years, I’ve signed up for the University of Iowa’s free online International Writer’s Program with courses in memoir and fiction writing, identity, etc. This year it’s about Stories of Place, and I think that’s a lovely coincidence considering how thrilled I am over tackling my book’s theme.

I could go on and on about this year of do-overs, but I know no one reads blog posts. And if you do, then I appreciate your time. Actually, I can’t go into anymore because I have to protect the not-so-innocent. But never mind!

Here’s to being here, learning from do-overs, and to a future of moving forward.

Can you swim?

Will you be writing a yearly reflection?

25 thoughts on “A year of do-overs

      1. Hawaii has it’s own informal language called pidgin or what sounds like “broken English” to outsiders. And for some reason, we say “yeah” a lot.

        As far as my mother, she can drive a car, but she’s not online in the sense of how we think of it; she has just recently learned how to turn on a computer and watch her Thai TV shows.

        Like

      2. When I read your article, I was just thinking that my mom when she was alive was also like your mom. We called her “not high tech” but she told us she didn’t need it. That she lived for how many decades without it. We had no answer to that reasoning.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Very true. We’ve lived without it, but when I was talking to my sister-in-law, we also talked about how much easier it would be to communicate to my mom via social media w/ updates of her grand-kids, travel information, and so on.

        Ah, well! 😛

        Like

  1. I read all your blog posts by the way! It’s the only one I follow. I like the honesty and reflection in your writing. I’m pleased you have found some sort of peace with your mum, and good luck with the next adventure in life wherever it takes you emotionally as well as physically.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Lucy, for both the well-wishes and regarding my mom. And thank you for reading! I’m touched, and when I read your comment I was having “one of those days” so it really was a bright spot. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. And once again, our lives intertwine and parallel in freakishly similar ways. I won’t spill my beans yet.

    I’m glad you’re excited. I’m glad your relationship with your mother is getting better. I’m glad I feel more positive energy radiating from your posts.

    Blogging may be a saturated market, but I’m glad we built this relationship before it got so big I couldn’t find you.

    I’m just…really really glad about a lot of things in your life.

    Love from the US of A.

    xxoo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, thanks Audra. I consider my blog to be one of the places where I can go to unburden myself and share little victories.

      I also value the friendships I’ve built here over the years. Sometimes I feel like my blogging friends know more about me and who I am more than folks I see day to day.

      I suppose it’s because we aren’t so “confessional” in our everyday lives. In any case, thanks so much! It’s a good time to be here.

      Love from this side of the world!!! xxoo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds so exciting, the memoir you’re working on! I love how you tackle the difficult topic of home and how it can be hard to communicate with loved ones about what you want to do with your own life. Thanks for opening up and sharing you recent thoughts, struggles, and activities 🙂 Seems like you’re on the right track.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, that’s nice of you to say. I guess I’ve had a lot of practice re: communicating with family. 😛 Ah, well. Keeps life interesting, and forces me to grow and look at myself more objectively, as well as have a greater understanding of people who are different than me. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You seem to be on the move enough. Glad to hear things are better with your mother.

    Hope creative writing excitement will propel you on your memoir.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jean. I feel like the last pieces of the puzzle are sliding into place, and I’ve got so much work to do! But it’s all good. Hugs from Thailand.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahhaa. That’s not what I meant! I meant no reads blogs in general. I keep hearing about how it’s dead.

      You are obviously someone who I feel close to because we follow each other’s lives regularly. 😛

      Thanks Marta! xxoo

      Like

      1. Ah yes, haha. Everybody is supposed to have moved on to social media and stuff. Well, we are the resistance. If we stay long enough, writing blogs will be popular again xD

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoy reading your blog posts. I’m glad to hear that you and your Mum are getting back to the old selves. Sometimes I think about how it’d be nice to spend some days of the week without any Social Media! All the best with the move xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Lani,
    I was just wondering about you and your blog
    and therefore pop in to your blog after quite a long absence.
    Perhaps, we could finally get to meet since you would be
    moving somewhere closer to Central Thailand soon?
    I am planning to go to Bangkok again next year sometime in mid April.
    So, perhaps, we could arrange a meet up if you are not that far away!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I read the blog posts!!! I love your writing!

    I totally get you when it comes to communicating with a mother who doesn’t speak the same tongue. I sometimes feel like I’m talking to a wall. A lot of pain and frustration is felt when I communicate with my mom–but you’re right, there is something there that transcends words. We understand each other on a deeper level.

    The concept of home is a difficult one indeed. I’m envious of people who grew up in one place and can confidently identify a place as ‘home.’ Excited to hear how you tackle it in your memoir as someone who is multiracial and living abroad!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you understand. It really helps to hear your words. The funny thing is we don’t even know what we are experiencing is ‘not normal’ until we step out of our world and have different relationships.

      Yeah, I’m curious to see how I plan on pulling this off too! 😛 I’ve been reading a lot and trying to write with more details and description. Not what I like to do! But I don’t mind the challenge.

      Thanks Maryyyyyy! xo

      Like

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