Once upon a time, there was a king and a queen who desperately wanted a child. It seemed like an eternity, but then one perfect day, the queen became pregnant. During the height of her term, she craved a particular kind of vegetable that happened to be growing in their neighbor’s yard. (Do kings…Read More
Walking: an essay
Reflecting on the windows I’ve known and loved
“Desirable views have a hint of mystery. We like to understand and enjoy what is happening around us, and to imagine that if we traveled from where we are into the unknown we would meet with pleasant surprises…” – Psychology Today When we first arrived back to Thailand, the skies were muddy and grey. They…Read More
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help (and why concepts like greng jai need to die)
There’s a Thai word “greng jai” that has always annoyed me. It’s basically used to describe a person who doesn’t want to be an inconvenience to anyone. They don’t want to be a bother, and it’s supposed to be a positive trait. We have this same idea, too, in American culture, but I feel it…Read More
What does it mean to be Asian American?
Sometimes I feel like an anomaly. I’m a 45 year old American Thai-Chinese woman who was born in Hawaii, who has lived on three continents, and who was raised by a Thai immigrant mother and a working class white male. I can’t squeeze into an “ism”. My dress size is small in America, but…Read More
What happened to creativity in music and the arts?
Remember when music was a movement? When creativity was king? Why is popular music these days so bad?Read More
Why is it so hard for women to accept themselves?
“I exercise so hard every day, but I still look like this.” I looked at her critically and said, “You’re not fat, your fine.”Read More
✍🏼 The Paradox of Memoir Writing
The seemingly contradictory thing about memoir is when you write about yourself, you’re writing about experiences that other people can relate to as well.Read More
Seeking solitude and sanity in everyday life
Do you like to be alone? How do you find the time? What to you usually do?Read More
📚 How the right books found me at the right times
A reader’s brief history on the books that have impacted my life…Read More
Reflecting on 2 years in Cambodia
The things that initially shocked me the most about Siem Reap was the poverty, specifically, fewer infrastructures (i.e. the lack of paved roads, how dirty it was), and how much better Cambodians spoke English.Read More
I did it! #365grateful challenge completed.
Practicing gratitude, not unlike meditation, has gotten a lot of attention these days for having many benefits. I imagine if I was a writer for Cosmo magazine, I’d probably have to claim something like this:Read More
#365grateful halfway point, check-in and pit stop
For the last few months, I’ve been miserable. At the beginning of this school term, I was handed a shit schedule that involved losing much of my free time, sleep and sanity. And I really, really resented it. At first, I tried to get the barest minimal change made to my schedule because I was…Read More
✍🏼 Confessions of a brave and insecure memoir writer
I’ve been in a “working on the book” mode. I haven’t been in the mood for doing much of anything else, besides maintaining my life so I’m not living in complete disorder and eating from old pizza boxes.Read More
How much space do I really need? (moving sucks)
Our biggest worry when we moved into this apartment was space. Will we have enough? Where was everything going to go?Read More
✍🏼 Confession: I have bad writing habits.
What? But you seem so disciplined, Lani. You’re always writing these lovely posts on how writing has elevated your life – and we all know that you are working on another book. Exactly. My goal of getting it done, came and went like all those other empty goals. I went through a phase of reading…Read More
Reflecting back on my first crazy year in Siem Reap
On July 15, 2015 we moved from Chiang Rai, Thailand to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Yippee! Right? Wrong! First of all, there was no honeymoon phase for me. As you might remember, it was looking for a place to live straight away and starting work.Read More
What’s up with Asians obsession with white skin?
As many expats in Asia and perhaps even some travelers know, being white-skinned is considered beautiful, desirable and essential. This is quite laughable to the Westerner who wants to be tanned. Creams, sprays and salons are dedicated to making us look like we’ve just been to Mexico or the Bahamas. When I lived in Hawaii,…Read More
Do you speak broken English?
Despite the fact that I’m an expat in Asia and I hear broken English all around me, and struggle to communicate just as much as the next foreigner navigating these poorly maintained roads, I don’t speak broken English. And this isn’t because I’m an English teacher and I have my nose in the air, it’s…Read More
A lifetime of eating impatiently (how we eat)
How do you eat? Fast or slow? Mouth open or closed? Or do you store food in your cheeks like me?Read More
The Expat Celebrity Syndrome
What happened to the summer job and why I now love my work history
I used to be ashamed of my resume. I used to think it was BAD that I changed jobs frequently. I thought employers would read it and think, “Um, sounds like she doesn’t know what she wants to do.” And they would have been right. Then there was that time I got fired. So, yeah,…Read More
What kind of reader are you?
There are writers who write within a genre and those who write outside of them, too. But what about the readers? How do you read? What do you read? Why do you read?Read More
Was it really stealing? Stealing is wrong.
First of all, let me say that I’ve never stolen anything before. Well, that was what I truly thought until I started to write and then I began to remember my dishonest and theiving past. I was astonished, really. It’s funny what we forget and what we remember once we start writing. Forgive me and…Read More
How has your name impacted you?
I remember in the sixth grade when this new kid came to class. He was one of the few black kids at our school, and on his first day he answered Mrs. K’s questions as best as he could. “Your name is Filet Mingon?” “Yes.” She said it louder and slower, “Your name is Filet…Read More
Am I a feminist?
(And are there free cookies and punch involved?) Feminism is such a LOADED word jammed-packed with wholesome cynicism, abuse, and misunderstanding. But the good girls at The Lady Errant and She is Fierce have started a link-up on feminism, so before I knew it, I was contemplating, “Am I a feminist? What does that word…Read More
Transitions: Life’s waiting room
I don’t have writer’s block; I just don’t like anything I’m writing now. Part of the problem is I’m in the middle of moving from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. I’m spending much of my time dealing with logistics, and saying goodbye to friends. I’m packing and planning and waiting for Season 4 of Game…Read More
The Chinese in Chiang Mai
My coworkers were getting fired up about the Mainland Chinese again. “One of them got caught defecating in the moat.” “They also got in trouble for shitting in the hallways at a kanatoke (Thai dancing show).” “I almost ran one over! They just stand there waiting to get hit!” “I was in an airplane with…Read More
Seeking balance in a social media world.
I’ve been wanting to delete my fb account, but I realized it has become a second email box, and a good way to stay in contact with friends and family while overseas. Then I read Why I Stopped Using Facebook and it made me think about how I can scale back my time and usage…Read More
Swearing was not allowed in the house. But then again, swearing was on the cable TV and in the rooms and behind the words of everyone in the house. I remember the first time I swore in front of my mother. I must have been about 15 years old. We were in the garage, getting…Read More
Why I don’t compete with other writers (or teachers, bloggers or women)
As an American, not competing seems almost blasphemous, but I feel the world is competitive enough. And fighting against each other under this idea of finite resources is overrated, freezing, and frankly part of the reason why we lack compassion. Blogger Lisa Kramer wrote this thought-provoking article and she asks, Do you ever read things…Read More
✈️ Stupid travels, too.
Don’t assume travelers are smarter, more worldly or better than those who stay at home. Stupid people travel too. I know this is a bit unfair to say because I live in Thailand. I hear foreigners talk to Thais in broken English and I want to “go hit you” in the face for perpetuating bad…Read More
Why audio blog posts?
I feel I must explain. Do I need to explain? I’m going to explain. It might seem redundant to record my self reading my blog post, but I assure you it is not. Reading out loud has many benefits. None of which I will mention here. Okay, you’re right, I should mention them here. I…Read More
✍🏼 What is tone in writing?
What is tone? I’ve never really thought about it before – in speaking, yes, in writing, no. In speaking, we listen for tones to understand a language, for tone of voice or inflections; we listen in for intent or the emotion beneath the words. But when it comes to writing, I never think, at least…Read More
Make me a better __________.
https://soundcloud.com/lifetheuniverseandlani/make-me-a-better I usually enjoy any opportunity to help me be a better _____. How to be more bedable Cosmo offers. Why not flip to page 56? (Just joking, I didn’t look at that article, but countless others.) Yeah, I’m not sure why or when I got on the self-improvement bandwagon, but I’ve been a flag…Read More
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