Writing update, reflection on marriage

First off, here are my November publications in case you missed them:

    Forget Sisters, It’s My Brother Who Keeps Me Sane, The Frisky, November 26, 2010
    Luck of the Chinese, View From the Pier, November 21, 2010

I found these fish drawings on Post Street not far from my apartment.  I thought they might be inspiration for the cover of my memoir.

See the whole set.

An interesting tidbit I just discovered is that black goldfish are not considered unlucky in terms of feng shui.  A lone black goldfish is often included amid some goldfish in order to absorb negative energy and to act as a protector against bad luck.

So I started to think maybe it’s just Koreans who think that black fish and other animals are bad luck, and not that the internet is the end all, be all of all information, but I couldn’t find a thing.  You’d think that if it were true, it’d at least be mentioned somewhere.

So did my ex-MIL make the whole thing up?  Did she think, Well, a black cat is bad luck so a black fish must be too?  Or was it just a lame excuse to blame all bad stuff on me?

As I rewrite/revise my memoir (yet again), I’ve realized that marriage with my ex was so hard because his expectations changed after we married. Before we got hitched, it was okay that I didn’t cook much, that I didn’t like to drive, that I was “only” a secretary who wanted to be a writer, that I might never make much money. We said “I do” and suddenly I was expected to change: to cook, to drive, to make more money, to give up my writing if need be.

The cooking was the most minor of points, but his attitude about it was annoying. As though I was somehow supposed to know, without him telling me, that this was what I should have been doing. It’s not like with MB, who just happens to like certain things I make, who will ask me nicely to make him a bowl of tricked out instant noodles or oatmeal. That makes me want to cook for him. And he doesn’t take my not cooking as some kind of secret insult.

I realize that too: my ex saw significance in everything, from superstitious bad/good luck symbols, to everything I said and did.  He never took my words and actions at face value, but would think I had some ulterior motive against him.


  1. I loved your article on The Frisky. I have a similar relationship with my sister and it’s so difficult to describe that to someone who doesn’t have the same kind of bond with their sibling.
    There are things I can tell her that I couldn’t tell anyone. If I were ever in a situation like yours, I know she’d come through for me just like Greg was there for you. I’m so grateful for the fact that she’s there- she’s is so ridiculously important to me and because she’s younger, it makes appreciate her so much more (not sure if you have that older sister trait too?)… mostly because she didn’t turn out like an asshole. It makes me really happy she’s as smart as she is and it constantly amazes me because it feels like yesterday when she was born.
    The fish drawings are beautiful. I love finding street art on sidewalks. Especially when they’re from an interesting perspective- like these ones. That’s why I love Julian Beever’s art so much. And some of the stuff Banksy does. And yes, I think they would make an awesome cover. I’m partial to the first and the fourth one.
    As for the black goldfish superstition- some of them just continue on through families. My grandmother has told me so many stories and legends that I can’t find anywhere on the internet. A lot of them were just cautionary tales. I guess someone somewhere in their family tree took a disliking to a black fish and decided to find a permanent way to get rid of it.
    My cousin’s wife faced the same problem as you when she got married. My parents aren’t very traditional but his parents are. He was the first one to marry outside of his race and it was doomed from the beginning. I always blamed him for it. He spend the years of courtship taking her to parties and on exotic vacations. Even when they were engaged, all they did was plan the wedding and shop. How the hell was she supposed to know that she needed to learn more about our culture especially since he knows nothing about it either… or about general housekeeping that she never learned how to do since he didn’t let her move in with him before the marriage? I find it completely insane. You can’t completely change the terms of the relationship after you’re married- or at least give the person a little bit of warning, you dolt. I mean, how do these people expect that it’s going to work out? Are their wives magically going to conform into traditional submissive Stepford-types? Are they really that naive?
    Wow, this is a long comment. I guess I just have a lot to say ;) Anyhow, hope the memoirs are coming along well.

    • G/W – i really like your comment! that’s wonderful you’re so close with your younger sister. i am indeed proud of my younger brother and am crazily protective of him. although he annoys me sometimes, if anyone else says anything, they’re dead meat!

      looks like i’m not the only to go through the sudden and crazy changes expectations post-marriage. and it’s really pretty ridiculous, nowadays. it’s not like it was back in the day when a family basically bought their son a wife, and so that wife had to earn her keep. contemporary marriage is almost arbitrary. to put the same old world expectations on modern marriage, especially with no warning, makes no sense. with my ex’s family, it wasn’t like i had to earn my keep to have a roof over my head and food on my table. i paid for those things myself. instead i earned my keep to get people’s approval, which really fucks with your head when that approval is arbitrary and has nothing to do with your actions.

  2. No, you’re not alone, I know tons of girls stuck in the same position. And I agree, it’s definitely a culture clash. You date the guy with the progressive values and marry the traditional man because it turns out that they are the same person.
    I guess you may have been lucky in the sense that you were independent as far as your living goes- although it probably intensified the resentment your in-laws held towards you. The problem with needing approval is that you’re never free of it unless you realize that a. you’re never going to get it and b. you don’t need it. It’s so tough to realize that when you’re a new wife and all you want is acceptance into the family. Unfortunately, you ended up with the asshole in-laws who saw more use in exploiting your feelings than loving you. I think it happens more often than people care to admit. There are always people out there who have more to gain by keeping you at a distance and hungry for their approval.
    I’m glad you got out while you did. It’s such a poisonous environment to live in especially when you don’t have your SO’s support.