The first week of shelter-in-place, an old friend of mine who lives in Beijing reached out to me and asked if I was interested in a part-time gig teaching English. A friend of hers was looking for an online English instructor for her 7-year-old son, who was out of school for the rest of the year.
At the time, I had no idea how my life in quarantine would be shaped. I was supposed to be working on a grant and a paper as part of my day job as a scientist, but I’d already wasted a few days lying on my porch staring at the clouds. I remembered a theme from one of my favorite books, Gao Xingjian’s Soul Mountain : even when living under a cruel, authoritarian regime, the oppression of loneliness often outweighs the oppression of society. In quarantine, all the excitement I previously had for the PhD I was going to start in August had faded, simply–I don’t know–because I was alone?
Continue reading “My First Tutoring Gig… in the Age of Zoom”
Here’s a new op-ed I wrote for NYT Chinese. The title roughly translates to, “To Fight the Diseases of the Spirit, Asian Americans Must Reject ‘Whitening’.”
In short, I discuss the pandemic of the spirit (i.e. racism), which arrived in the US long before the coronavirus pandemic did, and which will be a lot harder to cure. Further, I talk about Asian American complicity with the “model minority” stereotype, how anti-Asian racism during the coronavirus pandemic is forcing the Asian American community to reconsider their head-down-work-hard attitude, and why going forward we need to instead show solidarity with other US minorities instead of trying to “whiten.”
Continue reading “New Op-Ed: To Fight the Diseases of the Spirit, Asian Americans Must Reject “Whitening””
Bullet journaling is something I’ve wanted to get into for a while now. The concept is simple: You have a notebook full of dotted pages. This means you are not confined by the left-right, top-down format of a regular lined notebook.
Continue reading “An Intro to Bullet Journaling”
In Mountain View, a group of Chinese parents learn to use the democratic process to prevent the opening of marijuana stores. For a population oft criticized for their political inaction, what is the price of speaking out, and who will listen?
Here’s another one I wrote! Reflecting on my relationship with my parents’ language, especially through those teen years of motivated rebellion/rejection and then college, when I re-evaluated who I wanted to be based on the cultures that made me–an arc that I think many children of immigrants will identify with.
Part 1: http://cn.nytstyle.com/education-career/20161018/chinese-class-usa1
Part 2: http://cn.nytstyle.com/education-career/20161019/chinese-class-usa2/
My story “Red Mask,” which is my favorite that I’ve written up to date, about a serial killer who steals women’s faces in a retro-futuristic Shanghai, is the March cover story at Shimmer Magazine! You can read it here: http://www.shimmerzine.com/red-mask-by-jessica-may-lin/
At the age of 65, my grandma left her job as a surgeon in the #1
hospital in China to come to the U.S. with barely any knowledge of
English to raise me me while my parents finished grad school.
Re-starting from scratch as a gas station cashier/ dim sum restaurant
cart pusher, she built a new career using a synthesis of Western
medical theory and traditional Chinese medicine to help couples who
couldn’t conceive. Twenty years and ~300 successful births later (and
a number of humorous cross-cultural misadventures and one
near-arrest), grandma has finally “retired.” This is her story, as seen through my child eyes and my now eyes.
Forgot to announce this! Back in August, I sold my favorite short story I’ve ever written, “Red Mask,” (set in a futuristic Shanghai reminiscent of the 1930s, about a serial killer who steals young women’s faces) to one of my favorite speculative fiction magazines, Shimmer. My second fiction sale of 2015 that has the word “red” in the title. Likely forthcoming in the January 2016 issue.
This was the last journey I took in China–one that I thought about for a long time but lacked the courage to go on until my last month. Xinjiang is a beautiful place, a silk road hub that’s historically been the crossroads of multiple religions and ethnicities, and it’s a very controversial place in China right now. There is a lot of stigma against Uyghurs and the region. I had been told since pretty much my first week in China to stay away because it was “dangerous.” But how much of that is muddled information, how much truth, and what’s life like for the 40% Han Chinese population in the region?
Read the story here: