Thursday, December 28, 2023

home alone letter writer

Today I read this advice column letter in the New York Times:
I am 68 and live alone in a nice home in the suburbs. My only child, 40, is happily settled with his fiancée in another city. I always hoped they would come back here to raise a family, and I offered to give them my home if they did. They like the idea and plan to build a new house on the site. Over Christmas, I told them I was excited about their plan and added: “You could build a mother-in-law apartment for me or even a guesthouse.” It’s a large lot. My son burst out laughing and said, “Mom, you wouldn’t live with us.” They assumed I would move into a condo. I was shattered!

The columnist replied:
I don’t think a reasonable person would expect the gift of a home to include your continued residency in it — unless you mentioned that fact.

American society is so different from Chinese expectations! I can only imagine how Chinese netizens would react to a son who wants to take over his mom's house but laughs at the idea of letting her stay in a detached unit on the lot. 

The US has sky-high demands on parents taking care of kids, but nothing in the other direction. If a parent said they wanted to take over their teen's inherited trust fund and then kick the teen out to live on their own, people would be aghast! Yet they don't blink if someone is doing it to their mom instead of their kid. 

American parents invest so much time and money into their children, with little hope of caretaking in their older years. It's interesting.

Monday, December 25, 2023


My mom and I have been strength training together for 6 months. I found a YouTube channel of a Japanese-American personal trainer with her 82yo mom. We are their perfect target demographic! 

Four times per week, we do an hour of these exercises. My mom is very graceful! She was a gymnast as a child, and it still shows in her fluid movements.

I see my mom getting stronger over the months, and her balance has improved. It is so satisfying to see. 

Saturday, December 23, 2023


I think it's safe to say I've broken free of my sugar addiction. It was difficult the first few days, and I felt urgent cravings that lasted for an hour or more. But now it's easy. I don't really think about sugary foods or this sugarfree experiment.

In the first week, I spent 10+ hours watching videos about the history of sugar. The British created colonies and enslaved Caribbean people on cruel sugarcane plantations. That has evolved today into the descendants working in indentured servitude on sugarcane farms, only earning enough money to eat one meal per day. They can only get medical care from the sugar company, which charges them hyperbolic fees. 

Up until recently, marketing led me to associate sugary desserts with celebration and self-pampering. You can't have a birthday party without a cake. Or a wedding without one. There's no funeral cake though. People celebrate team milestones with Krispy Kreme donuts or Sprinkles cupcakes, not with a veggie platter. The marketing for sugar is impressive.

I've eaten two sugary items in the past 1.5 months. The first was a slice of key lime pie with friends. Before eating it, I was worried that a single bite could send me on a sugar binge, like how a sip of alcohol will cause some ex-alcoholics on a bender until they hit rock bottom again. Luckily, that did not happen. 

The second sugary item was a crème brûlée at a restaurant. The first few bites were great. But after I finished eating it, my heart started beating so fast, and it was physically uncomfortable. I felt ill. Sugar is poison.

My plan is to keep eating like this henceforth. I haven't yet been confronted with difficult tests like a dessert buffet. Hopefully by the time those happen, my body will be even more recovered from my sugar addiction, and I will be able to stay on the wagon.