Tag Archives: love


In case anyone was wondering, the secret topic of this blog is This Cat!

I got this cat from an animal shelter in Chicago. I’d wanted a dog but Mom convinced me this was a bad idea until I bought my farm. Plus I was never home anyway. But there comes a time in every person’s life when one needs animal company.

Although I had been seeking a really old cat that no one else would adopt, and I think someone else would’ve adopted this cat because she’s so pretty and friendly, I chose this cat because the instant she was in my lap she pushed her face firmly into my face and then into my hand, infecting me with her weird mind control virus that now dictates all my thoughts. Like all the other cats 1 to 9 years old, this cat was labeled “1 year old kitten.”

After adopting her, I didn’t give her a name for a long time. I don’t know, I just didn’t speak to her verbally- I’m not going to talk to a dumb cat. Her food was stinky, expensive, raw, gluten free goop and I lavished her with many toys and useless, ugly cat items she ignored, like scratching posts/boards and catnip. Her favorite toys are things covered in fur. She particularly liked to lick and worry my furry, winter hat made of 1000 bunny rabbits. Because she grew bored of toys after possessing them for a while (who doesn’t?), I’d often go buy her different copies of her toys to briefly renew her interest.

This cat desperately craves human company. When I would come home, she’d be at the door waiting for me, and then follow me around the house. If I barred her from a room I was in, she’d freak out and meow, pawing at the door and pushing it with her head, getting creative about forcing her way in. Once she ripped a chunk of fur out of her head by scraping her tiny skull so hard against the door to get it ajar. A visitor remarked, “That is so annoying. No wonder she got put up for adoption.” I don’t like cat fur on the bed so I wouldn’t allow her into the bedroom, which taught her to possessively scramble into the bedroom in front of me if she sensed I was headed that way. Once she was trying to sneak into the bedroom when I was exiting to let someone into the house and I put my foot out to stop her, pinning her against the wall and knocking the air out of her. I frantically asked my visitor, “I squished my cat! Do you think she’s ok??” I’ve often worried she was in pain when she appeared to have forgotten getting the keys dropped on her eye area because her face is just impassive. Who knows what she’s feeling?

When I’d check the mail in the hallway before entering the house, I’d hear her faint, repetitive meows coming from inside. Had she been doing that constantly in my absence or does she only start up when she hears someone outside? Does she do it whenever anyone is outside or only when I’m outside? How could she possibly know it was me and not someone else? I’d hoped she’d only start when she knew it was about time for me to return home, but unless she knows how to count the days of the week, when I’d come home at earlier hours on the weekends she’d still be meowing, waiting. The thought of this poor cat mournfully meowing all day, filled with endless hope that the next step would be the step of her master entering the house at last, broke my heart. Nevertheless I left her alone for days at a time because I often visited my parents on weekends.

Finally I had to go to London for a week. I told my mom I was worried because I’d never left this cat for more than a few days, and Mom promptly said she’d come to watch this cat. “Wow, that’s a VIP cat!” my coworker said. While I was away, without asking my permission, my mom named this cat Mimi. Mimi loves to cuddle and sleep in your lap. If she hears strange sounds she jumps up and growls. What can she hope to gain by growling when she’s so small and easily mastered in a physical contest? What a cute cat! She likes to play tag and hide and seek. During tag, she leaps up into the air and gently tags you with her front paws. If she senses she won’t win the game, she lies down and rolls her tummy upwards to peer at you, “What? Were we playing something? I recall winning.”

Is it Tiger Mom of me to constantly suspect this cat of fatness? There are certain positions from which Mimi looks flabby, and when she rolls into those poses I invariably exclaim, “What a fat cat!” But most of the time when she isn’t displaying her fluffy stomach she looks very trim and healthy, a perfectly formed, sparkling, white cat. I used to have ambitions for her to learn to use the toilet like those cats on Youtube, but she did not find the videos instructional. I accepted her for what she is, a stupid cat that uses the disgusting litter box.

When I showed a picture of her to mitri and went on about how she was the greatest, most wonderful cat, the first thing he said was, “She looks like Uncle Fester.” She eventually bit and scratched mitri, as she has apparently everyone except me and my mom. “She’s even purring!” he protested. As I got him Neosporin, I said, “I don’t think purring means what you think it means. She’s probably purring to calm herself of her blood lust.” I tend to think that when she bites someone they secretly deserve it. Even if their offense is totally unclear because they just met her, they must somehow have wronged an animal somewhere in their hearts or in a past life and are getting their just desserts. What a great cat!

The next time I went to London, I asked my coworkers who wanted to watch her. Some demurred to help (“Didn’t your cat fall into the toilet?”), but Mingyuan volunteered. When Mingyuan met Mimi, the first thing that happened was that Mimi fiercely bit Mingyuan’s cautious hand. No blood, but she definitely had him.

When I got back from London, Mingyuan reported that they had gotten along famously! When I came to fetch her, this disloyal cat did not appear to know me, so I yanked her out of her pathetic hiding place and briskly stuffed her into her carrier without regard for her piteous cries (this episode turned out to be a recurring theme).

Mingyuan liked her so well he got his own cat as a result. Little did he know that Mimi is not the average cat since the cat he adopted turned out to be the exact opposite, hiding all the time. Whenever we’d discuss Mingyuan’s cat, Dilip would say wistfully, “I wish This Cat would hide more.”

The months before my mom died, I left this cat with Andrew. He said that she meowed when not allowed in his room, filling him with such guilt that when he lay in his bed he imagined he could still hear her cries, which was impossible because he’d heartlessly locked her in another room far away. When I came to collect this cat from Andrew, she coldly snubbed me, once again inspiring a businesslike stuffing into her carrier. Mimi hates her carrier and ceaselessly meows when in it. Sometimes her meow is very loud and frightening as she thrashes and twists against the carrier’s mesh, forcing me to channel Pharaoh’s stone heart.

Earlier this year, I started traveling a lot. When I realized I’d only be in my NYC apartment less than 5 months out of this year, I wanted someone to watch Mimi. Although several deserving people asked to live in my apartment and watch Mimi, I chose Jason because he always feeds me, plus he’s so freaking responsible and actually appeared eager to read the long document I write for everyone who has ever watched this cat. This document details things like how to best pet her to avoid getting bitten, which freaked Jason out and caused him to unfairly prejudice many Asian women from petting this poor, lonesome cat.

Once I accidentally cut Mimi’s claw too close to the quick and she let out one low yowl as her paw welled with a single, dark drop of blood. I felt really, really bad but didn’t know how to make it up to her so I just let her have long nails for another week. Due to laziness, I let this cat scratch all my furniture- Dilip calls it “sharpening her nails.” Because Jason did not want to attempt cutting this cat’s nails, Tony, who knew this cat’s ways from a previous visit, came all the way down from 100th street or wherever to do this task. Apparently the experience was so traumatizing with the banshee-like sounds this cat screamed, that everyone in the room subtly feared this cat forever, except Tony who dominates any animal and probably any machine.

When Mingyuan’s wife said she preferred Mimi to her own cat, we decided to try moving Mimi to Chicago to stay with them. Mimi wouldn’t like sharing her humans with a second cat, but Mingyuan’s cat is timid and would probably just let Mimi do whatever she wanted. Upon releasing her into Mingyuan’s place, Mimi crept into every nook in a cautious crouch, her tail down low compared to its customary perky lift. Mingyuan’s cat hid in the closet where she had ruined all of Mingyuan’s shirts by thoroughly coating them with fur.

A few weeks later, Mingyuan reported that everyone was quite happy. When I went to visit, Mimi ran and hid after looking at me blankly without recognition. She even hid under the bed with Mingyuan’s cat, which they said had never happened before because Mimi normally avoids the other cat. Such callous betrayal, such disregard for my pain, such intentional cruelty!

I just want this cat to be happy, despite her many betrayals and willingness to forget all about me. Is this what parents feel for their children- disdain, pride, possessiveness, and helpless hurt? Maybe from her view I’ve betrayed her many times by forcing her into her carrier and onto planes and into other people’s houses. This stupid cat. Doesn’t she know that if I thought there was a fire, the first thing I’d grab is this cat despite the many bars of gold I have lying around my house and all my diamond encrusted furniture? That’s so irrational because this cat is worth like $50 tops. How humiliating. Cat, what have you done to me!

Mom: Just the Happy Stuff

I”ll never forget when I was 8 years old she taught me how to fight.

“What’s wrong?” she said.
My mom left the room and came back a little later with some Ovaltine. “Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s all your fault.”
“No it isn’t! Kevin Jameson is just a show off and I only challenged him because I was scared he was going to throw Chen’s book out the bus window.”
“You challenged him to what?”
“I said I knew karate and that I was going to beat him up tomorrow at the bus stop.” At this point, I burst into tears. “I wish I were dead!”
“Don’t say that! This is what you do.”
I’m not going to tell you the rest of this story about how I hilariously defeated a 5th grader because, in retrospect, instead of a triumphant story about a tiny Asian girl standing up to a bully, it sounds a little like me bullying and psychologically destroying a terrified kid. But the point is my mom always had my back.

Losing my mom to lung cancer last fall (she never even smoked!) was like losing a lung myself- I’d never really thought about what it’d be like to lose her but now she’s gone sometimes it can get hard to breathe. After years of doctors and hospitals, sometimes you don’t remember there was anything else, even though there were actually 23 years of being a normal rambunctious mother-daughter duo. So for Mother’s Day, just the happy stuff:

Because I can be really lazy and neglectful in a sleep-on-a-mattress-for-years-without-getting any-furniture kind of way, my mom always worried I wasn’t taking care of myself properly, so she got me different housekeepers and set up every room and apartment I’ve lived in (except she’s never been to my NYC apartment, which is why it’s such a mess and I’m still living out of boxes despite having moved to NYC over a year ago). She talked about me at length to these housekeepers- about how I worked so hard I didn’t have time to do laundry, how much she hoped I’d find a good boyfriend (a nice, steady, mature boyfriend from someplace wholesome like Iowa, who wasn’t too brainy and introverted or our kids would have autism because I was already rather introverted, someone from a good family whose love for his mother was surpassed only by his love of Jesus).

She cooked me so much food, always leaving me with a fully stocked fridge and freezer. My favorite food was food she made me, but I never learned to make it. When she wasn’t cooking, she was traveling. She has been everywhere. New Zealand was one of her favorites while Dubai was one of her least favorites.

My mom’s mom died when my mom was really young, so my mom worried about being a good mother to me, wanting me to avoid her mistakes, therefore I should do everything she said. For example when I told her I was thinking about getting a dog, she manipulated my friends into telling me how great a cat would be, resulting in informative calls from mitri about his cat. Later, when I told my mom I was worried about leaving my cat alone when I went to London, she came to Chicago between rounds of chemo to watch my cat Mimi. This is a photo my mom sent me of Mimi sitting on her lap:

Mom, even when I was mortified by your irrationality and emotions, I was always secretly proud of you. Even when you were being completely crazy, you were caring and charming. Because of you, and because you were never afraid of anything, I don’t fear a single thing. Even though there were times when I really could not stand you and I usually forgot about Mother’s Day and stuff like that, I really miss you.