A vignette from my time in Chinatown’s once thriving garment industry

Photo: Pixabay.com

The button escaped from my hands and rolled onto the coffee table. Like Wile E. Coyote scuttling off a cliff, the button plunged onto the floor and spun underneath the couch. I crouched on my hands and knees to reach for it. As if peering through the portal into John Malkovich’s mind, I found a family of odd buttons — flat buttons, stud buttons, lapel buttons — that embraced the runway. I curiously watched as the pieces of vagrant thread rose and shimmied through the holes of the button. As if growing arms and legs, the button performed assemblés and…

The make-up of my social identity

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

It was the most underreported controversy that rocked the world of grammar in generations — The Associated Press announced in a 2019-conference for ACES: The Society for Editing, that hyphens will be dropped from identities of dual heritage. As the other punctuation symbols in the audience gave a collective sigh of relief for surviving yet another annual edition, the hyphens that existed between “Asian” and “American” in the term Asian American were immediately airlifted out of the room.

Stunned, but unsurprised, the spectators recognized that these respected hyphens, derived from Ancient Greek, meaning “in…

Of ants, roaches, and mice

Image by Angela Yuriko Smith from Pixabay

Metaphors are dangerous. Metaphors are not to be trifled with — Milan Kundera (Author, Unbearable Lightness of Being)

Renowned authors have warned us about the power of metaphors.

In the Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera, the Czech writer in-exile, wrote that Metaphors are dangerous. Metaphors are not to be trifled with. Kundera weaves together a love story where Tomas, the protagonist, constructs a protector/savior metaphor for his love for Tereza. …

Remembering a 1980s Icon

Photo: https://www.vice.com/en/article/wn7mgq/wtf-happened-to-government-cheese

My face was flushed with light when I opened the door to a vibrant orange block of cheese that irradiated the dim interior of our refrigerator. Like a jewel of celestial lights, this block of cheese retained its luminous glow once placed on the kitchen counter. As if wrestling a flapping fish, my mom hovered over me to constrain the cheese on the cutting board. She used her cleaver to lop off several slices to place on the bed of rice in my bowl. I scaled a stool to watch her put it into the microwave. …

Inside the Trump campaign

Photo via Business Insider; overlaid text by author

I will put this softly: Trump is a loser.

Losing in itself is usually not some dishonorable event. Instead, losing provides powerful lessons in resilience, humility, and growth, that all converge to make us better people. This is what we teach our children and expect adults to model.

Shamefully, Trump is a 74 year old sore loser. More specifically, this giant baby king is incapable of being charitable and gracious. Instead, he has deployed blame for his presidential lost, on everyone else, including on American voters, but himself. …

Photo: The author’s cat/ Photo by Trang More

I reached that proverbial age when a mammalian female is known to desire spawning a mini one to coddle and nurture. As if some interstellar force overtook my body, my feet propelled to the door and I was teleported to a concrete room buoyed by cotton paws and glimmering pink noses. A trio of kittens rolled over my feet and across the room like tumbleweed. A kitten with a nipped ear beamed onto my lap. Ready for tummy time, he settled into my puff jacket and rested his head on my chest. His emerald eyes twinkled as he gazed at…

When reality morphs into an Orwellian classic

Photo: Pixabay.com (Apologies to this pig for using its photo in vein for this article)

I turned on the television and witnessed true American carnage.

President Trump was giving his presidential nomination acceptance speech and having a performative political campaign rally on the South Lawn of the White House. Although I did not know about the potential violation of the Hatch Act at the time, it certainly felt like a misuse of government property for the President’s political gain. His audience in front of the White House started cheering “four more years, four more years!” There was something about his speech — how it propped up an enemy…

Do the same and your child will thank you later.

Photo: Letizia Ferrante/Unsplash

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Is that not one of the most dreadfully banal questions you have ever confronted as a child? It was for me.

I remember family members asking me this question — I looked around our tenement apartment for inspiration, grasping for anything familiar that would lead to some job outside New York City’s Chinatown. My eyes darted to a pile of clothes from the factory that needed to be sewn, and then over to Chinese take-out boxes stacked up high like the pagodas pictured on the boxes. And then my eyes…

Lessons from a sixth grader


I entered some sort of social consciousness in the sixth grade.

Having moved to a working class Puerto Rican neighborhood in Brooklyn, I started to take the train on my own to continue attending elementary school with my friends in Manhattan’s Chinatown in the Lower East Side. Every day, I descended into the train abyss, where after my first train, I took a staircase that ejected me into a dingy urine-scented tunnel. My backpack jostled behind me as I quickened my pace past the homeless people who took nightly shelter in the tunnel. The smell of urine infused my nose…

Find your herd

Photo: Shutterstock

The car zigzagged through the harrowing mountain peaks, swerving past llamas that dotted the road. When the car finally stopped, I flung open the door to gasp for fresh air and toddled out with my luggage onto the pavement. A group of colorfully dressed local women looked quizzically at me as if I just beamed in from a space machine.

I was in Urubamba, the valley of the Incas in Cusco, Peru, my home for the next ten weeks to conduct a community development service project. I had insisted to take a shuttle from Cusco, about one…

Lisa Lau

Insomniac, knowledge thrill-seeker, leisure and cathartic writer

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