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Publication in a national newspaper won me a note that I should really be writing about things that people actually cared about. There’d be a grace period of 12 hours or so, and then it would start: Why are you wasting time just dating, lah?

Ai-yah, everyone else’s kids are making piles of money as attorneys/doctors/engineers while you waste your life.

I didn’t know California any more than I did Nebraska.

(When we invite them out, their first question is always some variation on this: “Star Wok? ”) They live in a little bubble of Asia, on this side of the Pacific.

But then, there came the great road trip of 2008: My father and I drove cross-country, part of a 70th-birthday celebration that would culminate in a big party in Claremont.

Over two and a half days in the car, we drove and talked sometimes, alternately experiencing stress and the occasional laughs; a snowstorm outside that matched the stormy mood in the car; a weird mutual desire to please.

I told them as little as possible, since they didn’t seem to be very interested in my success as a writer.

My first publication in a supermarket glossy netted a curt nod and a brief rejoinder that I could do better than a publication so lowly it could be found at a supermarket.

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