If you find yourself awakened by a foul-tempered neighbor in the hallway of an apartment building known for its vermin, be as pleasant as possible. Especially if it is Thanksgiving and you have a diamond ring in your jean pocket.
We had arrived in America with nothing but rags in our backpacks and a few ounces of gold that my mother had tucked into her money belt. An impoverished aunt took us all in. Soon there were 10 people crowding together in Auntie Lisa's tiny two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco.