In the context of our larger family: my father's family is a collection of alpha males ... and females! My mother's family is a collection of ... well, gentle souls who choose to live tranquil lives, far from the madding crowd!
Though I have moved far from my own refugee past -- I've become an American writer and journalist -- I never underestimate the speed with which an immigrant boy can go off track, and how his vision of America as a land of milk and honey can quickly shift.
Yesterday, as I was having my first-ever body scrub at a Korean Spa -- a service that is described as "not for any woman who is shy about her body" -- it struck me how having kids has expunged every bit of modesty impressed upon me by my upbringing.
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.
Hurricane Sandy's aftermath reminds us that when it comes to climate change, we are all in it together. All communities need a voice in how relief and recovery funds will be distributed and the future planning of infrastructure improvements.
The man who stood at the entrance to my New World was my first English teacher, Ernie Kaeselau. He passed away recently, and though I hadn't seen him in decades, the news of his demise left me unexpectedly bereft.