Redwood City, in the SF Bay Area, has long been my home. In friendship, food and the ESL teaching I do, I’ve benefited from the multi-pluralism here. I love entering new geographies—exploring with empathy another’s way of life and thought. Two decades ago my exploration expanded with a move to Tokyo, then Kobe, Japan.
There my husband worked for Nihon Hewlett Packard and I taught English as a Second Language (ESL) in between learning how to get food into husband and preschoolers. The catsup I thought I was serving on hamburgers turned out to be spaghetti sauce. It wasn’t bad on a bun, but salt put into cookie dough did not taste at all the same as sugar!
Still, what a marvelous opportunity. The kindness of many shook up my understanding of relationships. Though Korean and Japanese have had some bad years between them, as detailed in the recent and marvelous novel, Pachinko, it was rarely an issue for my husband of Korean origins. The friendship and hospitality extended to us amazed us!
We gradually immersed ourselves in Japanese ways of life during our six years there. When we returned to the California Bay area, we felt like strangers in our own country. So that's why Asia figures in my work.
The novel I’m completing is set in Tokyo during the 1990’s when the arrival of cell phones was reshaping commerce, families and social life for good and for bad.