On Shrinking

My room felt smaller with Kevin in it. We were watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I couldn’t focus because Kevin’s nearness scrambled […]

A company of twitters, a society of friends

It was spring, and the weather was beautiful. Last Saturday, we were sitting under a tree on Old Campus, admiring the newly warm weather and […]

A History of Petals

1. In Japanese, “petal” is a unit of measurement referring to (i) pages in a book (ii) clouds, or (iii) flowers.

Treading clouds and shelling peas

“Mrs. Bell says nothing. Mrs. Bell is as silent as the grave.” This was how Virginia Woolf described the works of her sister, Vanessa Bell, […]

Cold Peace

About a year ago, I was required to give an oral presentation to my Dostoevsky section. I talked about Dostoevsky’s ideas about America. They were […]


We all knew about Koh Samui. At the beginning of every summer, the graduating seniors of the Chinese International School, all ninety-something of them, would […]


Click to enlarge.    

The Body Politic

I spent October break in a darkened basement of the medical school, peering through a microscope at butterfly scales. Each scale is a few microns […]

Tiptoeing around the Great Firewall of China

I remember the first passage they deleted. A smattering of sentences in the middle of the second page, describing Wenceslas Square, Prague, as the site […]

A Pile of Shards

The only time I pass for Chinese is when I speak on the phone. This June, I called the Fashionable Orchid Hotel in Ji’an, a […]

The Giant Hole on Sachem Street

There’s a massive hole at the corner of Prospect and Sachem streets that you’ve probably noticed. There’s also a slice of building, a mock-up, that […]