One lunch in college, I sat with my friends in my university cafeteria and listened to my friend comment, “Look. Everyone here is Asian.” Several seconds later, she looked at me and added, “Oops!I forgot that you weren’t Asian!”

On another occasion, a large group of us visited Chinatown to eat. I was indignant when I was singled out and given a fork for the meal. I made a show of placing the clean fork far from me and eating the entire meal with chopsticks.

Most of my college friends were Asian: Indonesian, Chinese, Korean, Singaporean. My boyfriend was Chinese-American. I took a variety of classes on Asian history and culture. I learned some about my friends’ cultures by spending time with their families.
Three months after completing my degree, my boyfriend and I married and I took on his Chinese last name. The curious looks began when I walked into doctor’s appointments. Even more questions were raised by my students when I started teaching High School classes. People had preconceived expectations of how I would look based on my name, and were surprised by my western European face.

Based on my name, I am targeted by Asian speaking telemarketers and Asian email spam. For several years we got lengthy, heart-felt messages on the answering machine by a Mandarin speaker. The problem was that neither my husband or myself could understand the message. We imagined an elderly parent calling what they thought was their son telling about their troubles at home and begging him to return the phone call. We were never home when these calls occurred, so we were never able to tell the caller they had the wrong number for all these years!

My mom once told me that I only oohed and aahed about Asian babies. I think it was a foreshadow that one day my children would be Asian. My kids are fully Korean. My husband is fully Chinese. Which makes me the “one of these things is not like the others…” in family pictures. But I rarely notice. That’s my family. And I know that God designed us to be together.

Although I try to make this blog anonymous, I have been targeted yet again. This blog has been hit daily with Chinese spam for many weeks. Did the spammers know my last name? So I sadly have had to put “word verification” onto my comments. I apologize profusely (I hate that verification) and hope that it will not hinder your comments! I love “talking” to you!

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  1. My thought is to leave off the verification too…until needed.

    I love hearing your thoughts. Well, reading. Thanks for sharing so personally (without getting personal). 🙂

  2. No problem! I totally understand. Those spam comments are really annoying. Much more so than the word verification!

  3. I hope this doesn’t sound racist, but I have a special place in my heart for Asians. I would love to move to East Asia or Southeast Asia someday…

    I wonder if I secretly knew you had an asian last name 🙂

  4. Word Verification doesn’t bother me. (I read on another blog that those lengthy Asian messages spamming comment sections were not ‘wholesome’ in any way.)

    Your first paragraph reminded me of the time in Yr 9 when all my best friends were boys. (The girls in that class were so full of makeup, Tom Cruise, fashion, nail polish – and themselves – I didn’t fit in at all!) We would sit around at lunch time and they’d start discussing ‘boy’ things. I’d have to excuse myself and leave, and they’d call after me “Sorry, we forgot you aren’t a bloke.”

  5. I have had the opposite reactions. Because I’m Chinese (born and raised in NY plus never spoke a word of Chinese), some people didn’t believe I knew how to use a fork. When I was dating my husband to be, he took me out to a steak restarurant. Two old ladies came up to him and talked to him like I wasn’t there. They told him how impressed they were that I was able to use a fork and knife. LOL

  6. One of my best friend’s is Asian (Chinese and Korean, raised in Hawaii) and she has very interesting takes on how people react to her and her completely American last name.

  7. Spam.
    Lsat names that keep em guessing. AWESOME. One of my son’s best friends is Scottish-Chinese-Canadian. His first name is Scottish and middle and last names are Chinese. His mom LOVES the looks she gets when filling out paperwork for him. She’s the Scottish half so it fully confuses people.

  8. I have to laugh at the “one of these things is not like the other” reference! So funny. Sorry about the spam!

  9. Fascinating post. I can imagine how maddening it was to be given a fork!

  10. Totally understandable. And I don’t even really mind word verification. It really doesn’t take all that long. Not that I comment much anywhere these days…wait…maybe that’s why it doesn’t bug me 🙂

  11. No problem whatsoever! Beautiful post … I love how you said that that is how God planned your family!

  12. So sorry you’ve been bothered by spam! I luv ya no matter what you do or don’t look like and whatever your last name is! =) I love what you said about your family!

  13. So sorry to hear you’ve been getting a lot of spam! I had similar fork experiences while visiting S. Korea for work before I had kids – I am pretty good with chopsticks and was always looking to get more practice.

  14. You sound like the perfect American family to me.

    I use the word verification as well. Spammers ruin everything.

  15. I understand about the word verification. I’ve had it on my blog before also. Have a great week! :o)

  16. Stupid spammers. It is weird, I wonder how they know these things.

  17. The Tongginator is much like you – definitely keeping people guessing since she’s not a red-headed, green eyed, freckle faced Irish gal. (Oh, and stupid spammers.)

  18. How cool about your family!

    No worries about the word verification – totally understand!

  19. what a wonderful design by God! Uh, was I the one who called you Asian? I said a lot of random things back then (as documented on the “quote board”!). :-p

  20. I loved reading this, very entertaining and interesting as well.

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