Photo credit: Luma Photos (

Dear Maddie,

It’s my second Mother’s Day with you. I wanted to write you a letter for the first one, but I was too shellshocked. You were about 6 weeks old and in the thick of night feeds.

Before you came along, I was terrified of becoming a parent. I focused on all the things I’d be giving up, like spontaneous travels whenever I wanted, eating out at restaurants, going out with friends in the evening. All I could think about was the loss of freedom and being responsible for another life. …

Photo credit: LUMA Photos |

Dear Maddie,

This is the story of your first year. Before the age of one, you lived through a pandemic and underwent open heart surgery. You were born just as the pandemic was about to make landfall in March 2020. We opted for an induction ASAP to get you out because we didn’t know if there were going to be hospital beds available or not. I thought of the Virgin Mary giving birth with no rooms at the inn.

At your three week checkup we were relieved at having survived without help at home and not having gotten the dreaded…

One year ago was the last time I dined in a restaurant. It was the last weekend of life as we knew it. But we didn’t know it then.

What I did know at the time was that it would be likely one of my last times dining out without toting a baby around. That was the only reason I was even out in the restaurant amidst the rising threat of Covid as a high risk, pregnant woman. It was the beginning of increasingly complex risk / reward trade-offs.

Those days I was calling my parents and yelling at them…

Thanksgiving 20/20

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was hands-down my favorite holiday of the year. The table of food overfloweth and we got together with relatives on my dad’s side we only saw once a year. I slept in, relaxed, and had few responsibilities. No gift giving to think about, just getting together and eating and spending rare time with family living farther away. It was sacrosanct, we didn’t meet up with friends during that time and we blocked off that whole weekend entirely for family. There was no present under a tree, but being present was key.


A recent memorable SF Chronicle front page

Every morning I pick up my print copy of The SF Chronicle, and I read the headlines while I’m waiting for the SF Muni bus. Onboard, in a sea of bus riders scrolling on their phones, there I am with my old-timey newspaper, unfolding it sometimes too widely into other passengers’ view. Oops. But occasionally they read over my shoulder. If there is ever another passenger with a print paper, it is an old man aged 70 years or so. I am a 30 something woman.

I guess it’s kind of unusual to cling to an old-fashioned device like a…

Before there was Netflix or YouTube or hundreds of cable TV channels, there was primetime Olympic figure skating. Fame and the public eye weren’t captured through viral videos or reality shows. There were the captivating stories of the Olympians and their dreams, and a singular national focus on them since really — there wasn’t much else to watch when Olympics were going on.

As a kid, I watched with a mixture of adulation and envy. Not naturally athletic, I never dreamed that I could achieve Olympic excellence. But how amazing would it be to be in the spotlight! …

There is a scene in the recent Wonder Woman movie in which the title character reveals that she speaks hundreds of languages. To prove it, she later has an exchange with a new acquaintance spanning several different languages worldwide, and also makes a major discovery (and advances the plot!) with her ancient foreign language literacy skills. So cool, right?

This scene echoed many major action / espionage films in which a main character speaks a foreign language fluently in order to accomplish their mission. The fluency is portrayed as another tool in the belt, like the fancy cars or gadgets…

This title sounds pretty self-explanatory, I know.

It has recently come to my attention that people in my social circles are working out every day of the week. EVERY DAY? How? These people don’t even have weddings to train for! Unlike me, wedding being T-4 months away. That’s like 8 hours a week!

What could I cut out of my very busy schedule? I could work less. I could chat with my friends less. Or I could watch Netflix or FB/IG less. “I’m an adrenaline junkie! Working out gives me even more energy and better sleep!” chirped my very enthusiastic…

When I moved from the East Coast to California, I mourned the loss of “surprise snow.” There would be no more waking up and pushing the curtains aside excitedly to check if the ground had been covered in a delicate layer of white powder.

No snow days?? There was an entire movie made about the snow day! That magical phenomenon where everyone mutually agreed to pause the rush of daily obligatory activities… and instead just laze around and enjoy hot cocoa, sledding, and TV. Homework could wait. How sad for the kids here to never experience the magic of a…

Pauline Wu

West Coast based. Foreign language enthusiast. Loves food, music, karaoke. East Coast roots. Proud Asian American.

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