UNDERSTANDING MY CHINESE MOTHER/AND WHY LAW SCHOOL LED ME TO BE A FICTION WRITER

My Dear Friends and Readers,

I cannot lie. I hate Mercury Retrograde. This is the time when the planet Mercury moves backwards. According to astrologers and others this time is a time of frustration because nothing seems to work. This morning for instance my relatively new- 5 month-old laptop refused to work. I felt like throwing it against a wall, but that certainly would ensure a failure in workability. But enough about Mercury in retrograde which will end on May 22, 2016.

I have pursued writing in some form or another ever since I was a child old enough to write poetry- which was when I was  about nine years old. I would often draw a picture to accompany my writing, because I think pictures help tell stories. I love to read and write. In the past I loved to read more than I wrote. It was in law school that I really learned to write and to love writing. I wrote one of my best short stories, “The Kiss” while in law school.  My law school Doctoral Thesis was  to write four chapters of fiction based on a legal theory  and an actual state statute. For my  non-lawyer readers this meant that I was allowed to merge everything that I had learned and loved into a required document that allowed me to graduate from law school.

Over the past  five days I have read a book called “Shanghai Girls” by Lisa See.  The book is about two Chinese sisters born in Pre-Communist China and who must marry to pay off their father’s gambling debt. This story is not unlike stories I have heard about my own Chinese mother- whose father was a gambler.  My mother still speaks of her father’s gambling which she intimates was legendary in the small town in which she grew up.

I began writing this blog when I returned from Paris last August.  I was overdrawn and had not worked in a couple of weeks. I had to borrow $30 from my sister to restart my cellphone service. It was in that moment,  I realized that I had inherited a version of  my grandfather’s gambling addiction.  I would spend beyond my last dollar into overdraft- which was a very expensive way to borrow from my bank. It was a lot like gambling. Thankfully because of this realization and writing this blog my relationship with money has greatly improved.

What I learned from the book, “Shanghai Girls”  was that like its main characters, my mother was taught to be obedient without question. She was also taught  that loyalty to family is more important than loyalty to self. Knowing these two facts helps me  understand why she remained faithful to an unfaithful man and why she defended and protected him even if it meant not protecting herself or her children. It was the Chinese way.

On the surface, it appears that I share very  little with my mother. Dig beneath that exterior and you find that we share  blunt honesty and our quirky sense of humor -one  of the aspects that I love most about my mother.  However, the truth is that she has influenced me in many ways. It is from her that I learned my  incredible work ethic. It is from her I learned to love flowers and plants. She is the source of my  fascination with jewelry and makeup. It is from her I have a fascination with Chinese astrology and Astrology in general.(She has no interest in either of these things, but I find it odd that I love studying both. ) She is frugal, loyal and dependable. She loves fiercely and without pause.

For all of her failings and there are many, it was my desire not to be like her that made me physically take care of myself; go to college; leave a loveless marriage and ultimately go to law school.  In fact, it was my desire to be educated that led to my legal emancipation at 16 and college at 17.

I don’t have anywhere near the normal mother- daughter relationship- that was never possible from the facts that shaped our lives. She chose to be with her husband instead of her children- me and my sister. She spent the rest of her life trying to make up for those years that she left us alone- as if that was possible. She was a striver. She wanted all of her children to see the world, understand the finer things in life and most of all be happy.

She and I look at each other as two members  of the same species and yet do not recognize the other as being alike.  She is my Mother; I am her Daughter. This will always be so. As the years have flown by I realize that my unwillingness to forgive and let go is  also  a mimicry of my Mother. With time- lots of time I have learned how to forgive and let go and still know that we are still connected. I am happy and know what the finer things in life are for me.

Happy Mother’s Day Everyone!

Signed,

Brianna S. Clark
The Addict Writes

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