Finger Lickin' Normal

When it comes to the perceptions of common cultural practices and/or expectations of “normal,” the key to a peaceful intercultural relationship is a willingness to clean the slate and re-evaluate.


What is "Tough"?

When I was 19 and had just come out of the closet, I associated “tough” with a look. It was big boots, spiked hair, tattoos and the obligatory grimace. When I dressed this way and walked out in the world with my “tough” on, I felt good. Tough was the equivalent of strong. It was durable. So, if someone slammed…   …read more.


Wedding #2: With Buddhist Nuns' Approval?

For someone who had never planned or intended to get married—certainly someone who had never dreamed of my wedding day or felt fluttery when I saw wedding gowns glittering in store windows—the fact that I had not one, not two, but three wedding days is fairly ironic. I’ve written extensively about the first (and main) wedding in Guo Jian’s home…   …read more.


Dyke Cousin: Part 4

Today, as I walked to the post office with Guo Jian’s cousin, Wang Yin, huddled together under a shared umbrella in the early spring rain, I finally had a chance to ask her about her girlfriend. She answered freely about what her girlfriend studies and how long they’ve been together and the fact that her girlfriend is really tall and was a basketball player.


Towel or Blanket?

Towels are a mystery in China. At least, they have been since the first time I was ever here, back in the spring of 2007. I didn’t bring a towel with me in my luggage on that trip. I didn’t even think of it. The en-suite that I had in my (very overpriced) dorm room did not come with any…   …read more.


Wedding Day Chronicles – Part 6

The big event—the first and main wedding day of three weddings in total—went by so fast that I only remember a few aspects clearly. (That might have to do with not having slept the night before, but that’s just a hunch!) I do recall lots of fanfare—spotlights, loud speakers, an MC with far too much “personality” and lots of awkward…   …read more.



My mother always packs for my father when they go on vacation. All my life, I’ve found this obnoxious. My father never knows where his clothes are and never decides what he’s going to wear—that is, unless he’s working on cars in the garage. He says that when they first got married, my mother was always so critical of his…   …read more.

Do Men Snore More?

The other night I had a dream that I was in a speaker shop buying top-of-the-line speakers for my home studio. I tested them out and they delivered crisp and pristine sound. When I got them home, however, there was this intermittent buzz that kept rolling through them. It was like a crackle, or a fuzz, or something that seemed…   …read more.

Valentine's Stars

    Today is Valentine’s Day, at least in Western countries. It always falls on February 14th and so the marketing machines only take a few weeks to rest from Christmas before they gear up for the holiday of hearts, flowers, chocolates and lingerie. The colour red is ever-present. Everyone from children to old married couples celebrate this festival in…   …read more.


Do Red & Pink Match?

Today is “Chinese New Year’s Eve” day and the red decorations are everywhere. I happen to be in the same city where we had our most formal wedding celebration (Zibo 淄博) and, thus, I have been thinking back to the wedding day decor. Like Chinese New Year, red is an important colour at Chinese weddings. Red lanterns are hung and,…   …read more.

©2023 Ember Swift. All Rights Reserved.
Design by Janine Stoll Media.