Age 1-2

I remember loving that stuffed whale. It was a he. He was light and easy to hug. I think he was filled with little tiny pellets of styrofoam. I can still hear the sound of it.

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I remember staring into mom’s vanity set for long stretches of time. It had two tones of light-pink and green. And two sides to the mirror-one magnified everything.

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I remember my sister dragging me around the carpet of the living room by my ankles. And yellow liquid oozing out of my head.

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I remember my dad cutting the top off of the nipple of my baby bottle so I can drink my milk faster.

I remember my dad lighting his cigarette after handing me my bottle of milk.

I remember the confused look on his face when he took his first puff and turned to see that my bottle was empty. He looked around me to see where all the milk went.

I remember him shaking his head in slight awe and total disbelief. As if there’s no way I could’ve drank my milk that fast.

I remember smiling back at him.

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I remember watching a circus show on tv and wanting to swing from the flying trapeze.

I remember climbing up the dresser, grabbing the curtain string and jumping off the dresser.

I remember banging my head on the side of the dresser. And the curtain falling on me.

I remember my mom yelling for my dad when she found me on the ground, with blood coming out my head.

I remember hospital lights in a green tinted room.

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I remember the Chinese soap operas my parents and sister would watch on VHS. In these films, people could fly. Oftentimes the pretty girls would get tied up. One time their feet got tickled.

I remember the sounds they made when they squirmed.

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I remember sniffing the corner of my vellux blanket, so much that the fur started to come off. I remember loving that smell. I remember loving the fuzzy feel of that fur-less corner against my skin.

I remember my face wrinkling when my mom told me she threw away my blanket because it was dirty and falling apart.

I remember my lips pointing downward and tears flowing every time I thought about my blanket.

I remember quietly crying for my blanket every night before I went to bed. For almost a year.

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I remember my dad holding me like a bag of rice under one arm, and with the other he would wash my face and brush my mouth/teeth.

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I remember my sister hiding her toys and prized possessions from me. She put them on top of the tall shelves in the kitchen. There was a doll. And paper dolls.

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I remember my older cousin calling me “nho cam”1little mute one in Vietnamese because I was quiet. I remember my dad being upset at my cousin for calling me that.

I remember not talking. Not making a sound. I remember observing, thinking and feeling a lot.

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I remember being on the ground, looking up at my mom changing her sweater, seeing her round breasts for the first time.

I remember trying to reach for them. I remember her turning away and putting her sweater on quickly to hide them.

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I remember my dad playing his music very loudly. I remember him picking up the wooden dining room chair and dancing with it across the living him, quite gracefully. I remember my mom looking at him, shaking her head.

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I remember my dad forcing me to wear a thick sweater before going to bed. I remember being hot in this sweater and taking it off when he wasn’t looking and placing it on my body carefully so that it would look like I’m wearing it. I remember him not being fooled by this.

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I remember my sister getting punished by my dad for using her left hand. She had to sit in the corner, be on her knees and cross her arms.

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I remember straddling the toilet to go pee, like it was horse.

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