An-Mei: What are you going to do with left-over peanut butter pie after he eats one slice?Rose: Throw it away I guess.
An-Mei: You ask yourself ‘why you made this?’ because I know, even if you don’t.
Rose: I like being tragic ma, I learned it from you.
An-Mei: You think he will see this pie, now he’ll be so sorry he took you for granted? You think this, then you are the foolish one. Every time you give him a gift it’s like begging. ‘Take this, I’m sorry, please forgive me. I’m not worth as much as you.’ So he only takes you more for granted.
You’re just like my mother, never knowing what you are worth, until it’s too late.
I was raised the Chinese way. I was taught to desire nothing, to swallow other people’s misery, and to eat my own bitterness. And even though I taught my daughter the opposite, she still came out the same way.
Maybe it is because she was born to me and born a girl; and I was born to my mother and I was born a girl. All of us like stairs — one step after another; going up, going down — but always going the same way.
And now this cannot be. This not knowing what you’re worth, does not begin with you. My mother did not know her worth — until too late.Too late for her, but not for me.
Now we will see if not too late for you.
— The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
Apparently I have much to learn from old Chinese ladies.
While perched in my bed working on some sketches this afternoon, I had “The Joy Luck Club” playing in the background. I think it is a lovely movie and watch it a few times a year - sobbing uncontrollably throughout. But no tears today as I was somewhat preoccupied. That is until the scene between An-Mei and her daughter Rose where An-mei asks her daughter — who is mid-divorce — why she does not see her own self-worth. She proceeds to tell Rose the rather tragic story of Rose’s grandmother and An-Mei’s own up bringing.
It was at “left-over peanut butter pie” that my ears pricked to attention and knowing full well what scene was about to unfold before me, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of “Oh God, my entire life is about to be summed up in a single scene from a Chinese/American romantic drama... right down to the goddamn peanut butter pie.”
Just this past Friday afternoon I busied myself the entire day — cleaning, shopping, baking, cooking — a vision of devout housewife and conscientious host a lå 1954. I sweated and toiled for one person and one person alone... and that person was not me.
While part of my manic preparations stemmed from a life time of Emily Post like ministrations on the art of being a good and gracious hostess (rules never to be strayed from even if Hitler is sitting at the dining room table), there was a very distinct part of my poor, pathetic psyche that whole-heartedly, desperately believed
‘maybe this time, maybe if I just do everything right this time — it will all work out and we can begin again.’
That would have to be one hell of a peanut butter pie.
And so I sat in bed weeping at what sort of person I have become. I cried over every dinner, every dessert (4 birthday cakes for a man who took someone else away on his birthday — what is wrong with me?). every stupid, inconsequential thing I have done for the men in my life. never once because they asked me to but because I was begging them to care for me more than they were ready or willing.
I have no one but myself to blame for my foolishness. For my constant confirmation to them of “you do something wrong — I won’t walk away like I say... I will cook you dinner, bake you your favorite dessert and give you something as a token of how much I care about you... and then I will desperately hope you feel the same.”
Who the hell could ever respect someone like that? I may as well have covered my back in sisal & printed it with the word “WELCOME—have a nice walk all over my back”.
GOD I HATE MYSELF.