Author Archives

Anne Liu Kellor

Fear of Suffering Alone

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Anne Liu Kellor | Longreads | May 2020 | 9 minutes (2,136 words)

My ex and I used to watch the Doomsday Preppers reality show on the National Geographic channel together, and talk about how crazy those people were at the same time that we made mental notes about their good ideas. After watching enough episodes, we finally put together some basic earthquake supplies (the most likely disaster to hit us in the Pacific Northwest); we bought a rectangular plastic bin and filled it with freeze-dried foods, a first aid kit, hand-cranked radio, flashlight and extra batteries, extra clothes and shoes, our camping gear, some toilet paper, and a few random extras like playing cards and my expired pain meds from my cesarean (they could come in handy). We filled a couple jugs full of water and tried to remember to switch it out now and then. I put shoes under our beds (in case windows break, you need to be able to walk out of the house and not cut your feet), and continually reminded myself to get an extra pair of glasses (because without my vision, I’d be screwed and helpless). We would have gotten a very poor grade as preppers, but we did enough to feel a little better about our situation. And I knew that no matter what, we’d be in it together. That gave me comfort. I would not have to go through such a crisis alone.

Now, we are all going through a crisis, and I have been separated from my husband for five months. He moved out of our house on December 1st, a few months after we made the mutual decision to split. I have not once regretted this decision, which took many years of unease and heartache to finally reach, and I even started dating someone fairly quickly, enjoying my newfound freedom.

But now, we are going through a pandemic.
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Keeping My Promise to Popo

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Anne Liu Kellor | Longreads | September 2019 | #of minutes (2,604 words)

No one can agree on how old my grandmother is. Because she was born in wartime China, because they use the lunar calendar, because she immigrated from the mainland to Taiwan to America and declared her own birthdate, or because she’s always been vain and told people she is younger. Is she 98, 100, 102? Her sister claims one age, Popo another, her Social Security card yet something else. How can there be such a range of unknown?

Regardless, now she is finally, undeniably, old. I watch as Popo rests in the hospital bed in Monterey Park, her body thin, dressed in a pale green gown. Oxygen tube in her nose and around her neck, short greasy hair flattened, black with white roots. Mouth curved into a frown. Hearing aid, glasses, wig, glittery rings, all removed. Fingers no longer able to scrawl characters on her erasable black board with the pointed stick. Eyes no longer able to watch Chinese soap operas on TV. Mouth involuntarily moving, like she’s chewing, or rooting. Voice involuntarily making sounds, eh, eh, eh, eh. Sleep coming in short intervals, drifting off for an hour here and there, in between nurses coming to check on her.

The nurses are Filipino, Chinese, East African. They come in and open her curtain every hour or two, glance at her vitals, rotate her body, write things down on a chart and leave. On the white board beside her bed it says “Mandarin,” so sometimes they speak to Popo in Mandarin, but the white board does not say that she is basically deaf, and that in the last many years she’s reverted to speaking Cantonese, her childhood language. They might as well be whispering to her in Tagalog or Somali. She does not hear a thing they say.
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