Character Interviews!

Questions for: MERI LIN

  1. [Alicorn to Meri Lin:] You speak Mandarin, but are you also literate in Chinese? If so, do you read/write simplified or traditional characters, or both?

    [Meri Lin to Alicorn:] I understand Chinese mostly as a spoken language. My sister and I can write in it to a point but we've never been very good with it since all our education (and most of our requirements for expressing written ideas) has been in English-speaking institutions. However, since our parents don't speak or write English very well and since we of course had Chinese newspapers and children's books when we lived at home, we can read and write it marginally. And in my experience, it's traditional characters by and large. (I've seen simplified here and there, but at least in our community everyone used traditional. I'm not sure why or if that's normal for U.S. Chinese communities, but that's what I saw, anyway.)

  2. [Alicorn to Meri Lin:] Do you and Fred want more children?

    [Meri Lin to Alicorn:] Well, Amanda wasn't planned, and I wouldn't have planned to have her at that point in my life but I of course loved her and the idea of being a mom immediately. I won't be setting out to have more children at this point, but assuming we find our daughter and then get our lives manageable, maybe we'd have more. However, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'd be scared to have another child considering the huge amount of unique stress Amanda caused; what if the next one's the same way?

  3. [Alicorn to Meri Lin:] Besides disapproval from your parents and in-laws, have you gotten any stupidity from other people about having an interracial marriage?

    [Meri Lin to Alicorn:] To tell you the truth, not much. New York City has its pitfalls, but one of the great things about it is that it's truly one of the most progressive places in the country. I don't tend to keep people around in friendly relationships if they're in any way hostile to me or the man I love because of our relationship, and having to deal with a slur or a dirty look here and there is just part of life.

  4. [Alicorn to Meri Lin:] What sorts of classes do you take when you're at school?

    [Meri Lin to Alicorn:] When I graduate I'll have a Liberal Arts/Humanities degree from NYU--I'm doing a modified degree that focuses on analysis of society and culture. My first two years were basically general education (writing, literature, basic science and math, plus culture and sociology classes), and there was a lot of reading and writing. From there I had to declare a focus and did so by doing my introductory world culture classes and moving on to classes about metropolitan living and even a fascinating class on gender/sexuality. I took what I could in correspondence when Amanda was here. The last bit of the degree is going to be a senior internship and a research class. It will probably involve me interning at an organization which does social work.

  5. [Jefkin to Meri Lin:] It's been a long time without your daughter, and not minimizing your loss, how do you react to the idea of having more children?

    [Meri Lin to Jefkin:] I never envisioned myself as having a large family when I grew up--my sister and I were the only children in our home--but I find being a mom indescribably rewarding and absolutely worthwhile. I'm not opposed to having more children but at this point in my life there's no way I'd deliberately bring it on myself . . . especially since I don't know what the chances are that my next child would turn out like my first. It's just so scary to think about.

  6. [Kim to Meri Lin:] What would you have done if you knew you were going to have a baby like Amanda?

    [Meri Lin to Kim:] If I had known? Well, once I had her I didn't know what to do, so I'm not sure how I could have prepared or what I could have done differently ahead of time. I think the only thing I can think of that might have made things turn out differently is if I knew long enough in advance how she was going to be, I might have gone and moved out into a remote country location so that fear of discovery wouldn't dominate our lives. I don't think an organization that could have helped us or Amanda exists (as far as I can tell from my research), so I might have opted to take her somewhere where she wouldn't be trapped in a tiny apartment and could be able to grow up out of the public eye until I could communicate with her and trust her to hide her abilities herself.

  7. [Kim to Meri Lin:] Do you think there are other babies like her?

    [Meri Lin to Kim:] No, I don't.

  8. [Kim to Meri Lin:] How confident are you that she will return to you?

    [Meri Lin to Kim:] There's nothing in the world that could convince me I'll never see her again. I don't know if she'll return to me or whether I'll be able to track her down somehow, but I refuse to believe she's gone. A child like her is too unique to stay out of the public eye forever, and I have proof that I'm her mother.

  9. [Kim to Meri Lin:] Do you think you will ever have or find another baby like Amanda?

    [Meri Lin to Kim:] No. I'm pretty much convinced she's the first and only of her kind. If there were others, they'd have to be documented somewhere, I'd think. . . .

  10. [M. Lee to Meri Lin:] Have your parents any particular religious doctrine they follow?

    [Meri Lin to M. Lee:] No, not really. Though sometimes I'd say they're religious about their cultural traditions. We weren't raised with anything resembling any of the Western religions, though I'd say maybe a little of the traditional Chinese ancestor worship has carried over to my parents' generation. In Chinese culture it's considered very important to "do your duty to your ancestors" and show respect for them, and I know my parents have been known to burn incense for certain ancestors at these little altars. (Sometimes they leave food or flowers, too.) Also, my parents don't consider themselves Buddhists, but some of their advice and lifestyle seems to follow Buddhist principles.

  11. [M. Lee to Meri Lin:] Have you thought to consult a psychic to find Amanda?

    [Meri Lin to M. Lee:] I guess it sounds silly for me to say this, but I don't believe psychics exist, exactly. Obviously I've had to change my beliefs about ESP in general since I don't have the option of not believing in telekinesis anymore, but to tell you the truth I still think if a person has the power to know something unknown, they wouldn't be advertising their services in the phone book. Essentially, I think they're charlatans, and I have no way of telling which ones aren't. I don't want to waste my time and money (er, and I have no money) letting these people give me false hope. I'm desperate to see my daughter again but I don't think I'm desperate enough to let someone take advantage of me when I WANT to believe she's out there.

  12. [M. Lee to Meri Lin:] Recently the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing "gay marriage" nationwide. Is this something you agree with, or have you some reservations or objections to it? Where would your family stand on it?

    [Meri Lin to M. Lee:] I remain surprised that other people's marriage rights are treated like something that can be given to them by a ruling class of lawmakers. It just seems so arbitrary that anyone would look at a same-sex couple and tell them their marriage isn't appropriate just because THEY wouldn't want it or find it to be against THEIR beliefs, even though same-sex marriage doesn't affect their lives or change them at all, nor does it hurt anyone or deny anyone anything. But Loving vs. the State of Virginia was not that long ago. If Loving--and love!--hadn't won there, I wouldn't be allowed to marry my partner (should I decide I wanted to). I am an absolute supporter of marriage arrangements between consenting adults, even though I remain a bit frustrated over the institution of marriage itself for various reasons.

    As for my family--if you mean my parents and sister--my parents have never talked too much about it but they are pretty adamant about marriage existing for the purpose of forming a union and raising children, and I've heard them kick up a fuss about married couples choosing not to have kids, so I think whether they support same-sex couples would probably be dependent on whether they declared a bond for the purpose of supporting children. I know they don't support race-mixed marriages, though, or at least don't want me to marry a white man, so maybe I'm overestimating their support. Lissa Lee is supportive of gay rights but she thinks marriage is silly and should be abolished for everyone (or at least shouldn't be the institution it is). You'd have to ask her for details.

  13. [Reeny to Meri Lin:] What do you think your life would be like if you had gone with your parents' wishes to not date Fred? Do you think you would have made different choices than you would have with him?

    [Meri Lin to Reeny:] It's hard to say. They didn't have an objection to me dating him, but they were dismayed when they saw me ready to settle down with him. I guess they just figured he'd turn out to be a phase. Especially since he was my first and only serious boyfriend. I'm not a believer in destiny, and I wasn't lonely or "looking" for a boyfriend when I met him, so if I hadn't met him I don't really think I would have known what I was missing, but now that he's in my life it's really hard to imagine what would have happened next if I hadn't been with him. If I was with someone else, I might have been married by now (if my parents approved), and I might have finished school, and maybe I'd live somewhere else. Who knows?

  14. [Reeny to Meri Lin:] Are you planning to have more children with Fred and if so, do you believe they will possess the same powers as Amanda does?

    [Meri Lin to Reeny:] Oh God . . . well I didn't plan Amanda and I haven't planned more children either, but as much as I loved her I hope I never have any more children with her abilities. Since I have no idea why it happened to her, I have no way of knowing whether it will repeat on any other kids I have. . . .

  15. [Reeny to Meri Lin:] If hypothetically, the authorities ever took Amanda away, what do you think they would use her powers for?

    [Meri Lin to Reeny:] I can't tell you how many sleepless nights I've spent wondering that myself. All my experience with dumb science fiction plots suggests the government would take her and train her to be a weapon. Or just experiment on her and try to figure out how she does it so they can give the power to our military or secret services. I like to think she'll grow up and learn to use her abilities in delicate and otherwise impossible ways to contribute to science or engineering or something medical, but maybe a government program would see her worth in something like that and try to train her for it. (Can you imagine if there was a doctor who could perform some kind of operation without cutting a person open? I have thought Amanda might be able to do that, since she can obviously use her power through barriers.)

  16. [SHO! to Meri Lin:] Are you anemic? Do you eat enough? Are you diabetic? Do you take a lot of medication that would make a person drowsy?

    [Meri Lin to SHO!:] Huh? No to everything except "do you eat enough," because yes, I eat plenty. Is there a reason you're worried I'm sick? Do I look it? I'm confused.

  17. [SHO! to Meri Lin:] Why do you love Fred?

    [Meri Lin to SHO!:] Because he's my best friend. And my partner. He'd do anything for me and vice versa. He's caring and compassionate and funny and values the same things I do. What's not to love?

  18. [SHO! to Meri Lin:] How did you meet?

    [Meri Lin to SHO!:] He came in the flower shop one day when I was working with my parents, and just sort of started talking to me. We weren't busy so I talked back. I thought he seemed attractive and worldly--he was after all an older man, but didn't treat me like I was just a dumb kid--and he knew exactly how much humor to insert into our conversations without me thinking there was nothing to him but class clown. I started looking forward to his visits and hoping he'd come in. That's really where our relationship started--just great conversations that became wonderful companionship.

  19. [SHO! to Meri Lin:] When did you know he was the one for you?

    [Meri Lin to SHO!:] Oh, he gave me flowers in a really creative way--and let me tell you, it takes quite a lot of planning and ingenuity to figure out how to make a girl who works in a flower shop appreciate a bouquet! I had been enjoying my conversations with him for some time before that, but when he revealed this level of sweetness and sincerity to me, I just had this thought about how I wanted to go on the rest of my life experiencing his surprises.

  20. [SHO! to Meri Lin:] Were you ever embarassed by your parents' more traditional ways growing up?

    [Meri Lin to SHO!:] No, not at all. Though sometimes their need to inflict their ways on me to the exclusion of all else made me angry. I never felt embarrassed that I had traditional parents.

  21. [SHO! to Meri Lin:] Did you hide your home life from your friends? Was there much intermixing of home, school, and social life?

    [Meri Lin to SHO!:] No, I didn't need to hide anything. I actually had a few friends who thought our difference of culture was neat, and they wanted to stay for dinner because our food was different. But except for a few school kids I think most of my "social life" as a preteen was with neighborhood kids, and we lived in Chinatown so they were also Chinese kids. There was a subtle difference in the way I acted and felt based on whether I was at school or at home--I think I was more outgoing at school, because being demure and respectful is really drilled into us as females--and there was of course the language difference, but I think the mix I had between my home and outside life was pretty healthy.

  22. [SHO! to Meri Lin:] Knowing what you know now, would you still choose Fred and the life you have now?

    [Meri Lin to SHO!:] I'm not sure what the slant of that question wants me to answer really. I'm absolutely a hundred percent happy with my choice of mate, that's for sure, though I do regret that my parents don't want to accept him. That's their problem, though. And, of course, knowing that he and I would create Amanda and end up having all the problems we had and have . . . I'd do it all again, though if I had the chance I'd of course do one of the million things I've thought of since to prevent her escape.

  23. [SHO! to Meri Lin:] What's your favorite food/dish?

    [Meri Lin to SHO!:] Uh . . . mashed potatoes with butter, probably.

  24. [SHO! to Meri Lin:] Can we see your yearbook photo? If yes, please include in your answer.

    [Meri Lin to SHO!:] This is my senior year picture. I was seventeen. I probably don't look much different now, if at all. People are always saying I look like a teenager.

  25. [Thomas to Meri Lin:] If someone were to write a story about your life with Fred and Amanda (and Benjamin) what would you want it to say? Suppose you knew that the writer agreed to keep you and Fred anonymous. Would you tell her everything?

    [Meri Lin to Thomas:] That's hard because I have trouble imagining what I would do in a hypothetical situation if I also don't have the details going along with it. I don't know why a writer would want to write about me or how said writer would have found out about me, and if she (I say "she," because you asked if I would tell "her" everything) was inspired by what she already knew about Amanda, I don't know what I'd have left to say. I also don't know what else could be interesting enough to write a story about in my life if it wasn't already about her. But if I could be assured 100% anonymity, I'd definitely consider it. I'd want to put a story out there so that perhaps others who'd had children like mine might have some warnings, some road signs, and some feeling that they're not alone. God knows I would have loved to find a story like that written about some other mother, even if it was anonymous.

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