Where I’m From

posted in: Life, Writer’s Workshop 0 comments


I am from loud ceiling fans, old fashioned Singer sewing machines and smooth marble floors.

I am from an old tin mining town in a valley of limestone mountains, where spring water runs deep and clear. From quiet neighborhoods of brick homes and orange roofs.

I am from the veins of precious tin ore, that of silvery malleable metal.

I am from late dinners at the table and Sunday morning breakfasts, from Vincent and Jennifer, adopted names from Western culture, and the most popular Chinese surname in the world.

I am from the stubborn, talkative and I am always right.

From is that the best you can do and family is the most important thing in your life.

I am from Sunday School and stories of Jesus, to placing incense on the altar to many gods, that of the water lotus and the fat Buddha.

I am from Ipoh, city of tin, limestone and rubber, by way of the ‘Blue Sea’ province in Guangdong, China. I am from homemade secret marinade fried chicken wings and bowls of white rice.

From the fresh food markets that smell of fish and chickens with my grandmother, crackling sounds of fireworks at Chinese New Year, and weekend swimming in the pool with my siblings and cousins.

I am from old crinkly photo albums of my father’s large family, the house he grew up in and framed black and white photographs of his late parents, one who passed too young and never met his grandchildren, the other who lived a full life and filled her grandchildren with everlasting memories.

I am from the carefree childhood of making homemade jam with my aunt and playing tea party with my little cousins.

I am from the early days of Game and Watch, Atari, card games of Go Fishing and endless board games of Monopoly and Scrabble.

I am from tradition and modernity. I am from conformism and rebelliousness. I am from stubbornness and adaptability. I am from the East and the West.  Just as my children will be.

Mama’s Losin’ It
This wonderful writing exercise was inspired by this template.

Linking this up with Cookie’s Chronicles Best of the Blogosphere!





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  • September 23, 2011 By Word of Mouth Musings

    What a rich upbringing, what depth and passion and beauty … and what a heritage to share with your children.
    You are so lovely inside and out, you must make your family very proud!

    • September 23, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Nicole! I never really thought about my childhood this way, this was a wonderful exercise and I hope my children will carry with them my memories and their own.

  • September 23, 2011 Galit Breen

    I love this glimpse of you friend!
    Galit Breen recently wrote…Where I’m From, A #Writing ExerciseMy Profile

  • September 23, 2011 Mama Kat

    Wow!! Don’t you miss that carefree childhood? I hope we’re able to provide our own kids with that same luxury!
    Mama Kat recently wrote…Writer’s Workshop: Where I’m FromMy Profile

    • September 23, 2011 Alison

      Thank you for this writing exercise, Mama Kat. When I started writing it, I was stuck. Then the memories came and yes, I never realized how carefree childhood was. And how much it revolved around my grandmother and her home. I do hope my son (and other future children) will enjoy as wonderful a childhood as I di.

  • September 23, 2011 Ann

    Wow – that was a great post. I saw her writing prompts and all I could think of was, “I am from Florida”. I know there’s more to me than that….but I drew a blank where you poetically described not just where you are from but WHO you are and WHAT makes you….YOU!
    Ann recently wrote…Tomato Pizza – Light on the Cheese, Heavy on the Flavor!My Profile

    • September 23, 2011 Alison

      When I started writing this, I was totally stuck. Then it just came to me, the memories. So many.

  • September 23, 2011 Mama Track

    Love this. It’s so beautiful. And tells us so much about you. Awesome!
    Mama Track recently wrote…Oooh, Scary!My Profile

    • September 23, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Natalie. I loved reading everyone else’s and was so inspired!

  • September 23, 2011 Missy

    Great job with this. I want to do one! Is it too late?

    AWESOME last paragraph.
    Missy recently wrote…Songs That Suck – 1st EditionMy Profile

    • September 23, 2011 Alison

      It is not too late at all! The linky is open for a few more days 🙂 Would love to read yours!

  • September 23, 2011 Runnermom-jen

    Ooh, I’m so glad you did this!! I love yours! It’s really beautiful.
    Runnermom-jen recently wrote…Where I’m From…My Profile

    • September 23, 2011 Alison

      I’m glad I did this too, it was such a great writing exercise! And thank you.

  • September 23, 2011 Kiddothings

    I am from Ipoh too. You just reminded me of Game & Watch and Atari – things that were so much a part of my own childhood, that I’ve long forgotten.
    Nice one.
    Kiddothings recently wrote…Tipsy Friend – Jen of Runner MomMy Profile

    • September 23, 2011 Alison

      I’d be interested to see what you’d write, what you remember 🙂

  • September 23, 2011 Kim

    What a fascinating childhood! Did you and Germaine know each other? 🙂 So great that two of my favorite bloggers are from Ipoh! I was hoping you’d do this prompt so I can learn more about you, and you wrote it so beautifully! Thank you Alison!
    Kim recently wrote…The MotherShipMy Profile

    • September 23, 2011 Alison

      No, thank YOU for reading Kim. Germaine and I did not know each other, I wish we did!

  • September 23, 2011 Kimberly

    I love this. It feels like I know so much more about you and where you came from. I love the memories of your grandmother.

    And Atari, huh? I adored that when I was younger!
    Kimberly recently wrote…Where I’m FromMy Profile

    • September 23, 2011 Alison

      Thank you! My childhood is full of memories of my grandmother, she is the inspiration for this really. And yes, that darn Atari!

  • September 23, 2011 Robin

    LOVE. Oh, I’m so glad you did this prompt. I love all the details, and your last paragraph is just perfect. Such a great summary of YOU!

    • September 23, 2011 Alison

      I’m so glad I wrote this too – it was all kinds of fun and deep at the same time. Thank you!

  • September 23, 2011 Jenni Chiu

    Love, love love.
    Beautifully written.
    I’m totally falling in love with you.
    Jenni Chiu recently wrote…Knock me off my outlook fence.My Profile

    • September 23, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Jenni. The feeling’s totally mutual. 🙂

  • September 23, 2011 Mirjam

    Love that picture.
    You just keep taking me to places..you took me back to Surinam where I was born. Thank you.
    Mirjam recently wrote…I keep on Falling..My Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thank YOU for reading. I’m glad my words moved you.

  • September 23, 2011 tracy

    Oh this is so perfect. I love the mix of East and West – it’s so incredibly beautiful. What a legacy to continue on with your own kids.
    tracy recently wrote…My Kid is Wearing Jeans – Tube Tops are Next Right?My Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Tracy. I do hope to leave a rich tapestry of family history for my son.

  • September 23, 2011 Barbara

    I have been loving these posts, I feel like I’m learning so much about everyone! Great job on your post, I love the line about tradition and modernity.
    Barbara recently wrote…F is for GymMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Barbara. The best thing is, I feel like I’m knowing more about the side of me I appear to have forgotten 🙂

  • September 23, 2011 Jessica

    I’ve been seeing these flying around and thoroughly enjoying them. Yours was beautifully written, as usual. I loved the last paragraph.
    Jessica recently wrote…Our picture book shelvesMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Jessica. I’ve loved reading everyone else’s, couldn’t resist trying my hand at it.

  • September 23, 2011 Kir

    I’m so glad you added yours…it’s wonderful, it’s bright and interesting and different and the same.
    My very favorite line:
    I am from the East and West. Just as my children will be.

    What a gift for you and them!! loved this!
    Kir recently wrote…WOE:David Broken Hearts Still BeatMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Kir. I’m glad it’s different – I guess not many Malaysians have written this prompt 🙂

  • September 23, 2011 jen

    I see you commenting on all different blogs but we’ve never actually met. This is my first visit to your blog. And after reading this post I feel like I actually know you now 🙂 and not only the picture of your face that is next to your comment!

    This was lovely.
    jen recently wrote…mama kat’s – where I’m fromMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Jen, thank you, for your comment and visit. Nice to meet you!

  • September 23, 2011 My Inner Chick

    —I love these writing prompts… “I am From!”

    East and the West… How blessed we are to have that beautiful mixture of you, Mama Alison. x
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…What A CREEP!My Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      It’s wonderful isn’t it, this exercise? And thank you.

  • September 23, 2011 Desperate Housemommy

    What a gift…to be equal parts of two very different cultures. You are blessed.
    Desperate Housemommy recently wrote…Mom’s Peanut Butter PieMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      I am indeed!

  • September 23, 2011 Lola

    I loved this! How beautifully written! I don’t ever want to see you write that you are NOT a writer because this proves beyond any doubt that you are!! I love the contrast between past and present, East and West. What an amazingly rich culture you have!
    Lola recently wrote…The Job InterviewMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Aw, thank you Lola, it means so much to me for you to love my writing. (and I am not lying here, promise). I am blessed, to have the privilege of living more than one culture.

  • September 23, 2011 The Mommy Therapy

    I keep seeing this prompt around the blogosphere, it’s beautiful. You did a fantastic job with it Alison.

    Thanks for sharing!
    The Mommy Therapy recently wrote…Oh Pinterest! Don’t Stop, or Do. I’m Not Sure Yet.My Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      I loved reading everyone else’s and just had to try my hand at it. Thank you for reading!

  • September 23, 2011 Shell

    Love this! Especially that last set of lines.

    All of these I’m from posts makes me want to sing “that’s where I come from…”
    Shell recently wrote…Things They Can’t Say: The Mommy TherapyMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Shell!

  • September 24, 2011 Catheryn

    Beautiful post Alison. It is a wonderful way to remember our roots and what made us and who we are.

    Ipoh IS a beautiful place 🙂
    Catheryn recently wrote…She Is All Grown UpMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Catheryn, Ipoh is quite pretty 🙂

  • September 24, 2011 Jenny

    Nice post! Love the “I am from the stubborn, talkative and I am always right” part. Guess I am that too! 😛

    Btw, thank you for dropping by to read my 2nd supernatural childbirth post. Have a lovely weekend! 🙂
    Jenny recently wrote…My Second Supernatural Childbirth…My Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Jenny, and you’re welcome!

  • September 24, 2011 Jessica

    I am now craving some secret marinade chicken wings.
    Jessica recently wrote…When I Am DrowningMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Oh they are delish. Can you believe my mother refused to tell me the secret ingredient in the marinade for years?

  • September 24, 2011 RachelJoy

    You are definitely east and west. it’s amazing how many lives you’ve touched with your awesomeness just from being where you’re from…
    RachelJoy recently wrote…Nannies Go-GoMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Aw, thanks Rachel!

  • September 24, 2011 Lady Jennie

    And I can picture it so so well having lived in SoEa Asia. Gorgeous photo and gorgeous imagery.
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…A Mini VersaillesMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      You have? How wonderful! And thank you.

  • September 24, 2011 Jessica

    Such an amazing background you have. What neat things you will be able to share as your son grows. Love how you wrote this.
    Jessica recently wrote…What Autism Does Not SeeMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      I’m looking forward to sharing stuff with my son. My childhood is so different from his! And thank you.

  • September 24, 2011 Natalie

    Wow what a beautiful way to tell us more about you!
    Natalie recently wrote…Life’s Lessons: The 11 Months EditionMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Natalie!

  • September 24, 2011 Nenette

    This was beautiful. I did mine a few weeks back.
    And personally, I think it’s so great to learn more about the people I stalk. 🙂 Lovely, m’dear.
    Nenette recently wrote…my 8 fall fashion favourites.My Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Nenette. I have to go read yours!

  • September 24, 2011 Hopes

    I love the combination of the East and West. It’s so nice to get to know you a little bit better.
    Hopes recently wrote…Life Lessons: The Little ThingsMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Hope. All my life, I’ve straddled both worlds, and still do. I’m lucky.

  • September 24, 2011 Making It Work Mom

    What a wonderful job you did. It has been so interesting to read everyone’s perspectives of “where they are from”.

    Save this for your children to read someday.

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thank you so much. I’ve been enjoying reading everyone else’s too.

  • September 24, 2011 Yuliya

    That was awesome. How different we are, when I saw “product name” I wouldn’t have thought in a million years that it didn’t have to be a food one! Love the last line especially.
    Yuliya recently wrote…Where I’m fromMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Yuliya! I do think it’s interesting how everyone thinks of such different things when we see the words ‘product name’ 🙂

  • September 24, 2011 Christi

    This is just spectacular! I loved the mix of East and West, different religions, etc.
    Christi recently wrote…My Schweddy Balls Look PrettyMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Christi!

  • September 24, 2011 Maureen

    That is just beautiful and poignant, Alison! Love it 🙂
    Maureen recently wrote…World Moms Blog InterviewMy Profile

    • September 24, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Maureen 🙂 You should write one, I’d love to read it.

  • September 24, 2011 Old School/New School Mom

    I loved this. What a gorgeous piece about your roots!
    Old School/New School Mom recently wrote…Here’s My Son’s CardMy Profile

    • September 25, 2011 Alison

      Thank you so much!

  • September 25, 2011 julie gardner

    LOVED your descriptions here. So vivid. Especially the old photograph album…

    But mostly?

    You made me hungry.

    NOW who’s going to make me breakfast?

    julie gardner recently wrote…Today call me rootedMy Profile

    • September 25, 2011 Alison

      Hee hee, thanks Julie. I think teenagers can be trained to make breakfasts in bed 🙂

  • September 25, 2011 Stefania

    What a beautiful post – I grew up half Italian – half Canadian if you swap homemade pasta with Nona instead of homemade jam with Aunty – then you pretty much describe my upbringing!
    Stefania recently wrote…What’s The Best Double Stroller for Toddler and Infant?My Profile

    • September 25, 2011 Alison

      Then you must have had a wonderful childhood 🙂

  • September 25, 2011 Dwija {House Unseen}

    Oh, I’m so glad you did it! I love learning more about my friends and their history…especially through a window like this.
    Dwija {House Unseen} recently wrote…7 Quick Takes Friday: Log of the 5 Stink EyesMy Profile

    • September 25, 2011 Alison

      This was a wonderful exercise!!

  • September 25, 2011 Charlotte

    Beautiful, this. I feel as though I have a really nice peek through the window that makes you uniquely YOU.

    I love how you end this, too. Brings it all around full circle.
    Charlotte recently wrote…autumn in parisMy Profile

    • September 25, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Charlotte, I really enjoyed writing this!

  • September 25, 2011 Dumb Mom

    Great read! Love all of the dichotomies in your life and how you really seem to appreciate them.
    Dumb Mom recently wrote…Formerly Frumpy Friday. What TO Wear to Work.My Profile

    • September 25, 2011 Alison

      Thank you!

  • September 26, 2011 Leighann

    Gorgeous Alison.
    I loved learning more about you.
    Your words here were blended together perfectly.
    Leighann recently wrote…Are You Reading?My Profile

    • September 26, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Leighann, I think I learned a little about myself too, writing this 🙂

  • September 26, 2011 Susan

    What a wonderful way to grow up. Some people would complain about being caught between two cultures, but clearly you have made the most of your seperate influences.
    Susan recently wrote…What Are The Best LightWeight Strollers And How Do I Find Them?My Profile

    • September 26, 2011 Alison

      I’ve never known any other way growing up 🙂

  • September 26, 2011 Elena

    I love this prompt! It’s so cool to see where everyone is “from” in such a creative way. Great job with it!
    Elena recently wrote…Fit Fruit & Vegetable WashMy Profile

    • September 26, 2011 Alison

      I loved reading everyone else’s posts on the prompt too, it is a great way to learn more about people. And thank you!

  • September 27, 2011 Christine

    I love this. I’ve read two others like it (although obviously very different as well.) They are so evocative! I love the Sunday school existing alongside the Buddha. And I played all those games, too.
    Christine recently wrote…Link Up Your LoveyMy Profile

    • September 27, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Christine!!! This was a great exercise in writing.

  • October 8, 2011 Mommy2¢

    That was very beautifully written. You are such a gifted writer!
    Mommy2¢ recently wrote…if i could turn back time | mommy 2¢My Profile

  • October 8, 2011 Alison

    Thank you so much! I’m blushing 🙂

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