And after I played them both a few times, I realized they were two halves of the same song.

What use for? asks my mother, jiggling the table with her hand. You put something else on top, everything fall down.

Fate is shaped half by expectation, half by inattention.

My parents told me I would become a doctor and then in my spare time I would become a concert pianist. So, both my day job and my spare time were sort of taken care of.

You can't have intentions without consequences. The question is, who pays for the consequences? Saving fish from drowning. Same thing. Who's saved? Who's not?

Do you know what morals are Violet? They're other people's rules. Do you know what a conscience is? Freedom to use your own intelligence to determine what is right or wrong. You possess that freedom and no one can remove it from you.

How to obey parents and listen to your mother's mind. How not to show your own thoughts, to put your feelings behind your face so you can take advantage of hidden opportunities. Why easy things are not worth pursuing. How to know your own worth and polish it, never flashing it around like a cheap ring. Why Chinese thinking is best.

I had discarded pride, that useless burden of self-importance I had carried around like my portable vanity with its broken mirror.

Writers by nature are subversive, observant, and discerning, and their voice contains that.

I used to think that my mother got into arguments with people because they didn't understand her English, because she was Chinese.

Whenever I'm with my mother, I feel as though I have to spend the whole time avoiding land mines.

My mother and I never really understood one another. We translated each other's meanings and I seemed to hear less than what was said, while my mother heard more.

When you touch a man's nostalgia, he is yours.

Memory feeds imagination.

I think now that fate is half shaped by expectation, half by inattention. But somehow, when you lose something you love, faith takes over. You have to pay attention to what you lost. You have to undo the expectation.

I know how it is to live your life like a dream. To listen and watch, to wake up and try to understand what has already happened.

As a precaution, Ruth had also gnawed over the worst possibilities—brain tumor, Alzheimer's, stroke—believing this would ensure that it was not these things. History had always proven that she worried for nothing.

I think Kwan intended to show me the world is not a place but the vastness of the soul. And the soul is nothing more than love, limitless, endless, all that moves us toward knowing what is true.

Hugging and being hugged by everybody in moments of sadness and triumph, because hugging is something that never came naturally to me, and now it does.

The things one had to do in life sometimes had nothing to do with what was fun or convenient.

I'm usually woken by a vibration on my up-band. It's the gradual vibration for about ten seconds, and then the chimes of my blue light. It's just a way to wake gently. It all gently puts me into awake-mode. I play music off of my Sonos playlist. 'The Rachmaninoff Concerto 3 in D-minor', 1st movement.

Actually, I'm hoping we might have that. A commitment through time, past, present, future... marriage.

But how can anyone truly understand another's suffering unless he has felt the wound being made and the moment trust died?

Poetry. I read Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Jane Hirschfield. I like to read Billy Collins out loud.

It's a luxury being a writer, because all you ever think about is life.

You remember only what you want to remember. You know only what your heart allows you to know.

Lust leaves you blind long after you've lost your mind in bed.

Your tears do not wash away your sorrows. They feed someone else's joy.

Japanese chase-away juice.

A painting was a translation of the language of my heart.

The living death of safety and stagnation.

Lies spread faster than you can catch them.

Neglect is a surreptitious slayer of the heart. It has as its accomplice carelessness.

I am a miserable cook but an extremely talented eater.

And I think now that fate is shaped half by expectation, half by inattention. But somehow, when you lose something you love, faith takes over. You have to pay attention to what you lost. You have to undo the expectation.

I would never require anyone to read any book. That seems antithetical to why we read - which is to choose a book for our personal reasons. I always shudder when I'm told my books are on required reading lists.

Ruth believed Wendy made her life more sparkly, but today was not a good time for sparkles.

I would beat those wings to stay aloft, and when the wind suddenly died or buffeted me around, I would keep beating those strong wings and fly in my own slice of wind.

I felt ashamed of being different and ashamed of feeling that way.

Yet part of me also thinks the whole idea makes perfect sense. The three of us, leaving our differences behind, stepping on the plane together, sitting side by side, lifting off, moving West to reach the East.

How can you blame a person for his fears and weaknesses unless you have felt the same and done differently?

I felt like a rich vagabond who had passed through the world paving my way with gold fairy dust, then realizing too late that the path disintegrated as soon as I passed over it.

Writing is the witness to myself about myself. Whatever others say of me or how they interpret me is a simulacrum of their own devising.

This was not chance that they met twice, my mother would tell me whenever she recounted this story. It was fate.

Now they seemed to be in a contest over who could irritate her more, and she sometimes had to remind herself that teenagers had souls. Dory.

Death was not necessarily a portal to the blank bliss of absolute nothingness. It was a deep dive into the unknown.

Anyone can have original style, he countered. And yet no one truly does. We're influenced by those who came before us, beginning with the painters thousands of years ago who imitated nature.

For books I want to keep reading, it's definitely the voice. It must be a voice I've never heard before, and it must have its own particular intelligence. By 'voice,' I don't mean vernacular. It has to have its own particular history and world that it inhabits.

That is the saddest part when you lose someone you love—that person keeps changing. And later you wonder, Is this the same person I lost? Maybe you lost more, maybe less, ten thousand different things that come from your memory or imagination—and you do not know which is which, which was true, which is false.