More than anyone else, my husband Dave made this book possible. As I set aside my headhunting business to write, Dave alone has supported our family through his business. What’s more, a thousand times when I disappeared exclaiming “Not now, Mama’s busy writing!” he did double Dad duty. Dave always has urged me to chase my dreams even while encouraging our little girls to start forming dreams of their own. If this is a book about dreams and about true love, my Dave for me is the personification of both.
Before the book went to press, my editor asked Dave to write an Appendix giving us a peek at our daily lives. Here it is below. Of course I had to add in a postscript!
Here’s the full text of the Appendix “Dave has something to say” from Do Not Marry Before Age 30:
Joy and I first met at a little beach restaurant here in Los Angeles. Right away I was attracted to Joy’s special charm, a beauty powered by her warm and playful spirit. That evening, we talked for hours. I had the feeling that my life was about to be changed forever by this little Chinese woman with the big heart.
A year later when Joy and I married, she made me the world’s happiest man.
Joy is the perfect woman for me, but she might not fit some men’s vision of an ideal wife. Specifically:
- Joy knows nothing about sports. I’m a sports-lover but Joy is not. When we first met, I tried to incite her competitive instincts by saying that her sports knowledge was within the bottom 2% of all Americans. She never took the bait. Nowadays, she continues to confuse the San Francisco Giants, the baseball team, with the New York Giants, my football team. She has a hard time keeping track of how points are scored in any team sport. I’ve given up trying to change her in this respect.
- Joy does not cook. At all. When I read that in her 20s Joy ate a lot of ramen, I had to laugh. That’s because ramen is cheap, but also because to cook ramen, you need to know only how to boil water. By now, four years and two kids into our marriage, she’s made some progress. She makes scrambled eggs. And she makes ice cream, by mixing milk, sugar and eggs into the deluxe ice-cream making machine that our friends bought us. Does ice-cream-making count as cooking?
- Joy is not handy around the house. Once when we were dating, she asked me to fix something that had broken in her beautiful downtown apartment. I asked if she had a toolbox. Surprisingly, she did. Unsurprisingly, it looked like a museum showpiece, 15 cm x 60 cm x 10 cm tall, a deep, velvety red, smooth and shiny, without a dent or smudge or any sign of use. Inside it contained one single solitary hammer. No screwdrivers, no wrenches, no tape measures, no nails. I wondered: “What does one do with a hammer and no nails?” Her response: “The picture-hanging kits come with the nails but not the hammer.”
So you can see why some may regard Joy as an impractical choice as a wife. She is obviously and enormously talented, but she’s lop-sided. She focuses on some things and completely ignores other things. She’s her own unique self. A woman brimming with passion and ideas. A dreamer.
When Joy started writing her blog, I saw it as a great creative outlet and a smart way for her to connect with many interesting young talents. Good for her headhunting business, and good for the world.
But then Tangtang asked her to write a book, and I started to worry.
Then Joy wanted to take leave from her headhunting business to write this book, and I started to worry more.
What about money?
What about our family?
What about me?
To further complicate things, at the time, America was entering a massive recession, and my industry, real-estate development, was suffering. I’d just completed renovating two apartment buildings, prices were starting to slide, and I was scrambling to negotiate the final sales before the recession gobbled up the buildings.
All that put a lot of pressure on us, and especially on me. But it became obvious that this book project was deeply important to Joy. I realized that when you fall in love, the adjustments you make are not that hard because in your heart you want to support every ambition that person has. With Joy that’s exactly how I feel.
And so a year ago, I agreed to double my efforts and support our family while she put her business on hold.
Early on, it became obvious that Joy could not write at home with the babies constantly tugging at her leg, and so we rented her a one-room office nearby. That sometimes meant my coming home early from work to be with our girls. Looking back on this year, I’m glad to have had that extra time to bond with them in a way that many fathers never get to.
Joy did not limit her writing to normal business hours. She worked around the clock. Many nights, I awoke in the middle of the night to see face lit up by the glow of her smartphone as she tapped out book notes with her thumbs. I tried to ban smartphones from our bedroom, but by now you know that Joy doesn’t easily follow the arbitrary rules of others.
There were times in the past year when I did wonder. I wondered if this was just nothing more than a personal creative project. I wondered if anyone would ever read this book, and if it would make a difference to any person other than Joy. I wondered if we would look back on this year as a year wasted or a year gained. At the same time, I saw how Joy connected with her blog readers. I saw how their eyes lit up when they met her in person. I saw the joy that she spread in their lives and in the lives of their friends. I saw that Joy has a special gift, and a special opportunity to touch lives through the power of her words.
Joy is not a typical wife. In her lifetime, she’s had unusual experiences. Yet in the overall arc of her life, she’s faced many of the same struggles that face all women today. It takes courage to write so personally about those struggles. I’m proud of Joy for her creation.
Joy is an incredible life partner in so many ways that I could not list them all here. Seems we’re always together talking and laughing, whether we’re walking along the streets of New York or cleaning up crayons scattered throughout the house. Each new day is packed with adventure.
Our girls are growing up with the example of a mother who balances it all with compelling grace. The world may see Joy as a thinker and leader, but at home we see the private side of her. Joy packs our house full of love and laughter. We’re always receiving family and friends who share in and contribute to the joy of our home. Our lives are surrounded with the love and friendship of so many amazing women and men doing great things in the world. Nurtured in this environment, our little girls are starting to blossom into their own independent and charming selves.
Guys – and I know you’re out there because this book is the best inside peek into the mysteries of women – I’ll give you one piece of advice. Have your fun dating around, but when it’s time for a life partner, mature women are better.
Postscript from Joy:
Ladies, you have no need for a toolbox at all. Need something fixed? Be practical: call a guy friend, your boyfriend, or your husband. Men are so charming – they love to help!
I have not yet found all of life’s answers but I have found one important answer in Dave. I’m grateful to have a whole 2nd lifetime ahead with him by my side.
I wish for you every good thing. May you go out and find the joy in who you are and in all that this life has to offer.