Author: Marie Claire Lim Moore
Publication: February 15, 2016
Amazon | Goodreads
Marie Claire Lim Moore builds on her first memoir, Don’t Forget the Soap, offering more entertaining stories about her family in this follow up. Like her first book, Don’t Forget the Parsley is a collection of anecdotes from different points in Claire’s life: stories from her second-generation immigrant childhood in Vancouver and New York City mix with recent expat experiences in Singapore and Hong Kong where she balances multiple roles as wife and mother, corporate executive and author. Her positively Filipino parents continue to have a big influence on her whether it comes to managing family and career, meeting heads of state and world leaders or simply making new friends.
From stray observations (everything is funnier at church) and midnight anxieties (if Jessica Simpson gets to go to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, why shouldn’t I?) to life mantras (don’t let perfection hold you back) and litmus tests (would you serve drinks at my mother’s art show?), Claire’s warm and honest storytelling will resonate with readers and leave them smiling.
While my father’s constant rule breaking and envelope pushing has given my mother more than a healthy level of stress, even she has to admit that the family has benefited from his unabashed approach on at least a few critical occasions, most notable being their immigration interview for Canada.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my father is never be intimidated by anyone. “He still puts his pants on one leg at a time,” my father will say. When I was twelve and going to my first New Kids on the Block concert, he heard me shrieking about the idea of seeing Jordan Knight in person. “No need to get so excited, the guy still puts his pants on one leg at a time.” Years later, I remember telling him that I was anxious about meeting former President Jimmy Carter on a Habitat for Humanity project. Again, “Don’t be nervous, he still puts his pants on one leg at a time.”
This non-intimidation quality of my father’s has served him well. My parents would have never made it into Canada without it. Anyone who has crossed a border knows how standoffish immigration officers can be. You can have all the documents required, you can have every reason to be there, and you may even be a citizen. It can still be a nerve-wracking event. Much more so when you’re on the brink of overstaying your visa and trying to gain entry to a new country. This was the case for my parents after they had been waiting three months for their immigration interview.
“I’m sorry, we’re going to have to decline,” the immigration officer said, closing the file. My mother stood up to leave.
“Can I ask why we’re not being approved?” my father wasn’t going anywhere.
“Unfortunately, I can’t approve your application because you don’t have enough work experience,” the immigration officer explained before standing up to end the conversation.
“But that’s a good thing!” My father put on his positive spin. The immigration officer looked very confused and vaguely intrigued. My father continued, “No experience also means no negative experience. Companies can mold me from scratch. They can train me from the bottom up.”
“This is true,” the officer conceded, “but it’s just a tough job market right now. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who will even open the door.”
“Then I’ll knock on another door,” my father argued with conviction. “And if that doesn’t work, I’ll try another. And another. Eventually I will find a company that will be thrilled to have someone like me.”
The immigration officer realized my father would not let up on this one and he needed another reason to decline. “I believe that may very well be true but the fact of the matter is that we’re just not accepting very many applicants to Vancouver at this time,” he stood up again.
My father stayed seated. “Well, how about Montreal?”
The immigration officer sat down again and opened the file. “It doesn’t say anywhere here you speak French,” he commented as he closed it and attempted to stand once more. My mother followed.
“Oui, oui! Je parle français!” my father confidently said one of the five French phrases he knew.
The immigration officer cracked a smile, “I appreciate the effort but I don’t think so. I’m sorry but I have to take the next interview.”
My mother stood for the third time as the officer did, and my father gestured for her to sit down again. “Officer, Montreal was really our first choice but we have friends in Vancouver who have been convincing us to join them. But if there are no more spaces for Vancouver, we would like to be considered for Montreal. With my skills and my persistence, I’ll be able to get a job there,” my father was convincing.
The immigration officer sighed, “Okay, let me see if I can get one of the French speaking colleagues to interview you.” He started dialing a number on his phone. My mother was horrified since she knew my father’s French capabilities or lack thereof. My father remained cool as a cucumber.
“He’s not there, let me try someone else,” the immigration officer was now dialing a series of numbers.
Then there was a knock at the door. “Excuse me, Officer. I need to send in the next interview,” said one of the assistants, peeking in.
“Alright, alright,” he responded. “I can’t reach anyone and I really have to move this along.” He stamped the documents and the rest is history.
My father always says that more often than not you have a fifty-fifty shot. His philosophy is that if one person is determining your fate, you have to give it everything you’ve got.
It’s funny, but for as much as my mother talks about my father’s confidence, they both have a healthy level of self-esteem if you ask me. I mean this in the best possible way. My mother may have been a shy Catholic schoolgirl but those nuns from College of the Holy Spirit must have known how to instill self-worth. While she was quiet and non-threatening, my mother was never insecure. Criticism rolled off her back and lit a fire within.
Several years back, I was dating someone who came from a very successful family. On one occasion, his parents invited my family over for dinner. I was excited about the idea of our parents bonding and chatting away. Unfortunately, from the moment we stepped into their home until the second we left, my boyfriend’s father was on the phone. My boyfriend’s mother, on the other hand, graciously greeted us and kept us entertained while drinks were served in the sitting room. A few times she excused herself to go upstairs and check on her husband but he never followed her back down. We continued to hear his muffled voice on the phone until finally Boyfriend’s mother said, “Why don’t we just start dinner then?”
To be honest, I didn’t think too much of it at the time. I knew Boyfriend’s father was a very busy man so I didn’t take it personally. But my mother did.
“He just had a lot of business going on, Mom. They’re working on this deal …” I defended Boyfriend’s father on the drive home.
“If it were the Queen downstairs, he would have found a way to step out and greet her properly,” my mother replied. I think it was the immigrant experience in Commonwealth Canada that makes “the Queen” a common reference in our family.
“Okay, fine,” I chuckled with resignation. “He probably would have come down to say hello to the Queen …”
“You are more important than the Queen,” she said defiantly. Justin was now roaring with laughter but my mother explained, “You are the person his son wants to marry. If you’re a father, what could be more important than meeting the family of the person your son wants to marry?”
No one could argue with that.
Claire is regularly ranked among leaders in the Asian-American professional community and her experiences have been written about in The New York Times, USA Today, Smart Parenting, Good Housekeeping and People Asia. She enjoys juggling her thriving career and growing family, fundraising for Filipino community events and promoting work-family balance for women through her talks as well as her writing. Previous speaking engagements have been hosted by Standard Chartered Bank, The Financial Women's Association of Singapore, and MasterCard Asia.
In 2014, Claire received the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World Award™ (Global FWN100™) that recognizes Filipina women who are influencing the face of leadership in the global workplace, having reached status for outstanding work in their respective fields, and who are recognized for their leadership, achievement and contributions to society, female mentorship and legacy. Claire is also featured in women's empowerment expert Claudia Chan's Remarkable Women Series along with female role models Arianna Huffington, Tory Burch and Zainab Salbi.