Hella Immigrant (with Susan Lieu)

Subscribe to Lemonada Premium for Bonus Content

Author and playwright Susan Lieu joins the pod this week to create a trifecta of Asian Auntie shenanigans. She talks about writing her first memoir, “The Manicurist’s Daughter,” which chronicles her search for answers after losing her mother to a botched tummy tuck. It’s an emotionally raw conversation that will leave you hopeful that generational healing is just as real as the trauma. Then, the Aunties dive into her cart, which is truly an ode to Costco and its generous return policy. Susan also shares her solution to inflating matcha latte prices.

Lemonada has teamed up with Apple Books to bring you the Lemonada Book Club. “The Manicurist’s Daughter” by Susan Lieu is our audiobook of the month! Listen here.

We want to hear from you! Drop us a message on Speakpipe.

Subscribe to the Add to Cart newsletter for juicy extras.

Please note, Add To Cart contains mature themes and may not be appropriate for all listeners.

To see all products mentioned in this episode, head to @addtocartpod on Instagram. To purchase any of the products, see below.

Stay up to date with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @LemonadaMedia.

Joining Lemonada Premium is a great way to support our show and get bonus content. Subscribe today at bit.ly/lemonadapremium.

Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this show and all Lemonada shows: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors



SuChin Pak, Susan Lieu, Kulap Vilaysack

Kulap Vilaysack  00:10

Carter’s it’s your aunties, I’m Kuku Vilaysack, welcome back to Add To Cart.


SuChin Pak  00:15

And I’m SuChin Pak, already we feel a spiritual and emotional connection to our guest today. Her book is our featured aunties Book Club Pick, and it is exactly the kind of story that we wanted to amplify when we started this segment, right, Ku?


Kulap Vilaysack  00:31

Exactly, Su our guest is an author, playwright and performer. She is also the co host of the podcast Model Minority Moms. She and her sister co founded Socialist Chocolate Tear and artisanal chocolate company based in San Francisco that I have added to cart from many times. If that wasn’t enough, her first book. Oh, this book everybody.


SuChin Pak  00:53

Oh, this, […]


Kulap Vilaysack  00:57

Oh man, a memoir. The Manicurist’s daughter published in March, please add to cart, Susan Lieu.


Susan Lieu  01:09

Thank you.


SuChin Pak  01:10

She’s entering the ring.


Susan Lieu  01:11

Who we who, are we fighting against?


Kulap Vilaysack  01:13

I mean, I think we’re fighting against.


Susan Lieu  01:17



Kulap Vilaysack  01:18

Patriarchy, body image. Mommy, daddy issues.


Susan Lieu  01:22

Unresolved grief, body shaming.


SuChin Pak  01:26

Yes, this cart is full this week.


Kulap Vilaysack  01:28

It’s so full, it’s overflowing, Susan, I wow. In preparation for your appearance. SuChin and I were both given your audio book, which you read. And this woman is a performer.


SuChin Pak  01:43

She’s a storyteller.


Kulap Vilaysack  01:44

But she’s also a performer. And at first I took notes I wrote down the line you said I was not taught to listen to my body. I was taught to listen to my elders. And bull’s eye. I mean, that was like, boo. And then I wrote down my own thought, which was, I also vomited into soup because of being forced to finish food.


Susan Lieu  02:06

You too, ha?


Kulap Vilaysack  02:08

Me too, me too, and that is a it’s a visceral memory. So to say that I related to you would be a gross understatement. I became so engrossed by you in your book that I stopped taking notes, and I just I just was, I felt along with you. I was on the ride with you. Oh, man, I were just I feel so lucky that this is the Lemonada book club pick of the month.


Susan Lieu  02:32

I don’t know what to say. I just feel like yeah, you inside.


Kulap Vilaysack  02:36

And I know that’s parasocial. I know that’s parasocial, I’m aware.


Susan Lieu  02:41

Wwell, you totally know me […]


SuChin Pak  02:45

Boundaries, three Asian woman that doesn’t exist. It’s a circle, it just feeds each other. It let’s talk about, I mean, the question is yours really? Like, where do you want to begin? I mean, it goes from everything of like, what’s it like to put your life, you know, on the page like that, too, what’s it been like creatively like anything, let’s just start wherever you want to start, Susan.


Susan Lieu  03:11

Sure, I mean, to give everyone context. This entire story begins when I’m 11 years old, and my mother dies from a botched tummy tuck. And this is San Francisco 1996. And, to this day, my family has never had a conversation about her, her life, her death, their grieving. None of it. We have just pretended like it hasn’t happened. I don’t know if it’s because we’re Asian American. There’s so much repressed emotion, there’s unresolved PTSD as Vietnamese boat people. But to this day, we have never had a conversation about it. And whenever I ask questions, I’m the youngest of four, they said I was being too emotional, that I was living the past. And I was like, no, no, no. I’m 11, and now that I have a kid, and I look back on all that I go, I affirmed that that was crazy, you know? And I affirm that we did not have the tools to talk about it. But also, I also acknowledged that I was the kid and they were the adults, right? And the reason that this all came out, it started as a one woman show 140 pounds, how beauty killed my mother. I took it on a 10 city national tour when I was six months pregnant, great idea. You feel the best then. And then eventually got this book deal and like to answer your original question, this all happened because my back was up against the wall. My dad after I got married, he was like, babies, you’re not getting any younger. And I said, how can I become a mom? If I don’t know my mom, if something goes wrong, who am I going to call? And then concurrently I was going through this, own journey around my life, you know, in the dolt, I was disappointed that I became moved. Because I wanted to be a performer. I had started in stand up comedy, I was doing actually pretty well for a good year, like I headlined at the purple onion, San Francisco is at Caroline’s on Broadway, like things were happening for me, but then I got heckled really bad at a charity comedy show by a white guy, I was whispering my jokes into the microphone. I, it was so bad, my siblings didn’t even make fun of me afterwards. They just bought me a drink. And so here when I was getting pressure to have kids, I thought, how can I tell my kid be what you want in life, if I didn’t do it myself? I am a coward. And I also knew now that we were middle class, I would project onto my kid and expect them to achieve. Because anything I ever wanted, as a kid, I had to apply for scholarships, I had to forge my parents signature, you know, and like, my kid would have what they want, but if they didn’t try as hard as I did, then I would have been pissed. And so I had to deal with all that before I became a mom. And what that looked like, was because my family wouldn’t talk. I tracked down the plastic surgeons family, I read 1000s of pages of depositions. And I sought the help of spirit channelers to get information. Every time I learned something new, I put it on stage. That’s how I dealt with my grief.


SuChin Pak  06:25

When you put it like that, in the context of like a lifetime of back to the wall questions unanswered. I mean, I think so many immigrant kids can relate to that. And then that the only way you could get answers, even though you have this family around you that was right there, every step of the way, is really to turn to strangers, you know, like literally turn to strangers, and then literally turn to strangers in an audience to somehow process this because processing all of this would be great if we could process it with the people that we love. And I think like my jaw is on the floor when you put it that way, because I never put that together. I was like, oh, this is amazing. She’s so industrious, like she’s a journalist, she’s uncovering her family history, wait. And then when you said, but I had to do that, because my family just shut me out of this process. And they shot themselves out of the process. Let’s be honest, it isn’t just you, right?


Kulap Vilaysack  07:30

I think that when Susan, you’re talking about, like, affirming that you were a kid, and they were adults, but also, for me to affirm to you that like all the kids, you and your three other siblings, were asked to be adults. And they, I mean, I mean, that’s just so relatable Su, and I can relate to that on such a deeper level. And I did this documentary, back in 20. It came out in 2018, and was called Origin Story. And it was about me at like, 33, not dissimilar from you, having become pregnant for the first time, unfortunately, misscarying, and realizing that I never knew my birth father, and I have this fraught relationship with my mom. So I to sort of set out to find him. But in the process of it, I really found peace with my relationship with my mom and also with myself. And what you’re describing what you described, your process was something that I can really relate to just like sort of just trying to put form to my dysfunction, and just trying to just lay it out there, of course, it’s going to be for my POV, of course is biased, of course, I’m an unreliable narrator. With grace, when I told him well, my mom told me that my dad wasn’t my real dad was 14, you were 11, and the truth, truth is somewhere in between all of our troops, right? Not only were you going through your experience, but I think you give your family a lot of grace. You give them a lot of dignity, even though they made choices that made sense for them at the time, you know, airing our family’s laundry is not it’s not what we do. Like it’s not, but like I felt a sense of freedom from you. Well, we’re in freedom.


Susan Lieu  09:20

Yeah, I mean, my family’s criticism was you’re stuck in the past. And I was like, no, no, no, unless we were resolved the past. I feel like I can’t move forward. So this is my way to live in the present. This is my way to not feel like we’re walking around just dead all the time. This is me living as an as I stepped onto that stage. That was me exalted, you know, and as I continue to do this work around intergenerational healing and talking with different communities, this is me living so it’s actually not dwelling in the past. It’s being liberated and empowered by the past.


Kulap Vilaysack  10:00

And they kept saying to you over and over, let go, let go, this is how you let go, this is how you are going to let go. And this is how you’re going to let them let go.


Susan Lieu  10:08

That’s right. Because until I could pursue that my deep desires and my, my deep calling, then then I was attached. I was attached to their behavior, I was attached to their approval, I was attached to all that. And when I let that attachment go, and really focused on me, that was liberation.


Kulap Vilaysack  10:29

Snaps. It’s so ironic.


Susan Lieu  10:33

It’s so ironic.


SuChin Pak  10:34

I know, it’s a this kind of healing work. And I put it in quotes were, you know, deliberately because we do live in in two worlds, right? We lived in this sort of like, Americanized version of healing that resonates, some of it resonates. And then, but still, we have this other foot right, in this tradition in this history in this past of coming from immigrant cultures, and specifically Asian immigrant cultures. So I find myself as like an almost 50 year old woman. I feel like I’m a baby sometimes when I’m trying to figure some of this stuff out. You know what I mean? Like, I’m like, shouldn’t I have figured out the question to what do I want to do with my life? Like, maybe around, I don’t know, 16 to 20, like the rest of, you know what I mean? What I’m watching these, these John Hughes movies, you know, growing up, and I’m just doing that work right now about like, what do I want? What are my needs? How do I heal? You know, me, you know, and I think that that is something I resonated with you too, can you talk about that just sort of living in both of these honoring the tradition, but also, knowing that there’s another path to healing?


Susan Lieu  11:50

Yeah, how could you blame your 16 year old self frayed? Because like, we are so conditioned by our families, they wanted us to have financial securities, so then you’re like, doctor, lawyer. I don’t know why accountant is always thrown in there. Over the pharmacist, you know, there was this path, because it was a reflection of their trauma. And what they don’t want to have happen again, right. They want stability, they want 401k, they want earned PTO. What I grew up with was, I grew up in my parents nail salon, and they had none of those things. So of course, they would want those things to me how ever how they did it was if you don’t do this, then you’re not worthy. If you don’t do this, you’re not as good as everybody else. What’s wrong with you? You’re lazy, you’re stupid. The stick wasn’t working for me, you know what I mean? I kind of needed carrot, I kind of am a very tender person. And I got all I got was stick all day. And when I get stuck all day, I believe it, I internalize it. And then as an adult, like going to college, going to grad school, they’re like, Okay, well, what do you want to major in? What do you want to do? I, of course, I’m going to be triggered and cling to what I was known to be afraid of, and to protect myself, instead of actually opening up to Hmm, what’s actually going to truly motivate me? Right? Like, our families didn’t have the privilege of knowing what intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation was. It was survive, right? And like, yeah, present yourself, like in the late least shameful way possible and have dignity. And we’re gonna do that by pushing you to the brink so that you can have money, I mean, it’s scarcity mindset. And for for our parents, you know, we stand on their shoulders of course, and we actually are like you are your parents greed is like dream it’s just that they couldn’t even imagine what life you could create like, as you know, your mom has is trying to escape for the fifth, sixth time and she’s lost in the jungle with your brothers and her feet are bloodied. She’s not thinking oh, I hope she takes a one person performance show like that. Just not coming up for her like that.


Kulap Vilaysack  14:08

Sure, she’ll want to be a psychology major.


Susan Lieu  14:13

Yeah, dream wait, what was that again? Let me look that up, do I really a […]


Kulap Vilaysack  14:18

But I pause it that you have you know, mean, more than anything you make your entire family proud and you’ve set yourself I mean, this is this to me is why you was why they escaped and why you know that the true American Dream is you.


SuChin Pak  14:33

Susan, I feel like you still feel hesitation. That’s the thing it’s like she like went to an Ivy League school. She you don’t I mean, like that Ivy League.


Kulap Vilaysack  14:44

Shut everybody up, and yet an Asian parents still finds a way.


Susan Lieu  14:50

Liberally use the word proud like it salt like Maldon salt. Okay, but like my dad and my brother? We do not talk about the book. We do not talk about the play. My aunt called me on the phone, she said, when you’re going to get a real job, this is really cute that you’re writing and stuff, but you must not be busy anymore. I’ve never been more busy in my life. My dad is like suicide.


SuChin Pak  15:13

How about loan officer?


Susan Lieu  15:15

Okay, like still still going at the loan officer and I’m like, bah, that’s a saw you think I could be? But so there’s still a distance, right? Like I, on a rational level, they should be proud of me. I should be proud of me. But on a true like, psychological dysfunctional, like, true day to day life. Like, I don’t feel that, you know?


Kulap Vilaysack  15:41

I understand that. I just wonder if you could value my opinion more than those people.


SuChin Pak  15:46

Just a stranger. Just strangers.


Susan Lieu  15:50

You know, like growing up and being like, what is happening? And it’s overtime, it’s like, yeah, I hang out with the white hippies. And they’re talking about, like, your chosen family and your tribe and all that. And like, at this point, I kind of like am endorsing that, because the default is not working. It’s not serving me. And I’m always feeling really small. And it’s not like I want to dismiss my family or like, not value them. Because I do I think now that I’m 38, I have a lot more compassion for them. But for a long time, it was very confusing.


SuChin Pak  16:29

I think that that, you know hooh, okay, let me try to slow my heart rate down because it just everything you said right there. I had come across, I’m sure it was on Instagram, that the negative voice in our head, the critical voice in our head is almost assuredly a parental figure like that is the voice that we instill, right? That is the voice that is in our psyche as our own voice. Like, as a parent, that blew my mind, because I was like, man, do I want my voice in my child’s head to be only critical, like the only radio station that it dials into is criticism? Because that’s how I was raised, right, number one. And so with that, my question to you was going to be when I was making my way, you know, not being a lawyer, I would get questions from like young, Asian American college students and high school grads would be like, I want to do you know, I want to be a writer, I want to be a journalist, but my mom wants me to be an accountant. You know, what advice do you have, and the advice that I had back then, if you can move as far away as possible, and talk to them as little as possible, just for a while until you feel like you got your feet under you. That was the only advice I could truly give from my heart that worked for me.


Susan Lieu  17:57

That’s really nice.


Kulap Vilaysack  17:58

Because we have no boundaries, we have no boundaries. You have to add boundaries of states.


SuChin Pak  18:05

Anyway, I just was wondering if because we’re just touching on this subject, and I just feel like there’s so much here, especially for our younger listeners who are like, how do I even begin to undo some of this?


Susan Lieu  18:19

I mean, all of that tracks, I grew up in the Bay Area. And I only applied to Harvard because I watched Legally Blonde. But now I look back on it, and I moved all the way across the country to Massachusetts. And now I look back and I go, oh, it’s because I didn’t have space to breathe. And I felt like I was always criticized for everything. And nothing was ever enough. So at least when I’m still not enough, I had some space to actually here eventually, what I wanted. But that all kind of gets all messed up as you you follow me in the journey to me going to college. And instead of me talking about how Harvard changed my life, it was such a great opportunity. I just get sucked into a coal, because that’s how bad I want belonging. Because I’m not getting it out home.


SuChin Pak  19:08

That chapter. I did not see that coming.


Kulap Vilaysack  19:11

Well. Let’s talk about that right now. Because SuChin Pak has something to share with you.


Susan Lieu  19:15

Oh my god […] You’re Korean too also know done yoga?


SuChin Pak  19:20

I not only know it, but I was part of it for a while in New York. And I had forgotten all about it, Susan, until you talk about this. For those who just kind of trying to follow along our conversation of like just fan girling just know that at some point Susan gets herself into a cult because of all of these unresolved issues. And when I read what cult it was I was like, oh yeah, I was in that


Kulap Vilaysack  19:48

Was so funny, because I said to her I was like, oh my god, Susan saying that like she had her mentor was this like white lady spoke in a Korean sort of like intonation and then Su, what did you say?


SuChin Pak  20:01

I said I had a white guy who spoken to Korean intonation. Is that like part of it? I? I don’t know, I didn’t get into it as deeply as you did, Susan, I think partly because I was older. And number two, I am the cheapest person you will ever meet. And so I am actually uncomfortable.


Susan Lieu  20:17

Oh, yeah.


SuChin Pak  20:18

And I, after a few checks, I was like, no, I’m too cheap for this but I get it. I was right there with that guy, by the way, hot guy.


Susan Lieu  20:29

Did you fall in love with him?


SuChin Pak  20:30

I mean, let me tell ya. I not only walked away from this call, because I was too cheap, but also because I am very sexually repressed, you know, let’s be honest here, you know, I’m a prude. And he did this healing session with me. I mean, it was sort of like a Reiki, what do you know? I’m talking about? What they do, like they laid you down in a dark room. And he like moved his hands, not on my body, but just like hovering above. And he put his hand on my like, my heart bone. What does that like the cartilage there?


Kulap Vilaysack  21:02

For between your boobs?


SuChin Pak  21:04

Yeah, like right above it, like not touching you.


Kulap Vilaysack  21:09

How does this Bridge, Bridgerton Season Two?


SuChin Pak  21:14

He, I mean, listen, listen, really, really fine, man.


Susan Lieu  21:18

Did you feel an explosion in your lower area?


SuChin Pak  21:22

I felt an explosion in a lot of areas. And let me say that was the last time I returned to Tom yoga. I was so freaked out by just like that. Anyway, I digress. The whole point is Susan, that your journey for validation.


Susan Lieu  21:40

It’s so sad, it’s so predictable.


SuChin Pak  21:43

It’s an extreme sport. It’s not. I mean, maybe to us. But a lot of people reading this book or they’re gonna be like, holy goodness, this is an extreme sport that we have taken on to validate ourselves that we go this far. So I guess for me, I think my last question about the book is just do you feel validated, now? Where do you find that? That self love and I know that it’s ever changing, and I know that it’s still.


Susan Lieu  22:15

It’s a moving target, right?


SuChin Pak  22:16

Yes, it’s a moving target. But you must have come to some, like profound understanding of yourself after going through all of this.


Susan Lieu  22:26

I mean, yes, and no, I am super proud of my show. I’m super proud of my book, when I get messages from fans about what this is, what this means for them that I’m saving their lives that they feel so seen, like, that’s my currency. I feel purpose, like hell yes. But I would be lying to you. If I said after I get off a call with a relative or they say a couple of dismissive things that I don’t cling to that, you know, where it’s different now, like, I especially after having a kid, I think I, I have come into my own a lot more and done a lot more of the inner child work. Since my kid has come for sure. Pre kid, I was doing all the intergenerational trauma stuff. Post kid, it was an intergenerational healing stuff. So I’m very grateful for that. And it’s not like, I think they’re right, or I give all my agency to them. It’s just that I still feel a little hurt. It’s just for not as long. But I still there still is this deep yearning for approval from my family. You know, like it’s, it’s a parent child dynamic. It’s a It’s just part of being in the clan. And so I can’t stand here and say, I’m, I have love, I am light and, and I see them I have compassion for them and then absorbing I shoot it back out and light out of my armpits. You know, like, it’s not.


SuChin Pak  23:57

Like a cult leader.


Susan Lieu  23:59

You know what I mean? And can’t wait, but like, it’s I still get tender. Like it still hurts. Something just happened last weekend, where I with another relative was just pretty unbelievable and very painful and mean. And what am I going to do about it? You know, like, I can’t change them. And, my heart is still open to them. I still, I still want them to love me. Is that so bad? But do I feel affirmed in the work that I do? Yes, do I get reflected by so many people and fans and friends? And do I feel like I’m walking on my path? Hell yes, for sure. But we’re we’re still tender. We still all have our demons and we all still want to be loved and belong.


Kulap Vilaysack  25:00

Carters please make sure to add the Manicurist’s Daughter to cart. I know I’ll be gifting this to friends of the pod Matt McConkey to Casey Wilson getting two copies for my sister’s Nina and Alyssa. But Susan, let’s see what you’ve added to cart, shall we?


Susan Lieu  25:15

Sure. Oh my god, guys. Molly Chandon champagne. These bubbles are like tickling your mouth. Like and then if you like have a little bit left the next morning still going strong.


Kulap Vilaysack  25:30



Susan Lieu  25:32

Be a sparkling wine like 15 to $20 bottle girl. And then we were celebrating my book with my husband and we were like, come on, let’s just do it large. And then we did it, and then I knew the difference. Like, these bubbles are like touching you the whole time. They’re like tickling. You’re just giggling like a little girl again.


Kulap Vilaysack  25:53

Ah, it’s an elixir. It’s a you know, look, look, look, we’re gonna get into this and we’re gonna talk about Costco in another context. I’m not mad at the Kirkland. I just want to know that there’s a high low, the Kirkland champagnes amazing. But you’re absolutely right. Sometimes you just get for what you pay for. I mean, you get what you pay for. That’s, that’s the same because it’s true.


SuChin Pak  26:14

It is true.


Kulap Vilaysack  26:15

Speaking of Costco, and seeing what you have in your ears right now.


Susan Lieu  26:19

I’m wearing the Beats Studio buds. Because I have like air pods, both the generations. And when I wear the air pods like they like slowly ooze out of my ears. I don’t know if the worst description ever I have wet your wax. My husband’s Korean he has dry earwax. He also doesn’t have BO and he can eat cheese, not to brag.


Kulap Vilaysack  26:41

This is our relationship. I’m loud, so like this is these are our consequence up […]


SuChin Pak  26:45

You’re wet wax. I’m dry wax. I’m not bragging it just is the way it is.


Susan Lieu  26:50

Yes, you are a perfect human being with no BO got it. So anyways, those air pods is just like, like I’m working out. And it’s just like always coming out. I don’t even know what the point is anymore. So I got these Beats Studio buds from Costco, just to try it out. They have been coming out of my ears during this call. But because I’m just too lazy to try the different sizes. However, I feel so liberated by Costco because I can always return it. And you said you’re cheap. Here’s how cheap I am. Did you know you can return anything at Costco? As long as it’s more than half full and not expel?


SuChin Pak  27:26

I do now.


Susan Lieu  27:30

Like my son, he was done with his diapers. He was potty training. And then I was like, man, I got like half a box. And then I was like, let’s see if I can return it. And that was it. She looked at it, and she was like, is this more than half I was like, yes, and then she’s like, okay, return those diapers.


Kulap Vilaysack  27:49

Well, my mind is blown.


SuChin Pak  27:53

By the way, this is this is true freedom. We want to talk about being liberated. And now we’re getting to it.


Susan Lieu  27:59

Yeah, more than half full. I mean, it’s gross but I think after this, I’m going to downsize to the smaller ones, they have different sizes. But the fact that I can return an item that’s about what $150, $200 is liberating, because then I can try it.


SuChin Pak  28:13

That’s 75% of the decision to buy something is the first thing I do is I look at the price. And then the second thing I do is look at the return policy. I won’t do it if it’s not doesn’t have a good return policies just not adding to cart.


Susan Lieu  28:28

Right, because then you’re like, oh, when it comes on, I can get it right away. But then the return policy is not as generous, right?


Kulap Vilaysack  28:35

No, no, no we love Costco here, Su maybe this is what is going to get you to become a member. Susan, did you know about Costco next?


Susan Lieu  28:47

Was have you heard about what?


Kulap Vilaysack  28:48

Okay, great so a listener brought this to our attention. I had no idea on the website. If you go to Costco Next. You can get Korean skincare for crazy percentage off.


SuChin Pak  29:01

It’s on another website, but you get the Costco right deal.


Kulap Vilaysack  29:05

Yes. So it’s on the Costco website. You hit Costco. Next, it takes you to partners basically that have pages that are Costco members prices.


Susan Lieu  29:17



Kulap Vilaysack  29:18

Yes, Susan […] Basically, all US Asians are so many people, like a quarter of their their like customers are Asian and they are they know it, they know it and there’s, they’re hooking us up, they’re taking care of us.


Susan Lieu  29:35

So wait, do you do the Costco credit card?


Kulap Vilaysack  29:38

I haven’t done that yet. Is that what I need to do about it?


Susan Lieu  29:41

Yeah, 2% because okay, so I got the Amazon Prime credit card. We bought this cruise on it. And it was like we had like black ice and Seattle and like we couldn’t like leave to go. And then they’re like, oh, just contact your credit card. Amazon Prime visa is the cheapest credit card ever and they didn’t like refund us anything for all these problems. And they’re like, Oh, you got the prime card. So then I looked into the Costco card right? You get 2% back from everything plus they have favorable travel policy and all that plus a guess right? So I was like, and it’s free, no fees, right? So I’m like, man, I’ve been I’ve been like slowly inching my way to Costco credit card for a while. I haven’t done it yet, okay want to.


SuChin Pak  30:27

I don’t think in in the years that we’ve done this, we’ve reached an auntie peak like this, just sit here and watch you two shimmy your shoulders for five minutes about Costco […]


Kulap Vilaysack  30:42

We are Moet Chandon champagne bottles talking about Costco.


Susan Lieu  30:47

Yeah, ext time, half or more guys, half or more.


SuChin Pak  30:52

Half or more.


Kulap Vilaysack  30:53

That’s such a hot tip, it’s such a hot tip. Let’s talk about this neck pillow because I knew I know SuChin Pak wants to know about this.


Susan Lieu  31:01

Okay, you go on the aeroplane and then you want to go to sleep. And then you wake up and your neck like totally hurts, right? So do you get like the big circular thing? That’s like really lumpy. And then like, how are you going to store it? How are you getting carried, it’s gonna get all like dirty with like touching outside things, right? Or you get the Amazon bestseller which is called Nap Fun. But I did try it for my flight from Seattle to New York just now. And so what you do is you unfold it, and you put it on your shoulders, and there’s a little snap thing. And what’s cool about it is you can like kind of roll it up and it has a sack to it. So that it’s not touching outside things all the time. You know, because it’s just like this, like dirty idea. But also it can kind of roll up a little bit. So it’s like a little less obnoxious. I also bought the inflatable one once, you know, but that just it just doesn’t really it’s not working, it’s not working. So this one was good enough because I’m about to do a lot of traveling for my book tour and like mama got asleep.


Kulap Vilaysack  32:02

That’s right.


Susan Lieu  32:02

You know how to get in and where you can and it’s going to take up a little space but not fun, I’d add to cart.


Kulap Vilaysack  32:08

Okay, great, because I want to tell you what SuChin has tried in the past. This bitch has come in with a neck pillow that she says she is made to you fill yourself. And she’s so cheap. That she’s filling it with like snacks and stuff.


Susan Lieu  32:24



Kulap Vilaysack  32:25

Like that’s right, Susan, that’s the correct response. That’s the correct.


SuChin Pak  32:30

With anything, just to say. So it’s a net pillow that you fill with anything so it doesn’t come with filling so that you can have space in your luggage for all the stuff that you’re going to buy wherever you’re going, right?


Susan Lieu  32:43

Totally get it.


Kulap Vilaysack  32:43

Some people might put socks some people might.


SuChin Pak  32:47

But you can put snacks. Listen, I mean, nobody gave me instructions on life. I’m just making it up. Like I don’t know. I’m sorry, did you get the manual? I miss, I missed that package. So I’m just out here doing the best version of myself. And I am a snack monster that takes up 90% of my carry on luggage.


Kulap Vilaysack  33:10

Because you’re scared you’re gonna starve right?


SuChin Pak  33:13

Yeah, like starve and not have the snack like I can’t eat normal people food. You know, like my body’s sensitive. You know, I need to have my roasted Korean chestnuts. I need to have you know, the certain type of Japanese crackers. I have the like, I need to have the things that I’m not going to be able to buy and so that’s what I filled it with now. Did I return it? Yes. It was it was but a fleeting dream.


Susan Lieu  33:39

Yeah, because once you fill it with the snacks, you might crush the snacks you might forget about the snacks like I’d.


Kulap Vilaysack  33:44

Not even that Susan. This thing was so massive.


SuChin Pak  33:49

I was like there is no way I am taking this on the plane with me on also there’s no way that they’re not going to stop me. They’re gonna be like listen, I get it’s a pillow and that’s allowed on top of your baggage allowance but that is not allowed seven sets a purse of Japanese backers is not allowed. So I don’t know. I but I’m willing to try anything. You know, that’s because I’m that kind of a person. You know, I’m just open.


Susan Lieu  34:19

Yeah, I mean, I get your soda snacks, which I also am to have you ever bought like one of those like, you know, when you go fishing, there’s a little box to put all the little lik, I see that on Instagram where moms put their kids snacks in it. What if you put your snacks in it? God I don’t know that’s too much organization for her. I guess you might have to remove the packaging and then it gets less crunchy.


SuChin Pak  34:44

And it gets us no, but I like it. I also like when I watch those. It’s it’s just it feels so organized and here’s what I mean. It’s like a woman who hasn’t been through too much. You know is walking through life dainty with doors open, you know, doors opening for her and doors open and it just I want to live in that woman psyche.


Kulap Vilaysack  35:07

Yeah, Susan, I just want you to give us some more context. This is a woman who will reuse a hot sauce bottle and put mouthwash in it, and then that.


Susan Lieu  35:16

Oh my God, I think that’s my boundary right there. Because I’ll always taste the hot sauce. You know what I mean? Psychologically?


SuChin Pak  35:25

Well, maybe that’s a you problem because I.


Susan Lieu  35:28

Are you starting a revolution?


SuChin Pak  35:30

Oh, no, and I tell you the amount of small to even smaller glass jars that I tingle entangle with when I travel, it’s, it’s it. I am breaking some sort of code, travel law, but, you know, Catch Me If You Can.


Susan Lieu  35:47

Oh, my God. I think I finally met someone more cheap and outrageous than me.


SuChin Pak  35:52

Oh, yeah. Feel 100% I can’t believe you doubted yourself.


Susan Lieu  35:55

I feel no, no. I always feel like I’m like too much like, like, when I go to a restaurant, my husband’s like, what do you want? And then I have to like choose like the two leat like cheapest things. It doesn’t matter if we’re at McDonald’s, you know what I mean? Like, I can’t psychologically choose what I actually want. Because like, it’s like the money trauma, you know? And like, yeah, okay. I feel better about myself.


SuChin Pak  36:20

Susan, I’m here to serve.


Kulap Vilaysack  36:20

Thank you for your service, SuChin Pak we salute you. We salute […]


SuChin Pak  36:30

You know what I do what I can, you know, I get up in the morning and I say, how can I be of service? And today it’s here.


Kulap Vilaysack  36:44

Okay, before we let you go, I have to talk about this remove from cart. And this is anticipating your family’s needs on vacation.


SuChin Pak  36:54

Okay, what does this mean?


Susan Lieu  36:56

Okay, look, I don’t know if this is being an Asian daughter thing. I don’t know if it’s being a female thing. I don’t know if it’s being the youngest thing. Okay, I don’t know what it is. But somehow, we went on this ski trip, okay. I don’t even like skiing. I go skiing and take lessons. Okay, and like, my, my son, like, what does he want to eat? Right after he wants a pizza? Let’s go eat pizza. Okay, I’m lactose intolerant, it’s gonna give me diarrhea. Sure, let’s go, you know, and it’s just like, it’s always like, what do you what do you want? What’s, what am I going to optimize for your total enjoyment? Because I know what everyone wants. I’m going to schedule this reservation, we’re going to go do this and that for you. And then at the end, I realize I’m a little tired, a little decision fatigue, but really, no one ever asked what ma wanted. You know? Like, no one anticipated my needs. And I know, it’s just like, oh, you’re an independent woman, just voice what you want. But there’s some kind of bitterness that ensues, where I’m like, actually, no one was ever gonna ask me what I wanted. And I had a little meltdown. On the last trip.


Kulap Vilaysack  38:07

I feel like the quotes were, there was quotes around the quotes, because it sounds like that meltdown was in all caps.


Susan Lieu  38:14

Well, yeah. But like, literally, I’m not physically melting. But I felt, you know, like, I felt like I was at cartoon character that was like glue. And then I splashed onto the thing. And then, like, my essence splashed into their eyes and stung their eyes, and they’re like, hey, why don’t you do the, you know, why are you going to help me? And then I was like, you know what? It’s over, and then I just like, sit down and put on chicken run and like, eat some edibles. And I’m like, don’t talk to me. Don’t talk to me, you know, because it goes to the edge.


Kulap Vilaysack  38:44

And not the chicken run edibles. Come on.


Susan Lieu  38:47

I mean, you know what I mean? Like, and then.


Kulap Vilaysack  38:50

I mean, the mental load, the mental labor, you know that having to like, hold up your large part of the sky. And you’re right, nobody else is like, let me and they […]


SuChin Pak  39:01

Taste as sweet when you have to ask for it. No, it doesn’t taste as sweet.


Susan Lieu  39:06

Everyone knows I can’t eat cheese.


SuChin Pak  39:08

There’s still a sprinkling of salt. You want someone for once to anticipate your own needs, man. I mean, this is kind of an I don’t know if you all agree. But I feel like this is where one at least a lot of people that I women that I know especially transition into the importance of female friendships.


Susan Lieu  39:29



SuChin Pak  39:30

It’s someone is anticipating my needs. And if you are sitting here and you don’t have one friend in your contact list, that doesn’t anticipate your needs. Your life is not complete.


Susan Lieu  39:42

You need to go find an Asian woman.


SuChin Pak  39:45

You need to go find an Asian woman or someone who’s doing that for you.


Susan Lieu  39:47



SuChin Pak  39:48

Yeah, nobody’s gonna ask you what you want to eat. You’re you’re gonna eat pizza and shit your pants all the way down? The mountain.


Susan Lieu  39:57

Yeah, and then you’re like, wow, I I wear Costco Carole Harshman undies still, like, I can return them. Half of it is still here. Um, so anyway, so with vacations, I have to be more directive now and be like, we’re just doing this and it feels really weird. Like, it feels like, so mean to say like, I want it my way. But then it’s like, you know, I’m gonna think about long term like, we don’t want Susan to like, go all the way to off the edge here. So I have to be directive. But it’s just like, it’s so subtle being dismissed by my family where I’ll have an idea like that, I think would be really fun. And this like, no, how about this? And it’s like, that’s when I have to sit down with my husband, and be on a scale of one to 10 how important is it that you have Thai food right now? Because I just had it this week. And it’s very important me on a scale of nine for us to go Mexican, plus, Art likes tacos.


SuChin Pak  40:56

Listen, he’s Korean. He understands grage he grew up around it, he better get in line.


Susan Lieu  41:02

Yeah, but he’s a boy […]


SuChin Pak  41:05

I know, that’s why you have to do the thinking. And and it is your right, listen a family is only as happy as the mother […] It’s just max happy that, by the way, it’s science. Like they’ve already done the study. This isn’t even just me talking about my butthole I mean, the family is only as happy as the mother. So if you think of it in terms of that way, like advocating for your needs due to making sure that you get tacos when you want tacos. In some way, we are still providing for our family. You know, so.


Kulap Vilaysack  41:48

That’s Susan’s face right now.


Susan Lieu  41:51

I don’t like it, but I agree. Happy wife happy life, happy mama, happy Baby, but still, come on, guys. But it’s like, okay, we know how this is gonna play out. Let’s just like play chess, but.


SuChin Pak  42:05

Still annoying, that’s why you book a two week trip to Paris with your best friend. That’s all I can say. That’s the magic pill.


Kulap Vilaysack  42:10

That’s what she does. That’s what she does, yes.


Susan Lieu  42:13

Cheap woman goes to Paris. I just want to shadow you and see what you eat now. How you […] like that?


Kulap Vilaysack  42:22

Let me just tell you right now doesn’t make a reservation. Basically what she does is she’ll get a bill. She’ll get butter. She’ll get ham, and she’ll get baguette. And she’ll eat it.


SuChin Pak  42:33

That’s right.


Kulap Vilaysack  42:33

On a towel on her horrible hotel room that barely has any windows.


Susan Lieu  42:41

Because when you die, you’re gonna go to heaven and someone’s gonna do an accounting of how many dollars you saved in there like she’s in. Oh my god straight to the top baby pet house.


Kulap Vilaysack  42:53

And then it’s not like oh, she comes home with 12 pairs of jeans that she does, she doesn’t ever wears. She sounds good. great deal on these jeans […]


Susan Lieu  43:02

Hella immigrant dude. I know, things on clearance, and my husband’s like, that’s ugly, and I’m like I know.


SuChin Pak  43:14

Not to you can’t afford.


Susan Lieu  43:18

I’m really trying to change it up. I’m trying to change it up. Guys for my book tour, I actually have new clothes. But that’s because he gave it to me before.


SuChin Pak  43:28

I salute you sis, that’s right, returnable Costco earbuds. You are moving up.


Kulap Vilaysack  43:35

She’s gonna return them tonight to get smaller ones. And if she doesn’t like those she gonna return.


Susan Lieu  43:41

They’re like, what’s this yellow wax array? I was like, don’t matter. At least how mad are there? Count of one, two. Can we talk about the last thing I’m removing from cart?


Kulap Vilaysack  43:53

Yes, please, please do it.


Susan Lieu  43:55

Oat Milk Matcha Lattes. After the $1 surcharge I’m paying for my allergy because I don’t want to have diarrhea in your small bathroom. Tax and then tip because the barista is looking at me. It’s like $8, it’s like $8.


SuChin Pak  44:17

Every time, I mean a trembling finger, but I do it. When I tell you I’ve been customizing tips on those iPads, with with great fear or trepidation. But I have to do it for my ancestors. What do you do like $1? Or do you like do.


Susan Lieu  44:31

Yeah, I do $1.


SuChin Pak  44:32

Like because it defaults to 15 20%? and I’m like, no, no, we’re gonna customize this tip. And it’s $1 or whatever it is, but I’m gonna customize it. Let me be the dictator of what I tip you but $8 Oat Milk Matcha Lattes. That’s like, that’s like standard. I feel like that’s like hotel lobby. You know, like I’ve seen those go into double digits and I’m just confused.


Susan Lieu  44:58

Yeah, no one’s getting the whisk out we’re not doing a ceremony you know, I’m not like grounding myself. I’m getting more aggravated. And like I think I’m forming an ulcer what I’m doing it like with like adaptogens you know what I mean? So then I my my sister in law she has this one called on cledr like with C L E D R no E like Meghan Markle, like invest in it, but like Meghan Markle and Oprah think it’s cool. Whatever it’s like $20 a bag, 14 servings, okay, three tablespoons of it, you mix it with water, you know, froth away, but basically I’m doing it at home. And it was a practice. I started during the pandemic, right when a lot of the cafes weren’t open. Sometimes I’m like, oh my god, it’s like $20 a bag and I’m on subscription. So it comes every month. But it is morning ritual, and it’s like, I think I’m saving like five like $6, I’m making money.


Kulap Vilaysack  45:56

Straight to the penthouse. That’s right, come on in to the daily gates […]


Susan Lieu  46:01

I’m not tipping my husband.


SuChin Pak  46:03

He can’t afford not to tax free.


Kulap Vilaysack  46:06

You mentioned her name and we got to support our network mate. The Duchess Meghan Markle also on Lemonada checkout Archetypes. Megan if you’re listening love to have you and guests. Love it, SuChin lives in Santa Barbara you live in Montecito. I’m just saying our soon to be best selling New York Times author Susan Lieu here. I guess he or she uses your product, what more come, come?


Susan Lieu  46:31

Yeah, we’ll make you an oat milk matcha latte.


Kulap Vilaysack  46:33

That’s right, […] come on Susan’s podcast. Let’s all just like be friends somehow some way you know.


Susan Lieu  46:39

Do you do that? Like every episode, do you like Baker every episode or so?


Kulap Vilaysack  46:43

I think I’m going to now is that our outro now?


Susan Lieu  46:46

Hey, Meghan, if you’re listening I thought that dress like a bomb on you for revenge stressful atta girl.


Kulap Vilaysack  46:55

That shouldn’t be our outro just thirst.


Susan Lieu  46:59

Just extreme thirst.


Kulap Vilaysack  47:01

Susan thank you so much for coming on the show. You can get the Manicurist’s Daughter wherever you get find find books or listen in audiobook form like we did. You can find her on Instagram at Susan Lieu, L I E U, Susan you’re doing so much is there anything else people should know about? What you’re up to? Where can we know what cities you’re going to on your book tour?


Susan Lieu  47:23

It’s yeah, go onto my website susanlieu.me and find me on tour my chocolate company so glad Chocolatier at sokola chocs. My sister and I beautiful getting inspired chocolates. And then also listen to me on my podcast Model Minority Moms.


CREDITS  47:46

There’s more Add To Cart with Lemonada Premium subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content like where we tell you about the last item we bought or returned and why subscribe now and Apple podcasts. Add To Cart is a production of Lemonada Media. Our producers are Kegan Zema and Tiffany Bouy. Brian Castillo is our engineer. Theme music is by Wasahhbii and produced by La Made It and Oh So Familiar with additional music by APM music. Executive producers or Kulap Vilaysack, SuChin Pak, Jessica Cordova Kramer, and Stephanie Wittels Wachs. Be sure to check out all the items we mentioned today on our Instagram at @AddToCartPod. Follow Add to Cart wherever you get your podcasts or listen at free on Amazon music with your Prime membership.

Spoil Your Inbox

Pods, news, special deals… oh my.