February 2007


i thought my blog needed an update, but didn’t have the time to actually do anything original – so i apologize for posting some old writing.

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weekend at home
when i think back upon it i wonder how i survived all those years, growing up here. this weekend, i was revisited by ghosts of my past, the three companions of so many years: seclusion, separation, segregation.

saturday night, i hit up all the old local standards, the globe, branagan’s, the dub (dublin house), and ended at red. i didn’t see a single asian the entire night. i didn’t see another minority, until i went to red (an upscale hip, hip-hop lounge). in general, i was intoxicated enough to not really notice or care, but later, contemplating it all, it hit me how out of place i must’ve “looked”, which transitioned to how i subconsciously “felt”.

sunday. the first sunday of lent. i attended mass where my father sings in the choir. in the hundreds of faithful, my awareness heightened from the night before, not a single minority. walking down the center aisle to receive communion contemplating the body and blood of Jesus, i couldn’t help but be nagged by the feeling that i was the “odd-one out”. were those stares, furtive glances, slight rises of eyebrows? and how could i blame them, squished as i was between my italian mother, and the beefy investment banker looking guy behind me. my flat face, slanted eyes, black hair, and darker toned skin couldn’t be missed, in this crowded white collar, old money congregation. i blushed. embarrassed. shy. and i piously bowed my head further.

i went to brunch with my dad. the broadway diner. you can’t miss the logos of Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, and Phantom of the Opera posters hanging just inside the window. we were discretely sat in the back corner. over the cup of joe, we talked about my dad’s recent trip to guatemala. the waitress came to take our order, and i saw the ever so slight questioning look. two eggs over easy, side of buckwheat pancakes, and a large glass of oj i say. was that registered surprise for how fluent my english sounded? not a single asian, let alone minority (do we count the hispanic bus boys/girls?) crossed my path. i was singularly alone. and for some reason, feeling like i was in the wrong place. i didn’t belong here. i had disturbing flashes of grammar school.

dare i admit that i went to see brokeback mountain that night? how could i say no to my own mother. i almost got out of it, but my dad was called to the hospital, what a convenient emergency. i couldn’t let her go alone to the movies, and she couldn’t wait to see the “scenery of backcountry wyoming on the big screen…” (yes, these are the types of reasons why my mother goes to the movies; story lines, plots, actors, directors are all beside the point). we drove to a discount indy theatre in bradley beach. driving through the mamouth turn of the century and early 19th century mansions of monmouth beach, deal, and asbury park, i realized, all of them were painted white. symbolically white. the theatre had about a hundred people already seated, we missed the best part, the previews. white. i slid deeper into my seat. i mean really, who goes to the movies with their mom on a sunday night, and to see gay cowboys? i wasn’t white.

the train into the big apple this morning was crowded with the usual suits and wannabe commuting actors. i slept. but how glorious it was to see so many colors walking to my office. so many faces. i am anonymous in this city. i’m just a patch on an infinitesimal quilt. not a single raised eyebrow, furtive glance, questioning look; or there was that one, but she was probably just checking out my new duds…

The Korean National Flower is the “Mugung hwa” – also known as, “The Rose of Sharon”.

무궁화

My Korean teacher last night told me, “The spirit of the Korean people is like the national flower…”

“mugung” means “forever/eternity” and “hwa” is the chinese character for flower…

The Korean people have lasted, survived – the flowers survive for a long time, blossoming in early summer and staying in bloom through to almost November.

Am I like the mugung-hwa?

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My Korean teacher also said, “The Japanese national flower is the ‘sakura’ – or the ‘cherry blossom’. Every cherry bud blooms in one week, and then all falls to the grown the next. This is the spirit of the Japanese people.”

I like learning Korean idioms.

My friend had one up on her messenger tag line which I could understand literally, but wanted to understand figuratively.

내가 싫으면 니가 꺼지세요

The ending is formal – and thus comes across somewhat sarcastic – but I’m a fan of the harsher, informal:

내가 싫으면 니가 꺼져!

The literal meaning is fairly self explanatory, “If you don’t like me, then disappear/be gone…”

The understood idiom is harsher, and one I’m a little more fond of – again, it’s my love of colorful language – “If you don’t like me, then fuck off!”

🙂

End of Korean Idioms Lesson 1.

there are so many situations, and that’s why i think it’s hard to say
unequivocally that the bmoms are at fault across the board – just my
opinion though.

i think the system needs to change. i think the culture needs to
change. i think the government needs to change. through that change,
i think more ownership can be placed on the bmoms. but cultural
revolutions aren’t easy to come by.

i know that my bmom supposedly gave me up to the orphanage several
months before she got married. that her “boyfriend” who was my father
was an older, married, owner of the clothing store she worked in.
that i grew up with her and my maternal grandmother – before being
sent to Eastern. these are the words that were recorded the day she
dropped me off.

Colored Walls

they echo off blank walls, colored by my imagination – changing,
drifting in multi-faceted hopes and dreams at 5, 15, 25 years old. i
fill in the blanks of her situation, at 5 with no other resolution
than being fed well, cared much, and disciplined for my need to hide
food, cajole my playmates, and hide under my blanket at night. at 15
i know nothing of korea except that it is foreign, uncool, a place
where my bmom gave birth to me and sent me away for a “better life” –
i’m told to thank her for giving me opportunity, and that she loves me
in her “own way”. i’m 25 and i know korea more vividly than i ever
dreamed i would. i breathed the smog filled air of seoul for years,
capturing the scent of my birthland, something too familiar,
recognized by a place so deep down i can’t see it, no matter how hard
i look. my mind’s eye plays games when i sleep, her words resound in
korean, and i understand – but sadly, i do not believe. the walls of
memory are slashed and ripped by vivid dream colors, and at 25 i see
things too well – they blind and hurt. she gave me up to get married.
she sent me away to fulfill her own dreams. dreams that you can only
have in korea with a man’s name. he now keeps me from her, and she
keeps me from myself. i forgive, but i don’t forget; i want to paint
my walls with the right palette – not the dashed discord of pitiful
imagination.