Monthly Archives: June 2006

Posting eventually

I realize that the date of my last post is misleading. It actually didn’t get published until this week (June 26). So actually, it will be this weekend that I’ll finally be able to post. I mean really post, which for me, means photos. So after I go to get Magic Straight this Sunday (July 2), I’ll come back to KoRoot and spend a few blissful hours finally uploading my photos. For me, I have to go through those first before I can write about these past 2 weeks. I need a visual narrative first. Today, I’m finishing up my first week at G.O.A.’L. Will be going to Suji tomorrow to spend the day with more of my Korean family, and then Sunday morning my Korean-fam-intensive week will come to close, and I’ll have more time to do personal internet business.

Until then…..안녕…….

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Here!

I am here in Korea! Since arriving, I’ve had zero time to myself, thus the online absence. Last week was filled with IKAA leadership meetings (as well as imbibing soju, singing in noraebangs, watching Korea lose to Switzerland, etc.), and this week I’m staying with my Korean family, so I still won’t have much time to myself until next week, when I move to KoRoot. The only reason that I’m able to type this now is that I’m in the G.O.A.’L office, beginning the first day of my internship. N.S. has blessedly given me some time to organize myself, given that I’ve been go-go-going since Day 1, so I’m finally posting! Hopefully, I will be able to put up my pictures (lots of fun ones from watching the soccer match at City Hall–imagine a sea of Koreans, in red, “대~한민국!”) and do a real post early next week.

Being here now, I notice how Korea is not as exotic to me as it was coming the first two times. This is both encouraging and disappointing, because while it’s nice to think of Seoul as a familiar place, at the same time my sense of awe and curiosity at being here has been lost.

Thank you to all of you who’ve been sending me e-mails and leaving MySpace comments. I’m thinking of you, too! Wish you could be here to experience the craziness!

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Interim

Am sitting here on the couch, drained from today, yet feel compelled to blog.

Thanks, everyone, for actually reading my 100 things! I got stuck a few times while writing it, but it was still fun to do.

I have no furniture now……today, we moved the stuff that I’m storing for the summer to my friend/classmate’s garage. (Keeping my fingers crossed that one of her housemates moves out at the end of the summer so that I can conveniently move in.) I’m so relieved to have this big part of transitioning over with…..thanks in large part to W.E., so handy with those IKEA Allen wrenches.

This goes down in history as my easiest move ever. The entire process only took from 9am-2pm. Didn’t pick up the U-Haul truck until 11am. Much better than moving cross-country or overseas……Also, every year I scale down more and more. I think about the sheer amount of crap that I used to ferry around during moves, and I laugh. (I told my mom this year to sell all of my kitchen-related stuff in a garage sale.)

My room is barren, save for various piles of things that I need to eventually pack in my suitcases. An assortment of clothes, all the books I started and didn’t finish this year, some UW/Seattle-themed gifts for my Korean family. It’s bizarre….in some ways I feel like I just returned from Korea. I’ve come full circle–sleeping on my roommate’s comfy couch, the sliding glass door slightly open with the mild Seattle breeze sneaking through.

Usually, I start to feel nostalgic when I pack up and move, although I don’t feel like this now. I don’t really have any sort of emotional attachments to this living space. Also, I’ll only be gone for three months, and I’m coming back here to Seattle again.

I’ve been feeling extremely anxious, however, about returning to Korea. Alternating with excitement/anticipation. It’s similar to how I felt in summer 2004, although on a much lesser scale. If 2004 was a 10 on the anxiety scale, then right now is about a 6. Maybe less. Ehh, this is a less-polished-than-usual post, so bear with me. I feel like I’m in that limbo period again, rootless, living out of my suitcase. Part of me gets an adrenaline rush from it, but another part feels fatigued and a bit disembodied. In a lot of ways, it’s so much simpler….

Two quick things to blog about: Americanese and MySpace.

Went to the SIFF showing of Americanese tonight with a posse made up of Evans School peeps, and AAAW friends. I was excited to see Shawn Wong before we sat down, and then we all kept running into people we know. The Seattle APIA community made a strong turn-out for the show, which was a great atmosphere to watch the film in. I haven’t yet read the book upon which the film is based (American Knees), although I have a copy now that I’m set to read on the plane. I enjoyed the film (particularly all the lingering shots of various APIA studies book covers), although I felt the tone was a tad ponderous. Lots of shots of people looking sad, sitting at kitchen tables. The ending is odd, too, although it makes me very curious to read the book. Normally, I’ve read a book before seeing the film version, so this will be interesting. Joan Chen is amazing. Kelly Hu looks like she’s had some plastic surgery. After the show, there was a Q&A with Wong, Eric Byler (director), and some of the cast (Allison Sie and Chris Tashima [so handsome in the film, but was wearing a terrible bowling shirt tonight–ouch]). Wong was charming and seemed to know everyone in the theater. Found out the film was financed 100% by Asian-American supporters. Go us!

MySpace–I was so skeptical when I joined last fall. I resisted for a long time, because I assumed it was only for 18-year-old girls who like to write in indecipherable online-speak. But I’ve come across so many random people from back in the day! I know it freaks some people out when you hear from a dude that you last saw as an awkward 11-year-old in middle school, but I find it charming. And I just heard tonight from the guy who used to live across the hall from me my junior year at Creighton. I had the biggest crush on him for a year, and I ended up asking him (through e-mail) to my sorority’s spring formal. We sort-of dated for the summer following, although it ended up disastrously, due to our mutual inexperience. (Late bloomer, remember) I guess he’s a refractive surgery technician by day now, DJ by night. In Omaha. It’s things like this that make me laugh.

You can only resist for so long, A.Lee!!!!!

Btw, to the person I’ve been keeping up until 5am++ recently–I’m going to miss you this summer. 🙂

More coherent posts to follow.

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100 Pieces of Me

(**First off: Puka–I think I’ll be at KoRoot when you’re in Korea….leave me a comment w/ your e-mail [won’t publish it] so we can meet up w/ Bunny Boy.)

At first, I wasn’t going to do this b/c I thought I wouldn’t be able to come up with 100 things…..but I’ve been inspired by Soon-young and others with your hilarious lists. Be forewarned that I might be repeating tidbits that have previously appeared here.

1. I didn’t try Korean food until I was 21-years-old and a senior in college.
2. The exchange student that introduced me to Korean food was someone I initially avoided, because she was so Korean, and I was so in denial.
3. Later that same year, I traveled back to Korea for the first time and stayed with this exchange student (my dear, dear friend B.) and her family.
4. The same month that I met B. was the month that my Korean mother passed away.
5. I lived in Korea for two months before even bothering to learn to read 한글.
6. I love, love dancing.
7. When I was little, I took tap, jazz, and ballet lessons.
8. When we had recitals, I was often the only 5-year-old actually dancing.
9. I remember looking around at my non-dancing peers and thinking, “What’s wrong with them??” (See here.)
10. I used to fantasize about joining the American Ballet Theatre or NYC Ballet Company.
11. Said fantasies were prompted by watching Mikael Barishnikov’s version of The Nutcracker every year on PBS and reading this book about a girl who played Clara in the NYCBC version.
12. Ballet, Fame, The Muppets Take Manhattan, and Sesame Street began my life-long fascination with New York City.
13. Said fascination culminated in several trips to NYC from Boston via the Chinatown buses as an adult.
14. Once stayed at a terrible hostel in Times Square where I was afraid to touch anything in the communal bathrooms.
15. Sex and the City character that I’m most like: well, I believe that every woman has a little bit of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte in her. If I had to choose, I’d say……eh, this isn’t really choosing, but some combination of Carrie and Miranda. The other two are too extreme (although I’ve had my moments).
16. I also wanted to be a Fly Girl.
17. I signed up for a hip-hop dance class this quarter at the UW, but ended up only going to a few lessons, because the instructor’s voice sounded too much like my roommate.
18. One of these days, I want to learn how to really salsa instead of faking it like I do now.
19. Gotta get off this dancing theme. I hate, hate, HATE cooking.
20. Because of this, I’ve been known to eat frozen peas out of the bag with a spoon for dinner.
21. I never make lists when I go to the grocery store.
22. Weirdest thing I ever ate/drank: I once drank Egg Beaters from the carton, thinking it was egg nog.
23. As an 8-year-old, I once proudly told my grandma that I was going to wear my “birthday suit” for my birthday dinner.
24. I was obsessed with all manner of girly toys as a child: Barbies, My Little Ponies, Rainbow Brite, Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, Pound Puppies, etc.
25. I was also obsessed with makeup, because my mom was an Avon lady for a while.
26. I used to strongly identify with the African-American models in the Avon catalogs, simply because they weren’t white.
27. I once created a board game in 6th grade called “Choose Your Parents.”
28. I hated going to Holt family get-togethers when I was little, because the other little Korean adoptee girls were snotty and made fun of me for not wearing frilly dresses and not going to church.
29. My career ambition when I was 6-years-old was to be a cashier at K-Mart.
30. My favorite board game at the time was “Blue Light Special.”
31. I still love board games now–especially “Catchphrase.”
32. I once won a “Catchphrase” game with S.C.H. by only saying “short….gay….” and somehow she was able to guess “Richard Simmons.”
33. The only bone I’ve ever broken was my little toe on my right foot.
34. It broke when I landed on it after doing a round-off.
35. The first week of college, I fell asleep in an awkward position while turning off my alarm, causing my legs to “fall asleep,” too.
36. I woke up all of a sudden, realized I was late, and promptly hopped out of bed.
37. Immediately, I collapsed to the floor (because I couldn’t feel my legs), causing a third degree sprain to my ankle.
38. I can be kind of clumsy (see above).
39. My French name in high school was “Isabelle.”
40. I scored a “3” on the French AP exam.
41. Now, the only French words I can remember are the ones said by cartoon characters in Beauty and the Beast.
42. I first learned that “ejaculate” has multiple meanings while reading Wuthering Heights in middle school.
43. I, too, learned about sex from stealing my mom’s smutty Julie Garwood romance novels.
44. I have a weakness for slightly higher quality romance novels, like Gone With the Wind and The Thorn Birds (both of which I read in middle school).
45. Back then, I thought Richard Chamberlain in The Thorn Birds and the dude who played Ashley Wilkes in GWTW were both h-o-t.
46. My taste in men has since improved.
47. I took piano lessons for 16 years.
48. I was voted into the Secretary position for student division of The Kansas City Music Club.
49. I had the worst technique of all the other Asian kids in that club.
50. During piano competitions, I would sometimes make mistakes only because my hands were shaking so badly.
51. My favorite pieces to play during competitions were duets.
52. From 2nd-5th grade, my duet partner was B.B., who I had an enormous crush on.
53. We were a powerhouse at duets–unbeatable at state competitions.
54. B.B. and I both ended up going to medical school—-and both ended up dropping out.
55. I dropped out after 3 weeks….he dropped out after 5 years of a 6-year program.
56. He’s now a manager for Banana Republic.
57. He sold me a dress from BR that I ended up wearing to an AIDS benefit in college that I attended with my then-boyfriend.
58. I didn’t have my first “real” boyfriend until I was a senior in college.
59. He had halitosis.
60. I once baked him a heart-shaped cake made of white chocolate for his birthday.
61. I broke up with him about a month later.
62. Although I hate cooking, I did go on a baking spree for about a year or so.
63. I’m a sucker for cheesy magazines at the airport and the grocery store.
64. The first thing I do when I get a new magazine is to tear out all the subscription cards.
65. I’m having a hard time coming up with things for this list that are PG-13 or less.
66. I have only recently become someone who enjoys getting drunk.
67. It started in Korea, 2004.
68. I did not smoke a cigarette until….I went to Korea.
69. It was a clove.
70. I have still never tried any illegal drugs, despite numerous attempts by friends to get me to do so.
71. The first time I got drunk was freshman year of college, sitting in a dorm room, drinking wine coolers mixed with rum.
72. I promptly threw up into a take-out Chinese delivery bag an hour later.
73. The last time I threw up from drinking……was March of this year on the Ave in the U-District.
74. Strangely, I didn’t throw up from drinking during my entire stay in Korea of 13 months.
75. I can’t stand having my fingernails be long.
76. I have not read a proper book since I started grad school again.
77. I once tried to write a literary analysis of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for my writing about literature course in college.
78. The only research I could find on Oz was all pseudo-Freudian analysis of the film.
79. Instead, for that class I chose to attack Harold Bloom, out-of-touch malcontent at Yale, and his ideas about the literary “canon.”
80. I first learned the definition of “döppelganger” while reading a film review of Batman Returns.
81. That’s still my favorite Batman movie.
82. I love film and subscribed to Entertainment Weekly when I was in middle school.
83. I’m going to the Seattle International Film Festival this week.
84. Will see Eve and the Fire Horse on Tuesday.
85. Will see Americanese on Wednesday.
86. My first trip outside of the U.S. was to Spain, France, and Switzerland as a high school student.
87. When we went to the Musée d’Orsay, we spent the entire time in the gift shop looking at Monet posters.
88. I would like to go back to France someday, to make better use of my time there.
89. I’ve still never been to Canada or Mexico.
90. I have white hairs.
91. I started getting white hairs when I was in middle school.
92. These days, I’ll pull them out of my head with tweezers. Kind of obsessively.
93. I’ve been to 32 states in the U.S.
94. When I say “been to,” I mean that I at least spent the night there.
95. Have never been to but would love to go to Vegas, Miami, and Arizona.
96. I once tried snowboarding….mostly to impress a guy.
97. My 2nd time snowboarding, I fell all the way down the (green) run.
98. I will probably now stick with snow shoeing for snow sports.
99. I can’t believe I made it here to the end.
100. I’m leaving for Korea in less than a week!!!!

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Just me and my laptop for the next 4 days….

I seem to be going longer and longer between posts . . . . mostly because things have been insane around these parts, since last week was the last week of classes for spring quarter, and Friday night was the ESO Masquerade Ball (for photos, go here).

My work is completed for two of my courses (the nitty-gritty Evans stuff), and now I’m faced with a long stretch of the rest of this week in order to face two items that will serve as a good lead-in for my summer:
1) My Korean final (Thurs. 6/8, 8:30 a.m.).
2) Literature review of the economics of international adoption, for my Economics of Race & Inequality course (Due Wed. 6/7, 5:00 p.m.)

I’m glad that these both are so intertwined with the more personal aspects of my life…..so one would think that I would be more motivated to work on them, right? Ah, but it’s that psychological thing of knowing that I “have to” do them. And in the case of the literature review—on the one hand, I know that I’ve been very lucky to correspond over the quarter with brilliant people doing cutting-edge research in the field of adoption (Tobias, KPN, E. Kim, etc.). They’ve all been so generous in directing me to sources…….and yet on the other hand, I’m filled with anxiety about writing this paper, because almost all of them have said, “send me the paper when you’re done!” Indeed, I will send it to them, but with a big caveat in the beginning—“was cobbled together at the end of a 10-week quarter by a lowly first-year graduate student juggling a million other things and is not intended to be an exhaustive review of the literature available……”

I’ve spent the last two days kind of decompressing from the mania of previous weeks. I didn’t get any writing done (academic writing, that is), although I told myself that watching a Korean film and a K-drama series would somehow count as sort of studying for my Korean final.

I finally got around to watching 친절한 금자씨 (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), the final film in 박찬욱 (Park Chan Wook)’s “vengeance” trilogy (in which Oldboy was the second film). I have to say, 이영애 (Lee Young Ae) is such a bad-ass in this movie. I thought the denouement was a little silly, but overall I liked it. I especially enjoyed the dark humor of the early prison flashbacks. This style of film (extreme violence), however, is not generally my cup of tea (although I am fascinated by David Lynch–but it’s the weirdness that gets to me), but as I was telling Ji-in, the inherent Korean-ness makes it that much more fascinating. It’s the small touches, like seeing the characters eat 국이랑 밥 for breakfast, school uniforms, white 두부. And of course, like many Korean films, adoption comes up at one point in the film. I feel too tired to really dissect it right now, but the bizarre way the main character’s Australian KAD daughter comes into the picture somehow fits with the overall tone.

From one patissier to another…..I also watched a substantial amount of 내 이름은 김삼순 (My Name is Kim Sam Soon or My Lovely Sam Soon) today. 6 episodes–but who’s counting? I’d heard about this drama series last year while I was living in Korea. It was a huge hit, and Daniel Henney was the breakout star. I remember swooning over large billboards of Henney in 명동. Wow. Anyway, this is the first K-drama I’ve actually sat down and watched in its entirety (with the benefit of English subtitles). My listening is still pretty atrocious, although I can pick up words here and there. The series is completely charming, though. I can see why it was so popular–the heroine is a really a-typical Korean woman in that she’s a 30-year-old singleton, “overweight” (meaning, she weighs 125 pounds—give me a f*cking break), a pastry chef, and outspoken. One of the supporting characters embodies all the Korean ideals of femininity (stick-thin, pale, trembling lips), and I can’t help but hate her. I told myself I would only watch two episodes today, but somehow that turned into six. As E.B. in Boston once said, I’m a sucker for the tyranny of plot–I have to know what happens next. That’s why I can easily become engrossed in series marathons….and having an entire series at your fingertips in the form of DVDs can only mean one thing: major procrastination from starting one’s literature review.

In my sole venture outside of the house today, I did something I haven’t done in a long, long time–tried a new cuisine. I gathered up a somewhat motley crew (R.B., C.L. & her best friend, J., and W.) to go with me to Kusina Filipina, a restaurant in south Seattle. This was my first time having real Filipino food (previous experience had been limited to lumpia at various street fairs). It was interesting, because R.B. is pinoy and J. had just returned from visiting her family in the Philippines, so they were able to offer advice and personal anecdotes about the dishes. Pictured above is what I ate: pork sinigang and beef caldareta (j. gabriel, please feel free to correct what are probably misspellings) along with some 밥, er–i mean, kanin. I also split a turon with W. Although I was told that the sinigang wasn’t too vinegar-y, it was just ok. I think I would’ve enjoyed it more if the pork hadn’t been so chewy. I really loved the caldareta, though. Savory. Also sampled some of J.’s kare-kare, which was very rich. R.B. told us that he would cook some Filipino food for us sometime…..I think he mentioned pancit (sp?). Something with noodles. Anyway, it sounded yummy, and I always jump at a chance to eat anyone’s cooking other than my own.

Lunch today was a nice excursion and a diversion from my otherwise Korean-centric day. I’ve recently been discussing with a few people about the really contradictory feelings Korea stirs up inside of me (as well as many other adoptees). Simply being there, physically, it can be undeniably comforting to know that I blend in with everyone else around me. When you grow up with family members who look absolutely nothing like you, and then to suddenly find yourself among strangers who actually do….it’s an amazing experience. I can still get misty-eyed when I hear large groups of Korean people singing “아리랑.” But at the same time, living in Korea I always knew I was undeniably a foreigner. I can be harshly critical of Koreans and Korean society……Hee-ji, you really said it best with this post:

The way Korean people choose to close their eyes, or the fact that they think that what they are doing is justified (fed by the Confucian way of thinking that makes single motherhood or new, mixed families taboo) and even a sacrifice on their part whereas it’s just a shoving off of parental responsibility, is what is distressing me most, together with the harshness, shame and rejection returning adoptees are faced with upon returning to ‘the Mother Land’.

Instead of thinking for themselves and issues such as domestic adoption, Korean women seem to be too busy curling their eyelashes, having their hair permed or applying lip gloss. . . . Sometimes I sit in the metro and watch those fashionable Seoulites (or what they call fashion) striking back their hair while taking pictures of themselves with the latest model of mobile phone, carefully dabbing some gloss on those precious lips or whining to their boyfriends in a baby-like voice and I wonder whether there is anything at all in that well coiffed head besides vanity and a love for all things pink.

Sometimes I wonder whether it is ignorance or just an awful way of prioritising, preferring the shopping channel over the news. Of blindly imitating and idolising American popular culture but being utterly closed and xenophobic towards the rest of the world.
~Through an Open Eye
, February 25, 2006

I felt (and still do feel) this way, too…..and yet I am counting the days until I can ride the subway in 서울, try out my stilted Korean-speaking with my sisters–미선언니 and 미혜, eat some real 삼계탕, go to a 노래방 at 4:00 in the morning, watch World Cup games on a huge screen along with thousands of other people in 종로. 대한민국, my strange (anti-)home.

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