On the way home today, I watched a little scene unfold before my eyes near the entrance to the BART station.
A little boy was trying to go down the escalator but had missed his chance. The scary machine was taking his daddy and little brother (in a stroller) down, down, down... farther and farther away from him.
He must have been about 4 years old.
What should I do? He hesitated and then tried to get onto one of those fast moving steps... but it was just too scary. His daddy yelled out, "Stay there! Just stay there and I will come get you."
But it took forever.
He was blocking the way onto the escalators and the zillions of people getting off of work were trying to get on. Some people rudely rushed past him. There was hardly any space. It was one of those one person only escalators.
He started to get a little scared. His dad had told him to stay there and wait.. but now, he couldn't even see him anymore. He tried to go down the stairs... but all the adults were moving so fast. He was so confused. He tried but he couldn't.
Growing up in Hawaii, the first day of May was always filled with flowers and school Hula performances because (sing with me) "May Day is Lei Day in Hawaaaaaaiiiiiiiii." But this year, I am looking forward to May 1st not for it's fragrant flowers, but because DANIEL. HENNEY. swoon.
is he hot, or is he hot? his mom is Korean, and his dad is British. He grew up mostly in America, but found a career on the small and big screen in Korea. I first saw him in the Korean drama "My Lovely Samsoon." But he was in Spring Waltz and a couple of Korean films too.
Wait, so what does he have to do with May 1st?
That's the release date for X-Men Origins: Wolverine in which Daniel Henney plays Agent Zero. Somehow, someway, I am going to be parked in that dark theater to see it as soon as it's out. I haven't quite figured out who will be watching my kids as I snarf down popcorn and drool over him, but it's gonna happen.
Honestly, his acting in Korea was so so for the most part so I fretted about him not being that great in such a major American film. BUT, now I can watch knowing everything will be ok and I won't be embarrassed for him because my husband (deployed in Iraq) already got to see it (I guess they figured the troops all the way over there were special or something) and he says that Agent Zero was spot on.
So who is with me? And why do I get the feeling that there will be quite a few ajummahs in the crowd at this movie. I'm thinkin the usual high school/ college boy crowd will be mighty confused at all the Korean ladies elbowing their way to the best seats.
-Jooliyah, is tickled by the fact that Daniel Henney eats the stinky Korean food that she craves too.
One month after being captured by North Koreans at the China/North Korea border while reporting on North Korean refugees in China for Current TV, Laura Ling and Euna Lee are still being held in Pyongyang. They have been charged with entering North Korea illegally and of hostile acts against the state and could face 10 years hard labor if convicted.
Shortly before I got pregnant with Cadence, I was part of a coterie of Korean American young women led by the inimitable Mia Park. We called ourselves Team Do!Boo!, which doesn't make sense to most people if they're not fans of Mates of State, but it meant something to us then. We had grand plans to take over the world, but never quite got around to it. What we did do, however, was to get together and learn how to make Korean food.
Most of us had grown up in the U.S., either as adoptees or 1.5 or 2nd gens. I'd say we were 80% pathetic when it came to our knowledge of cooking Korean food. The first time we got together to make mandoo (Korean dumplings), Mia had an envelope on which she'd scribbled instructions from her mom as well as a bag of packaged frozen mandoo that we used as reference. Nevertheless, we kept trying our hand at different dishes, and we even managed to make our own jars of kimchi once.
After I had Cadence, it was harder for me to get together with these ladies, but whenever I did, I would realize how much I missed them. Even though we all had diverse backgrounds, there was a sense of camaraderie and acceptance that we shared with each other that I don't know how to explain. I never had to worry about how bad my Korean was, as only one of us was fluent. There was no need to "look good" for each other, whether in physical appearance or jobs, possessions or partners, since most of us had non-mainstream sensibilities. We were open about our individual ignorance regarding Korean culture, and we tried to learn together. We explored feelings of identity--as Korean Americans, as women, as Korean American women.
I had a chance to see a few of the old gang last Saturday when we went out to a Korean restaurant to celebrate someone's adoption anniversary. The photo above is one of the dol sot (hot clay pot) bibimbaps at our table. To me, that image symbolizes what the Team Do!Boo! gals mean to me. They are my comfort food, the ones who can make me feel good and right at home even after months of not seeing them. And for that, I am grateful.
Edited to add: I just found the old Team Do!Boo! mission statement:
do boo is the korean word for tofu, an essential ingredient
in asian cuisine that is used in a variety of ways...team do!boo! is a
collective of young korean american women from different backgrounds who share
a rich heritage and a passionate sense of individuality...some were born in the
u.s...some were born in korea...others were adopted by nonkorean families...these
individuals have come together to collaborate creatively and socially, to spur
each other on (team) towards positive action (do!) with spunk and pride (boo!).
Ah, memories...the good old days when I didn't use capital letters...
I was complaining to my mom the other day about how hard it is to find family friends in this day and age. "Ai goh, who would want to be your friend? Your house and kids are so dirty, and you are so crazy!" As you can tell, my mom has always been my biggest fan. But she does -- and show me a Korean mom who doesn't -- have a point!
We are a happy family, but I'll admit it: we are messy. My kids, Isaac (5) and Emily (2), constantly have dirt smeared on their faces, unwashable paint stains on their clothing, and you can usually tell what they just had for dinner from the crumbs in their hair. This frathouse level of personal hygiene is coupled with family activities that border on pinko hippie commune: organic gardening (planting with poop), vermicomposting (a bin full of worms we keep next to our dinner table), letting the yellow mellow, and bathing every other day. Our two dogs are given access to all parts of the house, including our beds, so every room reeks of Eau de Canine. Needless to say, my spic-and-span parents don't come over that often, and when they do, we have to tie them down in order to stop them from trying to disinfect the place. They don't understand how it is even legal to live like we do.
So when I first walked into Susie's house, I was immediately struck by the hospital-level cleanliness and order. (We were there to harvest some lemons from a tree in her backyard to donate to our local food bank.) Just beyond the entryway, there stood a glistening grand piano. Next to it was the living room, with white couches and actual ceramic trinkets atop a glass coffee table. I could already hear my mom moaning in pleasure at the sight of the dustless floors, her hand caressing the spotless white tile in the kitchen. Oh yeah, if my mom were to have a sexual fetish, it would be with hard-to-clean surfaces that were clean. She has unhealthy feelings for Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser and her Swiffer.
We got to work, and Susie and I found we had a lot in common: her kids were the same ages as mine, she was also Korean, her husband was also Japanese. Our oldest kids will even attend the same school in the fall. I looked over at them, Susie's daughter a proper little lady compared to my ape of a son, who was pretending to trip over a rake again and again while she tittered politely. When we were done harvesting, I had to walk through that living room again and finally saw a sign of life: one toy fire truck on the floor. Susie tut-tutted and immediately put it away into a perfect fire truck-shaped hole in the toy bin. I tried to imagine the dicomfort Susie and her children would feel if they ever came over to our place, our cluttered little zoo I found so cozy. So when I asked her for her contact info, it was mostly out of politeness.
But a few weekends later, we asked them over for hamburgers and hot dogs anyway. It was a leap of faith, hope, and frankly, loneliness. That day, we cleaned the bathroom, the kitchen, the junk in the backyard. But I could still see one glaring sign of our dirty hippie lifestyle: the worm bin. I moved the bin outdoors, apologizing to the 5000 littlest members of our family all along the way. "Sorry, but they're KOREAN, okay? You can digest your rotten vegetables outside for one night!"
When Susie's family came over, I ushered them directly to the backyard, hoping they didn't inhale along the way. I showed the kids our little pile of toys and told them to have at it. But the little boy, Emily's age, headed straight for the worm bin, asking "What is this stuff?" when he opened the lid. My husband and I rushed over in horror, apologizing to Susie, saying oh dear, don't touch, it's so dirty. But Susie's kids were fascinated by them. So we gave them some limp broccoli and asked them if they wanted to break up the florets to feed to the worms. And Susie, bless her heart, allowed them to do it, and allowed them to turn over the compost afterwards. This was family friend-making trial by fire.
The rest of the evening flew by like a breeze. The kids jumped into dishes of sidewalk paint and decorated our patio with their footprints. They dug holes in the backyard and planted seeds. They climbed trees. They ran all around the house, playing tag and chase and monkey in the middle. By the time dinner was ready, they were all filthy. But we hosed them down, and everyone enjoyed their dinners. All throughout, the parents enjoyed some uninterrupted conversation and marveled at how well everyone was getting along. It was awesome. This super-clean family proved to be resilient and flexible.
When it was time for them to leave, Susie's kids whined that they wanted to come back. "You are always welcome here!" we said, and we meant it. For the first time in my life I realized that our grungy little family, in our disheveled way, can actually contribute something beautiful to a friendship. We can give Susie's kids an outlet to run ragged without fear of breaking anything, teach them how to live closer to the earth, and show them other ways families can live together and love each other. When I later relayed this enchanted evening to my mom, she sniffed, "Watch, they're going to run to the nearest Korean and soon everyone will know you as the Worm Family!"
But they actually thanked us the next day and suggested ways we can hang out again. And now our two houses, in spite of our aesthetic differences, are finding a way to make it work, hopefully forever.
Julie lives in Long Beach, CA, and has been blogging about the glorious indignities of motherhood since 2005.
Hi, folks! I'm Sarah-Ji, the new resident Kimchi Shutterbug Mama. I'm honored to be a part of the Kimchi Mama community! I have to say right off the bat that I'm mainly a photographer, not a writer, although I've been blogging for over 7 years. It takes me a long time to write posts that make sense, which is why I pretty much threw in the towel on my mommyblog and began photoblogging instead.
I was born in Seoul in the early 70's and immigrated to Chicago with my family when Carter was president. I was young enough to pick up English quickly (while losing Korean rapidly) and yet old enough to remember getting ttuk-bokki (spicy rice cakes) at the shi-jang (local market) or wandering the hills of Wonju where my grandfather ran a yoo-chi-won (kindergarten).
I'm married to Ted, whose homebrew blog has a much greater following than my own. He not only makes great beer, but is also a kick-ass drummer, works part-time at Trader Joe's and was a stay-at-home dad for the first 4 years of our daughter's life. He still does all the cooking and most of the cleaning, but then again, I'm the one who spends 11 hours a day away from home at my corporate day job.
And that brings me to one of the reasons I'm eligible to contribute to this blog: my daughter Cadence. She's 4 1/2, 75% feisty, 25% sweet, 100% kick-ass. She makes my life equal parts full of joy and exasperation, often within the same hour. It is because of her that my heart overflows with compassion for every parent I see with a child having a public meltdown. I keep telling myself that I want my kid to think for herself, to question authority and to never blindly accept the status quo, but sometimes I think I'm crazy for wanting this. Let's just say that life in our home is seldom quiet...
I delight in meandering the streets of Chicago with my camera. I love the indie music scene here, and after a 5 year hiatus, I'm starting to hit the live venues again. I cherish my non-evangelical, all-inclusive little church community. I dream about living in the Pacific Northwest, but our roots are firm here in Chicago. I want to grow my own food eventually, although I've never grown anything, but I could probably live on rice, kimchi and kim. I'm hoping to be a part of an urban family that will provide my daughter (and myself) with arms for hugging, shoulders to cry on, ears for listening, hands to high-five, and stories to pass down.
So that's me in a nutshell. I post photos daily on my photoblog and am a founding contributor for Shutter Sisters, and I look forward to being a part of the Kimchi Mamas community as well!