In the spirit of re-introducing myself and adding my two cents to Twizzle's recent post, I thought I would do a three-part quasi-intro post. Hi, I am Mama Nabi and I guess I am the resident FOB Kimchi Mama.
I am lying when I say FOB. There is neither Fresh nor Boat.
- Born in 1970 in Jinhae, SOUTH Korea.
- Moved to Chittagong, Bangladesh, in 1979.
- Shipped off (again, I lie - there was NO SHIP) to an American International Christian Boarding School in the mountains of the Himalayas in India in 1982.
- Came to the States to attend college in 1989. NO ONE had the decency to tell me that Minnesota is... well... fucking cold so here I am.
- Got a job in the dry cleaning industry as a Korean writer/translator in 1994. Discovered that many Korean immigrants elsewhere in the States were in the business. I didn't know since all my drycleaners were white, mostly Scandinavian.
- Found out that the company was underpaying their foreign employee - instead of suing them for backpay of $50,000, I opted to go to graduate school in 1998. NOTE: Apparently I was too dense to take this opportunity to migrate to a warmer climate; I applied to a program in a local university. Yes, even birds know better.
- Graduated and found current job in 2002.
- Got married in 2003.
- Gave birth to Little Nabi in 2005.
And because you are patiently reading this long rambling post, I will give you FRESH. I am freshly divorced, as of two days ago. I think.
While I was pregnant with LN, I had an overwhelming craving for anything and everything Korean. Korean food was the only food I could keep down during the morning sickness phase. I had an urge to network with Korean people.
I had no such urge prior to the pregnancy so I was not exactly a card-carrying member of local Korean communities. I didn't even know where to find Koreans or Korean-Americans.
One of the biggest downfalls of a nomadic life, being a Third Culture Kid, is that there's no sense of belonging. Throw into the mix the long years of boarding school life, you have not only a physical nomad but an emotional one. Although I still have and treasure my friendships from the boarding school, most of my friends are not even on the same continent. I was too "Americanized/Westernized" for Korean Koreans... and, well, too foreign/FOBby for Korean-Americans. And no matter how I sliced it, I did not fit in with most average Minnesotan groups of friends. First question was always, "Where are you from?" and then after finding out that I am indeed from another country, I was treated differently - as you would treat a temporary person in your life, like a guest...
I can only guess that, as my body prepared to settle down and make a home for myself and this unborn baby, my mind craved a home. And that mind told me that home is Korea.
So during my initial searches, I discovered these web-diaries called blogs. People were recording personal thoughts and jottings on the internet! Lo and behold, I even found blogs written by expats in Korea... I thought I could relate but was turned off by so much negativity and cultural condescension in the ones I had found.
Well, long story short... I decided to start a blog myself, mostly to vent (more like Korean dose of krajee ranting...) about in-laws, racism, and the fact that I had no friendly outlet in my real life. Then I found Weigook Saram's blog and devoured her links to other Korean-infused blogs and one day I heard about this site, Kimchi Mamas.
...and you know the rest. (or read about it in the archives.)
Where are Asian Dooce and her followers?
I did read a snippet about a BlogHer drama from a link provided by an Asian mommy blogger whose blog isn't necessarily a mommy blog... in any case, I hear that invoking Dooce's name can get you in trouble. She's THAT larger than life.
Well, where is our Asian Dooce?
I skimmed through many a BlogHer post with pictures to notice the lack of Asian faces... or even any other minority bloggers' faces. They must be out there... I know most of my personal blog readers are Asian.
Here's a related (perhaps not too important - what do I know, I'm single now) question about spousal permission: if you are a blogger with an Asian partner/spouse, would he/she be okay with you taking time off from work, from family, to attend a blogging event, either a BlogHer or BlogHim?
I had a white spouse and there was no way in hell he would have "allowed" me to have a blog on which I aired dirty laundry, much less attend a social-networking event such as BlogHer. If all the other reasons hadn't pushed us to the recent divorce, that alone may have. Seriously.
Are we as traditional as our parents' generation without realizing it? I had to think about that one... I think I would have been okay with a spouse who blogged so maybe it's not so much a cultural objection. However, I will admit that I have been cited for "Too Much Information" or airing familial dirty laundry... is that because I am Asian and this is not expected from someone like me?
Does it come back to the marketing question? Are most attendees paying for their trips with the ad money? Are PR people not sponsoring (forgive me, I don't really know how marketing and blogging work in BlogHer world) enough minority women, therefore lack of travel funds?
I will be candid. (Aren't I always?)
On a personal level, it doesn't affect me that we were not visible during BlogHer. I blogged, found my community, even got a gig writing with the women of Kimchi flavor. Fine, let them have their "who's better friends with Dooce" matches. We'll grill our kalbi, listen to the crunch of kimchi in each other's mouths, and have our own little Kimchi-Her soiree-shindig.
Ah... but on not so selfish and personal level... why does this matter? It matters because our voices don't get heard enough. I'll admit that I'm not much of a BlogHer event kind of a person... I'd probably ditch out on the keynote speeches to sit by the pool, hopefully sipping a foofie fruity drink. With a pink umbrella toothpick pierced through a chunk or two of pineapple. Who knows how far this bloggin' thing will go? It may be a fad for now and, in 10 years, our kids will be giggling about how "unfashionable" their parents are and offer up our old tattered blogs as examples.
What if it's here to stay? Who knows how blogging will develop and morph in the next decade? So it's not so much about blogging that I feel somewhat disappointed to see/hear that there weren't enough Asian faces... it's about being heard as a collective.
Yes, there is the cultural "do not tell others of our stuff" philosophy... but I am not so sure that has done much for Asian Americans as far as being recognized as a force to be reckoned... and don't we want some reckonin'?
Besides, I hear there's schwag... what Korean does NOT want schwag?