May 6, 2010


 A fault is fostered by concealment. --Virgil

 There's man all over for you, blaming on his boots the fault of his feet. --Samuel Beckett

The other night one of my closets friends came to me crying, currently going through a difficult time with a breakup. Instead of rage crying most of us are familiar with, she blamed herself for the difficulties her now ex-boyfriend had put her through, knowing full well what he did was wrong, but feeling responsible for him following through with his actions. Most of us would be appalled and tell her that, yes, she is being stupid because it isn't her fault and curse his name until it no longer held any meaning. But I couldn't bring myself to do that.

As she sat across from me, hiccuping and arms flailing, trying to finally verbalize the thoughts and emotions she had kept to herself since the relationship had ended, all I could see was myself, perhaps only two years ago, finally telling someone why I was so bitter and so unhappy, and why I couldn't just simply "get over it" because I felt it was my fault. The cheating, keeping me from my friends and family, demanding that I give up my education because it interfered with his life (and, hey, he got along just fine without college), telling me I was worthless, the only thing he would remember about me was having sex with me --the night after one of the many times he had broken up with me and gone out with another girl, had come home and tried to have sex with me while I was sleeping-- not paying for anything, yet telling everyone I was living off of him, yelling at me for something the dog had done, for something the government had done, sending him off to Iraq. For the American citizens not appreciating him the way he wanted to be when he came home.

I sympathized with his sense of loss and confusion, and blamed myself when he became enraged with me or treated me poorly because if I was a good girlfriend, a good person, he wouldn't be so unhappy with me. It took me years to accept that I was manipulated and taken advantage of, and that while the love I held for him at the time was genuine, his wasn't, that isn't what love is supposed to be. However, it's still difficult to accept that, being the stubborn and proud person that I am, I was shaped and controlled by someone other than me. At some point I had given up my free will in order to appease him, and it's frightening knowing that I'm capable of doing such a thing.

We look at these girls and we call them stupid and silly for not getting out sooner and putting up with behavior that they should know, and do know, is toxic. Perhaps the most haunting part of surviving an abusive relationship is simply surviving, knowing that at one point you were stupid and silly and the guilt and shame that comes with that realization. This isn't something where you tripped and fell or said something completely inappropriate, as embarrassing as those situations are, they pass and are forgotten with time. Abusive relationships do not. The memories always resurface when a new one is being foraged, "Is he a good guy, is he going to hurt me?" "Should I comply with what he says this time, is this a healthy compromise or am I falling into the same habit?" "He's angry, is it my fault?"

And not just with relationships, with everything. The loss of self often has me questioning what kind of person am I, can I be the person I want to be, and my own self worth. If I continue to look at myself as a victim I give up my agency and give him power, which is exactly the opposite of what I wish to achieve. But bearing the weight of everything that's happen to me is cruel, it's like excusing him for what he did and never having to suffer the consequences, and there's simply no excuse for his part of the ordeal. My scars aren't going to disappear because one drunken night he left a message saying "sorry and stuff" and that he reportedly feels badly about the way he had treated me.

The damage, there's so much of it. I suppressed much of it for so long because I simply could not function trying to piece it all together so soon after we had ended. I'd spend my days as busy as possible, in class and out with friends, and my nights gasping for air between sobs. It took a year, even with the help of family and friends, to build the mental stability necessary for me to face the shame and guilt that had built up over time and to finally tell someone that yes, I am a statistic, and this is what happened to me when I should have said "no."

What I do know is that my friend is stronger than me. Despite everything she's been through, she is still one of the sweetest and caring people I have met. While I sit embittered and wishing death upon my abuser, only now finding my life satisfactory three years later and thinking maybe one day I will be happy, she's smiling and loving, and moving on to the next chapter in her life.

April 5, 2010


We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone. --Orson Welles

Language... has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone. --Paul Tillich

For the last three years I've purposely stayed single, for the most part, after my first boyfriend. I dated, I had a brief month stint, and generally just had my fun like a free woman. I did this for several reasons, and all of them for me. My first love left me heartbroken, scared, and defeated. I could have easily jumped to the next relationship hoping that would heal me (and in many ways, that's exactly what my one month courtship was), but I decided not to.

I decided I needed to become a stronger person on my own, to be able to stand on my own and face life on my own because I can't depend on someone else to do it for me. I can't draw strength from someone else when they may never come along. I became more assertive, I was having relations with guys on my terms doing what I wanted.

But mostly I just didn't want to be with someone. I wasn't ready emotionally, I wanted to be on my own and live for me, to rebuild my goals and dreams that I had lost sight of. Focus on my school work, what I wanted to do with my life, and how I was going to make myself happy. But overall, I was afraid to be with anyone. I was afraid of having my heart broken again and being left. So much so that I wasn't sure I ever wanted to be with someone, ever wanted to be married and in union for forever (well, until the divorce, anyway).

All around me my friends were pairing up and getting married, but it didn't bother me because I had chosen to be alone. I didn't mind being the third wheel, or the fifth, or whatever because I was happy in my seclusion.

But time, as always, heals things. My heart is mending and I'm starting to yearn for more than just me. I'm not sure what to think about this, or how to feel about it. I'm not sure if I'm betraying myself for now wanting someone to be part of my life because I firmly believe in creating my own happiness. Am I becoming a weaker person for seeking out another? Do I really need someone else to lead a more fulfilling life? And is that really me who thinks a more fulfilling life comes with someone else or is that just culture projecting itself on to me?

Unlike my other entries, I don't have an answer for myself. I don't know how to quell the rising confusion and conflict currently happening to my mental and emotional state. Perhaps it's just hormones, maybe it's my internal clock, or maybe we all really do need someone in order to lead fulfilling lives. I'm hoping that ten cats will be able to do the trick.

April 4, 2010


The identity of one changes with how one percieves reality. --Vithu Jeyaloganathan

Shakespeare without Othello, Lear, Macbeth and Hamlet would be all too much like Hamlet without the prince. --Brand Blanshard

 Perhaps one of the issues I think most about and directly impacts my life is my sense of identity. Back in 2004, fresh out of high school and entering college, I had a rather large identity crisis. While raciallyKorean, I spent the entirety of my life up until that point with the mentality of being Caucasian. It wasn't that I forgot I was Asian, that's rather hard to miss during daily visits to the bathroom mirror, but I wholly identified myself as an American, a white, middle class American girl that happened to have almond shaped eyes, rounded features, and very straight dark hair.

People who I grew up with, people who happened to know of me, they knew I was adopted. They knew my parents are white. We never engaged in those somewhat awkward conversations regarding my childhood and family simply because it was already known, and I wasn't treated as being Asian, but as being white.

So you can imagine how completely foreign and unsettling it was for me when upon college my peers began to ask me where I came from, what Korean traditions I observed, and which of my parents is the foreigner since my full name is, as a Japanese girl once said to me during my time at UW, a very American name. There have even been times where people have remarked on my fluency in the English language, it's difficult for me now not to laugh when I tell them I have a Bachelor's in English.

I never considered myself Korean, though I never had any qualms with people calling me as such in the past when describing my physical appearance, but it was hard for me to accept being referenced as the token Asian Girl in my classes. Harder still when I moved to Seattle where the Asian population is so large that it's just assumed I speak Korean and eat kimchi.

For the record, I speak German and I dislike kimchi.

What made this difficult for me is because I view myself as American. I identify with white middle class America, but since everyone else recognizes me as Korean, should I also identify myself as such? Or do I rebel against that on principle and ignore everyone else's rather valid perception of me? And if I can't convince people that their perception of me being Korean is incorrect, then doesn't that mean I should accept some amount of Koreaness to my identity? And if I do that, had I spent all of my childhood and teenagehood in an oblivious lie?

My head spun around these questions for months until I learned to adapt. No, I don't have to identify myself as Korean because, yes, I am American, and while I'm racially Korean my ethnicity is very much American. But since my race clearly suggests otherwise, I need to accept the stereotypes that come with it and that these questions about my family and the answers that coincide with them will be a constant, and will inevitably affect those who surround me who identify me for who I am, not my token position.

That said, I do have a hard time playing nice when people refute the idea of me claiming to be American when they expect me to say I'm Korean. A Frenchman visiting San Francisco went so far as to suggest I couldn't be American since I don't look English. And my favorite game is telling people I'm not adopted when they ask after revealing that my parents are white. My friend once irritatedly told me I was being rude for responding in such a way, but in all honesty, it's rude to challenge what I claim to be my identity. I feel that if I have to accept outside perceptions of me, the least they could do is recognize that when two white parents legally have an Asian child, that means the child is adopted, without me having to clarify that for them.

The worst, though, is when people give me tea as a thoughtful gesture. Unfortunately, I hate tea.

January 6, 2010

Life After High School

Just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world.
She took the midnight train going anywhere. –Don’t Stop Believin’, Journey

I mentioned before that I used to live in a small city with a town mentality and moved to Seattle for a sense of self reinvention, amongst other things equally as important, but not my primary concern. It’s been two and a half years since I made the trek across the mountain pass in an SUV drawn U-HAUL and I still have a hard time accepting the fact that I live here, am staying here, and at this point have a right to call myself a Seattleite.

And yet here I am still boggling at taking an interstate to work every day, even the fact that I justify using the interstate in order to leave it at the second exit is something I never thought I would do.

And this, mind you, is just driving on I-5. Taking the bus downtown in the early hours of the morning watching the Space Needle travel in and out of sight, exiting at Westlake Station and joining the hoard of bodies grabbing their coffees and entering skyscraping office buildings—well, I’m sure you’d understand that I have a hard time describing my sense of awe. It was even worse when I traveled down there to meet up with a friend for lunch on their lunch hour.

Even worse when I worked at Pike Place Market over the summer. If there is anything more symbolic than the Space Needle, it would be Pike Place. So seeing the Needle in the morning and spending my day in the market? I tried not to think too hard about it so I wouldn’t implode.

Also, I can see the Space Needle from my bedroom. It’s tiny and partially obscured by the building next to my apartment complex, but I can still see it, and I grin wildly every time. (I can’t imagine how ridiculous I would be if I lived in New York and could see the Statue of Liberty on a daily basis.)

I’m wondering how long it will be until I stop caring that I’m here. I would venture to say never, considering how I’m still ridiculously sentimental over I-5 (of all things), but I felt the same way about UW once. Ambling through Red Square to Odegaard, sitting in the Quad during cherry blossom season, working at the HUB, and hearing the bell at Denny ring every half an hour…towards the end of my colligate career I forgot the sense of impressiveness UW gave me the first time I set foot on campus.

I took for granted what I was doing in my life when I know of so many others who are struggling to not quite make it back in my home town. They didn’t have the ambition or the drive, or maybe even the want to move out of the basement, to make anything more than minimum wage, and spend their days pretending to be in a metal band and popping people in the newest rendition of Grand Theft Auto, arguably the closest they’ll ever get to experiencing a life grander than what they know. It’s not as if they couldn’t where they are, but maybe it’s where they are that coddles them into being nothing. That doing something more or being something more than a dreg scares them into remaining at the bottom of the cup.

So I sit here, writing, not to be smug, but to be thankful. For who I am, what I am, and the opportunities I decided to take a chance on. For, most of all, realizing what I needed, even if it came calling in a parade of the worst transit design known in America, wrapped in a torrential downpour, and tied off with landmarks that still leave a twinkle in my eye. My life isn’t for everyone, and there are better lives than mine that I can’t wish to aspire to, but for now I need this city, it’s an addiction, and I hope it enthralls me for years to come.

December 15, 2009


Hair style is the final tip-off whether or not a woman really knows herself. --Hubert de Givenchy

Hair brings one's self-image into focus; it is vanity's proving ground. Hair is terribly personal, a tangle of mysterious prejudices. --Shana Alexander

From the age of twelve to twenty-one I kept my hair short. Initially it was due to the maintenance of long hair, the constant care without reprieve, that I couldn't bring myself to do. While that is still partially true, by age seventeen I realized hair meant more to me than that. It manifested into an extension of my self image. I've seen this before in the extremity with mohawks, colored locks, and the sheer amount of accessories one could clip onto their head. I never really went down that path, save for the love of red hair, my hair was simply short.

But for me that meant empowerment. Short hair is the calling of the modern career woman. She is smart and sassy. She is a leader, she is strong, and she didn't let a man dictate her business if she could help it. Outspoken and aggressive, that was the kind of woman I wanted to be.

Yet, after my first boyfriend, I felt I could no longer represent myself as a smart and strong woman. A victim of abuse and poor decisions, seeing my short hair raised the feeling of guilt, that I had betrayed myself and the image I wanted to create and maintain. So I started to grow out my hair.

On the flip side, long hair represented beautiful, grace, sexy; a type of femininity I didn't believe I possessed. I wasn't soft, supple, or sensuous. While I longed to be that kind of beautiful woman, it would have been a misrepresentation of who I feel I truly am. I've never been the kind of woman men dream about, the kind that begs for an audible "wow." I never believe men when they tell me that because I know the truth, at home I sit in my pajamas playing video games while eating a bag of chips. I burp, scratch, and sometimes even poop (face it, guys, it's illogical for women not to). There is no glamor when it comes to me.

You may be thinking I grew my hair out as a sign of submissiveness, that I believe long hair is synonymous with weak women, which simply isn't true. The beauty I feel long hair represents is another type of beauty, one that lies in the comfortableness of ones self, the kind you can only acknowledge if you love yourself. After my heartbreak I longed more than ever to be beautiful, especially because I felt so ugly from the inside out. Letting my hair grow was for my own personal encouragement, in a way a fresh start.

And it grew. And grew. Shortly after my twenty-third birthday I could no longer stand taking care of it and chopped it all off. Again, care was a large part of my decision, but the other part was that I finally felt I was back on the path of who I used to be and who I wanted to be. People have openly stated disappointment at my recent hair development, which is fine. It's nice to know they think I'm deserving of the long hair image, but cutting off my hair was for me. While they don't see it this way, it was a public announcement that I'm confident in my recovery from abuse and a shattered self image.

Thus, I'm growin gmy hair out again, because I've finally accepted that I can be beautiful and a strong woman.

November 26, 2009

Big City

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself. --Alan Alda

All I really had was a suitcase and my drums. So I took them up to Seattle and hoped it would work. --Dave Grohl

One of my friends told me that her long distance boyfriend of maybe two months had spent almost how much she pays in rent on a piece of jewelry for her. They're in love, he's adamant that he's the only one for her, and have began to discuss their lives as newlyweds. I'm sure a few of you clutched your heart a bit, or shook your head, like I did; and if you didn't, perhaps you have no reason to feel so jaded. And I'm sure there's at least one of you wondering why I'm talking about my friend's boyfriend when the title of this entry is "Big City."

Let me explain.

I mentioned briefly to some that I had been in a rather unsavory relationship. At eighteen I opted to date a twenty two year old, I fresh out of high school and he fresh off his first half of tour of duty on the front lines of Iraq. This scenario in no way automatically spells trouble, though I feel that to a certain degree I should have known better, or at least expected the possibility of what was to come.

At eighteen I was headstrong and fighting for my independence and my place in things. I've never considered myself beautiful in any capacity, and my lack of popularity never bothered me because I firmly believed then, and now, that a person must love you for who you are, not what they expect. Even still, the idea that a nice enough looking guy four years my senior, off doing worldly things and being an adult, wanted to date me was nice. I loved him and he said the same, he believed he was the only one for me, and so on, and it pleased me. So much so that I endured nearly two years of mental abuse and severe depression as he tried to cope with his anxieties about the war and himself by using me as his point of rage.

I'm not saying my friend will end up like me (mostly because I simply won't allow to watch my friends be brutalized in such a fashion after having gone through that myself), but it reminded me of why I moved to Seattle in the first place.

Yes, a large portion of my decision was based on the fact that I was accepted into the University of Washington after I had completed my AA degree at my local community college, but UW was the only four year institution that I had applied for. I reasoned to my parents later that it was because UW is the only institution that doesn't automatically accept transfers-- and that's true-- and if they didn't accept me, I could easily go to Central like my mother wanted me to.

In reality I craved Seattle. My dearest friends lived there, urging me to move out to be with them. I wanted so desperately to move on to some semblance of normalcy, normalcy for a young woman of twenty one, and be with my friends my age that my ex had done nearly everything in his power to keep me away from. I wanted to see them, I wanted some control over my life, and desired to try something new, even if that meant moving three hours away from everything I knew.

Most importantly, I wanted to leave me behind. My friends in Seattle, while close and dear to me, did not see the me that had been broken and devastated, all they know of are accounts that I have told them. They remembered me as the vibrant and stubborn teenager bounding down the field in my purple graduation robes, smile and laughing and happy. Part of me is sad that they weren't there for that part of my life, regardless of how sad it was, because it is very much a part of me and something they have difficulties understanding, but back then I relished in the thought of no one knowing I was a statistic, a dumb girl who let herself be abused, and could be seen again as the cheery and intelligent girl that I had left behind only a few years prior.

Seattle has done many things for me. I still have my insecurities and neuroses like every woman does, but I feel alive again, and proud. I met new people, reinstated my social life, succeeded in school, and while I purposely strayed away from romantic relations, forged friendships with people who love me, and mean it. It took an act of anonymity to bring me back to acknowledging myself, to love myself, and for that I will always be in love with this city and its inability to cope with snow.

November 22, 2009

Cell Phones

To be happy in this world, first you need a cell phone and then you need an airplane. Then you're truly wireless. -Ted Turner

I still have my bad days when I think I'm not getting everything I deserve. But those pass quickly once my Mother gets on the phone and says, 'listen, we used to eat rocks and walk 80 miles a day to school. -Bonnie Hunt

It's hard to imagine that the moment I transcribe all of this mess that's about to come, my thoughts will be outdated. In truth, they already are, in terms of the subject. It's 2009 and I have a flip phone. It's sleek, made of titanium, with camera and music functions, but clearly not comparable to touch screen phones. Now that the iPhone is in its number more than one generation, more companies are fighting to compete with a market now dominated by everything Apple. I'm considering joining in as well, letting Apple ride me like a cash cow, despite the fact that I really don't use my phone for anything other than talking and texting.

At a certain point, someone will look at this and wonder what the hell I'm going on about. "Cell phones? Touch screen? Music, pictures? iPhone? Pah, how primitive!" they'll say while reading this particular entry on a particle visor screen projected from a bluetooth like attachment wrapped around their ear. How did the world ever get along without a particle screen phone?

Actually, I can answer that.

I was born before the rise of the cell phone, the true rise, anyway. I remember bag phones, my family had one of them, and we stuck it in our van. I don't remember it ever being used, and perhaps that was why it wasn't considered a big deal. I remember watching Hook with Robin Williams as Peter Panning ran around with his cell phone ignoring his family, one of the first to make a connection to the negativity surrounding wireless communication. I remember receiving a similar type of phone in middle school. And while I remember having a phone upgrade in high school (this one had Tetris!), I still remember how important and awesome it was to have your own phone and phone line in your bedroom. Even better if your parents let you have three way calling (or what we usually called "a party line") so you could chat up two of your best friends about boys and your favorite songs.

I remember spending a lot of time on the phone in high school, considerably more than I do now. Though it's arguable that I'm more addicted to my phone than ever before.

See, with land phones, you couldn't take them with you. Ever. Well, you could, but they wouldn't work since they needed to be plugged in and all. Cell phones? I can't leave home without my cell phone. It's made a little outline on all of my jean pockets and always set to vibrate in some capacity when I wear it in said pocket. Missing a communication is unacceptable, and I went through a period of weaning and mourning when I realized that my office clothes weren't cell phone friendly. I used to frequently check my phone stuck unceremoniously in my purse (I did make it a nice little nerd related cover in hopes of appeasing it), I like to think that occurred out of habit and perhaps comfort. I reached an eventual plateau of uncaring-- until my friends started calling me multiple times during my work day to make plans and demanding why I haven't gotten back to them about said plans, and that threw my plateau all out of sorts.

On the few occassions I leave without my phone, I feel uneasy and a bit afraid. What if I'm mugged? I can't call for help. What if my parents call me? What if someone texts me? What if someone calls trying to make plans for tonight? I'm equally as neurotic when my phone is on the verge of dying. My phone has become my lifeline in terms of communication that, in this day and age, I find rather personal. I find it more thoughtful to text a friend then write them an email. In truth, the email requires more thought, but the text is so instantaneous that it conveys they're a seamless part of my ever busy day.

And have I become busy lately. I thought I was busy in college, adulthood has proven me wrong. But let me do say, after all of that talk of phone dependency, that I love seeing and being with my friends more than a phone call or a text. The reason I communicate with at such frequency is due to our inability to connect on a physical level, not necessarily out of habit and comfort of distance. I miss people, so I text them. If I really miss them, I call them. And when I really, really miss them, I call them in demand of being let into their apartment complex.

People are not wrong in their fears of a society where face to face communication becomes obsolete; where social skills are left to the wayside and people are not longer able to connect to each other verbally. But I have faith that for every person so absorbed in their singularity, there is another person like me invading their physical space.

November 20, 2009


Journal writing is a voyage into the interior. - Christina Baldwin

When my journal appears, many statues must come down. - Arthur Wellesley

Blogging is hard, I've realized. It's never quite just a journal considering the public nature of these things (and if it is, well, be warned that nothing is ever gone from the internet) which makes it somewhat difficult to write with the ease and fluidity that some need. Some that have so much to say and are so very much inhibited by their laziness a good portion of the day. And yet so many people have blogs. How do they do it? Do they have excessive amounts of free time? Probably not because when I do, I spend it excessively staring off into blank spaces as I've already correlated productivity to paycheck. Do they outsource it? I suppose if I had kids, it would be free labor?

I suppose it's talent, and commitment to that talent-- and dammit it all if I can't have that talent, too!

In truth, I probably don't. A blog is a dance between the blogger and the readers, fueling entires for the reader to enjoy. That's true in all forms of writing, and I won't lie in saying I don't want to have a part of that myself. But at the same time, I'm choosing to blog with a certain amount of anonymity. Balancing personalization and anonymity is also difficult, but like I said before, the public nature of these things just doesn't lend well to what I want to write about, and I only care to write about what I care to write about.

Which is me and my life. The past, present, my future if I can develop my inner eye, and everyone and everything that comes with it. You can see why being entirely forthcoming would be, at least, entirely detrimental.

And this isn't like my other blog that covers my personal thoughts and expeditions in Seattle, though I'm sure there will be some cross over in the sense that being a nerd is very much a part of me, but this blog is really an outlet for my thoughts, thoughts that I've kept pent up inside for so long because I never knew how to express them before. The kind that need to be said, in any way, in order to alleviate the stress of not saying them at all. It's like keeping a secret. You need so badly to let it out, just once, because it's eating you up inside, and once you do find that other unfortunate person (or people, for some of you) to share, you feel relieved.

Of course, the downside to secrets is now that person(s) you told? Well, they need to go tell someone else, too. And if they're anything like you, it's probably multiple someones.

I think that's why so many of us have blogs, we're addicted to sharing. I feel that there's a certain amount of self righteousness when it comes to blogging, as in, somehow I've found myself important enough to scribe all about it online regardless of whether or not I'm really worthy of such presentation. But I think the truth is that we just want to tell someone in order to alleviate being stifled, for whatever reason. Be it our employer, our significant other, children, friends, parents, that stupid college student pedestrian that doesn't look when they cross, and so forth.

And when I say this blog is rather personal, it is. All of us go through many experiences in life that changes us, and unfortunately those experiences are usually bad. I still have some difficulties dealing with mine, trying to sort out what happened, how it happened, how I let it continue, and how that affects my identity today and in the future. Perhaps it's a bit self defeating to remain as anonymous as possible when getting these experiences out and the thoughts that go with them because they really are eating me up inside. But my way of coping is to write, to express, and to share, and my greatest hope, if anyone were ever to read any of this, is that someone can take anything from my blog, even just a glimmer of a fraction, and realize that they're not alone.

So, to the person who took a glimmer of a fraction from my blog, you are not alone.