Thursday, June 29

IS THIS IT? . . .

Omma once suffered from hyper-thyroidism, and currently suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, mostly in her hands and fingers. Last year, after a long bout of fatigue and drastic weight loss, I started getting blood tests every three months because the first set of tests indicated a propensity for more of the same: lupus and RA. My numbers held steady ... and then I ran out of medical insurance.

I felt fine, though. The fatigue went away, and my weight leveled off. I figured missing a couple of sets of blood tests was doing me no harm -- I felt miraculously healed.

But ... and there's always a "but," isn't there?

The past month has seen a relapse of sorts. Not the fatigue and weight loss like last year, but something that plagues me even more. Complete sleeplessness: two nights ago was the first night in about four months during which I slept continuously for more than three hours. Sharper knee pain: oddly painless when exercising, piercingly aching when I'm just sitting still sometimes. Inexplicable muscle and joint aches in my bigger joints: my back feels like it's in a 24-hour vise. The other day, a friend massaged my lower back and shoulders for one hour; I was still tight and uncomfortable afterwards.

Someone once told me that the body changes after 30. I didn't believe her, thinking that lifestyle was stronger than physical age. But now I'm not so sure. Things hurt that never used to, and my recovery time is ... well, it sucks. I wonder -- is this it? Is this the beginning of the end for my body? Is it just maintenance from now on? And at what point do I bust out the drugs?

Wednesday, June 28


This meme, lifted from Keepin' It Real was originally designed for Asian/Pacific American parents, but I'm not a parent yet (You hear that, God? YET. I'm counting on You!), so I've adapted it and cut out the parenting-specific questions. It's interesting to me ... sometimes, it is a non-issue to me to be Korean-American, to be Asian-American. I forget that it's a big deal to some people, for good or for bad reasons. I like the reminder, though. I like who I am, and it's helpful, once in a while, to think upon why that is ...

1. I am:
100% Korean-American (50% North Korean, 50% Seoul, South Korean).

2. I first realized I was APA when:
I was dropped off after school by a kindergarten classmate's mom. At the time, we lived in an apartment building, and the button to buzz our apartment was too high for me to reach. I tried to communicate to our doorman which button I was trying to press, who I was, where I needed to go, but no matter how hard I tried, he didn't understand a single word I was saying, because even though I was born in the United States, I grew up in a completely Korean-speaking home and didn't speak English when I started school. I had no idea how to communicate what I needed to this doorman guy (and frankly, I don't recall that he made any real effort to try to understand me), and it astounded me that not everyone spoke Korean! (End of the story: my mother grew concerned when I didn't come home at the prescribed hour, so she came downstairs to actually leave the apartment and go to the school to find me. Imagine her surprise -- and my relief -- when she found me sitting on the floor of the building lobby, crying my eyes out in anger, frustration and fear.)

3. People think my name is:
Me. My last name used to be the bane of my existence -- the source of all sorts of Chink and "ching-chong" jokes. Now, it's what my closest and dearest (and those who THINK they are my closest and dearest) call me, and frankly, I prefer it to my given name. Irony, thou doth slay me again.

4. The family tradition I most want to pass on is:
Omma's cooking ... tempered frugality ... family unity no matter what ... respect for our history ... maintaining our integrity, even if we're the only ones standing up for what is right and good.

5. The family tradition I least want to pass on is:
Ahhh ... good ol' Korean passive-aggressivism.

6. The non-English word/phrase most used in my home is:
"Byul-il ub-ssuh?" (Literally: "Nothing's up?" Figuratively: "Whaassup?")

7. The best thing about being part of an APA family is:
Being enclosed by family at all times ... having a rich and interesting Korean history that is enhanced by the experience of knowing and living in American freedom ... oh, the FOOD.

8. The worst thing about being part of an APA family is:
Being enclosed by family at all times ... the difficulties in bridging the gap between generational mores, values, traditions and philosophies.

9. To me, being Asian Pacific American means:
Being proud to have two histories -- that of my lineage before me and that of our family here in the States ... having a doubly complete self to give to the world ... feeling responsible for living a full and generous life that honours not only my parents and the lives they lived to give me my life as a hyphenated American, but also honours and encourages each generation to come.

Saturday, June 24


On second thought, wallowing = not that great. So I'll take The Unlimited Mood's lead and rest my thoughts upon things for which I am grateful ...

... my life
... my salvation
... Flacon
... Mabel
... Charlie
... Franola Bar
... Pingu
... Emma
... Zoe
... Janey
... Kat
... Yang
... Wonger
... C.o.S.
... Snoozy
... Ha
... the Capio Five
... JaneLane
... Kwon
... JC
... safety on the roads
... food to eat
... laughter over dinner
... good books
... a cooling thunderstorm
... the weekend
... NHF worship team
... NHF
... Sunday evenings
... Korean food
... Omma's brief but understanding squeeze
... Cheech's bear hug
... exhilarating workouts
... the East Coast
... democracy
... education
... "Frasier"
... the Word
... my bed
... sleep
... Kona coffee
... Wednesday nights to come

There, now. That's called perspective.

Cheech is home! (And he's all growns up ...) I'm exceedingly happy and proud of him ... but why do I suddenly feel like a second-class citizen in my parents' house?


Alright, I gave into the hysteria and accompanied some NHF-ers to some mega-church in Queens to watch the Korea-Switzerland game this afternoon. Oy vey, everybody. I'm gratified because at least the New York Times World Cup blogger acknowledged that the referees robbed any chance Korea had of coming back to tie or win the match. ROBBED, I SAY.


A cousin is visiting from Korea for the next month and a half. In just two days, my own verbal Korean has improved in leaps and bounds. The brain is a wonderful thing.


Ahhhh, heartache. What is life without it? I should see it as a pathway to Jesus ... but for tonight, may I just wallow for a bit?


I ran over a raccoon tonight. I like to think it was the same raccoon that caused J2 to swerve and crash on the Parkway last week, and so I avenged their mishap. Go me and my super-hero car. (They have to get a MINIVAN because of that damn raccoon. A MINIVAN, I SAID.) I was going to try to avoid it myself, not because I wanted to save its life necessarily, but because I didn't want raccoon guts on my tires. But then I remembered what Ha told me her mom always said: "It's you or the animal. YOU or the ANIMAL."

Tonight, it was the animal.


It's late but I'm not tired. I won't be tired for a long time. I won't sleep much. And I'll be tired again tomorrow. But rest ... I just think rest is destined to elude me for a while. Along with some other things I would really like to have.

Tuesday, June 13


You know it's a World Cup year again when you start getting phone messages from Appa waaaaaay too early in the morning, saying, "WAKE UP. WAKE UP. KOREA IS PLAYING RIGHT NOW. WHY ARE YOU SLEEPING?! WAKE UP!"

Friday, June 9


It's amazing to me how these things just float about the Web, landing on this blog and that ... I think I've had a go at it already, but when Juice tags, I listen:

Four Jobs:
* federal law clerk
* paralegal at the Manhattan D.A.'s office
* part-time receptionist at a graduate school of education
* mother's helper/nanny

Four Things I Wish I Had Done Earlier:
* taken photography classes
* put up these awesome new curtains in my living room
* studied harder in college
* completely mastered the art of driving a manual transmission car

Four Places I Have Lived:
* New York, New York
* Brookline, Massachusetts
* here
* Boston, Massachusetts

Four Countries I Have Been To:
* South Korea
* Russia
* Spain
* France

Four Countries I Would Like to Visit:
* England
* Italy
* Scotland
* Austria

Four of My Favorite Dishes:
* pad thai
* Omma's kimchi-jigae
* my spaghetti with thick n' spicy red sauce
* sour cherry cobbler

Four Sites I Visit Daily:

Four Software Applications I Cannot Live Without:
* iTunes
* Safari
* Mail
* iCal

Four Things I'll Never Forget:
* all things Boboma
* 1995: cross-country road trip
* 1996: Cancun/Cozumel Carnival Cruise
* a special and varied collection of conversations, laughs, meetings-of-the-mind and 'moments'

I Tag:
* Ha
* Mrs.G
* Kwon
* Cheech (but not until after his exams!)

The entire Noodle clan, fantastic nanny included, and I hit the Yankees-BoSox game last night. What a disaster, in terms of scoring. But what a hoot, in terms of two two-and-a-half-year-old kids thoroughly enjoying the game, and mostly NOT being bratty toddlers!

It's so great watching all these kids grow up. The Noodles, in particular, are hilarious, being each others' best friends and arch-enemies. If they're not rubbing each others' heads, or tweaking each others' ears, or poking each others' eyes out, they are making funny noises to cause the other to laugh hysterically, or repeating everything you say in the most adorable chirp, or insisting that you look out the window while driving to note the train, truck, building, airplane, lake that they also see.

Girl Noodle loves to say "Let's go Yankees!" When she says it in pigtails, it's just too much.

Boy Noodle loves to sit in my lap at the bottom of the 8th inning with his hand in mine.

Both of them love to eat Cracker Jack, until they declare, "I'm full!"

The littlest Noodle, well ... he doesn't do too much just yet. Lots of gurgling and spitting up still, and the occasional deep-throated laugh. But he looks just as good in Yankees paraphernelia as his sister and brother do, so that's a sufficient start, I think ...

Wednesday, June 7


Any one of us, knowledgeable on the topic or not, could go on and on in the debate about immigration and the rights of immigrants, illegal or not. Most of us, myself included, I confess, probably might waffle back and forth between two extreme opposing positions, hitting on any and every point in between. There are no clear-cut answers, as is the case with most things that arouse passion in people.

But then I read something like this: an article about an illegal immigrant who has been in this country since age 4 on a long-expired tourist visa. He grew up in shelters throughout New York City, received fortuitous help from some volunteers, went to a prestigious Manhattan secondary school on scholarship, and just graduated SECOND in his class from Princeton University. The guy won a two-year scholarship to Oxford University, but doesn't know if he can go because he might not be able to return to this country at the end of his Oxford program.

America is the land of opportunity. This young man grabbed that opportunity and ran with it, and he could be running for the rest of his life, doing amazing things for himself, his family, his community, his country, this country. Of all the illegal immigrants in this country we are so busy fighting about, how many more are like him? Countless, I bet. I bet the U.S. is chock-full of amazingly bright, talented, motivated and skilled illegal immigrants who lack nothing but the right paperwork and the rights that come with that paperwork. What disservice do we do to the fabric of this country if we tell them they can't stay here anymore? What bizarre standard do we set if we say the smart ones can stay, but everyone else has to leave? What chaos or benefit results if we just say, the heck with it, everyone stays?

Tuesday, June 6

A FULL DAY . . .

Office organization.
Closet re-organization ... again.
Home Depot ... for 45 minutes ... because there are too many varieties of toggle bolts in this world.
The bank.
Gas ... and more gas ... and more gas ... the neverending tank of gas.
The gym.
The second-to-last home improvement project.
Important phone calls.
Important emails.
Job application.
Planning the rest of the week.
Airport pick-up.
Two hours of catching up.
More important emails.
And of course, blogging.

Now, she sleeps.

Monday, June 5

AUNTIE . . .

The nice thing about girlfriends who have no sisters is that when they have babies, I get to be an Imo -- mother's sister, "aunt," in Korean.

"Aunt" is nice. Who doesn't want to be an "aunt"? (You play with the kid, then give it back to its parents and you can take yourself home for a great night's sleep.) And my heart just melts when I hear the little runts squawking at me, "Aunt Cha! Aunt Cha!"

But there's something about "Imo" that is particularly ... I dunno. Warm. Perhaps it's because I am so close to my own blood Imo and feel so much affection for her -- she's a great lady, and a hoot to be around. I want to be exactly that kind of Imo to all my little 'nieces' and 'nephews'.

So far, just my two girls out in L.A. call me Imo ... but I got me another one on the way! How many more little boys can NHF handle? Countless, I'm sure ... as long as we can give them back to their parents when it's time to go home!


Thank you, JKA and Mr. Safety, for my nephew! I will make sure to wash my hands and don a haz-mat suit before touching him.

Shoot, ain't nothing Uncle Cello's advice, Google, Home Depot, a hollow wall anchor, a toggle bolt and an ergonomically-handled woman's hand drill can't fix.

Saturday, June 3


I'm pretty handy. I'm reasonably skilled with a hand-drill (ergonomically designed and fitted for a woman's hand, thank you Barbara K!, Inc.) and most non-electric tools. And all self-deprecating humour aside, my spatial relations are sufficiently good, sometimes great. I installed Elfa shelving at my parents' place, measured and hung all my paintings and pictures, drilled cabinet magnet catches into some disobedient kitchen cabinets, and replaced some bathroom towel bars. I can paint, sand, drill, screw (get your mind out of the gutter), mould, scrape and move heavy things with the best of them.

Still, once in a while, I am foiled and am left standing around, covered with drywall dust, a scowl on my face. All my recent home-improvement projects finished, I had just one left: one last towel bar in the bathroom. What should have been a no-brainer project, one I could have done with eyes closed and an arm tied behind my back, has turned into a series of nasty, dusty, papery holes gaping in my bathroom wall.

I have an idea -- a good idea, actually -- of how to fix it. I may not even need the super-handy skills of Mr. Safety and Uncle Cello to help me out, though they certainly have been always awfully kind and excellently available. Still, I'm so annoyed. I'm mildly annoyed at the fact that I failed (or rather, that the people who lived here before me made the original hole so huge that no other hole could be drilled in the near vicinity without a near cave-in of the drywall). I'm mostly annoyed at the fact that IT'S UGLY.

Sigh. I'm a girl, after all.



Ranger Jay just emailed me from his honeymoon. I can picture both him an his wife sitting there in the hotel computer lab, typing away to their respective friends and family.

I would laugh and tease and express disbelief that they would feel the need to log on during the most intimate time of their lives. But there are some realities that I recognize, that prevent me from doing so:

1. Even in the throes of true love, people just need a break from each other.

2. Intimacy is meant to be shared, and if that means letting their loved ones know that they are having a great time, then so be it.

3. We love email.

4. I think J2 emailed us from their honeymoon too, so it seems no one can resist the lure of the computer screen.

5. I'm probably going to do it too. Heck, I'm probably going to take Bob ON my honeymoon with me. Who am I to scoff?



Someone has recently approached me to tell me that he thinks of me as family, of our group of friends as his family, and that he wants to build a true friendship with me. It is going to be a long and interesting journey, as most true friendships are. Nevertheless, I couldn't be more humbled and thrilled.

Friday, June 2

SIGH . . .

Five days is a long time.

HIV and AIDS has been in the news and print media a lot lately. The United Nations just closed a special session on AIDS, with Secretary-General Kofi Annan bluntly stating that HIV "has spread further, faster and with more catastrophic long-term effects than any other disease ... Its impact has become a devastating obstacle to the progress of humankind.".

I already knew that 11 million orphaned children in sub-Saharan Africa were orphaned by AIDS. I didn't know that in the last decade, in the span of a mere ten years, the percentage of children orphaned thus rose from 3.5% to 32%. THIRTY-TWO PERCENT.

I didn't know that as of the year 2000, there were 36.1 million people in the world afflicted with HIV/AIDS. I didn't know that 90% of these people lived in developing countries, and 75% of these folks lived in sub-Saharan Africa.

I didn't know that armed conflicts and natural disasters create environments in which HIV/AIDS spreads unchecked.

I didn't know that poverty, illiteracy and underdevelopment make HIV/AIDS spread faster and more widely, and HIV/AIDS results in even more poverty and hinders development ... the most vicious cycle ever known to man.

I didn't know that in 1980, in tiny little New York City alone, there were 52 new cases of AIDS and 15 AIDS-related deaths.

I didn't know that in 1995, the Centers for Disease Control declared that AIDS was the leading cause of death among ALL Americans between the ages of 25 and 44 years old.

I didn't know that in 1999, in tiny little New York City alone, there were 5,337 new cases of AIDS and a cumulative total of 75,800 AIDS-related deaths.

I didn't know that in 2002, HIV was the leading cause of death WORLDWIDE, among people between the ages of 15 and 59 years old.

I didn't know that as of 2002, women comprised about half of all people suffering from HIV/AIDS.

I didn't know that HIV medications can cost a person up to $2400 A MONTH, for ONE prescription, ONE drug. I did know that most folks with HIV have to take multiple drugs, and I know that costs a lot of money.

I didn't know that as of 2005, more than 1.1 million Americans were living with HIV/AIDS, and most tragically, 25% of them -- TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THEM -- didn't know it.

I didn't know that as of right now, it has been 25 years since the Centers for Disease Control first reported on the AIDS virus, 40 million people are stricken with HIV/AIDS, and 25 million people have died of AIDS.

My knees buckle, my breathing stops, my heart breaks and I bang my head against the wall again and again for all that I didn't know and continue to be unaware of ...

Thursday, June 1

SAY WHAT?! . . .

My next-door neighbour is doing some major home improvement work -- construction, remodeling, plumbing and electric workers have been at it nonstop over there for about two and a half weeks now. Sometimes, the workers banter back and forth loudly enough so that I can hear their conversations if my windows are open. So far, they've talked about everything from gas prices to the war in Iraq to the weather to the 2008 presidential elections to the relationship between Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. Yup, you haven't heard anything until you've heard a bunch of huge, brawny men in undershirts and tool belts debating whether Jennifer Aniston should have stayed with Brad Pitt, or if she's happier with Vince Vaughn. (So far, the consensus seems to be "go with Vince Vaughn, he's less of a pretty boy and I'd love to throw back a beer with him.")

But this morning, I was jarred awake by a loud screaming match. And I heard something no one ever wants to hear at a construction site, much less at your own home: "You cut the WRONG THING. That is the SECOND TIME that you cut the WRONG THING. You are ALWAYS F*CKING UP. How many more times are you going to F*CK UP on this PROJECT?!"


I hope they fixed it.