Sunday, April 29


A while back, I heard someone say that Biblically-speaking, a woman can't sit around waiting for her husband to become respectable before respecting him. Sometimes, a gal's got to dole out the respect first and watch her husband grow into it and take on respectability as a permanent mantle.

I think the same is true for giving trust and being trusted.

My ego is so big that I can't believe people would not trust me, either with tasks or with words. When it comes to tasks, certainly, I get the job done. With words ... well, I try. I'm pretty good at keeping secrets, usually because I forget them soon after hearing them. There was that infamous season where I kept forgetting that Mabel was pregnant, even while her belly was expanding before my very eyes ... eh, bygones. And I try, I really, really do try, not to speak ill of people behind their backs or to their faces. I like to think that I'm thoughtful, caring, deeper than I am shallow, a good listener, prayerful. I'm not nosy; I ask after people if I think they need to be cared for; and I don't ask after people if I think they desire privacy instead. But what if I'm none of those things? What if I'm not trustworthy at all? Ouch, that smarts a bit.

But maybe it's tit for tat, trust for trust. Maybe the understanding that people don't always trust me is what I get for not trusting a single person around me, except my blood family. (Maybe this is what I get for growing up in a house where we were taught NOT to trust anyone but blood family?) If I'm honest, even among my closest and dearest, I plague myself with a few ounces of mistrust -- can I really confess this, can I really brag about this, can I really fall on my face without them laughing at me, can I really show my true self and not be hated? It's difficult not to; who out there has not experienced the sting of being betrayed to one degree or another? Unfortunately, even within my Christian community -- we are yet human, after all -- my lists could go on and on: the times I laid bare a shortcoming and had it later used against me when I fell short again; the times I boasted of an achievement or skill and had it later thrown in my face when I couldn't live up to my own standard; the times I shared a secret and had it later repeated back to me from several different sources; the times I discovered lies, half-lies, white lies being told about me, behind my back; the times I needed care and found no care coming from the place I assumed it would naturally flow from; the times I think people just don't care, so I am freed of an obligation to share.

How do I keep on keeping on in the face of these events? How am I to trust if everyone renders themselves untrustworthy? I know that grace and forgiveness tie into all of this, but these things, also, are hard to give when I'm not receiving them in turn. It's a big fat roundabout, and I wonder if the bottom line is this: trust first, take the ensuing stings, keep on trusting and wait for trust to be returned. Walk in a straight line.

But heck, forget about the giving -- I want to be trustworthy, too. This, I have not the least idea of how to accomplish (particularly difficult because I thought I was trustworthy already. Big eep.). I suppose there is no need for everyone in the world to trust me with themselves; I couldn't carry all of that and myself anyway. Still, if I bind myself with certain folks, certain groups of people, particular communities, then not only do I have an obligation to give of myself and not be selfish with who and how I am, but others also have the obligation to step over the line and offer themselves to me as well. If we all were like me, waiting on my side of the middle line for folks to prove themselves so that I can bestow upon them the wonders and depths of me (please know how sarcastically I speak of myself!), then there would be no friendship and no community at all. Oh, that is so sad for me and so sad for all of us. So the challenge for me now is to lessen the sadness of others, to be at the middle line already with a broad heart, a closed mouth, open ears and a wise mind. I guess that's the way to do it, to earn trust and grow friendship.

Put it out there first, and see what follows ...

Friday, April 27


I took a stroll down memory lane this afternoon. Winding down from my interview after a week during which my mind whirled non-stop, I suddenly found myself with nothing to do. Nothing to read. Nothing to watch on TV. Nothing to cook. Nothing to clean. Nothing to wash. Nowhere to go. It was bliss, and nostalgia took over.

I Googled everyone I could remember from my history, high school years on. Everyone is doing fascinating things, and most have gone the route we all had long expected them to go. I wonder if some of them would look at my life and consider me predictable as well. Curious.

And then I Googled myself and came across some old blog entries. It's funny (funny-haha and funny painful) the things that weighed on me over the past few years. But in the middle of all this funniness, I came across an entry that made my heart squeeze in pangs of pain, frustration and disappointment at the sameness of my weights: a rant about my care group. It was a different group back then, but sad to say, my ranting hasn't ceased. Is it me? Or is it the group?

The saga, I'm sure, is to be continued ...



The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in Washington, DC right now, and as expected, his presence here has stirred outrage and protest about Japan's kidnapping and use (there's no other word for it; just "use") of Korean and Chinese "comfort women" during World War II. An estimated 200,000 women were kidnapped by the Japanese military and thrust into sexual slavery for its members during the War, and to this day, Japan has not apologized -- not outright, anyway -- for it. (In fact, earlier in the years, Abe had the balls to suggest that comfort women never existed, that their kidnappings had never occurred. Balls!)

This issue tears me up inside. On the one hand, I'm disgusted. It wouldn't matter to me whether it was Korean women who were used, or women from another nation (although admittedly, the fact that they were Korean and I am also amps up my sympathies). The whole idea of sexual slavery, that which happened sixty years ago and that which is happening now around the world, turns my stomach and raises my ire past the roof of my head. My angry self demands an apology for such atrocities and violations.

But then, I flip to the other hand. Who would be apologizing to me? And who am I to be apologized to? It makes me think of the oft-repeated demands here in the States, from African-American groups asking the American government to apologize for this country's history of perpetuating slavery in its early years. Slavery and the inherent prejudice underlying it is anathema to me, and though I'm not a Black American, as a minority in this country, I loathe the residual racism that lives on into the new century. But does an apology from a government 200 years removed actually mean something? I can understand how it is symbolically significant ... so, is that enough? To have a symbolic expression of remorse?

It's one thing if current descendants of slaveholders could meet and apologize to current descendants of held slaves. I think that would be different; there is a connection, a responsibility -- NOT a blame -- to apologize that trickles down (just as there is a responsibility to forgive). When someone in my family does something to hurt another, I apologize on their behalf. I believe the situations to be similar. And likewise, if current descendants of Japanese military men who abused the sex slaves apologized to currently living comfort women (there are only about 300 Korean comfort women alive today), there would be great significance.

I don't know how these things play out among nations, whether the significance of an apology (and acceptance thereof) is diluted or magnified when you're talking country to country, government to government. As for me, if I were wounded in some way, my government accepting an apology on my behalf would be ... eh. I'd want to hear it for myself, from the person who hurt me.

But then who knows? I haven't, thankfully, endured an ounce of the pain and trauma that these now-elderly women have. I have the lucky privilege of NOT having to stand in their shoes to decide what sort of apology would satisfy me. I can't speak in their place.

(Disclaimer: I also come from a home that did not display the traditional hatred towards Japan and its government and/or people. Sure, my folks and their families were affected by the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula, and once in a while now, my parents will wryly comment that they can't remember the Korean word for something, only the Japanese term they were taught as youngsters. But because of more personal circumstances, they choose to reserve any bitterness for the leaders of North Korea. And ultimately, because they are among the most faithful Christians I have the honour of knowing and being loved by, they stick firmly to the principles of forgiveness and the granting of limitless chances. Which, after all, is what it's all about.)

Today, I did something wild n' crazy. I wore a pantsuit to an interview. Jeepers!



A list to jump-start the weekend. I don't know where I got it, so I apologize for the uncredited lifting ...

5 Everyday Favorites
1. Kona coffee
2. Hot shower
3. Fresh air
4. B
5. A good book

4 Mood-Lifters
1. B
2. The Bible
3. Penguins
4. Michael Hedges' "Gospel"

3 Reasons to Get Out of Bed
1. Kona coffee
2. Sunshine
3. To pee

2 People I Love
1. Appa
2. Omma

1 Thing I Love About Myself
1. My heart can still break.

Wednesday, April 25


People are so nosy. You just can't trust anyone these days.

Monday, April 23


For sure, with the passing of the years, living legends stop living. Boris Yeltsin, dead today at age 76, was a living legend in my eyes, being the one who stood at the helm of the former Soviet Union right at the time I was starting to fall in love with all things Russian. In my juvenile, high-school eyes, he was the "good guy," come to do away with the "bad guy" times of Mikhail Gorbachev. How embarrassingly simplistic I was in those days! Still, it's fun and warm to look back and see the people that stick in my memory and heart, merely by their association with the things that became important and special to me.

I wonder if we have a sufficient appreciation these days for things and people of historical significance, those that made a difference and impacted the world for better or for worse, those kinds of folks that really only come around once in the lifetime of a nation. We excoriate them when they're around, we laud them when they're in retirement, and we wish we had paid more attention when they're dead. That is the way of things, I suppose, and there is a rightness to it, in a strange way. Nevertheless, men like Boris Yeltsin ... they sure don't make them like him anymore.


LOVELY . . .

What a lovely article about the solidarity of university students. Long live intellectual freedom and education.

Sunday, April 22


Happy Earth Day, y'all.

Turn off the lights when you leave the house and brush your teeth in the shower. Recycle paper, bottles and cans. Keep your car well-maintained; even gas guzzlers can do their part. Open the window instead of turning on the air-conditioning. Bring your own mug to the coffee shop. Use a tote bag at the grocery store. Cancel those unbrowsed catalogs. Recycle old cell phones and batteries. Unplug unused appliances, big and small. Do cold water laundry. Walk or bike, don't drive, to your local library to take out books that you won't have to buy (or cause to be packaged and shipped).

It's the little things that matter on this gloriously sunny day in New York.

Saturday, April 21


I can't exactly pinpoint why I've been thinking about this so much lately, but I'm extremely grateful that I did not grow up in a culture of laziness and complaining.

My parents are the two least lazy people I know, and I'm so thankful for it. They weren't psychotic about it; it's not like they were active 24-7-365, running around doing things just for the sake of doing things. But everything that was in their purview to do, they did. Whatever steps they had to take to take care of themselves and keep themselves healthy and sane, they took. Whatever they had to do to fully care for and love Cheech and I, they did. Whatever responsibilities they had to work or church or their friends, they undertook with joy and cheerfulness. Our family had a very full life -- school and work during the weekdays, errands and church on the weekends. Entertaining at home one Saturday night, going out to visit friends another Saturday night. House-cleaning, laundry, cooking, doctor's appointments, car maintenance in between. And the wonder is that my parents did it all without complaining. About anything.

In fact, I can't recall a single instance where I heard my parents complain. When various grandparents passed away and they had to leave immediately to catch planes to the Motherland, it was "don't worry about us, you take care of each other and we'll be back in no time." When the new pharmacy burned down and my parents had to wait three months for it to be restored, it was "well, we haven't had a vacation in 12 years, so we might as well enjoy this time." When the air-conditioning blew out in the middle of summer, and the boiler failed in the middle of winter, it was "well, this is what happens to older homes and this is why repairmen exist." When their church split and they had to worry about the spiritual welfare of their family, it was "God is teaching us something during this time, so let's be patient and obedient." When my dad's favorite car was stolen, it was "I suppose the car's time has come and it's time to buy a new, safer one." When Omma's rheumatoid arthritis started to really flare up, it was "this is what happens with age, and it's a reminder to take care of my body better." When Appa had a cancer scare, it was "God is reminding me that I'm human and that He is in control of my life, not me." And whenever Cheech and I complained about anything -- as spoiled Gen-X and Gen-Y-ers are prone to do -- it was always, "Seriously, think about it: what do you have to complain about?" Never in my house did one hear "I just can't DEAL" or "Omigosh, I'm gonna DIE" or "Why me?"

I still complain a lot. And I still suffer the occasional bout of extreme laziness. But I think I'm far better off than most, thanks to my parents and the kind of home and environment they created for my brother and I. Not a day went by in my house where my parents didn't express a deep appreciation for the life God had given them to live. Not a day went by where Cheech and I weren't reminded of the importance of helping people, being a useful and productive hand, working well as part of a team, and at the very least, fulfilling our personal responsibilities 100%, without cutting corners. Not a day went by where we were allowed to be selfish or self-absorbed, thinking that the world revolved around us or worse, that the world owed US something.

I'm really thankful that these are the lessons that are ingrained in me, as flawed as my living them out might be. I used to feel odd about who I was, thinking that I suffered from severe Martha-syndrome (working bitterly in the kitchen while Mary got to sit at Jesus's feet and listen), and that I had to rid myself of this quality. But now I'm starting to see the difference between bitterness slavishness and joyful service. I really appreciate that my parents taught me to work, for my own benefit and for the benefit of those around me. I really appreciate that because of my parents, I value stepping outside the boundaries of just what I need to do for myself, and lending an extra effort to help someone else, even in the very tiny and seemingly insignificant things. I appreciate that I am someone who can see beyond myself, not because I'm a doormat and don't fulfill my own needs, but because I've been taught that after I'm taken care of, it's nice to make sure others are too. And I really appreciate that I have the ability to keep on learning how to keep my mouth shut. Complaining, bemoaning one's own circumstances, throwing out phrases like "I just can't deal" or "Omigosh, I'm just going to DIE," are just so unhelpful, and I simply want to be helpful, as much as I can. I want to encourage people with my words, not discourage. I want people to know that I care and think about them, not just about myself. And I certainly don't want to be someone who throws words out carelessly, without thinking, and definitely without meaning them.

Thanks, Omma and Appa. With all the yuck that is in this world and in the people in this world, and for sure in me, I'm glad that I also have in me a little of what it takes to start to combat the yuck.

Friday, April 20


I became nostalgic for this place today ...

Temple Church courtyard, in Inner Temple, London

Columbine, 8 years ago.



The shooter's family has offered a statement of sorrow, mourning, confusion and pain.

I am so thankful for this article. I am so thankful that people are able to realize that the shooter's family is also in some sort of immeasurable, unforgettable pain. I am so thankful for their understanding. I'm thankful that this family is being protected.

I wonder if they were part of a church community. The Korean church community in Virginia is enormous. I hope they have a community of faith to turn to, I hope they are being embraced and loved and cared for by this community, I hope they are not being shunned in the way that Koreans are so good at doing sometimes, unfortunately.



I went outside by myself for the first time this week, today. I know, it sounds like such a weird thing to say, but sometime in the middle of the week, I became very afraid of being seen, of having people know that I was Korean-American, of being hated for it.

I returned to the place I called home for six years, the Upper West Side. Surrounded by the Columbia community, I felt wonderfully anonymous, wrapped in world-awareness, openness (of the best variety), intelligence, acceptance. I suppose that's what a university environment is all about -- the free and intelligent exchange of selves. I'm so grateful for what Columbia was to me over a decade ago, and what it remains to me now.

No one looked at me twice; no one spit at me; no one said anything insulting to me; no one noticed me. It was great. I am so silly sometimes, so over-sensitized, I suppose. That doesn't stop me from being thankful that when I can't fully be me, others -- strangers, even -- can affirm who I am anyway.

Thursday, April 19


Today is the 12th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombings. Where did those 12 years fly? I wonder how the survivors and families are doing, how the city is faring these days. I pray only for the best.

No matter what, this is my country. I stand by her.

Appa emailed me last night and told me to be careful and not go outside. He fears I'll be retaliated against for being Korean.

I wasn't scared until he said this. I figured people in general are rational, that they will know the difference between one imbalanced person and me, that they will not be driven to revenge against people who share the same background as the shooter, that they will not be taken over by raw emotion. Now, I wonder the opposite. Do I really have reason to fear for my safety? Do I really have cause to think that people will look at me differently from now on? Will others no longer evaluate me by my own account, but by the account given by some stranger hundreds of miles away?

I was always proud to be a Korean-American. When people asked me my background, I was so thrilled to share it, to talk about it, to let them know that I come from a people who are industrious, hard-working, faithful, dream-chasing, ambitious, proud. Today, I'm stricken by a sudden crisis of identity and confidence. What will happen the minute the word "Korean" comes out of my mouth from now on?

I hate that I'm scared to be me. I hate that I don't feel safe today as an American, and that I don't feel like I can rely on other Americans to back me up, countryman to countryman. This is a bad, bad feeling.



Apparently, in some of his mailed-to-NBC rantings, the shooter compares himself to Jesus Christ, dying like He did.


Jesus Christ lived His life in peace. Jesus Christ endured humiliation, temptation, suffering, pain and all this world had to hurl at Him with humility and obedience to the Father. Jesus Christ retaliated not one bit for the things He had to bear. Jesus Christ not once turned from the path of love, grace and simplicity. Jesus Christ not once considered revenge although He had all the power and resources in the world to exact it. Jesus Christ died after deepest degradation and hours of painful suffering nailed to two pieces of wood, so that people might have eternal life through the shedding of His blood and the taking of their sins upon His shoulders. Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself so that people would no longer have to suffer as He did.

Jesus Christ did not kill people because they hurt Him, made Him angry, taunted Him, caused Him to suffer. Jesus Christ restored life, He did not take it. Jesus Christ's anger was righteous and glorifying to God, not self-serving and hateful. Jesus Christ did not inflict further pain and suffering upon a world already chock-full with both. Jesus Christ ranted for the purpose of speaking truth and defending the holiness of His perfect God and Father, not for the purpose of launching vitriol against humanity. Jesus Christ did not flinch from the near-impossible life of bearing difficult things, and He did not stray from a message of peace, forgiveness and unconditional, powerful love. And Jesus Christ did not die in some bizarre, militant, violent blaze of glory; He died with the weight of the world on His shoulders in complete submission to God and humility before man, knowing with the cleanest of consciences that He still overflowed with love and grace, even unto His last, ragged, humble breath.

To even imply that Jesus Christ would look upon the events at Virgina Tech and think, "oh, look, someone whose handiwork I approve of because he died just like I did" is horrific, ridiculous, misguided, stupid, and WRONG. My stomach churns all over again.

Tuesday, April 17


So many of the photographs I've seen of the VA Tech shooting coverage includes pictures of people praying. In groups standing at makeshift shrines; with heads bowed to their knees in chapel prayer services; at the convocation ceremony; clutching each others' hands. I trust that God hears every word spoken to Him; He can't but help hear the things His children say to Him. I also trust that He speaks back, with wisdom and in His time. I hope and pray that some of those who are talking to Him know Him and are able to fully receive His comfort and strength in these days. I also hope and pray that those who don't know Him but are talking to Him anyway -- because they just don't know who else to turn to, and something inside them says "God will listen if you talk to Him" -- will come to know Him. America may be a secular nation, but still, when we are pushed to the wall, we come together in prayer, believers and non-believers alike. There is a reason for this. Even in times like this -- maybe especially at times like this? -- let God be lifted high and glorified, and let His power and grace flow down on all of us, to restore us.


The postman who delivers to the family of the shooter said it best: "No parent deserves this." That's so true. I confess, there have been times that I've wished really bad things to happen to people I detest, folks who really hurt me or angered me. But there are things at which even my over-active imagination draws the line. Nobody deserves to be shot up, killed, maimed, executed, traumatized like the victims of the shooting. Neither does anybody deserve to suffer that which the shooter's family must also be enduring now. The news states that the police have taken them away from their home in the suburbs. I assume this is for their own protection? Lord knows, there are enough other imbalanced and ill people out there who would consider it no small thing to harass, torment, exact revenge. But where would they go? Where would they possibly go, where they will not only have to carry the weight of the loss of a son in the prime of his youth, but also the stabbing knowledge that he was the one who caused the loss of so many others?


What is it about the "loner" tag? I knew lots of loners in my various school environments. I went through a loner phase. I think I'm going through a loner phase now, for crying out loud! Is that all it takes? I have so many questions like this. Is it really rare for students to write macabre and disturbing things in their creative writing assignments? Was this guy, and others like him, a weirdo and a freak before, or did he just turn into one in hindsight? I have no deep understanding of the psychological nitty-gritty, and the things that educators must contend with and balance on a daily basis. But if it's not okay to be a creatively writing loner ... then what do we do with all of them out there who might not turn into a mass murderer, and just need some nurturing and understanding and friendship, just like everybody else?

The first phone call has come in; Omma left a message:

"Hi ... I'm calling about the Virginia Tech shooting. You heard, right? A Korean kid did it. A senior, from Korea. What do we do? It's just a terrible thing, that a Korean kid did it. Ggum-jjik-ha-ji? (This phrase is nearly impossible for me to translate accurately into English, but it's basic jist is a combination of: "Isn't it disgusting?" and "It leaves a sour taste in your mouth, doesn't it?" and "Isn't it just too much to stand/bear?" and "Isn't it hateful?")"

Yes, it's all those things.

**Hearing Omma's somber parental voice makes me feel more sadness. For the victims, their families, for the university community, sure. But also for the family of the shooter. What his parents must be going through right now ... apparently they immigrated from Korea in 1992. I'm going to assume they came here for the same reason other Koreans, other ANYONEs come here - to give their family, their children, opportunity and hope, education and prosperity. A good life. And now ... oh, it's just too sad any way you look at it.
REPRESENT? . . .**

Early reports are saying that the Virginia Tech shooter was a young Korean male student. Eh, I know, it shouldn't matter who the shooter was; it's awful, terrible, indescribable by any account. My gut seized in on itself the first moment I saw the news ticker. But I have to admit, if this is true, there's just something more wrenching and sadder to me, knowing now that this horrible act was committed by one of my own.

I'm not trying to create a "my people versus your people" kind of thing. This is an American thing, and my outrage at the senseless murders and deep sympathy at the great resulting pain will not diminish, nor be tempered in any way. But I guess this is a small moment of truth for me: there really is no such thing as a "model minority." Koreans can arm themselves to the max and go on mass-murder shooting sprees too.

Model minority issues aside, I wonder if his Koreanness is the very thing that armed his soul and spirit. Over my adult life, I've known a small number of Korean men who have been -- what's the word, traumatized? -- by their childhoods and families. They've endured physical and emotional abuse, often at the hands of their own fathers. They've run the gauntlet of "if you don't get perfect results in school, on the test, on college entrance exams, at work, then you're not good enough." They've sought the protection and solace of their mothers, only to watch their mothers be beaten on their behalf. They've experienced unreasonable pressures placed on their growing shoulders, insecurities heightened by insensitive parents and an unyielding society, stresses increasing upon themselves with no proper outlet for them because it's just unseemly for a "real" Korean man to seek counseling or worse, escape from the family unit, no matter how bad it was.

The news says the shooter was looking for his girlfriend. I can't make the mental leap from looking for one's girlfriend to shooting dozens of people and killing 32 or 33 of them. But then I throw some stones into the water -- childhood trauma, abuse, lack of adequate counseling, unstable and volatile home, inability to reason like a rational adult (you know, without firearms) -- and then it's easier for me to get to the other side of the river, look back, and see how it all transpired. It's not an excuse; it's a reason. Maybe.

Regardless, I'm bracing for the media onslaught. Don't we all already know this will be in the news for the next three weeks? And after some news outlets keep repeating the phrase "Asian man" to describe the shooter -- accurate, after all -- some Asian advocacy group somewhere will create an uproar about how Asian men are being demonized. And then I'll get some petition via email asking me to protest the irresponsibility of today's news media. And the Korean papers will be all over this for months to come. And every time I speak to my parents, they will shake their heads and cluck at the tragedy of it all, for the Korean people. And me too ... I think I might hold onto this a little bit longer for that fact, too ...

**Addendum: it's true. The shooter was a Korean national, in the country legally, studying to be an English major, apparently a quiet loner. What made him do it? Who knows? But another thought just occurred to me ... in the same way that so many irrational, stupid stereotypes and fears take root, will a person or people look at men like my brother and think for a fleeting frightened instant that he, too, might whip out a gun and go crazy on them? You know, because one other Korean man already did? Shudder to think.

Monday, April 16


Thirty-three people is a lot of people to shoot. Virgina Tech went up in pop-pop-pop's today, and it looked devastating on the television screen. The mind bends and wobbles to imagine what the devastation might have been in real life.

I don't know why things like this happen. I think I do: too-easy access to guns? Mentally-imbalanced people who aren't treated adequately? Children who weren't loved 'rightly' and grow up full of hate? People just don't have morals? Folks react in anger too quickly? Violent video games train malleable minds? But I don't really know.

What I do know is that God's heart breaks. This awful thing, too, is something that is inexplicably within His plan for this world, and I can't explain that either. But I accept it, and I accept also that He is too compassionate to do anything but grieve and cry, too, and want SO MUCH for people just to love each other and stop hurting each other.

Resolved: I'm going to try harder to love others and stop hurting people. It beats devastation.

Sunday, April 15


We've been together for years now, the current incarnation of the NHF praise team, minus JoJo's Circus (who haven't been with us for a year and a half but still seem like integral members of the team, and whose spirit is often there when we practice and serve on Sundays. Weird.). I love to look back and not be able to remember a time when they weren't important to and beloved by me.

Friday, April 13


I'm pouring. These are five questions from Jade Park, part of a questioning going 'round and 'round on the InterWebs. You want to be asked and you want to answer? Read on and follow the instructions at the bottom ...

1. If you could live anyplace in the world, where would it be, and why?

I would live in two places: first, I would live exactly where I'm living now (in terms of town, not necessarily this structure). My family, my friends, my church are all here, and they are the most important things in my sphere. My town is small but not too small, hip but not too hip, cute but not too cute, quiet but not too quiet. A 43-minute train ride takes me into Manhattan if I want something bigger, louder, open later. Yes, I'm afraid of change, so I wouldn't want to move to somewhere too different (or far away from all with which I am familiar) anyway. But I also strongly believe in being placed in particular places for a particular reason or reasons. I'm here now, and I love it, and I am increasingly looking forward to discovering what my purpose for being here is.

But I would also love to have a house -- a very small, tiny, simple one -- on Block Island. The peace, contentment, quiet, wonder and feelings of discovery I experienced there are intriguingly different than the peace, contentment, quiet, wonder and discovery that I also feel here at home. I suppose it's cliche to say this sort of thing now, but I love the simplicity of life on the Island. And of course, there's nothing better, for me, than to look all around me and see endless horizon. It makes me feel pleasurably small.

2. Describe a perfect day.

Working: Wake up alert and at peace. Put on a hot-sh*t outfit with shoes that are comfortable but also slightly clackety. Commute to some good tunes on my teeny-tiny Shuffle. Hearty coffee and a bowl of oatmeal. A productive day, focused, collaborative, helpful, purposeful, filled with kindness and laughs and accomplishment. Smooth commute back, napping slightly due to content exhaustion. A quick workout with no loud grunters around. A "we should try something different but we always get the same things" dinner out. Fruit and coffee back at home. Catching up on our shows, or just spending some quiet time reading and telling stories. Falling asleep, penguin-style.

Not working: Take time waking up, coming alert with more stories and "I had the craziest dream last night" anecdotes. Hearty omelettes that I can never reproduce on my own and compliments on making the best coffee ever. Walk in Rockefeller State Park, packed with conversation ranging from fluffily frivolous to weepingly serious. A stop at the Apple Store. (Really.) Reading, writing and silly magazine browsing at a local bookstore. Dinner in, sitting on the floor in front of the television, starting a marathon viewing of accumulated "Lost" episodes. Massages, music and falling asleep, penguin-style.

3. You have been on a journey towards personal fulfillment, and you have been detailing that, to some extent, on your blog. What, if anything, was the catalyst (or precipitating event) for this journey? Describe.

I'm growing up, plain and simple. And in growing up, progressing along in age, I'm trying to figure out how to take the rest of me -- my mind, heart, spirit, soul -- along.

For example, when I was younger, I was a huge hot-head. I never acted so much as I reacted. I would speak before I thought, judge before I knew, pontificate before I learned, preach before I discovered. I took and took, and hardly ever gave intellectually or emotionally, although the people-pleaser in me tricked folks into thinking I was generous, I really wasn't.

The past several years have been one long, protracted process of learning and accepting and accurately portraying the truth of who I am, of deciding to ACT rather than REACT. Why do children dying of AIDS in Africa really hurt my heart? What do I really think of the death penalty and abortion? Am I really being generous because I love people (or am trying to love people) or because I want them to like me and think nice things of me? Am I really living my life in a manner that is honouring to Jesus Christ, or am I fraud not just to people but to Him? Am I really a patriot? Do I really say what I mean and mean what I say, or am I full of it? How do I really tackle hard times? How do I really accept criticism and correction, whether spoken constructively or not? Am I really trying to be humble and put others before myself? Am I really pursuing justice and the increase of God's kingdom of peace and salvation?

As things around me change, I change. Most of my friends are married and have children; I don't. This changes me. Most of my friends are Christians, attending my church and intimately tied to my everyday life. This changes me. One of my closest friends has no fear about holding me accountable and pressing me up against the wall when I'm doing wrong, but then forgiving me without condition and holding me close so that I don't shatter. This changes me. My parents are getting older and I am seeing that one day, whether I'm married or not, I will have to take care of them. This changes me. I'm not in the employment situation I thought I'd be in by now, and I'm wondering if this is God's way of leading me to something different, something I've never imagined. This changes me. I have learned how to love deeply and selflessly, to want to spend my life with someone until death. This changes me. I have learned, slowly, how to be a good friend to some people in my life (still not so good with other people in my life), and they have reciprocated with so much grace and power and friendship in return. This changes me. I have been hurt and cast aside and left out and forgotten. This changes me. Growing through these changes necessitates me knowing myself, my identity, who I am and who I was created to be.

And so I guess this leads me to the ultimate catalyst: God. I just want to know Him better. I've been a Christian since I was 9 years old, and I consider this a miracle and a huge, HUGE grace, because I think I was spared a lot of heartache, troubles, hard times, pitfalls, damaging experiences. I know I'm lucky; I really, really know it. At the same time, I was telling a friend last night: I sort of wish I had become a Christian later in life. You know, after I had been through all those hard things. I feel like those people I know who became believers later in their lives, maybe teenage years and on, have a better understanding and appreciation of God's grace, sovereignty, the true meaning of salvation. They aren't spoiled by what I would view as relatively smooth sailing. They are more hard-pressed to take God for granted. Me, I take God for granted all the time, and it wasn't until last year, 2006, that I, for the first time, failed to hear the voice of God in my ears and in my heart. I don't believe He turned away from me -- I don't believe that God does that, not so coldly, anyway -- but I was made deaf to Him for a purpose. And now, having my ears attuned to Him again, having my heart being restored to him again, I don't think I'll ever take Him for granted either.

That was hard times, thinking that God had turned away from me. Even knowing theologially and intellectually that it could not be true and that that time, too, would pass, it was still really hard. I have a new appreciation for those who swim out of depression. But those growing pains, growing in my faith as well, changed me, too. I know what I could be missing, and I don't ever want to miss it again. I have resolved so many things for the rest of my life and the rest of my growth: read the Bible more so that I can know the One I believe in; be kinder to people even if they are not kind to me; think upon good and hopeful and helpful things; BE a helpful person; learn to be humble and receive correction; trust and believe God; pray more; care more about the world, with purpose and knowledge; be a good steward of my finances; go green -- take care of His Earth!; listen more, talk less; facilitate the growth of other people and be an encouragement to them; develop my skills, take care of my body and mind; the list goes on and on and on, as it rightly should.

4. I noticed that sometimes weeks go by without a blog post, and other times, you blog almost everyday. This makes me curious–what drives you to blog? What makes something blog-worthy? And what factors keep you from posting on your blog?

Ha-ha-, these questions make me laugh at myself and the foolishness that I am sometimes. The easiest question to answer is the last: I don't blog about things that will betray confidences, unless I ask permission first. I don't blog about personal things when I don't want people who are not my most trusted friends knowing about them. I also can't blog when I'm truly, deeply hurt, sad, depressed. Even the anonymity of the InterWebs does not feel safe to me, and written words are oft-misunderstood. When I need real comfort, counseling, advice, sympathy -- above and beyond that which would follow a mere venting or crying session -- I put down my computer and turn myself into a friend's hug.

(On the other hand, sometimes I blog and drop hints to get people off my back, to wickedly pique curiosity that I know I won't satisfy (this doesn't exactly fall in line with my "be kind to people" resolution, does it?), or -- on a less devious note -- just to get a happiness or bitterness off my chest that I know I can't let out fully but can't completely hold in either.)

Blogging is a weird thing. So much of it is driven by ego: I think I have something worth saying, and I think that someone, somewhere, surely must agree that I have something worth saying! I think my story about driving over a hotdog in the middle of the story is funny enough to tell. I think my list of favorite books or foods is interesting enough to set forth. I think my opinion matters. But for me, my ego is matched by curiosity and a desire for community (not in a creepy "I have no friends in real life so let me just 'get to know' people online that I'll never have to meet in person" way): if you love the same books and foods, that's fantastic! You disagree with me about the death penalty? Let's dialogue. You think I'm a raging right-wing conservative Christian? I think you're wrong, so let's talk about it. You too have been through hard times and massive growing pains? Please tell me how you got through it.

Lots of things are blog-worthy. Sometimes, I just want to tell someone something, but they're not home, so I post it online just to tell SOMEbody. Sometimes, I want to be part of the already-existing debate. Sometimes, I'm letting you know how quirky and weird I am, paying attention to things others may not care about (like my weird obsession with all things Mac). And other times, I just want to write stuff down, and I type faster than I write, so there.

The funny thing about timing: I do a lot of my best thinking in the shower and in bed, trying to fall asleep at night. When the shower is done, or when I've woken up in the morning, often I've forgotten what I wanted to say, what I wanted to blog, or I've lost the particular nuance of how I wanted to say and write it. Hmmm, my brain used to not be such a sieve ... in any event, if I can hold onto it, I type it. If I'm emotionally stable and feeling able to deal with being vulnerable, I type it. If I don't have to throw up walls of defensiveness and self-protection, I type it. If I'm not feeling lazy, I type it.

Otherwise, I just take a breather and wait.

5. What is the most fulfilling thing about being a lawyer? Why? And what is the least fulfilling? Why?

I like being in-the-know. I HATE not knowing things. And something about the legal field appeases this in me. As a lawyer, I have to keep up with the latest legal trends, current developments, new case law, expansions on old case law. And everything about the law translates into everyday life. My rights as a human being, a woman, a minority; my obligations as a daughter, a driver, a homeowner; my participation in a gym, a church, a legal community, a condo board. I can't escape the law and it can't escape me because I want to know and I have to know and I love to know. Being a lawyer helps me to KNOW.

But above this purely selfish motivation, I love being a lawyer because I have the power to do things to help people that not everyone has. I used to look at teachers, doctors, nurses and the like, and be SO envious that they could impact people so directly and be a mainline to healing, development, growth, learning, maturing, impact-ful assistance. I've come to a place where I see myself similarly. I have a great responsibility to uphold the Constitution, to protect rights, to advocate on behalf of others, to DO JUSTICE. That is a huge thing to me, something that still brings tears to my eyes and makes my heart swell and soar as it often does when I hear the national anthem: DO JUSTICE. Not everyone can do that; I can. That is fully filling for me.

The least fulfilling thing is that doing justice is hard. It's an irony really, to be called to do justice within a framework and system that isn't always just. I think the ideals are still there, and I think idealistic people still exist. But it's hard. For me, finding a job where I can really make the impact I dream of making has proven exceedingly difficult. And even if I were to get there, I might still encounter reluctant clients, corrupt judges, surly court staff, limited resources, obnoxious colleagues, evolving law that doesn't go in my client's favor. It's easy for me to pinpoint all the ways that I could be discouraged in my vocation.

But even the least fulfilling things can be redeemed, I think. I'm not just a lawyer, I'm a Christian lawyer. The law prohibits me from bringing the two together in certain ways. But the law does not prohibit me from praying over my work and for my day, caring about my clients, making an effort to be kind to those around me, working cheerfully and without complaining, and being thankful that I'm alive and able and skilled enough to make ANY of these efforts in my work life.

I knew since middle school that I would be a lawyer (or an astronaut, but as far as I know, my application to Space Camp is still pending). That conviction hasn't really changed, so it's hard to see my current status -- having achieved lawyer-hood -- as anything less than fulfilling.


Now keep it going!

1. Leave me a comment saying, “I too am an egomaniac.”
2. I respond by asking you five questions. You will answer them, because you like talking about yourself.
3. You will update your blog
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Talking with B last night, we came to the realization that I've been a Mac-head since 7th grade, when I got my first computer, a Macintosh SE. Dang, that thing was a BLOCK of computer. When I headed off to college, I left the block behind for Cheech and moved onto a Macintosh LC II. Oh yeah, that was good times. That thing got my through my senior thesis, typed by candlelight to a variety of Windham Hill tunes. Those were the days.

And now, after a 3-year void which I like to call "The Dark Years of Dell," I'm back to Mac, and looking forward to June 2007. At Worldwide Developers Conference, they are going to (because I will it to be so) release the NEW 12" MACBOOKPRO. The super-slim, super-mini, super-light upgrade of my beloved Bob. I can't wait. I'm saving my money starting YESTERDAY.

Chomp-chomp. I can't stop biting.



Yeah, I think I did this one already, but I'm just getting back online and feeling lazy. Enjoy, and spread it around. And can I just disclaim: all these lists seek that single answer. But me, sometimes I just can't decide. It's food! Why limit me?!


1. FAVORITE MAIN ENTREE: A small steak, medium-rare.

2. FAVORITE SALAD: I like to think I'm all adventurous and high-brow, but sometimes, nothing hits the spot like a good Caesar salad, or just some romaine, carrots and red onions tossed in my mom's Korean-style spicy dressing.

3. FAVORITE SOUP: American = split-pea with ham; Korean = spicy soon-dubu jigae.

4. FAVORITE APPETIZER: Pigs-in-a-blanket; Charlie's dates wrapped in bacon; hot spinahc-artichoke dip.

5. FAVORITE DESSERT: a few bites of a really creamy fruit tart (without all the weird gel on top) or soft carrot cake.

6. FAVORITE FRUIT: Watermelon; Asian pear.


8. FAVORITE SASHIMI: I never liked sashimi until I had that piece of melt-in-my-mouth salmon in Whistler. If I can't have that, I don't want any sashimi at all.

9. FAVORITE SUSHI ROLL: Everyone calls it something different: spicy tuna or salmon with some crunchy tempura bits, avocado, cucumber, rolled in a wee bit of tobiko.


11. FAVORITE NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE: Room-temperature water.

12. FAVORITE ALCOHOLIC SHOT: It's been so long, I don't even remember what I used to like.

13. FAVORITE ALCOHOLIC DRINK: I used to have a lot of favorites, but nowadays, it's one glass of good Shiraz with good friends.

14. FAVORITE CAKE: Carrot cake; old-school Carvel ice-cream cake with the chocolate crunchies.

15. FAVORITE PIE: Key-lime pie.

16. FAVORITE ICE CREAM: I'm sad that my belly doesn't enjoy the dairy product, but when I feel like risking it, it's Double Rainbow Coffee Blast all the way.

17. FAVORITE MILKSHAKE: The Broadway shake, from Tom's Diner (half-chocolate ice cream, half-coffee ice cream, with coffee syrup).

18. FAVORITE CUT OF BEEF: I don't really know my cuts of beef, but the rib-eye at Fleming's was awfully juicy.


20. FAVORITE PART OF CHICKEN: I don't really enjoy the poultry product, but when I have to be polite and eat, I choose dark meat, wherever that is.

21. FAVORITE FRIED FOOD: French fries; fried shrimp; funnel cake.

22. FAVORITE COOKIE: A simple sugar cookie.

23. FAVORITE INDIAN CURRY: Does masala count?

24. FAVORITE GUM: I don't chew gum.

25. FAVORITE CANDY: I don't eat candy.

26. FAVORITE CREPE: Home-made, with Nutella and sliced bananas.

27. FAVORITE SANDWICH: Chicken-salad, bacon, spinach leaves, sprouts, honey-mustard in a spinach wrap.

28. FAVORITE PIZZA: I don't normally like pizza but once in a while, I have a craving for spinach-topped with extra salt and red pepper flakes. Thin crust, of course.

29. FAVORITE MEXICAN DISH: Fish taco, or carnitas burrito with extra jalapeno peppers and guacamole.

30. FAVORITE VIETNAMESE DISH: Thit xao xa ot (sauteed sliced pork with peppers and onion in lemongrass & chili sauce).

31. FAVORITE KOREAN DISH: soon-dubu jigae with beef; Omma's kimchi-jigae.

32. FAVORITE CHINESE DISH: Double-sauteed shredded pork, with vegetables, Szechuan style.

33. FAVORITE FILIPINO DISH: Those mini-eggrolls, and the cassava-root cake.

34. FAVORITE SOUTHERN FOOD: Dry-rubbed ribs with a side of collared greens & sweet-potato fries.


36. FAVORITE JUICE: V-8 Splash: Tropical Blend.

37. FAVORITE SNACK FOOD: Lay's potato chips.

38. FAVORITE FISH: I'm not much of a fish eater, so ... does a McDonald's Filet o'Fish sandwich count?

39. FAVORITE CEREAL: Special K with red berries.

40. FAVORITE PHO: I don't eat pho enough to have a favorite.


42. FAVORITE FRENCH FOOD: Beef Wellington.

43. FAVORITE McDONALD'S FOOD: The french fries!

44. FAVORITE PASTA DISH: Linguine with white clam sauce.

45. FAVORITE BREAD: I don't like bread.

46. FAVORITE TEA: Korean bo-ree-cha.

47. FAVORITE 7-11 SLURPEE FLAVOR: I don't like Slurpees.

48. FAVORITE HERSHEY'S KISS: I don't like Hershey's Kisses.

49. FAVORITE FLAVOR OF M&Ms: I don't like M&Ms, although I used to eat Peanut M&Ms for energy and a sugar boost.

50. FAVORITE CANDY BAR: I don't eat candy bars.

The bad:
    - major writer's block: stemming from major heart blockage of different sorts

    - a cough that's been lingering for over a month, and the accompanying realization that my body doesn't bounce back the way it used to (plus the nagging hypochondriacal worry of "do I have weak lungs?")

    -an increasing tendency to want to withdraw from social activities and even NHF activities: my care group hasn't seen my face in months ... (and I don't think it has noticed)

    - a severely depleted bank account, NO THANKS TO THE IRS: I have to daily remind myself that I love this country, that I would never want to live anywhere else (except maybe Kremenchuk), that I am a patriot, that I believe in the system, that I believe that my money is being used for someone's good, somewhere

    - a long, tortured road to recovery: of the body, the soul, the spirit, the relationship

    - the loss of a dear friend's father: one of those people who remain so fondly in my memory as a trusted friend to my parents, a careful surrogate guardian to Cheech and me, an integral member of an extended family that protected all of us when we most needed protecting and nurturing

The good:
    - London, baby, London! Finally, a blissful four days in a city I've been dying to visit for my entire adult life. It was WONDERFUL.

    - a job interview!

    - a desire to write again!

    - a desire to be part of community again! (Although, the childish whiner in me says I still want it on MY terms, even while knowing that it's WRONG as well as IMPOSSIBLE.)

    - hearing God's voice again! Was it His silence or my deafness? Who cares! Radio transmission is BACK ON, my friends!

    - a warmer-than-usual public sector job market: I'm throwing out so many fishing lines, SOMEONE has to bite, right?

    - lively and rejuvenated spirit at NHF: we're all on the same page, and it's a wonderful, not-boring, enervating thing

    - restored peace, restored intimacy, and ... restored hope?

My fingers still feel stiff while typing. My mind still feels sluggish while processing thoughts and feelings. My heart still feels defensive while trying to be open with who I am. I've been hurt, isolated, withdrawn, made to withdraw, insulted, embarrassed, angry, confused, lost. But I realized, as emotional and introverted as I may be by nature, I'm also cheerful and not content to mope, sulk or seek revenge for all eternity. I'd rather have a smile on my face and joy flowing out of my heart. Hokey, but true. So it's time to turn a new leaf and just LIVE.

Besides, the sun hangs in the sky longer and the breeze flies around me warmer. It's really hard to be bitter when I'm turning my face up to be shined upon.

Listening to: it's-so-bad-it's-good 80s tunes and Michael Hedges
Reading: "Team of Rivals," by Doris Kearns Goodwin and the Gospel of John