Sunday, July 31, 2005

a post from tibet and beyond

My younger brother, Paul, and Raul are travelling through Tibet right about now. This is an email I just got from Paul this morning. He's so cute.

"hey! this is the only chance for me to email so here it is. I'm
really enjoying myself out here!

My impression is that its the old wild west out here. China is trying
to promote tourism out here and so in the more touristy areas it feels
like visiting the pennsylvania dutch. However, they are much more old
school american indian style. Nomadic herders who live out of tents.
They are completely self-sufficient, living off of the yak and each
other. They love cowboy hats and have wonderful jewelry. They
definitely have a sense of style and could almost be straight out of
an old west j. crew ad. some tibetans (just b/c there are so many
different sub groups) have these gorgeous old stone houses. These
houses would be fit for kings anywhere else. They're simple,
beautifully decorated with pigs, yak and horses roaming about in these
green, green valleys. So idyllic really that you'd think it was some
old silly hollywood romanticization. The people make it real though.
They are kind, but of course don't wash much and live very much with
the land--which didn't mean much to me until now). Sad really,
because the average tibetan child faces a tough life ahead with
hanification, poverty and disease rampant out here.

o, fashion sense. Raul brought a polaroid out here. The tibetans
love it because so few of them have really seen their own image and
fewer still have photographs. They love to pose, run and get their
most cherished possessions and worry about not having their best
clothes on for the picture. these pictures often times end up as
family folk lore for some of these people.

i did get very ill last night. between the altitude (i'm in the
himalayas where some of the passes we go over approach 20,000 ft-- the
tallest peak in the continental us is under 14,000 ft--consider also
that everest is 29,000 ft.) and the level of sanitation, its hard not
too. i'm feeling much better now though."

Saturday, July 30, 2005

James and Annie

I used to have a younger step sister and an older step brother. Raul always gets freaked out when I talk about them. My mother got remarried when I was in sixth grade and it only lasted until I was in 9th grade. They were Korean in a way that we were not. Paul and I were unruly kids running around like little savages. I remember when James (my step brother) got in trouble, my stepfather would make him kneel with his head bowed and say, "yes sir" as he was lectured to for hours. And every once in a while, he'd get a good whack across the head and would barely be allowed to wince. Needless to say, James was always sullen and incredibly angry. We didn't really get along all that much. Annie (my step sister) was five years younger than me. Paul and I terrorized her the way any youngest child should be. I loved her and lavished attention on her - though not all of it was nice. I once invented a game called, "shooting the monkey in the tree" and shot her in the butt with a bee bee gun. I still can't believe I played that game. I'm aweful. I know. After the seperation, they just fell out of our lives. My step dad moved to Korea and left Annie with James in Philly. I ran into her once when I was in highschool. She must have been 12. I felt bad for her because it was obvious there wasn't really anyone taking care of her or even to help brush her hair. The last time I saw James, I think he may have hit on me.

All these memories came back to me as I drove by the place my mother's old grocery store was while at home this past week: Best Food Market. They opened the store together in '91 but eventually, my mother obtained full ownership and changed the name to S & H Food Market. I remember when my sister tried to explain to her that the '&' didn't make sense since it was one person, one name. She responded, "Right. That's my name - S & H for Shin-Hee." I guess it was fitting.

S&H Food Market is now the Fruit of the Spirit fruits and vegatables store. But before the change, it was where I spent most my weekends and holidays working, the place where I witnessed my first shoot out, and got my first real glimpse into the racial mess between Koreans and Black-Americans. It was also the place where I got that little scar on my right leg, four inches above my knee when a sparrow had flown in through the door and knocked himself out while trying to fly out the window behind my head. It fell by my foot and in one frantic motion, I ran right into a rusted nail. Ouch.

Friday, July 29, 2005

critters in da' pool!

oh to be young again when everything you did was simply "darling"!

And if you don't see the perfection that is this child, then something is wrong with your vision.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

July 27.

Today marks the second anniversary of my grandmother's death and I miss her. I remember awkward hugs with bigs smiles and lots of food - yummy, yummy food.

We are all hers. This picture was taken at her funeral, the last time we were all together.
Family Photo

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Baby Distractions

My mom's visiting again. She keeps asking me where my Bible is and I keep distracting her with the baby. I don't have the heart to tell her that I haven't owned a Bible since freshmen year in college. Last night during prayer, she stopped me and said, "you have to shout Jesus name like this 'JESUS CHRIST!'" and she pounded her chest with a giant fist. Having spent the past hour trying to put the baby down to sleep, I immediately shushed her. And she curled up as if she did something wrong and said, "oh, you right." People like to talk about the power of the cross, have you ever encountered the power of this baby?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

32 years in the making of Jenn

Today is my sister's 32nd birthday. Exactly one year ago, I accompanied Jenn and Raul to the doctor to find out the sex of their first baby. "It's a girl!" My eyes almost teared when I laid eyes on my nephew for the first time; his cute little face poking out from the weird black and white mess on the screen. I think he even waved at me and whispered, "hi emo. i love you." We always laugh when we think about that day. The doctor assured us that she was 99.9% right in determining gender. Well I guess her accuracy went down a little because Andres came out with a vengeance - all ten pounds, ten ounces of him. Later that night, we went out for a nice birthday dinner and gushed about a future with a little "olivia" running around. There were smiles everywhere and Jenn of course, looked radiant in the white shawl I knitted for her.

That must have been a good birthday. Today was stinky in comparison. Raul had to leave on a 10 am flight to China and I pretty much had to work all day. Of course we tried to make it up to her. Raul bought her gifts galore and took her dinner last night. I got up extra early to cook a birthday brunch, but still we held our heads in shame because Jenn has always been so giving, so unbeatable when it comes to celebrations.

Ever since I was little, Jenn organized our family birthday parties. We had cakes and games and candy and fun. For my 13th birthday, she threw me a giant suprise party, which of course my mother almost ruined by bringing me an hour and a half late. And on my 16th, she treated me and my friends to a whole weekend of activities in New York. God - little Andres is going to be one lucky kid. She's already started planning for his first birthday. All I know is she wants bubbles, lots and lot of bubbles. And that boy loves his bubbles.

Still, she didn't once complain about the lack of festivities today. She is incredibly forgiving and generous. And somehow, with each passing year, becomes even more so. If it were me, the world would have been doomed to listen to my sorrows till the next birthday came around.

Well Jenn...happy birthday to the best sister a bad sister could ask for.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

posts after naps

Naps always catch me off gaurd. Mostly because I'm not a napper. I've never been one to fall asleep at will no matter how tired I am. The last thing I remember is snatching a nickel out of the back of my nephew's mouth and falling back into bed with an elevated heartbeat while he looked for something else to chew on. The next thing I know, my sister's screaming, "we're back!" and my phone's ringing by my head. I rolled over wondering where Jenn went off to and picked up the phone to listen to my friend tell me a story about a very annoying dingleberry lingering around his backside as he made his way through a sweaty Chinatown. Gross. And in the same breath, he asks, "yo, why are you so tired?"

I have no idea really but I think my six day workweeks have something to do with it. I've pulled a couple double shifts at the restaurant this week, babysat a little, was at school on other days, and tonight I have a couple hours of transcribing interviews and preparing for a workshop I'm running on Tuesday. It's almost 8 and now there are less hours in my evening. "oh. Are you pmsing?" Yes. So on top of it all, I have raging hormones flowing violently throughout my little body. Thank you for pointing that out. But he's used to it by now. In fact, I think our last conversation ended with my hanging up on him. We laughed out the remaining crank in me and soon after, I began to gush out long stories about my weekend activities.

Last night Joe, Jay, and I went to see a couple local bands play at Sin-e, somewhere in the lower east side. The music was decent enough but the bartender was the most fabulous entertainment. She had a giant, curly mohawk that seemed to stand a foot tall. Her tattoos were all dark and dreary running up and down her arm and she wore a black mesh shirt with a skimpy black bra underneath. And she was a sturdy woman to say the least. She could have eaten me up in one bite. She glared at all the girls there with their shiny gold bags and sparkling earings ordering their amstel lights instead of the blood she drank behind the bar. I even saw her pick up a piece of trash and flick it at this guy's head when he didn't leave her a tip. It was fantastic. I sat at the bar wide eyed and pretending not to secretly love some of those gold bags and earings...and then the best thing happened. The bartender bought my friends and I a round of drinks on the house. It was so random but apparently, we were the "nicest people who came in all day". Shucks, she made me blush. Of course, I ordered a 'blood' on the rocks - now that we were best friends and all.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

ode to Frankie.

I had a shit day today. Worked about 15 tables my lunch shift and still only made close to sixty in tips. Strangely, I had four tables my night shift and somehow made about as much. And through it all, I had a raging headache. Not the best day of my life. But Frankie - Frankie makes it all better. He's the manager that works the Thursday night shift. Underneath that big meat head exterior, he's a big softy - and best of all, a massive lush who has no clue how to run a restaurant. It's the only night where the kitchen staff gets wasted by nine and little 'ol me gets to have as many apple martini's as her heart desires. yumm....I love Frankie. shouldn't u?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

From star struck to something else...

Ms. Foxy Brown.

Picture this. 9:12 pm. A woman walks in, sits down, and barks out an order to me as I hand her a menu. Half of which, I might add, are not even on the menu. She ends with, "I have a plane to catch so please hurry." Sure, no problem. I flash her a waitress smile. I've already been on my feet for about eleven hours and so far, the tips aren't really worth that sharp pain running up and down my back. I go and put her order into the computer and head back to take another table's dessert order. As I'm standing there charming the other patrons, she begins to bitch and bark about needing her salad. "Excuse me, I need to eat!" I turn around in utter shock and the customers around me look at her with wide eyes. What did she expect - for me to hold up the entire kitchen and demand her food in that second? Fuck that. Instead, she got an "uh - I put your order in. You'll have to wait your turn." And a nice cold shoulder to chew on for a few minutes. I guess my manager didn't like that too much because she went into the computer and gave her an appetizer on the house. Well, I didn't like that so much, so I went back into the computer and priced the dish for more than the original cost. This woman was so bitchy and I really saw no reason to reward her for it. Unfortunately, my manager found out and I had to play up my bambi eyes with an, "oh, I totally didn't even realize I put that back on. And for that much!?!?! I must have accidentally added an extra zero or two." Well, apparently Ms. Foxy Brown is some rap artist. I googled her as soon as I got home. I'm usually a starstruck pawn drooling over celebrities. I almost smacked the shit out of this woman.

And tonight, no one can comment about the cursing in this entry. I deserve it.

congratulations to Gina and Gina's now husband

I love when emails begin with an "oh, by the way, did I mention that I got married last May?" I admit that at times, I skim through emails picking up the gist of the message along the way. But when you start off like that, my eyes are glued to the screen and sometimes, I'll even read the email a couple times over. This is one of my favorites next to -"oh yeah, I lost my virginity on that church missions trip to Mexico. Right on the lake while you were all praying for lost souls..."

So Gina and Gina's now husband (whose name I think is...Joe?) are married. Congratulations. It sounded like a cozy day of happy celebration with family and friends. Well, Gina. I better be invited to the post-post reception you're having next spring...

I met Gina six summers ago while studying abroad in Korea. She was my roommate amongst other things. As my running buddy, she helped absorb all the stares and sneers we got while running through Seoul's packed streets. The best were her "gardening" skills. While lamenting the woes of our single life, she helped cultivate a whole garden of men on the outside of our room door. I think she put the first picture of Mr. Cute up, followed by Mr. Even-Cuter. At the end of the summer, we had a whole door full. I almost cried when we had to take them down... I'm glad Gina's married now. The best thing I loved about her was her outright boldness. Not only could she rock any dance floor, she had no qualms about pulling over to the side of the road for a quick bowel movement while running. She'd just look up at you with unblinking eyes and just say, "what?"

Monday, July 18, 2005


Yesterday was Dana's bridal shower. She's getting married to Joe this September and it'll be my first Jewish Orthodox wedding. I'm really excited. Not only have I watched and listened while this couple went back and forth on wedding dates and details, but I've heard that these weddings can get well, really 'celebratory' despite the relatively conservative nature of the religion. Which quickly brought the topic of conversation at my table to Appropriate Attire. While stuffing our faces with an assortment of pastries, quish, pastas, and bagels, Courtney looks at me and says, "So when are we going dress shopping for Dana's wedding?" oooh, shopping??? For a brief moment, my eyes lit up. But remembering that the bulk of my waitressing tips went out while shopping in Soho with Grace and Jenn on Thursday, I stammered something about already having a dress but could help look for her. I don't mind shopping vicariously through others. She stared at me with that incredulous smile of hers and chuckled, "If I don't have anything appropriate to wear, honey, you certainly don't." And everyone at the table laughed.

What was that about? For the life of me, I can't figure it out. I think Lara mumbled something like, "why don't you wear the dress you wore at Shannon's party?" If I remember correctly, the slit may have been high but I wore appropriate undergarments. It's simply one giant mystery to me.

Anyway, so I'm back. miss me much?

Saturday, July 16, 2005


woah. has a week already gone by?


Monday, July 11, 2005

A night of bowling and arcade fun.

We started the evening with six Koreans and a couple martini's at a giant suburban, Italian restaurant. Of course, I came late because I got lost. I think I was daydreaming again while driving - a dangerous combination for my family who has been known to drive three hours in the wrong direction without realizing it or to take lefts when directions call for a right. Maps don't help all that much either.

Anyway, at the end of the night, nine Koreans were seen finishing up a third game of bowling. And in between, we hit the arcades. It was fun.


Hammee's ski ball impersonation

Hamme Scores!

Happy Anna

June and Rich

Basketball June

My gals

ahhh (that's a sigh). I don't see my girls nearly enough. These feet, I see lots. My lucky bowling feet, these are.
Lucky socks.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

dancing mommy


Being at home has inspired me to list my top ten favorite 'mom' moments. And here they are in no particular order. Siblings and all others who have experienced these various momisms, feel free to add to the list.

1. Yesterday, my mother says to me, "You don't know how much I cha-mo (endure quietly) when I go to work. I close my eyes, mouth, and ears and just do what they tell me to do. I no fighting." Really?!?!? Why? "Because they send mommy warning. They say if I keep fighting, they fire!" She looks at me with wide eyes then bursts into laughter. "Can you believe it?" Hell yeah. Then she puts her finger to her lips then tightly blinks three times, which is my mother's way of winking once. "It's secret. Don't tell anyone."

2. I once asked my mother what animal she would be if she could be anything else for one day. She sits reflectively for a mere moment and says, "I know. Poodle." What - why? "Because no one is mean to poodle. They give good food and brush hair and put ribbon in. It's nice."

3. When I was in sixth grade, I walked into the living room while my mother was watching a movie. She looks at me horrified and says, "What kind of movie is this?" I picked up the box. It's Godfather - mom, this movie is really violent. It's about gangsters. "It's not about God?" No mom, that's God the Father, this is the Godfather.

4. That same year, my mother chased a neighborhood bully for five blocks in her royal blue nightgown with pink buttons. When my brother finally befriended that kid, Mike, he said he'd never been so afraid in his life.

5. My mother bitched out my sister's cheerleading coach when she didn't make the team. Even in her broken English, the words, "You stupid!" were clearly heard over and over again.

6. Last year, while I was still living in San Francisco, my whole family had come out for my cousin's wedding. My mother, grandfather, and I had just arrived at the hotel where they were all staying. My mother and grandfather went inside while I stayed behind to gather all the bags. I get up to the elevator and press the button. The doors open and there's my mother and grandfather just standing there. She looks at me and says, "Oh. Where are we? You tricking us!" I laughed and denied her accusations. They had apparently forgotten to press the button inside and had been standing in an unmoving elevator.

7. Another elevator story. When I was home from college, my mother and I entered the elevator of our apt building. In a low grumble she says, "When this door closes, you are going to die." What? "I said, when this door closes, you are going down!" Whatever mom. Sure enough, as soon as the door closes my mother lunges at me and tries to knock me over. I'm sure our loud cackling could be heard through the doors.

8. This morning my mother told me that I needed to dress 'less' to church and walk with a bit of a sway. As she demonstrated this to me, she says, "This is the only way to get a man!" This occurred after an hour of sitting with my aunt and mother at breakfast discussing their concerns about my very single life.

9. My mother invents her own words like "wrinkle-jinkle". I remember the moment when she learned that "wrinkle-jinkle" wasn't a real word and that she had herself, added the "jinkle".

10. Everytime my mother has a bowel movement, she thanks God.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


i just walked into my mother's house fifteen minutes ago with happy anticipation of spending some quality time with family and old high school friends. But before then, I just want to give a "shout-out" to my new friend Margi, the toll collector on the New Jersey Turnpike at the Pennsylvania turnpike exit. She works in booth number 6, looks about middle-aged (I would say about 50ish), slightly round around the hips, blond hair that falls about chin length, and has the voice of a dying hyena.

I pull up. Three dollars and ten cents was my fee and three dollars and ten cents is exactly what I gave her. She looks at me and screeches, "I don't want your pennies!!!" in that dying hyena voice of hers. I was a little taken back and stammered out an, "excuse me?" She yelps again, "I don't want your pennies!!!" And in the most reasonable manner (because I am a reasonable and well-mannered woman by nature), I explain to her that by law she has to take my money because ten pennies are still a valid form of American currency and the last time I checked, Pennsylvania was still part of the America I know and love. "Well I don't care what the law says. I'm not taking your pennies. No one wants pennies!!! And if you don't have more money, I can write you a slip that says you didn't have enough money." And in perfect compusure I responded, "Look #$%@^$#W%, this is #$@#$#@%# rediculus. I have the right amount! I!@#!@$!@ and !@##%@#$." And at this point, I'm so angry that my pigtails are flapping all over the place.

In the end, I'm afraid I lost and ended up driving away with ninety cents in my pocket. Margi, you may have won this time but I drive down to Philly quite often and I'm saving up my pennies. dun dun duuunnnn....

Thursday, July 07, 2005

little diva

I sat next to a little diva on the subway tonight. I was coming back to Brooklyn after having met a friend for happy hour mohito's where the hot topic was the 600 dollar pair of glasses sitting on his face. How does a guy with no job and no job lined up afford this? I have to crack this mystery because suddenly my face feels a bit naked.

Anyway, so it's close to midnight and I have a mild headache from the happy mohito's. I'm sitting on the slowest express train back to brooklyn and my leg is throbbing because some man had just accidentally sat on me. And this little girl keeps shouting in my ear, "10! 11! 12! 13!" and before I know it, she is singing her head off and rockin' out to her reflection in the window - dancing so hard that her little pig tails keep whipping me in the face. I can't remember the song very well but I believe the chorus went like this, "blue, blue, blue - please don't shoot!" And despite her mother's pleading, she gets louder and louder. I look over at her and I have to bite my lip from laughing. Within seconds, I burst into giggles and then three others around us begin to laugh. And she just keeps on singing to herself. It was the cutest thing ever. And for a little while, I forgot about my headache.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

For my #1 Fan who asked for it...

A picture of my avocado skin and an update to a previous posting:
Avocado Skin
The first day of my trip, I thought the rash was a reaction to bad sunscreen. When my avocado skin came back a second time, I freaked. I had become allergic to the sun! In a matter of seconds, I was hesterical - ran into the room and tried to wash the hives down the shower drain. When that didn't work, I went on-line and looked up every scary story I could find about sun allergies. They're real and out there. And I may be one of those rare people who has it. Though I can't be sure just yet. I guess I should make an appointment with a real doctor.

Random pictures from the Catskills

I realize I didn't take that many pictures out there...lots of home-made videos of my nephew's first experience with creeks, pools, and grass. urban babies. I have to ask Raul if there's a way to put video's up here. But here's a brief glimpse of our trip:

walks by the creek
3rd of July
frog searching

urban girls frolicking by the lake

throwing money away at impossible carnival games

being scrumptious

and finally, fireworks. I love fireworks and can watch them for hours.

Monday, July 04, 2005

God's wrathful hand

After lunch yesterday, I came back to our room and like an excited little girl, put on my bathing suit and rushed off to the pool. The weather was perfect. And despite my brief annoyance at not being able to find my ipod, I found a happy spot to myself. It would have been much nicer with music to drown out the noises of all the children, but oh well. The sun was warm and I was content. And as I stood there slathering on sun screen, I heard some familiar words from my own childhood.

"Son, if ever in doubt, just go to the scriptures." Wise words from a father. My mother used to say the same thing. That and "Obey mommy". Still does actually.

Anyway, wise father continues, "And the scriptures say though shalt not have any piercings or images drawn on your body." After his son asks what a piercing is, he replies,"Well earings are a form - but that's okay because you see..." I replaced his own attempts at logic here with dots as you can see. But the best came when I turned around and took off my shorts revealing a shiny, sinful little object coming out of my bellybutton. I got my belly button ring so long ago that sometimes I forget I even have it. But there it was, shimmering in the sun.

His father looks up and stammers, "Son, the problem with you is that you ask too many questions and just don't take I what say for what it is. Go swim while I finish my cigarette."

And though I cant be sure - Isn't the 10th commandment, "Thou shalt not smoke"?

Although a half hour later, I was running inside with the worst hives of my life. Covered from my chest down to my knees from a horrible allergic reaction to Hawaiian Tropic's sunscreen. Raul said I looked like an avocado. Dry and wrinkly and super swollen. It got me thinking that maybe I should have read my scriptures more thoroughly, but I'll probably just stay away from Hawaiian Tropic's sunscreen in the future.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

happy 4th

I'm heading to the mountains...