hana-2-set: a bts translation

keyboard settings
(from Suga’s Proof Epilogue)

Vowels are everything!
Translation in real time.

Posted in Life and Culture | Leave a comment

Memorial Day Memoir: Part 3

On wide open days, ironically, an urgency sets in. I am chased by a dread that I will run out of time before apathy sets in. I save tedious tasks for these days. Not routine chores which have a rhythm and a sense of accomplishment.

  • Paying the stray medical bill
  • Sending sympathy cards
  • Posting to an online journal
  • Completing the book of Isaiah
  • Weeding
  • Recycling cans
  • Cleaning out the garage
  • Moving a bookmark further along in an anti-racism book
  • Preparing to lead summer session
  • Wrapping gifts

I may need a melty Velveeta omelette.

Posted in Life and Culture | 6 Comments

Robins: Friendly, with an escape plan

Recently on a walk, there was a recognition, a kinship. Specifically, with robins: the alert stillness as I approached. Then the calculated distance I would breach before a robin suddenly took flight, only to move out of reach once more. Either just farther ahead or just above on a branch.

This proximate distance has a familiarity. The body’s memory of having once been completely vulnerable which resulted in all that belongs to you being replaced with a strange newness. A friendliness with an obvious escape plan.

Posted in Life and Culture | Tagged | Leave a comment

With Time

On the day Wilson’s owners came to pick him up after 7 days of constant concern whenever he was in his kennel and knowing his every poop so I could carry it home in a baggie, I sat near the open front door in anticipation of their arrival.

Wilson did not know why we were there. As he had not done before, he rested his head on my knee as I squatted. Then he would trot away, but return, his chin or cheek on my knee right at that level.

This left a searing sensation near my chest. A clutching. A distant memory.

As his owners’ car pulled parallel to my home and then into the driveway, I exclaimed, “Wilson, look whose here! Who is that?” This excitement was like the sudden clack of shades being pulled closed.

He seemed confused until his owners were out of the car and walking toward the door. Then he was scratching at the glass, jumping in anticipation.

The clutching in my chest contracted and I suddenly understood that what it released would spill out of my eyes.

I greeted his owners, but turned quickly to pour out his water bowl and dry it. I had left it out to the very end in case he might be thirsty.

People have asked or even predicted with confidence, “When will you get a dog?”

I will not be getting a dog. I am away from my home for far too long to keep a dog in a kennel without daily regret. I also worry because I felt immediate relief as I went about cleaning my home after Wilson’s departure.

It took time to document this farewell.

Was this a tiny glimpse of what a person who had left a baby at a park on a warm June night had experienced?

Posted in Life and Culture | Tagged | 4 Comments

Dog Sitting with Black Nails

I can’t decide

if my spring break is about

the white dog that I’m sitting

or the black nails painted at a salon.

The white dog and I took a 40 minute walk in the rain.

The black paint was applied by someone without polish.

The white dog stretches with his paws on my thighs.

The black painted nails conjure a person who expresses ironic aggression with her hands.

The white dog’s leash tore out of my hands when a rabbit made a sudden move on the lawn.

The black painted nails may have been a factor in a customer service mishap that ended with a concession (from the vendor).

Are you getting a dog now?

Why did you paint your nails black?

Spring break is a departure even if you don’t leave home.

Posted in Life and Culture | 8 Comments

Being too much, too little and enough

Too much:

  • Meal prep quantities driven by a fear of running out
    Result: containers of leftovers
  • A strict 9:30-9:45 bedtime
  • No limits on the price willing to pay for bougie fresh bread
  • All children’s book references include people of color, chopsticks or Asian food
    (Enough already! We get it! You’re Asian!)
  • Laughter that exorcises like a wrenching sob
  • Flying across 3 time zones to a BTS concert in Los Angeles over Thanksgiving Break
  • Physical / emotional demands as a baby were beyond what original family was able to provide

Too little:

  • Inability to weep at funerals
  • Lifting at most 2 stackable chairs when assisting in post auditorium set up
  • Barely able to wink in just one eye
  • Singing off key
  • Limiting answers to only 2 more raised hands during a lesson
  • Handwriting that confuses elementary students (r, v, m and n are often indistinguishable)
  • Slowly drifting away from tangential connections that call or text incessantly
  • Access to proof of generational history beyond my physical body

Enough:

  • A dog jumping in your lap and settling in
  • A child’s spontaneous hug
  • Family group chats
  • Lenten meditation
  • 용서해줄게
  • 3:00 p.m. on the day before spring break begins
  • March 31 in the SOL writing challenge
Posted in Life and Culture | Tagged | 1 Comment

Being uninspired

Being uninspired does not feel burdensome.

It feels more like content.

It’s going to the grocery store when you’re full.

It’s afternoon of a snow day, before the evening hangover sets in.

It’s the Amazon “track package” email for lithium batteries.

It’s okay with not having travel plans for spring break.

It’s the satisfying patter of rain on an umbrella as you walk through the parking lot.

It’s the question, “Has writing daily drained the practice of its over-dramatic tendencies or made self-absorption a practice I subject others to?”

Disclaimer

Today, a colleague wept while paging through my Shutterfly book that attempted to capture a return trip to Korea, the place of my birth. Another colleague, paused to join the conversation with questions like, “Did you meet your birth parents?” and “Do you know how to speak Korean?”

I’m also struggling with how to address deeply troubling depictions of Manifest Destiny by people who are well meaning and whose efforts were sincere. The most challenging scenario for confrontation.

My heart is broken by a friend whose daughter is close to being evicted with small children.

Maybe being uninspired is actually proving to be a layer of protection.

Posted in Life and Culture | Tagged | 7 Comments

Being drawn to trendy words

A word that started feeling “right” recently was the word, “fully.” As in “fully outrageous” or “not fully impossible” or “fully crossed the line.” “Fully” feels like the new “literally.” My theory is that it comes from the significance of the phrase, “fully vaccinated.”

The word “wild” sometimes spelled as “wiiiiiiiild” appears to have replaced the word “insane”–in an attempt to remove stigma from people who may be struggling with mental illness. This transition makes sense, but also heightens an awareness of how often “insane” is reached for when struggling to communicate the absurdity of a situation. At the same time, “wild” can evoke “organic” so its meaning may not completely capture the sheer audacity of “insane.”

I am thankful that the “and yeah” which I began noticing when I returned to the US about 8 years ago has faded. This phrase felt like a cliff hanger as youngsters trailed off, in apparent mid-sentence at times, glossing over a crucial and vast swaths of information. For example, in response to “What is this story about?” “There was this giant whale . . . and yeah.”

Let’s talk about “goss.”I normally don’t like words like “ginormous” or “deets” but there’s something about goss that is very fun. Example: BTS Grammy (mild) goss: The entire group has officially had COVID as of this week and still plans to perform.

Keroppi

Finally, I am drawn to the Korean word “aegyo” because it is fun to say but also adorable. Yet, it can also have a dark side rooted in plastic surgery. The Japanese word “kawaii” is similar but refers more to an aesthetic rather than a cute way of acting. Keroppi was my favorite Sanrio character when I was young girl.

P.S. I recently switched my pronunciation of “direct” to sound more like “dye-rect” to be on trend.

Posted in Life and Culture | Tagged | 2 Comments

Being suspicious of sentimentality

Today, I felt rushed to have the 2nd graders publish a project to their digital portfolios since the teachers were reminded to do so before Spring Break–which begins at the end of this week. I sensed an edge in my voice when I discovered an image hadn’t been cropped properly or red text was set against a scarlet background, rendering it difficult to read. All the while, I attempted to address all stages of student progress and confidence–as valiantly and kindly as possible, I told myself.

In a related story . . . which will become apparent after some meandering: This afternoon, I decided to consolidate some Starbucks gift cards I had received during Teacher Appreciation week. I rarely go to Starbucks in the US. In my consciousness, Starbucks remains particularly Asian–ironically–since I sought it out there as a taste of home while there. For this reason, I do not have this app on my phone in the US. But today, I downloaded it and attempted to check and transfer gift card balances. I’m still unclear if I can access these balances when I order using the Starbucks app.

NOTE: In the past few months, I have made drastic mistakes in apps which I attribute to poor design. However, one notable mishap resulted in losing out on applying a Delta flight voucher to an upcoming booking. This resulted in over 5 hours of interaction with customer service in the following days–to no avail.

Lesson learned: making mistakes in technology does have high stakes. My students’ neediness could also be interpreted as warranted since technology is not always kind when detailed directions are unclear and ultimately unforgiving when not followed closely.

As I sift through my day, I wonder if I’m infusing too much meaning into the ordinary. Interactions with students come off as dripping with sentiment, like reproducing a scene using thick wet paint.

When I was in Indonesia, I hesitated taking pictures of every day sights like the blocks of ice transported by moped in the morning or the trucks stacked with caged chickens. Sharing these felt like a visitor from another country snapping a picture of me scanning the 6 shelves high and 15 feet wide salad dressing options at my local grocery store in order to post it on Instagram.

On second thought, that much salad dressing is legitimately remarkable.

Posted in Life and Culture | Tagged | Leave a comment

Being a life hacker

Note: I am not on the level of Pinterest or professional bloggers with their clever life hacks, but I share this curated list since writing daily in March has offered the invitation to pay attention.

  1. Cold showers (even in the winter)
    • It takes so long for the water to heat up in the morning that I started feeling the need to use the fresh water cycling down my drain as I waited for it to heat each day. It’s not for everybody, but when the water eventually heats up a few seconds in, you are even more grateful for it.
    • I started taking cold showers when I lived at the equator in Indonesia so the idea was planted there.
    • I discovered that your body actually heats up in response to the initial cold.
  2. Spills as opportunities
    • It takes a moment to shift away from the initial chagrin, but after a spill, I will say aloud, “Now this floor / table / carpet will get that extra attention it has been wanting.”
    • Reframing accidents as opportunities sounds suspiciously optimistic, but it acts like a pressure valve releasing self-blame or resentment, depending on what caused the spill.
  3. Weekend mis en place
    • In order to enjoy BIG salads for breakfast, I prep the veggies on the weekends. I wash, dry and slice the celery and green onions. Then I split open the pea pods. Finally, the red pepper is halved, deseeded and chopped.
    • On weekdays, if I want to add in a bit of pear or cube up some gouda, then I have that extra minute to be fancy.
  4. Naked frozen bananas
    • A friend suggested peeling and chunking bananas before freezing them. A game changer!
  5. Pre-sharpened pencils
    • Worth every penny!
    • I don’t like mechanical pencils because I break the lead with heavy handed scrawling.
Posted in Life and Culture | Tagged | 5 Comments