Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Round Up

Our Sally Tomato died about a month ago.  I haven't wanted to write about it because it has been so sad and hard to talk about.  I talked about it several weeks ago and broke down and sobbed and then overshared about some other stuff.  That is how grief works - you get sad about something and you bottle it up and when it spills over all the other shit in your life spills out with it.   It doesn't matter that Sally was old, it doesn't matter that Sally was not going to live forever, it doesn't matter that Sally was a dog, he was a part of our family and I'm getting older and grief affects me differently and I bottled it up and the other day I fell apart. 

When I come home I miss the sound of "tic tic tic" across the hardwoods as he comes to greet me.  I miss his classic pacing.  I miss him laying down hard on the floor because he was old and laying down sometimes wasn't gentle.  I miss his furry head and how he would lay it in my head.  It will take me some time to stop looking for him when I come in and when I leave.  He was such a big part of our lives.

 And then I got physically sick for a week and I think that somehow it was all tied together.  Mind is wearied, body is wearied.  I got strep and it was terrible and I was laid up in bed for days and I struggled with feeling terrible both inside and out.  And I felt like I was able to shed my physical sickness when I said goodbye to Sally and embraced Marcko.  Call me a crazy Dog lady or a psycho animal freak but I was very connected to that dog.

This weekend we take the family on a camping trip, our first NC camping excursion.  We are going to go with 4 or 5 other families which is the best way to camp.  We used to do family camping in California all summer and it is one of the things we missed the most last summer, that and Uncle Jack's Shamrock Rose Ranch.  The success or failure of this camping trip will dictate whether or not we take more in the future.  The weather here is so different than the Bay Area, we had to time it right, not too hot and not too cold, not too rainy and muddy and not too windy or blustery.  April and October are supposed to be the ideal months.

I have put in a garden.  I found a sunny spot and Gabe built me some grow boxes and I put some chicken wire around it and I hope that in some months I will have fresh tomatos and basil.  I'm not holding my breath because I realize that I'm still a gardening rookie in the state and I hear it takes great skill.  So I gave a bunch of small plants I had started from seed to a friend who helps me with landscaping and gardening who lives behind us and if mine all die, I will go and eat their.  Because he has a gardening gift.

And finally a shout out to my San Jose Korean girl Helen who went to Kyo Po Market and bought up all sorts of stinky Korean items and packaged them up and shipped them to me.  It was like Korean Christmas here yesterday as I opened this box and ripped into the seaweed like a hungry kid rips into a bag of doritos.  My Korean cup runneth over - thank you Helen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Sometimes my kids will ask me what "nationality" they are and I will try to explain what the "Caucasian" means and fail.  I know there is Irish and English and Scottish and German and French but I try to not fall back on what we used to call it when I was a kid which was "white".  My kids are only a 1/4 Korean which to them means nothing at all.  They were born in this country, they speak English fluently and they have little knowledge of the country of the morning calm besides the stinky food their mother craves and inhales at an alarming rate.

There needs to be a creation of a half "nationality" because those of us that are half don't get to fit into anyones category.  People always say how cool it is to be half because you get to be two things at once but in all honesty it isn't so cool because you are denied a group by either of those groups for being only "half".  When people refer to the President they always refer to him being half black instead of mixed race or half white.  When people ask me what nationality I am I always reply that I'm half Korean so that explains  that ethnic look I carry around all the time.

I went to Korea for a wedding in my 20's and I was excited to visit my birthplace and see where I came from and what my people were like.  I was totally freaked out.  Not only was everyone there Korean (don't ask me why I wasn't prepared for this) but I didn't look like everyone else or fit in with my people, I was only half.  They looked at me as strangely as I looked at them.

It would be so much easier to just say I'm Korean which isn't true - I'm only half Korean.  And it would be so much easier to say that I'm white which isn't true either and not easy to carry off since I don't look like I'm white.  When we lived in Cupertino being half Korean wasn't so special but since moving to North Carolina I find that talking about my ethnicity has become more interesting.  Hawaiian?  Polynesian?  Mexican?  Philipina?

I think that I'm going to start telling people I'm half Caucasian when they ask and see what kind of reaction that gets. I'll let you know how that goes.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Favorite Easter Story

Everyone must have a favorite Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July or Easter story.  Here is mine:

One year in the early 90's my Korean Aunt and I were travelling around Europe.  It was April.  It was Sunday.  We were trying to travel on trains by night and do our sight seeing during the daytime to save money on hotels but it was hard on me and after 2 or 3 days of doing this we would have to get a place to sleep because I was falling apart.  It was after 2 or 3 days of this type of travel that we ended up in Rome.

I got a map at the train station and we hoofed it to Vatican City because that is where you are supposed to go to see stuff although at the age of 21 I pretty much didn't want to see anything that had to do with paintings, sculptures or chapels that had famous paintings on the ceilings.  As we came into the open area in front of St. Peter's Basilica we couldn't help noticing that there were thousands of people.  It was a madhouse.  And there was some type of program going on, some dude in a white robe with a funny hat was talking.  He was tiny - at least from where I was standing.

As the speaking ended and the crowd began to disburse I tapped a woman on her shoulder and asked her if it was a concert or something?  She looked at me like I was the dumbest person she had ever seen and she said "it's the Pope giving Easter Mass!"  I answered, "Oh, cool." 

Friday, April 11, 2014


Today is the last school day before Spring Break.  I feel like this year it is really late - last year we had it in March and it was so cold that we didn't do anything remarkable other than try to stay warm in a drafty and uninsulated house.  This year it is sunny and beautiful and since I know what is to come by way of weather we have to live it up next week and enjoy the sun and the N. Carolina weather before June, July and September roll in and it is so hot that you can't breathe outside.  Although I must say that even with that level of heat, I still prefer hot to cold.

We are going to go to the beach, go shopping, go to the movies, go to parks, play with friends, go swimming, and all sorts of fun local stuff.  But the best thing to me is the sleeping in, lounging around and taking a break from school, lessons, classes and schedule.  I need a schedule break!

Happy Spring Break!

Monday, April 7, 2014


When we moved to Jamaica the kids called me two things, "Ching Chong China-girl" and "Fattah" which was the Jamaican way of calling someone "Fatty".  I remember as a young child in the first and second grade I tended to cry at the smallest thing and I was painfully shy so any unwanted attention would send me into tears.  But by the fifth grade when we moved to Jamaica I was no longer a cry baby and so I either ignored what they said, fought back by calling them something more insulting or I turned it into a joke or laughed it off.  But I didn't like being called names.  And I always pointed out to the name caller that I was NOT Chinese.

We never talked about bullying when I was growing up, at least not like we do today.  We never had presentations on how to be accepting of all kids and all people and we never worried about who was a bully and who was not.  Skip to today and public elementary schools and there is no end to the ongoing dialogue about bullying, bullys and how to stamp it out and bring an end to it.  "Zero Tolerance" is a term that is thrown around liberally. 

I remember a boy in high school that was bullied quite a bit by more than one boy in the class.  I remember this kid was the brunt of all the jokes, bad behavior and mean spirited name calling or trickle down and he is a registered sex offender with a repeat history of incarceration.  Do I think that his being bullied in school has something to do with where he is now?  I definitely think that he has little to no self esteem and it affects his every day and every moment of his life, I do think that. 

I spend a lot of time in the classroom and I see behaviors that are appropriate and behaviors that are not.  I see kids that get targeted and I see kids that do the targeting.  I see the kids gang up on other kids and watch as they destroy a kids self esteem as young as the first grade by continually letting him/her bear the brunt of all the anger, frustration, name calling and isolation because of weight, clothing, sexual orientation, and other distinguishing factors that I'm not going to go into because they are too hurtful to list and because those of you reading this know what the list contains.  And I don't blame the teacher most of the time because she or he has 24 or 28 kids in the class and has a hard time focusing on each child and what is being said or done.  She is just trying to get through a list of stuff that has to be done today so that we can move on to tomorrow.  And she is bombarded with tattle-tailing, crying, sniffles, vomiting, sick kids, bathroom breaks, my pencil needs sharpening and on and on and on.  And I don't blame the kids because if you watch them - they only want to avoid being on the receiving end of that kind of behavior - they want to be in the "in" crowd and not the "out" crowd. 

I do however seriously question the home environment and the parents though and what they are creating at home.  Since the school's motto is Zero Tolerance and the bulling continues why can't we make it an individual motto?  Can we teach the kids that are being bullied to fight back?  Can we arm them with the physical and verbal tools to at least defend themselves to their peers? 

I don't condone retaliation but I will tell you that once in high school an underclassman called me "Fatty" or "Fatso" or something insulting and laughed loudly and looked around for validation.  I ignored her but hated her silently for the rest of my life I mean year.  Several days later I climbed up on the hood of her and her brother's brand new car and draped myself across it with all my weight while a friend took my picture.  We had it put in the yearbook.  Revenge is a dish best served cold but how do we translate that for first graders?