Random thoughts on a Saturday night

  1. Line I thought of but haven’t had the time to sit down and write a whole poem around yet: “I was born in the shadow of the valley of death.” (I was born in a Korean county that’s home to a valley called the Punch Bowl, where hundreds of Korean and American soldiers met their fates during a Korean War battle; this feels like a rather poetic if somewhat grim detail.)
  2. Speaking of Koreanness, I have come across a YouTube channel called Korean Englishman that is pretty much what it says: It’s a young English guy who grew up in a city in China where there are a lot of Korean people, and he fell in love with Korean culture and language. So he’s basically acting as a one-man Korean tourism board, introducing his English friends to Korean food and stuff, and he has quite a following of Korean people, which sort of surprised me. But as someone said in the comments on one of his videos, Koreans are very curious about what other cultures think of theirs, so this guy’s appreciation of Koreanness is really affirming to them.
  3. This does, however, have me thinking about a lot of stuff–there’s part of me that’s bothered by it centering on the experiences of a white British guy instead of on the stories of actual Korean people, but on the other hand actual Korean people don’t really seem to mind and are in fact really stoked about it? Maybe it’s an American attitude toward race and culture that people in Korea don’t have?
  4. And it also has me thinking about the fact that I have not intentionally sought a whole lot of Korean experiences in America, which is nuts when I live in a city that has loads of Korean people in it, and I think it’s at least in part because I’m nervous about whether or not I’d be perceived as not being Korean enough, or whether or not I’d be looked down on for not knowing certain things, or not knowing more than a handful of Korean words. (I mean, all my experiences with first- and second-generation Korean-Americans have never indicated that this would be the case; to be honest, it’s been well-intentioned but misguided white people that have made me feel less than for not knowing my own culture.) I feel like I need someone to hold my hand through the experience, and to be honest I don’t really move in spaces where there are a lot of other Korean people, so…now I’m kind of reevaluating all that. So watch this space, I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on this later!
  5. Anyway! I have thus far spent this weekend eating BLTs with farmers market tomatoes and jalapeño bacon from HEB (SO GOOD) and nursing a sinus headache that is probably related to this rain we’re getting. I’ve noticed that since Harvey last year I’m a little more skittish whenever it rains a lot, which I’m sure is the case for a lot of people in southeast Texas.
  6. I’m just going to leave you with this after all of this Korean angst:



thursday 13

This week: 13 things that you have been obsessed with at some point in your life.

  1. The musical Godspell–I was in it when I was in high school and I went pretty deep down the internet rabbit hole doing research. (There was a pretty epic production of it in the ’70s in Toronto that had Gilda Radner, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Paul Shaffer, Victor Garber, and Andrea Martin in it, which I wish I had a time machine to go back and watch.)
  2. I freely admit that I know way too much about Hamilton.
  3. Thanks to my having watched the behind-the-scenes features on the extended edition DVDs, I know more about the props, costumes, and scenery in the Lord of the Rings movies than I do about American history, and that is a fact.
  4. For a Korean-American Protestant, I know a surprising amount about Jewish spiritual practices.
  5. I was super into Homestar Runner in high school and college, just like we all were.
  6. I definitely went through a serious U2 phase while I was in grad school. (Like, I own Boy and October kind of serious.)
  7. When I was a kid, I was super into Adventures In Odyssey (I still listened to it in high school, not even kidding).
  8. In early elementary school for some reason I got super into presidential trivia–to this day, I can name all of the presidents in order and can name off some super random facts about all of them. (Can I tell you about most of their policies? No, of course not.)
  9. I read all of the Little House on the Prairie books as a kid, multiple times. (I went back and read a couple as an adult a few years ago, and it is amazing just to think about all the stuff they had to do just to live. And yes, there are some super problematic racial things in there, so read with a grain of salt.)
  10. American Girl. (I grew up in the late ’80s and ’90s in a middle-class household in the United States; of course I was into American Girl.) I have read all of those books multiple times, too. And I had Kirsten, for the record.
  11. I binge-watched all of Lost during my second year of grad school and I am one of those weirdos that liked the ending.
  12. Still a pretty serious Whovian, although not the kind that goes super deep down the rabbit hole. (I haven’t seen any of the 1st-8th Doctors’ episodes, for example.)
  13. And of course Harry Potter, because I am a true millennial. I read Goblet of Fire instead of studying for my finals my sophomore year of college (and my grades kind of showed that…oops).

thursday 13

(kept forgetting to do these; it’s back now)

This week: 13 things you’re really into right now.

  1. My parish (*that’s my church’s parlance for small groups/home groups/community groups/whatever your church calls that) introduced me to a board game called Jokers and Marbles and I’m obsessed enough that I’m thinking about getting my own board so we can have tournaments. It’s pretty much just Sorry!, but…better somehow?
  2. I deleted all social media except for Instagram from my phone, and turned off access to Safari, and it’s GREAT. (It’s slightly annoying when someone texts me a link and I can’t open it, but other than that it’s been really good for my brain.)
  3. The Daily Liturgy Podcast–as a very audio-oriented person, I have found it really helpful.
  4. So we got new vending machines at work and they have Topo Chico in the plastic bottles in them, and I’ve been getting the Touch of Grapefruit flavor pretty much every day–I think I may be the only person buying them, but I’m so glad that they’re there. (We also have plastic bottle recycling at work, so I feel less bad about my habit.)
  5. A new podcast called No Chill Enneagram and it’s fantastic, y’all. Maybe not the place to go if you want to learn about the Enneagram–that’s what The Road Back to You is for–but if you’re deep down the rabbit hole and you want to stop weirding out the people around you, this pod is for you.
  6. I went to sleep before 9 o’clock the other night and it was GREAT.
  7. So Lin-Manuel Miranda (plus a couple of other folks from the Hamilton creative team) are doing a limited series about Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon and I am HERE FOR IT.
  8. LMM is also going to direct a movie of the musical Tick, Tick…BOOM. My friend Hannah and I were musing that either Jonathan Groff or Jeremy Jordan is probably going to end up playing the lead, but maybe Santino Fontana from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend might? Or it’ll probably get cast with some upstart unknown guy? Either way, I really hope it’ll be good.
  9. The trivia quiz website Sporcle now has a showdown mode that lets you play against another person live, which is like crack for me. (There is a reason I went on Jeopardy and that is because it combines trivia with competition.)
  10. I switched a while back from the Apple Podcasts app (which is straight garbage, don’t @ me) to an app called Overcast, which is wonderful and free and I recommend it to you all.
  11. Another good thing for my brain: I don’t let my phone in my room (I charge it in my bathroom), and I’ve started using a little battery-operated alarm clock from Ikea. It’s actually really nice and easier for me to turn off my thoughts at night.
  12. Linda Holmes, who is a culture writer for NPR and host of the excellent podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, recently got a dog named Brian. I love this because a) I love dogs with people names and b) Linda started an Instagram account for pics of Brian called primodogcontent, and I adore it. This is a particularly good recent post.
  13. Finally: This weekend the Revoice conference is happening and I’m really grateful for its presence and the witness of its organizers; they’ve received a great deal of criticism from both the right and the left, as is unfortunately to be expected, but they’re holding to their convictions and are carrying on. I have some friends who are there and I’m so stoked for them; I’m also looking forward to any audio that gets posted from it.

5 things I want to tell everyone who wants to adopt

Or, “the talk I would give at adoption conferences if anyone actually thought to ask an adult adoptee.” SPEAKING OF:

1. Adult adoptees exist; come ask us stuff.

It’s not as though you’re adopting the first generation of adoptees, or even international adoptees. Many of us are your peers, or even your elders. We all have different experiences, we all have different opinions and emotions regarding our own adoptions and adoption in general, and we all have different stories to tell. Come talk to us! We might tell you things that are difficult to hear, but it is in the long run probably a helpful thing for you to do.

2. Your child has a family that is not your family.

One of the best things my mom and dad did for me was that in our house, we always spoke honorably of my birth family, and they were always people I was to be grateful to. The Book, after all, tells us to honor our father and our mother, and it just happens that I have more than one set to do that for.

I know in a lot of cases that this can be hard. Abusive parents or parents who abandoned their children shouldn’t have their sins whitewashed or ignored, nor should you not do everything you can to protect your kid, body and soul. (Do the right thing for abuse victims!)

But where you can, affirm the image of God in their birth family and teach them to honor them in healthy ways. Your kid has a family that is not yours, and acknowledging that is to acknowledge their voice and place in this world.

3. Every adopted child has been experienced trauma.

Even those of us who were adopted at a few days or months old experienced trauma by being separated from our biological parents–not that we consciously remember it, but our brains and bodies do. (Check the research.) Older kids have experienced even more–the deaths of their families, abuse, neglect, hunger, lack of love, etc. The list goes on. Read up about trauma in early childhood and how it affects the brains and development of kids. Read about reactive detachment disorder. Don’t look away from the fact that adopted people suffer from depression and die from suicide at a higher rate than the rest of the population. Be ready. You might get lucky and your kid might be fine. But maybe not.

4. Specifically for people who plan on adopting a person of a different race: Your privilege will not protect your child from racism.

First of all, recognize that you are putting your child in a strange position: They will neither be fully part of your race and culture, nor of the one they came from. (There is a term for this; we are transracial or third-culture, depending on who you ask.)

Secondly, people who talk to your child out in the world will not always know you. People do not, for example, know my white parents; they only see my Asianness and therefore feel free to ask me stupid questions or tell me stupid things that they think are compliments: “Your English is so good!” “No, where are you really from?” Or, to my white parents when I was less than a year old: “Does she speak Korean?” (“She’s a baby; she doesn’t speak anything yet.”) And so on and so forth.

The racism I’ve experienced, though, is pretty mild compared to the racism my friends’ black and brown children have experienced or will experience in their lives in America, and that sucks. Be aware of this. If your child is the first person of color that will eat dinner in your house, fix that immediately. (And also maybe ask yourself why that is.) Get to know people that look like your kid, and let your kid get to know them, too.

5. Remember that adoption exists as a result of the Fall.

Don’t get me wrong: Adoption is a great thing and I’m glad that it exists. But remember that if the world wasn’t broken, we wouldn’t need adoption–no parent would die or abuse or neglect their children, and no one would be in a position when they couldn’t raise their child. My birth parents wouldn’t have had me when they weren’t married, and they also wouldn’t have been in a position where my birth would have upended their whole lives. As you adopt, advocate for things that will make it easier for families to stay together, whatever that looks like.

thursday 13

This week: 13 favorite fictional characters.

  1. Captain America.
  2. Jo March.
  3. Donna Noble.
  4. Meg Murry.
  5. Swede Land (from Peace Like A River).
  6. Scout Finch.
  7. Janie (from Their Eyes Were Watching God).
  8. Samwise Gamgee.
  9. God help me, but Sherlock (the Benedict Cumberbatch version).
  10. Harriet Vane.
  11. Pretty much all of the characters in the Inspector Gamache series, but I have a soft spot for Gabri and Olivier.
  12. Oh gosh, Darius on Atlanta. (Or maybe I just love Lakeith Stanfield, I dunno.)
  13. BB-8. 😀

right now (june 2018)

Making: Working on a couple of knitted things for Christmas presents.

Cooking: I don’t know what the deal is, but I’m making a lot of buttered toast lately. And peanut-sesame noodles.

Drinking: Lots of coffee, as per usual, but also iced tea. (The Passion Tango Tea Lemonade from Starbucks is also quite nice, as is the pomme baya flavor of La Croix.)

Reading: I picked up Fleming Rutledge’s The Crucifixion after a couple of months’ hiatus, and I just started Notes From the Tilt-A Whirl by N.D. Wilson and A Swiftly Tilting Planet in Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet. Recently finished Edward Lee’s new book Buttermilk Graffiti, which, since it’s about immigration and foodways, feels timely.

Wanting: All those immigrant kids to be reunited with their parents.

Looking: At jeans (at the moment, I don’t actually own any, surprisingly).

Playing: I got introduced to a game called Jokers and Marbles recently and it is pretty excellent.

Deciding: Whether or not to keep YouTube TV after the World Cup is over or if I should just get an antenna instead.

Wishing: That my lighting were better in my living room.

Enjoying: Air conditioning; being nearly halfway done with the summer reading program at work

Waiting: For the weekend (woot woot) and the Families Belong Together rally on Saturday.

Liking: This video of Hugh Jackman and a bunch of other theater people in a workshop for The Greatest Showman, which I still haven’t seen, but am nonetheless enjoying the music to. You’ve probably all seen it, but it’s still great.

Wondering: Whether or not folks are going to show up for my program at work tomorrow…

Loving: This 2013 essay by NPR’s Linda Holmes about creativity and making stuff.

Pondering: Taking a serious social media break. I took Twitter and Facebook off of my phone; I left Instagram on there because I run our account at work and you can’t desktop post to it yet.

Considering: Finishing a couple of projects (see also: my last Thursday 13).

Buying: Alllll of the fruit that’s in season right now.

Watching: Ugly Delicious on Netflix (it is really great, albeit hunger-inducing). Parts Unknown, in honor of the late great Tony Bourdain. The World Cup. Carrying on in my trip through the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Hoping: That it’s not too hot on Saturday during the rally…

Marveling: At the sheer absurdity of this idea and the complete earnestness that birthed it.

Needing: To get up from my couch and go fold and hang my laundry.

Questioning: My own inability to adult properly (but that’s everyone, right?)

Smelling: I need to wash my hair…

Wearing: Blue chinos, black sandals, and a coral-pink shirt. Hair back.

Admiring: The cloud produced by dropping an anvil on about 15 cans of spray paint. (Where does one even get an anvil, anyway?) (It will probably also come as no surprise to many of you that those three gentlemen are youth workers at their churches.)

Giggling: At this fantastic review of Pacific Rim Uprising.

Snacking: Fruit, and chips and salsa.

Hearing: The trains that pass through my neighborhood at 2 in the morning.

compline (6/26/18)

I sit in an apartment with
working lights and air conditioning

and eat food that I made in a well-stocked kitchen
and listen to music I first heard in college

all of which speaks of unspeakable privilege
that most of the world has never imagined

I give some money when I think about it
I type my handful of characters

and pray for children who don’t know where
their mamis and papis are

for people crossing oceans of sand and water
risking death so that they can live

for my compatriots (and for myself)
who would rather be safe and secure
instead of uncomfortable and righteous

and it all just seems so futile
a lifeboat in the sea of broken glass

and the Man of sorrows carries us all on His shoulders