This is a Memoir…

18 Dec

Before you start reading this, this is a memoir. It is not a blog. It is not talking about current events, nor are the dates attached real dates of these happenings. It is put in roughly sequential order. It is not fully edited, however, it is the best I could do for the time I was given at the time I did write this.

It will be updated, restructured, rewritten as I see fit.

This is not a preaching tool, but something that I hope will help those inside and outside of the triad with the aspects they connect with.

I have tried my very best to include fairly the immature and mature behavior of myself and others. It is not a statement of perfection or absolute imperfection. It is a life of one adoptee, but not representative of all adoptees ever. Please take this memoir with that good faith.

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Posted in Uncategorized


First Memory

23 May

Smiling faces hover on cameras with laughter and attentive parents who ask questions about their children. New children from Korea. Children losing their mother’s tongue with such ease. Only three months and fluent! Smile. The camera demands it. The unmet grandparents, demand it. The memories of that other country impossible to hold against pain demand it. Other people will construct what is not remembered, but don’t worry. Smile for the camera.

My new parents owned a large three story house, the third story was the attic. It had a front porch and faced out into the street with a large lawn and a side walk in front. My Dad, who was watching us, told my mom he was going out shopping for groceries.

My brother and I were tossing the ball and having fun, but it went out in the street. I looked at the porch and could not see my mom. She was gone. No other adults around. Besides, habit told me that going out into the street was fine as long as I looked out for my sibling. The adults were too new. Adults were things that could disappear.

The only rule I remembered was that I was to look out for my brother no matter what–to me that was the most important thing in my world. I could not leave him at the side of the street with no one around. He stared at the ball. I held his hand tight while we ran after the ball. He fetched it from under the car. We ran back to the other side.

My mom saw us and immediately marched us into the hall. Her lips were so tight they turned white as her face. An atmosphere of rage enveloped me. My first words were to defend my brother. It was my decision, not his. I firmed my mouth as she yelled over my words. This felt wrong.

She shook me a few times by the shoulders. I could not understand what she was saying because it was so loud the I didn’t understand all her words. I cried again that it was my fault, but she only yelled more and more. The yells turned into shouting. She pointed to us, towering over and raging. The questions she asked that wanted no answers echoed up the back stairs as an amplifier.

“Why did you do that?”

My brother hugged my arm and hid behind me as she stood over us.

When I realized she was not listening, I looked at the wall. Numbness filled me. I just needed to wait for it to stop. The scroll of the faded red flower wallpaper caught my notice for the first time. In the months I had been there with her and my dad, I had never seen that wallpaper before. It was always in my periphery–as if it were a white and red blur. But in that moment it became clear. I wondered what kind of flowers they were.

“Look at me,” she demanded. “You are to never cross the street.”

Which also led to another string of yelling. The back stairs were painted brown. A dark red brown. Adults had yelled at other adults, but never at me before.

The door to the basement was white and had a cat door that was screwed shut on it. I wanted to cry, but that only blurred my vision. There were worse things in the world than being yelled at. I was still afraid that we would be sent away.

There was no escape for my brother. How could I get him to escape? I’d tried so hard before to protect him. I had a forgotten promise to keep and even if I didn’t remember it in words, I remembered enough of it to keep it in my mind. He was not to get into trouble. This was not safe.

She finished yelling, as if satisfied and then took us to the dining room. “You will stay in the corner for fifteen minutes each.”

My brother and I stared at each other laughing, because this was a crazy event we did not understand. Was this to be our new life in this country? She yelled at us for laughing and made us face away from each other.

My dad came home with the groceries. He saw us in the dining room and asked my mom, not us what happened. She told him her version–a car had come and we were almost hit. I was confused because that was not correct, and I wasn’t sure why she was lying. But it was an adult matter I should not interfere with, but I still listened. And we’d crossed the street on our own. That was true. And she was watching. She wasn’t. That it was sudden. It wasn’t. I had hesitated before crossing.

He bent down to us and I cried, I couldn’t put it into words what happened. I had no Korean to translate in. And I didn’t know English well. The jumble of words would not come out in order. I was thinking of my brother again and my own failure to explain and protect him, so I don’t know what I exactly said. I rubbed my eyes and he told us that even though it was five minutes we could go out and play.

My mom yelled at my dad for letting us off easy. My dad used a calm and even voice saying he thought it was too much. She screamed louder over his voice something intelligible as we left the house. My brother acted like nothing had happened. But I was five, and more aware.

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Posted in Childhood, Parents


Birth Luxury

25 May

There is a luxury for people who are born and raised by the same parents that I cannot share. Their parents can tell the story together about how they met and why they fell in love with each other. Then came to think about having children and want to give birth to them. Then pictures of their mother pregnant with not just any child, but with them, growing larger. Then perhaps a story about the worries about a C-section, labor, where they were, what they were doing, and how the that person was born. There is a picture–maybe many of their mother holding them in their arms. And then again, with them in their cribs in the hospital.

And then, again, more stories about what the first word they learned was. What their favorite toy was, how they came to walk. Who exactly taught them to brush their teeth. How much trouble they were when they were little. Who was at their first birthday party.

Stories within stories, told over and over again, supported by images, touch, tastes, sound and smells flashing in their minds. Voices outside of themselves confirming what they experienced, as a comforting echo.

By the end of three months, after my arrival to the United States I had none of that. I’d deliberately burnt all the memories with the word Korea in them. Half a memory gone because the word Korea was left in it. The edges of memories burnt selecting for the word or the memory. Perhaps they were burnt with pain, with sorrow, with joy, with grief. All burnt in my mind though I couldn’t remember afterwards why I’d burnt them.

As the bonfire erupted I told people what I did know of Korea as the flames licked higher. And when the ashes settled, I spent a lifetime trying to piece together things from those ashes.

What I wouldn’t give for one photo to survive. A picture of my extended family surrounding me for my first birthday cake. A picture of my Korean mother holding me in her arms. One solid echo in the distance that wasn’t my own voice coming back to me from another person. These things people who are born from their parents and raised by them take for granted and don’t think as important anymore. But the echo comforts that heart because they know it’s true without people questioning or doubting them.

So I pasted the leftover photographs and the echoes from my own mouth on a wall in my mind. The wall had doors that would not open no matter how hard I tried, so the only glimpses inside were my wrecked memories. Everything from the age of four and before were gone. Voice accounts left of what I said about Korea, but they do not echo in my own memory because I’d already burnt them. As if the word “Korea” was a cue to the editor to cut the film reel short. And because it’s memories from my own mouth, there was no echo back to tell me that it was true. How did I know I wasn’t lying at the time? And there are no photographs to support my claims. These memories could be false, but I held onto them tightly as if they too would burn.

My parents bought for us Momotaro, the Japanese folktale about a boy that comes from a peach pit. I said something about that book too that it was like Korea, but it blanks from my memory.

I do not remember wanting to forget.

My brother and I used to sing loudly in Korean various songs. Some of them were Christian and taught to us in the orphanage. We often liked singing together. I liked making up songs when I was five, often singing off pitch and recorded them. I remember recording songs, but it is my Mom that fills in the fact we liked singing in Korean together.

I do not remember wanting to forget.

My maternal grandparents came to stay at our house to get to know me and my brother. My parents were going to go out on a date together for a concert. I thought they were not going to come back, so I cried and cried, not sure what was happening. My parents did their best to explain what was happening. I thought they wouldn’t return at all. As I complained, I must have thought of Korea because soon after I forgot the story. My parents told me this story to me three times before I could remember that they told me.

I do not remember wanting to forget.

My paternal grandmother gave me a doll which had a knit cap and a fluffy pink dress and spiky hair. I loved the doll because it had blinking eyes. She lost the cap because the cap caught on my hangnails during the winter. She lost the dress, because I put other dresses on her or I simply didn’t feel like dressing her. I named it Tuta. For years I didn’t understand why I named the doll Tuta, but I remembered her name anyway. She was my absolute favorite white doll with brown spiky hair and chubby cheeks. If I lost her, I cried. If I didn’t have her to hold at night, I spent hours searching for her. If I lost her under my bed, I would go and fetch her before I fell asleep.

The first thing I did with Tuta, according to my grandmother was take her, take a large stretchy cloth and wrap her up in a bundle. I remember fussing with the knots to try to get her to be bundled up tight.

I took her and strapped her to my back. And though I no longer remember saying the words, I said this was a thing that I did in Korea for my brother. A picture commemorates the event. My memory blanks once my past self mentions Korea.

I do not remember wanting to forget.

We went to a Korean Church for an adoption cultural event. These events were held out in the suburbs which was a long drive. My paternal grandmother had come with us. In the basement of the church they sold Korean fans, Korean candy and Korean snacks. As part of the event they also sold substandard Korean food. To me, it never tasted right.

This lasted a good three months. A woman, who must have been in her 30′s came to greet us and said something to me in Korean. I cried so loud, though I don’t think she said anything mean. My grandmother commented that she had no idea what I was crying about. I don’t either. I can only guess. Maybe that was the point where I understood I had lost something important and I no longer understood anything about Korea. Perhaps that was the point that I realized Korea was filled with pain and I wanted to forget. Since I cannot remember the event, and because it had to do with Korea, I cannot remember.

These previous events became foreign to me. I forgot how to write my Korean name. I forgot my Korean father’s name. I forgot my brother’s Korean name though I used to call it constantly. I forgot the language. Anything associated with Korea got wiped out. As soon as I forgot, I wanted to remember more fiercely than I wanted to forget. But too, as I forgot and my mom realized we had forgotten, she constantly told us after that point that any memories we had were lies we fabricated.

What I knew became blank again as English and a new culture struggled to replace them in my mind. Images blurred and faded from my mind. I became deaf to the sounds in my memories. Feelings were the only thing left.

I kept secret the impression I had of my Korean father, Appa. And my Korean mother, Eomma. Both words I had to relearn and memorize as if remembering the words would bring back their images to my mind.

Appa was a man holding my hand, his face blurring as the days went by, his hair, though black, also fading from my mind. His expression remained. A sadness and a seriousness I did not understand. I wanted to help him so much, but I couldn’t.

The image of Eomma faded faster, and faster until the only way I could remember was to a time when I was trying to remember her, as if I were hanging onto an image out of focus. All I knew was that she was pretty and how much I desired to be pretty too, like her, but I no longer remember what that ideal was that I was trying so hard to remember.

These feelings of people I once knew struggled against my mom’s voice as she told me that feelings were not provable fact. I could not prove any of the things I felt, so they were not real unless I could see them.

Psychologists call these repressed memories. Elizabeth Loftus staked her career on telling people that any memories once you’ve forgotten them cannot be recovered. You cannot prove them and that they are mutable. My mom leveraged psychologists like her to say that after three months all memories and feelings from Korea were not real. But left behind in the place of these memories was an unexplained empty hole. I often did actions that I could not understand or explain because I had no memories to explain them.

The sounds, tastes, smells, and sights of the images faded in my mind, but the feelings were left behind, but even those feelings did not count. So any memories left over from the ashes I pieced together I kept secret from the voices that said that I could not prove them. I was afraid they, too, would fade in the torrent of denial.

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Posted in Adoption Politics, Childhood


Uneven Sidewalk

23 Jun

In the front of our house there were linden trees between the street and the sidewalks. Their roots heaved up the panels of sidewalk so they bent in the middle. My mom and dad were watching us on the porch. I was running on the sidewalk faster and faster. My lace socks bouncing. My foot caught against the sidewalk and bam, I slid forward.

I sobbed, holding my left knee. The scrape covered the wrinkled part of the knee.

My mom scooped me up and brought me in the house as I sniffed. Her face was grim and frowning. She sat me on the toilet seat. She took a wash cloth from the side of the bathtub and then handed it to me.

“You don’t want your eyes to get puffy.”

This struck me as strange.

While I held the washcloth to my face, she cleaned my knee. “Stitches? I don’t think so.”

I sniffled, wincing at the idea of a needle.

She said she was going to get spray for the knee to disinfect it for germs. She explained again why getting germs was bad.

The door stayed open as she went into the hall and got the spray disinfectant. She told me it was going to sting. I sucked in my teeth, still sniffling as I did.

“Washcloth,” she said, holding it up to my face.

She put a huge bandaid on it.

“Don’t pick the scab. You don’t want germs or need stitches.”

I said nothing in return.

“You’ll be OK,” she said.

The threat of stitches played in my head as I was returned to go out and play.

My knee healed with a big scar. The scar slowly drifted up to my knee cap as I got older. “Don’t pick the scab,” echoes in my mind.

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Posted in Childhood, Parents


I am the line

25 Jun

I stand on a line, I can see my feet walking on a tight rope. To either side I see a different world. This line I want to break at my feet, it blurs, it bends, but there is nothing I can do to break it. I resent the line, I hate it, but again I love this line, this line becomes me even if it cries at me. The worlds at either side contain different versions of who I am. I can see them. If I trip and I fall I am not the line. I forget the line.

On one side I am the filial daughter who died when I was adopted. She half exists as a ghost of my former self. The thing is that I am that ghost, and I can claim her, but people never will see her as her. I can wear her name, her grown face, but people will say that I am not her. And perhaps I am not. She who would have been an actress, not a writer. She who would have spoken fluent Korean in a dialect that some Koreans disrespect anyway. She who would have been majority and not known what real love looks like because she never knew the line.

This version of me could blend in perfectly, she could know all the cues, be struggling with English and be married with kids, wondering on what treasures of America. She could have been popular in school because she hits all the traditional parts. And she might have ended up popular with friends. But I’m not her. I can never be her because she died.

The other side I am a fake. I’m taking the place of someone that could have been. Te daughter that my mom wished for. The white daughter who was Jewish. The one that was a mirror. I want to be her, but she is a ghost of someone who never existed in the first place.

Maybe she would have been more science minded… not stunted with math, have no interest in art, become a graduate at an Ivy League school like my adoptive parents did. Maybe she would have looked like them and had the same kind of health issues. She would speak fluent English, in the particular way that my mom taught me English. She could have been a scientist. She could have fulfilled my mom’s dreams as she repeated her behavior on that daughter too. Because she never existed, I can’t become her. I am the fake version of her.

I am the line. I am not the line. I don’t belong in either world. Free from it all, free from this room where people point and label and say what I am and what I am not, I find myself.

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Posted in Adoption Philosophy


You Should Be Grateful

23 Jan

I adopted you because you were pretty and from a foreign land. I didn’t care which. The country was cheap. You were of the best breed I could find. I rescued you from the filth and decay of this land, festered with communism. I did you a favor. You should be grateful to me. I put a roof over your head when your birth parents could not. I held you in my arms and gave you warmth and clothes. It was because I had eternal love for you, that I know I can heal all your hurts. A parent does not need anything else.

Because the place you were adopted into was better than the place you were. All people should do as I did and rescue more of your kind from these countries of backward politics and despair. You were cheap and on the bargain shelf–you came as quickly as I signed the papers. Frankly, I don’t care about the country or parents that you came from. You know deep in your heart, you owe me a deep debt of gratitude you can never repay me. You can never repay me even after I die. You will tend my grave and cry because you should be that grateful.

And those who gave you up to me–clearly they were less fortunate. The life I will give you is great, and will be no match to the one they would have given you if they had the money. But they abandoned you anyway. Why do you think of your gratitude for them, when it is me that has done all of these things for you? For you will be properly educated–devoid of anything of that country before you once lived in. If you do not look me in the eyes, you must truly have a mental disorder–how can you not? If you speak a language I don’t understand–it’s your fault and the fault of your country, not mine. For they are beneath your new country.

I did this for the sake of the children, the children I was led to see by the great organization you should be thankful to, who placed you, that despondent child into my arms. You filled with a blood not of my own, a culture that your parents who abandoned you infected you with. What language have you learned before? Forget it. What skin color do you possess? I do not see it. It is you, my child, my rescued child that must forget all those past things for I know deep inside they will only bring you pain. For what I think and know are also what you think and know.

It is a favor I give to you, that you live in my place, with my love, with me. And then the world will say, what a wondrous person I am.

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Posted in Adoption Philosophy



23 Jan

One day my Dad took me to a store and told me to pick a backpack. My vision focused on a pink one. He also had me pick out pen and paper and a lunch box. We went to the store and bought new clothes. He explained that I was going to school, but I didn’t have any concept of what that meant.

He spent some time trying to explain to me what school would be like.

“You can make friends and you’ll learn new things.”

The thought of having friends excited me. I imagined being able to play games like we did at the day care. I imagined being friends with a group of girls, and having fun together, like we did in the neighborhood.

He explained the types of things I would learn in school, though most of it went over my head.

On the day I was supposed to go, he woke me up early and I chose my first day of school clothes. He made my lunch which had a huge dark pink Thermos, and a sandwich he made himself, plus two Oreo cookies. This was put into the pink lunchbox I’d selected and then put into my backpack along with some pencils and paper.

On the way there he explained to me again what was going to happen.

“Since this is your first day of school, I’ll be here when you get out,” he said smiling under his salt and pepper mustache and beard.

Other kids passed me holding the hands of their parents. My dad wasn’t coming in with me. My parents never really came into the school except in the days of day care programs to do things like take off our shoes and make sure we had our stuff.

This was the first time I was alone and away from home with no one else I knew. I was absolutely determined to bear all my feelings alone with clenched teeth if I had to. It was the only way I knew how to survive.

I entered the school with that determination. The first thing that hit me was no one looked like me. It was a sea of Caucasian or African Americans. No Asians. No one looked remotely like me. I was greeted at the door by my homeroom teacher. I understood her, but looked at her confused.

I wasn’t the type to talk unless I felt there was a need outside of the home. I already felt awkward which made me feel shy. Silence, I later learned is considered evil. I saw it as a form of diligence.

The classroom was chaos. Kids were running around, parents still lingered, and there was noise. I thought this was a waste of time. I could see blonde girls, black students and again no Asians. Kids were already making friends. I was quickly isolated.

The teacher finally called us to order. I was waiting for it. She told us her name, the rules and what was expected of us. The only rule I remember was that any work you didn’t finish in class was homework. If you finished work early that meant you could spend time in playtime. The rest of her instructions fogs away for a more potent memory.

My first crystal clear memory of school was being surrounded by two or three kids. One was African American–frankly I noted it, but it didn’t seem to matter. They started to chant at me and shifted their eyes with their fingers. “Chinese.. Japanese… which are you? You look Chinese.” I didn’t know what to say at first. I said proudly, “Korean” and they asked “Where’s that?” in a half-taunting tone. I looked for the teacher. I was used to looking for adults. It was what I was taught to do. I didn’t know where it was in the world. It was just a place in my pushed back memories. I said nothing. The country I’d grown up in was invisible to them. This was a personal blow to me.

My thought was as it had always been, “I will not cry.” I wanted to save face. It was the only thing I had left. I was not going to give them the satisfaction to show that their teasing worked.

My dad was there as he promised. We walked home together. He asked how my day was. I told him what we did, gave him the list of supplies that I needed–no books, but never mentioned the teasing. I was convinced I could deal with it myself.

One say when I couldn’t handle it anymore, I asked why kids tease. He couldn’t answer. He said, “Say to the kids, Stick and Stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt me.” This made the teasing worse. The kids said because they didn’t know where Korea was, it didn’t exist. The adults made it worse by saying, “Oh yeah, the Korean war.” My little heart was shattered.

The teasing didn’t stop until I changed schools in seventh grade. I didn’t gain confidence in Korea until I was in my twenties.

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Posted in Childhood


Terror of Teasing

23 Jan

Teasing is worse than PTSD. It’s a living terror of every day, every second your heart pounds that someone will single you out and humiliate you. It’s only a whisper there, and glimmer there, a passed note on the other side and the tide mounts and continues to get worse the more you stay with those people. It plays with your identity and every foundation of who you think you are. And those whispers start with childish jeers of race, religion, and impossible questions that don’t want answers. Then it builds to a peak where the teasing gets smarter and smarter. Where a kid can’t be reprimanded for singling someone out because of a feature of who they are.

A little teasing made my life a living terror. The only way I could escape was to go into my mind. The more they teased, the more I day dreamed. The more that I day dreamed, the more I tuned out the world. I started to disconnect myself completely from the world. I also plunged myself into school work to try to get some kind of praise or approval that I craved so desperately. I put myself into wanting to get perfect grades, to being the top of my class. I wanted to escape the whispers.

But I couldn’t escape the whispers because they began to whisper in my own head too. Maybe I wasn’t pretty. Mothers say their own children are pretty, don’t they? There weren’t any other Asian Kids in the class. Maybe I was really ugly. There weren’t any Asians on television either besides Mr. Miyagi and Jackie Chan. The women were all arm decoration supporting the hero.

What my mother said, I knew, were insecurities. Because the underlying words were, you’re more beautiful than I.

I ran home at times, crying over being teased. I cried from the bus stop. I asked why. And my Dad wouldn’t say anything. “It’ll make you stronger” My Mom would see the tears and would hand me a wash cloth. She’d ask my Dad what was wrong and he’d tell her, but she would forget. Neither of them could face my pain. Neither of them stood up for me.

I began to fish for praise, but finding none, and getting scolded at home for not getting a perfect report card, and being teased at school, I found the world of imagination beckoning me in. And there I flew until my parents thought I had ADD, not being able to face their daughter was being teased.

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Posted in Parenting


The Nature of Teasing

23 Jan

I realized after talking to some adoptive parents, that they don’t know the horrid things people can say that are racist. In fact, they wouldn’t know why I would be so fearful of my classmates and how much that can effect self-esteem. In accordance with this, I thought it would be a good idea to list the racist things that have been said to me when I was in Kindergarten to demonstrate how awful children can be and how much it can ostracize and leave children out.

Things said to me:
Why is your face flat? (A few adults said this to me when I was five years old too…)
Did a doctor drop you on your face or were you born that way?
Where is Korea? (then I answer). Oh. *looks away* (Adults did this too… but this is more sad than anything.)
Are you CHINESE?
Where are your *real parents*? (this was also asked by adults–don’t doubt the ignorance of adults.)
Korea. Oh, that’s where the Korean war happened. (This was the extent to the adult knowledge of Korea throughout my childhood…. which is sad.)
You’re Korean? But your eyes are Chinese.
Did the doctor drop you on your face, or were you born this way?
Asians are smart. Help me with my homework.
Asian women are submissive.
What language do you speak? Oh You speak English good. (Uhh… it’s well… and yes, I still get this question after talking to the person for 10 minutes. Does my English seem that deficient?)
What are you? (I usually answer Human, and you?)
I was called stupid Asian.
I was told, “This is America.” when I didn’t act like a submissive female Asian.
Was your face hit with a frying pan?
If I know Japanese language, then I must be Japanese. I know French too… I must be French.

Things I have done to me:
Someone pinched my hand until it bled. My parents and teacher ignored it.
I said I was teased all through grade school. My parents ignored it.
People refused to make friends with me.
I was abandoned for a white friend.
When people *did* make friends with me, they were equally teased for being friends with me. This meant I couldn’t make friends because they became targets too.
I was singled out to help with homework and do all the problems for the group.
I’ve been hit upon for being Asian rather than any other reason. (Excuse the language, but the myth of the tight vagina in Asian women still exists.)
Children will pull their eyes back and chant, “Chinese, Japanese.” First day, I had this happen.
They will surround you.
I had my homework stolen. But the teacher caught it. (Do you think this isn’t racist… you have to be seriously whacked to not think it is racism.)
I was picked on more than anyone else in the class. (I was the only Asian in the entire school, I believe…)

Things I have felt:
Kids sometimes *stare* at me. If people want to know if a three year old can tell the difference between races, I can tell you they can.
Men hitting on me for being Asian, indirectly. (Whistling). I mean if you’re in baggy jeans, your hair is an absolute wreck from bed head, and you’re slouching in a dirty jacket, why else is that guy whistling at you from a car two lanes away and trying to get you to climb in his car?
I’ve been hired because I was Asian and when I wasn’t “submissive” Asian enough they fired me. (True story)

Fortunate things:
I haven’t been called “chink” yet.
I haven’t been called gook yet.
I haven’t been called “Jap” yet.
But then I don’t think anyone has the guts too.
I haven’t been told I could be blinded by dental floss.

How this can effect children:
What stereotypes do is serve to make a mold of being that people expect one to conform to. In this case, it is the submissive Japanese female who will bow at the door to greet her husband, be wild in bed and have a tight vagina, yet have dinner and a bath ready, with the entire house clean.

If you don’t conform to this stereotype, then the question is: “What is wrong with you?” This would be the “stupid” Asian attitude listed above.
If you conform to this stereotype, then you are screwed because you are pigeon-holed into being someone you are not. In another words, by teasing one is forced to become these stereotypes without a way to escape. So the choice is black and white, with no way to navigate to define oneself on ones own terms because the other person is categorizing you no matter what you say.

This is a living terror because no matter what you do, you can’t ever define yourself without someone else doing it for you, which eats at your self-esteem. If self-esteem is the ability to define oneself, then this has been robbed from the person being teased. But then, who wants to conform to such black and white terms of self based on ignorance from a few hundred years of race relations of Chinese and Japanese immigration? Not to mention, cultural facts that are plain perpetrated and are wrong? There is no chance if you do these things that you would fit into those cultures either–rather you will justify those stereotypes for the people giving it to you.

Of course teasing gets worse when:
1. An adult joins in and doesn’t defend the child.
2. When people choose to ignore the teasing.
3. When the only talk about race relations is black-white.
4. When people believe children are innocent and can’t say vicious things like, “Your face must have been hit by a frying pan.”

I scored on all of these… and so that’s why it was safer to drift into myself because accepting these stereotypes and sayings would have destroyed me from the inside.

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Posted in Teasing



23 Jan

When I see the peppery hot kimchi I think of the slight tingle it has in my mouth from it being pickled and the sweet crunch it makes. I can smell the fish, but beneath that is a stronger smell. It’s something about the hot-sweetness of the peppers that draws me back. Not just the cabbage, but other kinds as well. Nabak Kimchi (Watery Kimchi) and whole radish kimchi, daikon kimchi… even occasionally squid kimchi.

I know some adoptees hate kimchi–even some Korean Americans who came here and never really tasted it. It’s the fishy smell, especially the South Korean Northern version of Kimchi which uses dried shrimp rather than the version of the south which uses fish sauce. But something about the kimchi is addictive. Is it the adrenaline from the sweet-hotness or the fact that I like the tingle it leaves behind something like a milder version of Poprock candy in my mouth?

I use it as a medicine and prevention from colds and the flu. Koreans have a saying when someone has a cold, “Didn’t you eat your kimchi?” My parents never had to worry about vitamin C deficiency with us. Just put kimchi in front of us and we’d eat it. We ate our vegetables without fuss because Koreans eat vegetables. I only got sick maybe once a year when I was younger.

I know that Koreans accustom their children to kimchi. They start young and wash off the pepper, so that the child can get past the fire in their mouths and slowly build them up to normal pepper levels. By the time they are five they see no difference.

At my four o’clock snack of kimchi and rice like clockwork my dad said the smell was overtaking the kitchen and to put the kimchi jar away. Ironically this was usually when I was watching cartoons even though I was long a teenager by then. Japanese cartoons. (Since the Korean industry didn’t start doing animation yet.)

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Posted in Korean Culture

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