Archive for February 19th, 2011

My First Boyfriend

19 Feb

I don’t make rational decisions when I’m depressed or bored. Mirrors fall on my head When I’m bored. I once kicked the bottom of a mirror and it fell on me, leaving a gash. I am a hazard to myself and I think to others when I’m either of those things.

I’m not chronically depressed. When I get depressed it’s usually because things that I had no part in making decisions in have gotten out of control in a way that isn’t making me happy and I’m not willing to acknowledge how much I hurt inside. Because if I do, I have to face that I can’t control the situation I am in. I feel I can’t be honest about how much I really hurt. If I face that hurt, then I will realize how I can’t get out. When I feel trapped, it gets much, much worse. When I want to go somewhere and no one will let me, I sink fast. I like moving forward, so it’s hard for me to stay still.

I get inertia because I am usually wrapped in indecision. This is a thing that does happen chronically. It sometimes takes me a lot longer than others to figure out what I want to do because I approach almost all problems intuitively rather than sensory. In this way I stay stuck and then spring forward past the other people in the same situation.

In College, as I have stated, I was depressed. I wasn’t thinking rationally. I was trying to please my parents and not myself. There was a guy who had a crush on me. I was so wrapped up in my issues that I didn’t notice. I never had the confidence in myself that I was pretty enough for anyone to date. I really didn’t want to date anyhow until I was ready for marriage. I always thought it a waste in High school to date for the sake of it. Perhaps because my emotions ran high. I turned down a guy because I thought it was a joke in High School.

One day when I was looking forward to the end of College, he took me around the campus. I blithely thought that it was just two friends hanging out together, but to him it wasn’t. He said he liked me.

I was not rational. My next move caused me tremendous guilt. I really didn’t view him romantically, but I thought I should give him a chance. Maybe it was my High School experience and people asking why I wouldn’t give that other guy a chance.

This guy was Japanese. He wore glasses. He was nervous often and had dry lips.

I learned he liked me because I was good at cooking. We started a long distance relationship, but I really didn’t know him all that well. I wasn’t really thinking about a relationship like that. I was thinking about how to get out from the trap I felt I was in.

We ran up phone bills. He said he didn’t trust computers. I had been using computers before I could speak English.

He called every day and complained about his parents. Particularly his father. I started to notice he cut me off when I spoke. I didn’t like it. I tried to address it, but he ignored it. I thought it might be because I didn’t speak Japanese fluently.

I was in love with the idea of being in love. But I was not in love.

His e-mails were the same. I wrote long at the time, not knowing how to be punctual about what I wanted to say.

I feel guilty now because as a joke, I talked about marriage–I copied what my High School friends did. He took it seriously. I tried to explain it was playing around, but he didn’t understand. He started to plan our life together. I felt guilty about joking about marriage like that. I felt that I was choking. He kept saying how he wanted to go to Australia and that I would stay and home while he earned money and how many children *he* wanted. And how he wanted me to meet his parents. He kept saying how his parents didn’t like Koreans. He viewed me as American though.

I cut the line when he started pressuring me for sex and wouldn’t stop. I broke up with him. I tried by phone, but he was not there. I wrote him an e-mail, feeling even more guilty that I had to do it this way. When he didn’t understand, I tried to say why, but somehow I knew he wouldn’t. So I blocked his e-mail.

I felt extreme guilt from this. I stopped helping people get over their personal issues. I stopped taking on everything that people gave me. I gave them limitations. I mercilessly in my anger and grief blocked the people who were pulling me down further after they wouldn’t stop. I put the breaks on the eager-to-please as much as I could manage at the time.

This guilt probably contributed to why I stayed so long with my next boyfriend. That situation was ten times worse.

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Posted in Love Life


Let’s Play Dazzle

19 Feb

My mom liked to think that drugs cures all ills of the world when one is depressed and knows exactly why one is depressed. When I wouldn’t take her miracle drugs, just like her mother did, I needed a compromise. The exact words I thought over and over again was to buy time. I wanted to buy time to heal on my own.

I had recovered from the depths of teasing hell. I had recovered from understanding that maybe because I was Asian I wouldn’t get as much as my Adoptive parents would. I had found my own equilibrium and found who I was on my own. I had been listening to my subconscious since I was five years old. I had done amazing things that people didn’t really believe I had done. I had always rebounded. I saw this as a minor thing compared to the eight years of teasing. I had built my own personality, person, self esteem and everything inside of me by sheer force of will. Because I knew if I did not I would not be able to keep my sanity. And I always, always did it on my own.

I was still angry at my mom for thinking that quick fixes like drugs and not spending time with your daughter discussing what was wrong and the long list of denial in college, that I came up with the word psychologist. I came up with one of these words with a bit of meditation. I had learned how to do this in acting class. It really helps you focus on what’s inside of you.

When I surfaced with this, she got off my back and I was left with a psychologist. I really didn’t want the psychologist, and I didn’t really trust her either. What I wanted to do was to buy time. So I played a game with her. I call this defense dazzle. What’s worse is that I knew I was doing it. I was consciously doing it.

I had torn down my internal defenses forcefully in my senior year of High School. Since my parents would constantly bug me when I was meditating my way through problems and my Mom liked to put it down, I went out to the car. I lay down on the back seat, and I forcefully and consciously broke down all the walls I was aware of inside myself. I knew I had put them up a long time ago. It took too much work to keep those defenses up and I knew I was beginning to lie to myself which didn’t help me to attain the balance I wanted inside of myself.

Dazzle was a new defense that I knew I could take down easily later. It basically is this: You tell the person things that seem deep and dark, but you overload them with information. I call it Dazzle, because it reminds me of that salesman that shows up at your door and jabbers about how great a product is until you’re completely confused and have no way of sorting anything out.

I looked down at the psychologist for not being able to see through that simple defense mechanism. It is not a thing I am particularly proud of now, but it is a thing I knew would get me exactly the things I wanted at that time.

In turn, I took what she said as that I was mentally retarded. She didn’t understand why I couldn’t do straight memorization. She didn’t understand why I hated college so much. She didn’t understand the idea of conceptual learning. And because I hated college so vehemently at the time and she wouldn’t understand that, I played dazzle more and more. The more I played it, the more it worked.

Once I had through my own force of will sorted myself out, I ended up in California doing what I wanted to do. But it wasn’t because she helped me in the sense on things. It had just bought the right amount of time that I needed to get my mom off of my back. In addition, I think it let my mom truly believe she was not at fault. That all the things I’d been crying over and arguing with her about to let me go home from college were not true. And perhaps that explains the next major interaction I had with her.

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Posted in Parents


False Expectations

19 Feb

My mom would always worry when we went to her parent’s home. She would worry if we were clean enough. She would look at our shirts before we packed them and would vote down the ones with stains on them. We had to be clean.

With her parents it was always oppressive. She would say that we had to sit with them and do nothing, say nothing because they would appreciate it, that she would appreciate it too. I always felt more oppression from her to not be a child in those moments, but sometimes like I was a toy in a larger game. The game was called, “Don’t screw this up.”

There was once that we fought over me siting with her parents. The arguments were always, “Your brother did it.” Which is a fallacy. “It will make me happy.” Emotional appeal. She would bait us too, “You can write while you’re there.” As if sitting like an object in front of her parents was conducive to writing. How can anyone function when there is an air of silent of absolute obedience and you are the entertainment that says nothing. And I couldn’t help but think of all the times she complained that she had to sit around and do nothing in front of her grandparents. We had to be pretty little objects for her parents to admire. When I tried to assert my personality to them, my mom would half stop me in the middle either with, “They will argue with me.” or just a worried glare.

Her insecurities became mine. How to be pretty and not be a kid. How to sit still and do nothing. I argued that I was more like an object than a person. But she didn’t seem to care. It was about making sure her parents didn’t complain to her. The less I said, the better.

This was shattered at some point when I decided that I would assert myself. My mom objected to me wearing t-shirts and thought that the letters I sent my grandparents were pretty granddaughter letters. But what I was doing was showing I was not an object. It was not me versus them. I wanted to show I was not a doll, but someone human too. I had my faults like stains on my personality and they could embrace it. If they had objections, they could address and deal with them. I made them not the enemy.

It didn’t work. My grandfather died before my plan came into full effect. Rather my grandmother saw the effects of this. When I asserted who I was over what my mom wanted to be, I blossomed. My grandmother came to understand me. She saw me as not an exterior, but an person. She asked me questions, began to understand my likes and dislikes, what we shared, and even somewhat of a common experience. She opened up to me, and in many ways came to appreciate who I was. And I grew from it. I learned like the old adage that it was OK to be myself.

As for my mom, the expectations of me began to grow. The more I asserted myself, the less she seemed to trust me. She would sometimes tell me that this was who I was and would tell other people who I was to them too. I felt a little betrayed that she would talk about me, without letting me present myself as myself. I disliked being in a race against her.

When I dropped out of college, she was always asking me when I would go back, say things about how her friends would ask and argue for it. Her insecurities again became mine. Her expectations became everything I couldn’t be. Again, I was faced with the ghost of everything her child could have been. I wasn’t smart enough. I didn’t go to MIT. I didn’t go to a New York State college. Because what I was became more important than who I was.

When I went back to college, it was she who boasted in front of me to other people. I felt like an object again. Something to bend to her approval. I couldn’t say why I went back. I got upset at her. It reached an old wound and my own insecurities began to mound in the same place. I realized that I couldn’t be who she wanted to be, but somehow she would badger and try to get me to do it, and I would argue back that I needed to decide for myself who I was and where I needed to go.

Sometimes I dream of getting out of her grasp. I have a lot of frustration towards her. She badgers and often keeps at it until her insecurities become mine. I fight it tooth and nail, but in truth, I get tired of it. I get tired of trying to be someone who I am not. I bend because I love her and I don’t bend because I want to be myself. I don’t want her insecurities to be mine. I have enough to worry about in my own life and my own life decisions. Because I don’t care to impress her friends. Appearances are nothing to me. And it’s not always my fault.

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Posted in Parents


Me and Korea

19 Feb

My parents really thought it was enough to give us pale white dolls with Asian eyes and call them by our American names. Looking back, there is something ridiculous about dolls with stark white muslin with Asian eyes sewed into the head. It’s like a stereotype of an Asian come to life–they are really white–those Asians, they are the good ones. But I don’t think my parents were conscious of them. But because I couldn’t relate to these dolls, I never played with them. Neither did my brother.

They also had books about Korea that they never really read to us as children. I remember having children’s books about Korean numbers, Korean holidays, but my parents never really read them. When I asked about Korea, it was either, “I don’t know” or look it up. But there was nothing in the house to help me look it up. The paragraph on Korea in the encyclopedia was one paragraph long in each book.

I clung onto a travel video used for the Olympic games as my only source of information about Korea that wasn’t on the Korean war. I wanted to believe that Korea was not just defined by a war–which everyone else seemed to think when I said I was from Korea.

The Koreans that we saw didn’t really talk about Korea as it was. They talked about older arts and cultures. Like calligraphy and and how to wear a hanbok and Korean dance. They talked to us like we’d never been to Korea and were on a grand tour. But this, too, wasn’t what I was searching for. I didn’t know what I was really looking for until I found it.

I think what I really wanted to know was what every day life in Korea was like. What did the Average Korean person know that I didn’t know. What history was taught in the schools and what did I miss out on by not growing up in Korea. It was this ache that I really wanted to go away. I wanted to fill it with knowledge. I wanted to ebrace that culture, but no one was there to help me.

With no other Asian friends in the neighborhood–the only Asian I really knew growing up was my brother. This made it worse. And in truth, though my mother never kept me away from Korea in my childhood, she never helped me either. She was willing to help with the adoption aspects, out of duty, and took me to Korean culture groups, but when I asked a question, she wasn’t willing to help. Her duty stopped there–make the information available as much as she was willing, but that was it.

My mother became more and more distant the more that we actually learned about real Korean culture. More about every day life. More about the language. My dad never helped or showed interest in helping to know about Korea. But he never expressed himself. Maybe he knew something that we didn’t about his wife.

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Posted in Parents


Me and Writing

19 Feb

I’ve always been making up fiction since I was little. It’s how I put myself to sleep when my parents stopped reading us bedtime stories. I used to make stories about the rodents in the wall I saw. I always saw a momma rodent with a baby rodent on its back. I made a society about them too.

I also made a story about a community of devils and angels from watching a Warner Brothers cartoon. But I couldn’t write yet, so I didn’t really explain it well. It was a complex society.

Story-making gave me a haven from the everyday because my everyday was filled with teasing and putting me down. Stories gave me a sense of power that I don’t think anyone else understood.

I really went into my imagination when there were negative things happening outside of me. It was a way for me to express myself.

Originally I wanted to be an actress, but it was because I really loved stories. And I liked the added attention. When I found no actresses on TV that looked like me, I thought I could become one, but my Mom put me down every time I said I wanted to become one saying they can’t eat, they starve to death and so on. She dashed my dreams of becoming an actress and I lost confidence as I found myself less and less pretty, I didn’t get the larger parts in the plays and I was always shuffled to back stage duties at our local theater. I was in one TV commercial and one play where I had a major part, but that was it. I still like plays and wish I could see more with more interesting storylines. New ones–the ones off of Broadway.

When I discovered that the world didn’t really accept Asians as actors, being the count at the time was two Asian actors, I became fascinated with how stories work–which was my real love in the first place. I really discovered it when I read L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon. It was a book I had bought after loving Anne of Green Gables. Here was a character who was like being adopted that loved to write. And for the first time in my life I really, really understood everything that the character said. I understood her anger and frustration and I understood all the parts about being a writer. And that’s when I realized in one of those no-duh moments that I was one.

I began writing longer works after that point even though I’d always been playing with stories since I was little. I tried writing novels, but couldn’t grasp how a novel actually works. Then I started expanding out. I started reading other authors. Anne McCaffrey and so on.

Since I always had a fascination with behind the scenes stuff as a kid, I began to also read all author notes with more interest than the actual novels. I wanted to know who these people were that wrote the novels. Why did they write them as such, and what went into their fiction. This probably was the start of being at odds with literature teachers. (Besides the fact that they wouldn’t teach anything outside of the US and Europe). I started correlating these facts the more I read. I read tons of Fantasy and Science Fiction seeing how hard it all was.

I tried writing every genre I could get access to and also started drawing the characters from my stories. Even though I was put down by my Mom for being a writer, by her sayng, “You can’t get money from being a writer.” “How are you going to live?” “You can’t get this published–look at all the mistakes.” and then asking me for more stories which she also managed to put down. I still went on. I worked around her. I did it because I read Emily of New Moon who had an Aunt that forbid her from writing anything.

The more I read about author’s lives, the more I was convinced that it was for me and at the same time, it was something that though hard, was really rewarding. People died for their writing, people had passion and saw things no one else saw. And I knew I saw them too. I did everything to “catch up” with other writers. I had Writer’s Digest, I think for three years. I worked hard to get my writing up to par. My first story had plot problems. The one that I finished with an end to it. I didn’t try to publish it.

The other stories I felt weren’t good enough and failed. I kept writing until my bedroom was filled with spiral notebooks. I wrote and I read and kept doing so from the time I was 13 to now.

I was forced to submit something at 17, but honestly, I thought it really shouldn’t be submitted, but I needed the grade.

It was only when I was 19 that I felt I finally had found something publishable. That one was rejected until there was no place to submit it to.

I did that again with another story and this one got written comments. I will keep trying to publish my fiction. For me, writing is a release, a way to breathe and express myself. Because people don’t know what I look like, I am judged solely on what I present them–my own talent. This is validation I don’t get in my every day. It’s the kind of validation I love and I seek.

This is also the kind of validation I will never get as a Korean adoptee.

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Posted in Childhood


My First Korean Friend

19 Feb

I never had Asian friends in my school days. It wasn’t that I didn’t want one–it was simply the numbers were against me. I didn’t actually get to know any Asians until College, and even then, it was limited. It always felt like an outsider trying to get in.

After college, I needed something to do with my life. I wasn’t sure where I should go. My compass wasn’t set into a particular direction. In the senior year of High School I had written a senior thesis about anime. I had contact with an American CEO of a manga translation company from that senior thesis.

So I decided to internship for them. And once I was interning there, I found that I had finally found my ground. I grew. If the horror of college had taught that I knew exactly who I was, then this company for me was finding the direction I wanted to go with my life. It was as if a million doors were opening.

And there I found my first Korean friend. I learned to accept being Korean in a way I couldn’t learn before. I mean, I found that things about Korea weren’t that different from the United States. Sure there were differences, but there were still things I could be proud of. I learned a lot from her. I learned to br proud of my heritage. I learned more things about Korea and for once I felt like I truly belonged. She helped me. And for once I felt it wasn’t out of duty or paying back a favor. It was because she wanted to.

This freed me immensely and then I began to understand that Korea was just as I had thought. It wasn’t a war-torn country. It was a country with a rich past and present. And that’s when I started to search deeper.

I also began at that time talking to adoptive parents. I began to accept parts of adoption more and more.

If I knew who I was, I needed to also know how to grow. And having these two things helped me on that path.

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Posted in Korean Culture


Invalidating Feelings

19 Feb

I admit I am unlike other adoptees in many ways, I interact with adoptive parents. It’s usually a come and go situation. Many adoptees dislike interacting with adoptive parents. It takes a lot of patience to do this. It’s not the adoptive parents one agrees with, it’s an adoptive parents who assume things about you because you are adopted that makes it hard. It’s the adoptive parent that is not educated to have seen the range of adoption and in some way end up purposefully or invalidating the adoptee.

The first thing I hate is when an adoptive parent assumes since I talked a few times that they know me. Is it because I’m adopted that they make these jump assumptions and thus have the right to preach at me? Why aren’t they asking for the in between parts? Why aren’t they asking why I feel this way?

The second is to not read through the information I’ve given them, hunt for only the negative parts of the things I say. It’s as if they have only read the sob stories that adoptees have, and the anger and then expect me to echo the same. I wish they wouldn’t skim over the good parts and think that all adoptees are a walking tragedy.

The third thing is when they talk for their children. It doesn’t matter. That child has a voice. If they want to object, then let them speak. Give them that computer, have them call me up, have them communicate with me without direction. I’m fine with that. If they aren’t old enough, then why is the parent talking for them? Using these children as examples of how the adoptive parent feels is doing the same thing they are trying to do towards me.

This ends up in the feeling, “You should be grateful.” You should be grateful that you are adopted. Almost like the words I said were a suicide note. I do not look kindly on this. I hate that aspect above all else. I hate that feeling like that person feels that know my situation better than I do so they can make judgments on my life, beliefs and situation that they can impose and preach these feelings at me. I actually had an adoptive parent tell me I should be grateful because I talked about the process of adoption. In another words, it was my fault.

These things and experiences are no different from an outsider of the triad. An outsider of the triad after hearing my story of how I was adopted immediately thinks they can tell me which set of parents I should love. I do not see a difference between this and the adoptive parent that assumes that if I say my story that they can say to me, “You should be grateful.”

Invalidating feelings is not pleasant for anyone–adopted or not. Arguing that one should not feel this way and that everything this person knows is invalid, without first asking why is grating. It makes it hard on me to interact when a person is so convinced they are right that my feelings and thoughts don’t matter, so they can tell me what to think and feel.

Perhaps I say unwanted truths that shake them that they want a scape goat to put out into the desert. It’s my point of view that’s wrong, thus the facts that I give are wrong. So not asking for sources, barging forward, and telling me who to be is more comfortable. Facing unpleasant truths, even if gems lie beneath is hard.

Don’t misunderstand me. I welcome disagreement as long as I don’t feel like I’m being put on a trial. Where everything I say and feel is wrong because the adoptive parent doesn’t want it to be true. Because somewhere along the line if they don’t face that truth, their child will probably find it. I hate the idea of this division. There are grim realities and joy, and sometimes the joy is hidden underneath the grim realities.

I don’t ever act emotionally towards these moments. I stay level-headed, because emotion always leads to more emotion and no information is passed through that. I’ve seen such interactions, and they never are pretty.

I will mention there are many adoptive parents who aren’t this way. What I like is when the adoptive parent is full of questions, when they ask more and more questions than before. They ask for sources, try to find out what I said was right, and look at my answers without a sifting only for the parts they disagree with. They don’t take my answers as “The Guide to Everything an Adoptee Feels and Thinks,” but a part of a larger whole. They talk of their pride in their children and how much they are proud of them. I like it when they don’t use their children as examples or how they wish to parent them as a way to talk about their own beliefs, but rather talk about their own feelings and don’t use their children as a cover. I like the idea of an open mind over the pride of being a parent.

There is so much out there to be had on adoption. Invalidating what I say and what I believe isn’t going to make those thoughts, beliefs and actions go away. That history of adoption will still be there and sit people in the face even if I disappeared. So why spend time, judging me and my life as I’ve lived it? As I see it my life, beliefs and experience is small potatoes.

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Posted in Adoption Politics, Adoptism


Adoption Communication

19 Feb

I use the Internet a lot. It was my only source of sanity when I was in college–that and anime. It was the only way I could hang onto my identity as an Asian in a lot of ways.

I began to fall into Newsgroups. In some way I wanted to know what people thought of adoption. But the problem was that all I could see was Adoptees angry and Adoptive parents not in touch with adoptees at all.

This frustrated me. Adoptees just talked about their stories of how they were adopted, but not their every day experiences with being an adoptee. They wouldn’t face that they were teased or talkabout the million other issues that come with adoption. They said they were teased and talked in segments about how they were teased, but they didn’t get into how they felt. What they wrote was for other adoptees, not adoptive parents. They talked about the shock of going back to Korea and meeting their birth parents, but then the stories always told about how they broke it off with their adoptive parents or their birth parents without all of the emotion and roller coaster in between. This disconnect left me feeling like I really didn’t belong to this community. Inside of me, I had love for both set of parents. In different ways.

Adoptive parents in the same way didn’t sem to want to face the pain of adoption. I once talked to an adoptive mother about teasing and she acted like her son was ambivalent and it really didn’t matter that he got teased–that a thick skin would help.

The lawyers that posted in the group about how you could get children cheap even if you’re from a low income family resulted in me mailing him repeatedly. He agreed and then posted the same ad. This made me feel really disconnected here as well. I had gone to the trouble of telling him why it was offensive and he ignored me.

I lost faith for a long, long time that I even belonged to this thing called adoption. I had a need to express what I was feeling and the balance I was trying to strike so hard inside of myself. But there were all these holes in the community which didn’t give me hope.

The lack of communication between adoptive parents and adoptees I found scary. What was scarier was that there were no birth parents speaking out at all at the time. This is scary. How are we supposed to improve the adoptions that are happening now if there is no communication? Even if you hate adoption for everything it has done to you, I think we have a responsibility to talk to each other and prevent the hurt to the next generation at the same time as improving practices overall.

And this exact lack of responsibility in the adoption community made my heart ache.

So I began to take this responsibility over years. I began to do it to face my own adoption hurt and also to help adoptive parents understand their children. It took years of practice to get good at it and explain things from my point of view without losing the adoptive parent.

I also every few months search for the birth parent memoir I have always wanted to see. What it is like for a birth parent after the surrender. Not before. A memoir of the full thoughts and pain of the event. It’s not that I would relish in that pain, but I think knowing that there is a voice for birth parents too, helps out. It will help us as a community to unite our voice just that little bit more and accept more points of view.

I can’t say I moved the world, like Jane Jeong Trenka. I could only effect one person at a time, but somehow, I think that is enough. I am not here to change minds. I am here to put my voice out there and answer questions from one adoptees’ point of view.

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Posted in Adoption Philosophy, Adoption Politics


Supressed Memories

19 Feb

There are things that I said that I don’t remember. I think I pushed them to the furtherest reaches of my mind. Like I saw women wash with washboards like when I saw a picture of Peach Boy. I don’t remember that, but when I saw a washboard I’d get an edge of a feeling I’d push hastily way.

Or even with my favorite doll. I named the doll Tuta (Too-t’ah). I even didn’t know considering I liked calling my toys things like “Kathy-Nathy” “Barbie” (for Barbie–very unoriginal considering some of the other names I came up with, but I had somewhat of a code that I wouldn’t name it if it already had a name) and choosing American names… why did that one sound so strange. It occurred to me to look it up after trying to look up my use of Korean with “Oogaya” which is baby talk command form for “Run” from a video my parents were recording shortly after adopting us. I looked at my dolls’ name and it turned out to mean roughly fuzzy cap. I realized that was the first think I remember about the doll as I opened the large box. The first think I saw was the pink fuzzy cap. I must have been a sensible child. I had a hard time looking up the words because the way I say it is in baby language regional dialect. A Korean dictionary from Seoul isn’t going to cover baby talk Kyongsangnamdo dialect as part of it’s vocabulary.

Meanwhile my brother gave all of his toys American names, “Big Bear” which is still his favorite and never wandered (a bit beaten up–he’s given it shirts, usually blue to wear over the years), Arthur, and other names. He never named any of his toys with Korean names.

Or when I wrapped my favorite doll in a cloth and showed my paternal grandmother and said that in Korea that’s how they carry babies. But then I’d stare at that cloth and wonder why I liked it so much.

My paternal grandmother also said that we were going to a Korean church (even though we’re Jewish, my mom tried really hard to make sure we were surrounded by Koreans occasionally.) that I cried when someone talked to me in Korean. It probably was something mundane as “You’re cute,” I probably understood, but didn’t want to remember what came with that.

And when I told my mom that we used to beg. Perhaps this is why I always failed at selling girl scout cookies and things for my school later. My brother and I would spend time in the record store hunting for change. My brother once while we were playing this game found a twenty dollar bill. I no longer knew why, but we did it anyway.

Each of these little things have things in common. I would push to forget, but after I’d forgotten I would want to remember again. I would want to remember why I said that and what I was basing it on. In that sense there is a large separation from me of now and that child freshly adopted. That child freshly adopted tried hard to adapt and forget. But the me of now is trying so fiercely to remember. We contradict each other, she and I, but she’d probably forgive me since I love Korea and her Korean family as much as she does.

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Posted in Unremembered memories


My Parent’s Gifts

19 Feb

My parents gave up giving us real presents after we turned into teenagers. They said that they didn’t know what we wanted. Despite my interests pretty much staying the same–as in I always liked writing and drawing, they were at a loss as to what to get us.

They started asking what we would like for presents. They probably did this because my Mom started to agree it was easier after our grandparents started giving us checks. The excitement of unwrapping presents fell away and my Mom stopped really celebrating Hannukah.

For my birthday I asked for a camera. I thought it would be cool to get a camera. One with an automatic zoom to replace the older camera that no longer worked that my Mom had given to me when I was young.

They agreed to get a camera. This was shortly before we went to New York City to visit my Aunt who lived there. They got the present, granted, late, but they still got it. My Mom asked if I was bringing my camera. I said yes–because I always brought my camera before.

I learned later that she didn’t bring hers. She blamed me when I didn’t want other people taking pictures with the camera. I didn’t see it as my fault for her not bringing her camera. Apparently, they had bought the camera, with the idea that they could use it too. I was pissed off. I was also a teenager.

In my eyes, it was a present that they gave me as a present, as such I could do with it as I wished. After we got back my parents and I got into a fight. I still remember my mom sitting on the brown rocking chair with her stiff posture and crossed legs. She would glance over at my Dad for support. He wouldn’t say anything, but support her.

My Mom argued that it was a “family” camera. It was a present to me. How was it a family camera? Since she bought it with her money, they should be able to use it too.

We finally agreed I would buy the film which was a forced compromise between my Dad and me.

That was the first time I noticed she used the word, “We.”

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Posted in Childhood, Parents

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