Archive for February 25th, 2011

Kimchi Museum

25 Feb

After the fight, my mom tried to make it up to me in her nervous energy way. Our relationship had always been contentious. Not because of the adoption so much, but the fact that she used me for her stress relief–emotional stress relief. I resented this even more, because I was afraid she was going to try to Honeymoon phase me and then things would get worse like they had in my ex-boyfriend. I recognized that his behavior and her behavior were often the same. So when we climbed into the car, I knew Ajumma could sense the tension in the air. I was not happy.

We tried to go to Seoul Tower. We couldn’t because of the ajussi who said that we couldn’t go up ’cause only buses could go up, so Ajumma took us to the Kimchi Museum. Ajumma was interested ’cause she didn’t know it existed. No Koreans seem to know it exists, which I think is weird because its in the COex building, which is well known among Koreans.

When I imagined a kimchi museum, I thought it would be more interactive.  But then, maybe I was thinking of Kimchi Jang. I have to admit that I didn’t know that different climates had different kimchi pots. That interested me. And my dad was super interested in the pottery. My Mom was all nervous energy. Her voice warbled all over the place as if she could not calm down and she clinged to my Dad quite a bit. Maybe she had switched me to the evil side of her mask. When she didn’t know what to make of me–good or evil she often distanced herself.

I was still upset and sorely disappointed that the Kimchi museum didn’t have proper kimchi nor anything about the varieties of Kimchi. I love my kimchi (which is why I feel bad for my brother that can’t eat spicy food anymore.) So I wanted more out of the museum.

One thing I should note is that Korean museums are really cool because they put a lot of effort into helping you see how the buildings and things were used and made. So the Kimchi museum showed how a Kimchi jang would work. There were also displays of various people in all of the museums and you literally could see mannequins wearing real clothes inside.  I’d watched enough Korean dramas to fill in some of the dialogue for them as well. But that may be my writing side talking.

With the above picture I could hear her saying, “Kee~ you put in too much garlic.” Then the other women arguing over it as she argued that proper kimchi has ginger too, and the other women arguing with her that this was entirely improper. I think imagining this made my anger go down. Because I can’t be angry at kimchi. Because kimchi and my love of it was often the only thing I knew was entirely Korean and no one could call me inauthentic for.

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Posted in Korean Culture, Korean Food


Buddhist Temple

25 Feb

After the Kimchi museum we got in the car and Ajumma asked us what we wanted to do next. The tension in the car–I knew anyone could spot it. It was alike a sledgehammer pounding into the neighbors. I knew that Ajumma was picking up on these issues and knew that I was not very happy. She’s super intuitive. And at the time I wished my Mom would honor intuition. I was full of resentment and anger. Not only for the events of Building 63, but all of the rejection I felt from that event.

I called out Dad twice to ask him what he’d like to do and my Mom answered for him twice, using we, which just served to piss me off even more considering the events of Building 63. I passively aggressively snapped at her, “I asked Dad. Are you my Dad?” My Dad finally answered that he didn’t know what he’d like to do. I suggested maybe looking at Korean pottery or something like that. He said that the Kimchi Museum was enough for now and he’d seen other pots.

So Ajumma, sensing this suggested a Buddhist temple nearby. She is not Buddhist herself, but in the East there tends to be less exclusion like there is in the West of other religions. It’s kind of like recognizing there is a function. I was really pissed off and it took a lot of power to keep my voice from shaking.

Ajumma insisted I go into the temples in that Korean way that my parents couldn’t read. Ajumma is the best. She knew what I needed even though I didn’t really know I needed it.

We went to the temple, and Ajumma commented that it was Buddha’s birthday. That’s why there were prayers and the red lanterns. Being resentful, I was further annoyed at my mom’s continued, “You have to like me now” mode. I call it her Shiny Wall. It’s like June Cleaver mixed with the threat of the Stepford wives. What’s worse is that she doesn’t know she’s doing it half the time. So I wandered ahead and tried to separate from them to give myself time to cool off. My mom hated that. (Switch of modes.) So wherever I went they also went.

I resented them talking when people were praying even in low voices like tourists. I tried to pretend I was not with them and did a little meditation-0-because I was taught in Hinduism class to do so. Also in acting classes–I knew the basics. first get rid of aches and pains, find your center ground, reach out to hear everything, then slowly close everything off one by one until you reach yourself. After you reach yourself, be aware of everything about yourself, then work on shutting everything from your toes up until you’re in your mind only. Adjust discomforts along the way. Once you have attained just your mind then start cutting off all other thoughts within it. Cut off the anger, emotions and feelings and try to attain the nothingness. If you have a question you want to ask yourself, this is the time to do so. In respect to the people around me I asked Buddha for a type of enlightenment. But my parents kept talking so I wandered to try to find a place to meditate.


I started again.  I decided to take a mat and ask Buddha for wisdom. I’m not a Buddhist, but I think sitting in front of a statue of a person that was supposed to hold so much wisdom, I was hoping it would help out.

My parents chatted in front of the statue which was rude. Even if it’s light chit chat, you shouldn’t talk in front of a figure while others are trying to pay and meditate. I chose to meditate. Because it is respect.

I asked Buddha for tolerance and the ability to get through this leg of the trip safely. I started again, and this time I asked Buddha for tolerance for myself and the ability to get through this leg of the trip safely.

If you see other people meditating–it’s politer to not say anything at all.


Why did you adopt me?

25 Feb

I often wondered at that time after Building 63 if my mom’s reasons for adopting me were as she told me, “Because it was cheap and we knew other people who had done it.” Even if I corrected that and told her the hateful things she said during my childhood about my adoption, I couldn’t really understand why she would do it.

The infertility we were forbidden to talk about, I knew that a lot of the loss and reasons she did the adoption was because she didn’t have a choice. I think in her heart of hearts she still wanted the child I could never become and I ultimately replaced. But to me, that was not a good enough reason to adopt.

She said a few times the reason she adopted was because my Aunt already had children–and it must have been painful for my mom to know that my Aunt could get pregnant and so quickly while she never could. My grandmothers didn’t help either, and often pressured her for children. She also told me that my Dad wanted children. But everything in her behavior told me that she really didn’t want children. She’s stiff around children and sometimes I can feel a resentment from her. Maybe a lost childhood to a mother that criticized her when she was out of bed and then depressed for the rest of the time.

My mom would irrationally compete with me as well, which I never understood. It was like a score board for her–I never understood the competition she tried to put forth in absolutely everything. My skin was darker, one point for me. My eyes were Asian, one point against me. I got along with her mother and put a lot of effort into understanding her mother, one point for me. I didn’t allow my mom to tell me not to wear jeans to her mother’s place. One point against me. A constant score board of extremes.

So when I pointed out the evils of adoption–because nothing is inherently good or bad, she wouldn’t accept it. One point against me.

By the end of Building 63, I wondered really heavily why they really adopted me. Was it really the obligation that my mom felt towards fulfilling other people’s wishes? After the trip I wrote her a letter pointing this out and cried when she never said the words I wanted to hear so much, “I wanted you. I wanted you in my life.” I ruthlessly deleted the e-mail and blocked her because I couldn’t deal with it.

An obligation. An annoyance. A duty. I felt all those things from her. I felt that me and my brother were there for show. Like little dolls for her to parade and then when we were inconvenient we were filed away for later use. I struggled against her walls to try to understand why she was like this. But when I got to her core, I found a mountain of fear and walls surrounding the fear. She didn’t know who she was and finding it out was not an option for her.

Despite understanding all this pain, and in doing that forgiving her for her shortcomings, I could not stop hurting. I struggled against my thoughts of Eomma and made sure to separate them out. I struggled hard to understand my Mom and why she would not accept her larger self–the mother and her father before her. And the events as they told them. And accept in a way that did not make her a victim, but made her wiser.

I also tried to understand my Dad and why he had become that codependent on her. I realized that he resented me a lot–maybe subconsciously, because while I was deflecting for my brother I was also deflecting for him (by accident) and now that I was not around, she was using all that nervous energy of not knowing who she was in a country that would not allow her marijuana to calm her down, she was using him in the way she used me. I quit being the punching bag.

I wondered why he wanted children with her if he knew she couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t get rid of the doubts I had about the reasons they adopted and I started to question if their love was true love. Especially when they would not allow me to refer to them to what they were to me, my Mom and Dad. They called each other to me by their names instead. I found that hateful and I couldn’t get past it.

Why did you adopt me if you wanted me for just a tool or an object to one up a person that is not going to raise me? I thought it was for love. I thought you wanted a family more than anything. Why can’t you answer that way? Why can’t you say that no matter what you wanted me and really mean it without me prompting it out of you? I started thinking those doubts where I had none before and I could not stop asking those questions to myself even if I couldn’t ask them. The silence ruined everything.

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