Monday, December 1, 2008


It's the beginning of December,
which means that I haven't written anything in 2 months.
By now I've realized that if I don't write for awhile, my speech pattern
starts to deteriorate, and I forget to enunciate words and everything that comes out of my mouth is just garble + half thoughts + falling sentences and ends with a ...

My family are usually the first to point it out to me, "What?" "What are you saying?" "Are you speaking?"

So here I am... ready to ramble.

I've been taking the train to D.C. to visit. The past couple of times, I've fallen asleep. No one ever bothers to wake me, and so when I wake up the train is deserted. It's a really disconcerting feeling, being left behind.. and I always shake awake with mild panic of apocalypse or ghosts or my life was a dream.

It had bothered me that people wouldn't take the time to wake someone, but then maybe they think they're being polite, or maybe it's concern that the sleeping girl is actually dead, and it'd be so messy to have to deal with a corpse and who wants to bother with that.

Thoughts like that have made the city has seemed less charming to me. It's hard to explain, but there's an essay 'goodbye to all that' by didion that describes it so well. There's a part where she says that New York is like a playground, a fantasy world - and how can one "live" in a playground, one is merely 'staying'.

And it's true, only with new york magic could a couch be a bedroom, that curtains are walls, a 4th floor walk-up is fun (saves money for a gym), the mice that run along the floor are pets, a hotdog and pretzel is a meal, and chicken with rice may as well be a banquet dinner.
Not that there haven't been beautiful things either - 5th avenue, Times Square electricity, ballet sequins, chinatown egg tarts and milk tea...
I wouldn't say that I'm getting jaded, but I think the Pollyanna in me has gone somewhere else to live.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


My only thought about work right now is that it has become hazardous.

I don't mean to be a complainer... (=.=) I guess I've had hazardous work before: A sore back from carrying extensive loads of laundry across town, having strangely protruding forearms from coldstone days, to burning my hands holding hot plates while waiting for people to move food out of my way. "Please sir, be careful it's hot" thinking "%*^%$^$% SIR move your stupid bread bowl out of the way before I burn you on purpose. Rawr."

But I thought once I transitioned to the professional world, that manual pain was supposed to be over. But no, if anything now, I have a more vicious enemy. One that is ever-present. Paper.

Currently my hands are wrapped in band aids from freaking paper cuts. And it's not the cute little kind, but the gaping gash kind - the manila folder kind. Been shaking hands with edward scissorhands? no.. unfortunately not. *wistful* johnny depp. But yea I have paper cuts on my palms, under my nails, the tips of my fingers... it's like a game or a competition for attention, and I lose because I can't decide which parts of my hand I value more.

My one consolation is that the bandaids are cute... they're hello kitty, and I remember when I bought them I'd (stupidly) wished that I'd have some purpose to use them. I even tried wearing them for no reason. But now at least my wish has come true, and my hands are very decorated.

I am a little disturbed though that everytime I get cut, the first thing my mind registers is panic, the agh i'm bleeding and oh no the documents! i haven't bled on the documents right?!
then pain is registered second.

I figure this is the mini-revenge of the trees. Every week I'm sure I'm responsible for printing through a forest.. I imagine all those walking trees from Lord of the Rings - marching through New York and burning everything down..

And in the broad perspective of things.. my job is to be the boat person who takes them into a new life... and the cuts are their revenge that they're not being made into the page of a novel or a love letter, but a page of a document to be thumbed over. So I'll take it. at least the bandaids are cute.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


The other day I was walking through Chinatown buying groceries when an old Asian man hit me on the arm with his fist for no apparent reason. He'd been walking toward me on the sidewalk. When it happened his face expression was impassive, like what it isn't normal to hit a girl's arm? Why can't I hit you on the arm HA. It was somewhat of a punch except that he was weak and the only thing that hurt about it was that his fist was pointy and thin, so it felt like a hard jab.

I was too shocked to do anything or say anything. What had just happened, I turned my head and he was still strolling along. I didn't feel like being the immature one making a big deal about something so "normal". Why did you do that?! Why why? and so I stared at him strolling and wondered how it would've been to throw down my grocery bags, rice wine and the bloody chicken all over the sidewalk.

Instead, it made me think of a month or so before when I was on the subway platform at City Hall. Again, nothing out of the ordinary, I had just gotten off the train when suddenly the girl behind me kicked my back. It didn't really hurt because she'd tried to do a fancy wheel kick or something - the kind where the foot goes past one's head. When I turned in shock, I saw that she'd almost lost her balance. She was a black girl, my age, and looked profoundly normal. She was wearing a t-shirt that had sparkly writing in script across the chest, and I tried to remember vaguely if I had the same shirt, and did it say Princess or Miss or ??.

"Bitch!" she screamed as she walked by. "Try looking at my face you bitch!" In the next moments, I was screaming back blindly and tossed my bag down (very intimidating I’m sure.. it had a panda on it). “It’s too ugly! %^78#$%. COME BACKKK AWRRRR.” And as she turned her head, she looked at me as though I were the insane one. And so I picked up my bag and tried to walk calmly to the other end of the platform, as though this was all very normal interaction.

I don’t know what’s happening. Do I inspire violence? Maybe there’s a hit on me… *knock on wood*. but FINE wannabe martial artists bring it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


current life-
Begin narrative here (I am practicing my format for billing time at the office. We are to keep "narratives". *Note the use of action verbs and succinct diction and style.)

1) fall out of bed. (on certain mornings - go to the gym.)
a. if at the gym - congratulate self and run for a little bit. think about the possibility of achieving "running high" but remember sadly that usually the only high i get from running is when i stop.
b. on uncertain mornings when not at gym - sleep, congratulate self on not having to shower (haha joking?)

2) dressed and pressed. walk to work. laugh at the people on wall st, and then sadly realize that i am one of them. "i am your people!" inevitably end up sprinting because I am late.

3) glide into lobby like the serene professional I am, attempt not to collapse on floor from loss of breath.

------ work ------
4) come home. the end - i can't write succinctly and i'm running out of action verbs.

It's the 2nd week of work and it still feels like a game, some strange large illusive mind-trap. An alternate version of me - one that's dressed up, so much taller (heels as transforming?), and gets to have an id card with a snapping string thing.

My favorite thing about work is the office view. It's like being in the sky, constantly flying. I could see myself agreeing to stay and work for free, just for the view. It's that amazing.

I would say something about corporate world and games and the stakes being "getting to keep my soul", but it's too early to make fun yet.

On the theme of narratives and souls - I pass a cemetery and church on the way to work. It's a beautiful church. I used to try to hold my breath whenever I walked by it - but I don't have that great of lung capacity and it would just earn me really strange stares from people around me.
So now, I just take my time and walk through it, read the tombstones - the ultimate succinct narrative complete with action verbs. I don't mean to be morbid - it just has become a good way to set my day, like a cheaper replacement for coffee. And more poetic too.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

fine me?

Because of my jetlag, I’ve been sitting in bed watching tv shows online at 3 am. My current one is Secret Diary of a Call Girl. It's not exactly pornographic... because it has a plot. hah. But there's something intriguing watching this character have sex with a succession of repulsive men. I haven’t figured out if I’m feeling disgust or fascination or what, but I wanted to keep watching it til I figured it out.

Anyway, today while watching an episode on a website with streaming vids and Chinese subtitles, a small chat box popped up next it. At first I thought it was a computer generated ad, but five minutes in, I realized it was an actual conversation. There were only 2 participants. Anon5532 and Cindy12.

Anon5532 was asking Cindy how old she was.
Anon5322 said he was 22
cindy12 said oh jeez I’m only 16
anon5532: ok.
Inadvertently no longer paying attention to the show. ("ok"?!)

He said he was a carpenter from Netherlands named Dirk.
Dirk the carpenter was at home because he had a cold and he was “coughing” and “lonely.”
anon4196: are you on facebook?
cindy12: yupyup. why.
anon4196: what is yours profile?
anon4196: I want to fine you.
anon4196: what is yours profile?
anon4196: I’ll fine you.
don’t type back cindy12.
anon4196: what’s your name so I fine you?
NONONONO. RAWR. don’t let him fine you!!!

but she gave her name (first and last!) and said that she was from X town in Texas.
he asked her what she was doing awake
she said she was watching diary of a call girl.

My first thought was oh goodness me too and at the same time, isn’t she young to be watching this and wow I’m so old to be thinking like that. And then I imagined how many other people were awake at 3 am looking at this chat box instead of diary of a call girl and hitting their computers NONONONO.
And of these people how many were signing into facebook and trying to find if either of these people existed and who were they.
And then of those people, how many were loading up their chainsaws to drive to X town in Texas to find cindy12. I didn’t do so well in stats class, but I don’t think the probability is that low.

Anyway dirk and cindy12 signed off to talk more “privately”. And I was left with the sick feeling of ugh. clear disgust.

Maybe I have too much of an imagination or I’m not being fair. Who says strangers can’t meet or chat. It could be simple, he really is a Dutch carpenter who’s lonely and sick and wants to see happy cute pictures of sweet 16 year olds. That’s not so bad.

Maybe she’s not 16, maybe she’s 61. Maybe she’s not a she but a he... or neither. She could be one of those women in Albania the NY Times wrote about who become men for life and take charge of the family when there’s a male shortage. (aren’t there fish that do that? it’s a really good article to read by the way). maybe they’re a husband and wife playing games. maybe they're future soulmates. maybe he's a patient lying in a hospital bed, hoping on a whim to find a stranger that could be his kidney donor. maybe maybe.

Sigh. meh still, I hope he didn’t “fine her”.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

pebbles in your tea

Since being in Korea, I have learned that to be considered an ideal female, or at least a house-trained one, doesn't mean losing the ability to think, but actually increasing thinking ability to include not only oneself, but the possible needs of everyone else. everyone being men.

The perfectly run house could probably be compared best to a model of the solar system. The male head of the house is like the sun or whatever, and every female is just a planet / piece of astro dust making revolutions around him. (if i want to keep going with the metaphor, I guess I could be pluto. The furthest one that was thought to be a planet but then actually just turned out to be... a dwarf planet / random spherical object and banished from that cool mnemonic about pizzas and eager mothers). haha eager mothers.

anyways, this means that sweaters are laid out on beds, pillows are fluffed, chairs are pulled out, shoes are straightened, water bottles are handed over uncapped, (having to make the wrist motion of turning a water bottle top is a strain I'd never realized before), tissues are kept on hand just in case sniffles are heard,
but all is done with the fluidity and ease of falling down.

My relatives used to brag that they were so progressive because in their family, the men preferred having daughters. Well now I know why, who wouldn't want more free help...

And so I've learned that the key to being a successful housewoman is anticipation. Which doesn't seem that amazing, but actually, it is a superpower:

An average person (a sane person?) wakes up in the morning and opens the window to see that it's a nice day and thinks: "yay, oh look it's sunny."

Successful house-trained female's monologue is slightly different (thought in the same amount of time that average person takes to go "yay oh look..."):
"oh look, it's sunny. which means he will probably want a glass of juice an hour than he usually does because he will be hot sooner, so I should probably take out the oranges now, and will he sweat because then I should probably switch the sofa pillowcase covers to the non-flowered ones because laundry isn't going to be for another few days and."

Super senses I tell you!
And scarily, given a few more weeks, it could be a less than foreign possibility.

Before, when setting the table I'd have innocently seen a fork, I will instead see the length of the stem and wonder at the angle that it would be held, and if that would hinder the time it would take to eat off a plate at lunch and so then would he be a few minutes late for his afternoon show, because then the pillow's fluff won't have held up by the end.
conclusion: fluff pillow again. or perhaps, switch fork.


Last sunday, singing a hymn, in the middle of the 2nd verse, my grandfather accidentally skipped to the 3rd. everyone else automatically followed. While, slow me, struggling to keep up in korean, just assumed what I was hearing was just my wrong reading. At the end I was left singing hesitantly for a few words by myself, until I swallowed them at everyone's confused stares. I felt like that boy in A Wrinkle in Time who couldn't bounce the ball or jump rope in sync with the other children.

ending with happy thoughts: i saw more funny t-shirts (^-^)
"I asked God for love and I got you. I asked God for a river and he gave me an ocean. let us swim. perhaps."
"make war. maybe love. someday."
"they are not looking at your face, they are staring at your queer glasses."

and my dark favorite:
"suicide hotline. please hold."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

just say yes

the things I've learned in korea:

1) soju is a beverage. Not a painful alcoholic poison. It's a beverage, meant to be slowly sipped and savored with dinner, especially with items such as meat (not beef, which koreans are protesting) but like say, chicken kalbi or pork. the glass is also never supposed to be empty, trickily, not because you're not drinking, but because you're drinking it so often that it gets refilled constantly. It is considered cheating to hide one's glass. This is usually punished, "rewarded" with more soju.

2) formal speech rules, which were carefully broken apart and explained to me, in every possible scenario. Formal speech usage is just confusing, so I've decided to just use it all the time. Apologies to everyone I've inadvertently disrespected.

3) learning to say yes, i've learned that my relatives hate the word ok. I guess they have a point, as a response it doesn't really mean anything. But really, the korean word for "yes" sounds like a goat bleating when it's said too often or in succession, which is what I usually have to do.

My grandfather, who's a minister, has various complaints or directions for me, which is included in every dinner and morning prayer. It's a little disconcerting to be referred to in the 3rd person.

But the prayers are kind of helpful, it's like a very passive aggressive way that I can learn exactly what is wrong with me.

"Dear Father, ....4 minutes pass.... please help our catherine be a better christian and a better daughter. Help her grow taller and wiser under you and ... She does not clean her room very well... help her do this."

The first supper:
grandfather: "You, you are too skinny."
oh wow thank you.
"No, that's not thank you."
oh. sorry, :force feeds self:.
"American girls. grumble grumble. Starving themselves, that's not a "Lady". males, males, they like the "ba-boom"...
"you know, something to hold." Gestures a violent shaking motion.
o.o hopefully in a prayerful context? oh ok.
"O-kay? what is that? you are going to eat?"
yes grandfather.

After the first supper, I learned to just say yes.

"Eat that, you are too short."
yes grandfather.

"eat that, why are your legs all banged up, that's not a lady."
from kneeling because i pray so often. haha?
yes grandfather.

"eat that, it'll make you smarter and maybe taller."
:goat bleating:.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

touch the hands

... of my clock.

my favorite shirt that i've seen in korea so far. it sounds so cute and somewhat dirty at the same time, it's amazing. that and, "live in your eyes, die in your lap, breathe in your heart".

it is a little sad that my impression of korea is so shallow as cute shirts, but really there are so many. i've bought a collection, with my 2 second decision time of "AGH CUTEEE" completely overshadowing any reason or sense that I should never be allowed to wear a shirt with a doll on it that says "find me a garden... nearby. far away. clouds are my love, are you? " If I did wear them in new york, I'd probably be used as target practice by taxi cabs. But really, I can't resist.

I think Korea is so amazing and beautiful, but I know exactly what this feeling is. It's the honeymoon phase of the relationship, where everything is so right and even the faults are endearing. the constant soundtrack of "opppaaaa. WHINE" sounds cute, and being elbowed by a halmoni on the street is like a kiss from heaven. (that should be a shirt. "kissed by heaven").

i finally got my hair fixed today, it's back to black, for which my relatives are very grateful.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

a bear walks into a bar

I'm trying not to fall asleep so I won't miss my flight.
The past couple of days, I've been re-visiting korean dramas (aghh why) and listening to epik high mvs as prep for Korea. Hopefully soon soon I will be in Korea and free to begin my mission to find So Ji Sup.

Today I was trying be more self-sufficient, which basically turned into me wandering financial district trying to find a hardware store. I figured that if I kept walking, eventually there'd have to be one. It was kind of smart, except that I was also carrying boxes. I could barely see over the top of them, so I guess I kept going in circles. All the construction sites looked the same, and every few blocks or so, I'd hear "Oh look, it's the box with legs again."

I tried asking people for directions, but it turned into like a strange joke. I don't know if it's just because of lack of good sleep where everything sounds dirty, but I couldn't help feeling embarrassed every time I asked, "Do you know where I can find hardware? tool boxes?" just sounds wrong.

After an hour, I did finally find a hardware store. I felt relieved and happy that I wasn't completely useless, that lasted until I got back to my apartment and slowly realized that just buying the stuff wasn't enough, I actually had to fix / put things together. yea... i don't know how i forgot that.

Later I went to hear david sedaris read at Barnes and Noble. It was crazy, everyone packed in trying to hear him speak. He was so funny and basically just so charming. at the end he told a lot of bad jokes, A bear walking into a bar was one of them.
"the bear says i'd like a beer .... and a bag of peanuts." and the bartender says, "why the big pause?"
^-^ I thought it was funny.

As I was leaving, had one of those accidental stare downs with a stranger, 'strange staring'. Usually it's because I'm not paying attention and I just seem like I'm giving the eye to people. But this time it was cause he was standing at the foot of the escalators and as it was going down closer and closer, i was thinking oh how cruel intentions and lalala what happened with ryan phillippe anyway, and did that soldier movie ever come out... and then realized i was 'strange staring'.

He asked if i'd care to update him on current pop culture like somewhere. yea exact words. It was kind of endearing, but too perfect and anyway current pop culture where to begin?
on the subway home, i thought maybe in a parallel universe, I'd have said yes and then hopped on a bicycle to 'like somewhere' and it would have been nice 'updating current pop culture' except we'd turn out to be cousins or half-siblings and then one of us would die of cancer, but then the other would kill themselves right after anyway, so both would be dead. yay the end.

this is what happens from watching too many korean dramas.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Room of One's Own

Moved. It's the first time being in New York that I have my own room. Within four years, I've gone from adjacent beds, to a couch, to a curtain for a wall, and now an actual room. I've upgraded and I don't know what to do with myself. The possibilities really are endless.

Today I had chicken and rice for the second day in a row. I ate under a red sculpture thing, trying to count all the lights I saw, and hopping over rain puddles. Realizing now that I probably looked disturbed. The financial district is kind of beautiful. All the lights, it's like music, my version of wonderland.

Remembering this line from a short story I heard at a reading a few months ago. I can't remember exactly what the line was referring to, I think it was about soldering metal, but it was so poetic, and he said it so casually. "You've got to let it heal before you hit it again."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

a kind of poem

It used to be when I made mistakes that I would think, Well, I'm much better than that.
And it would be a kind of relief, a coming back into self, but I'm losing that certainty.
The more mistakes, the more space it seems to take up, and the less I have to fall back on that's not been infected.
Becoming jaded - the word makes it sound like a beautiful thing.

I'm dying my hair back, maybe a dark brown. No one ever warns that orange hair can be dangerous. Ha.

this is a trailer for a new movie, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", which looks so beautiful. The spanish version is the only one that I could find. It's based on the F.Scott Fitzgerald short, about a character who ages backwards.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Games with Strangers

Landing at LaGuardia today, I'd decided in a moment of empowered confidence, that I could be frugal and take the bus and subway into Manhattan. It was harder than I thought it would be, being screamed at that the bus does not take dollars, 'how do I not know that get on already', and then bargaining for change, all while trying to carry my duffel bag in a way that would be least likely to stunt my height.

When I finally got off at the subway station, there were no subways running because of a switch malfunction.

Instead, somehow, I ended up taking a cab with a stranger, who found me sitting dejectedly on the sidewalk. The stranger was in his 40s, a slightly drunk man from out of town with an asian 'preference'. (I've decided not to say fetish anymore, seems unfair). I've always said I can sense 'asian preferences', but I guess it's not really a gift, because the moment the person in question starts talking, it's a pretty standard conversation, with few variations:

"Where are you from? Oh, I mean like your family :gestured wave:. Oh really? Well, I love kimchee. Yea I like spicy things. Love 'em. And barbecue. You know, I visited Korea once. And my friend's brother's cousin's boss's wife is a korean lady. charming girl. yea... and Japan, I love Japan. Have you been there?"

Usually, I wouldn't have agreed to being picked up to share a taxi, but I think maybe all the traveling and the 'we are all connected lights' thoughts made me feel more receptive. In the cab, he asked me how old I was, and stupid me thinking I was being funny, said "17," with a smile.

I saw him quietly flinch, "You look... very.." I didn't want to find out if I'd inadvertently stepped into 'Catch a Predator' territory, so I told him no, I had graduated college, and the rest of the ride was listening to nostalgic life advice - which was actually, considering he was on his third straight day of beer, very helpful.

As we crossed into Manhattan, there was a moment where the cab paused, seemed to hover on the metal bridge, right before the skyline. The sun was setting, and I could see it falling behind the buildings. Even he stopped talking, "It never stops to amaze, does it?" he grinned and I had to smile back, it was like finding light, finding home.

Friday, May 23, 2008


From the Windy City.
All I wanted was a jumping picture ::sniff::
photographer: my patient younger brother

It only proved my inability to get off the ground. Or maybe he just wasn't able to capture the vast height of my jumps quickly enough.
sigh, i even put my bag down. (could represent the abandoned weight of earthly burdens?) ha.

"Am I embarrassing you?"

final resort, "Why don't you ... try jumping off the ledge?"



If I remember correctly - from the amazingly horrible speech of John Paulson at stern graduation -'twas Winston Churchill who so wisely said, "never never never give up." ever ever. Although I prefer the version "try again and then quit. there's no point in being a damn fool about it."

The renewed motto combined with my brother's fear and desperation after I told him I was not leaving Chicago without a jumping picture:


Thursday, May 22, 2008

kill, marry, fuck

I woke up this morning with a nagging question from the past...
And really it made me lose sleep, especially because I can't remember how I answered.

kill, marry, fuck? fuck, marry, kill?

Tom Cruise, Flava Flav, Spencer from The Hills

think about it...

Summertime things - watermelon soju and pat bing soo =]

Monday, May 19, 2008

SES forever

I got my hair dyed in Chinatown yesterday.

I wanted originally something like:

intriguing yea?
but I changed my mind after watching "Bride with the White Hair", apparently her hair is white from grief. And I figure I don't need to look anymore evil. I did fall for Leslie Cheung in that movie. He was so charismatic... I only wish he weren't dead. Or gay. Double obstacles. Dead doesn't really affect my imagination, but the loving men part is a little harder to overcome in my fantasy.

So anyway, after a few hours of processing, prodding, feeling very non-chinese, my hair looks like this:

SES forever =] haha.

90s kpop singer hair. I can just imagine my relatives whispering in confusion, "maybe she thinks things are like when she last visited? poor girl, trying so hard to fit in." I should dig out my platform flipflops and UFOs. Maybe visiting Korea can be like time travel.

I'd prefer to say I look like a sunset. a Botticelli piece? Or maybe a tangerine. I don't know.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Waking up to the real world

I've graduated, turned a year older, it was a double slap in the face from reality.
and the week ended last night with a guy peeing on me.
Or i think he did. I was on a street corner somewhere in the east village, kind of lost, and my dress kept blowing out from me. I felt wetness on the front of my dress, rain? water? spit? I look over, and there's a guy zipping up saying, "Ohhh sorry. looks like you peed yourself haha."

And I was so under the influence that for a few minutes I thought I did. I started crying, was I one of those girls? It was like I was in kindergarten again looking at the little girl wearing the telltale polyester shorts the school kept for that purpose.

I ran, dripping randomly at intervals. Tried to dry myself by running. It was so cold, and I'd stop and catch my breath, but couldn't smell anything. Maybe it hadn't really happened. Maybe it was a sign from God, Run, run your life so you can dry off when things piss on you.

When I got home I scrubbed myself off and went over it again in my head. I went to sleep feeling reassured, no it hadn't happened. Maybe it's all the power of revisionist memory, but it was just water or alcohol... it hadn't been warm, and I don't know how someone could really aim that far. Bah.

Anyway, I started this cause I wanted something new, and it seems easier than xanga. I'll try to be good about it and write everyday... hopefully no more stories like the one above. It's disjointed because I'm still hungover.
Graduation made me a little depressed, no more chances to turn in a paper on time, revise my gpa. It's done, get to start over.