Friday, October 29, 2010


When my dad sent me to Korea to study International Relations at Seoul University after my senior year in college, I had completely given him reign over my future and career because I thought Father knew best. He did know best in hind sight and I may have acted in haste when I had demanded my tuition back from the school claiming that they didn't deliver on the promise of a graduate program in English instead of in Korean. How did they expect me to write a graduate dissertation on Problem of war and the Resolution of Peace in Korean when the last time I spoke perfect Korean was when I was 4 years old? I had climbed many a small hills on that campus (literally) to the Admissions office and tried to argue in my broken Korean to receive every penny of that semester tuition they had made me pay in dollars instead of in wons. My esteem for the number one school in Korea had deflated so much by then, I didn't know who I was fighting any more and all I wanted to do was to come home to the States.

I remember during that time, my parents would call me every week to check up on how I was doing in such a foreign land, because by this time, their home country has become foreign even to my parents. I told my dad during one of the many phone calls, sobbing, "I just want to live a normal life dad, I just want to like everyone else." I just wanted to grow up in one town, with one set of community and have the towns people know all my business even if I would have hated it. Then go off to college, marry my high school sweetheart and find a job teaching first grade at a local school and raise my babies in my white picket fenced home. It didn't matter if this was in Korea, Japan, Jordon, New York or in California, it just had to be normal, stable. So, I had crumpled up my plans to be a foreign officer and eventually an ambassador and made a three pointer into the waste basket and flew home.

No matter how rash my decisions in scrapping two years worth of schooling and a future career to establish some normalcy in my life, I really didn't find it in the end. I still felt different and left out, sort of a pariah with mentality and outlooks not fit for mainstream America. I don't think I did anything normal even after that, most obvious is our adoption and wanting it so much even after I got pregnant.. Wanting that child that was already conceived in my heart and mind over the child conceived in my womb was a controversy not well taken by the faint of heart, or the community wedged in conventions. I realize that there's no explaining myself and the things I do because they just won't understand and we can't correct everyone.

For a long time, I thought because I grew up unconventionally and thus making me a little bit of a puzzle for people to figure out, I thought I was broken. I tried my best to fit in and be the good church girl who got good grades and got along with everyone, and I succeeded in most parts in filling that role for the expectations I thought people had of me. I didn't know why I was trying to be like everyone else though, because  no one ever really rejected me and thought me an outcast, I did that on my own. Whatever storm was raging in my head and mind was all I could see and thought that others were tangled up in that storm too, thinking the same things as I was in seeing me as the freak. I'm not broken or to be fixed, not in the sense that I have to change my personality and my tendencies. When I really think about it, I can't image doing anything in the traditional sense, I like it this way.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Behind this mask

I'm sorry you met me at a time I am not myself. She'll be back, you'll see. You may not recognize her because you know the girl here and now. The girl that's here because she's seen too much to be carefree, funny or joyful any longer. I'm sorry you knew me at a time where I didn't make you feel loved as much you should have or made you feel special like I normally would have. You'll see someday, in a few months or maybe even a few years, if you'll still have me. I don't know how long it'll take, but I'm sure she'll be back, that girl that is completely sure of herself, who is completely joyful and won't give a damn about the details of words before she says them. The kind of girl that would have made you feel completely at home, made you laugh over texts, emails, phone calls and letters, the girl that told legendary stories from her collection of "The Stories of the Weird" with hand gestures and dramatic pauses to boot. It wouldn't have mattered what context or what way, I would have loved you better.

The searing hardships marred my soul and didn't know it was happening, but slowly, I've changed and become less talkative, less goofy and somewhere along the line, I've started taking myself way too seriously to want to be around me. When did I become too self conscious to dance in front of people I didn't know? Too shy to break out in song when I felt like it was time, or throw my arms around you in your mid-sentence because I just noticed how cute you looked telling me a story? I want to run away from me because although I would like to consider myself like that of strong dark queens in movies like the Gladiator and 300, who mother Gladiators and Spartans but I am not, I've been faltering and I'm not as noble as those women. I'm not as disciplined or concrete with my beliefs, principles, or values and beginning to see, I'm no better than that of Judas, Saddam Hussein, or Lebron James. How can I judge or who can we judge when you can fall from grace oh so fast, when you're whole character and personality can change after a few bouts of storm.

I'm sorry, I've been a martyr in writing out all the hardships and acting like I've been rising above it all, learning from it, growing from it, but in hind sight, I haven't matured at all. The reserved countenance, the humanistic, philanthropic activities and the nuggets of wisdom I've been spewing out had all been a smoke screen to cover up my weaknesses, that I've been sucker punched by life and it's been hard to get up from that last uppercut. How do I recover when it's one after another, when do I have time to reshape myself to the semblance of what I originally was when the cut is so deep and frequent. Though, after so long behind a mask, it begins to weld itself to your face and its hard to get off. You'll soon forget what you really look like and who you are.  Though I don't expect to look exactly as when as was a wee girl, I know that joy, love and free spirited-ness are things I wish never to forget.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hunting dog leading the blind

When people ask me where I grew up, it's hard for me to answer because in essence, I grew up nowhere and everywhere. I've been asked by several people to explain where I grew up and why it's hard for me to stay put mentally. It had been ingrained my little body of 6 months that we as human beings are nomads and everyone will eventually go from one city to another and eventually, out of the country. I mean..isn't that why there are so many beautiful countries and cities out there? For us to experience all of them? Isn't this the natural course of life for every family? Um. no. I'm only recently learning in my adulthood that "normal" and "real" people don't meet their fathers at 6 months because he had been living in the middle east and their families don't pick up and move at every 4 year mark, like it's a presidential term. Finally and only recently, I had lived in one city for two consecutive terms and it's been a learning experience.

For a while now, I've been living with this underlying ants in my pants feeling of unsettled angst. Like I should be somewhere else by now, not just in my job, or my status as a parent or not being a parent and even in my marriage...not that I'm unhappy with any of these things, but there had to be a change of some sort. I wasn't getting a scenery change, so I was trying to cause some type of change in something, anything! Friends, community, a new outfit, a haircut, plans to move to Korea and begin a new career. Another consequence to living as a vagabond is not only are you without a physical home, but there is no mental connection between you and the friends, or your community. You're trained by circumstances, that you'll be forgotten in a few years and when you've moved from so many places, you've been forgotten by a whole lot of them. It's like you're a ghost and you don't really exist to anyone but your family, like you were only a figment of everyone's imagination. For once I wish someone had kept me from being erased out of their memory and or their life, like they couldn't bare to let me go. No one's chased me that hard.

Sometimes I think that I've been trained (even if it wasn't my parent's intentions to do so) to become one thing and then expect me be another. Like a trained hunting dog expected to lead the blind, I feel I'm about to run after a fox when a frail person counting on my guidance is holding on to me for dear life. I'm running after something I've been trained to, but in the process, I'm dragging a long a person that was relying on my ability to calmly guide him across the street. I don't mean to hurt anyone but I do. And not to say that dogs can't be retrained because there have been retired police dogs trained to "sic em" have become guide dogs, but I wonder if they ever swallow down the urge to fight crime like they use to....

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Love like Woah

Dear God, Help to be a loving person, to love people with all that is required of me without the requirement of reciprocity or expecting anything back. Amen.

I prayed this prayer and aspired to be the embodiment of love since college, probably at the age of  growing out of childish self absorption and waking from ego centralism. I don't think I ever grew into this and when I see my old habits seeping through the tightly secured mask of being a good girl and doing the right thing, I don't know if I tried that hard or prayed that hard to love people without the expectation of the return. Actually and regretfully, what I really see is that I am in love with love and the ultimate act and sacrifice of loving someone, and learned, it is so difficult. I was never braved the coldness I would feel if I really did love someone unselfishly. All this time I've only given away what is only the semblance of love so that I can receive it in return. I sometimes doubt that even the love I received was ever real, or just a morsel of warmth throw to me out of courtesy that I swallowed down at the moment, just to get by on. Like it didn't matter to me at that time of desperation to alleviate the coldness of life, whether real or not, it was available right then.

Maybe I'm being too hard on myself and I'm not a narcissistic snow queen I just made myself out to be, who is only selfish and no good. One of my girlfriends once said that a song reminded her of me and it was a song called "love like woah" and when I asked her why, she responded, "because your love's like woah." We just laughed about it, but I hope that everything I had given her and the people I really claimed to love was purely love and not something I'm offering just so I can gain for my own needs.

I may need to make fast and deep connections with people of my choosing because I need them not to forget me. Not to treat me like the sea of millions of faceless people who they will see in their life time. To be able to point me out and say, "that one, I know that one and that one I know and love forever." Maybe I feel a little bit desperate to nuzzle and embed myself into hearts so that I will no longer be a ghost that will be forgotten once again if I don't make my presence known and constantly reminding people that I'm here.

I love you like woah, but sometimes, I wonder about my motives. Not because I'm being insincere or I have an agenda, but because I can't love you without receiving back. Maybe this kind of love is for the most holy, for the saints and God himself, and not mere mortal like me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Poppa's wedding in Numbers

This weekend, all the Ohio counselors plus some extra special people came to celebrate our Poppa and his new momma's wedding. Although the weekend was fast and furious, where it only lasted less than 24 hours, it was worth very drop.

2- Grocery Carts full of Korean snacks to take back to Ohio for David and Daniel.

4 - The number of Korean snacks Bonnie picked out for her collection.

10+ - the number of plates of meat we enjoyed with the Hartman Family at woori village in Niles. Those boys can eat!

12:00 - Time time Team Stephanie arrived at Jenay's house

1:00 - The time Team Patrick should have arrived at my house...but didn't

2:00 - The time Silvia presented her new Beau to me

3 - The number of times I wished I wasn't in the room with Silvia and Gido...

3:45 pm - About the time we realized, "They're cutting it pretty close aren't they?" "Oh well, who wants peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches and chocolate milk??"  I felt like I was running a day care.

2 - Number of girls Gido danced with in my living room, where one ended in a dip as a finale. Thanks for the dip Gido ;)

12:30 pm - Rewind a little , Paul and Stephanie are enjoying a leisurely lunch at Mommas house, while Team Patrick speeds down a road in Indiana (Do you see the contrast?)

2 - The number of texts saying that Patrick's car and Hans' cars are parked right next to one another in traffic. what are the odds of Hans coming from his final from the city and Patrick coming from Ohio merge to ONE same exact spot on the road at the SAME time?

Text from Hans: "pat is driving next 2 me"
Text from Kim: "Hans is literally right next to us"

5 - The number of texts Kimberly sent me stating her need to go to the restroom

3:45 pm - The eleventh hour in which Kimmie pushes me aside to go to the restroom. I didn't mind, better the shove than a puddle on the floor I would have to wipe up :P

6 - The number of people trying to get ready for the wedding. It was like the Home alone house before they left for Paris. Luggage lying about, people taking turns in the bathroom and buttoning up in front of mirrors. I kind of enjoyed a full house...

6 - The number of people rushing down Dundee to get to the church on time. We were sure that the traffic they experienced would continue on, but we actually made it there and sat down with hands folded in our Sunday best.

1- Wuti who was later than all of us, but had on a nifty vest even Bonnie commented on, so that made up for it.

2 - The number of tables with rowdy kids, who couldn't stay seated through dinner...oh dear...I hope Poppa wasn't too embarrassed of us.

11 - The number of shots taken even before dinner was finished. No I didn't take all 11 shots, they were dispersed among 10 KCCers and a certain Paul Hartman.

2 - Very happy people bound for a happy marriage. congratulations Ryoung and Hannah!

1:00 am - The hour we decided that we were famished, so Hans and Tim went out to get us a brief case of tiny burgers. yes, the crave case from White Castle. This was Hans' first time having white castle, ever. Meanwhile, Kim, Patrick and I almost fell asleep waiting for them.

12 -  The number of sliders left over when we went to bed

6 -  The number of sliders we found after we got home from church. Did you guys eat them for breakfast? ew.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Everyone is Abnormal til you get to know them

PD mentioned a book by John Ortberg called Everyone is Normal Til You Get To Know Them.  I know what point PD was trying to make and I know what John Ortberg was getting at. When we look around we see that everyone is living pretty with 3 kids, a dog and a backyard, but when you really get to know them it's different, the dark side of the mountain is not as green. Maybe not even the dark side of a person, let's take it a down a notch and consider even the quirky side and how some people will not buy green sheets for their wooden bed because it'll make it look like a tree. (This is the thought process of someone real, and yes, she was completely serious about it) No, not normal...and you're not that normal either, even though you think you are, you're not. The only reason why you think eating cereal with orange juice is normal is because you never knew that the large population of the people in American society only eat cereal with milk. You're the weird one. 

How I see things is different from that of John, and if I had to write a title for this, it would be Everyone Is Abnormal Til You Really Get To know Them. The slight perspective change is that although we think people are so different and they would never understand you, when you really get to know them, they are essentially human and there's more to us than differences in culture, age brackets, tax brackets or whatever brackets you fall under. We humans are cut from the same cloth, it's just that some of us are made into pants and some of us into dresses. When I hear how people talk about Pastor Dave and how honorable he is, I chuckle a little and not because I disagree, he is honorable, smart, well spoken, wise and all that jazz, but behind closed doors, he's very human. I also imagine that if I did ever meet President Obama and spent one week with him away in  some cottage in the Hamptons (It obviously doesn't have to be the Hamptons, it could be Wisconsin Dells, but if he's paying we would be in the Hamptons) I would find that he isn't very different from Pastor Dave, my little brother or me or you. At the end of that week, he would just be Barack to me and not President Obama, and his presidency would become what he happens to do as a living.

I think I try to break people down to who they really are in essence because I want to know that we're not so different. We may have had different parents, up bringing, culture, education, life happenings, but in the end, there is a spirit in us that is essentially human and we share that. This is the reason why we are so baffled and appalled by mass murders because we can no longer see the human-ness in them, that they've just become monsters to us and we can't relate. Even then, I see their tortured souls writhing and twisting in pain from whatever childhood abuses have made them that way, or even if they had perfect childhoods, the sheer fact that they are no longer acting as humans do, tortures them. I'm sure of it because you see it in their eyes. Fear, denial, darkness, things we all know of from the school of life, but we were strong enough to keep from having it eat away at our spirits, they were not.

I want to ask you about who you are, who your parents are, who your friends are and maybe some of the answers will be closely familiar because I know those answers like they're my own. But sometimes, the answers you will give me will educate me further to who you are and not misunderstand you. When I love a person, I want to know their "heart motives" what drives your heart, to be loved, to be liked, to be perfect, to be respected? I want to tell you too, so that you don't misunderstand me, my jokes, my intentions for my actions, so that you can have grace on me too. I want to tell you, but I also want to keep them a secret, just in case it's too quirky, too scary, too dark, or just plain dorky. But, I know you feel the same too.

“I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name.”

– C.S. Lewis, “Weight of Glory”

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Guest blogger - C.S. Lewis

I love everything he says about people and the way we should love one another. To see people not as ordinary, but to see them with "The weight of Glory" of our God, that he has deposited in us a certain splendor and knit us in our mother's womb with fear and care. That if God himself sees us and treats us like this, how can we mere mortal treat his creation like we do, like we have been. I post his writing copy and pasted because I wouldn't change a thing he says, except the way he spells neighbor.


~C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (18): The load, or weight or burden of my neighbour's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.   It is a serious thing to live in a a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you may talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.   All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.  It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.   There are no ordinary people.  You have never talked to a mere mortal.   Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.  But it is immortals whom we joke with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.   This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn.  We must play.  But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.   And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.   Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.  If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Women's Retreat in Numbers

This past weekend, I attended a women's retreat. Gasp! yes....Susie actually attended a gathering of women over a weekend and to add to the list of unbelievable things she led a sister group. and had fun. Let it sink in....I'll give you a moment....

4- The number of girls that made up my sister group. The combination of these girls was just magical... had deep converstations, danced, went for a run at 7 in the morning, cried, laughed, and crashed.

1- The number of times we went for a run 7 in the morning. That was enough....

30- The number of times we spontaneously busted a move just because we felt like it.

15- The number of times we got funny looks from the other sister groups and the wait staff for spontaneously busting a move just because we felt like it. Half the time, it was in the privacy of our own room, but the other half of the dancing happened in the presence of others.

30 - Dance moves that just won't quit.

1- Granny panties that just won't quit.

1- Big juicy wax lips that reminded me of Halloween as a little girl. Sporting it now just isn't the same...creepy is a word that comes to mind for most.

5 -The number of times we crashed from all the high school girl level excitement. It's like we were at Cheerleading we just need to recover every 45 minutes.

2-grinding teeth

1- breast pump humming morning, noon and night

25 - Dollars on a Starbucks card won by rocking our skit! Because....."We are the champions my friend~"

27 - Dollars spent at Starbucks on a Sunday morning, spending our last hours together as a sister group.

5 -- Ramen noodle cups celebrated by more dancing

5 - Amazing stories that are both heart wrenching and heart mending

5 - The number of lives touched God and each other

Friday, October 8, 2010

I love girls

I love girls. I really really do. And although I have been a victim to some mean girl antics and contrary to popular belief, I am not now or was I ever a mean girl in high school or at any other time at that. I have been known to post several "girl crush" posts even in the xenga days of yore, about how girls at Starbucks will come up to me and tell me I'm cute. To recount one incident, several years ago, I was walking to my car and really attractive blond girl came walking toward Starbucks as I was walking out of it. Although she was pretty, she dressed so stylishly down to earth and casual, and as we passed, we looked at each other and I turned around to look after her and she was doing the same. We both smirked because I think she knew that I thought she was cute and I think she thought I was cute too! :)

This all might sounds so strange to boys because they're less inclinded to admit or even notice a man that is so put together and attractive. Unless you're a certain pastor I know that notices a particular man that stops by Starbucks every Tuesday morning dressed so dapper, he makes him stop in mid sentence to notice and comment on how dapper he is. I'm not only referring to how girls look, and although, girls are more beautiful than boys, because we have so many more options than just the suite, pant and shirt to mix things up, but they're so charming to me. I often gravitate toward praise songs that are sung by women, I can know exactly how to charm a little girl and win her over, and it's so easy to get one or more girls to laugh around a table given at least 10 mins.

Even tragety and the angst women go through are far more poetic and deeper than that of a man. Perhaps I don't fully understand the intensity or the dept of man's angst and problems, but those seem so general, so encompassing as a whole human race. However, the dilemma of a woman choosing her children and family over the career she worked so hard to build, the pressures of living up to the standards measured by men, other women, and worst of all herself, and the balancing act of standing up for your self with self worth and not going over the edge with cocky self promotion or on the other hand, balancing genuine humility with low self esteem is a tricker task.

I love how they talk, how they smell, how they look, the thoughts they have, the jokes they make. I love little girls, high school girls, girls in their 20's, 30's and even girls in their 90's. Truly, when they were made God did add sugar, spice and everything nice and in their pure state, we were made in such pleasure and were made to nuture, to love, to have roles that make life heaven and not just to create a standard or a status quo. I love how I feel and what they bring out of me when I'm with girls who giggle and talk a mile a minute, I love how some girls are hilarious and can joke like a boy, I love how girls will show up a boy and can do things they can't. I just love em.

Girls' bodies are so much more delicate and graceful. I think boys just funny naked. Anyone else?
Marion Cortillard is SO beautiful...I wish I was a beautiful French woman who can act and sing.
I'm not really worried about aging...I just want to be the most beautiful at my age.
I hate that little girls who are confident in who they are and what they look like, until they start comparing...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Where's home?

A girl I know, a girl that knows me to the core and she understands exactly what to say to me and what questions to ask me at the exact right time. She asked me once upon a time, "Sus, where is your home, like home town?" I told her, "no where in particular, I don't consider home anywhere. But I do have a home in my parents, my brother, Hans, KCC, the counselors, Jesus." My home is in the people I know. In the flood of waters, where a dove is released  by Noah to find dry land after the Great Flood and it returns because there was no dry place to land her feet. But I have those patches of Oasis where I can and some times that Oasis is a floating one and she comes knocking at your door at 10 pm on a Wednesday night for a quick drink and a 2 hour talk. Then everything seems better and we can go out to the world again.

I think I can face the world when I visit my mom and when she notices I'm sick, she says to me, "why didn't you come to me sooner?" or when my dad kisses me on my hot forehead and says "poor Susie." or when Hans opens up his "clinic" and sets up water, NyQuil and a pill to help me sleep on the kitchen table. Then I know I can let my feet down and let my wings rest for a while. I think I can find life again when I get the nightly text from a camper at 7:30 pm to say good night. It makes me chuckle because that's really early, it's like a baby's bedtime and he's at least 14 years old. Or when you open up yet another text and it's just a little ol' :) and it's all that requires before your own smile blooms on to your face.

This girl that I know, she asks me another question and she says, "where is my home? where do I belong." I say to her, "You belong with your parents, you belong to me, you belong to Jesus." and she says that that's the most satisfying answer to her. I hope so, I hope I can be home for others too. Although I think my actions and words are merely a dust in the wind, that no one will ever take it to heart, they do make some sort of a drop in the bucket of goodness in someone. That I can add on to their collection of memories and as they leaf through them, that one or two pages will be filled with things I've done or said to make life bearable, or better yet memorable.