09 December 2023
On Death, Dying and Denying*
The trifecta of my Gotcha Day in early October, my Birthday in mid-ish December and then, the culmination of another gregorian sail around our sun at the end of December makes the last of the embers really reflective and introspective for me, as myself.
And so, I sailed the time tide a bit this morning and read a few writings from this time of the year during a different year in time. It was an enlivening read. Thus, as I exist a few days out from XXXVIII (which looks like it's gonna be one helluva kick-ass year in terms of the aesthetics of roman numerals, etc.), etc., the celebrations have slowly started to begin. For instance, my favorite food is on the stove (my kimchi jigae), and my favorite bunt is in the oven (almond poppy seed, courtesy of the bodybuddy/lifemate).
As a reader of my website, it's no secret that I am korean. Literally, hangul makes up half the title of this thing. Nevertheless, in person, my specific east-asian ethnicity is a guess to most other people of east-asian descent, etc. White people, typically, don't try, because all they can think of is chinese, and that's embarrassing. The major consensus is that I'm japanese, a complete insult, if you ask me. Most koreans guess that I'm korean, and other types of asians typically guess that I'm chinese, just an obvious choice, cause, well, they're the most prolific, etc.
In person, however, and especially around other koreans, I typically try to refrain from revealing my specific asian-ness. The reason for this is that koreans love koreans. As koreans, koreans absolutely adore meeting other koreans. Thusly, if I reveal myself as a korean, they begin to pry. And the obvious next question when a korean finds out that I'm korean is a question about whether or not I speak korean.
None of this is a "good" or "bad" thing, obviously. I, obviously, have a point to make aside from these shallow poles.
The issue revolves around why I do not speak korean. I have to then explain that I was adopted, and sometimes, koreans do not really know what I'm talking about, or they know exactly what I'm talking about but either way, the conversation becomes immediately uncomfortable, from a mental-health standpoint, cause it's a constant reminder about how I don't really fit in anywhere, being (as a friend recently, perfectly put it to me in an email) how it is that, "I'm a korean in america and an american in korea." There's no where for us.
And so, koreans finding out that I'm korean is, as simply put as possible, exhausting for me, emotionally. It's tedious to, essentially, hash out my entire emotionally-fraught identity to a complete stranger, korean or not. But the perks of being "out" as a korean among koreans is that koreans love each other. And I've recently met a korean at my jobplace, and she recently learned that I am, in fact, korean, not japanese as she had originally assumed but didn't know, because, like I said, she never heard me speak korean (or japanese or chinese, so obviously, assumptions will be made).
We were introduced because I heard the very specific, distinct sound of a KakaoTalk message while she was in the office from where I do most of my job, because every day, she needs to get a new battery for the handheld device we all use to accomplish our jobs, and I commented on it, the distinct sound of the korean-messaging app, Kakao.
She is older than me by an age that makes the hierarchy between us obvious, and so, my rightful place as the youngster is not lost on me. For thanksgiving, she gave me a korean pear. One day, when I was sitting in the break room, she walked in and saw me, and on her way out, she gave me a granola bar. And basically, now, every time she sees me, she gives my arms or my back or my shoulders a nice gentle, friendly rub or pat and asks me how I'm doing. She also tells me when I look tired, that I look tired, lol. Ugh, koreans. You gotta love 'em, cause really, they're looking out for each other. It's not an insult to look tired. They're informing you that you look tired, and so, you should probably get some rest. Duh.
I suppose that I could just lie and leave the conversation on a lie by saying something like, "Oh, my parents never taught me," but that would actually be the Truth—my adopted parents never taught me how to speak korean, nor did they care to nurture the amount of korean I already spoke when I arrived as a nearly-four-year-old child—but the jig is up once I'm definitely like, not "korea-korean," cause I like, well, I dunno, I wasn't raised by my korean parents, etc., so I don't really know how to "be" korean, and most "korea-koreans" would notice.
Also, in my brief history of life on this planet, conversational lies are not how one grows closer to people, if growing closer is the desired outcome. Obviously, if I were hoping to never speak to my new korean counterpart, I would lie, and simply be a liar to her, but I'm feeling vulnerable, and, like, a friend looking out for me is never a bad thing. The price, my vulnerability.
Honolulu is like the best-kept secret in america, imho. Obviously, the beaches of hawai'i and whatever, but there's a thing about honolulu that the every-person doesn't really understand unless you've lived here or spent enough time here to really "get it." And I'm, obviously, not going to divulge what that secret is, because it's a secret for the locals, the people who are here to enjoy it.
*not really, but it is what the last post of my 2016 sail around the sun harped on, lol