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Once Upon A Time

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What in the hell is going on? Fun.

Like it or not, this is the current state of affairs of Big Brother 17, and Big Brother overall. Bizarre gameplay and dynamics and then exploding Twitter wars between BB alum, with words and deleted tweets, and Frankie Grande fans are out in droves defending rabidly the glory of the Grande family name. Fans of the beloved show who only watch the televised programs are pretty happy as usual, and the (tiny actual sliver of) fans who follow the live feeds are foaming at the mouth, and at the same time making each other pee their shoes laughing.

It is Big Brother, after all. Or is it?

I don’t waste blogs ranting about one particular Big Brother alum or another. No, that’s what Twitter is for, for me. Because every person, winner or loser, that has been on the show, once or three times, is connected. We are connected. Fans too. Connected. A family? Not really. Why? Our own families are complicated enough, why do I have to have another family? No thanks. I’d rather have friends.

Here’s the thing. Janelle Pierzina actually brought me and Evel Dick Donato together. It was at one of her parties, and she handed her phone to me because Dick was on the line and he wanted to chat with me. To be honest I didn’t want to, but I did, because we are connected. But that phone call between me and Dick did not really do anything, by way of bonding.

But Janelle and I first bonded on a flight home to New York from L.A., after our Big Brother 10 food competition cameos. She’s a glamazon, and I felt small and boyish next to her. We were probably a funny-looking pair checking in our luggage at LAX and then leaving JFK together. But we established a bond that trip, and saw each other a few more times thereafter.

We’re not friends today.

But Dick and I are friends. We’re not BFFs or labeled anything, because we just get each other, good and bad. People have been making sick jokes that I suck Dick’s dick and that I will also be HIV+ soon. What? Yeah.

But I make some sick jokes too, and I can be often horrible to the point of she-can’t-be-real horrible. But even I’ll tell you…I might suck a mean dick, but I’ve never sucked someone’s dick from thousands of miles away. That’s one massively long dick. And I just can’t handle something like that. Don’t act like you can. Besides, I’m just not into Dick like that. Why can’t a guy and a girl be friends without the need to suck each other’s funk? But I get it. There are people whom I offend on the regular and relentlessly, and they lash out at me with such things, and worse. People lash out at live feed reporters and bloggers too, and at other fans. Fans. It’s not just the BB alum who are affected.

I’ve rarely been lashed out at by a spouse or family member of someone cast on Big Brother. I’ve been reprimanded once or twice but I’ve always been a firm believer of leaving loved ones out of things. It’s where I draw the line. This summer, three loved ones of three different BB17 Houseguests reached out to me on Twitter. One was mildly heated but pleasant. One was mild and very pleasant and emails were exchanged and there’s a bond there. The third incident was not so great because this particular loved one had read some of my most recent tweets, because a Twitter troll baited her by tagging her after the fact.

So this loved one was angry at me and tweeted me saying I was disgusting, and ugly. I can totally understand their anger, especially if it was the first they were seeing my tweets about their loved one. So I responded calmly and firmly but still incredible rudely. People said I should have left her alone, that I should have ignored her. But she tweeted me first.

I sound like a child right now. I hate it. Sigh.

I shouldn’t have taken that bait but I decided to that day. Big Brother isn’t pretty. It’s not meant to be pretty because it brings out our darkest side as much as our brightest side, evoking at a minimum three emotions at a time when you’re involved. But Big Brother was never pretty, but it was more tolerable once upon a time. Once upon a time, when Big Brother was new and innovative…and I wasn’t so old.

Ha.

To me, this season, James Huling was just that, new and innovative. He’s not perfect by any means. But he reminds me of old school Big Brother.

I’ll be announcing on Monday, the two winners from the #HillbillyAsian t-shirt giveaway. Thanks for everyone who participated or spread the word. The contest is now closed.

Thank you all!

Always dishing,

Jun

Big Brother 17: T-SHIRT GIVEAWAY

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UPDATE: TWO WINNERS ARE: Gwen Keaton of Texas / Pam Salensky of Pennsylvania (Please use this link to send me your mailing info)!

Congratulations to the winners!

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Calling all Big Brother fans!

If you’re a fan of Big Brother 17 Houseguest James Huling and you’d like a chance to win a #HillbillyAsian t-shirt…

(Part of the proceeds of all t-shirt sales go to the Tara Hall Home For Boys where he lived as a teen, full article here: James Huling – Tara Hall)

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Please leave in the comments section below:

  1. Your first name, and last name or initial
  2. T-shirt size
  3. The U.S. state you represent

I’ll draw TWO names in ONE week from the date this blog.

Sorry, this giveaway is only open to U.S. residents at this time!

Good luck everyone!

And if you’re interested in purchasing a t-shirt yourself and helping the cause please click on the photo above to go directly to the site, or click here!

Thanks always!

Always dishing,

Jun

 

 

BB17 Power Rankings

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Power Rankings is back. If you don’t know what that means it’s okay. It’s just a thing, that I once got paid to do, to do before Rice House ever happened. Three criteria and points tallied accordingly, and according to my current mood.

CRITERIA: 1. Would I trust this HG to babysit Noah for an hour or two?/  2. Would I employ this HG at Rice House? / 3. Would I double date with this HG (and their potential significant other)?

Would I trust this HG to babysit Noah:

MegMeg (+50 points) despite her preference to sit or lie down most of the time and her inability to sense evil, she’s an ideal puzzle and boardgames and movies kinda lazy babysitter.

JuliaJulia (+20 points) alone without her sister Liz, is someone I might actually let babysit Noah.

Liz

But not Liz, no (-20 points).

Steve

But I think Steve would be great because he and Noah would play Legos all day and Noah would adore him for it, and Steve talks a lot and so does Noah so there’s that (+50 points).

James

 I feel like James would be okay although Noah would inevitably pick up on things like James staring at women’s breasts, which Noah already calls “boobies” because it’s all my fault (+10 points).

JohnJohn talks a lot like Noah already, at least when he’s excited, so they have something in common already plus Noah likes dentists (+40 points).

Austin

Austin I fear, wouldn’t ever wash his hands or even properly enough to be a decent babysitter, and that’s all I have to say about that (-10 points).

Vanessa

Vanessa is a no (-20 points).

 

NEXT…

Would I employ this HG at Rice House: James would sexually harass every female patron and piss their men off, and that’s not what I want Belgians thinking Korean men are like sorry (-20 points). Meg would have to be given a desk job but um I don’t have those, so I suppose she could bag food or wash rice if her frail arms could handle it ugh (+10 points). Austin would spend more time trying to woo menstruating women and seek out Belgian wrestling federations with his wheezy breath, and fail at both and make me lose money (-20 points). Vanessa is a no for obvious business reasons (-20 points). Liz is a no because she will eat the whole shift every shift and cost me money, and you cannot speak Dutch with -uhhhhh at the end of every word or risk being beaten by angry Belgians (-10 points). Julia though is a maybe, since she doesn’t eat very much at all, and she seems somewhat ambitious in the kitchen, sigh (+10 points). John would probably work out because he could always do some illegal dental work on the side by day and make a killing, in addition to stickering Rice House merchandise and washing dishes for me by night (+10 points). Steve would be an easy hire for me although he’d have to get used to not having his mom around again, but with his musical background he could provide entertainment at Rice House while customers wait for their food (+30 points).

Would I double date with this HG (and their potential significant other)? John claims he turns himself up to obnoxious levels whenever he’s trying to end a relationship with a girl, so I’d actually like to see him do that in person on a double date (+20 points). Vanessa and her SO would be in truth be quite fascinating to have front row seats to, if you’re into studying couples (+25 points). Steve and his date would be nothing short of polite, and I love chocolate milk and Steve loves chocolate milk, so there’s that (+20 points). Austin is a no (-20 points). Liz with Austin is a no but with someone else possibly a yes (+10 points). Julia is someone I’d double date with, if only to get the scoop on how she beat leukemia ((amazing)) yet still turned out to be so vapid  (+10 points). Meg I’m not sure I could handle in large doses because she always looks like she’s in a state of something between hungry and deranged, and that can be disconcerting on a double date, but maybe (+10 points). James would of course bring Meg, because that’s just something James would do, and he’d stare at Meg’s boobs all night like I would (+50 points). Because, Koreans.

~

Based solely on HGs games and actually being there for the game I give an additional +25 points to Vanessa, Steve and John.

Based solely on the cleanliness of HGs souls, I award an additional +20 points to Meg and Steve.

Based solely on Austin’s speech during his nominations I deduct -500 points from Austin, and Liz by default, and -200 point from Julia by default.

~

TALLY (in order of decreasing suckage):

Austin: -550 points / Liz: -520 points / Julia: -160 points / Vanessa: 10 points / James:  40 points / Meg: 90 points / John: 95 points / Steve: 145 points

~

Steve

Steve wins. We’ll have to see if he survives this upcoming eviction. Sigh.

Always dishing,

Jun

Here Goes Nothing

Windmills

This is the obligatory “jumping back into blogging after being MIA is daunting” blog. Especially since there was a once upon a time I blogged every day. When Noah was tiny and napped and he napped often, and I chose not to nap but instead to write. So “Here Goes Nothing” is less about nothing and more about everything. Lots has happened in five months, and some things have remained very much the same.

Rice House is one year, three months and twenty-five days old today. Happy belated birthday to Rice House. Davy and I are very proud of what Rice House has become thus far, and relieved that Rice House is officially debt-free and on its way to more greatness.

And proud of Noah. Noah starts back up at school on the First of September at three-and-a-half. He’ll be in the same kindergarten class but with a different teacher, and still right across the street diagonally from Rice House once again. At the start of summer he was still rocking pull-ups and feeling stressed about potty training but today he is fully-potty trained and also in his first month of sleeping in a twin-sized official big boy bed. The transition has been smooth and I’m grateful. I never take this kind of shit for granted because all around me I see parents struggling, couples struggling and families struggling. But making it. And sometimes not making it. Life is hard for everyone and it’s a different kind of hard in Belgium, than it is in America.

I look forward to seeing life through Noah’s eyes for years to come. Everything my eyes saw, growing up in Manhattan, is on a whole other planet compared to that of Noah’s life here. The concrete jungle versus some of Europe’s oldest landmarks. Windmills even.

Windmills

 

Such stories he could tell you about windmills…and Legos (link to video in case it doesn’t show on your device: Legos)…

Noah will have many many many more stories to come.

He is already very much a prolific storyteller in two languages, speaking more Dutch and sprinkling in perfect English whenever he wants. His newest word is congratulations and I can’t wait to teach him to use it.

Noah’s begun to memorize and understand Korean when he Skypes with my mother, his 할머니 halmuhnee. That is what he was taught to call my mother from the very beginning and their bond is strong despite the distance between them. I call her momz in writing but Noah knows her only by 할머니. He calls Davy’s mom Omi and her partner Patrick Opi. He calls Davy’s dad Opa and his wife Oma. Everything in its place and everyone with a unique identity. I can’t wait to for our next trip back to New York for my brother’s wedding.

My brother Danny, Jun Young 준영, who is marrying a young woman I once met as a young lady. Anita. But she’s all woman now and I’m going to cry a lot seeing them walk down the aisle in April. I will cry for their happiness and my dad’s happiness. My dad passing away at 51 nearly killed all of my family in different ways, but now we celebrate him more and cry less. Anita was there for my brother when my dad died and she’d been with him since. They are making it and on their wedding day I will probably bawl and then laugh and not be able to keep eye makeup on. I may have to go with just a natural look and see what transpires.

Because a lot can transpire “since last blog.”

Davy and I as individuals, and in our marriage, have come a long way we’re well on our way to hitting the five-year mark. No marriage is perfect, that’s just suspect, but there is no shame in our game and that’s all that matters. We fight and take turns being assholes to each other, and we struggle like everyone else. And we’re making it. Shit gets real. But we’re stronger than ever.

Plus I turned 40 in July. And there’s no going back. Not with that shit. I may not look old but I do look older. I’m more than okay with that. SPF for the win.

So when I get asked multiple times a day if I’d “go back on Big Brother” it’s like there’s a short answer and then there’s everything I wrote about in this blog so far plus it’s not the easiest question to answer. Maybe. Depends. Who knows? I have so much on my plate, some shit needs to be planned and some just done on a whim because spare pockets of time pop up.

I do know that I’m back to watching Big Brother again after a season-and-a-half hiatus. I’m enjoying most of it immensely. Big Brother 17 is the closest we’ve gotten to an Old-School BB in a long time. It needed to be said. I am enjoying BB17. Despite my horribly scathing and cringy judgmental tweets, I am actually. This doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. And some people don’t get this. Meh. Who cares. The trolls always find me. Always. So I’m working on a back to BB blogging blog. And it will be a Power Rankings blog but of course my criteria have changed.

Would I trust this HG to babysit Noah for an hour or two?

Would I employ this HG at Rice House?

Would I double date with this HG (and their potential significant other)?

The double date thing comes up because people here in Belgium love to do it to the point of, really, and it’s something you can’t really avoid. It was something I couldn’t avoid last week…so it’s a new criteria in this Power Rankings. Would Davy and I go out for sacred free time with this particular HG and their date? Next blog.

Always dishing, Jun

Old Traditions, New Traditions

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Once upon a time, I never had a blog. But ever since I started this site, every year, I’ve done a birthday blog for my little Noah.

And by “every year” I mean this is the third…

So Noah turned three this past weekend, but before we ever got to birthday candles and balloons and presents, our little family of three struck poses:

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Noah even had a wardrobe change and donned a traditional hanbok, literally translated as “Korean clothing.”

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He transformed into a Korean prince, just like he did on his first birthday and his second birthday.

I marveled at how much he’d grown into the hanbok, which he’s now worn the last three birthdays…

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~

And then on Saturday morning, Noah awoke and had a bowl of miyeok guk, literally translated “seaweed soup,” a very traditional Korean meal especially for birthdays…

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Why on birthdays?

Because miyeok guk is also the first meal Korean mothers eat, by tradition, after giving birth, because the seaweed provided loads of nutrients and minerals to new moms.

And so we have this soup every year on our birthdays to remind us of what our mothers did for us, and to bring luck into our lives.

I plan to serve miyeok guk as the special of the week this week at Rice House, to celebrate Noah’s birthday with as many people as I can…

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And once all our soup was eaten on Saturday morning, it was time for a bath and another wardrobe change!

Time to party!

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What Noah didn’t know was that his papa spent the night before, toiling away and putting together the “big” gift…an electric Bugatti…

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Needless to say, Noah was THRILLED.

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He even gave his new car a good cleaning in-between rides…photo-25

~

And the next morning, on Sunday, Noah awoke to a second birthday party with all new party guests, and a whole new cake!

DSC06080 DSC06082And best of all, Noah got lots of hugs from his Pepe (godfather) Koen…

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And in fact, it was Pepe Koen who had hooked us up with our family photo shoot in the first place, yielding pictures like this one…

IMG_2828It was a very good birthday weekend for our Noah, two birthday parties and all, that wore us all out.

And we’d do it all over again, just for Noah.

But maybe next year we’ll stick to one big party…

Thank you everyone…for all the love, birthday and every day!

Always dishing,

Jun

Blame Oreos!

Oreos

Today…

It was 5pm and I wanted Oreos. I had thirty minutes left before I’d have to open Rice House for dinner service, and I still had a few items to prep before I was fully ready for customers. I could either ignore my Oreos craving or cave in, and run to my town’s sole and small stationery-grocery story by Rice House, and get a pack.

It was an easy decision. Being on your period means satisfying cravings. Period.

Map

So I locked up Rice House and ran down the street and across the parking lot of my town’s center, Evergem, population basically-nothing-compared-to-Manhattan. There weren’t many people around outside as it was a cold and windy day, but I did notice one couple having a cigarette outside a nearby cafe. And there was one girl waiting for the bus at the local stop. I remember she looked cold and definitely not dressed warm enough.

iPhone in hand, I checked my Twitter account, and was about to open an email when I walked into the only store for miles where I could buy Oreos. Friendly faces greeted me and I spotted immediately shiny blue packages of O-R-E-Os waiting right there for me on the counter display. I put my iPhone down on the counter and grabbed a pack, just ONE pack mind you, and I paid for my purchase. My greedy little hands pushed the pack of Oreos in my coat pocket and I said goodbye to the cashier and turned, with my arm extended to open the door leading out.

A very young and very skinny girl with black hair down to her ass was on the other side of the door. She looked like a slightly lighter-skinned-but-anorexic Nicki Minaj. I held the door open for her, smiling, and I gave her the once-over. I can’t help but judge people by what they’re wearing, and this girl was a walking mess of fashion faux pas. Very Minaj.

I’d smirked and left the store, crossing the street before realizing I’d left my iPhone on the counter at the store! I’d turned to cross back over when faux-Minaj ran out and down the street – loudly – in her four-inch faux leather ankle boots and metallic jewelry. She even turned and looked right at me. And still I’d thought nothing of it, because, maybe she was just in a rush? I was in a rush myself, needing to collect my iPhone and then get the hell back to Rice House for opening…

When I walked back into the store my eyes went directly to the counter where I’d put my phone down. It wasn’t there. Duh. I realized that chick had actually been running away with my phone. And now she was gone. Fuck. I felt so stupid, but not stupid enough to stop the ideas spinning in my head.

I saw there was a surveillance camera in the store and I asked the owner to go through footage from the last ten minutes. She got started right on it. I used her phone to call my husband Davy. Then I ran back outside, feeling helpless, knowing I should probably call the police too, and at least report the incident.

But then I turned and noticed that at the bus stop was the same girl who’d been waiting there the whole time. I approached her.

“Did you see the girl that just ran out of here?!”

The girl answered, “Yes, she’s my friend.”

“What?! Well, your friend just stole my phone.”

The girl, “Melissa,” looked suitably shocked and I actually believed she was a good person despite having a thief for a friend. I couldn’t believe my…luck?

“Did she get in a car or leave by foot?! Which way did she go?” I was basically screaming at this point.

Melissa told me that the thief, “Ani,” got into a grey Mercedes and took off, and that Ani lived a few blocks away from a supermarket close by. Melissa was very helpful and even offered to call Ani. I needed a phone with which to call the cops, but I didn’t want to take my eyes off Melissa, so I took a few steps over to the cafe next door. The couple from earlier was outside smoking again so I quickly explained the situation and procured one of their phones to call the cops with.

Granted, the police station was literally around the corner from where I was standing – because my town is that small – but I just didn’t want to let Melissa out of my sight. It turns out it wouldn’t have mattered if I’d run to the police station, because the police station is close on Saturdays. Yes. Closed. On Saturdays and Sundays and holidays. Because this is Evergem.

Nevertheless, I called the “911” equivalent here in Belgium. I explained as best I could in Dutch what had happened and I was told a police unit would be arriving at the scene of the crime asap. Meanwhile, Melissa had hung up the phone with Ani, who of course denied stealing my phone. Uh-huh.

Melissa’s bus eventually came and she had to go to work. I thought about detaining her by force but instead I asked her nicely to give me her contact information and to also hand over Ani’s number (and full name). Melissa actually complied. She turned out to be my savior. Without her and all the info she provided, my Oreos would have been worth nothing in the end.

Because when the police arrived, we checked out the video footage at the stationery store, and indeed we confirmed that the bitch Ani took my phone. She’d simply dropped her purse on top of my phone and then swiped it when she left. It was all on film.

But by then, my iPhone had been turned off and SIM card removed so the “Find My Phone” function wasn’t really useful, although I did manage to set a password on it remotely…

So I handed over Ani’s name and telephone number, and Melissa’s too, to the cops. My husband Davy arrived on the scene too, just in time to accompany me to the police station, which the cops opened the doors to just for me, and we filled out all the necessary paperwork. Deep down, I didn’t think I’d ever actually get my phone back.

And so I returned to Rice House a bit defeated, and iPhoneless, an hour later. I did have a flip phone on me though, an extra we keep around the house for our babysitter, that Davy brought with him. But I’d already lost an hour of business, and also any calls that may have come in for orders. My iPhone also serves as my business phone.

Sigh…

I felt like all was lost, and I couldn’t even bring myself to eat the stupid Oreos I fished out of my coat pocket. There was no way I’d enjoy them now…

Oreos

 

~

I was serving my first walk-in customer of the evening when the police officers from earlier walked into Rice House. They had my phone! They’d tracked the thief down using her name and phone number and Facebook account! They went to her house, and she eventually handed the phone over albeit SIM-card-less, and claimed she never stole anything. She insisted that she had simply found it “somewhere.” No confession. No remorse.

Thankfully SIM cards are useless here, because they all come with a personal pin code known only to the owner…

The thing is, If she’d at least fessed up and maybe cried and apologized I would have been okay with simply seeing my iPhone again. But now I want more justice done… What kind of idiot steals shit from the town’s only grocery store when they actually live in said tiny town? I’m sure I’ll run into her at some point again, whether or not it’s in or out of court…

I hope to run into Melissa at some point so I can buy her a free meal at Rice House.

Oh, and I definitely won’t be having any Oreos anytime soon…

Always dishing,

Jun

Hey, Bruce Lee!

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If my life ever became a book that became a tv show or movie, which may never or somehow happen, my biggest fear would be that I can’t recognize that life that’s being portrayed as mine…I think I might know just a little bit of how Eddie Huang was and is feeling to this effect about his memoir being made into ABC’s show Fresh Off The Boat, which premiered Wednesday…

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Eddie’s the 11-year-old in this photo, set in 1995 (Courtesy of ABC)

 

Aside from the forced and inconsistent accents of broken English, there weren’t actually as many “negative stereotypes” of Asian people as many feared there’d be. And Randall Park seemed to just have been plucked out of Kim Jong Un mode in The Interview, and dropped right onto the set of Fresh Off the Boat as far as his speech was concerned. As a matter of fact, there wasn’t very much to grasp at all in the way of “real” scenarios growing up in an Asian-American family. The show was all over the place trying to please everyone, that too much was lost. The best and comedic moments were those in which network propaganda was dropped and we got actual glimpses into shopping/shouting in the “Taiwanese market” and what happens come “report card time” in an Asian-American household.

I have to assume Eddie Huang’s memoir is better than what ABC put forward, despite having some of the cutest and endearing little boys in the cast of this family. To say the show is white-washed would be an understatement.

I mean, I’ll be the first to admit that when All-American Girl came out, starring my Korean sister-from-another-mister Margaret Cho, in 1994, I was so excited to see a Korean person on a major American television network that I didn’t care whether or not the show was actually good. To me, at the tender age of 19, I felt validated as a young Korean-American. There she was, funny-as-fuck-to-me at the time, Margaret Cho, on her very own tv show! I ignored the fact that everyone else on the show wasn’t Korean, hell, MASH was supposed to be set in South Korea and there were no Koreans ever to be found in the cast. That was never a huge problem for me, just like it wasn’t in All-American Girl, because above all else I’m a realist. And no major television network is going to employ a slew of Koreans, or Chinese, or anyone who checks off the box labeled “Asian or Pacific-Islander” on government documents, for one television show. A friend of mine, who also happens to be a fairy princess, actually writes specifically about this on the regular.

So bearing in mind that not everything you see on television is accurate, let alone real, how much are we actually supposed to take away from this new ABC show Fresh Off The Boat? Well, I’ll tell you what I walked away with and what left an impression…

“Yo Chinese kid. What’s your name again? Something Chinese?”

This quote is taken from the first school lunchroom scene which young Eddie finds himself in. He’s questioned as to what his name is, in a most rude way, by another student. It seems everyone in this particular Orlando grade school is white, with the exception of Eddie and one black student.

This scene also happens after his teacher pulls this face…

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…while attempting to pronounce Eddie’s “Chinese” name, on this, Eddie’s first-day-of-class-in-a-brand-new-school…

This teacher’s face bugged me, and not just because I’d seen that same expression on some of my teacher’s faces, growing up, trying to pronounce my own Korean name. And also because this week in particular I had a putting-it-mildly-unpleasant experience with a teacher myself. Specifically, my almost-three-year-old-son’s preschool teacher…

I’ll rewind.

My husband Davy and I were eating dinner with our little Noah on Tuesday evening, when Noah tried to get my attention across the table.

“Hey, Bruce Lee!”

I tilted my head in cartoon-like confusion. Where had he picked that up? Bruce Lee? He knew nothing of martial arts nor had he ever watched Kung Fu Panda (this is where my brain went). So I asked Noah to repeat himself. Perhaps I’d misunderstood or heard it incorrectly.

“Hey, Bruce Lee!”

I put down the taco I’d been eating (it’s usually taco night in our home on many given Tuesday), and I asked Noah where he’d learned that name Bruce Lee. He replied that his teacher called him that at school. And he mimicked again…

“Hey, Bruce Lee!”

I was shocked. I didn’t want to freak out Noah by freaking out myself. He had no idea the significance of that name.

I exchanged a glance with my husband and continued to eat, although I could barely taste my homemade salsa anymore. Like I said before, I’m a realist. I know that raising an interracial child in a homogeneously-white country such as Belgium comes with its pros and cons. I just didn’t think I’d have to deal with it so soon, and certainly not involving a teacher, Noah’s teacher.

Thoughts raced through my mind as I watched Noah finish his dinner. But I knew the answer in my heart was that he was, in fact, telling the truth, as children his age brutally do, and that there simply was no good explanation for an adult and educator calling my Noah “Bruce Lee.” And obviously repeatedly, for Noah to have brought it home.

Noah is his name. Noah is what he should be called, at school and anywhere else for that matter. I told Noah that the next time someone called him by another name he didn’t know, that he should reply, “My name is Noah!” We practiced this a few times. Silly stuff. I called him by different animal names and cartoon names and each time he replied, “My name is Noah!” I felt better about it all going to sleep on Tuesday night.

Davy and I decided to nip shit right in the bud and have a private talk with Noah’s teacher on Wednesday morning. We arrived at school early, determined to get to the bottom of Bruce Leegate, and were disappointed to learn that Noah’s teacher was in another building “making copies” and we should return in the afternoon. I actually did learn later what these “copies” were, and what was so important about them that she wasn’t available to talk that morning…

So Davy and I returned in the afternoon, to collect Noah, and to speak with his teacher. We started the conversation off by relaying our taco night conversation and the teacher’s eyes bugged out, and before we could even get to the part where we ask Noah where he’d learned “Hey, Bruce Lee,” we were interrupted. The teacher pointed out the window to the courtyard and claimed Noah must have heard it outside playing. We replied that most toddlers don’t know who Bruce Lee is. The teacher quickly replied that it must have been a third-grader then, and that “a talk would be had with the third-grade teacher.”

Strange.

Stranger still, the teacher went on to say that sometimes “handicapped people with mental issues pass by the school and one of them must have said something to Noah.”

?!

The whole time I had my head tilted and my lips pursed, as I listened to this teacher (in Dutch mind you) go on and on until she finally asked, “Did Noah say who said it?” And before I could answer she answered herself with, “No, Noah doesn’t know everyone’s names.”

But oh, Noah knows names that matter. Still, I never answered, and I looked right into the eyes of the teacher and saw that she knew I knew she knew I knew. And I made a decision then not to crucify her or vilify her because I saw in her eyes fear and remorse and…

That was enough for me, and for Davy, and for Noah for whom we are the greatest advocates. We told the teacher that this was unacceptable and that we didn’t want this happening again, without pointing our fingers at her, because we all knew what had happened. And she knew we’d all but called her out. And Noah’s teacher is in fact a fine and good-hearted soul who simply let her ignorance shine on the wrong side of right. I don’t believe in my heart that it was done maliciously. And I do believe said teacher got the message. And that’s all that matters. The message.

Since then, Davy and I have shared this experience with several friends and family members. Most decent human beings were rightly outraged and supportive of our reaction and handling of the incident. Those less decent have made excuses as to why any white figure of authority would call a small child of Asian descent, Bruce Lee. Some people choose to ignore ignorance, which is a whole different kind of ignorance unto its own. Some choose to deny it, and excuse it, and even consider me “too sensitive.” Because I’m a minority? Because I’m Asian? What if I was Black or Hispanic or Middle Eastern? What are the Bruce Lee equivalents of that?

“My name is Noah!”

This is what I’ve taught my son to say proudly.

Fast forward, and coincidentally, to the lunchroom scene I mentioned above from Fresh Off the Boat…little Eddie’s response to “Yo Chinese kind. What’s your name again? Something Chinese?”?

“My name is Eddie!”

Kinda perfect.

And that all-important document that was being “copied” by Noah’s teacher on Wednesday morning? It turns out it was copied eight times because eight students, including Noah, out of the twenty-two in Noah’s preschool class, are being advanced to the kindergarten class mid-school season at the end of this month. We discovered the photocopied letter and evaluation, in Noah’s backpack, after we left his teacher and awkward conversation. It turns out we probably did do the best thing in this case, since Noah’s teacher will no longer be his teacher come March.

And in particular, Noah was evaluated as demonstrating very advanced lingual capabilities. Not surprising as he’s fluent in both Dutch and English and picking up new Korean words every day, and explaining a lot, and another reason why Davy and I must always listen. Always listen to your child. And always stand up for what is right.

NoahSchool

Noah will be the youngest student in the kindergarten class, which usually starts at age 3.5, something Davy and I are most proud of.

Now if we can only get him to tackle potty-training…

Always dishing,

Jun

Goodbye 2014

NoahNYE

This might be the last year I pull off this photo series…because Noah simply isn’t a baby anymore…

But here he was, after his last bath of 2014 last night, and ready to ring in the new year…

Noah 2015

Happy2014

 

Last year was a tough year for me in many ways. Good things happened. Bad things happened. There were times I thought it was all too much.

I felt overwhelmed many times. As a mother and a wife, a daughter and granddaughter, and most recently, as a new business owner. So I’ve never been more ready to leave a year behind to start anew.

So last night it was just me and Noah and my husband Davy, alone at home on New Year’s Eve and it was just what I needed. There was no dressing up or going out or fancy dining and freezing in the cold. Instead, we all settled into our pajamas and had breakfast for dinner. Yes, eggs and hash-browned potatoes. This was our fancy NYE meal…

NYEBreakfastForDinner

 

I know you’re all jealous.

After a day of filling catering orders at Rice House, that was all I could manage for a NYE dinner…

I’m not sure what this year will bring, but I will strive to be here more, to blog, and to interact more with all of you. Happy New Year. Goodbye 2014.

Always dishing,

Jun

 

Merry Christmas Eve Yet Again

NoahsVeryFirstChristmas

I don’t know where the time has actually gone, looking at Noah’s very first Christmas photos from 2012…

NoahsFirstChristmas

But it’s time for new Christmas photos to make their way onto this blog.

A Christmas Eve tradition you can call it…

~

Noah’s one year older and just a couple inches taller,

Since Christmas 2013,

Though he’s dressed in the same shirt and bowtie…

NoahOnTheSofa

His shirt fits better still rocking the no-pants look, that’s no lie. 

NoahChristmasTree

Except this year, Noah’s Christmas tree gazing is focused.

He appears almost wiser.

SantaAndFrostyAnd his priorities are most definitely set this year,

Adjusting his snowman’s jacket,  

Having deep discussions with Santa,

Ensuring his name is on the “Good” list,

that’s right,

Noah.

~

Merry Christmas Eve to one and all.

Always dishing,

Jun

Eric Garner, Zwarte Piet and Belgian Headlines

DSC05608

At first read it would seem Eric Garner and Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) have nothing in common, besides the “color” of their skin. Except this week in the Belgian papers, both of them headlined.

For different reasons.

HeadlinesAs I watch and react to the aftermath of Eric Garner’s death, I feel helpless, and angry. I’m proud to be an American living in Belgium, yet I feel so detached and bewildered as to what’s going on back in the States. I know there’s not much I could be doing if I wasn’t this far away, perhaps joining a protest somewhere in Manhattan…yet, I wish I could reach out my arms and shake America, and shake it violently, maybe hard enough to break something…or put something back in its place.

I watched this video today, and it moved me. I wish I had been there. I’ve walked by that very spot thousands of times. My New York. My country. My past. While my present happens here in Belgium. What my future holds I don’t know, or where…

The emotions and rage are real for me, just as they are real for many of you.

Yet here in Belgium, the headlines basically read “More turmoil in US over unpunished cop who killed a black man…” and that’s that. There are other things going on here that take precedence…like the Zwarte Piet debate, which I wrote about once.

Headlines

So in Brussels, apparently and according to above headlines, any public Zwarte Piets are foregoing the “pitch-black” black-face and opting instead to appear as if they’re just “dirtied from soot.”

This makes sense since Zwarte Piet helps Sinterklaas down the chimney and such…I’ll take that look over white people in blackface any day…

~

This time last year Noah couldn’t even say “Zwarte Piet” yet he did throw himself, literally, into Sinterklaas celebrations by diving into gift bags for all his gifts…

NoahInTheBag

~

This year, not only can Noah pronounce Zwarte Piet, but he can also point him out in a crowd…

We attended a Sinterklaas event last week and Noah didn’t seem too fond of those arriving in blackface. I can’t blame him. They didn’t look dirtied from soot, but just plain scary. Noah has no aversion to black people, but the fact that this was clearly a white man with black paint on his face proved too freaky for Noah to take a proper photo.

ZwartePietI’m not going to hijack this blog with Zwarte Piet debate, but I will share the fact that Noah’s school held a Sinterklaas event on Friday and they made a decision not to don blackface…

DSC05650I was shocked. I’m sure some of the other parents were too. Some of the older children looks confused but preschoolers like Noah didn’t even notice.

I noticed. The parents noticed. The older children noticed. Awareness is happening…

DSC05608

Also happening was the Macarena, by some Belgian children’s band called “The Pinkies,” and Noah definitely had one of the best seats in the house as he waved his Sinterklaas flag with fervor.

DSC05621

Noah, standing at the bottom right of the photo…

Try as I might, I couldn’t find “The Pinkies” in a Google search. If you find anything on them please let me know. There also might or might not be video footage of my doing the Macarena along with them by the way…

DSC05643Noah even got to hang with a Pinkie.

And the next day, he awoke to a Sinterklaas themed living room full of gifts and candy hanging from doorknobs…

CandyGotIt

Festivities continued all day yesterday, spilling over to grandma’s house and auntie’s house. Today too there will be more celebration that couldn’t be fit into one day. And despite Noah’s squeals of joy and sugar rushes…

I was constantly reminded that this holiday season there are children who will be without their father. Eric Garner is gone.

It’s so fucked up. I get choked up. Tears burn in my eyes.

As a mother, a New Yorker, a woman of color…

I.

Can’t.

Breathe.

Always dishing,

Jun