Jun Dishes

verb/diSH/ : food or sex or gossip or fiction in real life

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Being Jun Malkovich, Kinda

Ducks

The plan was really simple this morning.

My husband Davy and I, along with Noah, would have breakfast then go to Supra Bazar nearby (think smaller-scale rural Target store) to get a new bulb for the lamp in our aquarium and a sun shield for Noah’s side of the car. Then we were going to check out the fresh sushi station at a Carrefour nearby (think Food Emporium), in the name of Rice House research, and also to do some grocery shopping before returning home at which time I’d make lunch before Noah napped and Davy would prepare to go work the “afternoon shift.”

Easy breezy.

Now 12 hours later I sit here and I feel like a month has passed because it was not a simple morning at all.

Welcome to my brain…

Sure, we had breakfast and got to the Supra Bazar this morning, but they didn’t have the lamp we needed for our aquarium. But they did have a Bumba sun shield. Side Note: Davy scoffed and swore on his life before Noah was born, that he’d never ever get a “kiddie” sun shield for our car and well he did today.

We then had to stop at yet another store to get the lamp we needed, and by then Noah was getting hungry and tired. We trudged on, getting stuck in traffic because of construction on one side of the road and a fatal car accident on the other. We counted our blessings because we had just missed it.

Then we got stopped a little later by two fucking ducks. Two ducks, literally fucking, in the middle of a major road. Alas, I failed to capture the actual fornication because my iPhone was buried in my bag. But I did manage to catch the ducks waddling their walk of shame back over the barrier and into the canal from whence they came.

Ducks

When we finally got to the Carrefour, housing the alleged fresh sushi station, there was no fresh sushi to be found.

But we did find these vacuum-sealed things with expiration dates on them…

Sushi

I didn’t even know sushi could have an expiration date of a week from now. I haven’t seen sushi with an expiration date on it since sad airport shops of yore. Alas, we didn’t purchase any of the sushi and we asked an employee which Carrefour location had the “fresh sushi station” and it turns out we were in the wrong town. So we decided we’d cut our losses and just have a non-sushi lunch. Noah needed to eat. I needed to eat. Davy had to leave for work sooner than we wanted to. So we chose ‘t Koffieboontje, The Little Coffee Bean, which we’d eaten lunch at once before, which also happens to be right next the failed Carrefour expedition.

I still wanted to check out the fresh sushi station, but the vacuum-sealed stuff called sushi at the last place confirmed what I already knew. Rice House would be filling a need outside of the city of Ghent., Ghent-proper…fresh sushi with no expiration date.

So Davy and Noah and I ate our lunch and just as we were about to leave, Noah scooted off his highchair too quickly and the back of his head met the corner of the dining table. I’m sure he saw stars because I saw some too, and I scooped him up and cradled him as he wailed like ten thousand firetrucks. Davy turned purple and started sweating, but grabbed wet towels from someone behind the counter, and used them as compresses against Noah’s bleeding head. Noah clung to me like my clothes do after getting caught in the rain in the summer time. His tears soaked through to my shoulder.

Everybody felt bad for him. I cried inside but cooed outside.

The bleeding stopped before Noah’s crying did, but a sweet lollipop gesture bought us some silence. We left hurriedly, but not before Noah turned back waving at everyone with a “Da-da” goodbye. Davy and I knew he was okay but we scrambled. Side Note: Thank you to the ladies at ‘t Koffieeboontje for being so compassionate!

Some medical attention and lots of hugs and kisses and candy later, minus some locks of hair, Noah was back home and mostly unaware of the bandages on his head.

Noah's Head

Our family physician also paid a house visit and Noah was deemed healthy and sound, despite some diarrhea from the candy earlier. Note to self: Less candy next time. And that was my morning.

So with Davy at work and Noah napping, I left home once again leaving Noah with his Opi. I had a stove to accept delivery of, at Rice House. My new industrial gas range was coming in today amidst the chaos.

I named her Suzy.

Suzy the Stove.

Suzy

 

 

Can you see me?

She barely fit through the front door, Suzy, the front door to Rice House which once had temporary signage next to it which has been stolen. Who steals temporary signage?!

Boooo.

Then Noah had another poop explosion.

Davy’s just come home from work and tells me that there was a suicide attempt at work today, at the Port of Ghent. Not an employee. A civilian.

It’s been an odd day.

Today was a Being Jun Malkovich kinda day.

Always dishing,

Jun

 

 

 

RIP John Zsa Zsa Martin aka GaYToR

ZsaZsa

GaYToR.

We met on a website called Big Brother Dish in the summer of 2009, where I was writing Big Brother blogs for fun. I never even thought to charge for my writing. I was doing it for the love of Big Brother and “for the fans.” The concept of fans was so new to me, even after so many years after winning Big Brother because at the end of the day, I’m just like everyone else. My mother thought I was crazy to write for free, so I lied to her and told her I was getting paid $25 an article, and this made her happy. That was 2009.

I didn’t know what to make of GaYToR at first. I didn’t know why the “Y” and “T” and “R” were capitalized in his username. I still don’t know. I always meant to ask but always forgot to. It didn’t matter. He was GaYToR. He was a drag queen in fabulous New Orleans, and he was a huge and old school fan of Big Brother.

Then, at some point, GaYToR went from fan to friend. The Big-Brother-Fan-to-Friend. This doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s warm and sincere and long-lasting. I learned that GaYToR’s real name was John Martin, and Zsa Zsa his stage name, and his loving partner in life’s name was Danny Stark.

John Zsa Zsa Martin and I were friends before I ever had a Facebook fan page or Twitter account, or my own blog. I tasted my first-ever New Orleans King Cake because Zsa Zsa sent me one with Louisiana love. Zsa Zsa never asked me for a thing but gave a lot of himself.

Over the years, John Zsa Zsa Martin watched me go from single thrill-seeker to married to mom and we exchanged stories and anecdotes like any other friends would, regardless of how we met. Zsa Zsa shamelessly lusted after my husband Davy, to my delight and Davy’s laughs. Davy and I talked about Zsa Zsa often, and interestingly enough, we always referred to Zsa Zsa as “her” or “she” and it always just felt right. Davy always laughed extra loud when Zsa Zsa flirted with him.

Zsa Zsa loved his Danny Stark, but Zsa Zsa held a special place in his heart for Davy too and for me and Noah.

After all their years together, Zsa Zsa and Danny were to be married this past Friday in Connecticut. On Saturday morning, I received the news that Zsa Zsa died of a massive heart attack right before the wedding. April Fool’s Day had already come and gone, and the reality of Zsa Zsa’s passing was cold and shocking and raw still. Danny is now mourning his partner of 33 years and yet still so in love.

Davy wasn’t home yesterday when I received the news. He was helping a friend move into the city. I told him everything in one long breath when he got home and the hairs on his arms stood up as his face fell. Neither Davy nor I had ever met Zsa Zsa in person. How could we be so affected?

GaYToRRIP John Zsa Zsa Martin

I can only imagine what Danny is going through right now. Bringing John home to New Orleans from Connecticut is the harsh reality that must be addressed. Who has extra money these days? Nobody I know. But what Davy and I could, we spared and sent to Danny. Danny needs help to repay a kind minister who paid all final expenses up-front. With no legal recognition or death benefits to collect, Danny Stark could use a compassionate shoulder to lean on.

At the time of this writing, the John Zsa Zsa Martin fundly fundraiser is nearly two-thirds of the way there. If you can, please help. The smallest amounts can amount to enough.

We miss Zsa Zsa already.

Always dishing,

Jun

That Poem I Wrote About My Suitcase

Delsey

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 2.24.46 PM

Back in 2010, before I married my husband Davy and had my son Noah, I was finishing my English degree at Hunter College and long-distance-relationshiping at the same time. I had to juggle Davy in Belgium and graduating before our wedding. I’d be leaving The U.S. to live abroad.

I wrote this poem for a required poetry course, about my suitcase:

~

O Delsey
(November 2010)

~

“Aye dios, it’s too heavy lady!” said the cab driver when he dropped me off at JFK. 
He was talking about you, Delsey.
But I already knew you would be too heavy this last time around.
One last trip to a new country I'd soon be calling home.
Six trips, from JFK to Brussels and back.
Two in July, and one each in August, September, October, 
and now in November.
Frequent flyer miles accrued and redeemed not yet, if ever.
The first time you were 52 pounds, and Delta didn’t make me pay extra.
One time you were at 57, and I had to take stuff out of you to carry on.
You’re never less than the maximum 50 pounds. 
I always push everything to the limit.
You nearly busted at the seams every time, 
yet only scratched the surface in moving my life. 
4,000 miles.
50 pounds at a time.
Each leg, I took parts of me, to leave there as I planned my life there.
Six times 50 equals 300 pounds of my life so far. 
There’s at least 500 more to go, maybe less maybe more.
How am I supposed to know?
The perfect leather skirt I found in an East Village consignment shop a decade ago, the rare Oscar de la Renta pumps that wrap my feet in red wine scalloped suede that Century 21 made mine, my Bobbi Brown eyelash curler and Shiseido concealer, my bottles of Escada and Chanel and all the Louis Vuitton I own. 
More.
I will leave some behind.
But I need it all.
But on the trips home when you come back with me, Brussels-to-JFK, 
you're all but emptied, freed of any weight Delsey.
But what about my other baggage? Do I leave it here? Take it with me there?
How am I supposed to know?
O Delsey, 
you hold so much, with me from the very start,
And although I have lost two zippers on you, you belong to me still.

~

Delsey

Delsey, today, still looking good

~

Longchamp

My Longchamp, which always served as one of my carry-ons.

~

Who cares? I care. I thought of O Delsey, and shared it today, because I was asked yesterday at a catering and restaurant expo if the Louis Vuitton Luco bag I was carrying was real. I’d answered yes, and felt almost guilty about it, just like I felt guilty a few weeks ago wearing fur to a pet store and being called out on it.

I realize that the average Belgian housewife in this mostly rural socialistic country does not own a wardrobe of high-end labels nor does she traipse around in leather and fur. The thing is, I’m not your average Belgian housewife.

When I packed my life up to move here, I managed to bring with me almost everything precious to me besides people I love. I couldn’t pack my momz or my brother or cousin or girlfriends or guy friends, or families I used to babysit for. So I packed everything that reminded me of them, by packing everything me. Me. Being myself is the best way I’m preserving and cherishing everything I miss back in the States.

This includes most of my handbags, though I have a few pieces still left in New York that I will retrieve the next time I’m there. Here’s some of what I brought with me though, not including clutches:

BaggageMy full Delsey collection, plus some Louis Vuitton, Prada, Burberry, Kate Spade, Kipling.

It’s not that I’m a brand-whore. But when you’re working in finance, in private sectors, you dress the part to play the part. Your salary affords you to dress the part accordingly, to varying scales. Incidentally, I have not bought one new purse or handbag since I’ve moved to Belgium because what was once a whim purchase is now unnecessary. Besides, my collection of accessories is vast enough. And timeless. There are outfits Davy have never even seen on me yet in the three years we’ve been married. I packed that much.

There are tailored suits I once wore in the halls of global banks, that I never get to wear anymore unless I’m role-playing for sex time with Davy. My point being…I’m glad I brought them all with me. Really.

When I moved to Belgium I was taking a huge risk, but so was Davy. I was dumping my belongings in his home one trip at a time and if our vacation romance didn’t work, I had no idea what I’d do with all my shit. Neither did Davy. But it worked out and here we are proud parents of Noah and owners of Rice House…

I didn’t want to take that poetry class because it was a required course and I hated requirements by default. I loved electives. I struggle with poetry. But I’ll always remember “that poem I wrote about my suitcase.”

Always dishing,

Jun

 

Noah’s Birthday in Photos

FamilyHanbokPhoto

Noah’s been 2 whole years old now since last Friday, and his birthday weekend was everything he never expected.

To turn two again, chronoligically…

Noah'sDaycare

BirthdayBoy

 

Surprise

NoahsFirstCandle

 BathDeco

 

NoahHanbokSittingAlone

NoahHanbok

FamilyHanbokPhoto

Group

JoyUncleRobbyCandidSmilesPapa

GiftsHappy

PoliceBirthdayPartyKissRiceCakesSalads

CakeWow

BlowingCandlesNoseBumba

~

Thank you everyone for your love and support.

This blog is dedicated, in loving memory, to my grandfather’s brother. He now joins my grandfather and my father. He was the very first in the family to step foot on U.S. soil before the rest of the family followed suit, in stages. He passed away on the Thursday before Noah’s birthday and I have been mourning him in my own way, and celebrating Noah’s precious birthday too.

Cancer is real. Life is real.

Living is…eating the nose off your fabulous Bumba birthday cake.

Happy Birthday sweet Noah.

Always dishing,

Jun

Noah Is A Happy Sponge

NoahBridgeFM

This past weekend at the garden store, Noah happily followed this cool little girl with sunglasses up a little bridge, but then he asked for help coming down the bridge.

He reached out his hand…

NoahBridge

He’s all grown up but still my baby, and on Friday we party!

This Friday, Noah will be celebrating his second birthday and I am so proud of myself for getting this far. Yes, I’m proud of Noah and my husband Davy and hearts and rainbows packed to the rafters, but I really am fucking proud of myself. I don’t think it hurts to admit you’re a good parent when you’re being one, or to let another parent know you see their efforts too. Sometimes it’s a thankless job and we could all do with a kind word. It keeps you all in check when you’re feeling like a shitty parent anyway, because half the time it’s out of your control.

Sometimes I feel like a shitty mom. Not often, but sometimes. It happens.

But I realize now that being a good mom means being good to yourself too and not just to your child first. Equality’s great and all, but there’s no real equality when it comes to childcare around-the-clock under your own roof. In real life, moms are just in a whole different arena than dads. I can say this wholeheartedly now that I’m a mom and still-feminist. Oh my god…the f-word.

I have a lot more defects than you’d think, and there are demons that I fight every day, personal ones. Just because you become a mom doesn’t mean your precious child fixes everything in your life by default. Hell no. You now have to manage another life in addition to yours and whomever else’s, and juggle your insecurities or handicaps, anxieties and minor fails. Plus, if you’re a klutz like me, you’ll give yourself at least one new bruise or bump a day. It comes with the territory, and shaving your legs in a hurry so you can run off and play like a maniac with your son who’s about to turn two!

If sponges could be happy, then I’d describe Noah as a happy sponge. He is one of the happiest children most people have ever met, because they’ve told me so. He’s at the age where he’s soaking up everything in his environment and retaining so much of it, then recalling it at whim, and sometimes it’s freaky just how much he knows. Noah is, hence, a happy sponge.

I don’t know about other moms, but I’ve heard countless times of how I “shouldn’t be” down or sad because I have Noah to look at. It’s not just on Twitter or Facebook or blog, but in-person and in e-mail and text message. “Don’t be sad! Look at Noah!”

It’s like saying people without children are more qualified to be sad because they didn’t birth a child, or perhaps people without children are supposed to look to their dogs or iPhones instead?

Yes, I post countless photos of Noah all sponge-happy and yes, he brings joy to my heart and soul. And there’s nothing sweeter than Noah’s smile to me when I need it most, especially before coffee, but it doesn’t make everything else bad go away. Life goes on like anyone else’s, with or without children.

Happiness can be found in many places, but I’d be lying if I said that just looking at Noah made my day turn around. Days are meant to up and down, and Noah helps me through it. Believing a baby is a cure-all is dated and delusional.

I do realize that most people who say “How can you ever have a bad day when you have Noah?” or something to that effect, mean it in the sweetest way and they’re right. At the end of the day, my biggest accomplishment and new love is Noah. But there’s a real and dangerous epidemic beneath the surface, with new motherhood, in minimizing any mom’s bad day. To put it plainly, postpartum depression isn’t mythical or cute or “her problem” no matter how brief or long it endures. I’m not sure if I ever had it or have it now because the time has flown by so fast, and my hormones are raging under a new birth control pill anyway. In the end, nobody is to blame for it. Fun times!

But I look at my Noah now, and I see in him all that he’s absorbed from me in the last two years, and I know I’m a stronger mom because of it, good and bad.

Thank you to all the moms (and non-moms) out there who’ve helped me along the way!

Always dishing,

Jun

Remember Things I Learned Along The Way

PeeCup

“I’ve done a lot of things to make money, legit jobs and downright wrong things. I’m not a bad person, but I’ve done bad things to mostly bad people. I’m not a good person all the time, but I am overall. I think your desk is nice and the wood very handsome, but the top of your desk is a wreck and needs organizing.”

This is what I basically said verbatim to my future boss during my first interview with him, for a job I eventually got. It was for a global asset management firm that was based on the principle of behavioral psychology. I didn’t know exactly what this meant when I went to interview for the job. I didn’t even know if I actually wanted the job. It’s terrible. It was 2006 and I was in a very scary place in my life. My dad was long gone, and I was attempting to return to Wall Street after taking a hiatus to run some shady business, and it was a gamble that would determine my future. I’d had a bad run-in once with the wrong people and I’d spent a night in jail as a result. It was all supposed to be cleared and never to be heard of again but I just wasn’t sure.

Interviewing past the first round for a global bank means you have to pee and prove you’re not on this or that drug, and your background and criminal and credit checks are run too. Depending on your rank going into a firm, the number of people you have to come face-to-face with varies as does the stringency of all testing. When I went in for that interview, I’d stopped smoking weed so my pee would come up clean once I got to final rounds of the hiring process. And I crossed my fingers that nothing alarming would come up in my background check. It’s the first time I actually felt nervous about it in my professional career.

After having spent the better part of 2005 running on adrenaline in the underground sex business, I was worried as fuck come that day in 2006. Nobody knew what I did all of the time except me, because I basically led two different lives for a long while. Exhausting, right?

But I decided I’d change gears again, and test the banking waters. Could I score a doorway back in after a gap in my resume, and possible tainted background check? I sat there that morning of my interview and my hair was in a bun, which it never was unless I was interviewing for a finance job, and here was this boss-dude sitting in his big leather chair.

He asked me right off the bat, “Describe yourself in a nutshell and then tell me what you think about my desk.”

I thought, what?! This wasn’t an actual interview question was it?! Where was the question about my strengths and weaknesses and where I saw myself in five years and shit?! Oh. But it’s the firm based on behaviors so I treated it, yes, like Big BrotherI answered boss-dude’s question and hoped he wouldn’t be too offended that I basically called him messy.

I got the job and loved the firm right away for its investing philosophy that there is more to money than just value, but in its psychology. I got to watch people for a living and then teach the principals later. I really did love working for that firm during my days and some of my nights.

This is the same firm that laid me off in 2009, and although many of my once-fellow employees harbor ill-will about being cut during that time, I don’t. I did briefly and then I embraced it differently, and probably because I had no husband or child depending on me. I was so very single at the time. So I made my peace with being laid off with the masses, long ago. I used my time to travel through Europe and Asia and ultimately to the Dominican Republic where I met my husband. I used my time to finally return to school and graduate magna cum laude, and to learn at least 10 things at the end of it all.

Of all the interviews of all the jobs I’ve ever had, that one with J. Whitcup was one of the most fun and conversational ever.

Rice House does not compare to a global investment bank or Big Brother on the surface, but it does behind the scenes and I’m excited to draw on everything I’ve learned through the years to choose a student-apprentice for Rice House. The good, bad and the ugly of any business is the best and worst part of it all. Wish me luck in finding the right match!

Always dishing,

Jun

Hunts Point

MomzDad

My dad always worked with his hands. He never worked a day sitting behind a desk when he was living in America. That’s what he always wanted for me, to be a part of the corporate workforce, but he was always a laborer.

He and my mother owned a stereotypical fruit and vegetable store, and then later sold the family business so my mother could stay home with me aka spy on me over-protectively. My dad was quickly hired in the wholesale industry at Hunts Point Market in the Bronx where he was a foreman. He was then the only Korean foreman in a world where older generations of Italian and Jewish men ranked highest, and owned the terminals their family names were branded on. My dad had balls of steel and he never let English being his second language stop him from anything, least of all becoming a Teamster.

He learned Spanish too while adjusting to immigrant life in Lower Manhattan, and when he switched from being a business owner to being someone’s employee, it was a shift for our entire family. The trucks coming in to the NYC Produce Terminal Market in Hunts Point mostly came in at night, when most of the city was trying to sleep in a city that never did.

So my dad reversed his biological clock and switched to nights. My mother bore the brunt, no longer having him to share a bed with at night. After my dad got home from work in the mornings, he’d shower and eat breakfast with my brother Danny and my mom and me. He’d sleep while Danny and I were at school. I guess that’s when my parents got their sex in too, because I never once in my life heard them having actual sex when I was ever home. Danny will confirm the same.

I did find my parents’ stash of porn at some point and I knew they did that stuff together, because I asked my momz as an adult, but I never actually heard my parents having sex growing up. I count it as a blessing.

And by the time my brother and I got home from school, my dad was out of hibernation and an active part of our afternoon and early evening. On days Danny and I were home for whatever reason, we had to play quietly in the living room so my dad could get in his sleep. I didn’t mind at all because it meant I couldn’t practice piano, and my mother nagged at me constantly to practice. Danny and I were always quiet.

Then my dad would get up and take us somewhere or watch a movie with us, and we’d eat dinner all of us together in the evening before my dad left for work all over again. He and my mother always kissed goodbye right in front of me and my brother, right smack on the lips really loud, and there was never one day they didn’t. I loved watching them kiss. I couldn’t wait to grow up one day and kiss my husband every day when he was off to work.

I try to emulate my mother in that way but I come up short many times. There are days my husband Davy leaves for work and I don’t kiss him goodbye because we’re fighting. I respect so much how my parents kept it together every time.

I wish my dad was still around today, for my mother.

Always dishing,

Jun

Rice House: Updates

RiceHouseLogoFinalJPG

I picked out paint colors yesterday for Rice House. Let the painting begin!

Ahhhhhhh~

They will be the colors found in the Rice House logo. Bold orange and bold blue, and colors found in the Korean flag:

RiceHouseLogoFinalJPGI’ve never done this before, opened a food business, my own shop. I don’t know all the lingo but I base all my decisions on my own foundations, and with my husband Davy together on big decisions. All major ones have been made and now it’s just a waiting game and working and growing pains until Rice House opens its doors on May 1st.

I’ll be attempting to display something like this on May 1st, for show:

KoreanFlag - Sydney

It was presented at the Sydney International Food Festival last year and I’m excited to try and recreate it for the Grand Opening! Here’s a cheat-sheet on what each part of the Korean flag means:

KoreanFlag

Rice House in its entirety is about 600 square feet counting both floors (or 60 sq m), with a bathroom and ample storage on the top floor. The actual shop space is about 250 square feet (or 25 sq m). My conversions aren’t exact but they’re close enough because it’s easy enough to remember.

This is what I have envisioned for the ground floor space and shop:

GroundFloorPlan

Work continues at Rice House, and we’ve already removed one small wall:

Wall

Also, all the stickers and branding from the former sandwich shop are now gone!

I can now start from scratch with my own branding!

BeforeAfterOutside

But work also continues at home as Noah approaches his second birthday. It’s almost two years now since I live-tweeted my early labor and delivery of Noah (tweets all here). Time has flown but Noah’s grown, and he’s already practicing playing shopkeeper…

NoahShopkeeper

Noah’s been to Rice House a couple of times now, and he’s comfortable there as if he knows already that it’s “ours.”

Ours.

It’s why I’m putting a “Kiddie Corner” into the space, because I want Noah and other children to feel safe and special while they’re at Rice House. It sounds super corny but I mean it. Rice House is a business but it’s very much still real life. As such, the plan is to keep everything as simple as possible. This is easier to do in Evergem than in Manhattan.

I’d say one of the hardest adjustments I’ve had to make as a business woman, is to slow down. Nobody answers work emails at night and nobody breaks their neck to get anything done around these old parts of Europe. It’s refreshing yet frustrating at the same time, balancing my New York City killer instinct with diplomacy in patience.

So, simple it is.

The menu will consists of (sushi) rolls and (rice) bowls, and soups. There will always be a stand-by menu and specials-of-the-week. Here’s an example of a Rice House Shrimp Bowl:

ShrimpBowl

I’m so glad all those food photos I took are paying off, in what is now the Rice House Menu. Vendors have been chosen and bids are in, and my husband Davy and I have trust and understanding in each other’s different strengths. We are doing most everything ourselves and calling in professionals for what professionals do…

But Davy drew a map on which Rice House stands, and I created it simply in Power Point:

 

RiceHouseMap

 

It’s the cutest map I’ve ever personally made, and it’s good enough to give to the printer for now so he can do his magic. Flyers and stickers and posters are being printed very soon! Rice House will get a make-over before May 1st. Opening Hours coming soon!

My mother will be coming in May to help with everything and to spend warm days in the sun with Noah. I need momz here for this. I’m glad she’ll be here.

I’d like to thank everyone for your support. Stay tuned!

Always dishing,

Jun

 

I’m Still Allowed To Feel Like Shit

CoolNoah

I’m writing with a fever and runny nose. I got it from my son Noah, who’s less than a month away from turning 2 years old. This is him being cool while pretend-listening to nothing:

CoolNoah

 

He’s so cool that he’s over his cold in less than 24 hours, and bouncing off the walls like yesterday, while I’m wearing three layers of clothes and feeling chilly. I feel like shit and of course I wouldn’t have it any other way as long as Noah’s better, even if it meant my not sleeping last night taking care of him.

My husband Davy can see how shitty I’m feeling this morning and so he took care of breakfast and cleaned our kitchen and basically played handyman all morning. I’m glad he’s doing this, but I still feel like shit. But I always have this nagging feeling that I’m not allowed to just feel like shit anymore…

The thing is, I’ve actually stopped counting how many times I’ve felt like shit in the last two years because there’s too much other stuff to keep track of anyway. I used get myself manicures and pedicures on the regular too, and then eventually just did them myself, and now I’m lucky to get in some time to shave myself hairless around my vagina most days. I’m sure Davy feels luckier on those days too. Time to myself is a luxury. All moms feel similarly at some point if they’re doing it right.

The fact that I’ve been a stay-at-home mom makes me neither more susceptible nor immune to catching my child’s cold or stomach virus or conjunctivitis, than it does a stay-at-home working mom or working-outside-the-home mom or single-working-mom or any other existing hyphenated variation-of-a-mom. Some moms couldn’t imagine staying at home and would rather work because it’s where they thrive and what works for their life. Some moms couldn’t imagine leaving their children and going to work and so they stay home and thrive. And so on and so forth, with days we all want to drop everything and just cry too. All moms feel this way some days, some just more than others.

It doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter. But all too often it does. Real Housewives of Fake Lives is for entertainment purposes only…

When I was little I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom when I grew up, because it’s what my mother was for so long. When I was older and single I still wanted to be a stay-at-home mom when I grew up, because on the one hand I had a lot of growing up to do – I knew it would mean I’d snagged a guy rich enough to keep me home – and also because I thought it would make me an actual grown-up. I learned a lot of hard lessons in my life and about my life, and so I’d always been wiser and more calculating than my actual years, but being an old soul in youth can be lonely and I say all this in plain English because it’s the easiest language for me.

I’m not saying I was some gold-digging-trophy-wife-in-training. In fact, I mean the opposite. Because I always made my own money, and sometimes more than many boyfriends in my life, I started to believe that being a stay-at-home mom meant more than just raising my child by my hand 24 hours a day. It started to mean that I’d be financially dependent on a man for whatever number of years I devoted my life to being a wife and mother.

The first year of Noah’s life, I continued to work from home as a freelance writer. I blogged about reality television and then wrote for a period of time for an interior decorating website. I held on to my need to make money and contribute. Around the time Noah turned one, I was no longer working from home for anyone, and instead I blogged here on my site and wrote furiously towards a goal of finishing my first book.

In two months’ time I’ll be going from being a stay-at-home-mom to a working-outside-the-home-mom, but I’ll still be my own boss. I’m hoping the transition will be smooth, and smoothest most of all for my little Noah. I’ve literally been learning and stumbling along the way up until this point using what my mother instilled in me maternally.

Belgian school systems accept children at the age of two-and-a-half, as the norm, and so at the end of this year Noah will be in pre-school. I’ve felt like my face was plastered on the Facebook walls of Ghent, as the stay-at-home mom that everyone was waiting to see what she’d be doing “once Noah’s in school.” Even stripped of any geography, I’ve been told on social media and even here on my site, that my staying at home was everyone else’s business but mine.

Rice House is my soon-to-be-opened Korean takeout place and it’s a nod to my dad, but it’s also an answer to the never-ending question:

“Are you going to be a stay-at-home-mom forever?”

It’s so fucked up all the pressures moms put up with, as if there’s one right way to be a mom. There’s no such thing! Every mother is different and sacrifices things big and small in her own way! We can swap out mom for dad in this blog too, if it applies to you. But men aren’t choked invisibly for staying at home or not staying at home with their children for the sake of making money.

Now that I’m preparing to leave these stay-at-home mom days behind to flex my entrepreneurial wings, I can write this. Because I never knew what it was like to be a mom. If Rice House had never happened I’d still be staying at home and writing. I’m still writing now and will continue to do so, for those who have asked…

I’ve been through so many big changes in my lifetime that I should look older really, but I have my mother’s genes and so I look much younger than my age. I’ll turn 39 this year. That means next year I’ll be 40.

Motherfucking 40 is around the corner and I’m trying to round that bend as slowly as I can. But there are no brakes in real life. When big changes happen you have to focus on doing the small things that you usually do every day, so you don’t get lost in all the changes. For me those things are writing and cooking and having sex with my husband and pretending to do whatever it is in Noah’s imaginary world, as much as I can.

Small things add up to big things, and not the other way around.

I just want to be able to feel like shit without feeling guilty!

Always dishing,

Jun

I Have These Two Moles On My Face

Banana

I have these two moles on my face, one on each cheek close to my cheekbones. They’re not symmetrical but they’re prominent and my family’s always hated them. When I say my family I mean my insanely archaic Korean elders. My brother and cousins will agree with me on this one, and they too know about the attempts to make me have my moles removed.

Here are two clear photos of the moles in question, and I swear it’s just a coincidence as to the circumstances:

Eclair Banana

The thing is I never called them moles growing up. I always called them “my beauty marks.” Somewhere along the way I succumbed to calling them moles, but I never did fold to the pressure from my family to have them burned off my face. My youngest aunt did have it done, and to this day she has little scar-dents in the places where her moles once stood! And for what? Old wives’ tales, superstitions, and skin-deep beauty in the eyes of the Korean community? They told her that removing her moles would raise her chances of getting married. Um, no.

So I overheard from a very young age that if my moles ever got too big, then “something” would have to be done about them. I never felt threatened and it’s not like it was ever said in a cruel way, but just very as a matter of fact-ly. It was always the women in my family talking about it, because Korean men never get involved in female aesthetics. But when I was a child, I always wondered what “too big” meant. I worried that my moles would grow so big and take over my face one day.

But then I started to really like my moles. They made me look different and so I felt different, in a good way. I remember clearly the day I attended my first art class in elementary school. I couldn’t draw or paint for shit, and I still can’t, but that first day I was given a canvas of paper and some poster paint with a brush. I drew my face and nothing else. My eyes and nose and lips and ears and my two moles, is all I presented. I didn’t even think twice as to what I’d paint, like my classmates all wrestled with. It was instinctual. And I made my moles way bigger than they were in real life. Looking back that first piece of art for me meant more than I ever realized, and I wish I knew where it was.

As I got older I overheard less and was just told more that my moles were getting “too big.” I ignored these people. I’d never get married and Korean men, and their mothers, wouldn’t like my face because of my moles, I was told. But all the women in my family had moles on their faces too and it annoyed me as I got older. They’re my moles! I like them! I became protective of my moles and started wearing more SPF.

But I started to question and balk at other things too and I know now after learning about my family’s rich history on two continents, now three, that my mother was the same way growing up. I am truly my mother’s daughter. She was a rebel in her time, and I use that term loosely because it doesn’t take much to get yourself ostracized in Little Koreas. But it’s why my mother got to marry for love and not for money. It’s why she tried to squelch me as I got older, while my father encouraged me to spread my wings and try to fly wherever I wanted.

My dad never really got involved except to play parrot messenger once, between my mother and me. She and I stopped talking to each other for a period of time, after getting into a fight about the whole mole drama.

“Your mother thinks you should think about getting your juhm removed, but you don’t have to, ” my dad said to me on behalf of my mother.

“She doesn’t want to get her juhm removed, so don’t ask her anymore,” he said to my mother, for me.

And all these years later, I still have my moles. Now that I’m “finally” married with a kid, according to my mother, I don’t have to do a thing about my moles. Right. Because I was going to do a thing about them anyway.

I really like my moles!

Always dishing,

Jun