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Life is Fuller

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In Ghent, life just feels fuller. I’m not “hungry” like I was living in New York City.

NYC, my home for 32 years before I fell in love, married, moved and had a baby in Belgium. There’s no place like NYC but there’s no better place than where you make your home.

You can try to do the math, but I was born and bred in Seoul, Korea until the age of three and I’ve been living in Ghent now for 16 months, so…I’m 36 as of the date of this entry.  36. I had a baby at 36, which is 60 in old school Korean years.

But nevertheless, my momz couldn’t be happier or more proud of me. That’s her, holding Noah:

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See? Don’t I look full in the photo?

I’m really, so very much more, content since moving to Belgium. Friendlier pace with just as much drama and hot messes running around that I still have fun…and I get to have what I’ve always wanted…a family of my own. A family of my own! It happened out of nowhere and it’s all real. So real it makes me just a little nauseous, between 2 am and 7am, while i’m feeding Noah. It’s the kind of nausea accompanying pure exhaustion except when the baby is yours, there’s no question that his comfort trumps your nauseated state, each and every time.

Davy and I started a fuller life and brought Noah into the world on March 21st, 2012 at 7:05pm, officially.

In Europe it’s a different way of writing out dates so here, Noah’s birthdate is 21-3-12. A palindrome, perfect for a strong Aries baby boy who insisted on arriving 6 weeks earlier than his due date.

His due date is coming up this weekend, May 6th. We will celebrate it in our own way. And Noah surely will be rejoicing himself for joining us sooner. He is so loved.

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Picking a Baby Name

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It took us more than 19 weeks to decide on a name…but we finally have!

We needed a name that could be pronounced the same in English, Dutch and Korean to make it easy on everyone in the two sides of the family…and for the baby, who would be growing up in Belgium…so that meant names starting with “F, G, J, Q, R, V, X, Y or Z” were out since these letters are pronounced differently in each language.

Sooo…we have decided to name the baby NOAH! And the baby room theme will be Noah’s Ark!

Plus, we are planning on painting our two bunnies, Rocky and Tohki, on the wall and so a Noah’s Ark theme actually incorporates them and the baby’s name perfectly.

We can’t wait until little Noah arrives the first week of May! Here’s the latest “picture” of him (as of December 6th) and the latest picture of me (as of December 11th).

Thanks everyone for playing along and guessing the baby’s name!

FYI: @HotMessMandy was the first to guess right at 12:07pm EST (6:07pm Belgian time) today! Nicely done! :)

It’s Not A Toomah!

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I joke on a regular basis.  I’ve joked that my experience on Big Brother 4 caused me to suffer from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

But I didn’t.

Did I find it unpleasant and disconcerting to find myself back all of a sudden again in “reality”?  Yes. But I had also found it surreal and uneasy when I walked into “reality show” mode three months prior.  Being in the Big Brother (“BB”)  house you have to adjust.  Leaving the BB house is just as big an adjustment, perhaps bigger.

PTSD is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, and Big Brother is certainly NOT a normal situation to put yourself in. But it comes down to the person you are when you sign that contract and walk through the doors for a chance at half a million dollars. We say “you are what you eat” but as a VOLUNTARY houseguest in the BB house, you are what you are…going in and coming out. I had a great life when I started that summer.  I went in it to win it and I left a winner going back to a great life.

I had my share of drama in and leaving that house but I would never take away from those really suffering from PTSD and say that’s what I went through. And having spent the duration of the game actually in the BB house to eventually win, the length of time spent in there is irrelevant. PTSD can be caused by an event lasting a few seconds, as long as the damage is done.

PTSD by definition is an illness…an anxiety disorder that is treatable. The syndrome occurs following the experience or witnessing of a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical/sexual assault in adult or childhood.  Note the “such as” because there are only so many events we can list off the top of our heads. Big Brother might be trashy at times, but I would never consider it life-threatening (minus the knife-incident in Season 2 and the death of one microphone in Season 11).

I’m not here to discount other BB alum’s claims that they did suffer through PTSD. I don’t think anyone but a licensed professional can provide any real insight into this. And I am no medical professional, unless there’s a costume and roleplay involved…on any given Saturday night.

There is, however, a period of vital re-adjustment once the season of Big Brother is over. But it’s not synonymous with this very real and serious disorder. And if you are diagnosed with PTSD, the likelihood of you going back into the BB house is slim to none. So we, BB alum, can cry ourselves a river but we shouldn’t expect a “life vest” to save ourselves. CBS does what it can to ensure you are “okay” post-season, but really, your life is your own and you do with it what you do.

But I can only tell you about my experiences from the moment I left Studio City behind to pick up my life…and my check for $500,000…and so, in chronological order:

So, I had just won by a vote to 6 to 1 against Alison Irwin…the only vote for her coming from Nathan Marlow. Our finale was by far the most awkward in BB history. It was done in the actual house with Chenbot on the flatscreen. I was surrounded by the last seven evictees who wanted nothing to do with voting for a winner…except dear Jack Owens and David Lane. Incidentally, David (and Amanda) were the first ever BB USA HGs to have sex (together) in the BB house so I can see why he didn’t mind losing at all. Right.

One would think the jury took a dump on my lap I looked so unhappy. The jurors were so bitter that I thought I’d end up with one of their keys in my neck.  But inside I was rejoicing and laughing at Ali’s one vote from Nathan. I’m still laughing.

So as soon as Julie told me Bob (my most recent ex at the time, as opposed to Jee who I spent most of the summer with because of the X-Factor) was outside waiting for me I booked it. I ran out those doors and threw my fat ass into Bob’s arms (whom I was still in love with at the time and the reason I had signed up for BB in the first place because I wanted to get out of NYC to forget about our breakup four months prior…phew, taking a breath now) and cried. Even Bob shed a tear.

While hanging on to Bob for dear life I turned to see Ali rejoicing her second place win with her parents and then I was told both she and I had to go into the studio to be interviewed by Julie Chen (“Chenbot”). Ugh. Really, all I wanted to do was sleep/spoon in a quiet room for a week. But I went into the studio with Ali while Chenbot asked the usual scripted pointless questions like when circa 1982 reporters would ask newly homeless tornado victims “How are you feeling?” But when Chenbot asked me if I would keep in contact with Ali and remain friends I said in the clearest voice “No”. It didn’t matter though because Ali was so happy to be in front of a camera again and Chenbot was running low on batteries and incapable of understanding my desire to get away from the both of them.

When I left the studio after that awkward post-BB4 interview, I was whisked away off the BB house lot. Bob was with me, as was a “bodyguard” who turned out to be super cool but my mind was so numb I don’t think I could point him out in a lineup if I had to. I was rushed into a conference room in another lot next door and told my family was on the phone waiting to talk to me. I didn’t think anything of it when the producers closed the door to the conference room without meeting my eyes. I was in the room with Bob and there was a telephone at the end of the conference room table. It turned out to be my brother on the line and I screeched into the phone “Holy fuck I won! How crazy is this?! And Bob is here with me!” and my brother answered laughing and saying how awesome it was.

My brother’s tone then changed immediately and for a second he wasn’t seven years younger than me anymore. He sounded older. Old.

He took a very serious tone and told me with a very heavy heart that “Dad’s in the hospital. He’s been in there for 8 days. He’s in a coma.” I thought it was a sick joke.

I had turned to Bob with tears blinding me. I repeated verbatim to him what my brother had just told me and I half-listened to more details through the phone.

I hung up after a few minutes and as if on cue, the producers walked in at that time to tell me I’d be flown home the next day.  But only after my post-season interview with Julie Chen on The Early Show. I was then presented with a check for $500,000. It’s strange the money wasn’t wired and instead presented as a physical check. I don’t know if things have changed since, but the stress of holding one wisp of paper worth $500K was immense.

I wondered that night if my greed and need to win had resulted in finding my dad in such a condition. I was angry that my family had decided by a vote (how ironic) eight days earlier that they would not notify the producers because they didn’t want to take the experience away from me. I was disturbed because that entire last week something in me had clued me in that something might be very wrong. I had asked to speak to the CBS shrink in the diary room just a few days prior though I couldn’t explain what was at the time a gut feeling that something really bad was happening beyond my control. I never thought it would be that my dad was laying in a coma back in NYC, but my god, it creeps me out even now to think my instincts were right.

So with Bob, and the bodyguard escort, I went to the hotel I was originally sequestered in. The lobby and the staff seemed different to me…perhaps because I was a “different” guest this time? I was the winner of Big Brother 4.

I remember first checking into my hotel room that night and feeling so alone. Bob was in the room next door, but after spending 24/7 with other people in the BB house, I just felt very very alone. I kept grabbing for my mic that was no longer there. I kept looking around as I took my first real bath looking for cameras that were no longer a part of my life. It seemed so quiet that I flushed the toilet several times in lieu of pinching myself. Bob ended up spending the night in my bed with me foregoing his own room. He rubbed my back until I cried myself to sleep. He was with me the next morning when I did my post-show interview with the Chenbot for The Early Show.

I put on my bravest face and tried to suppress my anxiety about my dad while I gushed in Chenbot’s face about my win when what I wanted to do was shout at the camera “My father is in a coma!”

They, of course, did my makeup like I was a geisha girl or an extra from Mulan but I didn’t care. All I wanted to do was get on a plane and see my dad. And I did just that.

I got recognized at the airport and on the plane and when I landed in NYC and even my cab driver of all people was babbling about my win as he drove me into Manhattan. Can you imagine how odd all of that was? Despite the intrigue around it all?

My dad was at Beth Israel Hospital and when I got to the ICU the staff knew who I was. Apparently my dad had WOKEN UP from his coma while I was on the plane and one of the first things he asked was whether or not I had come home and if I had won. Can you believe it? It’s pretty unbelievable. It’s like he knew his baby girl was coming home to him.

After eight days of being in a coma my dad was so skinny and his face so gaunt yet through his coke-bottle glasses he told me he was so proud of me and that he had told everyone he could about what I was doing that summer. He grabbed Bob’s hand (Bob never left my side) and thanked him and we all cried and laughed and then let my dad get some rest. I remember staying a while longer because I was so scared he wouldn’t wake up. I left to see the rest of my family and cry and laugh and curse them out for keeping my dad’s condition from me. They, of course, in all their Korean morale and justification told me I couldn’t have done anything to help him had I left the BB house and yes, they were right but had my dad passed while I was in the BB house I don’t think I would be where I am today. While talking to my family I kept brushing my hair back over my shoulders out of habit because that’s what I would do in the BB house so production didn’t get their ears blown out by my hair scraping on the mic.

Bob offered his place for me to stay and decompress for as long as I wanted but all I wanted to do was go back to my apartment on the Upper East Side and sleep. After my first night at my place I woke up and instinctively felt around for my mic. When I came out of the shower to get dressed I thought, “Put on the mic”.

I went to see my dad again the second day and he asked me if I had kept my side of the “bargain” and followed through on all my CBS obligations. I told him no, I had just done The Early Show and rushed back. With what energy he had, he told me firmly I should finish everything I was supposed to do because I had been given such an opportunity and walked away with $500K. He would not have it any other way.

So I returned to Los Angeles. I attended the Wrap Party. CBS paid my way back and back and back again. They even paid for Bob to be with me. For all the haters out there I can only say: CBS may be an entity but staffed by people…like you and me. They are good people. The Wrap Party was bittersweet for me. I was happy to see Shapiro and Grodner and Kroll and Wollman and everyone who hugged me with sincerity. I was happy to see Jack again and meet his beautiful family. I avoided Chenbot when she made her mechanical cameo as a “proper” host. I was fat and tanned and $500K richer but my dad was on my mind.

Bob returned to NYC after the Wrap Party and I stayed to film the episode of “Yes, Dear” before coming back home for good. I did not “hang” with my fellow HGs or BB alum. As far as I was concerned, I was done with LA and though I was “under contract” with CBS for another few years, I was doing it from NYC.  It had never been my intention to “make it” in Hollywood.  I had merely set a goal to win Big Brother and done it.

I was working at Citigroup for five years before I went on Big Brother and I had taken a four-month personal leave of absence for it. I did not return to work but instead spent time with my dad and the rest of my family. If I was not at the hospital or my parents’ house I was at my apartment. I did not go out whether it was to eat or drink or watch a movie. Fresh Direct had just started up in NYC the year before and so I had my groceries delivered to my door.

It was not PTSD. There was no drama and no flashbacks or “shakes” or anger and irritability.  It was me, taking time and space for myself and making choices to ensure I could transition back to my life again.  And my friends and family loved me enough to understand that and gave me my time and space.

It took me two full months to stop looking up to check for cameras and to stop the phantom mic pains. Anyone who cared about me let me have those two months and were there for me after. Anyone who wasn’t there should never been in my life in the first place.

And in that time I bought myself a new laptop and saved the rest of my money until four months later when I bought a condo in Manhattan with my winnings. And then in June of 2004 my dad passed away after fighting his failing kidneys.

I am not the only one to have lost a father. I am not the only one to have experienced the thrill of of win in Big Brother. I manipulated the HGs during my season and I even called Rob’s little girl “that little bitch”.  Just a snapshot of what my life was like in such a short amount of time.

I am one who takes accountability and responsibility for everything that is my doing, including the summer of 2003, and blame noone.

I don’t call it PTSD. But we can call it BBSD if you really want to call it something.

And I would do it all again.

P.S.: This post written in response to Rachel Reilly’s multiple claims that she had PTSD as a result of her time on season 12.

Big Brother 13 – Fans versus WTF

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Pictures of the house have been unveiled,

Identities of eight houseguests now revealed…

The gimmick they call a twist declared,

“Dynamic Duos”, um, old houseguests to be paired…

Wait, so really, this summer is basically a “fans versus CBS’ favs” season?

Okay.  I can live with that.  And I can live with waiting until July 7th, when the show premieres, to see what really gives.  I really don’t have any interest or tolerance in hashing over theories and rumors over which dynamic duos will be returning to the Big Brother house.

All I know of is one Dynamic Duo returning, and that’s Chen + bot, so that’s enough for me for now, thanks.  But by all means, carry on with the rumors…some of them are quite entertaining!

We have no clue as to which past HGs will actually be getting another shot in the game so until then, let’s get to know aka dissect the poor eight newbies who will be facing that veterans shall we?

These eight (plus one) will have to get over the initial shock of seeing some of their BB heroes and zeroes walk into he house and I really fear for them.  I wish I could coach them all season…

All superficial, catty and shallow opinions aside (which are three of my favorite kind actually)…let’s talk about the strengths and weaknesses each of the new HGs are bringing with them on July 7th:

ADAM – 39, Hoboken, New Jersey (originally from East Brunswick, NJ)

Strengths: He’s followed the show since season one which will serve him well, as the Wikipedia of Big Brother history, when it comes to certain competitions involving facts and figures. He should use his knowledge to his advantage and be quiet about it.

Weaknesses: I don’t really know that there’s a big demand for “heavy metal teddy bears” that he claims to be supplying.  Because of his stature and facial hedge he’s already a bit “hard to approach”.  Dude, chill out, don’t be so eager or you’ll be ousted.

CASSI – 26, Nashville, Tennessee (originally from Allen, TX)

Strengths: She seems so cool and level-headed that she’s almost too good to be true.  Combined with her looks she may be able to last the whole summer.

Weaknesses: She may come off as cold/indifferent.  And unfortunately chicks in the house will find her incredibly threatening if it turns out she’s as cool as she seems in her video.  She may also fall into the showmance trap and alienate herself further from the other ovaries in the house.

DOMINIC – 25, San Francisco, California (originally from San Mateo, CA)

Strengths: He gets that being too strong too soon is a downfall (unlike Adam).  He is afraid of STDs so perhaps there is hope for him yet…meaning, thinking with the right head once he’s in that house.

Weaknesses: He says “Meow-Meow” aka Enzo is his “man”. He seems like he won’t be serious enough about gameplay. He’ll need to watch his mouth and listen more than flap his mouth (which he’s admitted he has a tendency to do).

KALIA – 30, Los Angeles, California (originally from Philadelphia, PA)

Strengths: Well-spoken (background as a writer) so she’ll be able to formulate any campaigning or lies off-the-cuff and without a hitch. Her fav HGs (Dr. Will, James, Janelle) were all gamers so that’s a good indication that she understands the game.

Weaknesses: She claims to hating “sharing things”, “living with people”, “dirty people” so she may have a hard time adjusting to life in the BB house.  She thinks everyone in the world loves her which is never a good thing.

KEITH – 32,  Bolingbrook, Illinois

Strengths: He works in human resources so hopefully he is armed with some diplomacy in addition to his sex cravings.

Weaknesses: He predicts he will have the BB ladies swooning over him and wanting to be “Keith’s Angels” which is great if this was pre-Betty Friedan era.  He claims to have two sides to him: Professional Keith and Playboy Keith…referring to yourself in the 3rd person will only make your fall three times harder.

LAWON – 39, Inglewood, California (originally from Urbana, IL)

Strengths: He may just be obnoxious and annoying enough for someone to want to take him to the end.  He’s shed 54 pounds and maintained it so we know he has some discipline beneath all that “buckwahhhhld” (“buckwild” to the rest of us) crazy.

Weaknesses: He seems more a caricature than anything else so the other HGs may be unable to achieve any sort of comfort level with him.   But I can’t wait to see him in the Diary Room…if I can understand him that is…he makes up his own words apparently.

PORSCHE – 23, Miami Beach, Florida (originally from Fort Lauderdale)

Strengths: She claims that taking care of her dad after his heart attack is her proudest accomplishment so there may be some iota of likability to her once she’s playing the game.

Weaknesses: She seems to think her fav past HG Natalie Martinez and the strategy she employed “worked”.  Um, it did not. She also thinks “selling herself” is what she needs to win the game.  Um, sweety, nobody’s buying your bubbles in that house.

SHELLY – 41, Prairieville, Louisiana (originally from Centerville, Ohio)

Strengths: Like Adam, she seems to be a true fan and follower of the show which will aid her.  She is certainly “tough” in her demeanor (almost masculine?) which will help her through the sometimes brutal/tough times in that house.

Weaknesses: Her background as a “leader” may hamper her ability to go with the flow which is necessary in this game.  She also wants to play a “classy” game which sounds great but will eventually consume her gameplay if she let it.

And last but not least…in lieu of an “America’s Player”…I have sent in a “Twitter’s Player”…

ROCKY – 6 months, Ghent, Belgium

Strengths: She has had the best coach, ME, and so she is armed with everything she needs to last the whole three months in the BB house.  She hears everything. And she will be tweeting from @Rockytown.

Weaknesses: She has major dietary restrictions so living on slop is not really an option. Nobody in the house will actually know she’s there since Rocky will be living in the walls of the BB house so she will never have the opportunity to become HOH.

Belgium Has…

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It’s May 4th, 2011.  I have been living in Belgium for four months, officially.

So in honor of this momentous day, I decided to write a piece on four “haves” and four “have nots” I have come across in my four months in this great country, not to mention great CITY of Ghent…which has made it on Lonely Planet’s list of Top 10 Cities for 2011!!!

 

I am starting with four things that “Belgium Has”…that America does NOT (and if America does, then I’ve never seen it so it doesn’t count anyway does it?).

Before we go any further…and whether you are American, Belgian or Vulcan, you should watch the video below.

I watched it BEFORE moving here and I still moved here anyway.  It’s one of those videos that make you laugh and learn something too, which is rare these days.  I’m SO glad someone took the time to put it out!

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So.  Without any further ado…

H A V E S:

1. Bread Machines: Like vending machines for bread! Not “bread makers”, but machines you put money in to BUY whole loaves of freshly baked bread!  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw one.  I love bread, in such a passionate way.

True story – Last week when I was babysitting little Elise and we went for a walk, I was harassed by some gangster sheep.  Apparently he is the rebel in the flock and made a run for it when the shepherd was not looking (I’ve always wanted to use “shepherd” in my writing, this is awesome).

I ran so hard with the baby stroller (thank god I had buckled Elise in) and high heels that I ended up taking a wrong turn and getting lost.

With only my lip gloss and iPhone and Elise’s baby bottle filled with water (which I did take a sip of I was so thirsty from running), I thought I’d be able to survive at least an hour out in the sun while finding our way home.

Just when I thought I should give up and call someone to come find us (in Lochristi btw, which is 20 minutes from where I live), I looked across the street and saw…a bread machine.

Yes, I took a picture of it, because it was the most beautiful thing to me that day.

I felt like it was a sign from God that I was not really “lost”…that I should just chill out and buy some bread and eat it.  I felt like that’s what God wanted me to do!  So I did.

Elise loves bread as much as I do.  So together we finished like 5 slices and voila, we actually found our way back to her house!  Amazing.

P.S. ONE DAY after posting this blog (so it’s now Thursday, May 5th right now as I add this part to the blog) I came upon another bread machine just a few feet away from a restaurant I was having dinner at.  There was a little old lady trying to buy bread from the machine and she was having a hard time so my step-sister-in-law had to step in and help.  I don’t think the old lady even realized I was filming, but I was WAY excited about getting it all on film!

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2. Red Light District: I realize there are other countries that have these “districts” but this isn’t about other countries, it’s about the US and Belgium.  And in the US, we don’t have an official red light district.  We have lots of unofficial ones (my apartment in NYC having been one of them) but, nothing like the one here in Ghent (and I want to head to Amsterdam eventually).

This past Monday, the day after Easter OMG, my husband Davy and I took a trip into the city because most everything was closed as it is a major holiday here (Easter Monday) but we figured the sex shop would be open!  I’ve only WALKED through the red light district here in Ghent, so this was my first “drive-thru”…

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In general, sex and sexuality in Belgium is WAY MORE open than it is back in America.  Anytime I’ve ever traveled through Europe I’ve always thought it funny that we Americans think we’re so “open” yet we’re actually pretty closed off when it comes to exposing our sexual lives.

I’m not saying that people here walk around with their tits hanging out…or pushing their balls into your face or anything, but there is definitely less taboo here.  And whether it’s on television or radio, or in a sex shop, pretty much anything goes.

And if you know me, you know I love “everything goes”…

I thought it was SO cool that Libidos let me film inside their store.  AND they gave us free batteries for all our purchases!

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I personally think they should make room for a little cafe or something (they have two floors in their store) because sex toy hunting can make you hungry!

Davy and I walked out with a full bag of new toys so we could test them out in the name of research and baby making.  We were both hungry.

But we had to settle for some Penis Pasts and Pasta Boobs to go…or “takeaway” as they call it here in Belgium. Amazing.

3. Speculoos:  I don’t know how to explain the magic that is Speculoos.

It’s like Christmas morning when you’re opening your gifts and then someone tells you Christmas is happening again the next morning just for you so there are more, bigger, better gifts coming your way…

Okay, maybe not exactly, but this stuff is amazing.

Whether you get it as a paste (“pasta” they call “paste” here which is weird because pasta is pasta too), or a cookie, or in ice cream, or soft cheese, or foreplay, you can’t get enough of it.

It puts Nutella and peanut butter and other spreads (there’s a joke here somewhere) to SHAME.

AND, Speculoos has a great story too…a Mrs. Fields cookies-type story.  Apparently some housewife named Els Scheppers (how cute is she?!) came up with the idea on a show called “The Inventors” (“De Bedenkers”) and got the financial support to produce and distribute it!  Good for her!!! This shit is the bomb!

But now there’s like MAJOR drama about it all and the New York Times even published a story on it!  I love drama!  I love Speculoos!

During my long distance relationshipping with Davy last year, I brought home so much Speculoos in all its glorious forms and my momz started HIDING it from me claiming “You gonna living in the Belgium and eating this any time you want so I thinking fair if no more for you, all for me now” and that was the end of that discussion.  My momz doesn’t really get excited about anything, but she was excited about Speculoos!  Amazing.

4. Pee Stands – Not to be confused with port-o-potties, which we’ve all used at some point in our lives…and if we haven’t, Jackass gave us plenty of footage into what can happen inside of one.

I never thought I would admit this but I have SEEN the Jackass footage…because Davy brought Jackass 3 HOME with him one night from the video store as if I would say “Awesome babe!  I’ve always wanted to watch Jackass 3!”  Not.

As you can see he also brought home Saw 7.  If only I had some balls I would have been happy to sit on the couch and scratch them while watching these movies with him.

But back to pee stands…when I was here last July for my birthday, the Festival of Ghent was going on (which this year it’s the 17th-25th of July)…or the Festival of Jun as I now call it since my birthday happens in the middle of it all on the 19th.

I saw for the first time these “port-a-pee-stands”.  I’m sure there are those reading going “What’s the big deal?” well, the big deal is, I had never seen them before.  They are definitely not used broadly in the US…like I said, we act like we’re so progressive but we’re not.

And of course, being the ridiculous persona that I am, I jumped into one of the stands just so I could send the picture back to my friends in New York…and now everywhere else I suppose.

But the pee stands I’m referring to as #4 on my list here are not these portable ones, no. I’m talking about the mother-of-all-pee-standedness.

Sleek structures with a hole in the ground for men to walk up to, unzip, pull it out, pee, shake it off, zip, and walk away from. Like the one here on the left, with the dude with the pony tail nice enough to provide an actual demonstration (I was on the way home from school and I couldn’t help but stop, take a picture, then thank him of course).

There are some “old” pee stands that are not nearly as “pretty” as these modern ones, but they are super scary-looking.

Some of them even have DOUBLE stands, for areas of the city where there’s more foot traffic…or prostrate traffic I suppose.  Example on the right.  I waited and waited to see if I could get a picture of TWO men using it, but it didn’t happen and DAMNIT I had to pee and couldn’t stand there all day long.  And for that matter, I couldn’t PEE at the stand either.

Which brings me to my point…where is the PEE EQUALITY here?!?!  Why can’t WOMEN have pee stands too?!  I say “Rise Up!  Rise Up Ye women of Belgium!  Pee with me in one of these stands and let’s make change happen!”

I mean really, what WOULD happen if women just chose a pee stand to walk up to, unzip/pullup, squat, pee, dab with a tissue, zip/pulldown, and walk away from?

Dare me.

Getting Your Big Brother Key

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Dear @feiona78:

Updated: Monday, September 2, 2013

I don’t know about others, but I know I was packed WEEKS before they producers came to “take me away” because I was that confident I was getting on the show.  I still don’t know WHY I was so sure, but I just was.  I had taken a four-month personal leave of absence from Citigroup and rented my apartment for three months, and paid up my utility and cable bills too. I was a packed and ready-to-go girl.

In truth, when they do come and get you it’s all a blur because it’s all about the crew getting the footage they need for the premiere. Then it’s “Okay, let’s go, say you’re goodbyes” when all their precious footage is taken. They have suffice material to typecast you for promos, and it’s time to go. It’s like a slap in the face. Literally, you have five minutes at most to say your final goodbyes and leave. Then you need to grab your bag and hope you don’t lose your damn mind over the summer because you’ve signed up for something called Big Brother.

The footage you see of people “packing their bags” is real and not real at the same time. You’re given your key and then your BB bag when the producers come to take you, but you get to bring one other bag with you into the house (as small/big as you want). So I packed an “immibag” which was what my Korean family of immigrants called it. Those bags that “immigrants” used back in the day. I could have carried a few dead bodies into the BB house with me!  I packed three full months of summer wardrobe with me, and half of it didn’t fit me anymore by the time I left the house. Oh, and CBS does provide all the toiletries you NEED but luxuries or specific brands are up to you to bring with you. So if you’ve got some frou-frou needs in bath and body products, you’d better bring three months-worth with you.

As far as getting your key? You know it’s coming because you just know it’s coming. Every season starts off with seeing HGs receive their keys so you know the key’s gonna pop up when the camera is on you, but it’s still a thrill to get your key and more thrilling if you’re a super fan. I wasn’t a super fan then, but I still have my BB key and duffel bag and every single small and big souvenir I collected during my season. You don’t even want to know some of the corny stuff I have. I could never sell any of it and not because I’m a hoarder.

So this was a very long answer to a short question: NO. Not technically an hour to pack. Unless you’re stupid.

You should be packed when you get the call on the Wednesday or Thursday before they come to get you, that Saturday. This process hasn’t changed much since my season, but I welcome edits and updates from more recent BB alum. If it ain’t broke CBS won’t fix it.

Even it if is broke clearly CBS won’t fix it.

Always dishing,

Jun

Someone Interesting

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I was asked by a former classmate from NYC if I would answer some questions for an assignment she had due in a current class.  They were asked by the professor to interview “someone interesting”, and this former classmate of mine chose me. I am someone interesting to her. Hell yes.

So I decided to share the questions/answers because I had so much fun doing it, and I realized…I really AM “someone interesting”!

None of the Questions/Answers below have been edited.

Where were you born? Describe it.
I was born in Seoul, Korea in 1975 and my parents left me there with my paternal grandmother so they could go to NY and set up a home and a business.  I was left there for 3 years and raised by my paternal grandmother, who was gangster…so I never knew my parents until I was 3.  And by the way, I wasn’t “expected” so I was almost aborted…I would remind my parents of this every birthday when I got older “See? Aren’t you glad you had me? Otherwise you’d be stuck with just Danny (my brother) and not have such a smart and beautiful daughter to show off.”
Do you remember living there?
I don’t remember much because I was so young.  But I do remember my bad-ass grandmother.  She smoked and drank and hustled people out of their money in a Korean cardgame called Hwa-t’u.  OH.  And I remember vaguely (because I was probably traumatized that severely) owning little chicks (as in baby chickens) as pets and my grandma running out for cigarettes and leaving me home alone with them one day and it’s like the chicks knew they had me alone and started pecking at my little feet until they bled and when my grandma came home she freaked out because I was frantically trying to climb out a window with my bloody feet and all.  This was not a bad dream I had, the story’s been confirmed.  We’re not supposed to remember anything before the age of three but like I said, this was so traumatizing it’s engrained in my head forever.
Why and when did you move to America?
My parents “sent for me” when I was three, I guess they thought they had made enough money and furnished a home good enough for me and so I was put on a plane BY MYSELF (with a chaperone from Korean Air Lines) and I arrived at JFK Airport in 1978.
What did your parents do?
My parents had opened up a stereotypical Korean fruit and vegetable market (I suppose they didn’t feel like opening a nail salon or a dry cleaners which was what the rest of the Koreans were doing at the time (mid-70s).
How was the transition to living in New York?
According to my parents, my transition was rough.  For me, my parents were strangers and I cried for my grandmother everyday, cried myself to sleep, cried myself awake, refused to eat or drink for days until I made myself sick.  Even at the age of 3 it turns out I was a master of manipulation because my parents went out and bought every toy and treat money could buy to make me happy.  I even got a lifesized pony ride they had bought from a carnival going out of business.  They were basically trying to bribe me for my love and forgiveness for leaving me behind in Korean, and it worked.
How would you describe your childhood?
My childhood was AMAZING but not perfect, but the amazing parts can’t be topped.  I was the apple of my parents eyes and I got to travel at a very young age because my parents were big world travelers and would take me with them. I was super smart and outgoing and as the ONLY Korean within miles I was always speaking out when people called me Chinese “I’m Korean! I’m NOT Chinese~” I would shout at people. Growing up on the lower east side of Manhattan I was THE ONLY KOREAN among Black, Dominican, Jewish and Chinese people.
What were your parents like? How was your relationship with both?
My parents were so in love, they had been high school sweethearts.  Originally, my dad was supposed to “court” my mother’s girlfriend but he fell in love with my mother instead and they were inseparable.  He came from a very very poor family and my mother from a very rich family, so there was UBER drama when they said they wanted to get married.  But because they did and because their love was true and not “arranged” like so many other marriages back then, they showed me what fun and romance and true love really is growing up.  I would watch them hug and kiss and be cute with each other and it really rubbed off on me I think because it made me a hopeless romantic :).  My mom was always fun to hang out with because she always spent money (on me and herself) and my dad was just the coolest person ever (he passed away in 2004 and I miss him everyday).
What schools did you attend ?
I went to PS 110 (Florence Nightingale School) on the lower east side (Actually started at PS 140 but I got knocked out by a snowball thrown by a bully in first grade so I got transferred immediately to PS 110 after my mom went Krazy Korean on the school board)…then to JHS 22 (I was only there for two years because I took the “Specialized Exam” and placed in Brooklyn Technical High School).
What were you like as a teenager?
I was fat (more freedom meant more food, I have been a foodie all my life, I always have to be munching/trying something) but I was always super confident. I always wanted my voice to be heard so I joined groups and clubs having to do with speaking and speech.  I have always been a voracious reader, and Judy Blume’s books were my Bible, and so I was always prepared for “firsts” (first kiss, first period, first penis, etc…).  Oh, and my hair was always permed because Koreans went crazy for perms in the 1980s…it showed that you had money, so stupid to spend your money on PERMS to show you had money.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
At first I wanted to be a pediatrician, because I wanted to have my practice on the first floor of my home, and live in the higher floors.  But this is because my pediatrician had this set-up and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world.  And I had told my parents that they could live on their own floor because I would make enough money to buy a house big enough for all of us to live in together. Yeah.  Right.  Ahhhh, the dreams we dream when we are young.  But yeah, I was pretty set on being a pediatrician.  I thought I’d be good at giving shots and then giving out lollipops.
How was high school?
High School was when I really went through an identity crisis.  Because I grew up on the lower east side where there were NO Koreans, I was pretty much Dominican by nature. I had been wearing heels since I was 11 and eating cuchifritos (fried Dominican fast food) and saying bad words in Spanish since my neighborhood was so heavy with Dominican population.  Then when I got to high school, I identified with the black kids more so my freshmen year was spent with black friends.  Finally in sophomore year, I started to identify with my Korean roots and started hanging with the Koreans and I thought okay I guess I AM Korean.  But that was short-lived, all they wanted to do was smoke and play pool and wear black and only hang out with other Koreans so I dropped them eventually. Junior year I discovered the Greeks, and I wanted to be Greek so bad.  I would eat feta and baklava and hang out with all my greek friends everyday.  Senior year I decided I wanted to be class president so I got into student government and because I had hung out with so many different/diverse crews, I won easily and so Senior Year I was president.  Oh, and I was still fat.
Did you go to college? When and where?
I started out at NYU Class of 1997, proudly.  My dad had tried to convince me to “go away” to college so I could become more independent which now I understood he meant “Get away from your over-bearing mother because she will still treat you like you’re in high school”. But when I was accepted into NYU I was so thrilled I forgot all about “going away” for school and decided to stay in NYC..
Describe your experience in college. What was your major?
My first year at NYU was a hot mess, I failed most of my classes because I was trying to balance the freedom of adulthood with the fact that my mother still wanted me home by dark and the fact that the boy I had a crush on all first semester broke my heart second semester anyway, etc…and after one more semester, I quit. I was majoring in pre-med thinking I’d make my “dream” of being a pediatrician come true and I realized…I HATE SCIENCE.  So I quit school and then I moved out of my parents’ house.  My mother likes to say I “ran away” but really, when you’re 19 you are moving out, not running away.  It was the best thing I did because it made me more independent than I already was and it proved to my mother that I was an adult.  Granted, I was shocked when I first moved out that I actually had to pay for electricity and gas and phone, and it didn’t “come with the apartment” I was renting.  I busted my ass that first year living on my own and I had FIVE W-2s that year because I was working so many jobs trying to make it on my own.  But it felt GOOD.
What did you do after college (career wise)?
When I left NYU I was screwed.  I hadn’t finished school and I had led a pretty cushy spoiled life at home so I really didn’t know the value of a dollar.  So I used my (still valid) NYU ID card and went to the job center and found two jobs, one working at a “law office” near the WTC as a secretary and one working as a receptionist at the “fitness center” at the Hilton in midtown. But I needed more money to make it on my own so I was also working a retail job at Benetton in the West Village on commission, and also at the Gap in Herald Square hourly, and then through the Hilton I also got a job at the Waldorf and the New York Palace.  After a year of doing all this, I decided to walk into a “temp” agency and landed a job as a secretary at a small investment firm in jersey city. So I said goodbye to my 6 W-2s and headed to my frist “real” job in Finance.
How did you get on Wall Street?
After working at the Jersey City nightmare (which is what I call that first investment firm, OMG, that place was soooo stereotypical sexist trading firm) I went back to the original “temp” agency and told them I wanted a real job now, in Manhattan, at a real bank.  And I landed a job at Citibank, which eventually became Citigroup, as a secretary.  After three months my boss told me stop wasting my time as a secretary and pushed me to go back to school part-time and at least get my Associate’s and I got a promotion, and after that I got another promotion, and etc…and I never looked back as I climbed that mighty corporate ladder…all without my Undergrad degree.  Ironic huh?
What was it like to work on Wall Street ?
I realized very quickly that working on Wall Street is 50% hard work and 50% hard ass-kissing…meaning, you have to know who’s important and get as much exposure to them as you can, get noticed, get recognized.  It’s called fast-tracking and it happens all the time.  But not to everyone, obviously, because then it wouldn’t be special.  But someone high up has to see something in you and want to help you in that climb.  And I have always had this confidence in me and it helped me on Wall Street because it got me attention by all the right people.
When did you decide to go on Big Brother? Why?
I was at Citigroup for five years and I was an A.V.P. and COMPLETELY bored.  I had just broken up with a boyfriend of four years and I was ready to rip my heart out and throw it in the east river or off the empire state building and I just needed to GET OUT OF NYC.  So I was watching tv one night and I saw the last few minutes of season 3 of Big Brother and at the end of it the voice on the tv asked me “Do you think YOU HAVE what it takes to outwit and outplay everyone in a house and win half a million dollars?!” and I thought “Um, FUCK YESSS.”  So I went on the CBS website right then and there and downloaded the application (which was like 80 pages it felt like), and took two polaroids (yes, I had a polaroid camera, two in fact) and borrowed a video camera from a friend and sat on my bed with the camera on my dresser and just talked into it for two minutes, as blunt as I am in real life.  I sent everything in FedEx on a Thursday, and on Friday night I got a call from them saying they wanted to meet me!
How did you get on the show?
After the initial call, I met their producers in NY and then I was flown out to LA for the rest of the rounds of “auditions” and I just knew in my heart that I had made it.  I KNEW I was going to be on the show.  I don’t know why I was so sure, I still don’t. But I know that when my gut tells me something, I listen, because my gut has never proven me wrong.  The audition process was grueling.  Locked in a hotel room for days and meeting with producers, getting blood/urine tests done, pysch evaluations, etc…
What was it like being on the show?
Being on the show was SURREAL, it still is.  The first hour or so you were SO conscious of the cameras and microphones everywhere.  But eventually you HAVE TO forget about them otherwise you will never get comfortable and be able to play the game.  You have to get comfy in your surrounding and OWN IT in your head and heart before you can take down 12 or so other people and win that prize money.  In all honesty though, I played the game as if it was real life.  In real life, we are constantly faced with douchebags and bimbos and people we just can’t stand, but we have to deal with them in a civilized manner so we’re not taken into custody for killing them you know?  So this was the same thing, I had to play nice and eliminate people by using other people so I wouldn’t get my hands too dirty because at the end of the game, I’m depending on the votes of the people who were kicked off.  And everyday I missed my friends and my family and cell phone and television and magazines, but once I’m focused on something, I can live without luxuries until I get what I want.  And that’s exactly what I did :)
What did you do after the show?
Right after the show I locked myself up in my apartment for a good month.  I ordered food through fresh direct and I just spent a lot of time alone.  It really was traumatizing to have been filmed and watched 24-7 (because in addition to the televised show 3 times a week, there was a live internet feed also so people could watch me sleep and get up to pee and brush my teeth etc…) and I don’t think I realized just how much I was traumatized until I got back to NY.  I realized I would avoid eye contact and contact all together with people on the street and I was paranoid that I was being watched constantly.  But I think it’s because that’s how seriously I had taken the game.  I had not gone on the show for fame or notoriety, I had gone on to win and so the cameras and microphones weren’t things I loved about my time in the house, like it was for others who wanted “to be famous”.  I also spent an incredible amount of time with my family, and my dad in particular, because he had fallen VERY ill WHILE I was in the Big Brother house and my family had taken a vote not to tell me so I could stay in the house and win.  Unlike many other reality shows, Big Brother is filmed and televised live, and my family thought I had a real chance of winning and so they didn’t want to take that away from me, which is ridiculous because if my dad had passed away while I was in that house I would have seriously killed somebody.  So I didn’t return to Citigroup (where I had taken a 4 month leave of absence) and instead I spent a year with my dad because he finally passed the next year.  I know I wouldn’t have been able to afford a year off if I hadn’t won the half a million on the show, so everything happens for a reason.
How did the show affect your life?
My life hasn’t changed all that much.  After my dad passed away I decided to return to Wall Street and went back to working like normal.  Of course I went back on the show every summer for a cameo appearance and I did interviews here and there, but like I said, I never wanted fame out of the experience, I just wanted to win.  And I did.  And so I returned home like normal.  I can’t say the same for many of the others on the show with me…so many of them stayed in LA in the hopes of becoming the next big star (morons)…I have to say though that having won a show like Big Brother means more to other people than it does to me and so dating life was pretty interesting.  Some guys were so turned off by the fact that I went on a reality show…and some guys were so turned on it was creepy! HA
What did you do after the show in terms of work?
I went back to Wall Street and after a year I quit.  I took some time off again just for myself to deal with my dad’s passing…and also…to start my own business.  An “underground” business.  I was basically a “madam” for a while…shhhh…and then I went back to Wall Street again :)
THE REST: I got laid off from my job on Wall Street in December 2008 and most of 2009 I travelled.  I covered much of Italy and some of Greece and then I decided it was time for me to return to school and finally finish my undergrad degree.  I had been putting it off for so long because I never NEEDED it.  When I went on job interviews my work experience was so long and impressive that my lack of formal education was never a big enough deal to keep me from getting the jobs I wanted.  My last title before getting laid off was “Learning and Development Manager”.  Meaning, I was in charge of coming up with curriculum and career development for everyone at the firm, from junior analysts all the way to the CEO.  Ironic, since I didn’t even have my undergrad degree, but like I said, presenting yourself and what you bring to the table to push an organization forward is much more important that what kinds of degree(s) you have in finance.  And I sold myself.  I sold myself to the point where I was holding titles and earning salaries/bonuses that someone who doesn’t have an undergrad degree “shouldn’t be” earning :)  So I started Hunter in January 2010 and after calculating transfer credits, etc…I realized I could do everything in 3 semesters: Spring, Summer and Fall.  And so after a GPA of 3.8 in Spring semester I decided to reward myself with a trip to the Dominican Republic with some girls (a whole other story because they turned out to be psychotic maniacs, note to self: do not travel with bitches you don’t know for more than 2 days)…and I hadn’t banked on meeting my future husband, Davy, while I was there.  I swear, I hadn’t even brought any condoms with me which I usually do when I travel.  I honestly took the trip just to reward MYself for a job well done in my first semester back in school and I think that’s why I met him. :)  And just like my gut had guided me in the past, I let it guide me in May as well.  I just KNEW he was IT.  So after the trip I returned to start summer semester and after going to classes Monday through Thursday, I got on a plane that Thursday night and went back to DR because Davy was there another 7 days and I spent the weekend with him in DR before returning back to school for classes on Monday.  We continued a long distance relationship (He lived in Belgium) and I made FIVE TRIPS to Belgium since I had the $$ and the time (it’s not like I had a job) and my mother came with me on one of those trips to Belgium and it became really really real to her that holy shit, I was going to marry this man and move to Belgium). And then Davy came to NYC in December, we got married on December 21 and we spent the holidays in NYC before I came back with him to Belgium to live, on January 4th. :) But it was NOT easy…sure there’s telephone and email and Skype, but Davy and I were the biggest single whores that ever lived.  So for us to commit to something like this was unimaginable and all our friends and family were SHOCKED that we pulled it off because both Davy and I have a long history of conquests and play and now, we finally met our match :)