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A Photo Blog About a Castle and Facebook

BoatRide

There are more castles than Koreans in Belgium, yet I’ve yet to blog about a one.

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I’ve been to a few castles in Belgium now living here some years, but there is one that stands out:

– It’s right in the middle of my city of Ghent.

– It holds fond memories for me.

– It’s the first castle I laid eyes upon my first day visiting Ghent.

On July 3, 2010, I reunited with Davy for the first time since leaving the Dominican Republic. It was my first of many long-distance relationship trips to come, but on my first day I remember seeing Het Gravensteen…

All photos happened before I ever joined Twitter so they may be new to many of you…

BoatRide

There once was a castle called Gravensteen, or Castle of the Count if you will. I saw it for the first time by boat and took this photo, on a boat ride with Davy down the River Leie. Canals and a river and a castle, right in my city. I was in. I could totally picture myself living here.

 

Kisses

You can tell we were dripping in honeymoon phase love because we took this photo and uploaded it to Facebook, tagged and captioned all mushy and everything. Davy was always down for a photo op and I take photos obsessively, so it was a match made in Facebook heaven.

 

StepsJuly6th

Then the next day we actually returned to Gravensteen and took the obligatory tour. Davy hadn’t done it since grade school and as a Belgian citizen he didn’t have to pay the entrance fee, which I did. I don’t have to pay anymore so that’s some consolation. Also, my legs look really good so I love this photo.

 

eightjudicialswordssymbolizingthepowerinthe16th-18thcenturies

We saw cool things like these “judicial swords that once represented power in the 16th-18th centuries” and I made notes of these things while I was touring the castle, so I could caption them accurately later on Facebook, but none of my Facebook friends cared. Nobody commented. Ugh.

 

guillotine

The castle last served as a jail, and there was a guillotine I was disappointed I wasn’t allowed to get closer to. I wasn’t allowed to touch it either, which I wanted to so for some reason.

 

OnTopOfTheCastle

When Davy and I got to the top of the castle, I managed to climb the steps all the way up for this photo AND not bust my ass on the way down. Big feat for me.

 

ViewBelow

We looked down and saw where we’d passed by just the day before, by boat.

 

wishingwell

We made our way back down below surface and found this “wishing well” that tourists, who came before me, threw coins down into. But I imagine it could have been a toilet way back when for all I know. I threw a one-euro piece down the well and wished, “I wish to marry Davy.” 

Corny but true.

 

~

PosingInFront

The following month, in August, I returned to Ghent with my mother. I introduced her to her future son-in-law Davy, and then I introduced her to the castle.

 

MeAndMomzWindow

The next day, Davy had to work and so my momz and I took the tour of the castle alone. We both paid the entrance fee. I had no problems handing my camera over to tourists to get these photos. My momz and I look so happy! She loved that Davy went to work. She said he was a hard-working man with his priorities straight. So sweet!

 

MeAndMomzRoof

We got to the top of the castle and saw most of Ghent before our eyes. My mother asked me if I could really see myself living here. I answered yes.

 

MomzActionShot

While we were making our way out of the castle, my mother thought she saw something in the cross window. I love this photo of momz. Action shot!

 

ColumnI hugged a column in the basement of the castle. My mother begrudgingly took the photo. Plus, I love the flats I’m wearing!

~

And that’s my photo blog about a castle and Facebook.

Always dishing,

Jun

What Rice House Means to Me

RiceHouseLogoFinalJPG

Not many people outside my immediate family know this, but…

When I won Big Brother in 2003 and returned to New York, I told my parents that I wanted to invest my winnings in opening a Korean takeout place on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. It’s where I was living at the time and I thought there was a hole in the market. My parents freaked out completely. Freaking out was my momz thing and never my dad’s, so it shocked me. He’d become fearful.

My dad was still in the Intensive Care Unit at Beth Israel Hospital at the time, and he almost cried, saying he didn’t want me to open a business. He said it was too risky and that I should invest in real estate instead. But I knew what he really meant.

My dad was dying and we all knew it. His kidneys were barely functioning and dialysis was making his sicker. He just wanted to see me stable and back to my old life, before Big Brother ever happened, before he died. My dad wanted me to go back to work at Citigroup or any group comprised of bankers, and have a “steady job” again so he could die in peace.

Except he never said it like that, at least not to me.

I felt like a monster that day for making him worry, when all he should have been doing was resting and recuperating and staying alive. So I didn’t invest in the takeout place. But I didn’t go back to work right away either. I spent as much time as I could with my dad and my family, and months later I did end up buying real estate with my Big Brother winnings and I returned to work in finance too (more on this).

My dad passed away shortly thereafter, in 2004, knowing I could take care of myself but probably never considering I’d do anything as crazy as illegal (more on this). I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. I’m a different person but I’m the same person.

And now I’m finally opening a Korean takeout place – in my little Belgian town in Ghent called Evergem (Everville), no less! Rice House is happening and my dad’s not around to see it. But I can picture him laughing from heaven because I’m getting everything I wanted in the end.

I am his daughter after all.

This is what I’m starting with:

TakeABreakOutside

 

Where now stands Take A Break is where Rice House will open its doors on May 1st!

~

Every time I embark on a new adventure I try not to dwell on bad shit that’s happened in my life, but I do acknowledge that it made me who I was and who I am today. You cannot forget where you came from because nobody else knows but you, in the end. You owe it to yourself to never lose who you are, and to not listen to people’s advice to sell sandwiches AND rice. Um, no.

And for me and my husband Davy, Noah priority #1, and Rice House #2. At some point Noah will be “helping” me at Rice House and things will fall into place. I can’t wait for that day.

I’m lucky to have a man in my life after my dad, who believes in me wholeheartedly.  I couldn’t do this without Davy.

Always dishing,

Jun

 

 

Rice House: For the Love of Rice

RiceHouseLogoFinalJPG

I’ve been blog-silent for a week mostly because my Noah was plagued with a bad cold and pink eye. Life handed me a fevery toddler with conjunctivitis so I went into full mommy combat mode. Today on the other side of the week I’ve emerged triumphant with a healthy child, and I also happen to be the brand-spank-me-new owner of a Korean takeout joint!

What?

It all started a week ago, on Wednesday afternoon. Davy and I found out that a tiny sandwich shop called “Take A Break”, in our town square of Evergem, was looking for new owners. I never imagined I’d ever live in a “town” let alone blog about a town square, but for the love of rice anything can happen!

The monthly rent sounded too low and too good to be true. Plus, Davy attained all the necessary study and licensing for a start-up business way back when, “just in case,” before he ever even knew what Korean food was. By marriage I can also use the licenses.

The current owners of Take a Break are opening a bigger eatery next month in the city, Ghent-proper, hence their selling the smaller business. So Davy made some more calls and left some more voicemails so we could gather as much information as possible. My OCD took over.

Then that evening I was featured on a Flemish television program called Fans of Flanders and Noah made his television debut:

Noah ate through half the filming that day Fans of Flanders was here in my home including the Korean food I’d cooked in the segment.

~

Before the segment ever aired last Wednesday, I’d had a craving for Chinese food. I can make Chinese dishes just like I can make most dishes not necessarily Korean. But sometimes I just don’t want to cook! It happens to all of us.

So last Wednesday night I wanted Chinese takeout!

Here’s the thing…there is NOT ONE decent Chinese (or otherwise Asian) place we know close by (meaning 15 minute drive), but on top of it all most of them are closed on Wednesdays. But Davy and I drove on, with Noah in his car seat behind us, and searched for an open Chinese or otherwise Asian food establishment. Nothing.

We were about to head home when we got a call. If we were around, we could take a minute to take a tour of Take of Break! So we did. Davy and I saw potential. The owners told us that they’d leave behind most of the commercial appliances and display cases behind for pennies to their euros spent, because their new restaurant in the city was all stocked and furnished. With take-over and start-up costs so minimal I wanted it, but there were two other business-minded couples ahead of us, and both wanted to open sandwich shops. There are HUNDREDS of tiny sandwich shops in all of Ghent, but not one Korean food establishment. But we were third in line for the place.

I ended up making my own stir-fry and rice that night, and cursing the fact that I had to. Davy and I were convinced that one of the other couples would take the shop.

On Saturday we got the call that the first couple bailed, and the second couple seemed too hesitant, so if Davy and I wanted to open our Korean takeout…we could! Davy and I scrambled together, getting paperwork and accounting and finances in order, and as of today…

RiceHouseLogoFinalJPG

I am the proud new owner of a Rice House in Evergem!

It sounds insane but what about my life isn’t, really?

~

Rice House, a Korean takeout restaurant, will be open on May 1st, 2014.

It’s on “Library Street” (Bibliotheekstraat 6, Evergem) and just three bus stops away, or a walk, from my home. There is indeed the town’s library down the street. But there’s also the pre-school that Noah will be attending, in November, right across the street! I blogged about our first tour of Noah’s school last May…the one with the napping room:

NappingRoom

The idea of dropping Noah off at school and picking him up from across the street at Rice House makes my heart race it’s so cute.

Thanks to socialism and all its wonders, it’s easier to open a one-woman business in Belgium than it is in the States. How else would I have a (legal) business in my name in less than a week? This would never happen in Manhattan. But this is Ghent. This is a country based on the honor system and entrepreneurship in good ways and bad, and this last week proved very good for me. All signs seem to point to rice in Evergem!

If I can maneuver through Wall Street, be Head of Household in the Big Brother house, and mamasan in a whorehouse, then I’m up for the challenge of being Rice Queen in Evergem!

Always dishing,

Jun

7 Tips for Big Brother 35

TipsFM

Not to brag or anything and definitely not like other moms, but I’m proud of the Big Brother player my little Noah’s turning out to be, even before the age of two. Not literally of course, but in the context of life’s social game and competitive nature. I’m admittedly obsessed with watching people’s behaviors, and I spend the largest part of my time watching Noah in an array of environments.

Big Brother fans and alum alike, including me, joke about a Big Brother 35 season featuring alum’s children. Imagine a house of adorable babies all grown up and playing a season together, and their common link is that their parents were once on the show themselves. Freaky.

Too freaky.

I can’t imagine the show being around another nineteen years but at the same it’s quite probable. Big Brother costs nothing to produce compared to money that’s made by CBS, and the fandom isn’t dying down in the least despite the shows regression in other areas. Big Brother 35 could very well happen!

I can’t imagine Noah in nineteen years because I don’t want to picture myself that “old” and heading towards checking off the “Over 60” box on surveys. But I imagine Noah would do very well in the Big Brother 35 house. He’s now got daycare on lockdown three mornings a week, and seems to have alliances going on already. I’ve counted 3.5 alliances so far, and I’ll explain the half later.

This is all from what I observe, and what the daycare owner and den mother, Ellen, tells me:

1. Noah’s the oldest, by six or more months, yet he coddles the babies and is quite helpful all-around. This comes in handy in the Big Brother house when you find yourself “different” from the other Houseguests, for whatever the reason right or wrong.

2. Noah’s got an alliance with the biggest (literally) baby boy “T” at daycare, and also one with Ellen’s two sons, with a side alliance with Ellen’s younger son “D”, but with none of the other boys! This is excellent play in the Big Brother house because you need to know when and how and with whom to make the right alliances so that you’re protected in numbers, but you shouldn’t be a part of every existing alliance!

3. Noah eats like a beast every day that he’s at daycare for four hours and poops once. This is important because in Big Brother, you need to keep eating so you have energy to deal with horrible Houseguests, and you have to be able to poop with other people around, so regularity in bowel movements is good.

4. Noah has one particular alliance with his daycare girlfriend, “L”, and they always say hello and goodbye to each other each day. This is good in preparation for showmance possibilities in the Big Brother house, and for practicing waving goodbye to people as you evict them one-by-one.

5. Noah has a half-alliance, meaning he’s not committed to it but he’s not discarding it either, and it’s with a girl named “A” who’s right around Noah’s age and has a crush on him! This is important in case your run into someone in the Big Brother house that you’re really not that into, but they’re totally into you, so you make sure not to burn any bridges and make the best of the situation. 

6. Noah comforts a baby named “K”, at daycare, because she’s new there and all she does is cry all day…but then he’ll come home and randomly impersonate her by saying her name and scrunching up his face, pretending to cry! This is excellent for social game in the Big Brother house, because there’s nothing wrong with being civil to fellow HGs, but then you’re also giving the fans good diary room!

7. Noah pretend-cooks at daycare, and at home, and he’s all about making everyone taste-test his creations while serving accompanying drinks. This is always handy in the Big Brother house, for currying favor and filling your own belly at the same time…and this goes for drinks too.

NoahKitchenGlove

You don’t need to be an athlete or competition beast to win Big Brother if you have lots of other stuff going on. I can say this because I’ve proven it, and lived to dish about it. I don’t know how athletic Noah will turn out, but I know Noah will perform better physically than I did.

This is all hypothetically speaking, of course, and just for fun…isn’t it?!

Noah does have dual citizenship after all…

Always dishing,

Jun

But I Didn’t Steal Anything!

barrette

The first time I ever stole something I was 5 years old. I didn’t even know I was stealing at the time. My mother had taken me to one of the wholesale stores near 32nd Street, in Koreatown. It’s where she bought frilly Korean bows and hair clips for me in wholesale quantities growing up, imported straight from Korea. There was never a day in my childhood that I did not have some barrette or headband with little birds or butterflies, or other tiny creatures of wildlife, adorning my hair.

Five

But on that one particular day, as I waited for my mother to pay for seven dozen new hair accessories, I noticed on the floor a little plastic bumble bee that had fallen off a headband nearby. It was covered in yellow and black sequins and glitter. I picked up the little bumble bee, saving it right before it was swept up by a store employee. It would have gone right into the trash had I not saved it!

My mother and I went off to lunch, and at some point during the meal I fished my little bumble bee out of my pocket and began to play with it.

“What’s that?”

“Nothing,” I answered my mother quickly. I wouldn’t have lied had it not sounded like an accusation!

My mother eventually confiscated my new toy, but then she gave it right back. I thought I’d won the battle, but then she marched me back to the store from whence it came. She explained to the store owner that I had taken something from their store without asking, and that I was there to return it. But I didn’t steal anythingI shouted in my head. But I felt ashamed. I handed the bee over to the owner.

“Oh but this is trash!” cried the owner in Korean, laughing.

My mother maintained that stealing trash was was still stealing. I had not asked permission to take it and therefore it was stealing. There was no grey area for my mother, just black and white, or black and yellow in this case. The bumble bee.

Both the store owner and I thought my mother was crazy. I realize now that my mother was right, in the end. I never asked anyone if I could have that little trashy bumble bee. It was the principle!

That was then.

~

This is now…

Yesterday I went to a baby fair alone, without Noah or Davy. Davy had gone to pick up my iPhone from the repair shop, and he’d taken Noah with him so I could quickly make the rounds at the baby fair before their return. Baby fairs, or babybeurs in Dutch, are basically swap meets but strictly for baby clothes and products. There are so many different beurs and markts (markets) going on, on any given weekend, that Belgium is basically one huge swap meet of a country!

So there I was in the very small and homogeous farming town of Kluizen yesterday, looking like I was on my way to a winter funeral in L.A with a little fur, a little Prada, and some suede ankle boots…

I’d just snatched up some long-sleeve shirts for Noah, and for a steal. The shirts still had tags on them so I was quite pleased with my purchase. I was enjoying all my conversations in Dutch here and there as I shopped. I liked flexing my language muscles without Davy around.

I knelt by another table to fold away the shirts I’d just bought, into my bag. I was about to move on to the next room of baby goods, when I was stopped. A woman’s hand gripped my forearm. She was the vendor whose table I’d knelt in front of. There were boxes of her children’s clothes she was selling, right where I’d been kneeling, and she asked me in Dutch if I’d taken anything from her box.

“Wablief?!” is what I asked the lady vendor.

Wablief is Dutch for what/huh/Whatchoo talkin’ bout Willis? It’s pronounced “wah-bleef” and it’s one of my favorite words in the language.

The lady vendor then repeated herself, louder, and by then everyone in the room was staring at us, in anticipation. For her, it was probably a mix of her own prejudices and jealousy over my tiny feet. I noticed her feet were huge. I couldn’t help it.

I told her in my best Dutch, “I took nothing. You don’t have to ask me again. Look in my bag.”

I’d opened my bag for her, and everyone else, to see. There were lots of sympathetic faces around me but it didn’t help. I felt like I was 5 years old again! Tears welled up in my eyes but I blinked them back. I swallowed the lump of humiliation in my throat. I wanted to run out of there and wait for Davy outside, but it was freezing out and I had no phone! I couldn’t even call him to hurry, and I couldn’t even tweet about it! I felt so alone.

I rarely feel outnumbered “because I’m Asian” because I don’t go around thinking about it consciously, but then some days it’s brought to my attention like yesterday. But my pride was intact and I continued shopping. I even had a cup of coffee at the refreshment stand. I looked fine.

When Davy finally arrived I told him there was nothing left to buy at the baby fair and we left. He was psyched to avoid the chaos inside and we drove off. He handed me my phone and I took it quietly. Davy knew my reunion with my iPhone should have been a bigger deal and he asked me what was wrong. I launched into the story, crying, while all the adrenaline drained from my body. Davy wanted to turn the car around and give the lady vendor hell, but I stopped him.

I’m not into Davy fighting my battles anyway, and I didn’t want the people of Kluizen to remember “that” couple on their gossip train. And I didn’t want Kluizen thinking I was anything but a well-dressed and gracious Asian woman who was falsely accused of stealing by a beast with big feet. It’s better than being called the crazy screaming anything. That never help.

Then this morning Davy saw that there was a babybeurs happening in our own town. We had nothing to do and so we went to check it out. And who did I see as soon as I walked into the fair? Big Foot from the day before! Apparently she’s a regular on the baby fair circuit.

I gasped. I couldn’t even help it. There she was.

She looked at me, and she saw I was not alone this time. She looked away quickly and never looked my way again.

But Davy had seen my mouth hanging open and he’d followed my gaze.

“She’s here? That’s her?”

I didn’t answer him at first but he knew it. He started to walk over to her with steam coming out of his ears. I stopped him. We went in the other direction. Noah found a set of wooden puzzles he wanted, and we made our rounds until we go to the front door again.

Davy and I discussed possibly stopping by “that” stall to say something, but we didn’t in the end. The fact of the matter is, I am a minority here and as such, shit happens. I stand out, which means Davy and Noah do too. How we stand out is what matters.

Short-term it would have been great to shame that sasquatch but long-term, I have to raise a family and live amongst her and other big feet like her. I’m okay with walking away from a fight I know I’d win, if it might make someone think differently about what they already assume. I hope that sasquatch realizes I didn’t destroy her, on principle, although I could have.

At least I have a good story to tell my mother on Skype tonight.

I’m sure we’ll reminisce about the stupid bumble bee…

Always dishing,

Jun

 

Happy Birthday Sushi Delivery Drama

MeMomz

Today’s my mother’s birthday and she’ll never read this but I’m saying Happy Birthday to her anyway.

I ordered her some sushi for her birthday, like I do every birthday since I’ve been living in Belgium, because my mother loves sushi. My family loves sushi and sashimi and all things raw fish. It’s in our Korean blood.

So I ordered the sushi early today, via telephone, from AAA Ichiban Sushi on Orchard Street in Manhattan. It was my first time ordering with them. I couldn’t place my order online because sites like Seamless don’t take international credit cards online. So I phoned my order in and it was to be delivered to my grandmother’s apartment at lunchtime.

Why to my grandmother’s apartment?

I should have known to confirm the time with my mother first, because every year on her birthday we go through what’s known as sushi delivery drama. My mother knows every year on her birthday to expect sushi from me yet it’s always a hassle each delivery. Things like this drive me even crazier from so far away than they ever did when I was living in New York.

The thing is…

My grandma’s Alzheimer’s is winning the race and she rarely has her wits about her. She can no longer do basic things for herself and the doctors have said that there’s nothing more they can do for my grandma’s heart and lungs. She has a nurse for 12 hours a day in two shifts and either my momz or my aunt must be with my grandma at all times. My grandma’s physical and mental condition has gotten to the point that she believes she’s being killed off slowly by North Korean disguised as nurses and doctors. She even refuses help from my uncle because she will not show him her “privates.” She could be living in a care facility but my family will hear nothing of it.

It’s heartbreaking yet my grandma has breakthrough moments where she is crystal clear in the present. On Skype the other night she told me she wished she could cook my favorite noodles for me. She remembered!

But back to sushi drama…

Sushi Delivery Drama 1: The first year, in 2011, I’d sent my mother sushi as a surprise but I did tell her to expect something “in the mail” forgetting my mother doesn’t answer the door to anyone unless they’re announced in advance. Since my dad passed away in 2004, my mother’s picked up more irrational fears than she’s ever before. So when the sushi delivery guy got to her place, my momz refused to open the door. I had to call her and tell her to let the delivery guy in, while the delivery guy was on the other side of the door from her. When she finally let him in, she grabbed her jacket and headed to my grandma’s (her mother’s) apartment to share the sushi with. They live within the same apartment complex on the Lower East Side. My mother told me she’d never eat the sushi without my grandma. It was the first year they were widows together, after my grandfather passed away the year before. I’d ordered extra sushi knowing my mother probably wouldn’t eat it alone. It was sweet, my momz and grandma.

Sushi Delivery Drama 2: The next year, 2012, I had the sushi delivered directly to my grandma’s house thinking I was ahead of the curve. But it turned out I ordered it for too early and I had to push the delivery time. The restaurant was very nice about it because I explained that I was calling form Belgium to send my mother sushi for her birthday and I was having a hard time organizing it. And then when the delivery guy finally got to my grandmother’s place there were problems with the intercom system and again I had to call my mother with the sushi delivery guy on the other line. Momz had to go downstairs to let the delivery guy in but someone let him in before she got to the lobby. She eventually got her sushi.

Sushi Delivery Drama 3: Last year today, Noah was shy of turning a year old and everything seemed to be in sushi delivery order when I called my mother to confirm the time and place and that all the intercoms all work. Then I learned, through my aunt who called me to say I needed to order more sushi, that my uncle would also be there for happy birthday sushi lunch. So I called the restaurant back and they were happy to take an extra order. At first I thought it was incredibly rude how my aunt handled the situation but in the end she just wanted to make sure there was food enough for everyone. I was happy to for my mother, because it’s all about saving face and stuffing your face with sushi!

Sushi Delivery Drama 4: Today, I ordered my mother’s sushi to be delivered to my grandmother’s apartment at lunchtime because I thought for sure my grandma would be home. She is in no condition to be anywhere but resting in the hospital bed set-up in the living room of her apartment. But it turns out my grandmother, home just a few days after being in ICU for a week, was not at home at lunchtime today. My mother, and my grandmother’s nurse Kay, had accompanied my grandmother to some doctor’s appointment in midtown! It’s freezing and brutal out in New York yet my grandmother was outside instead of resting. I only found this out after frantically calling my mother’s cellphone, to no avail because she’d left home without it, so I had to call my aunt to find out. My aunt told me to push the sushi delivery back two hours.

Two hours later my momz and grandma were not home yet. The car service they’d ordered was stuck in traffic in midtown, like that was rocket science, and I cried in frustration. My sushi order had been attempted to be delivered once and when I called with another request for postponement I felt defeated. I asked for another thirty minutes. The restaurant was gracious and said they’d try one last time to deliver my mother’s birthday sushi.

So I called my aunt and she gave me the number of my grandma’s nurse Kay. So I called Kay and she put my mother on the phone. I was so antsy about the sushi drama that I almost yelled at momz right away until I heard her say to me “Nuh-moo choo-uh” meaning it’s so cold, in Korean. Momz had been waiting outside the doctor’s office for an hour on the look-out for the car service and she was freezing. My mother was freezing on her birthday! I felt so bad for her. I almost screamed at her.

I couldn’t. None of the sushi drama was her fault, just like the sushi drama the year before that or the year before that. Except this year it looked like my mother really wasn’t getting her birthday sushi. AAA Ichiban Sushi was about to make it’s final delivery attempt. I’d never been there before yet they were so accommodating!

The thing is…

My mother is a very good daughter, in many ways to a fault. But who am I to say? She wants to do everything she can for her mother while she’s still alive on this earth. How can I argue with that?

Today I felt angry at my grandma. It lasted only a minute. It’s not her fault. It’s nobody’s fault.

Alzheimer’s sucks. Alzheimer’s fucks with you. Add a few organs failing and you’ve got my grandma. It’s a daily struggle.

But today’s my momz birthday.

All that matters is that my mother got her sushi after all, by just minutes, on a third attempt at delivery. The restaurant was so kind. I order enough for everyone to have, including Kay, because Kay’s simply becoming family.

I yelled at momz on Skype just now. I had to get it out and ask why there always had to be Happy Birthday Sushi Delivery Drama! We laughed.

Happy Birthday Umma.

Thank you AAA Ichiban Sushi!

MeMomz

Photo taken in 2010.

Always dishing,

Jun

 

How Marriage Is Like Big Brother

WeddingCakeTopper

Marriage is like Big Brother.

I’m not saying marriage is a game, because Big Brother is no ordinary game. Big Brother is more like marriage than The Bachelor ever is. It’s no wonder that there have been real marriages arising out of seasons of Big Brother. 

Life, in general, can be likened to Big Brother but it’s marriage that’s the final two. You both signed up for it. There’s no cash prize pay-off at the end but the two of you take home the prize anyway. We say there’s only one winner in Big Brother but there’s actually a 2nd place winner so technically there are two winners, it’s just that one got more money than the other. If and when there come times when you and your partner meet a jury then your arguments will determine who wins. I don’t shy from arguments at all, in front of juries or not, so being married to me must be tough sometimes.

Throughout the game of Big Brother, like in marriage, your final-two alliance remains steady as people around you are brought into your alliance, and some voted out. There are just some people that need to be cut the fuck out of your life for you to keep your marriage stronger. You don’t have to tell this to people’s faces, since you’re managing jury votes, but you really do have to know when to burn bridges.

There are no real competitions or favoritism, and no Chenbot thankfully, in marriage.

But there are still challenges and rewards.

Winning food in the Big Brother house was as important then as it is now, and always exhilarating. Let’s say for example, instead of Food Competitions my husband Davy and I juggle our little Noah and a huge shopping cart down the aisles of the supermarket. An exhilarating win for me is keeping Noah preoccupied sitting in the shopping cart while Davy and I shuffle quickly, single-file, while throwing groceries in our cart. The shorter the trip the better-behaved the kid. Last week we came home with a can of Pringles that neither Davy nor I put in the cart, but both of us thinking the other must have wanted it. It turns out it was Noah who threw the Pringles in the cart! We saw him do it again this last trip, reaching into the same shelf, and the Pringles mystery was a mystery no more.

Luxury Competitions are like arranging date nights, or getting to sleep in the morning after date night. Sending little Noah off to grandma’s or grandpas’s on a random Saturday night is a luxury. Getting to take a bubble bath in a quiet house is also a luxury. An unexpected and delicious nap in the middle of the day is also a luxury worth vying for.

I never fathomed writing a blog like this when I was sitting in final two with Alison in 2003, but here I am.

Could you find a winning final two?

Each partner has to balance being Head Of Household and not being Head Of Household, and each partner must respect the other’s Power of Veto. There should always be a right to veto. When you take away someone’s POV then that’s a game move but also a sign of disrespect. I meant it when I essentially took Ali’s POV away from her when I was HOH that week Jee went home. Ali had won it in advance of my nominations, which many forget, and that’s why I nominated her with Jee. Everyone thought I’d nominate Robert and Jee but hell no. I gave her no choice but to use it on herself so I’d replace her with Robert.

I always have a lot of shit to say so I veto things often. Like I said, it can’t be easy being married to me. In marriage, your spouse should always have the right to veto.

There’s no need to mess with someone’s POV anyway if you trust them. If you don’t, then that marriage isn’t going to work out in the end. It’s a long-term passive-aggressive thing called love where nobody has to get hurt but it’s okay to fight with your partner. Sometimes you want to punch your partner in the face and reign them in to focus on the end-game but you can’t do that. You don’t do that to your partner, neither in Big Brother nor in marriage, you don’t. You signed a contract. You can think about it all you want and even blog about it but you can’t do it. You remain calm and focus on the bigger picture and you get back to keeping your marriage going, because Big Brother never stops going on around you.

Marriage is hard.

Some people say they could play Big Brother successfully when they’re not really cut out for it to begin with.

Marriage isn’t for everyone and that’s okay.

Always dishing,

Jun

Train of Thought Over A Cup of Coffee: Charity and Philanthropy

Coffee

I started on this cup of coffee and I’m almost done with it.

Here’s my train of thought over this cup, and many people may disagree with me:

Celebrities are great and their efforts to raise awareness in fundraising for charities is humbling, most of the time. I never loved Celebrity Apprentice because it always just came down to making phone calls to other celebrities. I just give what I can, when I can. It’s what I’m comfortable with doing.

Celebrities sometimes make or break fundraising events, and charities certainly appreciate the larger number in donations that celebrities afford them. It should always be a beautiful thing. Legitimate charities all over the world need funds. Literally. Money is tight for everyone. It’s nobody’s business but yours how you spend your money.

Most of my life, and even as a child, I’ve donated to charities. But I’ve only given a few times in the true sense of philanthropy. One isn’t any better than the other, as long as nothing is ever expected in return. I only differentiate because with philanthropy, I was never going to really know who got the help they needed with the amount I donated. With charities, I always give because there’s some personal degree of separation or person associated with the cause I’m giving to, and usually someone whom I respect or mourn or celebrate. I guess I’d make a horrible lobbyist that way.

When I can give I choose charities that speak to my heart, and I give quietly regardless of what size the donation. I’d actually play Big Brother again if the whole $500,000 prize was for a charity, of American’s choosing, and Houseguests only got stipend at the end of it all. That’s philanthropic at the same time as it is charitable!

Clearly I’ve had too much coffee or not enough, because I’m fantasizing about a Big Brother Charity season.

I should probably drink some water.

I’ll have some water now…

Always dishing,

Jun

Pride and Embarrassment

Alexis

Blogging every day like I did in 2013 was hard, but this blogging-whenever-I-want-to in 2014 thing is just as hard. It’s like having to catch up with a friend about my last few days and wanting to cover so many things that have happened, yet not wanting to sound like a lunatic. It’s been days since I last blogged and in that time I got a lot of shit done.

My U.S. passport expires this year, faithfully, after ten years with me. It was one of the best gifts I gave to myself in my lifetime, a fully-stamped passport. I could write a novel each about my travels to Aruba, The Bahamas, Belgium, China, Croatia, The Dominican Republic, England, France, Greece, Italy, Mexico, and some twice or more in those ten years. So with months still left before the expiration date, I took my U.S. passport and reported to the U.S. Embassy in Brussels this week to apply for a passport renewal. This morning, as a matter of fact…

Because I’m living Belgium I can’t apply online and so I must present myself by appointment at the Embassy. I don’t mind it at all. In fact, I realized this week that I’ve enjoyed all my trips to the U.S. Embassy here. Brussels is charming as a metropolis, and I feel a sense of pride as an American each time I approach that heavily guarded American flag along Boulevard Du Régent (in French) or Regentlaan (in Dutch). I never thought my heart would ever swell seeing the American flag and a huge portrait of Barack Obama on the wall inside the U.S. Embassy, but it swells! Plus, everything’s in English at the Embassy and the forms look soothingly familiar and I get to use my social security number which never happens in Belgium.

I never felt any kind of pride anytime I renewed or replaced my passport back in the States. I never knew this kind of pride. Back in New York it was just a huge hassle to have to “deal with” going to the passport agencies, and the costs and waiting involved.

My son Noah has both American and Belgian citizenship and he’s got his own U.S. Passport as well. He’s been inside the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Brussels. My husband Davy and I have talked about this before and how it’s the best gift we gave to Noah, dual citizenship. Perspective is a window and the more windows you’ve got, the more you get to see. I wish for Noah to travel when he’s old enough, and to fill all his passport pages too one day.

So after all this feel-good love for America, I came home today and felt the need to blog about so many different things. My love for America wasn’t actually one of them because I was still basking in the glow of social security number excitement. I actually started out writing hours ago about the new Survivor cast. But I couldn’t not address the recent Big Brother drama so I started writing about that. But as I was writing, I found myself sounding so “anti-American” that I trashed it and started this new blog with my whining about how hard it is to blog in 2014.

And this is how I end up sounding like a lunatic anyway, with a disclaimer.

In closing, here’s who I like from the new Survivor cast (knowing this means that they won’t win):

fav3

 

I find Alexis annoying but I her hair is entertaining in the wind.

Alexis

As far as what’s going on in the Big Brother world?

I’ll just leave you with this PSA:

Attention: The Big Brother Cat Lady is evolving every day and joining online armies and mafias, sisterhoods and Big Brotherhoods of the internet, and you should be very afraid.

It’s almost impossible to explain to a layperson all that goes on between summer seasons of Big Brother, namely October through June, because there are things that go on during the season itself that never should have happened in the first place. Right now in January, Big Brother alum and their respective fans are socially slaughtering each other, with some even exposing their body parts on social media, in self-publicized scandals. It makes my rivalry with Alison and the rest of 2003 look wholesome and healthy. Not that’s scary.

I blame America and maybe some of Canada and England. I blame the internet. I blame Big Brother live feeds. To be clear, I’ve watched the feeds and I love the internet. I love America and Canada and England, but I’m not proud of Big Brother. All jokes aside, this is embarrassing!

Thank god I have the U.S. Embassy to remind me of all that’s good about freedom.

Always dishing,

Jun

That Wasn’t Guy Fieri

FM

Juan Pablo is a moron.

It sucks that his friends and family are being hung out to dry with the rest of his dirty laundry. The ones who actually signed releases with ABC are probably having the hardest time, having to defend Juan Pablo’s honor week by week. Among the many reasons Juan Pablo’s a moron…

He agreed, as if he had any real choice with ABC, to use the old “language barrier” as his apology for his homophobic comments recently. The language barrier is so bad, according to Juan Pablo, that he couldn’t think of anything better than “pervert” to describe gay people. I know a lot of perverted gay people but I know just as many perverted straight people. At least the gays are honest about it most of the time!

And as a child of Korean-American immigrant-parents I know what language barriers look like in public and in private. Things my grandparents used to say in English about other ethnic groups bothered me so much I stood up to them sometimes. The older I got, the better I got making my point, but there was little I could do to change my grandparents. But the things my grandparents said in Korean were always far worse than anything they ever said in English.

I don’t know what Juan Pablo’s deal is, and I can’t quite compare him to my grandparents, but I know Juan Pablo could be saying worse things in his mother tongue than he could ever say in English with no recording devices around him. It’s not like I think Juan Pablo will jog around shirtless punching gays in the face as hate crime, but he’s still a moron. I hate that his apology was just another dime a dozen, in a string of recent headlines in forced apologies by bigger celebrities than Juan Pablo.

Then there’s the argument that if you have gay friends then you can’t be a homophobe. That’s like saying if you have black friends you’re not a racist. If you employ women then you’re not a sexist? We could water this down to vegetarianism if we wanted.

I don’t think I could handle any more Xs on Juan Pablo’s scorecard because he’s already up two strikes (child support drama and gay drama). ABC tried to distract us with lots of footage of Juan Pablo kissing because it’s the episode where the kissing usually begins.

~

It was the kissing episode.

Here’s who’s left:

Lucky 13

Summary of the kissed and a few notable non-kissed bachelorettes:

Cassandra: Can’t kiss. She confuses me mathematically because she seems so mature aka boring yet she’s only 21 years old. “My last first date was three years ago. I haven’t been on a date since I was 18,” she said to us.

Andi: Can kiss. Thanks goodness someone in this group can kiss. It’s too bad she had to have her first kiss in the back of the stanky kitchen of some soccer stadium’s “Wings & Beer” stand, but whatever. I’d bet $1,000 right now that she’d take David Beckham over soccer-playing Juan Pablo any day. I know I’m not the only one who got that point loud and clear.

Sharleen: Can’t kiss. Can’t take a compliment either because instead of saying thank you or even reciprocating, she just replies, “That’s a compliment,” as if to confirm. And when I say she can’t kiss, it means she kisses like a sensual dog as if a dog could be sensual.

Chelsie: Inconclusive kisser. Her first kiss with Juan Pablo was while hanging upside-down. I can’t with this girl. I like her and her goofiness but she’s prone to cross-eyedness when she’s excited. She also needs to stay away from green foods and drinks, as a rule of dating, especially on the first date! Her dark green tongue was skeeving me out.

Guy

 

Did anyone else think that the tandem bungee-jumping guy for Chelsie’s date looked like Guy Fieri of Food Network? Well he did.

Renee: No kiss. I don’t think she’ll ever gt a kiss because she’s too busy chasing after poor lost bachelorette souls who like to run to the bathroom and melt down. So far Renee’s been on-screen in the proximity of a toilet and crying bachelorret three times: Victoria, Cassandra, Clare.

Clare: No kiss. I told you I had red flags with her.

In closing…Juan Pablo said on last night’s show that his biggest fear is not being an example for his daughter. I hope he means it and that he always has a better explanation to provide to his daughter than he ever did for us. Juan Pablo actually owes us nothing. I just hope he truly is doing right by his child.

Always dishing,

Jun