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That Poem I Wrote About My Suitcase

Delsey

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 2.24.46 PM

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

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

~

O Delsey
(November 2010)

~

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

~

Delsey

Delsey, today, still looking good

~

Longchamp

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

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always dishing,

Jun

 

Noah’s Birthday in Photos

FamilyHanbokPhoto

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

To turn two again, chronoligically…

Noah'sDaycare

BirthdayBoy

 

Surprise

NoahsFirstCandle

 BathDeco

 

NoahHanbokSittingAlone

NoahHanbok

FamilyHanbokPhoto

Group

JoyUncleRobbyCandidSmilesPapa

GiftsHappy

PoliceBirthdayPartyKissRiceCakesSalads

CakeWow

BlowingCandlesNoseBumba

~

Thank you everyone for your love and support.

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

Cancer is real. Life is real.

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

Happy Birthday sweet Noah.

Always dishing,

Jun

Noah Is A Happy Sponge

NoahBridgeFM

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

He reached out his hand…

NoahBridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always dishing,

Jun

I’m Still Allowed To Feel Like Shit

CoolNoah

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

CoolNoah

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always dishing,

Jun

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.

tweet

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

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