Jun Dishes

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The Pace of Belgium is Looney Tunes

WECandRoadRunner

At the end of the day, Rice House is hell and glory for my husband Davy and me alone. Hell, because of the actual risk and budget involved. Glory, because it’s the start of new legacy for us as a family. Davy and I want to prove that it’s possible to stumble upon an opportunity and by humble means with our own two hands, turn it into a dream manifested.

WECandRoadRunner

But comparing what it’s like to run a business in Belgium versus in America, would be like what Wile E. Coyote is to The Road Runner. Belgium’s infamous for its red tape and complicated structure and processes, and overall slower pace of life. It’s not that Belgians are slow in mind, but there is no instant-anything as a lifestyle, compared to the States, where almost everything service-oriented is instant or “at least” within 24-hours.

There is no Amazonin Belgium! I’ve been living without Seamless and the always-open bodegas of Manhattan, and Duane Reade and CVS and Chinatown at 4am! But my life is different now. I miss little things about my New York life, but I love what is my life now in my little town of Evergem.

Especially being from New York, I’ve slowly lowered my expectations for anyone to hurry up and help me (except that one time I had a baby but then still, it took too long to get my epidural). Put simply, one of the side effects and beauties of living in a socialistic country is that…

Nobody is in no rush to do nothing for no one.

It’s probably a good thing because it would be harder otherwise, to get a moment like this captured by my hand…

RiceHouse18April2014

Rice House: April 18, 2014

Rice House’s exterior got a makeover yesterday! Everything could have been done “yesterday” but it wasn’t. It doesn’t have to be.

Unlike in the States, there is no rat race or aggressive sales tactics here. Your own personal deadlines are you own and so you learn to set realistic ones given your surroundings. You don’t “demand to speak to the manager!” here because it’s just not that serious. Nothing is live or die when it comes to business transactions. They’re just business transactions. Everything is completed in a slow and civilized manner. I know this now. It’s taken me almost 3 years to adjust, and I’m still not all adjusted yet.

“When do you think it will be done? “How long will it take?” “Should I call back tomorrow?”

In the States, these questions and more are answered and followed-up on. Business is done. In Belgium, all you get is shoulder shrugging and an I don’t know we’ll have to see. So you wait. You wait a lot in Belgium.

For example, if you deposit cash at an ATM at the global bank you hold an account at, then the deposit is reflected in your account between 1 and 3 business days. These are banks with presence all over the world. True instant-banking is only beginning to make it’s way over here.

There is no instant-anything. I miss it but it’s just a part of living here. But if nobody’s breaking their necks, then that’s a good thing right?

We don’t want broken necks all over the place…except in cartoons maybe.

Wile E. Coyote never actually dies so I guess that’s a good thing for Belgium. It’s a good thing for Rice House. Davy and I, and our little Noah, are proud to bring to Ghent its first Korean eatery.

Ever.

And when things get tough, this is what I remind myself and Davy to stay positive and less Looney Tunes.

Always dishing,

Jun

I’d Never Do That. I Couldn’t.

MomzMe

I’ve always been a risk-taker. Not for others, but for myself, a risk-taker.

Anyone who happens to come along for the ride gets to feel the effects good and bad.

Although she’ll deny it damn convincingly, my mother was also a risk-taker most of her life.

MomzMe

 

She left Korea for America, to give me a better life, and together owned a fruit and vegetable store with my father. I left America for Belgium, for a new life and to start a family, and now own a Korean takeout place called Rice House. Not exactly the same, but lots of risk-taking all over the place between two generations.

Just because you own a business doesn’t mean you’re rich. In fact, it means that you’ve probably invested most of what you had in life savings plus maybe a loan from the bank, and you’re now poorer than you were before. But you own a business! It’s pretty much the coolest thing ever after winning Big Brother and marrying Davy and having Noah, and still having fans who throw me love and support every day in different ways.

The risk is great but I choose to believe in my Korean heart that more often than not, the reward will be greater.

But…and I never thought I’d say this, my American citizenship is proving burdensome. More specifically, the IRS. I don’t understand people who say it’s “so complicated tax-wise” being an American expat anywhere, regardless of the country you were born in, because it’s actually not that complicated. You’re basically fucked. Any income must be paid in your country of residence, and also kicked back to the IRS. Even when I obtain my Belgian citizenship, I’ll be required to send a check to the IRS, plus…

I’m not eligible for a loan. As an American citizen you can’t get a loan in Belgium (and other EU countries I presume but I’m NO tax expert). As a Belgian married to an American citizen, my husband Davy can no longer take out a loan in his own country of birth Belgium. Crazy right?

The thing is, Davy and I haven’t taken out any loans since we’ve been married so we never knew we were ineligible in the first place. Belgians by nature don’t live on credit, unlike most Americans, and so we’ve always lived within our means. When I did my research before moving to Belgium, I didn’t anticipate opening Rice House or taking out loans. Maybe I should have. But maybe I was too busy packing to move here and getting shit translated at the Korean Consulate, and oh well.

And…it turns out Noah, by his American citizenship, is required by law to pay taxes in both countries as well. As soon as he’s old enough to work, he’ll have to pay taxes to a country he’s never even lived in let alone worked in. I guess that’s the cost for admission? Like a grand scale American Buyers Club without the drugs?

I’ve read articles recently, stating alarming numbers of Americans renouncing their citizenships and choosing to live abroad paying taxes where they reside yet cutting ties with the IRS. I’d never do that. I couldn’t. Give up my American citizenship?!

But I can see why some Americans would…

Nevertheless, Davy and I move forward counting pennies to the euro and we’ve made it thus far without a loan from the bank. We’d applied for less than $10,000, small in the grand scheme of starting up a business, yet we were shut down because of my American citizenship. Belgium and America are the best of friends that way it seems. They shut us out like mean girls.

Our accountant recommended something called the Win-Win Loan or WinWinLening open only to Belgians. It’s a 2.5% tax credit for a friend or member of the family who’d would loan money to me and Davy. This all sounded great but Davy and I laughed because we don’t have friends or family in Belgium, with money to invest in Rice House. I can’t imagine asking anyone struggling anyway, to lend us money. But if you do know a Belgian who’s got extra disposable income, then please do tell them about Rice House.

For now, I’m just literally watching every penny going into our business without compromising quality. I figure this is all just stuff to laugh about later. Right?

Always dishing,

Jun

 

 

 

Being Jun Malkovich, Kinda

Ducks

The plan was really simple this morning.

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

Easy breezy.

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

Welcome to my brain…

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

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

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

Ducks

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

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

Sushi

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

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

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

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

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

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

Noah's Head

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

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

I named her Suzy.

Suzy the Stove.

Suzy

 

 

Can you see me?

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

Boooo.

Then Noah had another poop explosion.

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

It’s been an odd day.

Today was a Being Jun Malkovich kinda day.

Always dishing,

Jun

 

 

 

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

On Not Being Dylan Farrow: It’s a Curse

Peace

You are not Dylan Farrow.

I am not Dylan Farrow.

I was not adopted like she was and I did not have famous parents like she did. The color of my skin and the shape of my soul are different than Dylan’s. I’m even a whole 10 years older than she is. Aside from growing up in Manhattan and maybe sharing a few favorite foods or habits, that’s probably all I have in common with Dylan Farrow on the surface.

But I am a grown woman just like she’s a grown woman.

I lied when I said I didn’t have anything else in common with her.

When she and I were both 7 years old, me in 1982 and she in 1992, we did something no child should ever have to do. We told an adult we presumably trusted, that we’d been sexually assaulted. Whether or not she or I were telling the truth, Dylan Farrow and I, undeniably dropped a bomb the size of a seven-year-old’s heart. That’s big. There’s no going back.

There’s shit people want to hear.

There’s shit people don’t want to hear.

But once the allegation is made that you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse…it’s a gamble. It doesn’t matter what age you are or whether or not you’re telling the truth. When you say it out loud it’s always a gamble. It’s a curse. It’s not what you think it’s going to be. Everything changes. Everything. You answer what seems like hundreds of questions a day between meals with ultimately justice or failure of mankind, on either side, done.

Every case of sexual assault or abuse is almost exactly the same, in theory…

“Sexual crimes are not about sex. They are about violence and control and rage, ” Jack Owens, author, friend, and retired-FBI agent of 30 years.

But Dylan and I have different endings to our confessions. My alleged rapist was a nobody who was born without a fair shot, and from a low-income home of nobodies, and not my Hollywood demagogue adopted father. My rapist was convicted while I was still healing and scabbing, but the system was all fucked up back then and he got out so fast he found me again and threatened my life. I should be grateful (grateful?!) my story was believed but it was a slam-dunk for NYPD anyway because of all the evidence and my rapist’s confession. The point being, I was a nobody and he was a nobody and everything got dealt with quietly and swiftly.

How would I feel if my nobody rapist’s face was actually my film-god stepfather’s face plastered all over the world on small-screen, big-screen, in magazine? I don’t know because that’s not a logical line of thinking anyway. This is an extraordinary case. I’m not Dylan Farrow and I can’t fathom being her. It doesn’t matter how much I have in common with her or not, or if I “know” her or not.

I’m just someone who had something in common with her at the same age and I’m now a wife and mother and survivor and I do not write this for sympathy, but just to be more aware of everything.

I wish Dylan peace through all the noise now that she’s said her piece as a grown woman.

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