Jun Dishes

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

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Furniture and Life: Into 2016

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I took some pictures of some big changes in my home as of late. Our home, mine and Davy’s and Noah’s and Sushi’s, which has changed in big and small ways and functionally too.

In our living room, we adopted a green leather double recliner sofa. A couch. But nobody here calls it a couch and so I’ve started referring to it less and less as one too. It kills me to do so, but alas, when in Belgium…

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The new green sofa is pretty massive and adds a big new color to the room, green, found before only in traces in the paintings hanging above it. Davy’s been wanting a “gaming chair” for a while now for his PlayStation fix. And though I don’t love-love this new sofa of ours, it stays.

For now.

And pictured above, truly is the state of our living on any given day. A small mountain of clean laundry needing folding, our coffee table covered with remnants of the day’s events, and Noah’s toys. Even Furby sleeps soundly amidst the mess. It used to be worse. There used to be bigger messes all the time, and mostly because of Noah.

So where did the loveseat go?

The loveseat is now in a part of the house which was once known as the dining room. Half the dining room is for dining and the other half is now basically Noah’s playroom.

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Our dining playroom.

According to Feng Shui, this is just where a “children’s area” should go so it all somehow works out I guess…

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The loveseat has already proven to be a success and quite a cushy spot for reading or Skyping with Halmuhnee or having a snack from our “real” kitchen, versus the kitchen in Noah’s restaurant right next door to the loveseat…

And at the kitchen in Rice House, there will be changes too. Not in furnishings, but in opening hours in the new year. Davy and I have decided that Rice House will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays instead of just Mondays and Tuesdays, simply because Wednesdays are half-days in the Belgian school system. Noah could use some more time with me, whether it’s to hang around in PJs or get dressed up and silly.

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And we can afford it, so we decided to go ahead and make the change. I believe our family will benefit greatly from the change.

I’m excited.

A place for everything and everything in its place, and here we gooooooo…veering into 2016.

There are some of us wishing 2015 never happened, or at the least wishing we could forget parts of it. Some of us are dreading 2016 even though it might have crept into our dreams once or twice, what life might look like in the new year. But we are still here. For whatever the reason we live another day and we are still here, and about to step into a new year together as a world.

That’s a big thing to have in common with anyone in the world, if you really think about it. If only it could be enough. If only it would bring more of us together.

The New Year’s Eve festivities in the city centre in Brussels are cancelled this year, because there exists injustice and sadness everywhere all over the globe…in parts we’ve never even heard of..but we, are still here.

Here’s to hoping 2016 unifies many who need it most.

Thank you for sticking with me another year.

Always dishing,

Jun

That Poem I Wrote About My Suitcase

Delsey

 

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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:

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O Delsey
(November 2010)

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“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

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Longchamp

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

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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

 

People Stare

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People stare. This is nothing new to anyone.

This morning I stood at yet another check-out line with my husband and my baby, waiting to pay for a few groceries in our cart plus a fresh warm baguette I was holding in my hands. And there was an old man, staring down at my little Noah in his stroller. Just staring first at Noah then at me and Davy, and back and forth between my family of three, for far too long for it not to be rude.

When I lived in New York, I assumed people stared at me because I was devastatingly beautiful (sarcasm alert). Or because they were wondering where my pants were. I abhor pants and often wear dresses meant to be shirts because pants and I just don’t get along. This especially applies when I’m on vacation somewhere.

Now that I’m living as an expat in Ghent, I assume people are staring at me because I’M NOT WHITE. Sure I am convinced that it’s also my fashionable devastating beauty, and the whole pants-less thing. But with a population not much bigger than that of New York, Belgium is 23% non-Belgian and that’s not based on skin color. Most of that 23% reside in the capital of Brussels, where 70% of the population is tagged “foreign”.

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But I don’t live in Brussels, I live in Ghent (spelled “Gent” in Dutch). Specifically in Evergem, that is mostly once farmland, where I can easily go days and sometimes weeks without seeing skin that is anything but white. I married a white man and into his family of white people. I love white people. But I love all people. But that doesn’t matter when I’m standing on line at the supermarket or getting cough syrup at the “apotheek” (pharmacy) or chewing on chicken at some restaurant here. I just get stared at.

And I don’t know if I’m noticing it more now because I have a baby of mixed Belgian and Korean-American love, or if people are just staring more now that I’m prancing around with a little mixed baby. It’s ignorance and lack of tact that causes my discomfort and feelings of offense. I’m sometimes tempted to carry a few family photos around so I can hand them out to those who stare too long. And charge them a euro or two for it.

I don’t mind so much being stared at, as long as when I meet a stare there is a softness in their eyes telling me they mean no harm and merely lack social skills. Sometimes we can exchange smiles and there’s even small talk. But if and when I am eye to eye and confronted with cold cobwebs of muted racism, I will still smile and nod while cursing them under my breath and carry on with my day.  I’ve never lived anywhere where Asians were the majority in number, but I know I’m not going anywhere and so I’d better get better at dealing with the stares.

But I do believe every once in a while, before I can even help it, I’ll be guilty of beating someone over the head with a perfectly lovely baguette I was waiting to pay for. Because I do love living here.

Always dishing,

Jun