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Weird Father’s Day Gift Q&A

MyBoys

Better late than never…

I write all the time about myself so I guess my husband Davy surely deserves a Q&A blog of his own, for Father’s Day…

I tweeted this two years ago:

Well I finally got around to it two whole years later…

Here are most of the questions answered by Davy. FYI. I learned lots of new stuff about him too.

 

Davy: No, sorry.

 

Davy: I was in a very weird spot in my life at that time. I don’t regret things I’ve done in my life. But now my life has totally changed. I guess I would tell myself… Use your brain. Don’t let just having fun be the only thing that matters. Buy an apartment. Don’t wait for that subsidized housing stuff to become available. Just buy your own place now. Buy Apple stock, save more money and use your money more wisely.

 

Davy: Yes all the way in the beginning.

 

Davy: Jun checks out and appreciate other women with me [laughs], pointing out attractive women out to me sometimes. She is the least jealous person I know. She is secure.

 

Davy: Well, in general, there aren’t so many women working as dockworkers. In Ghent there is only one female dockworker.  Because working at in Ghent still means you have to have brute strength and endurance. Charging and discharging ships means serious cargo. I started out on the docks using my muscles a lot, but eventually went for training and licensing to operate heavy machinery. But there is some heavy physical labor required in Ghent. But in Antwerp, there are more women dockworkers. Because in Antwerp, most of the cargo come in containers. So machines can do most of the job. That’s not to say these women don’t use their physical strength when they have to. It is just not as common as it is in the Port of Ghent…

 

Davy: Day by day. It’s not 9 to 5. It’s around the clock. But it’s good money and this is one of the things working on the docs is known for. Dockworkers can go a week taking odd shifts at any time, without really seeing their spouses or children. Everyone and everything moved around according to my shift. I’m happy that Jun never lost herself and she can find her way, with or without me around. She fit into my life as a wife of a dockworker. I wasn’t sure if she could. Not all women can. It’s not an easy adjustment. It has to be a team effort. But there are so many dockworkers who work more than they sleep and save their money and buy a big fancy car. Or a house. I’m always happy for them. But it’s terrible some of these guys can’t really enjoy these things because it seems like they’re working nonstop. Lots of dockworkers also discover their wives have been cheating on them, and that just sucks. So. Yeah. [laughs] Day by day.

 

Davy: She leaves used paper towels all over the kitchen because she says she “only used them once to dry her hands after washing them at the sink.” She says they can be reused. So there are always paper towels everywhere.

 

Davy: I let her be dramatic. [laughs]

 

Davy: Not at all.

Davy: No.

 

Davy: Very.

~

AfterIceCream

Very

Happy Father’s Day Davy.

I will try my hardest to be extra nice to you today.

Always dishing,

Jun

 

 

Dandelion Seeds

seeds

The fact that my son Noah will never get to meet my dad is one of the saddest realities I live with, in my weakest moments. The fact that my father never even had the chance to meet my little Noah is gut-wrenching to me, in my lowest of lows. For if I had to name the two biggest influences in my life? They would be my father and my son.

My husband Davy is my forever one. But I married him. I chose him.

I did not choose my father and I did not choose my son. That is blood. I am their blood.

My mother is the one who carried me in her belly and pushed me out into this world, but it is my father who shaped me most. My mother knows this. She loves this. Because, my father was unlike anybody in my life and this will be true forevermore. I know this. I love this.

Because you see, to know my father was to love him, the way you love the feeling of your feet touching the ground firmly when you jump off a swing. The way you love picking up where you left off in your favorite book. The way you love free-falling into your own bed after some time away, because there’s just no place like home. Steadfast. Solid. My dad.

And his presence was surely felt this April when my little family of three made our trip back home to New York, to be at my brother’s wedding. Noah played his part of ring bearer and flower boy to perfection. It was just about the most perfect day that 17th of April…

Noah

There were, however, countless loved ones in attendance who wished my father could be there, of course and especially my mother. But she didn’t need to tell us this. And we did not voice this sentiment to her either. We did not want to take her joyous day away…

image

But my mother shed not one tear on my brother’s wedding day, although I had, she refused to. She glowed. Her strength that day kept me strong too. I owed that to her.

Her baby boy was married. I was married. She said this out loud in Korean to nobody in particular, as we left the wedding hall, but I heard her and I know in my heart she was talking to my dad who was listening from above.

My mother carried that same glow when she joined me and Davy and Noah on our trip to the cemetery to see my dad, just a week later. We had never made it to the cemetery on our last trip back to New York in 2012. I’d regretted it immensely. But I knew it was time to pay my dad a visit, and for Davy and Noah to pay their respects for their first time.

I remember my stomach being in knots that morning, the 23rd of April, an even bigger knot in my throat. I couldn’t swallow, as hard as I tried, the significance of the day. I cried, so very much, as I prepared to walk once again upon the grounds where my father lay for the last 12 years.

I never did let Noah see me cry that day.

I owed that to him.

~

Noah held my hand and he listened intently as I spoke to him…

This is where we come to remember my papa, your haraboji, because he’s not here with us anymore. He’s so very far away that we cannot see him or touch him, I’d said to Noah.

I’d then picked up a dandelion from the plush lawn by my father’s tombstone. Because one of Noah’s favorite things to do is blow on them and watch the seeds fly away. So I handed Noah the dandelion as we crouched in front of my father’s grave.

If you blow on this dandelion the seeds will fly away and some will reach haraboji way up in the sky. That’s where he is. That’s where he will always be, watching over us. And he will always know that you are the one who has sent him the beautiful dandelion seeds, I’d said to Noah.

Maybe one day Noah will ask about heaven and hell. And maybe one day I’ll tell him about all that’s heavenly, and not. Or not. My faith has not been the same since I lost my dad. It was never as strong as I pretended it was anyway. And I don’t know if it will ever be strong again. It is why I choose not to raise Noah in the Christian faith though that’s how I was raised.

In that moment though, Noah’s eyes lit up. He blew that dandelion so hard that the seeds starting swirling around his face, tickling him. We laughed and stared skyward together, as the precious seeds floated higher and higher. It didn’t matter how far they made it. Noah was entranced with the idea that he could somehow connect with the man whom I’d just referred to as “my papa.”

Whoosh

We watched Noah run from spot to spot picking dandelions and sending seeds of love up to my father. He didn’t want to stop. Davy was surprised by how quickly Noah caught on to the idea of being able to reach my father. My mother beamed with pride. Her grandson was so expressive in his desire to be a part of my father’s world in that moment, and intuitive enough to know just what she, his halmuhnee, needed right then and there…

NoahMomz

And in that moment, all the once-tangled and painful knots inside me unraveled and I knew I was right to have waited to bring these three loves of my life together to where my father rested.

Three

It was a beautiful day, that day in April, visiting my dad. It was my very own happy Father’s Day. In Belgium, Father’s Day falls on the 12th of June this year, this Sunday, one Sunday before it does in the States. So I will be celebrating again and again. No tears. Just love.

So Happy Father’s Day to everyone, every day this month, every day of the year. Why not? For new fathers and grandfathers, fathers lost and dearly missed, or fathers found anew, fathers here and there and everywhere.

I feel you.

Loved. Cherished. Remembered.

I’m reminded always now, by dandelion seeds in the air…

~

As I finish this blog, I’ve received news that my brother is in the hospital and very sick. The doctors can’t pin-point the cause of his blood infection, but as of this morning he is out of the ICU and stable. I choose to believe this is my father watching over him. And though I wish I could end this blog on a lighter note, I have never been one to hide my emotions when it comes to my family. I ask that you keep my brother in your thoughts. Thank you everyone for your love.

Always.

UPDATE: Friday, June 10th. My brother has been released in stable health and has returned home to rejoin his new bride. I do not have all the answers, and maybe I never will, but all I need to know is that my brother is home again, even cracking jokes. The newlywedding can pick up where it was left off.

Amazing.

Always dishing,

Jun

Linda Catchup: Where Are They (The Boys) Now?

Puerto Plata

I feel like a bad bad person for not working more on finishing up the Linda Catchup series. But there’s only one of me and I can’t be a good person all the time. Nobody can.

So in an effort to ease my way back into writing more “Linda Catchup”, I’ve decided to start with a small update blog as a way to say hey remember the dudes of Linda Catchup? So here goes.

Before (how they were described in the first chapter) and Now.

Before: “Wally was single and reckless, living at home with his parents at almost 30. He suffered from a very short fuse, literally and figuratively, but was fun to have fun with. His chip sat on his shaved shoulders. He shaved his whole body twice a week, for nobody in particular, and for anybody he could get naked with. He was always read to party.”

Now: Wally went through major growing pains after returning from that Puerto Plata trip, and it was not pretty for a good while, but as of the date of this blog I can tell you that he’s no longer living in his parents’ home! He’s even advanced at work on the docks and is soon to become a first-time daddy!

Before: “Then there was Ludo, undeniably a ginger but his very closely shaved head looked fuzzy blonde most of the time. He was married and restless in middle age, and he was the oldest of the four dockers on the trip. Back in Belgium he lived with his wife of 2 years and 7 children. They were children he’d neither fathered nor raised, but he was their faithful dad for years. This was the first real vacation Ludo had ever taken in his life, and he already dreaded going back home to Belgium before the trip even started.”

Now: Ludo is still employed as a dockworker, and remains skinny as hell, but he is divorced now. That’s all I’m going to say about that. There was major drama following the trip, and shit got ugly fast and sporadically, but I am happy for him that he is doing his thing now and that he’s moved on with his life.

Before: “Then there was Koen. Koen had striking dark eyes and hair, and a square jaw that ran in his family line of men. He was always thinking, either thinking about or thinking through something. I noticed this about him right away. He was also the most reserved and the only single one too, in the group. He would share a room with Davy on the trip.”

Now: Koen is godfather to my son, my son with Davy. Koen and his girlfriend Xandra opened a fitness focused eatery in Ghent, and they are thriving. And yes, Koen continues to think a lot, all the time. He’s always thinking. I love this about him. And Davy and I always enjoy seeing Koen. As does our little Noah. Our friendship is a special one.

NoahPepe

Noah and Pepe Koen this past NYE…

~

Before: “Last, but not least there was Davy. He and Koen both had a mop of hair, Davy’s blonde and Koen’s black, compared to the shaved heads of Wally and Ludo. Davy was also one of those guys who always had a girlfriend, but always smelled single anyway. Single has a scent.”

Now: Davy doesn’t smell single anymore. Some may actually say he smells like a DILF. And the chip on his shoulder is significantly smaller than it was in 2010 in Puerto Plata, but it’s still there.

They never go away.

They resurface.

Linda Catchup will hopefully rise again sooner than later.

Always dishing,

Jun

Confronting

Wishlist

Mama, that boy has girls’ shoes on.”

“No dear, that is a girl.”

“But she has no hair, like a boy.”

“Because she is also sick like you and she lost her hair. And you will lose yours too, like her one day, because that’s what will happen.”

“But Mama, I don’t want to lose all my hair.”

~

How is a mother to respond to such a plea?

And what of the angst, when this child pleas with her mother and father that she doesn’t want to feel the cold and relentless prick of a needle in her arm? That pain and discomfort, all too familiar now, as she endures such steps in this many years’ journey that has just begun. This little girl, so charming and so smart, as smart as a slap to the face of reality that so many lives have changed overnight. Because, that’s what really happens when cancer hits close to home. Maybe you have cancer now, or your spouse or child, or you had it or know someone who did, however close or far the relationship. Maybe I’m just late to writing about cancer, but as much of a challenge it is, it brings together people who truly care about people. People.

We lose people in the news headlines every day it seems, that it’s an everyday occurrence that social media is filled with loss every day. And then the countless lives lost that don’t even make it to the ugly pretty news. Lives that are never even mentioned but are lost all the same.

And somehow you forget or maybe overlook the little victories, about people who live and survive, like a beautiful little girl who is taking well to the chemotherapy and eating and enjoying all the things children are supposed to enjoy. She may look different on the outside but she is the same spritely and joyous soul in a little body. Davy and I got to spend some time last week with Noah’s friend, Farah. She is just short of two months into treatment for leukemia. I’ve written about her before, and her parents Houda and Daan and baby sister Lynah.

Last week was emotional but we had fun that night with Farah in our presence. It was so very special. We did not bring Noah with us. One day when it’s possible we will.

But Davy and I saw Farah and she was as sweet and girly as ever, her eyes twinkled as always. She was her coy self and talkative in spurts, when I sat with her. We had blankets beneath us. We laughed, trying to get a video up on the iPad, because she wanted to show me something in English because she knows it is a language I speak.

Farah’s spirit sparkles and she is still everything good and right with the world, though her little body has been through many changes from head to toe already. And I wished I could take away as many daily dilemnas and pains as I could for Farah, as a mother and as a friend to Houda.

I say Houda is one strong woman. No matter how weak Houda may think she’s being at times. But she should never think herself weak. Houda keeps it together and she lets go when she has to. There is no shame in that. You must cry and lose your shit, in life, because it keeps you balanced and human and honest. But it takes a strong person to keep that balance. And I think Houda is really cool. That’s a rarity these days, sadly. But it makes you cherish it when you find it.

Since we last saw Farah, Houda and Daan have had to make the tough decision to cut her hair very short, because she started losing it at an alarming rate.

~

Since we were all last together, there has been one word that’s been stuck in my head because Houda kept using it in conversation. Confronting.

Confronting, as it relates to seeing your child go through drastic and sometimes overnight changes, and to be able to handle that kind of change. How you handle it truly shows what you are made of as an adult, as a parent.

Confronting. It’s actually the perfect word, and maybe often not used enough. Because sometimes shocking isn’t the right word but we use it, because I feel like I can’t use confronting because what I feel is not the same as Houda’s. But we are both mothers so I know well where Houda is. And she’s so honest about it it’s something to truly respect.

It must be indeed confronting. And maybe lonely. Because how many parents do you know in your immediate and one degree of separation’s away radius, whose child was just diagnosed with cancer?

Confronting. Even though you may tell your child, during chemotherapy, that this will inevitably happen. Maybe that conversation happened just a week ago, and it’s a most difficult reality to swallow for everyone. But I truly appreciate Houda entrusting me with her family. I try to balance what is customary here with who I am as a person.

Since then I’ve been wearing half my clothes inside-out some days, because so much has happened while my brain is trying to catch up with it all. Davy has since the last blog basically changed “bosses” at the Port of Ghent, where he’s a heavy machinery dockworker. So there’s a whole new hierarchy of authority for me to get to know, as “a docker’s wife.”

And Noah, he deserves all the love and attention he gets from those who love him, as he should.

The Little Shop

Noah takes very seriously his “little shop” where he parks his stroller outside and tends to business selling me croissants and cakes. He grows by leaps and bounds faster than my iPhone can capture, but I try. He is unabashedly wiser than his years but frolicking his childhood away. We have much to be thankful for every day, but especially cognizant of Thanksgiving coming up…

Memory

Noah also takes seriously indulging my mother in New York, when we all Skype after school. Lately we’ve been playing some of Noah’s simplest games and it gets pretty intense and very funny watching the whole thing unfold. There’s lots of love  not to be taken for granted at this pace of life we all fall into place in. We hope to, in the future, Skype with Farah, as both she and Noah both have already agreed happily to a date.

And…

Wishlist

This

This is a photo of love and support sent from many parts of the world to be donated to the children’s cancer ward of UZ Gent, the hospital where Farah is currently receiving her care and treatment. Cancer has far too many faces.

At first Davy and I were piling boxes into the dining room but then the boxes transformed into just outpouring of love. Even the always cynical Davy was touched by the immediate response from so many of you. It’s right there in our personal space, it can’t be missed.

Thank you to everyone who has given their words of wisdom and love and support, and those who were able to give through the Farah’s World wishlist and fund. Your cash donations will be matched and the wishlist fulfilled. I had no idea what to expect, and the boxes of love keep coming.

It’s not really done here. Fundraising and donations, mostly because civil and social functions in Belgium are well-funded. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a need, even at basic humanitarian levels just to bring smiles to children’s faces. I struggle with riding the line between who I am and stopping myself because “it’s not really done here.” Because I don’t want to change too much while adjusting to life here. Since starting the wishlist of animal blankets, I have talked to parents and grandparents and friends and fans who have all been touched, in some way.

Thank you. For whatever your reason for being kind today, it has made a difference in someone’s day. That’s a good thing, still, that nobody can take away.

Always dishing,

Jun

 

 

My Worst Moments of 2012

Screen shot 2013-01-01 at 6.30.05 AM


Facebook recently told me what my “Greatest Moments in 2012” were. As if a website servicing over a billion users could possibly know all my greatest moments. But they tried. And then they eventually changed the name of this snazzy new feature, to “Year In Review”. More palatable? I don’t know.

Screen shot 2013-01-01 at 6.30.05 AM

Everyone’s doing a year in review and we pretty much can guess what some of the major “greatest” moments would be for most people. But what about our “worst” moments? Like…

THE MOMENT I regretted ever deciding to spend Thanksgiving in New York, visiting family and friends I had not seen in two years. I had a moment of homesickness and heartache in that cold November because the long-awaited return, along with my newborn and husband, seemed like a one-sided wait too often. Facebook superficiality and absence had made some hearts grow farther while masked in air-kisses. Tried but not true friendships popped like kernels of popcorn all around me. But the truest of friendships are what emerged in the end, and I learned the truths in lessons. Family, close and distant, came together but never quite fit together enough to form a smooth puzzle board of a reunion. But it was a moment of regret, and nothing more, because I came to realize that Belgium was indeed now home. And I am happy to be back here in Belgium ringing in the new year.

THE MOMENT I opened up an enormous can of mutant worms aka confronted a whole bunch of people at once with their transparent insincerities and toxic behaviors. But I needed to stand my ground and ensure my place in this new country I live in. This year for me was about bringing Noah into the world and making me and Davy a family. As the “crazy girl who left New York” to live in Ghent, I need to be clear about why I left so much behind in New York. And lest anyone become unclear, on any given day, my priorities are always my husband and my baby. I make no apologies for stating the truth in the plainest of English and sometimes Dutch.

THE MOMENT I really thought while screeching, repeatedly, at the top of my lungs “I’m gonna faint!” that I really was going to faint and then have to be wheeled to some operating room and have my body cut open to remove my baby.  Yes, I really thought all that through while on my back with my legs up bleeding out of my body in the delivery room. Dramatic, much? Noah had been six weeks early. My labor lasted six hours and my deliver, a mere twenty minutes. And I live-tweeted it all. By all accounts everything went as smooth-as-a-textbook-cover, and most of the horridly gross things I was warned about happened. Oh my freaking WTF.

MY SINGLE GREATEST MOMENT OF 2012 was giving birth to Noah and pressing that magic button that made Davy and me, a family of three.

Always dishing,

Jun

Expressing Affect and Effect

Unknown

I am a wife, a mother, a daughter and daughter-in-law, a friend, a neighbor, a sister and sister-in-law, a cousin, a granddaughter. More. I am an ex-colleague and ex-boss, ex-girlfriend and ex-play-thing, as well as former this and former that all along the way.

I want to be an aunt, a grandmother, a mother-in-law, a mentor, someone to lean on, sound off to, a trusted ear, too.

I can control what I am and what I want to be, and to whom, to varying degrees.

And then something like Sandy Hook happens.

And everyone is scrambling to find his or her place in the horror, most of us fortunate to be far enough removed to be spared of a loss in our life in just one jarring moment.

On this Friday, for me the day that the world never ended, and for twenty-six families a week of questions of “Who I am” and “Who I want to be” and all of that and to whom is still yet unanswered. The question of “Why” has no answer and is the hardest answer to accept in all of this, for all.

Perhaps, I dare to guess, for those losses of family, it feels as if part of their own world has ended Mayans or no Mayans.

Can you imagine?

On this Friday, for me, I celebrate both in one day my two years of marriage to my husband Davy our baby Noah turning nine months old. Noah is already nine months old. Davy shared with me this morning the grave moment he had when he first saw the name “Noah” belonging to Noah Pozner, one of the innocents lost just one week ago. Davy needn’t say more because I knew exactly what he meant. The moment our minds and hearts raced long enough to privately be thankful once again that our little Noah was at that moment sleeping soundly in his room upstairs. And also in that same moment the pang of guilt for that kind of thinking, is what Davy also conveyed.

Can you relate?

On this Friday today I am more of a wife and mother than anything else on most days. Sometimes I am a bad wife. Because I can’t do it all, all at once all the time, but who I am on this day is what I give one hundred percent to. It’s what we should all strive to do more of, even if we don’t always deliver whether as a teacher or husband or wife or parent or friend…

To effect change around you make changes that affect.

To Noah Pozner’s family and circle of life, and also that of Rachel D’Avino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Leigh Soto, Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, Ana Marquez-Greene, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler and little Allison Wyatt, I think of all of you often and in the quietest and loudest of moments of the day. But they are moments in which I bite down tears and wish you all some peace in the answers around you and in the silences too.

Somewhere in the memories of your lost ones may you find more to look forward to, and right in front of you.

I dedicate this to my husband, Davy, on this our second wedding anniversary. For inspiring me to express somehow, finally, how life has been and what life is right now at the end of this Friday. And also because Davy found his anniversary gift early, as clearly I did not hide it well enough, and what more could I give but my post-apocalyptic love? And this blog? 

Always dishing,

Jun