Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Things I want to do

See the Holiday Trains at NY Botanical Gardens (before 1/11)

Go to a Knicks game (did you know they have Duhon now?!?!?)

See EQUUS (Harry Potter naked!!!)

See Speed the Plow (Jeremy Piven (aka Ari Gold, Super-Agent) on Broadway!)

Probably a few other things I can't think of right now

Speed the Plow is no longer starring Jeremy Piven b/c of MERCURY POISONING?!?!?!?!

boooo. so perhaps cross that off my list =(

Monday, December 15, 2008

My new hobby

Contrary to popular opinion, I'm actually quite the DIY-er (do-it-yourself-er).

Finding myself w/somewhere near 150+ old business cards, and not wanting to use them as wallpaper, I turned to the internet

Lo and behold, of course there are so many little uses for business cards. But I don't really have a need for 150 bookmarks. And I can't use them as return addresses on mail anymore b/c my school in Korea is not my return address.

I really liked the idea of using them as perfect little to-do lists.

Alas, my business cards are double-sided (one side in English and the other in Korean). So I couldn't use them as to-do lists or little note papers next to my phone.

Then, I found this website.

And that's how THIS

turns into THIS

Since I found all this while procrastinating during finals, I've only been making a few cubes at a time. But soon I will have a WHOLE LOT MORE and I will be able to make COOL shapes then. PUHAHAHA.

Yea. That's probably a sign I should get back to Torts now.

Last exam Wednesday morning and then OFF TO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ON THURSDAY!!!!

At least I have a back-up life skill if this whole law school thing doesn't work out. =T

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Contracts and Happily ever after

The intersection of Contract Law and children's fiction.

As I come to the end of the semester, I'd like to share a few of the thoughts that've crossed my mind during Contracts classes. Contracts is one of the required classes for our Foundation Curriculum. Taken in first-semester by most 1Ls throughout the US.

And it's a wonderful class. Not only did I learn how Contracts protect my freedom and liberty even more effectively than the "War on Terror," I also made poignant connections from Contracts class to the familiar fairy tales and cartoons of my childhood days.

There is SO MUCH that my favorite characters could have learned from Contracts. It's not a knight in shining armor or a Prince Charming that they needed. What fairy tales need to solve most (if not ALL) of their woes, is a skilled and adept contracts lawyer. Hopefully one who is very good at drafting.

I didn't do it on purpose, but somehow learning contracts doctrines reminded me of all the problems that my favorite fairy tale and other fictional characters had. Going through my notes to create my end-of-semester OUTLINE to study from, I came across the little notes I had written in the margin, trying desperately, perhaps futilely to figure out HOW my fairy tale friends could've been saved from their miserable fates by the prudence and foresight that modern contract doctrine provides.

Example 1.
Rumpelstiltskin. This is the one where the idiot farmer tells the prince that his daughter can spin GOLD out of STRAW or something like that so she gets locked in a room full of straw with a spinning wheel. And of course she caN'T. So she's all crying and then Rumpelstiltskin shows up and tells her that he'll spin the straw into gold for her in exchange for her firstborn child. Anyway the day comes when she has a child and Rumpelstiltskin comes to collect and the girl goes all berserk and so R cuts her a new deal where if she can guess his name, she can keep her child and the original deal is off. Luckily she stalks him to find him singing his name to himself and then is able to keep her child. Happily ever for her (even w/o contract) and poor old R who actually did all the hard work gets stuck alone in the woods.
ISSUES spotted 1. unconscionability (the kind on steroids), duress, constructive fraud, no consideration for modification on contract

Example 2.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The thing here is Willy Wonka's unilateral offer involving the Golden Tickets and an exclusive tour of his uber-secret factory. However, that spoiled brat Veruca Salt has her ridiculously rich dad just buy up a TON of chocolate and he has his factory workers just ripping them open until someone finds the Golden Ticket.
ISSUES spotted 2. who is the offeree who actually "accepted" the offer of the Golden Ticket? the factory worker. can you contract to have someone else perform (accept) on your behalf and then you get the offeror's performance? does not seem justicey at all...

Example 3.
The Little Mermaid. Ok, so in The Little Mermaid Ariel falls in love with Prince Eric (look forward to my love at first sight entry based on Gossip Girl) and following her father's total spaz-out because Eric's a human she goes to visit Ursula, the sea witch. The witch has an ulterior motive of blackmailing Ariel's father, King Triton, but first she has to make Ariel her captive. So Ursula names the price of her giving Ariel legs: Ariel's uniquely beautiful voice. If Ariel is unable to get Eric to kiss her, she becomes a little sea cretin - Ursula's prisoner.
ISSUES spotted 3. ok there are SO many things wrong here. again: unconscionability, constructive fraud (elements present: duress, unequal bargaining power, conflict of interests), liquidated damages that look totally like a penalty, nearly illusory promise (Ursula attempts to have complete control over the next few days' events), and DEFINITELY some tort claims thrown in there.

Example 4.
Rugrats. As children, my sister and I were avid fans of Rugats. So much so that my dad (who is like, totally pop culture illiterate) knew the characters on the show by description (i.e. "oh that potato head baby). There's this episode where Angelica saves Chuckie's life and so tells him that the "rule" is that he is now her slave for life. In a plot twist, he saves her life at the end of the episode and now she must be HIS slave for life.
ISSUES spotted 4. so anyway, given a few tweaks this would be an ideal "moral" consideration/past consideration case. however, Angelica's demand that Chuckie be her slave for life in "exchange" for her having saved his life is completely unenforceable. Even if he had been the one to make the offer, it would be treated as a gratuitous promise. Although, given Angelica's character, it's very likely that she didn't act "purely" gratuitously and expected something out of her act. In that case this could be an example of when the court recognizes "moral" consideration or restitution. Especially since he (was coerced into) actually performed - it could be read as his intent to enforce the "past promise" (Webb v. McGowin).

Example 5.
Pirates of the Caribbean. So the contract here was that Davy Jones would raise the Pearl and allow Jack Sparrow to captain her for 13 years in consideration for Sparrow's eternal service on Davy Jones' damned crew. Obviously, Sparrow tries to get out of it and in the end he does, but only after several years and a trip to Davy Jones' locker and the world's end and multiple battles costing lots of lives.
ISSUES spotted 5. Perhaps if he had brought suit for rescission of an admiralty contract he would've had better luck and avoided a lot of death and high-risk adventure. I would've suggested going with frustration of purpose or unconscionability (v.2.0) and maybe statute of frauds. Frustration of purpose b/c Barbossa stages a mutiny and Sparrow doesn't get to be captain for the specified period. In addition, there are only hints of how the agreement was reached but I imagine that Davy Jones was taking the Pearl as he does other ships that run aground (POTC 2) and Sparrow somehow bargained his way so's to postpone joining Jones' crew (serving for eternity rather than the typical 100 years). So maybe this would be considered a modification w/o separate consideration even. And anyway neither's performance could be completed within a year so statute of frauds is sure to block enforcement (no writing).

Ok. Tired from actual contract exam today. (haha rather than forgetting the course i'm all like YAYY more contracts examples!) - CivPro time starts tomorrow w/exam on Friday. (then 2/3 done!)

Monday, December 8, 2008

An oily question

How do they make olive oil? Or any of those oils for that matter? Coconut oil? Sesame oil? Grapeseed oil?

I have a vague instinct(?) that is has to do with compressing/squeezing the "thing" but I can't possibly IMAGINE how hard you'd have to squeeze an olive to get all the "oil" out of it. I mean, I guess there's all this stuff called technology and stuff today so they have some big silver cylinder machines somewhere doing this, but I really can NOT NOT NOT imagine how they made olive oil and sesame oil waaaaaaaay back when, when it was first invented.

How those Italians (Greeks?) and Asians even thought to squeeze an olive or sesame (seed?) until you got oil from it is beyond me.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What do I want

my girlfriends, a half dozen bottles of wine, and a few of the guys sprinkled in later

what does that mean? let me translate

One of my favorite memories at duke goes like this.

I think a few of us girls had had a ROUGH week and feeling pretty beat up and tired had gone out to splurge a bit on dinner. I had gone on a Target run earlier in the day and whilst dropping off friends on Central Campus, I decided to just grab the bottle of Riesling I had in the trunk and head up to my friend's apartment.

We all decided this was the smartest thing I'd done all week and proceeded to open up the bottle of aptly named, "Relax."

This somehow led to another bottle or two of the house wine to be opened and consumed. And I think at 2 1/2 bottles down we realized there would be no more if we finished the remaining half! WELL, first we had to check the time bc NC is kindof a dry state and they stop selling the hard stuff and the non-beer stuff at like 9 or 11 or something like that. Once we found out we had like 15 minutes to make a wine raid, we had to figure out who was soberest ... no longer remember but think it was unlikely to have been me, to drive to the nearest BP for some more wine (classy, you bet!).

So we herd into my car (ok, POSITIVE i wasn't the driver) and head over to BP to get at least another bottle or two before heading back to the apartment. By this point we were ridiculously silly. Seriously, I can't remember anything other than thinking EVERYTHING was SO FREAKING HILARIOUS!!! But anyway, at some point our guy friends started texting and calling us to see what we were up to. We convinced them to join us and they turn up TOTALLY SOBER (which was a surprise!) and I think they may have sat around laughing at us for a bit before they realized how sober they were and went somewhere to remedy that. Maybe. I actually have no idea. I remember NOT blacking out, but that's about it.

Haha. I just remember how warm it was in the apartment, how nice it was to hear all our laughter, how we couldn't stop laughing, how we kept counting the empty bottles and laughing even more, how I was blamed for drinking the least (probably only the one bottle on my own), and how no one really cared.

It wasn't crazy, or wild, or scandalous, or even that interesting - seeing how I can't remember a single specifically funny thing about the night. But it's just a wonderful secure happy memory. One that'll keep me warm for the ages.

=) nostalgic, I suppose. But with the phone calls I've been having lately, can you blame me?

I don't even care to apologize for the non-literariness or anything of this post. This one is for me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

hit by T v. hit by car

(to the left of that peninsula of sidewalk is comm ave w/cars whizzing by)

I keep having little "aha!" moments when it hits me, a little at a time, that I might be a REAL first year law student.

believe it or not, i've been applying myself, somewhat diligently to my studies and listening to my professors and i'm starting to think (maybe) a little like a law student (and hopefully also a little like a lawyer)

the first time it "hit me" hit me:

10/12/08 In Boston: While walking down Comm Ave and waiting for the T, my mom is saying how dangerous it is to have that mini-sidewalk in the middle of the street with the T tracks on one side and the street w/cars zooming by on the other. And this convo ensues:

1L: If you have a choice it might be better to fall into the tracks instead of the street
Mom: Why? Because the T is slower?
1L: No, because the government probably has more money than the random driver on the street has in insurance
Mom: Oh, wow. You sound like a lawyer
1L: Actually, I'm not sure - the government might not have waived their sovereign immunity to that
Mom: What?!

(coincidentally, this picture was supplied by the BU law school - i hope they don't sue me for copyright infringement or other unlawful use)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

another reason to hate cases!!!

i had this DEEEEE-lightful little seque that was both oh-so-funny and clever in connecting my last possibly very vulnerable-seeming post and this new upcoming one about law school and the onset of exams.

and OF COURSE i lost it in between the "aha!" moment of it dawning upon me and the urge to read JUST one more case before calling it a night and allowing myself the time to blog.

drat phooey. blurgh.

what remedies can i ask for against the stupid gods of law school? what can they possibly give me that'll make up for ALL the little joys in life that this [insert adjective here] year that is 1L has stolen from me. (converted from me? conversion of chattel = conversion of time and joy??)

oh, a little nerdy tidbit from my head:
today i decided i really really want someone to touch something, anything, an item i own JUST so i can say,
"hey stop that! that's trespass to my chattels!!!"

for those of you who are not well-versed in trespass to chattels. (i'm not either-i don't think we've fully covered that yet in torts)

so yea, i might be using that idea/phrase/tort totally wrongly. don't ever EVER rely on anything i say here as anything remotely qualifying as legal advice. hahaha. i don't want to be sued for legal malpractice before i'm even a lawyer!

memo 2 due thursday. like "tomorrow."

that technically i've kinda sorta started. but not really.
that i was kindof freaking out about. apparently, unnecessarily.

to put things in perspective. this one memo hath not the ability to make or break me. (haha watch me turn out to be wrong).

a. legal writing isn't graded. it's pass/fail and may or may not be subsumed w/in our legal methods grade.
b. it's not graded.
c. as long as i hand something passable in, i'm good.
(let's hope i don't take this lax attitude with me into december and onward to the bar)
(which is not to say i'm not giving it the best i've got given my current circumstances of ummm having less than 2 weeks left of the semester AND first day of sending out 1L summer intenrship apps coming up all w/in like 10 days!!!)

lawfully yours, c.pink
(how's that one?)

and one response i got via email to my latest published post:
"it's entries like these and statements comparing men to entrees that i wonder if you're actually a dude inside"

i miss dating. (the real deal)

(p.s. you'd be surprised how many image hits you get for googling "broken heart" lol well at least i'm not alone! =)

as promised. the original intent of friday's post.

i miss dating. or at least i think i do. maybe i just miss the requisite feelings that are a part of the initial dating ritual.

it's not even dating per se. i might just miss having a crush on someone. i might miss being obsessed with someone, so that i have to push them out of my head just so i can read a few pages before i realize i'm goofily grinning to myself again thinking of him (or her- i support proposition 8).

i miss being so excited just by the THOUGHT of someone. i miss that brief period of time when one name, a few letters, can bring me to smile like a fat kid in a candy store (parody of i love you like a fat kid loves cake) . i miss that unknown unspoken yet electrifyingly exciting fear of "does he like me? does he like me back? does he like me like me like i like him?" (borrowed a little from avenue q right there). there's definitely an adrenaline rush that goes along with the not knowing. it's that feeling you get before jumping off a cliff, diving into the deep end, starting off on a new adventure. you're not really sure where you'll go or where you'll end up or how you'll even get there. but it's thrilling just to know you're starting.

i miss the anticipation. the when will i randomly see him next? that comes before the stage when you KNOW you'll be seeing him again. before you get to the point of making time for each other. i miss the getting to know you. the selective sharing of stories. how you get a chance to show him who you wish you were before you realize that he already knows better and likes you for who you are and not who you want him to think you are.

i miss the first shared experiences. the first bus ride together. the first time he holds your hand and inside you feel like running through the streets yelling YIPPEEEE and random strangers give you high-fives like in an ugly betty daydream but you totally play it cool and his heart is also totally beating loud enough for you to hear but both of you act casual like this isn't a big deal, like this isn't the first time you're really saying, really admitting, ok i'm going to open myself up to this person, i'm going to care, i'm going to trust you - let you in and hope i'm not letting a bull loose in a china shop (which, odds are, is how it's gonna end - what? that doesn't happen to anyone else? just me? um... what yea i meant, me neither)

moving on. haha. incidentally that happens to be my next point. oh i love it when i'm punny. i guess my point is i'm realizing that i miss having a significant other. for a period from say 1996 to 2004 i continually had a "boyfriend." there were little lapses of a few months of being single at the longest. and not to say all my teenybopper bfs were intimate and life altering and so meaningful. let's face it, they were little amateur crushes that went a few months beyond crushing and angsty attempts at what the rest of the world told us was love or like or romance or hormones or whatever you want to call it.

needless to say, nearly the first decade of my formative years was spent in constant fluxes of crushing and the first steps to relationships. maybe that was just my personality. i'm actually quite renowned for never being able to make up my mind. i'm apparently also quite a sampler. i love to order entrees for everyone at the table so i can have just a taste of each bc i can't commit to just one taste myself - not even for the duration of the one meal. ykno, just a little nibble because everyone knows the first taste of something is the best. after a while you get sick or bored of even the most wonderful thing.

which is not to pick on wonderful things and i'm not saying that one "thing" is never good enough. it's more a reflection of the (im)maturity of my character. i'm still at that childlike place where every new thing is a thing of wonder and amazement even tho it's inevitable that i'll easily bore of it.

on the flip side, altho i don't think its the flip side exactly, i can't choose just one dish or commit to it bc what if i've made the wrong choice? what if i dont actually want the prime rib? i THOUGHT i did but really i want the tilapia filet. what then? better to be safe and have both available and have just enough of each that i neither regret not getting one or the other OR regret getting one or the other.

wow. there are so many mixed metaphors here i almost don't know what i'm talking about but DO want to find myself in a nice candle-lit restaurant. just kidding. i hate ... well kinda dislike candlelit restaurants. i don't like eating in the dark. i like to see my food and the people i'm eating with etc etc etc. part of my control freak nature perhaps?

yes, i can see that this entry (the window to my thoughts and soul) is clearly going to win me many a bachelor man for me to crush and swoon over ... haha they're lining up outside down the block already.

OR maybe that means it's time for me to go to bed. i'll have to run one final editing eye over this in the morning. and anyway, please don't take this as a pity me rant because i don't have a boyfriend. if you read critically (as all good lawyers should) you'll see that wasn't the point at all.

the point is,. well, i'll let you ruminate on that one.

the point is that i havent missed boys/relationships/dating/crushing at all for quite some time (let's give it a conservative estimate of 4 years) and maybe that was bc i wasnt ready again/yet. i didnt want another person in my life another person that could hurt me. but maybe im finally ready. finally over it. finally whole enough to be able to broken again. it was definitely a long time in the coming (making?). and i can only hope that it'll be worth it.

legally yours, c.pink
(i considered lovingly yours and longingly yours, but they were too "the notebook"y and not enough of me)
blech to cheesiness

Friday, November 14, 2008

i miss dating.(fake-out)

0r at least i think i do. and i deemed this important enough to get up out of bed, despite a pounding headache (the onset of which had nothing to do with imbibing alcoholic beverages - although i almost wish it had), power on my new baby laptop, drag it in bed with me, log in to blogger and start typing.

so i haven't really written in really, quite a long time. and i've apologized for that over and over again. moreover, even my recent writings have lacked a certain edge, a certain passion, the "soul" if you will has been MIA.

i don't really know how to explain that. i guess i'm no longer sure who my audience is. or maybe i've become TOO aware of who my audience MAY be. now that i'm in law school in ny, among native english speakers, among fellow students, i've lost a sense of anonymity.

surely, as i wrote my blog in korea i did feel safe, insulated somehow. the only ppl i thought i was speaking to were my loved ones an ocean, continent, and miles away. my other audience comprised of ppl in the same country as me, but separated by cities and countless koreans who had no idea what i was writing or talking about. there was definitely a certain sense of insularity and i guess even a feeling of disconnect that ironically made my writing truer and more sincere.

now that i'm back in the states, i've had a million excuses and theories why i don't write: no time, nothing to complain about, not a habit i had in america, etc.

but somehow tonight, as i was lying in bed waiting for sleep to sneak into my mind and blindfold me and claim me as the night's until the morning, i had a fleeting thought. a fleeting thought that turned into a few phrases. then sentences. and finally onto a paragraph and a vague outline for a full entry.

so here i am, blabbing on about absolutely NOT the topic that got me here. maybe this was just what i needed tho. an inroads to starting blogging anew.

so yes, dear readers, it may be too early to declare that i'm back. but let's tentatively make an appointment. say for sometime in the next 2 days. i'll go and write that entry that got me up and typing in the first place, and i promise to post it soon. the contents of that entry promise to be much more entertaining than this one.

and tiny little last aside, maybe i need a tagline. what is she talking about you ask. well let me tell you. so i really got into gossip girls in the past month and the premise of the show is a gossip blog/cell text "ring" if you will and the show's narrator is the blog author. so she starts every episode with some variation of "morning upper east siders..." and ends each episode with "you know you love me xoxo gossip girl." so yea, THAT's what i'm talking about when i say maybe i need a tagline.

maybe i need a cute little signoff signature thing. feel free to suggest some. or you'll have to deal with whatever insipid tagline i dream up. i'll try a few different ones out first. starting with:

legally yours, c.pink (read: c dot pink)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Giving up - or missing it.

(my writing is rusty - i can feel it. the voice is awkward and i'm grabbing at straws for words and phrases i can't say any prettily-er...forgive me)

This past weekend, as I sat and stared out the window, I was struck at what I now perceived law school was after 8 weeks of class.

Law school = giving up a million and a half things.

Law school = giving up ...
*relaxing days spent in the sun
*shopping whenever i want
*eating out whenever i want
*visiting friends in other cities
*seeing friends in my own city
*sleeping in on the weekend
*drinking on weeknights
*lazy afternoons doing nothing
*"free time"
*phone calls to keep in touch w/friends
*emails to friends
*responding to emails from friends
*exploring new york city
*long brunches catching up w/friends
*any nighttime activities

however, this perspective seems uber-negative and unnecessary ...
thinking about what law school is in terms of sacrifices and giving things up means i miss what law school actually IS

law school =
*new opportunities
*6 figure salary upon graduation (necessary w/that billion dollar debt i'll have...)
*not being at the mercy of corporate cost-cutting in a bear market
*no working for crazy bosses (for now...)

well, i'm working on the positive things that it is .. =)

last week started off as my "mental week off" but turned into my week off due to DEATH-SICKNESS.
my parents insist i had nothing more than a severe cold ... but i'm POSITIVE it was more than a cold.
a cold seems so plebeian and insignificant. my illness was, for lack of a more precise term, so much more than just a cold.
it was debilitating and extreme. urgent and dangerous. definitely took me out of action for 2.5 days of class...

and as one fellow 1L said, as a law student, "being sick blows - totally not as fun as taking sick days in elementary school"

all i can say is, YUP.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


All of my Amazon.com purchases have now arrived.

I feel that little puff of sadness that comes after any much-anticipated event (i.e. graduation).

It's like I had so much to look forward to, and now that all my packages have arrived and the joy of their arrival and unpacking and setting up is over, I feel like the hostess the morning after a wonderful dinner party.

Standing amidst the empty glasses and napkins scattered throughout her house, the event now over, there's only the empty feeling where the energy of anticipation once was.

Hidden in that hole is the question, "What now?" - what do I do now? Where, now, do I find my purpose?

You have to take all that "looking forward to something" energy and find something to replace it =]

Monday, September 29, 2008

Flashback: Korea

Byline: The Masseuse Who Tried to Kill Me, and the One I Love

So, since coming home, i've called upon my parents to take me to "Super King Sauna" twice including today.

It's as close to a Korean 찜질방 as I've found in the States. Actually, it was one of the destinations that I NEVER missed out on during my trips from home during college. It was the only place I insisted on going. Even the restaurants stopped mattering, but the sauna did not. Let me tell you why.

Not only is this modeled after Korean-style public bathhouses, but it's also home to the "DDEH massage". A fundamental part of this experience. Basically you're lying naked while an ajumma scrubs/exfoliates all the dead skin off your body. AMAAAAAAAZING. You have NO idea until you've tried it and seriously leave the place feeling light as a feather.

Anyway, this is the main topic of today's post.

But first, a short aside - I had my "Flashback: Korea" moment with an overly friendly stranger in the hottest of the whirlpool tubs. So I'm sitting in there talking to my mom about my weekend (PHILLY W/COLLEGE FRIENDS!!!) when a random Korean woman at least as old as my mom joins us and after looking at me for a minute or two, the following takes place (in Korean):

Strange Woman: Is this your daughter? (to my mom)
Mommy: Yes
SW: She has such beautiful breasts
M: Oh... um, thanks
SW: They're so perky and well-shaped, isn't she lucky? Although, if she were in Korea, she wouldn't want them that big ...

And it only got more ... for the lack of a better word, invasive(?)/interesting(?)/uncomfortable(?) ...

My mom is like me and is not a huge fan of talking to strangers or of fairly intrusive strangers w/no bounds.. so as soon as we could politely end the conversation, she turns to me and is like, WOW IT'S BOILING HOT IN HERE, LET'S GO TO THE STEAM SAUNA... (which makes no sense - if cooling off is the goal...)

Anyway, that was my Korea flashback b/c of the rudeness, and bluntness, and obsession w/others' appearances, and lack of propriety, etc etc etc.

Okay, today's main event, the two different ajummas...

After a few weeks of law school (ok, really just Legal Methods) my parents decided I was too tired and stressed out and took me to the sauna for a ddeh massage. This entails the sloughing off of the skin as previously described PLUS an actual full-body massage at the end.

THE woman who called my number was a new woman who I hadn't seen before. She assured me I would feel 1,000x better after the massage. She started off with the sloughing and it was SO ROUGH that I swear she was tearing off the skin underneath that hadn't even formed yet and some of that fat underneath my skin... NORMALLY gentle but repetitive rubbing does the trick of peeling off only the dead, dull skin and leaving the healthy young skin intact. Anyway, she kept asking me, "Oh, isn't this SO refreshing and relaxing?" with such enthusiasm and confidence I idiotically decided not to hurt her feelings by agreeing as best as I could through gritted teeth.

NEXT, the massage. SO, after ripping off all my skin, she starts to MASSAGE my raw skin. And I kid you not, this is the best way to describe her method of massage. It felt like, she had watched a couple VIDEO tutorials on massaging, knew what the moves LOOKED like, and then decided, confidently, that the key to a good massage was BRUTE STRENGTH. So she gave me horrible towel burn by ripping into my skin w/o taking into account that the towel covering me was supposed to move WITH me, not against me. And she continued to pretty much PUMMEL me and KNEAD me as though I were some dough she were ALLERGIC to and HATED with all her might. All the while, continuing to ask me brightly, "Oh, isn't this SOOOO wonderful?" and I had not the wherewithal to answer because I was concentrating all my might on gritting my teeth, tensing my body, and NOT squealing. It got to the point that any time she took her hands off me, I would exhale and relax for a split second until I felt her hands again and tensed up to defend against the onslaught of pain ...

FLASH FORWARD 3 weeks or so to tonight. Since tomorrow's Rosh Hashanah and two of my profs are Jewish, I only have CivPro in the morning. So I called my mom to ask if I could do dinner w/my parents in NJ, buy some groceries, and we could go to the sauna. I've been on the brink of a cold for a week and my dad's been on my case that a trip to the sauna will fix it.

So, we arrive in the sauna and my mom asks me if I want a DDEH massage. And thinking of what happened last time I'm all like, UM NO. But then she insists and as we near the appointment desk I see it's the woman I love love love!!! So I say yes please and then the receptionist asks if any of the massage ladies is ok and my mom started to say YES when I blurt out, NO, I want THIS ajumma (and thrust my chin shyly at the woman behind her who was smiling at me). So, they're like laughing and like umm ok sure ... and I'm like NO NO she's the best!!

And she is! She was the first ajumma I had here when the place first opened way back when (def at LEAST 2003, I forget if it was even before that ...) and she is SO wonderful. It never hurts, she's so effective, and she does all these little things that make a big difference. After booking for an appt 20 minutes later, I spent the next 20 minutes in expectant happiness (minus the awkward experience w/the lady commenting on my chest).

Long story short, one of my BEST ddeh massages ever!!! So gentle, and the massage was simultaneously soothing and relaxing yet to the point. She did all the little things that matter, remembering to keep me warm, putting my head at the most comfortable angle, tying my hair every time it got loose, covering my eyes securely so water wouldn't get in, etc. She's so great. I heart her. I feel so relaxed and wonderful that I've actually been writing this whilst fighting my droopy eyelids for the past - since I got back ...

So, good night. I will try try TRY to update more often. Just as dedicated as I was in Korea.
Will have to make this my new procrastination/break hobby instead of Amazon.com.
hehe - good luck to all in school/new jobs right now =)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


so it has been brought to my attention that i have neglected my blog of late. (KIMMY)

well, if you look at my past entries, you'll see that i've used this as a forum to complain and rant as much as anything else.

and it IS the happy status of my life that i currently have MANY less things to complain about.

i LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE school!!!! I LOVE IT!!!! omgomgomgomg i LOOOOOVE law school!!!

ok. don't tell anyone, bc clearly that is WAYYYYYYY too nerdy to even be real.

but, since i have to get back to my reading, i'll leave you with a bunch of pictures of HOW MUCH i love law school =)

my note-taking method. this was for Legal Methods - now over =(

what a newb. compare it with the note below ...

clearly my style has matured in those 12 days.
procedural history of ONE case. pretty complicated. what can i say?

an example of how beautiful rainbow hiliting can be

another one of the more procedurally complicated cases (and this is just the background info - not the "meat" of the case!)

isn't it beautiful???

btw. did i mention my professor was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's daughter? AND she had a cocktail party for us on the last day of class at her BALLER apt? With little waiter-y people and catered food and an open bar and everything? AND a coat check? AND here's the best part -- SO MANY OLD LEATHER BOUND BOOKS!!!

next up: foods i've made myself =)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Stare decisis

So tomorrow is already the third and last day of "law school" for me this week.

So far, I kindof really like it. Possibly even LOVE it. I want to answer questions in class but am still a bit too nervous to go ahead and raise my hand. Nonetheless, I'm definitely keeping track of my right answers and whether I know it better than the student who DOES get cold called on.

This cold call thing isn't so bad really. My Legal Methods prof is super nice and tries to guide people who don't know until they stumble upon the right answer.

Last night I got bored of studying and took a break by looking up "kitchen table chairs" less than $70 in New York City on craigslist.

So today we have a new kitchen set!!! I feel like a grown up!!! Our apartment is slowly coming together (I got a longer shower curtain, more kitchen accessories, including a dish drying rack thing, etc.).

Anyway, I was hilighting cases (part of my hw) today when I realized that I actually am starting to "GET" what these cases are about!!! YAYY!!!!

Then, here comes the nerdy part, I feel nerdily smart when I take notes like "saying facts are diff. so NO stare decisis" in the margin. HAHAHAHA.

I can tell, I'm going to like briefing cases and outlining. This is the kindof thing I would do for fun on weekendnights at Duke. Just kidding. Okay, well, I'm not REALLY kidding. Maybe. Sometimes.

School is awesome. I'm so excited.

And yes, they've broken me. Already. I haven't carried a backpack to class since 1998. At least. I was TOO COOL for backpacks. I went from messenger bags (9th to 11th grade) and then to my Longchamp (12th grade) and have never gone back. Until today. Wow, these casebooks are HEAVY. So, yea I brought my NorthFace to class today. For tomorrow though, I've packed up my handy dandy brand new "COLUMBIA LAW SChOOL" backpack courtesy of CLS. W00T!!! (just upped my nerd factor with that!)

Leaving the city tomorrow right after class for a doctor's appointment in Piscataway, NJ. Then golf Saturday afternoon with the family (haha, seeeeeeester). May or may not come back Saturday night. We'll see. =)

I love being so close to home. My throat started hurting yesterday so I took some Nyquil and went to bed. It's still not better today so I called my mom and bought some Airborne. My parents and sister were eating dinner in PalPark so they offered to buy some 죽 (porridge) and bring it to me. AND THEY DID. And they brought lemons for some lemon tea and my dad brought a bag of tools, in case I needed anything to be fixed or whatnot. Yayy!!! Then they took my laundry home with them.

I love being 30 minutes away from home. xD

Yayy for law school and YAYY for being close to home!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008



okay, maybe no one else is as excited as i am!!! But i LOOOOOVE shoeboxed.com.

and i LOOOOOVE organizing my receipts!!!

I've been collecting my receipts in (surprise surprise) a SHOEBOX since 7th grade (1997) i think.

I dunno why. okay, actually, my original reason for hoarding receipts was JUST in case i was the suspect in some crime, i could provide a SOLID alibi with the date/time on the receipt. CLEARLY if i was busy shopping, i couldn't have committed a crime, right?

I was big on nancy drew and ghostwriter and stuff. i can admit it. i wanted to BE PREPARED.

but since then, it's just become more of an obsessive habit. ykno, so i could always ... i dunno, reflect on my spending and evaluate my life? and then in college after going negative in the bank account numbers within the first few months, my mom told me to keep track of ALL my spending and record it every month. so in order to do that, i had to hang on to my receipts. so all in all, i just have a million receipts, and once in a while go through and record, tally, and organize ALL of them.

anyway, a few years ago, a friend of mine from college, Taylor, started this online receipt organization thing.
(please check out THIS WEBSITE for press and THIS ONE for more info).

i didn't get it at first, and then i realized he was doing one of my FAVORITE things but on the INTERNET and neater and it was AWESOME. TRUST me when i first opened my SHOEBOXED account, this was ALL i did all day. it's actually almost as bad as facebook, (for me at least!).

so i've had these BOXES of receipts in my closet for YEARS right? one for 1997 to 2004. another for EUROPE. another for COLLEGE. and a new one for KOREA.

at first, it was only ONLINE receipts. but gradually they brought in PAPER receipts. ACTUAL paper receipts. they were scanned and the info put online so i could SEE all my spending summarized for me on the screen. UNFORTUNATELY at the beginning of their beta testing for that service i was in KOREA and couldn't participate. DARN KOREA!!!!

but NOWWW that i'm back in the states, i've been dying to jump on this boat and sign up for mail-in receipts. and i JUST did. and omg i'm SOOOO psyched you have no idea. i LOVE seeing all my spending broken down. YIPPEEEE!!!!

can't wait to start mailing in receipts. and don't worry. i'll def have to call about what to do with my 10+ year backlog of shoeboxed receipts. =)

Monday, August 11, 2008


Today was the first day of orientation. We got our class schedules. I have my schedule for August's Legal Methods and Legal Practice Workshop classes until 8/29.

ANNNND check out my schedule for the fall semester. NO FRIDAY CLASSES!!! YAYYY!!!!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

shot down.

Apparently, 'round these parts: BOYFRIEND = RESPECT.

At least in my house. Which was never the case before. At least not that I ever noticed.

But please, 2 recent convos from my home:

(pick up lil sister - first time i'm seeing her since february)
lilsis: HI UNNI!!!!
me: HI!!!!
lilsis: so, do you have a boyfriend YET???
me: .... WHAT DO YOU MEAN YET!??!?!

complaining about my sister's stench:
me: yo, mommy. doesn't jiyun always smell like drool and sweat?
mommy: yea, well at least she still has a boyfriend
me: ... (SHOT DOWN) ...

Friday, August 8, 2008

new goal in life.

eat one of these:

it's called a MAID RITE and apparently it consists of....

iowan: maid rite is a bun with loose ground beef on it
iowan: no sauce i think
iowan: maybe pickles?
iowan: i've never had it
me: blech
iowan: bucolic popularity though
iowan: tenderloin is big too
me: ic
iowan: i think it's like a pounded deep fried piece of pork like a foot across on a bun 5 inches across
me: omg gross
iowan: http://www.allenbukoff.com/wildBPTiowa03/05Aug03JoensysSolon.jpg
iowan: i don't think the mustard or onions are traditional

in other news, i had a dream last night that included barack obama, raybaik, and costco. also my coteachers in korea.

so i was in costco buying groceries and i see barack obama in one of the aisles and i'm like OMG SENATOR OBAMA!!! and we like shake hands and chitchat and somehow it turns into i'm sitting in on one of his interviews and at the end i ask if we can take a picture together and raybaik appears out of nowhere to lend obama a better tie, and ray ties the tie for him, and then takes our picture!!! and when i exit the costco it appears that i was buying gifts to take home to america (go figure...) and i had to say goodbye to all my coteachers and principal and everyone AGAIN. ANNNND they were all madly bitter that i was returning to america!!!

anyway, i'm not MUCH of a barack fan. altho i guess i'm a bigger fan of him than i am of mccain based solely on looks. but mccain's ketchup wife is the hottest of them all. anyways, i made myself dinner tonight, yayy!!!

going home to play golf tomorrow and staying overnight to play with the baby seeeeester. back to nyc on sunday and OFFICIAL orientation starts monday. class starts wednesday. then one week until one of my favoritest college friends visits!!! YAYY!!!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What we like to call a SSSHHHHEDule.

I've played 36 holes of golf in the past 4 days. And it feels pretty good. Hopefully 1L won't kill me and I'll make it out for at least 1 round every weekend with my parents. (Anyone else in the area up to play with me?)

I know I've promised posts, and I'll be more regular when school starts and I need to procrastinate my life again, I'm sure.

In the meantime:

7/30 Bank. Costco run. Pack.
7/31 Lunch with ladies. Pack.
8/1 Sign rent papers. Move. Put together furniture with strong handsome men and Ashley.
8/2-3 Figure out my life in NY. Buy groceries.
8/4 18 holes.
8/5-6 Beach house.
8/7 Back to NYC. UN tour and happy hour with CLS folk.
8/8-9 Freak out about not being ready for 1L.
8/9 Sister comes home!!!
8/10 Yankees game, Staten Island. Courtesy of CLS.
8/11-12 Orientation.
8/13 Beginning of Legal Methods and "Camp Law School."

It's been a crazy 4 weeks.

It's all so close.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Another list.

so this isn't new content per se.

but i was going through my xanga, and it's actually been quite enlightening to read through my past and see what/how i was feeling in college (haven't gotten to high school entries yet...). there were a good deal of photo entries and funny/ridiculous/weirdo/random public entries, and also the private entries made me think twice, too.

anyway, here's a list i found that i had written:

10 things i ABSOLUTELY love doing:
1. buying stuff - not jus clothes, but like ANYTHING (ask jiyun about the pink "foot"notes)
2. eating/baking/cooking from scratch, i like going grocery shopping and stuff
3. being petted, having my hair touched
4. crossing off stuff on my "to-do" lists
5. smiling and laughing
6. winning at life
7. yoga/skiing/wrestling/racing!!!
8. lying out in the sun (like a cat! or a gecko! or a turtle!)
9. being taller/thinner than random ppl on the street
10. being the golden child

it's a pretty good list in my opinion (in the sense that i really nailed 10 of my favorite things to do) considering it was written almost 3 years ago and i would say that it's pretty much unchanged. i would add SWIMMING to #7 and replace "racing" with "running". but all in all that's it.

i always think it's good to reflect on your past/life and sometimes an old journal/blog is the right way to do it. i'm always surprised at both how repetitive my thoughts are and the new insights i gained and then lost. there are also a few themes that show up over and over again. and other little surprises that i didn't remember until reading my own words jogged my memory. and there's always that elusive "you" that i address some of my entries to. sometimes i remember exactly who "you" was supposed to be and i smile, or laugh, or cringe, or feel embarrassed. haha.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Accomplished, Week 1:

Or, Things I've done so far:
Drank skim milk every morning!
Eaten superfresh and superfab sushi.
Gone to the mall (2x!).
Gone to Whole Foods.
Gone grocery shopping.
Pumped gas.
Gone on a road trip (Niagara Falls!).
Gotten a new cell phone and number.
Called all my favorites for phone chats.
Eaten a turkey burger (yum!).
Eaten ravioli.
Been surrounded by guidos.
Eaten lunch in Bryant Park, NY (home of Fashion Week).
Opened new checking AND savings accounts.
Opened a new credit card.
Unpacked and put away all my Korea stuff.
Fallen asleep watching Food Network.
Worn my new suit.
Worn short shorts!
Flirted shamelessly.
Ogled and been ogled.
Showered with a curtain/door (no water on the floor!).
Been tempted to buy a million flavors of jelly (because I can!) but settled on my favorite strawberry.
Drank Mango Madness, Pomegranate Lemonade, Vitamin Water, and DASANI.
Been drinking my 8+ glasses of water a day!

Things yet to be done:
Get my haircut/permed.
See my sister/Visit Boston.
Go to DC/see my college friends.
Clean out my closet.
Pack for CLS.
Change my move-in date.
Go to my doctor/dermatologist.
Look at/buy furniture for my new apartment.
Go to Target.
Cook a meal.
Find my diamond necklace from graduation that I hid a little TOO well in a REALLY REALLY safe place before going to Korea...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


For the lack of updates.

Been crazy busy. And happy.

My condolences to those of you still in the motherland.

Will be in DC for a week starting Friday.

Will try to post/schedule some entries before I leave.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The end.

I really felt it. For the first time since I've already known it in my head, I really felt that I'm leaving.

After closing one bank account, and sitting at the next, as the woman across the counter from me was stamping her forms and giving me papers to sign, and I realized I had muchos DOLLARS and no WON anymore, I finally felt that I was going home, going to leave Korea, and going to America.

Isn't that crazy? After all my countdowns and packing and saying goodbye, all it took was some money, and I really felt like I was finally leaving.

On another note, was American money always this LONG? It seems fake to me...

Monday, June 30, 2008

Thank you. School edition.

(And, yes, I wrote it all by myself. It was edited by my mom, old korean school principal (he's now in Cheongju), and my favorite coteacher).

남성 초등학교 가족 여러분~

떠나는 날이 다가와 마음이 조금 슬퍼지네요.

제가 글씨를 워낙 못써서 컴퓨터로 이 편지를 쓰지만, 손으로 쓴 글씨와 마찬가지로 마음을 담아 쓴다고 믿어주세요.

일년 동안 남성 초등학교에서 지내니, 행복했던 시간들, 약간은 힘들고 어려운 시간들이 꽤 많았네요.

제가 못 알아 보는 선생님들도 청주 시내나 학교 밖에서도 저를 알아보고 인사 해 주셔서 고마웠어요. 우리 나라 이지만 낯선 나라에 와서 혼자있는데, 알아 봐 주는 사람들이 있어서 외롭고 힘겨운 시간들을 따뜻하게 보낼 수 있었어요.

제가 까다롭게 급식소에서 이것 저것 안 먹겠다고 해도 다 이해 해 주셔서 감사했습니다. 제가 체험을 하러 왔는데 너무나 제가 편리한 대로 살았지요?

제가 도움이 필요할 때마다, 그때그때 도움을 준 분들께도 모두 다 너무 너무고맙습니다. 교무실에서 복사하는것 코팅하는것, 다 도와주신 혜정언니. 말은 많이 안 나누었지만, 저를 말없이 많이 도와주셔서 고마웠어요.

홍기성 선생님, 제가 한글로 깔린 컴퓨터 잘 못쓰고 제가 쓰는 Mac 컴퓨터도 학교에서 잘 안되고, 많이 불편하셨죠? 제가 컴퓨터 없이 수업을 못하니, 저 때문에 교실에서 애 많이쓰셨습니다. 제 수업들이 잘 진행 될 수 있었던것도 선생님 덕분이에요.

행정실에 있는 모든분 그리고 기사님들, 제가 알게 모르게 많이 도와주신것 감사합니다. 제가 교실의 불편한 점을 이야기 할때 마다 그때그때 고쳐주시고 해결해 주셔서 감사합니다.

저하고 같이 협력 수업하신 1, 2학년 선생님들, 너무 고마워요. 저하고 workshop하실때 많이 불편하고 답답하셨죠? 안 통할때도 많았지만 제 의견을 꼭 들어주시고, 수업 준비를 도와주셔서 고마워요. 교실에서도, 밖에서도요, 선생님들께서 저를 챙겨주시는 마음을 많이 느꼈어요. 수고많이 하셨습니다.

영어전담 선생님들, 김선혜부장선생님, 서현주선생님, 손민희선생님, 저때문에 많이 힘들으셨죠? 매일 무엇이 필요한지, 불편하지 않은지, 점심은 먹었는지 챙겨 주셔서 고마워요. 선생님들 없이는 정말 남성초등학교에서 무엇을 어떻게 해야 하는지 아무것도 몰랐을거예요. 일년 동안 꾸준히 잘 보살펴 주셔서 감사합니다.

그리고 교장, 교감선생님, 저를 예뻐해 주시고 항상 너그럽게 대해 주셔서 감사합니다. 제가 매일 인사를 드렸어야 하는데…

아침에 원래 잘 못 일어나는데다가 계속 몸이 안 좋아서 조금 게을렀습니다. 인사를 꼬박 꼬박 못 드려서 죄송한 마음으로 늘 수업에 최선을 다 할려고 열심히 노력했습니다.

이제 정이들고, 적응도 왠만큼 되고 하니까 가야하는 것이 아쉽습니다. 제가 일년이란 시간속에 좋은 추억과 경험을 할 수 있도록 기회를 주셔서 감사했습니다. 제가 앞으로 어느 곳에 있던지, 무엇을 하던지 남성초등학교에서 체험했던 좋은 추억과 경험을 잊지 않고 살아가겠습니다.

일년동안 저와 함께한 모든 분들께 다시 한번 감사의 마음을 전하며

남성초 모든 직원과 학생들을 위하여!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


yea, that's pretty much my nickname. Always.

I don't mean to cry. But I've always been somewhat of a crier. Movies, books, TV shows, even commercials. Actually, even songs and national anthems. Sometimes an audience clapping is all it takes. And I start crying.

This time it started on Tuesday. And it was totally unexpected.

But here I am crying again.

Tuesday: Saying my final goodbye to that first class of the week and I started welling up. We took a class picture and I thought I would burst, but I held them back. THEN, out of nowhere, one of the girls comes back to my classroom, manages a "Teacher, I love you!" and then bursts into tears. At which I can't help but start crying also. Did I mention? Other people crying is usually enough to set me off.

Every class after her, I cried a little as they left. I could usually hold it in until they waved their final goodbyes and headed down the stairs, but as soon as I turned back to my empty classroom I no longer had to beam that smile. I felt the realization that I will most likely NEVER see these kids again. And then the tears would come.

Last night was our final hweshik with all the teachers I taught with and the VP and principal and out tech teacher who is in love with me. It was wonderful. I managed not to cry during dinner or at the cafe afterwards. But when I got home and unwrapped the album and earrings they got me, I couldn't help it. Despite all my complaints and whining, I've developed some 정 for these people. The people who kept me afloat during my year abroad.

One of the 2nd grade classes (the worst one, the one that I yelled at 3x on their first day and I wrote about it HERE) wrote me goodbye letters. And although most of them are the same bland "Thank you, we'll miss you, please don't go, I learned a lot of English thanks to you" format, a few were really wonderful and surprising. There were students who I thought never paid attention but then wrote me full-page letters talking about how I made English fun for them. There was one who even thanked me for teaching them so exuberantly to the point of sweating. And another girl who wrote that she would miss me but how happy I must be to be going home. They surprised me with their depth and compassion.

And now I just received a fresh batch of letters from my first 1st grade class. It's not the same, as I've only taught these kids for 2 and a half months, and I've been with my 2nd graders since I first got here in July. But wow, the thought these kids have given me, is so touching and I'm so lucky to have been here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Geography of thought.

The Geography of Thought : How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why by Richard Nisbett

I bought this book in Seoul in January. I hoped it would do several things for me:

a) I hoped it would quench my thirst for some of the research-based non-fiction books I had to read so many of during undergrad as a social science major.
b) I hoped it would help me make sense of the craziness I perceived as going on all around me here in Korea.
c) I hoped it would explain some of why I sometimes felt SO American and sometimes SO Korean and sometimes SO neither and both at the same time.

Here is a quote that jumped out at me:

While a special occasion for the ancient Greek might mean attendance at plays and poetry readings, a special occasion for the Chinese of the same period would be an opportunity to visit with friends and family.

Yes, and wow. This jumped out mostly because it described my own confusing and complex internal struggle. While not always, a special occasion, every weekend I was confronted by this choice: visit my family or travel/do something cultural?

Be filially pious (pietous?) and visit my family? One kind of special occasion. Or be independent and add to my experiences by doing something more cultural and intellectually stimulating? Another kind of special occasion.

My dad always pushed for me to spend time with my family (his family) while my mom pushed for me to do what I wanted. Thus fulfilling their stereotyped roles as traditional, ironfisted father and liberal, self-improving mother.

This next quote further got me thinking:

Philosopher Henry Rosemont has written: “… for the early Confucians, there can be no me in isolation, to be considered abstractly: I am the totality of roles I live in relation to specific others...taken collectively, they weave, for each of us, a unique pattern of personal identity, such that if some of my roles change, the others will of necessity change also, literally making me a different person.

The "Western" way IS, in fact, so much more about individualism and the self. Whereas, clearly, the "Eastern" way is more about the self in relation to others. ALWAYS in relation to others.

Of course ancient Greeks chose self-improvement in the form of music, plays, or other classically intellectual endeavors in their spare time. In a culture where the self is the most important entity, any improvement to the self, especially in terms of being cultured is an improvement to the most important thing in the society.

In the East, where the self does not exist without others, this relationship is seen and treated literally and metaphorically. Literally in terms, of family ties and bonds and blood relationships.
*Literal example: Without my parents, I would not exist. And without my grandparents, my parents would not exist. And thus without (ever-increasing web of) these people I would not be.
*Metaphoric example: The concept of "me/self/I" does not exist outside of my relationships to others. I am Youn's daughter, Jessica's sister, Namsung's English teacher, Ashley's friend, etc. etc. etc. WIthout these relationships/definitions, I am NOTHING.

Coming from THIS particular understanding of the self, clearly it makes sense to always foster and nurture these bonds and relationships, THUS strengthening the self. Strong relationships = strong definition of self.

The book was a bit cheesy and overgeneralized certain things, but in general it was an interesting take on the confusion that is my life. A confusion that has only increased and been in constant tumult since my sojourn to this country of my forefathers (and foremothers - let's not be sexist here). I have often experienced conflict over simple decisions for my friends - conflicted by my ideas of superiority of self (sometimes it's ok to be selfish) and my inbred need to please others and create social harmony (never being able to say "no).

Being in Korea, only confused me all the more. It both challenged and strengthened the Western "ME" parts of me and the Eastern "US" parts of me/us. You can imagine this internal struggle/battle of wills and crazy snippets of voices of advice and random mutterings from my family, friends, society, media, Confucius, Aristotle, etc. that was CONSTANTLY running through my head. ON top of all that, there was the INTERNAL part that's like, I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU SAY, I'M AN AMERICAN AND I DO THINGS MY WAY some days, and other days it's like, I CARE WHAT ALL OF YOU SAY AND I'VE GOTTA JUST SAY YES AND DO WHAT MAKES EVERYONE HAPPY (increase overall utility - that was also kindof the econ/pps nerd part of me, in addition to the Korean and American parts).

I could totally branch out at this point about how the "Asian" perspective helped me understand why Koreans are the way they are. But I think I might've already beaten that topic to death. And back. 

So I'll end with how this both enlightened and further confused me. It helped me (us?) understand the two separate camps (usually just two) in my head reasoning opposite arguments for the same cause (strengthen self for self and strengthen community/family for self). And it helped me understand why this place, this country, and these people brought these issues that had only been simmering and occasionally spilling over in America to a boil in Korea.

Western thinking:


Eastern thinking:


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Smellcome to Korea.

Kimchi, Korea's flagship traditional food

“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” ~Rudyard Kipling

But really, do I want to? Korea has a special smell (in most places) that I think even NYC has a hard time rivaling. In addition to the urine and human waste, there's of course, all the fermentation going on, all the waste of fermented food, and the cooking of fermented foods, and I don't know what else, but Korea has a strange smell. And actually, I think maybe Kipling was right. After smelling Korea, you get it. It's weird, strong, and stubbornly won't leave you alone.

Dwen-jang (soybean paste)

Inside the box: smells exactly like you think it would but worse

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

1 full year.

and like i always say, life comes full circle.

I arrived in Korea at dawn on June 16th, 2007 where I was promptly shuttled to my Ansan family's place for some down time (and a long long nap).

So I guess it makes sense that I spent all of June 15th, 2008 in Ansan with them again. (Also involving a pretty long nap).

And although I don't have any other deep insight or anything to mark the full 365-day year, I will say this.

On that morning a year ago, as I sat in their 거실 (a space in Korean homes equivalent purpose to an American living room), I couldn't get over how SMALL their house was. And this past Sunday when I sat there with my family, I kept wondering if they had somehow expanded their house, because it now seemed pretty BIG (I guess now I measure by Korean standards). I was like, "Wow, I remember their house being so small and now that I'm actually here it's so spacey....".

So, yea. A year can and does change a person's perspective.

Like I always say, life is always relative.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

water off my back. (or is it oil?)

So, the zoo/circus is finally coming to an end. Both my time here in Korea, and this final presentation of the year's experimental teaching.

Let me explain. The school I was sent to, and one of the reason's I was sent, was that they were one of three participating schools in our province in this experiment into coteaching with a native English speaker for 1st and 2nd grades. So now at the end of a year they chose one school to host the presenting of the results. And it's us.

The class went over pretty well. There were a few things I would've changed but not much. But it's the aftermath that's starting to piss me off. I know I should let it roll off my back. And I will. Because I'm leaving and nothing I say or think is going to change anything here. And like my mom said, the angrier I get and the more frustrated I get with the system here and try to vent it, it's really just throwing eggs at a mountain. Fruitless and useless.

I could so NOT live here, or at least I would really have to change to live here for a long time. There's just so much that Koreans say and do that annoy me.

*For example, the man who assumes that I speak no Korean and talks about how useless he thinks native speaking teachers are whilst in my classroom.

*The other man who is going through my cabinets and when I ask politely if he's looking for something, he anwers: No, I just want to see what materials you use. (AND I WANT TO SCREAM, WELL THEN ASK ME IF YOU CAN SEE THEM AND DON'T GO THROUGH MY CABINETS, YOU RUDE DONKEY!!)

*The lecturing by Koreans who "know everything" and yet clearly I don't understand how they can be failing so badly at teaching English if they "know everything"

*The man who tells me I should've used magnetic boards instead of velcro on my bulletin boards. (since he knows how I use them and what works in my classroom and how much money I'm allotted to furnish my classroom)

Anyway, I know the English teachers are busy, but I'm just sitting in my classroom and there are two annoying Koreans here discussing the status of English education and what has to change, and I'm wondering if I can leave, if I should lock up before I go, if I should tell them to get out, or what I should be doing. I would normally just leave it all open and go home, but I don't want them going through my desk and personal stuff. Rude monkeys.

BUUUUUUUT I DON'T CAAAAAARE!!!! BECAUSE I'M LEEEEEEAVING!!! I'M GOING HOOOOOME!!! hehe. and THAT's why it'll be water off my back. (or oil). =)

Monday, June 16, 2008

My big fat Korean wedding.

will not have any Koreans invited to it.

haha. I was so worried and sad that I might go the whole year without being invited to a Korean wedding. (Well, technically, I was invited to my VP's son's wedding but pretended I hadn't heard about it so I could have a free weekend...). BUUUUUT this weekend I impromptu-ly attended a Korean wedding of some not-so-distant relative.

The groom is my dad's 매형's 고모's dead daughter's living son. Or something like that. I was told we were going to the Incheon beach area for the day. So I was wearing my Rainbows, white shorts, and a navy polo shirt. Haha. My family said it was okay because I'm an American. We were going to pick up my Ansan family and go to the beach but then we were all reminded/invited to the wedding last minute and so we went.

It was interesting. Well, it was short and to the point. Very Korean. Although I was APPALLED at how much people were talking during the "ceremony". Maybe it was just the Jindo people who were bussed up (two full charter buses!!!) and the Chinese folks on the other side (bride is a Chinese gyopo), but it was like, we weren't even at a wedding. We were just sitting around at a bar catching up with old friends and other people we hadn't seen in a long time. Then they cut the cake and the MC (wft?) made the bride and groom do a bunch of shenanigans. Also, the random wedding helper people that worked at the hotel, were so... well, random. They held up swords for the bride and groom to walk under, shot ribbons out of trombones at them, and helped their mothers light candles, and some other stuff. 

I would think that half the point of my wedding would be the bridal party!!! I can't imagine a wedding sans bridal party! AND after the ceremony everyone goes down to eat and then leaves. It's more about the food than about the bride and groom. IT'S NOT ABOUT THE BRIDE!!! American weddings are SO about the bride!!! Geez, what a let down. Now I understand why when people at our church get married they try to find a way to trap their guests (i.e. have the reception on a boat). Because Koreans eat and run. That's what they do.

I'm going to have to rethink how many Koreans (old school ones) are going to be invited to my wedding. I promised my parents their friends could come ... but now I'm a bit worried, maybe I'll send a wedding etiquette brochure with my invites. 

A. Do not talk during the ceremony
B. Do not bring babies, children, or other guests whose names are NOT on the invites
C. Do not take pictures of yourself and/with people around you during my ceremony
D. Do not pilfer food from other people's tables
E. I'm sure there were more

On the whole, it was an interesting experience. I'm glad it happened. Now I'll know what to expect and have to figure out ways to curtail such behavior at my wedding (and if it means NO Koreans, so be it).

Luckily (or not?), I won't have to worry about this stuff for a loooooong time I think. Marriage is not looming in my near future.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fraternité (warm)

Source: Jason Teale Photography

As much as I complain about Korea, there are some things that bring a smile to my face. I guess one of the biggies would be the brotherhood (or fraternité) I've observed and felt here.

Koreans are one of the most adamantly exclusive ethnicities I've ever encountered. There are some cons to this, naturally: perhaps stronger racism than other groups, a ridiculous amount of pride and nationalism, and also a higher than average rate of deformities/handicapped folks due to a smaller and less diverse gene pool.

However, the flip side of this staunch ethnic "solidarity" or whatever you may choose to call it, is that many Koreans consider each other and act as though they were all "family." This contributes to what I sense is rudeness on the street and subway (being bumped into and never apologized to). But it also has some nicer effects.

1. Seated passengers holding standing passengers' bags and parcels. I had never seen this in America but read about it in About Korea guides. Be it the subway or bus, I've seen people who are seated grab at standing people's bags and belongings. This is not theft but rather an offer to ease the discomfort of a standing person carrying heavy items. 

The first time this happened to me I was pleasantly surprised. It was my 2nd day going to the pool and I was carrying 2 heavy bags: my usual schoolbag with books and such and my duffel bag with all my toiletries (shampoo and other heavy things included) that I was bringing to put into my pool locker. The elderly gentleman sitting in front of where I stood motioned to me to give him my bags. I hadn't been expecting it but I was glad he did, after a full day of teaching, those bags were so heavy and the bus ride is about 20 minutes on a quick day.

2. This second event happened today and it brought a smile to my face (in a good way). After swimming I was in the locker room shower. The showers at my pool are just a longish rectangular shaped room with showerheads and mirrors every 3 feet or so. There are no curtains or other barriers between people in there. Just the showerheads and the drains. 

Anyway, today it was me and a group of 3 little girls (def elementary school-aged). One of the girls walks over to me and politely requests that I please untangle her hairtie from her hair. Apparently she had tried to do it herself and it had gotten horribly tangled. I obliged and told her it might hurt a bit but don't worry I'd get it out. It took about a minute or two and after I had finished she turned and politely thanked me. And as she walked back to her friends I smiled because this was a nice little encounter that I can't really imagine something like this happening in America.

First of all, America's crazy about child sexual predators and abuse and all that and even if such a request were made of me, I'd be nervous about being SEEN helping a naked little girl. I had not really thought about how conscious America is about physical contact between "adults" (I still don't feel like one) and children until my freshman year of college. 

I was in an early childhood ed. course where we all interned at various infant and child centers. One of the only boys mentioned during one class that he is VERY careful about his interactions with the children because they climb all over him and want to sit in his lap and give him hugs but he's wary of how the other (female) workers at the center would watch him. This was true, I had never confronted this but he said that people are often suspicious of males who are interested in young children.

Anyway, this event along with the whole priest-sexual abuse scandals heightened my awareness of adult and minor relations in America. As the head coordinator person of our church's youth group, my mom even had to attend and consequently run "Protecting God's Children" seminars to educate and train EVERY and ANYone over 18 working with the youth at our church (this included the PTA parents and the college-aged counselors). This only increased my sensitivity to the delicate matter of adult-minor relations.

So coming from this very cautious background where I've heard stories from friends during their "student teacher" period having to watch little things like ruffling students' hair and giving hugs to crying/injured students, what happened today was kindof heartwarming. It was like a nod to the safe world of yesteryear shown in TV shows like "The Wonder Years" and "Leave it to Beaver" where your neighborhood and community FELT like one and people trusted each other.

This small gesture by a little girl who needed help made me realize that despite it's flaws as a tiny country inhabited by a very strongly defined ethnic group, there is a degree of (default) trust here that I have rarely witnessed in America. I am often surprised by the little displays of trust that I see here everyday. And although it does seem as though this trust is a bit on the decline as urbanization and development chip away at the old community feel, it's nice to know that it's still alive and kicking.

National unity and pride is thrust upon them while they're still young.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


i went back to the pool yesterday after an 11-day hiatus. mostly caused by the end of my lessons and a short week followed by long weekend on the family island.

anyway, i was going to go on monday and put it off because i could. and i had a million excuses not to. also, i was scared, that it would be lonely without all the familiar faces, that i would look a fool practicing butterfly on my own, that i would have to share a lane and crash into people.. ykno.

anyway, i went yesterday and it was good. so good. not perfect (things rarely are), but good. of course all the instructors were gone. there were a bunch of new faces in place. unfamiliar, unfriendly faces. but i probably thought the same thing when i first went to the pool anyway.

so i went to the pool. and i stayed about 10 minutes longer than my lessons normally last. but i still did the minimum 15 laps i always do. my instructor told me he usually makes me do between 15 and 20 per 40-50 minute lesson. so i did the same amount but clearly my rests were a lot longer.

i was so winded. and some of my muscles were killing me in the water but not really sore or in pain today (yay for stretching it out in the pool!). so i think i'm good. plus it felt SO good to be in the water again and block out everything else in my mind/life/surroundings.

it WAS a little awkward at first. i could FEEL i wasn't doing the strokes right. but after a few turns, it all worked out. I didn't do any full on butterfly practice because i could tell my muscles were def not up to it. but i did some half butterfly (one arm at a time) for 2 laps. i think my instructor would've been proud of my solo practice. =)

must go back today.

the new instructors aren't giving lessons until the 15th, so we'll see what happens with the rest of this month.

Monday, June 9, 2008

an interesting thought.

this week may very well be my last week of teaching real lessons.

seeing how next week i only have the one demonstration class on tuesday and english camp on friday.

and then the week after that is my last week teaching here PERIOD so i'll just have them learn things like "good bye/thank you/i'll miss you" that week and say my  good-byes to my kids.

so as i just finished my last powerpoint for this week's 2nd grade lesson, i'm realizing this is quite possibly the last teaching i'll be doing for real. for a full week. HAAAAHAHAHAHAHA. JOY.

also, last week i had to sign some piece of paper with 사직서 (i think i wrote this but i forget) so my co-teacher could hand it in to the money office that is my official resignation at the end of this month. woohoo!!!

plussss i have this giant pile of boxes next to the piano in my room ANNND all i'm gonna keep doing is packing. YAYYY.

i'll write about the sad side of leaving later. right now is about joy.

one non-happy note: i haven't swam in like 10 days ... and my family tried to stuff me this past weekend = i gained like 1.5 kilos. which is like 3 lbs. i MUST make myself go to the pool even if i don't have an instructor for this month.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

June plans.

P.S. I've just started to know my kids names. WITHOUT their nametags. haha. A little too late...

Okay, so I've already written that I was granted my request to terminate my Fulbright contract early and I'm leaving Korea on July 2nd.

I wrote my mandatory "Thank you" to Mrs. Shim and mailed it off yesterday. I spent all of Monday packing up boxes of books and winter clothes to send home pre-arrival of moi. Yesterday, after school, I had to sign a paper with "사직서" which is like my formal resignation or something for the office that pays me moneys. I'm so out of here, SO soon. I can really feel it.

Anyways, June is gonna fly by, possibly quicklier than May. (And not a moment too soon as my English is deteriorating somewhat horribly...)

This week: Today's my last day of work for the week. YES 2-day workweek. Going to 광주 and then 진도 for my final familial hurrah. Back on Monday.

2nd week: 4 day workweek, probably Seoul on the weekend to say goodbye to friends.

3rd week: 2 day workweek (possibly ONE DAY week), dinner with everyone I've been friends with in Cheongju (FBers, swimming oppa, favorite teachers, family friends). Fulbright final dinner in Seoul, NKSK soccer game with my cousins, and possible templestay.

4th week: 4 day workweek, mostly goodbye parties in every class. Finish packing over the weekend. Go up to Seoul and stay with family for 2 days prob. GO TO ICN AND USAAAAAA!!!!!!!

It's gonna flyyyyyyy byyyyyyyyyyyy.......

Monday, June 2, 2008

English Translations

So, my school has been CHOSEN to serve as Exhibit A of how teaching English to 1st and 2nd graders looks.


Okay. So TECHNICALLY the 1st and 2nd grade teachers are supposed to do all of the English preparation which means that I am the one de facto doing all the work. ALL 11 (READ: ELEVEN) teachers have to prepare lesson plans in ENGLISH and so last week all I did all week was revise and edit English lesson plans. ELEVEN DIFFERENT LESSON PLANS. 

And the teachers were actually thinking of me and tried to all teach the same lesson that day so I would have less DIFFERENT things to oversee, but the principal decided that what is the point of ALL doing the same lesson (EXCEPT HMM MAKING SENSE?!?!?). And he decided each teacher is taking a different chapter from the textbook to teach. THIS MAKES NO SENSE SEEING HOW LEADING INTO THAT DAY OF OPEN/DEMONSTRATION CLASSES I AM ONLY ONE PERSON SEEING/TEACHING EACH CLASS ONLY ONCE A WEEK.

Anyway, lesson plans are short and mostly the same. Plus the teachers reused all the English from my lesson plans so there's not much to correct. ON THE OTHER HAND, each chapter has this "introduction section" in the teacher's manual that must be attached to the lesson plan. And THIS section is a HOT HOT mess. The teachers translated this when they made the textbook last year. And it's now my responsibility to "correct" this section (FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN'T TELL THAT IT'S INCORRECT AS IS). How I am supposed to correct something when I'm not sure of it's original intent/meaning is beyond me. 

So, I just make it up as I go. I kindof guess what Koreans would've said. And try to approximate it in English. And sometimes the grammar is wrong or awkward, but I don't care. I can't do any more of these. And I think I still have 6 more. I've already done 5. Blech.

An example I think would be most illuminating.

The original English in 1st grade textbook:
Lesson 4. Run, Candy
Goals of this unit: Child feels an intimate feeling in the animals. Specially, from the family it raises it holds with the member of the family and it has the love which is special in the cat. Playing which with consequently like this animals is familiar to side overlook only mind young this each person the bay it knows, There is a possibility becoming the help in emotional growth. In the process Lesson 4, student can learn how to order and response through play a game.

Google image search result for "ARE YOU KIDDING ME":

HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO "CORRECT" THIS ENGLISH? I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT'S SUPPOSED TO MEAN... They ask me to correct this, and I'm like, "Um, ok yea sure..."

Christine-ified version: 
Goals of this unit: From a young age, children display an interest in animals. A special example of loved animals is pets, who are raised in the family and are treated with a special love. Playing with animals and learning to take care of them and treat them well can help children achieve emotional growth. In Lesson 4, students will learn how to give simple commands by role-playing with pets.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mommy!!!

In lieu of being a good daughter who wrote a card or sent a timely present, I want to talk about the two most important people in my life. I want to tell you, the Internet world, about two of the most amazing people I know. In case you were thinking Senator J. William Fulbright or the first person to make chocolate chip cookies (a close third), you're wrong. The two most amazing people I know are my parents.

Sometimes you never really realize how great your parents are until you hear someone else talking about them. It sometimes comes to me, randomly; the thought will just enter my thinking sphere and flit across my consciousness and just as quickly disappear. But every now and then, I have a moment, something happens, or a light clicks, and I go, "Wow, my parents are so amazing."

Example 1: 
Immigrant Family on Ellis Island

In college I took some random classes and somehow ended up working with recent Hispanic immigrants. A lot. I studied them, I spoke with them, I taught them, I volunteered in community centers with them, I called them on behalf of their kids' school. I spent a lot of time observing and interacting with Hispanic immigrants. I saw (kindof) how hard their life was, what kind of roadblocks America threw at them, how difficult it is to sustain yourself and your family while building up a solid foundation for what I would call a fulfilling and satisfying life in America. This was really my first experience with what life was like for recent immigrants

I mean, I knew my parents were immigrants, it's not like I grew up without the customary
"You have no idea what your dad and I went through. You have no idea what we had to sacrifice and put up with to get here. You're so ungrateful and you're so spoiled."
I knew they had "had it rough," that they had started off in a studio apartment in Queens. I knew they had both worked and gone to night school at the same time. But I never really FELT it, I never really SAW it, I never really BELIEVED it. Because of all that they had done and endured, I was so sheltered and far removed from those experiences that they were never REAL to me.

My experiences with the Hispanic community in Durham gave me my first glimpse into the life of a recent immigrant. It gave me a feel for what it's like to not be at home. What it's like to play someone else's game by someone else's rules. You're just an impromptu player. Sure, you wanted to join, but you didn't really know what the game (or sometimes even the stakes) really was. Whenever we had the essay prompt: Who is someone you admire and why? I would always answer with "My parents because they immigrated to America and went through a lot so I could have a better life." But that was so cliche. I didn't REALLY know what I was thankful for. I didn't UNDERSTAND why my parents were defaultly admirable for producing a second generation kid like me. I just knew that was the right answer. 

Consequently, doing all the community service and ESL work I did in Durham was one of the FIRST times that the meaning of what my parents had been through even flickered across my consciousness.

Example 2:
When I first got to my placement city in Korea, I was finally striking out on my own. I had left the nest and was supposed to figure out how to do this flying thing without crashing and breaking my little bird skull on the concrete sidewalk (or in Korea, the brick sidewalk). Anyway, I had been playing with the idea of "parallels" in my mom's and my life (I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this in earlier entries). 

1. My mom got married when she was 22 years old and immigrated to America. 
2. I graduated college when I was 22 years old and accepted a yearlong fellowship in Korea.
Both the same age, moving in opposite directions across the Pacific, and setting upon totally different journeys.

Okay, so I know I've said it before. But yea, this was the first time I realized how difficult exactly it is to try living in another country. Let's not count the benefits I had that she (and my dad) didn't, shan't we... 
I had a secure, guaranteed, highly respected job waiting for me. I had room and board supplied for me. I had a 6-week Orientation including foreign language classes. I came with a coterie of compatriots, 70 to be exact, to share my triumphs and sorrows. I had a strong support group in place that I could contact with the click of a mouse or a few buttons on the phone (GOOO 28 years of technology!!!). I had grown up learning the language in context. I had grown up with access to both the culture and the greater Korean community. I LOOKED like I fit in. I knew that if I hated it, I was definitely going to be able to leave after a year.
In short, I had it so much easier, and yet I still felt like I had it so rough. And that only highlighted how much harder it had to have been for my parents, newlyweds with two suitcases and rudimentary English skills. (I've been teaching here for a year, I KNOW the school-learned English they took with them was useful for, um, NOTHING save describing the weather perhaps).

So the fact that I really had come face-to-face with what it's like to LIVE in another country, even one that claims to be my motherland and one whose culture I'd been sampling all my life, really drove the point home, that what my parents (and countless others of their generation) had done, was really quite remarkable, quite admirable, and even completely surprising. I could NOT believe they didn't pack up their bags, call it quits, and come back. (I know enough random families who have).

Realizing that what they did was so much harder than what I was doing and that everything they endured had been so much tougher was another, "Wow, my parents are amazing," moment.

Example 3: The thing that spurred me to write this entry
I had dinner and coffee tonight with some old family friends. They were two Korean priests who had been consecutively sent to our Korean parish in New Jersey. One had been there from 1996 to 1998. The other had been there from 1998 to 2000. They had known me and my family pretty much a decade ago, give or take a few years.

The first notable thing was that after a decade they still remembered me and my parents. They still cared about my parents enough to call me and take me out for a rather expensive and ridiculously delicious dinner. To me, this says something about their estimation of my parents and consequently how my parents treated them.

For nearly all my accessible memory, my parents have been superactive in our church. My mom has served in so many capacities, as a Sunday School teacher, a Korean School teacher, Korean School principal, youth group director, PTA liaison, education director/"provost", and those are only the positions that I remember and can name positions, too. There are so many other things she directed and led and coordinated. Even after my sister and I were no longer active members of the youth community. She both attends and teaches Bible scripture study classes. My dad has always been active, too, though in quieter roles. He would do Sunday readings, he served as an acolyte (my sister and I used to tease him that his specialty was incense-waving), he is often a Mass narrator (I forget what they're called), and he was our 구역 leader and all these other important things where he would go to official-type meetings.

I'm not particularly religious (as of the past 2 or so years) and I know I should be, especially in light of the fact that I really do think God smiles down on my life. But anyway, the point is, my parents are totally active members of our church. Everyone at our church and many people at churches in NJ, NY, PA, VA, and even CA and others know my parents. So, it's not surprising to me that former and current priests that have met and know my parents remember them.

What does surprise me, is how fondly they remember my parents. How much they seem to genuinely respect my parents, and how often this translates into how well they treat me and my sister and the respect they show us, now as young ladies entering society proper.

Tonight, the two family friend priests and I were joined by a third priest from the city of Cheongju that I was meeting for the first time. They continually praised and described my parents (and family) to the third priest. I was struck by all the good things they had to say. I've been surprised and struck by all the things they've told me my parents did for them and how my parents helped them out. I won't bore you with another list of the things that my parents did and the wonderful things they were saying about my parents.

But the things I could hear in their voices, how much they really respected my dad, how much they appreciated my mom's work in the community, and how even they, the priests, admired my parents for everything they've endured and achieved - that meant a lot to me. My eyes welled up as I tried to maintain the illusion of aloofness that is considered polite when a "young'n" is present and privy to grown-ups' conversation.

I am so proud of my parents. For the many things I know about them. And for so many more that I didn't and don't yet know about them. 
Whenever I complained that my mom spent more time at church and that I was the one who had to sacrifice playdates and prompt rides to and pickups from places she used to say:
I really believe that the more I give and sacrifice for our church community, the more that will manifest itself as grace and blessings and good fortune for you and your sister. I don't do it for me, I do it for you.
I guess you could say she believes in karma. And I'm not going to lie; I definitely believe in it, too. Especially because I seem unfittingly to be on the receiving end of it.

Clearly not following in my parents' footsteps - the kind of gift I normally give to others, exactly those things that I myself want.

And so, at the end of this lengthy diatribe, I guess it's only fitting to conclude by saying: Happy Birthday, Mommy!!! Here's to another year of happiness and health. And my strengthened conviction to make you proud of me, as I am of you. And that's the big present for this year and many to come. (In addition to your new Sony Wii and Wii Fit board).