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This was a good year, quite a crazy but awesome year. I feel shitty saying that when I know lots of people who had really bad, really shitty years, but I know I am very fortunate and it is what it is. Roughly chronologically -
What the fuck’s been going on with me lately.
I watched a-not-entirely-shameful eleven movies last month, but I also wasn’t really into much of anything else either. Instead of reading, or writing, or even playing video games, I just watched a lot of TV. I guess I did a little more cooking than normal, though.
I don’t know, it’s not like I’ve lost interest in movies, but I feel so much pressure to have *thoughts* every time I sit down to watch something, that it makes it too stressful almost. Probably tbh I am looking for affirmation from others too much, instead of really honestly just doing this for myself. Not sure how I feel about that. (pleads - “please don’t stop though!”)
Also, I recently started reading David Foster Wallace’s biography, so that’s probably the best indicator of my mental state right now.
But anyway, TV. I caught up on seasons 1 & 2 of Justified, all of The Mindy Project so far, and seasons 2 & 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race (strangely, awesomely fascinating, although s2 was way better than s3). I also kept up with Scandal and Parks & Rec. There are great shows out there, but I wasn’t really watching them (those examples are all fine shows, but they’re not Great).
Damn I almost published some long boring paragraphs about my thoughts on TV, but then I wised the fuck up and pressed delete. Phew!
Since last weekend, I have sunk an even more inordinate amount of time than normal into thinking about makeup - getting lost in the k-hole that is beauty blogs and YouTube tutorials. Obsessively reading product reviews and organizing my makeup stash and making wishlists. I think I *finally* figured out my eyes and cheeks, and accordingly, my makeup has been like 76% more on point lately.
It’s probably messed up that I’ve always viewed my eyes and cheeks as a problem, but I’ve never really known what to do with them. I didn’t grow up around other Koreans. I had to get a lot of my instruction from magazines, but the girls in my teen fashion magazines never really seemed to look like me.
Oftentimes, magazine beauty features would have a handful of looks for light-skinned girls, one for dark-skinned girls, and one for olive-skinned and/or Asian girls. So I would look at the makeup instructions for Asian girls, when they appeared, but they never seemed to work right. These beauty tutorials never seemed to say that a look could work for you if you don’t look like that and here’s how. And definitely no discussion of different eye shapes, or the fact that not all Asian eyes are the same.
So I mostly stayed away from makeup in my every day, but I had to do stage makeup for my ballet performances. That was mostly an exercise in trying to make my face look not quite so different from the others. Creating a crease in my eye. Chiseling my barely-there cheekbones to make my face look less round. Wearing the longest, thickest false eyelashes I could find. I hated wearing that dark, obvious contouring makeup, when everyone else basically just got to do their makeup with a heavy hand.
So makeup has mostly always been about what I can’t do, and how different I look, but then today with ladies talking about makeup on YouTube and tumblr and blogs its like oh, OK, I’m not alone.
I feel like I’ve been a lot more comfortable in my own skin lately, and I think it is largely because of the increased visibility of strong online communities of really awesome women, really awesome people of color, really awesome women of color - talking about everything, including makeup.
This is to be a book about adoption. I am writing because I know so little, still, about the process, the institution, the politics, the people, myself. I do not set out to write about my own experience with adoption, though that will have to come into play. I realize I have started out talking about myself, and I will continue. This is to be, by necessity, a book about me. I am the thing I know most and least well.
I am not writing to try to find my birth mother, or to try to reconnect with my roots, or even to remember or to explore what happened to me. I don’t think anything like that will happen here. Though of course it might. I am going to keep myself open.
I am not writing because I am on anyone’s side. I am neither for nor against adoption. Or I might better say that as of now, as of the beginning of the beginning, I am both for and against adoption, or I can see why people might take sides, and I will not.
This is not to be a memoir, or an op-ed, or a travel narrative, or an answer to anyone.
This is to be the story of finding out.
I have been following Matthew Salesses for a little while now. I think that I first found him through his article DIFFERENT RACISMS: ON JEREMY LIN AND HOW THE RULES OF RACISM ARE DIFFERENT FOR ASIAN AMERICANS, but I really really connected with his writing and ideas through DIFFERENT RACISMS II: ON JEREMY LIN AND SINGULAR MODELS.
I haven’t ever found someone talking about adoption and being an Asian adoptee in a way I connected with, before Matthew. Every other story I had heard was always about IDENTITY and finding one’s birth family/roots and being So Lost. I’m pretty OK with who I am (I mean, I’m not, really, but that’s not a finding oneself/identity problem let’s be real), I’ve never felt the need to plug some hole by finding my birth family, and reading about Korean adoptee re-education programs really freak me out.
But Matthew gives me real ideas to chew on, a way of figuring out how to understand myself as a part of many different larger concepts, without resorting to either trite feel-good sentiments or open hostility toward adoption. I’m looking forward to following along with this project. I highly recommend those two articles, and I’m also working through his stuff over at the Good Men Project.
This idea has been occupying like 50% of my brain cycles for the past few months or so. I’ve been working through the fact that I was adopted into a white family and a white world, and that in my own longing to be white (e.g., in high school, I actually thought that guys wouldn’t like me because of the fact that I am Asian, HAHAHAHAHA little did I know) I adopted some of the same reductive and optimistically blind ways of looking at the world. This article does a good job of addressing the problems with these ways of thinking. Onward and upward, onward and upward.
For Christmas this year, we decided to drive back to Pittsburgh instead of flying. There were several reasons for this decision:
All objectives were achieved, and the trip was really great.
Places stayed along the way:
Notable Food (Pittsburgh):
Was 2012 a good year? I don’t know. I watched a shit ton of movies though, and mostly did a good job with last year’s resolution to write about everything I watched.
Some big milestones for this year - Shawn and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary, kinda nuts. I got a new job in August, one that I still really enjoy.
2012 was a year in which I started to think about race and gender more critically and, as an adopted Korean, started to find my own place in those discussions. I started following the thoughts of a lot of smart people here, who challenged my thoughts and opinions, and I tried to become less afraid to speak out and discuss.
I watched 224 movies this year - 164 new, 60 re-watch, 50 in the theatre. My highest month was June (32), the lowest was August (10). I’m proud of a lot of the writing I did - here are my favorite pieces I wrote. I have 36 reviews left to write, but I think I will end up skipping those. Here are my favorites of movies watched this year.
Writing something about everything I watched was a personal challenge I took on, never expected to more than double my movie-watching output. I wrote 188 reviews/ pieces/ blurbs, which is far more than I ever thought I would write. This year I would like to continue writing, but it probably won’t be everything I watch.
I also wanted to try to write more personal things, which I did in spurts, and I would like to continue that.
I would like to watch more non-English language films this year. I would like to watch some Ingmar Bergman and Wong Kar-Wai.
I would like to read more books that are not written by white men.
I would like to work on my anxiety and examine my responses to the small things that go wrong. I would like to become less defensive and less worried about what people think.
Thanks, friends, for sticking around.
Feeling better today. Lots and lots of comic books helped (Hawkguy helped, re-reading X-Force three times helped). A lot of it was that I had been saying we were driving to save money, and then I sat down to actually do the math and forgot how to do math, so at first I estimated like more than twice what it should actually realistically cost and I felt reallllly stupid because how could I not have known that it would be really expensive to drive all the way, and there’s nothing I mean nothing I hate more than feeling stupid or thinking that someone thinks I’m stupid or recognizing that I really am actually quite stupid, but then I later sat down in a panicked state and remembered how to do algebra and did a realistic estimate and OK we are saving a bunch of money and I felt slightly less stupid and panicky since I did remember how to do algebra. (Also, there is a website for this.) I also looked at weather.com, which was a mistake, even though I know going through Atlanta and then up is probably worth the extra few hours to avoid snow as much as possible.
I never thought that I would grow to love gray and rainy days. It makes such a difference, living in a place where gray and/or rainy is not the default. But when you live in a place where sunny and hot is the default, it’s a little like too much candy sometimes.
Things have been great lately, and that’s not just my post-Paul Thomas Anderson-encounter high that’s speaking.