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Posts tagged "personal"

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 -

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Here’s my best Bey impression

Chopped it all off last weekend. There was so much hair, it looked like there was a small dog on the floor.

I haven’t been posting because I haven’t been watching many movies and then somewhere along the way it got to the point where all the blogs I follow just post excellent but depressing posts that I should reblog but I don’t feel like reblogging because heaaaavvvyyy and it’s just too much sometimes.

I have been reading a lot though. And seven books in a row by women of color (several by the same authors). N.K. Jemisin’s Dreamblood series was amazing, I loved it more than her Inheritance trilogy (which is saying a lot, because I really love those books and recommend them to everyone), so so so good. Please read her. I read Octavia Butler’s Patternist series, also wonderful, great ideas. Roxane Gay’s collection of stories, Ayiti, perfect. And so then after those wonderful women, following it up with Stephen King’s The Stand (for an impromptu book club) which is fun and entertaining but at times kind of maddening in contrast with its general white maleness.

Also what was usually movie time has been taken up with watching The Sopranos, a first time watch. Really loving it. The name Paulie Walnuts cracked me up a whole lot. Gandolfini was astonishingly good.

I don’t know, there’s more but I haven’t been posting anything lately so I feel like I need to spread out my content.

We just got back from a magical trip where, once we got past the comedy of errors of travel there, I was able to pretty much totally let my nervous system have a break and recover and to do nothing but look at that ridiculously turquoise water and read five (five!!) books and eat good food and welcome my impending thirties. I’m not even going to try to catch up on the world I missed for a week, so if there’s anything you want me to check out or think I should know about or whatever, drop me a note.

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.

Also, shout-out to my favorites - the makeup box (I’ve bookmarked basically every tutorial), from head to toe, and Jinah’s eyeliner techniques.

Lest you think that I was joking about singing with Kenny Rogers…

I just got this photo recently, from our last trip to Pittsburgh in December. 

Tim now lives across the street from the house where some of the guys lived for a few years. So, of course everyone who spent a significant amount of time at that house had to go take a picture on the porch (unsanctioned…I wonder if the current residents saw us?).

It makes me really happy. These are a few of the guys I spent a LOT of time with, in college and after. I’m very glad I can come back to visit and it still feels like home. I wish that we all still lived in the same place and could continue to see each other all the time. (well, I do see the guy in the hood all the time…)

I was definitely one of those girls who prided herself on being one of the guys, one of those girls who said, oh I’m not the kind of girl who has girl friends. I know better now, I’m a more enlightened lady, but it is something that just was, for most of my life.

It’s still nice to go back and be one of the guys again.


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.

And it’s that space in between utter colorblindness and cancerous racism that Hollywood—not to mention other sectors of society—seems to have so much trouble with. Most of us aren’t saints who are wholly untainted by racism or Klan members. Instead, we grow up with ingrained and historically determined conceptions about race that influence our behavior, we learn that those ideas are social constructions rather than immutable truths, and we grapple with those realizations. Many people of color in this country are fortunate enough not to be subject to violent hate crimes, but not fortunate enough to be free of more subtle and pernicious racism. And if you’re white, as I am, your life is affected by your race, too, but in ways that have been treated as if they’re natural and unremarkable. All of this seems rather unsurprising to me, and very definitely interesting. But so often in Hollywood, it is dangerous territory.

NBC’s ‘Deception,’ And Why Colorblindness Is Not Progressive | ThinkProgress | Alyssa Rosenberg

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:

  • We would save a lot of money (gas + hotels vs. flights + rental car + dog boarding)
  • We would get to take Kima with us
  • We would not want to shoot ourselves in our respective faces due to the stresses of holiday air travel

All objectives were achieved, and the trip was really great.

Miles traveled:

  • ~1700 there 
  • ~1500 back

Places stayed along the way:

  • Lake Charles, LA
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Nashville, TN
  • Dallas, TX
Times I thought we would die:
  • While in Louisiana, we ran into accident traffic. A big truck was going too fast and had to ride down the shoulder in order to slow down. Luckily, there was a shoulder.
  • On the way there, we drove through West Virigina for all of 30 miles, and happened to stop at a gas station where everyone inside looked like they were related.

Notable Food (Pittsburgh):

  • Ginza in Bloomfield - had sushi there for lunch on New Year’s Day, it was excellent for how cheap it was
  • Noodlehead in Shadyside on Highland - excellent. I had the pad see yew, which is my go-to Thai dish, but this one was much better than any I’ve had. The pork belly buns and the sliced beef were great too.
Notable? Food (on the road):
  • Bojangles - I will try all of the fried chicken chains
  • Skyline Chili - since we were in Cincinatti, I had to try it (it was alright I guess?)
  • Corky’s BBQ in Memphis - pretty good ribs, great sauce, but I had a roll that was sort of pan-fried in butter and now I can’t dream of anything else
Comedy albums:
  • John Mulaney’s New in Town (for like the 5th time; still hilarious)
  • Hannibal Buress’ Animal Furnace (excellent!)
  • The Snowman by Jo Nesbo - it was alright. Tana French writes way better thrilling crime fiction. Everyone, go read Tana French. I also figured out the killer at the first introduction.
  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan - I liked it. Review here
  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain - I will definitely be reading this book for real, but we didn’t finish the audiobook; not the right format for it, even though the voice actor was pretty great. Too meandering to hold our attention on a 24 hour car ride.

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 read 17 books this year (goodreads). My favorites were NW (one of the best things I have ever read period) and The Sisters Brothers.

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, 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. 

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Shawn and I recently took a long trip back to Pittsburgh, a place that I still consider home in a lot of ways (and in a lot of ways not). This trip, possibly more than any other, brought up lots of thoughts and feelings about the concept of home.

But that shit’s boring. The trip was great. Saw a lot of friends (cue feelings of home), but didn’t get to see as many people as we hoped. The weather was perfect - beautiful true fall days with vibrant colors and crisp smells that only occur when you’re visiting and not actually living there. Even the gray and rainy day felt right. Spent time in Shadyside, Bloomfield, Polish Hill, Lawrenceville, the Strip District; neighborhoods filled with people and buildings that don’t seem to exist outside of Pittsburgh, but which are all feeling the changes that are setting in to the city.

Went to a picture-perfect wedding, where I hugged a heat lamp most of the night. After that sentence, it’s impossible to say anything that doesn’t sound sarcastic, but it was honestly a really lovely wedding.

Ate way too much, but got to visit some restaurants I’ve been missing (Coca Cafe, Tessaro’s, Udipi, Park Brugge) and check out some new ones. We took a trip out to Cecil, PA (about 30 minutes from Pgh) to The Golden Pig, a Korean home-cooking restaurant run by one amazing woman. 

Was blown away by the Pittsburgh Public Market, which came in after we had already left. Also walked through the Italian festival in Bloomfield, where I ate both a meatball sub and raviolis (yes, raviolis, this is Pittsburgh). Took every chance I could to eat pierogies.

And took a trip out to coal country the following weekend, where we visited Shawn’s family, played some games, saw the seven dwarves (nieces and nephews), but also got to hear about Obama =(

Sometimes I don’t know if Austin is the place we’ll end up. There are so many great things about this place, but I’m still really drawn to the Northern/Eastern post-industrial cities. It’s the aesthetic I feel most comfortable in - the crumbly, generations-old buildings, the warehouses and manufacturing plants taking up valuable waterfront real estate, the real blue-collar foundations, a sense of real history. But fuck being cold all the time.

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.

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The Master (2012) Paul Thomas Anderson

I’m not sure at this point that I can actually separate the circumstances under which I saw this film with the film itself.

When I got to the theatre, I wasn’t expecting to see The Master. I had bought tickets to see Baraka in 70mm; I knew that there was a sneak peek going on that day, but I had assumed it was happening later, after Baraka. It wasn’t until I picked up my tickets and the ticket lady asked if I was excited or bummed out, that I found out that I was about to get to see The Master.

Sitting in the audience, I wondered, how crazy would it be if PTA were there?

IT WAS REALLY FUCKING CRAZY YALL. Paul Thomas Anderson WAS there, he was like six feet from me for a while, I could have reached out and touched him. 

It’s silly how much that meant. I know that. But to be in the same room as the person who created what I’ve recently recognized as being my favorite film and the one that means the most to me (Magnolia), I was just totally overwhelmed. I was so overwhelmed that I may have cried just a little bit (not proud).

So with that, watching the film…

It is beautiful. And in 70mm… breathtaking, really. The most beautiful lighting, the most beautiful images of the water. I was riveted by the film. And the performances were wonderful; Philip Seymour Hoffman obvs, Joaquin Phoenix and his fascinating face, and especially Amy Adams - she was absolutely perfect, perfect, perfect for that role.

The comparisons to There Will Be Blood are inevitable, and on first watch, it does seem to pale in comparison. But I think maybe only slightly, or maybe it will grow brighter over time. It don’t think that there’s less going on, it’s just quieter, subtler, more layered, more understated, more subdued.

But I’m still stuck thinking about this, both alone and within PTA’s larger body of work, trying to organize thoughts and work through themes and make things fit in some way. And I’m also stuck with this thought that it’s actually quite apt, this study of the personal worship of the master, and what could easily be my personal worship of PTA. How it’s really all bullshit; but despite that, I couldn’t even dream of trying to talk to him, because of the feeling that even my presence in the same space is somehow offensive for being on a different plane of existence.

I recognize that this is crazy talk, and so with that, I’m done.

#185 - 9/10/2012