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when I do not say

even

when I fail to do good

even

though there is no fault to be had

anywhere

even

in the absence of you I regret your presence

even

when you were here.

@junemoon  2008

Finishing up a dissertation is most definitely a phase that I like much better than beginning one or writing the middle part of.  But (cuz you know there’s almost always a but or a however) the final leg of the dissertation journey does unveil its own little set of horrors urrrr I mean, concerns.  I am learning that there are a multitude of formatting BS urrrr I mean requirements to which one’s dissertation must conform.  When is a table a table versus an appendix?  Does everyone have a Dedication page and an Acknowledgements page?  Come on folks, I can’t hear your answers.  These are not rhetorical questions.  These are real life stupid urrrr I mean bureaucratic inquiries. 

And who all does one acknowledge on this Acknowledgements page?  Oh the considerations continue to multiply.  The trouble is I write these acknowledgements in my sleep, waking with the words tripping off my tongue, sometimes spoken outloud.  But (there’s that little word again) instead of writing them down, quickly, I let them evaporate into the cosmos ~ collected dust that settles thickly on my shiny desk top. 

They say don’t keep dead flowers in your home.  Something about attracting decay, unwanted detritus.  Who would want dead stuff and junk in their home?  Small pieces of crumbling unuseable stuff.  Accumulating, piling up all because of a bouquet or two of dead cut flowers. 

Guess I should remove the bunch of purple irises from my stainless steel topped desk.  Toss them with their still bright yellow faces into the garbage can.  While I am at it I guess I should rid my desk of the magenta orchids too.  Some of the buds are slowly exploding, opening their pale greenish-yellow skins to reveal the deep reddish purple blooms.  but overall the bouquet is well past its prime with some of the blooms turned brown and shriveled suspended only by resting on other still attached petals. 

Into the trash they should go.  Magnets.  attractors of dust, debris, harbingers of death.  perhaps.  or simply the consequence of a too busy schedule.  a mind occupied by headier material, thoughts caught in an endless loop of race, the consequences and costs of racism, oppression.  formatting of 12-font sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and sections.  oh too busy to worry over flowers gone bad. 

too busy to empty the trash. 

I am reading Kim Sunee’s memoir, Trail of Crumbs ~ Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home.  Sunee is a Korean adoptee and if she looks like her book jacket photograph, she is most beautiful indeed.  The fact of Kim’s beauty has me going down the contrast and compare path.  The path where I dead end in a thorny thicket and the beautiful one’s path opens up onto a vista view befitting of her loveliness.  I do not mean to sound like sour grapes.  I do not think I am filled with envy and jealousy, only.  I will admit to holding a modicum of wishing that I, too, could be beautiful like the author.  But mixed in there is the old and familiar wondering of what and who and how I look like, where I stand in the Korean continuum of beauty. 

Through the years I have figured that this life long personal mystery (see Lost Face essay) to growing up without benefit of seeing other Asian faces looking back at me.  I came to understand that I was not and never would be pretty like the red haired, blue eyed women who peopled the Sears and Roebuck catalog.  The catalog my adoptive father regularly perused, pointing out the female models on each page that he thought was the prettiest.  His finger always landed on the red head with a white creamy complexion and the bluest of eyes.  This father-daughter game that we played each time the catalog arrived in the mail, quickly taught me that my brown round face framed by my coarse black hair and squinty black eyes, were no match for Miss Sears and Roebuck Blue Eyes.  I was a Daddy’s Girl and that sting stung deeper than deep.  So deep that I have been unable in a long life time to decipher what or who I look like. 

Later in the week ~

I have now finished reading Kim Sunee’s book.  She tells a rich, interesting, and touching story of her life to date and her search for her core and past.  Sunee writes of her struggles with knowing who she looks like and her continual asking of her companions do I look like her   what about her    are you sure?  I have asked those exact same questions throughout my life when I see other Asian female faces and almost always the response is no, not really

So back to the mirror I go.  I figure one day when I ask ~

mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the one I look like most of all?

that I may be graced with an answer      the kind that a human can understand   maybe in the form of a face beside mine or standing beside me.   who knows.  as long as I’m wishing for answers, I may as well be bold and wish for a miracle.  so here goes.  maybe my first mom, my omma, will appear beside me and we will turn from the mirror and look straight into the other’s eyes  and    then  ~ I will know who I look like.  I will understand more of who I am. 

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