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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. 

Hurry up

and  wait

then

run ahead   and

hurry

some   more.

with my permission

I’ll rage this one    out.

Meanwhile,

please allow me to   up

your hurry.

@junemoon   2008

What does not get written about.  Not even a mention.  oh the topics that are absent from a public blog, are many.   When the silence is comprised of the detritus of our daily lives, the literal grind of it all, that silence can be golden.  However, it could be argued that today’s important thought or conundrum is tomorrow’s daily minutia.  But those are not the omissions of which I write. 

I am talking about the important to myself stuff that I turn around and around and then back around in my head or in my hand but choose to stifle.  to keep shut up.  shut down.  mute. 

What is appropriate public fodder?  Thus far on this blog I have shared ~

  • some of my experiences of racism, including my rage
  • my longing for my first mother even when I do not know the Korean word, much less the spelling, for the category of mother for whom I search
  • my love for my familia
  • loneliness, acute at times
  • my impulse to jump in front of oncoming trains
  • Korean adoptee identity stuff
  • my spiritual practice
  • my identity as a bisexual woman of color
Other stuff, I share without even knowing.  We are not as contained as we think, we mere mortals.  We reveal stuff, big and small, about our insides, our beliefs, our thoughts, even when we strive to be a closed book.  What makes some things okay to reveal and others not.  taboo.  too much.  inappropriate.  OMG stuff. 
   
Privacy.  Private.  Self protection.  Secret.  Toxic shame. 

Influence.  Change.  Expand. 

After today, I must admit my SO has had a definite sway over me.  I just finished watching the Super Bowl game.  Solo.  Without the SO.  I watched the Super Bowl XXXVVVII (I have no idea what Roman Numeral it really is – I refuse to go that far) alone.  

Prior to today, I idenitified with the non-football fans.  A non-fan.  That’s me.  or that was me before the last 11 years of partnership with my SO. 

A bit of back story is called for ~

The SO is Swedish.  He hails from Minnesota.  On Christmas Eve we (my entire family) now celebrate with the traditional Swedish four course meal that showcases lutefisk (a dish that requires fish and lye ~ don’t ask and I won’t tell).  He is a Viking’s fan.  He belongs to a Viking’s football Club that he attends regularly.  He has won a lot of Viking’s merchandise at this Club, including a throw rug and a hat with Viking horns and blond yarn braids.  He has been known to wear said hat.  He has also been known to make certain grandkiddos wear said hat.

Did I mention that we have been together for 11 years?  I eat (not really, but pretending is just as good, right?) lutefisk, the SO does not even pretend to eat kimchee.  I have been swayed.  Really influenced.  When the Giants won, I jumped up from my dark eggplant colored velvet loveseat and yelled, under my breath, Yay ~ oh yay.  I reiterate, I was alone, sans the SO. 

But hey, I figure I retained part of my personhood cuz I cheered for the underdog team.  And, I totally noticed the racism involved in the sport ~ but that deserves a blog post all on its own.  For now, suffice it to say that I am swaying in celebration for the Giants and hoping that the SO and I are celebrating (albeit in different geographical locations) their big upset. 

So I woke up thinking about Las Vegas.  Not the city itself.  Not the gambling and opportunity to strike it rich.  Not the show girls.  Not the rhinestone outfits.  Nope.  The television show on NBC titled Las Vegas. 

Now lest you think that all I am doing is sitting around watching network television (hey, I don’t have cable), let me tell you that I…  Alright, already.  I have been sitting around watching network television.  But a dissertation writing woman has to have some no-need-for-brain time.  The trouble is that television shows reflect and to a large degree, dictate society’s mores.  So watching TV isn’t always tantamount to resting the old grey matter if you receive my meaning. 

Last night on Las Vegas, there was a scene with the Asian hotel employee ~ I’ve seen her on previous episodes (okay, I watch this show on a semi-regular basis and no, I do not know why).  This particular scene epitomized why I automatically cringe, inwardly and sometimes outwardly, when Asian women (I have another cringe for the media’s portrayal of Asian men) appear on the TV screen.  Of course there is the accent (again, with the accent) that is apparently not a prized or valued accent but instead one to be jeered and sneered and laughed at.  An Asian accent is synonymous with limited thinking and stupidity couched in illiterate unsophistication.  Why?  Racism.  That’s why. 

Also contained in this scene with the Asian woman were the requisite fun making by both the Asian woman (internalized racism) and the White man, of the oh-so-stinky kimchee; the references by the Asian woman of sex and blow jobs; her pushiness (cuz you know Asian women are either Dragon Ladies or Sex Objects); and, of course Asian’s greed for money and their innate sneakiness to obtain this desired money. 

Again, some would and do tell me, that hey – stereotypes start with at least a grain or two of truth.  come on, lighten up, we’ve got to be able to laugh at ourselves.  just because they show one woman acting that way doesn’t mean they are saying all Asian women are that way.  some of them wear kimonos and wear sexy pouts on their faces – always.  hey, at least there are Asians in the media now; we’ve got to start somewhere.  if Asians don’t like the way they’re portrayed in the media why do they take the jobs?  and, my most favorite of all that I receive quite frequently ~ have you ever thought maybe you’re just a little too sensitive? 

Okay, I thought maybe I’d feel a little better if I wrote this post and got this rant off my chest but instead I just feel more fired up.  Well maybe I can harness the emotions and be like Barack’s fired up and ready to go.  After all my goal for the day is to write at least five pages on my dissertation.  My dissertation’s topic is racism so I won’t even have to change my mind set.  Lucky me. 

The dictionary declares that membership is a state of being a member.  Wow.  That’s profound.  Not really.  Not always.  But sometimes.  The sometimes encompasses those memberships that we claim which in turn become identifiers of sorts of our personhood.  For example, I consciously and with intent affirm being a member of the following groups ~ First Generation Korean Adoptee, Korean American, Queer community, and feminist women.  

These individual states of membership play integral parts in who I am, how I view myself, how others perceive me, and my position in society.  For some memberships it matters little whether or not I claim membership or disavow my belonging ~ as far as others (society) are concerned, I am a member.  This applies to some extent to my racial identity.  I look non-White.  I could claim I was White all day and all night and few, if any, would buy into my pronouncement.  However, the same is true when I am around traditional, native language speaking Koreans.  I am denied membership to the Korean Club.  Mostly, I am lumped into that huge and overflowing group Asian American ~ that’s usually enough of a racial ethnic identifier for White folks ~ I visually fit into that category.  It is true that I receive my fair (or I could say unfair) share of What are you? demands.  But I receive this question almost equally from other brown skinned folks.  Being female is another group that it matters little whether or not I claim my place or not; society sees me and treats me not as a man. 

Wow.  This is a long way to come to discuss what I was initially thinking about this morning.  Here it is.  I am a First Generation College Student.  I am also a Student of Color which makes me eligible to be a member of the First Generation College Student of Color.  Generally, students are considered First Gen (FG) if they are the first ones in the immediate family to attend college although one can still be considered a FG even if a parent(s) attended college, if they did not earn a degree.  My adoptive father didn’t make it past elementary school and my a-mother earned her GED through a correspondence course when she was in her 50’s. 

I have to come to realize that going onto college, particularly graduate school, becomes a career onto itself.  When students hail from homes where college is synonymous with growing up, an expectation, a given ~ there are huge advantages.  In these households, parents know the ropes and rules of academia, high school advisors are enlisted early on in guiding the college bound student to the best preparatory classes, and sources for financial aid when needed are identified and accessed earlier in the process. 

For FG’s, not having this base of knowledge and usually not having the encouragement by high school counselors presents big disadvantages and even bigger challenges.  For example, what’s got me going on this topic is my difficulty in understanding my school’s graduation requirements.  Starting with not even knowing that I needed to request a copy of the Graduation Procedures and after doing so and receiving a copy of the 13 page document, having the damnedest time in deciphering its meaning.  It’s one of those kinds of things where I understand each individual word by itself but not when strung together and not when understanding them means that I am moving further and further outside my family’s life experiences.  In summary, my brain goes on strike when I try to comprehend the steps I need to take to graduate. 

A sentence as simple as –

  • You must file a Notice of Intent to Graduate with the Registrar by the end of the trimester preceding the trimester in which you wish to graduate.

is a head scratcher.  I keep forgetting what preceding means.  I look it up in the dictionary.  I ask friends.  I get it.  and then I forget it.  which leads to me to freak out because I can’t figure out whether or not I have already missed the deadline to graduate in June.  then I look up the word preceding, again. 

In my head I get it.  I cognitively understand this seemingly stupid and crazy cycle.  I am simply working through the angst of moving beyond my parents, even though they are dead, that doesn’t seem to matter.  I am processing the negative self talk of being an imposter in graduate school, the fears of not being smart enough or capable enough.  But my emotional self is screaming out Enough.  Enough already.  Just tell me WTF does the ‘trimester preceding the trimester’ mean?

OMG. 

Did anybody else catch American Idol last night?  Particularly the part where Paula Abdul chided the male contestant for having a ‘heavy’ accent.  She later reinforced her mandate when hugging him by saying something to the effect of ‘really, you know, go work on the accent, really.’  Am I the only one saying WTF?  Is the message to the contestants and to the viewing public that an American Idol cannot have an accent?  or just certain accents.  Would Paula have encouraged the losing of a British accent or a French accent?  Was her point that she couldn’t understand what the contestant was saying because of his ‘heavy’ accent?  or was it that an American Idol simply cannot have an accent period?  But hey, that makes no sense.  We all have accents, right?  I can see some of my friends shaking their heads right about now as they say ‘no’ or ‘lighten up, it’s just a stupid TV show’ or ‘well, he was hard to understand.’ 

I think Paula, and the show’s producers, blatantly endorsed intolerance and went far to maintain the White American status quo.  Some of you may know what I think about status quo [see earlier post ‘Life Vests Required’ filed under poem/racism].  Having endured years of speech therapy as a child to lose my accent – I say to that contestant – keep singing your heart out guy and whatever you do, don’t lose the accent – it’s an integral part of your personhood. 

So these are some of the thoughts that are popcorning up in my head this morning as I work along on the last chapter of my dissertation.  At least my blood is pumping through my veins and I am energized to continue fighting the fight. 

I am brown skinned.

I see through dark brown eyes.

    *      *

Do not call me yellow

ever

again.

the same goes for sallow.

I have brown skin.

Still,

always,

I am human.

@junemoon   2007

I am a bundle of nerves

   if you only knew.

knew what twitches inside me

just under this yellow-skinned face

    you describe as inscrutable.

I cringe and then rage

against your chosen word.

I am not inpenetrable, after all. 

If I were not penetrable, I would not be entertaining this particular fantasy. 

The one where I stand up, while you continue prattling on about what you prattle

stand up

right here

right now

and denounce our friendship

as I announce you as the cloaked racist

you are ~ in this moment.

I am a bundle of humanity

   if only you knew.

@junemoon   2007

country-path.jpg   Lots to ponder as I stand still for a moment and survey the path in front of me.  Questions galore jockey for position in my head.  But one thing is for sure.  I am on a path and have been for quite some time. 

In my clinical work with clients, I talk quite a bit about the path.  I encourage clients to join me in visualizing the path on which they are currently walking, to pause and glance back over their shoulder to see where they have already trod and to note the distance they have already traveled.  I encourage them to then take a few more steps forward along their path and then to pause once again to check out the vista unfolding before them.  I support them in becoming conscious of their choices and their ability to make choices on which route they choose.  For some, their choice making is hampered by family and/or society’s mores, prejudices, power inequities, and the list can and does, go on and on.  And yet, it is the traveler’s feet that are on their path and I help clients claim their personal power through self knowledge and wisdom gained from the miles they have already covered. 

Segue back to me and my path ~

The path of graduate studies is coming to an end, I can see it up ahead, where it will merge with other paths.  The dissertation that I have been writing for eons must be complete no later than April 1st (how comical that it is April Fool’s day) and the intense academic scrutiny of my chosen topic of racism in the clinical hour will end.  Last night, at midnight I felt a solidness in my core, a knowing if you will, that I will complete this dissertation and that I will most assuredly graduate this year, 2008.  This knowledge hit me, not like a ton of bricks, more like a solid foundation that I found myself standing on.  Along with this sensation came relief and gratitude.  I can feel the earth solid under my feet with each step on this dissertation path.  Hallelujah and A-men! 

The search for home is front row and center.  Stepping into faith is called for.  Always.  A prayer to my spiritual base to open me up to hear and understand where I am called.  I am definitely a human being when it comes to wanting to believe in life’s callings.  I believe, most of the time (okay, a little more than half the time), that each of us are here for reasons often and largely unknown to us, at least in the beginning of the journey(s).  This belief provides me with comfort.  The angst comes in when I try to know prematurely. 

Today is the first day of 2008.  There is a wide vista unfolding before me and my feet are urging me on.  It is a scenic path and for that, I am thank-full.

  ~ [image courtesy of Google images]

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