The Spoon


My mother arrived in America in the late 1960s from a small town in rural South Korea. She knew a little English from school, but you can imagine going from the countryside in South Korea to a small apartment building in North Carolina is not exactly a smooth transition.

My sister, brother and I were born in quick succession following her immigration. We quickly grasped the many, many nuances of the English language, especially slang. Mom tried to understand it. But the words and gestures of profanity eluded her.

One day, my siblings and I were doing something that caused her displeasure: eating with our mouths full? Fighting with each other? Getting Bs? I don’t recall. But I do remember her suddenly raising her fist in an incomplete “f*** you” gesture (no middle finger) and yelling, “Fist up!” This created peals of laughter from us and, in her frustration, she gave chase. With a wooden spoon.

The chase was thrilling. Mom and that spoon could sting. But the sight of her in that apron, her face red with anger…it was too much.

As we ran around the house – us kids laughing at the sight of our indignant mother and the epic fail of her attempt to be obscene -she broke into laughter too. Soon, all four of us were in a puddle of giggle tears.

We carried on that day in a lighter state. Life is good. Grades are grades. People are people. Poor is poor. As long as we have each other, we can laugh.


The Writing

I’m having a great day of writing! I swore off Facebook, and even Oprah to write all afternoon. 7,292 words on the novel thus far and there is no stopping me. I’m feeling good about the content too. I  just have to keep writing every day, keep up this progress.

Maggie cannot contain her enthusiasm about my progress!

Maggie cannot contain her enthusiasm about my novel.

I’m learning so much through this exercise. For example, did you know that corporal punishment in South Korean schools was REINSTATED in 1999? I’m also able to write about common themes which seem taboo: lack of paternal affection for sons, climbing the corporate ladder, cultural clashes. More to come…