My mom moved in with us 11 days ago after dad passed away. My parents immigrated from Korea in the 60s. You can take mom out of Korea, but you can’t take Korea out of mom. She has no filter and even though she always has the best intentions and is the most loving person you could ever meet, her comments can sound strange, random and even hurtful. But she’s just doing her, you know?
This morning, I was driving her to church when she shared this gem:
“You know, when I look at my children, I realize I am very old. Because they look so old.”
I pack my daughters’ lunches on school days. Yes, they’re teenagers and could do it themselves and no, I’m not spoiling them. I do it because it really is a pleasure for me.
Monday, I packed chicken quesadillas. I used Costco shredded cheese. Literally, it says “Mexican BlendCheese“:
Ava comes home and says, “The Mexican boys at my table saw my lunch and asked me why you use yellow cheese. I told them that I have a Korean mom.”
Tuesday, I packed garlicky pasta. Because I’m so nice and thoughtful, I taped a piece of gum on the thermos:
No comment from the peanut gallery teens.
Wednesday, I packed Korean sticky rice and threw in some dried seaweed. Ava says she wants to be more vegetarian, so I thought this was perfect.
She came home and said, “I got so much teasing over my Asian lunch.”
Thursday, I packed more Korean sticky rice and baked tilapia. But when I looked for small tupperware, I had none. I’ve decided to stop using plastic bags (you know, the ocean and all) and so I had to use the zipper pouches I wrote about before:
Yes, I put fish in a bag.
That afternoon, Ava comes home and sighs.
“Could you please pack lunches that won’t get me beat up*?”
*Obviously, she’s not really getting beat nor bullied.
Hello all, I published this two years ago. I thought I’d publish it again for those of you who may have missed it:
“If you really want to do something, you’re going to have to go for it.”
Marie Myung-Ok Lee
I first learned about Marie when I was researching Korean-American history for a San Francisco State University’s ethnic studies class I was going to teach for Dr. Grace Yoo (during her sabbatical). Her book, Somebody’s Daughter, expertly covers both the adopted child/adult’s perspective as well as that of the adoptee within two cultures. Marie Myung-Ok Lee is a Korean-American author and essayist, writing often for The New York Times, The Atlantic and Newsweek. She’s been published in Witness, The Kenyon Review, TriQuarterly and Slate. She teaches creative writing at Brown University and Columbia University.
If you’re interested in being a writer, Marie is sure to inspire you. She is not only an accomplished writer, but a loving mother to an autistic teenage boy. Her essay for The Atlantic Monthly “What My Son’s Disabilities Taught Me About ‘Having It All’” is one of the most moving, enlightening articles I have ever read.
Despite her extremely busy schedule (she’s working on her next novel), she graciously and generously spoke with me on the phone. She is a modest, hard-working, intelligent and creative person. When I informed her of my objective with my blog (to help others achieve goals by reading of people who have already accomplished them), she got right to the point:
“I constantly write. Every single day from 4:30am to 6pm. I never take a day off.” She lives in NYC in a small apartment with her husband (a professor), and their son. Previous to writing, she was an investment banker for five years. Although writing does not even come close to the money she made before, Marie couldn’t be happier with her work, “I love it.”
Another tip: “I get 10 rejections to each offer. You have to be committed to writing. If you really want to do something, you’re going to have to go for it.”
Marie is down-to-earth, honest and practical. When I congratulated her on all of her great work, she was quick to point out that it took her eight years to write her novel, and that she couldn’t live on her salary alone. The family is on her husband’s insurance and she constantly juggles motherhood and her work. When she left banking, she was a ghost writer, a freelancer, an editor. She obtained fellowships and worked hard at her novel.
Wanting it, working hard, sacrificing hours each and every day, utilizing your strengths (and challenges)…going for your passions: these are the secrets to her success.
Marie’s most recent article can be found here, on Salon.com. She provides a careful analysis of the McKinney, TX pool party incident, tying in a personal example of mistreatment by an adult when she was a teenager.
You can follow Marie Myung-Ok Lee on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarieLeeWriter
Thank you for all the piano and cello lessons. Music has been a lifelong passion of mine and speaks to me in all facets of my life. I’ve developed a deep appreciation for it and (hope) I’ve passed that on to my daughters. You sacrificed money and time for us and now I’m doing the same.
Thank you for the Tae Kwon Do lessons. It was hard and it must have been difficult for you to watch Jojo, John and me kicking and punching and getting beat up by grown ups in class. When we broke boards, we felt a new found satisfaction in our focus and power.
Thank you for not allowing us to quit, even when we cried.
Thank you for encouraging and allowing us to work in the cornfields of DeKalb, IL. We got cut by the sharp leaves of the stalks. We sweat and walked 12-14 hours a day during “peak.” But we learned the value of hard work and the true value of money.
Thank you for allowing us to ride our bikes all over town and for speaking in Korean in the house and pushing Korean food on us, when we just wanted McDonald’s. We came to appreciate different spices and vegetables and it’s a lot healthier, too.
Thank you for not going easy on us.We learned to handle disappointments, heartache, and pain. I was able to handle difficult bosses, financial stress and cancer because you allowed us to become strong and tough. Thank you.