Mini Me

When she was younger, Tae was very much like her father both in look and personality. I found this very strange since he was not part of her life for very long. It definitely makes you think about the nature vs nurture aspect with regards to behaviour. You always assume a child picks up certain traits from observing them but when she has a personality of someone who is not around in her formative years, you do wonder where it comes from.
Looks, of course, are part of the genetic lottery and you do expect a mix of both mother and father.

As she is getting older though, she is more and more like me. This is both in look and personality. She looks so much like me that anyone would have thought I had merely cloned myself. I think she will always be petite in stature, although certainly not in personality. She is a lot more outgoing than me. This is definitely my husband’s influence. As is her love for drawing and painting. I’m not artistic but she is enjoying it a lot. She prefers bright and warm, which are E’s favourites too. She loves to read and learn, and these she has definitely inherited from me and I am very pleased with. She loves pirates and flowers and unicorns, she enjoys dressing up and playing pretend, she loves music and she loves to dance. Sadly, like me, she is not very co-ordinated and her dancing lacks finesse. She make up for it in enthusiasm though, just like me.

It is very strange watching this small person grow and develop and become her own person, yet be so similar to me in so many ways.

Hello, pretty Korean ladies, can I talk to you?

The gym we belong to is truly a “community” gym. It is family-oriented and caters to the many different cultures represented in our diverse city. At any given time you can hear multiple languages being spoken, and I especially love how the old Chinese men sit in the lobby reading their newspapers and chit-chatting.

Swimming lessons, however, are dominated by Koreans. More precisely, Korean moms and their children. Their kids somehow manage to look immaculate even while in the water. The little girls wear frilly swim caps and goggles that match their swim suits, and the boys’ brush cuts glisten with little drops of water whenever they surface. Two minutes before classes end, a line of Korean moms stand at the edge of the pool with towels-in-hand ready to wrap up their children so they don’t get cold. They are then whisked off to the showers where the mothers scrub them from head-to-toe. Even if by Western standards, those kids could scrub themselves.

The moms, sporting pastel-colored cashmere cardigans and cropped chinos, congregate together, chatting in Korean. They fawn over each other’s babies and answer newcomers’ questions about what to do in our city. They look so put-together in their jaunty-yet-sporty outfits while I sit on my bench with a book and Tae’s towel in my lap.

But, I want to talk with them! I want to say, I know I may not look it, but I’m Korean, too! I want to know which Korean market they go to. I want to know if I can get the frilly swim caps here or if they brought them with them from Korea. I want to ask if I can fawn all over the sweet little baby in the stripey sweater that sits contentedly in her stroller looking at me for the entire swim lesson.

They are so…elusive. They remind me of jellyfish. They are so elegant. So pretty. So lithe. I am so…the opposite. I fear that if I approach them wearing my normal uniform of jeans, a fleece jacket, and Crocs (it’s a pool), that I will cause them to flutter away.

So I sit there watching and admiring this group of women who, despite all the reasons why they have left Korea to be here, have found each other. Admiring that they are finding their way here despite being so far from home and, perhaps, not speaking English so well.

I imagine that if they were in Korea, they would be doing the exact same thing, spending the afternoon at the pool watching their kids swim, chatting with friends, swapping packets of candy and kim and other treats. It would be exactly the same. Except they are here.

Maybe next week I’ll “dive in” and ask them about the swim caps.

project life change: sustainability

i’ve always been one to be concerned about the impact of my life – in the work that i do, and the way that i live. recently, i’ve been surfing through tree hugger and other green sites, to get ideas about what i could do more of or less of to lead a more sustainable life.

i think i’m doing ok. tae routinely recycles cereal boxes by flattening them and putting them in the recycle bin before we are done with the cereal. i bring my own bags to the grocery store. i unplug all my unused electronics.

the two things that i will try to do:
not wear so many clothes that require dry cleaning (hard in the cold months)
try to use less juice boxes

so, friday, i sent tae to school with a brand new sigg bottle. i’ve found that the multitudes of sippy cups that we have will all leak eventually, so i didn’t want to send that in her lunch box. so i caved and bought a new bottle (which really isn’t the best solution, but i’m trying here). part of my rationale was that her teachers will throw away the juice boxes after lunch, because they can’t be closed up again. this is so wasteful! and all the boxes!! at least with a bottle, i can keep better tabs on how much juice she actually drinks.

and when i picked tae up today, she was walking around the playground clutching her new bottles, smiling, as happy as a clam.

boston and busy-ness

i’m happy that tae is growing up in boston. i love that she points out the charles river. i love that every morning when we drive to school, she exclaims, “what’s coming up?… it’s the boston red sox!” (as we glimpse fenway park on the drive in to work.)

right now, i am most glad that we’re in boston because we’re close to gi-gi and pop-pop. my job title just officially changed over to “acting director.” which means that i’m doing my old job and my old boss’s job all at once. (yet i’m not being paid two salaries. hmm.) and managing a toddler. and trying to maintain some semblance of a normal adult life. and so, without gi-gi and pop-pop and the rest of my support network here in boston, i wouldn’t be able to do it.

if i had a dollar for every time someone called me super woman for managing all that i try to manage, i could send tae to college for free. i don’t like being called super woman, because i’m not. i just have amazing friends and family, an amazing daughter, and a career that sustains me. and it is those things that give me the strength to do all the things that i do.

the only explanation

is that a) i have truly been driven batty by my two year old daughter or b) i have a mild case of OCD.

i’m not joking.

last night, i had some spare time. (gasp!) and as i stood in the middle of my living room, i figured out what i needed to do.

yes, i reorganized my book case. i alphabetized all of my asian american lit (the majority of my books; by author, separated into non-fiction and fiction). and i re-arranged the rest of my books so they would make sense… to me.

and when i was finished, and noticeably calmer, i looked, and i saw: i had organized my books by race.

ok, well, race and gender. i have one book case that is the white male book case: jared diamond, jrr tolkien, jack kerouac, eric schlosser, tom perrotta, nick hornby, dave eggers.

the only exceptions on that shelf are: jk rowling, one jennifer weiner book, one sophie kinsella book, “i don’t know how she does it,” and a book about online identity written by a female sociology professor at MIT.

i have one shelf devoted to asian american lit. and one shelf that is a mix of books by black and latino authors (house on mango street, alice walker, bell hooks) and women’s studies type books (the bell jar, a bridge called my back, she’s not there).

and suddenly, i felt better. anyone have book cases for me to organize?

running away

somehow, my life, my time, seems to be running away from me. i can never catch up it seems, with the laundry, with new blog posts, with new blog posts i should write, with the groceries, with everything.

i am eternally behind.

i meant to post a recap of our trip to nyc this weekend, and about the apia spoken word summit which rocked our socks. i meant to post a thoughtful response to daddy in a strange land’s post about race in the blogosphere. i mean to do a lot of things.

tae has stopped napping at school, which means that she conks out in the car on the drive home. unless i pump her full of food before we leave, she’ll often wake up around midnightish asking for juice and smoothies and peel cheese. that she goes to be at 6:30pm may seem to be a blessing, but when you run out of smoothies and your daughter drinks about 3 of them daily, things can get a little out of control. when you miss spending time with your baby and it seems like her teachers get to see more of her than you do.

tae’s most frequent line of questioning goes something like this these days:

T: why mommy come back for tae at school?
M: because i’m your mommy, and i always come back.
T: why?
M: because we’re family.
T: i feel sad.
M: why?
T: because i miss my mommy.
M: why do you miss your mommy?
T: because i love my mommy. why tae hugging mommy?
M: because tae loves mommy and mommy loves tae.
T: why mommy and tae love each other?
M: because we’re family.

sometimes i can’t believe that i’m having this conversation with my baby, with my daughter. i don’t want my time to runaway from me, lest i miss one precious moment of this.