Wednesday, January 31, 2007

American Idol for the Light-hearted

Ahhhh, another season of American Idol has already begun and oh what joy~! The freaks! The geeks! The jugglers?!

What's up with this year anyway? I mean how long has American Idol been around? For how many seasons? And yet the audition contestants insist on bringing other skills to the table. The first episode when they were in get this dude up there whose trying to juggle and sing. It's not "America's Got Talent" (although that hardly is anything to write home about)'s freakin' American Idol: Singing competition.

Hey, but apparently, the memo wasn't sent out.

And then we have this little nutcase. Sarah Goldberg I think her name was. And she comes dressed in as a cowgirl all ready to sing. All of a sudden you see her remove her red cowboy hat and she places it on the floor saying "I don't need this anymore..." and you just knew this one was going to be classic.

Oh God was she. First off, I don't claim to be Mariah Carey. I can't really sing. But this girl could definitely NOT sing. And then, to top it all off, as Simon cuts her off and Randy and Paula start trying to hold in their laughter, Sarah goes ballistic.

"You guys are so rude. You don't understand. I could be the next American Idol! Don't you see?!"

Simon: "But you can't sing. This is a singing competition. You can't carry a tune."

Sarah: "I know I can't sing! That's the point."

Randy: "I think you've said all there needs to be said. You know you can't sing, so why are you here?"

Sarah: "Don't you get it? I have no prior singing knowledge or anything so you guys can mold me into a great singer! You can teach me to be an Idol. Don't you see? I could be the first American Idol that can't sing!"

Seriously, I'm saying...isn't that profound in a desperate sorta way?

How cool is this:

I love my giddy European friends! I miss them terribly. I can't even begin to tell you how awesome the experience was of hanging out with hundreds of Korean-Europeans last spring.

And PS finally caught up with me and look at his new flat in Lund(Sweden)! How adorably cute is that?! I told him he was lucky to finally find a nice flat like that. That is the entrance way. It totally reminds me of something out of a Beatrix Potter book or The Secret Garden. Any time a little girl dressed in a Victorian dress is going to bop her head out with her little doll and say hello in Swedish. I just know it.

Plus, how awesome is this that PS gave me the link to the Swedish White Pages. I just love international webpages! I used to spend all of my time in high school in the library listening to streaming video-newscasts on KBS (that's how I learned to keep up with my pronounciation).

Thanks PS!

Monday, January 29, 2007

So you think you know racism...

until it hits home. Literally.

Yesterday went by so fast at work. It was like I turned around and sooner than later it was noon and I went to go work out. When I got back I had one missed call. It was my mother. She said something about needing to sell the new car (that my parents "magically" bought six months ago) and that it was a mistake to have bought it, but now the wheel cover on one of the wheels is a little bent and gee, wouldn't I pay for a new one? She said she was sure that wheel covers weren't that expensive, and that she thought sure I could afford a new one. Perfect.

Message One. Delete? *press* Message One Deleted.

I was a little ticked...but I'll let it slide. Keep calm. Get through the rest of the day.

Five o'clock rolls around and I am out the door. I head over to my place in Dundalk, and get into my room, putting stuff away, etc. Dave(my roommate) comes in and I said something about wanting some pizza. Soon we're ordering one (which by the way turned out to be the best new pizza ever!) .

My other roommate comes home. The homeowner one. He comes up the steps and says "While I have both of you here..." and begins his little roommate speech. But as ugly as the first one was, he's not starting the second one off any better. He says "I've already talked to Dave about this..."

That's great. I mean the twenty minute conversation that I had with him in the car about him talking to Dave first and NEVER talking to me until the last minute really put it into perspective for him, obviously. You know, quite obviously because he did it again.

Then he starts saying stuff about the house needing to be cleaned. I won't even get started. Except that I wish I had taken before and after photos like G had suggested because this place was a total wreck. And it had cigarette yellow stains all over. I remember staying up late at night scrubbing the floor boards until they sparkled with the whiteness of the paint that it had supposedly been years before.

He says "You know the kitchen and the bathroom need to be kept up. I don't mind scrubbing the bathtub and shower because I use that but I don't use anything else in that bathroom and it needs to be kept up. I've cleaned the bathroom, A has cleaned the bathroom..." WTF?! I am sorry, what sort of cleaning supplies are you using to clean the bathroom? Perhaps -- hmm...the ones that I BOUGHT? And use. I use them all the time. I have cleaned that kitchen time and again and also that bathroom. I spoke up. I said "I've cleaned the bathroom"....what pissed me off even more was that the entire time that he supposedly talking to 'both Dave and I'...he only looked at me. What is up with that?

I was just so fed up. When L-Boogie called me up she could immediately tell that I was down but I really couldn't talk at the moment about what was pissing me off because everyone was still around. Later on, J called me and made me feel tons better. He's right about it...that I have to say fuck it all to both of them and not let shit get to me. Even if my landlord is a racist and my mom is a little crazy.

So no more bathroom/kitchen cleaning for me. Screw it. And I am definitely not paying for some wheel cover.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Late (or Early) Poetry Feed

I woke up in the middle of the night from out of a deep sleep. It was weird, and I felt unsure of where I was. I think I had a dream that I was in a jail cell somewhere, that I was in holding...that I was hiding from someone or something. I can't really remember. But I just woke up, sat up and grabbed my journal and started writing. That's the first time in a very long time that I have immediately gone to my journal like that. It felt like I had never left.

I got this idea that I would find some poetry I wrote during high school in my freshman year and try to see how much I have grown (if any) as a writer through the years.

Here's the first poem that we ever had assigned. It was a memory poem. We were told that we had to create a memory poem based on the earliest childhood memory that we had. The only requirement was that at the end, the last stanza should leave the reader with an everlasting impression of what we remember that memory as. Basically, a summary. So here it is, final draft written October 19, 2000:


I hardly knew my Grandmother
before she died of cancer.
I was six at the time.
After she left, my only memory of her
was set in a small house with its
dark and muggy yellowed walls
that surrounded my frail five-year-old body.
My Grandmother stood in her living room,
the faded flowers in her nightgown
her white hair thinned,
and the coke-bottle glasses magnifying her eyes
that shone so joyously with life.
That afternoon,
I stood in her living room,
my chest heaving with hiccups.
My Grandmother accompanied me
with her own forced hiccups
between soft words of comfort.
A year later, when in her eyes I saw death,
her body lay limp in the hospital bed,
I could still hear her faint laughter,
droning with the monitors and machines around her.
Her soft hiccups remain with me today
as echoes in my heart.

This next poem was the first time I had ever written about the earliest abusive confrontation I had had with a boy. I was 12 1/2, almost 13. When I wrote it as a metaphor poem, it made it easier to get a lot of the things off of my chest. I felt like I could hide the truths and the emotions behind this screen of a metaphor. That way my personal experience was still left in the poem, but the metaphor helped allow someone else to read it and understand what it meant to me to go through that. This is the 11th draft.

The Snowstorm

His love was the snowstorm.
The first snowflakes fell,
pressing against my cheeks, eyelids, and
lips so softly
they swirled about my body,
blanketing me with warmth and adorning me
with crystal coool imprints of sweet nothings and
affectionate words.
The pleasantly chilled winds
brushed against my flesh tenderly.

Days went by, harsh winds arose,
pushed forcefully along my spine, whipped across my body,
leaving aches and small bruises
like fingerprints across my skin
as the snow continued to descend harder-
the signs of a treacherous blizzard
moving across the maps of my soul.

It has been a week,
the storm has progressed to sleet and hail,
my salty tears have turned to blood,
painting my cheeks dark crimson
stones pound hard against the blood covered landscape,
freezing the blades of my fragile spirit,
until they break apart.
Now the wind whistled rapidly, cursing as it spun
sputtering loud screeches in the dark.
Chunks of lies and shattered dreams
begin to pelt everything in their path
leaving eternal welts on the trees' limbs
and scars that could only be seen
after the frost melted.

Soon, the blizzard softens,
winds slowly die away
the sleet and hail fall distant and
snow is left to drift silently
upon the thawing ice,
ripples enveloping each flake
until every last one disappeared
yet my splattered blood
was bequeathed by the soil,
making it strong, rich and fertile
once again.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Two Scrambled Eggs, Toast and Poetry for Breakfast

Early in the Morning

While the long grain is softening
in the water, gurgling
over a low stove flame, before
the salted Winter Vegetable is sliced
for breakfast, before the birds,
my mother glides an ivory comb
through her hair, heavy
and black as calligrapher's ink.

She sits at the foot of the bed.
My father watches, listens for
the music of comb
against hair.
My mother combs,
pulls her hair backtight, rolls it
around two fingers, pins it
in a bun to the back of her head.
For half a hundred years she has done this.
My father likes to see it like this.
He says it is kempt.

But I know
it is because of the way
my mother's hair falls
when he pulls the pins out.
Easily, like the curtains
when they untie them in the evening.

-Li-Young Lee

X and O's...and all the stuff in between

S called me up. She said that she knew there was a writer somewhere still inside of me. I had committed the mistake of telling her in an email that I used to write poetry at one time. She jumped on it. S said it was her duty to bring me back to what she thought made me whole and if I was any kind of friend of hers, I would let her take me out to X and O's in the city to see one of her writer friends. To get back into the groove.

So I said yes. Bah.

She picks me up at about 8:45 pm on a Monday night. She grins, tilts her baseball cap that she's wearing to the side and says "Did you bring your journal? You're going to read some of your poetry tonight at open mic, right?"

Whoa, whoa, whoa. No one ever said anything about a freakin' open mic. I hadn't gone up to perform at open mic in close to four years. It wasn't that I had a freakish accident that made me hate it, or that I got super nervous and never wanted to do it was that I had fallen in and out of love with words and what they used to make me feel (and what they still do now) and wasn't sure if I had the passion in me to create and to perform. It takes a lot out of me...not to get all "Days of Our Lives" on you, but I would write poems, and never read them outloud - until the night of an open mic. And then suddenly, it was like I had realized what I had written for the first time and I'd start crying or getting angry, or filling with any sort of emotion that I had blindly written in. By the end of the last stanza, I stood there, raw and withered for everyone to see...and it was so freeing...but it was so tiring too.

S didn't care about all that. She insisted. I kept protesting. She dragged me into the car.

We walked into X and O's and she got us seats. There was an extremely large amount of people there. There were several people before. Some people with guitars, some people with prose and poetry written. And then they started the poetry slam battle.

This battle was the thing that I think changed my views as a writer forever.

These groups would pick someone out of their group to go up and represent them. This chosen team member would then go up to the mic and just start spitting a poem out. Out of their head. And not just reading it off -- performing. I mean pausing, grasping the audience, reaching out with their words and tugging every single person's ears in the room screaming "HEAR THIS!"

I laughed, I cried...but most importantly, I grabbed my journal and started to scribble. To write. To laugh in my words, cry in my words. I had been inspired by these people.

At the end of the night, something awesome happened. A middle-aged woman goes up to the mic. She stands there patiently waiting for the coffee mugs to stop clanging, and people to quiet their conversations until she has everyone's attention.

She stood there, took a deep breath and a hard look around and began to speak:

"My baby girl came into my bedroom the other day and she asked "Mama, where do babies come from?" I took a deep breath and stopped myself, trying to pace myself and turned to her and said "Honey, babies come from the deepest love from a mother's heart."...what I wanted to tell her? What I wanted to tell her was "Honey, babies come from late nights in hotel rooms, from the bottom of 20 champagne classes. Babies come from that flirtacious laugh, or that sly grin. Babies come from an exchange of words, or tongues, or bodies touchin'. That's where babies come from, honey. But you were loved. Oh yes, you were loved."

The whole room was quiet. And then everybody stood and applauded.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Getting Back to Basics

I went on a "date" with a lesbian once. S has since become one of the sweetest people I know. She is down-to-earth, street-wise, executive-driven and damn beautiful. There is something about that night, and her encouragement ever since that has helped ease me back into writing mode. So here's thanks to my "would-be-there-if-you-ever-decided-to-convert-to-the-"better"-side" girlfriend and the night of our first "date". But first, let me explain how we got to that beautiful first date at X and O's by telling you how we met:

I met S with the help of D and L. Okay, so they didn't phyiscally introduce us but it was L who said she had extra tickets to go see the Pussycat Dolls and Black Eyed Peas in concert at Merriweather awhile back. I jumped at the chance because hey, it's the Pussycat Dolls and I will have to say that even before S (as she likes to point out) I used to confess to having a small crush on the hotness factor of those girls dancing and singing in ultra sexy outfits (I particularly had my stake out on the black girl...more on why that is at a later date. :-))

It was in the middle of the summer and it was rainy. And of course, being at the Pavilion, and not being allowed to take an umbrella, D, L & I were on our way to getting completely drenched. We quickly found our seats under the pavilion (which were terribly awesome L, thanks!! I could see everything, even with being so short and the guy in front of me being so tall) and sat down to enjoy the show.

Everything was fine until intermission rolled around. I remember turning to D, and then looking over at the side of the pavilion where we were and watching the rain come pouring down across the sides in streams, I turned back to him and said "Omgosh, I can't believe I have to piss at this exact moment."

I ran. Thinking that would help. Haha...who was I kidding? And the funniest of all? Well my white and brown boardshorts, and my brown and pink tank tops, with my white windbreaker over it all...what an awesome outfit. Cute -- had it not been pouring buckets down. Regardless, here I am, standing in this line for the bathroom that must have been five miles long and behind me step these two girls with a Pucca umbrella. They are clearly some sort of Asian, and they are laughing, giggling, and trying to huddle closer to each other. All of a sudden, this woosh of rain comes at me and I shiver and sneeze out loud. The one girl puts her hand on my shoulder and this is how it proceeds:

Girl A: "Awww, honey, are you cold? What's wrong?"

Me: "Nothing...I just don't have an umbrella and I didn't expect it to be raining like this."

Girl A: "Well, you could huddle under ours if you'd like...couldn't she S?"

Girl B(stepping out from the umbrella): "Yea, go for it. I love the rain anyway."

Girl A: "Yeah, she loves the rain. But you look as soaked and wet as I am."

Girl B(coming to Girl A and grabbing one of her ass cheeks): "But I like it when you're soaken wet!"

Oh-my-God. At this point, my best emotion is fear. I felt like I had stepped onto the set of a really bad porno. Besides, both girls were wearing shirts that said "I will not love you long time" in...WHITE.

After finally going through the bathroom line and relieving myself, I walked out of my stall only to have Girl B (now referred to as S) come towards me and grab my phone from my hand.

"Let me give you my phone number so you can call me. And I will go buy you a drink now."

Before I could even muster any words, she grabbed me by the hand and led me out of the bathroom stalls, only to meet a group of about 15 women, all Asian, all wearing the same damn shirt. And all of them staring at me like I was fresh meat.

But S stayed calm and cool. She said later she was pretty drunk, but I couldn't tell. There was something intriguing about her and very trusting, otherwise I wouldn't have let her take my hand like that. When we got up to the concession stand and she went to buy me my beer, the flourescent lights hit her face and she striked me as extremely and naturally beautiful. Once she handed me my beer, she tilted her head to the side, her fingers gripping the edge of the cowboy hat she was wearing, enough for me to glimpse that red bandana underneath, and gave me the slyest, and yet most genuine grin I've ever gotten.

S: "How old are you sweetheart?"

Me: "20..."

S: "You are damn hot for a 20-year old."

Me: "uhhh, thanks..." (drinking beer heavily)

S: " Your name's Emily, right?"

Me: "Yep..."

S (leaning towards me slightly): "I would love to break me off a piece of Emily..."

Ahhh, S...good times, good times. Made for a fun time to explain when I ran back to catch up with D & L and fell in the mud. I think the only thing I could text him when he asked me if I was okay was "Got held back by lesbians...will explain later" and he just responded with ":-)".

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Feeling a little like a loser, and less like a winner

So Monday is the first day of school. Or should be. Unfortunately, financial aid/counselors/and myself has screwed that schedule up for me. I think as much as I feel bad for the situation - other people's opinions of it take a huge toll on me as well.

I feel like such a loser today. My transcript says that I am in level 2 of Academic Probation which is against what the guidance counselor that I met with last semester had explained to me. I was also told that I would be out of the Academic Probation phase if I got a B or higher in the one class that I was being allowed to take (English 102). I got an A. And yet I still received a letter in the mail stating that I did not meet the expectations of the Director of some bullshit or another and now I am left with nothing.

I was talking to N the other night unexpectedly (one because I am never on AIM anymore and two...well because it's N and I hardly ever talk to him) and at the question on whether I was taking classes or not, he exclaimed in bold capital letters "WHERE'S THE EMMA I KNEW AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH HER?" ...way to make me feel like a Rocky-champ.

But in the end, no matter what, the only person to blame for this is myself. I mean if I had studied and actually applied myself that last semester that I was in college before the whole fiasco had occurred, then I wouldn't have ended up in this mess. But ahhh, so goes the past. And as they say, the harder you hold tight to the past, the harder it is to step forward into the future.

I am still upset though. Hopefully, I can say that during the summer I will take courses. Which means I won't be able to take the vacations that I wanted. At least not when I wanted to take them. But education is way more important to me right now. I need further direction in my life rather than sitting home and watching TV until I fall asleep.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Following the Crowd

Thus far, my first New Year's resolution has failed. Or I have failed it. Apparently, I just don't have the drive that I once had to pick up the pen and place it to paper each and every day. It used to be that I couldn't go a day without expressing my deepest and even frivolous feelings in my journal. And now its empty pages sit in the form of an orange composition book strewn across my dresser. I had attempted to engage in conversation with it, mostly by close association. Meaning that something within me had thought that by possessing the journal AT ALL TIMES that I would at one moment or another, be inspired to write in it. However, it didn't work out that way.

Thus, the reason for this blog. For some reason, since I spend most of my time all day at a computer, typing has become the new source of inspiration for me. And after reading such awesome blogs such as BlueRyder and Outside In and Back Again I have been inspired to write my own. Perhaps it'll help ease this old writer's block out from the depths of wherever it went to hide after high school graduation.

I've decided to start this first post out with a series of questions and answers:

Q: So why this blog? Why not the first or second attempts?

A:Maybe I am trying to go along with the whole "third time's a charm..." theme, or maybe I just feel like I would rather fill up my 8-hour work day with more things other than work. Maybe it's a little bit of both. Either way, I'm gonna follow the crowd and write my heart out.

Q: What's with the name? What the heck is "Arirang"?

A: Arirang is the name of a very famous Korean folk song. It has several different versions sung all over the place...but perhaps the one I remember is the one from Seoul (Bonjo Arirang). (Wikipedia has a pretty good article here.) In the song, it talks about the singer crossing the Arirang Pass (mountains located in southeastern Gyeoungsang Province). There is a line that roughly translates to "The man/woman who abandoned me here will not walk even ten li before his/her feet hurt". For me, as a little girl, it made an impact. I could envision myself walking and braving that mountain pass as my birthparents watched me from a distance. I remember when my friend's moms would sing it while they were cooking food, or when I heard Ms. Su hum it as she cut my hair and ignored the bruises on her face, that there was something ridiculously strong about it. That no matter what I faced in my lifetime, or whoever entered and exited my life, that if I could brave that mountain pass alone. I could be the stronger. Just as those women who I first heard singing Arirang were the stronger.

So here it is, my first post. Nothing too extravagant or heart-felt. Just the idle mumblings and life and times (accompanied by bits and pieces of poetry and prose as they decide to appear) of me. And maybe, just maybe, along the way I'll be able to brave and conquer the Arirang.