Monday, September 10, 2007

Old Post Meets New Post

I found an old college essay that I used to get into San Francisco University.

There's always that fine line...

I spent an hour yesterday, sitting on the fence in the parking lot of McDonald's, holding up the cash from my wallet to see the fine line that goes down the vertical side of the bill. I realized that no one really cared about the line, some people I knew didn't even know it existed, and you couldn't really see it unless you strain your eyes and squint against the sun. That's how racial assimilation began for me. It was this little line that went vertically down my side, and just like on those bills, it was never quite centered, and would change with each new value.

Every year, my values change, call it the wonders of adolescence if you will, or simply - puberty, but they make a distinctive shift in their views, and their importance and perspective. One of the most inconstant values or perceptions I've held have been towards assimilation. My assimilation or rather, my backwards spiral from assimilation to form a new kind of American. I've strayed too far from my original see, like the bill, like that fine line, for so long - since the beginnings of my childhood as a 'banana' or 'white-washed' Korean, that fine line was never seen. It was never sought for either. Because what good is the knowledge of assimilation to a kindergartener who is having difficulty distinguishing the difference between purple and violet, much less the much bigger picture of yellow vs. white, or race vs. race? The line was always there. I didn't begin it, my birthmother didn't begin it, and so on and so forth until we reach the very essence and depth of Asian ancestors. Maybe it doesn't even lay within the contexts of Asian Americans, but rather - Americans in general - from the time that violet became violet, and purple became purple - that is when the fine line was created.

And there it began to singe itself and embalm its symbolism in the small of my back, and soak underneath my skin like an astringent to make the color of my skin go from 'light tan' to 'yellow'. This was the birth of the line. That is how it came to be on the vertical side of my body.

As a young kid, petite, and the smallest of my class, it never occurred to point out that I was different from everyone else. That line was never burning to be seen. Neither were my parents eager to light the candle flame that would show through my transparent childhood years to show that fine line. Therefore, no one cared, no one dared to spend a moment's notice to search for the line, because it didn't seem like it mattered. My value was at about a dollar. But as time wore on, my value changed and rose. And it was only until recently that I sat back and took the time to notice the fine line that had grown more prominent.

What does the fine line stand for? I think it stands for my ability to assimilate from American to Korean culture. As the values have changed, so does the fine line's point, and it is constantly in a battle of moving back and forth, giving more of me into my American side, and then giving more of me into my Korean. It was not until recently that I discovered that, I am still growing, the change is less frequent, and that if I pay close attention, I might even see the fine line hit the middle.


It's nearly midnight right now. Just several minutes ago my eyes were giving into the heavy gravity of sleep. The opposite of the complete restlessness that I have been feeling most of these nights recently.

I haven't written in forever it seems like and I miss the ability to exert my frustrations into this blog. I haven't been in one place long enough to sit down and write out what is going on. I finally have time now, and have pushed sleep into the recesses of my mind in order to get out the recent frustrations and confusions that have been occupying my mind.

I find this tremendous solace whenever I get onto the train or the subway headed to DC or VA. Not particularly because of where I am headed (although I love my brother and sister with all of my heart, and enjoy every single minute I spend with them), but the actual moving and travelling is what excites me most. It's what awakens this energy within me, and this sort of peace of mind. I am lulled into a tranquil state of mind with the creaks and whisps of the wind pressing against the train's sides as we dip across stretches of railroads and underneath bridges and through tunnels. So it was only fitting that my cushioned seat pressed against the earliest Saturday morning train is where I found myself in order to escape last week's horrible and stressful craziness.

Let's start back at Tuesday. Something other than the fact that I had just come back from a long, and exciting, and relaxing vacation made it harder to get back to work. One, I had a whole week's worth to catch up with and of course, the week that I was gone was the week that I had a new loan, and two renewals and bunch of other issues that popped up. In addition, there was an audit that we were all preparing for, that most people had that week to start on while I was on vacation. The problem with that? I had chosen that week for the vacation time a looong time before the audit review was scheduled. I had no idea that it was going to be happening around the same time.

Not only that, but with everything that has been happening outside of work: my living situation, my car expenses that are coming up, this alopecia - have been forcing me to really stop and think about everything in my life, and what I have taken for granted and what I haven't really focused on too much: which is taking care of myself first and foremost, and not giving a fuck what other people think about me. A lot of people in my life had always been encouraging this kind of thinking, but I had continued to be a spaz, and worry about every little thing and what people thought.

Then, one Thursday morning, I woke to find my hair filling the tub to the brim, and my life changed in an instant. Sounds tremendously stupid, possibly almost silly if I think about it, but it's honest. I was suddenly faced with the challenge of re-evaluating my thought process about how I was going to keep living my life - what were the most important things to me? What were the things that I needed to start thinking about more than others? Why am I so self-conscious? What is this a sign for? Is it a sign for me to really stop and take the time to really see what is around me and appreciate everything in my life?

Yes, I've decided. Yes it is. And I have been happy in realizing how much love there is in my life. My friends that I have been blessed even through tragedy and dramatic times to have gotten to know and have kept through the years. Family that I never knew I had.

But how do you apply what you have learned in your personal life to the things in your professional? Or are you supposed to keep those completely separate? I have found that to be the hardest task of all: for me to go into work and not cry - not worry about my hair falling out and not to think about it 24-7 and instead worry about how Mr. & Mrs. Moneybags were going to get their advance in on time, or whether I would efficiently advance their loan funds so that they had their money for settlement that they didn't need anyway.

I was brought into my boss' office and told that it is because of my age, because I am so young, that I am not able to separate my personal and business issues. I find it hard to believe that it is just because I am 21 that I am unable to not worry about my shiny bald spots that are showing to the whole world - I am sure that at any age I would still be freaked out - I would still be upset, and I would still find it hard to focus on anything, much less Mr. & Mrs. Moneybags.

So last week I got reprimanded, and told that I am not working up to my "potential". I was cussed at, and I was underminded, and micromanaged (because she said "I feel I have to with you"). The way she speaks with me is completely different from anyone else in that office, and I know that it is because she is always self-conscious of the fact that I am younger than her, and she feels she has the right to demean me in that way. I am at the point where I don't give a shit, and have lost all enthusiasm for the job that I have. I don't find the importance in it anymore, especially with everything else going on in my life. I know that this is partially an extreme way to think - but I don't know how to correllate what is going on in my personal life with the professional... maybe it is my lack of experience. Maybe it is because I have never lost my hair before. Maybe it is because I know no one who ever has. Maybe it is because I am surrounded by people in my workforce who are unable to place themselves in someone else's shoes and still tell me on a daily basis, and also give me looks as I walk by that say, "you're making it all up, it's just because of stress and you need to get over it."

I know I am ranting right now. But I am so frustrated and unable to wrap my mind around this woman that I deal with day in and day out. I hope that something shows a light soon...some sort of path that I should take. In the meantime, I am on my hunt for a new job, and unfortunately, I have a feeling that I am going to have to take a paycut in order to find a new one. Ugh.

When it rains, it pours. Eh?

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