Jeju-do (Korea diaries #4)

8.07.2022

I am a mixed-race Asian-American, the daughter of a white American soldier and a Korean immigrant. This summer, I am working in Korea for two months, realizing a dream that I have held for over two years. The Korea Diaries is a blog series that documents my experiences here. For more background, you can view my introductory post.


Growing up as a military child instilled me with a fluid understanding of the concept of home. Relocating every few years to meet the demands of my dad’s army orders meant that I could not attach my idea of home to a specific place. Early on, I knew to assume that my residences would be temporary. By the time I started high school, the first level of school that I attended outside of a military base, I had lived in eight houses, mostly on the East Coast of the United States.
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Soul/Seoul (Korea diaries #3)

7.29.2022


I am a mixed-race Asian-American, the daughter of a white American soldier and a Korean immigrant. This summer, I am working in Korea for two months, realizing a dream that I have held for over two years. The Korea Diaries is a blog series that documents my experiences here. For more background, you can view my introductory post.


“사랑과 미움이 같은 말이면 I love you, Seoul”
If love and hate are the same words, I love you, Seoul.

One of the things that I love most about music is its ability to distill individual experiences into the universal human emotions that underlie them. As a child, I lacked the words to describe this idea, but I think that even back then, music’s capacity to communicate intense and varied sentiments across differences is part of what made me want to learn how to create it. Though I was fairly average, I was a happy piano student in childhood and always eager to sing in school choirs. (During my senior year of high school, I even took a course online after school just to fit chorus into my schedule.) I loved the feeling of lending my body and voice to a sound and letting it carry me into joy, fear, sadness, anger, and hope. Sometimes, I performed pieces that were foreign in concept to me: spirituals of religions I did not subscribe to, tunes in Latin or other unfamiliar tongues, and some songs without any words at all. But music was the ultimate tool of translation, and regardless of the differences between myself and the creator or subject of the piece, songs spoke to me fluently in a language of emotions. If I close my eyes, I can almost recall the feeling of giving my voice to a dissonant chord, how in the chorus I became a channel for yearning and discomfort and tension that built and built and built until resolving in harmony.
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Goodbye, Siheung (sort of). (Korea diaries #2)

7.13.2022


On my last night in 시흥 (Siheung), I went to the water. It was a long walk from the 시흥캠퍼스 연수원, the building where I was living at the time. The humidity was unsympathetic; its thickness was intense and palpable. The sun was no kinder, and I melted under its harsh gaze. Sweat dripped down every inch of my body (I could see physical droplets on my shins. My shins! I didn’t even know that shins could sweat). Still, I continued walking. During my first week in Korea, the water had become one of my closest confidants. When I felt overwhelmed, I sought refuge in the strength of its waves and the comfort of its consistency. I couldn’t leave Siheung without saying goodbye.
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My life has changed. (Korea diaries #1)

7.03.2022

 

 "I knew that if the spark of life kept burning there would be fuel; if I could live I would always find a way, and a way that was best for me.”

In high school, my biology teacher used to encourage my class to make the most of our found time. Found time, she explained, is the opportunities that the universe grants us to appreciate life’s beauty. It is often serendipitous but can exist at any moment that we choose to live in the present. You must be purposeful about holding on to it because you never know when you might have it again. On that Friday, my teacher encouraged us to seize our found time over the weekend by spending an hour or two at a local fair instead of burying ourselves in exam preparations for a test we had the upcoming week. (I am sorry to say that in this instance I did not use my found time; I did, in fact, spend that entire weekend at home.)

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A Conversation with Lyn Liao Butler

2.01.2022

 

In this day and age, the definition of “family” is so different. Embrace whatever family you have, whether it is by blood, adoption, or found family.

Red Thread of Fate charts Tam Kwan's journey to find healing and community following a tragedy. After her husband, Tony, and his cousin, Mia, are killed in a car accident, Tam struggles with her guilt and grief. To complicate matters, she becomes the official guardian of Mia's five-year-old daughter, Angela, and an adopted son from China, whom she intended to raise with her husband, within weeks of the accident. As she navigates her new responsibilities as a mother, she must also grapple with family secrets that threaten to upend her relationships with the living and the dead. Red Thread of Fate releases on February 8, 2022. 
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A Review of Intimacies by Katie Kitamura

1.23.2022

“I no longer believed that equanimity was either tenable or desirable. It corroded everything inside. I had never met a person with greater equanimity than the former president. But this applied to all of them—to the prosecution and the defense, to the judges and even the other interpreters. They were able to work. They had the right temperament for the job. But at what internal cost?”


Words matter. They can start and end wars and hold the best and worst of our nature. Spoken and reserved, they reflect the intricacies of our engagements with each other. The unnamed narrator of Katie Kitamura’s 2021 novel, Intimacies, leads a life that exemplifies how language – and, more importantly, the power of the people behind them – can mold identities and change worlds. 
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My Top 5 Books of 2021

1.13.2022


 “She’d spend her time preparing for her future, living in books until the exciting part of her life would begin. Things would matter then. In fact, everything would be different.” 

Mary H. K. Choi, Emergency Contact


As we settle into the new year, I continue to find comfort and inspiration in books. While looking back on my reads from the year past, I identified five books that stood out to me for their insight, daring, or entertainment. As promised, here are my top five books of 2021.

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2022 is ours.

1.05.2022


"Yes, we have a long way to go,
but we have already come so far.
Here’s to breathing deep
and making the most
of where we are."
- Morgan Harper Nichols
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Memory keeps the dead alive: a review of Must I Go by Yiyun Li

2.07.2021

 

Thank you to the publisher, Random House, for providing me with an advanced reader copy for review. Receiving this galley does not impact my review of the book.

“People are like flowers. Some are born rare species, and they are assigned certified gardeners, and people line up to catch a glimpse when they bloom...Yet in the end all flowers blossom for the same purpose, and none of them last unless you press them between pages.”

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Democracy is never assured: a review of Twilight of Democracy

1.15.2021

 "There is no single explanation, and I will not offer either a grand theory or a universal solution. But there is a theme: given the right conditions, any society can turn against democracy. Indeed, if history is anything to go by, all of our societies will."

On January 6, 2021, a mob attacked the United States Capitol. Armed with weapons and white supremacist paraphernalia, including the Confederate flag, KKK signs, and Nazi symbols, the rioters interrupted Congress's Electoral College vote certification process to confirm Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election. They threatened, stole, hurt, raged, and defiled. Five people were killed. The insurrectionists attacked American democracy in the name of a leader they believed was unfairly stripped of power: Donald Trump.

Why do events like the riot happen? How do alt-right groups championing authoritarianism gain traction in democratic societies, and why are they spreading around the world?
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