Tag Archives: communication

Don’t Be So Wry, Sir.

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http://samurai01.egloos.com/tb/2802138

The above link is a blog post written in Korean.  I would look at his blog from time to time, since he is studying Japanese history, which is closely related to my 2nd major (And also a topic that continuously interests me).  Usually, I don’t really comment everything on someone’s blog.  Everyone is bound to think differently.  If I don’t like it, I don’t have to pick a fight.  Just leave it and do your stuff.
But this post really bothered me.  Mainly:

– That these parents of Korean students in prestigious American university have no reason to “spend frigging +$50,000” other than placing their kids to some financial firm at Manhattan.

– That the Korean students at his prestigious American university are well-behaved and nice, more than he used to think.  Because their parents “brainwashed” them to behave so being pretty wealthy family, and some thinks it’s the way to keep their reputation as “pretty wealthy family.”

First point.

What kind of crooked view is this?

Sure, maybe some Korean parents have such strange desire to place their kinds in some well-known financial firm in Manhattan.  But why make such a big leap of generalization, based on one school in one specific region?  Same can be said for many white American parents of my high school.  I know a plenty of them said to their kids’ college advisor, “I am not going to let my kid apply non-Ivy schools.”  I also know a ROTC guy (not Korean) who was terrified when he got his camp assignment – everyone in his family went ROTC and served in a same camp, and this guy didn’t get in.

I know a lot of Korean international students’ parents who sent their kids to America for a lot of different reasons.  Some just couldn’t handle the intensity of Korean high school students (which also greatly affects parents too).  Some didn’t want their kids to be order-following test-grinding machine (my parents, I guess).  And some had family crisis, such as divorce, so they sent their kids abroad.  Some had kids that really, really wanted to go abroad and study.

So don’t you fucking make such generalization, based only on a small portion of population, limited to a certain area.
Second point:

Again, what the heck is wrong with him?  He just can’t even appreciate someone’s good behavior?  And the reason behind their good behavior is only because they are from wealthy family?

Maybe, unlike myself, he had a plenty of well-behaved people around him so started to take them for granted.  All of the well-behaved, gentle people I’ve ever met were not limited to a certain social class.  The cleaning man and guests at the local homeless center were some of the best gentlemen.  Some of the most impolite, good-for-nothing kids I’ve ever met were from everywhere, from very wealthy family to just average.

At least based on my experience, someone’s manner and behavior have nothing to do with their family’s earning and social class.  If there is one standard that can tell anything about someone’s behavior and manner, that’s their parents’ value and personality.

Honestly, if you had a chance to meet someone who is nice and well-mannered, you are lucky just fucking appreciate it.  Don’t add things in and twist your view, like “oh, of course, it’s just another dirty trick to satisfy their vanity.”

Look, blog writer.  Few years ago, you wrote, as watching 20-something lady so surprised after crashing her Nissan Infinity, you didn’t really feel any sympathy, thinking “well, she’s got rich family, I bet.” Then you found yourself getting greatly worried over your friend’s phone call, saying he was involved in a car accident.  And that you were embarrassed to hold such double standard.

How do you know that Nissan Infinity is from her parents? Maybe it was her dream car, so she worked really hard or got a loan or was on a really good deal lease.

You, apparently, finished your Ph.D in one of the most prestigious universities over 6-7 years.

Shouldn’t you know better?  Generalization is no-no in the States, for most of people.  And, when you are writing things in open blog, you really should be careful of what you are writing.

See, this is why I don’t like many Koreans in America, especially those who came over much later in their life.  They generalize everything.  Everything is either black of white.  They only see a very small part of life.  They can’t just accept things as they are.  And, it’s not uncommon for them to bash on younger people who have international experience, saying “oh, those kids must be so spoiled, rude, just lucky kids with rich parents, blah blah blah” without ever considering the fears and stress they have (and consider them “nothing” compared to their own worries.  Now who’s impolite?).

People like you make us wanting to further distance ourselves from Korea.

Few years ago, a good friend of mine, Susie, shared one of her worries.  Back then, in her early 20s, Susie was going to one of the best schools for biology, so she was working at on-campus bio lab.  Susie is pretty hard-working student, who hates getting involved in politics and arguments.  So she just do her job, say bye, go back to her place and work on her assignments.

There was one Korean MA student (mid 30) in the same lab.  He finished his BA in Korea, and never lived abroad.  For no reason, he started to spread bad gossip on Susie.  He would approach Susie’s lab mate, and say stuff like “Susie’s so rude, she doesn’t greet me properly, it’s pretty selfish to just finish her job and go, blah blah.”  Susie was so stressed out, because 1) she didn’t have nerve to spare on this, and 2) she really could not figure out what she did wrong to him.  She said greetings to him properly, and they weren’t that close.

The only answer we could think of was…that he was just jealous.   He was jealous, because, being 30 something, he was struggling to swim in this brave new world he had never been, let alone language.  Then there was Susie, who was far younger than himself, yet speaks far better language and seems to handle stuff far better than himself.

Honestly, if I were him, I would just ask for help or focus on my damn business.  I don’t really understand him.  But now reading the above linked blog post, I think I know why.  Even if they go abroad and spend long years, they are still very Korean.

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My Father is Constant Reminder for Why I Never Think Korean-Korean Guy as My Partner.

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I thought things have been going alright between my father and me.  I don’t mean that we started to talk so much and spent a lot of time together under rainbows and flowers and unicorns.  He didn’t pick on me, and I just kept my head low and did my things.  Well, there was a reason things were going too well, because he picked on me. Again. For nothing.

Few days ago, I ordered a gadget which I’ve used back in the States.  My father wondered what it is, so I handed him the manual.

Father: well, if you want me to read it, you’ll have to turn on the lights and get me my glasses.

So I rise from my chair to do them.  Then he said it’s not necessary, he was only joking, and I take everything too seriously.

My reaction?  What the fuck.

If someone handed you a manual, you can surely get your glasses and turn on the lights on yourself.  It’s not that difficult.

Earlier on that day, he said my amount of studying is nothing compared to what he did back in high school and college, and how he studied until he nosebleed. Guess what.  You were in your own country, your mom doing all your laundry and getting your meal.  You just had to study, not to worry about paying the bill on due date, tax filing, location of Korean supermarket and how to manage your movement for weekend shopping so you can do grocery shopping AND still work on your 40 pg paper, and most importantly, constantly worrying about your language skills, because you were studying in your first language.  And you just nosebleed a lot: doctor said you just have weak blood veins in nose.

Today, I was busting my butt off for working on some of the last sections of my online course (I am getting tired of this. Urgh).  It was near dinner time, so I called my mom’s cell to check where she is about.  No answer.  Maybe she’s back at home.  So I called home.  Father answered.

I: Is mom there yet?
Father: No, she’s not here yet.  I’ll call her.
I: No, that’s fine.  I called her a minute ago and she’s not answering.
Father: Okay I’ll call her.

…Did he not hear me? Nevertheless, I said I’ll be back.  On the way back, I had a bad craving for Garden Fresh Pizza from Papa John’s, so I dropped by to pick it up.  I made it back to home, with deliciously smelling fresh-cooked pizza (note: my father doesn’t like “healthy” “vegetable” stuff.  He doesn’t even try it, or try to). I said hello to him, sat down and munched down my pizza.  Then he found me with my pizza.

Father: Is that your dinner?
I: Yes?
Father: Then why didn’t you call me? I’ve been waiting so we can eat together.  What you did is rude.

I was dumbfounded.  Rude? If he is the kind of guy who just can’t eat alone, I’d knew it.  But he is man who can set his own table and eat alone (note2: as a Korean man, he deserves credit for this one).  If I remember correctly, there was no mention of anything like “let’s eat together” or “I’ll wait.”  To be honest, I’d rather drink a cup of milk for my dinner instead of having 5-star French course meal with my father only.

But, what can I say as a powerless daughter of Korean family.  I just said “yes, yes, my fault, sorry about it.”  So I ate my yummy pizza and he had his dinner in the kitchen.

After he finished eating, then he started picking on me again.  That:

– It is so ludicrous that I didn’t even call that I’ll just have my pizza for dinner while he is waiting for me.
* My answer: you didn’t say anything about it.  How the hell would I figure that out?  I’m no mind reader.

– Are you ignoring me? You don’t feel any weight around me?
* My answer: no, more like I want to minimize my contact with you, because I don’t feel like developing a good relationship with someone who can’t put his/her feet to others’ shoes and doesn’t give any single credit to others who are different from yourself.  So I guess my answer to your 2nd question is yes…?

Then he AGAIN complained how I don’t ever greet him in the morning or evening.
*My answer: AGAIN, I have my agenda to run, and my way of getting things done.  You didn’t really call me anyway like other fathers back in my school.  I didn’t complain.  You are complaining.    If you are grown up, you really should not expect others to do it for you.

Of course I didn’t say any of my answers out loud.  I just say yeah, yeah, sorry *munch my pizza*.

He still wants to be babysitted.  He doesn’t understand other family members have their own life and their own things to do, and not everyone will be just sitting there, waiting for him.  He doesn’t think that there are different ways of doing things done; and he thinks it’s bad because it’s nothing like his way.

Unless he approves that there are different ways, and accepts that his daughter grew up in a very different culture/surrounding from his, there will be no improvement.  That’s the minimum starting point.  But now I really don’t hope for anything.

He is a constant reminder of why I don’t like Korean-Korean guys and never consider them as a potential partner.

My Last Blind Date and Some Scary Wedding.

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Today’s posting would be something of girly and not very important personal update with Korean flavah.

Do you remember this post?  Yes, the wedding has happened and I went there with my family.  I could see they spent fortune on this wedding.  But the quality was…disappointing.  I know Korean wedding (to be more specific, Korean westernized wedding) is not the most exciting event in your life.  Invitees bring some money for gift, the couples just do ceremony in white dress and all, people clap, some boring and politically correct speech by someone with nice title and connection with family, maybe a song or two, everyone rush to the canteen/catering, eat and leave.  Sometimes the venue staffs will herd you out, so they can have multiple ceremonies per day.

Based on the venue, gossips, make-up and dress rentals, I wouldn’t be surprised if they spent one million hundred KRW (about 87,000 USD) in total.  I don’t want to comment on the amount of money – I didn’t pay it, they never asked me to chip in so I don’t get a say.  But if you spent that much money, you either expect a breathtakingly beautiful decorations, or 5-star rating food or…I don’t know, Adele singing live?  None of that happened. In sum, it was expensive yet totally tasteless wedding.  Expensive yet out-of-place Emanuel Ungaro dress, not-so-great food, whole bunch of mismatching flowers…My family all thought, “it’s just waste of money, I feel really bad for them…but they didn’t have any taste to begin with, no?”

Now, after the wedding, I keep hearing about the landmines that’s waiting to explode between Marza, Marza’s family and her husband’s family.  Well, well, fingers crossed (this is cynicism).

Since I am writing about wedding, I think this is a nice Segway moment to talk about adult man-woman relationship and marriage in Korea.  I know a lot of you American folks are cringing at “arranged marriage” and think it’s some barbaric custom.  But I, an Asian who grew up both in no-Asian town of America and Asia, am not too averse of it.  There are different “kinds” of arranged marriage.  Basically, the core of arranged marriage is your (or the date’s) parents get the potential date for you.  If you have laid-back parents who places priority on their kids’ emotion, then it’s not required to get the marriage date ASAP.  Now, if you have parents who are really anxious, the pressure is on, obviously.  Overall, the pressure increases as you get older – Korean people have problem accepting their children’s choice of life when it isn’t the norm, at least to them.  And there’s the notion thinking “my child doesn’t know better” – Amy Chua didn’t make up her Tiger Mom story.

Maybe it’s because there’s no such pressure on me (or any of those around me) yet, but anyway, I’m okay with it.  What’s to lose by meeting more new people? And they are recommended by people who know you very well.

So I had one of this nature last weekend (note: other than general background and contact information, our parents’ involvement was next to nothing, which was good.  Really, it was just like any other blind date).  The guy – let’s call him Peter – was recommended by my mom’s friend, who is a fine, gentle, hard-working person.  Korean Korean.  All I know is Peter’s family has been working as oriental med doctors for more than 100 years.  Though their earning is good, they still follow their ancestor’s will: that is not to move away from its original place, and keep the business at manageable size.  That deserves massive respect.

We texted to arrange a meeting place.  He just kept asking this and that in text, making me think “he can just call….” but then I thought maybe he doesn’t feel it’s appropriate.  Okay, whatever.  He suggested a Japanese dining bar.  I thought it a bit unusual – usually you are going a bit of high-end place for your first blind date, no? Ohhh, maybe he wants it to be casual.  I guess it’s not a bad idea to have first date over a cool pint of beer.

The date has come and I was there.  I was on time, but I wasn’t sure Peter – today’s “host” – is here yet. I called.

Ceberus: Hello? Hi, this is Ceberus, the person you are meeting today. 
Peter: Yeah.
Ceberus: I’m at the place, right outside. 
Peter: Yeah.
Ceberus: Are you in?
Peter: Yeah.
Ceberus: Okay I’m going in, see you in a minute.
Peter: Yeah.

Honestly, I was a bit off at this point.  This already sounds odd, no?  If a man is thirty something, I expect him to be able to respond to the “business” calls in formal manner.  How hard is it to say “Hi! Good evening! I’m in so come on in!”?

Anyway I went in, and I asked him to suggest/order for me because it’s my first time here.  He just ordered foods.  Fine – but if you are just going to order foods, what’s the point of meeting at izakaya?  We could’ve gone to the other Japanese restaurant.  Since the host isn’t ordering, I couldn’t either.

We started chatting.  I found that he served at public service unit (all Korean men has to serve in military: if your physical condition prohibits to do so, such as bad waist or terrible eyesight, you are usually placed for public service), so I brought up some of my guy friends doing the same thing.  Then for some reason, he started to talk about some fist fight initiated by Korean age hierarchy.  Which is hardly a good topic to start if you want to leave someone a good impression.

We soon started to talk about our majors.  His major was oriental medicine (in Korea, oriental medicine courses are treated similarly with western med schools and they are officially doctors, subject to medical insurance).  Surprise.  I said my major was political science.  Then Peter looked very excited, saying he wanted to study politics but couldn’t do it due to his father’s objection.

Oh, this may be a good sign.

No it wasn’t.

His question: “so which political party do you support?”

….I thought politics, religion and abortion are big no-no in any kind of first meeting, regardless of country.  What the heck is happening.

I had to find a way to answer this politely, so I just said “well…they all look same!”

Peter said he wanted to study politics because his childhood home was near to the Blue House and envied the president’s parade.

Fine, this I can take as a sweet childhood memory.

Then he said, all man should aim for being a president before dying.

Fine.  But you are thirty.  Time to wake up.

I really wanted to talk about other stuff, but he was too excited and went on. He said Korean race is the best and brightest in the world and he supports nationalism.

Oh fug.

You are talking to a TCK, people in general hating nationalism and ethnicism.  And this is 21st century, the era of globalization.  What time are you living in?

So finally I had to say: “Peter, honestly, having been grown up in one of the most diverse countries in the world, I don’t really sympathize with nationalism and ethnicism-centered education of Korean history.  In fact, I really don’t like nationalism.  IMO, it’s the seed of all wars and hatred.”

He looked startled, and said, he thought I would be interested because I’m…politics major.  Again, I had to explain: “there are two kinds of politics major students. One is those who want to change the world with their hands; another is those who likes observing the whole situation from background and analyze the data.  I’m the latter.”

I don’t think he was too happy with it.  Same here anyway.

At least he was well behaving, so we had a tea, and he drove me back to home.  In his car, he talked about his studying.  I chimed in.

Ceberus: It sounds like your dad is oriental doctor, too.
Peter: He is.
Ceberus: Oh, that’s wonderful!
Peter: No, not really.
Ceberus: Why?
Peter: Well, dang, I want to play but it’s impossible to skip my study and lie since he knows everything.

I’m speechless…

So that was the end of my blind date.

Someone said: the more blind dates you do, the list of awful man increases.

Sometimes though, I feel like Korean men, in general, are immature than American guys.  I think I know why.  In the States, kids – men included – are encouraged to live independently.  People rarely live with their parents (and there’s some stigma attached to those who do, though there is increasing number of kids who are doing it due to recession).  For most people, they live away from their family and do a lot of things on their own once they start their college education.  Meanwhile they have experience of earning money on their own.

For Korean guys, this isn’t the case.  Since their birth to college, majority of people live with their parents.  They’ve never done things by themselves – doing laundry, preparing meals, earning stipends, repairing their bike, etc.  A lot of them live off from stipend given from their parents.  It’s pretty obvious who matures first.

I understand why.  But I just can’t sympathize with them (I bet I startle them too).  Maybe it’s one of those pains of hidden immigrant.

Subjectivity

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There’s a documentary program called “3일” (3 Days) in South Korea.  They pick a place, and shoot the people’s daily life for 72 hours.  It’s quite fun program.  Last weekend, they filmed the program in Gimpo Airport.  Among the people they filmed, there was a couple.  A woman was departing, but man was staying.  The man didn’t look too happy.  The man was devastated after letting the woman go; and the woman kept crying behind the gate.

They are 조선족 (Chinese-Korean) couple who initially came to South Korea together for a good life (there are ton of Chineses, especially Chinese-Koreans coming over to South Korea for a better life; think of Mexican immigrants in the US).  The man got a work visa, so he could stay, start his journey toward the “Korean Dream.”  The woman couldn’t.  Her visa expired, and she now had to leave.  The man was still on his work visa (not ready to sign up for residence status), and since he was still in his initial stage of settling down, he couldn’t marry her.  The woman asked him to go back to China together; but obviously, the man refused since he would risk too much.  After all, he just got his cornerstone to build his dream and good life.

I shed tears.  I could identify so much with both of them.  I’m sure they worked hard, and I’m also sure they are good, honest people.  The devastation.  The feeling that there’s nothing you can do, and the knowledge of that the decision has been made by factors that is totally out of your control, are terrible.  Honestly, I don’t think I have not gotten over it completly yet.  There’s still a fear within me, especially because I will be heading to America soon again for higher education.  That’s why I worry too much and researching frantically.  I was in a same situation.  Someone I liked very much and I had to depart, because I couldn’t stay and he wasn’t ready to start a family.  Okay, that wasn’t the biggest for reason of our separation, but it had its part in the whole situation.

My mom was watching the program with me.  As she watches the woman sobbing, my mom said: “well, though seperating from someone you love hurts now, but it all gets better later on.”

I don’t disagree with my mom’s comment, but as I hear it, I felt as if there is a large river flowing between us.  Everyone has different responses.  Everyone’s experiences are different.

But in moments like this, I felt so lonely even though my family is right next to me, because I know I feel differently from rest of the people here. I know others would not understand.  So I don’t/can’t tell them.

Decision Made

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I’ve been busy with additional documents and catching up my online pre-law class.  Sorry blog and readers.  I don’t know how the things will turn up, but for now it’s not great.  Yes I bombed my LSAT.  And the recession is making everyone to fly into law school and LSAT.  I was rejected from 50% of the schools I applied.  I haven’t heard or am waitlisted/held in other schools.  And all the schools I really want to go held me.  Sometimes I don’t know whether I am heading to the right path – but then, I don’t really have other option do I?  The economy is bad here as well, and Korean firms don’t like me.  Working surrounded by Koreans is suffocating.  I don’t have green card or citizenship.  I can’t just go to US or Hong Kong and get a job.  I used up all of my LSAT slots, so I can’t take it until 2014. On a good side, I did get into all of my safe schools but…they are safes.  I don’t know.  I just don’t want to be in that situation again – where I can’t even apply for a position because I don’t have the residential right even though I fit in their job description, or job offer canceled at the last moment. So…that’s pretty much what was my life like.

Right, now to the main story.  Though I rant a lot about my father, a small portion of my mind has been wishing that things will get better eventually.  As of today, I gave all my hopes and expectations on my father.  He is so full of himself, and it’s impossible to have any kind of conversation with him.  I know he’s doing what he can, and I have a lot of respect and gratuitous for him supporting his family.  He deserves massive credit for it.  BUT, other than that part, I despise everything else about him.  I want to keep some distance from him (which, clearly, isn’t working well).  I can’t wait until I frigging leave here.

Here’s what happened.  Last night, my father called me to dinner table.  Not a good sign, but oh well.  He asked about how’s my admission going.  So I told him.  Then he asked about my GPA and test score.  Not the most glorious numbers, but I told him.  I don’t know how the story progressed, but what started with “what do you think? do you want to go law school?  are you sure you are not dazed with just images of lawyer?” soon became how he thinks I’m impolite, disrespectful and..all that old shit again.  So I just put my mask on again, just said yes, yes, okay, sorry.  I can’t fucking believe he still brought up that incident before my LSAT. And still never thinks about my position. I am the one who actually took the test and wrote and sent all my applications.  No one can be happy/upset/disappointed as much as I do.   Sounds like he doesn’t think so, because he is to concerend about how he doesn’t get respect and stuff.

Then both my mom and dad insisted me to say something.  Really? I know better than that.  I asked, “well, what do I have to say?  You won’t listen nor understand…”  Again, they asked why. Well, they asked.

“Whenever I say what I think, dad always says I’m either rude, impolite, or disrespectful.  When I make a small complaint, mom always says I can’t think like that, but instead grateful and there are hundreds of other people out there who is like me so I shouldn’t complain.  If I get same replies over and over, what’s the use for me to say my opinions?”

My mom somewhat understood.  Father insisted he has never done that.  Bullshit.  The minimum I remember is 3 times.  When both my mom and I pointed that out, only then he apologized, with massive unnecessary excuses of “I don’t remember saying such things.”  All and all, everything looked like it’s all wrapped up nicely.

But it wasn’t.

It started off as a good day.  I spent too much time taking online lessons and making my notes, so I decided to take a day off.  My mom and I went to a local outlet.  Everything was built in “American size” (=not packed like Seoul) so it was very good.  Father came back, and all hell broke loose again.

Apparently, he was upset that I didn’t say clear apology for that goddamn incident.  Jesus Christ.  Any average person would think it’s all the story of past, especially after a conversation with a nice wrap up.  So I just went usual, saying okay, okay, sorry, sorry.  But he went on and on and on, saying how he should have really give me hard time on that moment.  I’m pretty stressed these days again, and I couldn’t just frigging believe he’s still on it. So I finally said:

“Look, I am sorry about how I responded.  But don’t you think you could just hold it until my test ends? And spank me or handle stuff in any way you want?”

Yeah, I should have just held my tongue.  He got furious, saying that now I’m trying to “teach” him.  What? What the?  He also said I was really rude to him when he asked some computer stuff to me.  I really don’t think that is true, because knowing is temper and learned from experience, I did my best to not to raise my voice when helping him out.  I think it’s just his sense of inferiority.  Somehow it was wrapped up and I kept watching the show I was watching.  Then, 10 minutes later, he yelled again and made an ugly scene.  So I started that okay okay sorry routine again.  Then he said I’m being sarcastic and I don’t mean it.  Jesus,  What does he want from me?

He also said I’m being rude, that I keep glaring his eyes.  First, I wasn’t staring his eyes.  Second, I fucking grew up in the States, where it is rude to NOT look at someone’s face/eyes when talking.  If he sent his kid to the States, has that much admiration to a foreign country, and watches plenty of American TV shows, he should’ve known it.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I said that is so not true.

“Look, you seem like you think conversation as figuring out who’s bad, who’s good and whose fault it is.  I think conversation is stating each other’s thoughts, and just respect that difference – at least that’s the starting point.  So I say what I think, as you asked.  Then your response is how I’m being rude and disrespectful.  How can we actually understand each other if we can’t even agree on where to begin?”

It looked like he eased down a bit, but then it was all about himself, again.  How he feels lonely, sometimes sad, working hard to support family so I should treat him well and just try to understand him more. Okay, fine, points taken.

I understand sometimes it’s lonely to have no one to say hello and goodbye, or prepare your meal.  It’s nice to have them.  BUT isn’t that most part of the life?  It sucks, and sometimes it gets terribly lonely, but in the end, there will be no one (or very few number of people) there to babysit you, so you’d better know how to handle the situation.  I hate to say this to my own family member, but the whole thing sounds like him playing the baby.

But if we wants such a treatment from someone else, shouldn’t he first try to put his feet in other’s shoes?  For instance, he always says I and my mom shouldn’t cut in when he’s talking.  But he ALWAYS cuts in when my mom and I are talking.  Who is he to say cutting in is impolite?  How can he actually understand someone if he’s lens to the world is wrong/right and filled with sense of inferiority?  How can he expect to someone to actually apologize, when he doesn’t even remember his faults (or refuse to admit) yet acts really annoyingly picky about other’s fault on him?  How can he expect someone to be good to him when he is so full of himself?

I don’t want him making all that visual gestures of niceness and friendliness, like holding my hands.  Stop.  That’s just vain.  Just look yourself around, and try to change your mind and behavior.

So as I wrote above, as of today, I give up all of my hopes on father.  Which actually feels pretty good, because now I don’t have to be frustrated or worry.

New Year Family Reunion….Ooops.

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You might already know about the big Asian family reunion, and how the whole family thing takes more priority than western hemisphere.  Being a member of typical Korean family, I’m part of it, too.  Here’s the drill.

Usually in new year, lunar new year, end of the year and/or Chusok, the entire family gathers, including your uncles, cousins, their spouses, their kids, grandparents and sometime someone who you’ve never seen before.  There will be ancestor veneration ceremony.  Huge amount of special foods are needed.  Usually, this is done by the ancestor’s direct sons’ wives.  Let’s apply this to my case.

The hero of ancestor veneration ceremony is my grandfather, who passed away when I was mere 4.  My Uncle, K, is his first son, and my dad is his second son.  So the food preparation duty is assigned to my mom and K’s wife.  People pitch in, but my mom and K’s wife have the main responsibility.  My dad’s family is rather old school, so men don’t really help out (and this is a prevalent problem in modern South Korean society – back in the old days, it was alright because women’s job was to tend the home.  Now, Korean women have to work to earn wages AND tend their home.  No wonder why the rate of divorce and argument skyrocket after those ceremonies).

Since my grandmother has been hospitalized, we haven’t had this kind of reunion for a while.  Though this sounds sad, but my family were somewhat pleased to skip the ceremony.  My grandmother is still in hospital, so we expected a quiet family time.  I don’t know why, yet all of sudden, uncle K decided to have the reunion this year.  Meaning, my mom has to go through the food prep track again.  Individually, I bet uncle K is a nice person.  But he’s not the most organized person.  Well, most Korean men are same…my mom isn’t happy for sure.

As of me, the Korean family reunion is half-day awkwardness, starting very early in the morning.  My dad is a sort of red herring in his family (in a good way).  In a same way, I’m a mutation.  I’m the only person in the entire family to spend my life living in foreign countries.  I’m the only person in the entire family to attend foreign school.  My dad is super-liberal when compared to uncle K.  There’s nothing to be shared between my cousins and me.  Nothing.  At the same time, I should be social, and try my best to not to be looked as “snob.”  It is hard, especially in culture where not saying much can be seen as “snob” and pointing out someone’s misunderstanding can be seen as “impolite.”

Examples 1.

My aunt (father’s side) saw my high school graduation pics.  My high school made all girls from graduating class to wear white gown.  My aunt asked why I’m wearing white gown, when Korean students wear blacks.  I just said (with a smile) that’s what my school just did.  Then, with a big nod and a look of enlightenment, she said, “oh, now I have to remember – that in America, the graduation gown is white!”

Examples 2.

After graduating from college, I got a job in Korea.  All of my cousins pestered me, asking “why didn’t you get a job in America?  I was surprised to hear that you came back.”  Yeah, I wish it is that easy.  I explained what happened.  I don’t think they understood though.  Until now.

Examples 3.

My cousin took me out for a play, which I think is an incredibly nice gesture.  I thought the play was too typical – mom and kids not getting along,  then mom is sick/dead/hospitalized, kids thinking differently, learning more about all her sacrifices (how she didn’t buy a single piece of nice clothes and such) and regrets, or return to a good mom-kid relationship.  On the top of that, my mom is nothing like her.  I love my mom, but unlike typical Korean moms, she’s not the kind of lady who would give up her fashion statement for her child (and that’s what I like about her).  After the play, I almost said it.  But I found my cousin was crying, saying how it was touching.  I just zipped my mouth and lied.

So naturally, after getting things done that has to be done, I just want to leave as soon as possible.  Yet my parents, uncles and aunts have to catch up (or at least pretend to, because many will take early leaving as sign of disrespect). Not for once I think I am “better than them” or look down on them.  It’s just awkwardness I can’t take, and not knowing what to expect.

I don’t know – maybe I’ll take the thickest book written in English this time and just read it in the corner of room.

Wall

Standard

I always feel as if I am talking to a wall whenever I “talk” with my dad.  We are a pair of parallel lines.  I think I already wrote this for a million times – how he wants me to explain something, to have a “conversation,” or asks me about my thoughts; and how I state my thoughts; and him picking on me, usually saying how my way of talking doesn’t suit his preference, or how I am being rude.  Then I try to explain.  Then again he thinks I’m rebelling or something (I’m too old to be a ‘rebel.’ Please.).

If you have been reading my blog (thank you), you know what my culture-conscious solution is.  I just zip my mouth, say yes to whatever.  Then the household peace is realized.  My dad complains about it, saying how I don’t share stuff with him.  I don’t intend to do it, at least for a while.  Because, if I do so, there are things he doesn’t know, which leads me having to explain.  And if I do the “explaining…” you know what will happen (for the reference, read the earlier paragraph).

Here’s what really put me off.  He wasn’t the kind of dad who calls/e-mails his kid frequently, unlike some parents who sent their kids to boarding school.  Not even once I envied them or upset at my dad.  I didn’t get into any trouble.  I managed my daily life.  I did better than average.  All was good, without him directly intervening.

Then, all of sudden, after I moved in with my family, he complains how I don’t share stuff, and tries to execute authority on me.  If I were still a teenager, sure, I understand.  But I’m well over the legal adult age.  I have work experience.  His experience and my experience are two completely different thing.  I respect that.  He doesn’t seem so.  How can you share something and understand each other, unless both parties respect each other, and recognize they are different?

Long story short, here’s what happened today:

While I was busting my brain with LSAT and applications, he said maybe it’s a good idea to take a course in accounting, or finance whenever I’m free.  I agreed, and looked up for some courses.  It turns out all hagwons I could find were either for government certification exam, or using Korean SW (which, of course, is not used in countries other than South Korea).  What I wanted was a general intro class.  I felt exam prep courses are too serious for me, and learning only some Korean finance SW seems to be too limited and waste of money.

Then, I heard that though getting a job in the States might be tough, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Japan can be different story.  As someone going for an occupational school and dying to secure employment in international Asian places out of South Korea after graduation, I thought learning Chinese can be a good option.

After weighing my options, I went for Chinese.  Yes, learning about accounting and finance is very helpful.  However, it’s not my immediate need, and it is less related to my goal.  Besides, I couldn’t find any courses that suit my needs.  If I get a job and luckily start to build my career, the finance/accounting knowledge will be handy only then.  Maybe I will be in MBA.  Who knows.  I’ll need them if I happened to specialize in tax/financial law.  But that ‘s not going to happen soon – I’ll be one of those pathetic 1Ls who are just struggling to stay afloat.  What I know is, it all starts AFTER I graduate and get a job.  And for now, my priority goal is to get a job in international Asian places.  I will have a bit more edge in the market with foreign language skill (which, by the way, I already speak two).

I was talking with my mom about potential Chinese courses.  All of sudden, my dad called me to come to his room.  Ooops, not a good sign, here it goes again.  Clearly he wasn’t too happy about my decision.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he said “are you not respecting what I said?”  He didn’t.  Instead, he kept going on, trying to convince me that I need to take finance courses.

Math is all about logics.  Wouldn’t you need it for case analysis and such? Wouldn’t you need it since you are going to law school? Like, case analysis, tax laws, and business law.”

– Er, well, pre-law courses I’m looking at are much more directly related (and if academic math is that helpful, I honestly think it would be better to go to academic math hagwon instead of accounting hagwon…obviously I didn’t say this out loud).  And, all that tax and business specialization happens after 1st year.  1st year, you just take common subjects and none of them are finance related.  I’m not even in school yet.  I don’t know what I’m going to specialize in, and I think taking finance and accounting courses then will be far much more useful.  I’m going to take Chinese courses, because there seems to be much more job openings in places under Chinese influence.  And that’s my priority at the moment.

What about the speech courses?
– It’s only about 8-10 sessions, once in a week and I can get discount.  I can do it while taking pre-law courses.

As you can imagine, he started to preach about my way of talking.  Dear God.  How I just cut in, make him uncomfortable as if I am teaching something, how listening improves the mood, etc.  If I need a speech class for that sense, he needs to be in it, too.  His speech is flying everywhere, so many times my mom and I have to “what ? wait what? what’s your point?”  And he cuts in all the time.  And he preaches.  I guess it’s okay when HE cuts in and not listen, but I can’t cut him in and not listen.  Another thing that puts me off.  Why does he keep pointing fingers at me, especially on things he knows no better than I do?

He concluded saying “I know less than you do in this field.  But I’m uncomfortable to ask because you just pour it out, as if you look down on me.”

Honestly, I’m satisfied with it.  If he really want my answer or explanation on something he doesn’t know, it’s him who needs to start to listen and not cut in.  From the beginning, I have had no intention to “look down” on my dad.  It’s him who feels that way – like hundreds of other Korean men.  Few days ago, I read an article by a chef and a high-end restaurant owner.  They all agreed how Koreans get angry whenever someone tries to correct/teach the proper table manner with good intention.  Quoting from them: “it’s the inferiority complex.  For some reason, not knowing and someone merely pointing it out is translated to ‘oh, right, this guy is slighting me!'”

I do pour it out and I do cut in my dad.  Why? I usually spend a lot of time thinking through, and usually have my answers ready when someone asks for my reasoning behind certain decision.  And I don’t want to have a long conversation with someone who regards my statements and reasonings as “being impolite.”  I guess it’s kind of “you asked, here’s your answer, done.”  I don’t want any nonsense stuff raining on me just because of someone’s authority.

If he knows that I know a bit better, than maybe it’s better to leave me to handle this.  After all, it’s my burden and it’s something I can’t just pass to others.

I wonder when he would accept that his world and my world are completely different, have even a minimum understanding of why I act “impolite,” and stop rubbing his values in my face.