Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Das Quiz

I'm currently watching a game show in German...Did anyone else hear about the bear in Colorado that drove a car into a bush?  I feel so out of the loop on current events... :)


P.S. My love for Hasebe and Wolfsburg only draws blank stares.  My like for BVB and Schalke 04 makes everyone nervous.  But my knowledge of Bundesliga impresses everyone despite my non-knowledge of German. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

I'll be Home for Christmas


I have made a Super Junior man cookie.  Please note the fabulous Asian hair.
Enjoyed some pre-Christmas snow
In the past week...
I have driven to Culpeper, to Richmond, to DC/Baltimore...

 And to Charlotte, North Carolina.
That's over 1200 miles...
 While in Charlotte, I found this sign depicting energy drinks quite amusing,
 And I saw a great light show at the Charlotte Speedway (actually located in Concord)
 Where we laughed at horse-drawn trees...
And got to drive on the actual Speedway track going as fast as we could so we didn't fall off the curve in a mini-van.

It's nice to come home.

Merry Christmas, friends!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Once upon a Dream

Dear Sub-conscious,

Well played, friend.  West Side Story meets Buttercream Gang?  What more could a girl ask for than to have a dream where she has a run-in with a rough and tumble gang whose leader takes her side and serves as her protector?  The rest of the gang penitently following hoping to gain the leader's forgiveness as we marched through the streets was a nice touch.  But your timing in having the entire gang dance a hip hop dance number in unison in the streets and finish just before the alarm went off was absolute perfection.  This might make up for the previous sock folding blunders.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sprechen sie 中文?

Dear Self,

Despite the current joke, you were not raised in a Korean household.  Far from it, in fact.  The other day when you called your dad to see how he was doing, the Korean words were on your lips: "Apa, saranghaeyo."  But alas, it went unsaid - in Korean, that is.

However, isn't it strange in the first place that some little girl from Illinois whose parents were from Illinois whose parents were from Illinois - and it goes on like that for a few generations more - that you know any Korean at all?

Your parents, for the majority of your formative years, would have been classified as middle Americans: with high school diplomas and some college but no college degree*.  So this begs the question as to how it is in they would have children that would have invested time in learning (at least in part) the following languages: Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese Sign Language, Croatian, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Taiwanese, Welsh**.

Truly, how did this happen?

So you recall the random language tapes you and your siblings would borrow over and over from the library that taught you how to sing, "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" and "It's Raining, It's Pouring" in French, Spanish, German and Russian.  You remembered how a favorite family prayer song was, "All Around the World" in which you got to sing 'Thank you' in multiple languages.  Your family is also very big on using correct grammar and pronunciation of English so perhaps this is just a carry over into being interested in other languages and cultures as well.

But then one day, you find yourself in Nursery with a little 3 year old girl who you are trying to teach "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam" and you naturally use ASL signs as you try to help her learn the words.  The little girl follows and loves the sign for "Sunbeam" making this song one of her new favorites.... Wait, wasn't this a favorite childhood song for you too? and for the very same reason?

And then you remember that most people did not grow up in a household where the mother would teach her children to sing in ASL.  Or that in high school none of the rest of your volleyball teammates would have conversations with their mothers from across the gym.  Or that most extremely shy 4 year old little girls, when asked their name by adults would simply not respond rather than finger spell, as did your sister "E-L-I-Z-A-B-E-T-H" with her hand down near her side.

And then you realize that perhaps your family was more multi-lingual when you were growing up than you realized.  You grew up with a TTY telephone by your parents bedside and you knew exactly what to do when a Relay system called from a hearing impaired friend.  You spent much of your childhood watching your mother sing hymns in ASL and you would often join her, learning how to express the birth and life of Jesus Christ through your hands.  Your childhood also consisted of many ASL speaking friends moving in and out of your family's life - people with their own vibrant and dynamic language and culture.  And all this with a non-hearing-impaired mother.

What with your extensive traveling and intense foreign language training and your desire to integrate what you learn and love about the cultures you encounter into your own life, it seems you are not really so different from your parents after all.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Good Idea/Bad Idea (in Marketing)

Good Idea: 
Yesterday: My sister tells me that she needs to go shopping at H&M in preparation to go to Uganda.
Yesterday: I was watching a popup mv by Wongfu Productions and they stated that their clothes came from H&M.
Today: Hase posts a blog about Christmas shopping for his niece and nephew at H&M.

What is with H&M?  And now I'm wondering, is this a sign that I need something from H&M?  Even if it's simply to figure out why three separate people in different parts of the world (well, really Western Hemisphere) all make a point to shop at H&M.  If this is a marketing ploy, I think it might just work.

As is this,
Suddenly I feel the need to buy the tie.  I don't wear ties nor do I know anyone who would actually want to own a Samurai Blue tie (besides the 18 men shown here - and others associated with them)  

Bad Idea: 
Two weeks ago: I walked into an outdoors sporting shop interested in buying a pair of stylish but practical boots for my upcoming trip to Germany.  The shoes are all kept in the back so you need a sales attendant to help you. Everyone ignored me.
Last Saturday: I went back to the same shop because there were some boots I had seen that I really wanted to try on.  Again, I was completely ignored.

I had three theories:
(1) I looked like a poor student who couldn't afford anything in the store
(2) I didn't look rugged outdoorsy enough for them to bother with me.
(3) I looked like I was outdoorsy enough that I could figure out what I needed/wanted and so didn't need close supervision

So I went home and asked my roommate who is more outdoorsy than me and has a whole family of hiking, mountain climbing, biking and backpacking brothers.  She told me it was reason number 2.  Apparently unless you look like you think sleeping on a glacier is the best way you can think of spend your weekend, they offer no help.

But if you look like you think sleeping on a glacier is the ideal way to spend a weekend, don't you already own half the store anyway?  Or work there?

To make this bad idea into a completely neutral idea, please just let me try on your boots in peace.  I don't mind being ignored but at least leave the boxes out in public space so people who at least think that hiking a mountain or through snow in Germany a reason to find something more durable than the high heeled fashions available elsewhere.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kindred Spirits the World Over

Dear World,

Running down O-Hill on Friday, I was so thrilled to be out in the cold and to see the hot air balloon in the air and that it was Friday that I just cheered as I jumped and ran down the hill.  And then, I looked up and saw some man walking the opposite direction as me.  He had been watching me dance and cheer to myself and now he was laughing at me and then with me as called out some encouraging comment.

Driving to the Christmas Devotional on Sunday, I pulled up to a light as I pushed back my hair out of my face.  In the process I glanced over and realized that the car next to me thought the gesture was a wave and smiled before catching his mistake.  So I gave him a large encouraging smile before becoming self-conscious myself when he nodded back.

On Tuesday, Kato blew a tire.  It was frustrating to have a flat while trying to get to the temple but within minutes, a kind man stopped to help.  And then when he realized we didn't have all we needed, Lindsey and I settled into the tall prairie grass to eat the rest of our lunch and wait in the breezy cold weather to wait for AAA. And despite the cold, it was glorious.  Until another kind man with a big smile stopped and pulled out his tools to help us out.

Yesterday when I was trying to find a way to get to rehearsal, unconsciously asking myself how I was going to figure out where to do, I wondered why the Chinese man gave me a big grin as he held the door open for me.  It was only an hour later that I realized I had been mumbling aloud to myself in Chinese.

It seems at those moments when I am my most awkward self that I find friends and people who understand and reach out.

You dear, dear thing!


Monday, December 6, 2010

I just realized...

...I am a people person.


P.S. I think that explains a lot, actually.

告白 (Confession)

Dear 日本代表,

When I first chose you, it was simply because I like things to come in 3's. (1) US (my home team), (2) Republic of Korea  (how can you not cheer for Hanguk with Super Junior backing it?) But who would I choose for No.3?  Taiwan and China didn't have teams and I wasn't sure how Chosun even got into the competition... So that just left you.

And so, anxious to jump on the cheering bus, I watched a few games.  And this is what I saw...

Image from
Image from
Image from TorontoSun

And these pictures don't do it quite justice.  A million little things impressed me.  The time Keisuke could have taken a shot and instead lobbed it to his teammate who made the goal.  The time Keisuke talked Endo through the PK.  The time that Hasebe went down injured and I knew it was real.  The time that the Paraguayan gave a few words on encouragement to Komano who was upset for missing his shot and Nagatomo(?) thanked him for being considerate of his teammate.  The press conference two days after leaving the World Cup where you all laughed so hard as though defeat didn't exist.

I think I'm in love.  

Love, Me

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Joy to the World

Dear Man at Kroger,

It took you a second to realize that the attendant wasn't demanding to see your receipt but was simply giving you your receipt as you frantically searched through your purchases while he held out his hand.  (My roommate was slightly confused too) But once you did figure it out, you excitedly exclaimed, "Oh Thank you!  But where did you get it?"  The attendant indicated his attendant station.  Again, you exclaimed, "But how?"  The attendant was smiling by this time, "Well, your station is out of paper so it printed to mine instead."  The joy in your voice was as unmistakable as it was remarkable.  You reminded us all how wonderful a thing it is to have someone show kindness no matter how small.  Thank you for making my night.


Dear Self,

First it was Mis-matched by Lensey Namioka.

Next it was The Good Women of China by Xinran.

Now you're onto The Secrets of Mariko by Elisabeth Bumiller.

The books are as enlightening as they are well written.  They raise questions for you about race and relationships, about culture and identity, about heartache and healing.  Grateful, you are realizing truly how blessed you have been.  Thoughtful, you are wondering how many other stories out there are ones that will touch you so.  Hopeful , you are yet wishing, that somehow, you can be a part of the great work: helping humankind.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

He who laughs last...

Dear Makoto,

Every year (well, almost every year since the 2009 calendar still hangs on my office wall) I buy a new calendar to help me keep track of the days and organize my life.  This year, I saw your calendar and thought, 'hey! I can kill two birds with one stone: support my favorite soccer player and keep track of my life'.  So I bought your calendar and eagerly anticipated its arrival.

Maybe I should have paid attention to the listed size of the calendar.  Maybe I should learn what cm actually means in terms of inches.  And maybe I should realize that not everyone actually uses a calendar to keep track of their lives but more as a front to have poster-sized pictures of someone they like on their wall.  


Dear Subconscious,

You really outdid yourself this time.  Three weeks until the end of the semester and suddenly you're faced with the fact that there was that one class that you had signed up for but forgotten to attend class claiming that you would get the work done on your own time.  And now you're wracking your brain trying to figure out how to get a semester's worth of material into your brain in three weeks so you can pass the class.  

The story has been played before - pretty much every semester in fact.  However, this semester its different.  In your waking moments, you actually did have interest in taking Japanese.  You actually did have that problem at the beginning of the semester with applying for classes.  And you actually hold in your possession Japanese language books.  

So, there I am in the middle of my dream, living a nightmare.  I'm remembering that in the past three months, I've only learned a handful of Japanese phrases.  The teacher and the TA tell me that I will inevitably fail the class, unconcerned of course that receiving a failing grade gets me kicked out of my PhD program.  I discuss the matter with my Japanese-speaking friend who claims he had repeatedly told me that not attending class was a bad move.  

Meanwhile, the analytical part of my brain is trying to figure out if these experiences are memories of other dreams or of waking reality.  And I'm panicking because I can't figure out amidst the details of the dream if I will wake up and find that its not just a bad dream.  

Three weeks until the end of the semester.  And I do have to finish an independent study class.  

Fortunately it's radiative heat transfer.  Thanks for the almost heart attack anyway.