Arm Wrestling

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Here are the sports I am good at:

* thumb wrestling

* knock hockey (if that’s how you spell it)

* House of Dead II

Notice arm wrestling is not on that list.

My first arm wrestling match was with Mom on a family vacation in Utah. We were at a Denny’s and I challenged her for the last fry. To my surprise, she agreed and said something like “Bring it on” and posed for action. I was so shocked that I was paralyzed by paroxysms of stomach-wrenching laughter and my 90-pound mother proceeded to trounce me. Anyway, for many years, I thought I lost that match b/c I was weak from being blind-sided by mom’s sudden bravado. But last night, with the last stragglers of my bday gathering, the meal ended with an arm wrestling challenge. After I lost two girlfriends, I challenged one of their husbands, which my husband pleaded me to avoid, but I was too beset with the giggles to worry about his advice or the fact that the rest of the restaurant had stopped eating to watch us. I thought, how bad can it be? I’m the only one among us who is actually paying a trainer to watch me lift weights.

I lost to everyone. I got beat by Joslyn, Alex, Marla, Martin, and my husband. Joslyn and Marla were even for a while and the boys refused to arm wrestle each other. And perhaps out of bday pity, someone challenged me to a thumb wrestle and I got to win, which was nice.

Oh well. There’s a place for me in the world yet.

Babysitters

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I had tons of babysitters growing up. Both my parents worked as soon as they could find fulltime work when we got to this here country. There were the Kims — who had three kids. The father was kind of physically abusive and the oldest girl my age had bad breath. I actually told her mother that (what an ahole. I just wasn’t thinking). Then when I was even younger, there was a Korean couple in our building with two adorable kids younger than me, whom I kept beating up. That couple was interesting, b/c the husband constantly accused his wife of cheating till she burst into tears. This was all in Korean, so I could only absorb the subtext at age 7.

Then there were more cheerful babysitting memories (though the drama scenes of dysfunctional families never really bothered me.) There is, of course, my aunt who saw me like all the time for two years when we lived with her family in Staten Island, and I kind of beat up her kids too. (I had bully/chubby issues as a kid, I think. I was wildly jealous of anyone with a parent around. Today, I no longer beat people up.) There were some young Phillipino women who used to watch me when we lived in the Bronx. Then there were the Sungs. B/c their mom, who I think went to pharm school with my mom, was willing to watch me along with her kids, we moved to NJ (which doesn’t seem to be like the best parameter to be your only for moving to a town in my opinion). And I didn’t really beat her kids up (she had a little girl and boy, both younger than me), but her boy and I fought constantly, driving everyone crazy. God, I hated that boy when I was 9. He would do stuff and say “Hey Yun [my Korean name], your name’s in the dictionary” and he’d point out the word “Yum.” That would make steam come out of my ears. And when his mom would give me a Pepperridge Farm blueberry turnover before going to school (second breakfast, nobody knew, mum’s the word) or her costume jewelry, it would be his turn to flip out.

But the best parts of those days were when the three of us would plan spectacular stunts. I don’t know, stupid stuff, like daring each other to run past the neighbor’s dog or like staircase Olympics. In their house, there was a long stair case, the bottom of which met the front door, and we would slide down on our bums and get rug burn over and over again. Or we would drag the large pillows from the living room couch and pool them at the bottom of the stairs leap from the top. When Mrs. Sung came home and couldn’t open the door (wedged shut by sofa pillows), we had to stop. Someone taped Xanadu, Superman with Christopher Reeves, and Clash of the Titans from HBO that summer and we watched them over and over again. I don’t know why the hell we did that b/c those movies are not that good. So much about being little I remember as a battle not get bored.

Morrissey

images1.jpg Did you know Morrissey has a gigantic Latino fan base in L.A.? Who knew. Apparently, his lyrics speak to the disenfrancised everywhere and they love his morbidity, which clicks with certain aspects of Mexican culture and moves them the way Manchester England working class teens did. Supposedly, music critics are ticked off b/c they feel like his career should’ve died in the 90s when he ventured into solo stuff, but I love this rebirth and the match of two incongruous mates. I heart the 80s and New Wave! Yeah!

Read this in-depth article from the OC Weekly on details. It’s old news now but new to me.
http://www.ocweekly.com/features/features/their-charming-man/21569/

Oh, and according to Tony, Siouxie Sioux of Siouxie and the Banshees fame is anti-Semitic. I’m totally crushed.

Yo, Tony

images21.jpg I was at the gym at lunch time and saw the video for Ch-Ch-Check It or some such title, and I laughed out loud, when suddenly, I experienced an “a-ha” moment (like inspiration, not the band) — I was like, Why Wasn’t Tony Sachs a Member of the Beastie Boys? He’s like their age and grew up in the city. Tony actually sang Ring of Fire rather well at kareoke, but it doesn’t seem like you need any talent to be in Beastie Boys except to be funny and be willing to dress up in Star Trek uniforms and battle each other in empty SoHo streets. Dude, that is like my dream job to dress up and spar in retarded costumes. Don’t be commenting that they’re geniuses or something. I mean, they have catchy tunes and I own the b/w cover cassette with that song Jesse James, but come on, I could practically be in that band.

OKay, enough posting for today before I get busted by my IT department.

I Have No Idea

images5.jpg What do you do when you don’t know what you want or what decision to make? A cousin of mine is getting married the same day I was to leave for California to attend the bachlorette trip to Palm Springs for my high school BFF Alex before her wedding. I have no idea which to do. The decision has already been made for me, because my mother just hung up the phone on me and kept steam rolling over me “Forget it! Forget it! I will call Sunyoung and tell her you can’t go! I’m going to call her right now!” which was actually sweet of her. If she weren’t such a Cave Woman Conversationalist, she would have said “Sweetheart, I can see you are having difficulty making this decision, so I’m going to ease your burden and make the decision for you. You have my blessing — go off and have a good time with your friends.”

Which will be more fun? Both will have their moments. When is family more important than pals? Family is so messed up and I have such conflicted feelings over mine, whereas my friendships are much more consistently positive and uncomplicated. So what do you pick? I’m not close to this cousin, but it would be nice to see relatives I never get to see. Oh well. As of now, I’m going to Palm Springs, but I’m still going to mull it over.

Where to Live

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After an arduous three-day business trip upstate (well, three days of drinking, so not that bad, it wasn’t like I was lifting granite blocks, but I did practice my fake laugh a lot, a handy skill I picked up from a play I did called “Movie Talkers.”), I visited my friends Jenn and Dave and their two dogs and two little daughters in North Adams, MA. They live in the picture postcard-cute New England town and there were lots of late-night talking, fun, and no sleep to be had — both the dogs and the girls wrestled each other for a good portion of the weekend. And the girls liked to make sure I woke up as early as possible to play by bouncing on the aero mattress I slept on.

Whenever I visit, my friends, being sweethearts, always invite me and David to move up there, creating bizarre work fantasties where David starts the first New England Renaissance Fair or a stage combat school, and they house me in some office set-up. To which, I’m like “If we’re dreaming, let’s dream big, people.” I’ve always been such an NYC-addict, I’ve never considered it, but now that I’m a little more fried on the challenges of urban living, I took it more seriously. All the people they have befriended whom I met are cool, the town has an artsy feel and is darn pretty, but gosh, there are like three reasons I can’t move there. 1) What would I do for work? 2) I hate driving (which greatly limits where I can live in this country) 3) Everybody’s the same color.

One of the girls and I watched Peter Pan together, and I’m assuming from the cartoon, she learned to call Native Americans “redskins.” (And in my split second decision, I decided not to correct her, though I could’ve done it, in retrospect, in a simple, chill way and I think I stink b/c I didn’t take the opportunity). She said she thought I was from China, and this time, I did take the time to tell her about Korea and the bigger land in my history, New Jersey. (Kudos to me.)

In general, it’s hard to pipe up when you see something is wrong, but with a kid, I feel the added obligation to correct the kid without making them feel like a nincompoop. I mean, I could overreact and jump down a person’s throat, but I’m trying to minimize the people I scar in this lifetime. Neither terms or ideas were her fault — you know, if you’re not exposed to certain information, how would you know? I can’t help but think that if she bumped into nonwhite kids in her nursery school, a bunch of phillipinos for example, she might know some of this.

Her parents rock. (And she rocks too.) They truly are great people who take parenting very seriously and have been nothing short of warm to anyone of different ethnic background, religious or sexual preference, so it’s not that, but there’s a certain amount your kids learn from just being around people other than you … I don’t want to live in a town where the only Asian people are the ones doing your nails and cooking bok choy in the local Asian restaurant. I like bopping around and seeing lots of colors — blacks, Latinos, Asians, whites, dogs, cats, rats, mice, waterbugs, roaches. I love variety and can’t bear to part with it. And also, I’m going to have kids one days! Biracial ones! Perhaps they will be more whack and confused than me (or mentally more grounded, knock on wood) I want them to know there are 80 million different kinds of peeps out there.

Certainly I’ve grown up and thrived in an environment where I was the lone Asian girl in a sea of Jewish and Italian faces and still have lots of good friends and experiences from that time, but something’s changed, and my ideal is to live in a Benetton smorgasbord. (You know, like multiracial, expensively clothed, and model-thin, hardy har har). I guess one of the many cool things I’ve started to think about after this weekend was Native American history, just so I know what to say the next time the subject comes up.

Pillows

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I have no business picking up additional arts and crafts projects, but I really want to make a little couch pillow that says “Bite Me” and then one that says “NJ Lives” for our living room. I have scraps of gorgeous kimono fabric I couldn’t resist from some store on Bleecker in the West Village called Old Japan or something. I’ve only managed to make a bag for my friend Jenn with them like years ago (and I’m shocked she still uses it!!!). Anyway, wouldn’t “Bite Me” look pretty in some old flowered silk? I suppose I should file my taxes before I go shopping…

My Five-Year Plan

images2.jpg Yo, someone at this conference asked me what my five-year plan is. I don’t think mine is normal for Corporate America, but includes publishing a book, getting in shape, enjoying life more, and dying my hair blue. Dude, as soon as I get fired, I’m streaking my hair blue. I can’t wait. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but feel self-conscious of since I work in an office right now, but please, what am I afraid of? What people think?

Oh and I got hit on my a fifty-year-old at my work conference. Oh yeah, I still got it going on.

Concerts!!

images.jpg I’m up at an office conference upstate and been talking about music with my coworker, and I gotta say, I love that I’ve been to so many concerts. A lot of music reminds of growing up, high school (which I’m never going to get over) and I remember putting in the crazy effort to get to Madison Square Garden from NJ — we always had to get someone’s dad to drive us, we went through the ringer to get parental permission. Since this site is in part create to help preserve my ever-fading memory, here is my list of concerts that I can still recall.

* A-ha at Radio City Music Hall (I was 14, it was my first concert, and I danced in public for the first time in my life, which was an exhilirating experience. Some dude yelled at us to sit down and my friend Mike, spit fire even age 14, yelled at him to get a life. I so respect Mike. And I have reminisced with my friend Christine on having a crush on Pal, the guitarist, instead of Morten, b/c crushing on the lead singer is way too obvious. She actually was at the very same concert, which was another random, freaky thing we have in common.)

* Genesis, Invisible Touch tour, Giant stadium (yes, i waited in line at 6 a.m. for tickets in my pjs in junior high school)

* Peter Murphy at the Ritz

* The Jesus and Mary Chain at the Ritz

* The Pixies at the Ritz (the best concert ever. I will never forget looking around at the audience. People were smiling, bobbing their heads along to “Dead.” The t-shirts said “Death to the Pixies.” When my best friend Alex wore it to school, our principal Mike Reilly approached her “So you don’t like little people.” Poor mike Reilly. He meant well. He used to hand out pens that said “Make your life extraordinary.” Futile pope, fultile.)

* The Ramones at the Ritz (Dude, I almost got killed in the mosh pit, it was so rough. I still recall Melanie Firore’s expression of distress as she got sucked in the undertow and stomped on. People, it is not fun to be stomped on and I wore
a skirt to that concert!!!)

* Indigo Girls and R.E.M. at Madison Square Garden (I listened to R.E.M. obsessively in high school. We played Life’s Rich Pageant incessantly, but today, I can’t stand them — apologies to Tony. It was music of time, and I just can’t go back.)

* U2 at Giant Stadium, Joshua Tree tour. (What a band. Bono is an amazing performer.)

* The Depeche Mode/Jesus and Mary Chain/Nitzer Ebb concert at Giant Stadium (I danced my arse off on top of chairs.)

* Sting on that black and white cover solo album tour, Madison Square Garden. (He’s hot. He’s fifty, and he’s still hot.)

* The first Lollapalooza. (I have no idea who played. Can’t remember for the life of me.)

* The McKrells. (An Irish music band playing at my office conference)

* Fiona Apple at Roseland. (This was the concert where she had a public meltdown. She said “You f*ng critics, if you f*ng f* me, I will f*ng kill you,” as she wept through songs. Briefly, as we stood there, I flashbacked to my youth when I used to go to concerts, until my lower back started to ache. I’m old, girl.)

* Jesus Jones, The Sundays, Hippie Chicks, and other one-hit wonders at Toad’s in New Haven. Seen the Sundays at some bar in NYC the year before.

* Cocteau Twins at the Roxy

Giving Up the Dream

dickens_dream_600.jpg When I started my full-time job five years ago, I feel a part of me died to get here. (I know, so melodramatic). Because for a long time, I was obsessed with acting–it was a dream to be able to pursue, audition, study, rehearse, perform, procrastinate, produce, flub for it. But then other things got in the way — the need to support my folks (more emotionally and logistically than financially), the fact that I needed to pay something called rent, the plummeting production and script quality available to the off-off-Broadway garden variety actresses like myself, the gargantuan schlepp factor every struggling actor goes through (the day job, rehearsals late into the night, bringing set pieces onto a rushhour subway car–NOT a good scene). So it seemed time to let it go.

As luck would have it, I ran into an actor neighbor the day I had to give an answer to this job, and he completely sympathized.

“Oh yeah, I’m on Star Trek now, but I’m constantly thinking about what’s worth giving up the dream for? I keep thinking maybe adopting a child could replace my dream of acting. But you know, you can take this job and you can always come back to acting later if you still feel the pull.”

Which was a perfect send-off to an office existence, and mostly, this day job has been just fine. I enjoy making enough money to go out to dinner and join a gym, and all those perks. I do feel I made the right decision, now only acting on occasion, writing more, but then once in a while, as I rush around to catch an a.m. subway to get to my middle management gig (I’m perpetually late) I’ll get a pang, missing my old life, wondering if I chose wisely.