No Home Movie

I recently wathced “No Home Movie,” a documentary by Chantal Akerman. I had never heard of Ms. Akerman before I cam across this New York Times review. The review caught my eye because the movie is about Chantal Akerman’s intense bond with her elderly, dying mother, a French Holocaust survivor and because Ms. Akerman committed suicide after her mother died.

For years, I have been telling friends I can on watch movies where models are shooting zombies. That’s really all my brain can handle. Well the jokes on me, friends. I watched this long, slow documentary where for long periods of time, the camera froze on a wall or furniture or the filmmaker’s mom’s face, and I ate it up. Partially, it was how much the artist and mother clearly adored each other. Watching the old woman delight in her daughter, listen to her concerns quite seriously, remember her as a beautiful lovely student. They both expressed affection directly and honestly and simply. It was just moving. Perhaps I connected to it because my own mother is also aging (although my own exchanges with my mom are so much more barbed. My mother is one of the great loves of my life but she was born without an editor in her brain and I can definitely behave like a storm.)

There’s a moment where she asks Chantal why she’s filming her on Skype and Chantal says “I want to show how small the world is.” Her mother’s reaction was to laugh lightly and comment how Chantal has always had the most interesting ideas. Is that not moving?

baby grim reaper

The other night, I put Wonder Twin Boy to bed and was feeling some tenderness toward him. I hugged him and stroked his face and whispered to him “One day, you are going to be ten years old.” He whispered back, “And one day, you will be dead.”

I could not stop laughing. It was really bad. I had to leave the room and freak out into a pillow. Husband had to take over bedtime because I just fell apart.

grim reapers reading list

Emo’s reading list.

I’m very lucky that I was born into a family of readers. My mom, my emo and I can gab all day about books, parsing out style, point of view, what kind of lit appeals to “old people” versus young people. My most recent list of recommendations from my emo include:

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
A Bitter Sweet Season: Caring For Our Aging Parents and Ourselves by Jane Gross
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? By Roz Chast

It’s like the grim reaper’s required reading list and it makes me laugh so hard when I read this list to myself. My mom and emo are so bright, intelligent, literary – and so, so very dark. This makes me love my family, love being Korean, where to talk and think about mortality from the day we are born, because, of course, I am right at home with these spectacular ladies. Ugh, my family is the freaking best.


Sometimes when I get ready in the morning, I do a final mirror check and wonder what my high school self would think about my middle-aged self. Profound horror? Oh, that’s all right? Jesus, never let me get to the mid-forties? Why are you wearing a blazer, you sell out? My friends from high school still can’t believe it when I wear a suit to work. Mike calls me Corporate Barbie.

Speaking of heaven…

First Son: Mom, is Heaven a real place?
Me: I don’t believe so. But to tell you the truth, I have never died, so I could be wrong. I am wrong all the time.
First Son: Well, if it’s a real place, then I would like to find you and play catch.

I think we then went to the shoulder of the main road of the conversation and discussed what kind of materials our mitts would be made of in some heavenly kingdom. Husband pointed out that while this is First Son’s idea of heaven, to play catch with his mother for eternity, it might not be mine. I don’t mind. I actually enjoy playing catch now, but I hate pitching. My god, do I hate pitching.

This was my idea of heaven in high school. Ooooo, that hair, that man makeup….


In these awful news stories times, I have been watching “The Good Place,” a light comedy that’s well crafted, theatrical, but substantive enough and takes place in…the after life! (dum, dum, dah!) Kristen Bell is the leader navigating these new waters, and wow, she knows this character, it is so in her wheel house. And it’s a complete pleasure to watch her expertise at work. The show is well written, the premise and the characters actually deepen, and the cast is diverse. Sold, dudes. I’m totally sold. Ted Danson is great in it as well, and he’s had a long career under the radar, always working and consistently good. (Side story: I was in his orbit for one episode of TV I shot years ago. It was 3 in the freaking morning and he was doing a scene of casual conversation with his co-star, but you need so much energy in the middle of the night, he asked for some protein, turkey rolls before Take Kajillion. Friend #1 was on fire that night [I was Friend #2]. He asked Friend #1 if she was tired and she said “there’s no place I’d rather be.” Wow. Quite frequently, I am not like the people around me but that was a fun experience.) I had to watch like four episodes in a row the other night to convince myself it was worth getting up out of bed to do the dishes…again. (Yet another aside: I finally saw one apartment that was crazy-messier than ours, with four kids, three cats, and piles of clean laundry on every available surface. The father would be horrified that I’m saying this because he was already horrified when I said I needed to use their bathroom at the block party. I was only excited because most apartments are not as messier than ours, and I finally got to find one EVEN MESSIER! I HAVE REACHED SOME OBSCURE LEVEL OF NIRVANA! You guys, see? Life is worth living.)


A co-worker circulated a quote about Angelina Jolie stating how frogs and crickets are quite delicious with beer, apparently a popular treat in Cambodia. Other people expressed horror and made fun of Angeline Jolie, etc., typical stuff. I was at a kids party and some parents were joking about hot dogs, and an Asian mom volunteered a comment.

Her: You know like how Asians eat dogs.
Me: Why would you say that? I don’t know any Asian who eat dog.
Her: It’s just a joke.
Me: It’s not funny.

What I really wanted to say is that “you’ve internalized some racist ideas and you need to stop.” Husband cautioned me that maybe she’s not as comfortable being Asian than I am, and that she was naming the hurtful comment before someone else did. I agree with that assessment.

It’s just none of this is funny to me. If someone has bugs, frogs, or dogs in their diet, then it means their country and people went through a period of desperate starvation. This is my chip-on-my-shoulder reaction that I cannot shake and cannot be easygoing about. I’m never going to use someone else’s suffering as material for a joke. Nor is racism cool with me, by the way. Not sure why people persist in teasing Asians for these weird foods. Not like we mock early European Americans for the Donner Party cuisine choices….maybe we should. Goofy Americans, cannibalism, etc.


There’s a wave of public outings of men in the entertainment industry of sexual predatory behavior (I’m not even talking about Roman Polanski). I think when the Woody Allen scandal first hit, it was confusing to me because I love his work. Joss Whedon, producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of my favorite TV shows, a fictional heroine who inspires me to keep going when I’m physically and psychically exhausted, has also been outed as someone who cheated on his wife for decades with twenty-something actresses. That was a major blow. When the Bill Cosby story was beginning to circulate, I had a co-worker who didn’t believe it since she had worked with him and he was such a gentleman. Our personal experiences aside, I believe in the saying where there’s smoke there’s fire.

They are particularly tough when the stories about men who have at least professionally championed women, but I have come to feel these false idols need to get knocked down. And this is just Hollywood. Pretty sure every sector has scary stories about men in power who have been taking advantage of vulnerable, lower status women for decades, just like Harvey Weinstein. I think it’s healthy that these stories have come to light and these developments give me hope that things could be shifting, although you know what they say about progress – one step forward, two steps back – so we’ll have to wait and see.