I know it’s cliche and selfish, but I wanted to use my very first post to reminisce with you guys a bit. In essence, I’m planning to use blogging as an anonymous diary of introspection. With that being said, I’m going to talk about myself incessantly as if I was the only human left in this world.
I was born in May of 1985. This becomes relevant when you consider the transitional nature of growing up in the 90’s in the United States. If I had to summarize this decade (strictly from my perspective), it was just anger and raw aggression.
People were pissed off at just about everything. This marked the rise of gangster rap, hard rock, punk, and really fucked up clothing that never matched in size or color (remember Jinco jeans?). This was the aftermath of crack after all. On the other hand, it was also a time of tradition and ignorance (not saying the two are correlated or anything).
This was before the public availability of the internet. Even cellular phones didn’t exist unless you were one of those rich people with those gaudy, gargantuan satellite phones. In short, it was a time when information was not so readily available to anyone who was not willing to put in a substantial amount of effort to attain it (i.e. libraries and world books). Many of us had the unwavering belief that Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, and all manners of fictional manifestations were real. You know what else was big then? Disney movies man. I still love them so judge not lest ye be judged.
So in short, you have this pissed off group of people, angry at life, the establishment, their parents, society, police officers, and religion. Rush the fucking condescending, money-grubbing pricks that keep us down and burn them in front of their children while we spark a blunt! fuck yeah! America! On the other hand, you have the traditional upbringing opposing this. Jesus loves you yes we know and the American Dream is alive folks. White picket fence, a stable nine to five, a loving wife, a few kids, no premarital sex, unquestioning nationalism, pseudo-friendships to drink with on Friday evenings, and church on Sunday to repent.
So what reaction do you get when you drop a Korean kid in the midst of this volatile society? That’s one for the sociologists. But I’ll give you my own perspective on things. My parents birthed me within a year of their arrival in Los Angeles. Korea is an interesting topic in itself. They pretty much ran an agrarian society until the Japanese annexation came. Following World War II and the consequent “independence” of Korea, the country’s economic growth was rapid.
I say that to say this: their views, to this very day, are fairly traditional in many aspects. I guess some would refer to this mentality, born of the clash between tradition and wealth, as “new money”. My parents didn’t really have the luxury of generation upon generation of westernized culture or eastern wealth (i.e. China). I was told that if I wanted to make a friend, simply go up to them and say “Hi I like you, let’s be friends together and play!” You can imagine how that went over with my peers.
I spent the first few years of my life in the lovely city of Los Angeles, CA. Unlike many other Koreans, my parents are, and always have been, dirt poor. Ok it’s time for a bit of minority clashing. Blacks vs Koreans on the streets of Los Angeles ding ding! I’m kidding. I was too young to have many recollections of that period in my life. I do remember my parents telling me about their nightly routine with cockroaches though. They would come home from work and flip on the lights. Lo and behold, an army of roaches awaited in military formation to greet them after their hard day’s labor and the nightly battle would ensue. That’s kind of off-topic but cockroaches are black too. As far as actual black people go, I was told that the ones in our neighborhood would jump on top of our car while we were driving sometimes and walk on top of it. My parents decided to move out of Los Angeles.
Man I took a really long time to get around to my actual life…yeesh I’m a terrible storyteller. I’m kind of a state of consciousness writer I guess. I’m not really into rigid formatting and…anyway, we moved to a small town (by California standards) and began our lives as a family unit. So going back to what I was saying about how much I suck, my cultural upbringing, in concert with my inept English skills, pretty much left poor Christopher with no friends. The city was also severely lacking in Asians of any kind in general. I think I was actually one of five or so in my entire city.
My father managed to open one of those one hour photo businesses and my mother retired and became a housewife. By the way, I’m all for feminism and equal rights, but don’t be one of those women that hate on other women for what you deem as a belittling enslavement by standards set forth by men. My mother has been through things that many of you have not. Her decisions and values are derived from the knowledge and wisdom she has accumulated over the years. It is not your place to snobbishly disregard all of that and judge others as brainwashed or inferior to you. Anyway, this was before the digital era was in full swing. People still bought those film rolls from Kodak and developed the negatives.
In the meantime, my mother passed the time as a notorious window shopper. She would frequent discount stores like Ross, T.J. Maxx, and Marshalls from opening to closing time on a daily basis. Poor me had no choice but to find a way to cope and satiate a child’s desire for stimulation. I eventually found this in the respective reading sections of those businesses. This sparked my love for literature and reading in general. Within books, I could travel to the magical country of Narnia, wonder what exactly is on the 19th floor of Wayside School, see what a problem monkeys are to guys with yellow hats, cheer on a little girl with telekinetic powers that nobody appreciates, imagine what green eggs and ham tastes like, walk to the edge of the sidewalk, find the dude with terrible fashion sense in a grossly overcrowded environment, jump in a toy car and have it become real as you drive past a tollbooth, and become terrified as you realize that everybody in town was a ghost all along.
In this manner, I grew up experiencing everything and nothing. Whether it was a hollow life of solitude or a rich life of introspection and imagination, I couldn’t tell you. I CAN tell you that at the time, it was a pretty lonely existence. I would watch the other kids fall in love, go on dates, go to parties, play sports, and even have sex (this part I didn’t actually get to watch). I’m going to give you a specifically pitiful memory from my childhood. When our family moved out of one of the neighborhoods we were in, the kids literally held a large block party to celebrate our departure. Gotta love racism eh? ^-^
Masculinity played a large role in my difficulty with my peers as well. All that stuff I mentioned earlier about the anger and aggression of the 90’s, these were alien concepts to me. It was a time when respect was largely earned through fighting and indulging in your own ignorance. When I look at the youth today, a much more androgynous existence seems to be the thing. Intelligence, health, sensitivity, empathy, and independent thought seems to be celebrated traits in both young girls and boys alike. In this sense, you guys are way cooler than we were. You know what you guys lack though? That fighting spirit and fiery passion of generations past (just my opinion).
That aside, my parents are kind and simple folks. With the whole apple falling thing, I am undoubtedly a product of these two people. However, that constant loneliness eventually gave way to rage. Around the eighth grade, this manifested physically and I began cursing and started fights with people who made fun of me. Ironically, hating people made them like me (go figure). I actually began making friends, and this led to a really contrastive lifestyle from before. At the time, I felt that my parents had it all wrong: Goodness gets you nowhere in life and respect is synonymous with fear. I had finally found a place in society. With these new values in place, I dove headfirst into this new world.
I’ll rush through this part of my life (I don’t remember much of it anyway). I dropped out of high school my sophomore year and dedicated my life to drugs and other things I considered to be “real”. I got into some legal troubles and spent some time in Juvenile Hall twice. After that, I was separated both legally and regionally from my acquaintances. It was around this time that I realized I wasn’t even happy. Have you guys ever excelled at something in other people’s eyes but never felt that it was really you?
All of it was an act. I am a softie just like my parents. For many years, I reverted back to my life of solitude and a lot of time was spent on the internet and working as a residential painter. The catalyst for the biggest change in my life can probably be attributed to a girl. She encouraged me to go back to school and had just the right balance of “good” and “evil” for me to respect her opinions as an equal at the time. I quit my job and went back to school. I earned my high school diploma and began my life as a college student. Although she turned out to be pretty terrible for me, I’ll always be thankful for her influence on my life.
But what major to choose? I’ve been through quite a few: Computer Science, Biology, Marine Biology (I love aquatic life and fishing), and Mathematics. Although Marine Biology was my most serious venture, I realized that childhood tends to linger into adulthood with an annoying and constant tenacity (like gravity). At the root of my existence, I love books and I love to tell people about all kinds of things. So I signed up as an English major and I hope to someday teach at a community college as a literature professor to hopefully spark a passion in someone that may just need it even more than myself.