Where to Go from Here

Terrified.

Sick to my stomach.

Fearful.

In shock.

These are not words to follow a presidential election. At least, not an American one.

Yet here I am as the ballots are being counted and it’s nearing the time when the candidate I didn’t vote for will likely be in the White House in two months, and I am deeply troubled.

As a former ‘news person’ I’ve had some ask me how this could’ve happened. There are lots of hypotheses: erroneous polling, overly confident headlines, and an intentional overlook of a demographic that is often looked down upon – the white low-income class. They don’t satisfy.

I have to wake up to my alarm tomorrow.

I want to look forward to walking down the aisle, cradling my first child in my arms, seeing a new country for the first time.

I dream of a world that isn’t so broken or hate-filled.

It seems bleakly impossible.

Tonight I prayed a prayer that only God could give me. I didn’t pray for understanding – I may never get that. Instead, that impossible prayer begged for trust, for comfort, for wisdom, and most importantly – for strength to know how to keep living the values and beliefs I have – when everything else turns inside out around me. Our call isn’t to flee. Our call is to be a part of the change we still believe in, no matter who is our President. 

Terrified.

Sick to my stomach.

Fearful.

In shock.

But now it is time to do/think/share/hope/love more than we did before.

#imwithher #imwithUS #Election2016

A Letter, Better Late than Never

I am ashamed to say that in my more than three decades of existence, I have not read Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s letter from the Birmingham jail.

The shame doesn’t end there.

As a privileged, educated Christian who is a minority but often treated like the majority, I cringe at knowing the injustice that existed less than a century ago – and the fact that injustice still exists now.

I cringe because there are still Christians who “stand on the sidelines” and while they mouth the right words when facing inhumane circumstances or possibilities for sacrifice, the hands stay closed and the eyes are dull.

I cringe when recognizing the disgust with the church has not diminished; in fact, the faith I believe in is frequently dismissed by outsiders because we are no longer extremists as Jesus Christ was. Were we ever? Could we be?

I know myself, and I see the potential for such standoffishness in me. Yes, me who graduated from an Ivy League university and chose to work part-time at a news station, dreamy about telling the stories of the voiceless. Yes, me who has grown up ‘churched’ and reciting Bible verses her entire life. Yes, me who left a provocative career for one that seems less ‘glamorous’ in order to ‘do good.’

We’re all frighteningly capable of indifference. Today I saw a man ahead of me who appeared to be mentally unstable based on his loud ranting and stumbling gait. I set my teeth, determined to walk straight past him as a sign that he was a human being and not a ‘body’ to avoid.

Then a well-dressed gentleman stranger walking from that direction passed me and suggested kindly, “Hey, you should cross the street.”

I crossed.

When the lesser-dressed man caught my eye from over the hood of a car, I gave a weak smile. He grinned and kept on singing and leaning against a pole, and I walked the remaining block to work, wondering if I had given into irrational fear by creating a distance of 10 feet rather than 10 inches between us.

 

This letter is to me. This letter is to you.

“The question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of justice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 1963

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The Commitment to Fulfillment

“But your fulfillment in life will not come from how well you explore your freedom and keep your options open… Your fulfillment in life will come from how well you end your freedom.”

– David Brooks, NYT

It has been quite the roller coaster ride, these last 15 months. An obscene amount of travel, reunions with friends old and new, and all the soul searching one could wish for (and yet not want at the same time). I’ve journeyed through valleys and stared up at a sky blanketed with a self-made fog of hopelessness. Elation has rushed through me as I realize near strangers are willing to take a chance on me out of the goodness of their hearts and the immediate connection we forged. And still – as of this publication – I am unemployed.

One could say I gave up the world of fame and recognition to be in this place of uncertainty. ‘You stepped down from being an anchor in air-conditioning… to being a reporter in the elements?!’ ‘You walked away from a glamorous career where free haircuts and holidays at work are the norm?!’

It’s not the one-way ticket most people envision booking.

 

Yet David Brooks’ recent commencement address at Dartmouth reminded me of words my own father shared with me in one of his epic birthday card messages.

Freedom is not always being free from something, but being free to do something. And as Brooks so wisely detailed, true fulfillment comes from understanding that limitations such as commitment can provide you with what you really want.

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And so:

I am committed to seeking my next path in the Bay Area.

I am committed to being invested in my community (though which specific one is still to be determined).

I am committed to loving my family, friends, and those who I shouldn’t have any reason to love.

I am committed to giving God glory because “by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.” [1 Corinthians 15:10]

 

Once again, the estimable David Brooks.

“You have to give to receive. You have to surrender something outside yourself to gain something within yourself. You have to conquer your desire to get what you crave.”

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My chains are (not) gone. I’ve been set free.

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#whatinnaeworld?! New York 2nd Edition

In a world where everyone is connected and life is digitized, a simple sign in a New York cafe stirs shock.

Cafe with no computers

Computers be gone!

For an unemployed New Yorker who was looking for a haven to job-search, this was not a pleasant sign. For a coffee drinker who finds herself full through conversation? Well, it left an impression… and a blog post.

Happy #ThrowbackThursday! #tbt

Being Silenced: Where Change Can Begin

I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read, statements posted, comment threads and tweets resonating with anger and injustice. This has been a charged, painful, frantic few weeks, and while one would hope it is to come to an end, this is the beginning.

Eric Garner March

Funny. There is hope in that statement, isn’t there? We are entering another civil rights era, a time where men and women march to ensure equality. This time, people of all races and backgrounds will stand shoulder-to-shoulder, repeating the cry. Black Lives Matter.

 

I have wrestled with blogging about these current events because I did not want to simply fume on the internet until I had all the facts. Yet it wasn’t until I realized how uncurrent these events were that I began to type.

#CrimingWhileWhite has been a shameful testimony of how many times one’s appearance has provided a second chance. Granted, these are anecdotes. Here, however, are the numbers. In this ProPublica article, there is proof of the racial disparity when it comes to bullets fired and lives stolen in an instance. Just a few years ago, the federal data revealed that “blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.” Essentially, the authors of the article estimate that young black men face a 21 times greater risk of being shot by an officer than a white male of the same age.

Image courtesy of ProPublica

And this is data that isn’t even fully complete.

 

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All this being said, this post isn’t just a rant about what is wrong.

 

We must recognize we have created an enemy too. Who is “the other side?” Do we condemn all uniformed men and women? I know many who have taken the oath who grasp the dignity of life and the delicacy of justice. There is no doubt that a medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, and the man last seen with his arms around the black man’s neck is not facing any repercussion. The days to come though, may be punishment enough. What we need to seek is a solution, not revenge.

 

A former mentor of mine urges us all to “lean in and listen” in his editorial in the Huffington Post. Call me old-fashioned, but respect garners further respect. I have no right to command that you silence your voices now. I just ask you to be aware of the potential prejudices spilling out of our hearts as we speak. At times, a listening ear will heal more powerfully than a spoken word, and a conversation more effective than a lecture.

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Chaz Howard also wrote about the incongruity of Philadelphia’s protestors against the backdrop of the Christmas tree lighting at City Hall Wednesday night.

“A huge tree stood over all of us. Today shiny ornaments and lights hang on it. Not very long ago a black man would have hung on it.”

 

 

About 2000 years ago, a Middle Eastern man hung on it too. And He did have the right to say this:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

All lives should matter. Let us strive to make them so.

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Why America Needs Refugees

A few months ago, I was moved by a young girl skipping rope in a refugee apartment complex in Denver.

While she and her family may be struggling daily in ways that I can’t understand because of my unsolicited abundant life, they have changed the life of my friend Molly. Not only her life, but those of the people around her, like me. I’m still blinking in disbelief because I so often choose to close my eyes and the light is only going to keep streaming in.

enjoy this reblog:

mojoy1494

Yesterday, I went back to visit my former apartments. The beauty and chaos of the 3-tiered brick-on-concrete low-income-housing buildings located right off the intersection of Colfax Avenue and Route 225.

Sandwiched between streets that have only letters for names, construction projects, and strip malls with cell phone stores, liquor marts, and fast-food joints are the Shadow Tree Apartments.

I suppose the name comes from the few scraggily evergreen trees clinging to life in the middle of the cement  courtyards of “A” and “B” buildings.

I haven’t visited often this past year. Not as often as I’ve wanted to, and certainly not as often as I’ve thought to.

There was the time I showed up with bags of items to drop off that were given to me by my sister’s former roommate (the contents of which were quickly claimed and made new homes to grinning faces). I saw an 8th

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Home: Where the Heart… and Hate is

“So much love and hate.” Words from my father at dinner two nights ago.

 

I couldn’t help but laugh because that’s exactly what I felt I needed to write about next.

 

We all have our issues with our hometowns. Too small, too big, too indifferent, too intimate. And the relationship between Seoul and me is no different.

 

For example, LOVES:

The food. All of it. Now. [차이 팥빙수 / Chai Paht-bing-soo]

The food. All of it. Now. [차이 팥빙수 / Chai Paht-bing-soo]

Transportability

Transportability

ddukboki

More food. [떡복이/ddukboki]

Cafes: perfect for hours of conversation

Cafes: perfect for hours of conversation

Did I mention food?

There are so many reasons why being home = happiness.

 

At the same time, there are moments where being home can bring about a sense of lowness.

 

Here’s where I get real (welcome to the new-and-improved blog?)

 

A few things make S. Korea less palatable. Hard to believe with some of those photos I just showed, I know.

 

1. The land of couples

Don’t believe me? In 10 seconds, I snapped these four photos.

They're everywhere.

They’re everywhere.

 

With the Westernization of its culture, Koreans began to embrace romance wholeheartedly. A little obsessively so. Now, wherever you go, you will find yourself surrounded by couples, arm-in-arm. For a single lady, it’s a bit trying. I may sound bitter, and you can judge me for that, but I do enjoy being alone right now. That gets shaken when I realize I’m the only solo person on the street.

2. The image paradigm

Even after years of being in a career where one’s physical image is scrutinized, I feel the most insecure when I’m in Seoul. Women here are just naturally tiny, and somehow I didn’t get those genes. I grew up in a city that didn’t carry my size in clothing. I was taller than most. While those two facts are now false with the passage of time, the warped self-image still takes hold: I need to diet. Why am I so large? How do I look like her? I can’t possibly be attractive in this country.

 

While I was reflecting on this, thankfully, another fact came to mind.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

– Psalm 139:13-14

 

This home is not my home forever. I don’t write that because I know I’m returning to the States. I write this knowing that I have faith in a God who gives me a greater purpose than looking like the elevated example of beauty. He sees me as beautiful, born to belong to Him, and better for that.

 

 

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It’s time to enjoy the city and all I love.