At the Table with 엄마

The last time I was home, you became privy to three vignettes about my father, a brilliant architect and loving Korean father (you don’t understand how much of an anomaly those last three words that can be).

2015’s visit showcases my mother, a woman conservative in her thinking and mannerisms but liberal in the ways she shows her love.

In contrast to the pasta of less than a handful of ingredients, my mother’s Korean dinners are always “just” a main dish and “just” a 찌개 (stew) and “just” a few 반찬 (side dishes) and then “just” a few more things. Each time she cooks at home, the serving dishes don’t stop coming.

Not just any meal

Not just any meal

My father had planned an elaborate golf outing for the three of us. Mind you, what I attempt with a golf club should in no way be referred to as ‘playing golf.’ But on the dawn of our tee time, it was just my mother and I heading to the course as he unexpectedly succumbed to a sudden onset of the flu. The other days spent traveling Jeju Island were exclusively ours, as he was unable to travel.

“Let’s take a picture!” – 엄마

“Okay.” – 인애, as she busily prepares the selfie stick.

“Do you want a picture of you?” – 엄마

“No.”

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[minutes later]

“Oh this is all so pretty. Let me take a picture of you.”

“No, I’m good.” – uninterested daughter

 

The incorrigible mother  decides that she’ll then take photos of her eldest daughter as she walks down an icy hiking path.

“Look at me! But look natural!”

“How am I supposed to look at you and not fall?!”

Her handiwork

Her handiwork

 

We have a tradition of saying good-bye until the very last minute at airports. These are fairly frequent for our long-distance family, unfortunately. In years past, the clear glass partition that separated residents from travelers allowed for visible hand-waving.

 

Recently Incheon International Airport decided to frost up the glass… but that wouldn’t deter my mother.

 

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How do you not love a face… an eyeball like that?

I love you, 어머니.

#whatinnaeworld?! SF 3rd Edition, or “Why Innae is Not Yet an SFer”

You’re never too old to be new.

DANGER! DANGER! This is a warning for all Google Maps public transit route users!

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Yes. That red highlighted route? The one that says it will be so much shorter than the other serpentine routes you usually take? Obviously the right answer. Obviously the one you take on the first day of training for a new job. And being a seasoned rider of MUNI (SF’s public transportation route), I felt confident about all the complex going-ons, such as signaling when to get off, and how to touch the yellow tape or kick the handrails to open the back doors.

Transit world gods, you win.

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You’re looking at the back of a bus that got me to my workplace in a speedy fashion as advertised…

… at the cost of $10 for 3 miles.

Still a noob. Still learning my way around. By the way, what is the neighborhood to the west of NoPa called?

P.S. Googling “Google Maps red bus route San Francisco” doesn’t work. Yes, I tried that.

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The Heels Have Clicked

Back in another airport. Are you sick of reading those words yet?

As I wait to board a plane to the coast where I spent the last dozen years, it is no triumphant return.

For better or for worse, I have made a vow to California. This visit East is to say farewell – at least, for now. There is reluctance, trust me. I am fearful of what it means to make a decision to stay in a place with no definitive reason to do so. There is no job offer enticing me to stay in the Golden State. I still find myself impatient with some of the slower-paced San Franciscans. When fall hits, I am going to be longing for the rock-your-world foliage of the Adirondacks and wishing deeply for the plentiful apple cider of upstate New York.

Yet thanks to some pretty fabulous weather, a grandmother who brings me bananas after I fall asleep (ask me about it) and a church community that has given me roots and growth at the same time, I can’t deny the longing to stay here. Blame it on the drudgery of wanderlust, or the allure of start-ups and playground-like offices. It’s not quite ‘home’ yet, but the potential. Oh, the potential.

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Sonoma

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San Francisco

Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay

 

And if I were holding Toto and wearing shiny ruby slippers, I have a feeling I would open my eyes after three heel clicks and find myself facing the Pacific.

#nolongerinnaefarawayplace

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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

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#whatinnaeworld?! Hartford Edition

It’s been awhile.

Seeing that today is Thursday, this is an appropriate time to #tbt it to a month ago (does that really count?) to a trip to the lovely capital of Connecticut. In the tour given by the illustrious Cary Chow, he made sure to bring me to this very Starbucks because it was sure to be…

closed.

closed.

 

I’m sorry, which Starbucks do you know that closes at 6:30 p.m. on a weeknight?

And remains as shuttered on the weekends?

THEN WELCOMES CUSTOMERS ON CHRISTMAS EVE?

 

Boggling. Welcome to Hartford.

Not in Kansas Yet

A few confessions:

  1. I avoid Home Goods like the plague.
  2. The photo of my family in my living room dated back to my high school graduation until I changed it out just two years ago.
  3. I refuse to buy a salad spinner even though I desperately covet it.

 

Stay away.

Stay away.

 

Let’s unpack these, shall we?

 

Since college, I discovered that I inadvertently chose a nomadic life when I chose to enter broadcast journalism. From contract to contract, I found myself in places I had never even heard of. Moving became commonplace. Minimizing my possessions seemed necessary.

Then I’d enter a friend’s beautifully decorated house and feel envy.

 

I dream of a home. Home means a space I can decorate, with the creature comforts of ottomans filled with board games, a wine cabinet and a memory foam bathmat. I know, my fantasies are extravagant.

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Source of fun. Takes up too much space.

 

There are so many physical items I have refused to purchase until I can guarantee the next and possibly final destination of my life. I am waiting for the freedom to call a place home without an end date in place.

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas... yet.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas… yet.

 

There seems to be potential in the area of San Francisco. If only I could click my heels twice and know. However, I will be lugging a percentage of my belongings across the country in a meager few suitcases. The rest will remain in a generous and clever friend‘s basement and wait to be unpacked… one day.

 

Did I tell you how much I enjoy unpacking? Ask my friends Annie and Steve: I unpacked their entire kitchen in an afternoon and managed to send a few boxes to the dumpster while I was at it. The enjoyment comes from knowing each item has its place. It will return to the space in which it dwells.

 

Unlike their kitchenware, I’m still #innaefarawayplace. Sure, I lived in NYC for two months but I tacked that hashtag all over my Instagram feed. I know New York isn’t an exotic place. In fact, I remained in the same state as my last job. Not so far away.

Also, even though the opposite coast awaits me for the first half of 2015, it’s very likely that I will continue to use that phrase. This journeying isn’t over yet. I have yet to find my Kansas.

 

And when I do, I’ll buy my first salad spinner.