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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

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.

settlers

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.

One More Airport

I haven’t been in New York City long, but I will admit the Big Apple has become quite satisfying. Sure, I’m still the person who takes candy from strangers on the subway and then spins like a ballerina to orient herself once on the surface. At the same time, there is a coffee shop I can call mine and I have successfully completed multiple loads of laundry at my local laundromat in my six weeks here.

 

 

In the middle of all this comfort, though… there’s another airport waiting to greet me.

Hint: It is one of the two that feels like home to me. Who remembers? Prizes if you know! And by prizes, I mean a shout-out and an enthusiastic high-five if you’re anywhere near San Francisco or NYC.

 

Oops, there it is.

 

It’s an unconventional decision, but I am going to take my next very large step over to the other side of the country as an intern with the non-profit Kiva.org. If you don’t know what they do, well, that’s why there’s a hyperlink for you to learn! So click and get to it!

 

All kidding aside, I have been intrigued and inspired by what this organization and what many other microfinance groups are doing to encourage entrepreneurism, and more importantly, empowerment. My interest in small business development grew throughout my reporting career as I witnessed and contributed to the growth of the downtown areas of Salisbury, Md. and Troy, N.Y.

We dressed like this every Friday night.

We dressed like this every Friday night. [Main St, Salisbury]

I am pretty sure all – and yes, all - my hard-earned dollars went to wine and cheese at the Confectionery.

I am pretty sure all – and yes, all – my hard-earned dollars went to wine and cheese at the Confectionery. [Troy]

 

 

As someone who often lacks courage, I admire the bold spirit of these visionaries and I only hope that I can help foster that among men and women in countries where aid can’t be found in the form of loans.

That’s where you and I come in.*

 

 

I am leaving for California in January for five months. That’s the charted territory for now. You’ll be learning more of the life that’s unmapped alongside me as we go. Well wishes are welcome. So are food, hugs and prayer.

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*Check Kiva.org again, please, if you don’t understand.

Never Say Never

You know when you say you’re never going to eat monkey brains? Or you would never jump out of a plane for “pure pleasure”? Or that you would never live in New York City?

 

So that one might just be me.

 

The thrilling skyline of vibrant skyscrapers. The epicenter of tourism. The hub of finance, media, fashion and food. Home to 2 to 8 million rats (Actually, I need no further reminder as to why I did not want to live here).

 

Yet here I am, a now two-week resident of NYC.

 

Granted, it was more than a decade ago when I first said I had no interest in living in the Big Apple. Since then, I’ve visited countless times, navigated the metro system with ease and recognized most neighborhoods by name (I don’t think I’ll ever understand TriBeCa). Even so, there was a reluctance to fully embrace the highly revered metropolis. I loved the grittiness of Philadelphia, the natural open arms of San Francisco, and the hard earned knocks of Boston. New York? Too glamorous for me.

 

When I realized I needed a place to lay my head at night for more than just a week’s stretch, I had a couple of hospitable options. In the end, I was given the opportunity to live in an amazing apartment with a reduced rent, and friends who would continue to look out for the rest of my belongings upstate.

 

God works in beautiful, but humbling ways. Unsettling, too. I’m still adjusting to being a quasi-Manhattanite, no matter how short or long my time here may be. I guess it’s time to put on my high heels and get to work.

 

(Who am I kidding. I’m still wearing flat shoes).

A Korean-American’s Thoughts on Korean-American History

The first memory I have of the name Dr. Philip Jaisohn was as a teenager. I walked into a slightly run-down waiting room and sat, looking curiously about me. It had been awhile since I was in any sort of medical clinic in the U.S., having lived in Seoul for three years now.

 

“Ah, the waiting rooms still have magazines,” I thought.

 

I asked my grandmother how she was feeling. “괜찮지 [I’m fine],” she replied, next to me.

 

Soon she was welcomed by a nurse who addressed her by name, and I saw my grandmother’s dentures flash as she realized she could understand everything the young health professional was saying. This an anomaly for a woman who immigrated to a country where she still didn’t speak the language and had managed to survive as head matriarch of a transplanted and scattered family.

 

A short time later we left, and I asked my mother, “How is there a Korean hospital in the middle of Philadelphia?”

 

She answered, “This is the 서재필 (Dr. Philip Jaisohn) Memorial Foundation.”

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KALAGNY 28th Anniversary Gala

This week I was honored to emcee the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY)’s 28th Anniversary Gala Dinner. The theme: The Korean American Experience: 150 Years in the Making, as it recognized what would’ve been the 150th birthday of Dr. Philip Jaisohn, believed to be one of the first Koreans to immigrate to the United States in the 19th century. He was the first Korean to be naturalized as a U.S. citizen, the first Korean to graduate from medical school, went onto marry an American woman, and then later returned to his native soil to demand democracy for the people.

 

His accomplishments are far-reaching, but knowledge of them is not. At the New York event, one of the evening’s honorees asked the room of 300+ attendees who had heard of Dr. Jaisohn prior to that night. Barely a few dozen raised their hands.

 

In a conversation with the honoree afterward, he lamented the ignorance, including his own. “Honestly, I didn’t even know of him until I started researching him for my speech,” Young Lee admitted. “Yet how many others still don’t know of this great man?”

 

Thankfully, there seems to be progress. I was privileged enough to attend a university (go Quakers!) where Korean history classes were an option, leading to my Asian Studies minor.

 

At UC Riverside, a center devoted to Korean American Studies opened its doors just four years ago. It is named in honor of the only Korean American officer in a mostly Japanese-American Army unit during World War II: Col. Young Oak Kim. Be sure to learn more about him, as my dear friend’s father is the one who researched and brought awareness to this great Asian American advocate’s accomplishments.
Clearly, this is only the beginning.

 

I’m getting ahead of myself, but these are the conversations I hope to keep having in the next few months. I look forward to these triggers, catalysts, sticking points where I’m forced to stop and self-ask,” Is this where my heart wants to venture forward?”

 

More thoughts and questions to come. Let’s chat.