Holiday Vacation Epilogue

The bilingual pooch we met at the airport. I had seen this dog going thru security while I was standing in line. After sitting down with our coffees, I looked up to see this dog again, with its two owners. An Asian woman and man. We struck up conversation and come to find out the three of us were all Korean. They were able to correctly deduce that I was adopted, as I was seated with my (white) parents. Then they told us that they were the founders and organizers of a group called the International Korean Adoptee Association, who get together for a conference in Seoul every three years. It’s something I’ve been thinking very strongly about doing. Attending an adoptee conference in Korea. We talked about how we are from Juneau, AK and that growing up, I was a part of a large group of Korean Adoptees. Come to find out they knew and had hosted one of the very girls from that group! They gave us information on the upcoming conference this coming summer. And then we were kicked out of the area we’d been drinking our coffee in. But it goes to show how small this world really is, and how open we can all really be.

Holiday Vacation Day fin (aka Day 9)

The longest trip home… You get in line to go thru security at the airport, weaving back and forth, all the while TSA checkers are remind you to take your electronics out of your bags, to take off your coats, remove your shoes, etc… You hear them run thru the schpeal 4 times before you get to the front. And even once you get there, people are asking if they need to take their electronics out of their bags, if they need to take off their coats, if they need to remove their shoes, etc… It’s next year by the time I get thru security, and mom already has coffees (they went thru the VIP pre check line…) We find some tables and chairs outside and drink our coffee. Until a woman comes and, not so kindly tells us to shove off as this is her Bar and NOT a part of the coffee shop… When we board the plane it’s about 11:15AM. I buckle my seatbelt and the plane turns. Just enough to put me directly in the sun, and the engine cuts. Sorry folks, air traffic is a mess and it’s going to be a bit before we are cleared to take off. The flight attendants pass thru with water, but I’ve passed out from boredom… and heat stroke. Our flight is only supposed to be 2.75 hours, but we’ve already been sitting on the plane for an hour before we get off the ground. Take off was like flying thru a storm, a couple folks letting out yelps and gasps. More importantly, the 3 or 4 infants onboard begin to scream. I pass out again. When we finally hit the ground its 330PM. We roll to our gate, everyone jumps up, and we stop. Sorry folks, there’s something wrong with our gate and they need to make a few adjustments before we can open the cabin doors. Mom and Dad are the last ones off. When we reach baggage claim our bags are all sitting in a line. Dad calls a shuttle for us and we wait outside for what feels like an hour. I stomp my feet to stay warm. The shuttle driver comments that we all look grumpy. We get to our car and dad says the wait for the ferry across the channel is 90 minutes, we plan to drive thru Tacoma and across the bridge. Mom notes it’s 500PM. The 1.75 hr drive home takes 2.5. We get home at 730PM. The longest trip home..

Painted Canyon day

3 hour hike thru sand and canyons, climbing ladders, and rappelling down ropes, and at one point, even crawling on hands and knees… and not one chipped nail.

And after a long hike, I like a nice beer and a wet burrito..

Holiday Vacation Day 6

So here’s a real story. Jeggings. They’re really actually the worst. You try them on at the store and they fit great, and you feel great, and look at that butt! So you buy them. I mean, that butt! The first day you wear them, you’re feelin great. Then halfway thru the day, you catch sight of yourself in the mirror, turn, and where the hell did your ass go?! Your jeggings have gone all saggy and your butt has vanished!
But more importantly… We were all dipping our feet in the hot tub one morning. I was wearing jeggings. And in an effort to not get the cuffs wet, I rolled them up. But because of how tight they were, I had to roll them up to just over my calves and under my knees. No big deal, feet in the tub, cuffs dry. Well, I didn’t expect the heat of the tub to expand my legs. I couldn’t get my pant legs back down! And after walking back into the house, I was actually afraid they were going to have to cut my legs off. I flopped onto the bed with one leg in the air while my mom wrestled with each pant leg for five minutes, til finally they were down! Uh, lesson learned, jeggings and hot tubs don’t mix…
It wasn’t until much later that I realized the damned jeggings had given me these stupid tan lines! Curse you, jeggings!

Holiday Vacation Day 5

I love the Zoo. There is something about a zoo that can make you forget yourself.

Forget the sounds of traffic, of checking your emails, of the hustle and bustle.

It is just the excitement and awe of seeing animals.

Animals you may never see naturally in your entire life.

It is being surrounded by predators and prey.

It is innocence.

The zoo is a whole world, separate and distant from our every day world.

It is a place that feels magical to me, because it can show you how big this world really is,

and just how small we really are.

Holiday Vacation Day 4

8,500 feet above sea level. Near the top of San Jacinto Peak. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It harkened a bit to the days of the Mount Roberts Tramway back home in Alaska. Only less pine trees and Ocean. We traveled at what felt like breakneck speed, in a tram car with a rotating bottom. Swiveling around in slow circles while the woman next to me eeked and oohed at every gust of wind, and threatened to puke on her boyfriend (even though he was behind her and she was facing me…) At the top it felt like being at the top of a ski slopes, complete with screaming children, cheap french fries, and snow. And we hiked a bit down thru the snow, the only snow we’d see this Xmas season, watching children sled, actually sled, because somehow, they got sleds 8,500 up a tram to the snow. And then my blood sugar dropped and I hiked back to the lodge for fear I’d drop, wishing there was a fast lane and a slow lane for going back up, but getting stuck behind folks grabbing branches to use as walking sticks to help haul themselves back up to the lodge.. Cheap french fries to the rescue. And on the way back down they played Baby, I Need Your Lovin, instead of the dry, prerecorded instructions for safe viewing at the top, and perhaps it was the lack of oxygen, but I swear we all sang along, as we dropped back down into the sun, into the desert..

Holiday Vacation Day 3

(Skipped yesterday…)
I’ve been trying to think of what to say that wasn’t so bitter. This place is so strange to me though. It gives me a headache. Or perhaps it’s all the sun. Or perhaps it’s dehydration. But my head hurts. This place where you have leisurely mornings in your room with your clean sheets and fresh towels. Where you head to the nearest Starbucks for your coffee. Then go to your favorite establishment for a well cooked meal. And it’s great, it’s Vacation! But in this Build The Wall day and age, people can’t even see who it is that’s changing their sheets, making their coffee, bringing them their food. This town seems to be held up by the heavy hispanic population. This desert, that’s more interested in maintaining the greenest lawn, hotels with lagoons so large they start inside the lobby itself, and Quick Quack Car Washes on every corner… Maybe if I spent more time here I’d grow to understand it better, but just now, I don’t… but it’s only day 3…

Holiday Vacation Day 1

Holiday Vacation Day 1
It’s so dirty here. Like really dirty. Not in the sense that, yes, I am surrounded by dirt. But in the sense that there is trash EVERYWHERE. One expects to see tumble weeds rolling down the street, old west style. Instead I see old cups and papers tumbling down the street. Like some dead, ghost town. A zombie movie with hundreds of the walking dead (aka geezers…) I keep wondering why they don’t have prisoners doing community service, but then I remember that it’s the middle of December and it’s 75 degrees out. One can’t quite imagine a hand full of felons meandering down the highway in prison issue orange shorts and tanks… We drove around in a surprising amount of circles, for as many perfect right angles the streets around here form. We made it to downtown Palm Springs where we stopped into the ritziest hotel for a bathroom break, then down the street past odd shops, where I bought a pair of Fucci sunglasses (fake Gucci). Mom was sucked into the bowels of an Italian skincare shop, where they melted the wrinkles from her eyes. And a van popped a tire, which was apparently the most exciting thing to happen in centuries, judging by the crowed it attracted… This place is weird… but it’s only day 1.

Holiday Vacation Day .5

So it was a little weird. In all those Victorian movies, people head to Bath. To take in the water and rejuvinate themselves. Maybe that’s what Palm Springs is like. Where all these old people sitting next to me at the gate go to rejuvinate. Maybe the dry air and sun help melt the chill from their bones… I wonder to myself as I watch 9 people require pre boarding wheelchair escorts to the aircraft. Or maybe money just means you don’t have to use your feet anymore. And I take my seat by the window and there are two old ladies infront of me, and old man next to me, and two more old ladies behind me. And all I smell is expensive perfume. I try to nap, but can’t. Instead I chug thru my easy reading book. One of those Chocolate Chip Cookie Murders, but with ghosts, and a full cast of movie star attractive characters, and cheesy dialogue. The flight is short and a glance out my window shows brown. Brown. Brown. I think I see the town below, but all the buildings are brown. Each tiny building with its own blue dot. Swimming pools. And then as we decend, I realize they’re not tiny houses, they’re huge houses. I watch the flaps extend on the flimsy looking wing of the plane, they rattle and bounce up and down, and I wonder if it’ll snap off. Plunging us into the dry desert sand below. The last thing I’ll see are huge rich people homes, and a nose full of old lady perfume… but we don’t. We touch, not so gently, down and the flight attendant welcomes us to Palm Springs, and I remember I just landed in California, not on Mars..

My American Dream

I’m not opposed to people who post political things. And I’m not opposed to people who voted for Trump. I am a strong believer in everyone having their own opinions and I’m not going to tell you they’re right or wrong. But I don’t want to see your open Trump support on my facebook feed. I don’t want to see comments like, “Build the Wall!” because you don’t understand what that phrase really means.
95% of my facebook friends are White Americans. 95% of my facebook friends have absolutely no idea what it is like to be descriminated against. They have no idea what its like to wake up every morning and not know what someone is going to say to you today. Half the time I laugh it off, because whats the point in making a big deal? But I guess I’m finally making a big deal, and I’ve been thinking about this for a while now.
Out of like 30 dayshift staff on my unit, there are 3 who aren’t White Americans, including me.
Whenever I work with the man, patients are constantly commenting on how we would be a cute couple. When I work with the woman, patients are constantly asking if she is my mother, we look so much alike. We aren’t even from the same countries. I laugh it off, because working in my unit begs a strong allowance for stupidity. But 90% of my coworkers won’t ever have to experience that.
The majority of the people in my life will never understand what it’s like to wake up and immediately have people treat you differently because you’re skin isn’t white. To have people offhandedly tell you that your English is really good. To have someone start a sentence off with, “I’m not trying to sound racist, but…” To have someone actually recognize that you are Korean and then tell you that they’re the worst race ever. To have someone spit the word “Gook” at you in the middle of a crowded room. To ask you if the Sweet and Sour Chicken they had for lunch is just as shitty where you come from too. “Where you come from.” The m
ajority of my friends will never have the phrase flung at them with such distain. I met a man recently. He was a law clerk in Forida, but packed up and moved here. He wanted to open a restaurant, so he did. A small hole in the wall with one table. He was telling us how just the day before a man was walking down the street and saw him. The man yelled at him to pack his things and go back to where he came from.
America used to be a country that the rest of the world looked at as a land of Hope and Opportunity. It promised people the chance at a better future. And in essence, I, myself, came to America for the chance of a better future. For Hope and Opportunity.
What people don’t realize is, even if I went back to Korea, I would never be fully assimilated and treated as a Korean, despite being born there. For 3 decades I have been an American, and I will always be an American. But I clearly will never be fully treated as an American. So where are people like me supposed to feel at home, if even a country built on immigration and the American Dream, can’t fully accept us? I guess all men AREN’T created equal, with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Isn’t THAT what “Make America Great Again,” should REALLY be about?

My Culinary Tour of Africa

I decided to set myself the challenge of a Culinary Tour of Africa. I had 6 dinner recipes, and 2 desserts to cook.

West Africa: African Peanut Stew

West Africa: Jollof Rice (and some Onion and Curry powder rubbed Drumsticks)

South Africa: Peri Peri Chicken (and leftover Jollof Rice)

East Africa: Kuku Paka, and Pilau (am attempt at Pilau…)

North Africa: Lamb Meatballs and Herb Couscous

North Africa: Shakshuka

Dessert! Melktert

Dessert! Malva Pudding

Results:

It was a fun experience. It was surprising to discover how much the country differs culinarily by region.

I attempted a few things for the first time:

First time Spatchcocking a bird (Cornish Hen)

First time making Meatballs.

And I discovered a few things about myself, such as: Owning a fancy expensive rice cooker has made me weak. I no longer seem able to cook rice on the stovetop. Unless I’m making rosotto. As you can see, both my African rice dishes turned to African Risotto of sorts..

All together, it was a lot of work and a lot of time. But it was worth it. I believe that food is the doorway to beginning to understand other cultures. Despite its nuances and differences, food is universal. And this was a fun way to do a little traveling myself. (I also watched BBC’s Africa thru all this.)