Bone-in Pork Chop, with Pumpkin Risotto
Bone-in Pork Chop, with Pumpkin Risotto
Anyone living in America will probably agree that our nation kind of sucks. But the truth is, Americans have no idea what it’s like to live in a truly terrible country.
Until recently, many Asian countries really suffered. China began suffering over-population and risked the depletion of all their resources. In the early 80’s, the Chinese government enacted the One-Child Policy, stating that it was against the law to have more than one child.
The extremity to which this policy was enforced was barbaric. Women were abducted and forced to be sterilized. Midwives and doctors performed thousands of abortions. And, as Asians valued male heirs over females, often baby girls were placed in baskets and abandoned on the sides of the streets or in market places.
In America, the idea of selling another human is considered inhumane and referred to as “human trafficking.” In China, these people were referred to as, “matchmakers,” for helping abandoned babies find homes, by selling them to orphanages. Their goal was not to make money, but rather to save lives. These people were arrested and sent to jail.
A decade after the enactment of the One-Child Policy, Chinese orphanages opened up to international adoptions, which assisted in saving the lives of thousands more babies.
Because of the nature of these adoptions, the chances of ever being reunited are near zero. And as an adoptee, this movie, this look into another side of adoption startled me. I have always operated under the belief that parents put their children up for adoption so that they can have a better future. And while I know that that is not always true, I had never once entertained the idea that parents might be forced by their government, to the extent of having their children taken away, to be adopted just to survive. My own cousins, adopted from China during this policy, both happy, healthy, beautiful girls. I can’t help wondering if this policy played a part in their being adopted…
In 2015, China realized that with so few children there would be too few to take care of the elderly, a custom in many Asian countries. They declaired that at the beginning of 2016, families would be allowed, and encouraged, to have two children.
Just watched this movie, Mad World, and it was really good.
Working where I do, mental health isn’t a mystery to me. I understand it, but for a lot of people, it is the invisible illness. People would rather not acknowledge it. And sometimes, entire countries fall into that category.
This movie, about a Chinese man with Bipolar Disorder, shows how other countries views on mental health can be extremely different from ours. After being discharged from a mental health facility, he is unable to reintegrate into society. He is seen no better than a murderer released from jail.
But, first and foremost, this movie is about a man’s struggles with Bipolar Disorder. Having been discharged from the facility, he moves in with his estranged father. The tension between them is obvious. The father, while wanting to make ammends for his absence, does not know how to care for and understand his son. We see the, “just take your medications,” and the, “why can’t you just TRY to be happy,”s that are the textbook responses of someone who truly doesn’t understand mental illness.
Through out the film we are peppered with the young man’s memories of taking care of his ailing mother. Abandoned by his brother and father, he alone was left to do it. And it is extrordinarily difficult for him. Perhaps burdened by the tradition of respecting and taking care of elders, he refused to place her in a home. Just as the father is burdened with the choice of sending him back to the facility, and risk their relationship forever, or continuing to try and care for him himself.
This film opens one’s eyes a little bit into the world of mental health. How it’s not easy, how disruptive it can be to one’s life. And how important it is to have love and support for those who suffer from mental illness.
Roasted Cornish Game Hen, Acorn Squash stuffed with Black Rice, Cranberry, Pecan Stuffing, and Garlic Roasted Baby Broccoli. And some Pinot Grigio.
I love Spaghetti. I love noodles. While mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest (filled with food ideas), I kept seeing unique Spaghettis from other countries.
So I decided to go on a Spaghetti Journey..
Special ingredients: Cinnamon, and the crispy bottom (that I failed at achieving) called Tahdig.
Makaronia Me Kima
Special ingredients: Allspice, Clove, and Cinnamon.
Special ingredients: Adobo, Sazon, and Evaporated Milk.
(Sauce came from a jar.)
Special ingredients: Hot Dog, Banana Ketchup.
Mexican Green Spaghetti
Special ingredients: Roasted Poblano Peppers, Cream Cheese.
Special ingredients: Smoked Sausage, Habanero.
Special ingredients: Bratwurst, German Beer, Stoneground Mustard, Apple Cider Vinegar.
Spanish Spaghetti with Olives
Special ingredient: Green Olives.
Special ingredients: Hot Dog, Ketchup.
Special ingredient: Love.
What did I learn?
Buy your Spaghetti noodles from Costco.
But also, I loved just how unique and different these countries do “Spaghetti.”
Thus ends another world tour through food.
White Raven, a trickster
“Raven decides that he will try to do something about the darkness, for himself and for the world. As he follows the Nass River, he encounters the Fishermen of the Night..”
“Raven knows he will not be welcome in his raven form and devises a plan to transform himself into a tiny speck of dirt. His plan is to float down the river into the drinking ladle of the Daughter of the Nobleman at the Head of the Nass River. That is how he will sneak into the Clan House.. Raven is ingested by her and she becomes pregnant..
Raven is born in human form.
Raven grows into a precocious and precious human boy..”
Three carved boxes containing grandfather’s most prized possessions: the stars, the moon, and the daylight. Raven asks for the boxes and is told he cannot have them. He cries and cries for the boxes and eventually his grandfather relents. He gives his grandson the boxes, which he immediately opens. The stars, moon, and daylight, slip through the smoke hole in the Clan House and take their places in the sky..”
“As the stars fill the sky, and the moon takes its place, light begins to fill the Earth. When the sun takes its place in the sky, bringing daylight to the world, it is frightening for all those who have been in darkness. The people are able to see the world around them for the first time and are startled. Those wearing animal regalia run to the woods and become The Animal People. Those wearing bird rigalia jump into the sky and become The Winged People. Those wearing the water animal rigalia become The Water People. Those who remain strong (and stubborn) become Human People..”
(Taken from a Tlingit culture exhibition in the Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Glass. Based on an old Tlingit story. Glass art by Preston Singletary. )
This morning I finished the book, Kim JiYoung, Born 1982, by Cho Nam-Joo. A novel that paints a picture of the long standing, extreme gender inequality in Korea. While, a little underwhelming to me, as I had just finished a memoir that painted the same picture, this novel was extremely well received after it was gifted to the Republic of Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in.
Truly, flawlessly, completely, she became that person.
In a small, tidy apartment on the outskirts of the frenzied metropolis of Seoul lives Kim Jiyoung. A thirtysomething-year-old “millennial everywoman,” she has recently left her white-collar desk job―in order to care for her newborn daughter full-time―as so many Korean women are expected to do. But she quickly begins to exhibit strange symptoms that alarm her husband, parents, and in-laws: Jiyoung impersonates the voices of other women―alive and even dead, both known and unknown to her. As she plunges deeper into this psychosis, her discomfited husband sends her to a male psychiatrist.
In a chilling, eerily truncated third-person voice, Jiyoung’s entire life is recounted to the psychiatrist―a narrative infused with disparate elements of frustration, perseverance, and submission. Born in 1982 and given the most common name for Korean baby girls, Jiyoung quickly becomes the unfavored sister to her princeling little brother. Always, her behavior is policed by the male figures around her―from the elementary school teachers who enforce strict uniforms for girls, to the coworkers who install a hidden camera in the women’s restroom and post their photos online. In her father’s eyes, it is Jiyoung’s fault that men harass her late at night; in her husband’s eyes, it is Jiyoung’s duty to forsake her career to take care of him and their child―to put them first.
Jiyoung’s painfully common life is juxtaposed against a backdrop of an advancing Korea, as it abandons “family planning” birth control policies and passes new legislation against gender discrimination. But can her doctor flawlessly, completely cure her, or even discover what truly ails her? -(back cover)
While in America it is difficult to understand the cultural difference of gender roles in Korea. The Confucian influence of the patriarchal society dating back to long before America was even colonized. From birth, women were already at a disadvantage. Boys were prized above all, to be successful, carry on the family name, and bring honour to the family. Girls received less, as everything must be provided to the male heirs. Women were discouraged from attending higher education. The role of the woman was to get an education high enough to secure a good marriage, then they were expected to give up everything and become a housewife. Often a woman’s mother-in-law would live with them. It is the role of the woman to raise the children, clean the house, do the laundry, cook the meals, and care for the mother-in-law. It is back breaking work and women suffered physical ailments.
Reading Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 was not as shocking to me because I had just read the same story right before. It is a not uncommon story for Korean women. But it is bracing, because Kim Jiyoung was born only a few years before me. Were I still in Korea, would my life mirror these stories I just read?
Shortly after the book was released, they made a film version, starring Jung Yu-mi and Gong Yoo. While the book focuses mostly on Jiyoung’s upbringing and what shapes the person we meet at the beginning of the book, the movie acts almost as a sequel, focusing primarily on Jiyoung after we met her in the beginning of the book. As with all film versions, a lot of liberties were taken. While mostly staying true to the story, I also feel like they lost sight of the message. The biggest problem was, changing the psychiatrist from a male, in the book, to a female, in the film. It flips the dynamic and changes the feel of the story..
A couple of days ago I finished this book. I had read it a few years ago, but felt compelled to reread it now. A lot of reviews put it down for its weird combination of memoir and history lesson, but that was what I enjoyed the most about it.
The memoir takes place from around the 50s on. It talks alot about the politics of the time. It was all kind of confusing and hard for me to grasp. For much of the 1900s, Korea was not its own country. Growing up in America, I don’t know what it is like to live under the occupation and rule of another country. I also don’t know what it is like to fear even harboring thoughts of dissent against the current governmental rule.
One concept I was able to understand, and which was heavily prominent throughout the book, was the extreme suppression of females.
Since the age of 6, the narrator did not understand and rebelled against the idea and practice of men being superior. Her father, raised under the practice of Confucianism which stressed the superiority of men, was burdened throughout her life with an independent mind. Secretly, but passionately opposed to the dictator-style ruling of the country, he was arrested and tortured multiple times, an occurrance that happened to many during that period. He lived in fear and poor health, turning his nose up to well paying, high position government jobs, and saw his family struggle to get by.
The practice at the time was to give the best and most to the men. For her disaggreement, Jid was often abused severedly by the males of the family, and her mother never defended her. It was this way in all Korean families of the time. Most people know the strong desire of an Asian family to produce a male heir. Most people don’t know the extent of the privilage they receive.
As the book progresses and Jid grows up, while still strong in her belief in gender equality, she begins to truly see how much her parents loved her, and the struggles they faced just to survive. She was able to see that while the men were fed first, sometimes her mother sacrificed her portion to ensure that Jid also was fed.
It is embarassing to me, how little I actually know about the country I was born in, despite my pride and love for it. This book gave me the ability to experience some of it though. Through her life, and her experiences.
…When the night begins to win over the day.
When the air begins to grasp at your skin.
When the trees start to turn, growing gold, then crimson, as if infected.
Then drop their leaves as if seeking to blanket the Earth, keep her warm, keep her safe.
Safe from the ghosts that slowly drift in the dew light, from the shadows that yawn and stretch in the twilight…
I stayed at home and fed my mind, and began to lose hope for the human race. I read books. I read books about pandemics, written in the early 1900’s. And I learned that in this time of pandemic nothing has changed. Man chooses not to believe in or see the pandemic until it is right in front of them, then becomes self absorbed, caring only for themselves and their own well being, not the welfare of their neighbor. And the virus always spreads before modern medicine can intervene, or the world ends.
I also read a lot of books about racism. Books from African-American perspectives, from Asian-American perspectives, and even a book from White-American’s perspective.
When this pandemic broke out across our nation, Asian-Americans were faced with an astronomical increase in racism against them. Asians of any nationality were automatically assumed to be Chinese and being blamed for the Corona Virus reaching America. The racism towards Asian-Americans did not stop just at threats, it also became extremely violent. One man stabbed an entire Asian-American family. Children in schools were being physically assaulted, one child, beaten so badly, was rushed to the emergency room. One elderly woman was knocked down by a group of men and set on fire. Gun shop owners noted a drastic increase in gun sales to Asian-Americans.
And it is not the first time American fear has given rise to extreme racism towards a specific racial group. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, American-Muslims faced something similar. But these are examples of American extreme racism that not a lot of Americans are even aware is happening.
Racism is our epidemic and I don’t honestly think it is something that will be cured. Our nation is young, but it was built on white superiority. It is in the bones of our country. People of colour are labeled “disadvantaged” simply for the colour of their skin, despite education and upbringing. Regardless of a white person’s education and upbringing. America’s structure and systems are built to keep white advantage. You drive down a street with nice houses and manicured lawns, and you automatically assume that it is a neighborhood filled with white families. You drive down a street that is poorly kept with small houses, and who do you assume lives there? Disadvantaged people. These are the images we have been raised to conjure in our heads, it is an automatic, unconscious response. America keeps people of colour down.
I have also been reading a little about the ’92 L.A. Riots. The timing felt appropriate after the death of George Floyd earlier this year, and the riots that ensued after. The L.A. Riots began on April 29th of ’92 after the four police officers who used excessive force and beat Rodney King while arresting him, were all acquitted. During the riots, much of the violence and destruction was aimed towards L.A. Koreatown and the Koreans living there. During this time many Koreans went out and bought guns. Although it was a gun that probably brought about a majority of the animosity African-Americans felt towards the Koreans, when a Korean shop owner shot and killed a young African-American girl trying to buy some orange juice. She was let off with an unjustly light sentence.
27 years prior, in 1965 the Watts Rebellion occurred after the arrest of Marquette Frye, an African-American man, escalated into a fight. The outrage over the police brutality in arresting an African-American incited a six day riot in L.A.
28 years after the L.A. Riots, the death of George Floyd by the police incited more rioting. Nearly 30 years between each incident and nothing has changed.
More current, I just read that the police officer responsible for the death of George Floyd posted bail and is now walking free until his trial, set for March of next year.
Though I know that extreme racism against African-Americans has always been going on, it has not been something I have personally seen much of. I honestly had no idea that “I can’t breathe” was a slogan used by the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of Eric Garner by police in 2014. Since then there have been other African-Americans to plead with police officers, “I can’t breathe,” while being forcibly restrained, and in turn died.
This year has been particularly difficult for America. While I had tried to convince myself that we have always been progressing towards a better, stronger country, this year in particular, of the last four, has proved to me that we haven’t. I admit that when Covid landed in our country, I was one of the ignorant ones who believed we would bust it within months. Four years ago, when Trump ran for president, I was one of the ignorant ones who believed our country couldn’t be stupid enough to actually elect him. I have always placed my misguided faith in this country and its people.
And now here we are again.
Honestly, KEEP America Great? Are you kidding me? Is this really the America he set out to make? The only thing I can say is that at least in the past four years we haven’t found ourselves in the middle of World War III. But instead, we are at war with ourselves. Our nation is fractured.
This year we have all been faced with this pandemic, this indiscriminate virus that will attack anybody. And yet, the cases of infection keep rising. Why do you think that is?
So, what did I do this Covid Summer? I stayed home and fed my mind.
I met a girl today. Another Asian adoptee. I caught her crying at one point because someone had assumed she was Japanese, and if not Japanese, she had to be Chinese. She is neither. While crying, she suddenly yelled, “Why does it matter what race I am?!” And in that moment, I knew exactly how she felt. I have been feeling it alot lately. And while I find my heart grow angry and break whenever someone tells me to “get over it,” I also realize people being racially ignorant towards me is never going to go away. After reading White Fragility, I realize just how White this country is. It is in the very BONES of this country. It is in the way our systems are set up. This country was built on White Superiority. Simultaneously, I am reading The Primal Wound, a book about the trauma of adoption. The idea that no matter what, an adopted child will suffer trauma from it, whether small or large. Whatever your situation, a child has spent 9 months growing in their mother and in essence, forming a very unique bond. Good or bad, early or late, being taken away from the woman who gave birth to you is a trauma. And it can develop into alot of other issues if not treated carefully.
I guess I felt alot of emotions today. I felt angry with this girl. I felt sad. I felt sympathy. And I felt protective.
I suppose it nurtures my desire to move on with my education and career. I want to help people exactly like this. I want them to know that in this country that is White, and cold, and ridiculously blind to Asians, that they are not alone.
At the end of my 6th grade year, my whole class was told to vote for the peer they felt safest going to if they needed help. At the beginning of my 7th grade year, we received the results. A small group of my peers and I had been voted as most trustworthy. We were initiated into a group designed for the purpose of helping our peers. It was the first extracurricular activity I was involved in when I was younger and my first step on the journey of helping others. We were called the Peer Helpers. We met after school, we went on retreats, we even traveled to other cities, honing our skills in being a safe source of support for our peers. I think it was the first time I understood and experienced what it was like to really help people.
My first job as a caregiver was working with developmentally disabled adults in foster home settings about 10 years ago. This job was my first opportunity working in a psych setting with individuals. It was surprisingly difficult, yet satisfying work. I spent 6-8 hours daily working with the adults I supported, living their lives alongside them. I shared in their daily difficulties, challenges, and joys. As a member of the Support Staff Team I helped the residents cook their meals, do their laundry, and assisted them with their Activities of Daily Living and took them to doctors appointments. But it was also emotionally and physically demanding work and sometimes violent work. I was bitten so hard in the arm that I bled, I had a metal patio chair thrown at me, and I was smashed in the head with a TV remote.
After a year and a half in Adult Foster care, I moved on and began working in nursing home settings. The residents were much more medically fragile. I learned to interact and support people with a softer touch. The residents were physically weak, sometimes unable to walk on their own. I learned to become a positive influence, their strength, their legs. The work was rewarding and the residents so thankful for the help and full of life. Not the sort of life a younger person possesses, but rather, the experiences from the years of life they had lived. They had stories and histories within them that I had only a fraction of within myself. But there was also a profound amount of loss. I spent hours on end with the people I cared for, often more time than their own families. I cared for them, shared in their lives and stories and came to love them, in my own way. For a few, I was there at their bedside as they passed.
I eventually moved on to get my CNA2 license and I began working in the hospital. It was a small hospital with four units. The Acute Care of the Elderly, the Rehab unit, a small Emergency Department, and a Psych unit. I trained and rotated through all the units. I learned the intricacies of working in the fast pace setting of the Emergency Department and the grueling patience of working on the Rehab unit. But after 2 years of floating between the four units my heart took me to the Psych unit full time and I’ve been there for 5 years now. It was here, on the Psych unit, that I found myself working with a very diverse and vulnerable population with a range of mental health and behavioral diagnoses. I learned to practice both empathy and cultural sensitivity.
As a CNA on the Psych unit, I am front line staff. I generally spend the most time with the patients and get to know them best. I am the first one who sees them begin to struggle and need some extra help. It is my role on the care team to update the nurses and advocate for the patient’s needs. It is my responsibility to inform the nurses of what is going on and help identify the patient’s need and find something for them; a medication, a visit from a counselor or social worker, or just to talk. Currently, that is the limit of what I can do for the patients. I am a witness, an advocate, a companion through their struggle and then I say goodbye.
The Behavioral Health Unit is designed to be a short stay unit. Most patients only stay about a week. As I have learned, the unit is to stabilize symptoms, not cure the patients. People come in at their worst, we help them feel safe, restart their medications, and get their feet back under them again. It is a hard concept for me, as my need to help drives me to want to do so much more for them. I know that there are not enough resources out there for our patients once they leave our care. There are so few places people suffering from mental illness can go for help and feel safe. There is so little awareness about mental health issues that most people don’t really think or talk about it at all. I want to assist with more awareness and education for the mental health population. I want to educate them on their diagnoses, help them to identify what their warning signs are, explain to them what their medications are for, what they do and why they should take them. My desire to help, my need to do more and see that the best outcome has been reached is what drives me to want to move in to the field of Social Work.
I was adopted as an infant from South Korea. I don’t know much about the situation, but I do know that my birth mother wanted me. I was born at home, not in a hospital, and the Korean name I arrived with was given to me by her. I whole heartedly believe that she gave me up for adoption so that I could have a better future. So that I could be here, now. My adoption was extremely important for me. I was given an opportunity with parents and experiences that have shaped the person I am today.
The thing about adoption is that while it is a great, beneficial, and wonderful thing, it is also emotionally traumatic for an adoptee. Many adoptees grow to develop mental and behavioral issues. Attachment disorders, identity issues, depression and guilt issues are common among adoptees. Guilt over feeling that something was wrong with them and that is why they were given up. Guilt that the desire and need to explore their origins will somehow hurt their adopted parents feelings. Finally, guilt over having these mental and emotional feelings when adoption is supposed to be such a positive and joyous thing.
I see some of these issues in myself now that I am older, despite having a birth mother who loved me and having adopted parents who gave me everything. And while I have been able to recognize and address some of these issues, perhaps due to my undergraduate background in Psychology, many adoptees might not be so lucky. Many adoptees will continue to suffer in silence because of the guilt they feel and the stigma that they should simply feel happy and grateful. Because of this unheard internal struggle, there is an increased rate of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as suicide attempts among adoptees. Adopted children will attempt suicide 4 times more than nonadopted children. I want to be someone who can bring comfort and education to adoptees. I want to be a voice for those too scared to use their own.
I see the core values of Social Work and feel that they align closely with my own values. This helps to confirm within me that this is the right path for me. I have had the desire to help people within me since I was very young. I want to help starving children in Africa, I want to help all the injured veterans get their benefits, I want to help lost children find loving homes, I want to save the world! But mostly, I want to become a Social Worker because I think it is the best way that I can do my part to make the world a better place here and now.
The world is a big place, with a diverse population with a diverse set of problems. I know there will be rough times in which I am faced with situations I may never have imagined I’d be faced with. I know there will be times in which my own beliefs will be challenged. I also know there will be times when I am unsure of what direction to move forward or how to help. My greatest desire is to do what is best for the client I am working with. Admittance into your Social Work program will help educate and expand my tools in doing what is right, what is best for each individual, our communities, and the world.
Lost in all the wonderous moments of the day, blown like dust along the dry desert road, and gone from here in ways only distant clouds could know…
I’m no vampire, you can still catch me in the sun if you’re lucky, but I am glorious glowing renewed. Nary a care, I have my purpose for each day I rise. I have found my fire, and you are all the moths..