Vegan Green Tea “HOMEMADE” Ice Cream

20130704_145500
20130704_145417
Ah, work has worn me out.
Despite my full negativity post, I did get hired and it’s been almost 4 months since I started working.
One of many bad things is that I can only eat garbages. There’s no time to cook at home, and I’ve gained a lot.
A diet tip here: eat home cooked food.

So when I finally had some extra time to cook, I decided to make an ice cream because that’s the most sacred, satisfying, and necessary food if I have to choose only one food.

Although I’m not a vegan, I decided to make a vegan ice cream only because it’s so much lower in calories.
Plus, making it one of my favorite flavors green tea helps break down fat while detoxing my body.

As much as I love, adore ice cream, I’ve never made one. Never. At all.
So here’s how my creativity worked, very nicely.

1 can coconut Milk – unlike many other coconut based ice cream recipes, I just used the whole can rather than separating fat part of out milk. Not only it’s less calories than coconut fat ice cream, it’s faster and more convenient! You can just pour the can into the mix! I just walked down to wholefoods and got their store brand coconut milk. It doesn’t contain emulsifier and less fat than other brands.

1/4 cup green tea powder – I used “O’Sulloc Green Tea Powder.” (http://www.osulloc.com/productView.do?seq=84) Now, keep in mind that you need pure green tea powder, not those fake ones with sugar and other added sweets. O’Sulloc brand is not only 100% organic, but also the only tea brand/maker that’s HACCP certified.
I’ve seen a few U.S website that sells this. If not, you can always use other green tea powder but they won’t be as good as this one :b

1/4 cup of melted brown sugar – I was thinking about using agave syrup but I tried to use what I already have at home rather than shopping for ingredients. I melted brown sugar in a small pot with water until it becomes syrup-ish texture. I forgot to let it cool (told ya. It’s my first time making ice cream.) and mistakenly poured into the mixture but it was fine. :)

Super simple.
I just mixed all 3 ingredients in a bowl. Due to my super laziness, I didn’t want to pull out a hand mixer so I just whisked with a big spoon. It took a little while to melt green tea powder but worked just fine.
As I don’t have an ice cream machine, (ah, has this been agonizing me. Buy it or not to. That’s the problem.)
I poured the mixture into a rubbermaid plastic container and froze for an hour. (It’s a square, 5.2 cups size. The one you would pack your salad lunch to work)
After an hour, it was still runny a bit but I whisked it anyway. This is to put air into the mixture so it doesn’t freeze like a rock.

I was supposed to repeat this for at least 3 times until it becomes an ice cream texture but I had to go pick up my husband, then came home watched TV show, forgot, etc……

Next morning when I woke up, the first thing in my head was my ice cream.
I ran to the fridge, and it looked and felt like a rock…

I was going to let it sit in a room temperature a little bit, but couldn’t wait to try it.
I scraped it with a fork and it tasted unbelievable fantastic.
While I try to scrape a little more, it soon became softer and I was able to scoop out like a normal ice cream.
So there it is!

Next time, I’m gonna try soy milk based ice cream with chocolate powder. :)

Not Lost In Translation

Можете ли вы говорить на русском?

No, I can’t. But I’ve been thinking about it for a long time.
Guess what that says. It’s Russian and it means “Can you speak Russian?”
I love learning languages, cultures, differences. I am semi-quadlingual and I tried to teach myself Russian about 8 years ago because I feel deeply connected to Eastern European composers especially Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. I wanted to learn their language and culture but it was nothing like learning French or Spanish and I got distracted by polishing up on German which I remember almost nothing about.
I’ve been thinking about trying again after discovering my new neighbor is a fairly old Russian man who doesn’t look too busy.

Today I was walking home from work which is only 20 minutes away from my house. When I was just a block away from my house, an old lady on the street approached me.
“ExKuuuus me. Kahn you shupeak Rrrrussian?”
I live in a neighborhood of which largest demographic is either Russian or Gays. It wasn’t surprising that someone asked me if I could speak Russian but such friendly (sort of) approach was surprising as my experience with Eastern European people was exactly opposite of Hollywood people. (either you get it or not)
I hesitantly answered “No” but she said “well, Daht’s Ok. Kahn you help me”
I got off late today and desperately wanted a pint of Talenti and TV asap. But I’m a kind woman. I smiled and said “sure” with a nice smile.
She was holding a phone that looked like something I used in 2006: a simple flip phone with minimum function.
She said she just got a message but didn’t know how to check. I thought of my dear grandma in Korea and showed her how to go to inbox.
After a minute of guessing game of what she’s saying, I figured that she just got a voicemail but didn’t know how to check. I pressed the right button and handed the phone to her, asking whether she knew what her password was. – I said “four secret numbers, in case she didn’t know what password meant. After listening with an intense look on her face, she frowned and shook her head.
“I don’t hear. I…No message.”
I called the voicemail number again and found out, she couldn’t check the message because it was a pre-paid phone and ‘money is finished.’-according to her expression.
I tried to explain how to access voicemail inbox and the fact her password might be last 4 digits of her phone number.
Also, why she couldn’t check the message and how she could still receive calls even though she couldn’t call anymore until she puts more money on the phone.
I spoke extremely slowly with all possible gestures and easy words. But she frowned and shook head.
We were in front of all these stores that targeted and run by Russians. I suggested her to go into one of these stores to ask help but she agitatedly kept asking me questions.-maybe she didn’t understand my suggestion to seek help in a store.
Then a light flicked in my head.
I pulled out my nice looking galaxy s3 and went to google translate. I typed everything I wanted to explain, converted it to Russian, and let her read the translation.
“Prush..t…te..ka… sak… sh….ahk..”
After reading it, she went “Ahhh!!!!!.. Thank you, thank you, thank you…”
She held my hands with her both hands, took it to her face, like almost kissing my hands. It’s like an act of true appreciation.

She asked if I was a Korean. I couldn’t understand clearly but it sounded like her husband lived in Korea for a while and now her son is often visiting Korea for business.
I guessed that the voicemail might be from her son who’s thousands of miles away…

I miss my grandma.

Hair Donation

hair donation framed

“Bye bye my hair” 

Whoa, a lot has happened and I just realized it’s been a month since I wrote.
I got a job that I’ve been wanting (so the title of my previous post, “I’m never gonna get hired!!!”, turns out to be untrue), my husband has finally arrived in LA (on the day before Easter!), and I got a haircut.
I had a very long hair with almost no layers. It was a long heavy hair for 5″3′ woman.
After getting my first paycheck (yay!), I made an appointment with a supposedly-one-of-the-best salon, and I had to wait for 3 weeks for the earliest available date.
a few years back, I had a very short bob hair and everyone thought the hair looked good on me.
I wanted to make a big change on my hair just like how my life’s had positive changes for the past 6 months: I decided to get that short bob hair again.

When I told the hairstylist, “I want it about here (pointing above my chin line)” she was like, “Oh! really?!”
Then she carefully studied my hair and said “Do you want to donate your hair?”
I had no idea what hair donation was. I could guess it’d have something to do with making wigs but thought I’d give the hair salon my hair and they’d give me some sort of discounts…

Having no skills at hairdo, my hair was all natural, meaning no dying, perm, or even simple blow dry.
I was told that it’s the perfect condition for hair donation especially because it’s so long. -about 11 inch of cut length.
She sectioned my hair and tied with rubber band. Like a 6 year old girl would “experiment” with her hair, my stylist cut each 6 bunch of my hair, just right above the rubber band. It was no delicate, high-skilled scissors practice but simple “grab and cut” kind. Then, she wrapped it carefully in plastic wrap so it would be tight and unexposed to air.

She referred the organization “Locks of Love” but I found out that they are more for people with alopecia areata, long-term hair loss, not short-term hair loss due to chemotherapy, radiation, and other drugs.
I strictly wanted my hair to be used to cancer patient, especially for woman.
So I searched and mailed my heavy (yes, it was quite heavy…everyone in the salon tried holding and went “whoa!”) cut hair to Pantene Beautiful Length organization.
American Cancer Society recommends 2 places for hair donation: one is Pantene, and the other is Wigs for Kids, which is obviously for children cancer patients.
Due to certain process of making wigs, it’s pretty strict to be considered. They can’t accept hairs with conditions as follows: permed, dyed, often blow dried, exposed to strong sun, etc. Basically it has to be healthy, natural hair.
If you have a long hair, and plan to cut it, consider donation.

http://acsmissiontraining.org/index.php/patients-and-caregivers/resources-for-supporting-patients-and-caregivers/117-donating-hair.html

Fruits are pointless

I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t eat fruits. I don’t hate them. A verb “hate” still contains a meaning of interest that expresses hatred.
Fruits to me is like a lipstick to men. There’s no link or reason to care for.
I don’t see a point of eating fruits. You can get same nutrition from veggies. Finding time to eat fruits is awkward, too. They are not filling so can’t replace a meal and are not good for a dessert either. Dessert is supposed to be sweet or refreshing which applies neither to fruits. Less calories than a piece of cake? Well, not so much. A regular size of a banana or orange is about 120 calories, grapes, a couple of strawberries are about 150 calories, most melon kinds goes a lot higher than that. Why spend money and eat fruits?

But today I made a mango smoothie/juice whatever that fruit thing people like to drink.
Because I’d been eating bad for about a week, I decided to cook some healthy food and went to a grocery. There, I encountered this guy called mango whom I had never seen in a form of fruit, and sort of forced myself to give it a try. It took me a while to peel it, which was a major pain, and it tasted weird. Ugh…! But I found that it’s quite effective for one of my health issues. So I decided to eat some more and bought 3 mangos again today. When I got home, I didn’t want a hassle of peeling and cutting them again just to chew like the first time. Getting a hint from mango lassi, I wanted to grind them with soymilk thinking that’d make my fruit eating experience a bit more pleasant.
I only ate a half of my first bought mango so I ground the rest half.
mango0
Peeling fruits are more annoying than picking spilled toothpicks…
mango2
That’s not the texture I wanted but doesn’t matter. A thickness of drink doesn’t contribute on the fruit taste meter.
The 3 I bought today “feel” more ripped. So I’m sympathizing myself that those guys will taste better.
But really I think those will be the last mangos for me for many years.

A friend of mine posted on a facebook a few weeks ago. She said “Found strawberries in a fridge and made a strawberry smoothie with them. Simply remove the stem and blend with milk!” I seriously gotta tell her my amazing journey of making a mango-whatever-drink that was not so simple.
And my mom will be so proud of me to buy, peel, eat, even annoyingly use a machine to eat fruits.

Cannot call my father father. Cannot call my brother brother.

galbi

I’m subscribing a monthly food magazine. I like this one because it explores diverse cuisines and has great columns on food trend, drinks, local spots, etc. It’s much better than other food magazines displaying same old generic recipes.

Last months, when I picked up the magazine from the mailbox, I was happy to find a Korean dish on the cover. It’s called Galbi Jjim which is marinated short rib stew with lots of spices and veggies that are good for the immune system. So it was perfect for their winter issue.
But when I read the article inside, I was disappointed that there’s no single word hinting that it’s a Korean dish or inspired by a Korean dish, especially considering the editor was a popular chef/food editor who’s a Korean-American.

The dish was named Short Rib Stew with Caramelized Kimchi, which translated fine but lacked the credit.

I emailed the magazine directing it to the editor and any other senior editors who finalized and approved the issue.
I got a response in a few weeks from the editor. She said the recipe was indeed Galbi jjim that she grew up eating. But the company often americanizes recipe titles for readers who may not be as knowledgeable or advanced in cooking. And they think that if readers see something familiar, they are more willing to try something new.
I had guessed this reason before emailing her. Yes, using a familiar name would be more comfortable for many readers. But this is not a Martha Stewart recipe magazine. It’s more for a food connoisseurs. They wouldn’t mind reading unfamiliar title of a dish, and trying to cook it. In fact, I’ve seen some recipes with its own name in this magazine.

So I emailed her back challenging more.

Readers have the right to know the origin of dish they cook. All I wished was to see one line that explained the dish is inspired by Korean Galbi Jjim so it actually introduces another great Korean cuisine other than Bulgogi and Bibimbap. While readers might guess it’s an Asian fusion dish because of Kimchi, they won’t necessarily know it’s actually Korean dish, which I think should be one of main points in the article – giving a good introduction of the dish.

When I look at other Asian cuisines, they usually use the name as it’s pronounced in their languages. For example, tom yum goong, Bánh mì, famous kung pao, and of course all Indian dishes, a lot of Japanese dishes Nigiri, Temaki, and even all sorts of sashimi(you don’t call it “cut raw fish,” do you?) ingredients such as maguro, tako, etc.
Although there’s usually an explanation of the dish is written in smaller fonts, notating the name in its original language is the least respect to the dish and great attempt to introduce the dish in the right way, just like all the French restaurants do.
In fact, a lot of French restaurants don’t even put explanatory tag lines!

If I saw a Persian dish in this magazine, for example, I would want to know that what I’m cooking is originally from Persia rather than guessing ‘it’s kind of an arabic food.’ And in a case like this, I recall that I usually saw a short line in an article, “This Arabic inspired dish is….” even if it had an Americanized name.

An old Korean fable similar to Robin Hood. This Korean Robin Hood was a stepson of a noble family and was forbidden to call his father father and call his brother brother. The infamous line “That I cannot call my father father, that I cannot call my brother brother…” is now used almost as a proverb for a unjust, unfair situation.

“That I cannot call Galbi Jjim Galbi Jjim…”

Keep calm and carry on

lucy-blockhead
When I was an undergraduate student, I worked on campus.
One day I was having a conversation with my classmate who came by at my work. I don’t remember what we talked about but i remember I got really intense to win the conversation which later almost became a serious discussion-esque argument. Also I remember what my co-worker said: “I think your English is more than good enough to beat anyone in arguments.” As it’d been less than a year I came to the US, my English was just good enough for academic performance. My co-worker just joked about how enthusiastically I got into arguments with people, and never got easy with it despite the language barrier.

My neighbors, “the new normal” couple, argue like its their weekly routine. I started to think that they have to initiate a new religion. “Argue, argue, and you will find peace and love.” Because my apartment building has a very thin wall and they always have windows open, I can hear almost every word. Mostly it’s about nothing. But the guy (or “lady” to be respectful) can get very emotional and doesn’t afraid to show his(her) anger. I think (s)he gets as tense as i do in an argument.
I started to notice a sort of “set piece” as well. For example, in every argument, (s)he yells “I’m not crazy!! Leave me alone” several times. There’s always a slamming closet door sound, then slamming front door, and angry foot step. I can make music out of rhythm of this angry footsteps. Or should I create a mobile game Angry Footstep?!

Now that I think back, I really did get crazy when I argued with my exes. I admit it.
But dictionary defines “argue” as “exchange or express diverging or opposite views, typically in a heated or angry way.”
That’s right. It says “exchange.” You can’t exchange your view with yourself.

I hardly argue with my husband.
I think I can actually count times we argued for the past 4 years.
He really is like Confucius: smart, patient, well-mannered, and inspiring.
When I get into “the mood” he doesn’t respond. It’s not that he pretends or it’s his tactic. He just doesn’t get angry like normal people do because he has unique perspectives on subject.
He looks it from completely different way that people usually don’t think of, and doesn’t think it’s bad or a problem. It doesn’t bother him. So it’s usually just me who gets mad.
I figured his different perspective and infinite patience comes from his infinite knowledge.
I’m not praising him just because he is my husband. That’s usually what people say about him. He’s different and patient.
When I delivered my engagement news to my friends in Korea who never met my husband, they all said it’s gotta be somebody super patient and smart to marry me.
There are 2 reasons why we don’t argue.
1. It’s like I’m doing Lucy Van Pelt lines to a wall – either there’s no response or when there is one, it’s usually very calm and consisted of few words.
2. He makes perfect sense – if he responses with more than few words, he organize my argument and situation and he explain things which all make perfect sense. Although I get angry I remain pretty logical. But everything he says makes perfect sense.

As I’m writing this, I’m listening to my neighbors’ “sacred weekly mass.” I don’t want to cross the line, but for the sake of tranquility of other neighbors and themselves, I really want to put a post-it on their door. “Do not response. That will lead you two to peace.” If they’re smart, they’ll get it. Or should I be more direct and say “It takes two hands to clap”?

Inbetweener’s dilemma

I admire knowledge.
Knowledge is the most valuable asset.
Stuff that makes me beautiful outside doesn’t interest me.
But that doesn’t mean I go outside with sweat pants and hoodie on. That’s just unsophisticated, uncivilized behavior.
What matters to me is what fills my and other people’s brain.
I love studying. Not in terms of studying for a class or exam. I love learning. It’s the most beautiful, purest, highest level of art that humans can perform.
As a little girl, I spent hours reading a set of encyclopedia. I’d read or sometimes just flip through. But either was like a visit to the Disneyland to me.

I encounter smart people everyday. I’m not always sure if they ARE smart or they sound smart but I can’t help feeling extremely jealous either way. That’s probably why “Housewives of wherever” get into a fight. I didn’t watch it but I see commercials and they literally do the cat fight, which I’m guessing all started with a tiny jealousy factor.
That’s how I feel when I talk to a smart”er” person.
Once, someone told me “You’re pretty smart, almost as smart as Jane Doe. And you’re definitely much prettier than Mary Doe.”
It was a compliment but I got super offended by the first part. It didn’t matter that someone complimented my appearance. It’s not because I’m half empty glass person. I do hate the fact someone thinks I’m not smart”er” than the other person, although there’re indeed countless smarter people.

smart me
Wish my portrait would be like this.

One might have zero creativity but figure all the rocket science in the blink of an eye, while others might be super creative but completely dumb when it comes to numbers.
But neither is my case. I’m fairly objective and creative as well. Am I smart and talented? Developed both right and left brain? No. It’s having a no real talent. It’s being not good enough for either.
I haven’t been benefited much from the fact that both sides of my brain work equally well.
It’s a dilemma I call “too logical to be creative and too emotional to be rational.”

My nickname in Korea was psycho, meaning weirdo and “special.” – the word psycho is not as harsh in Korea as it might sound in countries where English is an official language.
I thought a war in my head was because of my uncontrollable creativity, too much emotion, and craziness.
But recently I realized I’m not crazy enough to release my craziness. I’m too logical and realistic to free my creativity, to free myself. That was the reason of The Hundred Years War in my head.

Over the past few years, I observed myself and realized intelligent people inspire me more than creative people do. So I wanted to focus on nourishing my left brain so I can be super logical and objective.
I’ve always loved studying since I was a baby anyway. It’d suit me better than trying to become more creative person. Like I enthusiastically read encyclopedia, I still research all kinds of stuff just out of curiosity.

So, I’ve been wishing that somebody would pay me to study. Sort of like an artist commissioned to create an art piece. Maybe working at a research institute?
I’d study and research, study and research. Research, research, research, and research!
How awesome would that be!
But my creativity would interrupt me and I wouldn’t last long.
I’d get distracted like “Can I do this?” and do something unconventional in an academic research environment.
I’d say “Why not?!” “Has someone done something like this yet?”
I know left brainers won’t like things I do and the way I think with my right brain. I know too well about those people. What they want and how they think. Because that’s what my parents do: study and research.
Left brainers don’t understand me and I don’t fit in with them.

Then, why can I just try to become a total right brainer, a real creative person?
I’m not good enough. I’m too rational and think inside the box to be creative. Right brainers think I’m boring.

Now I just want to be the smartest person in the world. Most intelligent person who knows all the scientific phenomena, prospects of the world economy, at least 20 languages I can speak and write like a native, history of tiny villages of little-known countries, etc.
I want to be a walking encyclopedia, a walking Google installed on a super computer!
But at the moment, I’m nobody but an inbetweener trying to juggle between my emotion and logic.

On the border of OCD and detail-oriented

I think I might have OCD. I admit it. But in a good way. I’m not crazy.
I just like to think a lot and when something crosses my mind. I can’t let it go. (Is this crazy?)
The problem is that I think too much. I think too much about the fact that I think too much.
Sometimes it is just too much for me to think that I think about thinking. (Ok…)
For instance, I remember that I had a remote control for a TV that I don’t own anymore. I sold a TV to someone but the person forgot to take the remote control with it. I don’t know why it pops up in my head out of blue. But the thought keeps me from doing anything until I find the remote control.
This really happened to me a few years ago when I was in grad school. That day, I kept thinking about the remote control while I was doing some school work. And when I was done with the assignment, I stayed up until about 1am to find the remote control. Late at night, when I couldn’t find it in a tiny NYC studio apt, I had to force myself to STOP thinking and go to bed for an early morning class the next day. I did fall asleep (Yay!) but I woke up around 3am and instantly started looking for the remote control again, like I was a robot programmed to find something as soon as I was ON.
I think it was around 4 something when I found it, and I don’t think I was able to go back to bed.
I looked like a zombie that day but I was zen and happiest person in the world.

I don’t know if this is a symptom of OCD. I think I’m just extremely detail-oriented, like my parents and grandparents always say.
When I write a paper, I read over and over and make sure of alignment, font style and size for each small section and body.
Before I type, I draw a diagram on a scratch paper to organize how I am going to structure the paper.
When I add footnotes, I make sure where I put a space inbetween, or two spaces for certain info. I compare each footnote and double, triple, quadruple check them even though one space difference between 7pt letters isn’t really noticeable.
Above all, when I was majoring in art, (like I said in my introduction, I draw and sculpt) the best and all-time compliment I got from teachers was the details in expression.
But “Diamond cuts diamond.”

shelf screws

One of many reasons I was attracted to my husband the first time, is that he is as intelligent as I am.
Also, the fact that he was more organized (and also as dorky, quirky as I am), stimulated my curiosity to really get to know him. But after we started the relationship, I realized there’s a big difference between us: he’s detail-oriented and I just have symptoms of OCD.

I’ve moved about 7 times in 4 years in NYC (now you know why I was obsessed to find a remote control.) and took pride in fast, efficient packaging skill. (Not that it’s something to brag about…)
When I packed, I put screws in a plastic bag and carried them with me instead of packing in a box. Because you might not remember which box had the screws. I did this since the first time I’d moved thinking ‘I’m smart.’
Later, I started to tape those plastic bags of screw to where they were unscrewed from.
I never had a problem with a torn plastic bag during the move although I thought about the possibility.
Then, I met my husband who packs 4 screws like the pictures above.

Those are screws for my husband’s printer shelf. They are wrapped (or taped) in a packaging tape. The size of each screw is about 2cm (3/4 inch) or less.
I took these pictures about a month ago when I moved to LA by myself. I was unpacking and when I saw these screws, I grinned and took a picture of them because it’s very much of my husband.
He was planned to move to LA in about 2-3 months so we packed and shipped everything with me, even his desk and chair.
Perfectly wrapped and labeled screws in anti-tearing packaging tapes were of course nowhere but taped onto the printer shelf in the perfect spot for me to notice. Also, the label is not a just piece of paper. It’s a thick, adhesive sticker label.
Other screws for furniture were also perfectly sorted in a zip lock with a label.

This’s his good organizing skill but he’s also very detail-oriented.
Here goes my theory: he’s a good organizer because he’s a detail-oriented person.
I developed this theory by watching him over the past years, and comparing his habits and thought process to those of me.
You can be a good organizer if you’re detail-oriented.
But you can’t be a detail-oriented person just because you’re good at organizing.

I do organize but it’s a bit different from a standard definition of organizing.
A friend of mine back in high school, nicknamed my room “Chaosmos” which means an order in the chaos.
So, according to my theory, I’m not a good organizer, and cannot be a detail-oriented person.
What’s worse but similar to being detail-oriented? Obsessive Compulsiveness.

I don’t need my unscientific theory to willingly make myself look funny. Things I do just tell me that I’m on the border of being detail-oriented and having OCD.
All day yesterday, I looked for a black parting comb. I had this vivid image of seeing it in a bathroom drawer but wasn’t sure if the image was from my current apt, NYC, Greenville, or my parents’ house in Korea last year.
I looked EVERYWHERE. I looked into boxes I had unpacked because I didn’t need the stuff in them yet. I unpacked some of those boxes just to find the comb. I checked the same box over and over to make sure I didn’t miss an inch of every corner inside the box. When I was getting physically tired of looking for it, I sat down and drilled every cell in my brain to come up with more detailed image of last time I’d seen the comb.
I had also texted my mom in the morning asking about the comb. But because of time difference between the U.S and Korea, she didn’t get back to me until I was completely burnt out at night, both mentally and physically. So, I was watching a Korean drama trying to distract myself from thinking about the comb without much success. Close to midnight, my mom texted me “Ya, I see the comb here. Why?”
I was finally and instantly in zen after a “hard labor” all day. A tagline, like something from a movie trailer, was blinking: I wanted to know the truth.
Then believe it or not, I had a dream about the comb last night.
If my mom had said she didn’t see the comb in her house, I would’ve probably kept looking because there’s a 25% of probability that the comb would be in my apartment.
All I needed all day yesterday was my smart, detail-oriented, Confucius husband to tell me
“Just relax. It’ll turn up somewhere. Things always do.”

In-laws

A few years ago, my husband and I were strolling down Beverly and a homeless man, who at that time lived next to a Riteaid, approached us for a quick joke.
He asked “What’s the difference between in-laws and outlaws?” At the same time I ignored him, my kind husband responded with a curious look, so the homeless man answered, “Outlaws are wanted but in-laws are not.”

inlaws

Most sardonic yet realistic way to describe Korean marriage is probably a relationship between evil mother-in-law (aka. MiL) and pitiful victim daughter-in-law (aka. DiL). There are so many cases of conflict between the two, Korean people just seem insensible to this problem nowadays.
When you’re engaged to a Korean man, it’s almost understood that your future MiL doesn’t like you as much as she may seem. As a future DiL you just have to accept the fact.
My Italian friends told me that a MiL/DiL relationship is similar in Italy but a DiL in Italy has a “social approval” to lash out at her MiL, whereas when a Korean DiL gets up against her MiL, no matter what the reason was and who initiated it, it’s usually the DiL who gets all the blame.
If you’re “unlucky,” you also have SiL (bingo! sister-in-law) to deal with. But usually it’s only bad if a SiL is an older sister of your husband. For example, a friend of mine has a younger brother and 3 older sisters. So we make bad jokes about her brother’s future wife who will have to serve 4 SiL. Oh, better example here. My brother, who’s 7 years younger and whom I scolded a lot when he was growing up, once said he will never live in the same province with me when he’s married, and my parents strongly supported his idea…so congrats to a future wife of my bro because she won’t have to deal with the worst case scenario for a Korean DiL: MiL + SiL team.

I bet you a mansion in Malibu that, in any Korean dramas or movies, you will never find a scene that a wife is relaxing while her MiL is working in a kitchen. It’s usually the wife in a kitchen (even if it’s a MiL’s) and the rest of the family enjoying their time together, unless it’s MiL and DiL together in a kitchen.
Oh, and let’s not overlook the fact that MiL will never allow her son in the kitchen to help his wife. In this case, even if the son volunteers to help, the MiL will blame her DiL for making her son (husband) work.
This is not only a MiL/DiL situation but a case of young women/elder women in Korea and other countries that were once influenced by Confucius. You must help the elder or at least be next to her/him for an immediate help.
It’s considered extremely rude and unacceptable to just sit and chill while the elder is working. Even if you don’t know how to do, what to do, or whatever happening has absolutely nothing to do with you, you cannot just sit around while the elder is doing some kind of work. But this latter case is a matter of manner rather than an unfair social convention, like Korean DiL/MiL culture.

It’s hard to understand the social convention on the relationship between Korean MiL/DiL. But I found something even more difficult to understand when I came to the U.S.
Thanks to my parents, I grew up experiencing diverse cultures. And probably because of that, I didn’t really have any cultural shock when I came to the U.S except one: people are not afraid to show their dislike of in-laws.
I had seen movie scenes like “Why is your mom here?! So we can’t go out tonight because of her?!,” “I can’t stand your dad! Tell him to go to a hotel or somewhere!”
I thought it’s just a movie. But soon after I’d moved to the U.S, I realized those scenes were all very real and can happen in this country.
I’m very open-minded person and always eager to learn the new culture, and even adapt to it. But this hatred toward the in-laws, who are actually now your family, is never understandable, not to mention the fact that people express it out loud to their spouse and in-laws.
It might be easy for me to understand if your father-in-law beat up your brother for no reason, or if a MiL hates her DiL just because she feels like the DiL snatched the son away from her, which is most common reason that a Korean MiL treats a DiL with a certain attitude. But because of Korea’s deeply rooted Confucian idea, a DiL can’t defy her MiL for any unfair mistreatments.

It’s not because the bible says “You must love your neighbor as yourself” nor is because you just have to be nice.
You MARRIED your spouse. You are not a co-habitant. The two persons came together, as one family, as a big family all together. You love your own parents and siblings. Then, why are in-laws, in other words a family, such annoying people to you?
You have the right to speak your mind. You can say “I hate your mom” but how would you feel if your spouse says “I hate your dad?”
Whatever your own family did to you, you forgive them or at least try to forget about it. You let it go. Then, shouldn’t you be able to do the same to your in-laws, your new family, even if something bad had happened and you’re mad at them?
You don’t even have a mean-for-no-reason MiL like Koreans to begin with!
People in the U.S don’t realize how less baggages come with a marriage compared to Koreans who are trapped in still very traditional and irrational ideas of marriage!
I know. Words are easy to say. I might not understand how awful it can be because I have very sweet, loving in-laws.
In fact, I have this guilt in the corner of my heart that when we lived in the same town, I didn’t do my best to my “new family” when they provided so much for me.
So if I were to define, it’s more like I’m the evil DiL to my sweet, grateful MiL.
And I thank my Confucius husband for being so nice to my family in Korea.
Actually, it’s funny that, when he visited Korea to meet my family, he did everything very naturally the way that any Korean guys were supposed to do. True resurrection of Confucius!!!

Recently, I read an article about an increasing divorce rate in Korea, which has been a big issue of the country because of the remaining Confucianism. What was surprising and also not so surprising at the same was that 70% of divorce was due to MiL/DiL conflict.
There’s too much to factor in for the solution, and there won’t be just a single solution to Korea’s MiL/DiL relationship. It will take decades to unravel the problem.

Wait, here’s an idea! Korea-U.S government trade can help! Korea doesn’t need any more English teachers from America. But they can import American hippies from the 60′s and learn the spirit of peace and love!

I’m never gonna get hired!!!

blog

“Should you desire money, social status, and the power, have the right blood tie, alumni network, and regional connection.”

This should be written in the Constitution of Korea.
(If you’re asking yourself “Is this North or South?,” you’re the one who needs to follow my blog more than anyone.)

Sure, it might be a common social phenomenon in any capitalism countries.
But I can almost guarantee you that it wouldn’t be as bad as it is in Korea. What I mean by bad is that, in other words, if you don’t have those 3 ties, the chances are you would highly unlikely… (it’s too harsh for me to finish this sentence because I think I fit in the “ellipsis.”)

Studies say that this social custom that values those 3 ties, seems to be originated and passed down from Joseon dynasty (14C) when Confucian idea was dominant. They thought highly of knowledge and family, which in a large form, could be school, mentor, relatives, neighbors you associate daily, and so on.
I’m not a historian and I don’t want to scrape out my historical knowledge from high school. It gives me enough headache to think about my own current issue which is affected by this 14th century convention.
It’s horrendous that people of 21st century still can’t break the idea from 7 centuries ago.

It’s similar in the U.S, too. You can submit thousands of resumes with all the nice stuff on it but one connection in a company can get you a job even if you lack a little bit of requirements for a position.
In fact, that’s how I got jobs in the past: friend, ex-coworker, classmate, etc.
The difference in the U.S is that, the connection doesn’t guarantee you a job. It’s a fast track to get your resume read or go into an interview. In Korea, if you are a CEO or HR person from a certain school, and you see a resume from your alma mater, you put it in a “interview” folder. When you see an applicant from the same area you grew up with, you call that person in for an interview. The difference is a “reference.” HR person doesn’t know a thing about an applicant but will hire the person because he/she’s from your hometown, because you’ve heard the person is a niece of a coworker who is about to get a huge promotion, because an applicant graduated from your high school or college or sometimes even an elementary school!
I might be exaggerating a little bit. But I’d heard this story from my dad a couple of times every year before I moved to the U.S.
My dad used to emphasize the importance of being accepted to certain schools (Ivy League schools in Korea) to my younger brother over and over. (I had already chosen a path against his will. Haha) Because my dad himself proudly graduated from one of 3 Ivy schools and would hire his research assistant only from one of those schools. He said in the field of knowledge and intelligence is all that matters, it’s unavoidable. As much as I understood, I couldn’t help myself feeling very bitter as a gypsy, have-no-real-job musician at that time.

If you went to a school with Korean people, you must have witnessed that they only hung out with Koreans and would be wary to have a non-Korean person in their circle. (I hated, almost despised this idea which in result left me only few Korean friends from school whom I hardly talk to.) This’s also because of the distorted Confucian idea. In a way, it’s similar to fraternities and sororities or guilds from the medieval Europe. It’s a guaranteed trust and support for people who fit in the group.
If you look at it positively, it can be good. Korea is all about hospitality and brotherhood anyway. But what if you don’t have those ties but still an awesome smarty pants who’s a super hard worker? That’s the downside of the invisible, untold “ties system.”

Why am I venting out on this now? No, I’m not really venting out. I’m just jotting down my thoughts.
Unlike what I said above, I’m not really under the force of “the 3 ties” because I’m not in a Korean job market.
So I should be relieved instead of criticizing Korean ties culture. But having a connection can’t hurt no matter in what country you’re looking for a job, especially if you want a new career, like what I’m doing now.
As I considered changing my career, I’ve been pondering on my strength, ability, talent, and most importantly passion.
I’ve submitted a resume for several companies for all different positions in different career fields because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do but was confident that I could do anything.
About 3 weeks passed, I haven’t got a call.
So, I was pessimistically nagging on a phone to my husband the other day.
“I’m never gonna get hired!!!”
My calm, mature husband lightly laughed and said
“Aw, you’re cute. You should write this on your blog. ‘I’m never gonna get hired!’”