I suffer from . . .

Recently, stopping for some icecream became a bit of an overwhelming experience.

I tried to think of all the choices I had amongst me, so as to choose the best one. Not the old standby, or the choicest of a small number, but from ALL the selection choose my single choice.

And my mind staggered under the weight afforded me by where I live is crippling.   There is too much afforded to me to take in unfiltered. I simply crumple.

And practically the same can be said of ice cream with it’s many flavors . . . And cones, sprinkles, toppjngs, sandwiches,  portions, brands, confections and varieties.   Combined with living in Southern California, well … cultural diversity practically renders the choices beyond imagination.

I feel the sheer scope of possibilities is clouding my ability to critically evaluate and practice moderation.

Independence and the 2nd of July

“Yesterday the greatest Question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater perhaps, never was or will be decided among Men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony “that these united Colonies, are, and of right ought to be free and independent States, and as such, they have, and of Right ought to have full Power to make War, conclude Peace, establish Commerce, and to do all the other Acts and Things, which other States may rightfully do.” You will see in a few days a Declaration setting forth the Causes, which have impell’d Us to this mighty Revolution, and the Reasons which will justify it, in the Sight of God and Man. A Plan of Confederation will be taken up in a few days.”

“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”  ~ John Adams to Abigail Adams on July 3rd, 1776

Morality and the Business of Making Profit

Malcolm Gladwell talks about what we actually are venerating when we venerate successful business tycoons and entrepreneurs.

I think what is interesting about Gladwell’s analysis is that what America (and extension, the globe) values is massive return on investment.  Who can take a small amount of cash and generate a large amount in a short amount of time.  That is what is means to be successful – to tap new resources, to make a business more efficient, to create profits.

This can be generated by deceptive advertising of a product with no effect or a destructive one, chopping up an entire forest, releasing dangerous chemicals into the environment, laying off employees, only paying people minimum wage, tax evasion or loop-holes, flipping businesses/houses/cars – and more.

Does the benefits of modern technology, capitalist empires, and quick-profit investment models really give us-and I mean all of us-a better society?  Or are we being short-changed so a few can be wealthy now?  And do we really respect them for that … or just envy them?  Should we envy them at all?

Daily Life in Korea 61

King 2 Hearts is a really funny drama.  It has action, romance, lots of melodrama and a ton of Korean propaganda.

The latest episodes (13/14) involved Koreans interacting with lots of foreigners.  As a note of relevance, I don’t speak Korean.  But I know the languages are VASTLY different and often things that make sense in Korean really don’t translate into English.  And things that Korean people think Americans or foreigners say in English aren’t really normal phrases.  Biggest example from these episodes was “Let’s get along.”  Another interesting thing was a foreigner  presumably from Britain not having a British accident.

Also, the Korean prejudices/idiosyncrasies were rampant in these episodes.  Korean sittings at a table, talking about who they want to compete against so loudly the speaker stops talking to look at them … really, would that really happen?  Hopefully not, but it shows Koreans being incredibly rude.  Then they shouted out the country names during the drawing process.  It was incredibly painful to watch, because here is a team we are supposed to believe can win and they can’t even sit still in their seats.  Instead of being underdogs or heroes, the Korean team just comes off as childish and immature with no place in an international competition.  And that is before the fisticuffs incident.

Of course the North Korean had to fight the Americans before the competition.  It was a bit silly … North Korean can’t hold his anger and only speaks in Korean.  Americans say stuff in English and pat the guy’s head.  Do American’s pat each other’s heads?  Not really.  But it’s taboo in Korea so let’s go with it.  Then the Korean team leader hits the soldier who hit the Americans for fighting.  That was probably not really ironic at all.

Finally there has to be an apology and honestly, it doesn’t really translate well.  I mean, I understand because I am acquainted with Korean culture but I think that apology (given completely in English) wouldn’t have made any sense to a Western audience.  Sigh … Honestly, the writers seem to be oblivious to the fact that Asian customs aren’t global customs.  And the North Korean’s apology only came because of  his guilt if the King lost face by publicly apologizing.   Of course, the Americans quickly apologized too … because of the misunderstanding … but honestly … does that even make any sense?  While an American might say something similar to sorry when accepting a friend’s apology, the American soldiers didn’t do anything wrong so it seems unlikely they would apologize, except if they were being extraordinarily generous on their part towards the Korean team.

Also, it bothered me that some point was made about the Korean team needing to lose on purpose to the American team for the Korean-American alliance.   I guess Koreans might think like that but America is so big … that competition won’t even be a big headline news in America no matter how many times the American team wins.  Honestly, the American people and the American government could care less.  Koreans care when their athletes win competitions.  Koreans care when racially Korean people (and half-Korean people) who are citizens in other countries are famous or successful.  My point is that your ego, Korea, doesn’t apply to my country.  The entire country doesn’t stop when an American and a British athlete compete at the Olympics (also, because that is fairly common).  The entire country doesn’t know the scores of the American soccer team during the World Cup.  Americans aren’t as patriot as Koreans.  So, only some stupid Korean would worry about endangering their alliance by winning a competition against their friend.  Because in real life in Korea, that kind of situation could be stressful (friends like the same girl/boy-friendly co-workers going after the same promotion).  In America, people can talk about their differences, resolve misunderstandings and disagreements, and move on because their sense of worth is more individually cultivated.  UGH!  But you would have to go outside of Korea and make friends with the scary people of another race to understand that.

And of course, the part that annoyed me most was that no one guarded the boat from the match.  So, when the American competition team gets the two keys for the boat, they can’t find the boat.  And of course, any civilian American knows that American soldiers would have secured the boat and their headquarters.  Sigh, but the message of the show is teamwork between Koreans so the strategic discipline of American soldiers has to be sacrificed.

Also, the American team had no Asian soldiers (too confusing for the Korean audience probably) and the Americans had to make racist statements about thinking Asian human bodies don’t work the same way as white or black ones.  I watched the movie Saving Face once and the racism of a Chinese character towards other races in that movie made sense.  There was an older Asian woman who had little exposure to other cultures and races even while living in America and was therefore prejudiced and said hateful/stupid things.  Assuming that Americans would think like that is pretty much a reflection of Korean thinking rather than American thinking.  Even in American media, the presence of Asian-Americans is fairly strong-especially in the last decade.

Sigh, seriously Korea~ why you got to embarrass yourself like that?

Daily Life in Korea 34

Kimbap is the Korean sandwich.  What I mean by that is Korean compare things to famous, usually American, counterparts.

Jeju is the Korean Hawaii. (Hawaii is better.)

BoA is the Korean Britney Spears. (Again, Britney Spears is better.)

Tteokbokki is Korean fast/snack food. (American fast food is better and varied.)

And kimbap is the Korean sandwich.  When you would take a sandwich, in Korea you take kimbap.

I wonder why the subtle cultural appropriation and preference implied here is generally ignored by Koreans.  I certainly don’t feel impressed when I hear about “counterfeit” Korean versions of American people, places, and objects.

Apparently your past follows you everywhere.

Two examples:

I can’t shake the Asian habit of bowing.  I politely bow to the elderly, sales people, and to greet the neighbors.  I am American, I should hold my head up high and never bow it to another.  Sigh, I bowed 5 times today that I noticed.  This reverse culture shock is harder than it looks.  Well, or apparently I just look very strange to my fellow Americans.

Another example is receiving mail for the deceased at a house the said deceased never resided at.  Yeah, marketing people are amazing at forwarding your spam mail, even if you have moved on in another sense.

So thus the title of this post and the feeling that your past is never far behind you.

Panicky Packing

Okay, at least I have started packing a few days before my international flight. My possible permanent international flight or at least, the flight that is moving all I foreseen needing in America with me out of South Korea.

But I am baking. Cookies. Because I had the ingredients for a recipe from scratch, a cookie mix from home, and an oven. Sigh. Yeah, I am baking instead of stuffing clothes into boxes or suitcases.

And I am depressed. Not just because I lived my life with my heart unaligned to the true north of joy. Not because I let someone pick me apart and dash me to pieces. But also because I am really leaving my home. The first and only home I made on my own. No family, no roommates. Only temporary pet guests.

Everything of my life from the last two years is coming before my eyes again. So many memories. So many hopes. So many disappointments. So many dreams. So many joys.

I am American for sure. I have way too much stuff. I have so many things to recycle, throw away, or give away.

Good bye home. Hello homelessness.

What will my life include in the future?

At times like these, I don’t always want to walk forward into the new future that awaits me.