Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the fear of being unprepared for class

i fell asleep at 6am reading sherman alexie's "the lone ranger and tonto fistfight in heaven." i was on page 20; needed to be on page 160. i just had the most LUCID DREAM.

i fell into a deep sleep and i knew subconsciously that i was not ready for class. i show up to my 9:30 class and someone is teaching it for me, my old morrison teacher who thinks i am dumb as rocks and still can't believe i teach at uic. i am grateful for her intrusion, though. she's carrying discussion while my ass is taking notes. i realize my eye makeup is not on, but my makeup bag falls into water and i realize everything is ruined including the mac eyeshadow that my sister gave me 2 years ago. i am sad. after class i head to a hotel to catch up on some reading. suddenly i'm on guam and i'm at the cliff hotel.

the lounge is open air and the tourists and locals are mixing and milling about when i see a car suddenly crash into the guardrail next to the lounge that overlooks the ocean, AND THEN another car hits that car and another car holding one of my students from my 3pm, is also in that car. the entire crowd (about 50 ppl) hang back in horror. i jump ninja style over the plants while everyone else starts to realize there are people hurt and also jump forward. it's like someone pressed pause and then suddenly pressed fast forward. one of the people hurt is a pedestrian who just happened to be walking, his spine contorted. i creep closer to get a better look; he is redfaced and crying. he keeps shouting at us and demanding why the ambulance hasn't come yet. i'm scared that no one has called 911 yet. also, i keep worrying if i was going to make my class.

i am so drained so i cancel class. in the midst of all this, my sister and her friend heena and our friend sunny ts@ng are staying at the cliff in a free room that a janitor accidentally left open. we're sneaking about!

during the car crash, all of their stuff gets wet, including heena's expensive louis vitton travel bags. i fish it out of the hotel fountain, but i cannot save anything. they are disappointed and don't seem to be phased by the people howling in pain in the car crash. after the ambulances come (which happens to be connected to an accordion-style bus, i hang back there and snooze in the free room for a couple hours, which turns into many hours.

then i am naked and walking across the halls of the hotel, arms across breasts for dignity in search of a bathroom. i really need to pee. and then i find a towel to drape across me, just as a hotel employee spots me. she asks me if i'm locked out; i nod but then realize i have NO IDEA where the room is. i lead her on a maze since i don't know the number of the room. the cliff hotel is adjacent to a pediatric cancer ward. i finally find the room and she lets me in, not realizing that we are stealing the room. my sister comes back and jack arrives too.

i put on clothes but still need to pee i realize. i walk around again and ask jack to hold the door for me for the room so i don't lock myself out. jack nods his head. i go to the cancer ward since a doctor is being extra friendly, and he leads me a huge room that has a toilet in it. i say thanks, lock the door and proceed to pee despite the fact that all the doors are glass and see through as a result. it's a weird toilet though and is shaped like a drinking fountain. i'm peeing on a drinking fountain which is squirting up water at me. i thought it was a bidet. two hotel employees are WATCHING me and laughing hysterically. they are young boys. i ignore them and finish peeing and then i run outside and drop everything i'm holding, including mail. they run up to me and try to steal my mail but i snatch it from them. they want my name, my identity to put a name to the face who was peeing in the water fountain-toilet in the glass enclosed room.

jack, who suddenly has turned into long island rapper, aesop rock, finally arrives and i tell him that they're trying to steal my mail; i'm still disheveled and trying to scoop up everything in my arms. jack grabs everything in one swoop, looks down the hall and tell them to f- off as they go running in the opposite direction of us. my hero.

then i end up rollerblading all over cliff hotel looking for an exit so i can make it to my next class.

i haven't had a dream this clear since i was 12 and floating around in a white dress above my backyard when the dogs still lived there.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

stumbling and meandering

today, i had to take a walk. i took the long way home from work.

thru the crowded now-familiar streets of Shinchon
i paused to smoke and watch people
my eardrums were blasted with waves of those collective voices and instruments i can't even identify

umbrellas of every single color and pattern imaginable protecting these individuals--these precious ones, against the lightly falling snow
dark navy, pink, barberry, oh Hello Kitty
why am i here?

canary yellow, blue stripes, another barberry
tramp tramp romp hop
uneven beat on uneven brick through a sea of winter coats
purple plaid, kelly green, dark green, evergreen
like a forest
i'm lost in a forest. how did i get here?
black black bright red polka dots?

bouncing lightly, skipping three steps and people stare
a smile and a raised eyebrow, eyes meet
tell me why i'm here.

orange, checkered, stripes, galore
swirling snow caught up in slices of streetlights
into open mouths, wide with laughter
my frosted eyelashes

twirl, skip, smile, brief curtsy
you're here b/c i want you here.

colored umbrellas
colored eyes
auburn ones that change colors next to vintage shirts
big childlike sweetly asymmetrical eyes
the bright blue ones
the dark dark brown ones
those guarded pained ones behind glasses

ah. right. but i want more answers.

when you're ready.

out of the masses. just me and music and this lopsided conversation. my body warmed while i trudged uphill. i enjoyed the light flapping of the faux fur fringe on the outskirts of my vision. the dark campus was a little friendlier as the snow brightened the night forest floor.

i flipped down my hood and breathed in the slightly green smells
fresh sharp winter on my cheeks

today. i'm really happy today.
just love. and be happy.

damp little cold kisses on my face
melting in my hair

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don't Save the Drama for Michelle Obama

Forgive my cheesy title.


Forgive the cheesy writing. It's Vogue. Fashion mags-whatevs!

I love this lady. Talk about a high-profile woman of color presenting herself well. And if you read the 2009 one, she talks about White House entertainment including youth culture like... spoken word... Who's from Chicago?!

She's on the cover of Vogue next month.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A "Sarah Palin" Enlightenment

Sarah Palin scares me.

She wears really high heels and has high hair. She asks Joe Biden if she can call him Joe at the VP debates. She uses terms like "Joe six-pack." She "rrrrrr"s a lot. If you vote ferrr me and Senaterrr McCain... Maverrricks... But she has enlightened me with a perspective I refused to believe about The United States of America. Seeing her on television has made me want to try to see the part of America I refuse to acknowledge. Well, at least her minute of fame wasn't a TOTAL waste.

Growing up in the huge metropolis of Chicago, I've seen some shit as a Korean American. It isn't much compared the those of my students from the south or west side, but it hurt and it sucked and you always felt either silent, silenced, oppressed, misunderstood, angry, hurt, blah blah. But we were city folks you know? Most of the chink comments I received were from either Mexicans or Polish kids and we went right back at them with spic and polak. Whatever!

The only time I ever experienced Sarah Palin's "Real Virginia" or "Real Americans," that middle, working class America, was at my first job teaching high school English and drama in a small town in Illinois called Rantoul ("Rantucky"). People were really, really nice. I'm not hatin'. I loved Mr. Fitz (I think that was his name) who was this huge white man with a formidible mustache and once, although he seldom spoke without being addressed, asked my friend Adelaide (I convinced her to work there; I was tired of being the one Asian around) and me whether or not we watched M*A*S*H. Uh, yeah, sometimes. My brother really likes that show.

Mr. Fitz: Well, I was watching MASH the other night, and they were digging and they found this old clay jar filled with fermented cabbage. Do you know what I'm talking about?

I actually found this endearing. Aw, Mr. Fitz. He's so cute. He's trying to reach out. Connect to these Asian girls who make him feel like he has daughters. It's called kimchi, Mr. Fitz. They ferment it in refrigerators now. We now buy it at the Asian grocery.

Never mind all the racial tension at the school: white farmer kids versus black kids from Chicago who were sent to live with their aunties away from gangs versus kids of Mexican migrant workers who only stay for 3 months at a time versus half-asian and half-white/half-black kids (Rantoul used to have an airforce base)... Race was never addressed, even when the farmer kids started driving their pickups to school with little nooses hanging on the rearview. No diversity programs. International night was a joke.

I went to a bridal shower in a nearby town, Paxon. I was getting out of the passenger side and my friend was still in the car. A very nice, middle-American family approaches me and says, Arrre y'all open? I look at them. Blink slowly. Look extremely discombobulated. Follow their eyes up to the sign behind me: MING'S CHINESE KITCHEN. Yes, folks. I'm wearing a sleeveless shirt with slacks and heels, carrying a Coach bag and a frilly bridal shower gift, and I am also ready to fry your rice. Let me strap on my apron and pull out grade D pork. As my friend Cindy would say, "BING BANG BOOOOONNNNG..."

I say all this to prep for what I'm about to say.

While in Rantoul, I couldn't wait to return to Chicago, where people were "normal." I mean, I made some very good friendships at the school, and I am not ripping on them at all. There were many kind people in the town that made me feel like a good person and a professional and went through hardship and existential angst, just like the rest of us. So what if they all voted for Bush. Twice. But I still wanted to get the hellouttathere.

I'm pretty sure the Rantuckites voted for McCain, but I still have a hard time believing that there are THAT many people in the United States that could relate to Sarah Palin. How can the Republican party actually believe that there are enough voters or organizations or lobbying groups that she could reach? Couldn't they see what a caricature she is/was, and that the American public would see that?

Oh. That scares me.

I got into a silly argument with my boyfriend who teased me for overacting innocence, but I am genuinely incredulous about certain things in our country. I have a hard time really believing that when my old Rantoul co-workers send me forwards about Obama hating the troops or when I hear that a decent percentage of the U.S. thinks he is Muslim, that these "opinion holders" are actually human. This is a problem. If people say things that are outrageous or irrational to me, I "cartoonize" them and tuck them away into a brain-file folder. I think, No way. These Paliners don't really exist. Who knew? Chicago is a bubble. After all, we let Bill Ayers help shape the public school systems.

So basically, the Paliners don't believe people like me and those who live in big cities are really human, and I don't believe they are either.

Sarah Palin, tell us what to do! RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!