this is for you

January 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

there’s a reason why i’m starting on this side of the page on my journal. this may or may not turn into a letter

sometimes i sit at a cafe and watch people watch me. they don’t always actually watch, and if they do, never for more than a new york minute, mostly because in so cal people don’t walk. they sit in a car, and as they drive by i catch their eyes in the reflection of cafe windows. strange, their eyes say. because many a time i’m way too dressed up for just coffee and many a time an asian girl don’t sit by herself at cafes in areas like this. right now that’ll be coffee beans and teas on the corner of 9th and grand, part of the “revitalized,” gentrifying downtown los angeles. i always seek out places that make me feel less homesick, less out of place, but i realize i’ve always felt homesick and out of place, no matter where i go

maybe it’s the travel talk i read in your letter (hah! now im addressing this writing to someone. presumably the writer of the letter  mentioned just now, which could only be you, reese). maybe it’s the journal entry from two days ago, full of some complaint or another to God. i’ve been writing about how tired i am trying to keep up with everything, excel at everything, let nothing drop on my watch but obviously failing (but by whose standards?) miserably

i just saw a girl driving away by herself, eyes red and wiping her face. must have been crying about/for something. i know what it’s like to cry in transit. mostly in the public eye but in the comfort of one’s car too. you sometimes wonder if anybody, even if a stranger, cares that you’re crying. but to this day i haven’t come across any prince charming offing me kleenex on bart asking if everything is ok. the last time i cried on bart was on christmas day. it sounds #kdrama (but who doesn’t think her life is a korean drama?!)–i was coming back early from the city after a movie with some friends. actually, one friend and a bunch of his friends. normally i would’ve loitered with the rest of the group and either suggested it myself or accepted their offer of dinner. i like to think i’m a sociable person. but something about the movie (we watched american hustle. superb acting. though i never like amy adams. i don’t know why), actually something about the fact that i was watching this movie with my friend and his friends, none of them particularly the people i wanted to spend christmas day with, it just made me sad and told me to retreat. against my better judgment i pulled the party popper grandma card and left before anybody could ask me to chinese food. but it wasn’t until i got on bart and saw that my friend texted me that i started crying–“thanks for coming out. hope you don’t feel horribly sad on christmas day cuz of a flick.”

sweet of him, but he doesn’t know it’s not necessarily the movie. i don’t know quite well either. the closest thing to a realization is that i’m seeing these little ways that i seek out comfort for myself, and they never satisfy. they aren’t meant for my comfort anyway. if what i want really is intimacy and being fulling known, these hangouts won’t do. “going home” won’t do. catching up with old friends, reading good books, consuming any kind of media or food or culture, even spending time with family just won’t do. i must have what my heart was truly meant to have. and the scary thing is that it’s not up to me. the satisfaction of my soul i cannot provide for. i’m actually incapable of truly satisfying my own desires. and not being in control of that which matters the most and is dearest to your heart is not a matter of little consequence. i think i just hit something

all those times i thought i was only stirring up the water, otherwise clear but for the fact that im mucking it up; things that should’ve stayed buried; disappointments big and small that have been forgotten; wishes unfulfilled (whether because they didn’t happen the way i wanted/thought them to or because i simply didn’t recognize they were granted). they had to rise to the surface.  not for the sake of psychotherapy or my own neurotic analysis. but because the more i realize how and why i am dissatisfied (or unsatisfied? which is correct?) the more i have to decide and seek what does satisfy. higher passion, deeper root and what lasts. it’s a lesson i learn over and over again

i don’t quite remember last year’s new year resolution type of conversation with the Lord. but the year before that (must have been 2012) i remember very clearly: i was yet at another cafe–God my yelping and getting lost while driving skills that lead to discoveries of great coffee shops in the most random neighborhoods/cities should win an award!–in silverlake. this was right after i had crashed linds car. i hope i told you the story. all kinds of money and paperwork issues to deal with once i head back to the bay area, i was dreading it. and i made a promise with God that i shall become an adult now. a real legit grown up. no more whining, no more shifting the blame. no more victim/orphan mentality. no more confusing spontaneity with irresponsibility at the expense of others safety and concerns. He said alright let’s do it. i think that panned out pretty well. i feel pretty grown up now (though i did manage to get my car towed last night. will explain alter… #storyofmylife)

maybe this is my 2014 new year resolution moment. i want to be uber serious about pursuing the higher passion. no more little distractions and games that don’t cut it. and no more passivity and staying resigned with unfulfilled promises

ah! sorry that sounds super cheesy. i don’t meant to sound like all is neatly wrapped up now with a bow on top because it’s not that simple. i know. i feel it

maybe you’ll help me figure out what it is that i’m actually trying to say. how do you purse something you can’t control? or ever have any hope of controlling?

time for me to go now i think. tea is drunk. gotta use the toilet. will have to find a lunch spot and a pedicure place for my cousin. people watching is great though. i’m totally judging everyone walking by with the grossest stereotypes: white hipsters, chola girls and skater boys. nine to five types getting caffeinated, soccer moms, black security dudes. hah. and i just realized i’d been actually on the corner of 9th and hope. wish i had a polaroid to go with this letter. you’ll just have to imagine it



snail mail

November 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Dearest my forever travel buddy,

Decided to write a along update/rambling about life letter since this past weekend when I looked through our old Europe trip albums on Facebook. Some of the pictures I definitely remember, the St. Helena Island in Italy, some I wished I remembered more. Like the overnight train car from Barcelona to Venice? Or Venice to Switzerland? One of the night adventures in Spain is now my profile pic in case you missed it

Quick glance at those glorious moments, I decided it was time to watch “The Motorcycle Diaries” again. It’s a film based on the journal of road trip Che Guevara took back in his early 20’s (he is 22 going on 23!) exploring the freakin whole continent of South America. From Buenos Aires to the tip of Venezuela. Can you believe it? 14,000+ km on a beat up motorcycle, then on boat, on foot hitchhiking (hah! our first in Italy!) and bumming airfare even. I think they backpacked for about six months. It was in the 50’s, a lot of international political movements going on. I’m no historian but I did take one Cuban revolution class at Cal. Actually I have a feeling that movie inspired me to watch another Cuban cultural history film: Buena Vista Social Club. I still have the sound track. I’m pretty sure now I talked about going to Cuba with you right? That’s been my dream since high school!

Anyhow, seeing this film for the second time made me think about travel again. Overseas. Where my English, decent Korean and nonexistent French won’t get me nowhere. Also I just wanted to see if that adventurous and spontaneous Hatty was still in there

You know this full time work is really different from how I thought adulthood looks like. Actually I’m not sure how different, I don’t think I’ve really thought about my future that way anyway. So no frame of reference. But it’s definitely not what it’s been in the past. I have responsibilities now. Like really. Not just for myself either. Actually it’s always to other people. And that’s what makes you an adult. Now your actions and choices affect other people. They depend on you. If you don’t deliver or can’t fulfill your promise or don’t “feel like it” and slack off, others have to live with your consequences. I can’t just not go to work! Crazy stuff!

Getting all philosophical here I see–but can’t help but mention this quote from The Little Prince. There’s a scene where the little prince and a fox chat. They talk about a rite, the process of taming and being tamed. Totally gorgeous scene at the end is when the fox reveals his secret and says that you become responsible for the things you tame. I almost feel like this is what growing up is all about. You become more mature in your friendships, relationships, and you have to take care of those who’ve been tamed by you. Not necessarily about my work/coworkers (though I’m going to say more about one of the later in this letter if I can find time) but just about everything in life. I think I’m thinking less self-centered and more about how others are affected by my actions. Some of that had been purely circumstantial. I don’t think I would’ve decided to do so on my own accord because we’re all selfish like that. But slowly and surely I see my thought patterns and the way I process/make decision/understand things around me become more than just about myself. The ripple effects, in my mind used to stop at my level; they wouldn’t go outside to touch other people. That didn’t register for me. Now I have to (and do occasionally on autopilot), think bigger, more outward

Sometimes it surprises me. That was definitely not the case when I last traveled with you. It would be strange if I hadn’t changed/grown I guess. But nonetheless, it’s interesting and gratifying to see maturity in yourself like that. Hope you’ve been having similar moments of clarity too

And having said all that, I still want to go back to the movie. That adventure seeking and spontaneous to the point of recklessness sometimes, Hatty is still there. Maybe the part that excites me about traveling isn’t so different from the first realization I just shared about growing up. Because this time, I found myself struck by not so much the scenery and the music but the inner changes of Che who started out with all the privileges of a well-to-do med student in his prime and the youthful careless/carefree attitude towards life, then slowly transformed into someone who becomes deeply passionate and driven by values of social justice and human compassion. If you’re familiar at all with the story of Che, he goes on to volunteer himself in the guerrilla warfare of Cuban revolution with Castro and to Bolivia where he gets captured and murdered by the CIA. He basically gave up on his medical career to live a life of conviction, even if that meant death. And you can see the changes, the evolution, in the film. In fact if you read his memoir, which I totally did read after watching this in high school, you see that he credits his revolutionary journey starting from this particular road trip. He says he’s not the same he anymore. The continent had changed him, for the better I want to say of course. I think that’s my heart of wanderlust. I’m dreaming about traveling like that because I want to encounter and already believe that I will encounter the lands the people the stories out in the world and become more tamed, more responsible, more compassionate. How awesomely exciting is this life!!!

Just looking at the physical day to day at my job and my church and at home, I’m not quite sure how and when I can take off for such a journey. But I’m convinced that I’m exactly where I should be for the things that await me. Wasn’t trying to talk about Jesus at all. But I guess I can’t separate anything from how He intersects with my life. Yeah I’m very thankful for the ways He has guided me till now

Hope you’re doing well love! Miss you and our spontaneous hang outs. Please write back soon. I want to be better at keeping in touch



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