Sunday, December 21, 2008

Doctor (poem)



the doctor says, there is hope still.

but have you not heard those who know better? they say he is not a real doctor. they say he is a fraud.

yeah, but those who think they know better think hope is a guarantee-- and like their character, a guarantee is simply an empty promise. I never said that hope is a guarantee. all I have said is that the doctor says-- there is still hope. call him a fraud. but he is the most sincere of anyone I have ever met. and I'll take hope over a guarantee. whether I like it or not.


am I an idiot? to come so far to give up? maybe this is as far as I can go. maybe this is as far as I am made to go. maybe I am not capable of going any further. do you always have to speak in obscurities and beat-around-the bushes? I think you know the answer to that.

am I insanely idiotic. or idiotically insane. or both. because there is such a thing as insanely genius. or geniusly insane. but for sure, I'm neither one of the latter. why do I get so far to recoil even further? hey fear, I say. I say, hey fear, come over here. yeah, yeah, right here. here's my hand. yeah, here, take my hand, right here. that's it, take my hand.

now don't go on thinking you're special. don't you know fear is such the social butterfly. she wants to be everybody's best friend. you're not so special. you are not.

oh, but I am--fear has stuck with me longer than she has stuck with anyone else I know. she has taken a special liking to me, she has--I think she feels most at home with me. I am her comfort zone. she knows she can trust me to be faithful and true. I can confidently say that she does not like you nearly as much as she likes me. I indeed believe she prefers me to you, if I dare say. now don't be jealous. there is still plenty of fear to go around--once she gets finished with me. and she will--

finish me.


But I thought you said, the doctor said, there is still hope.

indeed. well, hope is going to have to prove herself. she has not been quite the friend that fear has been. I have turned to hope many times. but she has not shown herself the same way that fear has. hope seems a bit flaky. a bit unreliable. capricious, I suppose. a bit of an, let's say, empty seat , for lack of a better excuse.

but I thought you said you'd take hope over a guarantee.

well, perhaps I should amend that statement. I'll take hope over a guarantee. But I seem to choose fear over hope, you know. not really on purpose, either, you see. there's just something about fear that draws me to her. it's not her attractiveness. because really she isn't quite attractive, per se. but she has that, I suppose, that special something or other. fear would have you think that she's nothing like hope--fear, she says, I'm not going to leave you, she says. I won't let you down, she says--not like that traitor of a friend, hope. yeah. you know, sure. fear, she knows you. she knows how to make you feel a guarantee, even though she makes no guarantee. hope and fear are, well, I suppose, a similar kind of friend or other, I dare say. they do not promise anyone a single thing. they're friends of, experts in speculation, I suppose. and both offer a sense of danger and, let's see, safety, quite all at the same time. but the difference between the two. well, you see, by gosh, the difference, you see, is that, well, one chooses you and you choose the other. hope comes barreling toward you like so, and well, then, you go barreling toward fear like so. so, really, they're both always there, in a way, working together. one chasing you, you chasing the other --so that you're kind of, well, in a way, caught in the middle, you see. always caught in the middle. I think, perhaps, a long time ago, they loved one another. you know, maybe walked hand in hand like this, you see. but as time went on, they grew apart. they distanced themselves from one another--as so happens so often in life. each decided she wanted the world all to herself--with no room for the other. they are in constant conflict.

what nonsense.


Well, I'm a nonsense kind of girl.

the Blur

What is the significance of "Yoon's Blur?"

For thirty plus years, I knew my Korean name as "Yoon, Mi Ra," because that is what was recorded in my adoption file. Along with the recorded surname, "Yoon," my "family of origin" was recorded as "Namwon."

I began a search for my Korean family at the age of 26, back in 2002.

When I began this blog in September of 2008, only four months before locating my Korean parents in 2009, I chose the web address "yoonsblur" as a reflection of my Korean surname.

Ironically enough, however, I discovered upon finding my Korean parents that my name should have been recorded as "Cha, Mi Ra," and that my biological father's home town was not Namwon. (For the sake of privacy I have purposely excluded the name of his hometown).

Although I have my own thoughts about how this might have happened, no one--not my Omma, Appa, or the agency-claims to know how I ended up with the name "Yoon."

I chose to keep the web address and blog title, "Yoon's Blur" because I think it accurately represents the "blur" of misinformation, poor record-keeping, and bureaucracy faced by adoptees.

In addition, the concept of a "blur" is also a metaphor that, for me, accurately characterizes the experience of life as a Korean-American adoptee. (This experience is somewhat represented in the "poem" featured below.)

What is the purpose of Yoon's Blur?

This blog is an attempt, as stated in the subtitle, to explore human experience and identity beyond the adoption box, specifically according to the perspectives and experiences of an adult Korean adoptee.

By sharing my own journey as a Korean adoptee along with all the complexities that come with the experience of search, reunion, and post-reunion, I hope this blog will serve to connect others with each other and with the adoptee experience.

* * *

I have two "journals" as tabs, "Search & Reunion" and "Post Reunion," as well as a tab, "Resources," which includes links to other adoption-related blogs and sites.

The sidebar also includes links to specific topics, popular and recent posts, related posts whether by other bloggers or other publications, and poetry. Furthermore, there are apps that allow you to subscribe to the posts and/or comments, or you can share this blog via Twitter or Facebook.

Please feel free to contact me through my blog, and thanks for stopping by.

* * *

life is a blur i am a blur you are a blur we are a blur of culture of identity of emotion of thought of families and friends of worlds diverging yet merging so often we seek lines distinct and hard we desire to feel absolute secure so we try to rid our lives of the blur the nebula the fuzz it is natural yet there are some things about identity about life about being human that will always elude the boxes into which we try to confine them the blur is about learning to be brave in a complex overwhelming perplexing wrenching startling beautiful world about precipitating light even when the surroundings seem saturated with darkness about discovering and examining the wonders of the mystery of the unknown of the uncertainty of the ambiguity i am a blur you are a blur we are a blur life is a blur of hope of despair of fear of courage of hurt of cure of grief of comfort of love of hate of finding of losing of learning of ignorance of emptiness of purpose of loneliness of depth of alienation of belonging of undoing of doing of crying of laughing of screaming of quieting of listening of speaking of arrogance of humility of wandering of settling of touching of pushing of pulling of raging of calming of threading of unraveling of hiding of seeking of failure of redemption of rising of falling of becoming of dying of living of fighting of forgiving...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Protocol (poem)


Protocol for Standard Return Options: Please follow the below instructions when handling returns. Do not deviate from the listed instructions as such deviations may result in unnecessary complications including, but not limited to, an increase in potential for further breakage and/or damage to return merchandise, heightened customer dissatisfaction, emotional outbursts, etc.

Common Reasons and/or Complaints Associated with Returns:
• too encrypted/too complicated
• misunderstandings/miscommunications
• contradictions
• lack of logic
• conflicting instructions
• discrepancies in initial expectations and subsequent results
• requirement of consistent maintenance and repair
• psychotic and/or neurotic displays
• incompatibility
• detection of inherent defects
• a bit more than what the customer bargained for/a little less than what the customer hoped for

Return Procedures
• Check merchandise for any bruises, cuts, scars and/or other wounds (Note: check not only the outside of the package but be sure to also examine the inside of the package, considering that often the outside of the package can be deceiving and appear initially unmarred. However, upon further examination, one may often find discreet but deep damage to the merchandise).

• In the case of extensive damage and/or breakage to merchandise, the store will accept the return, but be sure to thoroughly and accurately complete all paperwork, and inform the customer that future purchases and/or exchanges may be more complex and involved and may require more time and work. Repetitive and/or excessive returns and/or exchanges of damaged and/or broken merchandise may ultimately result in deactivation of account barring any future purchases for a minimum of 1 to 2 years. (You may find that certain customers will not care. He may mutter that he will just solicit the services of a different store and that all the merchandise is basically of the same quality no matter where you go and that one of these days he is going to find what he's looking for and that he doesn't care how many pieces of merchandise he has to go through before he finds what he is looking for).

WARNING: Do not inform customer that he will never find what he is looking for. Such dispense of unsolicited information may compromise your safety. If by accident you do inform the customer of this merchandise fact, you may have entered into imminent danger. Immediately remove yourself from the situation and call security.

• Otherwise, proceed with the return. If the customer expresses a desire to transfer the return into an exchange, refer to "Protocol for Exchange Options." (Usually, the customer will choose whatever looks best to him. Attempt, to the best of your ability, to encourage the customer to read thoroughly the product/merchandise information. Normally, however, the majority of customers prefer to stare at and handle the merchandise and exhibit a strong tendency to base their purchase decision on the handling and appearance of the merchandise. Most customers avoid even opening the product information. Store statistics indicate a minor reduction in the percentage of returns and exchanges among those customers who refer to the product information prior to making their purchase. However, if customer will not listen to you, simply move on).

• Once you have processed the return, make sure the customer has in his possession copies of all paperwork and all receipts.

• After you have finalized the transaction and have completed assisting the customer, place the merchandise back on display.

NOTE: If you detect any signs of excessive sobbing and/or wailing, you are advised to attach a muffler of the correct size (Sizes AAA through DDD are available) depending on the type of merchandise. (See size charts if you are not certain as to what size applies to the merchandise). Do not proceed to worry or fret, the merchandise will be fine. Do not attempt to comfort, appease or placate the merchandise. The merchandise will recover. Will learn to move on. Just give the merchandise time. Space. The merchandise will become silent. Again. We repeat, leave the merchandise alone. To the best of your ability, simulate ignorance, i.e, feign as though you do not hear or see or feel the merchandise. And the merchandise will get it. The merchandise will learn.

to never. hurt. again.

Girl without a country (poem)



i will return to the country of which I was born—
i will greet the people from which I came—

as. a. Foreigner.

i am alien to them.

i need not speak a single word:

my clothes
my cosmetics
my hair
my walk

will tell these citizens that

i. do Not.


i am far away—
no matter how near I draw.

(i take a look at my passport: lost in my pocket—

that is. not me. either)

i am. a little. bastard child.

i am foreign to every face i see. in every country i travel.

always, someone else’s child.


neither country wants to make claim to me.

but in the name of reluctance to be politically correct and appropriately modern and progressively tolerant,

they practice saying, “Korean-American” or “American-Korean” (and for the generalists, “Asian-American” and for the relativists “Human-American”)

and to the Korean-Koreans:

i am Korean enough to incur shame
but not Korean enough to incur honor. Funny.

How. that does not. work.

(it is not a double standard)
(it is the Korean standard) (now: i’m just being snide. and rude. and bitter.)

tell me one more time, how it is the greed and money of other nations that have stolen your children.
and I will tell you—as you plug your ears and avert your eyes—

that it is the arrogance and stiffness of your nation that freely gave away your children: (greed and money thrive only when provided with a substrate)


your face is more important than your offspring.

when you gaze into the mirror, you are nothing but beauty and perfection.

you point your folly at those demons. that have found rest
beneath your bed.

it is more complicated than black and white. than good and evil.

than right and wrong.

than preserving your pristine and porcelain face.
than scapegoating the other man.

this illness. Is. almost genetic. almost

the nucleotides.
of your identity.

i have hired a scientist.
he knows the art of extraction.


i will punish you.
by forgetting you.

This is. What. I tell myself.

you punish. me. by remembering me.
the way you choose. to remember me.

you do not hear.

i hear your every word—

like microbes. as they pierce and. burrow. tiny schisms within
my heart.

until the stabbing becomes:

a way of living.

and this is no way.
this is not the way.

to live.


i will be un-

the way. to


Dying this Long (poem)


I want to take an astral kick to my head.

I will barter the sanction to steal,
with skill and cunning, because
I am crazy and relentless
like that.

and the night's dark faces
will hand over their sacks of

through helium pumps
into expecting pyrex mouths and
esophagi and gullets.

that is why the crying is

empty. useless. still.

off to Africa. I'll hide away as a runaway export
from America. sail off

into a quarantine because I am an import
nestled in the plumage of a sacred delicacy

for the hemoglobinous mouths
of a den of deleterious male cubs. delirious male cubs

can get away with it. all, at all times.

then Africa will sell me back

to America, but no one will know.
no one will want to know. so that they can
all go mad go mad
for me.

sweet. tough. chewy.
from being in the mouths of those African
male cubs. those hemoglobinous mouths baking
in the sun. wide, crude.

chewy. tough. sweet.
all the bitterness and vulnerability
and trituration still stalking a host

out by the spears that Africa planted
to air me out
in thin, lean strips, the heat did not
touch me, only stood outside my door

to seep in until it had melted all of
my eyes and noses and teeth. and now,
my veins are like the crying:

my blood soon will drip-drip
onto some unknown bald and waxen forehead
a cold and by-standing shoulder,
a big boy's old rubber boots.

but only you and I
will know what it truly is.

just you and I sucking in and
sucking out
our desensitized stomachs and our
dry as dry as dry as they can be taste buds.

I do not miss it.

but when the pannier is bare, unraveling
a tribal weave of collaboration that I have never known

I will return.

undead. except to you and all the others
who never knew what kept me

huffing and puffing and dying

this long.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Faceless (poem)


You are the Lazarus.

in my mind.


over and over. and over, again.

to rise. only

like sun and moon.

You are the Lazarus.

in my tears.
in my chest.
in. my. every thought.

you cannot die.

trapped. in the mine of a tomb.
buried. deep and dark.
season to season.

like loot.

Pandora's box.

I can't get you out. which one are


torment and lament. I dig you out.

an orphan's

evades resolution. I was your satellite.

cast out. and forgotten.

but you were never. the center of. the universe. you
are the star. called


you are so idle and yet.


and tattered, bandit.

of the motherhood

but I have found, a sunlit
night with purpose.

and, so, my Lazarus

the forsaken.


and the depraved mantra

among the

live, live,


she is living.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Yo-Yo Girl

I want to kill this curiosity.

It feels as though it is killing me.

And I feel so weak. I take a look at the world, and it seems as though all the people around me deal with their lives and circumstances with such great strength and hope and faith.

In the meantime, I am wavering, wobbling, giving into despair. This is an ugly sight indeed.

I truly do not understand why I am the way that I am. I loathe certain aspects of my character. I often wish that I could extricate certain qualities that seem embedded within who I am.

The intense and overbearing emotions of sadness and desperation that pound through my being at the most inconvenient times. The hurt and longing for someone I have never known and most likely will never know that fetters my daily existence. These are just a few of the elements that I frequently wish to eradicate from my composition.

My husband tells me, though, that doing so would then have pervasive repercussions on my person as a whole. He says you can’t just shut off one part of your heart without affecting the entire person. He always tells me that if I cut out those parts of who I am, then I will turn into a non-feeling automaton. He proceeds to repeat that he in part married me because of my capacity to feel things deeply. In short, if he wanted to marry a robot, he would have. But, instead, he married me. Lucky him.

But then, the question still remains—why can I not dig myself out of this hole? My life is good. Why do I crawl into this hole in the first place?

Why can I not just forget? Move on? Why does she always come back to haunt me?

I do not want to become hardened and calloused. I don’t want to be a non-feeling automaton. I do not want to deceive myself or lie to myself.

I can tell myself that I do not care anymore. I can tell myself that I am over it. That I am just going to move on and forget the whole thing. But such would be pure deception.

I do care. And as I much as I tell myself that I am over it as much as I realize that I am not.

It pains me deeply that I may never know her. That most likely I will never meet her.

And yet the cruel and everlasting nature of hope cannot help but relentlessly taunt me. Hope can never stop hoping. Even the most infinitesimal quark of hope cannot perish. Its anatomy, its structure is indestructible, even when I do my best to annihilate it. It is immune to me.

And this drives me absolutely crazy.

There is some small part of me that cannot but compulsively assign wacky and absurd explanations to the emotions I feel. I must give them reason and purpose for their existence.

So I tell myself that I cannot let go of this painful hope, because I am destined to find her. These emotions, these longings, I persuade myself, are compelling me to search for her. Without such a drive of emotion, without such a depth of desperation, I would never be so motivated, so urgent to seek her. I feel this deluge of emotion because it is leading me to her.

Emotion is what drives us to initiate action. When we do not feel, we do not act.

So, I tell myself, this pain, this longing, this cruel hope will end in joy. These tears will end in laughter.
That’s what I tell myself.

I wrote a poem years ago entitled, “Emancipation.” I posted it in conjunction with this entry. It basically reminds me that love makes us fools. But that being a fool in the name of love is not necessarily a foolish endeavor. Or is it? I’m having second thoughts.

Doing so is what can often lead to greatness, I try to argue. It’s just, well, the kind of greatness that is great in a foolish kind of way—at least in the eyes of those who are not willing to take such risks?

What else is honest, true love other than the sacrifice of the ego, of the self? A willingness to embrace humility, and even more specifically, humiliation for the sake of another.

Love does not give to receive. Love gives without thinking of what it will gain.

(Is this me trying to convince myself that my meekness and feebleness are somehow more than that?…Or perhaps, I like to patronize myself at times, like patting a child on the head for believing in Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy…)

Why do I persist like a fool, subjecting myself to emotional turmoil and desperation, to endless uncertainty and doubt?

The only answer that I can honestly give is this: No matter how much I fight it or try to neglect it, I hold deep within, even against my own will, an undying and relentless love for my birth mother. It is more than curiosity. And that’s why I cannot will to kill it.

This kind of love is not subject to the average will.

Even though I have never known her. I have no recollection of her face or her person. She could be dead for all I know. She could despise me for all I know. She could harbor me as a shameful and baneful secret.
And yet, I cannot rid myself of the love that I possess for her.

This is the madness that compels me to long for her, to weep for her, to even rage against her. To hope that one day I will see her face to face.

And that makes me a fool. But an emancipated one?

I do not feel emancipated.

I feel trapped.

I feel stifled.

I feel like I want to rip out the walls. Scream. Tear out my hair. Shake my fists. And then crumble upon the ground beneath my stomping feet, never to assemble again.

But I always find myself back at the same place. At least it feels that way.

Even though I tell myself, this is it, no more. I cannot do this any longer. I shout at my husband that I can’t take this! I don’t care! I can’t feel this any longer! I do my best to will myself to walk away once and for all. Forever.

But I return, like a strange and meek addict of hope, or an obsessive, compulsive, neurotic glutton for punishment. I return.

To her.

My mind returns to thoughts of her. My heart returns to longing for her. For answers. For resolution.

If only I could forget. If only I could close the door and lock it once and for all. If only I could cure this addiction. Medicate this compulsion.

But to do so, again, only neglects, ignores, suppresses, denies the truth of a significant piece of who I am.

Yet still, I will most likely continue in my attempts to forget. To push away the truth. To bury the sentiments. To hide from that which haunts me.

Not because I am fond of deceit or lying. And not that I will ever succeed.

I simply need moments of reprieve. Times to breathe. To run. To escape.

To kick out the pretty little walls in their sugary paint and the perfect little white picket fences that try to tell me that my life is wonderful and sane.

Contrary to what one might think, running and hiding from what I feel doesn’t make things better. It only makes me more aware of that which troubles me.

But it at least gives me the illusion for however brief the moment to think that I can get away. It allows me the opportunity to embrace the drama while at the same time running from it.

I sound like nonsense. But let me have it.

Let me drown in my melodrama and hurt. And really perhaps, this is all a selfish luxury anyhow—to be able to reflect, to entertain thoughts about a past that faded from my sight before I could even really see.

Who am I to think that I have the right to moan and groan about my life? Am I simply the spoiled brat, trying to dig up reasons to whine and weep? Who am I to hold up victimhood like a banner over my bloated head?

Here I go again, entering into the conflict and tension of justification and de-justification of my existence and the emotions that come along with it.

I want to tell myself to shut-up and get over it, while I simultaneously yearn for comfort and solace. Just call me an emotional yo-yo—up and down on the strings of my internal banter.

And when I get sick from the vacillation and rocking, I’ll have no one to blame but myself.

The world is never the problem. It’s one individual at a time.

And it’s really hard to change even that one, that singular individual. She always resists.

Yet eventually, she also always, ultimately, seems to succumb, for better or for worse.

Let’s hope, this time, it’s for the better.

(Note: Inside joke: "Sugar Daddy" wins...for now...wipe that smile off your face. You know you knew you would win. But don't get overconfident just yet...;) I'm still skeptical and unfortunately cynical...)

Emancipation (poem)


I. Abstract

you are going to leave.

I can feel it.

there is not a man left for me.

you have come this far: to your loss.

to your grief.

you, relentless fool.

II. Essay on a fool

always the fool hopes. always the fool hurts. (to verify the authenticity of the fool: inquire as to whether she hurts. the fool never knows she hurts--she smiles. she proceeds: oblivious. ignorant. burned: idiotic. moron-- apple-mouthed Wilburess flipping on the skewer)

I say-- that I will be no fool. and I believe it. and if I die an old lonely lady: with not a soul at my
will be by my own doing. no world to blame. perhaps,

I'd be better off in some fool's socks.

a fool at least knows love.
a fool knows love.
a fools knows

what is love. and what is love? it: is not. as
as the rhetoric
babbles on (they're playing tricks). except,

that I've got my

nose stuck. to the crease of this corner. my back to the world.

to join the ranks of the desperate. the starved. is this what you want?

give me a minute.

it may be too late. love may be keeling
over. now. this very moment-- as we speak.

III. Rebuttal

the fool knows hurt. this particular kind of. this peculiar type of. fool.
runs straight. into. the hurt. I think it is innate. instinct. this sub-species not possessing the pathways for callousness and the "never-will-I-hurt-again" switch. just like some form of ancient savagery. scoff: no modern etiquette.

I crawl into a closet examine the darkness and whisper: "I almost find it romantic." (tell no one: of what. you may. just have: heard--)

(of what: you are. about. to hear:)

I almost wish: I could hurtle myself-- from this closet

my feet dressed and jumping

in these socks:

that I have never. before. dared


* * *


(Give me all the candles and pennies that I can hold:
I have breath enough
and strong arms and hands

with which to throw--

we will see smoke rising

and the well


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Perpetual Metamorphosis

I have not been writing as much recently.

Even the recent entries, “The Giving Away” and “Finding” are old drafts from early October that I simply had not published yet.

More specifically, I have not been actively thinking much about my birth mother or my adoption.

This is usually the way it goes, though. It’s a kind of binge-purge process, I suppose.

For a while I binge on all things adoption. I feel almost obsessively driven, excessively compelled to mine the world around me along with my own thoughts and emotions for all the buffets and morsels that I can find, for any chunks of food—sweet or bitter—that I can consume.

(Some, perhaps, would more accurately describe such behavior as “neurotic.”)

Then at no certain time for no particular reason, it all seems to come to a soft and gentle halt. I shift into starvation mode quietly and somewhat subconsciously, seemingly as a way to purge myself of all the saturated seeking and wandering.

I hit a wall. And it knocks something loose in my mind—it’s still in there, rattling around, but I can no longer seem to connect with it.

More simply and less poetically, I think it is simply the result of exhaustion.

I get tired of thinking about it all. I grow weary of my own emotions. I begin to feel apathetic and indifferent. Burn out sets in.

I just want to feel whole. I want to feel resolved. Free. Unburdened. I begin to despise that I cannot escape from certain parts of who I am.

I have previously expressed (in an entry entitled, “Beyond the Box”) that I hope to be able to define and experience who I am beyond just being an adoptee. I want my identity to include being an adoptee without my identity being defined by this aspect alone.

Assimilation. Integration. That is what I seek within my identity. And that is what I seek as I identify with others.

I want to be able to understand individuals with all their unique complexities. I want to perceive and interpret the world and the incredible people who inhabit it as whole yet intricate human beings who bring more to humanity than solely a skin color or a gender or an occupation and so forth. We consist of a plexus of qualities and characteristics. We are synergy. Truly, the old adage states it best, we are more than the sum of our parts.

I proclaim all of this, and yet, still I find myself in conflict with such utopian notions and lofty ideals.

I still catch myself entertaining old labels or stereotypes, and even still, at times, these old labels and assumptions find reaffirmation. But just as equally do they find disaffirmation.

Similarly, I cannot escape that I am an adoptee, and that being such affects my experience of life more poignantly and more pervasively than I prefer.

I am realizing that my desire to develop an identity beyond the adoption box reflects an inherent longing to forget that I am an adoptee all together.

I simply want to be a person. A human. Not a Korean or an American or a woman or a wife or a daughter or an adoptee, but a whole, integrated entity formed from all these diverse and elaborate elements.

But it seems on a daily basis, I encounter the world in a way that consistently reminds me that I am a disjointed transplant, that I am incomplete. That something is missing.

I cannot elude the feelings of disconnection, of wandering, of feeling lost or without root. I seem to feel as though I am floating, hovering, lingering, more than I feel a sense of stability or connection.

(At times, I euphemistically like to refer to these qualities that I emanate as being the result of possessing a so-called “free spirit.”)

And who knows, maybe it is just a part of my personality that being adopted only aggravates or cultivates, depending on what connotation this part of me holds in that moment of realization.

Perhaps even without being adopted, I would still feel this gnawing sense of alienation, of not belonging, of being out of place. Of being a “free spirit.”

To a certain degree, it seems that most people experience such sentiments at one point or another in their lives.

I just happen to have a hyper awareness of such internal experiences.

And then I wonder, is it as simple as controlling my thoughts, my mind? If I choose not to think about such things, if I choose to ignore, neglect, set aside these thoughts and emotions that fester and boil over, would my experience of life unfold with less turmoil and more peace?

Am I simply too dramatic and too curious for my own good? Would I be smarter to simply let these inquiries, these curiosities, these questions remain unattended?

Basically, am I just asking for it? Am I getting what I deserve?

I suppose, however, another perspective could be not to simply ignore these experiences, but rather to acknowledge them as well as to further process them in a different light.

To process them in such a way as to bring about a metamorphosis.

Perhaps my thoughts and emotions have only entered upon their “caterpillar phase” as of yet.

Perhaps they need more time to explore, more time to munch on the leaves and buds upon which they stumble. Perhaps I need to submit to the notion that they may need more time in the chrysalis to thrive and transform, that they will need the hard work of slowly and painstakingly breaking through the cocoon.

Maybe it is not too naïve or childish to await that they will find their way to warmth and flight. But just that patience and perseverance are essential.

Yet, even once metamorphosis has transpired, butterflies live on to float, to wander, to remain without root. It is their nature.

After all, they are not plants.

They are creatures that emerge to gracefully yet whimsically fly and flutter from one adventure to the next.

Finding (poem)



lucky to have known anyone at all:
even though they barely linger now: watery ghosts dripping: I hear the evaporation of quitting lapping. up. their rapid puddles. this tiny, bare hermit-- scurries: into the palm. of recuperation. the pain. is. crack- ing the shell. and all that is stripped and grieved hisses: listen-- for the first time: to the undulation of guts charging and sobbing—


the hermit recovers: the shell is cast off: the cavity booms crimson: love loses, but love never gives up the hope of loving until the day that love finally wins.

The Giving Away

I am grateful that my birth mother relinquished me.

A horrible thought to have, is it not?

Yet the more I learn, the more I am filled with relief that my fate
broke free from the hands of Korea in 1975, when my birth mother handed me over to the care of another.

Perhaps a "true Korean" would read such a statement and gasp with shock and horror that I would even dare to think such a thought.

But I look back with such a shock and horror that my birth mother would feel forced into such a decision due to the pressures and stigmas of the Korean culture placed upon an unwed mother.

Truly what choice did she have? It was a choice between worse or worst.

It is not that I am grateful that she faced ostracism. It is not that I am grateful that she had to suffer. I am not grateful to have no recollection of her. It is not that I am happy that I know nothing of her life or who she was. It is not that I am grateful that I cannot find her or talk with her. I am not relieved that I have never known her but only for a brief and passing second.

I simply said that I am grateful that my birth mother relinquished me.

I am aware that chances are she felt she had no choice. I do not doubt that the decision and the experience afflicted her with intense grief and trauma. I am almost certain that she had no support or comfort from her family. Most likely she was poor at the time, not only materially but emotionally. In many ways, I believe, due to her distressing circumstances, motherhood could have been an uphill battle for her. Not that she could not have done it. There are plenty of mothers who have.

And who knows, maybe things would have worked out somehow. Maybe she and I would not have been considered the scum of the earth. But chances are we would have struggled. My birth mother, without a doubt, would have encountered great obstacle to finding work to support us.

It is a harsh reality that no upstanding Korean man would have given thought to marrying her. Her family most likely would have, if not disowned her, at least despised her even more, for the remainder of her life if she had chosen to hold onto me. At least by relinquishing me she could have the hope of one day being restored to her family. By keeping me, such hope would have been lost.

Of course, all the above is only speculation based on what I am learning of the culture of Korea at the time during which my birth mother and birth father knew one another. So, really, anything is possible. But, as they often say in the medical field--rare things are rare, common things are common. It is possible that my birth mother's family could have been an exception to the status quo, but not likely. It is possible that had I remained in my birth mother's care, I would have grown up with as much opportunity as I have had growing up with my American family, but not likely.

I am comforted by the life that I have had the opportunity to live so far--and not simply for the educational and material comforts provided to me. I am comforted intensely by the family that is mine. When I say that I am grateful that my birth mother relinquished me, it is not primarily the material comforts afforded to me that I ponder, but rather the love and hope of my family to which I cling.

I say that I am relieved that my birth mother relinquished me, because without her doing so, I would not know or have my gentle, honorable graceful, resilient three crazy yet endearing brothers.

So really, by relinquishing me, it is not that my birth mother took away my family but rather she gave me the family that both she and I needed me to have.

She gave me away, and in doing so, she gave me perhaps what she herself could not--those absolutely vital and lasting things that I needed that she herself could not provide at the time.


And so, by giving me up, she still was able to give to me all that she wanted me to have and all that I needed.

Life loves paradox.

Some may not see it as such. I actually don't always see it as such, and there are times during which I most certainly do not feel it as such.

But I have come to believe that once a mother always a mother and once a daughter always a daughter.

There are awful circumstances and ensuing sentiments that can tear a mother and daughter apart. Hurt and pain, bitterness and rage can deteriorate and corrode the deepest of bonds. And yet, that bond is never quite broken. As weak and as feeble as it may become, it always remains, often to the dismay and discomfort of those involved.

It is as though, against our own will, even across oceans and lands, a thin, meek thread stretches out between hearts and minds. Even those estranged from one another cannot completely blot the other from memory or emotion.

And is it not true that the deepest of hate often arises from the the deepest of love?--for it is those whom we love most intensely that have the power to hurt us the most deeply.

I recognize also that I am, in part, able to say all of this because overall my life has worked out well. Perhaps I would feel differently if my overall experience had been negative. Perhaps I would have retreated to a fantasy in which all would have been perfect had my birth mother kept me. Perhaps I would have idealized my birth mother and Korea had my experience with my family and America been more negative.

However, I must also clarify that although I say my life has worked out well, do not doubt that there certainly was a time during which life was not going well. During those tumultuous years, I did not feel great affection for my family nor were they particularly fond of me at the time.

As an adolescent, rage consumed me--it was destroying me from within and alienating me from the rest of humankind. I just had no idea that it had anything at all to do with being adopted.

Quite honestly, I thought that I had lost my mind, that I was inherently defective, crazy, unstable. There were not enough meds or shrinks in the world to console me or placate me. I was out to destroy myself and anything or anyone who dared to draw near.

In addition, there were external forces contributing to my rage and sense of alienation. America loves to tout itself as a tolerant nation. Indeed, it is a tolerant nation. It tolerates those of different races, ethnicities, religions, and social backgrounds enough to allow us to live here and work here.

But tolerance is often confused with acceptance. The two are not mutually exclusive, of course, but they most certainly are not mutually inclusive.

You can have tolerance without acceptance, indeed.

It's one thing to tolerate that Korean girl. Sure, we'll tolerate her as long as we can throw rocks at her back and chunks of ice in her face.

We'll tolerate her as long as we can address her not by her name but with terms as we see fit including "chink," "slant-eyes," and "flat face."

Of course, I'm not playing a violin here--as much as it may sound as though I am. America was founded with the threads of discrimination and prejudice already built into its fabric. Everyone who has come to America has experienced prejudice and name-calling since the nation began. Certain racial, ethnic, or religious groups often react or behave as though their particular group is the only group in history that has ever faced prejudice and injustice.

The truth is we all have.

"I ask that you remember these things, or know them now. Know that what we have in common, the sadness and pain and injustice, will always be stronger than our differences." (
Chang-Rae Lee, "Native Speaker," )

If only we all could embrace this truth, and in doing so, allow ourselves to feel empathy for the other.

Then perhaps, my birth mother would have found the comfort and compassion, the understanding and kindness that she needed during such a time of need and desperation.

Then perhaps, so many others today would find the kinship and connection for which we long.

Then perhaps, we all could find it within ourselves to reach beyond our own little worlds to find that other worlds exist that are not so different from our own.

Although I live on the other side of the world now from where my life began--although I now speak a language foreign to my birth place, I realize that although the two worlds of America and Korea are very different, the people who live in these places still share common bonds. Human bonds that are inescapable and universal.

I am grateful that my birth mother relinquished me over thirty years ago, because in more recent years, I have come to realize that the sadness, the pain and the injustice that not only she and I, but that we all have experienced can now bring us together rather than tear us apart.

In other words, redemption and reconciliation need not remain elusive nor contingent upon circumstance. I can find comfort knowing that even with all of our differences, the human experience of pain and suffering has the power to call us all together and present us with the opportunity, the choice to share in forgiveness and hope.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Underwater II (poem)


I consume such a darkness.
I react with violence and vomit.

to live in the light void
of such horror and.
such dysphoria.
such keen dysfunction.

I open my mouth. like a black hole,
but there are no secret stars or hidden galaxies
here. my kind of gravity. merciless. ravenous.
leaves nothing to survive.

even I-- am lost.

flailing will do no good.
your caterwauling and meowing:

you're behind a thick

like the colossal
displaying sharks and killer whales.
and the price of human curiosities.

your mouth is wide open.
silence and air bubbles
flooding out.

pound on that glass, (Medusa),
shake your head of snakes.

no one will hear you--
they just point. and gape. and.

at all the wonder of the horror. that
they will never. choose to.


Underwater (poem)


I leave clues scattered
but you fashion your own clues to dress
the conclusions you have made.

I am squeezing shut my eyes
like blisters. but you
are not
looking at my face--

you are rather apathetic to the fact that
I cannot look at you-- you
just want what you want and

as long as you get what you want
you are not a monster.

I am the monster--

medusa and her head of snakes
the evil, twisted female must die. or
she will black-widow the world, who hate
her but love her
for the sick tragedy she provides-- that

the world may stare. and
thank themselves
that they live better lives.

I will eat my clues until I can eat
no more and my appetite for

understanding becomes a hard, black stone.
that I may throw myself to
the bottom of the ocean--

where my snakes and
green skin
will give the underwater life

something novel and horrific
to feast and

gaze upon.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The American Way



The American Way is suffocating.
somewhere in the midst of sixty hours
And motherhood.

the American Way is losing its way.
somewhere in the chaos between
the (deception of) Convenience and the (sickness of)

i am breathing but I am barely living.

Hail the spoiled and
the prosti-tots.

Rotting. in their thrones. of
stilettos and lime lights.

hike the skirts. tighten the halters—
and lay them on the altar:


our most tender of meats)



embrace a new profession:

the independent
butcherettes. and pimpettes—

their daughters’ favorite

because every girl needs a best friend. who understands. a pal

who descends


the sell-off of innocence.

Slaughter it.
Bleed it.
Hang it on a hook,

for all the world to see. smudges and fingerprints
fogging up the window,

like the tongue licks
of dirty dogs
panting and pacing,

back and.

the only way we point
is back and.


at presidents and welfare recipients.
at terrorists and immigrants.

we congratulate our foresight:
as we congregate—

at the burning stakes—

frothing, behind our lips.

with thick.

running down our throats.

we. Are. the morons:

designating villains. we wash our palms,

we should be.




greed clothed in a veil of comfort: no one wants to be left wanting.

(the rest of the world is left needing = dying) / (sacrifice = two dollars = the rest of the world can wait + starving)

this model does not apply.
to me.
your calculations show bias.

I. am. Not. one of the rich ones:

all I own is twenty-two hundred square feet (on an acre and a half). and my garage has no heat. i can only play golf. once a week. my Hondas and Toyotas are at the end of their leases. pity me, please, it’s a pity. we can’t afford a jet ski. or that private jet—and my wife can’t shop. at. neiman marcus. nordstrom’s only for special occasions.

a dime for your brother.

but who is my brother?

do not tell me he is the one who made the clothes my sons are wearing.
do not tell me he is the one who made the shoes my daughters are wearing.
do not tell me he is the one who grew the rice I am eating.
do not tell me he is the one who picked the fruit I am swallowing.

do not tell me he is the one who died digging for the jewels my wife is dawning.

my brothers are the ones I can touch.
the ones with whom I can watch the game. play the game.

We all play the game.
the American way.

proud. And loud.
when we are winning.

proud. And sore.
now that we are losing.
the American way.


to lose our way may help us to find our way.
the way.

far away.
from Here.

i am straying from this way.
pursuing that which is askew.

i will go searching for.
my brothers.
pockets heavy with dimes and tears and sweat.

i hope that.
they will take me in.

and help me to shed this American.



where I will learn.
not to want.
but to need.

more than a thing.
more than to be entertained.

that we may learn to look at one another in the eyes again,

and know exactly.
Without question.

who is our brother

our flesh

our human kin.