Thursday, December 20, 2007


does anyone else wrestle this much with the composition of a single, inconsequential blog that for all intents and purposes less than a handful of people may ever choose to lay eyes upon? i'm gonna guesssssss probably not.

the question i constantly wrestle with in the process of assembling these literary gems [ha] is how much of myself should i share? i know that if not for the limitations set by social norms, there is very little i wouldn't share. in fact, i came to this monumental conclusion about myself the other day when i was journaling: i have no desire to keep any secrets about myself. that truth is evidenced by the fact that i just posted information from my private journal on to my online blog. go figure.

i understand that this particular aspect of my personality may be every bit as unique as it feels. people go at great lengths to hide the things about themselves that they don't like, from circumstances in their past to personality quirks and insecurities. i've found that a lot of what i do [including but not limited to this blog] is motivated by my desire to expose each and every quirk and insecurity - good, bad, and butt-ugly even if it means owning up to a sometimes shameful past. the secrets i do keep about myself are kept out of the social necessity i eluded to earlier. i mean i guess it might be weird to put all my business up on the internet or something. whatevs.

the real butt-kicker is that those limitations end up hurting my case in the end and make any disclosure counter-productive. i would like nothing more than to provide detailed explanations for everything i do but i know that even then, the flawed human experience we all endure makes faith in the purity of anyone's intentions practically impossible. coupled with the reality that i am in fact a little bit nutzo [as we all are] and the end result is a bigger mess than any of my efforts could ever hope to undo. add to all that my inexplicable need to employ all kinds of big smartypants words that serve no purpose other than to color everything i write with an heir of pseudo-pretentiousness and boyyyyy oh boy do we have a humdinger on our hands.

the major fuel behind all of this is my fear of being misunderstood. in a perfect world, i would be able to fully articulate my heart's intentions and no one would misinterpret anything i say or do ever again. then i'd fly off into the sunset on my purple sparkley unicorn, we'd slide down a happy rainbow made of jujubees and me and my husband jason schwartzman would live happily ever after, amen.



Monday, December 17, 2007

either / or - one and the same

i don't know if anyone else perceives their own life this way, but i find that my life unfolds in themes. in my mind, i see a picture of a timeline running across the bottom of a textbook biography of myself. all the key events are marked out, there are those thumbnail-sized pictures of significant figures and places and little upside-down triangles in primary colors marking the beginnings of new seasons. i've written little bits about it in previous blogs but this season of my life has been dedicated to finding balance, particularly the balance between my heart and mind.

i’m not sure if it was immaturity or ignorance that lead to my assumption that frivolity and seriousness were mutually exclusive. i know that in the past, i’ve felt an internal pressure to be fully one or the other as if i couldn’t be authentically one if the other was present. i spent most of my childhood running around with hurt feelings and most of the past few years discrediting my feelings almost altogether. as of late, a lot of my thoughts and musings have been dedicated to the reconciliation of this perceived disparity and recent events have raised the stakes significantly.

this week i ventured back out into my social life after spending a week exclusively with my family. i'm finding that returning to "real life" is every bit as tricky as i anticipated. the thing about mourning is it makes everything - EVERYTHING feel inappropriate. laughing feels insensitive, fun feels out of order, crying seems excessive, isolation feels dramatic, company feels contrived... every thought and feeling is shaded with a little bit of doubt. for an analytical mind like mine that thrives on assurance of reason, this utter lack of reason is like torture.

and yet, being the God-fearing person that i am, i acknowledge God's grace in it all. as much as nothing is right, the converse is also true - nothing is really wrong. fun is okay, friends are amazing, and yes, family is still of the utmost importance. i don't need to shy away from things or people that enrich the quality of life just because my life has taken this drastic change. and make no mistake, i have no intentions of running away from the reality of this change. my family and Mike's many friends suffered an incredible loss in his passing and it would be a disservice to his memory to feign otherwise. but as corny as it sounds, i take great comfort in knowing that Mike would love to see me and my family enjoying life, he would be laughing at the stupid jokes i tell and i can honestly hear that distinct laugh of his even now.

there's a part of me that feels like i've rushed into this return to "real life" and another part that knows there's no point in delaying the inevitable. i'm in no hurry to heal because i know full well that this particular wound may never fully heal - but that's okay too. i don't plan on living my life depressed nor do i plan on living in a blissful state of willful ignorance. i'm hoping to find a balance between the two and the truth in them both.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

'Tis better to have loved and lost

this week has been -- without question -- the most difficult of my entire life.

on Sunday December 2nd, 2007, my cousin Mike Hong was in a car accident that took his life. since then, it's been a whirlwind of confusion, pain, heartache and indescribable grief. i've been spending every moment that i can with my family, scrambling to find a way to deal with this incredible loss and finding that there is no right way. there is simply no right way to deal with a circumstance that is so incredibly wrong. Mike was only 28 years old and had all the potential in the world. but even in that short time, it's clear that he has left a legacy.

growing up, my cousins and i were all more like brothers and sisters. every holiday and family gathering was something to look forward to because it meant time with Mike, James and Nancy [if we were really lucky, our cousins from new orleans Timmy and Brian would be there too]. my brother Chris is around the same age as Mike and James and Nancy is just a couple months younger than me so all of us were always super close. the best moments of my childhood definitely involved time spent with my cousins.

as we got older, it became more difficult to maintain childhood bonds. i know that my moving across the country made it especially hard but without fail, every time i came home for a visit, Mike would make time for me. we'd go to our favorite korean restaurant and catch up on what was going on in our lives and more importantly, what was going on in our family. Mike cared deeply about the bonds we all made in childhood and was always making efforts to make sure those stayed as strong as possible. his love for his cousins, his parents and especially his little brother and sister was immeasurable. whether we deserved it or not, he always had faith in us and always hoped for our very best. he was everyone's biggest fan. there really is no way to overstate it: he loved us.

hearing that he was gone was nothing short of surreal. i didn't believe it when James told me and as i drove to the hospital, i was sure i would get there and it would all be some kind of mistake. the hardest part of this mourning process has been trying to imagine life without him. as stupid as it sounds, there was even a moment as all the cousins were gathered eating dinner when i almost asked aloud, "where's Mike?" and though it broke my heart to have to meet with family under such tragic circumstances, in a way i know it was what Mike wanted all along: for his family to just be together - to enjoy each other's company and to love each other the way that he loved us.

i've been overwhelmed by the support of my friends in the past week. my aunt and uncle have been surrounded by loved ones and my cousins have all truly come together to support one another. we've all been showered with sympathy but i think James said it best at Mike's service: the real people to feel sorry for are the people who never knew Mike. we were the lucky ones that got to spend 28 amazing years knowing him, loving him and being loved by him. there were definitely moments this week, especially those spent with Mike's girlfriend Arielle, when i questioned the truth of that old adage 'Tis better to have loved and lost. i've always heard it in the context of romance as some kind of consolation to the brokenhearted. but when i looked into its origins it turns out that it was written by a man who lost his best friend at a tragically young age. it was written by someone who could probably relate to all of us who loved and lost Mike. in that light, i see how true it really is:

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

i love you, Mike and it has been a privilege to be loved by you.