Not in vain

Not in vain, the big bang happened.
The universe was born.
The dust settled.
The apes evolved.

Not in vain, something broke.
The pieces kept in.
You met me.
I met you.

Not in vain, I left him.
He clung to me in vain.
I was patient.
I opened the door.

Not in vain, I blocked some people entering.
I saved the space for you.
The sun was bright.
The moon waned to a silver sliver.

Not in vain, I surfed.
The strong wind chased all other surfers to the shore.
I swam around. Lots of corals in the clear water. They were white, beautiful, and sharp.
I felt pain in my gut on the airplane looking out the round long beach distancing from me.

I left.
I let them go.
I sat at the airport terminal, 6 am that morning, with the constant flow of tears watering my frozen being. I couldn’t stop crying for a few months.
Not in vain, I got three names. Sometimes, I forget one or two of them. Sometimes, I miss being called by one of them.

The winter came.
The spring came.
I survived.
The flowers bloomed.

The flowers withered.
The rain came.
Everything was wet.
You smiled at me.

I dropped my shell finding my inside softening.
The chill runs through my spine whenever I think of the room that I was trapped alone puking my last dignity as a human down to the toilet. I realized what I absolutely didn’t want in my future.
Not in vain, I kept moving. I got some muscle for life.
I took “no” into my vocabulary.

Not in vain, I haven’t reached out easy drugs.
I searched, searched, searched… and watched with curiosity.
Winter will come again. I wonder how many.
Spring will come again. I wonder how many.

Blossoms will come again. I’ll just be in awe.
The rain will come again and wet the world, the mountains, the grass, you and me.
I’ll remember one day of spring, one day of summer, one day of autumn, one night under the silent stars, adding up to the infinity.
I’ll close my eyes.

My life, not in vain.

The Path and The Walk

My belly twisted, my stomach knotted. I swallowed a lot of my saliva as if I could hold something in, to keep “it” in. But I don’t know what “it” is at this point. What am I keeping in? Am I hiding not to be discovered, not to be peeked at, not to be seen at all?

For the last few months,  I felt that I was glowing, sending my golden rays around, warming up the people around, including my very self. But as soon as my past arrived, I pulled the drape down over me and have been watchful to cut all the light seeping out through the cracks of my pretense, my facade, the grey, the neutral face, wiping my gender out… so I can be what?

The past isn’t the present, but it has some power over the present. It has built the path to now and after. The way I had rolled on the road is persistently coming back in the way I walk today. The specifics of a person’s walk don’t change even though the road changes. The repetition of those particular movements, shoulder stooped, dragging the right foot a little longer than the left, using the outer edge of feet more, the chest hollow or the back humped. Whatever the details are, this is embedded somewhere, somewhere in the person.

Knowing that I don’t have to walk in the same way that I’ve walked before doesn’t help much in changing the way I walk now. It should be practiced consciously. The road has changed. I can stride, I can sway, I can jump, I can roll, I can tiptoe, I can thump. And all of those. My unconventional movement will definitely be noticeable to others. Does it matter? Does it matter that I have a fire inside and shoot my glow out to the world, to the universe, and perhaps… to you?

<June 26th, 2019>


“the sound evoked peaceful sorrow or sorrowful peace…
with the regular beat of the safety, the solidity, the unbroken guard…”

The sound of Dadeumi. The regular beat of a pair of wooden bats pounding the folded fabric overlaid on the sturdy stone, a way of ironing unique to Korea popular in the 17-18 century.

I often think that I might be the last generation holding some specific sensory memories related to the things disappearing over time in my culture. Dadeumi must have gone even before my elementary school years in most of my country. When I visited my paternal grandmother’s house far south of the Korean peninsula during the summer, there was a Dadeumi, the stone base and two wooden bats in the small corner room. I don’t remember if I saw anyone actually doing it, but I heard the sound of Dadeumi occasionally. The rhythmic beating sound in the early evening evoked some kind of peaceful sorrow or sorrowful peace, putting me into study sleep. The beautiful sound generated by the everyday chore of women in the past generation, metaphorically related to a woman waiting for her husband’s return home late at night. I can still clearly hear the regular beat, almost felt like the weightless sound of the cautious longing of a woman dissolved in her demanding labor.

It must have been a small world to the women back then, like the moon’s orbit around the earth compared to the other stars. I wonder what she must have thought, felt, and not felt, when she beat the clothes of her husband, in-laws, children, draped over the smooth stone with the bats for the long hours. The palms must have gotten red and sore when she picked up this chore for the first time. Then, her hands got tougher over the years of her housework, showing some calluses that hardened many things in her life. I wonder if her shoulders got stronger or ached more over time with this work.

There is a unique word in Korean, which is untranslatable in any other language, “Haan”, I think it was the strong desire for a life that was unlived by all these women, reduced by the cultural circumstance in their lives. It is sad but beautiful because they took this path with pride and tried to live this term given to them as best they could, even though their unfulfilled lives solidified somewhere inside, generating the ringing sound that made the listener gaze long into the empty space or on the verge of tears with no particular reason. But the regular beat always brought the safety, the solidity, the unbroken guard of the life that our past women held for their family, sacrificing all the desires of tasting, drinking, gulping down their own lives.

Sometimes, I close my eyes groping back for the beautiful sound of Dadeumi, and feel lucky that I can only imagine this sound now with a little glitter of nostalgia over the things gone forever. The stars had burst to all directions of the universe, including the little moons in every household of the past.

<June 5th, 2019>

Sunday evening after the rain

It was quiet as if no one was at home or everyone was at home when I walked with my dog this evening. We didn’t encounter a single human or a car passing by.

But there were the deers, the bunnies, and the daises with their white greeting faces. The pink and white peonies dropped their heads low by the all-day heavy rain. The wet grass looked exuberant fuming out its life energy. The small stream gurgled with a full belly.

The birds chirped and the owls hooted to the unknowns before dark. Nature without any perceiver around… only minding its own existence including me. I felt one day in my hand… almost touchable. 


I loved A.’s poem. Her simple sentence tells a lot. How much she misses L.

I could feel her loss from the quiver of her voice and the pauses before the words that might stop her heart for a second, but I felt it with a bit of jealousy clouding up inside my belly. The immense size of her loss is directly proportional to the immense size of her love. Have I ever committed to loving someone that much? Have I ever dared to fall right my face down? Haven’t I always calculated the back-up plan first even before any step taken?

It’s a blessing that one person can love someone that much at the cost of the painful grief over the loss. But she did, she did love someone with her all being and more. That is just too foreign and too beautiful to me.

I haven’t done my worst mistake in life yet. I still have a chance.
Fall. Fall hard. Fall face down. Fall in love and get real messy.

The Absolutely Visceral Moments of Aliveness

“you… the beautiful mess of struggle…”

scooping the moments of being into my hollow chest to fill the gap that has been felt like a bottomless chasm for my life… I put something in, the ecstatic visceral moments of aliveness.

Sometimes, life is absolutely beautiful to some absurdly non-realistic people.

Two Time Zones

Another clock tick-tocked inside for the last ten years.

But, surely, her other clock faded inside her. She often forgot the time in the East. Whatever, she is here. The night is the night, the day is the day, the sun is the sun, the moon is the moon, the afternoon is the afternoon, the morning is the morning, whatever time is now, now is now. She is one, not a half, not split, not divided, one, one and the only, in her life, for her life.

<May 29th, 2019>