Tuesday, February 19, 2013

'Cos Everybody Needs Some Love

Weezer, nerd rock band famous for their Blue Album song "Buddy Holly," has some cool lyrics in their song "Photographs" from the Green Album.  My favorite lines goes as follows:

"'Cos everybody needs some love / shooting from the stars above . . .  'Cos everybody wants some hope / something they could barely know.  . . .  'Cos everybody needs a dream / something they could barely see."

Along that theme, I remember one story.  An apocryphal story stated that when baby Jesus was born, a poor drummer boy journeyed to see him, along with the famous magis of course.   The drummer boy, too poor to match the gifts of the magis' gold, frankincense and myrrh, gave to his lord the only thing he had: a song from his heart.  One that was echoed through his snare drum.

This is the story of watching two people see that need for love, hope, and dreams by coming together.

I met Joshua, the 16 year old boxing kid, after finishing my boxing training, which left me sweaty, exhausted, and high on energy.  He tried to get my attention by asking me annoying questions: "Hey, do you shave your legs?"  He would ask.  "What about your arms?"

I replied, "I'm Asian.  I don't have much hair."

"Haha, Bruce Lee he would say."

Is this kid for reals, I thought.  He was a punk. I could tell.  Plug, huge spike earrings that went through.  Hyperactive to the bone.  I could tell he ditched school, and I had to keep asking him if he was going.

But as time passed, I warmed up to him.  I watched his behavior once at Starbucks with the other boxers and asked him, "You're hyperactive aren't you?"

He said, "Yeah."

I said, "Oh yeah, so am I."


He gave me a high five.  And I thought, I never thought someone half my age would connect to me like I was the same age as them.  I thought life was over when I turned 30.

He complained once that the teachers at his ghetto school sent him to the principal's for stealing lunch.  I felt bad and wondered why didn't the bloody teacher just buy him the $1 lunch.

Then there was the time I was working on an assignment at the local Starbucks, late, late into the evening.  Someone tapped me, while I was focused on my work.  I looked up and saw Joshua.  I was shocked.  And he said, "I saw your car.  I wanted to say hi."  He had a smile that lit his face joyous.  I'm sure I returned the sentiment.

In any event, I had the perfect idea.  I had just bought a rock crab, heavy and yummy and all and asked my mother to make me crab soup.  It's my favorite soup of course - for it has a rich, oily, and sweet unique depth of taste to it.

I asked Joshua, "You ever eat crab?

He said, "No."

"You want to."


I thought to myself about my mother - burnt and broken inside.  The divorce left her shattered.  Then there was the younger son - her favorite - who left her for marriage.  Although it's what men do, it's what she was denying would ever happen.  The events she reaped in life only calcified her heart more and more, leaving it with layers of deposited bitterness.

I thought of Joshua.  He told me that his mother was stuck somewhere in Mexico, and you could tell the kid wanted her back.

Before coming over, I asked Joshua, "Do you have any money?"

He said, "No."

"Here's five dollars.  When you go to Asian people's home, you hafta bring them something.  Go get my mom a flower."

"What kind of flower?"

"Anything.  It's from you.  Not me.  So pick well."

He skateboarded somewhere around town.  I was working on my assignments.  He came back with a white rose.  

I took him to my house.  I said, "Mom, hey my friend has something to give you."  I knew she would fall in love with him instantly.  Her young boy gone.  My younger brother used to have the same plugs in his ears as this kid.  He had the same quirks and ticks as me at his age (and maybe now) because of the hyperactivity.

He walked into my home.  He held it behind his back, like he was going to give it to a girl on a first date.  She came back into the house from the backyard and met him in the dining room.  He popped out the white rose from behind his back.  It took her less than a second to register what happened.  Her face lit up with kindness and joy and for an instance, her face looked like a young girl's again.

She said, "Oh - but you didn't have to."

He smiled back, realizing the power of giving a gift of sincerity.  She hugged him.  He hugged her back.

I took a step back and was a member of the audience, watching the show.  I knew this would happen.  It's true: ""Cos everybody wants some love, shooting from the stars above.  'Cos everybody wants some hope, something they can barely know.  'Cos everybody wants a dream, something they can barely see."

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dear Dad....

In my purgatory days, staying in the San Gabriel Valley, I had an idea.  And that idea turned into a self-discussion.  And that self-discussion turned into self-reflection.  And that self-reflection turned into more reflection, which converged into a decision.

The idea came to me, when I just thought about who I was.  Actually, it happened because we had plumbing problems at our house.  Me mother and I went through 10 plumbers, until the leak was actually fixed.  I would have said five were just crooks.  Two misdiagnosed the problem, which led to them not having a job.  Two had personality issues with my moms.  And the last one fixed it.  In that ordeal, I witnessed plumbing contractors take advantage of what they thought was naive little old lady.  Little did they know, she had me for a son.  And little did they like, when I stepped in.  All in all, I was able to get a refund back from one of the plumbers and help make sure poor old Ma wasn't taken advantage of.  

I did look at her at one point and said, "You know, you wouldn't be in this mess if you just listened to what I told you to do in the first place.  Why didn't you just listen?"

And she laughed and said, " 'Cos I'm your mom."

I replied, "But - look at the mess you've gotten yourself into, now.  You can't just keep getting into them."

She said, "Yes, I can.  'Cos you're my son.  You get me out of them."

I sighed.  Thought about how I ended up in this codependent relationship, not by choice but by birth.  I rolled my eyes and said, "I suppose."

And it occurred to me, then, hey the relationship you had with your mother has come a long, long way from the constant wars in the house.  A long way.  And, if you're honest with yourself, she hasn't changed.  You've changed.  But as a result, she's changed in how she responds to you.  

That got me thinking.  You have a mission.  You need to win over Dad.  But how?  I have such a strained and cold relationship with him.  I thought and thought.

In the end, what grieves me the most is that my dad doesn't know I can write or what's happening in my life.  My mom doesn't know I can write, but she at least knows what's going on in my life.  She can tell you my favorite foods - has to be crab broth with rice cakes.  MMM...  She call tell you I love my mustang and bmw.  I guess Dad knows that too because everyone knows that.  But she also knows I was becoming a better boxer, against her wishes, and all the friends that come and visit.  My dad couldn't tell you or me or anyone any of this.

I wrote my father a letter once.  I did.  I swear it.  I was living in Seoul, the Republic of Korea at the time.  I wrote the whole letter by hand in Korean.  Nothing too sophisticated as my Korean isn't great, but I guess it blew the whole family out of the water that they could see I actually knew how to write Korean.  It also tells you how little they knew about my life at that time of it.  My father said he almost started to cry when he read it.

So, I got to thinking, I should write letters to my dad.  I have a Korean friend I made in New Zealand.  He said he'd help me translate them in Korean.  I'm going to give him one a week and let him know he doesn't have to even write back as my Korean isn't probably good enough for me to understand.  I just want him to know what's going on.  If he's comfortable with my friends reading the letter, I'll post them on here.

So - that's my new project.