Three in One Holiday

My hipster mom holding my big sister Alice.

Today is a special Mother’s Day because it happens to fall on the same day as what my mom refers to as Korean Mother’s Day. (Actually, it’s considered Parents Day in South Korea, but why not let her reappropriate it all for herself?) Being that this blog is almost entirely a big fat love letter to my mom, perhaps it goes without saying – HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! If your mom is anywhere as awesome as mine, you better not fuck today up. Please make her happy.

Today is also the 37th (I only know my siblings’ ages in relation to my own, and I’m not even good at keeping track of that) 38th birthday of my brother Young. He was born in South Korea and moved to the US with my folks when he was 5 or 6 years old. The family originally settled in some ghetto in New Jersey, where Young was picked on for being a tiny little asian boy. Even though he’s 11 years older than me, I feel my face getting hot with rage whenever I think of my brother dealing with injustices like that.

My brother settled more into a typical Asian-American lifestyle when the family moved to Flushing. He made close friends – some Korean, many not – and briefly went by the name of Paul. (Yesterday he explained to me that an elementary school teacher of his asked him to pick a Western name because Youngho was too difficult. As a boy growing up in New York City in the 70s and 80s he loved Bruce Lee, but didn’t feel that he could live up to that name.) His Korean has deteriorated a bit as he’s gotten older, but he still speaks a lot better than I do, and he communicates with his wife mostly in Korean.

Like most Koreans, I don’t call my brother by his first name. I call him Oopba, which means “older brother to me (if I’m a girl).” I will further discuss this naming phenomenon in a future post, because I feel like it will illustrate how hard Korean is, and validate my failure.

Brother with mother. Note the wooden bow in his hand, and the arrows in hers. She's a cool mom.

My brother is a super laid-back, well adjusted man. A real guy’s guy; he can bro down with anyone whether it’s over sports, barbecue, cars, or Dungeons & Dragons. We don’t have terribly much in common, and sometimes I do find myself wishing he made different life decisions (like watching and quoting so much awful tv), but I care about him a whole lot. He’s a sweet, patient, caring big brother and just an all-around decent person. And if you’re anything like my sister and I in the picture below (and I’d like to think that we all are), you’d probably like him, too.

My brother, my sister, and me. Alice remembers this moment and she told me that we were somehow reenacting Snow White.



Filed under childhood, Flushing, mom, tradition!

6 responses to “Three in One Holiday

  1. I love this post–more Ahn family history please!

  2. These pictures are killing me. Also, there’s something a little sweet about your brother not wanting to choose a name he couldn’t live up to. In a number of ways (so. many. videogames.) he sounds like an older version of my own brother.

  3. holy crap i loved this a lot! esp the last picture, your head is HUGE! (in korea)

  4. Oppa

    Just read the whole thing. It’s great! Love the stories, the writing, pictures, etc. Great work!

  5. Pingback: Pre-Thanksgiving Pupdate | kissthegook

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