Halmony Goot

My mom is some kind of wizard when it comes to cultivating plantlife. Last Saturday she was very anxious to not only show me, but also have me photograph her newest arrival.

(Sorry for the poor resolution; I didn’t have my camera with me so my mom demanded that I use my crappy phone.)

This charming little fuzzy thing is referred to in Korean as a “halmony” (grandmother) “goot” (flower). My mom explained, a bit sheepishly, that the height of this particular specimen was stunted by the recent cold snap. I like it, though. It’s the appropriate size for pretty much any Asian grandma.

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No, we don’t.

I’ve moved past some things, but in my deepest point of embarrassment over, um, “seeing,” guys with yellow fever, I made this thing:

I wasn’t intending for this to ever see the light of day but I got drunk the other night and showed it to my gay bestie, who asked, in all earnestness,

“Do you people really have sideways vaginas?”

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She’s Back!

This past Sunday I went to see my mom for the first time since she returned from her two week visit to Korea. I had some talking points to cover, the first few of which I brought up two posts ago:


He’s old, but otherwise doing okay.


Yes, they’ve had a toilet for a few years now.


Me: “[In Korea, did you hear Gangnam Style?]”
Mom: “[I did not go to Gangnam.]”
Me: “[No, Gangnam Style.]”
Mom: “[Ohhh that dance? Yes. How do you know about it?]”
Me: “[Everyone knows about it; it’s huge here. On the news they said that Gangnam is a very expensive city.]”
Mom: “[Yes, that’s where all the fancy stores are.]”
Me: “[Have you seen the video?]”
Mom: “[There’s a video?]”

At this point I remedy this, performing (at her request) the little pony-riding part of the dance I know.


Whenever someone you know is going on a trip, ask them to bring you something – anything. It’s a numbers game. Sometimes they’ll do it! And then you’ll have an exciting new snack or toy or other doodad to blog about. Such as:

These sock footie things!

This off-brand Mickey Mouse shirt!

Sidenote: After laughing at it for a solid minute, I accepted this shirt, asking why she bought such a childish-looking thing. She said, “[Well I know you like dogs.]” “[Mom… you know Mickey Mouse is a mouse, not a dog.]” “[What.]”

This shopping bag!

Oh, what’s that? That’s a strawberry, not a shopping bag, you say?


All things considered, not a bad haul for a non-Gangnam shopping trip.

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My Meal Ticket

As part of the healing process for breaking up with a boyfriend of almost five years, I went on some OkCupid dates with a boy who was funny and charming enough but distant. The meaningless sex got depressing quickly (for me, anyway) and we pretty much stopped texting each other, no hard feelings. About two months after our last hookup, he came up in a conversation with my roommates about OkCupid, because ohmygod we love talking about that shit.

It turns out one of my roommates’ girlfriend works with that guy. This tickled my roommate to no end, so he mentioned this connection to other people he knew from this workplace through his girlfriend. Through his gossiping, my roommate gleaned that this guy is apparently a big womanizer. And not just any kind of womanizer:
“You know a girl who dated him?!” – Mutual Friend, Also From This Workplace
“Yeah, my roommate.” – Gossipy Roommate Of Mine
“Is she Asian?” – MF,AFTW

Wow! So that was my first time confronting the actual fact that someone I’d done had a confirmed Asian thing. Maybe it’s not so surprising for others, but this realization was like a bucket of ice water to my face. “Me? Being a ‘fix’ for some white guy with an Asian thing?” I wondered. “But… I’m not… a typical Asian. Fuck Margaret Cho! I went to Bennington! Look at my fucking hair!” (My hair is thick, coarse and curly for some reason.)

See, for a good part of my life I’d operated under this assumption that I was a special kind of Asian girl. Part of it was my coping mechanism for those strange sadolescent feelings kicked up for not being as effortlessly skinny and straight-haired as my Korean peers. Physical appearance aside, I was quirky! I spoke no Korean! I didn’t care for math! I did stupid man-on-the-street performance art with white friends! It didn’t take much time after graduating from my tiny liberal arts college and moving to Brooklyn for me to grasp the idea of other cool Asian girls who don’t aspire to be a pharmacist or a banker or a pharmacist or banker’s wife. And with some pain, I came to terms with the fact that this growing crop of cool Asian girls was getting younger, fresher, skinnier, more in touch with music, and the outfits they wear are just awesome, or at least just so revealing of their great bodies that they just qualify the whole thing as unfathomably awesome. (I’m looking at you, Greenpoint Asian cool girls of the summer, in your loose flowing tunics with your cool bra showing! YOUR BRA IS SHOWING! But, God bless you, mine would be, too, if I had both your figure and fashion vision.)

Anyway, this incredulousness over the Asian thing evolved into anger over the player thing. (Guys, if you want to stick your dick all over the place, go ahead. Please just leave the smart, funny girls out of this, because when they feel shitty about themselves it’s a lot more devastating than when a shitty stupid girl gets fucked.) Then it finally mellowed down into indifference. Like I said, this guy was funny and I thought (and still think) we could be friends. While I joked about the whole situation with my roommates, taking to referring to my Asian-ness as my “meal ticket,” I still felt that my guard was officially up and on alert for sufferers of yellow fever.

That is, until I found myself willingly bedding a boy from out of town, who I would say has an Asian thing. As in, spent-the-last-5-years-teaching-English-in-Japan Asian thing. As in, the-last-time-I-saw-him,-at-this-party-before-he-left-for-Japan,-I-asked,-with-a-wicked-glint-in-my-eye,-“So-you-have-the-yellow-fever?”-and-he-said-yes-and-I-proceeded-to-try-to-set-him-up-with-this-hot-half-Japanese-friend-of-mine-and-he-was-totally-feelin’-it-and-they’re-actually-Facebook-friends-now Asian thing.

I wasn’t expecting it; I was just being a good host and seriously it’d been like over four months and shut up. I did what any girl in my position would do. (That position being, on my back and having things done to me that felt great.) I broke the dry spell and had sex with with a white guy with an Asian thing. Said guy is now back to his life in Japan and things are cool.

I’d like to think I can go back to being on the lookout, ready to swiftly and soundly eschew the next boy I meet (okay FINE probably from the internet again) who is looking for a kimchi fix. But the reality is I might find myself in a situation with the same or a similar guy, antsy to break another dry spell, or maybe it’ll be another guy I meet and kind of like so far but he secretly has yellow fever and I don’t know it yet.

I guess, without explicitly going through someone’s ethnic sexual history, it’s hard to really know.  And even if I did, is it any more deplorable than my preference for, say, boys with facial hair? I’ve never hooked up with an Asian boy, or any other color really; just white boys — What if I have a white thing?

I’m curious to hear how other Asian girls feel about this. Do you not even care? How about you skinny hipster Asian girls with your bra showing all cool? Does it ever bother you, or are the guys you date equal opportunity studs who like you because you’re you, and that’s funny and stylish and you really just have it all?

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My Mother is Going to Korea

My sister alerted me to the fact that my mom is visiting her brother and sister-in-law for a couple weeks later this month. She said our uncle, who is 17 years older than my mom, isn’t doing too well healthwise. My mom confirmed this over the phone, except for the sad health part – she said my aunt & uncle had simply asked her to come. (I’m not sure if she didn’t want to bum me out, or if she didn’t feel like trying to break this information down into Korean baby language for me. Maybe both?)

My uncle and aunt on my mom’s side live in a really rural area in Korea. The last time I visited them, their walls appeared to be made from yellowed newspaper and rice paper (or maybe my Western upbringing racistly fabricated that impression upon my 8 year old mind), I peed in a copper pot, pooped in a field while looking at a cow, and there was a gleefully deranged jindo dog (permanently?) chained to a weird cave-like structure in the front yard, doing flips in his shit and piss. They were, I observed, kind of South Korean rednecks. But still, very kind people (dog rearing practice notwithstanding) who obviously appreciated and respected the lush, river-lined foresty farmland that surrounded them.

I’d like to think that they’ve at least gotten an indoor toilet by now, 20 years later. But I guess I’ll ask my mom and find out for sure when she gets back.

My uncle visited us for a few weeks at at a time in New York on several occasions. I remember these visits as tense, because there was another non-English speaking grownup in my midst, and later, frustrating because OHMYGOD THAT HICK JUST TAMPERED WITH MY ONLY PAIR OF CONTACT LENSES AND NOW I HAVE TO WEAR MY STUPID GLASSES TO SCHOOL IN FRONT OF RYAN SANDLER AND I JUST HAVE ALL THESE EMOTIONS MOSTLY RAGE. I hope he doesn’t think I’m still rotten like that.

His wife also came to visit New York once, but her stay was long enough for her to land a job nannying for a young Korean couple with two sons. I remember watching her inscribe farewell notes onto the very burlap sacks of barley she’d gotten as parting gifts for the kids.

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Breaking Up is Hard to Do [in Korean]

Maybe it goes without saying that I apologize for the lack of updates. It’s especially embarrassing for me, as someone who blogs and digests marketing-related social media (“Content is king!” x 1,000,000 4eva) for a living – I really should know better. But I might as well explain what’s been going on in my life, and how that affects KisstheGook.

In early January I broke up with my boyfriend. In the four and a half years we’d lived together, I had become pretty dependent on his computer as my own iBook G4 grew more and more decrepit and incapable of reading modern day web code. So when I moved out of our apartment and into a smaller room with a bunch of (awesome!) roommates nearby, I left behind convenient access to my WordPress dashboard in addition to our two rottweilers and most of my furniture. I’ll presumably be collecting my furniture and one dog once that lease is up later this summer.

I’ve been internetting with the Kindle Fire (more on this later) I bought to tide myself over until I can afford a new computer. Blogging – or any kind of extensive typing – on it is really frustrating. There is currently no good way for me to upload pictures from my digital camera.

In the interest of Keeping It Classy, I won’t go too far into the details of the breakup, but I will say that the ex and I are on good terms (after all, I’m still helping out with rent, utilities and dog care) and that the breakup was a long time coming. So while I did have a good cry about it (okay, several months of private crying) for the most part I’ve been able to maintain my composure since we officially called it quits.

I didn’t talk to my mom about the breakup until the past month, partly because I wanted to wait until I was no longer sleeping head-to-foot in the same bed with my ex, and partly because I didn’t know how to say it in Korean (other than “[MY BOYFRIEND IS NO MORE]”). My brother eventually broke the news to her. When I called to tell her I was coming to visit the following weekend she didn’t let on that she knew. Later, despite the fact that I usually came alone, she greeted me with, “[What, no boyfriend today?]”

So I confirmed to her, in probably very inelegant language, that MY BOYFRIEND IS NO MORE, and was met with a barrage of questions. It was frustrating because this was before I had found a stable new living situation so I didn’t really have any answers for her, though I was confident that I’d be able to work something out eventually.

Over dinner she probably noticed that I wasn’t gorging myself as I usually do. (Now that I’m single I have more free time to visit my mom in Flushing, so Korean food isn’t so much a novelty that I must shove as much of in my mouth.) She asked if I wasn’t eating as much because I was heartbroken. I said no to her in a sort of a snappy way, which ended the interrogation.

Later I realized that my mom may have been trying to bond with me over being single. Widowed for over 20 years, she’s pretty lonely. I don’t think she exactly took pleasure in my breakup, since my ex had attended many family functions at which he always ate enough to please her. However, I remember that when I told her about my sister’s breakup a few years ago, the tiniest of smiles did flash across her face.


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Games : This Winter :: Movies : Last Winter

My sister Alice generally gives the most lavish gifts in the family. Her 2010 Christmas bounty included Korean movies on DVD for my mom, which spurred a brief but intense movie-watching spree. The gift-giving theme this most recent holiday season, however, was games.

Alice gave my mom two games which she thought would be easy for a non-English speaker to learn: Connect 4 and Trouble. My mom seemed unenthused. We made a big show out of playing a round of Trouble in front of her, but she still wasn’t very interested. She put the boardgames away that Christmas and hasn’t opened the boxes since.

When I visited my mother last weekend, though, she was excited to play this old Korean game with me.

Its name sounds like “Yooch.”

Yooch involves a board (this version was very cheaply made; I assume there are better ones out there), 4 wooden sticks with some kind of writing on them, and black and white game pieces. My mom chose the white pieces and I was the black. The sticks function as sort of dice: you take turns tossing them and then moving one of your game pieces along the board according to what combination of sticks end up blank or writing side up:
1 blank stick: move 1 spot ahead
2 blank sticks: move 2 spots ahead
3 blank sticks: move 3 spots ahead
4 blank sticks: move 5 spots ahead
0 blank sticks: I think you move ahead zero spots, but this didn’t actually happen while we played so I’m not 100% sure.

You basically move all your pieces, one by one, from behind “Start” and try to be the first to get all of them to the finish line – or, on this board, “HOMEIN.” The skill lies in which of your black or white game pieces you choose to move towards the finish line or introduce onto the board. If you land on the other player’s piece, you knock it off the board and your opponent later has to reintroduce it from the starting line.

If you must know, my mom won.

Does this game sound like Trouble to you? Because it’s basically the same concept – just replace the pop-o-matic bubble with sticks, and forget that annoying requirement to roll a 6 to pass the starting line. I pointed this out to my mom, but she still didn’t seem interested in giving her holiday boardgames a shot.

What she was excited about, though, was the prospect of a Yooch tournament. See, this Yooch set was apparently a gift from one of her co-workers. This co-worker is planning a night where a bunch of people play this at my mom’s apartment. Seeing as how Yooch is so different in nature from the drinking-and-judgment-based games my friends and I play during game nights – and because I’m not used to the idea of my mom hanging out with friends – it struck me as odd at first. I asked my mom why they were planning this and she said, “[Because it’s fun.]” Oh, right.

***You know what’s also fun? Today’s my sister’s birthday!***


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