Goodbye, Mr. Song

22 09 2014

We said “goodbye” to Mr. Song today. Korean Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville held a service for him. About 50 church members came, including Mr. Song’s three elder brothers. Between them, there was plenty of animosity and years without communication, but today #3 brother lamented he “could no longer even argue with his baby brother.”

Yunchol, Mr. Song’s oldest son, spoke, and then Mr. Song’s older brother, and the pastor advanced the agenda without a long enough pause to give others a chance to speak. No matter. It would have been misplaced to speak further after the eldest son and older uncle shared their feelings.

We rode to the restaurant together after the service–Eddie, me, and Yunsu, my brother from another mother. He and Ed are the same age, and because Yunsu is so…활발하다, he’s been easy to get to know. This emergency with his father gave me a chance to appreciate what a mature, young man Yunsu has become. He made the difficult decision to withdraw his father’s feeding tube and ran interference between the doctors, my mother, and his brother. On the car ride to Hibachi Grill, I told Yunsu what I would have liked to say about his dad at the service.

“미스터 송 빨리 돌아가셔서 아주 슬프네요. 그래도 자기 아프신 것 없어져서 좋아요.
미스터송은 우리 엄마한테 항상 착해서 정말 고마워요. 우리 한테도 친절하게 되셔서 고마워요.
어떤기억 나…옛날에 미스터송과 우리 엄마가 우리의 집에 오셔서 Thanksgiving식사하러 오셔서…우리 식사한다음에 미스터송한테 젓가락을 주고 미스터송은 식탁에서 드럼처럼 치셔서요. 제가 깜짝 놀랐어요. 그때부터 교회에서 미스터송의 드럼을 치기를 보고 그건 잘 하셨어요.

특별히 미스터송은 마음이 넓은 분인지 어떻게 알 수 있는 방법은 자기 아이들이에요. 아뜰 두명 아주 좋은 사람이라서요.”

“I’m sorry that Mr. Song left us so quickly. It’s so sad. But I am glad he is not in pain anymore.
He was always kind to our mother and to us too, he was very kind.
I remember one Thanksgiving when Mr. Song and Mom came to our house. After dinner, we gave Mr. Song some big, cooking chopsticks, and he started playing drums on the coffee table. D@mn! I had no idea he was THAT good. We saw him play in church with his brothers after that, Mr. Song on drums, his brothers on guitar, and I could see how they traveled to all of the military bases in Korea entertaining soldiers. They were good!

Most of all, what shows you what kind of person Mr. Song was is his kids Yunsu and Yunchol. They are good people.
I am glad to have them as a family.”

R.I.P., Mr. Song.



I’m going to pray in 2014.

7 01 2014

Ever seeking to operationalize my life, I’ve picked up Getting Things Done again and will finish it this month. I know there’s no silver bullet. My goal this year is to pick a small number of things I want to focus on–completing a family tree, sticking to a plan to maintain my Korean, calling and staying in touch with people I love, being able to juggle all the STGDs without stress. So I’ve been thinking first, finish the book. Next, think about that short list of important things for 2014. Third, find time to operationalize those important areas. Maybe, Korean on Mondays and Wednesdays and meet Eddie on Fridays for conversation. I think I can operationalize prayer too. Steve and I talked about writing thank you notes and expressing gratitude yesterday, and how those exercises end up making the communicator feel more positive. Anyhoo, I want to pray before bed, take a few minutes to think about people I know who are sick or facing difficulties and put focused, mental power to them getting better. Let’s start tonight with Kimmie.

Life is about love.

8 12 2013

Joe’s right.

This week was a good week, in spite of being finals week from hell. I talked to Jerry Carter, my Program Director from WNCU. We caught up on the phone for the first time in 15 years. I worked for Jerry in WNCU’s first year. What a great time. Jerry professionalized that college radio station and taught me and the other students so much. He mentored us. He introduced me to jazz. He was a father figure to the students.


This is the only picture I could find of Jerry. It’s 20 years old, and he’s 66 now.

So Jerry’s doing well now living in Hampton, VA. He married a woman he met at Wal-Mart in 2001 after dropping this:

“There’s something you need to know before I leave (Wal-Mart).”
“What’s that?”

Jerry told me he’d been trying to find me for 15 years. He said I’d written him two letters many years ago that spoke to his heart and made him feel someone really knew him. I don’t remember writing those letters, but Jerry said he’d kept them. We talked a little about marriage and love and divorce and making mistakes. Jerry said he always knew I was a child of God. Do you have anyone in your life like that, someone who thinks you’re glorious, even if you don’t think so? Jerry can be excused for thinking this way for not having known me and my many mistakes over the past 15 years. I believe though that God put us in touch this week to remind me of what’s important and what is possible in life.

Joe is right. Love is what matters. Jerry was coming off of his divorce after 20 years of marriage when he came down to us at WNCU. Maybe that was a technicolor time in his life, because of his transition, and he will always treasure that time with us.

I also saw John this week. Long overdue.

John Shaw and I had liver pudding and biscuits at Watkins Grill. Our beloved Futures for Kids (F4K) is likely going bankrupt. I have some ideas to get with John on in January to explore if there’s a way we can continue the services, even if the nonprofit is gone. Still, even if F4K goes the way of the dinosaur, I’m happy that we had those 10 years together. John is the most honest and optimistic person I know. I miss seeing him every day, arguing over how we’re going to take over the world. If it weren’t for John, F4K would not be around today, so many times we should have folded. We held F4K together long enough for him to transition to social security and see his girls out of college.


13 years and many biscuits later

On the heels of this Jerry and John love, I want to get to the other side of this New Zealand holiday. Now I know what my feelings are, I’m eager to get on with life. I want the open space to spend time with friends and family and to think about what kind of work I want to do next. Jerry and John reminded me time goes by so quickly. I royally screwed up with one person I love. Thankfully, there are a few other people I really love whom I want to spend time with before it’s too late.

Raleigh is too small.

8 12 2013

I met Mo out at Kings Barcade for The Love Language show tonight. She brought Margaret and Alex. Later, Joe showed up Steve. I was hoping he wouldn’t show, since I love The Love Language, but that’s the extent to which I don’t factor into his decisions.

He looked so adorable. When I see Steve, I feel first happiness, because he’s the same Steve I used to talk to. Then it’s sadness, because he loves someone else now. I know the next time I see Steve, he’ll be with girlfriend. I wish could stop loving him but I trust time will do its thing.

Joe asked how I was doing, and I said I was focused on school. Joe said, “Life is not about school or work; it’s about love.” Yeah, he’s right.

Alex came from a wedding where he was the best man. He said he had mixed feelings about seeing his friend get married only two years after getting divorced. I like his idea about having a Valentines party for single people to celebrate the benefits of being single. I look forward to being single next year and spending time with family and friends and my d@mn self.

one semester down, three to go

2 12 2013

Today, we presented our economic development strategies in Dr. Hoyman’s class. I really enjoyed taking her Community Economic Development class. She brought guest speakers in each week and made sure we read at least two perspectives on every issue we covered from business incubators to incentives to social capital.

This was our last class, and Dr. H invited us for lunch at her home. She showed us a black and white picture of her and her mom flanking Shirley Chisholm. Activism runs in Hoyman’s family it seems. I admire her. She must be in her late 50s if not early 60s. She has a bucketful of labor relations stories to tell and is still passionate about her work and so energetic, but not at the expense of being warm and open. She gave me some good advice about pursuing the Master in City and Regional Planning.

“I wouldn’t do it.”

I was glad to hear that. This morning I talked with the admissions advisor in the Division of City and Regional Planning (DCRP). I wanted to hear her advice on completing just an MPA and maxing out economic development electives in the DCRP vs. completing the dual degree program in three years. I did the math and figured the dual degree would work time and cost-wise, if I could complete it in 2.5 years.

Vivian, the advisor, said she’d never heard of a dual degree student completing both programs in 2.5 years. Just because no one else has done it doesn’t mean I couldn’t accomplish this, I thought. Then Viv extolled the benefits of the dual degree, how it gives students another edge in the job market. I guess I started to tune out then. I’m skeptical of advice from academics, and I question whether a second masters degree > work experience.

Dr. Hoyman said planners are a different bunch, and for me, wanting to work in economic development (ED), she wouldn’t recommend it. She mentioned a friend of hers who works in ED and has an MCRP and rarely uses it. She said it’s a very technical, detail-oriented, mathematical field, and if you want to work in development, just max our your ED electives.

Good. I am feeling antsy to get back to work, although I am enjoying the cohort experience in grad school.

I am a little nervous about our Bureaucrats’ Ball this Friday night. It’s a formal social at a restaurant in town, and I expect most people will be partnered up. I thought about passing and not going, but that would be the chickensh!t route. Better to experience everything.

This is the final week of school. Tomorrow is our last day of class, and next week we turn in our papers and sit for the law exam. I still haven’t figured out how to organize my printouts, and the semester is ending.

Lots of emotions swirling around this week. My paper for Dr. Hoyman, I felt could have been better. My classmates seem to have a more comprehensive grasp on the material it seems to me. I worked hard on our analytical memo for law class and still came out with an average grade. I’ve wasted time on that old self-doubt of whether I’m smart enough.

Sunday morning, I ran with a group of Raleigh runners and sat next to a fellow in his early 70s. God willing, I’ll be his age too. Next year, I turn 40, and I’ve been thinking about the next 40 years of my life. It feels like such a short time.

I’m going to die, and I want to have done something good with my life.

Brenda came over Saturday night and put aging in perspective. Her niece died two years ago at 15, and her cousin died at 35 a few years back. Brenda said every year is a gift. She’s right. If not for getting older, I wouldn’t be able to say Brenda’s been my friend for 23 years.

The end of a semester, a decade, and two relationships, bring on self-reflection I imagine.

In 2014, I will trust myself.

27 11 2013

i know i don’t love Darrell. i write this so i can remember it later if i overthink myself back into muddiness.

i love him for who he is and for his honesty and integrity and that he has a good hear and no maliciousness, but i don’t love him as a life partner. i find myself annoyed that so many conversations with Darrell come round to him being the subject of the conversation. i write this not to be mean-spirited but to remember specifics of the moment, so i don’t second guess myself again. i don’t have the patience for Darrell i had for Steve, or better to say, the patience i should have for someone i love.

i am not my best with him. this is not fair to him. i knew this before but convinced myself recently out of loneliness and regret over my Steve mistakes that i could look at Darrell anew, give him a fair shake sans Steve ghost.

funny, now i know this, rather recall it, i feel less anxiety about about going to New Zealand. i think i can enjoy the country and enjoy Darrell as a friend. i am glad to have more clarity for having made a decision, but i am so flawed. my goal for the new year is to claim that clarity earlier, to trust my feelings before hurting other people or myself.

still i feel better today than yesterday. making this choice to go to NZ gave me the clarity to know i don’t want Darrell as a partner, and i am glad to have that peace and perspective.

listening in the moment

25 11 2013

it’s when i’m alone that anxiety takes over, and i make up feelings.

perhaps i really love Darrell, i can say to myself. but when i’m in the moment and paying attention to talking with him, i feel that i care for him and maybe even love him but don’t love him deeply as a life partner, not like Steve. i don’t want to keep comparing everyone i meet to Steve. every relationship is different, but i do want the depth of emotion and connection I had with Steve.

i also want to see Darrell once more, that whole being sure racket. try to see him outside of the lens of Steve. i also want to see sheep, lots and lots of sheep. life is short, and i don’t think i’ll have this opportunity again to experience Maori culture and New Zealand with a native. if i am lying to myself, at least i am not lying to anyone else, though i know my most important relationship is with myself. so i will enjoy the ride and listen to my feelings in the moment and deal with any fallout on the back end. period. the end.