16.11.10

translating incomplete expressions

i recent met up with the little kiddies i love so much in yyz (and i still am so lucky to catch up with some more to go!) and these particular kiddies all have something in common: we are all koreans and ended up being more of transplants than anything else, and yeah, we all studied music.

re: transplant, it's a bizarre thing to grow up in foreign soil sometimes.  for instance, i came over to canada when i was twelve and somehow i have became what we call a 'twinkie,' yellow on the outside and white for inside.  the opposite of a twinkie would be a f.o.b, for fresh-off-the-boat.  as ridiculous to use the stereotype, it is somewhat true.  ask any immigrant family, especially the ones who comes from tighter-structured and traditional world to freer-world (and it does not get much freer than north america or austrailia, trust me).  i know lots of kids who came at my age to canada and they look as if they just got off the plane, however long they have been living here. my older bro is a bit like that.  for me, when i went back to visit in 1996, i was already called a 'foreigner.'  because of the differences of cultures, there is always much dismay and confrontations.

i remember the time a kid came up to me quite angrily and said: why do you always use english to communicate? you are still a bloody korean, whether you like it or not.  it was a quite a shocking experience, as i do not think in neither languages and often whichever one wants to come out first.  i was probably in an english environment.  funny enough, if my parents talk to me, i often talk back in korean without thinking, unless it's going to be a disagreement or a simple 'no'; we arent suppose to say 'no' to elders and this point was beaten on my head since a very young age.  so instead of being semi-forced to do stuff i dont want to, now i conveniently switch to english and use words like: no, you (the pronoun 'you' will have many different forms in korean, depending on the relationship between the speakers. in english, you is a you, whether 'you' happened to be a friend, an acquaintance, a workplace boss or mom/dad. therefore using the english pronoun 'you' to mom/dad always feels a bit naughty, an act of defiance).  

another silly thing was that me and gabe use to speak in korean until we get pissed off at one another.  i was told to never ever swear to another person, doesnt matter what.  but see, that's only ingrained for my korean. therefore, we used to switch seamlessly to english and call each other all kinds of names.  funny, isnt it, i couldnt even call him 'stupid' in korean while there was no difficulty at all at calling him a f@#$ing douche bag. oh i miss the kid.

with these kiddies, we often share much of the same issues.  and yes, it is somewhat therapeutic to let it all go.  we talked about how difficult it is to stay in music and not go into debt.  the phone will never ring and if you ever decide to go to grad school while paying a full tuition, you will be in that much debt.  and for most of us, it is impossible to make a living by just playing. we have to teach, take a job, whatever is necessary.  one of the kiddies is now commuting all the way to thunder bay to play with orch there while doing stuff in yyz.  that's bit nuts you think, and i say yes, that's bit nuts.  but that's life.  i think she was being real trooper, it takes guts to do things like.  yes, it wont be a permanent position and with that kind of attitute, i bet she can go far.  

another kiddie is getting her foot into the real world, finishing school and learning budgeting and the tricks and difficulties regarding personal relationships.  her problem may be that as a korean kid, she was always taught to 'go with the flow,' make things easy. so whenever she wants to ask something on her own behalf, she feels guilty.  the amo of guilt in korean catholic's mind would rival an irish on any given day, me thinks.  unless, of course, you are a harlot like me. hahaha.  as a good role model, im teaching her to say 'no' to guilt.  who needs that anyways.  

and then.. there's the dreaded 'parents' issue.  doesnt matter how long they have been out of the country, the parents always wants the best for their children and often that means back in the old context.  what is 'the best?' well, of course, less risk there is, the better it looks. for girls, it's real important thing in their mind to find the right man.  my current situation with minnow, for instance, does not sit well with my family.  gabe used to say: let it go man, i will take care of it. and i thought and believe that he would and could help a great deal.  i have heard many times from granny that he got a proper shot-down for standing up for me from mom/dad.  in fact, ironically, my dad have stopped speaking to me entire since the day i told him why i want to move to england (for minnow), till the day he had to call me so i could go pick up my brother in a small black box in kelowna.  

anyways, the kiddie is having a bit of a challenge with her own relationship with her parents in regards to her dating scene.  for the parents (same as mine), it's such a bizarre thing: why dont you pick a good christian/catholic korean boy, slightly older than you (that means about 304 years), who is making loads of money and comes from good family?  well, okay, it's a very common wish from parents all over the world, i agree.  see, the challenge is that she's seeing a slightly older kid.  she's in her 20s and he's in 30s. and i started to laugh: im a bit far apart in age.  and  you know, if minnow was ten years apart, they would wish minnow was only five years apart. and if age was right, they would wish he was a korean and a christian.  at this point, i wont even like him, even if it was minnow! hahaha.

so it's always so easy to dismiss parental requests (of all sorts) as a nonsense. you can ask what you may. i will only do what i can.  it's pragmatic however seems- not so compassionate.  however, i beg to differ (not only to defend self here for not following mom/dad's wishes).  we the immigrant kiddies try to do our best and it's not always a great thing to compromise, especially when something means so much to one party (or both parties).  of course we want our parents to be anglosized, to not care about our occupations or earning (it dies not help to know that there are so many asian kids who plow through school and diplomas in areas which makes money- like dentists, engineers, etc.  but who wants to be a dentist really? you wanna look into someone's rotten mouth all day? especially when it is usually caused by personal habits?) or worry about the age differences or the races of our loved ones.   only if it would be so easy.

the word compassion comes from old french.
from late latin: compassio, fellow feeling, 
from compati, to suffer with,
com (with) + pati (to bear, suffer)

silly enough, both parties are suffering. mom/dad and the kiddies.  we all wishes we can convert the other into us.  i jokingly say since my parents are 61 years old, i give them at least 30 years to accept who i am.  and my decision.  they have been living and being themselves for 61 years.  they work hard at their integrity (which i am so glad, as there are so many people whose got zero clues to who they are, regardless of their age) and they have a view of the world.  and yes, it is unique for them.  and if it took 61 years of work to build up to be who they are, even 30 years would be a short time to convert.  and may be they will take the option 2, which is much easier and desired (by me): to accept, as it.  

parents are hard on kiddies because they care.  parents who arent there are the ones who does not care. those mad parents who yells you all day long, every phone call, there's at least one silver lining: they love you. they just dont know how to tell you in appropriate context.  them telling you that you are screwed up means they love you and they want you to be better.  them telling you that you are wasting your life doing music means they are worried about your finances and wishes that you could earn much money easily.  them telling you that you look like crap (this happens very often in my house) means they want you to be beautiful to others, as you are beautiful to them.  this is called translation.  

i dont think i am making stuff up in my head when i translate the raw materials my parents say to me. because they do love me, whether they would tell you in the terms you want or not is a different matter altogether.  and may be they are also translating the whole time i am speaking.  when i tell them i will do whatever i want, may be i am saying i am listening to you and taking notes.  when i tell them they are being unreasonable, may be i am saying that i understand what you are saying.  we are all trying. and we all care.

i talked to my mom shortly this evening. she just got back. she's been ill the whole entire last week. she does not have the heart to fire the helper at the shop at the mo (he's a good man, but he just arent there much because his wife's going through chemo. unfortunately mom/dad's work is almost too much even when he's there. so now they leave at 430am, getting back to home for 10pm.). she wishes her baby son was still around. she wishes i was dating someone she would like.  she wishes i would not move to europe as planned but to stay in town and work/live nearby.  and with all these thoughts, we say not what we think, but what we could say.

mom: and how are you?
monkey: am alright. here's msg for granny-
mom:- okay.  you busy?
monkey: keeping busy. did you eat yet?
mom: we are eating. you?
monkey: am going to.  are you still sick?
mom: well-
monkey: (cuts mom off) dont get sick! it's silly!
mom: i was gonna say-
monkey: stop being sick, no candy for your doc's appt!
mom: calm down, eat well and call again soon ok?
monkey: bye mom bye! dont get sick! 
(mom hangs up with rolled eyes to ceiling)

immigrant kids and parents. or simply, child and parents. persons loving one another, though there are so much translations required. but it's all real and it's all here.  good night mom.  dont be sick. it is silly. it makes me sad. there are only very few things that ever mattered.

i care for you.
one day, i will grow up to be a complete twinkie, then i will say:
i love you.

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