monkey league of extraordinary gentlemen

today i ordered new glasses for dad.  he's been rather fond of the idea of paying the absolute minimum (as i have done) for the new glasses and finally, the other day, he was on the phone, eager to yell out those random numbers to me.  funny thing is that i think because he's seen both ends of internet glasses: success (i had three pairs that fitted me well) vs. fail (my bro's glasses were a slight misfit, somehow), as soon as he's been to the optometrist, he just had to see how it will turn out.

well, little does he know. mom's been nudging, blackmailing, pleading, asking and appealing to me for weeks to get dad's glasses- with a catch: get him a stylish new one!  it has been somewhat traditional for koreans to spend quite a bit of money on appearance-related things, such as clothes, shoes, glasses, etc.  there are girls who eat package ramen noodles to save up for a designer bags.  ladies who spends dollars and more dollars on cosmetic procedures and 'conditioning' (what does that mean anyways?) the cases go on.  except there are a few odd ones out: my family. well, wait, not entirely true. gabe was rather stylish (and he did spend!) and mom was also quite style-conscious.  looking at their honeymoon picture, i often wondered: wtf happened here? a typical nerd and a pretty girl? my stock is that common?! (insert sitcom laughter)

so i finished ordering this fancy ass glasses. no, they dont come from hongkong. it's mr. bill blass who designed the frame (after he died?), haha, and withsomeone who has won the fashion institute of technology lifetime achievement award, it is slick, nice and expen$ive.  what's another 30 bucks, let's make it with lens with highest index of refraction.  anti-glare coating? sure.  dad knows my specs costed me mere half bill. he is hoping that it'll cost about that much. man, he's going to be pissed when he realizes his glasses costs me about 6 times as much.  WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR!?  and i will show my teeth and grin like a monkey. sill dad. who said i got these glasses for YOU!?  dad's a practical man and i am being impractical by whimsically amusing mom's wishes.  and every time he wears the glasses, he may even hurt somewhere, like a small soft spot on his spleen, thinking about dollars spent on the specs. ha.

and meanwhile, i went and took a kiddie out for lunch with PO.  and though we are all making money of some sort, PO refuses to split the lunch bill at times.  there's no way one could win, except to run and claw over the next bill (coffee and cookies or something), or by unexpectedly feeding him.  we started as friends, then to courtship, then grew slightly differently and now i see and love him as a brother.

for instance, i 'helped' today to sort through old pants and clean out his closet. i say i 'helped' because 1. i was the one who really wanted to get it done (i hate squashing other shirts in closet to make room for the fresh laundered ones; since closet does not grow, well, some things have to go), 2. he will not likely to start the process himself (my granny chimed in and said on the phone: 'but men are like that!' really granny? i thought most of people- men and women, are like that!! so i had to take initiative and gently cox him by transmorphing into a banshee.  3.  even when it's been sorted, the final nail on the coffin, ie. getting them to recycling places, etc., usually become 'another day project.' i wasnt going to let that happen.

so it's done. he's baffled how happy that makes me.  and i dont really care. as it made me feel loads better. so that's a different man who's been in  my life for a quite a while now and i am quite excited that we are on the best terms possible as fellow human beings and i cant wait to bring him to the hills next week. weeeee.

this evening, my fridge called me by first name and i had to sacrifice something. so i did a melon. good bye cantaloupe. a sizable fruit it is- it took awhile to butcher it all.  i had a big bowlful but there's still another half.  as i was cutting this melon, i could not help but to think of my best best friend from nebraska, javier. we were inseparable.  he tucked me in bed and we made countless lunches and dinners together. we went to parties together, we bitched out in our dorm rooms together.  often people thought we were an item, though we both liked pants.  and i havent seen him since he's been to toronto a years ago, with my good japanese sis yoshi.  and because he's a phone person and i am an email person, it's been somewhat quiet between the two of us.  i think i may bite the bullet and call him or something, because it just has been too long!  so why javier along fruit?

well, you see, javier and i used to spend quite a bit of money on grocery shopping. we were the two who bought bags and bags of groceries. the american kids used to be flabbergasted about the amo. of groceries we both hauled in on weekly basis. except javier's freezer compartment was a piece of art, at all times. it was totally packed. a tuck shop. it had everything. and he also had this huge bowl of fruits.  then we would wait. for days. till they were just right. and we would dash down to the kitchen and eat the big whole cantaloupe between two of us, no problem.  with fruits, there would be gossip, may be a glass of wine, this and that. chit chat.  and lots of love. yes, i loved him dearly- and i still do.  and damn it, i shall make some efforts to get in touch with him again.

after all, he was the reason i lived in the dorms for all my years in nebraska.  he was on 1st floor, i was on 2nd.  it was way too convenient for us- we had friends and when even friends were being a$$holes, we had one another.  we alway had room for one another.  cheesy but true: best buddies.  i miss him like i miss cookies at 2am in the morning. there's no way to satisfy self, but only to dream of the alluring company.  a man who i still consider my best mate.

and there are other figures- bookbomber is a proper mentor for me in many ways.  he's got too deep of a brain (which i think gets him into all kinds of practical disasters, like house renovation).  i do love and adore him, though i dont get to see him much but that doesnt matter, it feels.

and a particular cellist who started as a challenging partner and has became an inspiration- his work ethics and personal expressions, courage and sensitivity (it does help that he's a brilliant musician), we will get to host him and the lady this summer in the hills, which i am really excited about.

and  ooooh my crazy friend who can making farting on the sax sounds like the true fundamental frequency of the universe.  he's a crazy monkeyfo (i think, but something more like a golden tamarind monkey, beautiful, agile and quick.  they are also smaller, non-threatening and exquisite-stunning) and i consider it one of my biggest blessing from banff to have met him and that we are often in the same city, same univ.  i would give him a kidney even if i only had one.

then there are a few brothers- in dakar city, in texas, who i love dearly yet have not seen in awhile.  men as proper brothers- we watch one another's back and we are mighty proud of one another. there's nothing more proud than to spend time with these boys.

i also dearly love the quiet boys of the illinois plane, in princeville.  boys, brothers, good men. they follow the will of the good/god and they dont preach. they simply live.  i havent been there in a long time, however, i do find the urge to write to them. often i think i should really pick up the pen and do so, how are they ever going to know that i love them still today, esp if i dont say a peep?

recently, i also have a little otter boy who has lost a big heart to a finite ending: death.  he has lost something that cannot be replaced. and at that age (and the age of the person who ended), thinking of what it may feel like (as i lost my younger bro just about a year before he lost his cousin), i want to give him anything i could give him- yet there's only one thing i suppose: time.  a small injured otter boy. he's loved from all direction but that doesnt mean that i should rely on his environment to take care of him.  i do carry him close to my heart and i wish him a meaningful recovery from such loss.  so that's a wee brother otter. and boy, he's grow into a man, like a big oak tree, centered and beautiful.

then there's minnow.

minnow is what 'we' are.  simply the most beautiful man i have ever met. and on daily ground, he grows even more beautiful, simply because he does know and does live life.  he may have been bullied and pushed around by others, because he cares.  he has been mistaken as a softie and he doesnt care, because he is strong. man of many tales and seasons, he does not grow into me; he simply grows with me.  rather than being interdependent hence becoming parasitic, he lets me flourish.  we are just beginning, after eventful two years.  and i love him as 'him,' nothing more nothing less. he is a man who i love and respect.  the best man of my life.

with such line up of great men around this monkey, i feel as if i should shoot a provocative spread of emotional playgirl or something, if such would do the justice.  i do have extraordinary gentlemen in my life and often i wish it was all because of me! HAHA.  love to the boys! there are more than i can mention in this short snippet.  and ooh... even more love to the girls, especially the amazing lawyer lady in faraway plain, who ive been thinking recently. you rock my world by living the life with belly full of life!

and thanks to the world for supplying me with such company. as the world is rather prone to grace me with  bizarre display of mystifying and amusing state of various individuals.  for recent things, all i have to say is that i dont dig song and dances... especially if there are song and dances already!  or people who find reasons to damn themselves down with things that doesnt even ever occur or bother the rest of the world... then they are bitter because the world is mocking them (in fact world has not done much... but no, somehow being not involved means it is all to be blamed! how interesting failure of logic) but who knows. may be it's that standard deviation concept: there always will be incomprehensibles. who knew.

we all did.


hedonistic tails of spring

last couple weeks were some spectacular blur of things. i dont think i have eaten so many notes in a given time period- and i am somewhat glad for it, as i now have a better method of approaching speed-learning.  most performances had some good things to it, and of course, i look forward playing these pieces again- hindemith, strauss, jolivet, martinu, you name it.  some days began as early as 8am at the work bench and often i left while the custodians were having their 'lunch' break- near midnight.

by the end, the stage didnt really bother me most of the time nor the microphones.  weirdly enough, the practice/rehearsals were more demanding and draining; i suppose that's the 'right' way to prep- to do the hard works so that one can actually perform.  i did drop many notes, enough to probably build gaudi-style tower of 'spontaneous misinterpretation.' ah well, at least it would be entertaining. and just like sangra familia, it'll go on, for days and weeks, as a perfect performance is never a reality but of an ideal.

so last three days were empty of music-well, not really, but it certainly felt so.  today was the first day i went back to the bench.  and doing the usual drills i do (which took a bit longer than usual- the ten puppies were quite prone to misbehaving- going wherever they want, rather than doing what they are told, tsk tsk), then down to the distillery to do a short recording session (playing).  but rest of the time, it was mostly passive activities (ie. sitting in a recording session, discussing piano acoustics etc).

it felt nice to do the warmups without the pressure of learning things in a hurry- i could afford to do things at slower tempo, with much more attention to detail. though there's some grand truth about being focused and working in a tight deadline.

without stack of music to eat, what did monkey do? well, i did the boring things such as cleaning the living quarter, doing the taxes, pay bills, send couple things out.  i met up with friends- all the friends who i wanted to see but simply didnt have the brain space for- and i also spent some time with myself and mr. wee.

keeping friendship is a quite a work. it doesnt need to be done on daily basis, but depending on the different relationship that develops itself, it becomes crucial to nurture it on regular basis.  many of my friends are crazy busy- even when they are in town.  it's not too important how often i see them, but the fact i do get to see them and often it's the indirect methods such as emails and texting that does much of the work.

it does make me wonder- am i losing the human touch? shouldnt i make more efforts to see them in person, rather than sending an unexpected emails? should i call them?  break the days to million parts so i can see them more often even if it breaks the days' flow?

well, it really has been three days that i finished a big schedule.  and the people i got in touch with, wrote to, shared bread and pints with, they are all important to me.  and there'll be more coming. heck, im even spending the night at the gene pools so we could go brunching for sunday.  some peeps are coming back to town. some, i will see them later when i am abroad (yaaay).  there are much more music to be made (three incredible violists want chamber music.  what a weird thing- no chasing of violists, unlike school. at music schools, one usually have to beg violist *if there is one that one wishes to work with, nevermind volunteering).  more food to be shared and more walks to be had.

tis' a sudden burst of humanity in my life. if i was drawing from the pool of collective humanity of the current civilization through music/arts, now i am actually contributing back to my surrounding, by interacting, provoking and sharing.  and boy, it's a relief.  though i, for a second, thought that i was spending much money in last couple days.  well, that's what money is for- to be spend on living.  and it's a pleasure to have to elbow one's way through to pick up the bill.  or graciously open the wallet to share one's labour in exchange of such pleasant companies.

there wont be enough time to catch everyone i love, but darn, im making some serious efforts. and yes, i will go back and converse with the piano for a bit as well. just so that it doesnt get any funny idea about it being the mistress or something. forget it, piano. we work together, you and i, for whoever that may be in need of a monkey.

i am glad to be done with the semester; i learned loads. and here is my shout out to peeps who were supportive and gracious to hurried-tail-on-fire-monkey:


now 11 days till departure. to summer. to a place where i cant even really work because i am not allowed to.  i wonder what kind of things will occupy monkey mind, in the large green hills with silly lambs with wiggly tails. talks of heading over to copenhagen. may be a lucky visit from dear friend and his lady over the ocean. buxton fish van that brings incredible salmons.  local butchers and their preciously tasty lamb chops ( ! ) prom concerts and days in london. stone working and pub walks. tailing mr minnow like a silly puppy, nose in every bloody thing on the way. aint i lucky.  mr. wee agrees, as he is fast asleep from rather hedonistic days of late.  after all, he's only a small rabbit, haha. with biggest heart.  love to you all.


best dinner in the world

for years and years, ive been in the kitchen, making and sharing food.  we used to throw a huge party for everyone in nebraska.  somehow, there always was enough food to feed anywhere from two to crowd of fifty.  if i have an hour, i can whip something out decent.  if i have fifteen minute, i can still whip something out decent.  from the empty fridge, i would raid the cupboard to make a dinner, out of 'nothing.'  i would dig things out from friends' fridge, in the depth of 'ooh i dont really know what that is-' into a nice post-drinking nosh.  i will take leap of faith with spices and turn things around to 'mysterious' to 'tasty.' and people asked many times- where did i learn to cook?  well, some knew that i worked at a kitchen- starting from veg prep to the hot fires of the dinner service kitchen.  many know that i like good food and likes to hunt down things in old and new places.  in my heart, however, i know where i have learn it-

my mother's heart.

i remember being super curious about these fast food shops as a child.  people ate things wrapped in papers, carrying out trays. being in korea, the concept of hamburgers and fries were exotic and foreign.  even the great street foods were off-limits. we simply had no real pocket money. but when we returned home, there was always something super nice, made from scratch.  mom was always on it.  one of my favorite things from my childhood is french toast.  eggy mixture with sugar, bread dipped and fried warm and happy.  a dollop of jam on top.  whenever there were company, it was shared around table. always plenty to start with, until- she decide to send the children out to neighbours' houses, carrying piping hot food.  we were specifically instructed to carry back the empty plates so that they'll be free of obligations of sending things in exchange. haha.  not only we had to drool and wait till everyone else had some, the plentiful mountain of food may be just enough to get us going, leaving us wanting a bit more.

mom's cooking always brought much joy to everyone.  then we came to canada and she started to work crazy hours. slowly, she had to leave much home chores to granny and others and till this day, she hardly get the time to make things from scratch.  too much work. always work. work first.  and i moved out. i started to cook for myself.  mom's cooking became something of a specialty from everyday riches.  couple years ago, when she was ticked with me, i casually asked if she could make this dried pollock soup for me and as a joke, she said no. though it wasnt just a joke, she never found the time to make me one that time.  then we forgot about it.  well, i 'forgot' about it, keeping that small 'no' gesture in the corner of my mind, where the small child would go and sulk.

couple days ago, i wrote one of the most difficult letter, ever.  it involved three words: i, love and you.  for mother's day.  last year was a tough one, as gabe just left.  this year, not much better.  as monkey ran around with nutters schedule and mom/dad tending the mad store that always require more work, it was tense.  we couldnt meet up for mother's day and somewhere along the way, the story ended with little selfish girl crying and mom silent with disapproval, on the other side of the phone.  so i thought i would do something i have started many times: to say i love her.

except, i dont think i ever finished one.

except, this year, i did. sent it off.

today, i made a quick visit to home, the first day it's been sane enough to do things that arent essential (ie. music cramming).  and she was in the kitchen. making me dinner.

everyone did eat.  i did eat earlier and didnt have to eat.  she knows that i can always get food later and that traditionally sunday afternoon, my parents' house is quiet, napping after the big sunday lunch.  but not today.

the table was set for one. dad was doing some paper works, granny having tea. mom set that table for me.  just for me. and i saw the card, on the side glance, on top of the dresser. standing. i gave her piece of my heart and there she was, making me a piece of her heart.

i had the best food in the world today.  i wonder i will have the guts to tell her so.  people speak in different languages and gestures.  stiffy family we are, we never ever really said risky words such as love.  but today we werent our usual. we werent vocal, but we did speak.  love. from me, to you.

nourished monkey is grateful. i love you mom.



echoes of parents day

funny coincidence today.  it's mother's day in canada/us.  and it's also parents day back in korea.  traditionally, every year, as elementary school student, we would make paper flowers (eventually graduating to make small carnation thingies that never stayed on anyone's collar) and write letter to take home, to thank our parents.  most of the time, these letters contained heart-felt points that were expressed in a rather limited sentences.  whenever i think about what we mustve wrote on the letters, it makes me smile:

line 1: mom/dad, happy parents day
line 2: thanks for giving birth to me
line 3: im sorry that (whatever you get yelled for)
line 4: i will be better
line 5: thank you
line 6: i love you
line 7: (sign)

of course, all these letters were inspected by the teachers (so private eh).  many letters would be decorated with paper folds, pictures and failed attempts of some sorts of flowers.  and with hands sticky with glue, we would bring them home, proudly carrying it in hands, not in the backpack; soon as the door bell rang, we would yell: happy parents day!

then passing of the cards,
then the usual: kicking of the shoes, dropping lunch boxes and backpacks to floor, peeling jackets off the shoulder and promptly sit at the kitchen table with open mouth and hungry stomach: what's to eat? it's a special day! we get something tasty?  and of course, mom who knew that it really wont be much different from any other day (even with the curiosity that remains on the corner of the mind: is that a flower or an animal on my card? should i ask? is my child ever going to learn to spell properly or draw something nice?), would whip out something tasty for the kiddies.  and we would tuck in, heads in the plates, busy consuming, then a short thanks: thanks mom, you are the best.

last year, we thought of parents day without my wee brother.  instead of seeing the boy that she gave birth to grow up to be a man, my mom and my granny buried him in their hearts.  and just like prometheus, daily, she loses a chunk of her heart, only to grow them back out with love.  then another chunk falls out, fresh wound.  this year, i emptied the morning tomorrow, hoping and hoping and hoping that i would get to see mom/dad/granny for a brunch.  they were wanting to meet up last week but because of the standing difficulty between the gene pool units and minnows situation (and i was working, it wasnt just an excuse!), we postponed to tomorrow.

until something in the shop went bust and everything was thrown off the kilter, things piled up for customers, more and more stuff, cloths, cloths, cloths, bills, changes, bank-atm-terminal-misbehaving (my gene pools work their fingers to the point of no fingerprints at the dry cleaning shop, at one point to feed the three greedy little piggies and old mom at home, then now with somewhat of a desperation after they lost the wee one), we are postponing once again.  i feel sorry enough for myself that im debating to send a flower pot for them.  it's cliche and it'll likely to be overpriced mad.  it will already be late.  and i am a bit hesitant to send flowers because that really isnt what i wanted to do. i wanted to get to brunch, eat some random americanized chinese food and discuss mundane things and see them in person.

and then there's the dumb math.

1 - 1/3 = 2/3
1 - 1/6 = 5/1
as it

last year, my heart was in shreds at this time, the mound of freshly dug soil on the ground, where we tried to put our wee one under the ground.  the mound of unspoken and confused tangled mess of sorrows to come for the all the days i would live and remember.  this year, just like the mound that is nearly gone, covered with grass (to be marked with expensive bronze marker soon!) from the daily surface, i remember the wee one as on-going basis but it does not disable me to point of total confusion, a pointblank.  but when i think of the word parents and the tradition of good ol'korean elementary schools, i cant help but to be a bit lost.  arithmetic is not holding its truth and the whole math system crashes.

in the crashed dusts of numbers, logics and reasons, i think of mom, probably worn out and sleeping with aid of chemicals along with my tired old dad, slowly withering and aging in that old marital bed. i think of my old dear granny in her little bed, pile of newspapers and magazines around her pillow, her mind sinking into sleep with weight of her years.  my other bro, who must be just getting ready to sleep, off from his late resto work schedules, standing on feet all day, kicking shoes off and getting in that small piece of joy to respite himself, to brace himself for the next demanding workday coming, whatever it may be. i, here in my little mind space, that may not even really exist, thinking about a life that is no longer available for sharing.

simple day it used to be, parents day.


priorities and actions

ive been wanting to write for a bit now- blog, letters, emails, postcards...

but it's been a busy whirlwind, ever since i got back from reading week. and hasnt finished yet.  in fact, when one thing is done, i think at least one more thing pops up. but it's good to be busy- financially but also personally.

because it is hard to pin down where i actually physically am at (uk? canada?), most of the works that i get to do are either difficult repertoire that people tend to run away from or the last-minute rescue operations.  talking to many of my friends in the business, apparently my fees are too low for what i provide; i am hoping that at some point (may be it could be closer than i think?!)  i can find the balance of quality of work - quantity of work - self/partner satisfaction.  a balance: everyone talks of the balance and we all wish that we have it.

whenever i take a good look at my friends who i admire professionally (as there also are a few who i think could do better, including myself), i realize every single one of them are absolutely packed, up to the ears.  travelling. collaboration. projects. life. friends. work. self-drive. priorities.

and i often wonder how people keep their fire going.  it is so easy to lose site of things when one is constantly ran over by list, especially when the list seem to feed itself and at least double itself on regular basis.  one of my friends is a true enigma.  she's bright as a star, smart cookie, beautiful. and somehow just mundane daily things piles up high under her feet.  and once in awhile she feels overwhelmed.  the sink that was once clear can not hold not even a single chopstick.  but when you look at her, her core is always bright and honest.  she (must and does) knows what's what.

i recently asked bookbomber how he keeps his fire going. recordings. teaching. travelling. house disasters.  then he sends me a one line, after days of deliberation (very typical of him, almost a cliche):

inspiration is an outcome:
one's action reveals one's priorities (ghandi?)

okay, it was a bit longer than that. haha.

often things in life seems like such a mess but then there are certain things that are naturally closer to one's heart. what it was or what it may become- that may be indeterminable.  but what it is now can always be found, as one needs a heart to live, breathe and think.  the core of self.  like the roaring fire of a steam engine.  as i need to eat up more and more serious repertoire for this wk and next week, i better remember to look into my heart, and make sure that my priorities are fed right.

i do carry a fire within and i will feed it as i take a step, a look, may be a thought. after all, i am supposedly born of the sign of air elemental.  even in the middle of tyranny of black notes on page and rehearsals to organize, lack of time and nights that runs over the day silently as i walk back home in wet, rainy sidewalk, i will take a close look, and always find that core. keeping oneself inspired is a bit of hard work at times, haha.

love to you all.