Monday, April 19, 2010

Taking a Pass

I don't usually spend too much time reading other blogs. Not because I'm a snob. And not because I'm too dim to appreciate that blogging is to some degree about building a community of reciprocal readers. I used to cruise other blogs more frequently, often in search of inspiration. Inevitably, reading one post would lead to another, and I would eventually run into posts like this one on MetroDad or this one on Geisha School Dropout. Before I knew it, I would be scouring their archives and laughing out loud by myself, forgetting that the whole point was to sponge off of their ideas.

At times like this, it is only when I loop back to my own site that disappointment sets in. When I start reading what I wrote in the past few weeks, it becomes apparent that I really have no business blogging. My writing style is completely wrong for this type of format. Blogging, by its nature, seems to require a certain amount of levity -- and entertainment value. Instead, my posts are weighted down with a lifetime's worth of angst, befitting the likes of Holden Caulfield and three of his clones.

I'm not sure if it is because I'm trying to live up to the reputation of Koreans as the Irish of the East, but I'm often drawn to sad stories. Not only in my own writing, but in those of others as well. I went through a stretch where all I read were true accounts of tragedies, whether it is about someone who escapes from a labor camp in Siberia and treks across the continent to return home (As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me) or a mountain climber who is left for dead after breaking his leg near the summit and finds his way back to base camp on his own (Touching the Void) or a family suffering under the madness of Pol Pot (First They Killed My Father). (All excellent reads, by the way.) Name a memoir or biography about someone suffering horribly, and chances are, I have it on my bookshelf. Let's not even get into fiction. My movie selections run along the same vein. Jeff doesn't like to let me pick out films on Netflix.

Once I ordered a bunch of documentaries about Korean/Korean-American history, something I was acutely interested in learning more about. They included one on comfort women, the LA riots, Koreans left behind in Sakhalin after World War II, and Korean adoptees. After watching them with great interest, I took them with me when I visited my parents. I imagined us watching them together as a family. When I told my mom about them, she refused to let me pop them into their VCR player.

"Why do I want to watch movies about other people suffering?" she said. "Life is hard enough as it is. I want to watch only happy movies!"

Now that I have little T, I am starting to understand that sentiment. These days, I don't want to be bogged down by unhappy thoughts. Sure, there are some unhappy things going on in my life, some of which are too personal to write about here, but I feel like I really can't afford to wallow in a sad space, especially when I lack the power to resolve the problem. I spend the whole day hanging out with little T, who watches my reactions constantly. He's such a happy kid, and I don't want to do anything to detract from his happiness. I want to create a happy environment, not one mired in tragedies and grievances, and protect it for his sake.

This is not to say that I won't keep writing about some of the stuff I've been writing about. This blog has been so useful in helping me to process some of the things that happened to my family as we were growing up. But I have to learn to stop seeing my family's history as a tragedy that is still being played out. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but for the time being, I intend to give myself the latitude to take a pass on unhappy events that threaten to draw me in like quicksand. Sometimes, stepping away is the right thing to do.


  1. i dont agree that you shouldn't be blogging. your blog is excellent. you have a gift for writing, so dont deprive your readers!

    and i like the slightly melancholy tone of your writings! dont assume that everyone likes reading about "happy" things. while happy blogs, movies, and shows are nice once in a while, after a while they get on my nerves. im another korean american who is inexplicably drawn to darker themes, so i totally relate. anyhow, it's not like you're that "dark" either. you're very introspective about life, and this is something i dont see too many bloggers doing with the grace that you do.

    so keep on writing about whatever you like!

  2. Your blog is AMAZING. I like the melancholy tone. I like the thoughtfulness. I appreciate your re-opening windows into your childhood, into your life as the child of immigrants, into your exploring all the losses which, at the end, have resulted in many gains. You have tremendous courage in choosing to be open, in choosing to reject, to some extent at least, the veil of "privacy".
    Please do not change a thing.

    You have helped me process many of the themes in my own life as an immigrant. You were also tremendously helpful as I was dealing with my own miscarriages.

    You are a wonderful writer.

  3. I agree, there is room for all types of blogs. Sure, the funny, light ones are nice for a break. But the deeper, thought-provoking ones stay with you longer, and actually help people process similar challenges in their own lives.

    While you try to keep a happy front for your son, it may be useful to you to have a safe place to examine darker themes.

    On the other hand, too much wallowing may be a spiral to break out of from time to time. Pick and choose, take a pass when you need to.

  4. There are very few blogs that I return to consistently. I enjoy your writing, your stories, and your perspective. Please don't stop writing about your history! Or your wonderful experiences with your family. There are people out here who love your blog just the way it is :)

  5. You have put into words so manythoughts I have had floating aroun my head lately. Glad you have kept blogging.