July 7, 2008

Is she me?


Except the "Yale" part.

Photographer Hee Jin Kang's one of those one to watch types and her documentary work, esp the collection "Sandy's deli" makes me uncomfortable it is so close to home.

July 12, 2008

of pepper parties


From the moment my first son was born, I was thrown into a heightened sense of physicality; of disbelief of what my body could and went through; of the impossible idea that a whole new person living in my body and then passing from it into the world; and of a child who so obviously was mine and my husband's.

Everything about him seemed highlighted, and every inch of him was known, those early emergencies of diaper rash, eczema, watery stools were the million tiny steps to which we came to know him as a whole, and from this emerged a sheer exhileration with his physical beauty and perfection, an almost drunkenness at times in beholding him.

I'd never experienced this before.

And in an instant I understood for the first time all those naked baby fountains squirting water from their penises, all that Greek admiration for the naked male form because I felt the same exact way about my son. I understood for the first time why Korean parents used to take giddy photos of their newborns and their penises before passing them around to all the family to experience firsthand and why they would string the household in dried peppers, over and over and this was apart I believe from the imbedded notions of patriarchy and preference from males. I really believe somewhere in all that happiness - apart from the relief of having a male heir and all that - there was a glorious kind of celebration of the perfection of a child.

And while I don't think we need to resurrect the pepper party ritual (something that seemed to disappear instantly with our generation) I do wish we had some modern equivalent to take it's place. I think that culture gives us a specific way to express universal things,and with assimilation yet another profound thing becomes relegated to the private individual sphere.

July 14, 2008

I heart Illustrators


Who knew they were so great?!

Last Tuesday we hosted an after-party for our dear friend Thorina and her new book, The Heartbreak Diet. She's an illustrator turned graphic novelist and we couldn't be more proud of her beautiful, easy to read but intense new book. Like Persepolis, the book is a fast-read, intense but immediately accessible - the perfect summer read. In any case, we had the fortune of meeting several of her illustrator friends, most of whom are here in Brooklyn, and it was party kismet - everyone was so down-to-earth, smart and engaging with none of that artist weirdness that can happen at gallery events or other such related parties.

James Yang besides being known as Illustrator Extraordinaire is the first KA I've met from Oklahoma. (I wouldn't have known having had assessed him as Chinese in my mind - am I the only oddball that does that? categorize Asians?) And give him time enough, that accent does slip out... We're waiting for our very own copy of his new book as I write...


And lastly and totally unrelated except that she is an author, I just finished The Liar's Club for the second time, and even though it's been a few days I can't get her voice out of my head. If anyone hasn't read this amazing memoir you can get cheap copies on half.com - it's one of those books you can't put down. I was trying to read it again without getting sucked in (part of my casual ongoing discussion with my friend, who just happens to be the best writing teacher in all of New York, about the blurring distinctions between non-fiction and fiction) but it got me. Again.


July 22, 2008

The First Time I was Slain in the Spirit

Mom took me to a boo-hoong-eh (special night time worship service) where the famous visiting pastor was slaying folks by the hundreds on an auditorium stage. it's the early 80's, in Philadelphia, and these are all the rage. In line I can see and hear everything but the thing that terrifies me is the pastor shouting how our faith would allow the spirit to take us, meaning if we were real Christians then we'd be slain in the spirit but if not then our disbelief would be revealed. At that time and still now to my mother and most of her generation, I think to not be a real Christian is the most devastating thing that could happen, only a notch above being gay which in itself for them is the same as not being Christian.

I am so nervous because though I thought I was Christian I could never really know for sure and even up to the moment when the pastor grips my forehead while shouting in tongues and prayer I was pretty sure you could just see all the disbelief blinking loudly in my face. My mother goes down quickly, no surprise there, she just falls backward, limp as can be on the ground, a fitting reward for her tremendous faith and before I know it the pastor has gripped my forehead tightly with his fingers shouting in tongue above my head and with a mighty thrust he shoves me backward into the arms of his assistant who I didn't realize was behind me. The assistant catches me gracefully, laying me down in the same beat, moving onto the next person, before I even knew it.

I laid there, eyes closed, waiting for something to happen. When nothing did, I realized I had fooled them. It was such a relief. I was not going to be humiliated and exposed in front of hundreds of people much less my mother. I was going to get to keep my rock tapes. And my cigarettes.

I'm feeling so relieved and out of the spotlight I turn my head ever so slightly to check in on my mother and see what a real slaying looks like (where does the Holy Spirit take you? how long are you unconscious?). I open my eyes infinitesimally and then a little more because... my mother is peering right back at me.

Our eyes fly open and despite her desperate blinking at me to close my eyes again we can't stop the convulsions of laughter ripping through our bodies.

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