Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014

Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014
Admiralty, Umbrella Revolution 2014

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Keohi and The Nutcracker

So now we put on Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker and Keohi grabs his plastic sword and dances around the room. He leaps and tries a pirouette and fights the imaginary Mouse King. He's the Nutcracker. I'm usually Clara, though sometimes I'm a tin soldier. The ballet made a profound impression on him. Today after 15 minutes of running, leaping, fighting and dancing to the music he told me: "I need a stage."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday 2010 with Keohi

Friday was a seminar and then I invigilated an exam. My first invigilation. Back in States we call it proctoring an exam. I see students and think of myself--with six sharp pencils, a shuffle through the notes...cramming it all in. When I went back to university in my late 20s I actually remember a few history exams with fond memories. If you know the stuff, it's a great feeling to know that you're nailing it. Then there was the one math final, spring term 9th grade. I got every problem right, or at least I felt I did. I ran out of the exam into the New England May, happy, skipping up to my dorm--summer had begun! Mostly though, for me, exams were not fun...

But since my last on campus commitment finished Friday, Saturday was a big family day. Awoke with Keohi asleep in the ole king size bed. Lately this is his thing, coming into the bed around 1AM, often post diaper change as he hasn't gotten the night time toilet training down yet. (The daytime is more or less there). We've can all three sleep, but last night Keohi's head was near Stephen's. I got the kicks and like often happens, am squished up on the edge. But we all get up after lazing around (usually a session of 'Let's Make Mommy A Sandwich' happens--involves piling pillows on yours truly with Keohi sitting atop of me with Dad's assistance.) Then we all pop in the big family bath. It's a big tub, so not a bad fit for the family of three. Keohi keeps trying to throw toys down; Stephen is stretched out trying to soak his back; I'm pouring water over my hair. As a toy hits Stephen, he says, half-awake: "This is relaxing." We do some splashing and play with swimming toys (Keohi has fins, bodyboard, wetsuit, goggles, snorkel, two masks, and fishing net on the side of the tub along with a dozen other toys.) then mom gets out. Daddy changes Keohi and we do breakfast...

Keohi's first down and says to me, eating bacon: "Mommy, I'm happy."

It's just us; we're all home; the day is wide before us. With his father's work schedule these times are really rare, if not precious. And we present Keohi with his first tie and shirt, which he can wear with his hand-me-down black blazer. We're off to the Nutcracker Ballet--it's a big event, Keohi's first ballet.

He's excited that he's wearing what Stephen's wearing, but once we are on the ferry, the shirt and tie come off in about five minutes. Underneath, long johns...

We get of one ferry, then take the Star Ferry, eat ice cream on the way (hey, it's a holiday) and go to the theatre where we have really good balcony seats. Tons of kids. Boys and girls. It's a matinee. It was a great performance. Keohi was riveted. Tin soldiers, Christmas tree, mouse king, snowman, superb in every way--this is the Nutcracker as it should be. The only twist, I barely notice these days, is most everyone in the cast is Asian. He's seen several shows over the past year or more and this by far was his favorite. There was a lot going on and a live orchestra in the pit. The second half was less interesting to him--but the performance was beautiful. We'll have to do it again next year.

There were a few moments. Once when he yelled out "I have mucus!", I scramble to look for tissue, Stephen beats me to it, and Keohi yells again: "Daddy got it!" Then Stephen says, "I think he just did a poo in his pants." We sniff...Stephen asks. OK, no poo, just a fart. We're all relieved. This is the ballet with a 3 year old kid.

We enter the mob scene known as Harbor City Terminal HK. This is a mall area where busloads of Mainlanders descend to shop. It feels like a billion people. There's a Korean restaurant there though, so we stop off. I decipher the Korean, barely, I think it is closed the month of December. Big bummer. We go around the maze of the mall and finally arrive in a kind of steak house and eat, seated by a guy probably from The Valley with a bad perm and moustache. I am in LA. I swear I am in LA.

We leave and head home. A good day. Keohi jumping like the ballet dancers after the performance telling me he's the Nutcracker, he's the tin soldier.

Keohi, age 3, The Nutcracker in Hong Kong, Christmas, 2010.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Biking with Keohi Boo...

Biking side by side with Keohi the other day from Sun Lung Wai to Luk Tei Tong. He looks up and says to me: "I love you, Mommy!"

I say, "I love you too."

He stops his bike. He's smiling wide--so happy. Pure joy. Nothing beats a bike ride through the village. He puts up his hand--we high five and cruise along through the green, right by an ambling fly covered cow, pull to the side for a cement mixer, and pick up speed as we head down the hill. We talk about school, Robin Hood, and his great-grandma's death.

"Remember Nana? Daddy's grandma? She was wrinkly and when you went to visit her, someone at the home gave you a piece of chocolate?"

Keohi nods. "She's a ghost now, right?"

"Yeah, she's a ghost."

"Do we have to go to the temple and light incense for her?"

"Maybe we should. She's a ghost, but she's watching us."

"Is Cousin Bruce a ghost?"

"No, he's not a ghost. Keohi, it's not Grandma, Daddy's mommy, but Nana, Daddy's grandma who's a ghost now. Do you remember she had a bird?" That was on his first visit, over 18 months ago, a lifetime for him, half of his life. I can see, he can't remember all that well. His second visit--will he remember?

This is what I remember of my great-grandmother and great-grandfather...1969-1970. I was 5 years old and taken to the countryside in Korea. Lots of cousins, aunts, uncles. It was in an old fashioned house, it had a little courtyard in the middle, to enter any room in the house you had to step up onto concrete or stone steps. Dividing sliding doors. No Western furniture. Chests of wood. Heated floors. And there were two very wrinkly people wearing hanboks, old style Korean clothes, sitting in the room on the floor. Everyone was going by to offer greetings, pay their respect. I saw them. I remember. And I think of it now and think--they were from another century--the 19th century! A culture that is one I know, and don't.

And here is my Korean American/English son, raised in a Chinese village, thinking of burning incense in a local temple with images of Kuan Yin, the goddess of the sea, for his English/Irish Catholic great-grandmother from a small seaside village in Suffolk, England. Globalization. Transnationalism. Immigration. Modernity. Love and the crazy way it works...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

R.I.P. Mary King

Stephen's grandmother died. A charismatic, lively, and witty 89 year old. She survived the war, lived in or around Aldeburgh her entire life, and took joy in the moment. Keohi saw his great grandmother two times, myself only four, but she was an unforgettable spirit.

R.I.P. Nana -- we will miss you always...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Diamonds and Conflict

I thought I would include this link because it is very clear most people still don't realize that the choice of a diamond in any fashion as a piece of jewelry, symbol of love, accessory or status item, is rather contentious. This piece is actually not as radical as some other writing out there on the issue of diamonds, and thus is why I hope people click through to read.

To be fair, there are industrial diamonds--diamonds in drills, saws, etc...that are used in various processes, and then there are diamonds as objects of aesthetics and as a symbol of love. This campaign, incidentally, of diamonds as a necessity for a wedding engagement is one that is wholly invented by the DeBeers cartel. Yeah, you know the saying that your engagement ring should be your monthly salary times two? Or that you need an anniversary diamond? Or that a diamond is forever? It's marketing by a single company. The giving of a diamond in specific, is not indigenous to any culture and new in most cultures and societies. Cut and set, it can be a beautiful object, but it comes at a price, like most beautiful things and the price is never paid by the wearer, unfortunately.

Hate to sound so brutally unappreciative of a piece of cut rock, but whenever I see a diamond, I envision a child amputee. It's hard to get these sorts of pictures out of your mind once you make the connection and once you've seen one and actually what astounds me is that not more people have made the link. The rock might look nice, but it's an intense statement to wear one. And not only in the way one might think it is. A symbol of love, status, eternity? I honestly don't see that when I see anyone wearing a diamond. I might briefly think, oh, it was an antique or given, but usually I think the rather unpleasant thought that the individual valued personal aesthetics or status over the tragedy of war. So yes, it's a statement to wear one. But it's not the same statement to everyone and people should realize that. There are a lot of people out there like me who are wholly unimpressed by someone wearing one.

My thoughts?

Oh...hmmmmmm. Figures...

I remember a close friend once sold her diamond ring to a pawn shop. She needed the cash with which she used to help her husband's business. And she told me: "I'm not that person anymore. I'm not about that." She wore nothing on her hand after that.

My husband and I were officially married in 2001. We wear gold bands (and yes, I'm not into a lot of mining practices of that industry either, though I think that the violence of the recent conflicts funded by diamonds is particularly brutal) and we actually discussed the wearing of a diamond. A new diamond. This was in the time before the Kimberley Process was underway to try to track the diamonds and their origins. The choice was ultimately mine and I chose not to wear one and yes, will never buy one, or support the act of such a purchase for the reasons described above.

Diamonds do not impress everyone.