Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Words_The Turning Point of Droopy Doggy Dog


If you need to catch up on PART I, please do here.

Otherwise, I would like to introduce you to Maria.

Maria and I met at Bible study, or as she likes to call it--"Book Club"--four or five years ago. Anyone who meets Maria can tell within the first thirty seconds of talking to her that she is a strikingly confident, beautiful, intelligent, friendly, and witty person. No, Maria did not tell me (or pay me) to say any of these things. I feel she's one of those people who truly sees the best in everyone. She's also contagiously charming and it's easy to fall under her spell which I know many people can attest to (Penguiy). And on top of everything, she is blessed with a figure that my friend Mandy best summed up while we both dined with her by asking: "Can you wear a different shirt next time that's not so low cut so I don't have to keep contemplating whether or not I'm a lesbian?" Finally, a few things I love about Maria are:

1. She genuinely laughs at all of my stories, especially the ones that are exponentially harder to retell because they involve people she doesn't know or the disclaimer: "You had to be there."
2. She is exceedingly generous and kind.
3. Her laugh and smile are my favorite!

Maria recently returned from an amazing mission trip to Romania where she worked in an orphanage for almost two weeks. I was excited to hear all about it so we decided to have dinner at the same sushi restaurant where ol' Droops worked. Internally, I had come to grips with the reality that any hope I had for myself and Droops was long gone; I should have never even formed an expectation between us. From here on out, I was going to make it really simple. I would continue to be served yummy sushi by the Droopshi Nazi, and the Droopshi Nazi's face would continue to get saggier. Sounded fair.

Maria and I sat in the same booth near the front window of the restaurant (typical). Maria instantly pulls out her purse and says, "I brought you back some Romanian chocolate," and revealed seven or eight different kinds of chocolate bars on the table. Droops happened to waddle over at the same time and for once, her face tried to form a smile. "Ah, chocolate!" And she let out a girly giggle as I rolled my eyes in my mind.
"Do you want one?" Maria asked. (What?! I scream inside.)
"Ah, no no," Droops giggled again. (Puke, I think to myself.)
"No seriously, take one!" Maria smiled. (Maria, this is not the time to be your normal generous self! Especially to Droops! I try to send this message to her telepathically.)
"Ah, no no." More giggling. More puke in my head and lotttttts of eye rolling. Maria and Droops go back and forth like this two more times as I'm frantically troubleshooting the telepathic error between me and Maria until finally, Droopshi Naz gives in and settles on the cappuccino chocolate bar. Quite a sinking feeling to accept that this person whose face is in a permanent scowl and treats people like they're not only invisible, but invisible crap, got to pick foreign chocolate bought for me before me. I made a mental note that this justified a few more death fantasies later. Droops started thanking Maria profusely and said she wanted to pay her for the chocolate.
"Oh, don't worry about it!" Maria smiled. "It was so cheap!" (This service is cheap.)
"No, no, I pay you," D says. (Make her pay!!!)
"No, really, it was like, a dollar." (Plus 100! C'mon, hit her where it hurts!)
"Are you sure?" (No! Maria's obviously drunk!)
"Yes, it's fine!" (Maria, are you drunk?)
"Ok, ok, thank you." (SHE KNOWS THE PHRASE "THANK YOU?!?!")

My mind and body were reeling. Somehow I managed to play it cool and seamlessly transition into real conversation with my dear friend, eventually forgetting about ol' Droops and her stupid chocolate (can Romanian chocolate give people really bad diarrhea, please, please, please!!!). However... from that point on, when chocolate and Maria's kindness were exchanged, something remarkable happened. No, I didn't get to live out my Droop-dunking in the restaurant aquarium fantasy nor did I take the liberty of making my own personal touches to Droopshi Nazi's face. What happened was that the Droops became a 3-dimensional person. She grew feelings and new facial expressions. She was, dare I say it, nice. Nice! On one hand, of course she had to be nice because we gave her chocolate. And by "we" I mean "Maria." But I couldn't help thinking, really? All it took was chocolate? We're not talking about placating a pet dog here (or are we) or a 2-year-old baby. We're talking about a grown-ass woman whose life revolves around a business that is driven entirely by customer service and we (Maria) won her cold-stone heart over with Romanian chocolate? My brain is officially mush.

We ended our evening with full bellies, great stories, and for once, an actual, up close and personal, pleasant dining experience. There were good-byes and thank yous when we got up to leave. There were smiles. I might have seen a unicorn jumping through a rainbow. Everything was as it should be. I thanked Maria over and over for upgrading me by association to whatever status she had unwittingly catapulted us into. But the real question was: Would Droops remember me the next time I came into dine? Would my face somehow be blended into Maria's and conditioned to symbolize chocolate and wonder and happy in her mind? Or would my upgraded treatment expire or be completely forgotten by my next visit? I had to find out. And I did. But that's the final story.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Words_The Before & After of Droopy Doggy Dog


There's a sushi restaurant just a few minutes from where I work. This is awesome for multiple reasons.

1. Crunchy spicy tuna rolls and Miso soup
2. Not in a sushi mood? Well, they serve generously portioned Thai food.
3. Convenient
4. Fairly affordable
5. Happy tummy

It's not awesome for these reasons:

My second or third time dining here (and I say second because I barely remember the first), I was on a lunch break with my friend Hannah. We were sat in a booth near the front window (which I presumed was a naturally strategic move to show off customers) and ordered water with lemon. Our waitress, who I'll call Droopy, delivered just water. No lemon. Hey, no big deal. Droopy was generally distant and mechanical. I figured she was one of the owners and if I were her, I'd probably be distant and mechanical too, especially if someone was writing a blog about me and the best name they could come up with was Droopy because of the way my face sagged because I had never learned to smile.

I started to frequent the restaurant perhaps every two weeks or so... sometimes with Hannah and sometimes with my friend Amanda from work. Each time, the service got progressively colder. I found myself at times placing my order to Droopy's back because she had apparently heard enough and decided to walk away before I could finish. Then she would return and it would happen again. And then again. I couldn't understand why she couldn't just stand there like any normal person and wait until I had asked all of my questions. Sometimes, she wouldn't respond at all to us. Our "thank yous" were never returned. If my water glass was empty, well, it just stayed that way. When I asked if I could get a crunchy spicy tuna roll instead of a regular spicy tuna roll she got very indignant and barked at me in her broken English that it would cost more. One time I asked if I could make a substitution in a lunch combination roll and you would have thought I asked her if she was pregnant. "You can't change menu!" She cried angrily. I should have just asked her if she was pregnant to begin with.

It was really starting to gnaw at me why Droopy was unfailingly rude to us, more so to me than to Hannah or Amanda. It couldn't have been because I was Korean because so was Hannah; nor because I was on bad behavior because I didn't dare dig myself into a deeper hole than where I already was. I decided to exercise my right to boycott the place, if only for a little while, because my fake pleasantries were making me so irritable that I think I was beginning to mirror Droopy's face and that was clearly unacceptable. However, my boycott only lasted a week as the next nearest sushi restaurant proved to be sub-par and I realized I was the kind of person that was willing to suffer through the chilliest of service to satisfy a good sushi craving.

I decided to make my subtle comeback by ordering carry out instead of dining in. I placed my order over the phone (at least I couldn't physically see them walking away from me) and went to pick it up. I went into the restaurant prepared, my emotions steeled over. I was ready to fight el bitch to el bitch. Droopy locked eyes with me but didn't say anything. "I have a carryout order," I said flatly. She disappeared to the kitchen, which I took as her acknowledgement, and then returned and sat in the nearest booth. I stood there until the sushi chef, whom I presumed was her husband, came out and placed a box on the counter. Droopy at that time had a few tables and lingered here and there until she printed out my bill and gestured to me that my food was ready. Usually when a receipt prints out, it naturally rolls up into a mini homemade telescope so when this happens the waitress/waiter has a few options:

1. create a crease in the middle to prevent the receipt from curling
2. hold down the receipt for the patron until patron is finished signing
3. place it neatly in a tab holder that does all the work for you

Which one of these options do you think Droopy picked? You're right. None of them. She allowed the receipt to curl up and stood there looking the other way. At this point, my insides are blistering as I'm realizing the immensity of ass-kicking that needed to occur. It took everything in me not to mercilessly rearrange Droopy's face into a fixed permanent smile right then and there. Well, two could play this game. "Where do I sign." I said, knowing full well. She pointed at the curled receipt and looked away again. I was putting her in a headlock in my fantasy and holding her under water in the restaurant aquarium. I started to tell myself that I needed to swallow my pride, angst, bitterness, incomprehension, death stares, and strangling scenarios and
become the bigger person, all in those tense few seconds. I picked up the pen, took a deep breath, smoothed out the receipt, and somehow managed to leave my signature on that piece of paper with a decent carryout tip. As I headed toward the door, I said loudly but meaninglessly: "Thank you." I don't remember if there was any response to my gesture but the entire experience was a crucial wakeup call. Droopy and friends were severely awful people and there was nothing I could do to change that...except maybe that one headlock move--no Kimi--ahem. There was nothing I could do.

Until along came Maria...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Photos_Comedic Therapy

Who knew a web cam could provide so much fun...

Avery to the rescue!

Downtown Kimi-Brown 

I was born to be an Asian 80s rock star.

The first Asian cavewoman

Does your person have a tear-dropped shaped face? #guesswho

Thinking about his muse for his next masterpiece 

Anna Wintour, eat your heart out 

Gabe, the next Backstreet Boy  

I whip my afro back and forth!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Words_In the Year Two Thousand...(And Eleven) Part I: Write Right Now

This is the blog when I survey the 56-week landscape of the future that is 2011 and indiscriminately place primary-colored thumbtacks here and there representing the distant wishes of my future self. My goal is to not be too unrealistic nor too realistic. Is that possible? Here goes nothing.

I've said it before and I suppose I'll say this every year. Writing is something I've always enjoyed yet have consistently ignored and neglected instead of nurtured and challenged. It's probably my favorite way to communicate because of its intimacy and expressiveness and unpredictability all at once. My favorite thing about writing is the way it transforms itself unexpectedly and starts to take on a life of its own without consulting you, the author. And you find yourself at "The End," realizing your story has masterfully written itself and you were just the means to get there. Writing causes us to empty ourselves into one or two or perhaps hundreds of people. It connects us so uniquely in the most indirectly direct of ways. I'd like to write more, of course, yet write with more meaning and tenacity and purpose that may be purely narrative or humorous or journalistic or all of the above. I'd like to challenge myself to write more thoughtfully outside of my small day-to-day world that is true and alive to me but largely limited in the stratosphere of nonfiction. Most importantly, I need to exercise what I believe about writing. It's nothing if it's not pursued as a necessity. I need it to be necessary. Otherwise, the landscape is lost and so am I.

Coming Up: Part II: The Future of Friendships

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Words & Photos_The Best of 2010

Oh yes, it seems like yesterday I was wearing neon pink star-shaped glasses, counting down to the start of 2010 in the company of mostly strangers--but with Robbey, most importantly--in a midtown New York City apartment. Since then, time has truly eluded me, and my memories of 2010 are broken into thousands of tiny pieces that will never fully converge again. Some have attached easily to others, creating a seamless colorful narrative and it's obvious they were kept in a convenient place like here in my blog or in a vault of epic stories that demanded retelling; others have flown solo perhaps for an indefinite amount of time or have since attached to a cluster of someone else's detailed memory. What I've documented below are the unbreakable memories that will resonate with me for a long time. The best of the best. The heroes of 2010.

Five: Harry Potter Band Wagon
I confess. I was tardy for the Harry Potter party (by eight years). I'm not sure how I managed to get through all the books within a year and a half without accidentally (or purposely) discovering the fate of the characters (aside from Dumbledore). I will be deeply disappointed when Harry, Hermione, and Ron take their final bow come summer when the last movie is released. Author J.K. Rowling is hands down one of the best writers of the century. I will sincerely miss the wizarding world and the amazing adventures that started at number 4, Privet Drive.

Four: O.C. 2010
Spontaneity is served best with 100% commitment and a considerable dose of optimism--especially in the presence of unknowns, which makes some of the most spontaneous moments some of life's best memories. Like planning a weekend at the beach with your friends on a whim and returning with some of the funniest, most random, and unlikely of memories. It probably helps to have a friend like Mandy who is one of the funniest people I know and Hendrix who is always tuned to "adventure mode" and Mahaffey who just loves to hang and have a good time. The great weather, the outdoor bar (with amazing happy hour prices), the Sponge Bob ice cream bars, and the heart-to-hearts that ensued in a 48-hour period, probably helped a lot, too. All in all, I think we made a pretty good vacation team.

Three: Boston 2010
I recently visited Mandy in Boston (I love Beantown!) had such a fun few days stomping around the city, adding to my growing collection of Mandy-isms, gobbling up Marc Jacobs, having my picture taken with Santy Claus at the Logan airport, eating until I passed out and when revived eating some more, asking her to be my maid of honor, and finally, both of us scaring each other in the dark at 2 in the morning which resulted in a blood curling scream from yours truly and hearing Mandy laugh like a drunk Sponge Bob for a half hour.

Two: My 29th Birthday

One: November 11, 2010
Of course this is the day Robbey asked me to be his wife (gasp!), his partner (what?!), his other (huh?!)... forever (sucker!). The idea of forever makes my brain feel like applesauce which is the same reaction when I think of being without Robbe. I just can't wrap my brain around the concept. I feel blessed yet equally terrified that God wants me to 1. experience marriage 2. experience marriage in a way that excavates the darkest parts of my heart yet refines and pushes my heart to love and forgive beyond my human understanding 3. experience marriage in a way that reflects the Bible, which is an account from beginning to end of God's overwhelming love for you and me, no matter who you are or what you've done. I suppose the first step in this marriage business is already knowing I'm going to fail miserably as a wife. I already have and I haven't even started. But it's not me who is going to make my marriage work. If it was just me relying on my own love, charm, and patience (ha!), I guarantee Robbe and I would file for divorce after year one. What I do know is that without knowing and accepting and seeking God's perfect example of love--Jesus--I won't be able to love Robbe fully. I honestly don't even know what "fully" means but I know it's not within my own strength. There is an incredible story ahead of us with the largest and smallest of stones in our path. It'll be up to us to decide to lift them ourselves or admit we're not strong enough to begin with and instead seek the endlessly faithful help of the one who is.

Au revoir 2010! Let the 2011 games begin.