It was the first weekend in April. I remember it was still cold because I was wearing my new, brown parka that I had just purchased on a going-out-of-season sale. First time in many years, I felt relaxed and settled. It was an overdue vacation, short but sweet, full of nostalgia, remembering where I’ve been and letting go of all that’s been lost. With every breath in the cool air of the ocean, I felt refreshed, ready for anything.
In hindsight, I think maybe that one weekend gave me what I needed to get through what was coming next. It’s funny how your own life moves on without your consent sometimes.
The intensity of the past few months is impossible to describe in words without the risk of trivializing it. But if I were to try, the words, ‘grueling’ and ‘soul-crushing’ come to mind. But as life’s darkest of moments can bring about the deepest appreciation for what is good, my heart is full. And somehow, the worst has passed - for now. I am grateful for the changes that have come about, despite and because of the pain that was thrown at our family. The natural progression of life can be scary and torturous, and the inevitability doesn’t make the process any easier. But there is hope in the new. The older I get, I understand the desire to want to start one’s own family. There is an incredible healing power in the life of a newborn baby, full of potential, full of future, full of hope.
It’s been impossible to move on according to my own agenda. Everything is being postponed left and right, leaving me completely helpless at times. But I have a feeling it’s all going to work out. Sometimes, my timing is off, and I’m okay with that. There’s a bigger purpose. And I trust it.
(grandma on the right, with all of her ten grandchildren)
My grandmother was born in the 1920s to a colonized South Korea, where she not only lived through the Independence Movement (독립운동), during which she lost one of her sisters, but also survived the Korean war in the early 50s, when my mother was born as the third child and first daughter, eventually one of six children.
In the era and culture of male domination, where female submission was an unquestionable norm, my grandmother was something out of the ordinary, an independent soul, an educated woman, changing the world one child at a time. She and my grandfather ran an orphanage for children of war and a rehabilitation center for the wounded and the handicapped - still alive today in South Korea. A woman of faith and conviction, she didn’t hesitate to continue the work on her own when she was prematurely widowed in the 70s. She remained active and influential in her community right until the end of her life.
She was a rather exact example of human humility and generosity. She was also the picture of health, a gentle yet fiery woman full of ardor, out-walking even her great-grandchildren. One of her prayers included aging with grace, where no children of hers would be burdened by her advanced age, that she would remain robust until a quiet death. Her prayers were answered. She fell suddenly but stayed alive until her children and grandchildren flew in from all over the world to gather for her last breath, which was taken in her own bed. She passed away peacefully on March 18th, 2012, surrounded by all of her children.
The sense of loss has been overwhelming at times, but the past few weeks have been more about the celebration of her amazing life and the gift of love and family she has given us. I have the privilege to call her my role model, whose firm philosophy and proactive causes have inspired and changed countless lives. I’m grateful to be a part of this family history, connected to one of the most inspirational women I’ve ever known.
A few years back, I called my parents in panic, very upset about an unforeseen and unfair encounter. I was completely dumbfounded and angry, in desperate need of some guidance, if not just some consolation. I told the story over the phone as reasonably as I could, though I probably sounded as frantic as I felt.
'It's okay,' is what they said. The calming sound of my father's voice told me: when in doubt, stay the course, think positive, and be kind. Move forward and trust your instincts and convictions. And that was enough for me to untangle myself from the frustrations and move on, unscathed.
Curve balls of all sorts are in my way again, and I have to remind myself of my past experiences. Though doing the best doesn’t always bring about the best results right away, it might be a blessing in disguise in the end. People often disappoint, but there are other wonderful ones to more than make up for the loss. And time heals, as long as you let it.
Truth trumps lies, and light brightens darkness. Sometimes, it really is all about one’s perception, and life can be quite enjoyable despite injustice and malice. Inspiration is all around, and any setback can be a new opportunity.
There’s been a chain of events that has led to some unexpected traveling and work hiatus. Instead of finishing up my oh-so-close-to-lock edit for my film project, 'Bittersweet Monday,' I’ve been hopping on airplanes and tending to personal situations.
My past few weeks were spent in the suburbs of San Francisco, where there were only clear, blue skies and cool, dry air, in which I often felt blinded and overpowered by the brightness of what makes California great. And now, I’m in my hometown in Seoul, Korea, where everything is opposite: gray, hot and humid. It’s been raining - pouring on and off since I’ve arrived. But there’s something about the very specific, somewhat cumbersome, muggy stickiness of Korean summer. I’m strangely enjoying it, finding a sense of comfort in this familiar physical sensation.
Yesterday consisted of taking a 2 hour drive down South on Korean I-35 to a retreat center in the mountains, attending a Sunday morning service, hanging out with my parents, then driving back in the pouring rain. And in those hours of simply being in that environment - the distinct Korean landscape of green mountains, pine trees, nonstop cricket (Cicada) noises in the background, and hymnals sung in the Korean language, it was like I was 13 again.
I am completely in love with NYC - probably will be for a long time, and I have no intention of moving anywhere else. But there is power in my history. I feel grounded when I’m here. This is where I come from.
I’m taking an unexpected, longterm trip for personal/family reasons. I’m being hit with a big dose of perspective; and in a lot of ways, I’m grateful.
In preparation for my extended leave, this week consisted of backing up my 3TB harddrive, containing all the 'Bittersweet Monday' files; digging up, exporting, and uploading/sending overdue footages for my dearest actors; re-editing a scene that I thought was not going to make the movie; packing & cleaning - all the while recovering from a long weekend of too much ‘catching-up.’
In my own little chaotic world of what is reality for me this week, I can’t help but to feel a bit uneasy and nervous about… Well. Life. For many months, I’ve been able to solely focus on my filmmaking endeavors, beginning from writing, then producing, directing, acting, and then finally editing my way through my past year or so. And just when I feel almost ready to lock picture, life takes over, and I must let go - at least for the time being.
Nonetheless, I’m taking all the work I can with me - gotta be ready for that moment of downtime + inspiration. It’s the worst when the tools are not available when you need them. I have a period of different kind of ‘work’ ahead of me, but I am glad I am available and capable to be there for my family when they need me. At the end of the day, there are only a few things that really matter. I’m counting my blessings.
Tho not by my own choice, travel has been a large part of my life since an early age. For a long time, I was sure I hated it. But now, I have come to appreciate the process, including the many inconveniences.
Little things- from terrible airplane foods & bathrooms, different climates and available fruits in the local supermarkets, English spoken with different accents, to familiar faces and history of my own existence - have the power to put things into perspective.
My current adventure consists of family time. Last week, I got to spend several days with my six year old nephew. The patience and the energy that are necessary in taking care of a child apparently bring about a lot of contemplating. I spent the first few days aggravated and secretly angry. But the next few, I found myself fascinated by this affectionate little person who looks a lot like me. I spent the days, teaching my bilingual nephew how to politely ask for things in English, explaining why sleeping is good, and convincing him that eating his cheerios with a spoon tastes better than picking with his fingers. Quickly within those days, my frustration turned into a different kind of tug at the heart. Now that he’s not around, I keep thinking about the way he used to hold onto my hand with his miniature version of fingers, and the way he so readily hugged me as he reluctantly said goodnight.
For the next few days, I get to spend time with my original core family, minus one crazy busy sib, and minus spouses or children. It’s like we’re back in 1994. Little sis, lying on dad’s lap, mom, peeling and cutting fruits into pretty little pieces, while we hang out and talk about anything and everything. It’s kinda perfect. This is a different level of comfort, taking me back to my childhood.
Then there comes a moment, when I realize how old I really am. Fortunately, rather than feeling attacked by reality, I am glad to be living an independent life. It’s the natural progression of life. And I am finally at a point, where sadness of growing up doesn’t overtake.
They say reality bites. But sometimes, reality is just fine.
Today is second to last day for ‘Bittersweet Monday’ principal photography. Last night was picture wrap for two of the main actors, for characters GINA & JEREMY.
Yesterday was a long day - I spoke too soon about having relatively easy days left.. The opening scene consisted of lots of setups and light changes, even after we tried to simplify the movements. We worked the full 12 hours, ending slightly after 3am.
It was a chaotic day for me. I was a lot more exhausted than usual and felt unprepared. It was one of those figure-out-as-you-go kind of days, and getting started was overwhelming. My apt is a big blob of mess, a swamp of crafty bags and tables, lights and equipment, and trash. ‘Producer Dave’ has been very helpful in clearing things out of the way, but I wish I had a few of my own clones, so I don’t have to tell people what to do and do things myself.
Yesterday was also one of those days where I wished I wasn’t producing. I’ve been pretty meticulous about my producing duties, but yesterday, I felt completely out of my element. At this point, I just don’t want to deal with things that could wait. ‘Producer Dave’ is taking care of a lot of the immediate stuff, so I think I’m covered for now.
We begin our BSM NYC day 6 in less than 3 hours. All the scenes are in the bedroom today, and as of now, the room looks like it’s been bombed. I need to start cleaning up. Seriously. Filmmaking is so much manual labor.
I feel like a mess. I am really eager to finish so I can sleep. But at the same time, I’m starting to feel the rush of ‘empty nest syndrome’ sadness. Matt is going back to Boston, Moses to Seattle, Derek to Toronto, and Philipp is leaving to Germany for a while. It might be months or even years before my BSM fam gets together again, and my heart feels tight - could be my strong coffee this morning, but still. It literally hurts a bit.
Before I start sulking, I need to get my ass moving. Lots to do today. Gonna change up ‘lunch’ menu a bit - want my cast & crew happy.. I love you BSM cast & crew. Why are you so good to me?