Friends & Ends

zipfingrp

Chase came home from camp July 20th. This gave me about 8 days to re-acclimate Chase to civilization and prepare him and the house for our friends from Tokyo arriving June 29th. Packing for camp is definitely better than un-packing from camp. The day after Chase came home, I decided to take him to the primary care clinic because he was covered in strange rashes and complained of an earache. This resulted in a prescription for 10 days of antibiotics and various creams and ointments requiring applications 3 times a day. He’s all good now, but even though Chase swears he showered, this is what I found while I was unpacking his bag:

A little bird told me "Not!"

A little bird told me “Not!”

July 29th arrived and Chase was on the mend. We picked up Ryosuke and his mom (Mami) from the airport in the evening. Up to this point, Mami-San was my son’s Japanese friend’s mom. So far, I simply thought of her as very nice and very Japanese. Being sensitive to their jet-lag, I scheduled a few things but tried to be flexible as well. After we dropped off bags at the house, we went to Sweet Hut Café off Buford Highway.

Boys and their buns

Breaking bread

It’s my new favorite place. Even if they don’t serve Pot Bing-soo, they do sell amazing green tea frappes and milk teas with jellies and bubbles. If you have no idea what I am talking about, definitely give it a try. You will be instantly addicted. This place also reminds me so much of the bakeries in Korea and Japan.

I had forewarned Mami, that Chase and I needed to spend a little time each day reviewing some math because he had a placement exam for school on Friday. She was fine with that and we set aside a little time each morning for the boys to get yelled at. Just kidding, we were only “speaking with emphasis”. The first full day we ended up going to CNN headquarters and rock climbing. It was a blast. When you live somewhere, you rarely get the motivation to be an actual tourist in your own town unless you have guests and this was one of those times. The tour was terrific and our guide was funny, and you know me, it’s all about the photo-op:

Back to you Chase...

Back to you Chase…

After the tour, I had arranged for us to go indoor rock-climbing. I love to do outdoor things, but because I hate the sun, bugs, and mosquitoes, it really limits me. Indoor-anything works. Again, something I had never done, but thought would be fun and physical. We all strapped on our gear and started climbing with our guide. Chase started out strong having just come back from camp, but ended up losing steam towards the end. On the last wall, I was aghast watching him actually throw his body against the base of the wall just hoping he would stick to it. As a mother, it was a little mortifying. Ryosuke ran out of steam about the same time and I blame that on his refusal to eat from being “so excited.” Mami and I were little monkeys. For a woman who doesn’t work out at all, she was doing great. The last wall was the only one she couldn’t complete and it wasn’t for lack of trying. That last wall, had us climbing upside down on a very steep face. The only people in our group who managed to make it to the top were me and a U.S. Marine. He muscled his way through and you could just tell he was trying hard from his all-over sweat and trembling muscles. I took the climb one blob at a time and just kept “hanging in there” (pun intended). Getting to the top completely took me by surprise. I think I was “in the zone”. When I came down off the side, I felt such a mix of relief and accomplishment and amazement, I almost started to cry. I suddenly thought about my mom. It’s funny how it doesn’t matter how old you are, sometimes, you just wish your mom or dad just saw you do that.

The next day was Wednesday and I promised the boys they could spend the day at the house doing whatever instead of being dragged around shopping with us. That evening Cliff was taking the boys to see the Braves play the Rockies and it turned out to be a perfect day.

Turner Stadium

Turner Stadium

Thursday, we drove to Lake Lanier to go zip-lining. We were in a group with another family from North Georgia. It was Mami’s first time listening to people with real thick Georgia accents. She was so funny, because she thought I actually knew another language because I was communicating with them! Then she realized all my responses were in Engrish ;) I just explained that this was an example of the Southern Dialect. One of the sons (who is in college) actually told me he was interested in going to Thailand to teach English. Being the adult, I was able to quickly don the Korean mask-of-no-expression, Chase unfortunately just stood there with his eyes like buttons and his mouth agape.

Ryosuke & Chase Zipping along

Ryosuke & Chase Zipping along

Chase and I had to spend half of Friday at Woodward getting testing and orientation. We came home as soon as possible so Ryosuke and Chase could spend their last day together and I could take Mami out for one last shopping opportunity. That evening, my girlfriends: Holly, Debra, and Mia came over to eat ribs a la Cliff and meet my guests. I told the boys, since it was their last night, we wouldn’t be bothering them to go to bed and they could do whatever they wanted. This was interpreted as the classic all-nighter. Chase didn’t go to sleep until Saturday morning at 6:30am as we were leaving to take Ryosuke and his mom back to the airport. He woke up just long enough to say good-bye and then collapsed in the back seat.

Tomorrow is Chase’s first day of School. It is officially the end of summer for us. It has been terrific. Yesterday, he and I went on one of our lunch “adventures” and tried a new dim sum restaurant. He noticed I seemed a bit melancholy and asked me what was on my mind. I guess it hit me that my summer buddy was not going to be around. As each year passes, I have this growing anxiety about my relationship with Chase. I don’t know when I will no longer seem cool in his eyes. I guess the important thing is he will always be cool in mine.

Chase & Mom 2008

Chase & Mom 2008

Until next time…

Long Time No See

Have you ever broken up with someone by just not talking to them? Days turn into weeks that turn into months and before you know it, just the thought of seeing him/her again fills you with anxiety? That’s how I felt about this post.

The first thing I did was read my last post.

Secondly, I had to return to my couch and have a drink and wrap my head around all the updating necessary.

Alas, the prodigal blogger returns…

Please forgive me

Please forgive me

CHASE

After an interesting 1st season back in American Little League baseball, Chase’s baseball team the Texas Rangers ended up in the Final 4. All in all, he ended up having a great season and growing into an amazing 1st baseman. We never thought Chase would have a season when his fielding surpassed his batting but that’s exactly what happened. He did hit a home run over the fence and Cliff and I were so happy for him to have his moment. There was one evening that felt a lot like an episode of “Intervention“. We were talking about the stress of being at bat and it suddenly dawned on me: Chase was terrified of disappointing everyone. He knows everyone expects him to hit it out of the park every time and that pressure was just crushing him. We screamed and cried and hugged it out. It just takes time.

woodwardWE

After all the applications and interviews, Chase will be attending Woodward Academy in the Fall of 2013. I truly believe it is God’s will. There are too many factors to mention that lead me to feel this way. We couldn’t be happier. I admire Chase’s ability to go through so many transitions in such a short time. His last days at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School were sad for him. I think it finally hit him that he was leaving all these kids he’s known (some of them since 3 years old). As I watched him leaf through his old and new annuals, talking about this person and that, I realized this was his way of coping with his feelings. Even though he may not see them anymore, he would always have this book of faces to remember them by. By the time the 5th Grade Moving On Chapel arrived, I saw a boy who was committed to his decisions and at peace.

Thanks for the memories

Thanks for the memories

July 10th 2013: Chase is in week 2 at Camp Kieve having a great time. Cliff goes up on the 20th to bring him home. I promised Chase if he got accepted to a new school, I would redecorate his room.

kievecraft

Please be a plant holder!

FAMILY

April marked the 1st anniversary of Mom’s passing. About 2 weeks beforehand I was having a really rough time emotionally and decided to see an empath. During my session, I was able to communicate with my mom and get some closure over some things. The empath was also able to give me some reassurances regarding what I was going through and what lay ahead of me. Knowing we were going to mom’s anniversary service, I felt very strongly about wearing a Hanbok (Korean traditional dress) to the service. Neither of my sisters felt the same no matter how much I tried to convince them… but at the VERY last minute, they broke down!

Mary, Bess, & Me

Mary, Bess, & Me

It made me feel so good that they did this. I know mom was smiling.

One Year Later

One Year Later

I know the last few posts have been at times harsh. Especially about some members of my family. My poor sister Mary has been the glue holding us all together. Of course, while we were all together, Mary took the opportunity to force Bess and myself to have a heart to heart. We screamed, cried and hugged it out. Why is it so hard to share our feelings? Is stubbornness one of the Deadly Sins because if it isn’t it really should be. There was a time when Bess and I were absolute best friends and I remember thinking just how lucky I am to be able to call my sister “best friend”! I miss that girl. I am grateful to Mary for doing God’s work and the work mom would want to be done. After all that yelling and crying, I hope Bess truly understands that I forgive her, love her, and support her. Life is too short.

My dad is still seeing the same lady. We have still not officially met her. Fortunately, he hasn’t run off and eloped with her. We have continued to extol the virtues of “dating around”, “just dating” and “not getting too serious”. He seems to be in his own groove and I am honestly happy that he has found happiness with someone.

Cliff, Chase and I continue everyday to remind ourselves we are no longer in Tokyo. Just recently, Cliff and I took MARTA (public train transport in Atlanta) to see what it would be like for Chase if he commutes to school that way:

Must. Not. Make. Eye. Contact.

Must. Not. Make. Eye. Contact.

It’s amazing to me how even in the short time we were in Tokyo, we made such unforgettable friends. Even today, not a day goes by when I don’t think about the friends I left behind.

On a positive note, I did realize today, one thing that has changed since we moved back is I don’t have to blog alone anymore:

Maggie & Ookii providing inspiration

Maggie & Ookii providing inspiration

Until next time…

DATES

July 20th Cliff & Chase come home from Maine

July 29th Ryosuke & his mom (Mami) arrive from Tokyo for visit

August 12th First Day of School

Honesty Over Harmony

Wish I lived here

Wish I lived here

“Honesty over Harmony” was something a woman in Colorado once told me. You know how there are quotes that echo in your mind for the rest of your life? This was one of those. It was the title of a course she and her husband took after an episode of infidelity. I can’t say I agree on that front, but I do believe it has a purpose (more on that later, probably).

After my last blog, I received some “honest” comments and by that, I mean death threats… mostly from family members (aka Crazy Middle Sister). This, I expected and understood, but this is my blog, and if the truth hurts, I can only suggest some personal introspection. If anyone should be sending me nasty messages, it should be Cliff and Chase. They have oft been the inspiration for my blog and usually don’t know about it until I’ve posted. I always appreciate their feedback, listen to their pleading, but if sugar-coated family times are what they are looking for, I suggest they start viewing old Leave it to Beaver or Brady Bunch episodes. To their credit, they have an amazing sense of humor and surrender about the whole thing. It also means I can count on at least a few days of super “good behaviour” after I roast them in a blog. I love them for putting up with my rants in person and in Blogsphere.

Not Us

Not Us

I like to think I am most honest about myself. People I know who read this blog tell me how much they laugh sometimes. Do I get offended? No. I never know what makes people laugh, but if my life-adventures bring a chuckle or two, call me Mother Theresa. If you’re the type of person who is offended by everything, Freakin’ A, let me be the one to tell you, no one likes you or wants to spend time with you… and YOU WILL NEVER FIND A HUSBAND. Back to me. The other day, I went out, in my usual Brazilian, spandex workout uniform, thinking I looked pretty good. I was wearing the one pair of capri pants that weren’t black (this pair was actually a sky blue). I go to spin, do some yoga, run errands, then I get home. To my horror, I realize these capris give me camel toe to the degree that would make a camel’s podiatrist blush. I’ve been walking around, visiting my fishman (who did give me a good deal on some wild Sea Bass), looking like a Smurfette with no panties! Well, needless to say, I peeled off those pants and they were retired in the trash can.

I don't get it.

I don’t get it.

SCHOOL HONESTY: Private school admissions letters are due to be mailed out April 5th. We can access the verdicts online by the 6th, but call me old-fashioned and superstitious, but I like the anticipation of trying to use my x-ray vision, waiting for Chase to come home, and ripping an envelope open. Good or Bad, I think Chase needs to experience that for himself. My other sister in Virginia, who is a super spy during the day and yet somehow manages to have time to raise 2 girls on her own and be my personal IT support, told me she thinks I’m too hard on Chase in the blogs and making him sound academically average. That made me a little sad, because that is absolutely not the impression I would ever want anyone to have. Nor would I want him to think I felt like that once he is older and diligently reading and savouring all of mommy’s precious blog posts. I apologize if I have not accurately portrayed my son’s awesomeness. As parents, it is a fine line between being motivational while belittling your child and crushing his spirit completely. I try to ease up when I see quivering chin action.

BASEBALL HONESTY: Little league sure has changed. We (and by we, I mean Chase) are in the Majors playing on the Texas Rangers. Chase has always been The Hitter. He usually plays clean up and hits it over the fence at least once every season. That being said, I told the new coach to please not put him at #4 (Clean Up Batter) early in the season because he puts a lot of pressure on himself and ends up choking at bat. Of course, during practices, Chase was killing the pitches. Really performing well, and by the time games started, they decided to start him at #4. Chase hasn’t had a hit in 6 games. After game 4 they finally put him at #8 which was a big relief to all of us, but I’m worried the damage has been done. We are trying to stay confident and upbeat for his sake, but he cries after every game because he feels like he’s let everyone down. To be honest. This may be our last season.

Chase is #1 in our book. Number 12 on the team.

Chase is #1 in our book. Number 12 on the team.

Net-Net, I’m sorry if feelings are hurt. I try to disguise names as much as possible (not really). With everything going on in my family right now, that phrase, “Honesty over Harmony” never rang more true. I’ve learned one thing: You can eventually have harmony with honesty, but you will NEVER have harmony through lies. Peace out.

Until next time…

Unwrap Unravel

Moving Day

Moving Day

Moving is a lot like having a baby. You forget how tough it is until you have to do it again.

February 26th Tuesday: 9am Chase has last private school interview. 12:00 Meet trucks with Tokyo shipment.

February 27th Wednesday: All Day Unpacking & Organizing

February 28th Thursday: 8:30am Spin class. Rest of the day Unpack & Organize. 7:30pm Baseball practice.

March 1st Friday: More Organizing. 4:00pm head to Columbia, South Carolina

March 2nd Saturday: 7:30am Church sponsored yard sale at Dad’s

To compound the situation, every night this past week, Chase needed help preparing for a test. Between going to bed late and waking up by 4am every day, I felt like a the moving box myself. Unwrapping. unraveling.  Suddenly, I have mover’s ADD. How many times did I walk into a room needing something and as soon as I passed the threshold,  stop and wonder, “What did I come in here for?”  I try to handle stress in small increments and by breathing. Sometimes, I supplement with crunchy snacks and alcohol. By the time I had to leave my house to help dad with his house, I just had to pass the box cutter over to Cliff and wish him “Gambatte” (Good Luck in Japanese).

Moving on

Moving on

I was dreading going to my father’s home for different reasons. Taking apart my Mother’s home, going through things she acquired over the years, and just missing her presence in a place where she was so present literally sucks the air out from my body. The feeling that something is missing from our human dynamic is inescapable. On top of this, I have not spoken with my crazy sister (Bess) who lives 15 minutes from me in Atlanta since she called me an asshole in December. I wish there wasn’t this divide between us, but just ONCE, I need her to be a better person and make an effort to show me she values our relationship. Everyone has enabled her craziness long enough, and I have had enough. I know all the arguments for “forgiveness” but I don’t care. I’ve run out of cheeks to turn. She arrived after Chase and I did and when she walked into the room where Mary and I were relaxing, she made a point of saying hello to Mary and completely ignoring me. What are we? 13? Moments like this, I channel my mother and ask her for the strength to maintain my cold stare and stoic attitude. She was a zen master at this.

As if being around Bess wasn’t enough to test me, my father is still seeing that woman. He asked me again, if my sisters and I wanted to meet her. Good God Man! The month of my mother’s birthday! April is the anniversary of her death! NO! I’m going to admit this. She’s not good enough. Not for him, for us, for my mother. Chase just finished 3 days of sex talk at school and he had to hear me tell my father not to marry someone just because he likes the way she sucks chopsticks. By the way, Chase taught me something new. He said the school nurse referred to the penis as the “Junkular”. Cliff and I just looked at each other and tried unsuccessfully not to laugh. I’ve never heard of the junkular gland, and I did my final thesis on drug-induced male sexual dysfunction (this deserves its own blog space). But I digress.

Can you believe, at the yard sale, she had the audacity to show her face knowing we didn’t approve? No respectable Korean woman would do this. I don’t understand how my father would allow it. Many, many years ago, my parents clearly stated that if they ever met Cliff, there would be either a homicide or suicide or both. I asked my dad, how he would have felt, if I, knowing how my parents felt, ambushed them by having Cliff just “bump into” us somewhere. This never occurred to me. There is a proper and respectable way to meet someone else’s family. Yard sale ambush is not on the list. Once we realized who was out there, my sisters and I stayed inside the whole time, sending Chase out with more inventory. Thank God for the children.

I know a lot of people out there are thinking, “this bitch needs to let her dad just get his groove on.” I’m all good with that. Call me old fashion, but whoever is going to be my “step-mother”, doesn’t need to fill my mother’s shoes, but they should at least be wearing a respectable pair of flip-flops.

Traditional Korean Sandals

Traditional Korean Sandals

Until next time…

Personal Essay by Chase Kim Wright

Write about an experience from which you learned something (150-200 words) and illustrate a scene from the experience.

essay

It was 7:30 am. The air was cold and the sun was bright. Today was the day I have been dreading. It was the 600 meter swim. All the new boys gathered at the dock. The only thing the couseler said, “This is the 600 meter swim. Good luck!” I was scared. I could see myself swimming and failing. When it was my turn, I jumped into the murky water and swam as hard as I could. Suddenly images from “Jaws” flashed through my mind. When I was half way to the island I felt like giving up. Out of the murkiness, I hear a voice. It was my counselor, Jack Rice sitting comfortably in his kayak yelling, “Don’t give up! Feel the power of the flamingo god!” The flamingo god was our cabin mascot. I don’t know why, but hearing these words motovated me to finish the challenge. As I crawled onto the dock, I felt I was on the top of the world. In the few moments I had to myself, I felt likd I could do it again. Thankfully, Jack quickly arrived and offered me a ride. As I sat in the boat, I thought, I could do anything I wanted.

essaypic

This, is Chase Kim Wright.

Until next time…

Ookii and in Charge!

Me w/ Ookii & Maggie

Let me introduce you to our new baby: Ookii. She is our miniature schnauzer and all girl. Many tried to tell me how your second is so much more stressful than your first and they were right! She has been great overall, but when I do feel like I need a break, I just put her in the laundry room with a bowl of water and a chew toy (kind of like when Chase was a baby, sans bowl of water). Ookii means “Large” in Japanese and Ok Hui is a Korean girl’s name. “Win-Win” as the Chinese say. As soon as she arrived, I called the dog whisperer Anna and we have been having puppy training sessions. Anna is with Happy Healthy Pup. Housebreaking has its good days and bad days. Much like myself.

SPEAKING OF LARGE:

Growth Chart

Growth Chart

At the last possible moment, applications to private schools is finally complete. Since I last blogged, we received Chase’s SSAT scores and let’s just say they were not so great. Chase has actually misinterpreted the score report and believes he scored in the Top 29% when the exact opposite is true. After thinking about it, I decided to not burst his bubble. What’s the point? Plus, it will only end up crushing his academic confidence. It is what it is. I remember waiting in the hallway alongside other hopeful parents for our children to finish the test. It’s such a horrible feeling of doom and relief. I can’t even imagine what it must be like outside testing centers in countries like Japan, China, Korea, India when so much rests in the success of that child. As the results of Chase’s SSAT slowly sank into my mind, my heart sank even lower. Now, I have the child who “doesn’t do well on standardized tests”. Now, I have the child whose scores are “on the very low end of acceptability”. Now, I must say things like, “I didn’t want to be at a school that didn’t look at the whole child.” It is what it is.

Last Saturday, I took Chase to Waffle House to finally satisfy my yen for… well, Waffle House. It made us both realize how much we missed walking together. Our walk had us pass Arlington Memorial Park cemetery and I found myself thinking about my mom. I remembered how she used to tell me, “You are my hopeliest daughter.” I laughed thinking about the obvious translation glitch but also because it made me so happy to remember the sentiment. I watched Chase run ahead of me, still in his bubble of innocence, and I whispered, “You are my hopeliest son.”

Until next time…

Trying To Do the Right Thing

Getting my Yakult On!!!

Getting my Yakult On!!

It’s been about a month since we’ve been back. Things are just starting to feel “normal”. I say this after going to Buford Farmer’s Market today and practically having an orgasm after finding they have Yakult Yogurt! I must have put on some kind of show because a lady who was nearby asked me, “Is it that good?” and then picked up a case for herself.

I’m still not comfortable driving. I swear every other car is being driven by people on their phones talking or texting and it makes me so paranoid. I keep having to remind myself to STAY ON THE RIGHT! STAY ON THE RIGHT!!! And on top of all that,  I don’t know how Georgia code allows mailboxes to be placed so close to the roads. It’s life and death getting your mail here.

Oops!

Oops!

CHASE

The last couple of weeks it has been like DefCon 4 here at the house. We decided at the last minute to try to apply Chase to different middle school Fall 2013. This involved last-minute EVERYTHING. We are applying to 3 different schools. To be honest, I just couldn’t muster the energy to apply to any more than three. They are like college applications nowadays. So for each school, I have to fill out involved background information and write essays about our family and Chase in particular. We have to pay registrations fees to each school. I have to request transcripts and teacher evaluations for each school from all the schools Chase has attended. I also had to late-register Chase for the SSAT which is required by private schools in Atlanta for entry evaluation. His test date is February 2nd. And by the way, did I happen to mention he had Spring Baseball tryouts last Saturday? All the schools have called and we have scheduled the interviews. Why are we going through this madness when we are already at a school with an excellent reputation that he attended since he was 3 years old? As much as we love Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School and appreciate its loving and nurturing culture, things have changed, and Chase has changed.

Very shortly after Chase returned to school, a boy known for being the bully type came up to Chase in the playground and forced him and a friend to stop playing. This boy, then got in Chase’s face and said, “So what are you?!? Chinese or Japanese?”

Next incident: Same boy comes up to Chase at recess and says, “Hey Chase, since you’re so fat, I’ll bet you’re slow too. Wanna race?”

Today, Chase told me he was challenged by this boy to a tether ball game and after Chase won, the boy hit Chase with the ball bruising his arms.

He started school January 7th.

The bullying is horrible, but this boy was a bully before we moved and it is obvious he has suffered no consequences for it.

The other issue is homework. In Tokyo, we often had 3 or more hours of homework each night. Here, we have hardly any homework and much of the homework is extremely easy. It is very hard for me to sit by and watch while Chase re-calibrates his effort towards schoolwork. We practically had nightly exorcisms to get to the point when Chase could survive academically in Tokyo and now there are days when he has no homework because “there’s a test tomorrow”.

Unlike most Japanese, people in the South have opinions. Especially about things like private schools. I’ve heard enough good and bad stories about every school at this point, I feel like it’s God’s Will. Even if we end up staying at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, I will take it as a sign that it is just meant to be. The great thing about HIES is I know they will cater Chase’s program for his needs. Given the fact that Cliff doesn’t want Chase to go to Woodward Academy because it’s “in a terrible neighborhood” (and he doesn’t think Chase will get to play sports because of all the black students), and I don’t want Chase to go to Westminster because I want him to have a life, that only leaves Pace Academy. In case you are interested, tuition to these private schools: Woodward ($19,770), Westminster ($22,270), Pace Academy ($22,570). Applications have to be completed around March and early April is when decision letters will be mailed out.

Making the decision to explore other schools for 6th grade is heart-breaking for me. Chase has been at Holy Innocents’ since he was 3 years old. His best friend is there and we have great friends and memories of the school. I don’t know what is the right thing. All I know is I’m just trying to do the best thing and for some reason this felt like it needed to be done.

Until next time…

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