Category Archives: childhood

The blue jays that visit me every summer

Blue jays hold a special place in my heart.  Such colorful birds aren’t so common in S. Korea, so the first time i saw them in Virginia, i was captivated by their beauty.  They’re what got me into bird watching.

Every summer, a pair of blue jays visits the mini-forest next to my house.  The first summer they visited (or maybe the first summer i noticed them) was when i was in elementary or middle school.  I saw a flash of blue outside, and knowing what that meant, i stepped out onto my porch.  The two beautiful birds flew around me in a circle before disappearing into a forest further away.  It was a magical moment.

I recognize their calls when their visiting season returns, and whenever i hear them, i always, always look outside.  Sometimes they like to play hide-and-seek with each other in the pine tree right outside my window:

The other one was hiding beyond my frame.  I promise to update with a better photo if i can manage one before they leave for another year.  I don’t know where they go for the rest of the year, but i know they’ll always come back for the summer.

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questions on the loo, issue #6: Is it ethical to have children?

Coincidentally, on the day i wrote about birthdays, Peter Singer wrote about giving birth to new generations on the NYT’s new online column on philosophy, The Stone.  Ever since reading it, i’ve been thinking about the issues raised, but even after eleven days of contemplation, i’m left with far more questions than answers.

Disregarding some of the red herrings in the essay, what i take to be the underlying critical questions are,

1) Is life worth living?

2) Is it ethical to have children without having an objective answer to the first question?

For some perspective, the following are my favorite of however many of the 1258 (and still counting) comments on Singer’s post that i read that address either the first question or Singer’s main question of whether it is ethical to have children knowing that they will have to endure the pain and suffering that are an inevitable part of life.

There is the positive perception of human existence:

It’s the striving, not the fulfilment, that brings satisfaction, at least for mankind.  –Phil (Comment #255)

And the negative:

Those of us who have not shot ourselves in the head are either delusional or cowards. I am a coward who wonders is everyone else really so delusional? Or are we just telling each other that life is worth living when we all know we remain alive because nature has selected for those who fear death the most, and nobody wants to look scared. To me it seems like saying “I meant to do that….” after a gross error or pretending to enjoy the flogging you are recieving for appearances sake. Does the flogged man live for the spaces between the lash? Or does he live for when the lashing is done and he can finally crawl away and die knowing he made a good show of bravery? Either way the whole thing was just torture.  –Todd (Comment #54)

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I think the happiest i was between elementary school and college was in 9th grade, when for the first time, i had a close-knit group of friends.  Before then, i had gone from best friend to best friend, once valued friendships dissolving for no particular reason, but in 9th grade, three of my friends and i had the time of our lives in Bio and Phys Ed together.  Actually, i don’t know if they enjoyed it as much as i did, but those two consecutive class periods were some of the best times i ever had.  We each had our own friends too, and we were never a foursome—the kind of group where if one member was missing, an outsider would wonder why.  Instead, we were simply four girls enjoying school, without any obligations toward each other, but still valuing our time together.  I wish i still had that, but there’s nothing i can do about the different paths that all the people who enter my life take.

I guess i’m writing about friendship because it’s an area of my life in which i fail so miserably.  I don’t know what happened as i grew up, but with each year, it gets increasingly difficult for me to make friends and keep them.  Does this happen to everyone?  I wouldn’t know, cos i don’t have any friends to talk to about this.  Okay, so that might not do justice to the few friends i still do keep in close contact with, but there’s something to be said for those rare but palpable quandaries when i find myself needing to talk to someone other than my parents, and i can’t help but ask myself, ‘Who is the most appropriate friend to talk to about this?  Who is actually available?  And who wouldn’t mind taking an hour out of their busy night to talk to me?’

Don’t get me wrong; i have great friends who care about me and whom i care about in return.  And some of them would probably be offended if they knew such trains of thought run through my head when i need them.  But there’s still a lot that i miss about my childhood friendships.

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Seeing faces, reading faces

When i was a kid, i used to point at random cars and go, “That one looks sad!  That one looks like a racoon!  That one’s got doe eyes!”  I was referring to the “faces” of the cars, with the headlights for the eyes, the license plate for the nose/snout, and the grille for the mouth.  

The 1999 Ford Taurus always looked like a laughing baby to me:


Look at that smooth brow, bubbly eyes, and wide grin.  Compare its cuteness to the viciousness of the 2008 Honda Accord:

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Filed under childhood, design, perception

My fascination with toilets

I’ve always had a fascination with toilets.  I took art classes throughout my childhood, and i remember one of my first sculptures being that of a toilet.  You know, the typical modern-day kind, with the toilet bowl that sits on the floor and the tank standing upright where your back’s supposed to go.  I made such a toilet out of clay when i was five, and all my teachers praised my careful craftsmanship.  I wish i still had it.

What are some things you made when you were young that you wish you had held on to?

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