A birthday isn’t a celebration of your birth;
it’s a celebration of why you live.
Friday was my birthday, and it was… different. It’s the only one i remember enjoying. It’s not like i was ever miserable on my birthdays, but i just never assigned much importance to them. I don’t remember my childhood birthdays, but for the last eight or so years, my attitude was that it’s only another day in the year, nothing to make a fuss over. My parents would ask me what i wanted, and i’d reply, “I don’t want anything. Who cares about birthdays?” I’d hate having to have my mom’s seaweed soup (a traditional Korean birthday soup), because i hate seaweed soup, and she’s not a good cook. I used to threaten her that i’d stop being her daughter if she made me any. But this year was different.
I didn’t do much. I woke up at around 5pm, wrote a few emails, and headed out to FedEx to send out my last document for a job. UPS was supposed to come by my house to pick up something, but instead of knocking and picking up my package, the delivery man just stuck the mailing label on my door. (UPS, you have a lot to learn from FedEx.) Then i went shopping with my parents for “teacher clothes” (more on this in another post) and finally had the ddeok-bok-ki i’d been craving for weeks for dinner. The ddeok-bok-ki was really good, but the draft beer tasted strange.
And so, it was an altogether unremarkable birthday. But i was strangely happy, and it was only yesterday that i figured out why, when i was up at my usual summer pre-bedtime hours in the morning. I’m at a point in my life where i’m perfectly satisfied. I know where i wanna be in a few years (grad school for Philosophy), and i know what i wanna do before i get there (teach). And now that i’m closer to making that dream of teaching a reality, i feel completely at ease and confident at the same time. This is the perfect opportunity for me to take some time off, get away for a while, make new friends, and also have a bit of time to myself to read and practice philosophy in preparation for grad school. And i value this opportunity because it’s what i wanted most.
Filed under love, personal
One random day, the following thoughts struck me:
The only thing a parent gives to a child from the very beginning is a name. We all make our own decisions and go our own ways as we grow older, but most of us do not change our names. And that’s where i see the power of the name. We fight all kinds of labels as we enter and make our way into society. Here is just an example of what someone’s daily mantra might be: “I am not just a Catholic woman, i am not just a Puerto Rican woman, i am not just a hispanic woman, i am not just a woman—i am a human being.” And yet we gladly accept the most existential label of all: our name. Why might that be? We blindly accept it and don’t question it. By the time we’re toddlers, we just know what our name is—what we are called, how we are labeled. Does it not seem weird that we accept the most important label—our identity, in the purest sense of the word—from our parents? But in a way, that’s what gives our names a curious sentimental history; the fact that they are the only thing given to us that stays with us explicitly from our birth to our death as long as we accept it. Like a mystical gift from the man and woman who created us.
This is a personal tradition i started in 2007. I decided to make a soundtrack for every year of my life with a song for each month. Here is my 2007 soundtrack:
2007: My year in music
Pre. Zero 7 – “In the Waiting Line”
Jan. Radiohead – “Up On the Ladder”
Feb. Republika – “Poranna Wiadomość”
Mar. Mackenzie Phillips – “Another World”
Apr. Tori Amos & Ani DiFranco – “Silent All These Years”
May. Duncan Sheik – “Half-Life”
Jun. Imogen Heap – “Hide and Seek”
Jul. Joe Purdy – “Isn’t Love”
Aug. Cat Power – “Evolution”
Sep. KT Tunstall – “Universe & U”
week 1. The Doors – “The End”
week 2. Neil Young – “After the Gold Rush”
week 3. Aqualung – “Garden of Love”
week 4. The Poems – “Ballad of a Bitter End”
week 5. Ingrid Michaelson – “Keep Breathing”
Nov. Brandi Carlile – “That Year” (live in Birmingham)
Dec. Nick Drake – “Time Has Told Me”
Fin. Simon & Garfunkel – “The Only Living Boy in New York”
I know, there’s a prelude and finale, and October has five(!) songs. I’ve got a lot of explaining to do.