peasant daughter


me in my ajumma farming sun bonnet

Oh the days have been flying by…I’ve been so engrossed in serendipitous research that I hate to go to sleep.  It’s really great!

I’d gone through a period of hating being stuck in this role as adoptee elder statesman, all communication being about adoption, adoption, adoption, adnauseum adoption, and was bemoaning whether it was even possible to ever escape , as other adoptees chuckled at my talk of opting out and told me with total confidece that I will always be involved, as I look at them and begin to hyperventilate, frantic.

And then I went through another period where I tried like hell to ramp down my activity and divorce myself in preparation for a total break but then went through not knowing what to do with myself.  To add to my misery was being totally irrelevant at work and barely teaching at all for the past six weeks, which set me on a path to try and make my last semester teaching as valuable as possible.

And then something happened:  I got engaged in immersion teaching techniques to a surprising degree.  And pretty soon I was finding myself passionate about it!  And it was so great to have my energies focused on something, as it’s been a chore to do any adoption-related work, so much so that I’ve not gotten anything done.  I’ve talked to amazing innovative passionate teachers’ teachers like Ben Slavic  who is like the Jaime Escalante (the calculus teacher in the movie Stand and Deliver who took at-risk students and helped them pass the AP SAT’s) of foreign language teachers (using unorthodox and maligned methods his students placed highest in the nation on SAT tests)  and even helped him out, and it felt so great because I really believe in how he empowers students by making education be about them/respecting them as people.  So researching how to reach my students is what I’ve been doing.   Is this a calling?  No.  But finding Ben was a reminder that positive things engage me.  Just like adoption work is not my calling, nor is blogging.  But I do what I can when engaged.  Fixing things engages me.  But fixing them doesn’t bring me happiness.  Creating things, now that brings me happiness.  Connection to time and space.  That brings me happiness.  Dwelling, as Heidegger defines it, that brings me happiness.

Meanwhile, incubating for several months now, at this time where I am on the cusp of a new job and moving back to the U.S., has been this nagging idea that I was about to repeat all the same old wrong survival techniques that have always served me yet kept me also from self-actualization; those techniques being grasping for something somewhat rewarding yet sensible enough to not hurt myself, as if happiness can be rationalized.   So that little something somewhat rewarding had to be amplified, and I would throw myself into it with as much zeal as humanly possible.  That passion everyone so admires — some of it is misplaced energy, and some of it is gritting my teeth in determination to fix things in the most positive manner I can muster.  Must make lemonade.  Must do something worthwhile.  Must do something to make myself feel better.  It was desperate and hysterical.

There has always been a scale to what is sensible or not, and there has always been this notion that personal fulfillment was inverse to safety.  And so, at every discontent  I’ve always questioned whether I had sold myself short.  And at every flight of fancy I’ve always questioned whether I had compromised myself, my family, my future…and though by others’ standards I have taken huge risks, they were never risky for me:  they were always safe and sensible in the context of my own internal conflicts.  Even coming to Korea was playing it safe because it was a resource for a steady income.  Even coming home is safe, because I have a job lined up.  And I have always played it safe because I’ve never felt confident that good things, things that make people happy, can happen to me.  I mean, I can work hard and do anything I set my mind to and have, but achieving happiness is something that happens to blessed people, and I was born under a bad sign.  I always felt a measure of fulfillment was as much as I deserved to ask for.  So I always compromised by making sure things penciled out..

But now that I know better, and by that I mean I feel connected to myself enough not to ignore what my heart wants and be able to admit it and say it out loud, I had to ask what I’ve been shying away from.  What have I consistently and repeatedly put away, dismissed, dropped, talked myself out of?  What have all the things I have done danced around but not really addressed?  What do I want that does not require some self-flagellating suffering, martyrdom, painful investment to feel like I’ve achieved something?  What has always been there grabbing my interest in spite of myself?

That would be homesteading.  Which is perfect for a generalist like me, who knows her way around a hardware store, who understands simple mechanics, who can grow things if she’s not at school full time and working half time, who can build things, who likes to draw plans and make schedules, who isn’t into hiking to get to the view but likes to note all the vegetation on the way and lie down in deer beds and pick berries, who loves to learn about systems and values self-sufficiency, who doesn’t mind getting dirty or shoveling manure or hard labor and loves organizing tools, who actually enjoys the OCD of weeding, etc. etc.  And its bottomless research and never-ending learning is a goldmine of contentment.

It’s been my thing since about third grade when my aunt began to give me the “Little House” book series. I read all the Foxfire books and would hand copy all the useful information from them.  I subscribed to Mother Earth News while in elementary and middle school.  (weird kid, I know) Throughout high school I collected books on how to raise goats, chickens, make out-buildings, make solar ovens, slow-cookers, irrigate with gray water, learn the concepts behind drain fields and septic systems, learn about cisterns and showers, companion planting, making root cellars and food preservation, passive and active solar buildings, etc.  I carried those books around with me for another decade after graduation, from job to job and house to house, and only abandoned them after I graduated from Architecture school when I gave up hope, locked into my educational investment, barely off welfare and in debt.  It  seemed frivolous at the time, or not fair to my family, or in the design world being green seemed like just another gimmick to market.  Or its proponents were sanctimonious and exclusive.  While I’m happy people are into it now and disgusted that it’s too often superficially fashionable, for me it seems like coming home to who I am and therefore it’s the most important thing.

So that’s the plan.  Not art – too serious, and that would stress me out, always having to be profound, and I would quickly get tired of my own voice, just like I’m tired of this blog most days; and besides, that would be another instance of me being safe and sort of but not really doing what I really want.  It will take many years just to save for a few acres and my very own shack, but hopefully I can do this before this body is too broke down, and in the meantime I can joyfully fill my spare time like I have the past few weeks, since I have to re-learn everything and catch up, as things have changed a lot in the past two decades and I’m not such an anomaly anymore.

And on the way I am finding new heroes, such as Alex Weir, who has devoted his life to economic development of third world countries and has probably helped millions of people by giving away a lifetime of work in permaculture, plans to simple machines, and computer programs which improve equality and connectedness for the dispossessed. 34 gigabytes of information – given away for free.  That’s something I can respect.  You know, there are those that want to be legends, and then there are these unsung heroes nobody knows about who quietly get the job done.

I don’t want to be an adoption reform hero.  I’m happy to just have shared my attempts to sort out this complicated adoptee experience and hope it has helped some people.  And so in honor of the life I am working towards, I purchased this peasant gear:  which, btw couldn’t be better designed for comfort and functionality and a great tool that should be worn with pride.  And with that there’s no further reason to write this blog!  I may write about other things one day, who knows, elsewhere. And I may post an announcement if that book ever gets printed.  But this chapter is closed.  Happy ending!

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10 Responses to peasant daughter

  1. ephemeralactor says:

    I’m a bit bummed out to hear you’re gonna stop this blog. It was mildly cathartic for me. I do appreciate all the words you’ve written. I should buy you a drink one of these days.

  2. girl4708 says:

    Well, I should never say never and there ARE a couple things left I didn’t articulate about adoption but haven’t been able to formulate into anything comprehensible yet.

    But this being a regular part of my life is so over.

    I’d happily let you buy me a drink whoever you are wherever I am whenever that day is.

  3. Mei-Ling says:

    I like your self-taken photographs. ;)

    And hey, OCD can be a useful thing for jobs that require repetitive tasks. Thanks for all those discussions we had – I am astounded you survived Korea for such a long amount of time given your predicaments and previous adoption turmoil – but am happy for you that there’s a light at the end of a tunnel.

    Good luck in your future prospects, I hope you find happiness back in the U.S.A.! :)

  4. ephemeralactor says:

    What’s the best way to reach you? Kakao? Email?

  5. girl4708 says:

    Thanks Mei-Ling! Godspeed on your continuing journey as well!

    Ephemeralactor and anyone who wants to contact me can reach me by my email alias, girl4708@hotmail.com

  6. jk says:

    i’ve totally worn hats exactly like that (different print) on the farms. sooo useful. so genius.

  7. girl4708 says:

    Yeah, I WISH I had this hat back when I volunteered at the organic CSA. Really is genius. And a hikers’ water bladder. Wish I had had one of those as well.

    Meanwhile, I am learning that rice grows better/easier and more environmentally soil friendly when not in flood fields, and daikon grows well between trees and pumpkins grow well in rock outcroppings and soil isn’t even necessary with hydroponics and tilling is the worst thing you can do to the planet and…it’s nice to be on the receiving end of blogs now…

  8. pkchung987 says:

    Hey I came across your site researching for LASeK. I wanted a ask a few questions if that’s alright with ya?
    1) did u goto 강남밝은성모안과?
    2) if so, I was actually just there today for exams and they had pricing for 4 different types of lasek. Which tier did u get? I think it was pmp lasek, premium lasek, then some other two.
    3) your eyes still aren’t near 20/20? Do u think it’s due to the incompetence and/or equipment at the place? Would you still recommend thr place?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  9. girl4708 says:

    1) yes.
    2) we got the best package they had.
    3a) according to them it is 20/30. i think it is less than that. they said prior to surgery that my old eyes would get no better than 20/30. i haven’t taken the time to get an appraisal of my vision elsewhere…
    3b) i think they are as competent as anyplace, but the language barrier is not as reassuring as going to the other place. my vision being corrected for mono-vision may have been a communication problem. the physician who diagnosed me was not the one performing. i don’t know if that is the case at the other clinics, but i imagine so. they pretty much all run like factories. i would still recommend the place. i would think twice about lasek though! you will be uncomfortable for quite a long long period of time. we both had no choice but to get lasek, because of previous scar tissue in my friend and because of an irregular topography in my case, but lasik is painless and over in one day so get that if you have the money. i would still recommend where we went because the other places didn’t consider these previous conditions a concern…in general, like any surgery of any type anywhere, there is room for improvement in both understanding and technology and always a risk anybody takes. but i think it’s proven safe and my eyesight is better than pre-surgery. i continue to have days where dry eyes affects my vision, but i think that’s my fault and a good barometer to lower my coffee consumption.

  10. Juls says:

    Sometimes it feels good to reach out and step down to our pedestal.

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