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Dear Jonghyun

Dear Jonghyun,

The first time I ever heard your voice was on a Last.fm station in 2008, which played Love Like Oxygen. I remember thinking about your breathy intonations. I followed SHINee loosely afterwards, though I really lost interest in the Ring Ding Dong era since it was a terrible song. I admit, I did admire your bleached orange hairdo (but looking back, it was not a good look after all). But Lucifer changed it all for me in July 2010. I started this blog shortly afterwards in August.

I was first an Onew fan. I watched Hello Baby and thought Onew was so funny. You were really funny too, but Onew’s humor just stuck with me then. But slowly, you started to capture my attention. Your journey of musical maturation struck a chord with me, someone who was also beginning to find her way as a musician. We moved beyond the rote–what we had been taught–and tried to find our own unique style and become more involved in what we perform. We both desired to perfect our craft, in a holistic and thoughtful manner. You were so beautifully emotive as a performer, and looking back, you probably couldn’t express everything that you ever wanted in words. But in music, you could.

We were kindred spirits, in a way.

When you committed suicide, my first raw emotion was disappointment. We would never get to see you again perform anything live, or new. What we had was all you had left us. So many possibilities were instantly gone forever. You were something rare in the kpop industry. We all know there are idols you could swap out and you wouldn’t notice the difference. They are content to do what the company asks, and stay within the lines. But you pushed the envelope, you did your best to create, and you succeeded. You were so good, you were so willing to learn, you were so humble…

You did well, Jonghyun, so much more than I can ever express in words.

Love, Michelle

 

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SHINee World V in Dallas

If any of you will be around, would be happy to meet you! You can write me at theinnocentlam (at) gmail (dot) com to set up details. I’m still around, but sadly my PhD program has taken up my free time so I haven’t been active on the blog. I’m hoping that the summer will give me some time to clear up my massive backlog.

A deep sadness

Some thoughts

I was raised in a diverse place where I knew plenty of people who looked like me, and who didn’t. I attended a diverse college, where again, I knew plenty of people who looked like me, and who didn’t. I had the opportunity to work in a fantastic agency who valued women and was incredibly international. I then was accepted to graduate school at a top university in which my cohort was diverse and the general student body as well.

I can only recall a few instances of overt racism in my life: things like people asking “What’s my name in Chinese?” or “Since you’re Asian, you must be good at math” or “You must know some good tea!” or “You must know where the noodles are in this supermarket.” Well-meaning, but ill-informed; easily fixable by a firm but friendly statement why such utterances are wrong.

I thought I knew America– a population of generally kind, decent, generous, and tolerant people. After the 2016 election, I am struggling very hard to still believe in this America. An America who knowingly elected someone who is a bigot, sexist, and racist– someone who is guaranteed to work hard to infringe on my rights as a woman, a first-generation immigrant, and as a person of color. An America where 50% of the voting electorate stayed home– this passivity at least as worse as actively voting for the bigot. An America where, even with an amazing and historic choice for President, chose to stay at home or elect one of the most ill-qualified and volatile candidates in history.

With anguish, I realize I lived in a bubble, and now I must come to terms that the America who elected this bigot is the true America that I live in and will continue to. America has come so far in many respects, but there still so much work to be done. As people of color, and as women, we must realize the strength in our numbers. America may still have a small majority of whites, but demographics are quickly changing. We already have powerful voices, if only we would speak up.

What to do next

Over the course of this terrible day, I’ve thought continually what I can do as someone, who only wants to live a normal life, can do to change this. I’m a student, I will never run for political office, I do not have much money. What can I do? There are many things– stand up for those you see being harassed (white allies, we need you more than ever)– keep informed– keep engaged and informed in national and local politics– whenever you can, engage with people who are different than you– volunteer for and donate what you can to organizations that help to protect those whose rights are under attack. I cannot stress enough to be engaged in politics at both the local and national level– vote in every election, contact your state representatives, your state governor, your city mayor, etc. Anyone, everyone. Local government is a vital part of the governing process and affects us, much more deeply, in many respects, than the federal government.

Remember, on November 6, 2018 all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested.

Bless you, and stay safe– especially my fellow sisters and brothers of color. I am always here to talk if you need it, or to lend an ear.

Life Barrels On

Sometimes I feel like I am stuck in a barrel going downhill, feeling all the bumps acutely as I race down the hill, unable to fully control my speed or where I end up. But then, as I reflect upon that, I feel silly– I am the one who put myself in this situation, and I better prepare myself as best I can for the bumpy ride or do some exit maneuver.

After a ridiculous month-long trip to Japan, Korea, and China, I moved to the Great Lakes region (not quite Midwest!) this summer. Right now, I currently am a first-year in an economics PhD program. It’s been fast-paced and incredibly busy. I see the same 30 or so people, day-to-day.

I do think about this blog from time to time, and I’d like to take care of some of the backlog (as I say all the time). I still follow SHINee quite closely, so it’s not like I don’t have the material! I hope you all have been doing well.

#ImWithHer, and some thoughts

Election has been unprecedented in so many ways. The good– a highly qualified woman who is poised, knowledgeable, and ready to be commander-in-chief is running as a major party candidate. The bad– a deeply unqualified man gets to run against her as her equal, despite a long and rich history of disrespecting women, people of color, and in general, any people that happen to cross his path when things do not go his way.

This presidential election has dredged up the ugly facade of America that’s always been there, just hiding behind the surface. In a way, I’m glad that it got revealed– in many ways, it’s much better than believing the shiny veneer that everything is all right. It’s not.

For years, picking up force during the 2008 elections and beyond, the Republican Party has condoned ignorance and demagoguery in their Party, and have allowed some of the highest politicians of the land to spout nonsense– the most extreme example, their 2016 presidential candidate. Without a resounding condemnation of their candidate, they implicitly lend credence to their candidate’s racism, bigotry, and sexism. Suddenly, the racists, bigots, and sexists who support The Yam became “mainstream”. They are not. I strongly believe in the goodness and generosity of the greater American public. However, the Republican Party chose to pander to that part of the electorate, helping their rise and destructive domination of mainstream politics. To put it crudely, they have made their bed and must sleep in it.

There are many respectable Republicans who are willing to work with Democrats, but now are demonized because of the radicalism that the Republican Party knowingly embraced. Conservative (or liberal) values does not mean one must have their way all the time. That is how our democracy was built– on compromise, not on one party rule.

I hope this election brings about the return of reason and compromise. And so, #ImWithHer.

 

a year and a half out

It’s been a year and half since I’ve graduated from W. That W. I meant to do some sort of an update post on my fifth blog anniversary, but I completely forgot.

Lots of things have happened this year and half, and while I can enumerate all of them, I still feel static. When talking to friends and catching up, it’s hard for me to tell them about my life, because I feel so boring. I like to think I have a rich inner life– but it is a boring life.

I’ve noticed small things a lot more since graduating; I’ve become acutely aware of even the small injustices. I’ve become the stereotypical Wendy, the one that perpetually says, “I’m offended.”It’s getting harder and harder to disguise my disgust and disdain, and I’ve recently come to express, to stand up for these feelings.

Ego and privilege are very real things; there are good people and there are crappy people. Mostly, there are good people who say crappy things. I’m one of those people. Political correctness is a state of unending effort to improve oneself, no one is natural at it.

There is an expression: “bounded by rationality.” Really, now.

top 15 kpop of 2015

My annual list of kpop that I’ve personally listened to most in 2015.

1/ Call Me Baby, EXO-M 

Every time I watch this video, I cannot get over how amazing everyone looks. SM’s visual game is ridiculous.

2/ Crazy (Guilty Pleasure), Jonghyun

Everyone saw this coming.

3/ Hallelujah, Jonghyun

He shouldn’t be allowed to gyrate his hips this much, ever.

4/ Hurt, EXO-M

5/ View, SHINee

6/ Deja-Boo, Jonghyun

7/ Love Sick, SHINee

I don’t even like this song that much.

8/ Komplicated, TVXQ

Some of the best work TVXQ has put forth in the past few years, almost rivaling Tone.

9/ Love Me Right, EXO-M

10/ Lightsaber, EXO

Okay, maybe I’m becoming a bit of an EXO-L. I’m obsessed with this promotional song (kill me).

11/ Closer, Oh My Girl

As a rookie group, they’re nothing special, but this song is ethereal and quite catchy.

12/ Rise as One, TVXQ

13/ Playboy, EXO

Written by Jonghyun- begging for an official Jonghyun cover.

14/ Mansae, Seventeen

The guy with the purple candyfloss hair. It’s so perverse but I love it. They’re quite a solid rookie group from what I’ve seen, but their songs veer on catchy and annoyingly-catchy.

15/ Exodus, EXO

So 13 out of 15 songs are from SM; I forgot, when did I sell my soul to SM again?