It’s so nice to see…

After I moved down to Tennessee, I finally got a job at a Timeshare Resort in a very small down.

I always joked that when I got to work, I would double the Asian population in this town.

THAT is how small it is.

We would in one weekend check in as many as 600 families and it was crazy. People would drive from all over the country, and some people even came internationally through their timeshare bankings. It was great, and of course I would get excited when anyone from my home state of New York would be there, or anyone from the Tri State area would come. I love New Jersey and Connecticut as well.

As I was helping with the check in process, an older couple stepped forward and they were an inter-racial couple. She was Japanese and he was White. Now, you’re wondering how I knew she was Japanese? Well her name was of the Japanese variety, I don’t remember exactly, but I knew she was and asked her if she was and she of course said yes. [And No, I did not ask her how long she had been in the country or if she was Taiwanese HAHA.]

Well after the 4 minute check in process and after I thanked them both for choosing to stay with us, she put her hand over mine and said

“It is so nice to see another Oriental person here.”

My eyes were the size of quarters. I could not believe what she just said. Now, I am not a fan of the word Oriental to describe Asian people. I just do not like the word, but that is not what got me. What got me was her statement. What was I supposed to say to that? You’re welcome? Thank you?

Well, that’s what I said “Thank you” because I did not know what to say. I put on a big uncomfortable smile and said Thank you. And then I got to thinking, I guess if you had been coming to that resort for over 20 years and you never saw someone that looked like you, someone who you think you could relate to, and finally THERE SHE IS! Then I guess I can understand where she is coming from.

I guess that is the same thing about how I get excited when I see Korean/Asian people at Tennessee football games because it is nice to know there is someone else that is here that looks like me. I guess I should just give her some credit for having the guts to say what was on her mind.

Now that I look back on the statement she made to me, it makes me realize how much I do enjoy seeing people that look like me whenever I am around East Tennessee.

So to the Japanese woman that I met a while back…It was nice to see you too!

XOXO

Christine

Is your name Jimmy?

Part Two

In my previous post I was talking about how I was just asked “How long I had been in the country.” I also mentioned that it would get better and it does. When things like this happen, you really wonder what people have learned in school about other countries and cultures.

So back to the story…

While we are trying to decide who is going to touch the sturgeons first…

Volunteer: “Excuse me is your name Jimmy?”

Hubs: “UM no.”

Volunteer: “Oh okay. My friend’s neighbor’s, son is supposed to come today and he married a Taiwanese girl.”

Us: “Oh, okay”

Volunteer: “Are you Taiwanese?”

Me: “Um no, I’m Korean.”

Volunteer: “Oh. Do you speak Taiwanese.”

Me: [my patience is running out at this point.] “No, I speak Korean”

Volunteer: “Oh is there a difference?”

Me: [in my mean, stern, annoyed tone]

“Yes, they are two totally different countries.

Now before I start cursing an old lady out, why don’t you tell me about the damn sturgeon?”

Volunteer: “The sturgeon are one of the oldest prehistoric ….”

Yes, this did happen. Was I mean? Yes! Honestly, I don’t think I had much patience for this. Does Taiwanese and Korean sound the same? I will say the fact of the matter is that first she asked me how long I had been in the country, which is rude in itself. Everyone that looks like me are not immigrants, there are people that look like me that were/are born in the United States and are citizens all day and every day.

Secondly, to go and ask follow up questions that are completely asinine are beyond me. So am I sorry that I lost my patience? Yes and No. Should I have been more forgiving to that old lady? Yes, considering that she looked about 70+. Do I regret reacting the way I did? NOPE.  Hopefully by my reaction she will go and find out about how many DIFFERENT countries, cultures and languages there are in Asia. 

 

XOXO

Christine

How Long Have You Been in the Country?

Part One

One of the first times I ever left the Northeast was to see my husband [he was my boyfriend at the time] in his home state of…you guessed it. Tennessee.

Confession: I am obsessed with aquariums. Yes, I have a list of them and I have highlighted all of the aquariums I have gone too. I also don’t care about how many times we go to the same aquarium… I LOVE THEM. [Except the Ripley’s chain…. I have noticed that those are all the same]

For my birthday he was taking me to TWO aquariums! [My birthday falls around Valentine’s Day so we were killing two birds with one stone….long distance relationships…sigh]

First stop was the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, TN. It was amazing! Love the place. To this day I think I have been there over a dozen times…can you tell I am OBSESSED?

We were walking around and exploring each exhibit and we stumbled upon the sturgeon tank, which also was a touch tank. We walked over to it and noticed there was a older woman volunteer standing there, and this is when it gets interesting.

Lake Sturgeon

Volunteer: Good Afternoon! How are ya’ll doing today.

Us: Great! Thank you

Volunteer: Well, where are ya’ll visiting from?

Hubs: Well I’m from Knoxville

Me: I’m from New York

Volunteer: [looking directly at me…] Oh, okay. Well how long have you been in the country?

Hubs looks at me with that devious smile of, I know you’re going to be angry…and at this exact moment I am so floored at the question. I mean really? I just said I was from NEW YORK?!?! That is a part of THIS country. The United States of America!

Me: 27 years, my whole life. I was born and raised in New York.

Volunteer: Oh. [Like she does NOT understand how I was not from another country]

Now, you would think that it would end there right? Absolutely Not! I was amazed already at the conversation we were having…but there’s more!

To be continued…

XOXO

Christine

It’s that time…

ImageIt’s football time in Tennessee!

Ever since I was little I remember watching football. Let me tell you, it is probably one of my favorite sports to watch. In my house we grew up as an NFL family, rooting for the New York Giants is priority and one of the greatest moments of our honeymoon was meeting Jerry Rice while he was shopping for golf gear in the Nike Store! We were never into NCAA football, but my father did watch, and we always hated “The U” and I rooted for the Florida State Seminoles…that was as much as I knew about college football; until I met my husband.

I will admit, I was not a fan of this NCAA football. Going to school in upstate New York [Go Danes!], there was never a good football program and school spirit? What’s that? haha. I did not even know how crazy this NCAA football could get, and believe me it gets crazy.

For the past three years I have been married to the Tennessee Volunteers and when football season starts there is nothing more important in my house than football . My husband’s wardrobe consists of more orange than I could ever imagine, and for example, a friend of ours commented on our honeymoon pictures on Facebook. She asked if his favorite color was orange or was he just wearing the same shirt over and over again….nope he has that much!

I HAVE BEEN CONVERTED! I DRANK THE KOOL-AID!

I wear that orange that everyone finds too bright and hideous. I thought that too, but now I wear it with a sense of pride. In the beginning it was to support my husband’s team, but now I wear it because it is OUR team! And I even have a favorite player….CURT MAGGITT #56!! 2Maggitt2Quit! So cheesy! I know. HAHA

So in honor of the start of Football season and our home opener tomorrow  here are some fun facts about the University of Tennessee’s Football team!

  • The Vols short for Volunteers got their name from the war of 1812 when Gen. Andrew Jackson asked for 2500 volunteers and instead he got 30,000. All from Tennessee!
  • We are a part of the greatest conference ever! Southeastern Conference (SEC).For you Rutgers fans, that’s like the BIG10.
  • Tennessee has won 6 National Titles and 16 conference titles!
  • The colors Orange and White are from the wild American Daisies that would grow all over the campus
  • The Pride of the Southland Marching Band is amazing!! At Halftime no one goes to the bathroom! We have the best band ever!
  • We have great traditions like running through the “T,” The Vol Walk, and General Neyland!
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  • Neyland Stadium seats 102,455 people. Yes you read that right, that’s a lot of people
  • We also have our own Vol Navy! Yes people ride their boats up to the stadium. It’s on the river!
  • The only name you need to know: Peyton Manning, Number 16. VOL FOR LIFE! [Yes, big brother to the amazing ELI MANNING!]

If you are at a game you can find us every home game in section C row 21!

You will see me there in my orange and singing Rocky Top!!

XOXO

Christine

Is this going to be on one check?

 

I remember the days that when you went out to eat you had to make sure that you brought cash so that everyone could split the checks. This day and age with technology improving vastly since then, now everyone can pay their own amount on each individual credit card and they don’t have to carry cash.

These days, when we would go out to dinner with family or another couple or a bunch of people before they ask you what you want to drink the servers will always ask how the checks are going to split up.

Now, I have done a little research and I have asked other couples and friends what happens when they go out to eat and comes time for the check. I am not talking about when you are with a group of people, and I am not talking about when you’re out with your parents. I am talking about when you’re out, on a date with just you and your significant other, and here is the question…

When it is time for the check, does your server ask you if this will be on one check?

Most of our friends that are couples of the same race [example: white/white or asian/asian] have informed me that they are never asked. BUT the couples that are mixed [example: white/asian, white/black, older/younger] have informed me that they get asked if it will be on the same check.

This is something I only noticed recently and I think I only noticed recently because we have recently started eating out together more frequently, but I will say out of the last 10 times we have gone out to eat, we have been asked 7 times if this will be on one check.

I was a little disturbed by this only because we obviously come in holding hands, ask each other lovingly what they would like for appetizers and we obviously are a couple. Weddings rings and all. Some of the places we go to we go to regularly, so why are they asking us? When I finally noticed what was going on, I told my husband that I was going to ask the next person that asked us why they asked us that and maybe, just maybe I can get an answer.

Does this happen to you? What did you do in this situation? 

What’s in a name…Aloha!

You are all probably wondering about the name of this blog…

well this is the story that started it all

At my first real job in Tennessee… through the busy weekends when check in and check outs were busy times, I was out by the front office doing something called express check out. It had been 4th of July weekend and let me tell you we were all in our festive gear. I was wearing a straw fedora-esque hat and had a red white and blue fake flower lei around my neck.

Now, just for your reference, my name tag had my name and the state that I was from underneath it. So it is not like you could not figure out what state I was from and especially with my “yankee” accent [as my lovely employees enjoyed to say… boy I do miss them].

While doing my express check outs, which basically I would take guests’ room keys and make sure they sign the check out form and wish them a great trip back to whatever state they were from. Well, one car pulls up and I cannot recall where they were from. I greeted them. Ask them if they had a wonderful time.

The wife  [and at this resort most of them were of the older demographic] proceeded to look me dead in the face and said

Woman:  “Aloha… … …..”  [I do not remember the whole phrase, but it was long and the only thing I could comprehend was Aloha]

I looked at her with a puzzled face. She looked at me with wide eyes and I said

Me:  “I’m sorry,” in my what did you just try to say to me face.

Image

me…circa 1980’s

Woman: “Oh, I said hello good morning and how are you in Hawaiian.”

Me: “oh, well hello, good morning, I am fine, thank you.” In my most polite, most not annoyed tone of voice

Woman: “I thought you were Hawaiian. Sorry.”

Me: “No, I am Korean. Unfortunately we do not understand Hawaiian. And I am from New York.”

Now, please understand I have NOTHING against Hawaiians. I actually know a lot of people who are. What I do NOT understand is why everyone down here, and I say this because I have only experienced this in the southern part of the United States, assume that I am Hawaiian.

My husband also has a theory on this and he believes that it is because I speak English and that is why people assume that I am Hawaiian. Not because I am an American born Korean in the United States of America…

I am automatically Hawaiian because I speak English without an accent.

 You would think that this would only happen once…NOPE!

XOXO

Christine

Hello… A little bit about me!

Growing up in New York, very rarely did I ever feel like I never belonged.

Wait, I lie.

Up until my Junior Year of high school, I did not feel like I fit in. But then again, everyone feels like they do not fit in, especially during those early years of life. BUT, I will say that after my junior year, I took each year with stride and grew to find my own niche of friends and figure out what life was like as a Korean American girl, living in the suburbs of New York.

Fast Forward to where I am now. Married to my six foot three, blonde haired, blue-eyed white man, living in East Tennessee, where the Volunteers reign supreme.

I thought that I felt like I did not belong when I was growing up in the suburbs of New York, BUT let me tell you living here in East Tennessee is almost worse or if not just as bad. Now don’t get me wrong, Tennessee is great, but the one thing that I miss more than anything are my friends, family and good Korean food. I never thought that I would feel so “isolated” here, if that is the best word to use.

For those of you that know how loud restaurants can be, let me tell you, I have never heard a dining room get so quiet until the first time I walked through one in Tennessee three years ago and had everyone starting at me.

Or about the time I went to what we call Wally World and noticed that the patrons stopped pushing their carts to blatantly stare at me. I consider myself a strong individual, but this was daunting. I thought to myself, “You’re just going to have to get a thicker skin and be prepared for comments, and get ready to respond to them.” Which I did, when an employee at a big name clothing chain at West Town Mall, that starts with a yellow fruit decided to speak to me in that SLOW, LOUD VOICE to think that I did not understand English.  HIIII HOW ARE YOU? CAN I HELP YOU? Which I responded in an equally slow and loud voice, “NOO THANK YOU. WHY ARE YOU TALKING LIKE THAT? I SPEAK ENGLISH.” I never saw anyone change their tone so fast or regret their actions more than they did.

It was actually kind of funny, maybe because I could not believe that this still happened in the great United States of America.

I have decided that going forward I would just “teach” each person that I encountered. That I would educate them about me and about Korean American people. Because if you have not figured it out yet, there are NOT that many Asian people in East Tennessee, let alone Korean people. Or at least what I am used to.

I plan on sharing my life experiences, from over all my life as well as the recent ones, but also just to blog about my other joys in life as well like cooking, shopping, and trying to keep in touch with my family and friends and making some new ones as well.

This will be just a little glimpse into this Korean American Yankee living in the good ole state of Tennessee.

So my adventures begin. I hope to enjoy my thoughts and adventures as much as I will enjoy sharing them with you.

XOXO

Christine