Sad and Sorry (Literally)

One year ago today, I spoke with my dad on the phone. I remember this distinctly for two reasons:

1. Last year, August 11 was a Sunday; I always call my parents after church on Sundays.

2. August 11 is special day: it’s my anniversary.

This anniversary marks the time I first met my parents. Although I don’t remember this day, it changed my life. Adoptions back then didn’t happen as they do now; my parents did not travel to Korea to meet me and bring me to Kentucky. Rather, I arrived in Chicago from Korea on the lap of a stranger. I have always jokingly referred to myself as a mail-order baby, and in some ways, this is not untrue. And my closest friends and I refer to this anniversary as “Fasian Day,” as it marks the day I became a “fake Asian.”

Aside from my August anniversary, we’re approaching the awful, one-year anniversary of my dad’s untimely death. And it still sucks. Like really, really sucks. Death is awful. Grief is awful. Despite my belief that Jesus has conquered death, hell, and the grave; these things are still not the best.

This past year has been the worst year of my life — not in a “I can’t make it work” or a “I can’t do what I’m supposed to” kind of way, nor in a “I can’t carry on with my life” way; but in a “This particular night/moment suck,” or in a “This doesn’t feel right” kind of way,” or in a “I really hate that my dad is gone” kind of way. And there are still many days when I feel as though I’m watching my life happen in front of me.

I remember talking to my parents on August 11 specifically, but I KNOW I talked to my dad at *some* point between August 11 and August 23 when he died – I just don’t remember the actual date – but I remember because we had this in depth discussion about my mortgage and also about my student loans; he was concerned about my interest rates and I was slightly annoyed that he was asking so many questions.

And now I just find myself sad and sorry. You know, literally sad – sad that I can’t talk to dad anymore (amongst other sadnesses) – and sorry – sorry that I obviously didn’t really appreciate all those conversations with dad, especially on August 11ths of days past. Again, death & grief suck.

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Because blogging is easier than revising a chapter of my dissertation…

I was going to post about procrastinating, and how being a Good Procrastinator is knowing how long one can put something off and STILL manage to accomplish the task at hand – generally with only a few hours of sleep sacrificed… And how I pretty much failed at it last week (despite my claim of being a professional) with the most recent chapter revision – I greatly underestimated how long it would take to finish, and therefore sent the thing to Advisor a solid 36 hours later than I planned.1 

But I met with Advisor this morning (about said chapter), and I’ve got all kinds of things flying around my brain right now; and I lack the wherewithal to assemble that original post with detail. So instead, I’ll say last week was hard, what with the writing and…. Father’s Day, which was not my most favorite day/weekend ever.2 

Also, I got swept up in the tide of throwback photos on the magical interwebs this week.  I went through my high school and college photo albums (you know, one of those things that contains and displays actual printed photos!), and found some amazing pics. I will be sure to post them in the coming days (consider yourselves warned informed, friends I’ve known for a long, long time). But for now, here are two pics from my junior prom (back in the Stone Age) – including one of me and my Dad.

 


1. Better late than never, I suppose. Also, this might be the place to make some not-very-clever comment about putting this off until a later time.

2. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t fun. I’ve found the “big days” aren’t quite as difficult as the “I’m-totally-fine-OH-WAIT-I’m-not” days. For the former, there’s some emotional preparation, or at least expectation – which is just slightly easier to deal with than the “out-of-the-blue-sucker-punch” days. Grief sucks like that, I suppose.

Christmas vacation so far…

After much procrastinating, days ago I sent Advisor another (slightly incomplete) chapter draft… and left the state. I’m back at my old Kentucky home for a few days, and have had nary a thought of the dissertation.1 Of course, this trip home has been a little/a lot sad, and although Christmas was lovely, at times it was also sad. We did something totally different and ate our Christmas dinner at a Chinese buffet, which actually made me pretty happy.

In any event, I have spent time with family, read a couple of novels, caught up with friends, and well, done a great deal of nothing….

For example, I met a new game.

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I like this game a lot.2 The design is so lovely – simple and clean – and the game itself is incredibly simple… so of course, I’m hooked. I fear our relationship has been doomed from the start (much like this one), but I’ll enjoy the time we have together on vacation.

I’ve seen quite a few basketball games.

I watched the Very Tall Nephew play a couple of games, one of Younger Nephew’s games, their school’s girls team game, and a UK Hoops (the women’s basketball team) game. Since much of the men’s Kentucky-Louisville game happened during one of the Very Tall Nephew’s game, I watched some of that game on my phone.3 

Finally, I’ve been working on a really difficult 1000-piece puzzle.

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The Very Tall Nephew’s girlfriend gave this puzzle to Younger Nephew, but it has been claimed primarily by me and the VTN’s girlfriend (and her sister).4 I have every intention of completing it before leaving the state.

Clearly, I need to stop typing and get back to Dots, or the puzzle, or maybe watching some basketball, so happy sixth day of Christmas, y’all!


1. This does not take into account the requisite Dissertation Guilt. See this comic.
2. Apparently, I’m not the only one, according to this article by Craig Kannalley.
3. OBVIOUSLY, I paid attention to the Very Tall Nephew’s game, too, although it helped greatly that his team was winning by many points for the entire game.
4. The puzzle is a Coke bottle, but the actual image is made up of thousands of tiny pictures of Coke related things.

A whole lotta stuff…

It’s been a while since my last post, but here are a few updates.1 I met with the California Closets consultant yesterday and decided how to use my winnings. I have three small closets in my room (one is a small linen closet), and I currently have a roommate (rendering my walk-in closet spare bedroom off limits for storage, not to mention I still have all of these boxes of books from my office). Consequently, I have a bunch of stuff in my bedroom that normally wouldn’t be there, so I opted to get a wardrobe type thing in lieu of changing out my current clothes closets. This gives me six large drawers, a few shelves, and a several feet of additional hanging space, and hopefully will help my room look less like a storage warehouse. I also decided to go ahead (and splurge) and get the linen closet re-done while I’m at it. Of course, this pushes me over the dollar amount that Off Broadway will cover, but I figure this is the only time I’ll ever have this opportunity and motivation anyway.

Dave Rawlings Machine at the Georgia Theatre in Athens, GA, November 26, 2013; Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch, John Paul Jones, Willie Watson, Paul Kowert

I saw one of the best live shows of my life the week of Thanksgiving – The Dave Rawlings Machine at the Georgia Theatre. There are lots of reasons this show was amazing (that it was basically a supergroup, the venue is pretty spectacular, the setlist was incredibly diverse, etc.), but my favorite part was the joy that seemed to emanate from the folks on stage. In light of my recent research revelation regarding performance theory, I couldn’t help but view the evening’s events through the lens of identity construction.2 Many issues were thought-provoking (and probably merit another blog post, or wait, a dissertation chapter), including the aesthetic values of various “americana” genres, including country and rock broadly, but also subgenres like bluegrass and folk, not to mention the importance of “authenticity” in relation to these genres.3 But really, I was impressed, entertained, and inspired – the music sounded good and felt good.

Also, Thanksgiving happened. My family spent a few days in the mountains, doing something different from our regular routine. I had been dreading Thanksgiving a bit, imagining it would all just be overwhelmingly sad. But I was wrong. Yes, there were moments of sadness, but it was great to spend time with my family, and being in a different place actually seemed to help (me, at least). We survived it, and that’s something.

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Finally, in the category of college football, months ago, I had decided that I would attend the SEC championship game today (mistakenly assuming that Georgia would be playing Alabama again) as my very last college football game as a student, since I didn’t go last year. As it turns out, the Georgia – Kentucky game a couple of weeks ago gets that honor. It seems fitting, I suppose. And no, I have no intention of traveling somewhere not that exciting to go to a not that exciting bowl game.


1. And no, I haven’t finished my dissertation yet.
2. Philip Auslander, “Musical Personae,” TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies, Vol. 50, No. 1, Spring 2006.
3. The presence of John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin certainly amplified these thoughts, cf. Susan Fast’s work and view of Jones as “the band’s solid, learned musical technician.”

Three Years

Three years ago yesterday (three years!!!), I was in Jacksonville, FL, with Violin Doctor at a sad and sorry football game. I texted her after yesterday’s game: “Our presence in J-ville three years ago really turned the series around.” Since we were there, the Dawgs have won three straight against that other team.

EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL (2010)

EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL (2010)

Know what hasn’t changed since that game three years ago? I still don’t have a phd. I know, right? It’s not that I haven’t been doing trying-to-graduate-things since the two year compsiversary, mind you, I just haven’t finished… yet.1 I am MUCH closer to graduating than I was a year ago, but I still have some Things to write, and Lots of Things to re-write and revise. 

In the past year, I’ve applied for fellowships, traveled to new and not so new-to-me places (New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Charleston, Texas and SXSW, and of course Chicago a few times), found my time with the Writing Intensive Program officially come to an end, and moved out of my office at school. I’ve also written a lot of words and many, many pages.

But then, my dad died in August, which puts all of these things in a different perspective. Life is moving on, but I have found myself less willing to freak out about school, less willing to sacrifice sanity for school, and less willing to make school the Most Important Thing.2 I decided to forego attending any national conferences because the thought of them (the stress, travel, and all those academics) seemed completely overwhelming to me.3 While this might not be the best academic decision, I will call it a successful season once our family makes it through the holidays.

So unless something unexpected intervenes, I will write a dissertation. I will finish the requirements of my degree, like I said I would. I will graduate in May 2014 (MAY!!!). But for now, even though three years since comps seems like a LONG time (and plenty of time in which to write a dissertation), I think I’m just where I’m supposed to be.

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1. Thanks to friend and fellow musicologist T for naming the event!
2. I know part of this is the grief and sadness, with maybe a little bit of depression thrown in for good measure, but for now, I’m going to allow the procrastination of Academic Crazy. It’ll get here soon enough. #professionalprocrastinator
3. Also, they rejected my abstracts anyway.

One month

Again, I find that it’s true what “they” always say – in many ways it seems like last night that I was blindly packing for a trip that I knew would likely include a funeral, or like it was yesterday when I last spoke on the phone with my dad; yet it also seems like forever ago that sat in a hospital room with my mom and sister after we’d all been up all night or years since I hugged dad’s neck. In any event, this month has flown by.

I imagine at some point I’ll get back around to posting “normal” things here… like the photos above. I went back to Kentucky for a trip I planned in the summer; and I got to take my nephews to Rupp Arena on a Monday night and see a bunch of really good former UK basketball players. I also resumed the UGA musicology grad student tradition of going to home football games, and saw Georgia beat South Carolina.

Nevertheless, I’m still trying to figure out what “normal” means in all parts of my life. Sometimes this means “the ways things have always been,” because technically, my life in Georgia has not changed. But a lot of the time, “normal” means “regular things plus being sad.” I’ve gotten a lot of “How are you doing?” – not the run-of-the-mill “how are you doing,” but rather a you-just-experienced-the-death-of-a-loved-one “how are you doing” (trust me, you can tell the difference); and my answer to this question has generally been, “I’m doing OK,” spoken truthfully.

But my emotional response to all of this has been… unpredictable. As a generally happy person, the state of being sad (like Sad sad) is a little foreign to me. That is, I’m not quite used to the idea of an extended sadness like this, just like I’m not quite used to the experience of frequently being on the verge of tears in everyday situations, like shopping, looking at facebook, or brushing my teeth. So yeah, I’m OK. We’re OK. We will be OK. But pay no mind if you see me weeping in TJ Maxx while trying on shoes.

Loss

IMG_5746My father passed away suddenly almost two weeks ago. He was 65 and quite healthy; it was very, very unexpected. I have found that clichés and aphorisms have actually been useful and true during this time. It did feel like a (bad) dream; much of the time immediately surrounding his death was surreal; it has been much harder after the funeral; I found myself giggling at an inappropriate time; and really, there are only so many ways one can say, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Now that I’m back in Georgia resuming “normal” life (whatever that is, of course), I’m finding that a lot of things aren’t seeming quite “normal.” For a small example, this blog. It seemed quite silly to try and blog about dad’s death and anything associated with it, but it also seemed a little silly to not say something about it. So here it is. I’m blogging about blogging about it, which seems appropriately strange.

However, I lack the wherewithal to go on and on about dad, or to say something meaningful enough and/or important enough. I thought about talking about how he loved Jesus, how he taught me to love books, how he introduced me to laissez faire economics when I was really young, how I blame him some for my night owl tendencies, or how he really believed that I was smart and could accomplish anything I wanted. Instead, I’ll just say that I miss him, even though I’m grateful for the time I had with him; and through all this, my family has felt quite loved, cared for, and prayed for. So to those who have offered kind words, prayers, messages, phone calls, food, drink, support, flowers, etc., thanks 🙂

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