It’s 3:30 am in the morning in Hamburg and I woke up after some crazy dreams where I wore a car filled with stuff on my back, trying not to fall into a lake… and can’t fall back asleep.
(Justin – think this has something to do with our cross-country road trip plans?)
As is typical (and kind of scary/sad) my hand went for the blackberry and then the mind started racing of all the to dos and follow ups that need to happen around the job… and I figured, shit, might as well get up … and write.
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After spending my childhood traipsing around the boroughs playing neighborhood manhunt and fire hydrant summers; taking the bus to and from junior high in Canarsie, with the routine of a bagel loaded with cream cheese in the morning and a slice of pizza for lunch; graduating high school (Stuyvesant) in downtown Manhattan with friends who are now family; and burning out on shopping and cheeseburgers during my college years at NYU…
I left NY in the summer of 2003, and I remember mom and dad asking – why are you leaving?
Response: because I’m your daughter.
After a lifetime in Korea and serving 5 years in the military, my dad left Seoul to travel the world… eventually ending up in Iran… taking my mom with him. Turns out there was a pretty large Korean community in Iran in the 70s… and my parents got married and had a baby – Elena, my beautiful, should-have-been-a-model sister.
(Loire Valley, France, family wedding summer 2006)
They fled the country in 1979 with the country in political upheaval. My mom en route to Hong Kong with sis on her lap, my dad denied a flight and finding his way through the Middle East until he finally got a visa … in Jordon.
(that’s the short version)
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So after burning out on Wall Street at the young age of 23 I decided to travel, in the spirit of my parents… I moved to downtown LA, waitressed at Zip Sushi for 3 months while taking Kaplan and applied to grad school. Then I took off to Japan to teach English at ECC figuring I’d come back if I got in to USC and keep practicing my Japanese indefinitely otherwise.
I spent a lot of time out in Japan watching local TV, riding a really cool Hanshin Tigers foldable bike around the hood (Tenmabashi and Higashi Osaka), drinking sake, izukaya karaoke with my crazy British friend Sara (geez, where is she now?) and learning how to bass fish in Lake Biwa. Caught a big one, once.
Came ‘home,’ started at my Trojan mafia university, located near South Central (renamed Central LA), found a great apartment in Silverlake, studied hard, worked harder, and met some amazing people.
One of whom I worked with to revitalize a dying not-for-profit PR agency – Cristelle Basmaji – she’s bridesmaid material, and, I’m really proud to say, growing her career in Canada as one of the leading corporate social responsibility (CSR) experts.
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Beyond Japan, I’ve done stints working/living in London and Hong Kong… and through the end of July I’m sort of living in San Francisco but most people can find me living online.
And just shy of 5 years after leaving one of thee greatest cities on earth… I’m happily returning to New York – to crash at the luxurious mom and dad bed and breakfast, conveniently situated between a Metro North stop and the D/2/5 train lines in the Bronx.
My dad’s retired and the man can cook! My mom’s a fruit-fiend and always stocks up on OJ. Healthy living, here I come!
The place even comes with a cat.
Miro rocks (photo coming).
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I’m too young to be writing a memoir but after 5 years living 3,000+ miles away from my family and close friends… traveling to a lot of places and working in a number of corporate, agency and none-of-the-above environments… it’s nice to take a moment to reflect on the accomplishments of someone who is (still) hungry for experience… and chasing down her curiosities.
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* still not sleepy