April 7 2017 — Birthday Number 27

There’s a guy who’s way more successful than I am who blogs on his birthday to measure how far he’s come from the previous year. I thought it was a great idea. And I know it’s not the 7th, and it’s not even April anymore, but maybe punctuality’s something I can positively write about next year.

And in typical fashion, I’m going to write it as a letter to my 26 year old self.

Dear 26 year-old Kangmin,


26 is nuts already, isn’t it? Yeah, Andrea is pregnant, and you’re losing sleep, constipated, and freaking out hahahahahahaha... HAHAHAHAHA!

I’m literally laughing out loud. A year from now, you’re going to be thinking about you thinking about how horrible life is. A year from now, you’re going to be grinning and chuckling thinking about how much shit you went through. It sucks, I know, but trust me, it’s gonna get way worse. Only for a little bit. And then it’s going to get better. And then worse. And then better.

2016 is just a shitty year for everyone. A lot of people got sick. A lot of people died.

Poppi died. She’ll be passing in June. It sucks. It sucks a lot. You shouldn’t let Andrea take your car to school, but it’s okay. Michael and Nate are going to let you borrow their red Civic to drive down to Chula Vista to see Poppi after she gets put down. The first time you see her that day is when she’s carted into the room wrapped up in a red blanket. You, your brother, and your mom stare and reach out to her as the vet politely exits. She’s going to be cold. You’re going to notice how small she was. You’re going to be a fucking mess. The only other comparable time in your life is the time Umma got sick and went to the hospital in December back in 2009. Some parts look similar too. You’re going to drive and start slamming your hands on the steering wheel. You’re going to yell and rage as you speed to the hospital. You’re going to pray. Though, in lieu of eventually abandoning God outright, you’re going to block out the sadness by getting high. It’s okay. I understand. But you should understand that you’re going to regret it.

It’s easy to run away, right? It sounds similar. Sounds like it’s something we’ve been doing a long, long time. Getting high … it’s running away. It’s abandoning your life for a little while and choosing to live altered. When you’re 27, you’re going to think: wasn’t Poppi worth the grief? And you’re going to think about that time you were locked outside of your house without a phone and think how Poppi came to your rescue and stayed with you for a few hours until your dad came home. And you’re going to know, she was 100% worth the pain. And you missed out.

But at the time, you’ll want to feel better. Everything around you is stale at best, heart wrenching at worst. Everything at home reminds you of Poppi.

Walking to the car in the mornings, you’ll think about how she follows you until you step inside the vehicle and close the door. She looks so silly looking around for you as if you’ve magically disappeared, right? Silly cat. He’s in the car!

Walking home in the evenings, you’ll think about whistling and calling for her as you saunter home. You’re going to miss those morning and evening minute strolls the most.

And you’ll call for her and whistle for her for a couple months even though she’s gone. In the mornings and evenings, you’ll whistle the usual whistle and meow like you usually do now. You’ll look at the places she tends to sprint out from/to: over the fence, in that one neighbor’s yard with red woodchips, up the tree, across the street.

And you’ll cry a lot. You’ll curl up into a ball and lay in bed, but this time, Poppi won’t jump on the bed and find a warm nook to cuddle into. You won’t feel her purring slowly quiet until she falls asleep before you.

Lucy will instead LOL. She’s going to come into the room a few nights and start licking your nose. Weird, right?! She never does that, but it’s because Sunny and Kevin are out on vacation. Some of those nights, you’re gonna be high. And when you’re high, you get paranoid. When you’re paranoid, you’re gonna think she’s trying to eat your face off. She won’t. Enjoy it for those three or four times because she’s going to run away soon too LOL.

And Doug disappears sometime after the baby’s born.

I told you: 2016 is horrible. Absolutely horrible.

When Poppi dies, yeah, it’s going to suck, but it’s also going to give you clarity. All of this shit going on right now with the pregnancy and dealing with Andrea and yourself and crap — it’s going to bog you down and shroud what’s really important in life. When Poppi dies, it’s going to shake the shit out of you and reset your system. (Don’t do this to the baby. It does not work literally.) You’re going to realize that life is too short to get wrong. It’s not going to miraculously sweep away your bad habits of playing video games too much nor establish a sharp sense of responsibility, but it will straighten you out a little bit. You’re going to value your relationships more. Your family will be the greatest source of comfort. They will know your pain, and they’re going to cry with you. Embrace them. Your friends are going to care about your well being. Let them embrace you. If you could live every day knowing that you loved those that mean the most to you, you would do it. So do it. And be satisfied in it because nothing else tastes as sweet.

You’re going to mean to tell your family that Andrea is pregnant, but all this crap is going on. Poppi dies, your uncle in Korea gets cancer, your childhood friend’s dad gets cancer… a good time never pops up.

Eventually, it’s going to happen. You’re going to walk into your mom’s room one night, mutter a few incoherent words in Korean, and you’re going to start crying. You’re going to tell her Andrea’s pregnant and shamefully apologize that you’re such a fuck up. You’re going to apologize for failing high school, never getting a four year degree, and now having an unplanned pregnancy with someone you’ve already broken up with.

And no, she’s not going to kick you out. Your dad’s not going to kick you out. You’re going to get scolded, but they love you so much. You just forgot. All that fear you’re holding onto is irrational. It’ll take a little while, but they’re going to help you let go of that fear.

Later still, everything is going to look different. You’re going to take Cheol’s room. Sunny and Kevin are going to move out. Baby toys everywhere.

And the transition is going to be bumpy (it still is), but it’s going to get better. You’ll all fight about things and get messed up about it, but it’s going to get better. Once he arrives, everyone is going to dote on him. Your mom and dad are grandparents now, and they’re just the absolute best. He’s a happy baby and I think he gets that from them. And your sister. And your brother. They all smother him with affection and stare at him with so much joy.

You’ll learn how to do that too, eventually.

I wrote this in May but never “finished” it. After reading through my draft, I think it’s okay enough to share. Enjoy.

Enjoy it.