KimyiBo Art

Time to Embrace Chaos

poetry in the subway station

Poetry in the subway station

It’s a mess again. My life. Our life.
It’s been two weeks.
Packing and unpacking and packing again.

We stayed in Korea for eight months. Snow just melted when we arrived there in March. I saw the plum blossoms as if for the first time in my life. White angels encircled us in the garden. The day before we left, first snow of the year.

I reconnected with lovely faces for the past eight months. Six years had passed but those faces stayed the same. They welcomed me with warm smile.

Beautiful and unique memories with my Hope child until Newborn Faith arrived. Hope and I did everything together: enrolling in classes, eating kimbob every other day, walking along the river, splashing in rain, playing in the local public pool, and looking at a sonogram of Faith in my belly.

Giving birth in my motherland turned out to be more satisfying than I ever imagined. The experience brought me to unexpected new relationships, among which came forth new friendships.

Into our suitcases we tried to pack only the essentials but even so, we were not allowed ample space. We had to leave our some of Hope’s favorite toys, all the pots and pans that fed us, and some clothing that we have grown attached to. Most of all, we could not pack the view of the busy street from our window, the morning light hanging on Hope’s playpen, the sound of an elevator arriving to our floor, and our dear Benjamin, our dear old rubber tree in a pot.

Hope was nervous pretty much during the entire time we were packing. Her life was disappearing, torn down, shoveled into boxes. She cried for a stretch of an hour or more. We had to accept that there is no other way to console her besides just allowing ourselves to go through this transition together. We were all sad and stressed.

Two weeks forward, we are again in our home in California. We can hear the sound of bird from the window instead of cars running on the freeway. There is a story time in the library down the street instead of an expensive private class in a huge shopping mall. We don’t have to pass by a group of smokers when we cross the street to get to the subway station. Taste of the air feels greener and cleaner here.

Everything we see, listen, feel, smell, and taste let us know we are in a new place, yet familiar.

We will have four months here before we move to Geneva. We have to unpack and pack simultaneously. I don’t know if it is something healthy to do, but that is what is given to us right now. I have to part with my teenage-through-youngadult-hood memories since we can only take 1000kg with us. Definitely not enough. Perhaps it is a good thing.

When I wake up at 4:30 AM to feed hungry Faith, I think about which boxes I should attack first: boxes of toys, books, clothes, or kitchenware? Even as I am discarding my past passions and dreams, I sense new ideas and thoughts asking for my attention. Too many things to do, not enough time and energy.

Forget coherence,
Ignore continuity

Just do what I can do now, and there is no more.

지금 이 순간의 행복

여보시게나 사람 사는 것 별거없네
인생 뭐 있나
살아 있음에 감사하며
탐하지도 저버리지도 않은 삶
꽃 볼 수 있고
아기의 옹얼거림 들을 수 있으면
사는 것이네.
그것이 우리 삶과 행복의 뿌리라네

Happiness of Now
Suk-san Han (trans. by KimyiBo)

Hey, dear stranger, there is not much to human living.
What is so big deal about life?
Thankful for the breath,
Life that is neither covetous nor indifferent.
If I can look at a flower and
hear a baby cooing,
I am living.
That is the root of our life and happiness.

Night of Korea, apartment windows
KimyiBo Art

Thanksgiving Day Motherhood Journal

There is no Thanksgiving Day here in Korea. Even if there was one, I would not have known about it in my confinement. It’s been sixty days and a few more. No outside contact. No more playground. Not even cooking.

Not to mention drawing and writing.

There are days when I just can not bring myself to cheer up enough to engage with Hope. She is pulling my pants, repeating the same question three times, but I still wouldn’t hear it. She retaliates by scratching my face, and I send her to her crib where she stays for two hours at a time.

Being together in a rectangular space with a toddler and a new born for more than 76 hours does this to us.

Without reading it anywhere, I have learned only from experience that one’s identity is only a group of activities that reinforce her understanding of who she believes she is.

Many Women who gave birth to a child for the first time say there are many things no one has told them about labor and breastfeeding. When I see a pregnant woman on the street, I want to stop her and tell her to be prepared for a identity loss. That’s because you will be engaging in a completely different set of activities from the ones you have been doing until now. You must quit it whether you like it more not.

If I could give one advice I would like to give to a mom-to-be, I would like to tell her not to make major life changes right before or after the baby arrives. Adjusting to a newborn takes a toll on one’s mental health. Why add more?

In a week we are getting out of Korea, back to the States. There will be many things I will miss about here—friends, family, food. I will not miss waking up and not looking forward to the day ahead. I will not miss living with a layer of fog over my head for more than 76 hours. I will not miss having to keep going when I don’t know where I am standing.


Nature Inspired Early Childhood Education

I have been interested in play-based and nature-inspired early childhood education for a while. Among many other reasons, the main reason I held back from it was because I just could not give up disposable diaper though I feel guilty every time I take out my trash… Well, when we finally settle in a place where we can live for at least two years and have our own washing machine, I may finally try cloth diaper and be more intentional about education at home! There are lots of on-line resources and here is one I have been watching.

Whole Family Rhythms giveaway!.

Motherhood Journal

Motherhood Journal #6

Time of plenty

From the afternoon of September 23rd, I have no shortage of these below:

stretchy swaddling blankets
square single layered gauze cloths
white cotton baby gowns
nursing pads, nursing shirts, nursing everything

baby hair smell, sweet milk flavored cheeks, yogurt poops
aroma of cocoa seed butter, shea butter, calendula flower extract
smell from cafe across the street, a forbidden zone

seaweed stew boiled with hours of perspiration,
shredded cabbage
packs of soy milk
pine nuts and cashew
sesame leaf and spinach
eggplant and fern sprouts
boiled quail eggs and roasted sweet potato
protein protein protein
white rice, fat and shinny

Checking for these sounds:
shooting inside a diaper,
satisfied smiling

Bodies, once was one now two, engaged in these movements:

Not really sure if sleeping too much or not sleeping at all
counting toes until my next feeding—me or him?
Baby, answer, How did you get here?

Daily Inspirations

Philosopher’s Path



While watching Hope building a tower with her blocks, in between changing diapers and cleaning the kitchen floor, or when mindlessly moving my hands under running water in a sink, my mind canters along a path I remember dearly. It always starts with a brook in the middle of a road that is outlined by a procession of trees on both sides. Along the path, there are little shops–colorful, coy, self-contained. I let them pass me, thinking I would stop by one of them if I would ever return to this place. I am always running out of time.

One day I asked TH about this path. I asked him if he could tell me where we had walked this road. “Was it in Minneapolis, near the park of Minnehaha fall? Was it some French town near Geneva? Or somewhere in the suburb of Philadelphia?” At first TH said he knew which place I was talking about. I vaguely remembered that I was not alone, but I couldn’t see the face of my company. I just assumed it would have to be TH. “Where were we going?” I asked again, and more questions asked, TH seemed to get more and more unsure.

On my fourth day in Kyoto, I looked at the city map for the first time. Until that point I solely depended on my friend for directions and choice of activities. Since my friend had to spend the afternoon in a library at Kyoto University of Art and Design, I had to plan my afternoon alone. Since the University was in the upper east side the city, I tried to find something near, and I spotted an interesting name for a road. Philosopher’s Road, as written on English map connected couple of temples nearby.

“Philosopher’s road! What a romantic name!” Jisun exclaimed. A flashback to eight years ago. Jisun, wanting to take a few days off her work, persuaded me to come to Kyoto with her. She and I were a good match for traveling in a city that we had never been before. We both loved things from history, and we both appreciated art. It was destined that we both fell in love with temples of Kyoto; colorless zen gardens, green moss, wooden floors that you can feel under bare feet, and paintings enshrined in meeting rooms—we soaked them all in.

I knew where to spend my last afternoon in Kyoto so I take a bus from the art school to Ginkaku-ji bus station. In there middle of the road, there stands a wooden sign with carved white letters, “哲学の道 Tetsugaku-no-michi,” literally translated as a path to philosophy. Behind a sign starts a passage, two parallel roads and a canal in-between. A path is laid out in stone that stays cool under overhead foliage. Tree trunks, wearing summer green moss become a corridor that feels safe to walk in. Shops appear here and there along the road, selling coffee, souvenirs, soft ice cream, and handmade things, but they are not at all demanding. They entice you with possibilities to find something personal to make your day special.

There is a wooden doll in red dress placed on steps that lead to a small gallery. ‘I had been standing in this place.’ I said out loud to myself. With this realization, the trees, stone paved road, cafe, and canal became known to me. Yes, I have finally returned to the place in my memory.

At times when my alter-ego brought the image of this road to me, it was perhaps trying to tell me something, the same message over and over. I’d rather linger inside the image, as in daydreaming. The frequency of random appearance of the image increased in the past two years. Perhaps in those moments when I wished things were different, the image was my longing, as bare as it can be.



Do not doubt

“There is a deep satisfaction in watching things change while being still. Perhaps it comes from knowing where I am and accepting changes that come with the passing of time.”
-from  “Old Man Reflecting on Water”

becomes a word, not just a carrier.
Watching it flow, I am an ancient wise woman meditating.

If I stand in water it would only come up to my thigh,
weed can wrap my torso three times
fish, length of my forearm, keep growing in size
so long as trees make blossom each spring.

I am my own stream, I too
have growing weeds and fish.
Where it starts, the stream—
and where it heads, I do not know. Only this moment
where we gathered under a bridge from which a child looks down
is an my validation.

Do not doubt.

D and Love
Daily Inspirations

D and Love

This is a picture that reminds me of our multi-dimensional existence.

What we have here with us today binds us to a relationship that last forever.

The beagle in the picture is D, my Love-child’s first dog. He was a contemplative kind. He did not care for chasing squirrels as other beagles do. If there were one thing that distracted him, it was his passion for food. He sometime went beyond a capacity of a beagle to get the object of desire in his mouth. With his companion beagle B, the duo scavenged food shelves for boxes of cereal and bags of dried fruits and nuts, and chewed them open to get to the contents. They once opened a jar of peanut butter and licked it off clean.

Besides the matters about food, D was generous towards life. He was self content, which was a natural result of unconditional love he received in his puppy days. He was rarely subjected to self doubt and jealousy. He did not have to prove himself. He just walked about the kitchen nonchalantly and if there is nothing that interests him, he took his usual seat at the couch and looked outside the window. On cold days he’d rather snuggle inside the house than go out for a walk. On good days he liked to sniff his favorite plants and carefully choose a spot to let out his waste.

D was an emblem of loyalty. His first love is for Aaron, his best-friend and the one who raised him. When Aaron was staying home in one afternoon sick with cold, D would not follow TH and me to go out for the usual walk. His legs became this solid rock planted deep in the ground. His neck muscles are dense and they can resist a hard pull from a leash. When he is determined he means it.

Love was already used to D’s barking sound before she was born having heard it daily through the uterine wall. From two weeks after birth she accompanied D’s afternoon walk. In her precarious waltz, she followed D’s lead. D did not speed up when Love was holding the leash. Love learned the smell of roses and lilies in summer. In winter she observed how D’s hot piss drills a hole in ten inch snow.

D taught me there is no need to hurry through life. You hold your ground and stay royal. Enjoy the grass of spring, love what you eat, and make new friends! Don’t overexert yourself but appreciate what you already have.

I will confess this: I am not a dog person. Having said it, I can tell you even a hard hearted being like me can recognize the dignity of a canine with ample time spent together. Every relationship has its own internal dynamic and a meaning that flows out of its nature. Between D and me, D was a giving one and I had been an oblivious preteen who makes mistakes in a friendship. Every time we met, he greeted me with a waggle inviting me to love him back, but he did not bother when I was not ready. He’d climb to his nest and close his eyes for his afternoon rest.