I guess my autobiography has to start somewhere, right? And I bet it would be rather difficult to write it without taking notes on life as I went along. Here, I will write a narrated perspective of events in my life. I probably will not not write this in chronological order, but they will be put in the appropriate context. Over time, a more complete picture will emerge.
A note on accuracy: This section is likely to be a perpetual draft, and much of it before the present is constructed from what I can recall, personal writings, interviews, and other sources and accounts. Beyond this, as I'm writing this to be a heavily written from the memory of my experience of these memories. Inaccuracies, alternate interpretations, and new conclusions based on uncovered information are wholly possible and over time, likely. And as is intended, as I expect our own interpretation of history, values, and our experience of them will likely evolve over time as well. Be that as it may, I will still strive for factual accuracy and when presenting a conflicting idea, I will identify the conflict and clarify salient differences in memory.
I've experienced that in life, there are long periods of seeming stasis, and then everything changes at once. I keep thinking of the term 'punctuated equilibrium' to analogize about this phenomenon. In any case, I've attempted to divide the sections into meaningful logical chunks, but it may shift over time.
Before May 23rd 1985
Tectonic shifts in geopolitics have occurred over the span of our parents' and grandparents' lifetimes. When I have the opportunity to meet distant or long disconnected extended family, I've used it to expand my knowledge of my family's story across the world. It's quite fascinating how much history has been lived by those closest to us.
Coming from Asia, much of their story are influenced by the tensions and conflicts of the region, particularly in and around Korea in the early 20th century due to imperial aspirations of Japan resulting in WWII, the partition of Korea, and the Korean War. Beyond this, how my parents' generation found their way to America is another chapter entirely, one that writes the personal story of one Asian-American immigrant family. I will write relevant findings here and in the family history page.
1985-1995: Birth and Early Childhood
This first period covers birth to the end of early-childhood at Age 10. It starts at the time I was born in Korea, and the entirety of my time in the US before my family moved back to Korea in 1995. This period was obviously a hugely formative period for the fostering of my core values, joys, and intrinsic curiosity.
Language and ethnic heritage are often one's first experience with their cultural identity after their birth. For me, there was always some amount of tension in my relationship with language. In my earliest years, my vocabulary and language was derived from what I learned at home, and became Korean-focused, given it was what I spoke at home. As a result, while I understood spoken English, I found it harder to express in public. Fortunately, my school had a good ESL program that I attended while in kindergarten. I didn't think much of it then, but it would be a key experience growing up an America. I didn't have any issues comprehending the written or spoken word; I was just averse to expressing it. Later on, I developed a huge fondness for reading, and quickly became very fluent (aided by media that encouraged me to learn more), which gave me more confidence to speak out more.
Speaking two (or more) languages natively (opposed to acquired fluency) is a common experience in American immigrant stories, and I think it's pretty cool to have access to the corpus of culture that language fluency presents, and I'd love to be able to teach my own kids what I know, and perhaps even the experience of another culture or place. Given how often my family moved, I learned to take the perpetual need to learn in stride and developed a skill and even an enjoyment of adapting to new people, things, and situations. Some of this would backfire and result in a search for identity in my second decade, but at this time, it helped me to see society as a system that I could come to understand, and adapt to, after some trial and error.
I can certainly note that the quality of education varied from place to place, from teacher to teacher. Going from 2nd grade in Evanston to 3rd grade in Capron felt like dropping two years of education. Where you go to school has a huge influence on your experiences and the sense of possibility afforded to you. I was fortunate enough to have parents that cared about the quality of education I received, and were able to intervene when it was in my interest, as well as having a strong intrinsic desire to explore what's out there.
It was in this time that I developed an obvious interest in how things work. My dad tells me that when I was in kindergarten, my teacher once told him that in school assembly that I paid more attention the projector showing the some boring film, rather than said boring film. In my defense, I'll note that this was in 1991, and the projector was an ancient film reel (yes! in 1991 a film projector in a school!) that spun a big spool of film from one wheel to another. How is that *not* awesome to look at? Today, it would be a retro fascination for it to be seen anywhere, let alone in regular use.
I actually do remember doing this, and specifically, what I was noticing (and learning as a 6 year old kid) was how the wheels spun at different rates, based how much film was in the reel, and the question that I had in my mind at the time was on how it kept the film at the same speed. Basically, I was being an early nerd, and of this, I am proud. :)
My parents euphemistically note that I liked to "deconstruct" things to see how they worked. Basically, I'd like to take things apart, particularly mechanical and electrical things (projectors, monitors, computers, motors, etc...) to examine their workings. I was also given access to my dad's PC pretty early, at around the age of 6, and quickly mastered DOS enough to basically be the tech guy at home.
That said, even my few years in rural Illinois was a highly unique experience that today (in 2015) I treasure, despite all the challenges at the time adjusting to a completely different life experience, even as a kid.
My feelings over my time in Korea that came after this period are a bit more complicated...
- Green used to be my favorite color, at least until kindergarten. Then around the age of 9-10, I started to love the ocean, water, and the color blue.
- In my room since I was 5, I used to have a big geopolitical map that covered the wall by my bed. I recommend every parent of a curious child to put a big map in their room. Seriously. It will expand their mind and their awareness. I also remember when the Gulf War started (when I was 5), that my dad pointed at Iraq on the map and said "these guys are bad." Lol.
- Star Trek came into my life pretty early, and I was a fan by age 7. It all started with me accidentally renting 'Star Trek VI', instead of 'Star Wars'. While it wasn't the sci-fi/fantasy/space opera that Star Wars was, I was sold on the future-oriented vision of peace, the cool effects, and the politics, which echoed some of the Cold War detente that my dad had tried to explain to me when the Soviet Union was dissolved. Levar Burton played my favorite character, chief engineer Geordi LaForge, on TNG and I carefully followed it till the series finale which aired on my birthday in 1994. One effect was on my vocabulary, where at school, I was using words and style of speech learnt while watching TNG in my speech and writing, which teachers thought highly. In one example, I got in trouble once in fourth grade for saying "hell", as in "What the hell?" clearly echoing Riker's flabbergast moment from the TNG episode the night before. I can't quite tell if things were just more language-strict in the 90s or if its just because I was younger.
- Once I came in contact with a PC, I never let go. By my late 0s, I was solidly a PC gamer; SimAnt was the first game I ever bought, and by the end of this period my favorite games were Doom, Simcity 2000, and underrated adventure game, Star Trek: A Final Unity. Not that I was opposed to consoles--the first game I ever played was on the NES, and had Sega Genesis and thoroughly enjoyed games like Sonic and Ecco, and had loved the original StarFox on SNES. Still, I loved the depth of control and richness that PC games afforded, also the fact that it appealed to a more educated, mature audience. I liked that, and that paid off hugely for me.
- By all standards, I read a lot, though a lot of it was fluff. I really enjoyed picking books from Scholastic catalogs, and in my early years, read stuff like the series like the Bernstein Bears, the Boxcar children, later reading books like Goosebumps and periodicals that my parents would read such as Time magazine and Popular Mechanics. Events like Walk-A-Thons for reading also encouraged a great deal of exploration in my language arts.
- I had an odd fondness for antique stores--there was on in Capron that I would frequent, and I'd find trinkets worth <$1.
- I got an allowance as a kid, for doing household chores. I feel it was an excellent way to reward constructive work ethic, while also developing a child's sense of money as capital.
- I got lost in a cornfield once for almost 2 hours when I was 9--rather terrifying at the time, but an epic adventure looking back. I eventually found my way back when I realized I could use the direction of the shadows to follow a path back to where I had started.
- I had my first PC during this time, a 386SX 16MHz / 4MB / 60 MB / 3.5" 1.44MB / 2400 baud modem. My dad told me when he bought it, it was a whopping $3,000, with the upgraded RAM, which he needed for school work. Insane to think of today, but that's the rig that I learned DOS 5.0 and Windows 3.1.
- By the end of the decade, I was badly in need of a new PC, and I started plotting what kind of PC I could 'encourage' my family to get next...
1995-2004: Late Childhood/Early Adolescence
2004-2015: Late Adolescence/Early Adulthood
This period covers the late adolescence of college and the start of independent adult life.
2015: The Present
The fourth decade is now getting started, so I guess I shouldn't use the phrase "when I grow up" anymore :). By and large, I'm still the me I was when I was younger, though much of the future is yet to be determined.
These are ages yet to come. Detail will be added over time.
The end? (2085-2101?)
I've taken a number life expectancy tests over the years, and kept tabs on my overall health. Generally, these simple non-scientific online tests have given me numbers between 92-100, so for mental convenience, I've just kept 100 in mind (though I'm really pushing for at least 115 :)); thus means I would live to around 2085. This means I'd get to see the bulk of the 21st century come to pass, and unless I screw up badly, will have left a dent to last longer than that.
Excellent - Bring Life On! :)