Friday, March 27, 2015

Oh I Know, But WHERE Are You From?

I turned the ripe young-old age of twenty-seven the other day. The age you wake up to iPhone buzzes and dings, reminding you something different and special is happening that day besides it being garbage day. The age you ask yourself, "Did I turn twenty-six last year?" Subtract 1988 from 2015. Yes. Yes you did. Geez. I was just getting used to what 26 felt like: Not anything supremely exciting, but SO many possibilities with credit cards and car rentals! Air miles, y'all!

I'm pretty sure this was scanned in a buzzfeed or huffpost article, the news source mecca for us 20-something or others, and this THIS thing is ringing true already. "Twenty-seven is when you are finally comfortable with who you are." You can waltz into Forever21 in sweatpants and no makeup and be all, "Step aside teenagers, Mama's ready to drop $$$," and feel no shame. You aren't trying to impress anyone anymore, you just want that senior discount.

Now, I've been an outwardly confident individual for quite some time. Mostly, because I am quite stubborn and refuse to be embarrassed or do what everyone else is doing. Quite. Stubborn. Insert woman hair flip emoji.

Occasionally that has come across as being stuck-up but the other half-of me is so overly self-deprecating (almost to a fault), that any uppity-ness is quickly dismissed. I've been told my kindness is readily apparent in most situations, so on a scale of 0 to Kanye West, I think I'm doing ok.

I'm also, Korean. Kind of.


My home since the summer of 1988 has been Portland, Oregon. Green, picturesque, "Whitest City in America," Portland Oregon. Where I only had one Korean friend (also, adopted) in elementary school and one half-Indonesian friend in high school, Portland Oregon. Everything I ever learned about Asian culture derived from one random racist experience in San Francisco's Chinatown on a family vacation and various derogatory slang naively thrown about by my peers. If I had a nickel for every time someone said "Ching Chong" or squinted their eyes into "almonds" or wondered why I was so terrible at mathematics...* On the other hand, If I had a nickel for every time someone said, "You're not really Asian. You're so white!" At this point, I might as well be a unicorn, with a bunch of nickels. No one knows what to do with me.

The 90s were all about blonde hair and blue eyes, maybe it still is, I just don't care anymore, and I was always the Mulan, Jasmine, Pocahontas, or Posh Spice of the group. Which isn't a bad thing at all, cause they are queeeens, but when you're young and impressionable and not entirely Korean and not exactly Caucasian and the standardized test in third grade is asking you to fill in a "Race/Ethnicity" bubble and you're all, "American?" YOU JUST WANT TO FIT IN and be Britney Spears for once at the slumber party.

And that's what my family has always done. (Not let me be Britney Spears at the slumber party) Helped me fit in, encouraged me to stand out.
They didn't have a secret family recipe for kimchi and they sure didn't know what to do with my thick, coarse, wavy hair, but they loved (love) me, and that was (is) enough.**
I love when people are shocked that my all-American brother isn't my biological brother even though we "look so much alike." We grew up together. We have similar mannerisms, facial expressions, humor. We are family.

Around 2002, a funny thing started happening. "Positive" attention. All of us Eurasians were growing up in a world that suddenly was awake to the changing faces of a mixed generation. I remember one of my first meetings with Kelly Streit at Mode Models in preparation for a potential move to Asia, and he said, "They are going to LOVE your face over there!" He threw in a, "So hot right now," afterthought, I kid you not. Zoolander is real, people!

{On a totally unrelated note, here's a quote from one of his recent interviews:
Streit makes no apologies for picking certain models. “People say they want to see ‘normal women’ modelling. They don’t. A true fashion customer whether size 16 or six wants to see models on the runway that present the clothes in a certain way. The women we work with are naturally built pin thin. They are healthy. People want to see Prada as Prada is, and the models are the mould for that art. They are coat hangers.”}

I was still just a curious face to look at. On a coat hanger. Kellyyyyyyyyy!

Long story short. Here I am. 2015.
Depending on the season and my current shade of golden, I have been labeled all across the border. Without makeup, the dishwasher repairman will ask where my mom is. Genetics!
My husband and I produce 1/4 Korean, 1/4 German, 1/2 Ukrainian, All-American children.

These are just the facts, at an outward impression.

As human beings with all our complexities, experience, and nuances, we are so much more than our skin on the surface could ever show.

The skin I'm in though, is one I'm extremely proud of. It tells a deeper personal story at a glance, a reminder of a long story short.

One scan of my face is the ultimate enigma.

I don't fit in a box. I am complicated and unusual.

I'm 27 years old.

And I really really like me.


Bon Bon

*In 2008, I lived in Hawaii for six months and was exposed to the Korean culture for the first time. Good Korean things, like, bulgogi, karaoke, and my big sister (unni) Jaeyoung! Bad Korean things, like, saying hello (anyoung haseyo) to a couple passing by and without replying they muttered to each other in Korean, "She's only half." I wanted to yell, "Hey! At least I know how to wait in a line!"

I obviously still have a lot to learn. We all do.

**I'm a double whammy of potential life train wreck: Adopted & Biracial. It is truly by God's grace that I have never extremely struggled with identity or depression, which is very much the norm. Adopted teens are four times more likely to attempt suicide. Biracial teens, 2x.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Vacation, Part IV: Germany

France, Italy, and Croatia had been a whirlwind of organized chaos amidst figuring out public transportation, airbnb contacts, and what to see/eat/do in relatively short timeframes. Four days here and four days there, the thrill of a nomadic life is indeed thrilling and a bit exhausting. We had traveled by plane, train, bike, bus, and boat by this point (I think our transportation record in one day was: shuttle to train to airplane to bus to boat. Europe!) The main reason we headed across the pond, (besides a romantic adventure), was to visit Daniel's sister, Lana, and her husband, Chris while they are doing the whole expat thing. We had originally planned for one additional stop in Italy but decided to split the rest of our trip between Chris and Lana's flat in { Regensburg} and an upcoming short venture to Prague. AND I'm so glad we did! Germany was a breath of fresh air. Literally.

They welcomed us with open arms into their new home, which quickly became our home-away-from home. Family, food, and an insane mountain climb during a thunderstorm (Lana, we need to post those GoPro videos!), what more could you ask for?

If only Germany wasn't so far away. I'd ask for that.

We did it! And then we got drenched. 

(this hike HERE

Everyone. EVERYONE at the top was over the age of 40 and looked like they stepped out of an REI catalogue. 99% had those funny ski pole things, used for, well, hiking. 

Look at us. We conquered. We flew up and down that thing. In tennis shoes and basketball shorts. 

The motivational power of prosecco and pasta, my friends. 


{Bon Bon}

Want more Germany photos? Check out Lana's IG: @lanamarie23
Want more (boring) Oregon photos? Check out my IG: @bonifous

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Don't Know

I've gone back and forth in my head for weeks about writing this post, and then Bob Goff told us on Sunday that we all need to "stop acting cool!" and if anyone can light a fire under you and make you actually do something you've only been thinking about doing, it's Bob Goff, must open Blogger and must type and must get this off my brain and must tell everyone, Bob Goff.

And in typical Bob Goff style, let's preface this with a story.*

Several months ago, I met a new mom friend at the park, as one regularly does when you're a woman mainly conversing with a toddler all day long and then you see !another adult! Our kids instantly zeroed in on each other from across the swing set and within no time we had exchanged numbers in the hopes of future meet-up double date play dates.

A couple public outings later and we were ready for the next level in our relationship: THE play date. At home. Her home. (I just re-read this and it sounds more and more like an OkCupid exchange...welcome to: Making New Friends in Your mid-20s, 101).

We had initially bonded over our general appreciation for health, natural childbirth, and other surface hippiedom. Maybe I mentioned my batch of Fire Cider in the fridge or Bean's delayed vaccine schedule or impassioned love of Pamela's chocolate cake (even though I'm not even GF in the slightest) or numerous dry Tina Fey-isms, but for whatever reason, we hit it off and now the Bean and I were pulling up into the driveway of their house.

Thirty minutes later, eating a batch of tapioca quinoa cranberry muffins with the smells of sage and homeschooling in the air while the kids played with yarn balls, cardboard, and wooden sticks I had to wonder how I actually ended up here.

Five minutes upon arrival, the Bean had rolled the one and only wooden truck across the floor and then politely inquired where the other toys were. I simultaneously wanted to curl up in the fetal position, grab the three Hot Wheels cars in my purse, and laugh at how funny a toddler playing with a yarn ball is. Like a cat. We had an afternoon of playing with cat toys ahead of us.

Overall, we lasted about an hour and a half. And we covered the alternative lifestyle gamut. No mention of those oils. Thank goodness. Obviously, because we make our own.**

As I said goodbye, I felt energized and drained at the same time.
It's interesting spending time with someone so definitively passionate on one side of things. This way is the only way, side of things.
Had she driven off other friends before with such a polarized view?

We haven't corresponded since.
Perhaps due to pesky winter colds, traveling, holiday seasons, and maybe deep down she could see how much I was craving some gluten.***


Growing up, my role in various friendship circles was "peacemaker." I like to gather everyone up, include anyone, and you can call me Bonnie "Can't We all be Friends" Iliyn.
I've never understood cliques. I tried to be apart of one once during a Valentine's dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory, and failed miserably. Or succeeded greatly, because the girl we tried to gang up on is one of my closest friends to this day. How can you exclude someone, just because they're different than you? If I wanted to surround myself with people just like myself, I'd probably turn into Miley Cyrus with all that nodding and yes-ing and you go girl-ing and you should definitely wear that outfit-ing all the time.

My circle of friends is a widespread tapestry of personalities, viewpoints, ideas, talents, and beliefs. I can eat at a vegan restaurant with one and Burgerville with another. Dont lie, deep down you love that special sauce too.
McDonald's. Muchas Gracias. IHOP. I will eat green eggs and ham, (during my time in Rwanda, I think I did). I actually could care less sometimes the what or where. I'm way more interested in the who. The important questions instead of the distracting details.

In no way am I implying that we have to be friends with everyone, (says the girl who used to save mice from our cat Brutus, and has cried way too many times during Oreo commercials, cause I'm the Grinch who's heart grows three sizes...every day), or that we shouldn't have loud and proud voices.

When someone is really up on their social media soapbox though, (about things that really don't really matter), then, "Yeah, well, you know, that's just like, your opinion, man," says my inner Lebowski. You can call me Bonnie "Agree to Disagree" Iliyn****

I can't tell you how many many maaaaaaany people of "influence" these days are sitting on this seemingly "authority" pedestal. How many many maaaaaaany people are they driving away with their need to be right? Sure, we all might know some things, but are we wise about it? Big difference.

It's just another clique I don't want to be a part of. I'm bad at being a part of it.

I guess I'm not cool enough to be a part of it.


{Bon Bon}

*You should most definitely read "Love Does."

**Sarcasm aside, I do, and have for awhile, but I'm not into the whole selling trendy bragging thing that's a part of, oh geez, just keep reading.

***Just a recent, vague example that I could use. No harm, no foul. Like I said, my friends vary across the board. We have many things in common and those other pesky little things, who cares.

****Unless we're talking about certain justice issues, especially involving adolescents. Then I might join the pitchforks. Kids, man. It can't all be rainbows, butterflies, and kumbaya. Sigh.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Not a Sponsored Post

Every morning as I begin to hear the faint rustling of my husband alarm clock beside me, my hand instictively reaches out for my phone on the nigh stand. Blinded by the digits blaring back at me, I'm either begrudgingly swinging my legs out of bed or waving the white flag in a sleep surrender for five more minutes, give or take. From then on, my morning varies between good and usual.
Good Morning: Full outfit. Full makeup. Full coffee mug.
Usual Morning: Sweatshirt. Leggings. Slippers. Lighting a candle on my shrine to whoever invented those drive-thru coffee huts.
A good or usual morning, depending on when my other human alarm clock yells "Mama! It's time to get up! I want pancakes! Where's my robot?"

I'm making toast, after a "sorry out of pancakes" temper tantrum, teaching a lesson on lego etiquette, "if you throw twenty pieces on the floor, we might only find seven now and step on thirteen of them later in the middle of the night" ala cause and effect, and checking my email. Ding ding ding. The life alarm. Remember to buy this. Sell this. Push this. Write this.

Whoa. It's not even eight in the morning, let me put my pants on before I read about what new pants I need to put on.

Four years ago, I would have been over the moon about a pants email (we are running with this whole pants metaphor. CS Lewis I am not).
Free pants? Me is to blog as pants is to get. Plus another pair for one lucky reader.
These are the best pants ever! Says the person who thinks Costco sample Saturday is the closest thing to Heaven on this side of the pearly gates.
Have free pants, will write was my hobo middle name on the side of a Blogger highway.
Then it was scarves, and jewelry, and shoes, and computer software...but free! Kinda like that one time I won free a WWE event. Tickets to a stupid thing. FREE tickets to a stupid thing. Well, when you say it like that, hell yes I can smell what the Rock is cooking!
Giveaways, codes, comments, likes, follows, like for like, follow for follow, click, tap, do it all again.

You know what.
I just want to make pancakes (switching metaphors right about now).
I have the flour, sugar, eggs, and milk. Everything I need.

Best part is, you don't even need to wear pants while you make 'em.

Does that make any sense?
Come on over to my house and I can explain much better. I'll make you pancakes.
I'll wear pants. Gah.

I made you read "pants" eleven times.

I've missed this blog.


{Bon Bon}

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fall 2014: New Reads for Your Littles

We are heavily invested into the reality that Fall is upon us. Hovering over us. And if you’re in a city like mine, it’s hovering with a dark grey vengeance. The thermostat is elevated and I’m trying not to slip all over the hardwood floors in my wool socks. We are only human, but a nice long hibernation sure sounds good once October rolls by. Hot chocolate, extra extra mini marshmallows, whipped cream, and jimmies in a blanket fort surrounded by a pile of books will have to do for now. Here are the newest titles for your little cub’s library, sure to have you happily piled under a patchwork comforter into the winter and beyond.

{Bon Bon}

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Vacation, Part III: Croatia

 Croatia could be our new favorite place, ever. Sure, there's a bunch of signs, complete with cartoon descriptions, bluntly reminding everyone (again) how American you are, "NO SWIMSUITS ALLOWED!" Because swimsuits make naked people uncomfortable. It's like the Garden of Eden all over agin. And my rental bike's broken brakes thought I was auditioning for a new "Speed" movie, which I didn't fully realize I was auditioning for until blissfully reaching the top of one extremely large rock hill, but Croatia, Crooooooaaaaatiaaaaaaaa! Just look at these photos. (At this point, I kind of want to shout, "Are you not entertained!?") The sea salt air, fresh catch of the day on your plate, most hospitable people, and sparkling ocean waters...I can forgive you for any and all minor offenses. P.S. Guys, we found the Garden of Eden!
Daniel and I hopped on a ferry out of Venice, straight through a storm over the Adriatic Sea and arrived on a deep misty night into the port of Istria. Our Airbnb host, Mladin told us that the forecast would be gloomy the next morning and, for our visiting souls' sake, would quickly become the blue sky norm again. Thankfully, we are from Oregon and grey skies are a don't-sweat-the-small-stuff sight. Super thankfully, the storm only lasted a few hours. Just enough time to catnap in our apartment, gorge ourselves on paprika chips and KiKi fruit chews, and head back out into the winding cobblestones of Rovinj. Sidenote: We plowed our way through FOUR bags of KiKi candy. Croatia probably gave me a cavity. Again, all is forgiven.

Then, THEN, the truly authentic Croatia emerged. Clouds dramatically parted, unveiling a constant sunny truth, and literal harmonies from heaven engulfed the airwaves, (the clouds did part, the heavenly harmonies were most definitely a techno rave, the "Unknown Festival," from another nearby island). This is old country, (forget trying to use a credit card here), but the people know a good time. The entire ocean is their swimming pool, whenever they feel like it. I imagine businessmen after a long work day, run outside to the nearest rocky cliff, shimmy down the ladder into the briny blue. Leaving a trail of ties, suit coats, and brogues on the stone ledges above...

Biking along the shoreline, we found hidden pockets of sand and surf stretching on a seemingly endless coast. Eventually, making our way further south to Pula, by way of bus, not bike, although...biking would've been faster, (Foreign Bus System+Foreign Weary Travelers=An adventure? One thing I've learned from my experiences overseas, whatever happens, call it an "adventure." You'll go a little less crazy). Halfway into our European journey, the buzz of thousands of travel miles behind and before us lulled to a hum as we sipped a Coke on a pebbled beach in Pula. One of those rare times in life where you can feel how everything you've ever done has led to this place, in this moment.


{Bon Bon}

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Vacation, Part II: Venice

"The Vegas of Europe"

After a bit of a scramble from Paris to Beauveaux to the check-in for our RyanAir flight, we landed in Treviso, Italy with rousing fanfare. Literally, fanfare. Applause. Trumpets. Mariachi music. The woman seated next to us lifted her gaze Heaven-ward, kissed her rosary and made the sign of the cross. "Are we excited to arrive or excited we, ya know, didn't not arrive?" I quickly scanned the cabin for a "We've been accident free for             days," plaque. Anxiously ticking away the list of multiple take-offs and landings (and all the in between jazz that happens 30,000 ft. up in the air) we had left in our trip.

Thankfully, we switched up our mode of transportation to something more down to earth. Down to earth's water level, that is. Gondala, water bus, yacht, cruise ship, and ferry, oh my, welcome to Venice, the "Queen of the Adriatic," "City of Water," "City of Masks," "City of Bridges," "City of Canals," "City of George 'It's About Time' Clooney's Wedding" and "The Floating City," although by the looks of the Piazzo San Marco,  I think we were most definitely on the verge of sinking every afternoon. Damn tourists. Oh, tourists. Oh the approximately 47.7 million tourists that anchor in every year, in a city of 60,000! For the record, I'm a tourist but I'm not a tourist. Venice is beautiful, but if I were a resident trying to ride the vaporetto to run errands or get to work on a daily basis and I saw one more selfie stick or umbrella or large meandering group of people overpaying for Murano glass made in China and serenaded tours of the Grand Canal, I would probably throw myself in front of a very swiftly moving gondola.

With some careful research and consistent prayers lifted to the almighty TripAdviser, we carved out a pleasant visit in the maze that is, Venezia.
The magic of Italian gelato, pizza, pasta, and spirits quickly made up for any tourism claustrophobia.
If I were a resident, I'd probably survive on a diet of cappuccino, chocolate croissant, and bellini. Then I'd proceed to get old and wobbly and angrily wave my cane at the Carnival ships blocking my house.

Ahhh, the sailing life for me.


Stay: Giudecca Island/Haven Hostel
Save: Buy a 48/72 hr. water bus pass!
See: You'll easily zoom by a majority of the major landmarks as you walk (get lost) through the streets of Venice. Escape the crowds and jump over to Lido for a day at the beach, Murano for the real-deal world-famous glass, and Burano for colorful neighborhoods.
Savor: Best-Practically-Portland coffee at Torrefazione Marchi/Hole-in-the-wall hipster pasta at Dal Moro's Fresh Pasta to Go/Kinder Sorpresa eggs at the supermarkets. You'll find the best selection in Italy, where they originated! Take some home to your kids...or don't...cough*illegal*what?*


{Bon Bon}

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