InHo Kim – My Faithful Journey

Life Stills of a Korean-American Man/Husband/Father/Pastor


The Day After

obamiconSo I was awakened this morning, just like every morning,  by the smell of coffee wafting through the house. The coffee that we have been drinking for the past few years has been White House Coffee. For some reason, the coffee this morning tastes a little sweeter and smoother than two mornings ago. I then looked out the window to see the dark clouds moving inland with the ocean breeze and was greeted by the not so sweet smelling breath of my four year old who was hovering above me ready to pounce to rudely wake me up. I put on my pants one leg at a time, kissed my wife and daughter “good morning”, got my son ready for pre-school, fed my dog, picked up his poop and helped feed my 7 month old daughter by making funny noises and dancing around like wild man trying to distract her so that my wife can shovel homemade baby food into her mouth and finally used a Netti Pot to clear my allergy ridden sinuses. Just a normal morning for the Kim-Cho household all before 8:30am.

It’s the morning after. It’s the morning after taking the day off to witness an incredible event. It is the day after getting up so early to witness the historic inauguration with tears in my eyes. It’s the morning after standing up and clapping as loudly as I can as Barack Obama took his oath to become the 44th President of the United States. It’s the morning after connecting with and celebrating the day with friends and family by facebook, twitter, emails and phone calls. It’s the morning after shouting Amen, Amen, Amen after Joseph Lowery’s Benediction. It is the morning after.

My morning routine was the same. I was back at work planning out my week, making to do lists, checking my emails and my calendar. Already on the news, the pundits and some anchors are beginning criticize Obama. People are analyzing his inauguration speech for better or for worse. Those who are politically and religiously liberal are criticizing Rick Warren’s prayer (transcript here). Those who are considered conservative are ripping apart Joseph Lowery’s prayer-read the comments (transcript here). I heard on NPR today that religious extremists are now burning pictures of Obama as well as Bush along with the American flag. Many economists and leaders of the world don’t see much change in Obama’s speech yesterday. The republicans and democrats are at it again over Obama’s cabinet confirmations and there is no end in sight for the war in Iraq and who knows what will happen in the Gaza strip and in Afghanistan. So where’s the change?

Yet in these troubling and uncertain economic and political times, for me, something has changed. I was surprised to hear my wife say that “now I feel proud to hoist high the American flag”. It’s the same kind of statement that Michelle Obama was criticized for during the Democratic campaign, but today it seems appropriate, IMHO. The tears and my shouting during the inauguration wasn’t about the joy that a Black man became President, but that a person who embodies and talks about the hopes and dreams that I have for United States and the world will lead this country of ours. The tears were part of the release of my pent up anger and frustration over the past 8 years. And now like Moses, I can look down from the mountaintop and actually see the promised land. I can see God’s vision of all that we can be. It gives me hope and a goal to work towards.

Today I feel freedom from the past 8 years of decisions made in secrecy, the mentality of us against them, idea of our supremacy, not caring for each other, forgetting to create a just society, ignoring the less fortunate, abuse of power, not being able to take responsibility for all the actions or inactions, pillaging our environment, inability to say sorry and to tell the truth, forgetting that we are but one country in the world and that with our superpower status comes with it greater responsibility to the world. Obama has already begun to make his campaign promises come true today and will continue to fulfill them in the future. So when Aretha Franklin belted out the words “freedom” during her singing, I heard more than the plight and the cloud of witnesses in the civil rights movement for African Americans in this country, I heard freedom from all that has gone wrong with America from the past administration. And when I heard the clarinetist Anthony McGill begin to play “The Lord of the Dance” with Yoyo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Gabriela Montero, I could imagine Jesus dancing in heaven and on earth.

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Annoyed and Annoying

brighton signA few nights ago as I was walking through our living room towards the kitchen, I happened to catch some FoxNews, you know that “fair and balanced” 24 hour news program. Normally it is not a station that I turn to unless I want to know how the other side still thinks, but my parents are in town. My father, who is an incessant news watcher and a republican to boot, was watching the news headlines and the words “Brighton, Michigan” caught my interest. It seems that Brighton, Michigan, my hometown, has passed a law few months ago that as of January 1st, 2009, it makes it unlawful to be annoying in public. Here are the short blurbs from Fox and Livingston County Press.

The statute states that “it shall be unlawful for any person in the city to insult, accost, molest or otherwise annoy, either by word of mouth, sign or motion any person in any public place,” and “it shall be unlawful for a person to engage in a course of conduct or repeatedly commit acts that alarm or seriously annoy another person and that serve no legitimate purpose.” And where in the public sphere can these law be enforced? The statute states in “any tavern, store or grocery, manufacturing establishment or any other business place or in any street, lane, alley, highway, public building, grounds or park.” Rich Perlberg, the editor of my hometown paper says that we “can call the police, who can arrest the guy, throw him in jail for 90 days, give him a $500 ticket or at least send his annoying behind on his way out of the city limits.” This little midwestern city in Michigan, population 7000 within city limits and its greater township which includes another 70,000, is now one of the most dangerous cities for many people to visit. Who hasn’t been annoying in public. With all these fines, I don’t think I could afford to live there. San Francisco is a costly city, but for many of us, Brighton may turn out to be the most expensive city to live in the United States.

For the last couple of days, I have been thinking about things that annoy me lately. So in honor of a book and website I found on cyberspace called “Life’s Little Annoyances”, I made my own list. This list is not comprehensive by any means nor is it in any order, but as I think about my life and my world, there is no shortage of annoyances. Here we go:

1. San Francisco Drivers – are notorious for rolling stops and not using the turning signal, even on left turns. I don’t know how many times that I have had to slam on the breaks or yell (of course with my inside voice) at someone stopped in an intersection only to see the car turn left without the turn signal. This is actually against the law. Can I make a citizens arrest?

2. Roundabouts – this is where an intersection that should have 4 or more stop signs is instead met with a circular path. It is supposed to help the flow of traffic but is confusing and dangerous in my opinion. Some years ago, when Brighton was growing, it began building roundabouts. At that time, it had the distinction of being the only city in the US that had a double roundabout which is doubly annoying.

3. Not respecting the elderly. A few days ago, I waited behind an elderly gentleman at RiteAid who was met with a rude and inconsiderate young clerk behind the counter, only because he took a little bit of time to get some change out his pockets to pay for his medicine. My Asian sensibilities took over and wanted to climb over the counter and slap the young clerk. (oh did I say that out loud)

4. Speaking of inconsiderate people, what about inconsiderate neighbors. We have a neighbor who will play her loud musical instruments (acoustic-electric guitar, trumpet, electronic keyboard, amplified microphone) all hours of the night. She can be heard singing and playing at 1 or 2 in the morning at times. We have spoken with her several times and yes, even called the police for help. Just like many San Francisco homes, the outside walls of our homes touch and with most of these houses built in the early 40’s, the walls are not that thick! I don’t want to jam with you through the walls at 1am. Instead invite me over at a reasonable hour.

5. Bad user manuals and even worse tech support. I struggled a whole day to setup a new upgraded wireless router which included horrible instructions and a tech support who I couldn’t understand and was not the slightest bit helpful. I returned the router and bought a another brand which had an excellent manual and was set up in less than an hour.

6. Bad and slow service at restaurants

7. Dishonesty – in a world where most information is spun and in a cyberworld where one can project whatever image he/she wants, honesty should be a prerequisite to being on the net. It is being truly who you are and being grounded in that in whatever conversation and situation that you encounter. It also means owning up to one’ faults, shortcomings and mistakes. A difficult thing to do as we see George W. Bush at work and in this video of Ann Coulter and Al Franken. Honesty is of great importance to me.

8. And with #7, I am annoyed by sound bites, punditry and polarizing analysis and analysts in the media, in churches, etc.

9. Churches and faith communities who say they are reaching out to young families and welcoming to children, but are readily annoyed when they make the slightest of noise in worship. Children make noise! God can take it and even enjoys it!! I think even baby/child Jesus probably made a little noise when he went to the synagogue. He made bigger noise as he grew up.

10. Not enough time to absorb information. A friend of mine was saddened that she will not be able to read all of the books that she wants to read in her lifetime. For me, it is not only books but information as well. My parents have been in town for the past three weeks and I haven’t had time to follow my google reader. I checked it this morning and it said I had over 1000 pieces of news and blogs that I hadn’t read. It saddened me to mark over 95% of them “mark as read” without reading them to clear them from the page.

11. My incessant need to check my facebook, twitter and my various email accounts. Having a blackberry doesn’t help here. May need an intervention.

12. I am annoyed that I am slowly getting sick of Korean Food. Again my parents have been visiting us for the past three weeks and every night, and sometimes for lunch, we have been eating Korean food. It is my favorite food to eat and my mother is the best, in my book, as Korean cooking goes. She makes food with the most delicate and cleanest of tastes and flavors. And even though all of the meals are slightly different, my taste buds and my stomach are beginning to revolt. And I hate that!

13. Annoyed that I haven’t had much time to myself and have not started many of my New Year’s resolutions

14. As I think back to the past year and all of the events in the world, I am annoyed that much of my memories are of the tragedies, injustices, violence and wrongdoings (as my favorite Chronicle columnist Mark Morford wrote), instead of all the good and hopeful things that people have done.

15. And finally I am annoyed that I am annoyed so early into the new year.

BREATHE .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

But maybe on this 8th day of the New Year, these annoyances will give me the motivation to actually do something about them. I hope!