Category Archives: Faces

Faces: Holly Peach

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There is no one like Holly Peach…


I adore this little ocean lady.  ADORE.  She has a master mind of amazingness.  I mean, really, her MIND=AMAZING.  Not only is her head red, but it’s freaking genius.  And I love it.  She’s three years my junior, but this girl intimidates me to pieces.  “Why is that?”  Might you ask…

Well, have you ever met a person who is always able to articulate everything you think before you’ve realized you thought it because it’s so perfectly developed and concise?  Holly is the one who is able to bring to surface everything I know I believe inside but can’t figure out because my brain just can’t put the pieces together.  But she can.  And I love (and envy) her for that.  Unfortunately, Holly lives about as far away from me as one can while still being in the States, but fortunately, all her wonderful amazing epiphanies can be found online at: http://www.tangerine-eater.com/  So be sure to check it out!

So how did I get the pleasure of meeting Holly?  I met Holly her freshman year, my senior year, of college.  We met at a church that “Is not a Korean church but is pretty much a Korean church even though they’re trying not to be a Korean church.”  Yeah.  So anyway, when we met, I was starting up a North Korean Human Rights club on campus, and she was interested, so she joined the club and we met each other through that.  Over time, I discovered what an incredible mind and heart this girl had, and we slowly developed a lovely friendship.  Now our love is here to stay–and in permanent ink for all to see at Ocean Beach, San Francisco!

I can now fairly say, I have left my heart in San Francisco.  But I know we’ll meet again soon.  Until then, thank God for texting, gchat, grooveshark playlists, and bloggy love!

Faces: Drew C

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Faces: : Drew C

Places:  North Beach, Chicago, IL

Oh my!:  Beachy fun in the summer sun

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Lawyer.  Lovable.  Loyal. 



This is Drew: old high school sweetheart, current friend.  We go way back to the AIM, DQ, Chem days–back when I was fifteen.  Drew and I technically grew up together from a young age at the same church and school, but it wasn’t until we were in Chemistry class in high school together that we really got to know each other.  I was part of a naughty crew in the back corner of the room who passed notes and cracked jokes–and poor Drew was stuck in the mix.  He usually minded his own business politely, but when finals rolled around, he–and his cheat sheet–became a key role in Chemistry class.  We were allowed one page as a cheat sheet for our monster final, and Drew had created the ultimate page.  We traded Aol Instant Messenger id’s (for those of you who don’t know what AIM stands for) to get in touch about this cheat sheet.  (This was before high schoolers had texting…)  And the rest was history. 

While most high school relationships these days start over texting or Facebook, ours started on good old AOL.  Soon after we shared screen names, we found ourselves chatting online for hours about life, religion, friendships, and other normal highschooler type things.  And of course, as every good Mahomet high-schooler works at either IGA or Dairy Queen at some point in time, we both soon after found ourselves working together at Dairy Queen.  Before we knew it, our blossoming friendship turned into “dating” and things became official.  (That is, after I turned 16 and was allowed to date and my parents sat down with me and gave me a list of about 50 rules…)

Obviously, we have since broken up, but we spent 2 fun years as a hot-teen-item, graduated from the same high school and college, and are still friends and still living in Illinois.  Drew is now a practicing lawyer at a legal clinic in Chicago, and spends his free time coming up with creative works of words at Wormhole.  (Yes, another writer friend!)  As Drew’s writing mantra is, “Show, don’t tell,” I will end this post by showing you, rather than telling you, about him through sharing some more pics we took at our last visit to the beach as well as a short story he wrote that also takes place at a beach.

College Graduates, Established People

By Drew C.

We took the golf car in the dark down the narrow road past a place call The Well. It wasn’t a church exactly because the resort was an incorporated entity, but instead called itself the community “worship center.” The sign out front read: “How do you want to spend eternity: smoking or non-smoking?” Its parking lot had golf car-sized spaces, and each intersection on the road had miniature stop signs. We were in, 1) an improbably large model village that wasn’t quite life-sized, 2) the golf car capitol of the State of Michigan, 3) the only beach community in America with its own Statement of Faith. We were in Bethany Beach.

We had been told to come back to the lakefront for fireworks.

“It could be a Wheaton graduation celebration,” Mrs. Green had said. We had all finished our senior year there in May. “And S.B. gets so worked up over his fireworks.” S.B. was her husband.

We got back to the beach at dark and there were no fireworks, only a firework singular, which my friend Frances had brought. None of us knew why he had brought it with him on the trip. It was a fountain. S.B. kept looking through his bag of tricks, trying to dig up something other than sparklers or punks. His wife and daughter were with him. His daughter was about five. She loved the sparklers.

Finally, S.B. took his golf car to go get something else from his home. Frances set off his fountain while we waited. It was pretty good, with a few whooping bottlerocket-like shots into the darkness, but after a minute or so it was over and we all had a “well, I guess that’s that” feeling.

Then S.B. returned and took a strange, bulky object out of his passenger seat and put it under one arm and walked up. We all assumed it was some really big  firework, but as he got closer it turned out to be a lawn ornament: a rather squat fairy princess with wand that must have been some sort of Christmas yard decoration. S.B. asked rhetorically who wants to blow something up, but we answered we had already used up the firework. He walked over to inspect the remains of the fountain, to be sure.

“Well, who wants to prank someone then?” he asked rather desperately.

I suggested we throw it up on the roof of The Well. I was a little drunk. Frances said he had a better idea, then took the doll and stuck the smoldering punk he had used earlier between her painted-on lips. It looked like a cigarette in a holder.

“Now we can break in and put it in the girl’s restroom,” he said. “Like the bad girl’s bathroom in junior high.” The Greens looked unhappy. We all laughed.

S.B’s daughter started crying just then. I think we had forgotten she was still there.

“Oh, honey,” Mrs. Green said as she bent down to her daughter, “What’s the matter?”

The girl answered, still crying, “Why do they get to do bad things to the church? I don’t like it.”

Mrs. Green straightened up and looked at S.B., who gave a slight shrug. Then she looked back down to her daughter, “It’s okay, honey. It’s okay. These are college graduates, established people. They know what they’re doing. It’s okay.” The Greens all went home then. We took the golf car back to The Well. The doors were locked and the roof was unreachably high. Eventually we just hung the smoking Christmas decoration with some rope to a tree out front and left.

Faces: Naomi L

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Faces: : Naomi L

Places:  Champaign, IL

Oh my!:  Photo shoot fun and discussion on social justice and like issues we hold near and dear

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Meet Naomi:

I met Naomi last year through my Master’s in Social Work program at the University of Illinois. I didn’t get to make many friends due to a full class load and 3 jobs, but I’m glad she’s one of the few friends that I made.

Naomi is a British-Indian who immigrated to the States when she was thirteen years old. Despite a difficult move to a predominately Caucasian town, she has been able to adjust to life in the States, all the while merging her multicultural experiences into a unique personal identity.  While her smooth British accent is telling of her diverse background, it doesn’t take long to realize that Naomi has an impressive array of skills as well as philosophies on diverse matters, too.  But before we get to that, here she is in her beautiful salwar kameez:


 


Aside from being a British-Indian, Naomi can be described in so many other ways.  She describers herself as a “queer, desi, feminist social worker-in-training,” but can also be described as a social advocate, humanitarian, writer, pianist, clarinetist, guitarist, and progressive thinker. An activist at heart, she has spent her time volunteering at a women’s shelter, empowering young women as a music teacher at Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls, and interning at the juvenile detention center where she captured a passion for working with vulnerable and marginalized youth and their families.  She is now pursuing a job in this field in hopes to achieve freedom for all by giving people the tools and support to empower and liberate themselves.  On the side, Naomi is an extremely gifted writer, and writes regularly for (gaysi), a desi LGBT blog where she shares her views and personal anecdotes in compelling, thought-provoking ways.  (Check it out!)  She truly has a way of connecting with the human heart and mind, and speaks life and rawness to her readers.  Since she is such a great writer and great mind, I asked her to speak to some of her passions, and here is what she had to say:

Naomi on feminism:

For me, feminism isn’t just about women.  I feel like the feminist movement has come really far from when it was just about women’s and reproductive rights.  It’s still about all of that, but it’s also about racism, colorism, classism, sizeism, ableism… all the isms.  It’s about liberating everyone.  Many feminists use the term “equality” but I prefer the term “liberation.”  “Equality” implies that there is some population in our society right now that is worth striving to be equal to (men, white people, heterosexuals etc.).  However, minority men, poor white people or really any one in our society are not truly, completely free… so why would I want to be equal to them?  I want to be truly, and completely free.

Naomi on freedom:

Being free is a mindset.  Society teaches us a lot of things from the day we are born and a lot of it puts us in chains.  The road to freedom is sorting through everything and figuring out how much of what we learned is in our (collective “our”) best interest.  However, when we’re still living in the culture (and not in a vacuum) it’s hard to achieve total freedom and some people are punished for trying to.

Naomi on the Indian Diaspora

“Desi” is a complicated label. We’re usually the only ones that can pronounce it or know what it means but sometimes there’s a little childish joy in that!  Most desis of the diaspora have had times in their lives where their race has felt like a downer, so it’s nice to have a term that has connotations to something good.  I do think there needs to be more stress on the fact that “desi” is a collective term that should unite all South Asians – not just band Indians or Pakistanis closer to themselves.  When there are terms like “paki” and “sandn*****” being used against other brown people, we need to realize they are our brother and sisters.  We need to make sure we aren’t internalizing racism against our own people.  I was once called a “sandn*****” on the street and, while the term refers to Middle Eastern people, this is a literal example of how those words affect all of us.  Indians actually have some (relative) privilege in the U.S. being considered a “model minority”.  We need to use that to levy people up in the name of solidarity, not push them down.

Naomi on Social Justice

I love Dr. Cornel West’s words: “Never forget: Justice is what love looks like in public!”  That’s how I feel about social justice-minded activism.  A person’s activism shows what/who a person loves and also how they love.  It shows their passion, compassion, empathy, and dedication to those they love.  It’s not just about marching in the streets, though, because not everyone has the ability to do that; but everybody has the ability to love.  If your heart is in the right place, then the actions will follow.  Whether that means marching in the streets, campaigning for causes, being an advocate at your workplace, being an advocate for your friends, being there for your friends, … there are so many ways to do activism and express your love for justice.  Also, I think activism is sometimes a result of realizing that all of humanity is a loved one, not just those you see on a daily basis.

What words of wisdom and inspiration!  I hope you all enjoyed hearing what Naomi has to say, as well as her gorgeous portraits, as much as I did.  Talk about a beautiful mind and person.  Feel free to respond to Naomi’s words or pictures in the box below!

Faces: Julia S

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Faces: : Julia S

Places:  Logan Square, Chicago, IL

Oh my!:  Chicago reunion with a college friend and my first night time shoot

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Introducing…Miss Julia S, aka J-sta.

Julia is my girl.  Whenever I need a listening ear, an affirming word, or an appreciative soul, Julia is where to go. Julia is a good friend and former neighbor back from my undergraduate years.  Her Freshman year, my Sophomore, we lived next door to each other on good ol’ Fischer three-west and would exchange back massages and pity stories after long, stressful hours of study.  As the years have gone on, our relationship has done the opposite of drift apart with distance and time.  Through several visits and phone calls, we’ve grown closer and come to know one another even more.  These pictures are from one of these visits in Logan Square, Chicago–the same neighborhood I had lived in a year prior to her lease.  We had just missed being neighbors again, but luckily got to visit with one another in our lovely hipsterville before moving on to grad school…

Here’s a little Q&A to get to know Julia a little better:

Q:  Tell us a little bit about yourself.  What are you currently studying, and how did you pick this program?

A:  I’m currently doing a master’s program in Higher Education & Student Affairs. I really enjoy working with college students and being part of their story. For me, college was a formative experience that I really appreciated. My college experience was definitely impacted by the staff, faculty, and administrators who believed in me and helped me succeed, and I hope I can do the same for students someday.

Q:  What was your favorite pet you had as a child and why?

My parakeet. She kept me company for a good eight years, and she was delusionally in love with another stuffed bird I had. It was endearing.

Q:  What’s your best memory of high school?

A:  Volleyball trips and tournaments. They were a nice change of pace from the everyday routine because we got to travel to different cities and states. We always had some good laughs, and I would notoriously fall asleep on the bus no matter how long the trip was. What can I say? Power naps help my game.

Q:  What is the most rewarding experience you have had and what made it so?

Missions and humanitarian work overseas. These experiences continue to challenge me to think about the connectedness of humanity. I think these experiences not only taught me that I have something valuable to contribute to the lives of others but also that I also have a lot to learn from others. The people I met and worked with overseas have amazed me with their strength, their sacrifice, and their love of life.



Q:  Since we met in college, what was your undergraduate major?  And what influenced you to choose that major?

A:  English Literature. I loved studying English Literature because I’ve always been captivated by stories. Stories have the ability to communicate the human experience in a way that is unique and profound. They allow us to consider a chain of events from a perspective other than our own and imagine the pains and joys that affect others. Literature discloses and hones in on the subtleties of of people’s stories that often go overlooked, and I think that’s beautiful.

Q:  Great answer!  What fictional character’s story have you most identified with?

A:  Anne Elliot from Jane Austen’s Persuasion, not because of her situation but because I think we’re similar in some respects.  I think she always hopes that things end up the way they are supposed to, and I’m like that, too. However, one of my high school English teachers once told me that I reminded her of Spinelli’s Stargirl, and I would have to agree with that as well. Stargirl is very unique, and though I’m not as strange as her, I definitely like to be my own woman.

Q:  I love that book!  One of my dear friends from college gave me that book as a gift and told me that I was her Stargirl.  Although some may take it as an insult because she is such an odd character, I was delighted.  I tried to read it to a boy I dated, but he fell asleep!  How rude.  Anyway, it’s one of my favorites. What is your favorite book?

A:  Jane Eyre.

Q: And what is your latest read?

A:  Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Q:  I know you are not only well-read, but are also a very good writer.  What will be the title of your best selling novel?

A:  I don’t want to give it away! You’ll just have to wait until it gets published.


Q:  Now for some random questions.  Which actor/actress would you never go out with?

A:  Vince Vaughn. I’ve never really thought he was funny.

Q:  What is the most important thing in a relationship?

Loyalty.

Q: If you knew today was your last day on Earth, how would you spend it, and why?

A:  I would convince my friends to do ridiculous things with me. We would laugh hysterically, film it, and then show clips at my funeral (if it was just my last day and not the end of the world). Funerals cost a ridiculous amount of money so I might as well try to make it a good time for people.

Q:  I love that answer!  Much better than the typical, cheesy “tell everyone I love them” one.  Who or what inspires you, and why?

A:  Friends who give good hugs. A good hug can make you feel like a million dollars.

Q:  Do I give good hugs?

A:  Yes!

Q:  Good.  If you had to be someone else for a day, who would you be?

A:  Someone of the male gender. I’d just really like to know if the way they think and experience the world is really that different from the way women see things.

Well, there you have it, everyone.  The awesome Jsta!  See why I love her?  Here’s one last picture to close:

If you know Julia personally and have any stories or comments to share, please do in the comment box below!

Faces: Hannah Green

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Faces:  Hannah Green

Places:  Mahomet, IL

Oh my!:  Celebrating Hannah’s high school graduation with an interview and my very first photo shoot

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I have to say that this is one of my all time favorite pictures.  But unfortunately, I can’t claim it as my own.  I can say, however, that I used to babysit each one of these lucky kids!  Today’s post will be featuring the lovely young lady on the top right hand corner, Hannah.  (The adorable boy is my studly brother, and the baby is Hannah’s darling sister.)

Hannah is my mom’s best friend’s daughter.  We grew up together, or as she explains, I “raised” her.  We spent many a day/ night together as a babysitting duo, and to this day we are friends.  This past December, Hannah graduated from high school as early as she possibly could and embarked on an adventure to England before starting her undergraduate studies at Parkland College.  As a very unique individual, we wanted to capture some senior photos that differed from the average cheesy-smiled, cross-armed portrait.  Of course, we had to have some traditionals to please the crowd like,

Hannah smiling:

Hannah looking pretty:

and Hannah with her favorite books:

But we were sure to capture some portraits that said something more than, “Look at what a cute high schooler I was!”  We wanted to tell more of a story of what Hannah’s life was like in high school.  So we added a few more–none of which we printed as wallets, but they’re fun for the record…

How Hannah felt about high school:

What Hannah did in her spare time (just kidding!):

How Indie-Awesome she was:

Aaaand what a dork she REALLY was (Hipster dork, that is):

I did a little interview with Hannah to find out more about what is behind that beautiful smile of hers, and we touched on all sorts of great topics like her time in England, her goals for the future, and what it was like being raised by adoptive parents. Read on for a sneak peak into Hannah’s life:

Q:  You recently went on a trip to England.  Tell me more about the trip.

A: I graduated early in hopes to make a difference in the lives of others.  But really, I was the one who changed; those around me helped me, rather than the other way around.

I was in Derby England, in a lower-income neighborhood with mostly Pakistani people and a few Roma Gypsies. I lived with the Adams family, friends of a family I am very close with. I did everything from working in a school, having weekly lunches with Pakistani people I met, to hanging out in a homeless shelter for teenagers.

Q:  How did living abroad for two months challenge your perspective?

A: As a religiously raised person, I was challenged, more so than anything, to take a step back from most of the things I had learned in church growing up.  I had to figure out what I believed, rather than what those teaching me believed.  During this time, my world view and religious views truly became my own. (Not that I have everything figured out by any means). I saw that the Muslims I met were some of the most dedicated, faith-filled people I had ever met, so it was such an inspiration and wake up call for me.

Q:  What things did you come to appreciate about the States after experiencing life in another country?

A: FOOD!  We have such good food in America; not that other places don’t, but in the States, you can pretty much get it all.  I also came to appreciate my close friends and family. I plan on seeing the world after college (and for the rest of my life), so two months away really made me realize that I need to appreciate every moment I get to spend with them.

Q:  Do you recommend international travel to people your age?

A: Yes!  And I recommend always keeping an open mind. Don’t ever think you have the right to judge other people’s cultures or ways of life; you are not doing things the “right” way, just a different way.

Q:  What are you studying in college?

A: I am studying Sociology, and I plan on using my degree in some sort of humanitarian, non-profit organization.

Q:  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

A: In the next five years, I’d like to move out somewhere on the East coast. I assume I will go to grad school, but I may take a break in between college and grad school to teach English in another country. I’d like to have gone on many more adventures between now and then.  Hopefully, I’ll have some sort of organization in mind that I’d like to be working for–or even starting my own organization–who knows!?

Q:  In 10?

A: I’d like to have my graduate degree and be working for a non-profit, possibly doing something to prevent human trafficking. I plan to be traveling a lot, as I am sure my wanderlust will still be a huge part of my life.  Also, I’ll be 28, so hopefully an engagement ring, although, I have a feeling it will be a challenge finding someone who wants the same life as me; so we’ll see about that last one.

Q:  You were adopted as a baby by two very loving parents.  How do you feel growing up as an adopted child differs from those who are raised by their biological parents?

A: I feel that there aren’t too many differences.  Sometimes I even forget that I’m adopted, and then I’ll be like, “Oh, weird!”  But for the most part, my parents were the same as many other parents that I know.

Q:  What are some of the struggles or challenges you’ve faced as an adoptee?

A: Growing up was tough. For a long time, I had the idea in my head that if the two people who created me didn’t want me, who else would? Thinking that for so long really messed up my way of thinking, as well as my self-esteem.  It ruined many of my relationships because I thought that no one actually liked me and that I was a burden on everyone.

Also, in terms of Evangelical Christianity, the faith in which I was raised, hearing that sex is the worst sin a teenager could possibly commit really hurt me because it made me feel that my very birth was the result of “sin.”

Q:  What is the most important thing you have learned in your 18 years of life?

A: Oh man.  To just be myself.  That sounds so cliche, but really, I’m persistent and have a hard time taking no for an answer.  So if I’m myself, I get stuff done and provide opportunities for myself. It also makes my friendships more legitimate because I never pretend to be something that I am not.

Well, that’s it, folks, Hannah on traveling, her life, and adoption.  Hope you enjoyed getting to know a little more about my dear friend, and best wishes to all of your future endeavors, Hannah!

If you know Hannah and like her as much as I do, feel free to leave a comment or story about her.

Faces: London and Lonnell

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Faces:  London & Lonnell

Places:  Champaign, IL

Oh, My!:  A magical shoot of my friend and local hip hop artist, Lonnell Hayes, and his baby boy.

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Introducing London & Lonnell:

London & Lonnell was my first father-son duo.  It was an absolutely magical shoot, capturing their beautiful father-son interactions on camera.  Definitely one of my most rewarding photography moments so far.

Lonnell (the father) and I met in an extremely random way.  Last year, soon after I bought my camera, I was outside on campus playing around with my new toy with a couple of friends.  Out of nowhere, Lonnell came up to me and mentioned that he noticed my gigantic camera/lens and asked if I could shoot some promo pictures sometime for his music group.  I told him I was no pro, but agreed to meet up with him to do it.  This is what we came up with:

(Please forgive the very amateur, strait-on, wall, head-shots.)  🙂

After meeting up a few times for artistic collaborations, I began to learn that Lonnell is no ordinary guy.  An extremely resilient individual, he started his life in a dumpster outside of the hospital, where his mother left him soon after he was born. Fortunately, a janitor found him, and brought him to a woman who took care of him until he was three-years-old.  By the time he was three, this woman was having difficulties making ends meet. She struggled with poverty and was already trying to raise her own children.  Unable to continue caring for him, she dropped Lonnell off at a McDonalds and never came back.  Since then, Lonnell has been in and out of over a dozen foster homes, most of which were abusive.  When he finally managed to escape the system, he found hope and restoration at Cunningham Children’s Home, where he was able to enjoy life for the first time.  Since finishing high school, he has managed to establish himself as a successful musician.  He also owns and operates a recording studio for local artists, where he does sound and video recording, and he takes care of his two children.  I am truly impressed and thankful for all that he has shared with me, and I look forward to more music, video, and photography projects in the future.

Faces: Phila Lee

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Faces:  Phila Lee

Places:  Wicker Park, Chicago, IL

Oh my!:  Reunion and interview w/ a college friend

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Who’s that smooth ‘n stylin’ Korean hottie?  Phila Jin Lee!

Oddly enough, Phila was one of the first people I met my freshman year of college, seven years ago, but we didn’t become “real” friends until 2 years after graduation. We first met orientation weekend on an organized group trip into the city. He told me that his name was Phila, but that I could call him 멋진 오빠 (mut-jin op-ba) which in Korean means something along the lines of “cool, attractive guy.”  🙂 Even though we weren’t close in college, I knew he was a good guy when my college post office accidentally put my debit card into his mailbox (we both have the same last name, so our mailboxes were right next to each other) and he made it a point to tell me and give it to me.

Fast forward five years later, and through being roommates with one of my best friends back when we lived in Chicago, I finally got to know Phila more. I found Phila to be not only a trustworthy guy, but also a great story teller, and not to mention a very helpful love doctor. Phila always has a good story up his sleeve–whether it was about his father who went blind because an acupuncturist in South Korea poked him in the eyeball with his needles, or when he moved to NYC from Korea as a pre-teen and got into so much trouble trying to defend himself in a rough neighborhood that he broke his arm in a fight and his host family had to send him back to Korea, to when he got into an accidental run-in with the Chinese mafia when he lived in Chinatown, Chicago.

Phila now lives in Los Angeles, California.  He works at a cubicle and writes in his free time to stay sane. These photos are from several months ago when he made a visit to Chicago. We had fun with some murals in Wicker Park.


Since we don’t see each other often, I’ve been keeping in touch with Phila through his blog.  I wanted to know a little bit more about what inspires his writing, so I had a little conversation with him to learn more.  You can “listen in” below:

S: I’ve really been enjoying getting an insider’s perspective on the inner workings of your mind through reading your blog, as well as keeping tabs on your adventures in LA through your narratives.  There is always so much more that I’m learning about you. Why/how/when did you begin writing?

P: I remember several years ago, a college classmate of mine passed away. I never met her, I never knew her. But since our school was tiny, I did recognize her face.  When she died, I was curious of who she was or what kind of life she lived, so I looked up her blog. I soon found it and discovered that she had been writing a lot in her blog up until her death. So I read through it. Read about her struggles. Read about her inner thoughts. Read it all. By the time I had finally read through her entire blog, I felt like I knew her, that I had just met her. So in that sense, she was the most alive she ever was, more so than when she was actually alive.     That, is why I began writing.

S:  I find some of your work to be compelling and thought-provoking while others to be just downright hilarious.  Your entries read smoothly and easily, like having a conversation.  You say things so directly, yet I’m usually left having to read between the lines when I get to the end.  How would you describe your writing style?

P: I experiment with different techniques here and there, say if I see something that I think is pretty cool from a book I had read before, I go ahead and try it out for myself to see how it turns out. Other times, I just make something up that I think is creative, but probably more a product/result of something I had sub-consciously picked up from before.   But most of the time I find myself writing in a stream of consciousness narrative mode.  I use this primarily because I feel the most comfortable and at ease when I use this. However, I also use this because I find it to be the most effective bridge between the writer and the reader.

The main purpose of writing (and all books in general) is for the writer to communicate with the reader. It’s like the writer is the quarterback and the reader is the wide receiver.  The quarterback (writer) will throw the football (book) and it’s up to the receiver (reader) to catch it (read/understand) it. If the quarterback throws the ball but nobody catches it, he’s pretty much wasting his own time.   Now in our current day and age, reading is not the number one option (or only option) of entertainment or communication for the general public, and as a result, the general public’s reading level is collectively lower compared to the recent past. With that in mind, and from my own experience, I have found that it is very difficult for a writer to capture an average reader’s attention and even more difficult to maintain it.  I have found that directly telling a story in an easier-to-the-eye format captures and maintains one’s attention and most effectively gets the point across.

Choosing this method also has to do with my personal background, as I avoided books, libraries, and all reading in general during my formative years. I never had the chance to read the “modern western classics” of the 19th-20th century, and as a result, I never picked up on the flowery jargon and whatnot. So one thing for sure that you can expect from my entries is that you will never be overwhelmed with the flowery descriptions of things, as that type of language is not part of my natural tongue, nor am I capable of producing such lingo out of my brain because they simply are not part of it.

Avoiding such language in my own writing…I actually find this to be more modern and current, as general readers are not ready or willing to read words that will make themselves feel stupid after a paragraph or two. Such writing and books are more suitable for the few advanced readers out there (and trust me there are only a few). This does bring me back to the football example though, as I think writing and reading books of this sort is the most beautiful and at the pinnacle of the art of writing. It’s like when the most skilled quarterback throws the longest and most difficult football to catch that only he is able to throw, and only the most skilled of wide receivers catches it.  This shit is beautiful when that happens, you know. Very difficult to pull off, though.

I also find myself preferring to write in a self-deprecating voice, as I feel that is honest, humble and humorous, and if done correctly, also makes the voice sound more confident all at the same time.   I also try to work with the structuring of my sentences and choosing of my words. Occasional rhyming and alliteration is easier to the reading ear after all, and easy-to-pick up-symbolisms will make the general reader feel smart about him/herself. Always gotta look out for the general reader ya know wut I mean?

S:  Yes, I can definitely see that in your writing.  At the end of the day when I’m tired and exhausted and am mindlessly clicking through my blogroll, I don’t want to read some intellectual, “flowery” as you call it, literary piece.  That kind of stuff is usually reserved for an afternoon at the cafe w/ some Intelligentsia coffee–but when do I ever have time for that?  Or maybe I’m just not the most skilled quarterback so to speak…Nevertheless, your work is most definitely not flowery, but certainly does communicate clearly and always puts a smile on my face.  I like that.  What kinds of themes do you like to touch on?

P: I used to think that depended on what book I was reading at the moment. But now that I look through my drafts and diaries, I can see that they many of them share a common theme – I write about ‘value’ a lot. I can see now that in many of my entries I try to find the beauty and value of everything and everyone, albeit unsuccessful at times.

S:  What inspires your ideas?

P: Everything. Please allow me to explain. I began living with what I like to call “having a traveler’s mindset.” What I mean by this is that when we/people travel on vacation, we keep our eyes and minds open and try to notice, appreciate, and absorb everything we come across. That makes our trip more fulfilling and enjoyable, as compared to just taking naps in the hotel room all day (which I did for my junior year spring break trip to New York City. Needless to say that was one unfulfilling trip).  I try to have a traveler’s mindset every day and everywhere in my normal everyday life. And since I try to find value, beauty, and meaning in everything, I can honestly tell you that my life has become more valuable, beautiful, meaningful and fulfilling. And I think I became a more beautiful person in the inside, too.   So everything is interesting to me and hopefully through me everything will become an interesting story.  Don’t take naps in life, kids.  You’re missing out.

S:  I like that.  “Traveler’s mindset.”  I like to think I have a “celebrity mindset.”  Everyone I see and meet is someone special and an honor to get to know.  What do you hope to communicate through your writing?

P: That life is beautiful.

S:  You’re beautiful!  Look at this:

P: I know, I know.

S:  Switching gears, you lived in Korea for some time and the States for some time.  Tell us more about that experience of growing up in two distinctively different cultures.

P: This will become super long so I will just give you a link of my experience growing up in Korea. One thing I can tell you is that I am one of the lucky few who has a complete understanding of both cultures, and I see it as a major privilege that makes my life and background richer.

S:  You have a very unique family story.  Tell us about your family, particularly your father.

P: Every family story is unique, and yet every story is normal. My story seems very normal to me. But I guess to you it isn’t because of my father being a blind man. Steph, you did hit the jackpot of questions, as I absolutely love talking about my family and can go on forever.  My father, as you know, is blind. What I also know is that he is brave and fearless. Some of the decisions he has made in his life… seriously some rash/reckless but courageous stuff. Before this gets too long I’ll simply share a link of what I have written of him before.   My mother is the strongest person I know. She is also the person I care about the most. I can write a novel about her, so I will stop there. I am dead serious about the novel.   I have two sisters– one older, one younger. My older sister is the world’s best story teller. I honestly enjoy her version of telling me the plots of a movie more than actually watching the movie.  It always amazed me how she was able to remember every important detail of a movie in perfect sequence and how she was able to narrate it to me with such animated voices and facial expressions along with her personal commentary all at the same time. How crazy is that?  My younger sister is the cutest person on earth, and I am being completely biased here. Basically, she looks exactly like me, just with longer hair. You can check for yourself here. I thought looking like me would hurt her game, but it seems that it didn’t one bit. That’s talent I guess.

S:  What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

P: What a generic last question to wrap things up, Steph. Mad props, though. But yea, this question is something I actually spent a good amount of time thinking about before. And I have reached the conclusion that if I can live along my people and can together enjoy what life brings with it, then that will be one good life.   I dream of that for myself and everybody else.

S:  Thanks so much, Phila, for taking the time to thoughtfully answer all of my questions, and I look forward to your next blog post!

Feel free to leave a comment or even a story below about Phila, if you know him, or a question you may have about him.  And yes, ladies, he is single.  And yes, men, he is straight.