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  • Roots in the East, but born in the West, forever pulled this way and that. This trick of being, this double-life, forever a curse. There is nothing like cultural ambiguity to muddle a life -- at times giving me license to escape history, floating high above all the rules, and others to be buried by the burden of too muchness.

    It was perfect irony that my parents made their living running a Burger King, that beacon of Western pop culture and lifestyle. Kids meals and Simpson toys littered our living room along with ancient trinkets of the East.

    When my grandmother passed away, we cleaned out her dresser only to find two boxes bound with blue elastics. I opened one to find a collection of buttons, painstakingly collected throughout the years. That simple emotion -- the fear of not being able to mend a shirt with the right button wafted up from its contents. The second box was full of coins from Korea. As I sorted through them, I began to feel her yearning, that daily hope of returning one day to the land where she was born.

    These small auguries are tucked away in our house amidst fast food paraphernalia and hamburger trainee videos. I am still not sure how to make sense of them, or what, if anything I am supposed to feel looking at these gorgeous but somewhat distant images of the ancient East.

    I can only put a kind of faith in life -- a hope that the pell-mell and absurd chaos of East and West will someday make sense. I hope ... and try to live my life as a way of crafting the answers.
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