Sogee's Birthday, Film News, and Latest Reading

Well, things are moving right along. I am still in Pittsford with Sogee. Today is her birthday, and aside from missing her folks and friends yesterday, we have been having a blast. Typically, we both wake up and have yogurt parfaits; I go to work; and then she scours the Internet for the latest Facebook news or Etsy creation. It's a good life. By the afternoon, I am done my work, and we workout, or walk the mall like senior citizens.

As of this moment, I am on a conference call with Thomas and lawyers for the film. We're trying to set contracts for investors. There are so many things to consider with unions, rules, and monies to be paid if the film goes to distribution. It's all pretty interesting. I can't say I would like to be a lawyer, but you do have to learn a lot of the process to be clear with actors, investors, and crew.

Aside from contracts, I am now contacting members of the Youngstown community for auditions in April. Thomas and I are supposed to scout locations, meet with Noah, and try to find some local talent. Hopefully, we find some more great actors. We have seen so many wonderkidz in New York. If Youngstown is as postive as our New York auditions, then we'll be that much closer.

As fas as doing some more auditions in Los Angeles, that might happen as well. Right now we've gotten many people from L.A. who are interested in the project. Some have been fairly big stars. That was definitely great to hear and a positive boost for our efforts. At the same time, being a low budget film, we aren't in a position to cast some multi-million dollar actor, so I don't know if we can cast those major players. Who knows? Maybe, we will have one major star. I can't say anything for sure yet. Anything is possible.

In the world of writing and reading, I am now going through Moby Dick. I plan to read it this week. So far it's hard to understand. I can't seem to get the voice right in my head--the rhythms are off for me. That's why I hate reading things that are dated; I lose my place trying to figure out the voice, and have to start over. Anyway, I am hoping to read the Dick and six or seven other books by May. The plan is that this will help me get in a good position to take the GRE in Literature exam, or, at the very least, be able to see if I want to take it. Is there some specific area I would want to study if I did a PhD? Right now, my only interest is Nabokov. He is a very exciting writer for me. I also like Nathaniel Hawthorne. Who knows? Maybe they will be the authors I decide to study for a couple years. No idea. Maybe I will just make movies and television. I have no idea. I wouldn't mind writing a novel this year though.

I am now off to celebrate Sogee's birthday...

No Friends

"I don't have any friends," Sogee said.

"Neither do I," I said. 

"What is a friend?" she asked.

"Good question," I said.

"Want to go to a coffee shop and talk about friends?"

"Okay," I said.

Sogee and the Rubber Crisis

Today my mom warned me about flushing condoms in the toilet. I was a bit taken aback. 

"What?" I asked. 

"When you have eh-sex, please do not flush the things you use to prevent pregnancy -- what are those called?" she asked in her thick Persian accent.


"Yes, please do not flush them. You can cause a big accident."

I was confused how my mother would know a condom was flushed or that we had sex. I guess there might have been a floater. Oh, well. What can you do? It's not my house. Sogee and I are a married couple staying with another married couple that happen to be my parents. There are bound to be discussions when you are sharing space with other people. "Not flushing the rubbers" seems a perfectly legitimate concern.

"Okay," I told my mother. "I will not flush anything."

"Good," she said, and then let out a sly grin. 

Her smile said it all. It might have even been the reason to bring it up in the first place. I think my parents are kind of happy to know that Sogee and I are doing okay with married life. That makes total sense to me. We probably didn't seem like we were doing too well the first couple weeks in America. And the truth is, we weren't. 

Moving from another country is a big change, especially for a couple that's spent there entire courtship and together-ness in a previous one that is so different. You get off the plane and have a whole new set of cultural, living, and speaking guidelines, that are, in most cases, very much the opposite of what you were used to. What do you mean you can't spit on the sidewalk? Why won't they swipe my credit card for me? Why is that person mad because I nudged their shoulder while walking past them? Suddenly, you are given looks for behavior that was deemed fine and appropriate a plane ride ago. You are suddenly inappropriate in every way. That certainly does a number on a person's head. You suddenly start worrying about how you and your partner can prevent being tarred and feathered before the week is through. 

"Don't do that! Do this!" I found myself saying. "In America, we don't walk down the street like that at night. We don't..." And on and on. I must have been a broken record with all my concerns. I was suddenly so hell bent on explaining everything. And Sogee, to her credit, was willing to hear me out - for a minute. 

"Yeah, you don't want to go out in heels in this part of L.A.," I told her on day two in the city.

"Why not? This is how I dress!"

That was probably the beginning of disaster. You don't criticize Sogee's heels. It was only a matter of time before my sometimes legitimate concerns were thwarted as preposterous. I mean, some things - like walking in safe areas of Los Angeles - were legitimate concerns, but I was still taking it overboard. I certainly didn't need to recommend her walking one way and not another to get groceries. She would be okay. 

I suppose that's a tendency in my relationship life. I become the sounding call for any potential catastrophe, politically correct action, and any basic fear-inducing-paranoia I can find to sabotage my relationships. This previous pattern had yet to rear its ugly head in my new marriage. I realized this as it was happening. I could also sense that I was going through some reverse culture shock as well. 

The latter portion of my problem was an easy one to diagnose. I was simply not used to the role of being a leader. In Korea, Sogee was the one who took us from one area to the next. She did all the talking, and I simply fell in line to her bidding. It was very strange to have those roles reversed. She was now the worried one - uncertain about her speaking skills or how to deal with the local checkout attendant. It was up to me to be a guide. 

"You swipe the card yourself," I told Sogee, as we were checking out at a Whole Foods. "You have to do it!"

"Okay!" she raised her voice back to me. 

"I'm just letting you know."

"Okay," she said, and grabbed her plastic bag.

"You're also going to want to get paper next time, or get one of those canvas bags, so you can help the environment." 

"Why? Don't Americans recycle?"

"Not like Korea."

"What do you mean?"

I felt that I spent most of our first few weeks being this knit pickey, annoying know-it-all. I was starting to dislike myself and it showed. It was only until I remembered the quote on the walls at Hwa Gye Sah that I started seeing my actions for what they were. 

"In the 24 hours of each day," the placard read,  "do not make anything."

As soon as I remembered that idea, I started practicing it. I didn't mention what Sogee needed to do or make any amends if she did something that would be deemed politically inappropriate. I simply tried to enjoy each moment. Slowly, I started to find myself again. It was nice. I didn't know where I had gone for those first few weeks. I could also see how my previous relationships were a product of me never being able to move past this point. In most cases, I was either too young, stupid, or simply unable to get a second chance to make it past my worried concerns. They would simply consume me if given enough room to roost. 

I was better off this time. I did the zazen. I stopped making. I also allowed things to be without controlling them. Slowly, Sogee began to reflect my actions. Instead of fielding all my worries into her own, she now got to spend time with herself and her passions. Finally, things began to even out. 

"I think I was too worried about getting a job right away," she told me. 


"Now I am not worried as much."

"You don't need to be. You got time. Do what you want."

"I just felt like I had to do something."

It looks like the economic crisis has replaced the War on Terror as the new mask of fear to consume Americans. In Korea, there wasn't anything about an economic crisis, but as soon as we hit the tarmac at LAX, it was like a barrage of news clips that would frighten any human being: "Economic crisis! Stipulation!! No jobs!!!" It was no wonder that Sogee was scared out of her mind. Add to that, a husband that's giving her other worries and the poor girl is on overload. 

"I'm just not used to not having a job," Sogee continued. "I felt like I should have a job right away. I thought that was what I was supposed to do."

"You don't though. You got time to adjust. That's why we're here."

"I know that now."

If Sogee and I were to respond with the amount of dread that was forced upon us by those televisions and the banter among Americans around us, we would have literally boob-blocked Humpty Dumpty and jumped off the wall in his place. Luckily, we've had the chance to prevent complete meltdown with meditation, reality checks, and my parent's kindness to stay with them while we get acclimated to America. 

Our plan is to stay here until after our wedding ceremony in August. Then the plan is to go back home to Los Angeles. I am not sure if it'll play out that easily, but I have a feeling it just might. The film seems to be coming together, so my job here will soon be done. Pretty soon I'll have to face a new city of "not making". Who knows?? Maybe, Sogee and I will go through another set of growing pains there together. As for now, we're here in Pittsford. And aside from the occasional rubber flushing issues, I am having a good time with my wife and parents. 

Manhattan Trip & Film Update

New York was a blast. We stayed with Thomas and Dayana in Brooklyn. Their apartment was close to Prospect Park, so we got to take the F train into the city and catch a bit of above ground sunshine before things went dark. 

The subway felt much safer than in Los Angeles. There were families aboard at all times of night, and I didn't ever feel threatened or unsafe. That was a surprise compared to earlier visits. New York definitely seems like it is getting safer and safer. 

I spent most of my trip working with Thomas on the film. I thought we were going to be raising money, but we spent a majority of our time on the website and casting. That was fine by me. I like working with actors. 

We got to meet several potential players for the film. They were all very professional, kind, and passionate about the material. That was probably the best part of the trip. They were all excited about the script, and that was an extra boost for both Thomas and I, since we had no idea what the film would sound like read aloud. 

So Gee spent most of her days scouring Soho's jewelry shops for her world domination of the jewelry design business. Occasionally, we got to meet in the evenings to catch a movie or have a bite to eat. In the picture (above), we all decided to see Coraline in 3-D. So Gee was totally into it. I fell asleep, which is not necessarily a reflection of the film, but how hard I've been working lately. 

Thomas worked hard as well. He managed to get everything filmed and put together a little piece for potential investors. He has an incredible reservoir of energy. I think it might be all the martial arts training. That's why I'm working out daily now. Hopefully, that non-stop energizer bunny will be me one day.

When things slowed down in New York, they still seemed fast. I couldn't help but notice that everyone was working when they were relaxing, as you can see from this triple threat of laptops and simultaneous oscar watching. In fact, Thomas and Dayana probably create a lot of time for themselves by not having cable or watching television. We had to all chip in to get the antennas hooked up to the television to watch the end of the Oscars. 

My favorite meal in New York was at Silver Spurs in Union Square. They had this yogurt parfait job with honey. It was way too good. 

So was Franky boy's visit from West Chester. I didn't expect him to make it up, but he did. We got to practice a little jam session, drink some Guiness, and discuss Downtown Harvest and his role in helping us with the music for the film. 

Once I started playing with Frank, it was like no time had passed between us at all. I look forward to how he will help us on the film, and the potential Slipshod record that might come soon after.

By the end of the week, I was feeling great about the potential of the film. I can tell things are going in the right direction. We only have to come up with some creative ways to raise funds. Who knows? Maybe, we will. Maybe, we'll have to hire someone who is better at it than us. I have no idea. Either way, I look forward to seeing what happens.