Status

Do I have something on my face? Oh wait, it’s just me.

facing life

It’s Friday, Precious Readers!

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am about that. For those who follow me on Facebook and are a part of my Facebook Group: Katherine Bacher’s Happy Hour (hint hint), you may already know that this has been a week from the seventh circle of hell.

After weeks of (not) adjusting to our new neighbors’ schedule, we are pretty much sure our new neighbors are drug dealers and/or gang members. For longtime followers of this blog, you will know that often, the life of an author is not glamorous or even lucrative. We write because we love to do it. It’s not for the money or the fame. I write because it’s what I was born to do. I would write even if I was never published. (I’ve written this blog for over 5 years, so what does that tell you?) However, due to not having achieved 100% world domination, I still live in an apartment in a ghetto area of Washington State. This includes dealing with people who choose to make less lawful-based career decisions. Due to my neighbors’ nocturnal and nefarious activities, my husband Pilot and I have not had a good night’s sleep in several weeks.

To help report this activity to local police and to our landlord, my husband setup a camera to take photographs every 5 seconds. The video footage was quite astounding, showing over 10 cars coming by and being met by our neighbors (after 11:50 pm, mind you) within the first few minutes of footage (first full 10 minutes of recording.) This continued on from 11:50 pm well into the wee hours of Monday morning at 5:30 am. I wish I was kidding, but my lack of Z’s is proof otherwise. An unexpected result of recording through the night added to our stress: my car was broken into on Monday morning around 3:30 am. On the plus side, the perpetrator got The Cranberry’s door unlocked and partway open instead of busting the window open. Which happened last year. And, several other times to both Pilot and I before. Between both Pilot’s and my vehicle combined, this will be the 6th time our cars has been broken into while living in this apartment complex.

To add insult to injury, that same Monday, Pilot’s car battery died in the middle of the day. He managed to get it charged, but it died again around 5:30pm Monday, requiring meeting him at his stranded location, dealing with tow trucks, and dropping the hunk of metal with a mechanic. It is still currently at the mechanic’s, who informed us his vehicle, War Machine, needs a new alternator and an entire new electrical system. So there’s that.

This can take a toll on a person’s sanity. Operating on 1 vehicle is difficult for two workaholics like Pilot and myself, but the morning commute has been filled with quiet laughter together while both of us trying not to take our frustration with life out on each other.

One thing that has gone by the wayside is my personal self-care. While I still have several things to follow-up with (the mechanic, the local police, our landlord, and now attempting to find a new place to live as we consider vacating the apartment we’ve called “home” for the last 8 years and our entire marriage), I plan to make time for some rest and rejuvenation this weekend.

Speaking of rejuvenation, I take the time to fill out surveys, in Hopes of products suited to me will fill the shelves. Plus, it’s a great time passer.

I was asked to take a survey today about facial skin care. The survey did not provide a progress bar (which annoys the heck out of me), and ended up being more in-depth and scientific about the product itself rather than just “do you like label A or B?” The experience ended up making me face a mental mirror about a deeply rooted insecurity and fear that I was unaware of floating around in my psyche.

While filling out this survey, a sense of dread bloomed into a dark, gray cloud that hovered over my head for a good half hour after completing it.

welcome to your face

Those nearest and dearest to me know that I have an above-average concern regarding sun exposure. Living in the Pacific Northwest means that sun exposure is limited compared to other parts of the country, but it can actually be more dangerous for PNW dwellers than your average Californian. So many of our days are gray and overcast that many in the PNW do not wear sunblock leading to spots, advanced skin aging, and the looming skin cancer. I don’t know if it’s in my Asian DNA or mental paranoia, but I fight the sun like a mother f-ing heavyweight champion. (Insert favorite fat joke here, says fat blogger.) Although I don’t wear sunblock everyday (longtime readers know I am not a morning person), I do my best to wear it when I know I will be outside for extended periods of time. I’m better at keeping my arms covered, I wear my Bubble Run hat or travel (crush-able) visor, and weirdo that I am, I wear driving gloves to keep my hands sort-of youthful looking (thanks to a lovely requested Christmas gift from my Mom. Thanks Mom!). I tend to splurge on facial products and nail products. This includes night creams and daily moisturizer with SPF. I have a gentle scrub face wash, toner, moisturizer, and a night cream.

This concern did not appear once I hit adulthood. In fact, when I was in elementary school, I was often getting in trouble with the summer day camp teachers for taking too long putting on sunblock before going outside to play. I would use the mirror in the playhouse area to make sure I covered my ears, got the back of my neck and shoulders, etc. Yes, even as young as eight years old, I was concerned about sun exposure and skin care. This is not due to me burning. In my youth, I tanned mostly, probably due to the huge amounts of sunblock I was using. I didn’t get my first sunburn until I was about 19 years old during an unfortunate misunderstanding of how long we would be on Boeing Field for an airshow during the first year of Pilot and I dating.

However, that’s not what I wanted to talk about with you. While answering questions such as Do you look for anti-aging features? or the ever popular women’s questions about concerns over eye sagging and wrinkling, I was confronted with what was my actual fear? Yes, of course, no one wants skin cancer, but this was more than that. I asked myself why I was so concerned about aging beyond my irrational thanatophobia.

Here was my revelation:

I have no idea what I will look like as I age.

I can hear you thinking right now: What the heck is she talking about? None of us know what we’re going to look like as we get older.

Here’s my rebuttal: Actually, yes, most of you do.

(Most of) You have family members you can reference where you got your looks from. Perhaps you’re a “Mini Me” of your parents. Maybe your family’s DNA caused looks to skip a generation and you look like your great grandparents. It could be a situation where you look more like your extended family. My husband is the youngest of three children in his family. My husband looks the most like his father in height, stretched build, and facial features, except he has his mother’s eyes and hair color. His sister has their dad’s height, but looks the most like their mother. Pilot’s brother doesn’t look like either of his siblings, is the shortest of the three (while still tall), has a slightly stockier build that comes from their mother’s side of the family, darker hair, and in looks he is almost a twin of one of their first cousins.

Maybe you have your uncle’s nose and your grandparent’s build. Maybe you have your mother’s eyes and your father’s ears.

For me, this is what I know about myself:
I’m Korean.

That’s ALL I know, and whether that’s 100% Korean is yet to be determined.

I don’t know if I look like my biological father. I don’t know if I look like my biological mother. I don’t know if looks skipped a generation and I look like one or a combination of my grandparents. The unknown is scary. There’s probably some additional tie ins with my Type-A personality about “control issues” due to so much uncertainty in my infantile year(s) and lack of control over the future of my body, but I don’t feel like opening that Pandora’s box anytime soon.

This is going to sound weird, but sometimes I forget that I am Asian. The world sees me as such, but to me, I grew up as a suburban, “white” American, of German descent. Sometimes I’m actually still surprised when I look in the mirror and I see a change in my face. This was exceptionally confusing when I was just hitting puberty as a teen, watching my small, cherubic face lengthen, my height extend, etc. I had nothing to reference from. Every change was a surprise and I had no frame of reference while experiencing it.

About a year ago, I noticed a brown speck near the base of my palm, smaller than the head of a pin. I thought it was a piece of dirt and proceeded to flick it off.

It didn’t.

I realized it was a brown spot that had appeared on my skin and IT WAS PERMANENT.

While this wasn’t earth-shattering news, or a symbol of something more unhealthy going on, it was a realization that I am well into my 30’s and not getting any younger, and that if I wanted my face to be even close to resembling what I know it to be in this moment in time, I needed to up my game from daily SPF moisturizer and face washing. (Hence the night cream(s).)

All I know about Asian aging is that we age slower than some other ethnicities, but we also have delicate skin. I have the hooded (flat) eyelid, so my eyelids may be prone to drooping as time goes on. I may develop jowls and end up looking like a Korean Winston Churchill. Maybe I’ll develop osteoporosis, which is more prevalent in aging Asians than other races, or shrink down an entire foot as I age. I’ve already lost some hair on the top of my head near my forehead. To be fair, I think that was resulting of a medical condition that is now more under control… but it hasn’t grown back.

Most people who are 60+ years in age say that they sometimes don’t recognize the person in the mirror facing back at them. I can genuinely say that the person I meet in 30 years will most likely be a complete stranger to me unless I do my best preventive and maintenance methods, that I can afford to do, right now.

It was one of those psychological jabs poking insecurity into my brain, causing a moment of that loneliness that reveals itself to me from time-to-time, making me feel different than my family, different from my friends, different from my own celebrated German-American heritage. I experience the following jabs:

  • I’m a phony
  • I don’t belong with my family
  • I’m not a “real” Asian
  • I’m not a “real” American
  • I’m not a “real” anything
  • I don’t deserve to celebrate my American and German roots

Another thing that pops into my brain, as a woman, I have no idea what my children would look like. If I had married an Asian man, I would be able to say my children will look Asian and most won’t question that they’re my or my husband’s kids.

Even though it’s 2018, there are still many who frown upon interracial marriage. White supremacy gangs are the leading type of gang activity in Washington State, and despite living on the coastal side of it, there are still areas where Pilot and I will encounter hate and/or racism merely for looking the way that I do. It’s rare, and the situations are few and far between, but they do happen.

I have, what I feel is, a legitimate fear that if Pilot and I were to have children, chances are they’re going to look mostly Asian instead of Caucasian. Based on other Asian/Caucasian couples that I know and have met who have children, their kids tend to take on more Asian features than their Caucasian parent counterparts. (The Asian genes are incredibly strong.) I fear that if Pilot and I were to have children, and he’s watching them by himself, that someone will call CPS on them fearing he’s kidnapping them. Or that a stranger will make a comment that may hurt my husband and/or those children because of ignorance, hate, or a misunderstanding. I don’t look forward to those questions, potential tears, and conversations of having to explain human stupidity to a child in a way that they understand and doesn’t hurt them further.

My parents had to give me a lot of educational and grown up discussions about adoption, racism, what it means to be a family, parenting, the parent-child dynamic, etc., probably far more discussions than the average family about us: What could/could not be said at home versus in public, how to act when meeting people for the first time as a family, how to make sure that I am always making that extra effort to make sure that I keep the offender comfortable after they’ve insulted me, my intelligence, my race, my assumed heritage, my actual heritage, and whatnot. I never remember them offhand, but something will trigger one — a comment someone said, witnessing institutional racism, seeing a parent of interracial children get questioned, etc. and I remember a certain “family meeting” I had shared with my parents for whatever ridiculous screwed up thing had happened that day in my childhood. I do have hope that maybe the world will change into a less racially charged place where it’s not assumed that children of a different appear race to the adult means that the kids were “rescued” or “kidnapped,” depending on how the offender is feeling that day.

I had no idea that a survey about face cream would stir up all several emotions that I haven’t felt in… well, frankly, in almost twenty years. I suppose I could look at it from a different perspective: I get to meet someone new in the mirror about every 10 years who likes and hates all of the same stuff that I do. If Pilot and I were to have kids, maybe they’ll take on features of both him and I so I won’t have to try to guess who they look like.

Probably a bit heavier for a Friday post, but why not throw out an existential question for the weekend? While War Machine is in the shop and Pilot uses my car, The Cranberry to meet with clients for work, maybe I’ll spend a nice quiet Saturday using one of those home facial masks.

TGIF everyone!
– KB

you always remember your first

Do you remember your first?

Grabbed your attention, didn’t I?  I’ll tell you what. I’ll even give you his real name.  His name was Bob.  I know, lame-o name for a first, right? But he was a year older than me, slim body, reliable. We went through high school and most of college together. I have so many memories with Bob.  How could I ever forget him or his amazingly bright green paint job?

Oh, did I forget to mention that Bob is a car?

Bob was the epitome of the safest vehicle on my entire high school parking lot.  My father chose him specifically for me.  Him being a car guy, he knew exactly which car would always get me where I needed to go, never crap out on me, and definitely wasn’t capable of being dangerous.

It was so safe, it couldn’t even do doughnuts. It was a great selling point to my dad, by the way.  And I TRIED!  My dad took me to an icy parking lot in January and we TRIED!

NOTHING! ZIP! NADA! Not even a doughnut hole!

Bob was with me every step of the way. Through every job, through every latte stand, through every incident I was late to school on final’s day.  I got to know Pilot in that car.

You might be wondering about the name.  Well, in my family it’s a tradition to name our cars. Ok, maybe I started the tradition.

My mother’s purple soccer-mom vehicle was dubbed “The Grape Van,” (for a family of three, I still question the need for a damn van), my dad’s jeep was the “Beep Beep,” as named by my mother, but the name hasn’t stuck. It’s been renamed to Grease Lightning since then.  Even Pilot’s vehicle was christened upon the commencement of our relationship. His car was named “The Exploder.” (More on the Exploder another day.)

Bob was purchased out of a creepy, out-of-the-way location from a shabbily decorated lot.  After a not-really-trying dealer semi-haggled with my family, we purchased Bob, an ’83 Mercury Topaz, the new addition to our fleet.  (I know, right?)  Within the vehicle we found a dirty chamois, a screwdriver, and a Bob Marley tape.

I know, I know. The story sounds familiar. We named it Bob, the dog taught me a lot out of life and then he tear-jerkingly died.  Don’t worry, this story doesn’t end tragically. Promise.

While vacationing with my parents in Leavenworth, I found an “I Heart Bob” glow-in-the-dark key chain for him.  Unfortunately, our relationship had to come to an end. While in college at CWU, my parents’ growing concern for the two-hour drive over Snoqualmie Pass (especially in Washington winter which is December to March-ish) made them decide I needed a four-wheel drive vehicle instead.  So now I have Grease Lightning.

Mostly, I think my parents just wanted a new car, but my dad didn’t want to part with his Jeep and couldn’t justify having four cars for a family of three.

But don’t worry. Like I said, this story has a happy ending.  (Remember, I love a good HEA, even for an inanimate object.) Bob was still extremely reliable, and fully functional, so we tried to find a good home.  We found his new parents in my aunt and uncle. Now he has new owners, he’s still in the family and I get to visit him whenever I see my aunt and uncle.

What was your first car?  What were your favorite memories in there?

Wait, maybe that’s a bad question. But it’s out there now, so… Oh, well.

Daily Writing Challenge

*You may have noticed I didn’t post a DWC yesterday. The question for Day 11 (ironic, right? ) was “What was a day like for your character at work?” Since the DWC was part of a WIP, I didn’t want to post it here. So here’s Day 12.

Day 12: What does your character do when their day isn’t a normal day? Write a scene where something goes amiss in your characters day-to-day life.

Thud.

As I wait for my tow truck, the leather steering wheel making what I’m sure is a lovely indentation on my forehead. Sometimes I think that technology hates me. No, seriously. HATES ME. I’m supposed to be leaving for vacation in four hours and not only did my alarm not go off causing me to be late to work, but my computer decided today was a great day to stop functioning, preventing me from printing my boarding pass. After a mad dash to my neighbor’s house to print, sending a quick prayer of thanks for Mr. Rothenburger, I’m now on the side of the highway listening to a strange and ominous hiss coming from underneath the hood of my car.

Well, that’s actually not true. While driving, I heard a whirr plus a ka-thunk with a little dash of glug-a-glug. Then, the hissing.

As I reread the sun visor warning label for the thirty-seventh time, I glance at my suitcase. Poor little suitcase. Sitting there in the back of my car, patiently waiting to be loaded onto a plane to Hawaii.  It’s bright orange with stickers from everywhere I’ve traveled. I hadn’t been to Hawaii yet, and I was itchy to go for some fun in the sun.

There’s a light tapping on the window. As my eye rolls up to look outside, an annoyingly cheerful but yummy looking mouth smiles back at me.  His voice is slightly muffled as he announces himself through the glass.

“Are you Jenny Eppson, yellow Neon JRF-502?”

I nod and straighten up in my driver’s seat, brushing my plain brown hair off my face.  I roll down the window.

“Davis Motors?”

“Yup, Davis Bogart. That’s me.” I pop the hood and step out of the car.  My por little Neon, I grab my poor little suitcase, and set it next to poor little me on the side of the road.  A tall, slightly tanned from working outside, muscled man with dark hair and dark eyes winks at me.

He nods towards my suitcase, “So where you headed?”

“I’m supposed to leave for Hawaii in…” I steal a quick glance at my cell phone. “Make that three hours.”

“Well let’s see what we can do about getting you on your way.”

“Wait a second… Bogart?” I raise my eyebrows at him.  He gave a slight chuckle.

“Yeah, I know. But I’ll tell you what, I’m a huge hit with women over fifty.” He goes over to check my engine.  I watched Yummy Mouth bend over my hood.  Hmm.  Not bad for our generation either.

“Hmm… Looks like your transmission blew. We’re going to have to take it in.”

“Nooo! Could this day get any worse?!” I yell to no one in particular.  When I look back down Davis’ eyes widen a little.

“Bad day, huh?” he said, handing me a clipboard. “Sign here please.”

“The worst,” I grumble to myself, reluctantly taking the pen and sign my name and car away.

“I’m sorry. We’ll get it back to my garage… Unfortunately, my guys won’t be able to work on the vehicle until Monday.”

“Nooo!” I say again as I kick the tire. Shame on me for buying a Neon.

“Here, hop in the front seat.”  He glanced down at the form.  “Look, it’s late, my shift is almost over… and my mother would be shaking in her curlers if I left a young lady stranded without a ride.  I could give you a lift to the airport. You wouldn’t want to pay for those parking fees anyway.  We’ll store your car, free of charge until we can get to work on it.”

My jaw dropped.  “You don’t have to do that, really.”  I wrinkled my nose. “But if you want to stay in good standing with your mother, you might not want to mention the curlers. Oh, and thank you for calling me young.”  He laughed.

“No really, it’s ok.  My garage is on the way. Besides, we can take the carpool lane and maybe make up for the time you’ve lost from this whole transmission issue of yours.”

His logic and generosity was music to my ears.

“Bogey, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”