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

starting to lead a purpose-driven life

“That is all I want in life: for this pain to seem purposeful.”

– Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

Precious Readers,

I have good news and I have bad news.

 

THE BAD NEWS:

I have not lived up to promises of keeping you entertained.  These last few months have been some of the most difficult I’ve ever encountered.  Needless to say, there is a lot in my life that has required me to step away from the keyboard and focus.  These issues are not quite at a place to discuss them publicly at this time.

Life lessons have been recycling in my life.  Lessons that I’d thought I’d learned from and protected myself against.  There are people in my life and there are those who were only seemingly in my life.  I haven’t had this strong of a reality slap in the face since my dad passed away.  There were people who I thought would never leave my life, who instead completely disappeared never to be heard from again.  Then there were others who stepped up and became closer friends with me than I ever imagined possible.

I’m facing that needle-like tingle across the face, the stinging reverberated across my cheek as the icy reality of the same sensation has happened again.  This time there no major life changes that caused this, thank goodness, but my own awakening as a “can’t look back now, I’m officially an adult, no other synonyms allowed” person.

This year, I turned 30.

Not to sound cliché, but this was a difficult birthday for me.  Not in the political sense of “a woman turning thirty” requiring everyone and their brother to question if the female subject in question is married, has a house, has children?

No, the idea of 30 was a bit more personal than political.

There’s a film called The Last Kiss, one Americanized starring Zach Braff, but actually is a remake of an Italian film L’ultimo Bacio.  For the purposes of this blog, I am focusing on the Zach Braff film.  The director’s commentary of the film-

Yes. I’m one of those.  I watch the director commentary of films. <shrug.> 

-mentions that although of course at the heart of the story is a man who is realizing his life is beginning to “settle.”  He and his long term girlfriend are expecting a child and planning to find a place to live.

The film isn’t subtle.  It’s about as subtle as a brick to the head. However, it does bring up an interesting subplot: the idea that it’s possible there is more than one type of “life crises” phases throughout the human experience.  The main character and his three other friends are all approaching 30.  It explores the idea that there is another “mid-life crisis” in your 30’s where you face not only the consequences of your youth, but setting the foundation for the remainder of your adult years.

That’s a lot to deal with.

It becomes apparent that this is the final age where no person can truly say they’re a ‘young adult’ anymore.  It is the official stark, unwavering line between youth and adulthood.  20-somethings can still use the excuse that they’re “young” and still “finding themselves.”  While any person can easily say that “if you want to be somebody else, change your mind,” (thank you Sister Hazel), at any age, it would be difficult to find any person who believes 30 could still be misinterpreted as a ‘young adult.’ You are now an official adult, no turning back, no holds barred.

In the new age of writing, there has been a recent genre rising to the scene called “New Adult.”  This surpasses the pre-teen angst, the teenage romanticism of pain and joy, and the college years of someone claiming to be an adult while still dealing with a 4-digit phone number and mini-fridge.  New Adult claims to be post-college, yet not quite in the “married, settled in the suburbs with the 2.5 kids.”

Obi-One-Pin-Obi, a longtime friend of mine, greeted my third decade amongst the world with a birthday card that said, “Welcome to your 30’s!  There’s cookies here!”  I’m one of the youngest of all of my friends, the second youngest of all of my cousins on both sides of the family, and was the second youngest person in my graduating class of high school.  The youngest person is only younger than me by less than two weeks.

I look at Facebook among the people around Pilot’s and my age and see a definitive, polarized line of the life stages.  Many are either married or already divorced with several children, while the other side is still single or just finding significant others.  I fall into a minority where I’m married with no children, and no plans for children in the immediate (or possible long term) future.

I’ve been (somewhat) maintaining this blog for 2 years.  What do I have to show for it?  A slow fading of posts that went from daily to only a few times a year.

Funny enough, I find myself back at square one.

 

THE GOOD NEWS:

I find myself back at square one!  (Yes, I did intend to write that a second time.  With an exclamation point!  As a GOOD thing!)  I have another opportunity to make another drastic change in my life.

Precious Readers, Pilot found a full-time job!

This marks a new beginning for me.  The freedom of choice. Although there are still several details that will need to be sorted out, I finally have the freedom to choose how I spend my time.

Not to sound completely full of myself-

However, if I do… I’m blaming “only child syndrome.”

-I am quite hirable.  The skills I’ve learned through having to work since I was young-

and no, I’m not talking early twenties. I’m talking about babysitting, doing odd jobs before I was 14, and then being old enough to have jobs since I was 14.  Been working and never stopped!

-I have a (now) decades of customer service training under my belt, along with now a degree and several other office administrative skills that have grown over the years.

This has granted me the ability to work in whatever location of my choosing.  At the time, I worked wherever the money flowed.

Now I can choose.

The difference between my 20’s versus my 30’s?  I’m finally taking steps towards making writing my full-time career.  This month, I’ll be attending the Emerald City Writer’s Conference in Bellevue, WA.  If you happen to be there, feel free to look me up.

Also, I’ve been attending writer’s support meetings and finally getting to a place where I’m not blocked anymore.

If the lack of blog posts have been an indicator, I’ve been a dealing with a bit of writer’s block lately.  Mostly due to lack of time.  Although it’s true that, “if you want to be a writer, you’ll find a way to write.” That would be true if I didn’t work 60-80 hours per week, plus 1-2 hours of commuting ONE WAY, and (attempting to) manage a household and take care of others in my time-limited life.

Lunchtime would be primo time to knock out a few hundred words… If I actually took a lunch, which I rarely do.

Just a reminder: It’s easy to dole out advice when you don’t understand the other person’s situation. Think before you speak… Another lesson I’m relearning on a minute-by-minute basis, and rarely succeed at.

No, Precious Readers, something has got to give. I’m reviewing my life with a fine-toothed comb, and I’ll tell you what:

By this time next year, there are going to be a LOT of changes happening for me.

I hope you’ll continue to stay with me on this new adventure.

 

Have there ever been definitive moments in your life where you completely 180’d your entire existence?

What sacrifices did you have to make for these life-changing experiences?

Do you ever regret uprooting your entire life?

Who were the haters and your greatest supporters, and how did they affect your decision?

show me one without it. i’d bet you’re bored off your ass

The only motivator worth mentioning.

As an aspiring romance novelist, most people think our only focus is on meet-cutes with rainbows and unicorns. Ongoing stories of, “Oh my guy doesn’t like me anymore. Therefore, I hate him. Now he loves me again. Yea! [The End].”

Well, I’m here to tell you, that simply isn’t true.  Those types of stories can get very taxing to a serial reader like myself.  Not just taxing, boring.

As a matter of fact, I tend to be drawn more to mysteries and thrillers. Stories with a sense of danger has always been appealing. If you couldn’t tell from my previous post, I love Halloween. So, of course, some of my favorite go-to-stories have some element of a question needing to be solved, or the thrill of a good cat-and-mouse game, with a heavy dash of “I don’t know if we’re going to make it.”

For example: I’ve been hooked on ABC’s Revenge since the beginning.  Now here’s a show that has some serious moments. There’s violence, conspiracy and even some espionage.

I know, I’m broaching television. I was a child of the 90’s which should equate to: grew up on MTV.

Video killed the radio star… Video killed the radio star… Ok, ok. I’m done now.

You may not think of Revenge as a romance, and you would be right.  But as you may recall, romance has several subgenres.  Some of its most popular subgenres are mystery, thriller, paranormal, historical, contemporary, etc.

Basically come up with any genre and add the suffix “-romance” to it, and you’re golden.

Revenge has a primary focus of drama and suspense.  But look more closely, (it’s actually not that difficult, the writers aren’t exactly subtle) and you’ll notice some definite romantic elements which can have a direct-impact to our main plotline.

Representing the classic Love Triangle: Emily, Jack and Daniel.

Now, with Season 2 the writers have introduced Ashley as part of the mix. So now, it’s become a love… square?

Young Love and Coming of Age stores represented by Declan and Charlotte.

Pining for Lost Love with Victoria and the deceased David.

A Thin Line Between Love and Hate: Victoria and Conrad. (Although for most of the show it’s in the latter half of that split.)

Baby Mama Drama with Faux-Manda (Amanda) and Jack.

Wait a tick. That goes with the first one. Are we now at a love pentagon? This is starting to get messy.

And let’s not forget dear Nolan who butters both sides of the bread.

Yeah. Not touching that one with a 40-foot pole.

Ok, I can’t help myself.  “That’s what she said.”

Sometimes you may find yourself asking why romance is often thrown into the mix of a non-romantic plotline, or get frustrated when love is on the line. Well, I’ll tell you exactly why romance is important to the plot of any interesting story.

Romance is an important element to any piece of writing.  In real life, it can cause one to do amazing things.  (Sometimes absolutely horrifying, but nonetheless amazing.)  If romance can affect people all over the world, each and every day, how can you not write something without it?

We’re not talking about news articles. But look at the news: In the real world, people commit crimes of passion every day.

How many times have you watched or read something where the antagonist had some root beginning where either they had to sacrifice someone or something they love prior to becoming so antagonist-y?  Not necessarily to agree with his/her actions, but at least you empathize with his/her situation.  Or perhaps the hero is able to become a semi or full superhero due to either: a) finding out the one they love returns the feeling; b) finding their love interest is in danger and must rescue; or c) their love interest is in danger and hero(ine) must fight attacker back?

Noticing a theme here?  Love is a powerful motivator.  This is so important, I’ll say (write) it again.

LOVE IS A POWERFUL MOTIVATOR.

Yeah, I used an underline. That’s how serious I am.

For an author, romance can be an important way to develop a character.  It gives the author an opportunity to show their characters as human and vulnerable.

A good example of this: Romance brings out sides that soften a tough character.

Hellooo bad boys!

Or bring a little spice to characters who have friction between them.

Think James Bond and… well, basically all Bond girls.

It can even be the reason the events of the story are happening in the first place.

A campy, more recent example: the film Dark Shadows based on the soap opera.  The whole basis of that film was a curse between a witch and a man. Because he did not return her love, she cursed the man to being a vampire for the rest of his (eternal) days.

In some cases, even more dangerous than previously believed.

In Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, Shoshanna convinced her love to sacrifice themselves in a mass killing of several high-powered Nazis in revenge of the death of her family and the events occurring during WWII.

Surprise!  That’s right! I LOVE action films! One of the things Pilot was very happy to discover about me, I cannot get enough action films. In fact, I’m a huge Quentin Tarantino fan.

So riddle me this: How many stories were truly entertaining without a little touch of the lovin’ stuff in there? Most hero films always have a love interest. You can’t have a coming of age story without some form of young love. Love is a good thing. Romance is a good thing.  It’s a topic I’m passionate about in writing and in my real life.

Heck, a major part of my decision to go to CWU was to follow a boy I loved.  And, although I did end up falling in love there, it was not with whom I intended (and VERY MUCH for the better).  But nonetheless, my main motivation for gambling with my education and future was all because of a boy.

So what about you, Precious Readers?  Have you ever made a life decision that was motivated by love or romance?  What were some life events that were the direct result of love-motivation, or the result of a failed love?  Share some of your experiences here.