Friday, November 12, 2010

The Verdict Is In: 2 out of 2 Koreans Think I Might Look Half Japanese!

For the most part, I'm happy about who I am and how I look. However, I dive into a deep melancholy when people don't recognize that I'm part Asian. Every time I open my door to greet a delivery guy, invariably he speaks to me in Spanish. Then he's shocked when I tell him I don't speak Spanish. Which has inspired me to learn a little Spanish: No Habla Espanol.

No one thinks I could possibly be half Japanese; most people peg me for being Spanish (see delivery guys anecdote above) or Native American (although I haven't had to learn any Native American yet). Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I want my Okinawan heritage to be obvious to everyone, especially to the Japanese and other Asians.

I encountered several people of Japanese descent this week at a fantastic meeting for Japanese Americans in NYC. None of them thought I looked remotely Japanese.


Well, tonight, just mere moments ago, I had a breakthrough. The ojisan at the Merci Market asked me where I was from. (Okay, he's "100% Korean," he said, but I don't know how to say ojisan in Korean.) Anyway, I told him my mom is from Okinawa. What he said next was music to my ears.

He. Said. I. Look. Like. I. Might. Be. Half. JAPANESE!

So he said "might," but I consider it a small victory. My Merci Market guy joins my Park Hardware Deli guy (It's really called Chelsea Gourmet or something like that, but it used to be the Park Hardware Store. My husband and I can't bring ourselves to call it anything but Park Hardware.) as the only Asian people on this planet who think I have Asian features. Yay!


Kim Duncan said...

Susan, Growing up, I never really thought of you as "anything" other than Susan. I was not surprised to find out that your Mom was Japanese but I guess I was not looking for a classification for you other than as the girl that was sometimes my friend, often my frenemy and that often beat my grades especially in Mrs. Simpson's English class in eighth grade. However, I really don't see Latino or Native American.

I am glad for you that you are starting to receive recognition for your heritage and I hope it continues!

shrinecastle said...

Hi Kim,

Back then I don't think I was as concerned with how to classify myself. I thought it was cool to have a mom from another country, but I didn't fully appreciate her heritage until I was almost 30 years old. Now I'm obsessed! Lol

I kicked butt in Mrs. Simpson's English class!

Mike Raff said...

Well, I've always thought of you as 100% lovely, but I remember well a discussion we had years ago, in which I suggested that you tell the HR dept. at the station you were half-Japanese. My thinking was that it would help improve the station's EEO status and help you keep your job in the event of layoffs.

Much to my surprise, you declined to do so--insisting that you only thought of yourself as Irish.

So I have been delighted to read of your extensive travels and to learn of all the ways that you and Marc have come to embrace your heritage. I am so pleased that you have finally claimed what was yours all along and I trust it means a great deal to your mom as well.

Keep on blogging! Your writing is a joy to read and I'm learning a lot.

shrinecastle said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks so much for commenting. So glad you read my blog. Most of the time I feel as if I'm just throwing things out there in cyberspace and wondering if it reaches anyone. It makes me feel good to know you're following my adventures.

Two important points about your comment that I don't think I've ever shared with you:

1. When Marc and I moved to Boston in '96, I finally took your advice and checked the "Asian American" box when I was hired at a TV station. There were very few minorities working there, so the HR director personally went to my boss's office and thanked him for hiring me.

2. A few years ago my dad's cousin traced the McCormac family genealogy. It turns out we're not Irish at all. We're Scottish!

Marc and I send you and Cat our best wishes!

Take care,

Anonymous said...

I can understand someone seeing you as being Native American but not Spanish. And yes, I've always known you were part Asian. But as others have mentioned you are just good ol' Susan (with questionable taste in music ;) )and my nemesis at times. Wouldn't trade you for the world, well....nah I guess I wouldn't. Look for my new album next spring.

D. Fagen

shrinecastle said...

Dearest D. Fagen,

I love knowing I'm your nemesis. I'm sure many will listen to your new album. I won't be among them. :)

Anonymous said...

You'll be listening if and when your great great friend John comes to visit. I'm sure he'll bring a copy and may even drag you to one of my shows that I will be doing in the spring.

Warmest regards-


shrinecastle said...

We'll see.

Anonymous said...

You most certainly will see a great show. See you around town Susan.

D. F.