177 posts categorized "Thinking Out Loud"

January 20, 2017

assertive & non-violent resistance


I was texting with my girlfriend tonight, who in college experienced sexual assault. I told her that one of the signs I made tonight: "No consent? No pussy." will be carried tomorrow in her honor, to send a message to pussy-grabber-in-chief that I resist his misogyny. Assertively and non-violently.

I agree with Anne Lamott, who says in her book, Bird by Bird, that truth is always subversive. Truth disrupts, it interrupts, it resists. I also believe that the most effective type of subversion is non-violent. 

As I march tomorrow, no matter the provocation, I will simultaneously practice assertiveness and non-violence. Just the way our historical leaders have taught us:

"At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love." (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

"Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man." (Mahatma Gandhi)

"Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less." (Susan B. Anthony)

Fired up?
Yes, we're fired up.
Ready to go?
Yep, we're ready to go. Assertively and non-violently.

Let's stay safe and be heard.

January 18, 2017

to understand. to apologize. to organize.

To organizeDuring high school, I got involved with a church where the teachings inspired me to believe that among other things, gay people would go to hell. Some of the sentences I uttered back then to champion that perspective are ... in hindsight ... shameful and embarrassing.

In college, I got involved with classes and readings that inspired me to understand that throughout history, a person's sexual orientation is extremely fluid. I got involved in conversations with humans within this fluid spectrum and realized that love isn't about commanding anyone to love a certain way. Love is about knowing that each person loves in his/her unique way.

After college, during my career, I became inspired to believe and utter other things that now, in hindsight, I am ashamed of. It relates to the story I shared yesterday related to my late brother. Prior to his passing, I remember uttering things like "Choose happy" and "Get over it" to various people. I've learned since then that for people suffering from chronic depression, they are not choosing to be sad and it is not a character deficit that keeps them battling the grips of depression. 

What brings a depressed person out of darkness is not just one thing. It could be talking with a good therapist or friend. It could be medication. It could be meditation. It could be prayer. It could be, as Allie Brosh (author of Hyperbole and a Half) describes so brilliantly, seeing a funny-looking pea under a refrigerator.

I think there's a huge difference between "Choose happy" which is a command statement and "I choose happy," which is a statement of personal truth. A statement of personal truth declares what I believe and feel without judging or shaming or commanding another human to believe and feel.

"I choose happy" vs. "Be happy" and "I love men" vs. "All women should love men" and "Buddha is my way" vs. "Buddha is the only way" and "I am atheist" vs. "You should be an atheist."

To those who are in the grips of depression who may have ever heard me utter command statements of how to feel and to anyone to whom I may have ever said how to love, I want to officially say that I now better understand. And I apologize.

This Saturday, women are marching worldwide to speak up among other things, for women's rights which are human rights. The main march in Washington is estimated to have the largest turnout for an inauguration-related protest in US history. Where things go after the march as women seek to organize, I don't know but I'm ready to go through it. As a marcher in the Santa Ana sister march, I have received lots of supportive remarks. I've also received some not-so-supportive remarks with the most popular being: "Get over it," a command statement. To which I say: "I'm not over it," my personal truth.



January 17, 2017

Why we march.

Why we marchAbout three years ago, after losing my brother to suicide, I found myself in my therapist's office asking "How do I make the hurting stop?" The therapist said to me, "Exactly what you're doing ... crying ... feeling the hurt, the anger ... not holding it in ... expressing your pain ... letting it all out. Let it out, Jenny. It's ok for you to let it out."

And that's what I did. What I've learned from that experience is that I don't need to glorify the fraudulence of the "choose happy" movement. Authentic happy, and peace, and beauty arrive usually through the hard work of going through the expression of the less bright and shiny ... of not holding it in.

I am joining thousands of women across this great nation on January 21st to participate in the Women's March. The main march is in Washington DC, the day after the inauguration, and there are countless sister marches all across the nation in major cities, including my own city of Santa Ana.

I am marching because I refuse to hold in the hurt of realizing that among other things, the fascist being sworn into office on January 20th:

  • taunts other nations with nuclear capacity in ways that threaten our world's peace
  • brags about sexually assaulting women
  • views undocumented Mexican humans as criminals and rapists
  • threatens women's right to reproductive health, and states that a woman who has an abortion needs to be punished
  • aligns with Vladimir Putin, a war criminal who has murdered civilians and political opponents
  • ridicules with vindictiveness and maliciousness, individuals and groups who either fall short of his definition of beauty or in some way challenge him

The hurt doesn't stop there. There are humans who will be marching for reasons that are not on my personal list but a list that is causing hurt and anger and deep disgust. On my Facebook wall when I posted an expression related to all of this, a person named Li Li Wee posted: "I live in Malaysia. Freedom of speech is restricted. It's difficult to just keep everything inside. You are ... courageous."

Undoubtedly, there will be hecklers during the march. Because there are so many heckling already online. And as the heckles come, I will keep my therapist's words close to my heart:

"Let it out, Jenny. It's ok for you to let it out."

January 08, 2017

Take to the Oars

OarsFor about 72 hours after the election, I found myself in a fog of fear. Fear that the needy, insecure and reckless caricature of a president, #DonaldDunce, would provoke unnecessary international conflict leading the world into war. The fog made me feel that I needed to make nice, walk on eggshells and promote peace as a zombie pacifist.

And then I realized that IF I love my country, allowing #DonaldDunce to continue without resistance is wrong. The right thing for me to do is throw away my fear and pick up my oar. Even when Pea Brains come by to respond to my expressions and say things like:

  1. "I follow you for your art, not your politics. Go back to making art."
  2. "Do you really want North Korea to have nuclear weapons?" (in response to my taking umbrage with #DonaldDunce's taunts toward North Korea)
  3. "You lost. Get over it."
  4. "Obama will be ... a bad memory ... Make America Great Again!"

And on and on ... making me feel hopeless ... causing me to wonder if I ought to put my oar away and bury my head in the sand. But you know what I have found? Thoughtful, logic-driven, well-read, compassionate patriots out-number Pea Brains. Michelle Obama stated in her final speech as First Lady: "Don't be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered."

Because ...

  1. To those who want me to go back to making art: (1) Art that incorporates political commentary (like knitted pussyhats) IS art and is protected under the first amendment and (B) I do not exist simply to provide convenient and tidy art-viewing opportunities for any one person.
  2. North Korea already has nuclear weapons. The point is whether taunting that nation questioning whether they can launch an effective one aimed at the US (as #DonaldDunce) has done is prudent.
  3. It's not a reality game show of losing and winning. It's about staying engaged with reality and participate in shaping America ... the land that I love.
  4. No matter his leadership, his calm, his diplomacy, his accomplishments, his polish ... I have come to realize that there are some who begrudge Obama and the last 8 years primarily because he is Black. And "Make America Great Again" is code for "Make America White Again." And for the women who voted for #DonaldDunce, I have come to conclude that they hate Black more than they love Woman.

So ... to those who may have been in a fog of fear like I was ... I want to say that you are not alone. We are many. We don't have to be afraid. Together, we can move mountains and cross oceans. The time is now to grab our oars and row.


December 29, 2016


For the Russian interference in the 2016 US elections as confirmed by the national intelligence agencies, President Obama officially announced sanctions today, including the ordering of 35 Russian diplomats to leave the US and two Russian compounds ordered closed. To this, President-Elect Trump said dismissively of the sanctions: "It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things."

What does Trump think these sanctions are about? They ARE about trying to move on. You know ... like when a pussy gets grabbed without consent and she starts screaming at the top of her lungs for justice and the assaulter says "come on ... let's just move on."

#artdoesnotbackdown #resist


December 16, 2016

Art Does Not Back Down

ArtdoesnotbackdownAt cocktail parties and such, when I'm asked what I do, I usually say "I'm a working artist." I think being an artist is slightly different than being a working artist. As a working artist, I create art and services that enter an arena of business. I list my art or services for sale and humans who want my art give me money in order to acquire it.

In these current times, I wrestle with impulses to either restrain or express my sincere convictions and feelings. When I force myself to only practice restraint, I feel like a coward. And I wonder to myself: "Is that going to be my legacy? That I lived solely as an art careerist to sell art rather than to express art?"

The majority of the art I make has no political commentary. It's a beautiful flower ... an interesting face. Occasionally, there is art that bubbles up from within ... art that won't back down from commenting on current happenings. Reportage. And when I do, I always receive comments (public and private) that knock the wind out of me like: "That's not art. It's crap." "Shut the fuck up about politics and just paint."

I also receive comments (public and private) that strengthen me like: "Thanks for speaking up. I was raped in college and your art makes me feel not so alone." "Your art gives me strength to express myself."

I look around the world and wonder: What is my artistic responsibility?

For me, part of it is to manage the business portion so that I can keep working and selling and staying visible and afloat. But it's also to occasionally allow sincere, clever, thoughtful expressions that support or denounce things I see without practicing restraint, with faith in knowing that I am not alone. With faith in who I am.

Because if I can't allow my art to occasionally do that, and if the world becomes one that does not allow that, then what is the purpose of existing? Just to make nice nice, to look the other way, and to shut the fuck up and just paint and sell?

I'm really ok if I don't dominate the business aspect of art.

But I've come to realize that I'm really NOT ok if the business aspect of art dominates me.

November 19, 2016

Finding 50 :: The Brevity

Finding50I'm not 50 years old yet. But in a couple more months, on January 31st to be exact, I will be. I don't want to be that person who bemoans this number for superficial reasons ... the graying hair, the issues with the skin, the vision, the memory, and on and on. I mean, none of that is really any fun but when it comes down to it, I'm grateful to be alive. I'm grateful that I've been able to experience all that I have up until now and that I have a few more decades to enjoy, learn, love, and contribute. (Knock on wood.) And knowing that it's so brief, I find every single moment to be so precious.

Today I listened to an interview that Marc Maron did on his WTF podcast with David Crosby (of Crosby Stills and Nash). There was one point in the interview where David said that if in fact the concept is true ... the concept that each person exists because that person is meant to do something ... then he's pretty sure that he exists because he is meant to make music. Marc agreed.

That exchange freaked me out. I mean, there's a part of me now who thinks I'm meant to be a painter. But at any other moment in my last several decades of life, I could have thought that I was meant to be a social worker ... a magazine editor ... a fundraiser ... because I have been all of that at one time or another. Which makes me I mourn for the musician that I never became. Or the poet. Or the chef. Or the professor, or the ... on and on and on. But maybe a good way to think of it right now, as I look at life's halftime that's coming my way ... is that I'm doing at this moment, what I'm meant to be doing. And I did back then what I was meant to be doing then. Who knows what I'll be doing 5 years from now? Maybe painting still. Maybe painting while singing. Or maybe painting while singing and reciting poetry ... in a cute little dress and sassy shoes. :-)

So I guess that's why every moment feels so urgent.

There was another interview I read about when Billy Graham was asked what had been the most surprising thing for him, about life. And he responded, "the brevity of it."

The brevity of it.

I resolve to not bemoan 50. I resolve to find it with an urgency to thoroughly, deeply, stylishly, and gratefully experience it.


November 09, 2016

Peace through Stories

StoriesI've shared facets of my story many times. About how I immigrated with my family to Bakersfield from Seoul in 1974. Of the few carry-on items I had with me during my flight to America ... I had my passport and my hymnal. A book with songs that I sang growing up within my musical family ... a family that taught me from an early age that sometimes, the most difficult things to express can be done so more beautifully through music and art. In 1978 at the age of 11, after studying for an exam about American history, I was officially naturalized to become a US citizen. The proctor giving me the test was a serious old white man who I think was quietly rooting for me ... a little Korean girl who had worked hard to get on the road to becoming a Korean American woman.

There are so many beautiful stories about growing up in Bakersfield. American friends with whom I played the way little kids do ... spending the night, playing dress-up, making crank calls, eating junk food, talking about our respective crushes, singing Beatles songs.

Dark moments also existed. A bully who repeatedly slapped me on the playground during recess ... Laughing neighbors who shoveled dog shit onto our driveway ... A belligerent drunk redneck who spit sunflower seeds onto my face.

This morning, as I was digesting the reality of President-Elect Trump, I was grateful to hear Secretary Clinton, who after winning the popular vote, conceded defeat per the electoral vote, with a request for  everyone to give Trump our open minds and a chance to lead. With grace and calm. Without anger, jabs, or accusations of anything being "rigged." I was grateful to hear President Obama say that he and his team would offer the kind of support to help Trump's team transition into office as he received from President Bush and his team. Peace. Calm. Up until all of that I had cried a little but I hadn't yet sobbed. And then I heard a report about some Wall Street brokers chanting and laughing "lock her up" on the trading floor after her speech. That's when I burst into tears. It made me remember all the feelings of being slapped, the dog shit, and the slimy spit-ridden sunflower seeds.

Part of my story this morning is being mother to two millennials who are hurting. I'm hurting too. After my morning cry, I had my coffee, then I had a great run and sweated it out. I've also been texting with friends with whom a gamut of emotions has been released. It feels good to have friends who understand. And had our candidate been victorious I'm sure there would be other families and friends feeling the hurt this morning.

The invitation I made to my children is for them to join me in telling our stories as much as possible, and to help the stories of other people be heard. Stories either through art or just plain one-on-one conversations.

Putting aside politicians and politics, I have experienced firsthand that by telling real stories about my everyday life, I (radical-feminist-heterosexual-married-immigrant-agnostic-with-Christian-upbringing-mother) can feel bonded and close to a person whose facets are different than mine. Not in a "let's become best friends and braid each others' hair close" but the kind of closeness that develops when we relate to the tiny universal truths of being human.

It's through sharing stories and conversations that I think our diverse citizenry will remain closer to peace, and farther from war.


October 31, 2016

Trick or Treat :: An American Love Story

HalloweenIn August 1974, my family and I landed on American soil. Bakersfield is where we would settle and I started public elementary school in Bakersfield. First Seibert, then Stine. And eventually onto Actis Jr. High then West High.

Those early months in America were a culture shock. I wasn't in Seoul, Korea anymore! Lots of challenges and tears ... and lots of goodness and love. In the month of October, just two months into American life, I was told that if I put on a costume and went door to door, I'd be given free candy. And that's exactly what I did with my two older brothers. Every door we went to, we were greeted by delightful people who gifted me with milky ways, snickers, tootsie rolls, suckers, smarties, jolly ranchers, and on and on.

Most of the night, we just followed a group of American kids and piggy backed on their utterances of "trick or treat" and just opened our bags. But at one point we got separated from that group and when my brothers and I went to a door and rang the doorbell, the adult who came to the door said "What do you say?" My brother Jinil and I were speechless. We hardly spoke English and we didn't know what to say. But my oldest brother Jim must have taken note, because somehow, he pulled those syllables out of thin air and said "tttt-rrrick ohhhrrrr ttt rrreee ttt." And the candy came, with smiles and wishes for a Happy Halloween.

It's the night when I proclaimed: "I love America."

I love America still. I love the magnificently diverse stories that make up this land. And I think that in spite of the differences we have, it's through telling my story with honesty and transparency that I continue to develop bridges of friendship with people. And it's when I actively listen (rather than dismiss) the stories that others are willing to tell (no matter how different they are to mine), that those bridges become strong pillars of peace and understanding.

Wishing everyone a happy Halloween. If you want to.
Jenny (aka skeleton cat girl)

October 07, 2016

Really Feeling What I Really Feel

FeelingsI've just started reading The World According to Garp by John Irving. This little passage occurs in the first chapter of the book, as we learn about the character, Jenny Fields, the strong and independent mother of protagonist, T.S. Garp.

As much as I'd like to say that I've been strong and independent like Jenny Fields all my life, I've frequently been hesitant and uncertain, like the character trying to figure out if it was ok for her to come out of mourning. For most of my life, the question of how I feel was never one that I even thought was important to ask.

Some years ago when I entered therapy for the first time and explained about a specific problem to my therapist, I was asked: "So Jenny, how do you feel about that?" I was stumped. I responded back, "How do I feel??!! Why would anyone want to know about how I feel, least of all me?!"

When my problem became acutely painful, I asked my therapist with tears rolling down my face, "How do I get over my sorrow?" And he said "You do exactly what you're doing ... which is allowing yourself to really feel what you really feel."

Part of me thought "What will others think?" Another part of me thought "Aren't I wasting time, indulging in my worst self, by allowing myself to wallow like this?"

What I learned in therapy and what I keep learning outside of therapy is that really feeling what I really feel is another way of being really honest, without being preoccupied with what others think about how I feel.

And incredibly, the more honestly I feel, the more honestly I move forward to whatever next feeling is ready to land in my psyche. That is, when I let myself honestly feel sad, I find I let content come in when it's truly ready to replace sad. Honest timing. No phony wallowing. No dishonest exaggerations of exuberance. No badgering the feelings of others. Just really feeling what I really feel. 

Advertise with Us!
Self-Serve. Easy Peasy.

Fangs and Flaws: FangGrrr Adventures by Jenny Doh  
Knitting Poetic with Jenny Doh  
Art Saves - CRESCENDOh.com  
Crochet Hemp  

Where you can leave a tip for the tips and tutorials you receive from this site. If you want to. :-)

Some links on this blog are affiliate links for which I receive a small percentage of any sales generated by the link.

Subscribe to this blog's feed
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...