Just something I wrote for my Qualitative Methodology class, based on the book by Kirin Nayaran “Alive in the Writing”.
“An argument that I particularly want to tell you about is one I had about a month ago with my mom. My mom, being the typical Korean mother – yes, sometimes clichés are based on truths – worries about everything and ‘meddles’ in every aspect of my life. Distance does not matter at all; in fact, coupled with the recent technology that allows instant messaging and video chatting almost anywhere in the world where there is internet, she devotes all her attention and time to particularly excel in both of these tasks (this, of course, is not what she thinks she’s doing). I have therefore learned from early on, and more specifically ever since I came to the United States, to keep her informed about what I do or feel on a minimal basis. One of those things I did not think she particularly needed to know was my brand new tattoos – three in total – that I got in the span of less than a year. I knew what her reaction would be if she found out – in her mind, getting a tattoo is the equivalent of an inevitable social and professional ‘shame’ and surely the next step someone with a tattoo will take would be to join a criminal gang or fall out from acceptable social norms into the depths of abomination. Unfortunately, another habit of hers is to text or call me on Friday nights here (which is Saturday morning in Korea and hence a good time for her to talk to me I guess), and unfortunately in this case, I do happen to enjoy some sort of social life on those days. Another unfortunate thing is that beer often makes me chatty and miss the people I left in Korea, which sometimes includes my parents. So all these unfortunate elements led to a Skype chat on a Friday night (midnight to be precise) when I happened to let my guards down and wore a T-shirt that showed the tattoo on my arm (the latest and the biggest one) when I decided to tie my hair. The two-hour ‘conversation/argument’ that followed suit was not a pretty one, to say the least. I had expected her to be angry, but I had definitely not expected her to actually be devastated and cry. I guess I did feel bad when I saw her cry (it wasn’t even that she was bawling, which I think I would have preferred, but silent tears that just seemed to fall down effortlessly and without her actually realizing), but my usual lack of empathy only gets worse when accompanied with beverages made of malted barley or wheat. I was therefore not in the mood to indulge her concerns about how tattoos lasted ‘forever’ (which is a fact I did and do know about tattoos) and her arguments about how society – especially the Korean one – was not ready to ‘accept’ me or my ‘quirks’ yet, and how this surely would prevent me from getting jobs or lead a ‘normal social life’ (I guess she meant ‘respectable’ by ‘normal’). I addressed these concerns by telling her that if people were willing to judge me based on what I had decided to do with my body, I wouldn’t particularly rejoice in working with or for them either. She then somehow linked this whole discussion with how I never told her anything – especially and specifically – about my love life, which I didn’t think was even near the point of this whole discussion, but that’s how mothers often work. My arguments about how as an individual and grown up, I did not have the ‘duty’ to report to her about everything that was going on in my life were useless. I was left disgruntled after the two-hour conversation because I had not prepared for this kind of talk at all and felt that I had not conveyed everything I wanted to say clearly due to my uneasiness in the Korean language and perhaps my inebriated state as well on some level. After two days of mulling over it, I resorted to writing her a five-page long letter, to which her answer was another source of frustration and exasperation, but perhaps I can talk about this one in another essay.”