Today I did the laundry with my Mom. It's very hot in Alhambra these days, but it's always fun to spend time with her. Earlier during lunch, my brother and I were telling Kazu about how we used to eat cereal with water, orange juice, and coffee creamer mixed with water. We thought it was normal because my brother was allergic to milk when he was little (along with eggs and peanuts).
We had a good laugh about that. Then my Mom set down her glass of water with a nostalgic smile.
"Whenever I hear about coffee creamer I always think about when I was little..."
She then told us about the time when American soldiers were handing out 5lb bags of coffee-mate creamer in post-war South Korea (the era she grew up in). As her and her friend walked home with their bag, they would put handfuls in their mouths and poof it out so clouds of it would fall on their faces, making them look like ghosts. Their neighbor, a lady who couldn't speak, would just watch them do this and laugh, laugh, laugh.
Apparently, the locals didn't know what the powdery stuff was used for, especially since they didn't really drink any dairy.
So she told me that her neighbors would mix the creamer with sugar and steam it in a rice cooker, making a hard milky-tasting candy that the neighbors would then distribute to the kids.
She also told us a story about how there used to be two chimneys that heated the floor of her home. Outside, the chimneys rose up the side of the house, and the space between them was very warm and cozy. She used to hide stacks of comics there and read them. One night, she was so engrossed in the comics, she wound up staying there reading far into the night. Her whole family was out looking for her. When her mother finally found her, she was so mad she BURNED all of my Mom's comics! OMG. I'm glad my Mom never burned any of my comics.
I love my Mom's stories. She has soooo many of them! One day I'll write them all down and illustrate them.
As for the current book, I made it past the big road block and it's awesome. I just tried to block everything out in my life and focus on a sort of free-flow feeling, like what did that character really want to say at that moment. I had to remind myself that no one will be seeing this until I want them to, so reminding myself of that helped to loosen my inhibitions, and it turned out great with some pleasant surprises. It's really surprising to me how closely the symbolism ended up reflecting things I went through in childhood via this fantasy story. Can't wait until I'm done. I'm on page 100/300 now.
By the way... Happy 4th of July, everyone!