This weekend has been a tough one for me for a lot of reasons. I'll get back to the lighthearted and funny posts as soon as I can, but it seems incredibly incongruous to offer amusing anecdotes when nothing seems funny anymore. What made it particularly difficult is the incident at Santa Fe High School here in Texas. It has been bothering me. The worst thing you can possibly do is read the comment section of the news articles. I had a very nice picnic on Saturday for volunteers for my wife's nonprofit, Therapet. I was talking to someone who has become one of my favorite people about the blog. While we were discussing it, I talked about my reluctance to introduce political elements into the blog because that really isn't the purpose. And while she and I stand on complete opposite ends up the political and belief spectrum, we still have, I believe, a very healthy respect and fondness for one another. I definitely don't want to sully that. So, while I am incredibly passionate about politics, I have made a deliberate effort not to discuss, or share too many of my beliefs in this forum. But, I am finding it very difficult to be funny when my mind is on such a tragedy. Honestly, I don't want to be funny today. It feels a little...disrespectful when my mind is in such turmoil. So, if it's ok with you, I'm not going to try to make you laugh today. Like I said, that will come back soon enough.
Instead, I want to share with you all how this blog came to be. I came back from Seoul on the 23rd of February this year. I came back somewhat lost, unsure of what would happen next, and definitely in a tough place. I can't give enough credit to the KAD Facebook page. Many people were very interested and supportive of this journey, appreciated the honest updates I would provide, and several remarked on the fact I could still keep my sense of humor during all of what transpired. I noticed what a dark place the site was, though. Every day it seemed to get darker and darker. I knew if I was going to recover, this group would not assist me in repairing my sense of self. I occasionally put up an update post that was determined to be positive and lighthearted. There was a woman who would consistently respond with a laugh emoji and a comment or two of agreement, or appreciation. I try to notice everyone who responds, because it is always nice to get appreciation for your quips and observations. Little did I know the impact and change Cathy was about to offer. And no, it is not “Cathy's Vinegar Flytrap” Cathy. Although, she has impacted and positively changed my life, as well. Note of advice: Go find some friends named Cathy. It seems to be working out for me.
On 2 March 2018, Cathy lost her husband of 35 years, Mark. I remember seeing the post announcing the terrible news. I had not really communicated with her except a simple reply of thanks when she liked a post of mine. I read her announcement and her loss just hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn't even begin to fathom the kind of pain she must have been going through. Naturally, a ton of responses came back in support, a huge chunk of them being the typical thoughts and prayers variety. This response has always been a sore spot with me, but reading all of these well-intentioned thoughts and prayers just made me so angry. I waited a couple of days to see if anyone would follow up with more in the way of help and support, but people had moved on to other tragedies, other things in their lives, and happier moments. I felt so helpless, and I have no idea why this woman's loss affected me so.
I almost never message people I don't know. Even as I was typing my words, I was unsure why I was doing it. I just knew that I had to do SOMETHING. So, I messaged Cathy. I told her I couldn't imagine what she was going through, but I wanted to be there for her. I didn't give her an out on this; I just said that I would be checking in on her and I was a willing ear to listen to whatever she wanted to say, even if it was nothing at all. She responded by thanking me for my kind words and telling me how difficult it was for her. She did say she laughed a little at something I had said, and that was a rare bright spot in her day. That's all I needed to hear to know what I could do to help this woman.
Every single day I would post something amusing on the KAD page. I did it to lighten the mood for everyone who goes on the page, but I specifically did it to make Cathy smile. Every single day I would try and think of something funny to help brighten a few moments for a person who was suffering in ways I hope I never have to experience. Cathy and I would converse briefly several times a day in the beginning and she started opening up about her life and the things she was going through. It became a top priority to post something every morning. She lives two-time zones west so I knew when Cathy woke up each day, she would have something new, just for her, to help her face another day - a day she would have to face differently than decades of days she previously spent.
Eventually, all good things sour and sooner than later, some people on the page started getting offended by what I was saying. One particular post, about me hoping the Korean trend of men wearing makeup not becoming a thing here in the US, was the straw that broke the camel's back. I didn't want to deal with the angry responses. I didn't want to interact with people who have zero sense of humor. I didn't want to be around people who just want to be offended at anything and everything. I was pretty much fed up with the KAD group. I messaged Cathy and told her I would just send the little jokes to her. I was committed to brightening her day, but honestly, to hell with the others. But then other people started messaging me in appreciation of my attempts to bring light into a dark room. I made friends with a fellow KAD who I connected with in a way that I hadn't previously. I told her about all these messages I was getting of support and encouragement to keep on posting. I mentioned that several people suggested I start a blog. My friend was remarkably encouraging, and before I knew it, Kori and I were in the process of creating what you see here. I know I have told her she was instrumental in seeing this blog to fruition, but I don't think I've thanked her enough for her constant and unwavering support. So, Kori, thank you for believing in this. Thank you for diving in head first and completely in creating a platform to change the perception of Asian males. Thank you for putting up with my intensity, my crazy aggressive goals and aspirations, and my complete lack of any technical ability whatsoever. This blog was an opportunity for two new friends to work together for a greater purpose, and I am very excited to see what two castoffs can create to make this world a little bit brighter and a little bit better.
This blog exists because I made a conscious decision. The decision was easy for me. I am an atheist. I do not have any prayers to offer. I would like to think even if I were a man of faith, I would still feel the same way. Thoughts and prayers are not an adequate solution to addressing an issue. My choice was to take the steps to actually get to know Cathy, to really be a true friend to her. I know she would say I am kind and thoughtful, but honestly, I've gotten so much more out of our interactions than any meager comforts I could provide, or any slight chuckles she had reading my ramblings. She is a constant reminder that it's not about me. It's about trying to help others. We have horrible moments in our society. Every day there are reminders of just how much pain can exist in this world. While it certainly is a nice gesture to offer your thoughts and prayers, look what a little effort can do. This is not a chastisement to those who only offer these words and then move on. I honestly believe it's a knee jerk reaction to respond that way. And quite frankly, I'm totally okay with you guys persisting in only offering meager words. Because I now know what taking steps can do, I choose doing something. I choose in times of tragedy to start taking action.
RIP Mark Adams. You were very loved. I'll be sure to keep on checking on your soul mate until the day you two are reunited.