Say my name

A brief overview and history of my name.

I was born Timothy Warin Bruhn in 1972 by my mom and dad.

In the 80s my parents divorced and I went to go live with my mom and my new stepfather. He was a Korean man with the surname Kim. My mom asked me if I would consider changing my surname to Kim in order to maintain a sense of continuity and peace in the household. Since I identify with being Korean, I agreed.

That’s how I became known as “Tim Kim” to my chagrin. If I had been a more thoughtful youth, I would have gone by T. Warin Kim, but there you have it.

After my stepdad abandoned my mom I had no reason to keep his blighted name, so I let myself lapse into Tim Bruhn.

It sat there, just being a white-coded name for a long time. Occasionally I’d have white dudes try to explain my own name to me when I wrote anti-racist screeds and essays. “You know that your  name is German”. Duh. I know.

I’m in the midst of changing my name yet again, and this time doing it on my own terms. Returning from Korean after burying my mom I’ve decided that keeping my family surname on that side of my family is really important to me. To that end, on Facebook, I’ve changed my username to Tim Bruhn Yang. Yang of course being my Korean family’s surname.

It’s a positive, bright name.

 

High Five, Marvel!

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Dear Marvel,

I’m so excited for the directions that you’re going these days. I can’t express enough how much gratitude that you’re paying attention to a younger generation.

For the past thirty years you’ve always been part of my emotional treasure trove – as a child I grew up with the Byrne/Claremont X-Men as well as the Micronauts (remember them?) When real life became too boring or difficult, I’d flop on my bed and haul out the brown grocery bag of back issues and re-read all the books that had been given to me.

Now, there was a time in my life when I decided to “put away childish things”, and sold my collection. In the 90s I was too busy pursuing girls or college and I was turned off by your many foil covers, spikes and pouches on everything. I looked at black and white indie comics then. I craved stories that had sensitive characters. Fantagraphics filled the hole with Love and Rockets, that you left behind.

And then, slowly, now in my 40s I’ve returned to the fold. Thanks to Marvel Unlimited and exposure to All Comics Considered I was able to recapture some of the magic of my youth! Not only was I able to affordably look at new characters (Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, a whole new Guardians of the Galaxy), but I could still dig back into the archives any time I want.

Yeah, instead of having to find collections of graphic novels, I can just fire up my tablet and re-read those old X-Men. Amazing. What a fantastic job you have done of recapturing old fans and bringing in new fans. With your commitment to introducing so many new minority heroes: The Hulk is now a Korean guy, Thor is a woman, Ms. Marvel is a Pakistani-American, Spider-Man is African-Puerto Rican, the reinvigoration of Black Panther, as a minority myself I strongly appreciate your efforts.

You’ve changed, Marvel. I’m so glad that I am part of this new era. You have shown that you care about your old fans by letting us have our archival comics, and you have shown that you love your new fans by embracing diversity with both arms. I look forward to every Monday now instead of dreading the work week since that’s when new releases on Marvel Unlimited happen.

Right now? I can’t imagine not cherishing what we have together. Keep up the Amazing, Uncanny, Fantastic work Marvel.

Take care of yourself – I truly love you the best.

 

Love Always,

Your Eternal Biggest Fan

 

Deck of Useless Things

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Addendum: I just noticed that my post lacked some of the first entries  – best was “Regenerating Troll Jerky” which I think is absolutely brilliant!

More Useless Items

 

Stories My Parents Told Me

Stories

My Parents

Told Me

My mom used to tell me a story about how I saved Christmas when I was a boy. My dad was deployed, so our family was just me, mom and my young sister.
We lived at Fort Lewis, in housing provided by the Army, and one year we had a tree. But dad had donated our lights and whatnot to…someone or some org in the Army. That part remains hazy. 
So we had this unadorned sad tree in our fatherless sad house.
But I wasn’t going to let that abide. At school I had the opportunity to work myself into a frenzy, with scissors and unlimited glue, red and green construction paper, staples, popcorn, needles and string. I made grocery sacks full of linked paper rings and popcorn strings and brought them home.
The tears of loss and loneliness became happy tears then. At least that’s what my mother told me. I remember the colorful paper, but not how she felt about it. That part was her bit of the story, I thought I was just having fun.
But to this day I do love red and green together, a lot.  
+ + +
My dad used to be a psychic when he was young, but mostly gave it up for reasons unknown. He told me that when he was young, he’d float outside of his body late at night back in old North Dakota.
He told me that his ghost self would just fly around the property and he’d look in on things. He stopped doing that sometime after he was a young man, because maybe young men didn’t do such things or believed in them.
He also told me that he had a pet raven, as much as a raven can be a pet. The raven would accompany him on his walks to school and give him gifts of shiny things sometimes. Tinfoil, beads, marbles that sort of thing. One day the raven just flew away. He probably became the young man equivalent of a raven and stopped believing in my dad.
+ + + 
My own stories aren’t as fancy. When I was a kid I thought the Alaskan Airlines guy in their logo was Neil Diamond and I thought it was strange.
Well okay, I have one story to tell you. When I was five years old I was flown to Korea with my mom and sister. When I arrived I went from being a bright young boy to being stupid, because I didn’t have the language in me. I couldn’t even tell my kinfolk that I had go to the bathroom. I yelled and yelled and then died of embarrassment when I pissed myself as my family laughed, comprehension dawning on them at my foreign gibbering.
I know. I wasn’t actually stupid, but it’s the sort of thing that stays with you forever, even if you only remember the story once in a while.
Being in Korea wasn’t all bad though. I remember my uncle and mom taking me to a mountain where there were bright red plastic spoons attached to strings which were in turn attached to a cold mountain spring that you could drink out of. The kind of cold water that touches all the nerve endings on your insides.
Pretty sure that’s gone now.

Saying Goodbye: My Trip to Korea

March 21st

I land in Incheon – they can’t find my bag, and I fill out forms for it’s recovery. I get some help from a fella behind a counter and am directed to a hotel not far away. I take a taxi. The bed is as hard as a stone slab, but the bathroom is dope as hell. In order to turn on lights, you have to put your hotel key in a slot. Figured that out after 20 minutes of sitting in the dark.

 

I’m doing all of this international travel on my own, and in retrospect I’m enjoying the autonomy. The ability to make my own way and my own mistakes and successes.

 

 

 

March 22nd

I am able to meet up with my younger cousin and we go to the hospital where my mom is. I meet up with my uncle and my two aunts and my mother’s long term boyfriend Mr. Choi. Mom is there in the hospital bed, she’s hooked up to a respirator. Her skin is as brown as coffee, and her eyes are jellied. She’s not conscious. Along with Mr. Choi, I let out a loud cry of pain and we cry together.

 

I tell my mother that it is okay, that she can go. I will take care of everything. I tell her to go with a god that I don’t really believe in, but knows that she does. Tears escape her ruined eyes.

 

I really want to leave, but I stay as long as I am supposed to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 22nd

Eventually it’s time to leave and get some food. My aunts take me to a restaurant that serves spicy pig’s feet. I saw a YouTube video where some Brits tried it and were crying from the heat. It amused me so I wanted to see if it was as bad as they made it out to be.

It is amazingly delicious. The heat just starts getting to me at the end, but it’s nothing that mouthfuls of rice can’t alleviate. The food and heat are a valuable distraction. I can’t cry all the time.

 

 

 

 

 

March 22nd

After our meal and resting for a bit, we go back to the hospital and wait. My mom dies. We are all in tears. A lot of other procedural stuff happens. I must pick out a shrine for my mother. I find out that I’m supposed to stay in a chamber for mourning for 3 days.

I endure it. The bathroom attached to the small sleeping area is not well drained and ventilated. I get headaches. Meals come, people come and I greet them the best I can. I bow a lot.

All my uncles who can, have arrived and we speak, my baby-level Korean and their heavily accented English collide but we make it work through a combination of technology and translation from my younger cousins who are English fluent.

 

March 23rd

We don’t stay the entire 3rd day, there’s no point – everyone that my mother knew has come to pay their respects. Instead I carry my mother’s casket with others to a bus and we go to a crematorium. We eat and wait our turn. Eventually we are ushered into a place where there are CCDs, little TVs and my mom’s picture underneath it. We are supposed to watch the flames burn the casket to ashes. And when the time comes, we do and the tears and wailing start again. It is horrifying. There are multiple families in this large room, each one’s stories ending the same: with ashes and grief.

 

March 23rd

Afterwards we are handed her remains. Initially I wanted her ashes to be spread in the Pacific Ocean, and the family thought that was fitting. But we were told that the government would not allow such a romantic gesture. So, instead my mother’s ashes were buried in our family funeral plot, where my grandmother’s remains are as well.

We do this thing. Then we go back to my Aunt’s house and I sleep.

 

March 24th

My eldest uncle could not attend the funeral, he himself was in the hospital recovering from a serious surgery. We visit with him. He’s like an eagle, sharp and wise.

He needs to rest so we don’t stay too long.

 

March 24th

That evening we dine as a family. A big Korean spread, traditional style. It’s nice. I only rarely have been able to have this sort of experience with my Korean family.

It may be the last time that we eat like this, who can say?

Afterwards I sleep soundly full of meats and soju, tomorrow I leave for the States. Oh, the airport found my bag – it was still at Sea-Tac.

March 25

I fly home. I am utterly tapped and emotionally exhausted.

Looking for Dong

  
I was thinking about Tina Fey’s second season of Kimmy Schmidt. In one episode she tackles the criticisms that were lodged at her regarding the character Dong.

Dong, rather predictably, is a variant of the classic Asian Male Buffoon, but with a twist. Although he and Kimmy have a romantic interest in each other, his driving motivation is to get married so that he can become a US citizen. Through wacky hijinx he ends up marrying an old and possibly senile woman instead of Kimmy.
Again, predictably, the Asian Male cannot achieve anything that resembles romance. That and his lilting voice pretty firmly denotes the usual narrative of Asian Male in Western Media as sexless and impotent.
So, Asian Americans on the Internet responded with criticism. Myself included.
And Tina Fey did the responsible thing and addressed these shortcomings by making Dong more complicated and providing a more satisfying interpretation of the character, right?
Hahahahahahahaha. No.
Instead she had her black gay character, Titus, don yellowface for his one-man show regarding his Japanese geisha past life. She introduced a bunch of Asian American protesters (us), and at one point a protester who found herself enjoying Titus’s performance had nothing bad to say, mumbled “I can’t breathe.” and disappeared in a flash of light.
The message was twofold: without anything to gripe about, we have no reason to exist. Also, the Asian-Americans who protest shabby representation in Western media are just babies because black people have it harder.
Which is true. Black folks do have it harder. 

But a white woman saying so reads as the pernicious and typical attempt to drive a wedge between blacks and Asians. It’s an old tired tactic that doesn’t work anymore. Tina Fey needs to stay in her lane with this garbage.
                                         * * *
The other thought I had about this was how white writers can’t write PoC, at least not in a comedy.

Stick with me:

-If they write PoC characters as comedic foils, we’ll criticize them as writing us off as nothing as a joke to them.
-If they write us as serious-only in a comedy, well how does that work? It would be off tone.
-The only way it really works is if we aren’t treated as The Other. It can work if the jokes aren’t targeted against our ethnicity. But, white writers just can’t resist. They can’t not do it. Oh there are exceptions, like Lucy Liu in Sherlock and Daniel Dae Kim in Hawaii Five-O, but these are dramas, not comedy.
That being said, my sympathies for white comedy writers is just not there. They should stop being so damned lazy.

Maison De Bruhn

We bought a new house in East Tacoma. It’s a 4 bedroom, 3 bath place. It’s in a planned community put together by DH Horton.

One of my favorite things is that after paying a not too bad HOA, the grounds are maintained.  
   See the sign that says “Sales Office”? This house was the model home, the one that they’d show prospective buyers, so as such it had additional amenities.

  This room is what I’ve deemed “The Office”, I imagine this is where I’ll be doing the All Comics Considered podcast. I also like making this the game room, so Xbox will live here.

  All bedrooms are upstairs, and this is the full upstairs bath.

  This will be Sharon’s crafting room/guest bedroom.

img_6120Here’s a shot of the kitchen and dining area, somewhat smaller than what we’re used to, a “one-butt kitchen”, but certainly functional.

 This will be Danny’s bedroom until he spreads his wings, then I imagine a fully dedicated guest room.

img_6121 This is the living room, that table and the signs will obviously be gone by the time we move in at the end of April.


Master bedroom. We need to buy lamps since, strangely, there is no overhead lighting.

 Bathroom off of master bedroom, it’s nice!


And the walk in closet.

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One of things I was going to miss from our rental was the central air, that kept us comfortable in 90 degree summers. Nah we good on that too!

Everything about this place is right: the additional lighting, the manageably sized lawn, the inline water heater, the closeby park, the additional security by both police and tribal police patrols, it’s sublime.

Oh as for commute? Train into Seattle: 45 minutes – same as bussing from Kirkland. Price? $259k, you can’t get a a shack for that in Seattle!

LMKWICD

LMKWICD is an acronym for “Let me know what I can do”, and it’s a super sweet sentiment. I know you mean the very best when you say it. I appreciate it and I appreciate you.

But when it comes to grieving, it’s sort a solo adventure. At least for me. What you can for me is this: create a space for me to be normal. Treat me like you’ve always treated me – let’s joke over drinks and sing karaoke and eat with each other.

Even if my appetite isn’t normal.

And when I’m ready to talk about it, to let it pour out, I’ll let you know. 

Thank you.

Grief is a gift

Grief is like alcohol, it will affect people physiologically in similar ways, but how it’s expressed varies from person to person and their psychological profile.

I recognize that I’m in mourning for my mother who is currently being kept alive by machines. It’s to me to fly over there and release her. And I’m working on that.

But I wanted to make note of how grief is working through me right now, because it’s an unusual feeling. It’s actually physical. I feel like I’ve had two beers – still functional, but sort of stunned, I can feel a sort of numbness on my face, as though I’m getting over being slapped.

I cried after I wrote what was, essentially, her obituary and cried briefly again with my wife. But, I have to take care of stuff and I don’t dare stop and grieve in a hardcore way. Because if I do, I won’t be able to take care of business.

I need to keep moving, and take care of the thing. And then, if I need to I can let the great big sobbing happen. But not today. Today, my body gifts me with numbness and slight disorientation.

 

 

Dodging The Maw

What if you just stopped dreaming big and settled with your day to day stuff? Your job, your meals, your TV, your Video Games, your goddamned commute. Every day. Path of Least Resistance.
For you it’s not Good enough though is it? That’s the pablum that they want you to stuff yourselves with and you’ve gorged on it and had your fill. You know that there’s something in the center that needs to be filled. It’s like your own personal black hole in your chest and stomach, it’s an infinite hunger and all the stuff in the world that promised that it’d full you up is just cheap trinkets and junk food.
Your own personal singularity will not be so easily sated.

So once the curtain has been parted and you realize that the toy factory is producing garbage, what’s left? What happens next?
Well you can do the dumb stuff: drink, or take drugs, or desperate sex I guess. Path of Hedonism. For a while that changes the hunger a little, you feed the ego instead of feeding the void. But I mean, I don’t recommend it. The stories of ruin on that path are well trodden.
You can try the religious way, I personally like the idea, but unfortunately for me I’ve never been a big believer. Path of Divinity isn’t for me – just never got that divine spark in me to come out and play, you know?
So maybe the last thing to turn to, is figuring out what your own internal gifts are and hone them into something useful. Useful for you, the ones close to you, your community, if you’re really one in a million, humanity itself.
Now the skills you pick may not lend themselves to greatness so you might have to scale to the “you-to-community” level, but there’s no shame in that.
Here’s a thing though: if you follow this path, Let’s call it the Path of Excellence, you need something to keep yourself in check. So you don’t convince yourself too much of your own greatness. If you fail at that you’ll inevitably alienate yourself people, until you have nothing left but sycophants.

The secret to keeping yourself centered is the thing that the Path of Divinity requires: keep love in your heart. Whatever you decide to do, do it with maximum compassion. That’s the key: do it with love.

So, you Disciples of Excellence, what’s it going to be? How are you going to bend your own light away from the Darkness??

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