Apologies to the Sung Kang fans

•July 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

My current schedule does not allow much time for blogging, so I had no idea that the links to my articles on Sung Kang were broken. I have fixed them…if you click on Sung Kang in my tag cloud, you will find my interview with him from October of 2008. Or just click here. Another way to find my work on Sung is to visit ningin.com and enter “Sung Kang” in the Google toolbar. Even though I no longer earn a living from writing articles, I treasure my memories of crafting them, and I know that many people have enjoyed my work.

I also noticed that many pictures I’d copied onto my blog have been removed. I do understand that some people don’t want pics used without permission; I haven’t always taken the time to ask permission or search for public pictures. So please forgive the gaping holes where beautiful images used to be. Perhaps someday I’ll find pictures I’m permitted to use.

The summer break has been wonderful–a much-needed time of sabbath. I am working on an entry for the Cincinnati Film Festival’s screenplay competition. It would be so fun to discuss it here–but obviously, these things have to be under wraps.

Hope all of you are enjoying your summer.

Inspired: Who Does She Think She Is?

•July 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Maye Torres' artwork really resonated with me.

Two nights ago, I watched Pamela Tanner Boll’s documentary on female artists, Who Does She Think She Is? Though I was going dancing later that evening, I had a burning desire to watch the film right then. I sensed it had an important message for me, one I needed as I continue to seek my creative plumb line. It did.

Being a wife, mother, employee, church member is wonderful. But I am not just these things. I am an ARTIST. And it’s not pretentious or selfish for me to say it or live it—I’m simply being true to who I am.

Every woman who has the creative spirit should see this film. It centers on five artists—four who make visual art, one in musical theater—who are also mothers. These women earn an income from their work, and feel that what they do is very important. Yet they also make lifestyle choices that ensure their children have what they need. In fact, their children were often inspired to create their own art alongside their mothers. The film proves wrong the credo that you have to put everything else in life aside to be an effective mother—and the idea that women have to deny their natural desire to have children if they wish to make an impact outside the home.

It was amazing for me to see the difference made by the support—or lack thereof—of a female artist’s husband. It was also very sad to see the ways that some female artists suffer because others feel threatened by the artist choosing a different lifestyle, and antagonize their artistic efforts.

While it documents the personal struggles of these women, Who Does She Think She Is? also sheds light on the lack of female artists in the upper echelon of the visual art world. I was shocked. I know that women are not well represented in filmmaking, either.

Even as I enjoy my summer break from teaching, I still struggle with making time for my writing. Yet like the artists in Who Does She Think She Is?, I benefit from an incredible sense of well-being when I take the time to create.

If you’re an artist, or your partner is, you need to see this film. And, I would be remiss in not thanking my dear friend and talented painter Kadie for recommending it to me.

For more information: http://www.whodoesshethinksheis.net/


•February 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I am no athlete, but my lack of ability only makes me appreciate the athletically gifted more. Which is why I’m so proud of my school’s boys’ basketball team–the All-City Champions. They stood in the gym this morning, brandishing a huge trophy and beaming from ear to ear. Each one wore a medal. I shook their hands; my five-foot-ten hand felt smallish in theirs.

Our older son is incredibly tall for his age. Perhaps he’ll join the ranks of the slam-dunkers someday.

2010 in review

•January 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2010. That’s about 29 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 2 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 31 posts.

The busiest day of the year was September 3rd with 210 views. The most popular post that day was Lucky Thai Joint/Hurricane in Ohio.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were youoffendmeyouoffendmyfamily.com, yoonsblur.blogspot.com, search.aol.com,, and images.google.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for hurricanes, hurricanes pictures, hurricane ike, pictures of hurricanes, and tokyo drift actors.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Lucky Thai Joint/Hurricane in Ohio September 2008


Joo Hyun: Seeking Birth Family November 2009


Kal Penn, Barack Obama, Roger Fan, Olympics…. August 2008


My interview with Sung Kang October 2008
1 comment


You Offend Me, You Offend My Family January 2010

Life and Death

•April 12, 2010 • 3 Comments

Just after 5:30 on Thursday, I got the call. My maternal grandmother had passed away at 81. Everyone, especially her, was in agreement about her readiness to go. She refused food; her body became smaller and smaller. Easter Sunday, we returned from vacation early to see her one last time.

My husband took the children out so I could sit with her. When I asked her who I was, and if she knew “the babies” were there, she answered only with “yes.” She took a little water from a straw.

My mother, who lives a thousand miles away, arrived on Tuesday. I am so grateful she got there in time, and could hear her say “I love you” once more.

When I got the news, there was no flurry of activity. She had asked to donate her body to scientific research. We’d agreed to hold a memorial service in June. My brother and his wife, who live close to the nursing home, and have done so much for Grandma during her time there, would clean out her room the next day. It was filled with pictures, mostly of the great-grandchildren she loved so dearly. The nursing-home staff knew us from them, always greeting us with a smile.

Friday afternoon, I was struck by the cool spring air, greenness, sunshine and blue sky. My eyes filled up with tears. We don’t think of spring as a time for death, but now the spring would always remind me of her.

Grandma would put a cat’s welfare before her own. She took pride in working as a home health care provider, but neglected her own health. Despite her poverty, she’d always try to slip me cash, junk food, or household goods. I still use the ancient GE alarm clock she gave me for my college dorm room.

People tend to idealize the dead, but my grandma wasn’t the Hallmark-card variety. Old age and Xanax had mellowed an acerbic personality. She managed money poorly and relationships even worse. Before she entered the nursing home, we’d go out to lunch, and she’d fill the entire time with criticism of people I knew and people I didn’t. Then, I’d walk her to her car, which was stacked with so much junk she could hardly see out to drive.

Grandma was a hoarder—that form of obsessive-compulsive disorder that blights you with a need to keep everything, useful or not. We all offered to help her clean her succession of vehicles or rented homes—to no avail. Only the confines of a nursing home could quell the waves of clutter.

Now, she’s arrived in the Great Beyond, without a magazine or clearance-rack sweater to her name.

I hope that no one feels I’ve disrespected the dead by remembering Grandma as she really was. She was far from perfect, but I’ll still miss her. If only the perfect people were worth celebrating, wouldn’t the world be a boring place?

I am 33 years old. I currently work as a substitute teacher, voice teacher, and sometimes article writer. My husband and I struggle to pay the bills. Some days, I don’t feel my life has lived up to the vision of success I set for myself when younger. But is being successful really what it’s all about?

The Wednesday before Easter, I was at Disney World with our two sons. Not knowing how much longer Grandma had, we’d planned a call to the nursing home. My sister-in-law held the phone up to Grandma’s ear. I spoke to her briefly, then heard her say “I love you too” for the last time. An hour later, I sat on a stone bench, sharing a bucket of popcorn and some Sprite with our sons. My heart cried as I realized Grandma could never have such a simple pleasure again. I knew that the best I could do was enjoy it, and be glad for it. Soon, she’d be watching us from heaven.

The value of a life is not just in its own contribution, but also in the appreciation it instills for what we still possess. Love the life you have, friends.

You Offend Me, You Offend My Family

•January 3, 2010 • 1 Comment

Despite my deep love for blogs, my life holds so little time for writing or reading them. I do make an exception for http://www.youoffendmeyouoffendmyfamily.com
This multi-writer blog is a voice for Asian-Americans in the film industry. Some of the authors are known names, but on the site, they go by first name only. There’s some great stuff over there–funny and thought-provoking. And this one is inspirational–Philip shares about a couple of chance encounters with Mickey Rourke, a star who got a second chance in the movie industry and in life. So enjoy, and here’s to 2010 being a year full of creativity and growth.

Movie Review: Ninja Assassin

•November 26, 2009 • 3 Comments

Rain and Sho Kosugi duke it out. Under fire.

I’m still writing reviews for The Other Paper in Columbus, and was privileged to review Ninja Assassin. Indies are more my kind of film, but Ninja Assassin was entertaining and well-made, for what it was. Sung Kang, my favorite actor, plays a small but memorable part.

The Korean pop star Rain played the lead. I have tremendous respect for his performance, especially the training regimen he underwent to play a ninja. I mean, he was hard as nails.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for many things. Movies, and the connection they have given me to my artisitc nature, are but one.

Joo Hyun: Seeking Birth Family

•November 8, 2009 • 8 Comments

Joo Hyun, aka Jeremy Stevenson, a very young infant in Korea, 1975

My husband, who was born in South Korea and adopted by an American family at 5 months, has recently made a couple of important decisions. Jeremy is ready to begin looking for his birth family in Korea, and he hopes to travel to Korea in the summer of 2010. These are his decisions—I am publicizing them only to show my support for him. We believe this journey to be very important, regardless of the outcome.

Because the Internet has reduced the boundaries between nations and cultures, we are hoping that people who could help us might stumble upon this blog. Here are a few particulars:

Birth surname: Joo
Birth first name: Hyun
American name: Jeremy Stevenson
Born at: Kwun Boo Jun Maternity Home (#520, Yunhee Dong, Seodaemun Ku, Seoul, South Korea)
Birthdate: January 29, 1975
Weight: 3.5 Kg
Released by: David Livingston Adoption Program for U.S. adoption
Current circumstances: Jeremy is now 34 years of age, married, with two beautiful young sons

Here is a picture of Jeremy today:


Jeremy Stevenson--husband, father, employee, pianist, photographer, and Korean adoptee

At this point, nothing is known about Jeremy’s birth mother—not even a name. She disappeared shortly after he was born. He was placed with a foster mother whom he lived with until he was sent to America for adoption by the Stevensons in July 1975.

Before Jeremy was ready to “look,” we had talked about taking our whole family to Korea—someday, when the kids are older. We still plan to do so later, but this first trip needs to be alone, for several practical reasons.

Through a fellow Korean adoptee, Jeremy found out about G.O.A.L.’s program for Korean adoptees. G.O.A.L. (Global Overseas Adoption Link) takes care of lodging and many other logistics for adult Korean adoptees returning to the motherland; adoptees pay their own airfare. At this point, we are not sure how to finance the airfare, but we do have several months to plan.

One advantage: Joo is not a common surname. It is possible that his name was changed by the maternity home.

If you can help in any way, please contact me, Elena Stevenson, at estevenson76@yahoo.com

Thank you so much for reading. Your help and support will make the biggest difference for our family—and for another one, now unseen, in the Land of the Morning Calm.

Adam, or “That Asperger’s Movie”

•August 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Rose Byrne and Hugh Dancy in Adam

Rose Byrne and Hugh Dancy in "Adam"

Another movie review for The Other Paper in Columbus–and another subject near and dear to my heart–people who just don’t fit the mold society lays out for us. Click here for my review of Adam.

I heard about this movie on NPR, so I jumped at the chance to review it. The Cincinnati screening was sold out–thank you, press pass.

There’s a community that’s grown up around this film. After the credits, I talked to a family whose close friend has Asperger’s. The list of cities where Adam plays continues to grow.

As a screenwriter who’s also an educator, with a family member on the autism spectrum, this film meant a lot to me. I believe it’s the first major film whose lead character has Asperger’s.

In interviews he’s done, Max Mayer talks about how Adam’s problems fitting in and managing social relationships are feelings we can all relate to.

I, for one, am just so glad for the dialogue this film is bringing to America.

And Life Goes On….to District 9

•August 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Although I’m too clumsy to juggle actual objects, I continue my juggling lifestyle. I did not obtain a classroom position this year, so I will work as a contracted sub for a local school district. The first day of school is Monday. I continue to do freelance work as the opportunity arises. If you’re interested, here are links to a couple of recent articles.

I enjoyed writing a review of District 9. You might be wondering how I came to write for Columbus’ indie paper if I live in Cincinnati. Last year, an L.A. film publicist I got to know through Finishing the Game asked me to review a film that played in Columbus. I didn’t even have to drive–he sent me a screener. For District 9, I attended a press screening in my own city. Ah, the wonders of turning in work via email. That reminds me–anyone seen that Gonzo doc about Hunter S. Thompson, and the scene where he smashes that primitive fax-machine thing he used to turn in articles?

I’ve also done some work for a Cincinnati webzine called Soapbox–mostly short articles on business news. The feature I did on Asian Community Alliance was really enlightening. ACA addresses the needs of Asian immigrants in our city, which has a small but growing Asian presence. The two community organizers I interviewed were fascinating to talk to.

I feel blessed to meet so many interesting people and ideas through my writing. Teaching has similar benefits. Makes me wonder what this year will bring. I’m up for anything–I have to be.