Entry #31 – August 25, 1997 / Monday

Ugh, when is it going to end?

“Focus your mind and keep your body straight.”

My eyes were closed, but I could tell my teacher was walking among us. We were sitting on the floor with our legs crossed, hands on our knees, backs upright. I stretched my upper body even straighter as my teacher’s footsteps came near. Why are we doing this? I felt mildly irritated. Last week, out of nowhere, my baduk teacher began including a meditation session at the beginning of class every day. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t understand the purpose of this practice, and it felt like a waste of time. My mind was blank at first, then it slowly drifted to the memory of my conversation with Mina earlier.


Today was the first day after our six-week summer break. Ms. Song asked the class to take  turns and talk about our most memorable experiences during the summer. My training trip came into my mind. But as my classmates shared their experiences, I noticed almost all of them were talking about their family vacations. So, when it was my turn, I spoke about my family trip to the beach.

“Hajin, I expected you to talk about your baduk training.” Mina said at the end of the school.

“Yeah, I thought about that too.”

“And?”

“I don’t know, everyone else was talking about summer vacations. I thought the beach story made more sense.”

“What sense?”

“You know, what I did was not normal, and I wasn’t sure how to explain it anyway.”

“Well, I think your trip was super cool.”

As I recalled this moment, I wondered what I was feeling about my training trip. Did I want to hide it subconsciously?

“Okay, open your eyes.”

I immediately opened my eyes and stopped thinking about it.


The territorial balance seemed okay, but I had a weak group. It was difficult for Tom, my opponent, to attack, but it was still my burden to ensure it would live. Suddenly Tom raised his hand, and said, “Teacher, I have to go.”

“What? Already?” I asked.

“I’ve started taking piano lessons,” replied Tom. His reply shocked me. Tom didn’t join us in our training trip, and that told me that perhaps Tom was not as serious about baduk as I was. Still, Tom had been spending most of his days at baduk school like me, and I always assumed Tom was on the same path as Colin, Brad, and myself. Could he do this to us?

“I thought we were all going to try to become professional players!”

“Well, I do want to be a pro, but my mom also wants me to learn piano.” He didn’t seem sad or upset, though.

Mr. Kim, our baduk teacher came to us and looked at our game.

“We will have to say this game is draw. Too close to judge.”

The teacher said in a perfectly normal tone and voice, as if nothing unusual was going on. I felt confused but didn’t say anything more. I just started taking my stones from the board.


That night, I asked my mom.

“Did you ever want me to learn piano?”

“Why? Do you want to learn piano?”

“Maybe?”

Mom looked suspicious.

“What’s going on? Did something happen today?”

“Nothing, it’s just strange that Tom’s mother wants Tom to learn piano.”

“Why is that strange to you? You have many friends who are taking piano lessons.”

“You know, I thought Tom was fully committed to baduk. Plus, he didn’t sound like he wanted to learn piano.”

“I see. Your father and I want you and Jane to learn whatever you wish to learn.”

“Really? Anything I want?”

“Maybe not anything, but most anything? But you do want to learn baduk, right?”

“I think so.”

“Then don’t worry. We will support you in your path.”

“Okay.”

“Good night.”

“Good night.”

I didn’t feel like my questions were answered, but I couldn’t tell what my questions were either. So, I closed my eyes.

Entry #30 – August 21, 1997 / Thursday

It was supposed to be the house of my dreams. What I saw in front of me, though, didn’t quite look the way I imagined. The windows were too small and the roof was too plain. Maybe I should have sketched my design before actually building it.

“What do you think?”

I asked Jane. She was sitting next to me, observing my progress.

“I think it looks nice.”

“Would you like to live in a house like this?”

“No, I like our place better.”

“Yeah, me too.”

Our place was an apartment on the 11th floor. We had a spacious living room with a nice view of the neighborhood, a kitchen with a dining area, and four bedrooms. Jane and I shared two bedrooms as our bedroom and play/study room, my parents had one bedroom, and we used the last one as a family library. It was perfect for us.

“Should I do it over?”

I asked Jane. The last two hours of cutting and gluing went through my head. Starting all over again seemed tiring.

“Why? Is it important?”

“It’s one of the homework assignments. See, here is the list.”

“‘Read two books. Write ten diary entries. Do one art project. Write an essay about summer vacation. Do a science project’… that’s too much! Do you have to finish all these?”

“Actually, the homework is just to do two from that list. I wanted to do all of them though.”

“Why?”

“No special reason. It just seemed possible to do all of them.”

“How much have you done so far?”

“I’ve written more than ten diaries already, read three books, and wrote an essay about our trip to the beach. I guess I will skip the science project though, since there are only a few days left now.”

“You wrote about our beach trip? Why didn’t you write about your baduk training trip?”

“Well, it wasn’t a vacation.”

“Do you think you will go there again during winter vacation?”

Neither my parents nor my baduk teacher had discussed this with me, but I thought the answer must be yes. I’d seen how hard other students my age were training at Master Grimm’s dojang. Not going again during the one-and-a-half month winter break would be like giving up my hope to become a pro. But, I couldn’t admit this to Jane. She was young, and didn’t like being without me. In any case, the winter break was not until early December. Hopefully Jane will take the news better in a few months, when this summer is a distant memory.

“I haven’t talked about it with mom and dad yet.”

“I hope you don’t go,” said Jane.

“Hey, I have an idea about this house. Maybe you can help me with it.”

“Sure, what is it?”

“I am going to take the pieces apart, and we can paint on them with watercolors. It will look more fun when I put them back together.”

The materials I used were plain color cardboard sheets. They will certainly look more interesting with some patterns on them.

“Okay! Should I go get the paint?”

“Yes. I will bring the brushes and the water jar.”

“Are you sure I can paint on your house?”

“Of course. I think you will do great.”

I knew this way we both will have fun, and if it turned out bad, I could skip the art project and submit the rest of my work.