Fall 2010

Written by Suji Paek

Photo by Blake Hamilton

Hello, my name is Suji, and among a number of things—ADD, OCD, manic depression, and an overabundance of anxiety-induced eccentricities I like to think of as “quirks”—I suffer from chronic constipation.

Now, I’m not one to openly talk about bowel movements (although I am notorious for revealing a tad too much), but when I lie awake at night wondering why my guts feel like an overstuffed garbage bag, I can’t help but equate my squashed innards to my own muddles self-perception of cultural identity: overcrowded.

Ethnically Korean but raised in the States, I’m constantly pigeonholed as the “ideal immigrant” whose English is SOOO good and accent SOOO American; in Korea, I’m technically considered a foreigner, balked at for being “too tan” and my native tongue tainted with an American tinge—go figure. So much for intercultural inclusion.

These days, things aren’t much different—but I’m making progress. In my nine terms with Ethos, from copy editor to editor in chief, Ethos has helped broaden my cultural spectrum, that in a sense, has made me more closely examine my own cultural identity.

It is my hope that Ethos does the same for each of you.

Stepping out in 5-inch graffiti-etched wedges and a fitted vintage Pierre Cardin blazer, my attempt to look casually demure, (a la portraiture-ready) probably looked more absurd than appropriate amid a dusty construction zone. But against the backdrop of trucks, tractors, and chain-linked fences, this cornered-off patch of developing area nestled between impending architectural apexes, was subtly symbolic: it was work in progress.

Bits of crumbled brick, sheets of sweet-smelling plank—the remnants of old lay admix with the new, waiting to develop into something tangible.  And as I teeter over the barren soil, taking heed not to trip over the previous foundation, I realize that it takes a lot more than a few stones to trip me up.

But then, I could just be full of shit.