Genetic Garbage

This winter I started wearing a brand new, never before worn coat that’s been hanging in my closet for…the last decade. I know this is extreme. I blame it on what my husband likes to call “genetic garbage.” It makes me who I am, and marks me as a member of my own little tribe of weirdos.

A couple years ago, I was at an event with my two sisters. Two of us couldn’t stop cooing over the dress our sister was wearing.

“You look so chic!”

“How come we’ve never seen you wear that before? Is it new?”

Our sister sheepishly confessed that it wasn’t new, but she had never worn it before. It had been hanging in her closet for a while.

“I have this thing about wearing new clothes…I’m too embarrassed to wear things right away when I buy them. So then when I eventually do wear something and someone asks me if it’s new, I can honestly say: No, I’ve had it for a while.”

“I DO THAT TOO!!!” I shrieked.

“SO DO I!!!” our other sister said.

We’ve made other discoveries like this over the years. Once my sister told us that she would hate it when people sang Happy Birthday to her, because it always made her tear up from embarrassment. Until then, I thought I was the only who had that weird reaction.

A few years ago that same sister and I realized we share yet another genetic garbage trait. For years I suffered from the feeling that my legs were burning hot. One day I texted my sisters to ask, “Does anyone else feel like their thighs are as hot as curling irons?” To my surprise, my sister immediately texted back “YES!” She went on to explain that her natural instinct to research the problem was hampered by her fear of googling “hot thighs.” She eventually diagnosed our issue as a kind of neuropathy, for which there is nothing to be done but to commiserate with one’s sister and fellow sufferer!

The classic example of genetic garbage on my husband ‘s side of the family is “concentration tongue.” Whenever my father-in-law, husband, son, or daughter are performing a task that requires focus, their tongues slide out of their mouths. If the task is really demanding, the tongue starts to waggle back and forth. The harder the task, the faster the waggle:


Ping-pong induced concentration tongue: barely detectable, but present.

concentration tongue

Impossible to miss concentration tongue


“I think I almost have it…”




It’s like the swoosh…


…concentration tongue makes you run faster.

Anybody else share “genetic garbage” traits with their family members?

Happy Weekend! It looks like we’re going to get walloped with snow in our corner of the world. Good thing I have a coat to wear! ; )







Lost and Found

IMG_0573First posted 2/12/13.

For weeks now I’ve been asking my son to find the brand new winter coat I bought him. He wore it to school one day and it hasn’t been seen since. I’m sure it’s buried deep in the Lost and Found bin at his school. The snowfall and the frigid temperatures last Friday prompted me to ratchet up my usual low-level nagging into a full-throttle turning of the screws. I let him borrow one of my coats that morning and I must have told him at least four or five or thirty-eight times to MAKE SURE TO BRING HOME BOTH COATS. BOTH. COATS!!! I conscripted my husband to reiterate this directive as well, (the old double-barreled shotgun approach).

Of course, (as I half knew would happen), he came home without either coat. I admit it. I blew like Krakatoa. I got the kids in the car and we headed to my parents’ house for a quick overnight stay to celebrate the Lunar New Year. For the first fifteen minutes of the journey I barked and lectured and threatened and droned on and on and on and on…I couldn’t stop myself. I was like a runaway train whose brakes had failed.

Hell-bent on riding the poor boy like a witch on a flaming broomstick for the rest of the trip, I had him pull out his science notebook and start taking notes for his genetics project due this week. The assignment was to create a family tree that included inherited traits from both sides of his family.

“What have I inherited from you, Mom?” he asked.

“Well, think about it…What do you think you’ve inherited from me?”

“Ummm…thick, dark hair?”

“Uh-huh. Go on. What else?”

“Shovel teeth…” (Side note: Did you know that Asians and Native Americans have concave top incisors, also referred to as ‘shovel teeth’)?

“I’m sure you can think of other examples. There are some really obvious similarities,” I said impatiently.

“Well, I’m not very physically flexible…”

“Yeah, that sounds like me too. But there are even more obvious similarities.”

“Oh, uh…brown Asian eyes?”


“…And I think we have the same type of personality.”

Ahhh, there it was…He’s right. We do have similar personalities. I flattered myself by entertaining thoughts about some positive traits we might share – generosity, creativity, a compassionate nature…

He continued his thought: “For both of us, it’s absolutely inconceivable that we could possibly be wrong about anything.”

Oof. Oh yeah. He said that. Verbatim.

When we arrived in Arlington my kids went straight to bed. I stayed up for a little while to chat with my mother. She asked me how the kids were doing and I immediately launched into a litany of complaints about my son’s forgetfulness, about how he slaves over homework assignments but then forgets to turn them in or loses them between home and school, about the two coats that did not make it back home…My mother just shrugged her shoulders.

The next day, after a traditional Korean New Year’s lunch of Dduk Gook (see New Year’s Soup), we headed back home. I called my mom to let her know we’d arrived home safely.

“Mom, I think I left medicine on your kitchen counter by mistake, but don’t worry, I have extra bottles at home.”

I expected her to be anxious about this and to ask if she should express mail it to me. I was surprised when she merely said, “O.K.,” as if it were no big deal. But then she added in an emphatic and pointed voice, “AND you forgot your sweater. So don’t blame your son for forgetting the coats. He gets it from YOU!”

Sorry, kid. Sometimes genetics can really come back to bite you in the ass.

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