I remember that my parents were so careful to prepare me for you. They would tell me that you were coming, and told me stories about the importance of sharing. I read picture books that explained that older siblings shouldn’t be jealous when younger siblings receive more attention; babies need more care, after all. My mother took my hand and placed it on her swollen stomach, explaining gently that I would no longer be the only child in the family. I think they were terrified that I wouldn’t like you.
But when I saw you, there was no hesitation. No jealousy. I loved your little hands and feet, and the way you gurgled and smiled when I pulled faces. I loved your first babbling words and your first awkward steps. I loved the way you looked up to me, but also the way you were determined to form your own identity.
Our parents were so careful to prepare me for...
Last Tuesday, Australian politics was shaken up as Julia Banks announced that she was quitting the Liberal Party, a decision that will have repercussions on the power of the Liberal Party in the House of Representatives, with now a firm minority of only 74 seats. In the current period of uncertainty and petty back-and-forth between the Liberal and Labor parties in the lead-up to the May election of 2019, this latest blow will undoubtedly cause problems for the Liberals.
Until recently, Julia Banks was the elected Liberal MP for Chisholm (an electorate in Victoria). Before she was a politician, Banks worked as a corporate lawyer.
Banks first made headlines in August, during the leadership spill in which Malcolm Turnbull was replaced by Scott Morrison. Banks criticised the "bullying and intimidation...against women in politics, the media and across business" and the "cultural and gender bias" during the aftermath of the spill, during which she had initially been loyal to Malcolm...
The card machine buzzed and hummed as the thin plastic card slid out of the front slot. My mother took it out and handed it to me. My first library card. Armed with this and the knowledge that I could borrow as many as 20 books at a time, starting from age 8 I went to the Concord Library once every week, sometimes more. I wasn’t picky about genres or authors; I devoured everything from history to fantasy to literary fiction. It was a perfect rhythm of mine that I still preserve today: borrow, read, return, repeat.
In traditional Korean gardens, man-made structures were always built around the existing natural elements. A stream or lotus pond, for example, was seen as a fortuitous opportunity to build an adjacent pavilion, designed purely for the purpose of watching the water trickle by.
My grandmother told me this all of this as I held her hand, twelve years ago, the two of us standing in the famous Soswaewon Garden. We had stopped to rest on a bridge built over a small stream. Worried that I was small enough to slip through the bridge’s railing and into the water, my grandmother held me tightly as I peered down. I felt a tug of excitement at the bottom of my stomach as I counted the darting, colourful shapes of fish underneath us. One, two, too many to count.
The natural world has always been important to ancient Korean culture. In my childhood, my grandmother filled me with stories of guardian spirits living...