Manual Im Only Human (I am only human Book 1)

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Everything I did was carefully done and said in a way that would not offend anyone, so then my grandfather and I would not get into trouble. To avoid any unwanted drama, I was often kept inside and would play with the pets my grandfather often brought home from his strange business adventures. From chickens and snakes, to dogs and cats, and even one day a Tamarin monkey, I played with them all. Mostly because I lacked real companions.

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Not that I really knew what that was. You can't want something you didn't know existed. But since I was easily amused, almost anything turned into something interesting. But it seemed that no matter how much trouble I would try to avoid, trouble would come and pick at me. When he asked me why I had no allowance, I told him that the elder cousins told me that it was the rules for the younger children to give it to the older children.

In good faith, I believed them. But then again, I believed a lot of things. Mostly a lot of bad things…. He would often come home and find me with broken mirrors, burned hands, or sometimes just lying in water till I pruned up. He would always ask me why I did these things, and I would simply reply that it was an accident or that I lost track of time. But one day he caught me with my hand under the rice cooker. I was 3 at the time, but I remember clearly the emotion that hung in my chest.

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Being 3, I didn't know the concept of Heaven or Hell, I just knew that one was for good people and the other was for bad. I think this shocked him because…I never cried in front of him. If anything, I used to cry when no one was looking. But this made it worse for me. I hated that feeling of crying in front of someone.

I hate it so much that it makes me cry even more, just because it made me feel weak. I took to it right away and almost every day would sit out on the porch and entertain myself with games and mini adventures until the fireflies would come out at night. Sometimes I would even go into the village with my grandfather in hand. It seemed that he has gotten warmer towards me. He started to talk to me more. Mostly folktales, scary stories, and about his younger years. He talked often about the family. Who does what, who married who…the family line and sort.

Everything that touched his memory he would start to explain to me with full details. It was much peaceful here. No awkward tension. No eyes to keep track of my every move. Instead of that ugly feeling that hung in my chest, I felt like I could breathe easily. I was woken up rather early and dressed in a scratchy hanbok Korean traditional clothes.

Oblivious to the event because I never celebrated my birthday before , I obediently followed my grandfather through the morning fog. That was when I first saw the stairs with large stone statues at the entrance with Hanja written on sheets of paper. Being a small child, these stairs seemed never-ending…and with the fog looking like clouds as it got higher, I thought that these stairs were going to lead me to heaven. Once at the top with much piggyback riding , an elderly monk greeted us.

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To me he was rather terrifying. An old man with cat slit eyes, wrinkly face, and calloused hands…. To my surprise, nothing bad happened. No demons, no fire, no booming voice from the heavens that poofed away my very little existence. Instead, there was a low chanting in the next room and I was seated.

Once that was done, a younger monk, perhaps in training, came in with a small table and a bowl. After a moment of meditation, he handed the bowl to me. I looked up to him, then at my grandfather with confusion. It was miyuguk. I knew the tradition, but was rather shocked that I received it, for my birthday was not a blessed one. My grandfather, the man with a usually serious face, smiled at me. Smiling back shyly, I bowed in thanks and started to eat the soup…slowly I could feel the hot tears run down my cheeks and started to fall into my soup as I ate.

I didn't care if I cried in front of him this time. I just remember being warm, despite the fact that in Korea, February is cold. It was like a heavy feeling of weight being lifted from my heart, because it was that moment when I realized that I was accepted by my grandfather. In his eyes, I was someone Looking back…I probably looked ridiculous. But to me, it really meant a lot. So now, I celebrate my birthday every four years, on the day that it actually exists I was exposed to a world beyond criticism and hate Time was getting closer for me to start living with my parents.

The idea excited me, yet terrified me. Even though I met them for a month every year, it was always strange. From the greeting from the airport to the goodbyes a month later. The main thing being the language barrier. At first it varied between Spanish and Korean, but my brother being born in '94, he was learning English.

Especially if I was going to start living in the States.

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The Hillingdon International School, to be exact. It was completely strange to me. The uniforms were different. The customs were strange. The words were odd. Conjugation was a bit of a mystery. But the biggest impact was that everywhere I looked there were double eyelids! Nose bridges! All natural! I was so used to see arches lines for eyes, moon shaped faces, and button noses, that all these protruding angular features seemed strange.

But besides that fact, at 7, I was fluent in Korean and Spanish, and had picked up enough Chinese and Japanese along the years of traveling to survive. It was just the pronunciation that always threw me off. But eventually I got the hang of it…somewhat. June , my parents had moved to Louisiana to start over as a family unit. It was strange. I had a younger brother whose interests were Lego and dinosaurs, whereas mine was reading and drawing. He had a fiery temper much like my mother and grandfather and through much manipulation and conniving schemes…he would get eventually get whatever it was he wanted.

My parents had enough to deal with, so I never asked for much. Not that I really needed anything. Just books and some paper to doodle on. School was decent, I suppose. I was advanced in math, foreign language, and art; but English was always average. I put all my energy into school for 2nd and 3rd grade. I wanted to be the best at everything; because I felt that was the only way my parents would feel happy…or proud to have me as their daughter. It was better than the usual response I got back in Korea from the aunties.

A cookie? Not that my parents were much better compared to the other students in my class. I would often hear about my fellow classmates getting money for their A's and B's, or something along those lines. I often questioned whether or not school was really a job, but I paid no attention to it after a while. The only approval I needed was my parents. Still, the situation was a tad bit awkward.

A jumble of Korspanglish, but better. My parents still had trouble trying to know everything about me. From my allergies to my strange habits, my likes and dislikes…my distant personality. I respected their privacy and they mine. To him, I was his sister, and it was his duty to be annoying. And I was grateful for that. New school. Still no real friends.

My English has improved, but the accent threw people off. I noticed the pattern with the Middle Easterners. At home I barely spoke. My teachers saw this as worrisome, but my parents simply told them that I was always very quiet. There was one friend whom I communicated with…. Her name was Anoosheh, or Anoo for short. She was an Arab and was often teased and bullied. Her brother was expelled for trying to protect her and was often getting into fights. But whenever we sat next to each other, no one bullied us…at least at first.

As quiet as we were, I was often cold and reserved and never associated with anyone besides her. I think some of the classmates found it funny to poke fun at us at some point. Anoo was an easy target. I guess the only reason they started to bother me was because I was 'mute', so they wanted to know what sounds I made.

Although it bothered me, I continued to ignore it. Usually they would tease a couple more times then leave. This time however, the kids were a bit more rowdy than usual and through a series of event, Anoo was pushed over. Anoo had left school, and I was left alone. I heard that she was transferred I don't really know what the story on her leaving was, but I suppose I made do. The teasing got progressively more annoying, until one day, I was just tired and pissed. It was quickly replaced with sadness The rage that was pent up for years finally exploded.

I remember standing up and punching him in the face and throwing him to the ground. I had a good 4 years of martial arts under my belt, so defending myself wasn't really a major problem. It felt strange The vibrations of the vocal cords. I could barely recognize my own voice I went to a new school for 5th grade.

Buchanan Elementary, home of the Buchanan Bobcats. My reputation somehow passed onto this school, so no one really approached me, maybe Baton Rouge was just really small, or maybe it was in my file or something. Who knows. I was never mean or disrespectful…just careful. My brother had transferred and was now in 2nd grade at Buchanan with me. He definitely had fun with my title and took it to his advantage.

I remember him coming up to me one day at recess with a group of his little friends and wanted me to play with him. I knew that mischievous smile anywhere so I asked him as to why. With a quick reply, he said he wanted to play 'Ninja'. Whatever that meant. Whatever it was, I had better things to do I always felt somewhat better when he returned to that toothy grin. And that's when I laughed. Apparently he had told everyone that I could beat them up I played along with his game, but instead ended up as his 'ninja judge', which consisted of me sitting and watching them try to do flips and run around screaming.

If anything, it was just me supervising my little brother to make sure nothing bad happened. Nothing too much happened in 5th grade. I just started going to finish my Black belt in Taekwondo and Hapkido. I also continued my interest in Kendo and Archery. I went to a Baptist church with my mother every Wednesday and Sunday.

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Korean School every Saturday. Nothing too stressful. I just wanted to get on with everything peacefully. But it was at 6th grade that I had grown more aware of the existence of people. Not just the masses of flesh-bags that hung around in groups, but individuals. From watching and observing so much, I have grown to know what to expect in behaviors and situations. I was already culturally aware of the different races, traditions, and religions that existed from my previous encounters in the International schools, but never so much paid attention to the individuals themselves, so everything was put in a new light.

The Stories

I expected to be one of the strange quiet child for Middle school like I had been for my whole life so far. But to my surprise, I encountered one of my first friends within the second week of school. I gave it to her, and it's been an exchange of gifts every time we talked. Whatever the topic, it's always a gift to be around her because she was very open about her thoughts and her culture and religion.

Around the fourth week of school, there was a Bosnian chick with a sharp tongue, outspoken, and quite the party-throwers…We met in science class, and we hit it off rather well.

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