On Napkin Hoarding and Tattoos


You may have noticed in the past two weeks that my blog changed names. Yes, I finally bought a domain name and decided to become blog-fficial! I used to have a blog on this little old site called, xanga. The title of the blog came easily to me then – almost obvious. I knew exactly what I would call it and that was my online identity since I had an online identity. (Fun fact: My first real interaction with email on a consistent basis was when I started college back in the early 90’s!)

This time around, I had a much harder time figuring it out because I saw myself as a more complex person wearing many different hats. One thing that I knew for sure was that I was more than just a mom, but that didn’t feel true to everything I wanted the blog to be. I started to think carefully about what kinds of things shaped me to be who I am now. I also just took a day or two to let it all sit and then whenever something popped in to my head, I would just jot it down. I tried hard to tell myself that I needed to relax about this whole process because to me, selecting a domain name was akin to getting a tattoo. It would be something inked forever on my skin and it would take great pains to remove it. I still have yet to get a tattoo because I haven’t decided what I could live with for the rest of my life! (It’s harder than finding a spouse! Ha!)

So, here we are – Napkin Hoarder. Once it settled in my head, it made a lot of sense. It perfectly captured all the little bits that made up me. I’m a daughter of immigrant parents and growing up straddling two very different and sometimes opposing worlds influenced me greatly. Maybe you understand because you grew up with immigrant parents, but indulge me for a moment while I explain a bit about napkin hoarding.

Growing up, we always had an assortment of napkins from various fast food places along with napkins that were purchased at the store. I always assumed that everyone had napkins from different fast food places and other restaurants also. It didn’t occur to me until much (MUCH) later that this was a bit of strange thing – much like our dishwasher being more of a dish rack for hand washed dishes than an actual dishwasher. I started to realize that I had a nice collection of napkins all over my dorm, in my backpack, and that whenever I went somewhere with disposable napkins, I would grab a bunch and just stash them in my car. After a while, I started to wonder why I was doing this and noticed that my mom would grab a bunch of napkins anytime we were at McDonald’s or Starbucks. It was this automatic thing.

But, it wasn’t just my mom. It was my grandma, my aunts, and sometimes some of my Korean-American friends’ parents too! And it wasn’t just napkins! It was ketchup, those little hand wipes, peppermints, etc. It seemed like we were always collecting and saving.

Maybe this is because when my parents first got to the States, they didn’t have much. Maybe they just like to collect stuff. Maybe they like to be prepared for all those “just in case” scenarios. I’m not entirely sure what the root cause of it is and maybe I will write a PhD dissertation on it in the future.

I don’t like to collect all those other things, but I do like to make sure I always have napkins – in the car, in my bag, in a pocket, in the house. I am a napkin hoarder. I must have napkins and when I am without, I feel a little lost. Tissues, paper towels, toilet paper, etc are NOT napkins. I like to have napkins whenever we go somewhere at they don’t give out napkins – I have them in my bag and with a kid, you always need an extra napkin or two.

So there you have it. I’m a napkin hoarder – it’s a bit of my upbringing and it’s a bit of me today. It’s part of my parenting; it’s part of how I keep my house; and it’s something that my husband has become accustomed to. It’s a part of my story.

I hope that you will enjoy reading my posts and that the stories you read will inspire you to tell your stories. Maybe we can share our stories together, even. I’ll bring the napkins.

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