I spent the first ten years of my life growing up around Seoul, Korea. My father, a since retired US ARMY NCO, was stationed there until just before my 11th birthday. Since this was infancy of cable, MTV had yet to make it's presence known in the Land of the Morning Calm or to any of our neighbors in the Far East. However, as soon as we moved to our house in Fort Polk, LA during the summer of 1987, I soon began to "WANT MY MTV!" like every other adolescent in America.
Overseas, I knew about all the big time artists here stateside: Culture Club, Michael Jackson, Madonna, George Michael, Bon Jovi, and so many more. I fell in love with MTV and normally just listened to the music while the video played and I was busy doing my homework. But then an amazing video caught my eye.
It was the fall of 1989, just before my 13th birthday. The video was Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire". For the lack of a better word, I was hypnotized. After that song, I became one the Piano Man's biggest fans. Then I uncovered something that really blew my mind! He even had a song called "James"! You know how sensitive a teenagers ego is at that early of an age, and to have a song with your name in it was just too cool. To top it off, it was released around the time I was born! How cool is that? Granted, I never truly understood the meaning behind the song back then, but it didn't matter to me. All that mattered was that every few moments in that song, Mr. Joel said my name and that made me feel cool!
As I got older I began to understand the words and the meanings behind it (or at least my interpretation of the song). Most parents want the best for their kids, and always want their children to be more succesful and happier than they were. Korean families take that a little further. Since I could remember all my Korean friends and I were told we were to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, or scientists. Pressure was high on us. Many of our parents grew up in poor towns, due to the devastation of the Korean conflict. Many prominent families lost thier land, family members and finances due to the aftermath of the war. Homes were destroyed, belongings were stolen or lost, and families were divided now by a border that ripped across the middle of the peninsula that for thousands of years was home to one country. Now it was two. It was important for their children to better themselves and get a good job. They lived in poverty. They lived in one room houses. They lived in conditions they never wanted their children to live in.
When I graduated High School in 1995, I headed to UT-Arlington, to study architecture and planned to become an architect. 13 years later, I'm no where near where I planned to be. I never imagined my life would have involved sales, but for the past 12 years, that's all I've done in one shape or form. I can't remember the last time I actually got a salary from a "real job". I'm married and have two beautiful boys that are the light of my life. I've owned 3 houses, 6 cars, and have met hundreds of wonderful people that have touched me spiritually and emotionally and even some that I can't stand that taught me a thing or to. I tried to live my life based on my parents expectations. Go to college, get a degree, get a job, get married, raise a family. I realized that I finally had to live my life for me. While I may not have taken the path they hoped I would take, I've accomplish a lot. I've lived and learned, failed and succeeded, loved and lost, and so much more. I still dream of finishing school, but not for my parents, or my wife, or my sons, but for me. I've yet to write that masterpiece Billy, but I'll get to it one of these days. Because I want to and for no other reason...
James By Billy Joel
My Theme Song