“Jason is a white person’s name… you can’t be Asian!”


I have heard it all. I had a recruiter look at me hard for a full three minutes and say “are you sure you are Jason Cushman?” I of course looked down at my hand like I was reading something and then looked up and said “yep, it is still Jason Cushman.” Honestly I like my name. It really doesn’t get much whiter than Jason Chandler Cushman though, but recently I did have cause to celebrate. I have worked hard at my Google SEO and finally gotten my website linked to the top search for the name “Jason Cushman.” Now considering there is Cushman and Wakefield, Cushman golf carts, and apparently a Jason Cushman that is a drug dealer in prison… it took some time to gain that top spot. I did a happy dance.

I’ve had liquor store clerks take their thumb and rub the corner of my license to see if it is fake. Because obviously an Asian running around with the name Jason Cushman has to be the stupidest fake ID holder in the world right? I sure hope no one is counting how many times I name drop… because I am going to do that a ton in this post on purpose.

I have my father to thank for my name. My father is Dr. William Cushman and he is one of the top research physicians in the study of hypertension in the world. He is also a priest, a loving husband, and a caring father who has given everything to his family. I am not ashamed of my family or my name and you can feel free to google us. We have nothing to hide and are an “average” family that likes to drink together, laugh together, and live. My mother is Susan Cushman and she is an author, iconographer, and writer. She inspires me to want to be better.

I have begun to share more of who I am. I do this partially because I want to, but also because this blog needs to always be connected to the author. It has to be. I hope by showing a little of my life people realize a real guy writes the crap they read each day. A person with feelings, emotions, good and bad days, and obviously opinions on every little thing he encounters on a daily basis. It is easy to forget that a “human” is on the other side of the screen. I hope that people that choose to read this blog always keep that in mind.

I have become attached to the name Opinionated Man. It started as a joke… I mean “opinionated man” isn’t exactly original. And yet being opinionated is what “we” all are as people right? I do find a small sense of satisfaction that some here have begun to call me by my real name. I don’t normally get called “Jason” by friends though, so that is a bit strange. But we will roll with it and you may all call me whatever you wish. I don’t know about “OP” though… that one feels strange, but at least you aren’t looking at me and questioning if I am “sure I am that guy” or not. Small victories people… small victories.

-Opinionated Man

 

Mixing Races? How I knew I would marry my Color


If you have read any of my previous work you have no doubt begun to garner some idea of who I am, or who you think I might be. You may have been able to piece together, detective that you are, that I am Asian (South Korean actually, we generally HATE to be called Asian), I was adopted and grew up with white parents, had white and black friends growing up, and really did not realize I was Asian Asian till I went to Korea in that long Summer of 2000. That being said, I really didn’t touch on the topic yet, but during this time period I also came to the realization that I would marry someone of similar color. This decision was based solely on race period, so we can go ahead and bypass the suspicion of racism, because that is what made the decision so easy.

Let me explain, I grew up “dating” girls that were mainly black and white growing up, though we use the term “date” loosely here because my father was both a Priest and a Doctor and the iron grip of communism might find a competitor in what I went through as a child. I laugh here, it really was not so bad, because who can really tell how suffocating a bubble truly is when a person has never known the freedoms of the “outside world?” That is why I was perfectly happy in my soft, protected, and comfortable world. A world of structure and organization, of coming home from high school and immediately cooking a whole DiGiorno Pizza and scarfing it all by myself because guess what… I could. The enviable bubble, enviable now that I look back at it and can compare to the hardships that might or might not have been going on beyond the boundaries of my own domain, that had clean and freshly laid sheets by a maid every Wednesday afternoon when I came home from school, which I would uncaringly threw my backpack onto. You never realize what you have had in the past until reflection.

This is the world that exploded in 2000 for me. It was not the Y2K bug, sorry to disappoint, if that was the inevitable word you were waiting for you can do a U-turn at the next stoplight. My world exploded due to internal torment and a new self-awareness that was more powerful than any terrorist attack or global catastrophe. My new ethnic and worldly identity left me broken and hoping to be mended at the same time. And in that moment I knew, I pieced together my past and my past hardships and I knew, I could never marry anyone that was not Asian.

When I journeyed to Korea, wide-eyed and excited, I went with the love and support of my girlfriend, who was black, whom I had been with for my whole senior year of high school. I left thinking that was perfectly normal and I was content with her at the time. She did nothing to change that outlook, far from it; she was not the cause of my ultimate reverse in personal preference. For some odd reasons when I learned of the existence of my birth sister and my birth mother it bred hope with the hate and anger. Something also “clicked,” I realized I was Asian. Perhaps some cheesy self-epiphany occurred here, if so I will spare you the audacity of trying to put it into words, but let us just say at this point I knew I was Asian and not white or black.

Growing up I dealt with so many trials and tribulations of being Asian, with no Asian friends, and being picked on by any and every race that it built a complex inside of me. I did not know who to relate to. I remember some days praying to God to change me, stop the suffering, I would rather be ANY race but Asian. Black, white, even Mexican it did not matter, I just did not want to be yellow with small eyes. Surely God has a sense of humor right? I saw the joke every day. I had the smallest eyes at my school and yet I saw the most pain. The humor only works if the joke saturates for a few… twelve years or so, so don’t be fooled if you just don’t see it.

I made a decision way back then; I would NOT allow my kids to have both the hardships of being Asian and also of being another race at the same time. It was hard enough being Asian, how could I ever want my kids to ALSO have the discomfort and shame of dealing with the mocking and jabs of being two races, not even fully one or the other. Some may look down on this, I am sure someone will even comment about “moving on and the end of racism and how this type of attitude empowers racist,” I don’t care, I simply know what I think, what I have been through, and what I want to save my kids from.

So to conclude, in a less lengthy fashion, yes I knew around that point I would always marry someone of like color. I would not mix races or mix hardships. If you are of mixed races and you dealt with any challenges you may have had and were stronger for it, kudos to you I salute you, I obviously would not have been strong enough for that additional obstacle, and perhaps God knew that.

-OM

Death of a Salesman


He sells dreams and glory, all the while living in mediocrity. Does he believe the words he spits into the wind or is he really trying to convince himself? I see them each day… their personas shine through my screen. I hit the dimmer and tone down the brightness of the world, too much light reflects off my weak constitution.

He writes images of strength and presents a brave face. Hiding who he truly is because that is not what is important. The big picture, the lights on the screen, that is the goal of the day. Picking free daisies from a never ending field… I love it. He smiles at the labor because it is what he enjoys. A habit or an obligation, it rolls into the routine he has come to know. What a tragedy to slay that dream and yet the pyre is built. Who has a match?

He sees failure where people view success. And in the lonely hours of the night he finds little solace in empty words of comfort. They neither feed, nor cloth, nor comfort against the stack of bills on his desk. His wife mumbles, she does not audibly complain, but sometimes the faintest noise can sound like our own failure. Where is it coming from? From within, I am the harshest critic of myself. No one will ever take that throne.

They said it couldn’t be done. When I did it, they said “what have you gained?” Christ… I can only perform one miracle at a time people. Shit.

-OM

Why I don’t care for Martin Luther King Day


OK, here it goes. There are some good reasons why Martin Luther King Day is not important to me and ironically many of those reasons were born in Memphis, TN. I am Korean born, but was raised by Caucasian parents. Let me first say that I had black and white friends growing up. The black friends I had were born from friendships at my 80% black school (maybe it wasn’t 80% exactly but it sure felt like 99% most days). I had a lot of white friends because I came from a small church community, even though we were all living in the middle of Memphis, TN, that kept strong ties together and were sometimes even cultish in their rules and regulations.

Now that the background information is over, let me say a bit about why I don’t care for this holiday. My school was “pro” anything that made African Americans feel important. To highlight this fact I recall one incident where we were eating lunch in grade school and the vice principle, a large heavyset black man, rushed into the room and grabbed the microphone to joyfully tell us O.J. Simpson was innocent (insert eye roll to this day)! I hated my school, I generally hated the kids there as well. I could not escape a day where I was not made fun of for my eyes, skin, or just because I wasn’t white or black. I remember one day a black kid, actually a former friend, said my eyes were so small he could blind fold me with dental floss. I retorted, “Well at least my people weren’t slaves.” Sob story to be sure, but that is not why I dislike this holiday, so let me explain.

I learned with every other kid in my school the good works that Martin Luther King did and I was truly proud of his accomplishments. What I could not understand was how could the Blacks at my school celebrate equality and freedom and in the same breath bash with malice an Asian kid for being Asian. It was so hypocritical to me that my disdain extended past the handful of kids tormenting me and included their whole race. It did not breed hatred, at least not at this point, but what it bred was a scorn for this holiday and even this man that was not fairly handed out. But pain and suffering create feelings that are not always rational. I know this now, looking back I probably knew this at the time as well, but the result is still the same. I dislike this holiday and all I see is hypocrites.

-OM

Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter


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She comes into your life and brings nature’s blessing. And with her entrance comes a curse of wanton passion. The grass is still alive as it blazes in the sun. The chorus of our laughter floats gently in the Spring breeze. We are the definition of love and our hands are linked as we dance amongst the growing and the grown alike. We enjoy timeless sunsets on picturesque settings creating canvases waiting to be painted at each moment. We love.

Time works wonders and bonds grow firm. We resolve to walk quietly into the night together. Hands held tightly against the shadows we once faced alone. We pick each other up in the heat of the Summer, against the blazing sun and humanity’s punishment. We turn as one, in unison with one another’s needs. I am your need and you are mine. And like an oak tree we grow together.

The rain has come and we have weathered storms. We still touch… but sometimes our hands Fall like leaves from our tired limbs. The chatter of children running around our base keeps us united, we are still united with finger painted signs and chalk figures. But some nights are cold and the moon shines two shadows upon the ground.

It snows here in Denver. The Winter seems to be most of the year… at least lately. But even with the constant ice, it does melt with the strength of will. A will we share each morning and return to each night. The seasons form a timeless ring that hardens into a golden promise. They touch each time our hands unite with infused emotion. Regardless of what emotion that is the presence of feelings means that we still care.

Jason Cushman

-Opinionated Man

7/11/2014

Shattered Glass


Written in the clouds.

Shards of a broken heart create stepping stones from Eastern coast. They create a path that leads back home, but where is home to those that were abandoned? As I tenderly step across the white tipped waves I see myself reflected in cacophonous imagery. I am overwhelmed by each step as I live a lifetime in each moment. What could have been dominates my thoughts and steers me listlessly into the abyss. It matters not my destination when all I care about is my past, and yet life does not stop until the sand ceases to fall. I wonder how many grains are left as my fingers swipe lazily through the white shower.

What higher power must I entreat to help right my course? Does it matter in the end how we reach our destination? It does when our wake affects those that trail behind. The pitter patter of four small feet and the steady hand beside me, they are what would suffer in the end. They do not know the shadow that walks before and beside them, only that he has a familiar voice. What sweet sorrow it must be to look with love towards one that does not truly live, but instead walks within a dream. He awakens only momentarily when forced from depression’s eye. And on those mornings he sheds a tear in realization of all he has missed… all that he is missing as he plods along with head held low and sight to the ground.

My eyes stare back from a myriad of directions and gawk through pools of bleeding soul from my cut feet. They blink, stare, glare, and close their eyes to the one that should be their lord. “What a god he is at night, but so very human in the morning” is what they murmur as I pass. He drinks a cup to renew his resolve, before beating heart pushes humanity coursing through his veins. What blessed liquid is this that I drink before the coming of the sun? The same as I drink with sunlight’s companionship upon my shoulder. At least I toast throughout the day and do not hide my shame beneath the blanket of the oblivious.

How much of a father can you be when you feel control slip from your grasp each day? Frustration makes a fine mistress and she is willing to return each morn. Is it fair to those who know not of such struggles, as waves of anger wash over the innocent and guilty alike? It is not and the sin that comes from such an act mounts high beneath the closed door in the sky. I can only hope that forgiveness may come with the dawn, but not from the mouths of society’s spawn. I could care less about their thoughts or ideals upon the topic. It is not their words that my heart listens for.

One day I will stand beneath the spotlight of judgment and hands may very well applaud my demise. I imagine even then I will stare straight ahead and refuse to acknowledge the presence of my fellow man. But what if a small hand were to reach up and pull upon my shackles to gain my attention. Would my stoic nature dissolve when encountered by such innocent eyes, eyes that are partially of my own? Could I remain strong beneath the condemnation of those in power while reminded of that which I love so dear… that which is soon to be forgotten? I believe the steady clink of the cuffs around my wrist would pull forth from me a sigh… a sigh that would melt the stone within and break the dams behind my eyes.

We create our anchors in life and the hardest ones to ignore are those that carry pieces of our heart. They wear those trophies like shattered glass around their neck and reflect our stories back into our faces. It is a constant reminder that we matter to someone other than ourselves and it can be a curse or a blessing. It is in itself life, but who warned us what would happen when the rain began to fall? Who was there to tell us that when the showers did come and we have finally found something of worth, that we will sacrifice our body willingly to shelter that flower if only for a second.

And as we lay dying from the elements, we that never loved will finally know what love truly is.

-Opinionated Man