Origin Story: Part III

Identity Politics

The DNA results? There’s a chance they’re completely wrong. Ok, not completely — I mean, the essentials still hold true. I’m definitely from East Asia and I’m definitely mostly Korean. No, we’re talking wrong enough, such that what I’ve been wandering around telling myself—and random bikini waxers—is wrong, the stories in my head perhaps just that. I chastise myself: I should’ve known and been proceeding with caution. Because if there’s been one constant throughout this entire process, it’s that the truth is shapeshifting. Like a vessel spotted far out on the horizon, it’s never clear if she’s floating towards me or away, large as she may loom.


These are the thoughts floating around in my mind at the end of March, after attending a brunch with a few of the adoptees going on the trip this summer. Over tea, I had mentioned my DNA test to the group—a pretext to ask about current Korean-Japanese relations—when one of my fellow adoptees attempted to reassure me.

“You shouldn’t put too much stock in the ethnic breakdown reports with 23andMe,” she said, “You’re probably more Korean than you think. Have you read those articles about how the results are often really off for Koreans? There’s been a bunch of users who’ve said they can trace their family history back for generations, and there’s no Japanese in their family line, yet their results will say they’re 30-50% Japanese.”

“Wait…so the results aren’t accurate?”

“That’s what it seems like, at least for some Koreans. 23andMe’s original sample size of Koreans was small, so I think the assumption is that they didn’t have enough people to definitively give percentages in terms of how “Korean” someone was or wasn’t. And some articles I read say you can’t really break down Japanese and Korean makeup like that anyway, because of the history.”

The director of the tour, M, looked over at me as I processed this piece of information.

“Besides,” M soothed, “Don’t worry about it. You’re Korean.”

But am I? Sometimes it feels like the whole, central point of this trip is just that. What does “being Korean” even mean, to me, individually?

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Ask V: The Everyday Handbag

“Hey V, we’re going to be in Paris soon. Where should we go?” “Yo V, I’m coming to SF in two weeks. Where should I eat?” “V, I’m planning a birthday for my friend. Any ideas for what to do?”

Answers? I got ’em! Here’s the deal: In real life and Internet life, I’m often asked questions about where to eat, what to see (especially in SF), where to shop, how to cook, tips for entertaining, and more. I also get asked questions about work, marriage, therapy, all that good real life shit too. I thought it might be helpful to start sharing the questions friends ask, and writing about them here. So today, I’m excited to kick off a new series called Ask V. Think of it as the local advice column around these parts. If you have a question, lay it on me! You can comment below, or shoot me an email whenever: victoria@victoriamcginley.com.

Today’s inaugural column features a question from L, who messaged me last week with the following (and who cemented my idea for this new series!):

V, My nearly 5 year old Kate Spade is finally showing its age, so I’m looking for a good, classic handbag. Max budget of $500. Tote or a satchel style. Must have zip closure. Neutral as I never switch handbags. Large enough to hold a Kindle Paperwhite and a pouch for the million lip products I never seem to take out of my purse. The pouch doesn’t have to come with the bag, I just need room for it. Any good recs?

Ok, L, here’s where I landed: View more

Playlist 08

Ok, ok, so maybe I won’t throw my iPhone outta bed quite yet. I took this shot on my phone a couple weekends ago, when I was down in Pescadero on a “glamping” trip with a bunch of girls from my local book club. We walked through the dunes for about 10 minutes to get to the beach in time for sunset, and though we were an hour away from the show, the light was just so beautiful in this spot. But, I’ll tell ya: despite the warm light, it was FREAKING FREEZING. I had on five layers (a tee, a long sleeve, a wool sweater, a thermal vest, and a Patagonia) and I was still cold—this, from the girl who always runs very warm!  For the better part of 45 minutes, we were all bumming because it seemed like the sunset would be a bust, obscured by a thick marine layer that had settled low on the horizon. We sat and drank wine anyway, and our dedication was rewarded. As we packed up and headed back to our “camp,” that big orange star dropped beneath the haze and we could see the entire fiery orb as it left us for the day. Some things are really worth waiting (and being cold) for!

I also wanted to share my latest playlist with you. It’s got songs I’ve been grooving to since mid-March! I also have added all the songs from playlists published in 2018 to a single list, which you can browse below. If you go to my Spotify profile, you can also check out more recent playlists, and ones from the last few years too! Standouts for me this month would be Evan Giia’s “Westworld,” the synth chorus of Louis the Child’s “Shake Something,” Maths Time Joy’s “Only You,” and JMR’s “Bound.” I hope you enjoy!

Listen to Playlist 08

Listen to all 2018 music   ·   Browse all playlists   ·   Follow me on Spotify