annie_lionessBy Annie Lee

Two weeks ago, my daughters and I arrived back from Korea again. My mom picked us up in Dallas and drove us back to Temple, Texas, a familiar town where we’ve eaten Thanksgiving at my Meemaw’s house every year since I can remember.Their father stayed in Korea and we left, again. We embraced at the entrance to the boarding area after an hour-long taxi ride, all together, holding our children in the backseat, content being next to one another. It had been weeks since I’d last seen him at the government office in Busan, Korea to discuss our reason for divorce: Silence and tears.

I hugged him twice before we left him. I held him. I kissed his cheek, his jaw, his neck. “I love you.” Give me one year, give us one more year. I am not ready to sign away my life with you. Stay.

“Ahi esta una mujer que tiene muchas preguntas,” said a sly old woman under her breath as we walked by. Two suitcases rolled side by side behind me, our nine month-old in a sling on my front, our three year-old in my mother’s arms. It was her birthday, our princess.

I blinked through the noise of the fluorescent lights beaming down from the baggage claim. My mom had been worried. Most people in my life had been worried. The pain I felt for seven months was too much to endure, but I did it, alone in Korea with a job and two babies. I did it.

We made our way to a car, in a parking lot, next to a thousand cars that all do the same thing every day. Same route, same airport, same customs line, different place. “When did everything become so indistinguishable?” I asked myself.

Please excuse the language up ahead. ride with me. Start the car and accelerate.

We pulled up to a market in between Dallas and Waco and got out to find formula for my younger daughter, Gia, and a birthday cake for June. The old woman in the airport was right. I do have questions.

How are we okay with living in a world where every other fucking item on the shelves and middle isles of grocery stores is NOT FOOD- full of sugar, additives, colors, shortcuts, and preservatives. For so long there were so many secrets kept from people so they wouldn’t harm a system that now-people refuse to even acknowledge simple truths anymore. It’s inconvenient to change. How selfish can we be? Do you realize how lucky you are that you can read in your language, eat, shower, sleep?

I saw a documentary on a famous American chicken farmer that forcefully bought out all the non-famous chicken farmers and let them own their “own chickens,” in garages at a storage barn where eggs are hatched in half the natural time they normally take:  where ranchers don’t clean up the mess of a dead bird eaten by a clever fox overnight, but instead, twenty adolescent chickens are found dead for reason left unknown, unnatural causes.

2nd gear
I know this place, this earth. It’s patterns were never hard to memorize. Memorization of these patterns for navigation is necessary. But plagued are the ones who make trades for the map through the middle. What do you know about yourself? Do you know your purpose in life? Do you wonder?

Be uncomfortable. It’s worth every second.

Look up at the night sky. Do you feel something when you gaze at the stars, the moon?

3rd gear
“What if I told you that a giant sea monster was swimming by your head right now in an alternate universe, but you can’t see it?”
“If you tried, could you feel it?” I asked my 5th grade students on the coast of the beautiful mountain city. From the beach, you can almost see Japan.

What makes something real? What is real?

4th gear
“Why do we cry when someone we love is pulled away from us?”
“Why don’t people smile at the time they had together?”

At this point in your life, do you think it’s possible to let go of the reigns and be thankful to have touched the untouchable. Real, true-ness. In a fake world full of machines, dead rain forests, “wild” animals in cages, lazy motherfuckers who don’t give a shit about putting a plastic bottle with a banana peel, stomping through making footprints, billboard ads for “Leave No Child Hungry” next to dumpsters with half-eaten plates of food.
In a world full of people like you and me…When will enough be enough?

Does change only happen when fear sets in?


(sirens): WARNING- All Americans’ private funds have been hacked, seized, and spent. The computer is lying to you. You don’t owe anyone anything. Live your life. FUCK MONEY. LIVEEEEE. -AMERICA IS DEAD. It was alive as a dream but in reality it doesn’t exist.

You believed me for a second then you realized that you are alone, save a few people, like me, that you’ve never met.
It is inside each human to do the right thing. If you don’t feel it, blame your grandparents for making your parents horrible at their jobs. Get over it. Get real.
Ask yourself, “Why do humans advance forward in such great leaps, and why is the format and method the same? What if aliens weren’t scary or angry? What if they were what we should be, ultra-caring and pure bliss, peace, enlightenment?” Well that would truly be alien, then. Wouldn’t it?

What scares you more, walking naked and alone to a mirror and recognizing yourself for the first time, breathing in and swallowing your first gulp of reality, or following a herd of zombies to sugar and color and box and can and seed and the sickly sound of robotic recordings telling you what time it is, where to be, an alarm sound, be-happy pills, but the sound is still there. Do you want your children to fear having their own children? Imagine the pain of learning the last tiger is dead. Are you that selfish that you will laugh at this thought instead of facing your fears and admitting that you have to change?

5th gear

I ask myself- “How strong am I?”
“Will this really hurt, or am I taught that it will?”
“Why do I get depressed and achy when I am under fake light all day watching non-real people do non-real things?”
Emergency break and drift:
What if your favorite show about some young rich stud who needs a cocktail waitress from Kentucky to take shots off his belly button to see if she truly loves him in three weeks so they can get married is the exact reason you are running your own marriage into the ground? Stop listening to the robot. We are alive. You have a real-live spirit inside your beautiful body. Listen to your higher self.
Turn off the electricity. Leave your phone at home. Bring it WAY back. The silence is deafening.
“What is real?”  
Love that lasts through a glimpse, a text, a feeling, a naked Skype, a marriage proposal, 2 years in the ROK army, an amazingly loving adoptive Korean family in a place where foreign is alien.
What is real?
A miscarriage, a great great loss of a son, a nail-scraping attempt to save a financial catastrophe, the stress of a man, the stress of a woman, the stress of two children, rumors, a childish girl, a mean boy, lovers, friends, confidants, and through it all- hold each others’ hands, smile, walk together, begin each others’ sentences, hug, be strong, walk away, cry.
That is real.

I vow from this point on I will feel what is right and act on it, despite judgement. Honestly, who is there to judge you? No one. They are an illusion. THEY are not real.
I believe in you. I am real. Let me hold your hand.
Holding hands: the clammy hands resting on an awkward knee in the movie theater on the first date that would be the last- after the teeth-clashing of the first kiss in middle school, the clenching desperation of an elderly woman who fell and hit her head and doesn’t know where she is, but she knows she has you. The hand you steady as a shaky voice cries out vows of kinship and love. Real.
The future if we don’t change now: Real. Dim. Dark.

Everyone here knows the time is now. It’s not up to my daughters, guys. We are the ones. Stop playing hot potato. It’s not a game. Grasp the torch. It doesn’t really burn once you allow your body to adjust to the heat. Good people feel fear now more than ever: I know you do. What are you waiting for, people like me? Well here I am.
“TO THE UNIVERSE!” I salute, I pray, I ask, I give.
I wave my fistful of sage and walk toward it. I am not afraid. Let’s change the world.
I will say a prayer that I say and it comes from within and I have never heard it said in this body.
Non-visible, simple-celled Amoeba, Bark, Moss, Fungus, Grass, Tree, Bird, Butterfly, Wolf, Lion, Bear, Tiger, Rhino, Shark, Elephant, Whale, Coral Reef, Earth, MOTHER: I AM SO SORRY. What have I been doing this whole time? I am so sorry. Trust me. I love you. Thank you. You give me life, you give me love, you give me courage, you make me alive. For what am I without animals? A machine.


I look a hungry tiger in the eye before I look into the lens of my private computer. To the sky, to the ground: Haneul, Dang, Haneul, Dang. To: us.

To the pig in my kimchi jjigae, thank you.

Hold the raw meat in your hand. You eat the fucking beast, now hold it. Wait until it’s warm, say thank you, wash off your tears. Say sorry. Repeat. It becomes what you know.

This is not natural, this world. I am not crazy. Look at your prenatal vitamins, Red color number 40= cute pink pills. That shit is crazy.

Go outside. You have a text in you. You have experience and you have millions of years of knowledge. Listen.

Listen to me, Please.

If SNDWN_profilepic2we don’t do something right now, it is our fault and only ours. We are human. We are the intelligent beings here. We hold the power. We need this Earth. Don’t you want your grandchildren to live in peace in a beautiful world? That’s the thing about being adults- sure we get freedom.

But with freedom comes great responsibility.
I will sacrifice anything for our children’s children. That is my responsibility. I will work until I die for that.


Written by The Sundown United

The SUNDOWN UNITED is a multi-faceted project that houses an apparel and accessories brand, and online-magazine(weblogs/articles). All ends of and begins with the Sundown United our trademark, lifestyle, attitude, and personal perspective on Americana art/lifestyle subculture.


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