photo by Jason Ortego

Without him, she would probably become a recluse; wear afghans around the house, order everything she needed online, live her life through social media, raise three dogs she would dress-up and treat like her children–too afraid to interact with the outside world for fear of failure or rejection. (Read More at

Chapter 2 ARRIVING

Chapter two of my online story called, Hanako and Jiro in Japan is now up on my website! I’d love for you to check it out and tell me what you think.


photo by Eutah Mizushima

Excerpt from Ch 2 ARRIVING

Inside the bathroom stall, more buttons, and a toilet that looks capable of launching into space. Her own personal sink glimmers, neigh, shines, to the left. Wow…I think I’m going to love it here. 

News for you!


photo by Felix Plakolb

Hey guys! I know it’s been forever since I’ve posted on Big California Dreamin. It seems that despite my best efforts, I am not a blogger ( : I am, however, a diligent writer, and over the last few months, I’ve been making an effort to create new content and compile existing content at HanaHawley.Com

My husband and  have moved from the City of Angels to the Land of the Rising Sun–specifically, to Tokyo (this is the beginning of our fourth week here)! This is an exciting season in our lives and I can’t wait to share all of our adventures (and misadventures) with you. You can begin to read my ongoing mini-novel at Hanako and Jiro in Japan

For those of you who have read my “Searching for Seoul” posts here, I will be adding periodically to that body of content on my website too–only bursts of information because I’m in the middle of writing a memoir about the journey to find my dad and find myself in the process. I can’t wait to share more with you. I didn’t mean to leave you hanging last summer. Just so you know, I DID meet my Apa (my dad!). I didn’t know what to expect, but it was good, and it was also very difficult in ways I did not expect. Searching for Seoul

I’ve started a book review page too. Like many of you, I’m always on the search for a good read and while I think all reading is beneficial to some extent, there are always books more worthy of our time or better for our individual hearts. As Francis Bacon said, “Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.” Hana’s Book Reviews

My debut novel, Tomahawk Hill is still waiting for the perfect publisher to come along. In the meantime, I’ve written a second novel that my amazing literary agent is finding a home for. I hope to have more news for you guys about these two novels soon!

So! Head over to You can subscribe for notifications on posts and Updates

Searching for Seoul Post 11

matt jones post 11

Photo by Samuel Sosina

Josiah and I are sitting in our rental car, A/C blasting to keep the moisture-packed Georgia heat at bay. It must be over one-hundred degrees outside. We’ve parked a few houses down from our intended destination so I can jot a few things down in my journal. I am grateful to my husband for understanding my need to write my feelings, assess the situation, before I leap.

We notice an older Korean gentleman saunter down his driveway with hands crossed behind his back, his face kind, expectant. And I know that he’s looking for us. I duck my head, stare at the mostly blank page, pen poised, emotions flying high in my stomach. I will the man to go back into his house so I can focus.

Last night, navigating what to do after finding out that my birth dad had missed his flight to Atlanta had felt like watching my grandpa do his breathing exercises from his bed at the nursing home; slow, painful.

Three hours after the initial call from Abby, I’d still not called my siblings to tell them the news that our birth dad might not come. I had needed something definitive, something that demonstrated the whole visa thing hadn’t been a willful act of negligence. And I got it late that night, confirmation from Abby that my dad had re-booked his flight for the first week in July. It was the earliest flight he could get.

Today, Josiah and I are to meet at Mr. and Mrs. Lee’s house as planned, even though my birth dad won’t be there and my siblings have delayed their trip. Mr. Lee wants us to meet his family, to know that we hadn’t traveled all this way for no reason, that we are very much wanted…that our dad’s intentions were good. We might be able to get my birth dad on Skype even, and this is what has me feeling like I’m about to embark on my very first job interview.

I try to visualize how this initial greeting would go down. Should I say, “hi, dad,”? Or, would it be more appropriate to say, “Annyeong-haseyo,”? Would I instinctively bow my head a little, or be stiff and “American” caught between my past and my present?

I set my pen down, close my journal. It’s time.









Searching for Seoul Post 10

samuel sosina post 10

Photo by Matt Jones

I don’t want her to feel worse than she already does, but the tears seep out of my voice despite my wishes. “Don’t cry, Mira,” Abby* says, and I can tell she’s taking responsibility, her voice, heavy with guilt.

My birth dad never got on the plane.

But I’m already in Atlanta! My brain screams. I’m already here.

Josiah and I arrived a couple of days early, and now, all of my preparation; the extra shifts I’d picked up last week, the new dresses I’d purchased, the family photo albums I’d spent hours making, the hotel and car reservations I’d made for everyone–all seem premature–acts of naivety–of ignorance.

He didn’t get on the plane. That’s all I can hear at first, and it feels to me as though this was a willful act, an act of cowardice or an act that would cause enough pain and disappointment to shut this whole thing down forever.

“He was supposed to meet my mom at the gate, but he never came.” Abby, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lee, my birth dad’s friends who moved to the U.S. ten years ago. They’ve been friends for twenty years now and Mrs. Lee was to travel back to the U.S. with my dad.

Abby has been bridging the gap for all of us since late February, translating messages between my birth dad and me because no one else speaks English and I don’t speak Korean. The very first message I received from her back then was, “Hello, is your Korean name Mira, Park? I know your dad…”

“Your dad is in chaos, right now,” Abby says, and this refocuses my attention on the problem at hand, the reason my birth dad couldn’t get on the plane that would have brought him to Atlanta to meet me just sixteen hours later.

He didn’t have a visa to travel to the states. No one thought to ask him if he had one. And he didn’t think of it himself because he hasn’t traveled outside of Korea in years. He could have applied for it online, been approved within the hour, but by the time he was apprised of this, it was too late.

He was already on his way home, a four-hour drive from Incheon Airport in Seoul, by the time I was getting the news.

And then I want to call my birth dad’s travel agent, yell at her, ask her how she could let this happen in the first place? Wasn’t it her job? Her duty to get her clients from point a to point b with as little trouble to them as possible? And now, her oversight was ruining our lives. Words like, incompetent! Worthless! Gurgle up in my brain like poison.

How was I going to tell my brother and sister about this?

I realize I dread this task even more than not knowing if my birth dad would get the necessary documentation and re-book his flight. I know that in under eight hours my family plans to board a plane from Minneapolis to Atlanta, and I struggle with how to tell them not to come.


*not her real name



Searching for Seoul Post 9


From left to right: my sister, me, my brother

I’m meeting my birth dad in June. Let me say that again–imagine uncoordinated little me jumping up and down and running spastically around when you read this–I’M MEETING MY BIRTH DAD IN JUNE! Guys! Guys!!! Can you believe this? Did anyone really think this day would come? Did I?

Because my birth dad’s name is difficult for my siblings and me to pronounce, and because my autocorrect changed “b dad” to “brad” while I was texting my siblings, and our family last name is Park, we’re calling our birth dad, Brad Pitt, for now (I know it’s a stretch, but so is this sentence).

It’s been just shy of 48 hours and the old, nearly abandoned and cracked road ahead is blooming with hundreds of bright, cheerful flowers. There is no cautionary sign amidst the buds. There is no gray sky. So pending death or incapacitating dismemberment, in what feels like an eternity from now, three orphans will be standing in the same room with a man they haven’t known since 1984.

Even after Sister Theresa located our birth dad, even after he said he’d meet us if we came to Korea, the idea of it was tenuous. Sister Theresa would email him for details and she’d get no response for weeks. I thought maybe he liked the idea of a reunion but didn’t want to face the cold, potentially gut-wrenching facts of it.

But yesterday, Brad booked a flight to the United States. And today, in a gesture that felt very much like a comforting pat on the back, an act of goodwill, of good intention, he sent a picture he has of the three of us–regaled in traditional Korean attire–and a picture of his office building where he works as an architect.

And I realize that I’m proud of this man I do not know for stepping into a story that holds so much pain.