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April 2003

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April 30 - Support Immigrant Workers

Listening to KPFK this morning, I was reminded that it's been 11 years since the LA Uprising. I remember seeing smoke billowing all over LA from my 12th Floor office. Over 50 people killed. Tonight on the news, I heard that Bush is going to announce tomorrow from some military ship not that the war is over, but that the fighting has stopped. Uh, I guess so. I heard someone on KPFK yesterday saying that the war against civil liberties is not over. The war against civil rights is not over. The war against immigrants and working people is not over. So yeah, the war's not over yet. Tomorrow, Multi-ethnic Immigrant Workers Organizing Network (MIWON) is sponsoring a May Day March for International Workers Day. The march will begin on Olympic and Broadway in Downtown LA at 6:00 p.m. It's sponsored by CHIRLA, KIWA, Garment Worker Center and the South Asian Network. Peace. Out.
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April 28 - Four decades of love

Happy Anniversary to my parents who celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary today. Just returned from taiko class. It went much better tonight, because I practiced this past week. I've also been practicing running. Tonight, I was able to run over 5 minutes without stopping. Most people passed me at least 3 times, but I didn't stop and I didn't pass out from wheezing. So it's getting better. Anyways, congrats to mom and dad on their four decades of marriage. The photo at right is them is from 1993, at their 30th anniversary. They pretty much look the same today.
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April 27 - Education In Action at Manzanar
I'm back. Spent the weekend at Manzanar. Every year I think it's going to be my last year, in the stress of the months leading up to it. But then, I go, and it's so satisfying... and it makes sense to me why I do it each year. I love working with the EducationInAction folks from San Francisco. For 7 years, they've been bringing groups of college students. This year they brought 16 students. It's hard to put into words how special it is. I was up till 4am the day I drove up there, planning the evening program. Friday nite, we did our "Button Making and Folding Cranes for Peace." In all, maybe 40 people stopped by. I showed the SF students how to make the buttons by cutting posterboard, gluing the stuff together, and adding color. The students, as well as activists like Bill and Al, loved it! It's so simple, but people love to be engaged in crafty things. Another one of Tony's ideas. The rest of the students spent the evening making about 250 origami paper cranes, symbolizing peace. Then the others made spam musubi and rice balls into the evening. The students really enjoyed it because they got to meet people on Friday, and felt more connected at the daytime program.

On Saturday, we got out there early to set up. Maybe 500 people came. Tony came on one of the buses with his high school students. My dad and his friend Jiggs (who was in Manzanar) stopped by on the way to their annual fishing trip to Lake Crowley. As stage manager and as usual, I was running around trying to make sure the program went smoothly, people were in place, etc. We had a few bumps along the way, but overall it went pretty smooth, after years of refining. Then last night, for Manzanar After Dark, about 130 people came, our largest one ever. The taiko was great, Visiting Violette was great, and Ken Koshio, the Japanese Bob Dylan was a huge hit!! Vanessa and Laura, two sistahs who emceed seemed nervous at first, but by the end, they were so awesome. Since most of the students from SF were first timers, I was realizing that we wouldn't have much poetry, but people wanted to continue the group discussions and hear from the former internees. So, we gave people a chance to come up and give comments, sort of testimonials. We heard from 20 year old students, first timers who were blown away by what they learned this weekend, and former internees, like Ruth who were so eloquent. I showed the trailer to the Ralph Lazo film, Stand Up for Justice and the clips of NCRR 9/11 Committee's joint projects with the Muslim and Arab American communities since 9/11.

This morning (Sunday), we had a brief Wrap Up Meeting with the students and others. For many, it was like the "camp high" I remember from church camp as a teenager, you know the feeling of spirit and camraderie that happens when you spend a long time with people. That combined with politics, history, peace and justice. One student said that she has been at City College for 5 years, and after showing a young girl how to make a crane, she's decided this weekend she's going to be a teacher. Cool. I took 300 digital photos... so I'll get those up on the website in the coming weeks. I'm exhausted... going to go relax. Peace. Out.
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April 23 - Catch the MAD-ness!

I finally wrote my column "Catch the Manzanar MAD-ness!" and emailed it to the Rafu this morning. I finished it at 3:30 am. I hope it's lucid enough and that they print it even though it's late late late. Ok, got to go pick up supplies for the arts and crafts workshop and figure out the MAD-ness! program for Saturday nite. Oh yeah, and get back to work!
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April 22 - Keep on Keepin On
Today, I'm feeling stressed and depressed. I'm not sure why. I just got back from a wonderfully relaxing Hawai'i vacation. I don't think I was quite ready to go back to work yesterday. The Manzanar Pilgrimage is in 4 days, and I have so much to do still, and won't get to. Here it is, almost noon and I will probably not go into work today. I have a column that was due on Saturday, that I still have to write and am sitting at home bloggin. Last night I had taiko class. I enjoyed it, but I sucked! It is so much harder than it looks, and it looks hard! I have this uneasy feeling about the war being over. It's not over. Billions of dollars spent. For what. Maybe troops are coming home, people are calling Bush a hero, but I don't see how it can be justified for us to go bomb the hell out of Iraq, and then go oh, ok, I can go back to my life now because we manufactured a war for 3 weeks. It's not that simple. Families have been destroyed. Whether they're Iraqi or American, people were killed, so that "we" can live a certain lifestyle. I think that people for peace have to go deeper to create solutions that make for better humans and a better society. It's more than just hoping for peace. It's about what we do after the bombing stops. Okay... I'll get my column done. I'll put up my trip photos. I'll get my act together. And I'll keep on keepin' on. Peace. Out.
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April 20 - Rice Bowl Journals
Today, I did 4 loads of laundry, hung 3 of them in the backyard. We did major weeding and trimming in the yard. So far, I've done the first two days of our Hawai'i trip, Ono-licious, Visiting South Oahu, and Visiting North Oahu. While we were gone, I got confirmation from Rice Bowl Journals, that I'll be listed among Asian American journalers and bloggers. I have to submit a b&w photo. I didn't have any, so I made some from photos Tony took of me in Hawai'i. Which one should I use?
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April 19 - Aloha, We're Baaack

I'm back! Tony & I were in Hawai'i during the last week for his spring break. The first 4 nites we took his dad to Honolulu for the first time where we ate our way around the island, then went to visit my cousin Jackie on the Big Island for 4 nites at her beautiful new house. We woke up at 4:15 am this morning, took 2 planes and landed home this afternoon. I'm trying to decide how I'm going to do this. I think I'm going to do a day-by-day photo/journal in the very underdeveloped vacation section of our site. Although, sometimes when I read people's online vacation journals, I have a tendency not to read them, preferring to hear about bloggers' daily lives, rather than see their vacation photos... it's the modern day, "let me share my vacation with you." You know the evolution:
"Do you want to see home movies of my trip?" (1960s)
"Do you want to see slides of my trip?" (1970s)
"Do you want to see my photo album of my trip?" (1980s)
"Do you want to see hours of unedited video of my trip?" (1990s)
"Do you want to see digital photos uploaded to my website of my trip?" (2000s)

But since we spent a lot of time visiting with family (Cousins Bin, Joanne, Nathan, Jackie, Brent, Auntie Taka) and friends (Brian, Karen, Chris and their respective kids), I'll probably do it anyways. We took about 150 digital photos, which I'll edit. I'll try to have the first part of the trip up by tomorrow, unless I get stuck catching up on blogs, unpacking, doing laundry, writing my next Rafu column (due today), and mentally planning to go back to work after 11 days off.
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April 11 - Break in the Blog
I will be taking a short break from bloggin' for the next week. Aloha!
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April 10 - Give "Better Luck" a tomorrow

Asian Americans are practically invisible in the mainstream media. But I was disturbed to see an Asian American family on the Today show with Katie Couric this morning. Apparently, the soldier who covered the Saddam Hussein statue with the American flag yesterday was Asian. They spent almost 10 minutes with the family and the guy, gushing about it, asking the family how they felt, what it meant. When I saw it on TV, I didn't know he was Asian, but I knew he was American, and I was embarrassed and annoyed about the sophomoric arrogance of the military. They don't want to call it an invasion. They don't want to call it an occupation. But all we hear about is the Fall of Baghdad, and we see images of a soldier covering the face of a statue with the American flag. Will we hear about the billions of dollars in contracts that will go to American corporations like Brown and Root, Halliburton, and Bechtel, in the "reconstruction" of Iraq?

Back to the lack of Asians in the media. We almost never see ourselves on the big or small screens, unless it involves kung fu, karate, or some stereotyped images. Asian women never get to have Asian men for their love interests. Margaret Cho's sitcom, "All American Girl," was almost 10 years ago. Every now and then you'll see an Asian American character without an accent, and we jump up and down. If we do, it's never created by us. Until now. Better Luck Tomorrow, written and directed by Justin Lin opens tomorrow in limited theaters in LA, San Francisco, Chicago and New York. An independent film with an Asian American cast, producers, writers and director, the movie was a smash at Sundance this year, and is being distributed by MTV. Ebert and Roeper gave it 2 thumbs up. Supporters of the movie have been on an incredible grassroots campaign to get people to see the movie. If they do, it will open up in even more theaters the following weekend... and we might see more movies for Asian Americans, tomorrow and beyond.

That's part of why I work at Great Leap, a 25 year old nonprofit arts org that creates, produces and presents works that give expression to the Asian American and multicultural experience. We're not trying to make it in Hollywood. But in the next 7 days, we are doing performances in Culver City, Los Angeles, Chicago, East Lansing, Holland and Grand Rapids, Michigan. If you can't make it to one of our shows, go see "Better Luck Tomorrow," so it too, can have a tomorrow.

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April 9 - Happy Day to Tony!

Wishing my darling husband Tony a happy birthday! 6 squared. Send your wishes too!

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April 8 - Music of My People
I have always wanted to learn to play the taiko. Ten, eleven years ago, when I first saw taiko performances in the community, I would cry. It is so physical, so emotional, so passionate. And it's played by my people. In the last 30 years, Japanese Americans have taken to the Japanese drum, and now there are hundreds of taiko groups at temples and colleges around the country. When Tony and I first started dating almost 8 years ago, we went to the Senshin Obon. Kinnara Taiko was on the small stage in the Social Hall and I leaned over to him and whispered, "this is the music of our people." I wanted to learn to play back then, but I had wrist problems. My brother Darin and his friends started a taiko group in college and played for several years. My cousin was in a group. I was proud whenever I saw them perform.

So when I heard that Bryan (who I've known for several years) was teaching an 8 week beginner class in Little Tokyo, I was excited, and decided to sign up. Last night was the first class. IT WAS GRUELING! I am so sore, and very out of shape. We started out running for 5 minutes (which I haven't done in maybe 15 years). After that I was wheezing and coughing for the next several hours. We followed that with warmups, pushups, situps, egads! There were 4 beginners last night. We got to try all of the different drums, except the Odaiko (the really big one). And then we translated some drum patterns, don don don don, DOGON, godon... and practiced the drum beat. When I got home, my legs were like noodles, hands raw, back and legs sore. I guess I never realized how physically demanding it would be on MY body. If I can get in shape, this is going to be fun. But for now, I think I might need some Salonpas and some rhythm before I too, can play the music of my people. Peace. Out.
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April 6 - Saganaki, Softball and Salad
Danika up at bat
The Manzanar pilgrimage is only 3 weeks away. I spent about 25 hours on Manzanar and JACS this week, including web updates, and worked at least 45 hours. Last night, I met with college friends Queenie, Lannie, Lea, Steven and Osman for dinner at George's Greek Deli in Long Beach. Brought back memories of me and Queenie's trip to Greece 10 years ago. Lea ordered saganaki, fried feta cheese with olive oil and olives on pita. Mmm. We got into an interesting discussion about the war, for and against. It was nice to see everyone, hard to believe we've known each other since 1985! When I got home, our friend Glen was over with Tony. We ended up chatting till 3:30 am new time. Today, we slept in. Tony's mom & Don stopped by and we went to niece Danika's softball game. Tony & I split an order of chili cheese fries. Ymm, good but bad. Tonight for dinner we had chopped salads and pizza at Alejo's with Hector. Even though I go about my life, working in the community, eating and being, people are being killed in this war, and after a month, I'm still not quite my usual self. Peace. Out.
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April 5 - Manzanar Freak
Folks Raise Banners representing ten concentration camps in 2002
I'm a freak. It's after 3am. Went to bed at 11:30, but I couldn't sleep - stressed about all I have to do for the Manzanar Pilgrimage on April 26 (got lots going on this month). I have a Manzanar planning meeting in a few hours. I haven't done the design layout for the program (due today), had Tony design the t-shirt (due last week), typed up the Minutes from the Dec, Jan, March meetings, or finalized many details for the pilgrimage yet. I never contacted a Muslim for the Interfaith Memorial Service, which I was pushing for. I never wrote the press releases this year. I am late on the grant reports (due January 31). But in my early morning procrastination, I did update the homepage with some pilgrimage events. I also just spent the last hour creating a Manz GuestBook for the site. Please sign it!

And now I'm blogging, aiyah! I did listen to Aziatik Rhythmz on KPFK for the first time (1am-3am), run by a collective of young APIs. It was OK. The panelists didn't seem to know very much about the activism in the Asian American community, the Asian involvement in the peace movement, and the callers expressed a lot of disconnect. So I guess that's why it's so good they have a show that speaks to them and comes from them. Hip hop. Rap. Political talk. G'Nite all. Peace. Out.

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April 3 - By-the-book cook

Tony is sick. I made him an avocado sandwich and miso soup for dinner. While Tony is an artiste, creative and talented when it comes to cooking, I am a recipe follower, a by-the-book cook with only a few dishes in my repertoire. I don't taste when I'm cooking, I make it, then serve it. So when my sick husband requests miso soup, I read the directions on the container: combine 1/2 cup water with 1 teaspoon. I diligently get out the measuring cup, measure 3 cups of water, and then multiply to figure out that I need 6 teaspoons of miso, then calculate that I can use two tablespoons. I get out the tablespoon and drop the used teaspoon into the sink. Pathetic, I know. Anyways, I added tofu, but didn't have green onions. I went a little adventurous and poured a swig of Braggs Amino Acids for flavor and added protein. I thought it was bland. Tony said it was good, but then again, I don't think he has taste buds tonight. C'est la vie. Peace. Out.
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April 2 - Starting over
I always feel a little sad when I archive the previous month's Blog page, and start my journal over with a fresh page. Will people new to my blog stop in, see just this entry, get bored and leave, never to come back? I want to tell them to click and see what I wrote about in March... many of my entries were about how hypocritical this war is, how the media and our government is distorting everything, and how life carries on while people in Iraq are dying. But, I'm subject to the best and worst thing about the internet. Short attention spans. If the page loads slowly, isn't sexy or appealing, has freaky fonts and not enough photos, people can just click out. I do it. But I want to say, wait, bookmark me, come again soon! I promise to try to be real and make it an interesting so that you will be touched, send an email, leave a comment on the blog, or sign our guestbook. Peace. Out.
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