jenni's blog:: december 2003

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December 2003

Dec. 31 -
omedeto gozaimasu
Omedeto gozaimasu! That means, happy new year in Japanese. It's hard to believe that 2003 is almost over. I know it sounds cliche, but I swear, every year just seems to fly by. I will turn 40 in 2004, which I think about a lot. Sometimes I still feel like I am 17 and ready to start my life. But I have accomplished so much, and done a lot of good work in the Japanese American community. Great Leap is in pretty good shape, despite huge cuts to the arts, and I am happy to report that we are ending this year with a positive cashflow due to a lot of planning and strategizing and hard work and love and support from the community. We are very lucky to be able to give our time and energy to the things we believe in.

I haven't talked a lot about it because it's so personal, but Tony and I have been trying to conceive for the last two years. We have been through a lot of healthy eating, stress reduction, testing and doctor's appointments. This year, I had two pregnancies and two miscarriages. It is very fresh and raw and my emotions have run the gamut. So I am ready to put 2003 behind me and move forward into 2004. As we reflect on the year end, I am reviewing my life, past, present and future goals. I look forward to celebrating the new year tomorrow in Japanese American style, eating good luck foods like ozoni, mochi, red rice and sushi, visiting with family, friends and activists as we travel from house to house. Wishing you all omedeto gozaimasu!

Wednesday - Click here to comment:

Dec. 30 - Rest and Rejuvenate
I'm taking this week off from work. Taking time to rest and rejuvenate my mind, body and soul post Christmas and pre-New Years. Been reading old People magazines, reading "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" by Al Franken, watching a lot of TV and crocheting a lot. We bought a DVD player after Christmas. We rented 5 DVDs for about $12. We've watched "Bend it Like Beckham," "Visiting Victor Vargas," "Drumline," "Strawberry Fields," and the original "Ocean's Eleven." And that is about the order that I recommend them in. I love rewatching the movie with the director's comments, especially "Bend it Like Beckham," which was awesome. It adds so much to the film to hear the filmmaker's intentions.

Speaking of filmmakers, we are no longer a one-car family. After almost two years without a car, Tony bought a 1990 Toyota pickup truck from Ann Kaneko, a filmmaker (Overstay and 100% Human Hair) friend of ours, who was selling her truck at a low price. It's a no frills truck, Ann called it a workhorse, but I think Tony's enjoying having wheels again. He hasn't driven his motorcycle since. I've been encouraging him to write about his decision to be a one-car family.
Tuesday - Click here to comment:

Dec. 26 - wet.xmas.03
Newest Kiddies Kyle & Akira
Yesterday was xmas. Started out making a veggie quiche and tofu salad at home in the morning, then drove out to my mom and dad's house in Ventura County. For the last 30 years, every year except 3 times, my extended family has always gotten together at my mom and dad's house including 9 of 13 cousins, along with aunties, uncles, spouses, inlaws and kids. (My brother hosted a few years ago, and I hosted a few times when I had a condo in the Valley about 10 years ago.) This year was fun, especially with all the new babies and kids around. This holiday is really about the kids. But it's also about getting together with family and lots of good food and laughter. And we always take lots of pictures. Everyone has digital cameras now, but we still have 6 or 7 cameras going. It was pouring rain all day, the first time in 30 years.
After we left my mom's house, we went to hang out at my best friend Maria's family's house, just up the street from my parent's house. I've known Maria since 5th grade, and it's always nice to visit each other on Christmas. Then after that, we went to Tony's uncle's house, and ate even more, stuffing myself to excess! I had to lay out and take a nap while everyone else watched World Idol. Came home and did some more crocheting practice (see photo below).

Friday - Click here to comment:

Dec. 24 - eve.03

For the last 8 years, I've been going with Tony to the Ayala's for Christmas Eve dinner for delicious homemade tamales, rice and frijoles.

My favorite gift this year was a crochet needle from Mrs. Ayala. After dinner, I got a crocheting lesson. After dinner, I came home and started prepping my food to bring to my mom & dad's house for Christmas. Oh, and I finally did my holiday cards on Christmas Eve day. In the nick of time.
Tony with Letty & Karena
resting after tamales
Jenni crocheting
Wednesday - Click here to comment:

Dec. 23 - Cruzer Mini Flash Dud
HELP! We need some techie help! Tony & I bought a 256 MB USB Flash Drive, the SanDisk Cruzer Mini. It's supposed to be a high speed USB 2.0, fitting 2 1/2 zip disks on to a Flash drive, the size of a flat Chapstick or a short, flat lighter. Anyways, I thought it would work like a zip disk or the antiquated diskette. Plug it in, and then you see an icon on the desktop, and copy your data from your computer to the super sized Flash Drive. But, it didn't work. The green light went on, but nothing. It says you don't need to download drivers for MAC OS 9.1x+, OS X+. We went to the website, but couldn't find any info. Did we get a defective product? Whatever, it didn't do what it was supposed to do since we couldn't find where to copy the data to. Anyone have any suggestions before we return it?
Tuesday - 3:30 am - Click here to comment:

Dec. 22 - Alternative Gifts of Peace
Did some holiday gift shopping over the weekend. Got some gift certificates to restaurants, theater tickets, spa treatments, natural and organic health/beauty products, and lots of books. I got books from three independent booksellers. (1) HeritageSource.com, which had an Asian American book fair/author signing event in October (I started early!), (2) Bohemia Books, which specializes in political and Latino books, is adjacent to Mama's Hot Tamales across the street from Macarthur Park, and (3) Midnight Special Bookstore, which recently reopened on Second Street between Arizona and Broadway, after being pushed off the Third Street Promenade earlier this year. The guy at Midnight Special said that they are really hurting, so I am encouraging people to shop there instead of buying books online. Midnight Special has lots of left-leaning books, as well as a large selection of literature. I was able to find some great books. My gift to you, my blogger friends is the only short story I've written, Mitsugi's Christmas. It was published back in 1995, but I bring it out every year. It's a Japanese American Christmas story.

Tonight, I wrapped gifts for hours, in my silver, lavender and blue wrapping paper. I don't do the whole red and green Xmas thing. I wrote some holiday cards promoting peace and nonviolence. PEACE.
Little Drummer Boy Revisited
www.CelebrAsian.com
May the Spirit of the Season be with you all thru the year
Peace to all beings
Syracuse Cultural Workers
Let us celebrate and renew our commitment to build a world free of all forms of violence. Peace
Monday - 11:30 pm - Click here to comment:

Dec. 20 - More Art is Life
A few weeks ago, I wrote my column "My Weekend of Arts = Life." Unfortunately, what was printed in the newspaper was the first draft because I accidentally emailed the first draft instead of the final copy. Don't you hate that? Anyways, I have more about the Art=Life concept. Here's a spoken word piece by the amazing poet/activist, Kamau Daa'ood, Founder of The World Stage in Leimert Park.

Bombu Taiko in July
Art is life
The raw material in which to shape joy and meaning
Spirit and science in a mix
Graceful movement in space
A martial dance in the midst of disease
Time sacred,
Word and light strong medicine
Action prayerful
Move wisdom
Breathe consciousness
This is an army of healers
Physician heal thyself and radiate, radiate…

Also, Bryan edited together video clips of Bombu Taiko's group's performance at Higashi's obon in July. It's totally awesome! Please check it out. I have a funny line in it. We're about to perform, and I ask if I can bring my cheat sheet because I didn't have the piece memorized yet.

If you have DSL: http://www.taikoproject.com/04/content/videos09b.html
If you have DIALUP: http://www.taikoproject.com/04/content/videos09.html

Saturday - 10:00 am - Click here to comment:

Dec. 19 - Political Action for Today
Got this email today from some good friends: A new gay marriage poll by anti-gay group The American Family Association seems to be preparing a gay marriage poll to deliver to Congress. I think that they will appreciate having a large number of people from a broader background participate, yes? It's currently 82% against. Just click the link below or cut and paste it into your address window: http://www.afa.net/petitions/marriagepoll.asp. Take 2 seconds to click here for gay rights. Do it today, do it now.
Friday - 11:10 am - Click here to comment:

Dec. 17 - Stress Free Holidays
2001 Christmas Photo
Still in denial about the holidays. Haven't stepped in a mall, doubt I will. Haven't figured out my gift list or whether or not I'm going to do holiday cards this year. In 2001, we went to Cuba, so we had a cool summer vacation photo in Havana and we sent like 100 cards out. I completely missed it last year, so I feel like I better do it this year. I know sending cards is not a mandatory thing. Many people send photos now, which I treasure and keep up all year until the new photos come in. I try to keep up with most people so that the holidays are not the only time they hear from me, but it gets increasingly harder. E-mail makes it easier to keep in touch with friends, but face-to-face is harder to do with such a busy schedule. I have several friends who I do Quarterly Dinners with--meaning that we have 3 months to find a date to get together for dinner, a heart to heart and/or game night. I've gotten much better about not freaking out about having to do everything for the holidays. I've stopped shopping in malls the last several years, and our family does a gift exchange, so that cuts down on having to shop for so many people. Tony and I don't exchange gifts. But, despite all my efforts at stress-free holidays, you will probably find me madly wrapping gifts on December 24th, while checking the oven for my veggie quiche potluck item for Christmas. I better breathe deep, cause I only got 8 more shopping days.
Wednesday - 8:30 pm - Click here to comment:

Dec. 16 - Casting Call Nightmare
Last week I talked about an email that was going around looking for Azian Women for The Last Samurai premiere. I found it today on Kristina Wong's website, along with her very eloquent and well written email to the woman who wrote the original email. If you write a complaint letter, Cheryl will send you an apology. So, here it is:

Casting beautiful Azian women for Warner Bros.' The Last Samurai Premiere After-party to be held in Westwood on Dec 1st. Women will be dressed as village women from the film's wardrobe department and mingle 'in character' through the party, helping to create the ambience of ancient Japan, circa 1870's. There is no pay, but a chance to be part of this year's biggest Hollywood premiere with a guest list including Tom Cruise and the rest of The Last Samurai's fantastic cast!! If interested please forward a picture and information ASAP to:

Cheryl Rave
Entertainment Producer
Warner Bros. Special Events
(818)954-3549 phone
(818)954-3011 fax
Cheryl.Rave@Warnerbros.com

New things are that I recently added about 5 columns to the website, see Jenni's Writings. I also did a minor update to the Manzanar Committee website and a major overhaul to the JACS website. Check the site for info about funding criteria and guidelines for Asian American/Pacific Islander projects needing some seed funding. Proposals due by 1/21/04.
Tuesday - 8:00 pm - Click here to comment:

Dec. 14 - Wag the Dog
So, recently Gee-Dub has been getting more and more flack from the mainstream about the decision to invade Iraq and people are starting to realize that the war is not really over. Cheney's connection to Halliburton and the reconstruction contracts. Democrats saying that it wasn't a well thought out plan. People are upset about the 5,000 American troops who have been killed in Iraq and continue to die every day. Didn't he say the war was over 3 weeks after we landed in Iraq? I feel very suspicious about the timing and circumstances of this capture of Saddam Hussein, two weeks before Christmas, and less than a year before the 2004 election. Enough time to bring the troops home. ABC, CBS and NBC world news are just not really doing it for me. Did you see the movie "Wag the Dog?" I'm going to head over to whatreallyhappened.com to get more info about what really happened. Peace.
Sunday - 9:30 am - Click here to comment:

Dec. 11 - Crafty Plans
Alicia crocheting
Christmas is two weeks away. I've been preoccupied with other things, trying to get healthy and get organized at work. Last year, I gave up the idea of stressing over Christmas cards and didn't send any. I haven't decided if I'll do them this year, but I did buy some Peace cards. We had some ideas of making postcards with our artwork, but didn't quite get it together in time. I love sewing. A few weeks ago, I pulled out my sewing machine and finished repairing a down comforter that had pins in it for 2 years. Last night, I hemmed two pairs of pants that I had cut several inches off the bottom and left the ends fraying. I also fixed a sweater that I bought at Ann Taylor two years ago that had holes in the sleeve, underarm and side. I'm looking forward to learning how to crochet like so many other bloggers who are displaying their beautiful hand knit and crocheted scarves. It really seems to be a blogger trend all this crafty stuff. At right is a picture of Alicia, crocheting on Thanksgiving. And you have to see Drublood's homemade Maxi Pad slippers (Dec. 11). They are the funniest thing I've ever seen!
Thursday - 7:50 pm - Click here to comment:

Dec. 10 - Samurai Cruise
I didn't end up going into work today. I'm watching the adorable Tom Cruise on Ellen right now, but it's annoying me. He's talking about "Shogun 2," umm, I mean "The Last Samurai." I have heard some pretty lame things about the film. I heard that there was a call out for petite and pretty young Azian Women to dress up in kimonos for the premiere of the film's opening. Freaking geisha girls again. Did they want them to bow down low to the Hollywood elite and serve them tea? Or just look pretty? I'm so tired of that crap. Anyway, Tom is gushing about how much he learned about the Samurai and bushido. How he learned about honor, integrity, culture and respect. Funny how this is right around the time of the Pearl Harbor anniversary, when the Japanese were the enemy.
Wednesday - 3:40 pm - Click here to comment:

Cold Prevention
I'm catching a cold. Sore throat, runny nose, sneezy. Noooooo!!! I can't get sick! I was just sick last month. I stayed in bed for two full days and beat it pretty quickly. Ok, so I stayed in bed this morning till 11:30 am, drinking echinacea tea with lemon, lots of OJ and looking around the house for chicken soup. None. Drats. I'll probably go into the office for a few hours, hit a meeting briefly then get. back. home. Hopefully I can nip this cold in the bud before I really get sick.
Wednesday - 12:50 pm - Click here to comment:

Dec. 7 - Weekend of Arts = Life
It's been a full weekend. Yesterday morning, I went with Tony to Cal State LA with one of his students for a jazz workshop at 9am. They wrote some cute 12-bar blues phrases. I had brought work with me to do, so I went over to the student union and found a quiet lounge upstairs to work. They had a piano in there, and I played the piano for a few minutes, playing the first part of several different songs such as "Fur Elise" and "Where Do I Begin?" from Love Story. I really miss my piano, which has been on loan with one of my friends for the past 6 1/2 years since we moved out of my condo. From there, we went to J-town and I got to see Bombu Taiko, the taiko drumming group I've been in since April, perform their second gig at 1pm at the 25th anniversary of the Japanese Village Plaza. They were totally awesome. I've been so busy and wasn't able to attend practices in the last two weeks, so I didn't perform. But, I took a bunch of photos, which I spent hours trying to upload to Ofoto, but it's not there. So, here are more Bombu Taiko pix from yesterday.

From the performance, I went to pick up some sushi, and then went over to the JACCC for a Community Mural Meeting. Tony's going to be designing a new mural in Little Tokyo, commissioned by Little Tokyo Service Center. He has been getting "input" from Little Tokyo's business merchants, residents, people from Japan, an 86 year old Kibei woman, staff from different social service agencies and arts organizations. Yesterday, was the Community meeting. We went around the room, and talked about our earliest memories of Little Tokyo, our vision for the mural's purpose, about theme and possible images we'd like to see. You can be sure the input has been diverse, and sometimes conflicting. Therein lies the job of the community artist. Hopefully, they'll begin painting in Spring and through Summer 2004. After the meeting, we did some shopping, I saw Ken Koshio perform for a minute, ran a few errands, and then went to dinner for my sis-in-law Saori at Miya Sushi in the Valley at 5:30 pm. After dinner, we went to Van Nuys, because Mr. BBQ (Tony) wanted to get ribs at Hogly Wogly. Finally, we got home around 9pm, and was asleep within half an hour.

Today, is the 62nd anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. We went to Round Table Pizza in Manhattan Beach and met our friends, Trish, Warren and their two kids. After, we stopped by Lily's for a minute, stopped by the Diversity Festival - Unity in Community event sponsored by Inside/Out Community Arts at the Peace & Justice Center for the Arts in Venice. It was pretty cool. Their tag line is ART = LIFE. Now I'm home, I have a column to write that was due yesterday. Late again.
Sunday - 9:55 pm - Click here to comment:

Dec. 5 - Say What You Want
A special shout out to our friend Yuko in Okinawa who signed the Tag-Board! Normally, I'm pretty dense when it comes to pop music and what's with it. But! I bought the new Alicia Keys CD on Tuesday and I'm liking it. I also saw Nelly Furtado on Regis & Kelly this morning and I like her. So, I googled around and found the lyrics to Powerless (Say What You Want). I don't know much about Nelly, but, I like the song's message:
POWERLESS By Nelly Furtado

Paint my face in your magazines
Make it look whiter than it seems
Paint me over with your dreams
Shove away my ethnicity
Burn every notion that I may have a flame inside to fight
And say just what is on my mind
Without offending your might

Cuz this life is too short to live it just for you
But when you feel so powerless what are you gonna do
So say what you want
Say what you want

I saw her face outside today
Weatherworn, looking all the rage
They took her passion and her gaze and made a poster
Now it’s moccasins we sport
We take the culture and contort
Perhaps only to distort what we are hiding


Cuz this life is too short to live it just for you
But when you feel so powerless what are you gonna do
But say what you want
Say what you want

Hey you, the one outside, are you ever gonna get in, get in
Hey you, the one that don’t fit in, how ya, how ya gonna get in
Hey you, the one outside, are you ever gonna get in with your
Broken teeth, broken jaw, broken mojo
Yeah, this life is too short to live it just for you
But when you feel so powerless, what are you gonna do

Cuz this life is too short to live it just for you
But when you feel so powerless, what are you gonna do
Friday - 11:35 pm - Click here to comment:

Dec. 4 - No More Warriors
Recently, I've been getting more email from people who "google," er... stumble onto our website. Six years ago, I wrote a piece called "Go Warriors Go?" about school mascots being demeaning to Native Americans. I wrote that Westlake High School, my alma mater, should change its mascot, the Warrior to something else. One guy who has kids at WHS and play sports, signed our guestbook saying that I was being near sighted because his son won a "Warrior" award for his tenacity and spirit as an athlete. On the flip side, I got an email from Jim this week, a WHS alum from 1981 who read my column and said he liked it.

Westlake High School mural showing stereotypical mascot
Last month, I got an email from a young African American woman Maggie, who graduated from WHS a couple of years ago and read my article. She asked me if I experienced any racism at WHS, a practically all-white high school at the time. She said some students are filing a civil rights lawsuit against WHS, and had heard of a racist art teacher back in the day. I told her that I was pretty naive back then and don't remember any racism towards me, but I do remember being labeled a "brain." The old model "minority myth" at work. Because I was shy, quiet and Asian, people expected me to be smart. But I struggled to get mostly B's, and earned more C's than A's in high school. My friends were on the honor roll, but I wasn't. So definitely there was stereotyping going on. I told her the story back in 6th grade when the mini-series "Roots" was on TV. Andrew teased Cynthia (the only African American in our school), joking that his great grandfather was the slavemaster who owned Cynthia's great grandmother, a slave. She beat him up for that. I'm a pacifist, but good for her. It reminds me that as a kid, I often got the "Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these" from kids pulling their eyelids up and down with their fingers, mocking me. I hated it, and hated feeling different. Now, I claim it. And I fight back--with words.

Thursday - 10:55 pm - Click here to comment:

Dec. 2 - Support The Debut
Watched a pretty good video rental over the weekend, The Debut. It's the first Filipino American movie to make it into the mainstream theaters from 2001-2002. The lead is played by Dante Basco, who is just such a cutie. Anyways, it is one of those Asian American independent films with a contemporary story with a storyline that will be familiar to many immigrant families. This film was 10 years in the making and is now out on DVD and video. Along with Dante, his 3 brothers are in the film, as well as Rawlins, who I met 5 years ago when he danced in Great Leap's 20th Anniversary celebration... and spent time in the office because his best friend Azusa worked as an intern. He's an awesome dancer and has a pretty large part. I noticed in the credits that he was one of the modern dance choreographers. The picture at right is a little misleading... one is supposed to be the love interest and the other is his sister. I doubt the filmmaker picked the photo cover at right. I'm sure it was Columbia-TriStar, who is currently distributing the film. Go buy the DVD.

Went to the Culver City Farmer's Market tonight on the way home from work. Picked up some baby lettuce, arugula and baby spinach. I'm going to toss it with tofu, carrots, sesame and miso dressing, and have a delicious dinner. I also got some Pink Ladies and Fujis, my two favorites apples.

Tuesday - 7:40 pm - Click here to comment:


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