Thursday, December 31, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Oh! Oshogatsu! Missing Japanese New Year's Day - AnnArbor.com


The doorbell rings. The dog barks. I turn on the porch light, open the front door, and…

No one is there. Then I look down. A package!

Ooh, I was not expecting any more Christmas presents. I bend down to pick it up, and I hear the unmistakable sound of…

Rice.

A box of rice. A very big box of rice. Who would ship me a very big box of rice?

I stagger into the house, the sound of trickling and flowing rice filling my ears, and I put the very big box down on the kitchen table. I look at the label to see who in the world would FedEx me a very big box of rice and smile when I read, “Koda Farms.” (click on link for more)

Oh! Oshogatsu! Missing Japanese New Year's Day - AnnArbor.com

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

AML: Wishing for an American New Year's Eve - NAM EthnoBlog

Oh the excitement of New Year’s Eve! The perfect little black dress, impossibly high heels, dazzling rhinestones, an invitation to THE New Year’s Eve party of the year, a handsome and suave “New Year’s Eve Date,” a fluted glass of champagne, cute foods, counting down with the crowd, getting magically kissed right at the stroke of midnight (the primary purpose of said “New Year’s Eve Date”), singing Auld Lang Syne with one’s dearest friends, starting on that new year’s resolution to lose ten pounds (tomorrow)… (click on link for more)

Wishing for an American New Year's Eve - NAM EthnoBlog

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

AML: Last chance to see the 'Native American Dioramas in Transition' exhibit at University of Michigan Exhibit Museum - AnnArbor.com

You don't have to spend more than a few minutes hanging around the Native American Dioramas in Transition Exhibit at the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum to see several children run up excitedly, thump up onto the ledge in their big snow boots, and squeal, “Ewwww, they’re naked! Why are they naked?”

A tired parent struggles to explain—or not—leaving the children to figure it out for themselves - “They must be really poor,” “They must not know any better,” or “That’s their culture.” There are no Native American doctors, lawyers, professors, engineers, architects, librarians, activists, or astronauts depicted.

It is not difficult to understand the hurt these diaramas must have caused Native American children seeing the exhibits with their classmates during the fourth grade Native American social studies unit, or how easily misperceptions and stereotypes are perpetuated.

I can feel it, too. Imagine if it was you and your family depicted there - tiny, naked, nerdy, weird, frozen in time. And all your friends and random strangers, looming giants overhead, pointing and laughing from on high about all the things that set you apart as different. (click on link for more)

Last chance to see the 'Native American Dioramas in Transition' exhibit at University of Michigan museum - AnnArbor.com

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Wishing for an American New Year's Eve - AnnArbor.com


Oh the excitement of New Year’s Eve! The perfect little black dress, impossibly high heels, dazzling rhinestones, an invitation to THE New Year’s Eve party of the year, a handsome and suave “New Year’s Eve Date,” a fluted glass of champagne, cute foods, counting down with the crowd, getting magically kissed right at the stroke of midnight (the primary purpose of said “New Year’s Eve Date”), singing Auld Lang Syne with one’s dearest friends, starting on that new year’s resolution to lose ten pounds (tomorrow)…

Oh the glamour! The style! The fantasy! As the child of immigrants, with my nose pressed up against the glass, it all seemed so exquisitely “American” and romantic, “better” in a way that as a child I had somehow decided that cars with trunks, ten-speed bikes, store-bought clothes, Adidas running shoes, and the symphony must be “better” and “more American,” because they were things “real Americans” (read Caucasian Americans) took for granted but which my sensible immigrant family would never indulge. I thought we were so uncultured and uncouth. (click on link for more)

Wishing for an American New Year's Eve - AnnArbor.com

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang And Multicultural Thanksgivings

Just found this reference and link to Multicultural Thanksgiving at slanteyefortheroundeye.com. Now is that a funny url or what? And he said dd was worth a click! That's a lot coming from a blogger...

There's just a nice read I wanted to post up from Frances Kai-Hwa - who's also editor at IMDiversity.com Asian American Village - down at the AnnArbor who talks about Thanksgiving and the different ways people are celebrating, and I just thought as this is the week of the Turkey (no no, not me - although thanks for the thought) it was apropos (and the picture of the cute kid hovering over a plate of Thai butternut squash curry is worth the click too).

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang And Multicultural Thanksgivings

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Is Christmas any less Christian if you put up a Bodhi Day tree? - AnnArbor.com


One of my daughter’s Jewish friends from preschool once said that she liked coming to our house this time of year because we were the only other people who did not have a Christmas tree, either. Her mother described the conflict her child felt at school having to do Christmas-themed art projects such as decorating trees, which, regardless of what you call them, are still Christmas trees. Even a 5-year-old could see this.

It felt good to know that she found comfort in our home, although I had to confess that the real reason we did not have a Christmas tree at that time was that we used to always travel over the holidays. I was raised Catholic. We do celebrate Christmas. However, we did it reflexively.

So then I nearly scared my children to death with the pronouncement, “Now that we’re Buddhist, maybe we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas anymore.” (click on link for more)

Is Christmas any less Christian if you put up a Bodhi Day tree? - AnnArbor.com

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

AML: Kung Pao Kosher Christmas? - AnnArbor.com

I once had a Jewish housemate who explained the different types of silverware her family needed to keep kosher—one set for meat, one set for dairy, and one set of disposable chopsticks for Chinese take-out. She also described how Jewish people go out for Chinese food on Christmas day because Chinese restaurants are always open (and back then, the only other people not celebrating Christmas). I never knew how critical my culture was for her culture.

Several years ago, I was amused to learn how some Jewish communities were taking that tradition another step and organizing big Jewish comedy shows at Chinese restaurants on Christmas Day. The organizers of one such event in San Jose, California, told the San Jose Mercury News at the time that they had had a difficult time explaining their proposal to the Chinese restaurant owners, who had not even realized that so many of their customers that day were Jewish, or why. We do not always realize the impact of how we intersect with other people, other cultures. (click on link for more)

Kung Pao Kosher Christmas? - AnnArbor.com

Monday, December 21, 2009

AML: Learning about Christmas and Santa through the claymation classics - NAM EthnoBlog

Once again in New America Media's Ethnoblog:

Asian American journalist Lisa Ling once said on The View that as a child she thought Santa liked Caucasian children better than Chinese children because he always left much better and bigger gifts, like stereos, for her Caucasian friends, whereas he only left small gifts, like batteries and toothbrushes, in her stocking. (click on link for more)

Learning about Christmas and Santa through the claymation classics - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Learning about Christmas and Santa through the claymation classics - AnnArbor.com


Asian American journalist Lisa Ling once said on The View that as a child she thought Santa liked Caucasian children better than Chinese children because he always left much better and bigger gifts, like stereos, for her Caucasian friends, whereas he only left small gifts, like batteries and toothbrushes, in her stocking.

When I heard that, it was as if I was hearing silver bells. I always got batteries and toothbrushes in my stocking, too. I had grown up thinking that gifts from Santa always had to be small in order to fit inside the stocking.

It was not until I was in my 30’s that I discovered that some people received gifts from Santa that not only spilled out of their stockings, but covered the floor and piled up as high as the Christmas tree. Some people did not even bother hanging up stockings by the chimney with care, as they knew their gifts would be bigger than that. Is that allowed? (click on link for more)

Learning about Christmas and Santa through the claymation classics - AnnArbor.com

Friday, December 18, 2009

AML: Emily Hsiao: a role model for my children, an inspiration for me - NAM EthnoBlog

In New America Media's Ethnoblog:

My first memory of Emily Hsiao is from 11 years ago, when she and a bunch of her little 7-year-old girlfriends were sitting in a tree yelling “Kiss! Kiss!” at my daughter and Emily’s little brother, who, since they were both 3 years old at the time, would oblige, much to the giggles of the 7-year-old girls sitting in the tree.

As she grew older, I often asked Emily to babysit so my girls could develop a relationship with an older sister who could later lead the way for them and talk to them about teenage girl stuff should the need ever arise. (click on link for more)

Emily Hsiao: a role model for my children, an inspiration for me - NAM EthnoBlog

Thursday, December 17, 2009

AML: Tot Shabbat, Tot Chanukah, lots of latkes on Friday - AnnArbor.com

The last night of Chanukah falls on Friday, making this Friday’s Tot Shabbat at Temple Beth Emeth an extra special evening, Tot Chanukah! Tot Shabbat is a special Shabbat service every Friday night for families with young children, so Tot Chanukah is a special Chanukah service with crafts, songs, Shabbat dinner, and lots and lots of latkes. It is open to the community. On this night, families bring their menorahs, and because it is the last night of Chanukah, all nine candles are lit, and the sight of so many fully lit menorahs together is, according to my friend, Zoe, “Amazing!” (click on link for more)

Tot Shabbat, Tot Chanukah, lots of latkes on Friday - AnnArbor.com

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Three Asian American Perspectives on Thanksgiving

Cool 8asians.com post citing me, Eric Nakamura (Giant Robot), and Andrew Lam (New America Media) all in one entry. What great company in which to find oneself. Last month an editor said my writing reminded her of Andrew Lam's writing and I nearly fainted. Go ahead, flatter me more! (click on link for more)

Three Asian American Perspectives on Thanksgiving

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AML: English High Tea at TeaHaus Sunday - AnnArbor.com

Before I went off to graduate school at the University of Michigan, my father gave me a beautiful blue and white Japanese teapot and a set of six small teacups that we picked up in San Jose’s Japantown. He said there is something about drinking a nice cup of tea out of a nice pot in a nice cup that you just need sometimes.

My children and I discovered this cute tea shop on Fourth Avenue one sunny afternoon, where they have a selection of 200 loose teas (including several different varieties of my favorite, Earl Grey) and a monthly English high tea. From TeaHaus’ website: (click on link for more)

English High Tea at TeaHaus Sunday - AnnArbor.com

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Emily Hsiao: a role model for my children, an inspiration for me - AnnArbor.com


My first memory of Emily Hsiao is from 11 years ago, when she and a bunch of her little 7-year-old girlfriends were sitting in a tree yelling “Kiss! Kiss!” at my daughter and Emily’s little brother, who, since they were both 3 years old at the time, would oblige, much to the giggles of the 7-year-old girls sitting in the tree.

As she grew older, I often asked Emily to babysit so my girls could develop a relationship with an older sister who could later lead the way for them and talk to them about teenage girl stuff should the need ever arise. I wanted to surround my children with positive role models, both famous (poor Tiger) and local, so I was always looking for cool Asian American and multiracial teenagers and young adults who could lead and inspire my children (and occasionally babysit too). However, I never thought that some of these kids might become role models for me, too. (click on link for more)

Emily Hsiao: a role model for my children, an inspiration for me - AnnArbor.com

Photo courtesy of Andrew Fang at www.photasa.com.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

AML: A2SO's Sing Along with Santa goes global Saturday - AnnArbor.com

Figuring that Santa must get tired of only milk and cookies during the American leg of his annual journey, our family always leaves Santa mango mochi, sometimes a few potstickers, too. Last year, then 4-year-old Little Brother wanted to leave chocolate chip cookies, too, “like everyone else” because he was worried that Santa might not know what mochi was. So I told him to ask Santa directly.

At the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra’s annual Sing Along with Santa, Santa not only knew what mochi was, he told Little Brother that he loves mochi! They had a great conversation comparing all their favorite kinds: kinako, strawberry, an.

Since Santa travels around the world on Christmas Eve, delivering toys to all good boys and girls, it follows that he speaks all the languages and is well-versed in all the cultures of the world. Of course Santa can speak Indonesian, how could he not? Of course he knows the intricacies of Cambodian dance and the story of the Ramayana. He’s Santa!

And he sings, too. (click on link for more)

A2SO's Sing Along with Santa goes global Saturday - AnnArbor.com

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

AML: Monkey King Films, Chinese opera face painting, and Chinese papercutting at AADL Sunday - AnnArbor.com

Growing up, I did not know very many Chinese folktales or legends. My parents were modern and educated, without a lot of patience for all that old stuff. The summer I was in fifth grade, however, I went to visit my grandparents in Niagra Falls. Sitting in the den of my grandparents’ house, my grandfather told me the story of Sun Wu Kong, The Monkey King, the valiant and mischievous and invincible monkey born out of a stone who is sent to protect the Buddhist monk Tripitaka on an epic journey to India to bring Buddhist scriptures back to China. This was the one Chinese story I knew growing up, and although I have since learned many more, it has become a story my children love as well, whether in book form, cartoon, play, movie, manga, action figures, or Chinese opera.

One Halloween, Little Brother, then 3 years old, dressed up as the Monkey King and came face to face with a 3-year-old Superman at Chinese School. The two superheroes eyed each other suspiciously. I wondered, who is the greater superhero? Superman or The Monkey King? Super speed and super strength and tights? Or 72 transformations and cloud-soaring and a tiger pelt? (click on link for more)

Monkey King Films, Chinese opera face painting, and Chinese papercutting at AADL Sunday - AnnArbor.com

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sing Along with Santa goes Global - arborweb.com

The excitement starts to build from several blocks away when we see family after family with little girls in red velvet dresses, white tights, shiny black shoes, and red ribbons in their hair. The sidewalks are slippery as everyone streams towards Bethlehem United Church of Christ on Fourth Avenue near William for the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra's annual "Sing Along with Santa," which returns on Saturday, December 12.

There is nothing in this world that I love better than singing Christmas carols with a beautiful man--even if that man is wearing a big red suit! All pretenses of secular Ann Arbor-ness fall away as we walk into the warm and glittering church, all decorated with lights and bows, the tree gorgeous and reaching towards the ceiling. The pews are packed with families and cute, cute children. (click on link for more)

Sing Along with Santa - arborweb.com

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Wanting 'one right way' - resisting multiculturalism, diversity, tolerance - AnnArbor.com


Years ago, a friend from Chicago was visiting right around dinnertime, when we decided to make noodles or pasta for dinner. I started boiling the water and rummaging around for some vegetables when he declared, “That’s not how you make pasta!”

I was surprised because my family is northern Chinese and so I have been eating and making noodles all my life. I was speechless when he pushed me aside in my own kitchen and instructed me on How To Make Noodles—by peeling and mincing the garlic just so and drizzling the noodles with olive oil. Years later, I learned that this recipe is called pasta aioli, and is certainly one way of making noodles, but in his mind, it was the only way to make noodles, and I was wrong for wanting to make them any other way. (He thought I was wrong for crushing the garlic with my grandmother’s cleaver, too.)

Soon thereafter, I was at an Italian couple’s home with a group of friends when dinnertime overtook us. Our hosts started making pasta with a simple marinara sauce to feed everybody. All the women gathered around the kitchen, ooohing and ahhhing and watching and learning until someone commented, “You’re such a good cook.” Cici with her long white hair and throaty accent was completely unimpressed, “I am not a good cook, I am just Italian.” (click on link for more)

Wanting 'one right way' - resisting multiculturalism, diversity, tolerance - AnnArbor.com

Thursday, December 3, 2009

AML: 13th Annual Evening of Sacred Song to benefit Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR) - AnnArbor.com

Last year around this time, my neighbor Laurie organized a good old-fashioned caroling party (a medieval English tradition) for all the neighbors and kids to go tromping through the snow and sing Christmas carols around the neighborhood.

I was so excited. It had been years since I had gone caroling, one of my favorite things in the world to do. In college, I used to go caroling every year all around downtown San Francisco with the UC Berkeley Glee Club - singing in hospitals, restaurants, street corners, underground BART stations, alumni functions, Ghiradelli Square. I know all the words (but weirdly, only the harmonies) to all the standard (and a few not-so-standard) Christmas songs.

One of the things I love about Christmas caroling is the opportunity to stand in the sacred for just a few moments in this secular world of ours to sing praise and glory without having to play it cool. It really does not matter if the words swelling and circling around us are “Baruch Adonai” or “He shall purify” or “Sweet little holy chile’, we didn’t know who you wuz,” it is not often that we have opportunities in polite society to express feelings of passion or adoration.

Plus I have a certain weakness for men who sing. (click on link for more)

13th Annual Evening of Sacred Song to benefit Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR) - AnnArbor.com

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

AML: U of M Center for Chinese Studies Talk: "China as a Eurasian Subcontinent: Perspectives on the Past and Future" - AnnArbor.com

This summer, I discovered a fabulous seventeenth-century Persian bowl at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) that features Persian script and Chinese floral design that captures the interconnectedness of all our cultures—through the Silk Road in those days, through the internet today. Some people think that the crossing of cultures is a new phenomenon, facilitated by airplanes and telephones. However, globalization is not new, and a lot can be learned from how we all fit together in time and place. (click on link for more)

U of M Center for Chinese Studies Talk: "China as a Eurasian Subcontinent: Perspectives on the Past and Future" - AnnArbor.com
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