Sunday, July 31, 2011

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Facing the terror of sports culture far outside my comfort zone in Recreational Paddling class | AnnArbor.com

When my teenage daughter, Hao Hao, started rowing crew for Huron High School, the president of the crew parents’ group recommended that we parents also get involved by rowing with the Ann Arbor Rowing Club. I thought he was nuts.

Hard enough to take a child to and from five crew practices a week, how was I supposed to find time to add in my own practices as well? Still, the group of parents who also rowed looked pretty cool at 5 a.m., dressed in their own red and black spandex outfits, unloading the boats alongside the kids.

Yet here I am, climbing into an outrigger canoe at 7:15 in the morning.

Hao Hao took a course called “Recreational Paddling” last summer, and I happily drove her down every morning, watched the canoes take off, then sat in the car writing on my laptop until they returned. A bad shoulder saved me from all the friendly, “Why don’t you join us?”

Unfortunately, my shoulder got better.

click on link for more: Facing the terror of sports culture far outside my comfort zone in Recreational Paddling class

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chicago is the World » Borders: Our home away from home, finding Ann Arbor wherever we go

A few years ago at Ann Arbor Art Fair, the police had gotten tipped off that our most notorious photographer, Harvey, (who has also photographed Chicago) was planning a big photo shoot of several nudes in front of the State Theater. The police were waiting when Harvey arrived with his models. Harvey and the crowd were indignant, shouting, “It’s tradition!” (for Harvey to take a photo every year during Art Fair).

The police were unimpressed with their protests.

This year, the news that comes in with Art Fair is that Borders is really closing. Not just bankruptcy, which we had convinced ourselves was a temporary legal maneuver, but it is really closing. Liquidating. Even the downtown store is up for lease.

When I read the news about Borders, my 15-year-old daughter Hao Hao shouted, “NOOOOOO!” pause, “I have to post it on Facebook.”"

click on link for more: Chicago is the World » Borders: Our home away from home, finding Ann Arbor wherever we go

Monday, July 25, 2011

AML Borders: Our home away from home, finding Ann Arbor wherever we go - NAM EthnoBlog

A few years ago at Ann Arbor Art Fair, the police had gotten tipped off that our most notorious photographer, Harvey, was planning a big photo shoot of several nudes in front of the State Theater. The police were waiting when Harvey arrived with his models. Harvey and the crowd were indignant, shouting, “It’s tradition!” (for Harvey to take a photo every year during Art Fair).

The police were unimpressed with their protests.

This year, the news that comes in with Art Fair is that Borders is really closing. Not just bankruptcy, which we had convinced ourselves was a temporary legal maneuver, but it is really closing.

click on link for more: Borders: Our home away from home, finding Ann Arbor wherever we go - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, July 24, 2011

AML Unstructured summer fun and discovery versus Tiger Mothering | AnnArbor.com

Eleven-year-old Niu Niu and 7-year-old Little Brother are trying to build a raft with papyrus stems, like ancient times, in case they ever have to escape a war by crossing a rushing river in the dead of night by strapping together logs they fell on the side of the river.

After struggling for some time roping the “logs” together with string, Niu Niu declares, “String is too hard, this would be easier with duct tape.”

Off to the garage she goes. Back she comes with a roll of duct tape on her arm. Raft completed in two minutes. It floats!

So much for figuring out ancient skills.

click on link for more: Unstructured summer fun and discovery versus Tiger Mothering

Thursday, July 21, 2011

AML Borders: Our home away from home, finding Ann Arbor wherever we go

A few years ago at Ann Arbor Art Fair, the police had gotten tipped off that our most notorious photographer, Harvey, was planning a big photo shoot of several nudes in front of the State Theater. The police were waiting when Harvey arrived with his models. Harvey and the crowd were indignant, shouting, “It’s tradition!” (for Harvey to take a photo every year during Art Fair).

The police were unimpressed with their protests.

This year, the news that comes in with Art Fair is that Borders is really closing. Not just bankruptcy, which we had convinced ourselves was a temporary legal maneuver, but it is really closing. Liquidating. Even the downtown store is up for lease.

When I read the news about Borders, my 15-year-old daughter Hao Hao shouted, “NOOOOOO!” pause, “I have to post it on Facebook.”
She cannot imagine an Ann Arbor without Borders — it’s tradition — but the Michigan economy is equally unimpressed with her protests.

When I first moved to Ann Arbor, there was only one cafe (Espresso Royale on State Street, and Borders was only one store.

But what a store it was.

click on link for more: Borders: Our home away from home, finding Ann Arbor wherever we go

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

AML Dancing to summer music outdoors and for the Japanese American Obon festiv - NAM EthnoBlog

My daughter Hao Hao and I were at an outdoor music festival when she first spied the little girl. About 3 years old, in a pink Hello Kitty dress, and one long brown curly ponytail, the little girl was dancing and twirling and hopping and flopping along with the music in front of the stage. “Awww, so cute.” “That was you, not too long ago.” (Then the little girl tried to climb onto the stage for her adoring fans, “That was definitely you.”)

I love listening to music at big outdoor summer events like Madcat Ruth at Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park or George Bedard and the Kingpins at Grillin’ for Food Gatherers.

click on link for more: Dancing to summer music outdoors and for the Japanese American Obon festiv - NAM EthnoBlog

Monday, July 18, 2011

AML Dancing to summer music outdoors and for the Japanese American Obon festiv - NAM EthnoBlog

My daughter Hao Hao and I were at an outdoor music festival when she first spied the little girl. About 3 years old, in a pink Hello Kitty dress, and one long brown curly ponytail, the little girl was dancing and twirling and hopping and flopping along with the music in front of the stage. “Awww, so cute.” “That was you, not too long ago.” (Then the little girl tried to climb onto the stage for her adoring fans, “That was definitely you.”)

I love listening to music at big outdoor summer events like Madcat Ruth at Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park or George Bedard and the Kingpins at Grillin’ for Food Gatherers.

click on link for more: Dancing to summer music outdoors and for the Japanese American Obon festiv - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, July 17, 2011

AML Dancing to summer music outdoors and for the Japanese American Obon festival

My daughter Hao Hao and I were at an outdoor music festival when she first spied the little girl. About 3 years old, in a pink Hello Kitty dress, and one long brown curly ponytail, the little girl was dancing and twirling and hopping and flopping along with the music in front of the stage. “Awww, so cute.”
“That was you, not too long ago.”

(Then the little girl tried to climb onto the stage for her adoring fans, “That was definitely you.”)

I love listening to music at big outdoor summer events like Madcat Ruth at Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park or George Bedard and the Kingpins at Grillin’ for Food Gatherers.

There is always an older couple dancing close on the side, cute little kids in sandals hopping all around. Perhaps the Internet has ruined my ability to concentrate for long periods of time, but I like the openness, the casualness, the fresh breeze ruffling the leaves on the trees.

click on link for more: Dancing to summer music outdoors and for the Japanese American Obon festival

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ten rules for writing fiction | Books | guardian.co.uk

I don't normally share writing advice, but this is too good not to share:

Ten rules for writing fiction | Books | guardian.co.uk
Get an accountant, abstain from sex and similes, cut, rewrite, then cut and rewrite again – if all else fails, pray. Inspire by Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing, we asked authors for their personal…

Ten rules for writing fiction | Books | guardian.co.uk

Ten rules for writing fiction(part two) | Books | guardian.co.uk

Some fabulous advice from Lee and Low Books' Tu Books Editorial Director, Stacy Whitman, on writing cross-culturally (good for living cross-culturally too)
Stacy Whitman's Grimoire » Beyond Orcs and Elves, part 3

if your kids have already finished all the reading programs at the library and all the bookstores, here's a diversity YA reading challenge, with a chance to win a huge pack of great books
Diversify Your Reading Challenge Prizes | Diversity in YA www.diversityinya.com

All this introspection is inspired by the surprising amount of commentary generated by my most recent article. I never expected folks would be so attached to Mickey Rooney.

Reading light summer romance without Asians, Asian Americans, or people of color

AML: Reading light summer romance without Asians, Asian Americans, or people of color - NAM EthnoBlog

While looking for light reading material for a recent airplane ride, I grabbed a pink book with a naked male torso that I vaguely recalled picking up at the King School Book Fair for 50 cents. I read the back cover, I read the first page, I randomly flipped through the book, and I could conjure up no memory of actually having read the book, so I stuck it into my carry-on, well within my 22-pound limit.

Although I usually prefer writers like Richard Rodriguez and Andrew Lam, not to mention Literature with a capital L, it’s summer, it’s an airplane, and I want something light and easy and with a happy ending. I have an equally embarrassing secret weakness for watching bad romantic comedies on the plane this time of year, too. (I was sorely disappointed to realize at 35,000 feet that I had indeed read this book before, but it was so terrible that I could not remember how it turned out, so I had to read it all the way to the end a second painful time).

Summer is the season for light romantic comedies, and because there typically are no Asians cast or written into these stories, I can, ironically, go “off-duty” regarding race and culture for a moment and indulge myself in the great American illusion that the white experience is “universal.” It can actually be extra-hurtful to accidentally encounter an "Asian" character (like Mickey Rooney's character in "Breakfast at Tiffany's") when I am in this mode because I thought I was safe.

click on link for more: Reading light summer romance without Asians, Asian Americans, or people of color - NAM EthnoBlog

Sunday, July 10, 2011

AML: Reading light summer romance without Asians, Asian Americans, or people of color | AnnArbor.com

While looking for light reading material for a recent airplane ride, I grabbed a pink book with a naked male torso that I vaguely recalled picking up at the King School Book Fair for 50 cents. I read the back cover, I read the first page, I randomly flipped through the book, and I could conjure up no memory of actually having read the book, so I stuck it into my carry-on, well within my 22-pound limit.

Although I usually prefer writers like Richard Rodriguez and Andrew Lam, not to mention Literature with a capital L, it’s summer, it’s an airplane, and I want something light and easy and with a happy ending. I have an equally embarrassing secret weakness for watching bad romantic comedies on the plane this time of year, too.

(I was sorely disappointed to realize at 35,000 feet that I had indeed read this book before, but it was so terrible that I could not remember how it turned out, so I had to read it all the way to the end a second painful time).

Summer is the season for light romantic comedies, and because there typically are no Asians cast or written into these stories, I can, ironically, go “off-duty” regarding race and culture for a moment and indulge myself in the great American illusion that the white experience is “universal.” It can actually be extra-hurtful to accidentally encounter an "Asian" character (like Mickey Rooney's character in "Breakfast at Tiffany's") when I am in this mode because I thought I was safe.

click on link for more: Reading light summer romance without Asians, Asian Americans, or people of color

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Celebrating Japanese Culture with the Obon Dance | InCultureParent

We went to the Obon Dance at the Puna Hongwanji tonight. I love first walking up to the temple grounds, totally transformed by the strings of lanterns glowing in the night, the tall yagura platform calling everyone’s attention to the circle.

It is always great watching the elegant old ladies from the Japanese dance schools in their matching kimonos and perfectly coifed hair lead the way, their hands so graceful, their faces so calm. (Calm because they know that they know all the steps!) The little girls, of course, in their pink and red and Hello Kitty yukata with the big chiffon bows and their hair all full of flowers and curls are utterly meltingly adorable. The energy of the rambunctious Dharma School boys is infectious, with their matching Dharma School hapi coats and headbands, as they half dance half kung fu each other, the flashing red lights in their shoes syncopating their best moves. The YBA teens in tank tops and cut-off jeans move in packs, either gossiping and squealing by the food booths or running and jumping right into the middle of the circle, the boys energetically showing off for the girls. The favorite dances are obvious, the crowd surges when those start, everyone shouting chorus and response.

click on link for more: Celebrating Japanese Culture with the Obon Dance | InCultureParent

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chicago is the World » Adventures in Multicultural Living: Bollywood flash mob dance performance surprises Ann Arbor Summer Festival

My mom once emailed me a link to the most amazing YouTube video —A Random Act of Culture sponsored by the Knight Foundation: Handel’s Messiah unexpectedly and apparently spontaneously performed by 650 opera singers disguised as normal people in a beautiful Christmas setting in Philadelphia.

click on link for more: Chicago is the World » Adventures in Multicultural Living: Bollywood flash mob dance performance surprises Ann Arbor Summer Festival

Sunday, July 3, 2011

AML Balancing old and new traditions for family and community at Fourth of July and Ann Arbor Summer Festival

When my seven-year-old son, Little Brother, came home from school and said that his first grade class would be talking about family traditions the next day, his older sisters all simultaneously said, “Uh oh.”

Because our family talks about traditions a lot more than “normal” people, his sisters jokingly call a lot of things “tradition” that are not really traditions in the normal sense. However, because Little Brother is so little, he cannot always tell when his sisters are joking. What if he thinks these are real traditions and tells his classmates about them?

For example, whenever Hao Hao does anything that bothers her older sister M — including going into her room and sitting on her bed and reading her books, she insists that she has to do it because, “It’s tradition!” Whenever anyone breaks out into song and dance, the stated reason is always because, “It’s tradition!”

Every Friday night we have dumplings for dinner before Chinese School. Is it because Mommy is too tired to cook on Friday nights? No, it is because, “It’s tradition!”

M always argues back, “It’s not a tradition just because you say it is.”

click on link for more: Balancing old and new traditions for family and community at Fourth of July and Ann Arbor Summer Festival

Friday, July 1, 2011

“East Asian Celebration: Kites & Characters” at Top of the Park Tuesday

From our friends at the University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies and Center for Japanese Studies and Confucius Institute:

Please join us for language and cultural activities at “East Asian Celebration: Kites & Characters” at Top of the Park! The event details are listed below. Please see the attached flyer for more information, and feel free to pass along to families who may be interested.

“East Asian Celebration: Kites & Characters”
Tuesday, July 5th, 6:30pm – 8:00pm
KidZone Activity Tent at Top of the Park
Kids of all ages welcome!
Note: Top of the Park is located at Ingall’s Mall (on Washington between S. Thayer & Fletcher) on UM’s Central Campus, Ann Arbor. The KidZone tent is located nearest the Michigan League.
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