Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014

Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014
Admiralty, Umbrella Revolution 2014

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Keohi Turns 4--let's go fly a kite!

Keohi's 4th birthday was celebrated by a mostly Mui Wo contingent, with some CityU and associated kids--31 kids total and some 40 adults. Everyone from his class plus random others and more or less, anyone who showed up on the beach...I bought 42 kites for the day. Weather was fantastic. Windy, sunny, and clear. They construction guys even agreed to halt the drilling between 1-3PM. About 5-6 kites got caught in trees. Baked goods by moi included coconut cake with a Buzz Lightyear design (Buzz seemed to be the party theme, Keohi wore his Buzz wings and no longer answers to anything but Buzz. All was well until the very end when Buzz wings got torn off and he got slugged in the back by another kid, but uhm...guess these things happen even to Buzz). I also made choco cupcakes with the same cream cheese frosting on the coconut cake, and a sour cream coffee cake. All junk food was chosen by Keohi who had the ultimate 4 year old fantasy of choosing all of his coveted junk food that is strictly verboten chez nous. So it was one of those junk food birthdays with lemonade, juice, and yogurt drinks from Aunty Kathline (Keohi was waiting for that all year from her). No food of interest to anyone over age 5, but hey, it was his party. Stephen climbed up trees to get the stuck kites down. Oh, to be a kid, or a grown-up with a kite on a windy day on a South China sea beach. Life can't get much better.

Then today was a little village kid's birthday. Keohi's pal Gin Ho. I felt so pleased. He was the only non-Canto family kid there. The thing about not fitting in anywhere is that you can fit in anywhere... We're becoming part of the village...Mui Wo is home.

Oh-joo hai Mui Wo. I live in Mui Wo!

Oh-joo hai san you sahn. I live in Lantau!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Relief for Readers And Those Who Claim To Have A Literary Mind

Raymond Gibbs The Poetics of Mind (1994) and Mark Turner’s The Literary Mind (1997) modernize classical notions of rhetorical modes and kinds such as figure, story and parable in concert with discoveries in contemporary cognitive and mental sciences to argue that ‘the literary mind’ with its fundamental structures of emplotment, projection, figuration and genre is indeed integral to, and constitutive of the very nature of human knowledge, understanding and discursive activities.

(lifted from Genre Matters: Essays in Theory and Criticism)

Here in HK, the land of the MBA and worship of business culture I posit this question: Hey Guys, where would you all be without the literary mind?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Check out

There is a good interactive video feature on the front page detailing the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions. These are interesting times. I hope that Americans can rethink their ideas about the Mideast and the possibilities of government and people power.

Americans have a right to news information. Please support the presence of Al-Jazeera on your local cable network. You, as Americans, have a right to see what the rest of the world can see. We're supposed to be about freedom of information, press, and expression...

Legco Supports a school in South Lantau

Big news. Legco supports the creation of a secondary school in South Lantau. Now it is up to the Education Bureau to act on this amendment. Watching the legislative process was interesting. English translation runs simultaneously and people deliver their opinions in both English and Chinese. There is much work to be done for the local community, but it's a great step forward. Issues of multiculturalism, English or Chinese medium schooling and rural vs. urban areas are difficult in this post-colonial, very urban Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. Not sure where Keohi will go to school, but every community deserves a decent school for its children, so very pleased about this. Community activism in action, and the fight will continue, but it's a step forward. The tables have turned. I felt proud to be a member of the Mui Wo community. A David and Goliath moment.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and Firewife by Tinling Choong

Finished the book. Highly recommend it. One of the best that I have read all year. Truly brilliant. Can't stress enough what a relief it was to read this book and how enjoyable it was amidst the trash reads that one must do to hobble along as a reader and writer in life.

An amazing presentation of the complexities of a marriage, parent/child relationship, and the way that human beings change over the course of a lifetime. Wow. I was so impressed. In fairness, I would say that I wonder if I would feel this if I were in the USA full time. But from a distance, I look at my home country and its bourgeois white family unit from a different, potentially and possibly less impatient and critical and more forgiving light.

Firewife is mostly, if not entirely terrible. The only thing I might say in its defense is that it does use a collage technique which is somewhat experimental. (Discussed by DAvid Shields and used by many, but take a look at Bruce Chatwin and The Songlines for an excellent and superb use of this type of structure) Not sure how she got Robert Stone and Harold Bloom to say it was good, but they must have been smitten by her a) photo b) presence and c) hate to say it, but bought into some weird Orientalism shlock. She's a PhD in East Asian lit at Yale. I guess I would have thought of something a little more, I dunno. Intelligent? For chrissakes, Harold Bloom hates almost all modern writers, of color (or seems fairly dismissive, but again, I love his Shakespeare criticism and am overall a fan of his writing in that area) and he likes THIS ONE? HOW EMBARRASSING for the old bloke. One might mistake him for an old colonial lech vomiting and frequenting Wanchai at odd hours. Whatever. This book is pretty godawful.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, history books and smog


Maybe because I am not stateside, I am more immune to the hype, so can read without distraction and a different frame of mind about American life---but whatever the reason, I am enjoying this book and highly recommend it. I would definitely recommend it to someone trying to understand the middle class or bourgeois white American and therefore would tell people here to read it. I had tried to read The Corrections years ago and it did not really capture my attention. But I think he really captures this Midwestern bourgeois American life very well and being far from the US in almost every sense, I am enjoying the read.


Last few weeks I reread Ronald Takaki's book "A Different Mirror" and Howard Zinn's history, along with the "Lies My Teacher Told Me" -- these are also books I would recommend to people trying to grasp what the United States is...its present and its past. I was pleased with the African American 10 seconds per year history lecture I gave...a decent intro. I'm inspired to do more reading on the slavery period. What was really fascinating to me was the difficulty that students had understanding the very concept of slavery (this is despite the rise of debt bondage internationally and slavery, particularly in South Asia). Ownership. What that means and its full implications. I always discuss too with the Asian students that I have taught, that their very experience in the US as students in the present, the privileges that they have should they obtain an education and sit in the classroom are due to the actions of the Civil Rights movement, and in particular the actions of young African Americans, and white Americans too, who had the guts to protest an incredible injustice. (Hey, see this guys sitting at the lunch counter! They're your age!) I recounted what Dad's friend had said years before, when he had arrived in Memphis from Korea, how he had entered the colored bathroom, instead of the white one. When I explained to them that if they had come to the U.S. before the legislation that they would have been drinking out of a different drinking fountain than white people, they are really shocked. A different idea of the U.S. and its past.

Anyway, the color line is as intense in Asia, if not more so, than in the U.S... they're only starting to talk about injustice here if you're Nepalese, or Pakistani, or Indian or Indonesian, South Asian or Southeast Asian basically. Physically, I'm your bog standard northern Asian type, possibly Chinese, maybe Korean or Japanese to the untrained eye, so I can be invisible here should I choose to be, at times. Other than the random hostile still-mad-about-WWII old farts who usually think I'm Japanese, I'm relatively free of the insults from the HK locals here. (I still get some hostile glances when with Stephen, but hey, that's just life in a mixed marriage wherever you go, except maybe Hawaii or California, so I'm used to that.) But it's really hard to watch it happen to people and I've witnessed it so many times. The look. The tone. God. People can be terrible to each other. Being a pioneering South Asian in HK is VERY HARD.

And those who are of Caribbean or African descent have a way of coping and a kind of personality that is particularly unique--that's just survival as a black person in Asia. You have to have seriously amazing and incredible social skills. I'm so easily pissed off, I would be screaming or having a coronary the entire time. I can get like that in the US and here, and I'm invisible half the time. Actually, my Caribbean-British friend was just telling me about a problem she was having with a job. It sounded like the boss was being an utter psycho. So we kind of chatted on the phone about the reasons why this might be. And then said, finally, look, based on the unexplainable and without cause behavior this boss is doing, hey, you know what? This boss could just be a bigot, and then you know what? There ain't much you can do about it. Really. There just isn't. Sigh from her. Sigh from me. You can try to cope by doing this, working harder, being more polite, being silent, being agreeable, ignoring it all, being efficient and in all senses a superior worker, but combating hatred is sometimes JUST IMPOSSIBLE. Not everyone can take it! So said good friend left job and HK. There is mental health to think about. I know one might think of legal action to take, but that stuff just doesn't happen here in HK. Civil liberties, civil rights...hello...uhm TIBET?


I'm coughing. SMOG. But the doctors say this: "Oh, it's not the pollution. It's YOUR REACTION to the pollution. YOUR allergies." Translation: If you weren't such a weak lunged wimp, you could take this smog. But clearly, you are from inferior genetic stock.

Cough. Cough. I will stop in April, when the rains begin to come. But until then, it's me, meds, and cough medicine...

Friday, February 4, 2011

An Ordinary Winter

In the cold bathroom he slumps on the toilet
a pinched face, weak cries, fevered gasps.
I kneel on black ice tiles, hold out a towel
he lurches forward, vomits.
I rub his tiny back, knead his hunched shoulders
bread warm and soft, a pretzel.
He sobs through mucous and saliva, tears and diarrhea,
I am trying to get better.
Wetness. Fatigue. My back aches, but I lift him high, tuck him in.
Massage, massage. Sleep with me here.
His skin burns, his face darkens,
white hot sheets cook his body.
Sing, Caro Mio Ben.

I warble an Italian art song
fragments from a New England winter.
Weekly trudges through snow to Graves Hall
in rubber boots and corduroys.
Wetness blurs my glasses, the itch of damp wool
on my neck, my face smooth with cold.
I am sixteen,
I learn to carry notes in single breath
sing of a passion unknown
Caro, my love.

He sleeps in short fits—possessed by violent dreams.
Playground terrors, movie hauntings
(the black ghost, the baby beetle)
elicit whispers, whimpers, denials.
Search for the stretch of cool,
the untouched pillow, the hidden spot.
I want cold, I want cold.
Flip pillows, rotate blankets, sweet relief.

Toes stiffen on the cold linoleum.
A nightgown’s lace brushes bare calves.
I jerk forward, gag, vomit, and cry.
My father shoves an empty plastic bin in front of me.
I blanket its bottom (the dirty corners, the stuck chewing gum)
in a sour pool of eggs and spring onions—
an unbearable stench.
I am nine,
strangely relieved with an empty stomach.
My mother helps me to bed.

Small fingers grab my hands
I’m so sad, I’m sad, I’m sick.
I kiss my child’s flushed cheek.
The illness will soon depart.
Exhausted, he curls into my arms.
This is the return.

Inside this house, it is an ordinary winter:
a sick boy, a tired mother
the heater’s hum and click, the sweat of a fevered sleep
an illness that will vanish, a memory that will perish.
I pull the sheets around his body, a shroud
encases an unopened child
dew and light fills his face.
Safety is the cool ache of remembrance
a distant heat for those who love.
I stroke my child’s hair, touch his forehead,
sing Caro, my love
and feel the ice descend.

© Stephanie Han 2011

Egypt in Year of the Rabbit

Here's a key link:

For people in the States, who cannot watch Al Jazeera, that's the link. Here it was a free channel if you have cable sign-up, hard to believe (and then again not) that it is not carried in the U.S..

Thinking of the Egyptians. Courageous people. May the people of Egypt have the government and leadership they want in this new year--the world is with you, in full admiration and support.

Civil unrest. The revolution eventually comes. We are all a part of history, it's just up to us to figure out how we will participate, what we will support, what we will believe in and how we choose to educate ourselves about the world around us. We're all connected here on this planet. Justice for the Egyptians, and fairness for the Egyptians, is crucial to all of us.

Revolution in the Year of the Rabbit!