Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014

Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014
Admiralty, Umbrella Revolution 2014

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rewind... Xmas 2012

Catching up a bit. These are old friends from Munich who came to stay with us over Xmas. Andi and I met in the Yonsei University Language Institute, the fall of 1996. His Korean was better than mine. It still is. At the time, he was finishing up his doctorate and briefly, we studied ki kong together, which is like chi kong, a meditation style. Andi stuck to it (standing in one position for 30 minutes nearly killed me) and is now a Korean acupuncturist and herb doctor. Dagi works for a television company. In 1998, he and Dagi came to visit us in Los Angeles. We were the first to know that Dagi was pregnant with Moritz. We saw Mortiz for the first time this past Xmas. In between, Andi flew to our 2001 wedding in Honolulu.  Over the years we have managed to keep in touch via email, phone calls, and now, skype. It is a special thing to have a friendship that crosses cultures, languages and time zones. Dagi and Andi are accomplished martial artists, well-traveled, and politically open-minded. Somehow in my younger days, I thought the world would be filled with people like this--I know now that should you have the luck to meet such individuals, it's important to maintain the friendship. It allows you all to understand the world a little better.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Heading into Easter 2013

At last. I downloaded some photos. So I will upload. And if I can figure out how to make a slideshow and all of that I will...

Recent happenings--

Becoming lego expert...ME that is. Pirate ship. Ninjago something or other. Last time I was like this was when I put together Keohi's plastic crystal Buzz sculpture.

Read Toure's treatise on Post-blackness. I like it and highly recommend. Some sections move better than others. He really captures certain experiences, however, for me too growing up as a person of color in the United States. His discussion about debating in the prep school classroom--wow, I could really relate and remembered those experiences from my formal learning time at Andover and Barnard. Later, at UC Santa Barbara, I was older. I did remember a few incidents, but the faculty, I felt was far more progressive at the UC schools than in the private elite institutions in the East. And it was a decade later. For those who need a pulse on the current conversations in the US, I think this is a good book. I always tell people if you really want to understand the core of American history delivered in a single book, read The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Trucking along with our Mandarin may be hopeless, but at least I enjoy it. I thought Stephen and I needed a hobby or activity together, so we're doing language learning. Someone asked me once if I shared any hobbies with my husband. Like sports. I said we're studying Mandarin. I think the person thought I was crazy.

And yes, this weekend was the Rugby Sevens, the time of year when you see men who are too old to be wearing rugby kits wearing them. A) Such people should NEVER make fun of Asians wearing matching tracksuits. HELLO. What do you think you guys look like?! At least the vast majority of Asians in matching tracksuits are not overweight in such outfits! B) Why is it that the vast majority of people wearing rugby kits are wildly out of shape? C) Yeah, go ahead, call me shallow. I admit to being from Southern California. Higher standards for such things. In LA, if you look like X you certainly do NOT RUN AROUND wearing a sports team outfit, unless...unless...uhm...well, you just don't! Geez. Pride, folks. Pride. Really...

This month have to grind it out with the diss. Serious damn grind.

Taught American Born Chinese and watched the youtube of the Back Dorm Boys. They are two kids from the Guangzhou Art Institute. Very funny. Cute. Love the guy who sits at the computer the whole time. Really funny. Spending some childhood years in Asia has its benefits for someone like Keohi--feelings of emasculation, what it means to be male, half Asian, will be different for him than if he were in the US or any Western country. I see this as a positive thing overall. I remember before we had a kid that I told Stephen if we had a son, we would send him back to Asia for awhile to combat any of that. It's important. Relevant for females too.

Drain is being covered. Small village victories that make our life here better.

Responsibilities have really started to kick in for Keohi. He does our recycling, we take it out together, folds back the curtains and ties them every AM, helps to set the table, water plants, tidy up toys, and is actually pretty good with helping out. I hope it becomes inculcated so he simply does this and never demands that a woman do this stuff for him ever. HEY---Mothers--it is YOUR responsibility to raise a son who is a feminist. Stop adding to the jerk quotient. Train your son to listen, be considerate, pick up after himself and cook a meal. I figured out actually, that if a guy can cook and clean on his own, he can actually have a decent relationship with someone that moves beyond a basic idea of chores. Conversely, it's up to people too, to make sure their daughters are not suffering from a princess complex. Then again, you create that, then you create someone who will be with the guy who demands rigid sexual roles, so there you go, the princess will be darning socks and doing menial labor for the one who was supposed to be her charming prince. So, feminism cuts all ways, folks...thou shalt reap what thou shalt sow...

Oh--check out HK Intl Film Fest April 1 and 2, i particular. There's a doc film on Chinese female director in Hollywood Esther Eng. I'm in the voiceover. She was a film director pioneer in the 30s.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Death of Soul by Renee Simms

I will be teaching this poem during an African American History and Cultural Studies lecture I will give at CityU this week. This poem was written by my beautiful and brilliant friend Renee Simms--a writer, poet, and professor at the University of Puget Sound. She follows in the tradition of writers in the post Civil Rights era and is likely to be classified as an artist of the New Black Aesthetic. We met during the PEN West Fellowship, a very important period for me as a writer. To this day, the writers that I met through the PEN program I think of very fondly. They were and are the real thing--writing from the gut, writing with anger and honesty, and with a larger idea of their purpose in the world as artists. Most have published stories, poems, books etc...some write privately, but all continue to write.  It was a privilege to have briefly met them and while I don't know what happened to some of them, I feel it was an honor to have been among them for that brief period in LA.

Years ago, when we were in Arizona and Stephen first read Renee's poem, he told me: "She's talented." I will tell you that he does not say that about anyone. In fact, she may be the only person I think I've heard him ever say that about ever! Read this and I am sure that you will agree...

The Death of Soul by Renee Simms

My first love did not come for me
On horseback, that was impractical.
Too much concrete on my block.
Too noisy for a horse, as well—
The tambourine shakes, doo-wop harmony &
In every other house lived slick, pretty
Men who could sing.
So he rode the FM airwaves, instead,
Guitar riffs on his tongue.
We were post-Motown but miracles
& temptations still lingered in
Our men with bass guitar voices
Our men who built pyramid homes. Our men drove
Cadillacs glossed by the moon & all this magic made me
One peculiar girl.
On our first date my love handed me
The center of a flower, no petals.
“Seduction is a principle,” he said &
Because he was royalty, I believed.
Pamela’s daddy, who sang backup, did not like him.
“Pornographic,” her daddy said, “The devil,” Mama would say
But what did they know? Pam’s daddy had
Mistresses as vacant as Smokey’s house
& Motown was dead at the edge of a continent,
The pious heel-spins by suited men
Cliches we no longer used.
I tape recorded my lover’s songs,
Sketched his impish face upon schoolbooks.
One night I cried to him about the future
& he cupped my face inside his purple hands.
It was 1977.
“Nothing is permanent,” he whispered,
“Not neighborhoods or soul music,”
Then my street went quiet as catholics &
All the dark, polished men were gone.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nam Shan Tsuen, Pui O

We had the best day on Sunday. Keohi's little schoolfriend's family lives in a South Lantau country park--they're the only family there and have a right to live smack in the park because they have been there for 50 years. It's a Swiss Family Robinson existence--beautiful, green and wildly unique. They have a series of small cottages for each room function--one for Grandma, one bathroom, one living room, a few bedrooms,  and we ate and BBQd in the centrally located concrete patio area under a tree filled with butterflies. A kumquat tree was nearby and we drank the preserved kumquat tea served by our gracious and fun hostess, and the kids ran around and played in the green, up and down the mountain areas, by the woods and fallen trees, in the flattened area getting now primed for planting, and and downed BBQ and cold drinks. Four dogs, a duck, a rabbit and a cat live without attacking each other (duck follows black dog) and there's a new pair of hamsters inside. It was a downright Eden.

This is the Lantau that I love and am grateful I can experience. English was translated through my bilingual English/Canto and English/Bahasa/Canto speaking friends and we watched our four single boys, all only children, play tag in the cool mountain air and I thought to myself that life can't get much better than this.

When the expats and air and the commute get me down, and the distance between continents seems vast and impossible, I am brought back to the possibilities of life in HK in unexpected serendipitous moments like these. Encounters where people cross cultures, generously share food and laughter--the former frankly, in that amazing way that seems to happen here with locals who understand the value of food and open hearts. Here I see see the human side beyond the grind of the capitalist machine of HK, the petty bourgeoise desires of the accountants who flood the city from distant shores, and the cruelty of concrete skyscrapers that dwarf dreams.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hong Kong Maritime Museum Review

I went with Keohi to this museum on Pier 8 yesterday. It was a day out together as my schedule is very heavy this week.

We did the museum, rode a tram, ate frozen yoghurt two times, xiao long bao-his fave, and played in Victoria Park--the latter was empty (yep, all kids on the Island are clearly scheduled to death. He was the only 6 year old there, and this was at 3:45. And people wonder why there is no creativity? You don't let your damn kid play, idiots!) except for small babies. Oh, he came home with a cough due to the heavy Causeway Bay smog, but now after a day in Mui Wo is much better.

The museum was great--lots of displays and things he loved--boats, computer interactive buttons to press, and the like. They could have used a few more light up maps, in my opinion, and also some more real life rooms that modeled exactly what a ship was like back in the early trading days to get really into the spirit of showing the kids. But for HK, it was quite good. Lots of glass of course, preventing tactile experience, but the spices smelling in the wood barrels was good. I'd recommend it as museums go here for kids his age.

BUT and this is a big BUT, for crying out loud, does anyone in HK think about the effects of ethnic representation and public perception? There was a huge life model of two Somalian pirates. With guns, of course. Modern piracy is an issue, fair enough, and the Somalian people have made international headlines because of this. BUT THERE IS NO discussion of WHY people turn to piracy! Any mention of destroyed fishing grounds? Seas and lands overtaken by corporates and others in power? People who once led a dignified life now turning to crime? Talk about simplistic! I was WHOLLY annoyed. It's not like there are a lot of African descent folk running around in HK, so all this museum does is further perpetuate an extremely narrow image of black people, in my opinion, with absolutely no in depth explanation.

I felt obliged immediately to rectify this, so discussed with Keohi that people are not BORN to be criminals and that ALL people in times of poverty, desperation, starvation and everything else, may turn to crime. That this was not a good thing. But that crime was often not as easy as we think it is. That not all black people are pirates and holding people hostage. We talked a little about destroying the environment and overfishing. what happens when people who fish can't feed their families? What do they do? What can we think about in the larger picture?

Like most kids--if you explain it in easy terms, he got it. Take the time. Do this.

I really get worried, the longer we are here of this type of image being shoved down his throat with little to combat it and in my estimation, very few people who would bother discussing this anyway! Asians are not the most broadminded when it comes to African people.

SO in conclusion, a good place to visit--well worth it. But note the pirate sections requires some more in depth explanation. If your kid has half a brain and you don't want him to end up a narrow minded bigot, you might try to offer a more nuanced version. After all, history is something we can all tell...