Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sue, small, but mighty

Sue Kunitomi Embrey passed away last Monday. I met Sue 14 years ago when I was involved in the 50 Year Remembrance of Japanese American internment commemorations, and when I went on my first Manzanar Pilgrimage back in 1992. I worked with her for 8 years while I volunteered for the Manzanar Committee. Sue was the Chair of the Manzanar Committee, which has organized the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage for the last 37 years. She was an activist, a historian, feminist, and she was the driving force behind Manzanar being designated a national park, the Manzanar National Historic Site. She dedicated her life to making sure that the stories of Japanese Americans interned during WW2 were told, documented and remembered.

Even though Sue was 83 years old, I considered her my friend. She was part of me & Tony's wedding ceremony, representing the Japanese American community, and she came to our baby shower. She was a small, but mighty, dynamic woman, a pioneer and a leader. I loved her, and I will miss her. My deepest condolences to her son Bruce and his family. A memorial celebration for Sue is being planned for June.

Sue at our wedding in 1998 (at left)

Me with Sue and Grace Harada in 2001

Sue in 2002 on the flatbed truck as I'll always remember her.

Me & Sue onstage at the 2004 Pilgrimage (Photo by: T. Walker)

Monday, May 22, 2006

New column update

This month's column From Manzanar to May Day is about Maiya's April 29th trip to Manzanar 200 miles from LA, her May 1st march on immigrants rights with a million or so of her compadres, and why it was important for her to do these things.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Weekend in Hawai'i w/Maiya Papaya

Last weekend, me and Maiya went to Hawai'i for 4 days... it was a spontaneous trip. I found out on Sunday that my brother Darin and his family were going for Ron's wedding, so after re-arranging my work schedule and finding a great deal on a flight on Monday, we joined Darin's family on Thursday last week. We stayed at my cousin Jackie & Brent's beautiful house on Oahu. It was my 4th trip to Hawai'i, and Maiya's first trip.

I love the beach! I can play all day!

She loved the beach. The sand, the water, the swimming pool, the freedom to run around and just have fun. It was so fun for me to watch her have so much fun playing and just being joyful. She had fun play
ing with her cousins Kyle and Kevin. Although the green-eyed jealousy monster did come out whenever I picked up Kevin and when Kevin sat in "her" stroller. On Thursday night, we went to Rainbow Drive-In for dinner. I had the mahi-mahi plate, and Maiya ate half of my dinner.

Eating sand and playing with my cousins Kyle and Kevin.

Then on Friday, Kyle (who was in Ron's wedding, had a rehearsal and lunch to go to at the Ihilani Resort, about half hour north of Honolulu. Maiya and I hung out from 10:30 am till 3:30 pm. We went to the pool, the beach, for a walk, to lunch for a chicken/soy/tofu burger and fruit. Maiya Papaya loved the guava juice. Then, when Darin, Sao and the kids came back, we all went to the beach, and then went to dinner at Hapa Grill (pretty good-I got the Mochiko Chicken Plate with 2 scoops of mac salad and a scoop of rice). Maiya got her first "Kids Meal," a hamburger and rice, although it took her 2 meals to eat all the food.

Enjoying the view and splashing in the pool is fun!

On Saturday, we hung out at Jackie's house in the morning, which has gorgeous ocean views in 3 directions and from practically every room in the house. We all went swimming, although it was pretty cold. Maiya loved splashing in the water. Then we went back to the resort for Ron's wedding. We found a kids' play area, so Darin, Kevin, Maiya and I hung out there for awhile while Sao helped set up for the reception. Then, we went to Jen K's room, and I watched Kevin & Maiya for 2 1/2 hours while they were at the wedding. Two toddlers, both very active and mobile? A lot of work. Several diaper changes, a feeding, dead batteries in the DVD player, intervention in a few toddler squirmishes later, I embarassingly cried in relief when they returned.

On Sunday, we hung out in the morning, and then went to Zippy's for another mahi-mahi plate and an ensamada (sp? roll with butter and sugar on top) and lilikoi juice. Then, we went out to North Shore, and went shopping in Haleiwa
, had a banana/strawberry/lilikoi shave ice at Matsumoto's (my first time there, we usually go to Aoki's), then went to the tidepools. It was an exhausting day, but lots of fun.

Got to jump in the sand and surf again at the tidepools

Monday, I packed up and cleaned our room, hung out at the house, and then we went to get yet another mahi mahi plate near Hawaiikai. That's where I met Uncle Clay from Doe Fang, and got one of his special Icees and stayed and talked-story with him for awhile. Then we went to the park, ate lunch and played on the playscape for a bit. Sao made curry for dinner, and then we headed back to the airport for a red-eye flight home. It was a tiring flight, I only dozed about 45 minutes, stretched into several sessions. Traveling alone with a toddler is a lot of work, but do-able. Looking forward to going back again with Daddy. In the meantime, Maiya will have to get her "water fix" in the bathtub and at the pool at the YMCA.

I want to come back again soon!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Another Baby for Immigrant Rights... We Were There

250,000 at City Hall and 400,000 on Wilshire Boulevard for immigrant rights

Me and Mama walking from Little Tokyo down Broadway
heading for the Metro subway

Me and Daddy crossing through MacArthur Park
heading for Wilshire Boulevard

We were there... it was amazing. We closed our childcare center today, so Maiya and I drove to my office and met Tony, along with 15 other of my co-workers in Little Tokyo. The freeway was wide open, and every shop I passed in the Garment District and Toy Town was closed. We left the office at 2:30pm, getting caught in the wall-to-wall masses still marching towards City Hall, and then taking the Metro subway to MacArthur Park and walking several miles down Wilshire Boulevard, through Koreatown. The streets were packed with people. We marched until almost 6pm turning around at WIlton Place, after running into one of Tony's former 4th grade students who is now an 11th grader. We walked back to Western and Wilshire and then took the Metro back downtown.

A day without immigrants? Huh, from where I was, immigrants were everywhere... entire families filling the streets waving American flags, chanting, singing, celebrating. In my head, I keep repeating, "we were there..." a line from one of Tony's poems written maybe 10 years ago. Maiya was wearing her "Activist" t-shirt and her stroller had a sign, "Another baby for Immigrant Rights."

Today, I felt proud to be an Angeleno. Si se puede.