The year 2013 hasn’t been the most kind for me. In the past two months, I’ve experience three deaths in my life. Now, how I know each person varies and to be honest, I haven’t talked to all of them in quite some time. The three that I had lost, each of them seem to represent to me the way in which death works.

One of my friends, she had been diagnosed with cancer years ago. She was given a short span of life, a death sentence that put a finite amount of time in which she could do only so much. What she did with that time was nothing short of miraculous, but there was always an end in sight. The thing though, she was expecting an ending. To think, for us to go through life with always this harbinger of futility breathing on your shoulder, makes  you wonder how much we truly take what we have been given for granted. When she passed, it was never something sad that we all experienced. Not to say that I’ve been desensitized to this whole occurrence, but I knew what was coming. Time played a fickle role in this. She extended her short death sentence to many years, knowing full well that this was to be “it”. Yeah, I miss her. Every day. But I don’t think that she ever wanted me to see the pain. It wasn’t to define her, for whatever she were to do, she set her own path. Death comes swiftly, but to expect it. That is something we should never have to accept. But then…

When my uncle passed away, news spread fast. Dealing with the age of the internet, emails were abound and I first learned of the news from all places, Facebook. But, his death didn’t seem real. He was a young man, barely 50. With life expectancies closer to the mid 80’s, it seems ridiculous for a man to lose his life just half way through living it. When a stroke occurs, it’s not something that comes expectantly. Though there might have been signs, no one expects something so serious to happen so suddenly. When the news broke, everything feel a part. It’s ridiculous to see those in his family step up to task of all that is expected. No one deserves to be put in this position, especially at such a young age. But when death happens, it comes swiftly. But when you’re not expecting it, how can anyone step into these roles and continue. But what if…

Even though we haven’t talked since high school, I felt she was still a part of my life in some way. Is it awkward to admit that you Facebook stalked her? Well, I mean I did. But who doesn’t? When I learned of her death days after, it utterly shocked me. When I see the pictures, all I see is happiness. I never knew what was underneath. How could I? I didn’t talk to her in 7 years, it’s not like she was the most important thing in my life. But she was a part of my life. To take a life, even yours, it seems so extreme that you question existence yourself. Depression is something that is just too commonly over-looked in the Asian American community. The pressures of multiple stereotypes feeding on our minds, slowly deteriorating any conscious thought process makes it so easy to realize why one can just up and end all of what has been given. It’s not so surprising that suicide becomes such a hot topic, especially when it’s so easily ignored in our community. To assume that it “never happens to us” is so faulty. It does. It may not be so prevalent compared to others, but these things occur. When you accept your own death, these decisions are acted upon swiftly. But to just give in and take your own life… it shatters the perception of life.

I’ve seen in this short time frame three different perceptions of death and how it affects those who it occupies. Death is short. Death is sweet. Death has no remorse. Death will linger in many forms. Cancer, health, depression; there’s so many varying factors that lead to this one consequence. To see if occur in such sequential order with each story taking different turns but ending the same, it truly does make you question life. I’m not here to discredit any god/religion/faith etc., but I will honestly feel for those that I have lost. It’s selfish though, because this wasn’t a person or people that I just lost, but others have as well. Life is a shared experience, and every interaction, little or big, seem to effect us in some way. I think this is to the utmost important when life is held accountable. That though you may live for yourself, your actions are felt by those around you. It may be an old friend, a mentor, or someone you hardly talked to, but everything they’ve done for me and others I will remember. All I can say and all I can give, is the shortest thing I will write. It means so little in the grand scheme of what we perceive as life, but it is to the utmost necessity that these words hold their true meaning. Truly this is what makes us feel, and why we do the things we do. All I can say for these people.

Thank you.

The death of a friend is never easy. There are so many ranges of friends that I feel guilty that I am unable to talk to all of them. Some people we’ve shared a short memory, others have come and gone. I know that no matter what the circumstances, some times things just don’t go our way. When we lose some one, it’s never an easy feeling. Your heart seems to slow… your breaths get a little heavier. Auras seem to diminish as there is some feeling of mourning abound. The thing is though, you have these friends because you shared so many joyous occasions with them. When you seek out these relationships, you find a course or reason to keep them in some form. Yeah, I can go down the list of my many Facebook friends and can identify a small percentage that I actually keep in contact with. It’s funny because time moves quickly, you just assume these people will always be there. Facebook friends seem to be a part of a system of diminished returns. You add and add, but all you’re doing is subtracting from the actual relationship you share now. But why do we seek these people? Those memories. That faint remembrance of a time in which we shared together. Laughed together. We may have grabbed a coffee. I know sure as hell I flirted with you a lot. That’s just me. We may have traveled before and split the gas cost. (I may have covered it… something about being generous and such). We had a nice, home cooked (well technically cooked in a home) meal. I didn’t even think you would explode. We’re drawn to these people because of what we’ve had and what we shared. It’s not easy to think that those memories may be gone, all in the same vein because they are not. Leave now, but I know everything we’ve shared together and the moments we’ve had, they’ll always be there. Thank you.

So you are Asian American. Let me have a turn describing you. Well, it does not really matter if you are male or female, most male men seem to get lumped with females in their descriptions. Look no further then Detail Magazine’s “Gay or Asian” article. Feminizing the male Asian is not something new, but this is getting off track. Let us get back to the topic at hand, Asian Americans and what you look like. If we are just going to look at stereotypes, I guess we have to start with the obvious stereotypes. Let us get them out of the way now. Slanted eye, bowl cut, buck toothed, glasses wearing, possibly holding a (math) book or if a girl, wearing some school uniform. Oh yeah, and you’re skinny. Definitely skinny. It is not just American cultures or Western values that hold true to this. Look at our media abroad. You have Yaoi manga portraying the skinniest of Asian man on (most of the time slowly building to) man action, the Sailor Fuku girls in Anime with the disproportionate arm lengths and widths if I may add, and even our Korean dramas can’t seem to get away from the skinny. Is it a culture thing? Skinny does seem to always turn it’s thin head back to how our society views beauty. Let us get away from the “white guy, Asian girl” stuff about what people see as beautiful and really get to the root of the issue. Asian people can not be fat. It is socially engrained. Our media tells us this, our culture tells us this (whether in Asia, diasporically*, or stuck in some “x” amount of generation Asian in America). We are beings of skinny people. But is that who we are as Asian Americans? What happened to the fat guy?

I swear I will not meme this kid. Swear.

All this talk about what defines us and who we are, the identity discussion, usually ends up either limiting us to certain descriptions (like the stereotypes mentioned earlier) or are so broad that it becomes all encompassing. I think the most important part that we need to understand in what is Asian American is that through how we are observed, we define who we are and how we can challenge these notions of Asian America. I think it’s important to understand that the perception of Asian Americans as skinny is limiting. In a nation where obesity has now become an “epidemic,” it’s easy to just assume that the skinny Asian doesn’t face this issue. I mean, out of all listed races in the Office of Minority Health, Asians rank in the lower spectrum as far as being overweight is concerned. So that’s good right? I mean, Asian Americans don’t face this issue, what’s it to us. Except that we’re still at 29%. That’s a staggering number. Three out of every ten Asian in America is overweight. Let’s put it blunt, 29% of us are fat. And that isn’t a BMI number, that’s who we are.

Hello Kitty Costume x Linsanity

So where do all these skinny Asians come from? Are we to assume that Asian Americans can only be seen as skinny? In the GQ article “Rocket Man“, it discusses about Jeremy Lin’s journey post “Linsanity” in New York. The author subtly points out how seeing Asian Americans as meek, frail, and skinny stem from some sort of racist ideology. The discussion comes from the description of Jeremy, saying “Because Lin is a modest-size guard and skinnier than most NBA players, there is a tendency to assume that he’ll look like a regular guy in person. (There’s surely a racial component to this, too.)” The problem, same as the “the model minority” myth, is that this positive assumption of who and how Asian Americans are suppose to be doesn’t explain the reality. Perception is not reality. Let me repeat that once again, perception is not reality. If it is perceived that Asian Americans are all skinny, it becomes a non issue, especially within the community. When we walk down this path, those that need help with their weight issues are lost in the discussion. But the numbers, they don’t lie. This overweight community is large, no pun intended. This isn’t just a white American problem, this is our own community’s problem as well. And we can’t just ignore it. It starts with what we eat.

Yup… I’ve caught the addiction.

Nutrition is key in everything we do. It is surprising notion that what you put in your body will reflect what you look like on the outside. Just the same, I do appreciate the tumblr “Pictures of Asians Takings Pictures of Food“. It is a trendy topic for sure, but it does draw some assumptions about what we think of when we picture the typical Asian Americans. Taking pictures of food generally assumes that the person is most likely eating outside of the home. Fitness magazine describes the link to eating out with obesity. If the (normal) behavior of Asians eating out seems to be a trend, it is no surprise that obesity is not taken into account when consuming. I think it is so important to remember what we are eating and what is being put in to our body. Asian Americans are not above weight gain, no matter how much the media tries to feed us.

Weight is an important issue that will not go away. The Los Angeles Times recently spoke in the aptly named article,”42% of American adults will be obese by 2030, study says.” Obesity is not just strictly an American issue, but an Asian American issue as well. As we identify ourselves and try to represent our culture, we must also take on the culture we live in. We are Americans and we are Asian. We are also not above the issues and problems that are faced by all Americans. Asian images may confound that notion, yet we still go through these issues that every other American goes through. The perception of skinny Asians can not be overlooked. Under-eating is just as dangerous as over eating, but the issue of what and how much we eat is compounding. This issue is growing and we can not take this lightly. Bringing this consciousness to the forefront, Asian Americans have to identify that there are overweight people within our community. This is fact. We must stay educated and stay above the stereotypes. We are not all “model minorities” nor are we all “skinny”. Keep eating Asian Americans, and snap a few pictures. Just do not forget what is on our plates while we expand our palates.

*Sorry for dropping the ethnic studies term. If it makes you feel better, spell check couldn’t find this word. That shit Kray.

In the last 6 months I recently broke up with my long term girlfriend and loss my long term job. I wouldn’t say that I’ve hit rock bottom, but the ground hurts quite a bit. I’ll say this, it sucks. Life hasn’t been easy. I’m not looking for sympathy points or karma, and to be honest, I haven’t thought of anything extreme like killing myself. I just know that this sucks. I’m not dead broke nor am I not well off. I still have great family and awesome friends, it’s just what I loss is what I’m trying to move on with.

When working with very little, there is so much you can do with this time. I’ve definitely used this opportunity to help see what the world is like outside of my zone and how I can apply it to my own situation. My comfort level has been, well, comfortable. I see myself as someone who had been stagnant with life and the way I lived. My growth stopped.

It’s so easy to just end the game of life when you feel like there is nothing to win. But I’ll say that I’ve grown from my situation. There’s so much I can do to change who I am and what I want to be, but pressing continue is the only way to achieve this. I’ve recently started up this magical thing called “exercise” and “eating better”. I’ve slowly kept a photo log and will post it when I feel ready. I feel like changing my life is the first step to getting back on track and completing this level that seemed to have defeat me. I guess I’ll just end up having a few more broken controllers along the way.

TL;DR: Started to exercise.

Keeping up with the theme of Japan Town and staying close to home, I would like to talk about another great local eatery. Not too far around the corner in the deep depths of Broadway, another great locale is sitting there ready to be picked a part. Dedicated to another of Sacramento and Japanese American history, the nature of our produce industry was founded on the back bones of hard working immigrants. Cesar Chavez is the general face of that time period when he organized our Produce Unions and is seen as a great hero to many Hispanics. One of the things that gets overlooked though is the integral history of Japanese produce workers and how hard they fought to be unionized as well. Many Japanese workers fought alongside their Hispanic brethren in search of equal rights. They work hard, they deserve to eat hard. I recommend Market Club.

Pork Steak and Eggs at Market Club

Good eats, large portions, and early hours all play into what’s so great about this little greasy spoon located in the middle of a produce shipping yard. From Pork Ribs, Fried Pork Steaks, BBQ Chicken, and an awesome Corned Beef Hash, the typical fare is all there. But the mixture of Japanese and Mexican influences don’t stop from just the owners and the history surrounding this place. The great Chorizo Scramble or Loco Moco feed into the appetites of those who not only seek the goodness of greasy, but the historical mixture of what it meant to grow up in an industry of culture. Make sure to stop by, enjoy the fare, and leave a little sleepier then when you got there.

Market Club Sacramento 2630 5th St # 16  Sacramento, CA 95818 To call: (916) 498-9953Open: Tuesday through Friday, Sunday

They say culture and food are the spirit of life. Not sure who “they” are but I can see where they are coming from. Lately though, it seems as if food and culture go hand in hand. When people think of culture, they go for the food and how it defines that aspect of life. People see fortune cookies and chow mein and automatically identify Chinese and what it means to them. You would be hard pressed to call it stereotyping, more so just an entry way to the culture being described. Using this logic, I am reminded why we choose this route in the pursuit of culture. I look no further then the neighbors to my local JACL (Japanese American Citizens League), Junes Cafe.

Bacon Fried Rice at June’s Cafe

Harken back to the good ol’ days of Japan town in Sacramento, right there on the outskirts of midtown lies this quaint cafe. The menu is a throwback to simpler times, as in Japanese Internment. Items like the “Weiner Royale” and “Loco Moco” speak more to history then to cultural cuisine. You won’t find sushi, sake bombs, or even fresh fish for that matter. What you do get is a humbling experience to what many nisei and issei grew up with and still go back to for more. If you get a chance, please patron this local business and keep the history alive.

June’s Cafe located on 921 V Street  Sacramento, CA 95818 To call: (916) 447-2264

This is a response to follow up on this article HERE. This article in brief speaks about the race bending that will be occurring in the Wachowski siblings latest Hollywood blockbuster.

He’s suppose to be Asian… if you couldn’t tell.

Make sure to read it, soak it up, then realize where we stand on these issues. We are not accepted to fill our own roles. Nice! Let’s be honest though, they’re aren’t that many Asian actors and actresses so why should we think there would be any to fill ONE role in a movie.

List of Asian American Actors and Filmmakers

Oh… well, I mean, none of them are any good right?

List of Asian Academy Award Winners

Ohh… I hate to use my source of Wikipedia but I mean, c’mon! Hollywood, why you gotta try to bring us down? I think the lynch pin image of Asian Americans being subservient and easy to step on leads into how much people think that we won’t speak up. We’re quiet right? We don’t like to “lash out”. Model minority so on and so forth. Let’s be real though, we are here. We are going to make noises. I know, I know, “making waves”. But we’ll get ours. It isn’t something that happens all of a sudden, but definitely needs to happen sooner rather than later. It’s tiring.

By the way, check out The Slanted Screen Great documentary focusing on the history of Asian men in American media. Funny how often history repeats itself when you know… ignore it.

So last week I had an interview with this really amazing Non-Profit Organization. They are located right on the outskirts of the Pocket area and serve the greater and not so well to do Asian American community for Sacramento. What I love about this organization is the establishment has grown up with me serving somewhat as the initial community to be helped. My first experience here was as a youth growing up and attending this area with a group of my friends. My vaguest memory was of Pumpkin Carving and having our work of art donated to the local nursing home only a few blocks away. This has been almost a decade.

For a while now, I have always looked at this place from the outside. Driving by the community center seemed like a pipe dream to me as I started attending college and growing into the person I wanted to be. I call it a dream more so in the sense that I never knew what I could be with my life but I knew that I needed to start with my roots. I think it’s important to remember where you come from and how you can always give back to what has given you so much growing up. I won’t lie, I was one of those spoiled, entitled kids who was sheltered from most of life and only expected hand outs in the form of life expectations. Regulating myself and what I truly believe in makes me truly appreciate what I never realized what had been in front of me and offered to me my whole life. It isn’t my job to just assume that my social status is entitling me to some lifestyle that I could never achieve. I need to remember for myself that why I exist is to help others. I wouldn’t go so far to say that I am a selfless person, but i do care to make the lives of other’s easier. No lie, I’m a nice guy.

Hello everyone, it’s time to meet a true American. Daniel Inouye! If you didn’t know, he is the HIGHEST ranking Asian American politician in American history. A Nisei from Hawaii, he grew up in Honolulu before becoming a senator in 1963. What makes this man a true legend though… let me just leave an excerpt from his Wikipedia entry.

“As he raised himself up and cocked his arm to throw his last grenade into the fighting position, a German inside fired a rifle grenade that struck him on the right elbow, severing most of his arm and leaving his own primed grenade reflexively “clenched in a fist that suddenly didn’t belong to me anymore”. Inouye’s horrified soldiers moved to his aid, but he shouted for them to keep back out of fear his severed fist would involuntarily relax and drop the grenade. As the German inside the bunker reloaded his rifle, Inouye managed to pry the live grenade from his useless right hand and transfer it to his left. As the German aimed his rifle to finish him off, Inouye managed at last to toss the grenade off-hand into the bunker and destroy it. He stumbled to his feet and continued forward, silencing the last German resistance with a one-handed burst from his Thompson before being wounded in the leg and tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge. When he awoke to see the concerned men of his platoon hovering over him, his only comment before being carried away was to gruffly order them to return to their positions, since, as he pointed out, “nobody called off the war!”

Hang loose… and such.

‘Merica. Seriously though, for all though crazy ass stories of crazy ass Americans showing their pride, the most amazing story I have heard come from someone that our OWN COUNTRY wanted to put in an Internment Camp. Nice call America. Good thing they kept this guy out, because… Red, White, and Blue. Seriously. Get to know him.

And just to top it all off, he’s going to run AGAIN for his tenth term in 2016. Let me quote this guy again. “I have told my staff and I have told my family that when the time comes, when you question my sanity or question my ability to do things physically or mentally, I don’t want you to hesitate, do everything to get me out of here, because I want to make certain the people of Hawaii get the best representation possible.” True American through and through.

It’s always so funny, the notion of slowing down your life. I think it falls back into my previous ideas of comfortability and understanding where you… well… stand. Sometimes people feel as though life can be taken in passing. I’m definitely in that category myself, not forcing life upon anyone but taking it one step at a time. It is not to my own doing how much and how far we go with our lives, but understanding that we truly set the tone for where we want to go. That’s why I can’t stop what I’m doing. Life doesn’t stop. You can take life in passing, yes. But also understanding that you need to truly be a part of it will only help you get to wherever you need to go. Now, I know I’m only speaking in generalities, but it’s safe to assume that when people truly live life, wherever it may take them, they do so within their own accord. Life does play silly hands and we sometimes have to fold to them, but when we know when to play, we go all in. Life can’t possibly stop for whatever reason, nor can I.

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