Monday, March 31, 2008

HAPA Fake Birthday, Yuriko!

Omedetto gozaimasu, Yuriko-san!

Today is my mom's fake birthday--the one we've always celebrated in our family. I know, I know. You're probably confused since I just wrote last week about her being born on the same day as Shaka/Buddha/Siddhartha, which is April 8.

Here's what happened. When my mother was approaching school age, her father decided he'd like her to start a year early. I think he discovered that his third child (and second daughter) was pretty bright for her age, and he didn't want her wasting a year hanging around the house when she could be learning. At that time in Japan, the cut-off ended with those kids whose birthdays fell on April 1 and beyond. They would have to wait until the following year to enroll. Since my mom was born on April 8, her father decided to fake some documents indicating that her birthday was March 31.

Well, it worked. For awhile. Eventually, authorities discovered the fraud and fined him. But that extra year of schooling she got helped later on when an unfortunate set of circumstances caused her to have to work at age 13. Because Japanese schools are so advanced (remember, kids would to go to school on Saturdays and only had one month of summer vacation), my mother's education compared to an American counterpart's was probably at a high school level.

When my mother was five, the great Tokyo earthquake leveled her parents' business. Her father (a barber) and her mother (a hair stylist) owned a salon which employed several workers. But the earthquake caused a devastating fire that burned down the city of mostly paper houses along with my grandparents' beauty shop.

Almost a year later, just as he completed rebuilding the family business, my grandfather became very ill. Instead of seeing a doctor, he nursed himself at home. One week later, he was dead from appendicitis. With five children suddenly fatherless, my grandmother had no time to grieve. The kids (2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 years old) pretty much looked after each other while she travelled the city styling the hair of wealthy geisha.

My mother remembers not wanting to go home after school to an empty and cold house. Instead, she would sit for hours on a hill overlooking her home waiting for the signal (lights on in the house) that her mother was home.

Eventually, my grandmother couldn't juggle all the children and work, too. There was no welfare system then, and no relatives to help out so my mother's mother told her two oldest daughters that they'd have to get jobs. Imagine being 13 years old and sent to another city to not only live with strangers, but to be their servant, too. My mother recalls crying a lot because as she hoisted her employer's baby onto her back, she imagined being in school adjusting a backpack filled with books. Instead, here she was being someone's nanny with her entire pay going home to take care of her siblings.

Around the time she turned 20, my mother was finally able to escape her circumstances. Back home again, she returned to school and even found an office job. But as Fate would have it, World War II soon began and my mother, along with many others, would often be forced to run to bomb shelters. Once again, Tokyo was leveled--this time by the bombing campaign of the U.S. and its allies.

One of the fortunate ones, my mother suffered no visible physical injuries, but her hearing has never been good and I wonder if bombs were the culprit.

Still, in spite of her horror stories of war and poverty, my mom always seems to be happy. Besides telling terrible jokes (they're rarely funny), she loves to laugh (especially at her own terrible jokes).

Here's a photo of her in Germany in the early 1950's. A class-A seamstress, she probably made that outfit she's wearing.

btw, the kanji for Yuriko, my mother's name, means lily.

HAPA birthday, Lily.

Your Hip Hapa,

Friday, March 28, 2008

AmerAsians, Blendies And Hapas

Speaking with a good friend tonight, I was moved by her declaration that she won't allow herself to be called hapa. That's cool. It's just not a word that she wants to identify with, and I'm okay with that.

A blend of Okinawan and African American, Eriko prefers the term AmerAsian. Again, I have no quarrel with her, but, personally, I prefer hapa because it's truly a non-word. As I've explained before, Native Hawai'ians had no concept of half of anything, but Europeans who arrived in their nation taught them the word. The way Native Hawai'ians pronounced it with their particular phonetics, half came out sounding like hapa. In Hawai'ian, every word ends with a vowel--much like in the Japanese language.

The word hapa was originally applied to the offspring of Native Hawai'ians and Europeans. Because the first Europeans landing on the islands didn't know the custom of bowing to the king and expelling their last breath, or ha, Hawai'ians felt they must not have any--breath, that is. Thus, the word haole was born. Ole means nothing, so the word ha-ole meant "he without breath". Although modern-day natives of Hawai'i (not necessarily Native Hawai'ians) mispronounce the word as "howlie" and use it derogatorily to describe a white person, it's original intention was to simply differentiate between those familiar with sacred Hawai'ian rituals and those who were not. Hapa haole then became the name Hawai'ians used to describe half European children.

Anyway, I'm repeating myself because I still feel like there should be one word that designates us as a group of multi-racially identified folks. Since hapa is a bastardized word anyway, I don't think it should belong to any one particular blend of people--like the half Asian and half white folks who mostly use it to describe themselves. In fact, I recently read an article in the LA Times where a reporter said the word hapa was Hawai'ian for half Asian and half white. Now, why would Native Hawai'ians even have a word for that particular mix of children?

It's pretty scary what passes for reporting these days. Just last week, the New York Times ran an op-ed piece written by a Jewish woman married to a Japanese American man. Her subject? What it means to be hapa. And, her expertise in the subject? Her daughter, a toddler, whose experiences as a mixed-race child provided the writer with all the insight she needed. She was, after all, her only resource. Now, I know if I wrote an op-ed piece about what it means to be Jewish, the New York Times would not only flatly refuse my article, but they'd probably ridicule me, too. Yet this writer, with no direct connection to being hapa, arrogantly told us multi-racial folks what it means to be mixed, and the paper actually published her piece--rife with errors, too, I should add.

Of course, I had to respond to that article, although I'm not confident that a newspaper printing such an inaccurate piece would even publish my rebuttal. If I don't hear anything by next week, I promise to publish my response here on this blog. And, that's a threat, New York Times!

But back to name-calling. I have another good friend who's African American and years ago, Darlene used the word "blendies" to describe some biracial people she knew. I thought that was cute.

Truthfully, I don't know what the answer is. As much as we hear the phrase "safety in numbers", I don't think we realize the power in the size of our group. If all mixed-race people worldwide came together, we'd be a force to be reckoned with.

Here's a quick quiz. I was trying to make a list earlier today of all the famous hapas--all clearly biracial people who are household names. Can you add to it?

Jimi Hendrix (Native American mother, African American father)
Bob Marley (black Jamaican mother, white British father)
August Wilson (white German father, African American mother)
Mariah Carey (white American mother, African Venezuelan father)

I'm sure there's more, but I'm off to cop some z's. There's me, above, a hip hapa Hapawood star! Join me by wearing a Hapa*Teez t-shirt claiming your identity. Go here:

Your Hip Hapa,

Monday, March 24, 2008

Natto And Other Rituals

My mother calls him Shaka. The world knows him as Buddha, and before that his sanskrit name was Siddhartha (just like a certain personal friend of mine who shall remain...well, he can't remain nameless because that is his name).

Anyway, the man-turned-deity shares a birthday with my mother. Isn't that too weird? Like Shaka-Buddha-Siddhartha, my mom was born on April 8. Astrologically, that makes them both Aries which, to me, doesn't even begin to characterize anyone who would devote his or her entire life to saving the world. Aries is pretty carnal. The first sign of the zodiac, it's about ego which is precisely what Shaka-Buddha-Siddhartha was not about. Neither is my mother--most of the time. She has her days, of course, but for the most part she enjoys serving others.

This weekend, she made whole wheat bread from scratch then told me a story about natto as she beat the stuff into frothiness in a small bowl. For the uninitiated, natto is fermented soybean. I've read that even Japanese people aren't real crazy about its smell and taste, but I've eaten it since I was a child and I love it. It has a sort of bitter aftertaste, and the slime can get to me sometimes, but there's nothing like it sprinkled with a little green onion and served over hot gohan. The stuff my mom gave me on Sunday came frozen in a box, and she carefully added a little mustard and beat it with a chopstick until it was sticky with long tendrils of what looked like snot. In my pre-vegan days, I'd eat my natto beaten with a raw egg.

My mom's story about natto is simply this: when she was a kid her family bought it freshly made and stored in a straw pouch. A man would have rolled up several servings, and walking around the neighborhood, he would sing out, "Natto! Natto!"

It's hard to imagine how such a simple memory could stay with someone for so long, but it's quite lovely to think about. I don't suppose it's the same as having an ice cream truck racing down the alley blaring some disco version of a children's nursery rhyme.

Back to Shaka. Describing a statue she had once seen of him, my mother demonstrated how he stood and held one hand skyward while the other pointed towards the earth.

"As above, so below?" I asked, but she didn't hear me because she was too busy talking about the matsuri or festival for O-shaka-sama.

Celebrants, she said, would pour a sweetened tea or amacha over a doll resembling Shaka amid much chanting. That sounded right up my alley, and made me long for Asian Pacific Islander Week or something. I mean, I love elaborate Asian rituals even though I shunned my Japanese-ness as a teen.

As a matter of fact, one of my worst experiences as a young girl of eleven was my first day at a mostly white grade school. And, why was that? Was it because of the clothes I wore? No. My mother let me pick out something that looked just like everybody else's outfit. My hair, perhaps? Maybe a little. At that age, I still wore two long pigtails, but so did a few of my classmates. My ethnicity, you think? Probably a little, although the other kids hadn't had time yet to really figure out that I was so different from them. Certainly not on the first day.

No, the big culprit was my lunch pail! Or, what was not a lunch pail by American white kids' standards. While every other child in that school carried a tin box with some cartoon character embellished on the outside, I--horrors of horrors!--hauled a huge leatherette pouch that encased a matching thermos with a Japanese crest on the side! Everyone, but everyone, stared at me as I placed it on top of one of the cafeteria tables during lunch. To make matters worse, my very Japanese mother believed in creating an aesthetically pleasing lunch. Not only did she cut my sandwich neatly on the angle, but she also wrapped precisely sliced pickles in plastic and topped a halved boiled egg with a sprig of parsley! It was weeks before I was able to talk her into allowing me to buy lunch (oh, the expense!), but since she worked outside the home, too, she relented because it saved her time.

Today, I love eating my mom's cooking anywhere, anytime, as long as she doesn't toss any animal parts into it. Even her natto rocks.

That's me in the photo, at about age five, in Germany contemplating deities like Shaka. Actually, I was probably thinking about the natto we were going to have for dinner.

Your Hip Hapa,

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sha Na Na Na Na Na Na

Strolling through the local health food store today, I noticed the music that was playing over the loudspeaker. The tune was catchy, the lyrics thought-provoking, and the singers quite talented. Stopping in the tea section, I sang along--under my breath, that is. You don't want to hear me singing out loud unless you're wearing earplugs--thick ones.

Anyway, listening closely to the song released a multitude of memories. The record, Get A Job, was a big hit when I was a kid. I'd heard it hundreds of times before, of course, but today the words struck me deeply. Perhaps I was reading more into it than what was initially intended, but I got the distinct sense that the songwriter was saying he wanted a job, but couldn't find one and because he was a black man he was out of luck, i.e. "Is there any work for me?"

Later at home, I googled searched the singers, The Silhouettes, and learned that their song had been released late in 1957 and went on to become a Billboard smash early in 1958. The songwriter, Richard Lewis, was a former serviceman who had moved back to his mother's home after being discharged--unable to find a job. Even though he wrote the lyrics to make it seem as if he was just sluffin' and not really seriously looking for work, I got the feeling that like with a lot of black servicemen, there just weren't any options made available to him once he came home. I know that's what kept my father in the Army until retirement. Where else was he going to go?

As I checked out the video, what struck me right away was the audience. Here, four grown black men are onstage rockin' and rollin' away to a song that laments how they can't even participate in the system. Yet the entire audience is made up of white teenagers. As they clap their hands and sway to the beat, the Caucasian kids look totally oblivious. Didn't they even think about how ridiculous it was that they were bouncing in their seats to a song filled with socio-economic angst, and that the very singers of said song wouldn't even be allowed in that auditorium with them had it not been for the need to have them on stage singing? But why would you even think anything if you've never been taught to examine anything? The beauty of a system that oppresses an entire race of people is that the oppressors aren't allowed to think, especially about their privileged place in the hierarchy.

Damn. This is a crazy planet. When I consider how outraged Americans were to discover the system of apartheid that was once South Africa, I am thrown for a loop about the way they allowed racial segregation to continue for so long in the U.S.

Back to music. We had so much of it in our house that my sister and I were singing and dancing at an early age. There was always a radio on playing the Billboard top 100, and we quickly learned the lyrics to most of the popular tunes--morbid tunes, like Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley. There was a lot of music on TV, too, and I remember watching shows like American Bandstand, The Lloyd Thaxton Show, Upbeat, Hullabaloo, Shindig and, later, Soul Train. I remember when Nat King Cole hosted his own weekly series, and when Leslie Uggams was a regular on Sing Along with Mitch (Miller). So much of American music is black music yet so many black musicians were never given the credit nor the royalties they deserved. But neither were black Americans in other fields.

You know, I keep harping on hope, and the larger possibilities that lie in front of us. Let's HOPE I'm right.


Your Hip Hapa,

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Miracle Of Life... that it continues to move forward. No matter how bleak the picture may look today, it could improve significantly by tomorrow. Over the weekend, I was so ill I couldn't even make it to a single yoga class, yet by today (filled with lots of organic juice, echinacea and rest), I'm almost 100% again.

When I look at how much life has changed since the early 1960's when my father first settled us in an all-white neighborhood, I'm astonished. Today, that one-square block where we lived also houses a Korean/black family, a gay couple, and a family of Latinos. Back in the day, when I was a teenager growing up in the harsh light of judgment, you would've never convinced me that things could ever change, but 40 years later, I must confess, the change has been radical.

As I began to toss out some coupons that had arrived in today's mail, I took a closer look at an ad that featured a little girl with mixed-race looks. Her wild, brownish hair looks like mine, and her complexion is nearly identical to my own skin. As pleased as I was to see a racially unidentifiable model in a national advertisement, at the same time, I was a little envious that I had made my way through most of my life without this type of reinforcement. For biracial babies in my age group (boomers), it was rare for us to see ourselves anywhere.

In my teen years, I'd come across photos every once in while (perhaps in a pop culture magazine like Eye) that would showcase someone who was racially unidentifiable. I'd get really excited and that excitement would lead me to hold onto those images forever. In fact, I have two such images still in my possession that I will dig up, scan and broadcast here as soon as I find them. What I discovered, most often, was that these people were Puerto Rican--which often meant that they were mixed with the blood of the local Indigenous, European Spaniards and descendants of African slaves. No wonder they looked like me!

These days, we have a biracial presidential candidate making a national speech about race. Neither of those events could have occurred even a decade ago. Hopefully, the miracle of life will continue in a positive way.

The photo above was taken by my sister when I was 17 and sitting on the family patio. I wish I could remember what I was thinking about then.

Your Hip Hapa,

Friday, March 14, 2008

Obama, Obama And Mama

It's the end of the week and your biracial bloggerette is back. If you've been missing me, know that I publish on Mondays and Fridays now.

So, how was your week? I hope it's been as interesting as mine. The interview I had with Megan Sukys of KUOW FM radio (an NPR affiliate) a few days ago aired today. You can hear the podcast here:

The whole hapa scene is growing, and now is the time for our community to make our presence known. (hint: buy a Hapa*Teez t-shirt at

Recently, I read in a ranting somewhere--that I didn't write--that if Barack Obama is half white and half black and he's called only black, then he should be called only white, too, according to the unwritten formula that everyone seems to subscribe to. I was so like, "right on!" because too many folks can't do the math.

Here's a big, fat clue: half white + half black = biracial. Duh.

Megan, the host of Sound Focus, asked me some pretty good questions, and she's really quite the researcher. At one point in our talk, I mentioned the One Drop Rule. You know, it truly blows my mind that in 2008, Americans still practice something that was clearly a beneficiary for slave holders.

On to more, ahem, lighter matters. Recently, I watched NHK (Japanese television) with my mom. She seemed to take great interest in a marathon even though we don't usually watch that sort of thing. In between cooking dinner and clipping grocery coupons, she would rush into the living room to see who was ahead in the race. To my amused surprise, she was rooting for--not her own fellow Japanese--but for a handful of Kenyans who were at the front of the crowded field.

"Come on, Kenya!" she yelled after I told her who the "black men" were. "They come from far away," she explained, indicating why she was supporting them.

But isn't that so typically Japanese? In other words, they're so obsessed with being the perfect host and, if you're a good host, you don't invite your guest to play a game with you and then beat him or her at it. If you're a worthy host, you allow your guest to win because you're supposed to make him or her feel good while s/he's in your home. Anyway, it's all very interesting to me how much of Japanese culture consists of good manners.

Which brings me back to Obama. Evidently, the Kenyan marathon runners weren't the only brown-skinned men that some Japanese were cheering for recently. It seems that there's actually a city called Obama in Japan, and that the entire town turned out to advocate for Barack Obama in the recent Vermont/Rhode Island/Ohio/Texas voting. Since it was also ohashi (chopstick) day, there was a lot of celebrating going on. Can you picture it? Isn't it just too cute to imagine a whole city of Japanese rallying around a Kenyan-Caucasian American presidential candidate just because he shares the same name as their city? Consummate hosts, those Japanese. And, yeah, my mom, too. There she is, above, serving sushi to my website designer and filmmaker, Mia G., who had stopped by to shoot some footage of her for a documentary.

Your Hip Hapa,

Monday, March 10, 2008

HAPA Birthday, Again, b.r.

Last Friday, I wished my sister, br, HAPA Birthday right here on this blog. A long-time friend then wrote me asking how Beverly Rhea got her name, so I'll hapa-ly explain.

Although I was born in Tokyo and promptly given a Japanese name by my Japanese mother, my sister made her way into the world via Richmond Texas. I've written before (see earlier blog titled What's In A Name?) that my mother argued with her Japanese doctors about naming me Yayoi--which, in accordance to the month I was born, was way too late in the season for me to be called thusly. But do you think my mom would allow herself to be bullied by a couple of authority figures? Not that OG rebel. She liked the name, and she didn't care if they ridiculed her or snickered in her face, she was naming me Yayoi and that's all she wrote.

But by the time my sister was born, we had left Japan. Having arrived only recently to the U.S., my mother was shy and unfamiliar with things like family hierarchy. Therefore, she quietly acquiesced to her new mother-in-law, the so-called black matriarch.

Shortly after giving birth, my mother was resting in her hospital bed when she was presented with the child she had so laboriously brought to the planet. Looking down at my baby sister, my mother was shocked to see that a name tag around her daughter's wrist showed that she had already been named without the consultation of her own birth mother!

To add insult, my mom couldn't even pronounce her new daughter's name. Try this on for size: Beverly Rhea Winfrey.

That's right. Now, if you know anything about the Japanese language, you're aware that there are no phonetics for the letter "v", and that there are no words that end with consonants--unless it's an "n". Their letter "f" is pronounced like our "wh", and their letter "r" is a combination roll that sounds like our "d". Our "l" is pronounced like an "r", and so forth. What a nightmare for my poor mom.

She probably said something like this: Beh-boo-rdee Rdee-ah Win-who-rdee-oo.

To this day, she calls my sister Beh-boo, or sometimes, just Beh. To make matters even more complicated, about 15 years ago my sister changed her name to just the initials b.r. (lower case, no space, no periods--I added them).

Sugoi, ne?

That's my mom, above, posing with my grandmother who was visiting us in Washington State in the 1960's.

Your Hip Hapa,

Hey, fellow hip hapas, don't forget that new Hapa*Teez t-shirt designs will be uploaded soon.

And, stay tuned for the fabulous Mia Gonzalez' update of the Watermelon Sushi website.

Friday, March 07, 2008

HAPA Birthday, Sistah B!

March seems to be the month for birthdays, and today's belongs to someone special--my sister, Beverly Rhea. I won't say here how old she is, but I will give her props for being the first person I've known to really push the biracial agenda.

Back in the very early 1990's, b.r. (as she refers to herself) had the idea to write a book about mixed-race people. She called a few multi-racial folks that she knew in Seattle and got them to come over to her Madrona home on a weekend afternoon. Unfortunately, b.r. is the consummate hostess, and ended up spending most of her time refreshing folks' drinks and serving them delicious munchies. Meanwhile, what was supposed to have been a session for note-taking towards the book ended up being more of a bitch session for what all racially unidentifiable people have come to declare the worst question to be asked by a monoracial person: "WHAT ARE YOU?"

In the past, the question would so infuriate me that I'd merely stare down the questioner and reply, "A human?" Or, "What do you mean, exactly?" Or, "I'm a Venusian from Venus." In other words, I didn't want to play the game which puts the questioner in the seat of authority and me in the position of the accused.

These days, folks are much more discreet, or "PC" as it's called, and will ask instead, "What kind of name is Yayoi?" Of course, my answering "Japanese" only adds to their confusion, and causes them more anxiety since it's obvious that I don't look pure Japanese.

The only time in my life I didn't mind being questioned about my race was during the times I lived in Honolulu. There, as most people know, everyone seems to be mixed and when they ask me what I am, it just feels like they want to compare notes. "Oh, you're half Japanese? So is my best friend Leilani! I'm half Korean, myself."

It may sound hypocritical, but it's not. It's all about the purpose of the questioner. People who put me on the defense do so because their questioning forces me to have to explain myself. They seem to be saying that my appearance indicates that I don't belong, and they want to know what I'm doing in their world. On the other hand, when other mutli-racial folks inquire, it's more out of a sense of solidarity. "You're half black? So am I! Filipino and black!" And then, we bond.

Omedetto gozaimasu, Beburee-san! That's her in the photo above, at age 2, with my beautiful mother in Germany.

Your Hip Hapa,

Monday, March 03, 2008

HAPA Birthday, Silvia B--War Bride Baby!

Silvia B (left in the photo) was my best friend in high school. We drew together because we were both considered weirdos among our so-called peers which only made us rebel more.

Although Silvia was very attractive with long silky black hair, green eyes and a husky voice, some of the athletes in our school (you know who you are Mr. Famous Football Player Who Married An Actress) would hiss and call her names whenever she walked down the hall. To this day, I still can't figure out why. Silvia didn't date anyone at our school so maybe they were just mad that she wouldn't give them a chance. After all, rejection is painful.

Besides, Silvia and I were both into older men anyway, especially musicians. Not that we went out with them either, but we did have our fantasies and they didn't include pimply-faced boys with crewcuts wearing lettermen jackets. I, in particular, would have never been able to date most of the boys in my school anyway, since I was "half Negro" and just about everyone else out of 1,500 students was white.

But Silvia was white, too--sort of. Like my mother, Silvia's mom was a war bride so maybe that took her down a notch in the eyes of the more "American" kids. Unlike my mother, Silvia's was a stay-at-home mom who raised a lot of kids--seven, if I remember correctly. A photo of Mrs. B sat in the living room, and whenever I was visiting I would stare at it in wonderment. Mrs. B was from Vienna and her picture showed a young woman with wavy auburn hair and a secret Mona Lisa smile similar to Silvia's. She spoke with a German/Austrian accent and smoked a lot of Tareyton 100's while drinking black instant coffee all day. Whenever she was in the mood, Mrs. B would tell us about her life during the war rattling off a litany of insults against Russian soldiers who, she claimed, would urinate in the sink and wash their hands in the toilet so uncouth were they. She hated Germans, too. Scar tissue from the war, I'm sure. Even though Mrs. B had lived in Austria, her parents were Czech and Yugoslavian and she considered herself a slav all the way. If I stayed for dinner, we might have eaten German potato salad made with oil and vinegar, or red cabbage cooked with wine.

I found it as fascinating listening to Mrs. B discuss the war in Europe as I did hearing my own mother talk about dodging bombs in Tokyo. That was a deep cultural connection that Silvia and I shared, but, at the time, I don't believe we even realized the impact of having war bride mothers. We just knew we didn't belong, and it made us do crazy things like when Silvia refused the advances of Jimmy Paige of Led Zeppelin backstage at a concert. Why should she have gone out with him anyway when her fantasy man was oh-so much more?

Silvia and I also hung out in Seattle's University District with our hippie friends, both of us with long, dangling hair, huge hoop earrings, and colorful satin skirts. Soon, the others began calling us The Gypsies.

Eventually, Silvia and I drove her '59 Chevy all the way to Pacific Grove California where we ended up living for six months among all the Timothy Leary drop-outs. It was an exhilarating time, but our middle-class upbringing didn't help us learn to survive hippiedom. So, we ended up back in the Northwest working at a television station, unbelievably, for the most controversial right-wing talk show host at the time.

Years passed, and eventually Silvia had a boyfriend, and then a son. I kept moving back to Cali and points beyond, but I would attempt to always stay in touch. After awhile, Silvia and I drifted so far apart that we couldn't reconnect. A few years ago, though, I found her and talked her into going to our high school reunion with me and my sister (who, for some reason, always goes to mine and not her own). As much as I hated my high school years, there's something intriguing about attending reunions and seeing all the people I hated as teenagers become adults.

Wherever you are Silvia B, know that you were a perfect friend at a time when I really needed someone like you. I salute you, and wish you a most HAPA birthday! (Although now that I've finished writing this, it's March 4 and no longer your day.) Hopefully, you don't mind me posting this snapshot of us taken at our 1998 reunion. Oh, yes. And, that's the gorgeous Maria Carter, the bellydancer, on the right. I didn't find out until that night that she is biracial, too--half Filipina and half Caucasian.


Your Hip Hapa,

P.S. Don't forget the t-shirts at