Taking a Moment to Pause and Reflect 2023

Try to remember the kind of September

When life was slow and oh, so mellow.

Try to remember the kind of September

When grass was green and grain was yellow.

“Try to Remember,” from The Fantasticks.

Time passes. I find myself disliking the mantra “Never Forget,” because I’m more concerned about what we learned from remembering. If September 11, 2001, was a nightmare, we somehow came together on September 12, 2001, if my memory isn’t so hazy to recall the attempts to help each other.

Have we kept at it? Have we developed resilience and overcome hate and whatever else? Have we made a better world for everyone yet?

Or am I asking for too much with my entirely rhetorical questions? Well, yeah, I am asking for too much…

22 years ago, I was trying to figure out how to make any use of my last year in law school, and then that Tuesday happened, the horrors marring the perfect blue sky. I didn’t imagine the entirely different landscape that we’ve had since. I never imagined that all the crises and calamities we’d be through.

Photo I had taken some years ago, at the Brooklyn Promenade.

Photo of the WTC Memorial, from however many years ago now.

Another photo that I had taken at the Brooklyn Promenade from some many years ago.

In 2021, FC shared this over on Facebook, so I’m passing it along again: “Wake Me Up When September Ends” – Green Day (Cover by First to Eleven):

See here for last year’s post of September 11, 2022. I wish you all a peaceful and thoughtful day. Thanks again for being here. — ssw15

AAPI Heritage Month 2023

Somehow, May 2023 flew by so fast. Some stuff for consideration.

Per this May 2, 2023, Associated Press piece by Terry Tang: Mattel released an Anna May Wong doll for AAPI Heritage Month.

Eyewitness News’s CeFaan Kim reported on the story, “1st Asian American NYPD pilot shares journey of soaring through glass ceiling,” May 12, 2023 (https://abc7ny.com/nypd-asian-american-pilot-sgt-jenda-wu/13238431/) – someone who had been a lawyer before he became a police officer:

“‘As an attorney, my God, you bring your work home, your work like lives in your head over the weekend for weeks on end and months on end, [Sgt. Jenda] Wu said. ‘As a police officer, helping people in that way had a finality to it.'”

Wu’s not wrong about how being a lawyer means your brain’s stuck on work at perpetual times. But, it’s pretty cool that Wu didn’t give up the dream to be a pilot, even if it meant a winding path to get there. I hope that he didn’t give up that law license either; there really can’t be very many Asian American police officers with law licenses (after getting law degrees). Plus, since he’s reportedly with NYPD for a long time, it even looks like he has a pension out of this. Good for him.

Eyewitness News’s CeFaan Kim also reported on “Columbia students create card game in honor of AAPI month,” May 16, 2023: Master degree graduate students developing ways to teach AAPI history (https://abc7ny.com/aapi-card-game-columbia-university-masters-students/13255488/). Strategy and application of ideas in a fun way? Hey, why not?

I didn’t get to go to the 2nd annual AAPI Cultural Heritage Parade on May 21, 2023 (see a report on Eyewitness News here – https://abc7ny.com/aapi-cultural-heritage-parade-month-2023-pride/13278945/), but FC and a contingent our very own Asian American Bar Association of NY (AABANY) marched in the parade!

There’s a lot to unpack with the end of AAPI Heritage Month, which was also Mental Health Awareness Month. Consider: “‘Perfect storm’ of anti-Asian violence, bias in NY fuels mental health crisis” by Arya Sundaram, Gothamist, May 29, 2023 (https://gothamist.com/news/perfect-storm-of-anti-asian-violence-bias-in-ny-fuels-mental-health-crisis).

It’s hard for people of AAPI heritage to get mental health resources that they need, when there isn’t much funding and there’s not enough mental health providers who are culturally competent, let alone serving populations of Limited English Proficiency.

There’s also real need for interpreters for medical health treatment, not just mental health, as reported in this PBS NewsHour report, “For many Asian Americans, medical interpreters are a vital but scarce resource” by Ali Rogin, May 28, 2023 (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/for-many-asian-americans-medical-interpreters-are-a-vital-but-scarce-resource).

Frankly, it’s not just Asian immigrant populations, but also other Limited English Proficiency populations. We need to attract, train, and retain qualified interpreters for medical and legal needs; if only we’re willing to invest in this type of work.

Separate from AAPI Heritage Month 2023, it was the 140th birthday of the Brooklyn Bridge on May 24, 2023. I think that we can enjoy this for the whole year!

Photo that I took in 2007? Sometime before 2012, for sure. There is no bad photo of the Brooklyn Bridge…!

Observations of the 1st Quarter of 2023

Happy April 2023! How did the first quarter of the year go by so quickly? I usually blame that on how February is such a short month, and for me, March goes by in a blink because I spend the weekends watching copious amounts of college basketball.

March Madness was indeed full of Madness, with the upsets. I still can’t believe how New Jersey get to be the state of Cinderellas. In March 2022, St. Peter of New Jersey was the low seed that went far. In March 2023: we had two New Jersey institutions of higher learning: Fairleigh Dickinson got to be the 16-seed that shocked us all (they were a play-in team, for God’s sake!), and Princeton – a 15-seed – somehow made it to the Sweet 16 round.

Hope springs eternal that an Ivy League team make it past the Sweet 16!

And yes, only in college basketball can we think of an Ivy League school as a Cinderella. It is weird to view an elite school as a Cinderella at all, and just how New Jersey is Princeton? Beats me. And honestly, the only time I’d root for Princeton is when they represent the Ivy League.

I do prefer March Madness over March Sadness 2020, which was when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down everything.

While I’m glad that COVID-19’s perpetual March is behind us, I’m still not sure where my head is with COVID-19. Are we as a nation ever going to be more equitable, when the pandemic showed how much we are not? Did we learn anything from the pandemic, and how we are to avoid the next one (or at least be better at responding to mitigate the painfulness)?

Plus, emergencies are going to keep happening because we’re in a world very much affected by climate change, which is real and is causing all kinds of weather fluctuations. Are we going to do more at a societal level? How can we keep asking individuals to take action when we need more action?

The above questions are entirely rhetorical, of course…

The first quarter of 2023 was also a weird winter, with a paltry snowfall in New York City and an average higher than normal temperatures. Perhaps climate change skeptics can remain skeptical, but it’s weird to have had random low frigid temperatures that veered into higher than normal.

April is National Poetry Month. But, of course, I managed a re-read of Billy Collins’ Aimless Love in March 2023.

I completed reading Mary Oliver’s Dream Work in April so far. Will I get to another poetry book before the end of the month? We shall see.

I have an intention to read more in 2023 than I did in 2022, but it’s not like I follow any real reading goal.

Girl Scout Cookies Season 2023: I hope we don’t lose sight that this is part of fundraising for the kids, but the craze for the new Raspberry Rally cookie seemed too much to me.

Like, hey, greedy bastards, the point of Girl Scout cookies is to help the kids, not buy the new cookies to re-sell them for your own profit. And hey, the people who are desperate to get the Raspberry Rally cookies – why are you so desperate that you’ll go to eBay for the cookies? How is that safe, and again, you’re not helping the kids by buying them cookies off of eBay.

Restrain yourselves, people… (see here for a March 4, 2023, CNN Wire report regarding the Girl Scouts’ asking people to not buy Raspberry Rally off of eBay: https://abc7ny.com/girl-scouts-raspberry-rally-new-cookie-ebay/12909915/).

Thanks to A, the offspring of FC and P, I ordered a box of Raspberry Rally before the boxes ran out.

Pros: I like that it’s a solid and crunchy cookie with a good bite.

Cons: it’s a little too sugary for me, the raspberry taste came off as too strong for my taste.

I suppose that raspberry isn’t quite my flavor. Ironically, I really enjoyed the Berry Crunch cookie that the Girl Scouts sold so many years ago, but it was a short-lived Girl Scout cookie.

I’m not into Thin Mints, but it is a good balance of mint in a chocolate cookie. I was hoping that the Raspberry Rally was more like that, but to me, it wasn’t quite the right berry and chocolate balance, because it was more of a chocolate coating on a raspberry cookie.

Movies: isn’t it cool that “Everything Everywhere All At Once” (EEAAO) made it all the way at the Oscars? I finally got to see it in the theater back in March 2023, before the Oscars. Is it a perfect movie? No. Well, okay, not to me. I think that it’s weird and all over the place. I’m not in love with the movie, but I enjoyed it. I thought that it was definitely an intense me, and it tells a very Asian Pacific American story.

There’s also something fun and poignant about seeing actor Ke Huy Quan win the Oscar, as a kid actor we all saw as Short Round from “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” And, Michelle Yeoh as the first Asian-identified woman to win an Oscar is fantastic to see.

I like to think that EEAAO’s Oscar wins could encourage movie makers to get more diverse stories out there and have more diverse people in front of and behind the cameras. I’ll end this post on a hopeful note, if I learned anything from EEAAO: creatives got to keep being creative! — ssw15