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Imagination has no limits today. I love that about Halloween. Education has no barriers today either. I love that about the Natural History Museum. (Whenever we talk about Chicago, eight-year-old Little Brother has only one word, “Sue.”) Even now, three weeks later, the memories of this day and the imagination it inspires insulate me from the hateful racist and sexist rhetoric churning outside my door.
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As Halloween nears, whenever I teach late, I come home to find a different cast of characters galloping triumphant through my house, including Howl’s Moving Castle, pirate vs. ninja, kung fu masters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Steampunk, Goth Lolis, and more. A raucous combination of cosplay and Halloween, the spirit is festive, the creativity fun, the details impressive. Last week, even my old prom and wedding dresses were both trotted out and Steampunked. “Don’t you kids have homework to do?” And the background music in our house these past few weeks has been Psy’s “Gangnam Style” with its driving beat and in all its many variations.
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I have enjoyed the easy camaraderie found with these folks whenever we have met since then, especially Ryan Suda, who is just such good people. The conversation always flows and the ideas for collaboration come easily. He has helped so many people and organizations over the years, always with a kind heart and easy humor. I am struck by the thought that there are so many different ways of being a leader in the community, and so many ways of giving to the community, but in the end, it always comes back to good people.
We were going to have an moonlit picnic at the park — teriyaki chicken musubi, steamed little dragon buns, a thermos of hot jasmine tea, and of course, plenty of mooncakes. Thirteen-year-old Hao Hao had already written up a grocery list (which suspiciously includes “Pocky — 1,000,000 boxes”). We had four pink and green paper lanterns and candles from Vietnam, one for each of the kids. It was going to be a rare Saturday night with everyone together, just to sit and eat as a family and look at the beautiful full moon, the Harvest Moon, while composing a poem or two for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (basically, Chinese/Vietnamese/Korean Thanksgiving or Oktoberfest … but without the beer). But then rain was forecast.
After a long trip away from home, one of the first things I always do upon our return is take all the kids to buy groceries at our favorite Chinese grocery store. I love watching them zip around, squealing as they load up our basket, “Ooooh! It’s been so long since we’ve had cong you bing!” “Xiao long bao! I want xiao long bao!” and “I haven’t seen this kind of zhu rou gan in soooooo long!”
I thought I could go to services 9-10 and then cut out quickly to go to the reading from 10-11:30, but there is no escaping the Aunties at temple. The first time we ever went to this temple, they ran out after us into the parking lot and physically pulled the kids out of the car one by one, insisting we stay for lunch. Today, they take four-year-old Little Brother by the hand and lead him down to the Fellowship Hall where they load his plate full of blueberry cake, potato chips, lilikoi cookies, purple potato tempura, multi-layered jello, purple potato manju, and fresh lychee. One Auntie is concerned, “He has a cold.” I look at his face and wipe his nose, “No, that’s whipped cream.”