Author Archives: Sydne

The best t-shirt ever in the history of t-shirt existence. And I am not even exaggerating.

I told you I was down the rabbit hole of Creators, the designer’s market in Japan. (Remember? Japanese Etsy?) And now, I think I have found the best t-shirt EVER in the history of existence. From designer ti.geR.

Yes, an Old T-shirt featuring, yup, Old People.

I cannot emphasize enough how much I love this. Perhaps it’s the spirit of lightness that comes through. It’s not that the shirt is making fun of old people. Instead, it’s showing smiles and activity and levity and really, it feels like it’s honoring old age and not ignoring it. I love it.

Perhaps Fairy Tales are more your thing? That’s available too.

Another winner? Art Gallery. Look at the guy playing the flute! Genius!

Could you want more than this? The gallery crowd, with their messenger bags slung across their backs? I adore you.

Also, ANIMALS!

And as someone with two degrees in history, I am all kinds of geeking out about this History t-shirt. (Plus, how adorable is she in that mustache?)

I think we need to see this one again.

Famous, and infamous, historical figures wearing t-shirts. And yes, I like that ti.geR wasn’t afraid to acknowledge the ugly parts of our history by showing all kinds of historical figures, not just the pleasant ones. (Can you identify them?)

Not the t-shirt type? Phone cases.

So, if someone could get their hands on that Old t-shirt for me, and send it on over to Massachusetts, I’d be mighty grateful.

And ti-geR? Thank you for showing the t-shirt world how it should be done!

Summer should mean I get a new bag, right?

I am absolutely swooning over this bag from designer Gacha.

Perhaps it’s because it’s warm and summery and makes me think Marimekko.
And because it’s got a surprise inside!

Those Stripes!!
Available on the Creators website (think Japanese Etsy), it is seriously sending me down the rabbit hole of handmade goods!

The simple delicacy of a metal insect.

I don’t know why, but I am totally enamored with the delicacy and artistry of this little metal bug. Perhaps it’s that I like the juxtaposition of nature and technology it embodies. Or maybe it just reminds me of sci-fi awesomeness.

From sheet metal fabricators Mu Techno, it’s going to be part of a series of insects. My wish? Sea Creatures! Wouldn’t a jellyfish be amazing?

Waterproof Furoshiki from Asakura Senpu.

I am in awe of this. Waterproof fabric for Furoshiki. From Asakura Senpu, textile makers who have perfected the art of Super Water Repellent processing for their fabric.

Japan is a country blessed with an abundance of natural water.
Inspired by this precious resource, a super water-repellent material was born.

On contact with this material, sprinkled water immediately turns into
droplets which like the lotus leaf, roll easily off the surface.

From baby’s diapers to Olympic athletes’ swim wear,
this state-of-the-art technology continues to provide
a high level of comfort, performance and long-lasting durability
even after repeated machine washing.

Although we are grateful for our country’s blessings of flowing rivers and falling rain, we must also keep ourselves dry and comfortable in daily life.

And oh yeah, in case you were wondering, they’ve done some other stuff too.

1. Super water repellent: We were in charge of the 2004 Athens Olympics Japanese swimming team’s swimwear water repellency treatment. Developed using this high level of processing technology was the ‘Super water repellent’. This swimwear never gets heavy because it repels the water like waterfowl’s feather. This super water repellent process is not coating the textile so the textile still keeps the softness and breath ability.


2. Absorb water and quick-drying processing: Not only swimwear but also the uniforms of gymnastic team of Japan in Athens Olympics were processed in our company as well. This textile is good at absorbing waters and sweats. Moreover, it is processed as quick-drying so the gymnast can concentrate on the event comfortably. It is three times quicker to dry and absorbs water than normal cottons. It processes in hot water so it also has durability.

Can I get one of those swimsuits?

Water stays in, until you want it out. Just wait for it. Watch what happens when he squeezes.

I feel like there’s a whole new dimension to that song “There’s a hole in my bucket…”

Papersky’s Tour de Nippon

I know I’ve just returned from Mexico, but I am a constant sufferer of the travel bug and am always dreaming of my next possible destination.

Now, I’m thinking about the Papersky Tour de Nippon.

Tour de Nippon

Papersky’s Tour de Nippon project is about finding the magic of Japan’s rural districts, their inhabitants, nature, culture and food. We travel to various prefectures and ride bicycles. Traveling via bicycle allows us a clean and healthy way to explore Japan’s rural areas.

Papersky currently runs five clubs: Bicycle, Mountain, Book, Food and Japan. Each club has a captain that is highly knowledgable and active in their field and for each of the Papersky Tour de Japan events we work with several of our captains on finding out ways we can tap into the locality of an area per their unique viewpoints.

For instance we frequently invite very talented chiefs to collaborate with local farmers and designers to create a unique dinner. We also work with local craftsmen & women to design small workshops that our guests can create a handmade item such as lacquer spoon or learn the process & skill of cleaning and salting a fresh fish. The workshops are all specifically designed to coincide with the locality of the destination. Besides riding on our bicycle we also like to walk and frequently create programs to climb mountains or explore culture destinations with local people.

It is our hope that through our Tour de Nippon project we’ll be able to introduce you to a new way of looking at Japan. Papersky’s years of travel experience both within Japan and around the world give you a total emersion into a culture that is extremely difficult to access. (via)

Would I love the chance to ride my bike around Japan? Absolutely. The Papersky bike tours look terrific.

Kyoto

Shizuoka

It’s unlikely I’ll be able to get there soon so for now, I’m making do with the Bicycle maps, also from Papersky.

Papersky Bicycle Maps

Would I settle for one of these maps to adorn my walls? Yup.

Here’s what I’m thinking: I am an experienced endurance athlete. Perhaps they need someone who can evaluate these courses and make sure they are appropriate for all levels? Papersky–I am ready and willing!

Cherry blossom goodness in my own backyard.

It’s Cherry Blossom time at my house, one of my favorite parts of the year. Such a short span and so worth waiting the rest of the year for.

Right now, the blossoms at our house are supremely lovely, especially behind our pool. (Yes, that building is our pool. Crazy, I know.)

What’s blossoming at your house these days?

Back from Mexico, where apparently, Japones nuts are all the rage.

Yes, I’m back from Mexico after a long and relaxing vacation. And I will be back to regular blogging action as soon as I’m done with the laundry from our trip—which could be weeks. (Kidding!)
In the meantime, check out these nuts that I saw all over Mexico. All varieties of Japones peanuts. Not sure what actually makes them Japones. I tried a few different kinds. Some salty, some sweet, and all, theoretically, Japones.

Grocery stores, mini-marts, they all had them. (Sorry for the blurry images! Got caught taking photos in the grocery store and security was not a fan.)

Can anyone enlighten me? What’s the deal with these?

ADOPTED – The new hip cell phone case I will not be buying.

I am a bit of a klutz. Trust me with delicate wine glass and I will probably break it. Spectacles run over by a jeep after I dropped them from my lap? Check. And let’s not talk about the dings on my car.

My cell phone? Yup. Monday morning, first thing, I dropped it, for the 2nd time, and broke the screen.

I headed down to my friendly Apple store, replaced the phone, and started to look at cases because clearly, mine was not doing the trick.

I was drawn to one section. From afar, the packaging looked cool, the cases were more grown-up and sophisticated looking, and I made my way over.

And there they were.

A wall of cases. A wall of ADOPTED.

I was incredulous, and even more so when I turned the box over and read the back.

GetAdopted.com

Yup. Someone really did name their cell phone case company Adopted, and really and truly used the name GetAdopted.com

At first, I thought it had to be some kind of joke, although rolling these out in Apple stores is no joke.

Then, I wondered if perhaps it was just a poorly chosen name associated with a project like, perhaps, donating a percentage of profits to support adoption from foster care. Nope. Not that either.

I tried to puzzle it out in a way that made sense to me.

But I couldn’t.

Here’s what ADOPTED is:

Adopted is a new line of fashion technology accessories, focused on merging thoughtful design, expert craftsmanship, and exceptional materials. Adopted’s international team creates authentic, distinctive products which integrate seamlessly with your daily life; humanizing the digital with a considered approach to every detail. (via)

Hmmm. Here’s the reason the founders of Adopted chose the name:

David and Nora chose Adopted as the brand name to represent the conscious choice we make when deciding which technologies to integrate into our personal lives. We believe every accessory should be a tribute to the technology it supports, and a celebration of the person using it. (via)

This is the heart of why I have a problem with the use of the term Adopted when it comes to anything other than the very real and conscious act of adoption. Our family decision to adopt a child has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in common with the kind of decisions we make when choosing new technologies.

I can embrace my iPhone 4, but after I dropped it and broke it, darn right I upgraded to the 5. And I didn’t look back.

Adopting a technology which you will drop when the next one comes along is nothing, nothing AT ALL, like adopting a person into your life and heart. Calling something ADOPTED does not make that choice a more serious or long-lasting one, certainly not in the way our decision to become an adoptive family was.

We all flirt with technology and the gear of technology in our own ways. We are fickle. We change our cell phone cases on a whim, according to mood. We decide we’re tired of the look and that we need something new. We dabble.

And it’s this flirtation that is so upsetting to me when it comes to the Adopted brand.

To call an object of flirtation Adopted diminishes the seriousness of how families like mine come into being, the long term love and commitment that exists between families with members that make adoption plans for their children, those children (and the adults they become), and the families lucky enough to be in their lives through adoption.

Adoption is not as simple as a quick and easy financial transaction, nor is it as impermanent as a cell phone case, subject to the tides of fashion.

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple and adoptee, certainly understood the seriousness of adoption, the decisions made by birth families, and the lifelong legacy adoption has for all members of the adoption triad – birth families, adoptees, and adoptive families.

I question whether he would approve of the cavalier use of the word to sell products. And now, by selling these cases, his very company is participating in the oversimplification of the word itself.

Maybe the makers of Adopted cases want adopted folks to show their pride by sporting a case with the word ADOPTED on the side? (Insert sarcasm here.)

In fact, I am going to start cell phone case companies for all variations of life experiences: GetDivorced.com, GetSingleParent.com, GetAutism.com

It will be perfect! We can announce things about ourselves with our phones, without ever having to turn them on, log on to Facebook, and share private and personal information with only those we care about. We can just sport it on our phones!

Okay, of course that’s not what they meant with this. I’m sure there are good people behind the Adopted line and that they just didn’t think about it.

They thought about being “early adopters”, or those who are just a bit cooler than the rest of us because they embrace a technology before it hits the mainstream. But ADOPTED means something very different.

And that’s the problem. Adoption is still invisible in terms of that kind of thinking. And it’s time for those of us who take issue with this informal use of the word to speak out.

In 2010, Barb Lee, Director of the film Adopted, spoke to why it matters in her letter to the City of Aspen asking them to change the name of an Adopt-A-Tourist program. In her letter, she argued that the term is used too casually, too often, and means more than many people might imagine.

As an adult adoptee, please allow me to share something that these fine folks must not be aware of. The word adopted is very important and very complicated to so many families here in the valley and around the world. It’s a word that the adoption community embraces because it describes how we built our families and it’s a word which requires us to defend our families much too often. “Adopted” is used as the opposite of “real” children and “real” parents to minimize the sacred bonds adoptive parents have with their children…Sadly, it is used much too casually around adopted children, and it causes them to doubt their permanence, their safety and their true belonging to a family that loves them unconditionally and eternally. (via AdoptedtheMovie)

What Lee is telling all of us is that adoption is complicated, permanent, sometimes loaded, and worth more than casual usage.

It’s certainly true that not every adopted person has issues with the use of word adoption or the prevalence of the Adopt-A- programs I wish would end.

But many do.

In 1992, adoption advocate Patricia Irwin Johnston wrote about it quite simply when she said that “Adoption is a process by which families are planned and formed. To trivialize it in a commercial way insults the birthparents, adoptive parents, and adoptees who have been personally touched by this process. We no longer find it acceptable to trivialize other minority groups in this society…For the sake of children waiting for adoption and those who have already found their permanent families in adoption, we adults must insist that adoption be treated in a dignified manner.” (via)

In my mind, the ADOPTED cell phone case takes it to another level entirely, minimizing and commercializing a term that, to me, means the love I have for my child, the intensity of emotions connected to his birth family, the love shown by the foster family who cared for him, and the love I feel from him. And the seriousness with which all of us take our adoption.

Love and Commitment are more than a fashion statement.

Get your Easter cuteness from Japanistic!

At our house, my son is all about the candy. But I still try to sneak some other non-food goodies into his Easter basket. I mean, um, the bunny tries to sneak some in there.

Here are some treats you might want for your Easter gifting.

Cute-ify your Easter carrots with this set of Rabbit Vegetable Cutters.

Dream of Spring with our Flower Tea Strainers.

Spring means Birds! And we’ve got these adorable Dish Pinch Birds to protect your fingers from hot dishes, and to protect your kitchen from a devastating lack of cuteness.

Dish Pinch Bird Banner
For your peanut? Bunny Hair Bands!
Or, label your special things with this Bunny Patch.
Make your cleaning cuter with this Hatching Chick Sponge.
And of course, I can’t forget our Bunny Egg Molds!
Bunnies love their carrots. Clean your veggies with this Carrot Shaped Vegetable Brush.
Bring a little Easter to your desk with this Bird Tape Dispenser.
Apparently, bunnies love berries. And you will love this Bunny and Berry Tape.
I’m starting to gush, I know. I could go on and on but instead, I’ll give you time to head on over to Japanistic and see for yourself. It’s time to get creative with those Easter baskets–and time for me start shipping things to you.
As always, thanks for your support!

On being an Outsider, an Outlier, a White Lady In-Between.

In New England, land of endless Winter, it’s a few days after February vacation. For me, that meant 4 days of skiing in Maine with my husband and son.

Maine is not a diverse state and on our vacation, my Korean-American child was often the only person of color in the room. While he concentrated on mastering moguls, I spent time mentally counting “folks like us” when I saw them. There was an adopted Asian girl with her white family, and over there, a group of Japanese tourists. I spotted an African-American child also with her white mom, and a Latino man who was killin’ it on his snowboard.

On that small mountain in Maine, we were all the outliers, the ones in the picture labeled “one of these things is not like the others…” (What? No Sesame Street fans here?) It’s a feeling I’ve learned to be familiar with over the 12 years of parenting my son.

Today, it was back to our daily routine of school and work, part of which is catching up on the things that ground us as a family. For me, one way is looking through the seemingly endless series of things to see in my Google reader, the blogs I need to catch up on after all the days away.

Scrolling through the postings, it was immediately apparent that the blogs I follow have an important theme.

Angry Asian Man. 18 Million Rising. Hyphen Magazine. Racialicious. KoreAm. Beyond Kimchee. 8 Asians. Discovering Korea. Land of a Gazillion Adoptees. Harlow’s Monkey. Racebending.com and many, many more, bookmarked in various categories on my computer. Adoption. Travel. Korea. Vietnam. Kids.

More than my daily reading of our local newspaper, these are my news sources. They are the places I go to read and learn.

There is much for me to take in. I read and get excited when I read about progressive activism in the various communities that make up the all-too-broad category of Asian-American. I do my best to keep up with what is happening in adoptee literature and writings, and am invested in the politics of race and ethnicity in a way that feels deeply personal. Like so many others on the blogs I follow, I got furious when I read about the Make-Me-Asian App and felt gleeful when it was removed.

Sometimes, I confess that in my reading, I feel awkward, as if this is not my place, my role, my world to peripherally inhabit. It’s those times when the questioning begins. Where I do fit in reference to the issues and subjects that some might perceive as being fully outside of me and my life?

At those times, I wonder what it means for this white mom to be so focused on things that now, my son could give a damn about. For him, as a 12-year-old, they are subjects he finds inconsequential and boring. To talk or think about them takes away from the time he’d rather spend on Legos or Minecraft.

But to me, it means I’m doing the real work of being a mom to a transracially adopted child. It’s my job to care, a part of my unspoken contract of motherhood. To read these news sites, blogs, and forums, and to be educated by them, is one means of engagement with the larger community of families like mine, the adoptees I have so much to learn from, and the people of color whose passage through the world I must seek to understand.

This is my world now, because my child is my world. Not the totality of it, because as a parent, it’s equally important to give your child the example of how to remain a person with your own interests, aspirations, and desires. But it is a major component of my life as a white lady on the outskirts looking in and trying to listen and learn.

As a white woman, becoming the mother of an Asian-American child, or any child who does not share your racial background, means you are forever changed. You become something else. Yes, you are still that same white person, but you exist in an in-between world. It’s world where you do things like count how many folks of color are in a room because you never want your child to feel isolated, alone, or the object of scrutiny because of their difference. Because of my relationship with my child, and the love I feel for him, I exist in a different space than I did before.

It’s a world where you guard against ignorant comments, notice when people stare, and thank goodness for the wonder of the internet because someone, somewhere, has probably written about whatever you are experiencing.

At the same time, as a white mom, you remain unchanged on the outside and because of that, there are a million unknowns. I am fully and completely aware that I will never know what it is to walk in the world as my son does, an Asian-American child who will become an Asian-American man. As a white woman, I am forever able to “pass” in a way that now feels uncomfortable to me.

In my neurotic way, I sometimes question if this makes me a strange kind of voyeur. I try not to comment on blogs where I fear I don’t fit or belong because it feels like I’m invading a personal space that may not be mine to engage with. On some adoptee blogs, there are very clear messages to adoptive parents that the forum is not ours to evaluate or criticize, that we are welcome to read and learn but that it is unacceptable to speak up in a way that could be perceived as attempting to silence another or diminish their experience. And I get that. Still, I read on because I want to learn.

When I feel angry reading accounts of racism encountered or documented, I wonder how others would feel about my white-woman outrage. I guard against saying too much because I also don’t want to come across as one of those white folks who thinks they know things and therefore, have full license to speak to all issues from a place of authority. Because I don’t know much. At least, I don’t know enough to ever make me think I can stop learning and listening.

I had always been keenly attentive to issues of social justice, race politics, and equality. Even before my son, there were things that just made sense to me in terms of how we treat one another, what is fair and right, and what needs to change. But as many marches as I went on, letters I wrote, and protests I took part in, I cannot claim to have had the depth of interest or rather, ACTIVE and personal interest that I have now. Now, it’s a fundamental component of who I am, and who I want to be as my husband and I raise our son.

My hope is that my own grappling with the in-betweenness of the place I now reside helps me to better understand what his path is and will be. It is okay for me to have to contend with my own discomfort. It’s a valid and integral component of my learning experience.

I’m not unrealistic about what I am. I’m still a white lady who is not a person-of-color simply because I have a Korean-American child. I am fully aware of that, and the undeniable and unfair privilege that comes with the color of my skin.

At the same time, I am now, and increasingly, more than that simple description, just as my son is more than any of the boxes people will try to put him in over the years. Thank goodness there’s plenty to read about that.

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