Some of you know that I lived on the island of Oahu when I was 17-18 years old. I was still young enough to wear a blue bikini and spend many days on the North Shore beaches watching surfers break wave after massive wave.
I enjoyed meeting locals and making new friends. Had fish tacos at Diamond head with a filmmaker, a Korean feast with an artist, among the wild chickens of Honolulu, experienced local contemporary art, and those legendary sunsets over Waikiki.
I founded the Perpetual Birthday Club on my 18th birthday on Waikiki beach. No one remembered my birthday. I told a stranger why I was looking so sad. An older woman probably in her 30’s, squealed. Her smile lit up like a sunrise. “Happy Birthday!”, she sang. You would have thought it was the Queen’s birthday. She bought me a donut.
I was once given a very expensive necklace that I tried on in a store but knew I couldn’t afford. The owner said it was HER birthday and it looked good on me.
Since that time I realized that I didn’t need anyone else to celebrate me or validate me. I celebrate Shay Day at least once a month. Sometimes I buy myself a small gift and have it gift wrapped, or treat myself to a massage or a solo fancy lunch with a glass of wine, or just eat cake for a meal. Who knows better how to celebrate you than YOU.
Now I celebrate an entire season when my birthday month rolls around in the fall. I still like receiving gifts, cards, and bouquets of flowers any time of the year but Shay Day is when I celebrate myself and sometimes I’ll give someone a special gift because it’s my birthday.
The air still caresses like a lover’s hand, the water is soft, and the beauty of nature is a spiritual revelation.
I was in Honolulu to attend the Association for Asian Studies Conference where I participated on a panel with my Japan U.S. Friendship Commission colleagues.
The conversations were engaging, and the presentations lively. I learned about new approaches to engaging students in Japanese Studies, data on jobs and educational opportunities, and discussed my ongoing project Add Architecture, Stir Memory supported by the JUSFC in 2011.
I met the talented filmmaker Baldwin Chiu who collaborated with his wife Melissa Lam on the LINK film Far East Deep South. The film is beautiful and moving.
ASSOCIATION OF WRITERS AND WRITING PROGRAMS
The AWP 2022 panel in Philly went on without me in person, but my colleagues Rochelle Spencer, Opal Moore, Kyla Marshell, and Chantal James made dynamic offerings to the audience on how we and other women of color are experimenting with form in our interdisciplinary projects.
A short sound clip from my work made it into the program. The conversation will be continued.
In Conversation with Rachel Harper, author of THE OTHER MOTHER
May 3 at 5:30 pm
Click here to join this Charis Books and More Virtual Event
I’m beyond excited to be in conversation with the gifted novelist and my long-time friend Rachel Harper. I can’t wait to talk with her about this special novel that many of you will enjoy from the first page to the very last.
Pre-order your copy now and pre-register for the conversation here.
I’M COMING OUT
As covid restrictions ease up. I’m still masked up but I’m getting out and about.
With BOSS Janee Bolden at Girl Diver Restaurant in SE Atlanta and to the Atlanta Symphony for some Bruch and Beethoven with my cousin Schmohn.
To the movies – Everything Everywhere All At Once with Izzy.
WHAT I’VE BEEN READING & RE-READING
- The Other Mother, Rachel Harper
- Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker, edited by Valerie Boyd
- Women Talk Money, edited by Rebecca Walker
- Black Futures, edited by Jenna Wortham and Kimberly Drew
- Black Food, Bryant Terry