Thursday, January 28, 2010


In June 1997, my great aunt Susie Sakai gave a talk to students at Skyview High School (Bev's school) in Vancouver, WA about the Japanese-American Internment during World War II. Bev gave me a DVD of the presentation a few years ago but it was only this week that I popped it in and watched it. My aunt spoke for an hour and a half in great detail about what it was like to grow up in the Yakima Valley and then as an American citizen to leave her family home behind and be summarily imprisoned for the crime of being Japanese during a war with Japan. She spoke about her internment camp experience in Heart Mtn, Wyoming and the troubling conditions within its walls. She showed slides of famous images from that time and talked about the lawsuits and the much delayed reparations that were ultimately made for such an unjust act.

This photo really struck me:

A resilient people, the Japanese-Americans. I think about how they basically had all of their assets stripped from them, were imprisoned for 3-4 years then released back into a hostile and racist post-war US of which they were citizens. But despite this, they and their offspring made the most of their situations and moved forward. I have a lot of respect for that. It seems to me that they somehow funneled the anger and betrayal that must have been so painful into bettering themselves and their stations in life. All of my relatives were farmers before the war but remarkably all of the children of my grandfather's generation went to college--even the girls--so when they had to start over, they at least had something to work with.

As great as the content was, I have to be honest that the camera work was distracting and Ken & I started to make fun of it. Sometimes it would zoom in so uncomfortably tight on her face or just lose focus randomly. But the entire time I was watching, I felt that I was seeing it for the first time. At the very end, Bev can be heard thanking everyone, including the video camera operator who was a WSU student and was given some sort of award by their department as student of the year. At that moment my chest seized and I said, "Am I the camera operator?" Not only do I not remember the presentation but I shot it badly! Ken looked at me incredulously and just at that moment the camera panned to the very back of the room where Bev's says 'Susie's family' was sitting. Thankfully (mercifully) I was sitting there next to Austin and my grandmother so I clearly couldn't have been the camera operator. But it is disturbing that I was in the room and 13 years later have no memory of it whatsoever. Wow.

This chapter in history can never be forgotten for the lessons it teaches us about our country and what it means to be an American. Thank you to Bev for putting this in a digital medium so that we'll never forget--even if we're in the room.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Grocery store opening: highlight of the week

I'm not complaining but since becoming a Domestic Project Manager (aka Stay at Home Mom), the caliber of my daily excitement has definitely changed. For today's big outing, Sidney and I went to the newly opened QFC grocery store here in Ballard. I was trying to think of a place that was:
  • free
  • had parking
  • would be interesting to an infant
  • sold croutons.
VoilĂ !

I do all the grocery shopping for the family and while I once loathed it, now it is an outing I look forward to. First it's incredibly stimulating to Sidney and that makes me feel better about her being strapped into her infant seat for that length of time. Second, I get to pick out the food I like since I'm the picky eater and have specific brands of things I prefer. Third, the day I discovered Whole Foods is the day I felt like a young girl in love again. For the record, we seldom buy groceries at Whole Foods but it doesn't stop me from going there and cruising the aisles like a star-struck groupie. If there is a heaven, it looks like Whole Foods. It's probably because everything in that store is either organic, natural, cage-free or was spoken to nicely before it became food.

But today we went to a brand spankin' new QFC. We were there midday so besides parents and young children there were a great number of "retired folks" milling about. Nothing wrong with that except don't get stuck behind them in the aisles or at the sample table. A sample to avoid: the freshly made California roll. They have an amazingly compact sushi station there with Asian-ish looking folks putting stuff together but it just didn't taste fresh. On the plus side, they have an enormous wine section and their bakery is impressive. I also marveled at how energy efficient their frozen food aisle is. Usually you'd want to camp out there on a hot day but when we strolled down, it was roughly the same temperature as the rest of the store. Nicely done.

There were lots of extra employees on hand since I think they just opened a few days ago. (Nope, actually yesterday.) So they were still painting a mural in the parking garage and getting some things figured out. One major drawback is the parking. Though they have it under the store, it's tight. You think the Ballard Trader Joe's lot is small, this is worse. I would not suggest heading into the underground unless it's not very crowded like at midday or late at night. Thankfully they had several of their extra staff members who were extremely friendly and cheerful down there to help direct traffic. One guy (I kid you not) offered to fetch an elderly shopper's car, valet style, as she was coming down into the parking area with groceries. And she took him up on it.

So good for you QFC, I don't know if you can maintain that level of service, but more power to you. But if we're going to compare prices, I was shrewdly eyeing items we constantly buy: formula, diapers, wipes, cereal, yogurt, croutons. And sorry to say QFC's prices are higher for the exact same brands as our current favorite store, Ballard Market. This QFC does have some organic/natural selections but not enough to substantiate markups on everything. The boutique grocery stores have better artisan and organic selections with still better prices--so it looks like despite all the bright and colorful aisles, we'll still be trolling the aisles of our old store.

Monday, January 04, 2010

So Long and Thanks for all the Fish

Today I resigned from the high-tech job I've been at for 10 years to stay at home and raise our daughter. I am tripping a little nostalgic as I look back over the Aughties (00-09) and realize it was spent entirely at this company.

During my tenure, I worked in 3 different divisions on many different things: like “run-and-gun” field producing, helping keep ABC News streaming on 9/11, managing the first streaming media service on Cingular and getting mobile games off the ground as team member #3. During that time, I survived an earthquake, grew to adore Finland, met & married my husband and became a reluctant expert on "Twilight."

I also met famous people like Jon Stewart, Jeanette Lee and Randal Pinkett.

I flew to Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Atlanta, New York, Boston, Washington DC, Helsinki, London, Vancouver BC & Toronto for various trade shows, client meetings, event productions and work functions.

And made many great friends throughout the years...

So this kind of decision does not get made lightly. As a person who defined herself by her career prior to motherhood, it didn't seem like an obvious choice to give it all up. But Ken and I talked alot about it during the pregnancy and we both remember when our mothers stayed home with us. The comfort and richness of our childhoods during that time and the desire not to miss anything about Sidney's childhood inspired us.
So if we could make it financially, there was no reason not to. I worked up a budget with only Ken's salary against expenses. I pared it down and pared it down until a realistic lifestyle was maintained but the numbers worked.
It just took so much effort, time and heartache to conceive our baby in the first place that the idea of leaving this child with someone else to raise her, struck me as the ultimate paradox. I realize most people don't have the option and I'm not judging working parents. We are grateful everyday for the chance to do this. But like anything worth doing, it comes with a sacrifice. This blog entry is actually an homage to that.