asian avenue magazine January 2018 Volume 13 Issue 1
Connecting Cultures Linking Lives
LIVING IN HOPE A FAMILYâ€™S TRANSITION FROM SADNESS TO PRIDE
2018 CHINESE ZODIAC HOROSCOPES
Happy Lunar New Year 2018 - Year of the Dog
2018 ASIAN AVENUE MAGAZINE
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Dear Asian Avenue readers,
Happy new year! We are looking forward to what the Year of the Earth Dog will bring! The Dog is sincere, independent, and clever. Like man’s best friend, they are extremely loyal and devoted and you can always count on them to stick by your side. The Earth element denotes origins and growth and is associated with practicality, harmony and hard work. The Earth seeks to nurture and be nurtured, it anchors you and provides stability. A loyal and hard working Dog combined with the steady and sensible characteristics of Earth, heralds a secure, rewarding and profitable year. A year of blossoming, to achieve things, and to thrive. An Earth Dog combines the integrity and diligence of the dog with a very “down-to-earth” climate, perfect for longstanding projects requiring persistence and grit. Real estate is high in the agenda for many this year, whether you are contemplating any investments or purchasing a home, things should align well for you in 2018. In this issue, we feature the story of Marsha Aizumi and her son Aiden. The two will be in Denver on February 11 for the Living in Hope Event: A Mother and Her Transgender Son’s Journey. Marsha will also speak about her book In Two Spirits, One Heart, that shares her compelling story of parenting a young woman who came out as a lesbian, then transitioned to male. Lastly, we hope you will join us at Kings Land Chinese Seafood Restaurant on Friday, February 9 for our annual Lunar New Year Dinner. We will have a lion dance performance by Colorado Asian Cultural Heritage Center Dragon and Lion Dance, as well as a tencourse Chinese banquet dinner. Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2018! Christina Yutai Guo, Publisher Asian Avenue magazine | www.asianavemag.com
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January 2018 | Publisher’s Note
asian avenue staff & support Publisher & Founder: Christina Yutai Guo President: Annie Guo VanDan Senior Designer: C.G. Yao Copy Editor: Jaime Marston Cook Editorial Director: Samantha Quee Marketing Manager: Joie Ha Staff Writer: Patricia Kaowthumrong Staff Writer: Mary Jeneverre Schultz Photographer: Trang Luong
contributing writers Marsha Aizumi, Asian Pacific Development Center, Wayne Chan, Denver Art Museum, Jessalyn Herreria Langevin, Elinora L. Reynolds
contributing photographers Asian Pacific Development Center, Denver Art Museum, Jessalyn Herreria Langevin
on the cover Lunar New Year in 2018 is on Friday, February 16th. According to the Chinese 12-year animal zodiac cycle, 2018 is the year of the Dog. Chinese New Year, also known as the “Spring Festival” is China’s most important traditional festival.
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Event calendar In the month of January, Theater Company of Lafayette and Theatre Esprit Asia present “FERMATA” by Maria Cheng
Boomers Leading Changs offers opportunities to connect in the new year
Living in Hope: A family’s transition from sadness to pride
Denver Art Museum’s Linking Asia: Art, Trade, and Devotion Surveys Cross-Regional and Cross-Cultural Influences in Asian Art
Lunar New Year begins on Friday, February 16, 2018. Chinese New Year, also known as the “Spring Festival” is China’s most important traditional festival. For the occasion, find out why people give red envelopes and eat oranges.
ON SCENE Denver Art Museum kicks off Contemporary Art Series Titled “Eyes 27 May Tran earns Distinguished Toastmasters International Award On” featuring Chinese American visual artist Xiaoze Xie TRAVEL
COVER STORY SPECIAL
2018 Chinese zodiac horoscopes for the Year of the Dog
Brandon Makes Jiao Zi, a children’s book by Eugenia Chu
Old Scores by Will Thomas
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee and Exclusive interview with author Mira T. Lee
The Perfect, Much Too Perfect Christmas Tree
ASIAN AVENUE MAGAZINE, INC. P.O. Box 221748 Denver, CO 80222-1748 | Tel: 303.937.6888 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.asianavemag.com 6 January 2018 | Table of Contents
Head to Rome in 2018!
APDC’s Wholeness Care Clinic Team supports Vietnamese Americans struggling with their identity
30 Find us @AsianAveMag
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Linking Asia Exhibition Now through Apr. 1, 2018
Denver Art Museum 100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO 80204 Cost: Exhibit included in general admission For tickets and more info: www.denverartmuseum.org
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You’re invited to celebrate the lunar new year with Asian Avenue magazine. Enjoy a ten-course Chinese dinner including Peking Duck, Shrimp with Walnut and Mayo Sauce and Sizzling Beef Steak with Black Pepper. There will also be a special opening performance by the Colorado Asian Cultural Heritage Center Dragon and Lion Dance Troupe, silent auction and gifts.
Wednesday, Jan. 17, 6pm to 7:30pm
Kick off the new year with a great Asian Chamber of Commerce networking event at Pacific Mercantile. Family-owned for over 70 years, wander through the store and sample Asian treats at various stations. Great gift selections and Asian groceries with friendly staff! Explore how trade routes inspired and influenced art over time and across the Asian continent. Linking Asia: Art, Trade, and Devotion will feature approximately 150 sculptures, ceramics, textiles, scrolls, and other multi-dimensional works from 20 countries that span 2,000 years. Linking Asia will dive deeper into the exchange of ideas, beliefs, and techniques along the Silk Road trade routes, which profoundly affected the development of Asian art. The presentation will consider themes such as artistic inspiration and cross-cultural hybridization of styles, trade by land and sea, ink art trends in East Asia, and religious links before the twentieth century.
Fermata - Theater Show
“Bizarre Heroes” by On Ensemble hosted by Sakura Foundation Saturday, Jan. 20, Begins at 7pm
Littleton High School Theater 199 E. Littleton Blvd, Littleton CO 80121 Cost: $10 general | $12 at the door For tickets and more info: www.onensemble.eventbrite.com
January 12-28 Fridays & Saturdays 7:30pm, Sundays 2pm Mary Miller Theater 300 E Simpson St., Lafayette, CO 80026 Cost: $16 general | $13 students/seniors 55+ | $10 children 12 and under Tickets at: 1-800-838-3006 or www.tclstage.org
Theater Company of Lafayette and Theatre Esprit Asia present “FERMATA” by Maria Cheng. Three generations of westernized Chinese women/ musicians: two are world-class virtuosos, another gave up a music career to only become a neurosurgeon! They gather to celebrate Grandma’s 80th birthday in Gandolfo Italy, the Pope’s summer home, because Grandma wants to see the Pope before she kicks! This production is made possible in part by funding from the Lafayette Cultural Arts Commission.
On Ensemble infuses the powerful rhythms of Japanese taiko drumming with musical elements ranging from jazz, hip-hop and rock to Central Asian overtone singing. Their fearless musical exploration expands the artistic range of these ancient instruments, producing some of the most compelling and creative taiko music today. On Ensemble is presented by Sakura Foundation. Sakura Foundation was established to preserve our Japanese heritage and culture by supporting the Japanese-American community through events, programs, scholarships and grants.
2018 Asian Avenue magazine Lunar New Year Dinner Friday, Feb. 9, Begins at 6pm
Kings Land Chinese Seafood 2200 W. Alameda Ave. Denver, CO 80223
January 2018 | Event Calendar
Nathan Yip Foundation Chinese New Year Party Friday, Feb. 9, 6pm to 11pm
McNichols Civic Center Building 144 W. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80202 Cost: $225 General Admission $100 Young Professional (35 and under) Reservations required in advance For tickets, visit nathanyipfoundation.org Join the Nathan Yip Foundation as they take on a new look and feel, converting Denver’s iconic McNichols Building, located in the heart of Civic Center Park, into a bustling Chinese Night Market. Guests will get an exclusive chance to be transported to China, where they’ll experience delicious and unique cuisine, fun activities and thrilling performances around every corner.
Over 600 supporters of the Nathan Yip Foundation gather each year for a memorable evening celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year. This year, the foundation is celebrating the Lunar New Year like no other. They’re bringing back karaoke and adding a silent disco! Plus, they are expanding their fun-filled Chinese-themed Night Market. It’s their version of a street party, complete with troupes of acrobats, Chinese lion dancers, and of course tasty themed food stations. You won’t want to miss this party!
g Theater Company of Lafayette & Theatre Esprit Asia Present
“FERMATA” by Maria Cheng Three generations of westernized Chinese women/musicians: two are world-class virtuosos, another gave up a music career to only become a neurosurgeon! They gather to celebrate Grandma’s 80th birthday in Gandolfo Italy, the Pope’s summer home, because Grandma wants to see the Pope before she kicks! Cellist Grandma, battling the onset of dementia, doggedly keeps smoking while practicing her tai ji chuan and music, maintaining her dragon-lady fierceness towards her progeny. Then there are her two step-daughters: genius conductor Da Jieh, ever haunted by her conductor father’s non-support, hasn’t conducted for two years; Shiow May mourns her violin prodigy past which she gave up for the good life and a philandering conductor husband; Granddaughter Sabrina struggles with her mother Shiow May’s disappointment that she chose medicine over a concert pianist career. Being a top notch neurosurgeon just isn’t good enough! Secrets, jealousies, lost dreams and future hopes collide as the action unfolds with humor and grace
in a lush villa, underscored by strains of Bach, Beethoven, Mahler, Strauss Jr., Tchaikovsky, Chinese folk and milonga – music of the barrios of Buenos Aires, the Spanish Pope’s favorite music. What is Grandma’s secret? Can Da Jieh overcome her ghosts? Will Shiow May face the consequences of her own choices? Can Sabrina forgive her mother’s disapproval? This is Maria Cheng’s sixth full-length play, in which she forays into a life-long passion, western classical music. While exploring the burdens of virtuosity, the politics of art making and the purpose of music, she also attempts to unravel the dilemma of what price is paid when one does or doesn’t honor one’s authentic self. Cecilia Pang, Professor of Theater at University of Colorado, Boulder, directs, with Maria Cheng as Da Jieh, Munam Goodwyn as Shiow May, Lori Hansen as Grandma, and Samantha Saunders as Sabrina. TCL & TEA also welcome stage manager Joaquin Aviña, lighting designer Brian Miller and set designer Biz Schaugaard.
FERMATA runs January 12 – 28, 2018
Fridays & Saturdays 7:30pm, Sundays 2pm Mary Miller Theater, 300 E Simpson St., Lafayette, CO 80026
Tickets: 1-800-838-3006 or online at www.tclstage.org
Cost: $16 general | $13 students/seniors 55+ | $10 children 12 and under
(fee for credit card charge) This production is made possible in part by funding from the Lafayette Cultural Arts Commission. Fermata | asian avenue magazine
group offers opportunities to connect in the new year Boomers Leading Change volunteers distribute food at The Action Center in Lakewood.
any people take advantage of the new year to launch new projects. If you’re thinking of new projects beyond cleaning out the basement to helping your community, then Boomers Leading Change can help you make that happen. Boomers Leading Change mobilizes, connects and empowers Adults 50+ to utilize their skills, experience, passion and energy to create positive, lasting social change through meaningful volunteer work. “Boomers gives you the platform to spread your wings,” says Elsie Humes who joined a year ago and gives one day a week to hospice work. She was looking for a way to get involved after her career in nursing. She chose hospice because hospice care helped her mother in her last days. Art Evans heard of Boomers “through networking,” he says. After he retired from his career as an engineering project manager, he got interested in working with refugees. Through Boomers, he talked to three organizations before he decided to become a tutor in English at the African Community Center. He spends about three hours a week helping an Ethiopian woman improve her language skills and also gives some time to their Job Club improving resumes and job interview skills. Barbara Shangraw, a retired attorney, had volunteered at a number of organizations before she heard of Boomers Leading Change. She connected with The Action Center in Lakewood where she spends three hours a week at the intake desk helping people find the services they need from housing to food to medical referrals.
“It’s very gratifying to meet people going through tough times and be able to help out,” she says. Art Evans finds satisfaction in “seeing continuing improvement in clients in small advances, evolutionary success.” He’s done everything from demonstrate how to make change in U.S. money—so that one man could advance in his job—to assisting with legal forms to become a U.S. citizen. Elsie Humes likes “the opportunities to learn new things.” She recently got certified as an advance care planner to help individuals with medical directives and other issues. With Boomers Leading Change, she says, “If the organization you’re at is not the right place, they’ll set up another one to better match your interests. They’re not afraid to do that.” “They give you great training and a good support system,” says Barbara Shangraw. “Many Boomers Leading Change volunteers tell us they get more out of volunteering than what they do for others,” says Phil Nash, the organization’s executive director. “In fact, research confirms that older people who stay engaged in activities that give them a sense of purpose live longer and are less vulnerable to age-related diseases.” Boomers Leading Change coordinates skills-based volunteer positions at organizations across Metro Denver. To learn more, attend an upcoming Volunteer Information Session on Jan. 9 or Jan. 22. The sessions begin at 10:00 a.m. both days. For location and more information, call 303-426-6637 or visit BoomersLeadingChange.org.
Medicare Education Event: What you need to know about strengthening the senior health insurance program Monday, Jan. 22, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Daniels Fund, 101 Monroe St., Denver, CO 80206 Presented by Boomers Leading Change — Henry M. Barlow, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, will discuss Medicare’s financial status, actuarial projections and other issues. For more information, visit boomersleadingchange.org or call 303-426-6637.
January 2018 | Feature
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Living in hope By Marsha Aizumi
It has been three years, since I first travelled to Denver to share my story of shame, sadness and fear when my child came out as transgender. It is a story about a mother who felt lost and terrified for our family’s future, but clung to a thread of hope that we could find our way because we loved our son. And so it was this hope and love that propelled me forward to navigate this unknown journey of transitioning my child from female to male and transitioning our family to a place of joy and pride. Aiden was withdrawn, depressed and suicidal in high school. There were many days I thought I was going to lose my child. When he finally declared his true self as a transgender boy at the age of 20, I saw the light that had faded from his eyes begin to return. I knew my child was struggling to find his way back to me and our family. And so today, I do this work in gratitude for my son’s life. I know I could have easily lost him, since over 40% of transgender individuals either contemplate taking their own life, attempt to end their life or are successful in doing so. I also do this work because I woke up one morning and felt if the world was going to be safer for my son, then I would not just sit back and believe it would happen. I would use my voice and my visibili-
January 2018 | Feature
A family’s transition from sadness to pride
ty to share with the world our story to bring greater awareness, compassion and acceptance to those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. But I didn’t do this work alone. I found my way with the support from places like PFLAG, a national organization that supports, educates and advocates for LGBTQ individuals and their families and National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, a national Asian Pacific Islander LGBTQ organization that is doing similar work for Asian Pacific Islander families. Reaching out for support was a critical part of my journey. When I initially came to Denver, invited by the Mile High Japanese American Citizens League and Sakura Foundation, I was meeting this community of people for the first time. I did not know what to expect. What I found was a group of individuals who truly wanted to learn, understand and be supportive. One Japanese gay man that attended my presentation, looked around and saw about 90 other people waiting for the event to begin. He turned to me and said, “In my lifetime I never dreamed that something like this was even possible.” I felt a lump form in my throat, thinking of the hope Denver was bringing to this man and his partner.
The Aizumi family visits Disneyland.
Living in Hope Event: A Mother and Her Transgender Son’s Journey with Marsha and Aiden Aizumi Date: Sun, February 11 from 1 - 3 pm Location: Quebec Place at Fairmount 430 S Quebec St, Denver 80247 FREE and open to the public RSVP required: www.EventBrite.com, search “Sakura Foundation” for the event. Book signing to follow the event. Two Spirits, One Heart will be available for sale. In Two Spirits, One Heart, Aizumi shares her compelling story of parenting a young woman who came out as a lesbian, then transitioned to male. This inspiring memoir chronicles Marsha’s personal journey from fear, uncertainty, and sadness to eventual unconditional love, acceptance, and support of her child who struggled to reconcile his gender identity. Told with honesty and warmth, this book is a must-read for parents and loved ones of LGBT individuals everywhere.
Marsha Aizumi speaks to the Asian Pacific Islander and LGBTQ community at the TriState/Denver Buddhist Temple in June 2015.
As Aiden and I return to Denver, I want people to see a mother and son, who struggled in the beginning but did not let adversity defeat them. Instead, Denver will see two individuals that have emerged stronger and have found their voice, individually and together. Today my son is thriving and our family is even more connected with honesty, gratitude and love. Please join us on Feb. 11, 2018. We will be honored to share with you our journey of hope, love and acceptance. --------------------------------------------------------------------Marsha Aizumi is an author, educator and advocate for the LGBTQ community. She is on the PFLAG National Board of Directors, president and co-founder of the PFLAG San Gabriel Valley API chapter. To learn more about her, visit www.marshaaizumi.com. Living in Hope | asian avenue magazine
Denver Art Museum’s Linking Asia: Art, Trade, and Devotion Surveys Cross-Regional and Cross-Cultural Influences in Asian Art The Pan-Asian exhibition will showcase objects from 20 countries that span 2,000 years.
Shiva, King of Dancers (Shiva Nataraja), Tamil Nadu Province India, 1100s. Bronze; 36-7/8 x 32-1/2 in. Denver Art Museum: Dora Porter Mason Collection. 1947.2
Man’s Dragon Robe, Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), China, about 1875. Woven silk and metal thread tapestry with painted details; 55 x 84 in. Denver Art Museum Neusteter Textile Collection: Gift of James P. Grant and Betty Grant Austin, 1977.19
The Denver Art Museum (DAM) will present Linking Asia: Art, Trade, and Devotion, an exhibition that will explore how trade routes inspired and influenced art over time and across the Asian continent. The exhibition will feature approximately 150 sculptures, ceramics, textiles, scrolls and other multi-dimensional works from 20 countries that span 2,000 years, with most drawn from the DAM’s Asian art collection and a handful of complementary loaned objects. Linking Asia will be on view Dec. 17, 2017 to April 1, 2018 in the Gallagher Family Gallery on level one of the Frederic C. Hamilton Building. “This fall, Linking Asia will offer visitors the opportunity to discover the interconnectedness of Asian culture through artistic style, materials and subject matter,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director at the DAM. “We also look forward to presenting a unique artistic journey for those who visit to learn about the cultural exchange between people in the Asian continent.” The Pan-Asian presentation, curated by Tianlong Jiao, Joseph de Heer Curator of Asian Art at DAM, will consider themes such as inspiration and hybridization, continental and maritime trade, ink art trends in East Asia and religious links before the 20th century. Linking Asia will dive deeper into the influence of the Silk Road and how the flow of ideas, beliefs and techniques, together with the commodities and population movements, profoundly affected the development of Asian art. Enterprising businessmen of the time would commission artisans to make objects similar to those imported from afar. During this process
January 2018 | Art
Camel, Tang Dynasty (618–907), China, early 700s. Glazed earthenware; 2-1/4 x 7-3/4 x 18 in. Denver Art Museum: Funds from 1983 Collector’s Choice, 1983.243
of imitation, foreign elements were often incorporated into local shapes and forms, producing many crosscultural hybrid styles in a variety of media. “We hope Linking Asia will give visitors a chance to see the Asian art collection from a new perspective,” said Jiao. “Visitors will recognize some objects like visitor favorite Shiva Nataraja but also see many for the first time, including objects from three shipwrecks, which is exciting to us. This exhibition will show us what it would be like to layout our collection in a Pan-Asian format, which is something we are considering for the future.” A catalog accompanying the exhibition will be the first major record of the DAM’s Asian art collection, which originated in 1915, and spans a period from the fourth millennium B.C. to the present. The catalog will feature new scholarship through essays and contextual information and will be available in The Shop in winter 2017. The exhibition will be included in general admission and free for members and youth 18 and under. Exhibition Organizers and Sponsors Linking Asia: Art, Trade, and Devotion is organized by the Denver Art Museum. It is presented with generous support from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Robert and Lisa Kessler, the donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign and the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). Promotional support is provided by 5280 Magazine, CBS4, Comcast Spotlight and The Denver Post.
Denver Art Museum kicks off Contemporary Art Series Titled “Eyes On” featuring Chinese American visual artist Xiaoze Xie The Denver Art Museum (DAM) kicked off Eyes On, a focused multi-year contemporary art series, with the work of California-based Chinese American visual artist Xiaoze Xie in December 2017. Sponsored by Vicki and Kent Logan, Eyes On features four emerging contemporary artists each year through 2020 in the Logan Gallery and Fuse Box on level 4 of the Hamilton Building. Organized by the DAM and Rebecca Hart, Vicki and Kent Logan Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the DAM, the first rotation, Eyes On: Xiaoze Xie, will present six large-scale oil paintings, a selection of photographs and books and a video installation in Fuse Box. The show is on view through July 8, 2018. “We’re proud to present new artists and ideas to our visitors through this focused contemporary art Eyes On series,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director at the DAM. “The ideas presented in each installation will challenge our visitors to think about current-day issues, struggles and topics affecting everyday lives, and I also hope the artists profiled in this series fuel new knowledge and perspective about the world around us.” Born in Guangdong at the beginning of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in 1966, Xie’s artistic practice is deeply affected by the conflict between secretly preserving ancient traditions and modern Chinese governmental regulations about books and knowledge. His most recent project traces the practice of banning books in China and explores the country’s history of censorship, social memory and political discourse. Xie’s paintings often prominently feature newspaper pages and books archived in museums and national and university libraries. His expansive study of books is possible because he immigrated to the United States in 1992 and has since become a U.S. citizen. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, San Jose Museum of Art, Oakland Museum of California, Boise Art Museum, Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College and the Arizona State University Art Museum. “The ultimate goal of the Eyes On series is to introduce the Denver community to a range of new practices they may not al-
Portrait of the artist: Xiaoze Xie
ready be familiar with,” said Hart. “In the case of Xiaoze Xie, he addresses the preservation of cultural tradition and the circulation of information in libraries. His still-life paintings of books and installations of banned books are especially poignant at a time when the world is shifting from paper-based to digital means of storing information.” The Eyes On artists programmed for the Logan Gallery and Fuse Box will have a thematic relationship to one another; in some instances, a single artist who works both in video and more traditional media will be featured in both spaces. The second Eyes On rotation, opening in late July 2018, will feature the work of American Indian artist Julie Buffalohead in the Logan Gallery. Curated by John Lukavic, curator of Native arts at the DAM, and Denene De Quintal, Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow in American Indian Art at the DAM, Eyes On: Julie Buffalohead will showcase new work by the Minnesotabased American Indian artist, who is a citizen of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma. Buffalohead uses metaphors and narrative in her artwork to describe an American Indian cultural experience and analyze the commercialization of American Indian cultures. Buffalohead’s unique artistic style often includes animals as the subjects, and her eclectic palette and whimsical subjects evoke a childlike innocence. She works in a variety of mediums, including painting, printmaking, drawing, illustration, bookmaking and sculpture. Buffalohead’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, St. John’s University in St. Joseph, Minnesota, and the Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis. An Eyes On publication profiling the series and each artist will be available in the gallery. Additional artists and installation details will be announced at a later date. Eyes On will be on view on level 4 of the Hamilton Building in the Logan Gallery and Fuse Box through 2020, and is included in general admission and free for members and youth 18 and under. For more information and updates about the Eyes On series, please visit www.denverartmuseum.org.
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, No. 2 Denver Art Museum | asian avenue magazine
Lunar New Year The year of the dog begins on February 16, 2018, which marks the start of the new lunar year and is called the Spring Festival in China. The lunar new year is not only celebrated in China, but many countries across the world, as well as Chinatowns throughout the U.S. In Denver, many cultural shows, lion dances and banquet dinners invite the public to join in on the celebration. How is Lunar New Year celebrated? Chinese New Year is the most important and longest of all Chinese festivals. Traditional activities include: • Making offerings to household deities. • Wearing new clothes, particularly in red. • Hosting a large banquet for family and friends. Often, the evening preceding New Year’s Day is an occasion for families to gather for an annual reunion dinner, and is believed to be the most important meal of the year. • Taking part in lion and dragon dances, as well as festive parades featuring acrobatic demonstrations, beating gongs, and clashing cymbals. • Giving “lucky money” to children in red envelopes. • Opening household doors to let good luck enter on Chinese New Year. • Cleaning the house before New Year’s Day. All cleaning supplies are put away on New Year’s Eve because cleaning on New Year’s Day could sweep away all good fortunes. • Chinese New Year may also include a lantern festival, where people hang decorated lanterns in temples and carry lanterns to an evening parade.
Celebrated around the world Chinese New Year is a public holiday in China, which lasts for 15 days. The 15th day marks the first full moon after the Spring Festival and of the New Year, also known as the Lantern Festival day. It is also a public holiday in countries such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam. In Vietnamese culture, Lunar New Year (Tết) also marks the arrival of spring. Tết can be divided into three periods, representing the preparation before Tết, the eve of Tết, and the days of and following Tết with customs performed for each period. Seol-nal, also known as Korean New Year, lasts three days. Losar, the Tibetan New Year, lasts for two weeks, and the main celebration is three days, celebrated in both Nepal and India. Lunar new year is not a public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom or the United States. However, some businesses may close early and some streets may be closed for a short while to allow for festival parades to take place. The Story of the Chinese Zodiac Chinese New Year, which is the first day of the first month, in the Chinese calendar is assigned to an animal. According to one belief, Buddha promised gifts to all animals that would pay him homage. Only 12 animals came to honor Buddha so, to favor these 12 animals, each one was given one of the 12 years of the Chi-
Red envelopes usually contain money and are given, most commonly, to kids from their parents and grandparents as Chinese New Year gifts.
January 2018 | Cover Story
nese zodiac. People born during one of the animal’s years are said to inherit distinctive characteristics of that animal. The signs repeat every 12 years. See what animal you are and read your 2018 zodiac horoscope on the following page.
mourning and sadness. What about orange? Well, the fruit. While everyone knows oranges are loaded with vitamins and nutrients, they can also be the key to good fortune. Exchanging and eating oranges during the Lunar New Year is a common custom, as they symbolize wealth, health Symbols and prosperity. Chinese New Year has various symbols and traditions. Eating food that looks like money during New Year’s For example, flowers are an important part of New Year celebrations is considered good luck, such as dumpdecorations. Two flowers that are often associated with lings (jiaozi). During New Year celebrations, jiaozi Chinese New Year are the plum blossom (courage and are called yuanbao, a reference to the ancient, inhope) and the water narcissus (good luck and fortune). got-shaped Chinese currency. Eating them is said to Writings that refer to good luck are often seen in bring prosperity. While making them, families somehomes and business environments. They are usually times tuck good-luck foods like peanuts (to bring long written by brush on a diamond-shaped piece of red life) into some of them. paper. Windows and doors are also decorated with red Another representation of long life are noodles. color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of Eating long noodles during the new year represent “good fortune” or “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity.” longevity. Red envelopes with money symbolize happiness, good luck, success and good fortune. The color red Pay respects is also used on these envelopes to ward off evil spirA big aspect of the Lunar New Year is to honor anits. These envelopes are mainly given as presents to cestors, who are essentially the foundation of one’s exchildren. istence. Families tend to gather at the home of elders. Red is a big color for the Lunar New Year; it represents Offerings are made and incense are burned for ancesjoy and happiness, while black and white represent tors who have passed away. 2018 Lunar New Year | asian avenue magazine
The Chinese Zodiac 2018 What’s your sign?
018 is the Chinese Year of the Brown Earth Dog. This lunar new year starts from February 16, 2018 and ends on February 4, 2019. Find out how you will fare in this Dog year.
1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018 You may think your own year is a cause for celebration, but Chinese astrology suggests otherwise. Actually, your year is said to be one of the worst for you in the 12-year cycle. “When it’s your own year,” Smith explains, “it’s like a big energy infusion. You’re more aligned with the kind of energy that’s going on in the world, but whatever problems we’ve been working with our whole life seem to come up in our own year. So it’s not always easy when it’s our own year.” When it’s your year, personal reflection will be a prominent and necessary objective. “Dogs, in their own year, can get a little bit full of themselves and not be discriminating when it comes to business or new love affairs. They’re getting a lot of attention. They just don’t pay attention, necessarily, to who’s giving them that attention. So Dogs might have a blind spot this year.” This is the year that requires extreme self-awareness for you. Understand your flaws and weaknesses and don’t let them get the better of you.
1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007 Pigs will have a lot weighing on them in 2018. Their own year looms in 2019, and so 2018 will act as a year of planning for the Pig. “It’s not the time to go it alone,” Smith says. “It’s better to accept help and to make new contacts and cooperate with people and prepare for the next year.” As troubles befall you, don’t give in to the temptation to withdraw from friends and family. Outside St.life Joseph Parish your Church in Las Pinas City, Share your and express feelings. Otherwise, you’ll be Philippines, white Don’t parolsletare visible to all in for inner turmoil. your tendency tochurch-goers. help others turn This has the oldest, bamboo into achurch way of ignoring your own needs. organ in the world.
January 2018 | Cover Story
1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008 People under the rat sign will be forced to think about changing their ways in 2018. In order to get by, they will have to re-examine their values and how they relate to others. “Rats are very clannish,” Smith says. “They keep to themselves, and they are very psychologically shrewd. The dog isn’t like that. The dog is upfront and honest, so the dog is going to teach the rat something about how to relate to people in a more straightforward way.” Looking at it in a positive light, this might be the year that Rats learn to come out of their proverbial shell. However, Rats may also struggle and feel a lot of tension in their relationships.
1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009 The Ox will benefit from the year of the Earth Dog. “Oxen are really hard workers,” Smith says. However: “They have anxiety about a lot of things.” The Ox’s hardworking and persistent nature is something that the Dog respects and sympathizes with. While the Oxen are usually strong and sturdy, they can sometimes falter in their convictions and second guess themselves. “But the Dog can protect the Ox and keep the Ox on track,” Smith adds. After all, various breeds of dogs have been brought up specifically to guard livestock and farms. In terms of symbolism, this means that even though your new year may throw some obstacles your way, you will no doubt be able to keep yourself resolute.
1938, Philippines, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986,lures 1998, 2010 At this 1914, kiosk1926, in Baguio, the parol Filipinos treats ofwill sticky rice inserted The Tigerto is buy one dessert of the signs that succeed the mostinin bamboo known as Puto normally made 2018. Thosealso under the Tiger sign Bumbong, will find that their ambitions during the holiday will be rewarded in theseason. new year. “The Tiger is going to have an opportunity to connect with high level people,” Smith says. “It’s
a really good year of success and prosperity for Tigers. They do well in the Dog year.” Bolstered by their innate sense of confidence, Tigers will see a lot of exciting opportunities come their way and will immediately pounce on them.
1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011 Last year—2017—was the year of the Fire Rooster. It was very hectic, fast-paced, and explosive, which really threatened and brought bad luck to Rabbits. The year of the Earth Dog is essentially the exact opposite. “The Rabbit is in a pretty good place because it’s a safer experience for a Rabbit in a Dog year,” Smith says. Even though, in reality, dogs hunt rabbits, rabbits are always quick enough and clever enough to escape. This fact of life translates into the prevailing theme that will mark the 2018 Chinese zodiac for Rabbits. Even if difficult situations present themselves, the Rabbit will be able to maneuver around those poor circumstances and create great luck and success. (Or, at the very least, they will find themselves unharmed.)
1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012 Dragons are all about spectacle. They love grandiosity and crave attention. Unfortunately for them, the Dog doesn’t care. “Dragons are very dazzling and creative, and they’re very good at performing,” Smith says, “but dogs aren’t impressed by things like that. The Dragon might not get a lot of satisfaction this year because the Dog year is not about that kind of display.” In short, 2018 will be an extremely humbling year for the Dragon. They won’t get the accolades they so desperately want and will fly under the radar. Dragons may very well get frustrated and upset when they don’t get the acknowledgment they think they deserve, either at work or at home. “Dragons will do better if they work behind the scenes and not be involved in confrontation,” Smith concludes.
1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013 Snakes are marked by a strong penchant for doing things on their own. They aren’t team players; rather, they tend to only look after me, myself, and I. This characteristic strongly clashes with the Dog, as Dogs love to collaborate and socialize. Dogs thrive the most when they feel a sense of community. Since these two signs are very much at odds, it will be a rough year for the Snake. “The Dog year wants us to have high ethics and ideals,” Smith explains, “and both the Snake and the Rat want to keep a low profile and live by their own rules. The Snake needs to get with the Dog’s idea of loyalty and cooperation and not just feel like they can go off and do their own thing.” It would behoove the Snake to improve their people skills and to not let their pride win out.
1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014 The Dog and the Horse are extremely compatible signs. According to Smith, “They’re both animals that humans like and so they have that in common, that they’re a part of the human landscape. So a Horse likes the Dog year because there is cause for celebration for the Horse, professionally and personally.” Because they have like values and personality traits, Horses will thrive in the year of 2018. Still, there is one potential problem that could get in the way of total happiness for the Horse: “The Horse is more of a Fire element creature,” Smith says, “so  might be a little boring [for them].” Horses like to engage in exciting activities, but the Dog, especially the Earth Dog, is much more subdued. The most challenging thing a Horse will face in 2018 is a little bit of boredom.
1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015 The year of 2018 will see the Goat, also known as the Sheep, acting very irritable. Smith explains, “The dog’s job, usually, is to keep the sheep in line. Sheep don’t really like that.” At work and at home, these people will feel as if virtually every move they make is being judged. There will be certain limits or restrictions imposed on this sign in 2018, which will aggravate them intensely. “They’re going to feel like everybody is on their case, asking them to do things, and they’re just going to have to buckle down and let that happen.” The best advice for this sign is to try to calm down, learn some patience, and make the best of what they’ve got.
1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016 Monkeys will run into problems similar to the Horse in 2018. Monkeys are fun, excitable, and sometimes mischievous characters. The Earth Dog doesn’t have much time for nonsense. “Monkeys love trouble and like to play the role of the instigator,” Smith says. “It’s not that kind of a year for the Monkey. Monkey will feel nourished by the Dog year, but Monkeys will not be able to engage in the kind of ‘monkey business’ that they like.” The year of 2018 will bring the Monkey back down to earth and urges them to take things a bit more seriously. This is the year that you really have to pay full attention to your responsibilities, and not indulge in risk or luxury. If you’re not careful, you will get yourself into a lot of trouble—and not the fun kind.
1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017 Roosters are like Dragons in the sense that they can be quite the show-offs. But people aren’t just going to fall to your feet this year. “In the year of the Dog,” Smith says, “the Rooster needs to be more modest and humble. The spotlight isn’t really shining on you in the Dog year, so you have to work harder.” Roosters may feel disrespected in 2018 because of the lack of attention and awe. You may be used to running the show, but 2018 has you looking like a regular Joe. You’re going to have to adjust your expectations of others and of yourself this year to make it through. 2018 Chinese Zodiac | asian avenue magazine
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new children’s book!
Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子) is about a little Chinese-American boy named Brandon who gets a surprise visit from his grandma from China, Pó Po (婆婆). While Brandon and Pó Po (婆婆) are making Chinese dumplings, called jiǎo zi (餃子), Brandon makes a mess and he and Pó Po (婆婆) have a good laugh! They chat and bond over the experience. Then Brandon eats and eats and eats and makes a surprise at the end that delights the whole family! This story includes some conversational Mandarin Chinese (including Pinyin – pronunciation) and is written the way a real Chinese grandmother and her Chinese-American grandson would speak with each other. It is a fun read for families with children who are learning, or are interested in, Mandarin or Chinese culture. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子) is available on Amazon at http:// amazon.com/author/eugeniachu in hardcover, paperback and Kindle versions.
GENIA C U E
The book includes a preface describing how to pronounce Chinese syllables and a glossary of Chinese words and numbers. Visit www.eugeniachu.com for more information.
Eugenia Chu is a first generation Chinese-American citizen, born in New Jersey and raised primarily outside of Boston, Massachusetts and then St. Petersburg, Florida. She also lived and attended school in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Taipei and Shanghai (summer study abroad). She met my husband in law school and they currently live in Miami with their son, Brandon, and fish, Sharky. Eugenia says: “My son, Brandon, is the inspiration for my stories. When Brandon was very little, I would read a bedtime story (or 2, or 3!) every night to him and then at lights out, Brandon and I would discuss his day and all the events that occurred. We would take turns adding information and make up little stories based on the happenings of the day before going to sleep. I was always searching for children’s storybooks to read to him which touched upon Chinese culture and which included some Chinese (Mandarin) words to teach and/or reinforce his Chinese vocabulary, but had trouble finding them. Most of the books I found were either straight translation or ABC/123 type books with no storyline. So, I started writing my own based on events in Brandon’s life and the little stories we told at bedtime. Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi is the first ‘Brandon’ story.”
January 2018 | Book Review
Excerpt from the book
bookreviews OLD SCORES
A Barker & Llewelyn Novel (Volume 9)
Author: Will Thomas
Publisher: Minotaur Books/St Martin’s Press ISBN: 9781250077967 Pages: 304 Price: $25.99 Author’s website: www.willthomasauthor.com Follow him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ groups/141651932516215
ILL THOM Reviewed by Mary Jeneverre Schultz Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @Jeneverre
Old Scores opens in London in 1890, as the first Japanese diplomatic delegation arrives in England to open an embassy. Cyrus Barker, a private enquiry agent and occasional agent for the Foreign Service Office, is enlisted to display his personal Japanese garden to the visiting dignitaries. Later that night, Ambassador Toda is shot and killed in his office and Cyrus Barker is discovered across the street, watching the very same office, in possession of a revolver with one spent cartridge. Arrested by the Special Branch for the crime, Barker is vigorously interrogated and finally released due to the intervention of his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, and his solicitor. With the London constabulary still convinced of his guilt, Barker is hired by the new Japanese ambassador to find the real murderer. In a case that takes leads Barker and Llewelyn deep into parts of London’s underworld, on paths that lead deep into Barker’s own mysterious personal history, Old Scores is the finest yet in Will Thomas’s critically acclaimed series. “The latest of Thomas’s Victoria gems is a shocker, cleverly weaving historical tidbits about Japan into Barker’s slowly revealed past,” said one of the critiques of Kirkus Reviews. The ending evolves into a shocker as each page
reveals the main character’s emotions and a little bit of his past. One of the best parts of the novel is the information about consuming “Fugu,” a Japanese word for pufferfish. It is generally prepared by skilled chefs, who are trained on finding the poisonous toxins. It is one of the top ten most dangerous foods to eat. Opium dens are also discussed in detail on how owners and their faithful customers are addicted to this drug from the Victorian ages. In nicer detail, the opium den is known as the Limehouse. It isn’t clear how Barker is related to the owner but it unfolds chapter by chapter, inviting readers to continue with the story line. With great attention to detail of culture, class and traditions, the author has set down a hypnotic read, well worth the time. Able to stand alone on its own merits yet moving the series along, readers cannot wait for the next installment. It’s very reminiscent of the characters of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Guide rates this book as one of the best 100 books in 2017. Will Thomas is the author of the Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn series, including The Black Hand, The Hellfire Conspiracy, The Limehouse Test, To Kingdom Come, and the Shamus and Barry award-nominated Some Danger Involved. He works as a librarian in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lives with his family. Mary Jeneverre Schultz loves a good mystery book. Book Review | asian avenue magazine
EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL
Author: Mira T. Lee
Publisher: Forthcoming from Pamela Dorman Books (Viking Penguin) ISBN: 0735221960 Pages: 368 Price: $26 Website: www.miratlee.com
EE .L Two sisters — Miranda, the oldest, straitlaced and serious, responsible because she has to be; and Lucia, the younger, headstrong and impulsive, prone to living life on a grand scale. Their unshakable bond, and the ways in which it is tested, is at the core of Mira T. Lee’s powerful debut novel Everything Here is Beautiful. An emotional family drama, an immigrant story, and a poignant narrative of what it means to love someone who is mentally ill, the book is a dazzling, deeply felt tale about the lengths we go to for those we love --- and marks the arrival of a promising new literary voice. “This heart-wrenching, delicately drawn novel is filled with family love, passion, pain and forgiveness. Mira T. Lee spins a story spanning oceans that draws us ever closer to her characters’ generous, flawed hearts. Power and unforgettable,” said Jean Kwok, New York Times best-selling author of Mambo in Chinatown (Book Review by Asian Avenue Magazine in November 2014). Through different perspectives, the author weaves the complexities of a woman’s recurring mental illness and not only how it takes over one’s life, but how it impacts the lives of the people close to her --- her sister, the men in her life, her baby daughter. Be prepare to cry because it is heart wrenching to see a family walk through this journey. Even with the sad overtones, it is still a book that is so eye opening and well written. It is a powerful story of an incredible bond between two sisters, their ability to love each other but know when to let go and when to hold on to each other.
January 2018 | Book Review
Reviewed by Mary Jeneverre Schultz Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @Jeneverre
Miranda has been her sister’s protector for as long as she can remember — ever since she and her pregnant mother emigrated from Shanghai to America. Years later, Lucia’s impetuous nature leads her to marry an older man, a one-armed Russian Jew, only to leave him abruptly to have a baby with a young Latino immigrant. While Lucia is busy rushing into life-changing decisions, sometimes with cataclysmic results, Miranda tries to put down roots and not come running every time her sister’s impulses get the better of her. But when Lucia starts hearing voices, Miranda must find a way to save her, without losing herself in the process. Told in alternating points of view, the book spans years and continents, following Miranda and Lucia from East Coast cities to a tiny village in Ecuador to the mountains of Switzerland. At its heart, it is about one woman’s quest to be more than just her illness, to create a full life in spite of the darkness she grapples with each day — and her sister’s equally affecting journey to care for her while finding her own path. Lee tenderly captures Lucia’s struggle, and its ripple effect on those around her, in this stirring and beautifully written tale of the ties that bind us across oceans, over time, and through love, chaos and heartbreak. Mira T. Lee’s work has been published in numerous quarterlies and reviews including: • TriQuarterly • The Missouri Review • The Southern Review • The Gettysburg Review She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She was awarded an Artists’s Fellowship by the Massachusetts Cultural Council in 2012. She is a graduate of Stanford University and lives with her husband and two young sons in Cambridge, Mass.
Interview with Mira T. Lee
What inspired you to write the novel? I’d written a few short stories, and I had a cast of characters I knew I could love, though they weren’t well-developed yet. Then around the time my kids were born, I went into a period of writing hibernation - I didn’t write for almost two years, but I had scenarios brewing in my head, a series of awful predicaments I wanted my characters to struggle through. By the time my younger son turned one, I had this story I felt a burning desire to tell. It turned out to be a messy cross-cultural family drama that involved lots of complicated relationships, and the ripple effects of mental illness.
What do you want readers walk away with after reading this book? I hope readers will gain a sense of the issues surrounding schizophrenia, which is perhaps still the most severe and stigmatized of all the mental illnesses, but one deserving of just as much compassion. I also hope people see that these illnesses are only one component of a person’s life, and can relate to the humanity at the core of each of my characters – as sisters, mothers, husbands, lovers, as modern women, as deeply flawed human beings who yearn for love and belonging.
When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies and/or interests? I grew up playing the piano, then in my twenties and early thirties I was a drummer in a bunch of bands, and I was a salsa dancing fanatic, and I painted, and I worked as a graphic designer. Writing started off as a hobby, too. Then I had kids, and that wiped out just about everything! But now they’re a little older, and I’ve actually returned to the piano. And I hope I’ll pick up some of my other old hobbies, or maybe even find some new ones. Oh, I also do love binge watching a good TV series. And I’m not averse to certain reality shows.
What do you want to share with your new fan base? Um, I’m not sure I have any fans yet! But if I do — I guess I’d tell them that I’m just your basic down-to-earth, unfussy kind of person. I dislike hypocrisy. I’m rational. I’m saddened by the erosion of balanced discourse, community, and genuine goodwill. I try to assume the best in people.
Any tips or advice to aspiring writers? I know there’s been a lot of talk lately about what writers “should” or “shouldn’t” write about. But you know what? I think you should write about whatever it is you care about deeply. Love your characters, even if they’re difficult and flawed. Make them real, and human, and individuals, not archetypes or placeholders created to fill a role. And oh, it’s a long, slow road. Enjoy the journey, and don’t rush to get to that place where you think you should be, because once you’re there, you’ll probably want to be somewhere else.
What’s the hardest part of the writing process?
Connect: Facebook www.facebook.com/ miratlee Twitter www.twitter.com/ miratlee Goodreads www.goodreads.com/ author/show/16437249. Mira_T_Lee
For me, it’s the kernel, that main idea. And getting through the first draft was hard, because I’m a very spare writer. Plot is also tough. But I love being in the middle. I love revision. I love the part where I get to sit back and say, what’s really going on here? And I love to play with words, and sentences, their sounds and rhythms. I wish someone would just hand me a really bad first draft and I’d take it from there.
What do you want to share that I’m not asking? One: Like all writers, I love to know when something I’ve written has actually moved a reader. Two: Communities of color often have trouble talking about mental illnesses. There’s an incredible amount of stigma. Know that you’re not alone. Get help.
Future projects? I’ve actually been working on some children’s picture books. I love that they are smaller projects, with a strictly defined form (16 spreads and you have to be done!). And I love being able to focus at the word and sentence level. It’s fun, and kind of magical. Everything Here is Beautiful | asian avenue magazine
The Perfect, Much Too Perfect Christmas Tree
he end of another year is upon us and I have a confession – we just bought our first artificial Christmas tree. The year was 1991, and it was my first Christmas as a married man. We lived in a small townhome, and despite the very modest size of our home, I was determined to show my new bride Maya, who was born and raised in Taiwan, what a traditional holiday Christmas was all about. And of course, the first order of business was getting a real, live, Christmas tree. The idea of getting our first live Christmas tree might bring up visions of bundling ourselves up in goose down winter coats, trekking up to a local tree faire who supplies us with steaming hot mugs of apple cider while we stroll along the rows of snow-flecked trees while listening to yuletide tunes in search of our perfect, newlywed Christmas tree. Not exactly. Living in sunny Southern California, the experience was a bit more, shall I say, temperate? There would be no goose down winter coats. If I recall, I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt that read something like, “My other car is a surfboard.” There would be no walking to any tree merchants. We would be driving my beatup truck with the air conditioning on high blast wearing sun glasses with each of us sipping on our own 32-ounce ice teas that we picked up at the 7/11 store on the way to the Home Depot that was selling Christmas trees in the parking lot. No yuletide music either. But I did hear someone blaring the Grateful Dead from his car as he was backing up to buy some fertilizer. But, aesthetics aside, it didn’t matter. This would be our first Christmas together, and wanted to make it a good
January 2018 | Humor
By Wayne Chan one. That meant buying the biggest tree on the lot. The thing is, when you are first married, especially for the groom, you are still basically in the dating phase of the relationship. You’ve spent the last year courting your soon to be wife, trying to impress her, and even though you’re now married and made everything legal, there’s still a part of you that wants to make sure that she’s made the right decision. Which means, something as seemingly simple as buying a Christmas tree needs to be a gargantuan task, because you are about to buy a gargantuan Christmas tree. It didn’t matter that our little townhome was completely unsuitable for a 12 foot Christmas tree. It didn’t matter that once the tree was set up that it would actually scratch our ceiling and knock down some of the popcorn texture on it. You rationalize that all that popcorn just makes it look like snow. It also didn’t matter that I forgot to consider that I was putting this gargantuan tree on a stand that I used for trees when I was single, which was basically designed to hold up any tree, so long as that tree was no more than three feet tall. And let’s not forget that since I had spent my entire holiday budget on this tree, I no longer had any money for additional ornaments to decorate this tree, which meant that I decorated the tree with the ornaments I had from the aforementioned three-foot tall single guy Christmas tree. What ornaments I had wasn’t enough to fill that tree. So, what did my gargantuan tree look like? Have you ever seen those wooden ships encased in a glass bottle and wondered, “How did they get that thing in that bottle?” That’s what our tree looked like in our little house. Just add far too few ornaments on the bottom half of the tree (I couldn’t afford a ladder) and some wires attached from the tree to the wall to keep the tree from falling over from the too small tree stand from the breeze created by anyone who happened to walk past it, and I think you’ve got the picture. If you think that one experience would dampen my enthusiasm for getting a live Christmas tree every year, you’re right, but it did take a while. In the years that passed, the tree has gotten a bit smaller every year, while the house has gotten bigger, and the ornaments have multiplied. And now that we have three kids, the quest to get the perfect tree has been taken on by the kids. The branches aren’t even on that tree! We need more ornaments on this side! There’s no room for presents over here! It’s been 26 years from that first tree, and I give up. This year it’s an artificial tree. It’s easy to set up. Easy to put away. It already has lights! What’s not to love? My son Tyler has the answer: I don’t like it. It’s too perfect! Someone help me.
May Tran Earns Distinguished Toastmasters International Award
By Elinora L. Reynolds
May Tran receives the Distinguished Toastmaster honor for presenting more than 40 speeches. Businesswoman May Tran was recently awarded Toastmaster lucky to have been introduced to the universal language of muInternational’s highest achievement, Distinguished Toastmaster sic that touches the hearts and souls of people throughout the (DTM). The award is the culmination of May’s four years of par- world. May is honored to use her music skills to perform piano ticipation as a member of two local Toastmaster clubs. To earn recitals for various senior centers throughout the Denver area. the DTM, she was required to give 40+ speeches and execute a Her passion and ability to deliver smiles and joy through music number of leadership projects. Her favorite speeches were “My to senior residents in their care centers speak volumes. Incredible One Way Trip” and “The Power of Music.” Through her work as a financial planner, May helps those interRecognized as the world’s undisputed expert in public speak- ested in their future by teaching valuable information regarding ing, Toastmasters International was founded in 1924 as a non- college education funding for students and retirement savings profit organization, and has over 352,000 memfor retirees. bers who are represented in 16,400 clubs and One way that May has chosen to use her 141 countries. Their mission is to provide a muToastmaster skills is to use her personal refugee tually supportive and positive learning environexperience to reach out to recent refugees who ment in which members have the opportunity have arrived in Denver in order to ensure that to improve their speaking, listening and thinktheir voices are heard and their health issues ing skills. More than four million people around are addressed. With her passionate personality the world have found the courage to improve to always help others whenever she is able, she their communications skills with poise and has friends from all walks of life who love and confidence. As the Eastern Division Director admire her caring and sharing spirit. for Toastmasters International, May is responsiMay Tran is a loving wife to her husband of ble for overseeing seven area directors and 30 over 30 years, and is a proud mother of two clubs that consist of more than 500 members. children. She also serves as a board member This brilliant, world traveler was born in Vietfor Sisters Enterprise, a nonprofit that promotes nam to a Chinese family, and attended a private random acts of kindness in Colorado. May Tran is fluent in four French school prior to coming to the United The Absolutely Articulate Toastmasters languages and also trained States in 1979 as a boat refugee. As an excellent Club meets on the 2nd & 4th Saturday of evin classical piano. communicator, she speaks four languages ery month at 9am at Life Care Center of Aurora, Vietnamese, Chinese, French and English, and is a graduate from 14221 E. Evans Ave., Aurora and Westminster Communicators, Metropolitan State University in Computer Science Manage- where May serves as the Club President, meets at noon every ment. Having been trained in classical piano at Saigon’s Conser- Wednesday at DeVry University in Westminster. For more inforvatory School of Music, she considers herself both blessed and mation, e-mail email@example.com. On Scene | asian avenue magazine
Head to for one of your trips in 2018 Pasta, ruins, pizza, churches, gelato... what is the first thing you think of when you think of Rome? Type “Rome” into Google and the first images you see are those of the Colosseum, which is a must-see spot when visiting the historic city. As 2018 begins, airfare prices are dropping. For those who are planners, flight tickets are as low as $300 on websites advertising cheap flights. With the number of Chinese outbound travelers at more than 130 million, Asian travelers are increasingly choosing destinations further from their homes such as Europe and the U.S. and many—at least for the time being—don’t feel terror threats outweigh the deals they can get from weaker European currencies. But let’s get back to the fun stuff. One of the best European icons sits in Rome. As a massive symbol of Ancient Rome, the Flavian Amphitheatre, better known as the Colosseum, offers a glimpse through Rome’s history. In the centuries that the Colosseum has stood, it has served as a gladiatorial stadium, a church, and a site of historical significance. However, unless you studied Roman history you probably wouldn’t know the significance of the Colosseum or any of the surrounding ruins. Most people would probably spend an hour or two roaming the ruins and then move on. But for a more in depth sightseeing experience, a walking tour with Walks of Italy is one of the better options.
January 2018 |Travel
Article and Photos by Jessalyn Herreria Langevin
On a hot June day, Walks of Italy’s VIP Caesar’s Palace Tour offers an inside peek into the Colosseum and Roman Forum. The tour includes the Arch of Titus, an exclusive access to the homes of the first emperor of Rome, a walk-through Palatine Hill, a glimpse of a bird’s eyes view of the Roman Forum, and of course, the iconic Colosseum. Tour guides begin the tour with a brief history lesson, explaining who was Augustus Caesar and his relation to the famous (or infamous) Julius Caesar. Tour guides tell their historical factoids by sharing stories of Ancient Rome and explaining the details that have long faded from the now pale façade. Augustus became the powerful, but rather anti-social emperor. Livia was his cunning wife, who was supposedly quite skilled with poison. Ancient Rome became a colorful and vibrant place. The past sprang to life in a way that was impossible without the help of a tour guide. As part of the tour, visitors received exclusive access to the homes of Augustus Caesar and Livia. Being the first emperor of Rome, Augustus was a prominent figure in Roman society. His home, and that of his wife, reflected such and several of the exquisite frescoes in their homes were well preserved due to the “Lasagna Effect” of Rome. This phenomena is that Rome constantly builds on top of itself instead of tear-
How incredible to walk through the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, whose namesake were charged with keeping the sacred flame alive. ing down and then rebuilding. The Lasagna Effect makes it possible to see many layers of history. This continual building upon existing building allowed an airtight seal on several rooms in the first emperor’s home which allowed remarkable preservation of the frescoes. The frescoes, which can only be seen with a certified tour guide, were brightly colored with shades of red, gold, and the occasional green. These frescoes were likely even more brightly colored when they were originally painted. The tour is an interactive look through art history in a wealthy Roman household. The next stop on the tour was the Roman Forum from the top of Palatine Hill. Architecture and city planners can point out all the important buildings and ruins, explaining how Romans continually found new ways to use and reuse. Several buildings had served as temples, shrines, and Catholic churches.
It was fascinating to see all of Ancient Rome laid out and hear how it had changed throughout the ages. The culmination of the tour was, of course, the Colosseum. Walk of Italy uses the feature, “Skip the Line” access, bypassing through security. It’s not just a self-guided tour. The informative tour guides made the Colosseum come alive through their talented story telling. Visitors can imagine stories of gladiators and how the crowds adored them and why the Colosseum eventually fell to disuse. Don’t cut expenses by overlooking tours. They might be the best investment of your trip. ----------------------------------------------------Learn more at www.walksofitaly.com about Walks of Italy. Jessalyn Herreria Langevin, 29, checked off Rome from her bucket list when she traveled there with her husband, Daniel. Connect with her on Instagram @MemoryRevenge.
This ceiling is part of everyday life in Ancient Rome.
Enter the Colosseum directly to hear tales of gladiators and vengeful emperors. Visit Rome, Italy | asian avenue magazine
apdc’s wholeness care clinic team supports those struggling with their identity Provided by: Asian Pacific Development Center The Wholeness Care Clinic Team at Asian Pacific Deso they push their kids to go for jobs that are high payvelopment Center recently came across Michelle Phan’s ing with the hopes that many won’t have to suffer the “Why I Left” video, and it resonated with our own expeway they did. riences. She is a Vietnamese-American make-up artist For Asian Americans born in the U.S. or acculturated on YouTube. In the video, she shared her perspective to Western beliefs, they’re taught to follow their pasregarding her mother’s belief that having higher edsions, which conflicts with their parents’ definition of ucation and a good paying job would equal having a success. According to Michelle, she chased a dream of good life. This is a common belief in the Southeast Asian what others wanted for her, but not what she knew she community that being financially successful as a doctor wanted. Many of us have chased someone else’s dreams or lawyer will result in happiness. Michelle Phan is sucto please those we love, but the pressure and lack of cessful now, but she had to compassion shows in our daily lives. For Asian Americans born in municate to her mother what her Not meeting others’ expectations dreams were. As a team of Vietnamwhile yearning to pursue a perthe U.S. or acculturated to ese Americans, we have had direct sonal passion create confusion and indirect experiences in regards Western beliefs, they’re taught on an individual’s identity. There to Vietnamese American youth to follow their passions, which is no right or wrong in these bestruggling with their own identiliefs or core values; however, they conflicts with their parents’ ties and their parents’ expectations often conflict between first gendefinition of success. due to language barriers and differeration parents and children that ences in cultural beliefs. The team have acculturated with the mainwill utilize Michelle Phan’s journey stream population. of finding herself to address how Living in two different worlds cultural differences play a role in can be challenging. Many young generational conflicts and a sense people can suffer depending www.apdc.org of identity. how the individual views his/her Success in the Asian community means being rich besituation and the ways he/she copes with it. Michelle cause many grew up living in poverty. Michelle Phan’s Phan coped by finding her inner peace and separatmother stated, “You don’t want to be like me because ing herself from the busy life. Solution seekers must go I don’t make money. Be something that does.” Parents through emotional pain to become emotionally stable left Vietnam, with hopes that life will be better in Amerby seeking appropriate support. ica because there will be more money. When they came Our team wants to be able to support you through to America, many worked in factories, nail salons and this because we have been there, and we understand. landscaping to support the family, but at times it wasn’t We hope to further this discussion at our “life stresses” enough. Knowing how stressful not having enough workshop in February 2018. More details coming soon money is, parents only wish for the best for their child, at www.apdc.org!
January 2018 | Health
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