half enough

"Half Enough" is Victoria's first regular column series. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Discover Nikkei.

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Tamales for Christmas

Two days before Christmas Eve, I saw a news clip on television about a popular tamale place in East Los Angeles. This restaurant was so busy and apparently so good that they had orders from customers six months in advance. Many of the customers—who were waiting for hours in line—had traveled long distances by car for these tamales. One gentleman drove from Sacramento and brought ice chests to bring the authentic Mexican tamales home, tamales that can’t be found anywhere else.

The day before Christmas Eve, I was craving tamales. Authentic Mexican ones. I didn’t want to believe it was …

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Half Japanese Christmases

Christmas before finding out the truth about Santa

My father told me there was no Santa Clause when I was seven years old. I wasn’t completely surprised, though the little ounce of hope I did have that Santa Clause might exist was dispelled when he made the news official.

It was the year 1990 and my parents were struggling financially. My father sat me and my brother atop the toilet seat lid in the bathroom and turned the fan on. I think he was expecting the worst so he turned the fan on as background noise in case we might …

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To be a circle

My mother has a circle metaphor. I don’t think the metaphor is originally hers and when I ask her where she got it from, she doesn’t remember. “That’s not the point,” she tells me when I ask her about the origins of her circle metaphor. The point, she explains, is that the metaphor for a human being becoming a circle makes sense and is a good thing.

I tend to overanalyze and overdramatize things, but when she puts it that way I get it. To be a circle makes sense. It’s a logical metaphor. Circles are good. Round shaped things …

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Which comes first - moving out or growing up?

Paying rent is a costly way to learn to grow up. I’m left with very little disposable income and two credit cards (that I’m still paying off) screaming to be swiped.

In Japan, most children live with their parents until they get married. I can only think of two reasons why: 1) there isn’t enough space in Japan for everyone over 18 to live on their own, let alone afford it, and 2) it is a longstanding tradition for Japanese families to live together and for children to take care of their parents when they are older. My aunt Teruko …

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Living in the "barrio"

I can get away with being Hispanic or Latina without even trying. In my neighborhood, known as the “barrio” of Los Angeles for its highly concentrated Hispanic population, I am not mistaken for a Mexican. I am Mexican. Because of my brunette head and facial features—more European than Mexican I’m told—I am spoken to in Spanish everywhere I go. At every grocery store (El Super, Vallarta Supermarket, Food 4 Less), King Taco (excluding the Pasadena branch), and bus stop in Boyle Heights.

“Veinte cinco, cuarenta dos,” the cashier at Food 4 Less tells me. That much I understand. 25 dollars …

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boyle heights california christmas food hapa holidays identity language Los Angeles multiracial Santa tamale