Thursday, September 18, 2008


Dear Friends, Your comments flew back from somewhere and just appeared! Wish I knew how I did that. ---M.


TBAsian evolved from indecision and brain freeze when trying to name the blog. My husband helpfully suggested, "Just put TBA for now. You can always change it." (uh. . . no I won't change anything that requires technology.) As I typed in TBA I thought, "TBA . . . To be Asian . . . TBAsian" It suits me. If the past 62 years are an indication, I am and continue to be a life in evolution. I am a life To Be Announced. The name fits.

Something as basic as my name reflects that. I was born with one name, a name in which the Japanese was hidden to keep me safe. It sounded English; it was spelled English to make the disguise complete. I didn't like my name. It didn't fit me. Physically, in my feelings, my delivery, in all ways, my Japanese was no secret. However, I am grateful to my mother. Hidden though my Japanese name was, it was there and she told me the truth about why she hid it,( to protect me). That she told me the truth is what counted. In my senior year in high school, I switched it to Donna Rei, a proud display of correct spelling and corrected perception. Complete evolution happened in the Seventies when a divorce gave me a free name change. I asked Obachan if I could have her name, Misao, and she granted me that. So now I am Misa Joo and my name hides nothing plus gifted me with a good life. Obachan told me that her name meant "life is beautiful," and she cautioned as she always did in such cases "it's not just you're beautiful, you know." (ie., Don't let it go to your head, girl!) With my new name's blessing I entered what I still see as a good path of life.

And speaking of names, along the way on this good path of life, I am also named C'wisa which means "she is full of song." My Winnemem tribal leader who gave me that name explained that in Winnemem, the more accurate meaning would be "chock full of song." I like the Winnemem way of seeing it. So I am C'wisa, which is my tribal name, and gives me strength.

I'm following very closely on my grandparents' steps. They are immigrants who chose to live away from their birth place, perhaps out of necessity, but chose to live there the best they could. More like them than I am my nisei parents who were became very assimilated to their country of birth, I made a choice and chose to live Winnemem. Within the boundaries of the US are many indigenous countries, one of which is Winnemem, and their way of life is quite distinct from the country of my birth. For one thing, it is not an empire stretching from one ocean to another. Their land is not small, by any means going from Mt. Shasta to the Sacramento River. They are responsible for hundreds of sacred places in their region, and they take care of it. They take care of the medicines, the ceremonies and their way of life. They take care of the fish and all that lives within their region. This is something impossible to do if one were to have an empire. I am grateful that I have personal contact with my leaders, and that we all are committed to taking care of the elders, the children, the way of life, and the land. It's very satisfying to live this way. Like my grandparents, I have come to a land of great opportunity for me. And I like working hard to do whatever I can as a Winnemem.

Why am I blogging? It's not because I love working with technology. For me, the internet is scary in its anonymity, and things seem to disappear there. I can be kicked off just like that! Example MySpace. I disappeared and can't get on no matter how much I plead with "Friend Tom" for help. My lack of skill should be of no surprise. I was born in the time when those huge typewriters that could kill someone if dropped on them were in use. These clunky machines, however, were key in the Sixties for young people to write and spread the truth that was sorely lacking in what we were being taught. I am a product of my upbringing AND my generation and am forever changed by being part of the youth movements who used these machines to crank out a revolution, at least a transformation of self.

There are many books written about the Sixties but none quite tell about those times as I experienced it. Since my whole life unfolds from those two great forces -- of upbringing as an Asian American sansei as well as the youth movements of the Sixties and Seventies -- I'm inspired to blog despite my techno-disadvantages. Writing has always been a powerful tool for the Asian American youth movement. We wrote our own books, made our own songs, traveled up and down I-5 to share them on campuses and at community centers. Where ever the writers, activists, taiko drummers, singers, poets would go, it would become an event for the community. With this, a great network of Truth was built and alliances forged with all other justice struggles that continue today. In music and words we told about our brothers and sisters being sent to die in an illegal war and about our grandparents and parents who suffered grave injustices yet survived with their humanity intact. So just as I spelled my name as it was meant to be, I decided to write about another side of the story that has not been told yet, but lives on, and evolves, not so neatly plotted but as messy as life is.


  1. wow, being from the same techno phobic generation, i'm so proud of you for setting up this blog. it was great to feel the warm rush of recognition of words spoken...and unspoken that situations we shared. i tired of correcting the spelling and pronunciation of masaye (messiah), so longed to hide from my middle name, and should have chosen change rather than feeling tagged. it was fun to stimulate and stir up thoughts...thanks, and i look forward to the next tba!!

  2. Congratulations on your debut! I'm looking forward to more beautiful imagery coming from your fertile mind.

    -- Will

  3. This is my sister, rootm, who often measures her choices against mine -- which is the younger sister's lot. We older sister's just truck on without thought. To my sister I say that naming is merely one of many choices of life and the weight one puts on its significance is just personal choice. I made a big deal about my name. Who knows why? You prioritized other things, like using your time in more useful ways than correcting mispronunciations (which were never going to change anyway) and taking the time to marry the right guy and never have the choice of the free name change. As for our middle names, I ditched mine as soon as I had the opportunity, remember? Rei/Rae was no better loved than Masaye. You're not a technophobe. You do all these neat things with art, you play games, and you EBay, even for me. I can't even correct my spelling of "anonymity" because I can't find the edit process in blogging. It is frigging embarrassing.

  4. I married Willmoving second time around which is the smartest decision and luckiest moves I have ever made. I'll leave it at that.

  5. Misa, I was moved and inspired after reading your first entry on TBAsian! I look forward to reading your blog on a regular basis. I've got my own but it's still somewhat personal and I write mostly about my transitioning from married to SAW (single Asian Woman). I so love the internet.

  6. hello--thx for starting the blog. I wrote something else, but it didn't go through properly (actually, I didn't want my real name on a public blog--call me paranoid! it's me, your TLP roomie)// names/naming is a profound process. as the years go by, one's name has a story that grows & grows. // time for sansei to tell their stories, as you and i have discussed various times. // it's late, but am glad i checked my email! keep writing! // okay, technology is not my forte--am going on with my real name...

  7. I love my Tule Lake Pilgrimage roomie whom I see every other year. We talk like this every night of the four day pilgrimage, practically staying up all night. I know I'll be writing about pilgrimage someday! BTW that's not her real name.


"from Outside the Belly" was also known as "TBAsian" from 2008-2010. Thank you for reading.

from Outside the Monster's Belly

from Outside the Monster's Belly
. . . following Earth instead (Rakaia River, site of Salmon Ceremony, photo credit Ruth Koenig)


Blogs I Follow

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
Eugene, Oregon
I am a citizen of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. I am a Nikkei descendant sansei (third generation);retired teacher, involved in the Winnemem tribal responsibility to Water, Salmon, and our belief that the Sacred is our Teacher. Working locally for human rights and supporting youth leadership.