Susan Ito

Susan Ito co-edited the literary anthology A Ghost At Heart’s Edge: Stories & Poems of Adoption (North Atlantic Books). Her work has appeared in Growing Up Asian American, Choice, Literary Mama, The Bellevue Literary Review, Making More Waves, and elsewhere. She writes and teaches at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, at UC Berkeley Extension, and the MFA Program at Bay Path College. (Photo by Laura Duldner)

Updated December 2015

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Decades of Extending Connections

When my Nisei mother first moved from the East Coast to northern California in her eighties, she left behind the Japanese American community she had been part of since her childhood in New York City. She said goodbye to those she had played stickball with in Brooklyn, and the lifelong friends from the Japanese church in Manhattan where she’d gotten married. At first, making new friends seemed daunting. Thankfully, someone told us about Extending Connections in Alameda. My mother felt hesitant, but when we pulled up to the curb at the church, a quartet of women with salt-and-pepper hair ...

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How I Fell in Love with Fresno

My godmother, aka my Auntie Kiyo, was originally from Fresno. But after the war, she ended up in New York, and I remember her always as a widow who lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey. I loved visiting her place with my parents. She was the only grownup I knew who had life-sized stuffed animals (poodles) on her bed. She had a gold bedspread, which I found very elegant. In her living room, there were endless Japanese knickknacks to explore. A lacquer box filled with smooth black pebbles. Porcelain dolls with exquisite hair and kimonos. The ...

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Go For Broke: Remembering My Own Japanese American War Hero

One dark night when I was living alone in my twenties, my mother phoned me at one a.m. to tell me to turn on the television.

“Susan. Go turn on channel eleven. Right now.” Blinking, bleary, I imagined ambulances, disasters, twisted cars steaming at the side of the highway. But it was none of that.

“What is it?” When I understood that nobody in our family was near death, I felt grouchy. My eyeslashes were gummy, stuck together, and the inside of my mouth was foul. Sleep beckoned from the other side of my pillow.

“It’s Daddy’s ...

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