Advancement

Sleep When You're Dead

February 14, 2018
Hideki Fukusumi

Hey folks, Hideki here again! I’ve been reflecting on my experience with Kizuna so far and all I can really think is “Jeez, 6 months already?! Where does the time go?”

If you haven’t read my initial post and want to know a little more about my journey to Kizuna, check it out here.

If you want the “Too Long; Didn’t Read” version, it goes a little something like this:

  • I was let go from a job that I had invested a 3-year long Master’s degree into learning, only to quickly realize that the culture and values of the profession didn’t quite match up with mine.
  • With so many things uncertain during this period of limbo, there was one thing that I absolutely knew I wanted to do: start getting involved again with the things that I valued and brought me energy.

I wanted to share a little more about what my weekly grind looks like these days as I continue to explore myself and the impact I want to make in this world. It’s been a journey and it hasn’t been easy, but I think one of the greatest life lessons I’ve learned so far is that the most important decisions are rarely the easiest ones to make.

"It’s been a journey and it hasn’t been easy, but I think one of the greatest life lessons I’ve learned so far is that the most important decisions are rarely the easiest ones to make."

I have two main categories that I lump my involvements into, which are paid jobs and passion projects. I currently have four jobs that provide an income:

  • Adjunct counselor at a community college
  • Program coordinator for Kizuna
  • Front of House service for a casual fine-dining restaurant called Kato
  • Contracted work for Vigilant Love, a community organization that combats Islamaphobia

My passion projects are continually rotating because I have so many things I enjoy, but right now my main ones are:

  • egodeath: A personal brand I’m developing that encompasses the idea that with everything we do, we should always try and be better than we were yesterday. I don’t have one specific medium for this creative outlet,     but some examples are benefit events, podcasts, blog posts, and life coaching. The goal is to use the experiences from these projects to start writing books and doing speaking engagements.
  • Do-Rite Collective: A collective of individual musicians, producers, and DJs that help other musicians and artists actualize their ideas by providing them with resources and planning logistics to curate music-centered events.
  • Nikkei Progressives:  A multi-generational community organization that brings the Little Tokyo community together around progressive concepts and issues. Many of our members have been active in fighting on behalf of the community, from issues like redress and civil liberties to gentrification and women’s rights.

As I’m writing all this out, I’m starting to realize how stupid busy this all sounds… but because I’ve been intentional in choosing what I spend my time with, it doesn’t feel like work. Okay, ready to walk through a typical week with me?

"I’m starting to realize how stupid busy this all sounds… but because I’ve been intentional in choosing what I spend my time with, it doesn’t feel like work."

Sunday

Usually Sundays are reserved for catching up on sleep (gotta sacrifice something right?), video games, digging for new music, and sad attempts at cleaning/organizing my living space. This past Sunday, however, I spend the morning volunteering with Vigilant Love, working with college-aged Muslim students to figure out ways to support them in an age of Islamaphobia.

We watch a documentary about Muslim students from Brooklyn College who had a plain-clothes cop planted in their Muslim Student Association. They talk about the traumatic stress they experienced from finding out after two years that they were being surveilled by NYPD, and the helplessness of feeling like they could not turn to any government or authority figure to complain about this breach of their privacy. We discuss the students’ personal experiences with being surveilled, and brainstorm how we can continue to support the Muslim community.

As a Japanese American, these experiences resonate heavily with me because our community has had very similar experiences during the events leading up to WWII, and the subsequent incarceration of our community. It’s important to use our collective knowledge to support others so that they don’t have to go through the same violation of their rights at the expense of irrational hysteria.

"It’s important to use our collective knowledge to support others so that they don’t have to go through the same violation of their rights at the expense of irrational hysteria."

After I’m done volunteering, I head over to Long Beach to meet up a friend to discuss a potential egodeath project. He’s a freelance graphic designer that helps companies with branding identity, and also dabbles in motion graphics. We catch up over coffee, talking about the current state of the US and the importance of using our gifts and platforms for social equity and not just monetary gain. The meeting ends with him giving me some branding advice, we set some deadlines, and go our respective ways.

Monday

I consider Monday to be my emergency rest day in case I decide to torture myself and not rest on my day off, like yesterday. I have a 6-hour shift at the community college, and on today’s schedule is a new student orientation. I really enjoy working these orientations because you see a spectrum of students at different places in their lives. You have a majority of students coming straight from high school, of course, but there are also many students between 22-50 that are either starting school for the first time or coming back after working full-time because they realize they want more out of life.

After facilitating the orientation, I have a couple appointments with students, and I’m done by 2 PM. I come home and I should do laundry, but I end up playing some video games before I cook dinner. I’ve been trying to be vegetarian lately, so it forces me to cook more and experiment with ingredients I don’t usually pair together as much. I’m a weak human being and end up having meat a couple nights a week, but it’s a work in progress (haha).

Tuesday

Tuesday and Thursday I’m in the Kizuna office. I walk in and it looks like Valentine’s Day threw up inside with pink and purple hearts everywhere, which makes me laugh, and I know it will be a good day. 

I’m currently working on writing new curriculum for our Summer Leadership program, which has been an incredible experience. I’ve been given a lot of creative freedom to take the reins and implement a lot of my egodeath work into the workshops and curriculum. I’m usually in from 11 AM – 7 PM, which allows me to avoid most traffic on my commute from Diamond Bar. 

After I clock out, I stay in the office a little longer to curate a playlist on Spotify, a music streaming app. I’ve been putting together playlists for a year because I love sharing the music I enjoy with people. I consider it a very intimate activity, and it allows me to connect with people on a different level. After another hour or so, I head home for the day.

Wednesday

Back on the grind, except today has a couple of meetings mixed with the normal work functions. My first meeting is with a planning committee for an event called “Day of Remembrance,” which commemorates the Civil Liberties Act – an act that awarded incarcerated Japanese Americans redress after a long-fought battle to have the government recognize their constitutional violations during WWII.

I sandwich more Kizuna work in between, and end the work day around 6:30 PM to head over to a Nikkei Progressives steering committee meeting. As the steering committee, we do a lot of the organizational legwork in planning general member meetings, as well as planning for participation in larger community events. A couple weeks ago we gathered a group of about 60 people to head to the Women’s March, fully equipped with picket signs, noise makers, and a huge banner.

I end my day around 10 PM and head over to spend the night at my friend’s place in Echo Park so that I can get an early start the following day and not sit in an hour of traffic. When I get there, my friend and her husband ask if I want to go to Dub Club with them, which is a reggae night at a local venue called Echoplex. Again, being the weak human being and music lover I am, I agree. We stay for about a couple hours before calling it a night, and grab some Jamaican food on the way back.

Thursday

The plan is to get into Little Tokyo around 9 AM, but I end up rolling in around 10 AM. A little after noon, the Kizuna office walks over to the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) to check out their current rotating exhibit called Transpacific Borderlands, which explores the art of Japanese Diaspora. 

We head back to the office and I work until 3 PM, then leave for the evening because I have special tickets to a Disneyland After Dark event.

Friday

Back at the community college for a full 8-hour day, I’m booked with back-to-back appointments because it’s registration season! Most students have questions about what classes they should be taking, and a few of them have trouble registering because they don’t realize that they were dismissed due to being on academic probation too long. It’s a mixture of emotions and conversations, all which end up reminding me that the human experience is so unique to each individual. Working at a community college where a lot of students are first generation (first in their families to go to college) has given me a great sense of humility and helped me to understand the many privileges that I’ve had in my educational experience.

After work on Friday, I head over to Do-Rite Collective’s Monthly residency at a barcade in Santa Ana called Mission Control. I listen to my friends spin great music while playing video games, bump into some faces I haven’t seen in a while, and hang out with a coworker from Kizuna who stopped by.

At the ripe old age of 31, I’m at this point where I don’t always socially connect with the younger generation, but I also don’t feel old at all. Being able to go out to things like this helps me stay young mentally, and also allows me to connect with and understand the students I serve both in the community college and the nonprofit world.

Saturday

Most weeks for me are busy, but not this jam-packed. I spend most of Sunday just relaxing and hanging out before I go into work at the restaurant, Kato. I used to manage the restaurant before the community college and Kizuna gigs, but ended up switching over to working the front of house as a server when my schedule started filling up. Even though I only work 1-2 nights a week there, it’s hard for me to leave because the staff is awesome, the tip is great, and I get to eat delicious food whenever I work! We finish dinner service around 10:30 PM, and after cleaning I’m back home around midnight, looking forward to my one rest day tomorrow.

Some quick takeaways from all this:

"College degrees have become commoditized, but the world doesn’t work that way. Volunteer. Intern. Find a way to get involved with something you enjoy. Work hard at it and put your soul into it, and I guarantee you something will come from it."
  • If you have the support systems in place for it, diversify your experiences! My support includes my family and friends, as well as my educational background. It wouldn’t be ideal, but if at any moment my financial     situation were to become dire, I have a career that I can jump back in to.  Until then, I’m going to keep doing things that allow me to gain these  experiences and connections with the intention of finding a way to     continue what I’m doing, but on a more professional level.
  • I’m blessed to be working with an organization like Kizuna that allows me to be flexible with my time. I appreciate that they value what I bring to the table, and trust me to have the drive and discipline to accomplish my job while providing me with so much support.  
  • STOP PUTTING MONETARY VALUE ON YOUR TIME. College degrees have become commoditized, but the world doesn’t work that way. Volunteer. Intern. Find a way to get involved with something you enjoy. Work hard at it and put your soul into it, and I guarantee you something will come from it.

If you wanna stay updated with what I’m up to, follow me on Instagram: @egodeath__

Hideki Fukusumi

Hideki Fukusumi is the Program Coordinator at Kizuna. He has been a counselor for Kizuna's high school Leadership summer program and the Student Success Institue program.