Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The right to say No

The declared theme for this upcoming year is I will not do things I do not want to do.

On Friday my supervisor called me, at the elementary school, to ask if I wanted to be in a kimono contest. She was excited and began to make plans as to where her friend could meet me to try on kimonos for the contest. I was not sure what any of this really meant. So she gave me a link to last years contest.

I looked at the site and looked at the 24 year old secretary. The secretary told me that she could call my supervisor for me and tell her that I am "very busy."

Perhaps my supervisor and her friend are disappointed that they cannot dress the foreigner up in a kimono. But I decided to say, "No."

Of course, I cannot just throw around the word "No" too easily.

For example:

On Saturday, I went over to Sarah's house to drink the ume-shu (plum liquor) that had been sitting under my sink for three months. Slowly exchanging the flavors of cheap liquor, plums, and sugar making one large jug of ume-shu.

And it was delicious.

The delicious ume-shu even made it's way to the karaoke room.

Then the ume-shu somehow made it back from the karaoke room and into the cab.

After a late night (or early morning) of the sweet liquor I really did not want to get into my car and drive to watch elementary school kids run around the field. I wanted to say "No."
But I would also like to maintain a good relationship with the school and the community that surrounds it. So I went to the elementary school sports day.

I did not regret, for a moment, that I had previously told this school "No" when they asked me to be the mother chicken while the 1st-3rd graders did the chicken dance.
Instead I just watched the events.

If no one else around here is going to use that word directly, I will be happy to introduce it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

In my imagination

In my imagination ...

there are some really old Japanese women that live in the mountains near me. They were around before electricity and walk around vertical to the dirt under their feet. They are so old, they have lost track of their age.

all Japanese women in their sixties and seventies can spend the same two hours in a ballet class with me. Then they can spend the same four hours drinking beer with me.

all Japanese peers of mine have a job. None of them have arrest records. Nor do they have drinking problems that impede on personal relationships.

Japanese Jr.high school students enjoy waking up and coming to school. They welcome time spent with their families. And their thrills are met while baking with their friends.

The children in Japan can always get as dirty as they want. They have imaginations like the little girls in Totoro and the little boy in Ponyo.

Babies in Japan are allowed to play with anything, including electrical outlets and they never get seriously injured.



Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ooh Fashion

Occupation: Runway Model.
It did not pay as well as expected, but I did it in the name of fashion.

Brian and Chalice were in this fashion show last year. The store, Renne is part of a fall/ winter show along with about four other stores from Takamatsu. This year, they asked Brian if he knew any other foreigner's who would like to do it. Brian asked his most beautiful friends and we showed up at their store in Takamatsu on Thursday to see our clothes.

Then we went to the fancy venue where the show would be.

I made the mistake of not wearing black or dark purple while hanging out with the fashion people on Thursday. I was wearing ankle high boots though, thank god.

We got to the venue Saturday at 1 p.m. and spent most of the afternoon nibbling on the provided snacks. This time I wore my black jeans with lots of zippers.
Then we watched some of the other stores rehearsals and sat on stairs that lite up.

I spent the day surrounded by beautiful people of various nationalities who all spoke Japanese. Thank god for Lindsay, who was also in the show, who is also of average height and weight and speaks average "I lived here for a year" Japanese.

In the name of fashion, I will carry you through the rest of the day's events in photos.

We lined up back stage at 10 p.m. and got ready to walk down the runway. Roughly, 300 people were in the audience. They paid about $20 to get in and ordered drinks from one of the fanciest bars I have ever seen.
I really do not understand what I was doing backstage either.

I was channeling Cara Craig as the hairdresser took special interest in my locks.

I made it down the catwalk, two separate times in two different outfits, without tripping, while hundreds of camera flashes went off. I stopped when I made it to the end of the runway to have my photo snapped by the large professional camera. And I crossed paths with the model that proceeded me at the right time.

All the Renne Models.
Then we ate cinnabons because beautiful people eat too.

Occupation: retired runway model.
That was weird. Next time I would like to just watch.
Hopefully I will never wear that much foundation ever again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fashion Show Fashion Show

I am going to be in a Fashion Show on Saturday.
This is the designer's blog.
The fashion show will be in Takamatsu. Takamatsu is only the coolest city in Shikoku. And I get paid $100.
I am going to be fitted for clothes tomorrow.
Get on your private jet on get here. Oh, you do not have a private jet? Oh, I guess you are not in fashion shows like some people.
I would consider "being in a fashion show" to be on my list of life time goals. Perhaps sandwiched between visiting the Bronte sisters home in England and being a decent tap dancer.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fire, Fire on the Mountain.

Last Saturday I woke to an alarm being sounded over the town loudspeakers. The alarm began in my sleep and still wailed as I opened my eyes to the dark morning.
Then the female Japanese voice made an announcement.
I could not even pick up a key word from my slumber.
I really thought I was dreaming. I was more convinced of it than any other tricky state of conciseness I have been in.
The announcement ended. Moments later more sirens began, car sirens in the distance.
Next, every dog in this town started barking and howling.
I laid in bed paralyzed with fear.
Currently, that is the fear that stands in the front of my danger fantasies. I thought that maybe the biggest earthquake in the history of the world had hit some part of Asia and the tremors were making it down to Shikoku.
I laid completely still and waited.
For an evacuation to begin.
For lights in homes to turn on.
For some bilingual guardian angel to call me because they would know that I could not understand the announcement.
I thought about reaching around for my cell phone and calling my neighbor Ashley, but I felt safer laying completely still.
Nuclear attack.
The world was under nuclear attack and this was it.
Maybe I should try to get to a ground floor.
Some huge earthquake was sending a tsunami all the way to the middle of Shikoku.
Maybe I should get to the roof.
But other than nosies, everything was completely still. As the sun rose, I finally caught some sleep.

When I stepped outside that morning the mountains were covered in rising smoke. I drove to my school's culture day, through the smoke, wheezing and sneezing.
Nobody mentioned the fire. So I did not want to bring it up.

I got home that afternoon and emailed Ashely about it. She told me that the Ikeda dam had been opened.
It had been opened for about 3 hours. Letting out the water. Causing smoke to cover the town. And was reason for a pre-dawn wake up call.

September in Shikoku remains unscathed by natural disasters, terrorists, and political uprisings.
Lucky me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In preparation for hibernation

I walked out of an izakaya tonight, wishing I had something to put over my sleeveless blouse.
It will not be kotatsu weather for some months. I still fill awkward silences with "atsui desu ne."
But it is not too early to begin some preparations.
Like other mammals, I will prepare for hibernation.
The way my apartment is set up, walking into my kitchen is basically like walking outside in the winter.
I have been cooking and lingering around tables of food recently.

This summer I typically spent about four hours at work.

And sometimes I would eat nagasomen twice in those fours hours. I stood next to the halved bamboo, grabbing somen noodles that slide by. Slurping them, with my co-workers or students.

Last week, I harvested the rice I planted in May.

I could not believe that the rice had time to grow as tall as it had. I remember that day in May so well. I remember what I was wearing and how the sun was falling.

By September, the mud has turned to hard ground. Knife in hand, I cut down the rice alongside 5th graders.

Full of somen, rice, edamames, all kinds of octopus, homemade tacos, and beer I will gradually sink into a season of lazy coffee and cake.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I want to hear the same song twice.

At what point should one become concerned with their inability to leave something?

How disoriented do you have to feel before you consider yourself lost?

If I really like a song I will listen to it more than once. It is comforting to listen to those songs again and again. How else could I learn the words?

There are some songs that will be sung to, screamed to, and danced to over and over again.

The option to leave should always be easy to find. But sometimes it is just not needed. Because sometimes it is better to stay and hear the same songs (at least) twice. Sometimes that is so nice.