Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bikini's, Blue Drinks, Borneo, Babies, and Blogs

I got my bikini in the mail today.
The plan is that I will be wearing it on a beach in Borneo while I drink a blue drink sometime between December 22nd and January 7th. Hopefully it will be warm enough and it will not be raining.
To be entirely honest, I know little to nothing about Borneo. I do have a plane ticket to go there though. About this time last year I started to get so excited about traveling around southeast Asia that planning my trip literally became my full time job.

Recently, I have been too busy reading novels in my free time while at work. I have gotten into the habit of reading novels and taking notes on those novels while at work. For whatever reason, this note taking legitimizes my work time pleasure reading.

This time of year is also the first birthday of the baby featured above (my nephew Henry) as well as my blog. I have been documenting my life on the internet for one year to the day. Clearly, a lot has happened in all our lives in the last year. Personally, my hair is longer, my dress size smaller, my heart and mind much more jaded and my original lifetime list of things I must do has gotten smaller which in turn only, really, makes it longer.

In the celebration of mass media, wasting time in a productive manner, and living and blogging about a life that is so distant than the one I used to know I would like to recognize Chuck Palahniuk's understanding of variations of tourism. Palahniku's character Echo Lawrence describes UFOs as "human tourists visiting us from a distant future" in Rant (my current choice of fiction).

Then there is Wes Anderson's scene that always steals my heart:


If my blog had to be condensed into two small things I suppose those would be it.
All I can hope for is that people continue to be fine with my tardiness and once I leave Borneo tourism only continues to progress.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Future Tense

Last weekend I went to a (ahem) spiritual adviser.
Side note: things I like- psychics and talking on the phone. Never let me get the number to a psychic hot line.

I wrote down my name and date of birth. She put her hand over it to create magnetic energy. She told me I spent too much time playing the role of an older sister. She said I needed to meet some people that were older than I, someone that is not such a child.
Maybe someone with a driver's license?
She pretty much told me things that Andrew has been telling me for half a decade. But, it just sounds so good coming from a stranger.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Spilled Milk

The other day I was eating lunch with the first graders at an elementary school. All students in Japan, ALL, prepare their own lunches and cleanup their own lunches.
After lunch, one student was taking his milk cartoon over to the sink to pour out the milk he did not drink. Having just spent twenty minutes with a guest in their classroom most of the students were on adrenaline highs. And that was just fine with their teacher.
As this student jumped out of his chair toward the sink, he picked his milk cartoon up upside down and the milk spilled out. He noticed the spilled milk, turned around, picked up some tissues from his desk, cleaned up the milk, and continued cleaning up the rest of his lunch.
His teacher did not say a word and the student was not ashamed of this accident.
Sorry but ...
had this happened at the school I was working at in the states, before I came to Japan, the teacher would have yelled. The student would have gotten upset. The teacher would have blamed the students excited attitude for this accident. The teacher would then shove some paper towels into the students face, watch him cleanup the milk, and then cleanup what the student (presumably) did not cleanup well himself.

Educational reforms are seriously needed in America's public schools.

It also would not hurt to have all American elementary school teachers watch the first grade at my favorite Japanese elementary school.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hand in hand, off the island.

I made it off Shikoku this weekend. For the first time since August when I got on the island after a visit to the States.
I boarded a bus from Ikeda to Osaka on Friday. I was pleased to find that my Ipod laid nicely in the cup holder. The $9.99 I spent on the Itunes edition of my favorite movie has proved to be worth the money spent in my recent travels.


(I would like to express the utmost respect for anyone who can name the above movie based on the provided picture).

Leah and I met at the Tsuruhashi station which was just a few minutes walk from her friend Josh's apartment. He met us wearing some sort of Steelers t-shirt. Yes, another Pittsburgher in Japan. His Alderdice High School energy somehow motivated us to apply eyeshadow and mascara with just enough time to catch the last train into Namba.

Leah and I finally found our place on the dance floor at about 2:30 a.m. At which point she turned to me and said something along the lines of, "you could be in a Britney Spears video dancing like that."
We stood in front of the speakers dancing and drinking for the next couple hours. I paid for that 5 a.m. cab ride, being that it was my doing I was getting us home at the obscene hour.

The following day we lazed around Starbucks because that is something we never get to do in Shikoku. And I have no shame. It was a beautiful way to spend the afternoon. Discussing our favorite books, surrounded by young people, drinking coffee, and splitting a chocolate bar.

That evening we took the train to Kyoto to eat the most delicious brownie I have ever tasted. And back on the last train to Osaka where Leah had to pull me off the dance floor, at 3 a.m. this time.

Somewhere in between the cab and Josh's apartment I dropped my cherished raspberry beret that I bought in Amsterdam this time of year, four autumns ago. But it was lying there waiting for me when I ran around looking for it. I paid one Euro for that hat. It has been just about everywhere I have been. I have almost lost it countless times. When I thought it was gone for good this Saturday night Leah chose the comforting words of "maybe it was time for a new one. That hat has a lot of holes in it," to calm my panic. But it was found.


On Sunday we met Leah's childhood friend, Shuichii who grew up in (yes once again) Pittsburgh and has since moved back to Nara, Japan with his family.

We saw the big Buddha in Nara and petted the deer that roam the city.

Shuichii took us to his friend Jon's temple as the gates closed behind us. Jon is a 23 year old Monk. The sun set and we stood around speaking a funny combination of English and Japanese. Jon introduced us to another one of his Monk friends who graciously let Leah and I take over the role of ringing the 5 p.m. bell that evening.




Before we all got up off the floor of Jon's office to leave the temple he showed us where to place our hands and feet when preforming Buddhist meditation. The four of us sat there for a moment and Jon taught us his mantra. Which can be translated as a pray for good health.
The mantra was chanted, the silence ended. And we collected ourselves to head towards the mall where there was imported beer.

Jon joined us for dinner and drinking at Shuichii's house. Once the imported beers were gone the ten year old Ume-shu came out.

Jon showed me how to write 気 お つ けて (my favorite Japanese word) in Kanji.
When our lips were off the cups of ume-shu, Shuichii served as the translator in regards to the questions of desire and anxiety during this intoxicated monk chat.
And Japan and I had seemed to finally met on common ground. Japan was not uncomfortable with my need to talk bluntly and loud and dress like crazy bag lady. I was not tiptoeing around customs that I am not sure I understand or think are particularly unfair. I was simply existing in this country. This country was existing in front of me. The interest was mutual. And it was simply discussed that all desires are the same, making them all an equal allusion.

The night ended as we all sipped on Japanese beers and 10 Things I Hate about You was on the television. Jon was the first to fall asleep, being that he typically wakes up with the sunrise it only made sense.

The next day, Japan continued to hold my hand during my last hour in the bus station while I stood in the nearby bookstore, reading haiku's that had been translated into English. Then I had to say goodbye to the big city once again.

The sunset early last night and once I got back to Ikeda Brian picked me up so we could drive up into the mountains and drink coffee in the moonlight. On our way back down the mountain top we saw a baby boar run across the road and just a few moments later we both turned to each other to express our love for those mountains.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wasilla, Alaska

I would like to take this moment to say that I am sorry for not spending more time talking about how much I love Obama. I will say that I like to read this blog to get political news.
Also ... yea, let's prioritize!

Anyway, I spent the summer of 2005 in Wasilla, Alaska. At girl scout camp to be more specific.
This what it was like:
Which was really cool. But that is about all that happens in Wasilla.
That and there were a lot of bees that summer. In fact, I got stung once and my entire leg swelled up and I had someone take me to the emergency room. While I was in the waiting room I lost my breath and was rushed ahead of other patients. The nurses began to take my vital signs, epipen in hand. A nurse then turned to me and said, "Your oxygen is over 100%. You are having an anxiety attack."
I was embarrassed and asked if I could leave. They told me I needed to lay there for a while. They were not very nice.

Wasilla seemed to be a beautiful part of the country that was being slowly suffocated by strip malls.

I also met a Native Alaskan who was wiser than me and nine years younger. And I taught a bunch of fourteen year old girls how to build a fire. That may have been the most empowering thing I have ever done.

Wasilla was the only place in the world where I felt like animals were in charge and people were second in line.

I am just glad that some people are asking the former Mayor the really tough questions.

My neighborhood with a view.



Sunday, October 5, 2008

まだです

coming out of a shell.

But, perhaps, not yet.

Three golden tickets were given to Tokyo.

Her English put her fourth in line.
After three months, I have spent hours listening to those four and a half minutes of (what seemed to be) flawless English.

Those four and a half minutes of a speech about her host family reminded me of my own.

This afternoon, a lovely lunch with a brilliant teenager who is 10 years my junior and a beautiful woman who is some years my senior tucked me right back into the feeling of my comforting Czech bed.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My to do list

And what have you done for you country?
Some things need to be helped.