Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 in Review

Best Book I Read- The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

Best Foreign Film I saw- Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies

Best Thing to Happen to my Music Collection- The Books The Lemon of Pink and Mount Eerie, Julie Doiron & Fred Squire Lost Wisdom

Best Time- That evening in Philly when Rachel, Matt, Adam, and I giggled for hours while large acorn type things fell on our heads. Because I spent time that evening reflecting on how lucky I have been in the last year in my life. And I had a great epiphany that Japan sometimes makes a lot of sense and sometimes I really like it. And I knew I was going to North Carolina the following morning and that is a beautiful place.

Best Work Related Thing- The 5th graders I now teach at my favorite elementary school and the friendship I have built with the teacher I teach alongside.

Best Thing I Bought- The pinkish purple pen from the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo with a chubby ballerina on it.

Best recent Line from The Everybodyfields- I am just a ray of sun, you are daylight/ I'm an early morning, you were a good night/ And a pray before I can go to sleep

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Malaysia and Indonesia Bound

This again:
When I worked in North Carolina the 1st graders (in the only sane and humane classroom) would want to watch Santa Claus 2 year round. Last year, the Thursday before I left for Southeast Asia, Santa Claus 2 was on TV. So I emailed that favorite teacher.

This past Thursday, the first Santa Claus was on TV. I thought about that teacher and how we have not corresponded in about a year. I sat down to write her to tell her that I was watching Santa Claus and that the sequel is far superior to the first. She had literally sent me an email a minute before I logged in ... to tell me that that Tim Allen movie was setting in nostalgic feelings.

In a similar vain, I am currently sending all people holiday cheer via my telepathic powers.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Woke Me Up

The moments before I went to Southeast Asia last winter stretched into long hours and days. I stared at computer screens, clocks, and calendars while I was counting down. And I wasted time and money, wearing tights of winter hues, at the fancy bar down the street.

I have not even been to that bar this winter and I have read only a few blogs on Malaysia, my next destination. All I really want to do is this:
Somehow every moment of my life has been filled with obligations of sorts. Obligations like dinners, lunches, cleaning for dinner guests, driving (those with injuries that prevents them from driving) to the doctor, preparing Christmas crafts, songs, and parties, coughing up phlegm, staring at myself in the mirror because something really gross was happening with my eye earlier this week, and reading A People's History of the United States.

I have been drafting something, in my head, really intelligent to say about that book. But without pressures from Jeff or Jim I have no motivation. I will say that Howard Zinn's historical account of the United States is one the most life changing books I have ever picked up. I question if early American History should even be taught in primary schools. The reality of it is far too traumatic for elementary age students. The book is bringing back memories of learning American history in school and how severely that history was romanticized.

A new book is one of the many reasons I love Japan in the winter. Books, movies, and the nest I have created to keep warm.
I recently bought a hot water bottle to put in the bottom of my bed to warm it up and I got a late birthday gift this evening of a fleece thing to wrap around my waist, under many other layers, for the winter.

Last winter I felt as if Japan was unprepared for the cold with their lack of insulations. This winter I have begun to understand all the cold weather intricacies that exist in this country, which has awoken a new love for the season.

But, I will be pleased to put this season on pause for 22 consecutive days.
On December 20th I will fly to Singapore.
December 21st Kota Kinabalu
On the 28th and 29th I will climb Mt. Kinabalu
January 1st to Bali
January 8th to Singapore
And back to Japan on January 10th.

As seasons are merging in my life winter feels like a beginning and summer reminds me laze.
Philip Larkin describes that twist best in his poetry:
Cut Grass

Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death.

It dies in white hours
Of young-leafed June
With chestnut flowers,
With hedges snowlike strewn,

White lilac bowed,
Lost lanes of Queen Anne's lace,
And that high-builded cloud
Moving at summer's pace.

It is another holiday season of feeling blessed as I carry on in a country with little holiday pressure and I am about to take on a dream fantasy adventure in a new part of the world. And I will not be turning on my computer or driving my car for a while and that is the best gift I could get this time of year.
Until then I am going to fall asleep while watching Center Stage for the second time this week.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Last Call

You do not have to go home.

But you cannot stay here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Better. Faster. Beautiful.

I did not even make it past Tilly and the Wall on my mix.
Like all good things in Shikoku the race in Kamiyama was simple in that it was free, full of enthusiastic jr. high school students, and fit elderly people.
Emma's abode in the mountain town of Kamiyama is a beautiful place to wake up in in the morning. We walked down the hill to register for the race and spent about an hour and a half jumping around in cold mud to keep our toes from freezing.
As we turned the first corner in the race and people began to break into their personal strides Christine exclaimed "I am so happy!" Which was an appropriately special comment.

With only a few meters ahead, myself and an older woman sped to the finish along side one another. When we crossed the line she shook my hand and said "thank you."

I ran the last 10K in one hour. I just wanted to beat my time. And I did so, coming in with 58 minutes.
After the race, we ate delicious Korean food and watched a marathon on T.V. I thought about how excited I am to run a marathon and how wrong my sixth grade gym teacher was about me.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hand to Mouth

May 14th

September 9th

December 5th

Friday, December 5, 2008


I have a next-door neighbor I have never met. I have a feeling it is a woman.
She recently began waking up every morning at 7:30 a.m. I can hear her shuffling around during her morning routine. I imagine her sleeping close to the wall that separates us.
She listens to the morning news on the television. The muffled sound of her closet door opening and closing and Japanese broadcasters wake me up every morning. They are the same sounds I heard coming from my parents bedroom every morning growing up.
It is the most comforting thing to wake up to.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Happenings of my Heart

Dear Prudence- The Beatles
Bounce That - Girl Talk
Toxic- Britney Spears
So What- Field Mob& Ciara
Hard Knock Life- Jay-Z
Touch the Sky- Kayne West
Get it Together- Jurassic 5
Black Tambourine- Beck
Holland, 1945- Neutral Milk Hotel
Greed- Fugazi
Flower- Liz Phair
Modern Girl- Sleater Kinney
La Familia (Joyride: Remixes) - Mirah
Going to California- Led Zeppelin
Take Time- The Books
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Theme
Judy is a Punk- The Ramones
Queen Bitch- David Bowie
Nights of the Living Dead- Tilly and the Wall
Styrofoam Boots/ It's All Nice- Modest Mouse
F**k the Pain Away- Peaches
The State We're In- Chemical Brothers

The above play list runs just over an hour. I am running a 10K this Sunday. I hope to only listen to these songs once.
I have not been running much recently because the kotatsu feels so good and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is one the most amazing books I have ever read.
I need to run more though. It does things to my heart that nothing else can do.