Sunday, March 30, 2003

Yesterday in the midst of all our last full day before moving craziness, we were out running errands in the afternoon and Rachel lost the turtle necklace her Dad got her in Hawaii. We had made 3 or 4 stops in a pretty wide area and on the way home from our last stop at the hardware store she noticed the necklace was gone. We went home and she was very upset. She climbed into the oshiire, slid the doors shut and cried in there for a while. Talking to her about it an hour or so later, after an unfruitful call to the sushi place we had gone to for an early dinner, she seemed quite sure that she the necklace had fallen off at the hardware store. The store is just a 10 minute walk down the street, so I decided to go back there with her. We were still busy with the cleaning and throwing away, but I knew how much that necklace meant to her. We got there and looked around the pet section, the aisles she had traveled and asked at the service counter. No luck. She asked me to let her go check just one last time and I said ok, even though I didn't expect much.
I was a couple of aisles over when I heard a very excited "Mommy!!!!!". I knew she had found it. Someone had found and placed the necklace up on the edge of a product display so it would be easy to find. She was sooooo happy and I was so glad I had taken the time to go back with her so she could find it.

Friday, March 28, 2003

I could see it's coming soon this morning. Walking back from the chiropractor's along the portion of the river that becomes the lake I could see the cherry blossom buds are now fat and ripe and due to burst forth any day now. And the weather through next week is forecast to be fine.
This packing hell will be a rapidly fading memory. We'll still have a week to tie up ends and take some time for a little blossom watching. We've got a free stopover in Vancouver, courtesy of Air Canada who discontinued their Vancouver-Boston direct flight and don't have any way to get us from Kansai to Boston in one day.
And what's really great is that once we get to NH we can experience early spring all over again. Can't believe I'm really going to be there to watch the tulips and daffodils I planted last fall come up. And the lilac tree.....

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

I live in Japan and do not have cable TV. I did not watch the Oscars. I didn't even really want to watch the Oscars, but I did want to read about Michael Moore's acceptance speech and a search for "Michael Moore" on Google Newsbrought me this-- Michael Moore Stars at Academy Awards. I love Michael Moore.
Okay. I've obviously become obsessed with the war. There's every good reason to be obsessed with it, but when it gets to the point where I'm watching Japanese tv covering the fact that no one is paying attention to Japan's support for the war after they've spent so much time pondering it, it's time to get a life.
Had an interesting first experience today-- my first visit to a chiropractor. Last night a friend recommended a chiropractor for my blown out thrown out back and this morning I followed her advice.
I can't say for sure because I've never actually been to an S and M club, but the inside of the chiropractor's office looked like what I imagine an S and M club would look like, but probably with different lighting. There was such a collection of funky looking contraptions with straps and motors and big wooden blocks and mallets. No wonder they have to remind you all the time to relax.
First I was shown into a curtained area and told to lie down on my stomach. Then the nurse attached electric impulse pads onto my lower back and I sat with those tingling my back under a heat lamp for 15 minutes. The guy who worked on me was a young guy with short buzzed hair, glasses, a goatee and a round face. Looked kind of like a groovester actually. He massaged my back for a while before the manipulation started. He pronounced that my right hip is out of alignment. Some of the massage felt nice but some of it hurt. The part with the wooden block and the mallet didn't really hurt, but kneeling on all fours while a guy hammers a big mallet against a block of wood lined up with my ass was uh... interesting. I also had to end the session by going on the rack, which was not nearly as scary as it looked despite all the noise, chrome and worn out leather padding.
I'm not 100% cured or anything, but I can move a lot more than I could before I was adjusted. I'm supposed to go back tomorrow and every day until we move. It seems to be working, my health insurance is still valid and I have a long plane trip coming up soon, might as get it taken care of while I can.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Wonder if anyone has pointed out to President Bush that the Geneva Convention he is so worried about Iraq violating in their treatment of US war prisoners originated in the United Nations. That same body that will not support this war he has started.
If you're the toughest dog on the block does that mean you get to chose which international laws stand and which ones you can break? The hypocrisy is killing me.
See, this is why I think big corporations suck. Kevin Sites has been "asked" (read "ordered", I'm sure) to suspend his blogging activities by his employer CNN. So much for freedom of speech.
All right! is back up. Glad somebody is. I was stricken down with gikkurigoshi,(supernova in the lower back), this noon and believe I will be spending most of the next couple of days in the supine position. We're renting a moving truck on Thursday. Got to love the timing.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Well, I'm back in the world of the living after spending a day in bed with some nasty viral thing. (Not SARS as far as I can tell.) Went to check on my favorite sources for news about The War (because relying on Japanese network tv for news is like asking a dog for directions) and was presented a "this server not found" error message when I tried to visit Hope that is just temporary because those guys were posting a lot of interesting information I didn't see anywhere else. And I hope they are all ok.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Freaky letter from my soon to be former employer in my inbox today. The gist of it is that since the US and Britain initiated war on Iraq all students and faculty are prohibited from traveling to the Middle East, the US and Britain. Those individuals who are now in any of those countries are strongly advised to return to Japan as soon as possible. Then it advises those who must travel or must remain overseas should stay away from government, police and military facilities that might be terrorist targets. And they should contact the school more than once a week regarding their whereabouts.
Is it just me or is that a little too Orwellian?

Thursday, March 20, 2003

I'm feeling all together too fine for as much as I drank last night. What a great evening that was. Went to Kyoto and had a wonderful dinner with friends at a restaurant called Normandie that serves Mediterranean cuisine. After that we walked over to The Hill of Tara to meet up with more friends for a final send off bash for Mick, who is moving back to Australia next week.
I'm really going to miss hanging out and socializing with people of all nationalities when I get back to NH. I just don't imagine I will often (if ever) find myself dining and drinking there with friends from Australia, Canada, Japan, Belgium, England, Ireland, New Zealand, etc. I guess that's one of the benefits of the expat lifestyle.
There are a million things I could tell you about here that drive me crazy about living in Japan. And probably an equal number of things that make me feel very privileged to live here. Walking through Kyoto yesterday after running errands before meeting everyone for dinner I found myself delighted by something on almost every block-- a Japanese fan shop, the imposing front of the Long Sword Preservation Society, a huge 100 yen shop, vintage clothing stores, the Yada Shrine at Teramachi which perfumes the whole shopping arcade with its incense. I poked around in Kyukyodo for a while. They sell the most beautiful stationary and paper. It's one of my favorite places to buy gifts.
I think a few years away will allow me to better appreciate what is here. I don't think I've taken advantage of all the opportunities there are to pursue here. I've been very inward focused, concentrating on family and not so much on networking. I don't think that's been a mistake, but I think maybe the time to change is approaching.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

I just saw the weirdest commercial on TV. It was for the National (Panasonic) Oxygen Air Charger, a home oxygen supply system with a futuristic looking head set. For �48,000 ($400) you can have your own home oxygen

Yes, war sucks. And yes, SARS also sucks, especially when a plane trip from Asia to the US is in your (my) near future. But, for the moment anyway, I'm tired of being depressed about how fucked up the world is.

So I brought my digital camera to the supermarket, looking for amusement. And I found it. Farmyard Cookies, Pooh Biscuits, D'asses, Cream Collon and Kittyland.

What's in these cookies anyway?

Monday, March 17, 2003

Due to the time difference between Japan and the US all the war news happens while we're asleep. I don't have CNN or any other US tv media access at home, thank goodness. Don't think I could stand being subjected to all the waving flag graphics and thundering trumpet soundtracks. The Japanese news is pretty limp, but at least they spare adding extra drama. I believe Where is Raed, Warblogs:cc, Kevin Sites Blog, and Back to Iraq 2.0 will be my main source for war news.I really don't believe much of anything I hear from the "official" sources anyway.

This whole situation makes me feel sick and very pissed off. They say time has run out, but as far as I know the bombs haven't started falling yet, so I keep on praying for peace and some kind of miracle because that's all I can do.

Hey, I have an idea. Why don't Saddam Hussein and Bush both resign and go into exile? And they both have to take their circles of cronies with them. Maybe that's what I should be praying for.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Saturday, March 15, 2003

I can't believe how long 3 weeks can feel sometimes. I called my sister in NH today after figuring out that her computer must be broken since I hadn't heard from her in a week. Turns out she and her business partner got a bank loan for their new store and will be opening it sometime in the middle of next month. I think it's going to go really well for them. They have a lot of good ideas and will create a unique and fun retail experience for their customers. Glad I will be around to help out too.

Yesterday I dealt with thinning out and packing up all our paperwork. It took most of the day but I got rid of a lot of unnecessary stuff and tried my best to organize the papers we need to keep. I found an old mid-term exam I had written for a classical Japanese lit in translation course I taught back at UH. I doubt I could have scored a passing grade on it now. Funny how that was all inside my head at some point and now it just seems to be gone. I felt sorry for the students who had to take it. Used to seem like pretty serious business to me back then.

The next 3 weeks should go by quickly, but talking to Stef and hearing about family and friends and things going on back there makes me feel so far from it right now. I know a lot of this has to do with the home sickness I've been feeling for months. Never knew I would get homesick after so many years.
Think of every scary infectious plague movie you've ever seen and then read this.

Friday, March 14, 2003

The end is starting to come into sight. We will be out of the apartment by the end of the month. We will be flying out April 4 or 7. Our place is in a complete state of deconstruction. Sometimes it makes me happy because it means we're really moving on, but it's also kind of sad leaving friends and family here. Sifting through all our things deciding what's a memory worth keeping and what's not making the cut. But this habit I developed in my late teens of moving far away every 3 or 4 years has taught me a few things. One is that my memories aren't really in the things that spark them. They are in me.

I don't know where my gypsy ways came from. I lived in the same house for the first 18 years of my life. No one else in my family moves around this much. When people hear where I have lived (NH, Colorado, Osaka, Hawaii, Kanazawa, Otsu, and now back to NH), they usually ask if I'm in the military. Obviously these are people who don't really know me.
So, I've been feeling a slight shade of aprehension these days, as one is wont to do when about to uproot and move the whole family across the globe just because it feels like time. Then I got an email from my mom in NH today and at the end of her very nice letter was this-- "I'M SO HAPPY THAT YOU'RE COMING BACK HOME."

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Just got an email that informed me there will be a Peace Walk in Kyoto on Saturday, March 15 [scroll down the page for the English]. I haven't marched in a really long time, but I'm planning to go with my daughter. I used to take part in anti-nuke protests and marches in front of Pease Air Force Base when I was in junior high. I grew up pretty sure we'd all be blown to bits before I turned 25. Imagine my surprise when that didn't happen!
There will be events happening all over the world this weekend to protest war. Such a great aggregation of will has got to have some sort of affect on things. Uranus in Pisces-- expect what you can't even imagine.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

A Safer Sky or Welcome to Flight 1984?

This is some of the scariest stuff I have ever read, especially for someone like me who values freedom of movement. I'm still pissed off at the INS gal in Honolulu who started questioning me about having Japanese permanent residency while they were hassling Shiro about his green card. She wanted us to pick a side and stay there. There's something almost like hostility I feel from people occasionally when they learn how often (and far) I move. Like there's something wrong with me because I can't seem to stay in one spot too long. It's not like I leave my family and a path of destruction behind me or anything. I just seem to need to keep moving.

This will probably get me labeled Yellow in the damn new airport system.

I put my first sticker ever on my bass today. I've had this bass for 2.5 years-- a black Fender American Standard Jazz Bass with Dimarco pickups and a cool marbled pickguard. The decision to go with a sticker was like deciding to get a tattoo. Actually I was also deciding whether or not to try and sell the bass before I move because if I could get a good price for it I could put the money towards buying a bass head and cabinet. I got a beautiful P-bass last summer. It's in NH and I still want to play that one more than the Jazz bass. But the Jazz bass is also a really nice instrument and I don't need to sell it right now. And I just put the sticker on it which made it more mine, so I guess I'll be holding on to it.

I'm going up to jam with Hokkan tomorrow for the first time in a long time. Think the last time was in the fall. We've been jamming on and off for the past three years and he has been an incredible help to me. Sometimes we end up talking more than playing but that's cool too. I was still playing guitar when I first met him.
Actually, the first time we met he (nicely) told me the acoustic guitar I had was junk and then lent me his old acoustic guitar for about 10 months, until I switched to bass. He is one person I would love to have come visit NH. He's a totally cool guy and he has never been abroad. I know enough music places and people that I could show him a good time.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Music to pack it up and move it out by: Foo Fighters , Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Bolt.
A site fit for a princess
BUST is just a must site for me these days. The BUSTcards are awesome. I can't stop sending them to people.
But actually most of my friends are guys. My sister is probably my best friend and I have a few other girl friends but none that I live near. Most of my long term friends who understand me really well are guys. So I've been sending out the "If only we were gay, I'd ask you to marry me in vermont, and we'd start an organic bakery and adopt vietnamese orphans together, but since we're not, let's just celebrate our friendship " card, with frolicking retro girls in tight underwear, to my guy friends. There's probably something odd about this, but they'll "get it" so that's fine.
I also think the Men... If only they had legscard is pretty incredible.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

I would really like to get out of the apartment and go for a jog today but the weather is doing the kitsune no yome-iri thing right now-- raining as the sun shines. This always reminds me of a scene from Akira Kurosawa's Dreams, where a young boy hides in the woods and spys on a fox wedding procession.
Wouldn't say that Dreams is my favorite Kurosawa film though. I'd say that's a toss up between Ran and Ikiru.
Last year when I was back home the NH Japan Society sponsored a free screening of a 2 hour documentary on Kurosawa's life at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Not only was admission free, the co-producer of the film and a woman who had been Kurosawa's assistant for decades introduced the film and then answered questions after the screening. And there were free refreshments. ; ) That's an opportunity I can never imagine happening here in Japan.
Looks like the sun is winning now. Better get out there while I can.

Friday, March 07, 2003

I cleared out my cubicle at school today. As usual, I went up around 11:30, just before all the office staff goes for lunch at 11:45 (which means I can't do anything that has to do with the office until 12:45 or 1). And then Mike called and asked if I wanted to get lunch with him and Ian. So that all took until about 1.
I visited various offices and submitted various documents. That took another hour. Then I went up to my cubicle and did the big cleanout in about an hour. Took one cardboard box of stuff with me. Actually Mike did most of the carrying cause he gave me a ride home.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

90% of my food shopping is done at Super Queen, the neighborhood supermarket. It's not one of those mammoth markets you find in the States that offer seven different types of Velveeta cheese and 50 yards of soft drink choices. Queen, as we call it, is a small independent market that offers a pretty interesting selection of products for a market its size.
I went out to go buy food for dinner last night and ended up making my Super Queen Pasta. Here's the recipe:
1 can of diced Italian tomatoes (100 yen)
1 jar of alce nero tomato sauce with olives (organic sauce from Italy. 348 yen)
1 package of maitake mushrooms (100 yen)
300 grams ground chicken (148 yen)
some sun dried tomato bits
some fried onion bits
500 grams of spaghetti (100 yen)

Cook the ground chicken in a frying pan with a little olive oil. When the meat is no longer pink, add the diced tomatoes. Throw in some sun dried tomato and fried onion bits. Simmer for a while. Add the nice organic Italian tomato sauce. Break up the maitake mushrooms and add them into the sauce. Simmer a little longer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Somewhere along the line, boil water and cook the spaghetti.
Combine spaghetti and sauce. We were out of parmesan cheese, but if you have it, pile it on. Fast, easy, relatively cheap and GOOD. Serves 4 (at least).

The construction crews have been hard at work on the street in front of my building over the past couple of weeks, beautifying and greening up the neighborhood to use up every last yen of the annual budget before the fiscal year ends at the end of March. If they don't find a way to spend it all by the end of the month they won't get more next year to spend on similar projects. I particularly like the brand new trees with the tags still on.

Monday, March 03, 2003

I guess I have blogarrhea today, but I really want one of these t-shirts from the
Total Information Awareness Gift Shop.
I also wish I could figure out how to make the comment link align in a less annoying way.
Holy Mackerel! I'm really moving back to country where this is sold as breakfast food?! It would feed an entire Japanese family for a week, if they ate crap like that.
Maybe this explains the super tight airport security we experienced in Hawaii.
I've been reading other blogs and news sources that say the threat was never credible. Having been in Hawaii at the time, I can tell you airport security was the highest I have ever experienced, and that includes flying from Boston to Japan about a week after Sept. 11, 2001. Immigration and Customs at Honolulu were tough on the way in. We were kept at INS for an hour while they ragged on my husband for having a green card and told us the main reason he has a green card is "to support the US government with his tax revenue". Funny but I always thought he had a green card so he could live in the US with his family.
We flew from Oahu to Maui on Feb 25 and security for the inter island 30 minute flight was as tough as it has ever been for me to fly international. They went through all the bags and seemed very concerned about some homemade amulets my mother-in-law gives us whenever we travel that contain ash and azuki beans wrapped up in foil (don't ask me what that's about because after a dozen years I still don't really get it). The day before we left Maui they broadcasted on the radio that air travelers should report to the airport an extra half hour early due to car checks that would be conducted "at random" in and around airports. The car wasn't checked, but there were 3 check points between the check in counter and the gate, all requiring boarding passes and ids. Governor Lingle may have said Hawaii security was at code blue, but it sure felt orange to me. Even guys in military uniforms were being searched and questioned. Things were being very tightly controlled at the airports in Hawaii.
It was a funny contrast arriving back in Japan where we cleared immigration and customs in about 2 minutes. At immigration the lady looked at my passport for 10 seconds and never even spoke to me. The customs guy just asked if we lived in Hawaii or Japan. I saw them waving Japanese tourists right through customs and telling them not to even stop.
The weirdest thing about the flight back to Japan was when Rachel pointed out another plane flying parallel to us while we were out over the middle of the Pacific. It was white with red markings, but I forgot to look for the airline logo. When I looked again there were too many clouds to see it. It wasn't really close, maybe a mile or so off, but it was close enough to see it clearly. I would guess it was a JAL or Air Canada flight, but it sort of freaked me out.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

OK. I know this blog has sucked pretty bad the past week or so, but who wants to spend time blogging online when they're visiting Hawaii? Not me, that's for sure. And if I was stuck somewhere cold and possibly snowy and still very wintery I sure as hell wouldn't want to read about someone else's wonderful Hawaiian vacation either.
That having been said. Hawaii rocks. It has been awesome visiting with friends and family here. I'm amazed and grateful to have friends and family here. Even though it's not an easy place to make a living, it's an ideal place to be an intercultural family. Here we are the norm, not the minority. I would love it if Rachel grew up and decided to live here. Even though she is still just seven, I thought it was important to show her that there is a place where a beautiful hapa-haole, Hawaiian born girl like herself fits right in.
But, it's back to Japan for me tomorrow. Gonna have to pack it up, ship it out and move it on out of ole Nippon in the next 3 weeks. I think it's the right move.