Wednesday, November 30, 2005

my mother's smile

My cat looks at me and I think that she knows. I think she knows all kind of stuff like where my mom is and how she’s doing. I can imagine my cat walking up to my mom, wherever they go, and looking up with those moons of eyes and squeaking in her little cat voice. A voice that says, “I thought I’d find you here.” Sometimes my cat looks so old but it’s good to see her. She reaches her paw up to me and her claw gets stuck in my jeans.

My mom died before I got home. I was still on the plane and I couldn’t sleep. Between the lack of sleep, the cold that stuffed up my head, and the impending crisis rattling my emotions, my brain was shutting down. It was dark when we landed in Seattle; I think we were one of the first planes of the morning. In a muted stupor, I deboarded the plane and followed the other muted travelers to the baggage carrousel. The track moved around, with its flaps folding and unfolding and folding back into itself, like a reanimated origami snake it circled and we all stood watching waiting for the first bag to slide out of the mouth.

and then I was so tired. The world was too heavy. The cold air was no longer palatable. My breath no longer offered me comfort and I sat down on the cold linoleum as the first bag slid onto the carrousel. I sat down and felt the chill of winter seep from the floor into my skin and my breath. I felt my mother near me and I started to cry.

It wasn’t until another five hours of baggage claims, customs, immigration, benches and busses that I arrived in Bellingham. I stepped off the bus and the words spilled from my aunts lips. My mother had died early that morning.

Sometimes I feel like I was too slow. That I should have moved faster. I should have caught an earlier plane. I should have…

My cousin and aunt tell me that my mom would have wanted it this way. That, while she wanted to say goodbye to my brother and I, she didn’t want us to see her like that. and I love her for that. I saw her in the hospital enough that I can still imagine her, thin, in a hospital shift, dull on morphine. but my more recent memories can win over those. all sorts of beautiful memories can win over that. but if I had been a day earlier…

so I remember her, standing at the top of her stairs in her Bellingham apartment, smiling down at me as Paul and I pull in on my way up to Vancouver for the training that would send me to Japan. I remember her sitting at her table, fingering the coarseness of a beautiful scrap of paper. I remember her spreading extra butter on toast to try and gain some weight back. I remember I as she waved me off to Japan with all the hope for me in the world. I remember that smile.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

November is the month in which:

in which I drop everything to go back to America to be with my family and deal with my mom's sudden death

in which I struggle with the best cold the toddlers of Tokyo could dish up

in which I visit Hakone, a beautiful example of color and seismic activity about 2 hours out of Tokyo

in which I wander around lost a lot and start to feel more fluent in Japanese

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

on hold

so this blog is on break. for awhile. but I have every intention of continuing.

but I have left Tokyo for a while. I left becasue my mom was really sick but couldn't get back soon enough. She passed away the night before I got back. pancreatic cancer.

so I'm now with my family, which is a good place for me to be. There's a lot of stuff to deal with and I'm taking my time. and there's a lot to think about too.

Friday, November 18, 2005

bugger green

I'm tempted to take pictures but the little sense of decency is holding me back.

but before such topics, an important update


now back to the buggers.

actually, I'm thinking of taking some pics and petitioning Crayola. it isn't quiet the same color as "Spring Green" after all, but is easier for children to relate to.

I caught the latest Tokyo cold. Somehow with 13 kids classes a week and at least an hour each way on public transportation each day, I managed to hold off to the middle of November.

This is day 6. So I'm just hacking and blowing out thick green buggers. Day 3 (Tues) was the worst. I taught classes feverish with a nose training for a marathon.

Monday, November 07, 2005

sorry for the trouble...

in the fight against all forms of evil spam and in order to overcome the disappointment of seeing "1 comment" and seeing only some stupid bot post about some stupid advertisement, I've turned on the word verification. I don't think it'll be a pain. if it is, email me and I'll turn it off.

love you all. enjoy the fall pics below.

a day trip of scarlet leaves and volcanos

that's right. and for now, you only get some pictures. hopefully I'll have time to write more and post more pics during the week, but for now: feast your jealous eyes. (and a big huge fat THANK YOU to Kitty and Jim for the lucious camera that took these beauties)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

the language grows

I'm so ridiculously proud of myself. sure, one of my 9 year old students could have figured out how to read the train schedlues that I get in Japanese (kanji) on my cell phone. but most English teachers can't. so I'm proud of myself. and it meant that when a missed connection between some new teacher and myself happened Sat night, I could still find my way home. better than sleeping at the sation, any night.

so, empowered by my phone success last night, I braved the tiny Okonomiyaki shop near my apartment. I walk by it everyday and curse that I haven't had one of the best Japanese foods since I came back because I'm too chicken to go into the little mom and pop shop and strike up a conversation. but today I did!

Okonomiyaki literally translates to your favorite cooked food but is really a pancake with squid and cabbage. and loads of some special sauce and fish flakes. but it's really good.

so after eating and minor chatting when I left this woman, who exemplifies my image of a good Japanese mother, after showing me pictures of her neices and nephews in SanFrancisco, told me that if I have any problems, I can ask her for help.

and I left, full of yummy weird food, and a warm feeling of being part of this funny Japanese community.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

kori style adventures

(the bell of the flower was bigger than my extended hand. the smell was amazing. I found them by accident last weekend)

1) put on my tennis shoes and grab my bag
2) start walking
3) keep walking and/or hopping trains and/or busses until I find something new and beautiful

and that's how I spend my free time. maybe a little too hard to explain when the students asks in broken Engrish, "what are your hobbies"

maigo= lost child. they have a word for lost child. so if I remember nothing else I can smile shyly and say that I'm a lost child and ask where the nearest station is. my japanese has gotten a bit better than that but I think it could have the perfect affect in the right situation.

so today (Nov 3rd) is a Japanese National Holiday and no one works. they go outside and appriciate the changing of the seasons. it was a beautiful day. I have some weather forcast buttons on the right, if you're curious about the actual temps... maybe 60s (F, for my silly Americans).

I slept in till 10ish, got some breakfast, read for over an hour and set out. I hopped a bus the took my 40 min east. then I started walking east (to find the seapark on my map) on the way I found this lovely rose garden. roses in Nov!

I had dinner with my friend Andy from England this weekend. He's been in Tokyo for three years and says he loves it because you can find an English bar that's showing the hottest soccer (or football, if that's your language persuasion) game that'll serve you drinks until 9 am, if that's your thing. he says, don't worry about tokyo stealing your soul (my main concern at the moment) you just have to find your thing here.

and I'm realizing that part of 'my thing' is to wander until I stumble apon small beauties. here some more shots of the park I acccidently found. the seaside will have to wait until another post because I tuckered myself out.