Monday

Jason was telling me about this sculpture he is working on and I felt a pang of jealousy at his ability to delve so deep into the fantasy surrounding this weird cat/temple creation. It has been a while since I created any ideas from scratch. On the other hand, I find the reality that presents itself to me to be the captivating one. It is bizarre and unexplored and gorgeous and cruel and absolutely constructed. Why make up a proxy when such a beast lays before me? I walk through the supermarket with music from a century ago coursing through…

Saturday & Sunday

It was pouring rain all day. Afterward, the wet streets were filled with the sharp scent of green plants and curry. I wear a bandage over my tattoo now. I am careful not to let anyone from my work see it, the simple star I got at 18 with my then-already-waning best friend. I am equally careful not to let my kids see the bandage, since they think of the star as a part of me. A strange line I walk. I don’t regret the star, exactly, but I wish I had gotten something less connected to another and more…

Friday

Last night, I bought a new copy of Minna No Nihongo, a beginner’s Japanese course book. I bought it because all the local Japanese lessons use the book and our old version was really old. And I bought it because I never have time to go to the local Japanese lessons and so will have to practice with J, for whom the book is an appropriate level. We are going on a trip in two months and want to be more fluent when we run into friends from our old addresses. And yet, I still blushed when putting that book…

Tuesday

The fourth grade curriculum here, much like the fourth grade curriculum anywhere, includes a focus on civic affairs and history. We live in Hiroshima. Students here grow up with a heavy burden, passed along from their ancestors. And in fourth grade, they go to the Peace Park, visit the museum of tragic artifacts, and talk to foreign visitors about war and peace. As a teacher helping students with the talking to foreign visitors portion of the field trip, I attended a talk given by a survivor of the bomb, hibakusha in Japanese. She was just 8 years-old when the bomb…

Saturday

Since I last wrote, I have been studying. Not constantly, obviously, as things like work and children interrupt, but much more diligently than before. I did something that was both humbling and fantastic: I bought study materials for the level just beneath where I have long assessed myself to be. The more I studied with my regular intermediate materials, the more frustrated I became because of the gaps, particularly in my grammar. So I am doubling back and filling in those gaps and already it has made a huge difference in what I hear and read on a daily basis….

Wednesday

The strange thing about figuring out finally what I am about and what I want to write is that now I must postpone my writing until I pass the test in December. I was going to take the July one but I knew I was not ready. This “I should be studying but I don’t want to be studying” issue has been going on with me since I moved to Japan, back in 2004. Fifteen years of feeling guilty and frustrated with my second language. Part of it is because I struggle with the decision to live in Japan in…

Tuesday

Raining in the morning, forced to walk in the street to avoid the crowds of umbrella-wielding elementary school students dominating the sidewalk. The news of a knifing rampage in Yokohama came at the end of second period, the teachers called to the vice principal’s desk. School children had been attacked, we must be vigilant, bracing ourselves for copycats. I remembered the incident in Tomio, a girl taken after school by her mother’s long-term stalker, her body found in a ditch the next morning. Back then there were no school gates, just open entrances. There were no ID badges, no security…

Monday

I was at work for too long today. I did speak with my coworker about his condition. And he had all sorts of questions for me. Like how did I distinguish the physical reality from the imagined reality. He said, because the only reality I have ever seen is this, which just made me very sad. He also said that Tom Clancy is his favorite author because there is none of that descriptive nonsense that just clutters up other books. Today I had this incredible longing for a friend who is no longer a friend. I used to follow that…

Sunday

Yesterday, my coworker, the man I sit across from day after day, announced that he has aphantasia, aka no ability to visualize images in his mind’s eye. They also call this mind blind. I should have known something was up based on a conversation I had with him about dreams. I told him about a particularly wild and convoluted one I had and he told me that he never dreams about things that have never happened to him. He says he basically just dreams about work and doing errands and nothing strange or out of the ordinary ever occurs, rather…

Saturday

This morning, I went out early for breakfast and bento goods and took the camera along. It was bright already at 5 am but the streets were relatively deserted. I passed trucks waiting to deliver goods to the grocery store, elderly couples out in matching track suits, swinging their arms twice as fast as their legs were going. I stood beneath a tsubame’s nest and watched the parents dive into the river and return to the little mud cone that held six chicks with big triangular mouths that gaped into a wide diamonds when the parents called out to them….