Tuesday

Well, we have returned from our week’s journey. Three cities in four days is a race, not a vacation. Making sure that we had everything on our back before we jumped on the next bus or train was a big worry but we managed. This was the first time in a long time, as I mentioned before, that we traveled as a family. We have been moving and moving for so long that traveling for pleasure was not really in the cards, for it is not just moving but unpacking and buying new things and getting used to new schedules…

Thursday

Next week we go to our old stomping grounds. It is exciting, the prospect of travel, mainly, but also of reconnecting with a place that was once our place. It is an interesting experience, to overlay your tattered psychogeographical map with the present reality. Not just the present reality of the physical place, the new buildings that replaced the ones you knew, the street vendors who always said hello who have disappeared into retirement or ash. No, the biggest change is your perspective. The people we were when we first arrived in Japan were the ones to capture that initial…

Thursday

The Dalai Lama recently got into hot water because he said that if his successor is to be a woman, she ought to be attractive. It helps, he explained. He’s been making quite a few old fart gaffs lately but there is something to the idea that possessing external beauty is a positive, especially for a resistance campaign like the exiled Tibetan government is waging/resigned to. There is a power in physically attractiveness. People treat you differently if you are fit and your hair is shiny. I have known this since I was a kid (well, early adolescent) but did…

Monday

Today, my Monday in lieu, we went to Miyajima so I could take pictures that would help me with an illustration project I am working on. I love Miyajima, feel very much at home there on that little sacred rock crowded with tourists and gods. I recently realized this: that my focus on Japan in my art and writing has nothing to do with Japan but with my focus on my life, which just happens to be lived here in Japan. Wherever I live is where I focus my attention on. I am in that part of the cycle where…

Saturday

I just smashed a roach and when I went back to collect its corpse, there was nothing there. Its guts were outside of its body so where could it have gone? The violence of its death is not something I wanted to engage with at 5 am but it was big and undeterred by vinegar spray. Did it slide under the door? Will I have to see it dragging itself down the linoleum hallway? Last night, after our very long work week, we went to the downtown foreigner pub. It was really quiet when we arrived at 6:30, five English…

Wednesday

This week has been just really long. 12-hour work days and I still feel behind. It is frustrating since it leaves no time for anything else but all the same, I know that I am extremely privileged to be in my position. In the morning, I had to visit the laundromat to dry my son’s school uniform and basketball jersey. And I was passed, at 5 am, by a group of Chinese women, returning from their nightshift at a local factory. They live together, work together, shop together, always wearing colourful cloth surgical masks and baseball caps. I have never…

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…

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….