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…

Saturday

I cannot sleep past 5 am anymore.Even if I go to sleep at 4 am, I am up and at ’em by five.It is necessary, in such a small house full of feisty people (let’s make it sound more charming than it is, shall we?) to have a little bit of quiet before the day gets off the ground. During my regular working days, of course, I wake up early in order to study or write, but that has been suspended with the long stretch of holiday days. Instead, I get up, turn off the air conditioners, drink two glasses…

Friday

Today I am meeting a locally-famous teacher-trainer to discuss becoming a coordinator for a language teachers’ group here in Hiroshima. It is a group I liked when I lived in Nagoya and part of my attempt to meet my teaching goals for the year. As an adult, I avoid these positions of responsibility after spending my adolescence as an environmental activist. I don’t like to be, well, looked at, I suppose. And yet, as The Smiths sang, shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to. And I would like to get tenure. I know,…

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…

Wednesday

Today is the halfway mark of my summer vacation and the kids are driving me bananas. I made the mistake of not waking them up at 6 and everyone is completely off-kilter now. One of the hardest parts of raising kids in a second language is helping them with their homework. Language arts and word problems are the worst. Think about how hard it is to do algebra and geometry in your first language. Now trying doing it hanging upside down from a set of rusty monkey bars. Barrels of fun. Lately I have felt frustrated by long distance friendships….

Tuesday

I started this habit a few months ago, buying a bouquet of flowers from the greengrocers near the station, to pay tribute to my period. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with my monthly flow, not just of blood and emotions and hormones, but of time, of creativity, of instinct and intuition. The start of my period, the waxing of the moon, this is when the wild thoughts come out to play, the extreme impulses. I used to feel crazy because I was ashamed of the feral side of my imagination, my untamed heart. It…

Sunday

What I am doing, in terms of writing this book about my life in Japan, is not easy. Actually, fucking hard is a pretty accurate description. Pulling everything out, smoothing it down so you can see as much of the story as possible, without the wrinkles and creases we have made to protect ourselves, it is not an easy task. When I first started, it was exhilarating. I thought that everyone should engage in such a project of self-examination simply because there is so much within us that we blindly accept but never fully recognize or understand. But now I…

Saturday

I saw this comic and was thinking about my own work-life balance and how I would illustrate my days. It would take a lot of ink. The following list of things is from Thursday, which was a normal day, selected only because I wrote everything down after reading the aforementioned comic: 4:00 am- Get up to write and drink coffee. Spend most of your time responding to emails/texts and work a little on the new short story about the girl and the tanuki in the woods. 6:00 am- Start the laundry because your eldest son neglected to put his stinky…

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…