Just Thinking About....

This time last year and the year before I was spending the Thanksgiving holiday in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, trying to get my students enthused in the traditions of Turkey day. I remember once in my classes at 並木 高校, I showed them pictures of the Macy's parade online, trying in vain to get them excited about big balloons of cartoon characters they didn't know. As I clicked on each picture, while they were sitting quietly at their desks, looking at their screens, I tried soooo hard to be excited about Rocky & Bullwinkle! The Turkey! Some Random Marching Band! Oooh, Oooh, Spiderman~~ you all know the new Spiderman movie, right?!

Although, every year we have the parade on in the background of our Turkey day preparations, that's not enough to feel that, hey, it's Thanksgiving. You have to be at home with family, wake up to the spicy smell of pumpkin pies baking and listen (however passively) to the somewhat cheesy, but oh so requisite parade sounds.

(Right now Elmo, Big Bird, The Grouch and all the Sesame Street Crew are singing!)

Happy Thanksgiving!


I Could Eat You!

I just read Kaori Shoji's piece , in The Japan Times, about Japanese food, language, and culture. She always has the most interesting articles connecting the language to the values in Japan.

I guess I was hanging out with "crude circles" in inaka (country) Ibaraki as I always called rice balls, onigiri not omusubi. Oops!

Food in Japan is totally connected to relationships. And often words aren't used when the meals are there to show the sentiment. It is a sad thing when a child or a husband arrives at school or work without a bento.

Early on in my stay in Japan I devised my own "bento-check." If I wanted to discreetly find out if a man was married or not, I'd check to see what he brought for lunch. If it was a bento it almost always meant he was married or seriously attached OR a mama's boy! If he brought bread things (oh the horrors!) or 7-11 snacks, he wasn't happily married or was single.

Now, this was just a fun game for me to pass the time away in the shokuinshitsu and I'm sure that there are exceptions (well, of course!) I just like being nosy.

I do know that one of the biggest compliments a Japanese man gave give you is that your food is umai (or oishii -- for the non-crude bunch)!


A Highly Commendable Mention.

The Preacher

He could have hailed from Texas with all his gospel.
He approached us--
we, stretching bodies on this Miyako Island sand, hair in the perfect breeze.

He's a retired man, stepping pristine sneakers into pristine sand.
He points to my friend, "you're American." And to me, "you're half."

He used this time to speak with foreigners--practice his English he acquired at Texas
Christian University. "I am a Christian" "I am a hater of sinners" "I believe in God, the son
of God and the holy ghost" "I believe Jesus died on the cross for our sins"

( I was waiting for the war question, the Bush question)

Here we were just hours after President Bush, in the name of America,
began the bombardment of Iraq.

This island--Miyako-- with its turquoise stillness, soft sand, green sugar cane fields
could not feel real.

This war-- miles away, endangering people I have never met--never will, information filtered so much, what can feel real?

Am I allowed to feel lucky?

The preacher declares he wrote a letter to Bush denouncing this war.
"If he was a believer in God, he wouldn't have started this war."

I won't pretend that I know the travesties of war. For the sake of the souls who do have
this knowledge, I won't pretend I know.

The preacher, done with his gospel, we three-- still in half womb position,
knees dug into sand, arms outstretched above us--
said little, smiled, and continued stretching.

I just found out in an e-mail that I won (no money) but a nice acknowledgement and publication (if desired) in The Tom Howard/John Reid Poetry Contest for that poem right there.

I wrote it after visiting the lush Okinawa island, Miyako in April of 2002. Hiromi, Brenda and I had boarded the flight from Haneda to Okinawa literally minutes before Bush would declare war on Iraq.