Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Moominpappa's Memiors, by Tove Jansson. A wonderful series that I remember from my childhood by a Finnish author. Her Moomins are very popular, at least in image, here in Japan. I don't know how widely read the stories are, but they are quite good, fantasies about these small creatures and their friends, but written in chapter book form and with lots of really great big words, like lugubrious and meerschaum.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Scootering home on the highway the other night, I saw an accident with two motorcycles and a truck. There weren't any bloody corpses apparent, but there wern't any emergency vehicles at the scene yet either.
And yesterday, I was heading down a small, one-lane, blind-corner road when a truck came tearing around the turn. I was going pretty slow, and luckily, because we both slammed on our breaks and i jerked to the right to avoid hitting his truck. We were nose to nose, my bike a little askew of him, but yet there wasn't enough room on the road for me to get by.
The guy was young, and he looked shocked. I was grim, but reached up to tap the window and motioned for him to continue up the road, as I couldn't pass until he moved. He drove on. I hope that the encounter will encourage him to drive more carefully in general and to mind us little scooters, but who knows.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

in the cold cold night

riding my motorbike home at 9pm, i keep seeing these guys around the neighborhood. there may be women too, but i've only seen men so far. they sit on the street corners on folding chairs, holding clipboards. I can't tell what they're doing, and they don't seem to be interviewing anyone.
it's really cold out these days, and especially at night. i wouldn't want to be outside for 30 seconds more than i had to, but these people are apparantly sitting around, doing... what?
-vigilantes, neighborhood watchdogs, scanning the scene for crime?
-carspotters, kind of like trainspotters but more boring?
-sociologists, monitoring the behavior of drivers vs. pedestrians?
who the hell are they?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

ahh love

Teaching little kids is sometimes very hard, and often really awesome. I have big respect for real teachers, which I am not really. But this is my main job, and here in this country, we get away doing this with very little training. I've done it a bit before, so I'm not a total novice - but there's a lot more I could learn, and I'm certainly not the best teacher I could be.

I really love my kids, and that helps. There are very few who I don't love, and even them, I want to love them at least a little. My company doesn't provide much training or support, so I'm mostly winging this, going on instincts, and trying as much as I can to relate to the kids and teach them in a way that is fun and intuitive.

One of my most popular kids' songs right now is "Shake your sillies", a song with lots of body movement and dancing around. The little ones especially love it, in the 2-5 age group. Today, Mutsuki and Tomoka came into class grinning, and as their mom left, they ran toward the stereo, saying, cd! sing! I asked them - "do you want to sing a song?", and Tomoka threw her arms around my knees and looked up at me, shouting, "the wiggle one!" How could I refuse? So we shook our sillies and wiggled our wobbles away. Singing is great, and for the kids who don't have inhibitions about it, it's a wonderful way to learn, especially songs that are instructive.

Little kids age fast - right at the beginning of conciousness, it seems that they develop at lightning speed. On the other end, we have the elderly, people like my grandparents and the old fart musicians, fading with equally alarming rapidity. But I feel like I'm somewhere in the middle: slowly inching older, but not showing change day to day, hour to hour any more. Change feels almost imperceptible right now. I crave having these two kinds of people around me as a shock to the system, reminding me both of the potentiality of life and the fullness of life lived long. Show me the way, wee ones and grannies - I'm following you.