Sunday, December 31, 2006


I had a lovely visit to Seattle, another beautiful western city. Went up for the evening to visit with D. and M. and see their new house they bought this year, up near Greenlake. It's a beautiful place, built in the 1920s, and they've made it really comfortable and cozy.
A little drizzly, we nevertheless took a stroll along the lake in search of food. Though our restaurant of choice was clean out of veggie options, we stocked up at the PCC and went home to create delicious sandwiches and play Scrabble.
Along with T., we went to eat at the delicious Cafe Flora, a great vegetarian and vegan restaurant near Capitol Hill. The service was really nice and the food super tasty. Highly recommended.

The next day, the weather turned gorgeous, sunny and clear, and D. and I went shopping for red panties to ring in the new year in the Spanish tradition. A few years ago, when B. and I were living in Spain, we were taught this custom by our friends there, who informed us that by all means we must wear new red knickers given to us by someone else. We brought the custom back to tell our friends, and D. has apparently been following it with dedication every year since, though I have only observed it here and there. We loaded up on sexy underwear for girls and boys, then headed back for one last sandwich before I hit the highway back down South, attempting to take photos of the skyline while driving. Old habits die hard. Driving the little Justy, there was no cruise control, so my attempts at photography were unsuccessful.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Portland, a cozy mix of friends and food.

Portland is such a beautiful city, and I love it each time I go back. I loved it when I was 16 and driving up from Corvallis to see a show, excited at the city and the cool kids and the zines and the places catering only to youth. And I still love it now that I'm older and not so fazed by the hipsters but appreciative of the liberal views, old buildings, and good city planning.
And good coffee.
And books.
And bridges.
And art.

While in Portland, I ate some good eatin', including the Farm Café and at a little Mexican tienda and restaurant on Lombard in St. John's. I had a beautiful roasted veggie sandwich made by E. at Valentine's near Burnside while listening to boring self-indulgent noise music. Sadly, I didn't make it to Nicholas' or the Delta - too much to eat, too little time. I managed to hit Powell's for a minute, and to walk around the stunning St. John's bridge while visiting friend and amazing illustration artist Davey at his studio. I bought some prints of his there, at bargain prices for such beautiful work.

We ate burritos at the tienda, which displayed many many piñatas, which I excitedly snapped since I spent so much time this winter making them for our Xmas party. Most Japanese people don't have any idea what a proper piñata looks like, so it was fun to be in a shop full of them.

Also got to see dear friend M., whose wedding I attended this summer in Tangent. We had coffee at Tiny's and caught up - M. is in law school at Lewis & Clark, reportedly the best environmental law school in the U.S., and full of idealistic, non-asshole students. Which is really nice to hear after reading about all the cutthroat bullshit over at opinionistas. His wife H., a great painter, is studying to become an art teacher. They're cool and I want to be like them.

Got to also hang out with they lovery-dovery J. and C. The wonderful J. is awesome (I really enjoyed her visit when she came to Tokyo last year) and C. is a cool writer who sometimes does pieces for publications like Bitch magazine. They're cool and I want to be like them.

And I got to see R. and meet her wife S. R and I have been friends since we were 15 and she's awesome. She's a rabble rouser and S. works at an animal shelter and plays with puppies all day. They're cool and I want to be like them.

My friends are so cool and that town is so cool. I really miss it sometimes and think I'll be back there someday.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Arrived at our house, Kev's house, in Beaverton. It's my second time here and I'm comfortable but Beaverton is still relatively unknown to me. PDX hipsters scorn it as a useless 'burb, and perhaps rightfully so, but I'd like to find out what this town's about if we're to have a house here. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance this trip to visit the excellent Sunset Bingo parlor, with its excellent collection of Olympic posters that I. drools over.

We've set up our Merry Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


word of the day. A murmuring or whispering sound, like the hushed rustle of trees. Thanks to Marilynne Robinson and her excellent book, Gilead, for teaching me this word.

Friday, December 22, 2006

the skyline unfolds below.

The view from the posh building that I taught in last week.
Though it was beautiful and I felt important, I'm glad I don't teach there on a regular basis. Putting up with the stress and crush of rush-hour downtown Tokyo would be more than I could handle on a daily basis. I much prefer my more low-key existence and the occasionally foray into gogogo hell.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

okay, boke

ぼけてる (boketeru):forgetful or scatterbrained. often applied to old folks but just as easily used on the young and spazzy.

Monday, December 18, 2006

doozo, bozo

One of the twerpy little sayings common in my family. My mom sometimes says it to a Japanese person, who usually doesn't notice or thinks she's just saying "doozo, doozo".

Monday, December 11, 2006


San-chome no yuuhi, recommended by student M., is set in post-war Japan and looks at life in a typical Tokyo neighborhood. The light and photography is excellent, the characters and plot compelling. This won the Japan Academy Awards last year. Highly recommended.

shinro otake

I. and I hit the Shinro Otake retrospective in its last days at the MOT - Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, located in Kiyosumi Shirakawa. K-S is at the end of the Hanzomon line, a straight shot from our home station on the Den-en-toshi line.

The building itself is very nice, lots of glass and metal and triangular shapes, and very spacious. The neighborhood isn't too built up, so I get the feeling it wasn't as difficult to dedicate some land to this project as it might have been if it was located more centrally.

The exhibition was stupendous - in the sense that I was stupefied. Four floors dedicated to one artist's work, and running the gamut from collage to painting to music and sculpture.

I was really digging it at first, espcially the innumerable sketchbooks stuffed to the gills with clippings (especially since it's a predilection I share). I also really liked a lot of the monochromatic paintings and some of the comics.

But... after a couple of hours I started to get tired. And overwhelmed. As I descended into the sculpture area, where some kitchen-sink diorama-rama type creations were roosting, music began to issue from some of them. The man himself was playing a live noise-ish set. I stayed for a few minutes and watched, but ultimately couldn't take anymore and went to meet an appointment I had made. I. stayed, though, and met Mr. Otake and chatted with him for awhile. Apparantly the man speaks excellent English and is downright nice n'cool.

Fourteen more days til this closes: if you check it out, be ready to dedicate a lot of time to it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

gas station man

Navigating the freezing drizzly roads this morning on my way to work, I was troubled by the oil light that had been on for a few days. I know my bike, and I know that there's enough oil for a couple of days of light riding even after the oil light comes on. But it had been a couple of days, and I was also running low on gas... though I was running a bit late, I pulled into a Cosmos station to gas and oil up. I usually put the 2-stroke in myself - it's about a third of the cost of having the station attendant put it in for you - but I hadn't had time to go to the motor store and the danger zone was approaching.

I pulled in to the station and was shunted into place next to a pump by an older man. I asked him to fill it up with regular and also to put in some oil, which he proceeded to do extremely slowly and methodically. I didn't mind though - he was a kindly old grandpa type. After getting all taken care of, I started up the bike and put all my gear back in place - gloves, helmet, scarf - and got set to take off again into the miserable weather. But... "wait!" he said. He grabbed a rag and began to swab off the windscreen of my helmet, which was covered in droplets and fairly foggy to boot. He polished it well, then gave me a stern once over. "It's inside too!", and he stuck the rag under the shield, next to my face, and wiped that down too. "Okay," he said, "you can go."

Good old grandpa-man. Made my day.