Monday, October 29, 2007

gallantry

Exiting the station the other day, I found myself behind a pair of teen-aged lovers. The guy had baggy pants, an untucked shirt, and a spiky hairstyle; the girl was wearing her school uniform skirt ass-short. Possibly-flashing-her-knickers short. As we were coming up to a flight of stairs, I got ready to test my panty-flashing theory. Alas, her boyfriend carefully walked directly behind her, shielding her ass with his body and backpack so there was no chance of a sneak-peek. The lecherous old man in me was disappointed. Ah, modern chivalry.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

saturnine

sluggish in temperament, gloomy, taciturn.

again with the taciturnity.

from joyce's dubliners.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


i do love how the brits call cupcakes "fairy cakes".

Friday, October 26, 2007

curiosities

The other day, I was walking around the neighborhood doing errands. I was wearing my ever-present and utterly nerdy pedometer, and was stopped at a crossing signal. To get some steps in this idle time, I was absentmindedly stepping in place a little. I glanced around me and there was an old granny next to me. She looked ninety if she was a day - frail, hunched over, tufts of snowy white hair, and a blue housecoat. She was looking at me quizzically, and tentatively stepping in place. I can only guess what was going through her mind.

In the hubbub of Machida last week, I was exiting the turnstiles of the station with a stream of other people. Suddenly, I focused on an old granddad. This wizened old dude was decked out, head to toe, in American Southwest-style cowboy gear. Beat-up old hat, chaps, string tie, belt buckle, all studded with turquoise. Above the string tie was perched a wrinkled Japanese face. The incongruity was hilarious and fantastic, and I coveted his outfit. A few days later, I saw him again on a street corner.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

growth



This neighborhood is growing up. Last year, the parking lot behind our house was turned into a row of tightly-packed houses. And I guess it's nicer to have houses than a parking lot. But I'm starting to feel closed in.

Now, around the corner, they're developing what was a grassy lot into some more buildings. Apartments or houses, I'm not sure. But skeletons are going up.

There are still a few dedicated spaces around that seem safe for now. Parks, plazas. But there's something about a weedy empty lot. Wild grasses blowing. With no requirement to be anything, no imperative to please children or provide benches to seat the elderly for a respite. No need to do anything but be overgrown, to shelter in its neglected embrace forlorn lost and forgotten items - key chains, receipts, a kindergartener's dirty beat-up plastic toys. To facilitate the occasional shortcut across its tangled swaths. To give us breathing space.

Friday, October 19, 2007

baby!

Kids make me laugh all the time at school. It's a pretty great benefit of going to work.

I have a class of three high-level kids. Two of them are returnees - one spent time in Canada, the other in English-speaking schools in Hong Kong. The third is just dead smart. They are all nearly native level speakers, which is fantastic, because it means I can treat them pretty much like regular third graders. They catch on super quick and are really fun to teach, since they can handle almost any activity I can throw at them. They are brimming with enthusiasm, love to read and do puzzles, and relish a challenge.

Yesterday, while doing Halloween anagrams, Kota, the most rambunctious of the lot, cracked me up. He kept punctuating his answers with: baby! Example: "Hey guys. What does haunted mean?" K: "Has ghosts and monsters! Scary house! Baby!" Or: "What did you do yesterday?" K: "I went to school and then home. Baby!"

Sometimes I love this job.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

same in print

I've had a version of this post accepted for publication over at Tokyo Notice Board. It'll only be in the print version, that of October 12-18, 2007.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

support your local yokels



Though a lot of urbanites turn their noses up at their metro cousins, Beaverton as a suburb does have a few redeeming factors. Sunset Bingo for one. A charming old-fashioned downtown, though neglected, for another.

Valley Theater in Beaverton is an oasis in what is mostly a strip-mall pocked wasteland. Family run, indie, inexpensive. The box office clerk was friendly, engaged, happy to be working there, and above the oily adolescence of most theater employees. They show second run films for 3.75 a pop, and serve beer and a few other non-traditional snacks. I love Portland's myriad indie theaters, but since this place is in my family's backyard, I'll surely be seeing more of the Valley.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

temerity

reckless boldness; rashness

(from dictionary.com - thanks all things considered, NPR)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

thuggin' and hip-poppin'

I do production work for this magazine.

Friday, October 12, 2007

climbing kilimanjaro

I heard about Nicolai Calabria on All Things Considered, a 13-year old kid who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro on crutches with one leg. He did so in order to raise money to give wheelchairs to the disabled of Tanzania. He's raised more than $58,000 so far, enough for thousands of wheelchairs through the Free Wheelchair Mission.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Walking for AIDS


I'm doing the Portland Aids Walk with my mom and sister this weekend in Portland. Come out and join us, or show your support.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Immigration Tribulation

The need for renewal of my three-year "child of a Japanese national" visa rolled around this month, and I had to trek down to immigration to do it up.

I made my weary way to the Tokyo Immigration office in Shinagawa on a Monday morning. After my hour and a half commute and twenty minute walk, I found the office... closed. It was a public holiday, but since I always have Mondays off, I had failed to notice. Blast.

I tried again the next day, various complicated and fussy documents in hand. I slogged across Tokyo and back to Tennozu Isle station, and found the office, mercifully, open. (If you're lucky enough to be a Yokohama resident, you can use the much-less-crowded Shin Yurigaoka branch. Same goes for residents for other prefectures: if it's possible to SKIP the Tokyo office, do it!)

I filled out my paperwork and took a number. 436. Only.... 221 people ahead of me. Like the DMV times a million, and with even more languages flying around. I took a seat and settled in for the long wait. Tip: bring LOTS to do. I finished a book, practiced kanji, wrote in my journal, text messaged, ate a snack and a had a coffee... and still had time on my hands.

After four hours of waiting, my number was finally called, ten minutes before closing time. I was asked by the clerk if I had a copy of my birth certificate.

When I initially applied for the visa three years ago, I did it at the Japanese Embassy in Seattle, and needed a whole slew of documents including a letter from my now passed grandpa and a copy of my birth certificate. This time, however, the necessary documents listed on the Ministry of Justice's website clearly does NOT require a birth certificate for a renewal, or "Permission for Extending Period of Stay". Since I didn't have one around, I didn't bring it along. I said no, and she made me fill out a family tree. (In Spanish. Though I have a U.S. passport and was applying as a child of a Japanese National. Eh?)

Anyway, they took my application and made me fill out a notification postcard with my address. At that time, I told the clerk that I was planning on going to the states in a few weeks and asked if it was okay, even if they hadn't finished processing my application. My boyfriend had done just that, and since he had an "application pending" stamp in his passport, the immigration officials at the airport had given him no trouble at all. But the clerk was firm. "Your reentry permit expires in two days. You cannot leave the country. If you leave the country before your application is approved, it will be canceled." Yikes.

A little dejected but relieved to be finished with the process, I traipsed my ass home. Though the clerk had reprimanded me, I was determined to go to the States anyway, even if they cancelled my application. There was no way I was going to forfeit an $800 nonrefundable ticket. And I doubted that they would cancel my application, based on I's past experience.

On Friday, I received a letter from the office requested a copy of my birth certificate. I had found this list of necessary documents over at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website. Which is not linked to the MOJ's website, at least not in any way that's obvious from the English page. And it's for an initial application. And why would you go and look for another list once you've found one on a government website? Get your shit together, people.

Anyway, I managed to find a copy of my birth certificate and mail it off by Saturday. The following Wednesday, I received my notification postcard telling me that my permission was granted! I was pleasantly surprised at how fast my application was processed. Friday morning, I once again made my way to Shinagawa for my permission stamp and my multiple reeentry stamp. It took only about an hour and 10,000 yen this time. On Sunday, I flew to the U.S. without getting my application cancelled and visa revoked. Phew.

Monday, October 08, 2007

otherwise in print

This photo was published as Metropolis' Photo of the Week in March of '05.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Stepping Out


My dear sister Cassandra is Stepping Out to Fight Diabetes this weekend. Give her your money!