Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Une Poste Aérienne de Paris

I have always been a huge fan of postcards, but getting one has never gotten better until today. A post card from Paris! I mean, can a girl ask for something better to find in her mailbox? I think not!

My friend
K in Toronto was over in Paris and London the past week, and a postcard he picked for me in la ville j'aime made its way half around the world to my mailbox this evening. If I hadn't known it was coming, which I did, I might have passed out with joy when I found it along with the usual ads and a local news. He promised he would send one for me before he left for Paris, and I was checking the mailbox everyday after work in a heart-jumping anticipation. Et, ici il est dans ma main, finalement!

I think this is my second time mentioning this, but I just love, love, love hand-written anything,
letters or postcards. And I consider whoever came up with the idea of sending someone a postcard from a traveling destination as a genius. From the receiving end, it makes you feel warm at heart to know that you were thought of in a foreign land; that someone thought of you special enough to spare some time out of his vacationing moments to choose a card, sit down with a pen and write you something.

Another thing I love about receiving a postcard is that it feels like I'm being shared the air the sender's inhaling in a place far from me when I look at the picture. It makes me feel
jealous in a bitter sweet way, like I could be there and not here. And, since Paris is ma ville préférée dans le monde, the postcard made me feel more that way than it would, had it been from another place.

K wrote how he didn't quite know what to write in the postcard since we talk on MSN often enough; even while he was in Paris we got to talk on line, where he gave me his updates of his vacation. But that did not belittle the value of his card or lessen my joy of receiving it in any way possible. Besides, I never knew how his hand writing looked until now: matriculate and almost delicate.

art, indeed! There is just so much one can learn and feel from one hand-written postcard! I sincerely hope, no matter how advanced the technology becomes in the next century or however long the time remains for our good planet earth, that hand-written cards and letters never will die. If ever the time comes when traveling to the moon and the mars becomes available for us, they darn better make sure they make and sell postcards in those places!

Until next time,


My special and warm thanks to
K. Merci beaucoup de me donner le moment le plus heureux!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Return of Sweet Sorrow

I am a big bookworm, if that word still exists. One of many daily habbits that I have is that I read before I sleep. I had been reading a book of short stories by Henry James, but last night I felt like reading something different.

But before I get into that, let me talk about something else.

When I moved back to Japan two and a half years ago, I had to bid my tearful farewell to virtually the two thirds or more of what I owned. Just to clear out of my flat to move to another country after 12 years of material accumulation came with quite a bit of a cost. It hurts to think back on just how much I had to leave behind.

The hardest thing that I had to let go of was my books. I had about 300 books in my flat, including the textbooks for my Eng Lit. courses. Sadly, books weigh hell of A LOT when you have a whole bunch. I had a moving company come over to my flat and estimate the cost of the total shipment to Japan, and I was told it would be close to, I kid you not, 2 grands on books alone. It didn't help that I had always preferred the hard cover editions. I still do. It might have been one of the hardest decisions I had to make in my life, but I finally decided to let go of about 70 % of my books. I actually regret having done it (and I rarely regret anything). I wish I used the money I got from selling my car on a voyage ticket for all my dear books, every single one of them. 2 grands or not, it would have been worth it in a long run, because the emotion that I shared with each and every page of the books is simply too priceless to make it happen again the same way.

Swallowing the sorrow, let me move forth for now.

One of the precious survivors is the complete works of William Shakespeare, the textbook they used for Shakespeare I and II in Eng Lit.

This gigantic item, with its hard board cover-box, weighs what seems like 10 lbs. It comprises of 3450 very, very, very thin, almost transparent, leaves. When a book is too heavy to hold with just one hand, it's just too big-fat-assed for its own good. Yet, despite the completely unpractical size and weight of it, I just love this holly grail of all books on earth.

From time to time, whenever my spirit moves, I read this - bits and pieces of it at least, and I am always reminded of what I was feeling when I was a college student: the genuine hope, fear of not knowing, wanting and willing, openness to possibilities and love... the whole complexity of it all. And last night was one of these times when I felt quite nostalgic of that particular time period of my life, and I started reading his sonnets in bed.

My favorite has always been 116, which I'm sure anyone who shares its love for Shakespeare or English literature is familiar with. I hadn't read this in a long while. Before I began reading, I admit, I was half afraid it may not seem as good as it used to because, I don't know, it might be too purely idealistic for my 1-decade-older idea of love and hope, to which I'm afraid but might have to call cynicism. Yet...

...thank you, Bill!

Allow me to quote that which never fails to shine a light of hope in my heart after all these years.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring barque,
Whose worth's unknown although his height be taken.
Love's not time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

To read is to escape. But to escape, there has to be hope. In the end of the day, as I turn the pages of yet another story, I am a hopeful person.

And as a prince of Denmark once said dying, "the rest is silence."

Until next time.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Vanilla Smile

Call me a weirdo, but I never really eat ice cream in summer. When it's hot, my cravings are more toward water-based food (or non-food), like watermelon and Coca Cola since I'm not a Pepsi girl. Ice cream seems too sticky and too sweet.

Not that I am not a fan of ice cream. I mean, how can anyone not like the melt-y dessert that is just heaven, provided a lactose intolerance is not a factor? Well, actually, I happen to know how one can NOT like ice cream. I know a guy who would frown at the very mention of the word (or words?). Apparently when he was little, he had a surgery done in his throat and all he was allowed to eat afterwards was ice cream for a month since nothing in a solid form would go down his pipe. Combined with a fear of operation and the depression of being in the hospital, his hatered for ice cream is quite understandable, I would say. I sincerely hope the hospitals now would feed the children with the same throat problem something, anything! other than ice cream just to save them from a life-time glacephobia. Life is just too sad without a joy of it, don't you agree?

About two weeks ago, at my parents house (I come here on my days off) mom stocked up the freezer with a bunch of Donatello's ice cream cups. Sipping coke beside her, I never even looked at them...

...until today.

Like I said, I don't like ice cream in the heat. But today, the summer weather turned quite windy and wet, it actually felt cool enough. After lunch with dad, I got curious and opened the freezer drawer...

...I swear to God I had seen more than 20 cups in there the last time I was here!! They were down to 2: vanilla and strawberry.

I love it when a choice is easy to make. I am a vanilla fan all the way, especially the kind that has the tiny dots of vanilla beans and the color is not so white but more ivory. Besides, Donatello's are not too sweet and it's perfect for those who don't have the sweet tooth, like me.

The happiest moment of the day: when I opened the rid and saw what I saw there. Better seen than described, so here it is.

When was the lat time ice cream actually smiled at you?

Until next time,


Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Sun and Me

The third Monday of July is Ocean Day, or umi-no-hi, in Japan. It's a holiday to celebrate the beginning of summer time and the ending of the rainy season where a lot of people go to a beach: thus the name ocean.

Ever since I started doing what I do, I haven't had the usual, two-days-in-a-row weekend on a regular basis. And I miss it so much. Especially lately, I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the energy and the time I spend at work or for work, that I need a serious time, consequtive days, away from it. So, whatever the holiday means to the the nation, I get to have a 3-day weekend since my days off are Sundays and Tuesdays. So, yay for me! Ocean Day rocks!

Yet there is nothing "rocking" about going to a beach as far as I am concerned. Let me tell you just how little the meaning of ocean in the Ocean Day bears to me.

I have so-called sun allergy. I found that out when, in my first summer in southern California, I came out in hives and had a hard time breathing with a fever of what felt like 150 degrees after a couple of hours of being out in the sun, and was carried to the ER by a roommate. I remember the conversation I had with the doctor who looked like an Asian version of Steve Buschemi.

"You have a sun allergy."
"You are allergic to the sun."
"You might also have the solar urticaria."
".........(wtf is a solar Antarctica?)"
"Stay out of the sun."

Then he went on explaining how I shouldn't get the direct California sun on my skin, and that I might have developed the skin sensitivity while I was in Canada during my high school years (I was perfectly fine with the sun when I was little).

In my medicine-kicking, IV-fed, distorted mind, I'm thinking, " Oh my god, I'm gonna be an Asian albino kid!" (note: I was still 18 back then, and the way I perceived myself had still remained "a kid" at the time). I had seen a documentary on children who can NEVER be exposed to the sun, period. Not even to the moon light. I freaked out.

And, stay the hell out of the sun, I did. For the next 9 years of my life living in one of the sunniest places in northern America, I wore a long-sleeved shirt whenever I walked outside, politely turned down numerous invitations to day-time pool parties and beach parties , and never during the day time went to the beach 15-minute away from where I lived. Especially right after the session in ER, I was freaked out enough that I changed all my classes to evening classes the next term. I did find out later I needed not go that extreme, but I was always very careful. I still am.

I did make a poor judgment once, though. I was visiting a friend in San Diego. It was winter and the sky was hazy. It wasn't even that hot. I had sunscreen on. I felt safe enough to be outside for a walk around a nice, historical beach town with her after a lunch on a patio. And I shouldn't have. I felt a bit iffy after about a half hour, but brushed the fear off. When we decided to head back to the car, it was too late:

My friend freaking out. People looking at me concerned. Followed by another visit to an ER. A shame coming over me.

My family's visiting Egypt this summer. I will be in charge of watering the veggies and flowers in my mother's little garden. I can't help but hold a bit of resentment, I admit, but oh well. I'd rather be jealous of my family than curious enough about what an Egyptian ER looks like in Cairo.

Happy Ocean Day!

Until next time,


Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's No Coincidence

I started wearing glasses in 12th grade, which is actually not that early considering I had been reading books in bed under a night lamp my whole literate life. But I never realized how bad my eye sights have gotten until this morning.

I started mopping the kitchen floor, and saw something about the up-coming eclipse on TV in the living room, and picked up my glasses and wore them to see the news from 13 feet away as I continued mopping (I don't wear them at home ordinarily). Then, my eyes caught something on the white wall behind the fridge. Something black. Moving.

...Holy mother of God!!!!

I don't care how tiny they are. When ants get together (and when are they never together?) they are just as gross as one moderate-sized roach. I like to keep my kitchen spic-and-span clean, and most definitely do not harbor an inviting environment for these hobbits of insects to make themselves feel at home. But it had been raining quite a bit, a reason for them ants to invade houses, as my land lord later told me as he sprinkled a bunch of pesticide power thingy all over my kitchen .

Incidents like this always reassure me with my belief that things happen for a reason. Had I not been mopping in the kitchen? Had I not had the TV on? (I'm not very big on TV). Had I not caught the word "eclipse" on the news? (It's a phenomenon happening once in every 40 somethings years). Had I not wore my glasses that moment? My flat as I know it may have turned into an ant colony by the time I came back from work tonight. The notion alone is a little too scary for me to take.

The happiest moment of my day
: that I was able to let the invasion not exacerbate, and I was able to save myself from having a heart attack.

And it's also incidents like this when I can't help but feel the need for help from an individual with more testosterone in my life. I think it would spare me from at least several strokes. But other than times like this, I do handle things pretty well on my own. I'm a tough girl. I tie my own shoe lace and everything.

I think I'll start wearing my glasses more often. In my flat or out.

Until next time,


Sunday, July 12, 2009


Sorry to start off my entry with a vent, but I promise it will end with an element of happiness as the theme of my blog goes, so bare with me.

Yesterday, I was just exhausted. It was the last day of my 13-day non-stop workathon. And not an easy one, either. Near the end I was just ready to pass out. And, of course, that's when a certain someone decides to go totally and utterly idiotic on me. But instead of going bananas with wrath over his idiocy and stupidity and everything in between, I just went blank. My brain and body had no longer functioned in sync with my emotion; the buttery in me was too near the negative to let the doofus activate my "snap" system. Instead, I slowly buried an urge (though not deep enough that I am talking about it right now, obviously) to punch him in the eyes and kick him in places where he shouldn't be kicked in. Again, I was exhausted. I so wanted to just go home and space out after work. It would have been the first time in a while I had no work-related obligation the next day. I wanted to be alone. I needed my down time. Big time.

I did have an engagement after work with my two friends, however, to visit a friend who had invited us to a home dinner. And as much as I loved the idea, I have to admit, I felt so weary I had to force my body and mind to go there. Sometimes you can't help but need some serious moments alone, and socializing with even the most beloved friends of yours can be not what it usually is. Ever had that feeling?

Even then, they never fail to save me, my friends. There I was, thinking I need to be alone, binge eating and cutting myself off from the world, and that's when they remind me just how much I shouldn't be. What happened was, at the dinner table, one of us was telling a story from the past, which was just the funniest thing we had heard in our lives. We were laughing in a way that was almost painful. When was the last time when you laughed in a way you can't be cute anymore if you tried? That roll-on-the-floor, your-side-splitting, it's-so-funny-you-cannot-even-feel-your-face-from-laughing-so-hard kind of laugh? What were you doing around 9 p.m. pacific time on Saturday July 11 2009? Because I was laughing like that with my friends.

I laughed so hard, I had tears in my eyes. I saw S across from me, also crying from laughing, banging the table in pain, her eyes just two very thin lines like they become when she laughs. I saw M do the same beside me, laughing like there was nothing on the planet at the moment but to laugh the way she was, one hand on her huge pregnant belly and another on John's thigh next to her. And for a moment my tears from laughing turned something else. I wanted to cry for a different reason. I don't know what it was, and I don't think I can find the right word for what I was feeling at the moment, but if it wasn't happiness in English, I don't know what is.

And nothing couldn't have been better than M's peach banana and raspberry yogurt and vanilla ice cream smoothie to cool us off from the laughing session.

Until next time.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Happy Feet

I could have kissed that confused-looking delivery man at the door at 8:30 in the mo!

I was in my dream land when the doorbell rang. Thinking it might be a solicitor or another, (I mean, who would make a visit to someone's flat at such hour on Thursday?) I was dead set on pretending there was no one home, hoping whoever it was out there didn't see my car parked in the space with my room number on it on his way up to my flat. 30 seconds after, my phone rings. I check to see if the number shows; it does. It's local.

"Hi, this is Sagawa Delivery..."
".....(Crap! I forgot!)"
"...I'm at your door right now but you seem to be out, is tomorrow morning good for you?"
"(Crap!)I"m sorry, I'm (crap!) actually home right now (crap!), I'll be right there."
Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap!

How embarrassing it is to, first and foremost, admit that I was screening, and then, to have to show my screening face to the person I just admitted my screening habit to, and to top it all, to show up at the door in my PJ with rockets on them.

When an embarrassment is overwhelming, it's a good thing if it's followed by a joy that overflows just as much. A parcel never fails to give me an instant lift, even if I already know what's in it. Thus, quickly moving on from the morning extravaganza, I love, love, love, loooooooove my red sandals from UNIQLO! I can't believe I forgot that I placed an order for them last week. (Does this mean I shop on line too often?) I actually bought a summer kimono called yukata from the store to wear with S this summer at a fireworks festival, and found these rubber sandals for mere 10 bucks.

I am hardly ever in a red outfit, but I do like red items, especially on my feet. I think there is something undeniably enduring about red shoes. What girl doesn't love wearing a pair?

Well, my new rubber sandals don't make my legs look better like these other pairs do. But they make my feet very happy just the same. Minus 4 inches.

Until next time,


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Gon Crazy

Correct me if I'm wrong when I say this: there is at least a couple of non-Japanese otaku friends in a Japanadian girl's life. If you are one, like myself, and have never had an encounter with (or at least an approach from) an Anime-loving, Manga-reading north American individual in your life, I have no choice but to assume you never go out of your house. Not that I'm complaining. They otaku are the best people a Japanadian girl could befriend with. They'd love you, for instance, just for your name alone, especially if yours is Sakura, like mine. It wasn't until I met my otaku friends that I started loving (allegedly) the most prestigious female name in the otaku world that is mine.

Two serious otaku friends of mine have come to be two of my closest, most beloved friends: E and S. I met them separately, E in southern California during my college years, and S in Japan as a coworker from Canada. I was thinking about them today and found so many things they have in common:

1) They took a Japanese course in high school/College.
2) They love The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy.
3) They are punkerdorku (punk/nerd/dork/otaku).
4) They don't eat a lot of vegetables.
5) They are both sickly nocturnal. And they are quite often just plain sickly.
6) They are both very chuckle-y.
7) They know more Japanese slang than I do.
8) They know more Japanese history than I do.
9) They type faster than they can speak.
10) They will pilgrimage to their mecca, Akihabara, for life.

... just to name a few. I'm pretty sure they are similar in so many ways because of their love for anime, partially or entirely.

While sharing nothing from the list I made about my friends, I actually have a bit of semi-otakuness in me too, although I never admit it. I loved Dragon Ball as a kid like a normal Asian kid should, and love Cowboy Bebop. But my all-time fav remains Gon in my heart, an adventure of a little dinosaur in a comic-book series, which leads to my point of today's post. I placed an order for the whole series a few days ago, and the delivery was made today!

Oh, the joy of opening the parcel to see the disgruntled face of Gon! Undeniably the moment of my day.

I think now I'm heading beddie to read the whole series.

Until next time,


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Inside My Sketchbook

Despite the way most people perceive me, I am actually quite introverted when it comes to what I do for fun. Take a typical Sunday, for instance. Toss me a good novel and I'll be perfectly happy for the whole day. Or, if I am a little hard up on cash that month to place another delivery order on Amazon.com for English books (they get a little pricey here in Japan), I usually grab my pencil, open up my sketchbook, and start drawing.

I started drawing in high school. Until two nights ago, I had never shared my work with anyone other than my family (but only because we lived together), simply for a reason that I never thought my work could possibly be share-worthy. Besides which, I had never thought my drawing habit would bring anything other than a cerebral entertainment for my part. Yet...

Two days ago, my dear friend-coworker S and I were prepping in a room post-lunch, and
we started randomly drawing on the white board. Which somehow led me to draw her in a cartoon-ish way, given the serious anime otaku that she is.

What we had after 2 minutes was this:

...Shell loved it.

I am actually really proud of myself for two reasons. One, S, in a live form, looks exactly like this. Two, I've never done cartoon-ish drawing, let alone on a white board with a marker, and yet pulled off something that someone would get a really good kick out of. Since S has put this pic up on her facebook profile picture, I've been also getting nice feedbacks from
many people, which, to me, is crazy (in a great sense).

It was a completely new feeling for me to have, seeing how S was so happy with my quick creation on the board, taking pictures of it with her cell phone. And she is a tough judge to entice with drawing since she has been into anime and comic books her whole life. Definitely the happiness of the day moment, a big one too.

I got weirdly excited out of this, and was inspired that night to go home to a more intense drawing session.

I always draw women, and only women. I once tried a man. Didn't work. Tried an animal. Didn't work either. Attempted an object. Came out OK but wasn't fun for me at all. So I just stick to female figures since, in my head, they remain more interpretive than anything else. I steal ideas from my girlie magazines, and add my touch to them. Here are some of what I have done in the past week or so:

The girl with glasses is a character inspired by S. I drew her because, after seeing her cartoon-ish version, she wanted to see how I would depict her in my usual style of drawing.

I also shared my work to my friend K, also a tough judge, maybe even tougher than S since he draws too. And he likes them.
What I had always thought of as a mere pastime of mine for the past 15 years has now become one of my ways of communication with the world.

Until next time.