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Love letters [02 Nov 2016|04:28pm]
When I was about 14 years old I did something I cannot believe I ever found the courage to do. It still seems like a memory from a TV show rather than from my own life, but I actually did this.

I wrote a long love letter to my crush confessing my feelings.

We had only attended school together for one year, sixth grade. I hadn't seen him in the intervening years but I kept track of him as well as one could back before you could facebook stalk someone. I knew he had gone to live with his dad and sussed out his middle school. I heard about him on very rare occasions from a mutual friend. And, I looked up his dad's address in the phone book so that I could do this big thing, send him a love letter.

I had never told any of my crushes that I liked them, and I think I never did so again but somehow this idea got ahold of me and it seemed like a surmountable risk...

I suppose I thought I was very adult and mature as a high school student (or almost) and that I would impress him with my no pressure affection. I would just tell him how much I admired him and let him know I expected nothing from him (of course, after years apart) but that if he ever wanted to write me, he totally could.

I chose my very prettiest stationery. (I am fairly sure this involved some notecards with pastel floral patterns and cute forest creatures.) I wrote out the letter several times to make sure my penmanship was as beautiful as possible and nothing was scratched out and every word was perfect.

Then I popped it in the mail.

I seem to recall later, (how much later I am not sure) that same mutual friend told me he thought it was a very sweet gesture. (What a gentleman!) He never wrote. I have never seen him since I was eleven years old. At the time I consoled myself that it was not such a bad thing to have made someone feel better about themselves. Who doesn't like being told they are loved?

Today I suddenly remembered that letter and I wondered, is it still out there? Probably not. I have boxes and boxes of letters and notes and old birthday cards but that's not the norm. It probably got tossed over two decades ago. But is it possible that he remembers that letter? Does it come to mind once in a great while? Does he recall that once upon a time there was a little girl who thought he was peachy-keen? I hope he does. I'd like him to have that little boost on a day when nothing is going right. On days when I doubt my own strength and passion, I'd like to remember that brave little girl too.
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Unpretty [13 Feb 2014|10:44am]
I recently found myself watching the video for TLC's 1999 hit Unpretty on YouTube. In the way that one does when one is very adept at wasting time online, I thought to myself, "I wonder what the actress playing the bulimic teen has gone on to do." This seemed like a simple enough question to answer so I looked at the Wikipedia entry for Unpretty. The young actress portraying the girl getting her breast implants removed was identified but that was all.

I am not one to give up on a whim that easily – especially because it struck me as ironic that a video celebrating the beauty of this young woman had not ensured that anyone knew who she actually was. I spent well over an hour trying to find some site, somewhere, that identified this actress. At last after trying any number of search word combinations I came upon someone posting on Yahoo Answers decrying Tamika Katon-Donegal's appearance in an infomercial for Barry's Boot Camp weight loss program. The poster thought in the Unpretty video Katon-Donegal was "beautiful almost perfect" and as a "fat admirer" was "heartbroken" by her boast that she could no longer wear the shorts from the video.

I was a woman on a mission and tracked down Katon-Donegal's SAG resume (her appearance in the video is not listed on her IMDb profile) so that I could get the Unpretty article on Wikipedia updated with her name and a verified citation. Mission accomplished.

It's a very small accomplishment but it gives me a feeling of satisfaction to see her name there. It makes me happy to see all her subsequent accomplishments as well. Still the little research I did gnaws at me... What does it say about our society that an established actress' debut was not mentioned in page after page of articles and commentaries about a video promoting her transformation into a body-positive role model? What does it tell us about the values we internalize when the only person who noted her name was someone who found her figure extremely attractive?

I don't know how to feel about it. I don't want any woman to feel that she must be "beautiful almost perfect" in order to be remembered. I don't want any woman to feel that she can't be perceived as beautiful either. I don't want any person to feel that way. For now that newly delineated belief is just there, sharpening my perception. Perhaps that is all it will do or perhaps I will find a new mission. Silly as this one or far more serious, I hope it makes the world a little bit better.
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Giselle [07 Oct 2013|12:35pm]
Saturday evening my husband and I went to see the Colorado Ballet's performance of Giselle. Both of us are nursing colds and the car won't currently start (it's a finicky not so little thing) but we wrapped up well and took the bus (surprisingly much more convenient).

Giselle in the first act reminded me of a dear friend from my college days. Giselle's sweet, exuberant personality was hers as well. She is a happily married mother now so thankfully Giselle's fate was in no way hers but watching Giselle cavort about on stage really brought her teenage self back.

The pas de deux between Albrecht and Giselle in the second act (before he tires) was so beautiful – haunting and romantic. The Wilis moving entirely in sync were amazing to see.

During the intermission I happened to overhear a man and woman discussing the ballet as she read the short synopsis in the program. They had been guessing about the plot and were surprised to find where they had guessed correctly and what they had missed. Suddenly the man asked, "Who was the guy in brown (Loys/Albrecht), other than a dick?"
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Wildlife [18 Sep 2013|01:16pm]
About ten years ago I posted about my encounter with a tanuki. Last night, biking home from work on the Cherry Creek Trail, I saw a grey fox for the second night in a row. There are numerous bunnies around so I suppose a predator shouldn't take me by surprise but it did. It felt like magic.

The creek and its surrounding wooded area is a slight green smudge on a landscape of shops, apartments and office buildings. It is lovely to bike along listening to the creek gurgling and admiring the dappled light but it never seemed untamed enough for a fox's hunting grounds. I am oddly thrilled that a fox has decided we have left enough wilderness to support wild things.
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Spring snow [19 Apr 2013|04:10pm]
Wednesday night on the way home I was singing Jingle Bells. This is not a Christmas carol as some may believe, it is a snow song. There is not one mention of Christmas and so I felt it was an appropriate song for a snowy April evening when everything looked just like it ought to have looked at Christmas but it was actually well past Easter.

As someone employed in the regulation of water in a very arid state, I am fully aware of how badly we needed every snowfall we have had in April and still more. I don't want hot summer weather any sooner than is absolutely necessary but still I find this spring snow to be, for lack of a more poetic word, weird.

Others share this opinion I realize. Here in Colorado I have grown accustomed to people wearing shorts in the winter, with a sweatshirt to balance things out I guess. I shake my head in amazement at their fortitude but I am no longer surprised by their attire. I must have been made of somewhat sterner stuff during my Michigan childhood because I remember my mother had a rule that my sister and I were not allowed to wear shorts until the temperature reached 70 degrees. Now I never wear them at all and at 70 degrees I may wear a windbreaker because with wind chill that can be pretty darn nippy.

However even I, in flagrant defiance of the weather and the temperature, refused to wear gloves or a hat during this last snowstorm. I admit I did wear a scarf one day but I usually didn't even zip up my coat when I went outside and everyone was acting the same way. I saw little old ladies without hats, gloves or scarves. We would admit that with the temperature well below freezing and snow falling constantly for over 24 hours and the wind whipping about we might need a coat, even in mid-April, but we surely didn't need gloves!
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10 years on here, really? [12 Apr 2013|12:41pm]
I have a friend who is just now studying in Japan and I gave her the link to this journal to let her see my take on my time in Japan (not as a student however, that predates LJ). I thought I should look and see if there were any useful insights about my life in Japan back when I was living in said country and so I started with my earliest entries, January 2003. Yipes!

Although I do have melancholy entries on leaving and missing Japan and on my adorable students it appears 80% of the time all I did was gush about bands. I love SMAP/Sclatch/Dear Loving blah blah blah... This is almost painful to read. How very like a real journal.

However in stumbling through my carefully transcribed days of youthful infatuation I came upon one of those quizes one gets from time to time and here is what I wanted my life to be like right now:

42. In 10 more years, you want to accomplish: I'd like to have a healthy marriage and be raising happy kids. I'd also like to have a job I love that leaves me with enough free time to enjoy life and pays well enough to give me money with which to enjoy life.

Well, okay then. I am happily married. I am not sure if I'm healthfully married. My husband and I have so much in common and also almost diametrically opposed life energies. I am happy (it takes practice, but I generally am) and he is an Eeyore -- "Knowledge for the sake of Complaining About Something."

It can be draining to be with a pessimist who calls himself a realist and our biggest arguments stem from my insistence that quantifiably "true" or not being positive makes life better while he asserts that nothing is more important than knowing and living the Truth (yes, with a capital T) and even if he may not have grasped the Truth in all its completeness just yet, he will trudge through muck and mire, bleed from a thousand weeping wounds, and press ever forward until he grasps Truth.

He is a philosopher and I am a poet. I think truth is in a moment perfectly captured -- displaying the essence of life in its very minutia. However I am, admittedly, not seeking Truth.

Is that a healthy marriage?

I honestly don't know. I honestly don't know just what my 25-year-old self meant by "a healthy marriage." Probably she was using the phrase to stand in for "perfect" in a societally appropriate way. I want a marriage where we are what all writers writing about ideal marriages in the abstract say we ought to be. Always understanding, supportive, loving and respectful. We would always speak in I sentences, "I feel underappreciated when you don't say thank you for the cupcakes I baked." And we would be world-class listeners, "I hear you saying that you feel underappreciated." We would have dealt with every bit of baggage and all family of origin issues. We would be emotionally mature, fully self-realized individuals striving toward the upper reaches of Maslow's hierarchy of needs together.

Certainly in a "healthy" marriage we would never find ourselves yelling at each other because he said I could watch another episode of "Inuyasha" and now I can just feel his annoyance at watching another episode as he slumps beside me on the couch and plans strategies for some RPG and it's not my fault that he doesn't understand Japanese I want to watch it subtitled because the English voices sound all wrong!

However it is my marriage and every day we say thank you and I love you and every night we cuddle together and I can say in all honesty being with him makes life better.

We don't have kids and I don't think we will for at least another two years but we shall see.

I don't love my job but it's okay. I like my coworkers and I have a great boss and that counts for a lot. I am helping the public and the environment and that's good. Plus it's not so taxing that it burns me out so I do have free time to enjoy life along with money with which to enjoy life.

Self of 2003, I think you would be startled by the happiness your 2013 self has found but I also know you would be pleased that happiness is still within your grasp.
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Grapes and CC Lemon [19 Mar 2013|11:58am]
[ mood | nostalgic ]

I miss the balconies that every place I lived in Japan had. I miss airing out my bedding and drying my clothes outside and just having this little space in the outdoors that was mine. I never had enough space for a chair or anything like that but I miss just standing out on my balcony. From my balcony at my host family's in Hirakata I could see the mountains. Later from the balcony of my own apartment in Hirakata I could watch the parade that passed by one random day.

During my senior year, I danced the memory of standing on the balcony for my modern dance class. I have no idea what moves I used but I remember snippets of the essay I wrote about what I was expressing. I wrote about the sound of the baseballs being hit in the nearby batting cages and about the bats that swooped by and the purple mountains in the distance at twilight.

One of my very first memories in Japan is eating tiny champagne grapes and drinking CC Lemon on the balcony of our room at Kansai Gaidai's Seminar House. Kitsune (obviously a nickname but she has red hair and back then kept all the boys' eyes on her -- now she's happily married) and I went to a store near the Seminar House and bought random stuff for dinner our first night on our own. I think we may have gotten snack bread and possibly a Crunky bar or some yogurt but I remember the grapes and the CC Lemon because we had too much of both and no refrigerator so we tried to finish them off and burnt ourselves out on CC Lemon for a while.

It always surprises me how many memories can be rolled up and tucked inside one instant. The grapes and the CC Lemon remind me...

The first time Kitsune and I had CC Lemon was at Kansai Airport. Fresh off the plane we wanted something to drink and were so amazed by the vending machines that dispensed soda pop into a cardboard cup. We chose CC Lemon because we had a fairly good idea of what it might taste like versus Pocari Sweat or Calpis.

I remember rolling our luggage to the Seminar House and how I almost fell into the drainage culvert because the roads were so frighteningly narrow in the lowering dusk.

I remember that I bought Detective Conan popsicles every chance I got because they included a collectible sticker and the soda flavored popsicles with the shaved ice center and the traditional outer layer were fascinating and delicious. In the summer and the spring my lunch was almost always milk and cookie bread (never found it again when I came back to teach) and apple yogurt although sometimes I'd splurge on food from the cafeteria and became known as that girl who drank the broth from her ramen even though the bowl was as big as my head. In the fall and winter I had a pizza or curry man (steamed bun) with my yogurt and I still remember how shocked I was one March day when I was informed they were gone for the season.

I remember the little gardens in front of the nearby houses when Kitsune and I would stroll around the neighborhood after our classes. I confused kirai and kirei the first time I was brave enough to try out the Japanese I was beginning to learn on a gardener. It's been fifteen years and the thought still makes me cringe.

I kept a scrapbook during my year studying abroad. I never quite finished it. The last few unused pages have random things just stuck between them. Every time I find myself holding it in my hands I tell myself I am going to finish it off and also the one I never started from my time teaching in Japan. I have the scrapbook (Muji), I have stacks of things to put in it... but I never do. I'm not quite sure why. Will it feel too final? Am I afraid that my memories will engulf me? Am I too busy living my current life to sift through the chapters I finished years ago? Am I scared to find I already have forgotten why I kept that random straw wrapper, that ticket stub?

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I can feel the past overtaking the present [06 Feb 2013|11:26am]
I, as you may recall, got rid of a lot of Japanese pop culture goods last year. It was disorienting going through everything.

In school, life was so neatly separated into years. Looking back you didn’t expect third grade to be like fifth grade. Now however I am absolutely startled to find that 1) things change, 2) I have changed, 3) a lot of time has passed.

Long after I got rid of later volumes I kept the first three volumes of Ranma ½ because they were so much longer and also I think because I thought of them as pivotal somehow. They sat in a box of Japanese flotsam and jetsam in storage for years but as I sorted through all my stuff I took them out and holding them in my hands I remembered.

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Rummage sale [10 Apr 2012|01:12pm]
[ mood | productive ]

I am selling a vast quantity of goods I brought back from Japan. I have promised myself by the end of April they will be out of my home even if I have to give away some items. Now I'm not posting about this here as an advertisement but rather because I don't want my few and patient readers to think I don't love Japan any longer if they stumble upon one of these sales posts.

I had a wonderful time collecting SCLATCH, PLASTIC, Dear Loving, LAID, Amaterase, Daigo Stardust, KiNG, SMAP, V6, Arashi, Hikaru Genji, Shounentai, L'Arc~en~Ciel, Gackt, Oikawa Mitsuhiro, Pool Bit Boys, KinKi Kids etc. goods, and wearing Japanese fashions and even farther back collecting Cardcaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, Mama wa Shougaku Yonnensei etc. goods but they no longer bring me joy. Rather they are sitting in boxes taking up space. That isn't to say I never listen to Japanese music, I do. The songs are on my iPod, my computer and a flash drive I take to work every day. I do not however need to have every single ever released by 50 different Japanese performers. (I exaggerate, but not by much.)

I am a firm believer in creating space for newness. It is time to clear out these objects to allow new loves and new adventures to take their place. I am keeping some mementos, fear not, but I don't need seven boxes or so of mementos. If you come to visit, Japan flavors much of my home so you will never wonder if I have forgotten a place so dear to my heart -- but today it's largely artwork, ceramics, tea utensils and the like instead of walls full of GACKT and Indies bands.

If you, dear reader, are interested in what will be going up for sale, here are my preliminary pictures: http://s245.photobucket.com/albums/gg65/Candied-sumire/. I have a lot more to photograph and am dithering about what to do with all the full-size CDs and DVDs which (in order to bring such a large number of them home) I put into CD wallets, stashed their paper inserts, and threw away the jewel cases. I'm also flummoxed by pricing everything so if you see something you want in amongst the photos; let me know and if you really want to endear yourself to your beleaguered friend, suggest a price as well. ^_^

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Phone/電話 [04 Dec 2011|11:32pm]
Recently I checked my messages on my house voice-mail only to find that I had not done so in about a month. I also realized from one of the messages how odd it sounded that I hadn't changed my voice-mail greeting since I first recorded it.

I hate recording messages so I coerced my husband to do the new one. I always have to erase and record about ten times before I decide my voice doesn't sound too goofy and I'm not breathing too loudly and I sound mature but friendly and on and on.

While he was doing the recording (in one shot), I was recalling the message I created while living in Sanjou. Since I taught at elementary schools, I had to use vastly more Japanese than I had needed before and it became quite possible that a coworker could phone me who would find an English greeting totally incomprehensible. Thus I decided that I needed to record a message in Japanese and as, at the time, I was without any other resource I had to create one out of my own Japanese knowledge.

I don't recall it exactly... I think it went something like: アン・マリーはどこかな~?知りたい?ピーと後でメッセージをど~ぞ! A* M***- wa doko ka na~? Shiritai? Pii to ato de, messeji o do~zo. (Where is A*** M****? Do you want to know? After the beep, please leave a message.) It was a pretty cutesy message, I admit, but I was fairly sure it made sense, which was my main object, plus cute is never a bad thing in Japan... or so I thought.

I still recall coming home to an angry message from some Japanese woman. I didn't catch all of it but I did get that she was complaining about people who let their kids record the message. Instead of being chastened, I was ecstatic! She thought I sounded like a kid, but she thought I was Japanese! The memory still makes me smile.
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Music and memories [14 Nov 2011|12:29pm]
July 19, 2004 I wrote, "Of course when I think of a future that involves living in America, even with the "the man of my dreams," and not going to Dear Loving/Sclatch/Plastic/KING concerts and Off-Houses searching for an elusive Hysteric Glamour shirt that doesn't offend my delicate sensibilities... I want to cry."

I remember writing to someone back then that I couldn't imagine anything sadder than chopping up carrot sticks for kids' lunches while listening to Dear Loving. I thought I would never get over putting my "exciting life" behind me and settling down. I no longer find the idea remotely sad. (I find the idea of having kids fairly terrifying - why do people need to share morning sickness and labor pain stories with me? Isn't the idea of never being able to be selfish again enough to work through when it comes to having kids?) In fact, it amuses me to be typing up something at work and find a Dear Loving or King song come through my headphones. It's nostalgic but it also reminds me how happy I am to be me here now versus the starstruck girl who wrote lines like the one sited above.

I remember my last year in Japan, sitting in a restaurant in Tokyo (Good Honest Grub, I believe) and listening to the classic rock they were playing. I was singing along to some song I've known since I learned to walk and suddenly I thought to myself, "This is my culture and it is pretty cool." The "rock stars" I mooned over were impressed by my ability to name old Aerosmith songs or recognize the guitar riff from In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. They were in awe of my culture.

This music wasn't just a part of my culture though, this was the sound of home to me. My parents were hippies. Classic rock and golden oldies were all I knew growing up. I may not have known that Sting was a man and not a rock band back in the eighties but I knew my mom had seen both The Doors and The Beatles perform.

I think that may have been the moment I decided to return to America. There were a lot of things that led up to it of course, but I had never been nostalgic for America before then. I visited as many shrines and temples as I could and snapped up lovely Japanese housewares and rode old trains in Chiba prefecture with my dear friend Atsuko because I love Japan and I wanted to take as much back with me that was beautiful and good as I possibly could but I was preparing to go home. I could use 帰ります without flinching.
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I had to update my profile [27 Aug 2011|03:38pm]
This was because it spoke of wanting to get married and I am now in fact married. Yes to the same man I have spoken about in my very sporadic entries. I apologize for never writing on here in the entirety of 2010. I hate to say I use LJ mostly to aggregate comics and read friend's updates. I am still writing but I'm also playing around with mixed media artwork and enjoying that a great deal. I do hope to make more appearances online in the not too distant future but wedding planning stereotypically took over my life and then this summer heat has left my brain a melted mess but meet me here come the winds of autumn and we'll see what we can cook up!
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Family [14 Oct 2009|11:20am]
[ mood | contemplative ]

Last week I left the apartment and rushed to the bus stop only to find the rain had turned to snow and without much thought I grabbed my cell phone and called my fiancée and told him that it was snowing.

He could look out the window and see that. I had just kissed him goodbye as I shoved my feet into rose covered galoshes before hurrying off. Still, the person I thought to share the surprise of the first fleeting snowfall of the year with was him.

I thought later about what that exchange meant. At one time I would have had my mother right behind me and would have turned to her to beam my joy at the year’s first snow. Later, it may have been her or my sister or a friend who would have been tapped to share the moment.

As my friends and family aged alongside me we parted ways, at least physically. The first snowfall in Japan would hardly affect my family in Virginia, but perhaps I would call anyway just to share my life.

Then our lives got more complicated. My sister started working, expanded her menagerie, got married and now she wasn’t available at all hours of the day for everyday wonders. Friends got married, got careers, moved and moved again and still I wanted to share these moments. I learned to judge who was least likely to be harried (sorry if I never remembered TV schedules!) and called to tell the chosen person about the little moments in my life.

So these bonds shifted and stretched – the bonds of sharing the everyday. Sometimes it felt quite lonely and sometimes I had multiple calls to return. The level of interaction waxed and waned with relationships starting and ending and jobs and new hobbies and new friends and that was okay.

Then someone entered my life who started to share the everyday again – someone to comment to when I over-spiced the soup or when I read something interesting in a magazine or if my cat looked especially adorable.

This, I thought in the tiny evaporating specks of snow, was family. No doubt moments come when my mother, sister or friends wonder if I have been enjoying the autumn leaves or if I need reassurance over a mistake at work and wish I called about these things more often. On the other hand, when life gets chaotic – a friend needs to be moved, a lover wants to take a road trip, a boss expects overtime for the foreseeable future – they need not picture me telling my cat about my day.

This reshaping of our everyday is growing up and it’s a bittersweet thing, but it’s good.

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Red String of Fate [25 Aug 2008|04:31pm]
In my few sparse entries I think I have written more about love and loneliness than any other topic so, loathe as I am to end it like this (the topic, not the journal), I must profess that I am head over heels in love. There, it is written. It's there in black and white (your colors may vary) in all its glorious improbableness. It sits there looking for all the world like something trite and fake and I fear I have no prose up to the task of making it more believable to you, my discerning readers. I, your relatively clear-eyed daydreamer, have succumbed to the ultimate harebrained idea. I am one of those fools who believes in the red string of fate, a media naranja, a soul mate.

I love romantic movies; lines like, "I just knew. You touch her for the first time, and suddenly... you're home. It's almost like...magic." I love romance novels; fantastic set-ups where you meet and fall in love in three amazing weeks and it all ends happily ever after. I love love-songs; where it's okay to say you'll be someone's everything because it's set to music. But everyone knows that's the "razzle-dazzle" entertainment dishes up. It's not real. No one "just knows." You need a lot more time to be sure than a whirlwind three weeks and no one, for the sake of sanity, ought to be everything to you.

We spent almost 12 hours together on that first date; going to a museum, strolling through a rose garden, playing on swings, eating ice cream, perusing a bookstore... It was darn near perfect. All well and good but why did I feel like this was someone I had misplaced and joyfully found again? "Oh, there you are!" my heart exclaimed and all my rational and reasonable thinking never diminished it's belief that somehow or other this person I had just met belonged with me.

So, as my sister once warned me, love has humbled me. I am a foolish believer too.
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The opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy. [11 May 2008|12:10pm]
You've no doubt heard that line. The saying hinges on the fact that hating someone means thinking about them - passionately focusing your time and energy on them. It's due to that obsession with the hated person that hate being transformed into love seems more plausible to most than total ambivalence becoming passionate attachment. Although hate turning into love is a well-worn romantic plot line I think those that most understand the truth of the saying are those who have truly "gotten over" someone.

I remember at eleven trying to get over this boy I had a massive crush on named David. One momentous day I called my best friend Kristine up and told her at long last I had decided it was time to get over David. Being no David fan, Kristine happily obliged me in making a list of every reprehensible thing about him. It was a lengthy list and we worked ourselves into a good froth of righteous indignation. David was a total jerk! I was never again going to walk to the next bus stop over just to wait for the school bus with him. I was going to stop watching him play football with the kids in the neighborhood. I was going to explore all my many hobbies that I had put on hold to center my world around him. I was so over him!

Except, of course, I wasn't. I was having to focus on that list of odious misdeeds to force myself to not melt at his smile or find myself in the little park nearest his townhouse. I was still thinking about him all the time and in very little time I was once more writing in my diary about him and the agony of being "in love" with him against my will. (Yes, I do have a bad poem on the topic, why do you ask? ^_^)

Almost two decades later I found myself going through something similar which, let me tell you, makes me feel as if I have made a lot of progress. The guy in question is a periphery person in my life, someone I know of but rarely interact with. Occasionally I'd toy with the idea of pursuing him and tentatively flirt a bit but he wasn't interested and I knew we were a bad match. I found him attractive, obviously, to even consider pursuing him, but guys who were actually in my life and perhaps interested in me were first and foremost in my mind. Then there came a time when there weren't any guys in my life who perhaps were interested in me and suddenly I couldn't stop thinking about him. I'd daydream about romantic comedy endings where suddenly he realized I was everything he ever wanted and we'd fall madly in love and live happily ever after.

I fought off these temporary bouts of insanity as best I could. My friends and family had to put up with my rants about how much I so did not want this guy, how totally undesirable he was and, on occasion, how I was completely over him. I battled bravely onward and then, I had a chance encounter with the man in question. After months of wishing and railing and pining and angsting, here I was chatting with the dream -- and he bored me to distraction. He wasn't mean. He wasn't a bad guy. He just wasn't anybody who haunts your dreams. I had built up this idea of him from bits and pieces I remembered about him but I had obviously filled in the many gaps with what I found attractive. The reality was that I had fallen head over heels for my own creation rather than the man in question.

Suddenly I was over him. I was... pretty apathetic towards him. I wish him all the best but I don't want to know all the details as to how he achieves it. (By the by, this is not referring to any guy who will be reading this so please don't think I am surreptitiously telling you I no longer want to hear from you.) It's a freeing feeling and I'm reminded of a quote from one of my favorite novels, Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt. "I wondered why so much had been written about love's pain and so little about the glorious relief of being delivered from love's pain." I hadn't been heartbroken like Julie (the heroine narrating the quote in question) so my relief was not as extreme but it was there nonetheless. This relative lack of artistic representation of the "glorious relief" is the reason I find the ending of Circle of Friends a thousand times more wonderful and powerful in the original novel than the stereotypical happy ending found in the movie. Here's to the joy of being free.
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紅葉 [01 Nov 2007|06:51pm]
Time passes more quickly than you realize, even when you think you are paying attention.

There is a little park by the bus station I get off at on my way home from work. Sometimes I pause there to admire the yellow leaves against the perfect blue of the sky. Today I looked up and all I saw were bare branches. I was shocked, when had the leaves disappeared?

Later along my route home I sat down on a wall and let other commuters pass me by as I chatted with a squirrel and admired the red and gold leaves against the buttercup clouds. The brown oak leaves reminded me of elementary school craft projects and I spun one about in my hand for a bit. I broke off one golden leaf from a locust to take home with me. I have grand plans of immortalizing it in art, we'll see. I did my very best to drink in every bit of beauty but I felt overwhelmed by the task. Here was all this autumnal glory, disappearing in the encroaching dusk, drifting to the ground with every moment that passed, and far too vast for just one mere person to appreciate it enough.
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Cast your mind back... [08 May 2007|12:15pm]
I do not recall her last name but I do remember his last name. It will not be put down here as he has gone on to make a name for himself and some fan may stumble upon this but I saw that name in print often enough to imprint it on my brain. He was quite the toast of our community theatre world even then -- and we merely freshmen. That was, on my part however, one of my last flirtations with the stage.

My bestest friend at the time, Emily, was quite enraptured with him. It is true, he had extraordinarily brilliant blue eyes that seemed to almost throw sparks when he was on stage. He had overwhelming personality and charisma and was handsome in the way a finely honed and polished sabre is. Despite these obvious draws, he was not really my cup of tea. Perhaps I begrudged him the assurance that came from finding your name on every cast-list posted. Perhaps I didn't like that driven, focused personality that earned him a measure of maturity that his 15 odd years, by themselves, would not have bestowed upon him. For whatever reason, although I went along with Emily in her worship of all things Brendan (that being his name), my heart wasn't really in it.

We were crushed (to varying degrees) when it came out not long after the start of school that he was always to be found in the company of a senior, Aimée. Protest as they did that they were merely friends, Emily and I were not the only ones who wondered who they hoped to fool when they had eyes for no one else. It made sense to me that someone like Brendan would be with someone like Aimée. She had a settled and generous nature that bespoke a maturity beyond even that of your average senior. Like Brendan she seemed to know precisely where she was headed and from the security of that self-knowledge she was free to speak and act unencumbered by any role to play and to bestow her attention without the least need to get anything in return.

Here I am, now a decade or more older than she was then, and still I envy her that self-assurance. When I think to myself of who I would like to be in the future, she is not far from my mind. She never needed to brag or flaunt accomplishments. Firstly because she had no need for acclaim -- the only approbation she needed she found in herself, and secondly because other people sang her praises for her. She was an accomplished artist, an actress, a fashion muse, a writer... a Renaissance woman.

I remember when our theatre group was writing a play for the state competition, it was Aimée who named my character after a singer she had recently discovered. When Aimée mentioned a CD she owned there was never a trace of trying to sound more high-brow than her listeners and so she made what she listened to seem cultured instead of the other way around.

I was overawed by her at 14 and this no doubt accounts for the fact that the day she gave me a ride home remains fixed in my mind as one of the clearest memories I have of that year. I can't remember why she extended this kindness to me. I regularly rode the AATA bus to and from school so a ride, while much appreciated, was not necessary. I remember vividly the way her bangle bracelets clinked together as she shifted gears. She was listening to Prince's "Little Red Corvette." Her car was low slung and that, combined with the music, made me feel quite out of my element. I knew Prince of course although my music upbringing was highly coloured by my parents and thus consisted in large parts of classic rock and golden oldies with some reggae thrown in for variety. I was however aware that "Little Red Corvette" had an atmosphere of sensuality that classic rock lines like "I really love your peaches/Want to shake your tree" had never evoked.

Feeling younger than I was in the presence of such sophistication, I have utterly forgotten the words that passed between us. I tried my hardest to not embarrass myself with some dull or childish utterance and I hope I succeeded but I am sure that whatever my repartee was like Aimée treated me as an equal. I am left with the impression that she referred to Brendan and his dream and his drive and encouraged me to find my muse and follow his lead. The fact that she thought I too might burst into beautiful bloom like they had stole any sting from the insinuation that I was not as far along the path toward my dream as they.

Sometimes, this memory stiffens my resolve to be as unaffected as her but sometimes, in more depressive frames of mind, I fear that at 29 I am no farther down the path to a dream than I was at 14. I am ashamed to find that at 29 I still am unsure as to what that shining dream is... I still haven't quite figured out what I want to be when I grow up and I am shocked to discover anew that I have, in fact, grown up.
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V-a-c-a-t-i-o-n! [19 Mar 2007|09:31am]
Currently on my friends list I have one person visiting Scotland, one just back from London with a side trip to Paris, one visiting California, and two going on three visiting Japan (oddly both are from here, both are in Tokyo and both are celebrating birthdays later this week). What exciting lives my friends lead!

I too am on a vacation of sorts. It's called the season is over and so is your seasonal job. What fun!
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Spoons [18 Feb 2007|08:50pm]
It's odd the way some memories just pop into your head out of the blue as vivid and real as if they took place a week ago instead of more than a decade ago.

I was a Girl Scout all the way through school and spent many summer weeks at camp. The year after eighth grade I went to camp with a passel of friends for the first and only time. We were marking the passage from middle school to high school I guess. It was a week of the usual swimming, singing, campfires and hikes but with a great deal of joking and laughter thrown in.

I forget, when I see 13 year olds now, how old we thought we were -- how worldly. I forget that by 13 these friends had shown me my first (and last - ewww) Playgirl magazine after one of our 'sit in a circle and read the "good parts" of romance novels' gatherings. We were the girls next door but even we, inexperienced as we were at the time, were not as innocent as I now imagine anyone under 18 must be.

One night we were in our mosquito netting draped cots supposedly going to sleep when someone decided we should tell a story by going around the tent and each of us saying one word at a time. I don't remember what the story started out as but the prurient intent became obvious as my friends gleefully added their words.

The sentence that I was to add to this go-round reached my cot ending "with nothing but spoons over their..." and I lay there in the sticky, stifling heat and thought to myself. "Why do I get the part that the whole sentence hinges on?" I racked my brain and suddenly said, "eyes." The tent erupted in a fit of giggles.

I still have a picture of one of my friends in the dining hall with spoons over her eyes. It makes me smile even now.
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やっぱり Number one is #1 [06 Feb 2007|10:10pm]
I enjoyed the first volume of what promises to be a somewhat lengthy series and was pleased to find that several more volumes were on the market already. The first book had an interesting plot, some likable characters, a measure of emotional turmoil and a climax and wrap up that deserved the names. It was exceptional only in the fact that books written purely to entertain seem to be rather the exception than the rule.

I always wonder what happened to people I went to school with years ago. Our lives touched for a year or so and then where did they end up? This is why I like series like this one. People who are supporting characters in one book have a chance to be front and center in the next. That's enough for me. I want to know what happens to this guy and that one and that girl over there. Tell me their stories.

Unfortunately this series, like many others, quickly becomes an epic. We can't just find out what happens to another character in book two. We have to stumble upon a worldwide conspiracy with faces and fronts that are too numerous to count. Plus, more angst and emotional turmoil with each volume. We can't just follow another character, we have to delve into the fact that he hates his father and that this other character can never get close to anyone and that this guy thinks no one will ever forgive him for his past and this girl's mother told her she was worthless, in other words we have to deal with issues.

I hate issues. I want a story. Tell me what happens next. Sure, characters ought to have pasts, they ought to have emotional reactions to events but for goodness sake, must we dwell on it for chapter after chapter? Can't we just say "Frank never knew how his father felt about him. The animosity that marked their every interaction made him inclined to believe his father hated him but just as he admired his father's strength of character, even as he despised what he stood for, he wondered if his father ever felt any pride in him as he made his own way through the world." No, we have to slog through flashbacks and inner monologues and insightful outsiders and on and on to get to pretty much the same point and sacrifice half the pages in a book that could have been interesting if something more had actually happened.

Also, if they had done more than chase shadows because of course they can't actually accomplish anything. Can't actually have a real showdown. Can't actually move on to a new plot because this one simply must be stretched out over at least six more books. It's a worldwide conspiracy, you can't wrap that up too quickly after all! Blech. Maybe I'll just reread book one again.
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