Monday, December 22, 2008

Back in the U.S.A.

Aside from my eldest nephew hitting puberty, everything is pretty much the same here. Well that and the economy seems to be crapping on everyone and hence the retailers. The mall isn't teeming with people like I remember it last year. Certainly explains the spawned excitement from the Ann Taylor people when I spent about $300 on new digs. Wasn't my intention, but the 2 camisoles for 25, cute shirts- also a 2 for deal, on sale jeans, lovely wool  and cashmere sweaters and nice wool skirt were speaking to me. "You have these big presentations coming. Better look tack sharp" they exclaimed from their silver hangers. 

I could thank my high school for my wardrobe. I have always liked looking like a Norfolk Collegiate graduate. You can take the girl out of NCS, but I guess you can't take the NCS out of the girl. 

Armed for my return to work in Japan, I am currently enjoying drinking wine, reading books (finished Sedaris and have moved on to A Thousand Suns by Husseini), and dealing with the aforementioned puberty of my nephew. We all have been dealing with it in fact. Poor boy is the topic of much discussion, although he has scarcely said a word. I think it has just brought up, for all of us, what it was like when we were 13. The men and women of the house are divided, though I think Hiro's advice, sent via email, was sweet and I feel is worth sharing (thanks, Honey!). 

"Just try and talk and most of the time listen carefully what girls are talking about. Because having interest in others is a very important skill for living your life."

This is in sharp contrast to what one of my 4th graders wrote on a survey I passed out to my students during my research, "Boys' opinions are more important than girls' opinions." 


So being all a buzz with talk and wine, good food, and some of the best company- family, my sister-in-law and I are forming a team. She is acutely feeling how terribly out numbered she usually is. She has 2 boys and her hubby, my other brother, and my father, who often comes to visit, sometimes with my little brother. All she has usually is the dog, Lila. She said, "Finally, someone who doesn't look at me like I have 4 eyes" when she says, well, anything.

Our hikes and late night talks have been like therapy and are just as I imagined them as a child. Being 11 years younger than the youngest brother (they were 11, 12, 16, and 17 when I was born) was torture as a kid. My brothers seemed so cool, with their pretty girlfriends, ability to drive, big person talk, opinions, and bellowing laughter. I could not only wait to be older, but for me older meant gaining  membership into a part of my family. Now, as a full member, I'd like it to be acknowledged that the group is just better off. I mean, who can't agree that a girl's opinion is just as important as any boys'- especially when helping a 13 year old pubescent boy figure out 13 year old puberty struck girls! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Finished packing...

Well, I finished packing and am disappointed. I couldn't fit everything into one suitcase. I suppose I could have fit everything had I REALLY tried (for four more hours) into the biggest one, but I gave up and settled for two. It won't be so bad once I am in the US or even back in Japan, where I can send one bag by takyubin to my house. But the trip to the airport tomorrow is going to make me a disheveled, apologetic, palm-calloused foreign chick who looks like she is moving back to the U.S., not just visiting! Thank god I have my book!

My big suitcase is falling apart. However, I can't seem to let it go. It was my mother's suitcase, back when she was mobile and galavanting around to see her dear children and even dearer grandkids. I have left on the red holiday bows she attached. "Someone might take my bag, mistaking it for their own. So what if it is July!" 

I find sentiment in lots of things recently. I think my Mom's condition is driving home that you never know when your time is up. Then again, it isn't like she has cancer, so I don't feel the need to have "the talk" about what life has meant with her in it, but then again, maybe I shouldn't wait until she is definitively terminal. MS is such a confusing disease because she is still young, but much like we are young when we are pre-ambulatory. She doesn't really have memories she can articulate, much like a 2 year old. She can't walk, much like an 8 month old. And she, well, you get the picture. 

Thankfully though, like a 1 month old, she can laugh. My friend, who is a new mother, was explaining that her baby started to laugh just when she thought she was going to do something drastic. It made me wonder if those babies who learned to laugh earlier stood a better chance of surviving. Maybe the giggling babe would break its Mama's "new mom end-of-the-first-month" crazy spell, lessening the chance of being left under a bush or floated down a river. 

In modern times, I think of trash compactors. When I was 16, Lexi, my niece, was born. I stayed up really late with friends the night before I was to baby sit Ms. Lex. She cried the whole time. Being sleep deprived and hopeless, I resorted to just cradling her and walking around our house. My mouth was agape, and my eyes were half slits, not whole slits, but half. My head was hanging back and I may have even been moaning a little, like a kid impatiently waiting for Mom to stop talking to the lady with the hideous sweater at the bank.  My Mom came home after a few hours, and all I could say was, "Mommy, I really understand why some mother's put their babies in trash compactors." I have always said Lexi was my greatest form of birth control.

I'll remind Mom of that story. She will likely laugh, though I am not sure if it will be like her hearing the story for the first time or if it will jog a memory. Either way, she will laugh; that is all I want for Christmas. Well, that and for my family to appreciate what  I am about to go through tomorrow to get their presents home!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Smelling Food

I smell my food. Before I take a bite. I close my eyes and smell it. Try it. Let me know what it does for you.  

Laughing on the train... alone

So, I ordered David Sedaris' latest book, When You Are Engulfed In Flames, and have been reading it when I have a few moments before I have to leave, just before bed, and my favorite place to read, on the train. It is a nice place to read. It keeps me from staring at people, who I might make uncomfortable, or from noticing people who stare at me, making me uncomfortable, or from having to read the same subway advertisements for language schools, pawn shops, and plastic surgeons. Maybe if I could speak yet another language, wear designer stuff bought cheap, and erase my imperfections I wouldn't mind people staring, but, I do and so, I prefer to read.  

Sedaris is one of my favorite comedic writers. In every story he is frank about his imperfections, looking at the hilarity of people and their idiosyncrasies. He also includes bathroom humor, which is, I am *ashamed* to say, something I find funny. He includes "stool sample" and "turd" (on several occassions); but really it isn't the words as it is how these relate to the people who he is telling the story about. Idiosyncrats (is this a word?) who sign their health check-up mail-in poop smear with a Happy Holidays message! 

When I was in high school, my Mom and I were walking to the car. She noticed a short, slender, creamy white something on the car, squinted her eyes, extended her finger, swiped it up like frosting, and asked, "What's this?" What the hell, Mom, it's bird shit!! At over 50 years old, how many times do you think she had seen a shit-stained car? She birthed me! 

Mom would be a great character in a Sedaris book. I would love to read about her, and laugh out loud again and again. It's what I do now, alone on the train. Not embarrassingly loud, but giggles slip out, and I lift the book to my face, leaving a headless shaking body. It's the only way I don't care if they look at me and I certainly don't notice them.