Thursday, January 29, 2009

Should I run...?


I wonder, "Is that human or crow?"


I start looking around.


I see man screaming at the top of his lungs. Back arched, head turned skyward, fists clenched.

Everyone is looking. He stops, turns around, and walks back  into the insurance agency. 

I feared it would be Akihabara- man with knife randomly stabbing people. I kept walking, looking over my back every 5 steps. In the station, phew. Now, safe on the train. Kind of laughing, but absolutely hope that whatever he was upset about has passed. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Where did he get his reporting skills?

I am sure everyone has heard about this, but today, I saw a news report about a woman who had octuplets! First of all- WOAH! I hope she has a lot of very close friends and family near by! 300+ diapers a week! Yikes!

However, this is not what surprised me the most. The reporter states how the Mom hasn't come out to say anything to the press- cut to a shot of a camera man trying to get a glimpse through a hospital window 5 stories up. It reminded me of like... a dog trying to get at his ball that has rolled under the deck. Sniff, sniff, peek, peek, dig with one paw. 

Cut to scene with doctors talking to a room full of press. The kind woman doctor explains to all the clicking cameras that the Mom is fine, resting, recovering now, 24 hours after the births.

Cut back to the local newsman, "Still no word form the mother," he says disappointedly, ending his report. For fuck's sake man, did you not just hear the doctor? Do you have no brain or better yet ears to go with that thoughtless mouth? 8 babies, 24 hours before! 

I hope 8 grapefruits come out of his penis!

That's all I have to say about that. 

Monday, January 19, 2009


I have fallen off the wagon into "no posting blogs" territory. However, I am not going to stay there, so I figured I would see where my mind might take me...

I have been back for a little over 1 week and already managed to have a fabulous time with friends- twice! How lucky am I?! The first time was a nice day with L&M- we hiked, did a public bath, had some beer, sushi, a nap, and then watched a movie. Pretty calm and relaxing. Until...

C's birthday. C's b-day is an annual event (no sh&t Sherlock), but it is like no other yearly shin-dig. This one always entails debauchery, complete with women's breast, tequila, spanking, very very loud talking, more and more beer, hugging strangers, broken cell phones, people getting lost, piping hot and yummy ramen, and my favorite- a slight to major (depending on your age and the number of tequila shots) hangover and little to no voice (depending on how good you are at loud talking) the following day. 

Every year we do it, and every year I promise that I will eat more before, so that I don't get horribly drunk. However, every year, somehow I just bypass the food and go straight to super loud talking, laughing.... no, cackling.... and end up so hungry I could eat not just a bowl of 
ramen but the whole damned shop! 

Ramen in Japan is what pizza is in the US. After a night of drinking you want pizza- a testament to the zillions of pizza shops on or near every college campus in the US. Here, we want ramen, and you don't have to go far to find one. But, just like pizza has many flavors, so does ramen, and people will go to blows, if drunk enough, over which shop is the best. I have a short list of personal favorites, but what is important to know is that each one makes the main broth, and then all of the other brothes in that shop are variations of the main one. Some are oily and rich, others salty and smooth. The amount of chopped green onions, whether it has chashu (a kind of pork), bamboo, or other veggies will depend on the type of ramen and ultimately the shop. No two places will taste the same- that is for sure! Hence, finding good ramen is much like an American's quest to find the best pizza. Once you find it you are loyal and tell all your friend about it. You bring guest there and you talk major shit about how great it is up until you go! You want them to know the deliciousness that it is, and to partake with you!

When Hiro and I moved to Yamashina, we soon tried the ramen place just across the street. THANK GOODNESS it is some of the best ramen I have ever had in Japan! They have this super freaking hot kind, with tons of veggies, pork, and Korean kimchi. It burns going in and coming out, but it has a taste that is like no other!

Now, the down side to ramen, is that much like pizza it is not very healthy, and if not eaten in moderation will add many a pound! However, working it off is worth it! Every sit up and aerobic jump!

Here are pics form our day with L&M

At the waterfall.

With rural Takatsuki behind us.

Hot form the hike. Yes, I am aware that I am overdressed for a hike, but it is all I had with. 


The chopsticks are resting on hashioki, which hold the chopsticks up o they do not touch the table. I have quite a number of them. I find them cute and such a nice accent to a decorated table. 

Now, here are the pics from the debauchery, though these make it all look so tame! My friend Stu is a great photog, isn't he!?

In love and waiting for ramen...

Hiro eating, aka, happy Hiro.

Cat pouting... she didn't want L&M to leave...

Cat with Stu (the photog). Atticus in the background! Love his expression!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


7 year old Zachary

Zach is in second grade and is still a cute, innocent little boy with his eyes wide open to the world. Here are some of my favorite conversations heard and had: 

Brother: "Zach, what did you do while we were gone?"
Zach: "I learned a lot, Dad. 
Brother: "And what is it that you learned?"
Zach: "Ladies first. And don't eat before everyone is seated and served. It's rude."

Lexi: "Crap."
Zach: "Lexi, don't say the 'K' word."

Zach: "Catie, if you need someone to keep this book safe for you, you know, I could do it."
Catie: "Thanks Zach. I think I need to think about that. This is a special book and I need to decide if I want to take it back to Japan."
Zach: "OK, but if you want someone to keep it safe for you I'm the person who can do that."

Zach: "Catie, come see what I did."
Catie: "OK."
Zach: "So I organized this. Here are the books you gave me. This bunny one and the other ones. And here is the red stapler..." 
Catie: "Know what? That was my stapler in college. And before that it was Nana's!"
Zach: "Well now it is in my showcase."

Zach: "Catie, I am going to put my glasses right here in this drawer, just like my Dad does." 
Catie: "OK. Good idea, cause then you will know where they are."
Zach: "Yeah, just like my Dad."

Zach (paraphrasing what he said to my friend Kate and her sister): This is the movie Scooby Doo. It has this snowman who is evil. You can have a snowman, but he can't really be evil. But, you can have a real snowman and a real evil man, so I think it is realistic fiction.

Zach has many qualities of a good learner. He asks all the imperative questions, reads like a librarian, and has the glasses to complete the look. Totally precious!

Back in Nippon

I am now back. I thought I would list the highlights of being home. I am terribly jet lagged and trying hard to stay awake until 10 p.m. Lot's to accomplish between now and then, but right now, this may be all I can muster the energy for...

my nephews
father's turkey dinner
brother's Italian pasta dinner
hiking to Inspiration Point with Kathryn
playing Wii with Julian
wine tasting with Todd
Licky Lila the dog
seeing Anita and John
seeing Jenna (and Robin after 25+ years)
listening to my nephews karaoke
driving the old Merz
long talks with my sister-in-law
annoying my brother Todd
making nephew Ian laugh (a rare occurrence nowadays)
Mexican food
seeing my brother at the studio
amazing salads
Sees assorted chocolates
drinking Carol tea

giving Brian and Karen a vacation
learning about my family's history (see some below)
Zach reading to me
Zach's various Zachisms (see next post)
long talks with Lexi
Lexi confiding in me ("Catie, can I talk to you?")
driving a minivan with kids in it to the grocery store and holding hands with Zach in the parking lot
fixing healthy meals for the family 
changing, bathing, and otherwise caring for my mother
treating the family for 10 days
helping to go through the storage unit (sorry I couldn't help more)
annoying brother Brian
the tread mill (didn't gain a pound, but managed to eat many a yummy thing!)
fighting about who is Mom's favorite with Brian (Brian, you know I am her favorite!)
tucking Zach in at night
Lucy the dog
seeing Kate and Jen
the family talking to Hiro on the phone
having Zach read to me or when he wasn't in the mood watching game shows while running on the treadmill (Yes, I am a Loser, but the fun competition, suspense and people loosing their shit when they win something is just so damned exciting)
baby back ribs
lights at the Botanical Gardens
drinking Sam Adams

Things I didn't get to do
go to a movie
eat a steak (but I managed to have Tilapia 3 times!)
eat Ben and Jerry's
talk to Rachael or Megan
renew my license
see Paw-Paw

Things I learned
My sister-in-law needs more support in caring for Mom
I'll probably be a good mother
My family has entered a new stage- the stage of dealing with teenagers
My Mom's mother's family is from Italy (Champione) and Spain (Solis)
Some of our Italian ancestors fought at Waterloo
We have a great grandfather whose family settled in Syracuse NY (where eldest brother, Bob, has settled)
My great great grandmother on my Mom's side was the first female post mistress in Texas
I no longer cringe when I think about moving back to the States

Things I missed about Japan
my pillow and bed
sleeping next to Hiro, holding hands while falling asleep
speaking Japanese

Things I miss about America:
My family
central heating

Friday, January 2, 2009

More on (Moron) puberty...

Coast to coast, their hormones are raging! Having left California, I knew I was in for more, but little did I know just how much…


Lexi has always been precocious. As a little child, barely even speaking, she would come into the living room, place her little hand on her cocked her hip, and shimmy her head saying, “Attitude.” We knew we were in for it!


I suppose I didn’t help. When she was preverbal, she would come into the room and I would say, “Yes, the world was created for you!” I was so enamored with her.


I was exactly one week shy of turning 16 when she was born. I helped my sister-in-law through the labor. Her mother, Mary (RIP), my mother, Marie, and I, all had our parts- cheerleader, support, film-taker. Mary was in charge of the latter. Why they gave her this duty, I am still not sure. At the wedding she set the camera down on a chair and recorded 30 minutes of guests’ asses. Would the birth be any different? Nah! Just as Lexi was crowning the tape ends, giving us crotch, crotch, crotch, but no climax (pardon the pun). 


Despite, Lexi’s ascendance was perfect. She came out healthy and adorable. I was so proud of her and I would take her out and about, showing her off as if she were my own. We bear a striking resemblance, which made it easier to feel she was mine. Now, at 30 and she at 14, I realize that she is mine. Not in the sense of being my child, but she is mine to protect, mine to help morally guide, mine to support no matter how unbelievably selfish and stubborn she is.

Fifteen minutes before midnight 2009, I drew a very distinct line for her. “If you go out of that door to see him, and defy your parents’ rule, you are stepping well beyond the trust boundaries. That is also where your and my similarities end! At 14, I would never have defied my parents in such a manner, and you best understand that I am not (expletive)ing around! I will call them and tell them that you have left against their rule and my forbeyance, young lady.”

Prior to this last stand we had been negotiating off and on for almost 3 hours. “Please Aunt Catie! Can I go?” “Lexi, I have been very cool with you, and the other night you agreed that you would not ask me this. Now you are asking. You have broken rules already and I do not see this boy who supposedly likes you breaking any to see you. I will not lie to your parents if they call, I will not pretend, I will not understand if you walk out that door!”

“But he is going to ask me out tonight, I know it!”

“He can ask you tomorrow. And if he stops liking you because of this, then you have no future anyway!”

“That’s why I want to go, so we can build a future.”

“At 14!?”

“You know what I mean!”

“Lexi, I am afraid I don’t. I am afraid that you are telling me that you want to break rules, suffer the consequence that will be not only a huge loss of trust and respect but also include loss of your phone and computer which you use to communicate with him, in order to secure a ‘future’ that will end when you can’t call, text, or otherwise speak to him!? Child, you have left logic upstairs and come down here a fool!”

“Just please, if my parents call…”

“No. You don’t get it. I am not going to lie to them. Get this and get it good, I will call them if you leave this house.”

“Fine, call. I am leaving!” she says as she walks up to her room and slams the door.

I promptly apologized to my mother and thanked her for having hung in there 15 years back when I was selfish and horrid. We laughed, I had my head in my hands, and then Lexi returned for the 5-minutes-before-midnight spat.

I repeated my argument, reassured her that my logic was solid and that hers didn’t exist and said again that I would call if she as much as stepped a foot out the door. Line drawn, time to get the phone and the number in case. Whispering to her friend behind me. Door opened, but not the screen. Phone on counter. Champagne glasses taken out for me and my Mom. Washing them, ball dropping, not a peep at the door. 3-2-1! Happy New Year! Feet drum rolling up the stairs, SLAM!

“Thank you Lord she didn’t go!”

Mom and I toasted Happy New Year and I toasted my newfound sense that I will be able to raise a person!