Literary Drinking Buddies

I’ve always wanted to hang out with J.K. Rowling.  As a kid I assumed that she was an exiled witch who knew everything about the wizarding world and chose to present it to us Muggles as fiction.  As an adult, I think she’s hilarious.

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She would definitely be that girl you instantly bond with in line for the bathroom.  You’d make fun of the boys who think they’re impressive and she’d be weirdly amazing at the mechanical bull.  J.K. Rowling would definitely hold her liquor, and when you couldn’t hold yours, she wouldn’t judge.

I don’t think I’d like drinking with Hemingway.  He’d be the guy at rating girls on a 0-10 numerical scale, all the while neglecting to notice that they were all out of his league.

Emily Dickinson?  The weird girl who tells you about the personalities of her various cats and can’t quite take a hint that you just don’t care.

Edgar Allen Poe would show up somehow plastered before sunset and would have conveniently forgotten his wallet.  Rude.

Yep, I’m definitely sticking with J.K. Rowling.

Who would be your literary drinking buddy?

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Maternity Leave

I’ve officially been on leave for almost one month, and it’s been a little hard to get used to.  I can’t imagine going back to work, and I have millions of things that I need to be doing, but most of my day is spent attached to this tiny human who is my new 24/7 companion.  So many tasks that I previously did with ease I’ve now learned to do one-handed, or no-handed, while balancing a squirmy baby.  We’ve settled into a semi-routine that goes like this:

5:30–T wakes up, politely requests breakfast.

5:35–T demands breakfast.  Hunger panic ensues.  She feeds for an hour or so.

6:30–We get out of bed, have coffee, she looks around trying to figure out the world.  This is one of the coolest times with her, the few moments she is awake but not starving.  I love watching her and interacting with her in these minutes, but my favorite thing is to watch her hang out with Carl during “daddy time”.  He’ll rest her over his shoulder, read her a book, play guitar to her, whatever he feels like, and she LOVES it.

7:30–Starving again. Time to feed the beast!

9:00–T passes out cold.  I can quickly get dressed, tackle any chores, and plan our day.  If we have somewhere to be, this is the time to sneak her into the carseat.

10:30–On our way to [fill in the blank].  T screams in the car the entire way there.

Eat, sleep, diaper change, repeat.  

During this leave, I hope to love on this baby as much as I possibly can, and I hope to accomplish a few things too.  I’d like to get back into shape (easier said than done), explore Okinawa, read some excellent books, and catch up with friends.  Wish me luck!

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Weekend update: Happy More!

This week I was able to visit one of my favorite places to get groceries on island, Happy More. It’s mostly an organic market and small restaurant.

  

I love the huge variety of organic produce and baked goods, but the best part of Happy More is that the market opens up into the very garden that your food is taken from. Walking through the vegetables, I noticed there were no tomatoes–a few minutes later, a gardener with a huge basket of tomatoes marched through the market and it was for sale!

All that shopping had me hungry for a pitaya smoothie and vegan curry!  Check out that color!!!

The rest of the week has been relaxing: smoothies, work, catching up on errands, playing with kittens.

   

    
 

I can’t believe that in less than a week I’ll be in California! It’s shaping up to be a good summer. 

Seoul in Three Days: Myeongdong Cathedral

One of the coolest traditions we have when traveling is to go to mass.  Usually, I aim for English-speaking when possible, but it’s amazing how at home I feel even when I don’t speak a single word of the language.

Myeongdong Cathedral

Myeongdong Cathedral has such a cool history: it’s officially known as the Cathedral Church of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception and has been the center of all Catholicism in Korea since the late 1800s.  Pope Francis said mass there in 2014!

It’s in the heart of Myeongdong, which is the shopping district of Seoul.  I took my suitcase, ditched it in a train station locker, and followed the line of lost Catholics from all over the world.

It was one of the most diverse masses I’ve ever been to.  The priest was from Ireland, the altar boys Korean, the lectors Indian/British/South African.  The congregation was a salad from all over everywhere. 

Being a converted Catholic American living in Japan and visiting Korea, I’m one to talk: I make no sense.  I chatted for a minute afterward with a few of the visitors from England about the #Brexit, and then I had to get to shopping!  Myengdong was calling my name with its outrageous beauty products and foods.

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Howdy from Texas!

Y’all, I’m about ready to move to Texas.

  
They basically have everything I like: wide open spaces, great food, and warm hearted people. Did I mention they have a Target? I’m sold.

Walking in for my first Target trip in over a year was a little bit intimidating. I knew that I couldn’t mess it up and spend time looking at anything dumb because this was it: this was my last time at Target for likely two more years. Better live it up!

And you better believe I did.

  
I can’t believe how good it feels to be in a familiar, easy country. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed huge cars and wide open highways until I saw them again. It felt weirdly amazing to be in a sporting goods store, walking past aisles of guns and fishing equipment. It felt really American. 

You’d think that I’d be having a little less fun, given that my business here is a solemn one. For the next several days, I’m sitting in on a conference about perinatal death and caring for bereaved families. It’s impossible for even this to dampen my spirits: although the stories and experiences are heavy, the teachers are so good, and the class feels so real, I am so glad to have come. I feel like I am actively growing. This entire week has been such a blessing, and I have never been more grateful for everything I have.

God bless Texas.

Fukuoka & Hiroshima

This is what we call a #latepost, aka I’m posting it late…life gets in the way.  It happens.

My mom and grandma just came to visit in Okinawa, which was amaaaaaazing!  We’d talked about them visiting since we’d moved here, so to have them here in the flesh was a little bit surreal.  My grandma is originally from the Tokyo area, so she was over the moon to be back in Japan (she’d say stuff like “Oh! that sign says funeral home! so nice!”–just happy to see Japanese writing all around her 🙂 )

Fukuoka and Hakata

After a few days in Okinawa relaxing, we moved on.  My grandma had requested to travel to Kyushu “before I die”, so Fukuoka was the natural choice for its convenience and access to tourist destinations.  We stayed in Canal City, an area close to a huge mall and lots of restaurants.

Dazaifu

After a few days of shopping and exploring the historic Hakata area, my grandma casually announced that any trip to Kyushu was incomplete without stopping in Dazaifu.  I quickly read up and found that it was the historic capital of Kyushu island and boasted an elaborate shrine–but that it was also about an hour away from where we were staying.  This trip was harder than any before because I was guided by the wisdom of an 82-year old, who knew that the best pace was nice and slow, with plenty of breaks.

Dazaifu was beautiful, and we enjoyed the shrine completely.  We each bought omikuji, which are little fortunes for purchase at shrines, and each achieved “small lucky” (much better than the bad luck I’d earned in Tokyo)  After a full day of touring, we sipped chai lattes at the unique Dazaifu Starbucks, one of the coolest designs I’ve ever seen.

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Makiyo

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How cool is this?  Last summer, my mom hosted Makiyo, a Japanese foreign exchange student at her home in San Diego.  When we visited Fukuoka, we were able to reunite.  This is basically the whole point of foreign exchange programs.

Hiroshima

Fukuoka was amazing, and after a few days, we were ready to move on to Hiroshima.  In a cool 1.5 hours, we’d arrived– the amazingness of Japanese public transportation.

Our time in Hiroshima was brief; all said and done, it was only about one day.  My mom, who was marathon training, got to see the city and run around the Peace Memorial Park, but my grandma and I waited to visit the museum all together.  It was beautiful and heartbreaking.

We’d arrived at the most perfect time of year: sakura season.  Cherry blossoms only bloom for a few weeks in the spring, and we were lucky to find them in full view across the city, framing the A-dome perfectly.  The A-dome is noted as the epicenter of the atomic bomb blast, which turned an entire city and its inhabitants into nothingness, but mysteriously left the building directly under it intact.

Sadako’s One Thousand Paper Cranes

In the aftermath of the atomic bomb, many people, especially children developed leukemia.  Sadako Sasaki developed this “atomic bomb disease” and fervently folded one thousand paper cranes according to an old Japanese legend that tells of fighting illnesses magically in this way.  Tragically, Sadako died at the age of twelve, and became a sort of martyr of the children of Hiroshima.  Her statue is featured at the Peace Memorial Park along with thousands upon thousands of cranes from prayerful well-wishers asking for peace on Earth.

With my mother and grandmother, I folded a paper crane with some scrap origami paper in my purse and said a prayer here.  We were all touched by the sadness of the museum and park, and stood here for a long time, quietly soaking it in.

I was sad to say good-bye to Hiroshima–I know that there is more to do that we missed out on!  We had people to see in Osaka, and I headed back to work the next day.  After a great visit with two of my favorite people, it was time to lapse back into reality.  Until next time, amigos!!