tsubame: (wings)
Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 05:05 pm
11 June 2012

Last night I dreamed of two people, hunters of the undead, a man and a woman . . . )

To Love Life, by Ellen Bass

The thing is
to love life
to love it even when you have no
stomach for it, when everything you've held
dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands
and your throat is filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you so heavily
it's like heat, tropical, moist
thickening the air so it's heavy like water
more fit for gills than lungs.
When grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief.
How long can a body withstand this? you think,
and yet you hold life like a face between your palms,
a plain face, with no charming smile
or twinkle in her eye,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you again.

Walking in London, 14 May 2012

I feel, often, a piercing loneliness, and wish that I had someone with whom to share my travels. But there is a virtue in traveling by oneself, that being mainly that there is no one you need satisfy except yourself.

The Tuesday a week past, I set out to walk. )
tsubame: (wings)
Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 01:54 am
I was at Sensei's house one time, and his son, and some of his son's friends, were studying in the kitchen. Sensei asked my then-roommate and I if we would come downstairs so that the kids could try their English on us; we agreed. We went downstairs and answered their questions in our best slow, clear English-teacher voices. I don't remember most of them save the last; they asked us, "what is your favorite place in Kyoto?"

My flatmate said Kiyomizudera, a beautiful temple perched on the mountains to the east of the city. It's the obvious choice, of course: the buildings and grounds are beautiful, there's a view of the city, the temples and relics are old and significant, they illuminate the cherry blossoms in the spring and the maple trees in the autumn, there is a perpetually-flowing spring of pure water you can drink right out of the ground. The road up the mountain is through a charming old district; the shops have been catering to tourists for hundreds of years. The great stage of Kiyomizudera is a miracle of engineering, built without a single nail. It floats among the trees, and catches a refreshing breeze even in the stickiest Kyoto summer. There are fun festivals there; it even boasts credible wisteria which grow on trellises and shade benches where pilgrims can rest. There are charming eateries tucked among the groves of trees beneath the temple. Maiko and geisha regularly come to visit in full regalia, since it is the patron temple of one of Kyoto's "flower towns."

Everyone nodded when my roommate gave her answer; clearly Kiyomizudera is one of the most wonderful places in Kyoto.

Then it was my turn, and I had to think. What place in Kyoto could compare to Kiyomizudera's virtues?

"This house," I said.

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I have no skill at art whatsoever, but I doodle for fun, and thought I might as well put up a few of my slightly-more-credible scribbles. Behind a cut to protect your eyes. Primary mediums are pencil (my favorite cheap-ass Bic mechanicals) and colored pencils.

Pencil Detritus )
tsubame: (wings)
Saturday, November 26th, 2011 06:43 pm
I woke up to a blue sky this morning, and sat for a while in a short-lived pool of golden light. The night before I had wondered, briefly, just what it was that I was going to get up for, today. The hours stretched before me without plan or design.

You knew, once, I reminded myself. How to be lonely. How to be alone.

About time you learned again.

I had a lovely spicy paella for lunch, and then a square of mingled dark and light chocolate, and then a cup of Earl Grey, and the flavors blended one into the next with utter perfection. I listened to 'Here and Heaven' on repeat.

Joy in small pleasures, in things done solely to please yourself.

I contemplated whether or not to go to the gym-- the gym to which I've been ten thousand times, always the same route (however pleasant), always the same boring gym. Then thought of the nature trail I'd passed so many times, but never explored.

Late November, I thought, it won't exactly be at its best.

But surely every season has its own charms-- I knew that, too, once. My exercise clothes are getting worn, but these days everything I own is becoming endowed with private significance. The jogging trousers I bought in Japan for sports day. The socks from Uniqlo, too expensive for me these days but worth it. The t-shirt that my father brought back for me from his trip to Memphis. The sneakers, a second-hand gift from a friend. The black hoodie bought at a charity shop that somehow kept me warm through last year's biting Scottish autumn. The over-long scarf my friend knitted me from Japanese wool, in its wonderful muted fall colors.

I jogged out past the school fields. There was some sort of sporting event on, and I envied the schoolkids their colors and their easy smiles. Their tendency to take up the entire sidewalk was less endearing. Before I had fully passed them it was starting to rain, and the wind had gotten stronger-- there's Scotland for you, and the perversity of the weather gods; it's a lovely day until I make it out the door.

The nature trail was all over with mud, but not so much as to divert me. The trees were bare, and what leaves still clung stubbornly to the branches were bright yellow against the grey bark. But the holly throughout the wood was green and lush, as were the climbing vines, not yet stripped of color.

I walked through the woods, and began to climb. A feathered pine reminded me of Japan. A stone wall meandered through the woods, another path branching through the gap. Abruptly the sheltering woods fell away into gorse bushes, their darkness leavened by yellow flowers. They seemed low, but still their branches topped my own height. In between, close green grass. I climbed carefully to the crown of the hill, scoured bald by the relentless wind-- the very same trying to push me off the top in abrupt gusts. My scarf flying, my hair whipping and twisting into elf-locks, I watched the clouds rush across the sky, the curtains of pale rain that drew and then parted once more, so rapidly. Birds rose from the abrupt hills around me, dark and rapid and fluttering like leaves as they battled the wind. The long hardy grasses lay flat; small rodent holes and rabbit fewmets scattered amongst the moss. Far away and below, the Firth of Forth was whipped to whitecaps. Between us, the spires of many churches-- I identified the lopsided crook of St. Michael's, the three tall cones of St. Mary's, the strange domes of the abandoned hospital.

I passed a tree strangled by mistletoe on the way back down, and in it perched seven magpies.
tsubame: (wings)
Sunday, October 16th, 2011 02:14 pm
These days it feels as if people have fled LiveJournal en masse, and I don’t know where they’ve gone. Granted I’ve been missing myself for quite some time-- first because of the endless black hole that was my dissertation, and then it was off to Rome, and then I entered the secondary black hole of job searching. You would think that being unemployed would mean I had a great deal of free time, and you would be right. But it also means that I always feel guilty that I’m not doing enough to find a job, which means that even when I’m procrastinating I don’t write, because writing is Not Looking For a Job.

I also accidentally fell into X-Men: First Class fandom, and seeing as this is the first time I’ve been in an overwhelmingly huge fandom, I always have an endless backlog of stories to catch up on. While this has been helpful in getting me through the trials of the past few months, it has also once again brought to my attention that I am absolutely and completely addicted to reading. I’ve been reading books at what has become my customary pace, but the reading that I do online is vast and near-constant. I read until I can’t bear to focus on the computer screen anymore, and then I pick up the nearest book and I read that for a while. If I have no book I read whatever I can get my hands on-- cereal boxes, junk mail, old newspapers. My friends laugh at my inability to get through this or that TV show, but the truth is that unless it really grabs my attention, I would rather read.

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I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day. “I know you’re nostalgic for the Jersey shore as you used to know it,” I said, “bustling, full of people, full of life. But when we went there when I was a kid, everything was run down, boarded up, with grass growing through the cracks and faded graffiti on the walls. And I remember that Dad used to take me by Hoboken on the train, and he would warn me that it wasn’t safe, I had to stay close to him. When I started going myself when I got older it was the same-- a bit run down, a bit seedy, long past the bustling days of the Lakawana rail line bringing vacationers in and out. I would go to the Hoboken Farm Boy and buy this cheap, scented Chinese soap I liked, I would go by the old comic book shop, eat at the Karma Cafe . . . but now Hoboken’s gentrified, and the Hoboken Farmboy is a cell phone shop, and the comic book shop’s long gone, couldn’t afford the rent, and I can’t afford to eat in the Karma Cafe anymore.

“I still like Hoboken, but I loved it as it was-- the Jersey shore, too. I’m nostalgic for them as I knew them: abandoned, run down, dreaming of lost glories.”

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Ghazal, by Dilruba Ahmed )
tsubame: (bonten)
Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 11:13 pm
Things I want for my house:

- a fireplacce
- a library with wooden shelves
- a room where the harp can live
- climbing roses
- Chinese-style furniture in the living room
- a soft carpet, one inch deep
- a window seat
- moss
- under-floor heating
- a tatami area
- white stone counter tops
- a Japanese-style bath
- a weeping cherry tree
- an oak tree
- a bed of lily of the valley
- some ivy
- a stone path, a wooden gate
- a futon with a beanbag pillow
- a kotatsu
- gas burners
- a koi pond
- momiji
- a hammock
- door guardians (Fu-dogs)
- you
tsubame: (aqua)
Sunday, June 26th, 2011 10:58 pm
During last week’s game, we got to the stage where we were making plans. Well, Jonathan was making plans as his character, who Lázár has nicknamed “Ponce.” And as he was making plans, he was looking at me for advice and approval.

Which of course Lázár, my current character, is completely unsuited to give: he’s not a planner or a deep thinker. No; it was simply a holdover from last game, when Jonathan played a character named Niccolo and I played Tokugawa-- who was a planner, a rationalist, a strategist.

And who is not entirely gone from my mind, so I felt her surge of satisfaction/triumph. You see, she said to me, you see what I have made.

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I took a walk down to the bank. There were some climbing roses and they smelled the way roses are meant to. There were trees-- so many-- whispering endlessly. There were houses for sale, and I populated their empty windows with my doubts.

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I learned something, long ago: I cannot ask my family to do anything.

Well, that’s not strictly true. I can ask them for certain things. As long as they’re small, and they cause very little inconvenience, and aren’t too expensive. As long as they don’t require anyone to sacrifice on my behalf.

Nor can I call to complain about anything, and expect to be soothed, comforted, cheered up. Nor can I ever expect to be spoiled or coddled, taken care of. All of these things are my job-- just as it’s my job to be okay, no matter what.

But every once and a while I forget that certain things are not allowed. I make a request, something that ought to be simple.

And then I learn, once again.

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I really shouldn’t try my hand at humor when depressed, it makes me far too cynical:

Blankman: ‎KB is sorry she causes cancer.
Me: Only in lab rats, but EVERYTHING causes cancer in lab rats.
KB: Why must I cause such suffering and despair?
Me: Lab rats are born for suffering and despair. Human souls gotta go somewhere on their next round of incarnation. The karmatic burden would be unmanageable otherwise.

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There’s a one-pound coin that I carry around in my wallet, I call it my lucky pound. Because it shares a birth year with me. And because it’s scratched and worn and dirty, kicked around, all its innocent shine worn away. It’s a coin that has traveled far and seen some hard use.

Kind of like me.

And even so, despite all that, it’s a pound. Legal tender. Not worth quite as much as it once was, to be sure, but still worth something.

I hope that’s like me, too. That’s why it’s my lucky pound.

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Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car, by Dan Pagis )
Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car, by Dan Pagis

here in this carload
i am eve
with abel my son
if you see my other son
cain son of man
tell him that i

~translated from the Hebrew by Stephen Mitchell
tsubame: (wings)
Friday, June 10th, 2011 02:45 pm
"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."

~Antoine de Saint-Exupery


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I was discussing the concept of “good” vampires with Lázár. The group encountered a family of vampires who were living a life in which they didn’t harm humans-- instead they sponsored a blood bank and lived fairly normal lives. That they were killed meant that all the other vampires would see little point in being “good,” since they would be targets anyway.

His answer surprised me: “If they were just doing it to avoid getting iced, they still f--ing deserve to get iced.”

What he meant was that the vampires would only be behaving themselves to avoid the chance of being killed. If that threat was removed, they would go back to less wholesome habits. And there was no guarantee that the threat would always be there. External motivation wouldn’t be enough; the behavior cannot be trusted without internal motivation.

Tokugawa is still at the front of my head, since her game ended only recently, and she spoke up: “The threat is like a poised hammer; you worry what might happen if the hammer is removed. Bring the hammer down a few times. After that it will not matter if the hammer is actually there or not; it will remain always in their minds.”

What she meant was that if there are a few demonstrative punishments, people will fear the punishment and remember it, and behave themselves to avoid it. Once that is in effect you will no longer have to punish people.

. . . they both scare me.

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Variations on the Word Sleep, by Margaret Atwood )
tsubame: (sleepy)
Sunday, June 5th, 2011 10:56 pm
Where are you, unicorn?

Some years ago I got tired of waiting. If you wouldn't come to find me, well then: I would go searching, and find you.

Many a pair of shoes I have worn thin, walking over this earth. Many wonders have I seen. I have had joys and sorrows, fears-- so many fears. And still I haven't found you.

I'm still looking.

Still waiting.

Will you never come to me?
tsubame: (wings)
Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 02:30 am
A fascinating link regarding a great editor.

Crowd-sourced publishing. An interesting idea, though we’ll have to wait and see how it goes.

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Edinburgh bears the unfortunate label of “not Japan” in my head, and so I tend to give the place short shrift, and easily forget just how lucky I am to be here. Since the culture and language are much closer to that of my native place, I don’t experience the same degree of foreign-ness, and so I don’t appreciate the city as much as I should.

So it’s good for me to go by North Bridge every once and a while, because out of all the places in the city somehow the view from their reminds me of just how lucky I am. And it reminds me that Edinburgh is an incredible place, a vision in buff stone, a place of history and wonders and mysteries if only I dig beneath the everyday to find them.

And it figures that I don’t have any particularly great photos of the view from there. It’s rather difficult to capture such a grand view on a 2D camera-- half the magnificence is the wonders receding further back into space. Carlton Hill with its whimsical structures falling away to the sky and the far-off waters of the ocean, seagulls wheeling in the wind, the impressive sweep of the bridge over the great ravine that holds the train station, the height of the hills on either side, the ornate stone buildings decorated with mythic beasts and reclining gods . . .


Here’s the one shot I do have of Carlton Hill. They hold the Samhain and Beltain celebrations up there-- both of which I missed, alas. But if I were going to pick a likely spot for magic in Edinburgh this’d be it, with the eclectic buildings, the observatory dome, the obelisk, the tower. It would be a great location for a school of wizardry, a part of the town and yet separate, a lofty place between land and sea, sky and rock, looking over both the cultured city and the barren wildness of Arthur’s Seat.

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I wanted to put up more writing for [livejournal.com profile] saiun_challenge’s birthday celebration, but alas it seems this is all I’m going to manage. And I still have one more bit to write before it’s really complete! ::sobs:: Oh, and I haven’t edited it yet, so it’s probably so terrible as to be embarrassing. But I’m too tired to look it over now, and the deadline will be past if I wait to do so until I’ve had some sleep.

This AU makes me nostalgic for high school. How weird.

Dark Jewels Saiunkoku

Roseford's Queen: Part 1
Roseford's Queen: Part 2
Roseford’s Queen: Part 3

Roseford’s Queen: Part 4 )
tsubame: (reading)
Monday, May 9th, 2011 11:17 pm

One of the views from St. Michael’s Bridge in Ghent. You just kinda stand in the middle of the bridge and turn in a circle, and it’s amazing no matter which way you look. You can see all the major sites from right there-- castle, cathedrals, churches, bell tower, canals . . .

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30 April 2011 (continued) )

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A picture from Sensei’s concert: Kurahashi Yodo and Ronald Brautigam, 28 April 2011, De Bijloke Muziekcentrum, Ghent

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1 May 2011 )

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A cup of chocolate in a Brugges cafe.
tsubame: (reading)
Sunday, May 8th, 2011 06:03 pm

Taken in Brugges during my first afternoon walking around there. I found a great deal of gorgeously blooming wisteria on my travels-- I never knew it smelled so nice. Sensei spent some time trying to get me to say “藤” and “藤壷” correctly. You’d think it wouldn’t be that hard, but I had a terrible time . . .

Transcripts of my writings from my recent trip to Ghent, Brugges, and Leiden.

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26 April 2011 )

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27 April 2011 )

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28 April 2011 )

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30 April 2011 )

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Sonnet XXX, by William Shakespeare (painted on a wall in Leiden) )

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“But now we are all, in all places, strangers and pilgrims, travelers and sojourners . . .”

~Robert Cushman, Pilgrim Leader, 1622

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Poem 23, by e e cummings (painted on a wall in Leiden) )
Thursday, March 24th, 2011 12:15 am

Here's a truly exotic location, at least by the standards of my journal . . . my hometown. Yep, that's just outside the local Greek restaurant in April of 2008. They have an AMAZING lamb kokkinisto, the dish that taught me that adding a pinch of cinnamon to your average tomato-based sauce results in awesome.

Picture taken to prove to a politely doubtful Japanese colleague that yes, there are blossoming cherry trees in the United States, and they are in fact beautiful-- as beautiful as their Japanese counterparts. The difference between cherry trees in Japan and cherry trees in the US is of course their extreme cultural significance in one place, and near total lack of cultural significance in the other. Sure, people in the US think that the cherry blossoms are pretty, but they're no more significant than other flowers, and a great deal less significant than some (the rose, for instance). Whereas I couldn't even begin to convey just how significant sakura are in Japanese culture.

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I find myself preoccupied with memories often lately-- I who have always been a child of the present moment. Always with me it has been today's dream, not yesterday's or tomorrow's. But again and again my thoughts drift backwards, and I wonder-- what am I seeking there? And why now?

Memories connect one to another, like beads on a string. I think of my brother, digging in the sand-- the sand at the pool that day we three escaped, trying to pass the painful hours-- the gritty, sticky sand at the Jersey shore, the drumming surf-- summer heat-- walking down from Kiyomizudera under the July sun--

Near my house in Japan, a street corner with a traffic light. I would ride my bike out to begin the day's adventure under a bright blue sky. Fly out across the street, standing on my pedals with the wind in my hair, swoop into the turn that would bring me arrowing down the road through the brilliant green of the rice fields. None happier than I, my heart singing inside of me--

A hundred times surely I did this, and now every time is one time, one moment, a single elation, an eternal singing joy.
tsubame: (yue)
Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 01:14 am

This is a picture I took in Lyon in France. I decided to go to the city quite randomly because I had heard their food praised especially highly. Lyon is a fairly small city, but I enjoyed it (even though we did end up doing a lot of random stuff while we were there, so that we could be indoors. The weather during our stay was, unfortunately, awful). This horse was in the Museum of Miniatures (and also random movie paraphernalia). It's not really a miniature, exactly, nor is it from a movie, but it is pretty darn cool. Below is a photo of the information card that accompanied it.


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A perfect night, the cool air nipping at my face, the lamplight glittering gold off the wet pavement, the dark holes of puddles interupted by the ripples of occasional raindrops. The slate roofs shine pewter. The night sky a patchwork of indigo, the clouds a luminous grey-blue. A dark tree grows in the center of the park; directly above the white pearl of the moon bears a cavorting rabbit. The still canal reflects all, the darkness and the light; a houseboat is moored, green-black and gilded by the lamps. Hyde's voice in my ears, and I am alone this night, my heart is still and peaceful.

Would that I could take this beautiful moment, this perfect feeling, and wrap it in a box and give it to you.

Thursday, January 20th, 2011 12:54 am

Last spring I was able to go to a huge roller coaster park in Japan with some of my friends. Among the ten coasters in the park they also happen to have the world's largest wooden one; this is a view of it from the nearby Ferris wheel. I rode it once, but found that it gave me a pounding headache. Looks like I've gotten too old for wooden roller coasters. I did fine on the modern ones, though.

I might also have been more prone to headaches at the time, seeing as my parents were visiting. When my parents visited me in Japan I was usually in a state of high stress and constant sleep deprivation/exhaustion.

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Wednesdays are going to be my busy days; biweekly that means class from 9 AM to 9:30 PM, with an hour's break for lunch and dinner/transport each. And then walking 40 minutes home. Today was the first of them, and actually I found myself enjoying it. I like being busy; it makes me feel useful. Which explains why I so mercilessly over-scheduled myself while I lived in Japan; I did in fact enjoy it.

I've actually been rather lazy since coming to Scotland. I think I need to take further steps to remedy this.

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Over the vacation I had a chance for some long talks with my various family members, some of which were quite interesting.

Regarding a conversation with my little brother with attendant thoughts which cover socialism in Sweden, the causes of the American Civil War, rappers, and lottery tickets. )

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I had half an hour during my busiest busy day in which to procure dinner. I wanted to go to the Black Medicine coffee house, because its name is so cool, but I ended up wandering the wrong way. I was thinking thoughts of going into the KFC-- I was running out of time-- it would be easy to order there-- but at the last second I gave in to the terrible yellow plastic beacon of a down-at-the-heels middle eastern place with cheap battered tables and faded posters of deserts on the walls.

And glad I was to have done so. Their baba ganoush was LOVELY. And I found out that the "sh" sound at the end has a bit of a hard "g" sound in it. I am enlightened!

. . . okay, nowhere near. But I get a little closer every day!

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I found some fun and interesting things on the internet recently. Let me share them with you!

A friend who is obsessed with a cartoon show called Phineas and Ferb linked me to this episode which makes reference to Carmell Dansen. At which point I told her that about two years ago Japan discovered this song in its original Swedish. And before long ALL OF JAPAN WAS INFECTED. It caught on so hugely that every anime currently on the air (and many who just have extremely obsessive fans) was making their own version of it (Jack Sparrow's at 2.16, fyi).

The same friend taught me a new French phrase!

déjà moo - the distinct feeling that you've heard this bull before

My stock of French phrases is growing once again! I can now add this gem of wisdom to my recently-acquired "tes moeurs crapuleuses" ("your sordid morals") and "tu cherches à corrompre mon paresseux" ("you are trying to corrupt my sloth"). Thankee, Patrick O'Brian!

This picture is my current desktop walllpaper. About which I said . . . )

To which my adorable sister replied... )

She's so cute! <3

This comic is quite adorable.

Reading through Pandora Hearts led to this string of (mostly) non-spoiler comments on Facebook:

Comments Ahoy! )
tsubame: (reading)
Sunday, January 16th, 2011 04:31 pm
Continuing on yesterday's theme . . .


This is one of the meals that I ate at the Copain Copine, my very favorite Korean restaurant in Tokyo. It's near Tokyo Station on the outskirts of Ginza, tucked under the railway tracks with a bunch of other really cool little restaurants and cafes. Except I never went to any of the others because I would always go back there after the first time. Made it a point to eat there every time I was in Tokyo. The wait staff were very friendly and kind, the host was really pritty, and the decour was homey and yet lovely. Oh, and the food was awesome, too.

And, while I'm at it . . .

The First Dream, by Billy Collins )
Friday, November 19th, 2010 04:40 pm
This morning the walk to campus was accomplished in a sleep-tinged fog. Rounding the corner, the leaves still clinging to the branches of the white birch trees glinted metallic in the slanted light, a waterfall of golden coins, frozen in motion.

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The campus where most of my classes are located is at the top of a steep hill, south of the city center in Edinburgh. The library has the best view; from that high vantage point Edinburgh Castle’s perch on the Mound is clearly visible, and the bulk of Arthur’s Seat to the right, and in between a half-hundred spires, and the slate-tile rooflines. Beyond that lies the water. On a clear day you can see further, beyond, to a flat plain with a single peak rising.

Today was not a clear day, but it still felt like you could see beyond. It was merely clouds, merely the angle of the sun creating colors and shadows out of the white-- but it spun out ridgelines, a mountain, a deep gorge cutting through-- fields and farms, a great patchwork-- a long stretch of beach fading into the sea . . .

If I went down to the Waters of Leithe today, would I find a boat there, waiting for me? Could I sail that boat down to the sea, across the Firth of Forth, and light upon that distant shore?
tsubame: (yue)
Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 12:38 pm
Hail, bright Lady of the night.

I am seeking something. In all this wide world, always looking, searching. I don't know what it is, only that it is always beyond my reach.

I have called it my unicorn.

What is it that I am seeking in this strange place?

Edinburgh is a city of spires, Of buff and tear-stained stone. Of hidden places, of broad parks. Of hills and scattered clouds. Of small shops, of curved lines.

Of unicorns.

They are everywhere, but it is so easy not to see them. They sit sentinel over the park, on tall mossy plinths, lost among the leaves. They stand rampant and glaring in reliefs, supporting crests and shields. They crouch in the shadowed corners of buildings, watching the unknowing people pass below.

If you are not the last--

My steps led me, footfall upon footfall, down the narrow roads. I meant to go west, but my feet took me south, down the tree-lined road to the Meadows.

They spread wide and flat and green below the twisted medieval closes of the old city. As if the two are different worlds that bleed together at the edges-- the road is the conduit between them, greenery making inroads to the city, a sparse scattering of buildings giving way to the trees. Shady lanes cross the open space, paths of light beneath the stately branches.

I crossed the compass rose, found the distinctive church spire that marked the beginning of Morningside, and let them guide me south and west. Looked south and east, across the Meadows--

Hello, Luna.

A gibbous moon, nearly full, rising. The clouds passing over, pearlescent. The sky, deep navy and bottomless.

I sank down on a bench and watched, and let my head fill with moon-thoughts. So bright, the moon. We only ever see one face of the moon. What is your hidden face, Lady? What do you see when you look away from us? What secrets do you keep?

The leaves rustled. In the distance, a siren, unreal, a sound from a different world.

Silhousetted against the golden light of the path, a bike glided across the short grass, silent as a shadow, only a shadow. Stopped, and the man riding let it fall, let drop his backpack. And spun there, in the moonlight, danced silent in the meadow. Whirled slowly, kicked a leg high, swung down to touch the earth, then up. Silent, musicless. Here lost in the shadows, there again, against the golden light. Danced beneath the moon.

I watched, silent and still. Should I run to him? But I sat, I could not move.

A final turn, and the slim figure stooped, swung up his bag, mounted his bike again. And swiftly, silently, he slipped back into the night, and I lost him into the lanes.

Dancer on the green. Shadow, shade. Free spirit of the night, the dark sky given form. Graceful, turning, gliding. Do you know me? Do you know I'm here?

Who are you?

The moon filled me, and I walked. South and west, towards the spire, carrying the moon inside of me. I could feel it, cool and bright, leaking out my eyes. Could those passing by see it? Did they not know? How could they not? I moved among them, but they could not touch me. Could they not see it, glowing in my eyes?

Traveller. Journey-woman. Seeker. Watcher in the dark-- not the story but only the one who tells it. Touched, but not chosen.

Who are you?


Who are you?
tsubame: (combini)
Thursday, August 26th, 2010 11:51 pm
[livejournal.com profile] subsiding_leaf linked me to this review of Yakuza 3 (龍が如く3). A game about Yakuza, reviewed by Yakuza! And lots of spot-on observations about the seedier side of Japan, enough that I was in stitches. I particularly liked this line: "Don't say gaijin. Say gaikokujin. It's more polite. Jake's a gaijin."


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For my own reference, the lyrics to an excellent Porno Graffiti Song, again courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] subsiding_leaf.

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On my way back from the supermarket I passed a bunch of kids employed in that standby of American childhood-- the roadside lemonade stand. I pulled over the car and walked back to do my part.

"I take it you guys are selling lemonade?" Because what other reason could there be for a group of kids to be out on the curb with a pitcher and two stacks of cups?

"Yeah! Do you want some?"

"I would like some, indeed."

"Big or small?"

"Well, I'm pretty thirsty. Better give me a big one."

"Okay! That's 75 cents."

"All I've got is a dollar. Is that okay?"

"Sure! Would you like change?"

"No, that's okay. Consider it my donation to the education fund."

"Thank you! Oh, wait, wait!"

"Hm? What is it?"

"We give all our nicest customers flowers. Here's yours!"

I got back in the car, poorer one dollar, richer one cup of lemonade, one bright yellow daisy, and the feeling that this day, at least, was one worth living.
tsubame: (yue)
Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 03:44 pm
I walked out of the train station one evening, and looked up to see the moon, pearlescent yellow and huge, partially obscured by the roof of a nearby house. I stood a while and watched, my mind full and still like water in a chalice. I walked back and forth a little, getting different views, trying to find again the one that had surprised me so when I first came out. But now the view was different, the moon lower, behind the house. The moon is setting, I thought to myself.

Come, said the moon.

I fetched my bike, switched on the lamp, and I followed the moon. Into a maze of shadowed streets and dark houses, sudden islands of light, curves and corners-- but I was not afraid. As long as I go downhill I'll be fine, I thought to myself. I know the streets around here, there's no way I can get lost.

I climbed, upwards and upwards, straining at the pedals. The moon had disappeared behind the mountain, and I tried to head towards where I had last seen it. I just have to get to the other side of this hill, I thought to myself, and took turns with no hesitation, steep roads past shadowy, blocky apartment buildings. Upwards-- a wide road. Upwards-- suburban houses. Upwards-- an elevated sidewalk crossing. Then a glimpse of some shining thing, through the trees-- but further, further--

I found an abrupt corner and left my bike to follow the footpath. And there-- there she was, the moon, serene and alone in the dark sky, far beyond my reach. But I could go no further. Before me was the great bowl of the valley, with Kyoto in the far distance, and a sea of lights between us. The bright lights below, the fainter ones above. And the moon laughing, bright and yellow, slipping behind the unseen mountains. A horn of light spilling over-- and then a yellowed fang, glinting in the night-- and then gone, all at once gone, like a shell slipped under the waves of the night.

The crickets sang as I glided home.
Saturday, August 7th, 2010 07:45 am
Megaupload link to Within Temptation's "a Final Dream," as quoted in the previous post.

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Even Through the Summer Storm, by Carol Clark Williams

wild geese imagine the moon and
row toward it, writing
lines of poetry.

Against the gothic clouds they sketch
sestinas, every stanza
beginning with the letter "v".

They search the lightning-punctuated sky
for words that rhyme with
"flight" and "night".

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. . . yeah, I wrote more Kingdom Hearts fic. Even more plotless and pointless this time! I blame [livejournal.com profile] majochan, because I think the initial prom-shenanagins idea was hers. She's the one with the truly brilliant ideas about it, too. Had me in stitches.


Title: Dance Lessons
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts

What are we gonna do at prom? )

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I wanna be a member of the Grown-Up Party! With maybe a little humor thrown in, since I don't want to be a part of an organization that lacks a sense of humor.

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The problem with many computers has its roots in a problem with humans-- we don't like to think. We're lazy, and if we can help it we'll take the easy way out. This is why Apple and Windows are more successful then, say, Linux-- they make things easier for people. If something seems to hard, we give up on it fairly easily.

So computers do things for us so that we won't hit that threshold. Which works . . . up to a point. Problems arise when the computer assumes it knows what you're trying to do and starts doing it for you-- but gets it wrong. The subtleties of human purpose in using programs are often lost on the programs themselves, which in trying to help too much end up hindering or even preventing. Ironically, for most of these programs there's no easy way to tell them to stop doing it. No easy way to reassure them that you know what you're doing, however strange that might seem, and you don't need the computer's help to do it.

Which of course leads to the comical situation of me shaking my fist at the computer screen and yelling, "stop assuming you're smarter than me!" I bought my camera for the express reason that, while I can definitely use the help in setting up my shots most of the time, not to mention the convenience of having the balance adjusted for me, I want to be able to tell it to stop and leave me alone, that I can take shots that its tiny computer brain can't conceive the purpose or propriety of.

I just wish I could do that with Word 2007. Maybe if the damn thing was in English rather than Japanese I might have a chance of figuring it out . . .

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There was a full glass coffee pot mostly submerged in a sink-full of water at work today. A moment's thought gave me the answer to why it was there. Still, I spent a minute smiling at the serene ridiculousness of the image, and thought to myself happily, "the world is stranger and more wonderful than I was previously aware."

I love those moments, I really do.

Recently my father sent me a postcard from where he was attending a seminar on radio telescopes in North Carolina. The card read, "I thought you would find this particular postcard funny."

The postcard is a before-and-after sort. The top shows the radio telescope standing proud and lovely, a lacework flower-cup of whitewashed girders. The second picture is from the next day, and shows a pile of white wreckage where once the telescope stood.

It did, indeed, make me laugh. One day-- beautiful functioning high-tech scientific instrument! The next day-- pile of twisted rubble! Aaaah, I can't believe it just collapsed like that-- like a fflan in a cupboard, to quote Eddie Izzard. Just imagine, some poor dude left work, locked the door behind him, everything was fine. He drives up the next morning, and wham! I bet he totally BSODed. Or maybe just sighed and drove off to find the nearest bar.

I'm still laughing about it, yeah. Apparently my father knows me quite well, including my odd sense of humor.

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I don't know what it says about me, but pictures like this one, of the First Family visiting a National Park, make me really really happy. That strange feeling of pride and hope-- I don't know where it comes from, but it's all the more welcome given my generally somewhat depressing news-reading hobby.

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An article written by a hibakusha on her experience in Hiroshima. I am adamantly anti-nuclear weapons, under any and all circumstances. I further believe that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were absolutely wrong and should be a source of national shame to the U.S.A., instead of an oft-ignored, bare paragraph in history textbooks. Considering that WWII is America's last "just" war (or possibly our only one, though I'm reluctant to even go that far), my opinions on the matter are hardly what one would call widespread.