tsubame: (aqua)
Sunday, April 8th, 2012 02:38 pm
As grey-eyed Athena was sprung from Zeus's headache, so I have headaches for my grey eyes.

And with them complete paralysis of the Right side of my body. Apparently it's a mutation; I'm not up on the research of a cure, and the pharmacy medicines I've tried are ineffective.

When I close my eyes during a migraine I see things-- a sunburst that turns into a neon star, computer-generated people making creepy gestures, a centaur walking away, elevation lines like a map. I have no idea how my mind comes up with these things; my mind does not work properly during a migraine.

I endure it because I have to, there is no choice in the matter. I slept for two days, aside from throwing up and using the bathroom, and my roommate took care of me (which I am deeply ashamed of). It is only today that I feel somewhat better-- but only somewhat.

But. Gods, during a migraine I truly appreciate the miracle of this freckled skin, these unbroken bones, my hair that sparks twenty colors in the sunlight. I appreciate my skills, humble though they may be, because I lose them all. I appreciate my memory because it disappears; I appreciate this computer as a miracle of technology; I contemplate stories and words because they mean so much and I can't speak a single coherent sentence during a migraine.

Human lives are so fragile. My own brain does this to me, and always I am afraid-- what if it lasts forever? What will I do?

I don't know.
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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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.”

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


Ghazal, by Dilruba Ahmed )
tsubame: (sleepy)
Sunday, October 2nd, 2011 12:57 am
Photobucket

Fresco map of Italy, from the map rooms in the Vatican

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

8月21日 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

8月22日 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

8月23日 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

8月24日 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

8月26日 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

8月27日 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

8月29日 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

bir var mis, bir yok mis )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

8月30日 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

8月31日 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

9月1日 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

9月2日 )
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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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.


xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx



xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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

Photobucket

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


Variations on the Word Sleep, by Margaret Atwood )
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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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 . . .

Photobucket

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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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
Photobucket

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 . . .

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


30 April 2011 (continued) )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


Photobucket

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

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


1 May 2011 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


Photobucket

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

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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


26 April 2011 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


27 April 2011 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


28 April 2011 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


30 April 2011 )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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

~Robert Cushman, Pilgrim Leader, 1622

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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

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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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.
Thursday, January 20th, 2011 12:54 am
Photobucket

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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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. )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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!

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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)
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 12:03 am
Bach in the D.C. Subway, by David Lee Garrison )

There is a reason why Mozart and Bach and Beethoven are known to this day, and their music played all throughout the world. I bless the technological miracle that lets me have all of them, and all they wrote, great artists and their great art played by great artists, and all for a few minutes' fiddling with search terms.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


An interesting article on one woman's realization of racism in Canada. Because I sadly have had people from various countries-- Canada, Australia, even the US of A (this is just my personal experience, mind)-- try to tell me that racism is a thing of the past in these modern utopias.

. . . yeah, they were white folks. ::le sigh::

I also have a certain familiarity with the feeling of "representing an entire culture," that her boyfriend mentions. Of course it wasn't the same-- even in Japan I was a "favored minority," and furthermore representing my culture was a part of my job-- but it was an incredible amount of pressure, and it did effect my behavior, the way I dressed, the way I expressed myself, and even my thoughts. For the first few weeks, even months, just leaving my apartment was a strain, because I could feel people staring at me wherever I went.

But although Japan became my home, it was not the country of my birth, a place to which I would feel entitled to belong. Although I have experienced my fair amount of abuse over my lifetime for being different, no one ever questioned my right to be in the USA based on how I looked. Which is to say: I can imagine what the feeling is like, but I have never truly experienced it, nor am I likely to.
tsubame: (yue)
Sunday, October 3rd, 2010 11:44 am
I went to sleep in the bright, sunny afternoon one accursed. I woke up in the darkness of the morning one blessed by miracles. The miracle of not being in pain. The miracle of fitting words together properly. The miracle of not turning myself inside-out into a plastic bowl. The miracle of not envisioning my own death as a comfort. The miracle of warm feet.

The soft benediction of the wind gently stirring the branches of the trees.
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."

TOO FUNNY.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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".

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


. . . 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.

FIC.

Title: Dance Lessons
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts

What are we gonna do at prom? )

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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 . . .

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

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.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx

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.
Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007 03:41 pm
The weather has been unseasonably warm this winter. But right now the full moon is so bright, it looks as if the backyard is blanketed in white.
Thursday, November 30th, 2006 12:03 pm
In my excitement over going home this year, I managed to forget the particularly volatile waters that potentially await me there.

Oh, there's the usual family things to deal with, negotiating a mix of not-always-harmonious personalities, that sort of thing. But now that I'm only in the States for two weeks out of any given year, my time is strictly limited. I only have those two weeks to ration out between family, friends, errands, and sleep. And, inevitably, someone ends up feeling jilted.

Well, not necessarily. The problem is really dealing with my father, who is deeply jealous of time I spend outside of the family during my visits. Of course I want to spend a lot of time with my family, but I also have a lot of friends that I want to see and catch up with. I want to get out of the house, I want to do fun things and eat at restaurants and generally enjoy myself. But if I spend time outside the family my father becomes steadily more sulky and upset with me.

And I have a lot of friends I need to spend time with. Certainly it's not unreasonable for them to ask for a chance to see me, for a day or two of my time when that's all they can have for an entire year. For my part I want to see them, I want to spend that time. But I'm constantly walking a tightrope between doing all the things I want to do and keeping my father happy.

The real irony of all this is that he doesn't really notice how much time I spend at home, or the times when he calls for me and I'm around to answer. What he notices is when I'm not there, when he calls and I'm off on some trip or other. I spent days sitting around the house doing not much of anything last year, I wasted hours on end waiting for him to finish with whatever he was doing so we could watch a movie together as we'd planned. But when I finally got tired of waiting and decided to accept a friend's invitation for a late-evening coffee, he became angry because I'd gone. Or he would come up with something he wanted to do with me the day before or the day of, and then would be hurt when I already had plans.

I know that the reason is because my father loves me and misses me desperately during the year when I'm away. I love him, and I miss him. But I wish he could be happy for the time that we do get to spend together and not make me feel guilty for the time when I go off to do something else. With him, the family is paramont, and friends are a poor second. He doesn't seem to realize that even though the family is very important, there are other things in my life that are not family-related that are also important to me. Or maybe he realizes it, but doesn't accept it.

This started to become a problem in high school, it became worse in college, and now . . . my friends don't see anything unreasonable in asking for a day or two of my time, and they're right, it's not unreasonable. I know they feel hurt and confused when I turn them down, or say that I can only stay for a few hours, or that I have to leave first thing in the morning after the sleepover. It's impossible to explain to them that I have to sit around the house doing nothing on the off chance that my family needs me for something. I can't even invite people over to sit with me, because it's rude to turn people out of the house when something else comes up, and because to my family that's almost the equivalent of me not being there.

I know for a fact that other families are not so demanding as mine, and that my friends don't have this problem, even the ones who live far away from their families. And I'm glad that my family loves me so much that they want me to spend as much time as possible with them. But I really wish that everyone, especially my father, would relax about it. I don't want to have to be constantly worrying about whether I'm keeping everyone happy, I don't want to have to keep my calendar clear on the off chance that someone will decide they want to go ice skating or whatever. I want to enjoy my vacation.

Unfortunately the reality is that I can't and have never been able to because I have to always be thinking about how I can satisfy everyone and keep things peaceful.

To my friends: please don't stop asking me to do things with you, or calling me, or anything. Just please understand and don't be disappointed if I have to turn you down or limit the amount of time I spend with you. And please forgive me if invitations, and especially come-over-to-my-house invitations, are not particularly forthcoming on my part. I value you highly and more, but dealing with my family can be a nightmare and a half when things get difficult.
Sunday, September 10th, 2006 11:59 pm
I had a perfect cup of tea today. Simple white stoneware cup on a plain, matching saucer, resting on the indigo tablecloth I brought back from China. The rose tea inside was a perfect golden amber, the second steeping from the teabag and so I already knew that it was excellent tea. The air conditioning was on, colder than I liked, and the chill made the tea all the more welcome. I sat and watched it as I waited for it to cool enough to drink; watched the folding, curving steam rise from the perfectly still surface to dance and eddy in the slight breeze. My life is this, and no more, I thought. My life is the steam that rises from the translucent stillness, this fragile nothing that curls and wavers in the wind.

"God moved over the face of the waters . . ."
Tuesday, September 5th, 2006 10:41 pm
Endlessly looping on YouTube lately for lack of downloading capability . . . )

There are the dreams we have, and the dreams we are not allowed to have.

The dream that I have is not the dream that other people are allowed to have, I know. It takes me far from everything familiar, it throws me wingless into the void of the world, it tosses me beyond the gravitational pull of familiar stars. It is fullfillment, and also denial-- wandering monk-quester without a quest, prodigal without progress, seeker who has nothing to seek. I step forward without looking over my shoulder, so everyone behind me can see my back. I take this dream and make it my being, because this dream is the one I am allowed to have, and have it I will.

There are dreams that I am not allowed to have. The phone ringing, that is one. I can't even remember what it sounds like anymore. Nor can I remember the voices of my memories, the way the t's were crossed, or what it feels like to touch someone.

But those dreams at least I have the luxury of forgetting. That is part of the dream I am allowed to have. Allowed to have it, I chose it, and in choosing chose those dreams that I would forget.

I chose it, all of it, for the dreams that I am not allowed to have. I stepped forward without looking over my shoulder, so that the dreams I could not have would see only my back. So that they would know, as they rejected me, that I rejected them in turn. I chose pride and refused to reach for the dreams I could not have, so that they would never see me reaching. I chose my dream and the comfort of the knowledge that I had never reached.

All of this, I chose. And part of that choosing was knowing that I would not regret my choice, because I would put myself by my own will apart from the dreams I was not allowed to have. Choosing fate in order to be free.

But none of that can stop the wondering, the forgetting, the choosing. None of that can make me forget those dreams that I've forgotten. None of that can take away the desire for the dreams that I am not allowed to have, have chosen not to have, do not desire.
Friday, August 25th, 2006 11:38 am
Found while browsing Babylon 5-related information:

The War Prayer, by Mark Twain.

Very worth reading.
Thursday, July 13th, 2006 11:11 pm
My shakuhachi teacher tells excellent stories. Today, he told me about a Chinese monk, Fukei . . . he could only remember the Japanese pronunciation of the monk's name. This monk was very popular with the people because he was very humble, not at all proud. Wherever he went he carried a staff with a bell on top, so that its ringing marked his comings and goings.

One day he told the villagers, "I have decided. Tomorrow morning, I will die." They were very unhappy, and everyone gathered in the field that morning to say farewell. However, Fukei said, "I have changed my mind. I will die tomorrow morning."

The next morning the villagers gathered once again. But again Fukei said, "I have changed my mind. I will die tomorrow morning."

The third morning, only a young boy came to the field. There, he saw Fukei coming and dragging a coffin. The monk opened the lid, climbed inside, and then closed it after him.

The young boy ran into the village and told everyone what he had seen. The villagers rushed to the field. But when they opened up the coffin lid, there was no one inside. All they heard was the sound of a bell emerging from the coffin and echoing up to the sky.

* * * *

I leave for China on Sunday and will return in three weeks. I'm not certain how often I'll actually have internet access during that time, so I may well be absent from my usual haunts for that full period. Wish me luck, and hopefully the trip will only be eventful in the best of ways.