- California born by a Cuban mother, married to a Japanese man, and have lived in Japan since 2004, minus one year living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I have friends and family in many places in the world. I dreamed of traveling to many distant lands, creating music and dancing to it, meeting interesting people, and discovering treasures in the most unlikely of places.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Hello, Dear Readers. I have a question for you. What do you think makes a good story? What in a story makes you want to read it again, or go through it again? Do you think it is the same for children as for adults? I am thinking about writing a story, but I really don't know where to start. My husband always falls asleep when I sing or make up stories, because they are so peaceful. I read online that if there is no conflict, then there is no story. That no one likes a story without some sort of struggle... But all of my stories, even if there is a sort of struggle, are so surreal or subtle in it, that you might not notice... For example, my story of a rock. Very similar to the song by Suzanne Vega, "Small Blue Thing". The story is told from the perspective of a found object, description of it, the way it changes at having been found, and then how it is once again taken from the pocket and hurled. But I could be wrong in my own assumption that there is no conflict; does the story really have no struggle, or is it just a very subtle one, or badly orchestrated? Also, does no one really like stories like that? I remember telling it, and only one person out of the room loved it, but he really loved it. Of course, he was a peace-lover. So much for that. How many people are peace-lovers out there, really? Does no-one really want to hear a conflict-free story, or is it just that the numbers are in that less-than-seven-percent-equals-insignificant range?
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
FULFILLMENT, Shevek thought, is a function of time. The search for pleasure is circular, repetitive, atemporal. The variety seeking of the spectator, the thrill hunter, the sexually promiscuous, always ends in the same place. It has an end. It comes to the end and has to start over. It is not a journey and return, but a closed cycle, a locked room, a cell. OUTSIDE the locked room is the landscape of time, in which the spirit may, with luck and courage, construct the fragile, makeshift, improbable roads and cities of fidelity: a landscape inhabitable by human beings. IT is not until an act occurs within the landscape of the past and the future that it is a human act. Loyalty, which asserts the continuity of past and future, binding time into a whole, is the root of human strength; there is no good to be done without it. SO looking back on the past four years, Shevek saw them not as wasted, but as part of the edifice that he and Takver were building with their lives. The thing about working with time, instead of against it, he thought, is that it is not wasted. Even pain counts.
As he started down, the air grumbled a little and he felt a strangeness: no jolt, no tremor, but a displacement, a conviction that things were wrong. He completed the step he had been making, and the ground was there to meet his foot. He went on; the road stayed laying down. He had been in no danger, but he had never in any danger known himself so close to death. Death was in him, under him; the earth itself was uncertain, unreliable. The enduring, the reliable, is a promise made by the human mind.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Last year, on a hot balcony on the second floor, we would go out and see, through summer until the chilly late autumn winds blew death into the surrounding leaves and he went away, a little green grasshopper grow fat and big and very lazy on the leaves of my Cuban Parsley. We would sometimes scare him a little in innocent fun, shifting the leaves to look at him, wondering if he would move. At first we thought he would leave the next day. Then we thought he would certainly move on the next week. But though the parsley plant didn’t suffer much under his consistent munching, he stayed for many months within that 15 inch diameter sea of leaves. For a while, we thought he must be drunk, drugged by the intoxicating scent of the leaves, not to leave. We finally determined that he must have considered it his home. What is time like for an insect that only lives a few months? For a cat, one year is our seven. For a person living in one place their whole life, that place is everything. For an insect, a few months could be an eternity, a life. This year, foraging for lunch greens, I found on campus two patches of wild purslane. On the one patch that had only one plant, isolated among the gravel, mid-building, I noticed a grasshopper. I would pick for my lunch, and he would hop off onto the rocks. When I came back the next day, he hopped off again. He would look at me, shifting his weight from side to side, waiting for me to be gone. This happened for a few weeks. I started to feel bad that I was taking his home away little by little, so I stopped eating purslane salads with my lunch. Then, last week, the area was weeded, and the purslane abode was gone. I stopped and wondered at the area where it had been. Had he grieved for his lost home? Had his cries risen into the wind? Or had he just jumped off, and searched for a new place to live? Remembering him and the other one last year, I find it difficult to imagine that they felt nothing at the loss of their home, considering how tenacious they both were, and their absolute refusal to leave, always returning home, even in the repeated presence of danger. How does an insect perceive life? Is it possible to compare the people of Sakurajima or Kansas or Pakistan’s Swat Valley to these small, green, gentle creatures, just trying to live? HAIKU TO THE GRASSHOPPERS Grasshopper weeps to / the autumn wind at seeing / his home in fate’s hand.
Monday, September 9, 2013
-----The Dispossessed is about a man named Shevek, who has come through unusual circumstance to live on another planet, the planet of his people's origin, Urras. His planet, a desert, is quite barren and devoid of complex living organisms. The people live off of what they can. The reason for their self-exile is the desire for a utopia; anarchy against government, war, the situation of a rich class and a poor class. We also feel what it means to move to another country, very different from our own, and what it is like to be an expatriot, or be between two worlds, not knowing where you belong anymore, feeling at once with one, at another time with the other, never again of your own world. I would like to thank LeGuin for once again, in this novel as well as all of her others, giving us the ability to see with great depth and genius empathy, what it is to feel life from the heart of another. -----Shevek is shocked by the opulence of Urras, which is actually very much like our society. We wouldn't think twice about a "nightmare shopping street", equivalent to one of our malls. As far as empathy goes, most people would not immediately be able to imagine his situation, but perhaps we might imagine being a person working in a sweatshop in Southeast Asia or South America somewhere, and how we might feel if we were to suddenly be in a mall, maybe surprise mixed with envy and anger, maybe... But she gives a very interesting perspective of someone coming from a place where THERE IS NOTHING, and what there is, is made, and sold directly by the makers, like it might have been before there were mass transportation, as in medieval times, but even more intense, because even in the old days, there were rich and poor, but in Shevek's society, there is no money, and so, there is no concept of buying, not concept of the haves and the not haves, and so there is no concept of crime, and no hierarchical power over others. Instead, there is beaurocracy controlled by computer, waiting for years, a lack of being able to choose your life, not being able to ask and receive what you want, your children are taken from you, and if you choose not to follow or fit into the system, you are ostracized by the people around you and cannot fulfill your desires at all, or only with a fight. It seemed really frustrating. Having come from an exiled Cuban family, and hearing the stories of the people who lived there or died there in Communist Cuba, it reminded me of many stories (Even more sadly, Cuba, like all communist governments on this Earth, is not an all-are-poor situation. Castro and his buddies enjoy steak and wine every night, while the rest of the country starves. As far as I have been able to see, a true communist society - on this Earth - can only exist in very small numbers...if at all. I lived on a commune of 20, and can attest to the difficulties of it.) *******P.98****** _____“Excess is excrement,” Odo wrote in the Analogy. “Excrement retained in the body is a poison.” _____Abbeney was poisonless: a bare city, bright, the colors light and hard, the air pure. It was quiet. You could see it all, laid out as plain as spilt salt. Nothing was hidden. *******p.131***** ______Saio Pae had taken him "shopping" during his second week in A-Io. Though he did not consider cutting his hair - his hair, after all, was a part of him - he wanted an Urrasti-style suit of clothes and a pair of shoes. He had no desire to look any more foreign than he could help looking. The simplicity of his old suit made it positively ostentatious, and his soft, crude desert boots appeared very odd indeed among the Iotis' fanciful footgear... ______The whole experience had been so bewildering to him that he put it out of his mind as sooon as possible, but he had dreams about it for months afterwards, nightmares. Saemtenevia Prospect was two miles long, and it was a solid mass of people, traffic, and things: things to buy; things for sale. Coats, dresses, gowns, robes, trousers, breeches, shirts, blouses, hats, shoes, stockings,...clothes to wear while sleeping, while swimming, while playing games, while at an afternoon party, while traveling,...- all different, all in hundreds of different cuts, styles, colors, textures, materials. Perfumes, clocks, lamps, statues, cosmetics, candles, pictures, cameras, games, vases, sofas, kettles, puzzles... figurines and souvenirs and kickshaws and mementos and gewgaws and bric-a-brac, everything either useless to begin with or ornamented so as to disguise its use; acres of luxuries, acres of excrement..."The coat costs 8,400 units?" he asked in disbelief, for he had recently read in a newspaper that a "living wage" was about 2,000 units per year..."Pretty thing isn't it? Women love furs." And they went on. After one more block Shevek had felt utterly exhausted. He couldn't look any more. He wanted to hid his eyes. ______And the strangest thing about the nightmare street was that none of the millions of things for sale were made there. They were only sold there. Where were the workshops, the factories, where were the farmers, the craftsmen, the miners, the weavers, the chemists, the carvers, the dyers, the designers, the machinists, where were the hands, the people who made? Out of sight, somewhere else. Behind walls. All the people in all the shops were either buyers or sellers. They had no relationship the things but that of possession.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Thursday, June 20, 2013
A few winters ago, my English club students wrote Haiku. It was really fun. They were so cute.
It inspired me, but I didn't finish the post until today when I found the draft. Here it is...
It inspired me, but I didn't finish the post until today when I found the draft. Here it is...
SURPRISE The castle view from afar, All warmed by winter sun, Glimpse of stolen kisses.
Some moments are lost, never to be remembered again. Others are etched into memory, never to be forgotten. The moment I saw Professor Ken Yabuno was one of those moments. I am unsure, but I feel as though perhaps it was for him as well. I was waiting for my interview with the school director to decide my future for the next few years, when he walked in front of me. He looked a little like a very kind, Japanese Einstein. But then I looked into his eyes. I felt as though I was looking into a mirror, which is a strange feeling when the person is so physically different. His kind eyes held mine as he walked past. At first interested, then questioning. I think he might have been wondering, "Where were you?" I was later told the truth about his speech. At first, they were kind, and told me that he had only talked about the university. But then a student told me that he had talked about things they way I had talked about Hundertwasser just a few weeks before. And as he talked, he had sketched a vision of Karatsu Castle, which was complete when he had finished. What beautiful symbolism, for a school of students just beginning, whose students will someday be important members of this society. A reflection of his contemplation that the stars in the ceiling in the auditorium at the university are a reflection of each of the students below. I wonder if any of the students at this school realized the connection between them and the beautiful castle.
In Okuma Auditorium, the central skylight of the ceiling contains the sun and the moon, and the smaller lighting fixtures are all stars. This creates the image that students are being watched over by things which are sacred and eternal. I believe that the ceiling is a symbol that students themselves, not Okuma Shigenobu, are the main characters of Waseda.-Professor Ken Yabuno I am writing this post as a response to his article Thinking About the Past and Future Drawing Cities Which “Don’t Exist Today”. He had been in Madrid, and a hugely influential museum for him was the Prado, as it was for me. For different reasons, he believed it impossible to be an artist... A strong interest in architecture and cities. And we believe in the interconnected nature of the disciplines. There were more... There were in fact, so many references to my own inner experience in this short life, that I now understand why I felt as though I were looking in a mirror, or that I already knew the person who I had seen. Perhaps it is possible to see yourself in someone else because of their experiences or their thoughts being similar to your own, without ever even speaking to them. That must have been it, there is really no other explanation. My deepest interests are a little different, but their base is essentially the same. I believe our similarities lie in architecture, art, and the connection of the disciplines as being essential for true understanding of the world. My interest in green roofs and rooftop gardens must have begun long ago. There a was a period of sublime development that went unchecked in my mind. As a small child, I built stick houses on the beach, and never forgot that joy. But it wasn't then. Nor was it when I discovered Japanese art, and it's reflection in a possible future. And it wasn't when I made soap with herbs found on the roadside with my friend, and knew I would study elements of ethnobotany. Nor was it when I designed houses in high school, with courtyards, and pools coming into the master bedroom. But it was already quite developed when I volunteered for three months for Sustainable Monterey Bay, and designed apartment complexes for them, all having roof gardens, community spaces, and other passive design and sustainability elements, always working with nature. It could have been around the time when I first saw the Hunderwasser Haus, or when I discovered green building and passive design books at book stores in college... whenever it was, it forged a path into this time, this place, my present life with my passion for nature, buildings, people, and life. It is the river from which the source is a great desire to heal this Earth which we call home. If I ever have the chance, I would like to speak to Professor Yabuno. I would like to just sit, relaxed, over a cup of tea or a meal, and discuss life. The places where paths cross, where there is no time. The places inside our minds, and outside the walls. In the green, in the silver, in the blue, in the brown, in the rainbow. Begun 2012, Finished 2013
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Two years ago, Shinpei and I were driving around Saga randomly, off the beaten path. I saw many horses in pens, which is rare in Japan, so we went to take a look. The stables had "No Entrance" and "Stop!" signs all over the doors... so I was intrigued. The horses were all thoroughbreds and arabians, some huge, and a few who looked very, very sensitive and intelligent, and looked at us as though they wanted us to play with them or interact. I was struck by their majesty and obvious sensitivity and intelligence. There were three that I liked in particular, which when I spoke to them, looked up very curiously. One was at least 18 hands high, his dark brown head towering above the others. The other two were chestnut, and I will never forget the look of one of them, who was about 15 horses away. It looked so much like it wanted me to go to it. After a few moments of gazing at the lovely beasts warily, which were all quite well and very beautiful, a young man came around from the back. We asked him if we could look at the horses from the gate, and he said yes. We then asked why there were so many obviously expensive horses there. He said that they were being fattened up for horsemeat, and, get this, that they were former race horses (thus the VERY EXPENSIVE nature of them!), When they arrived, they would be fattened up in the stalls for three months and then would be butchered. Horsemeat is a delicacy in Japan, and eaten raw, not too differently from the way some people eat their beefsteak still dripping "rare". I am not making a statement about them being horses in particular, or not eating horse, because I think cows and pigs, and even chickens can be very sweet and become great pets. But I think it is a horrible shame, because they ARE pets already, trained and very well-bred to be so, and it is a horrible WASTE to eat them when they could live much longer lives and enrich ours in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine...for example, as per this article. I want to do this! I have never heard of anyone saving racehorses in Japan, but if Shinpei and I stay here, I would love to someday save some of those horses and give them a new home. There is a woman who writes about animals whose name is Temple Grandin and is autistic. She wrote in one of her books, I believe it was Animals in Translation, that she went to a special school where the students, who had emotional or other disorders, worked with the horses. It is also an interesting idea, and if someone were willing, could give the horses yet another reason (for humans) to (let them) live.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
I know this sounds silly, and really high school-esque, but I really like this model.