Friday, March 28, 2008
Did you know, there are no blue tulips?
Did you know there is also a band named Tulip.
They were very popular in Japan in the 70's. Y and I both love their music. We've seen them 3 times in concert, twice in Oita and once we went all the way to Yokohama (Y was only 6 then).
Someone at a concert told me their music revealed the heart of Japan.
The first Tulip CD I heard was "We Believe in Magic".
To learn the lyrics, and for me to study Japanese, Y and I copied the words of the songs into our notebooks. Mostly hiragana, and whatever kanji we could.
Now I'm learning to play one of their songs, "Saboten no Hana" on my guitar.
The title doesn't sound as poetic in English, no matter now I write it---
Cactus Flower, Cactus' Flower; or a Flower on a Cactus.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Once there was a girl who liked to write "J's all over her school books. "J" was her initial. One day her kindergarten teacher scolded her. As punishment she had to stand behind the piano for the rest of the day. Or so it seemed to her. She remembers it so clearly, the dress she wore had orange polka dots on a bright yellow background. She remembers having to hang her head down in shame for doing something which she didn't
know was bad.
When she grew up, she became an artist and a teacher. She praised her students for writing their initials proudly on their work. Her paintings of "J"'s were hung in museums.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
From this spot hold a video camera and start filming. Do approx. 4 min per day. A few days a week, when I come to the pool.
Humming of the vending machines; getting louder and softer.
Voices of two women on the couches to the right, off camera. Their sing-song Japanese.
Lower torsos of people coming to the pool.
Mostly there is nothing much happening.
The scene is two pink leatherette couches, with a table between them. The lobby to the city pool.
Thru a large window, two mulliions, a nondescript fence and a baseball field. The grass is dry and patchy.
Now a mans team comes jogging slowly by.
Beyond that, a main road. Stream of cars. A 13-14 story apartment building in the distance, on axis with me.
(Voice: "ohayoo gozaimasu". My voice responds, "ohayoo gozaimasu")
The two women who were talking off-right get up.
Soft humming of the vending machine. My coffee cup in front of me.
Sound of footsteps off camera. As a few more people come to the entrance, the clicking of coins can be heard from the ticket-vending machine.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Kafka must have been very particular about coffee and cafes.
In letters to Milena, he couldn't believe she lived somewhere where the coffee was so bad.
And this entry is funny--
"At first I was against the Cafe Biard because I thought you could only get black coffee there. It turned out they have milk too, even if only with bad, spongy pastry...
Almost the only way to improve Paris that I can think of is to provide better pastry in these cafes."
Friday, March 21, 2008
I heard the sound of a flute as I walked through the Castle Park. I followed the sound until I saw the person playing it.
He stood behind the wood shrine wearing a uniform-like outfit of black slacks, V-neck sweater and tie. He almost looked like a typical student or businessman, his red bicycle with an empty metal basket parked behind him. Except that he was smiling and playing Japanese songs on his flute, which made him seem more like a jester appearing at the edge of the park overlooking the castle moat. Entertaining the first cherry blossom viewers of the season. And when he finished, he put his flute into the basket of his bicycle. With the sound of tires making tracks through the white stone gravel, he disappeared through the gate of the shrine.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
First, to understand the 'punchline' of this entry, you need to know these 2 things about 'Life in Japan':
1. Generally, there are no free "refills" for coffee.
Took me years to get used to this, having grown up in the land-of-the-bottomless-cup. Nevertheless, I learned to accept it, and, after bitter years of looking for that pot to refresh the steaming brew, I no longer expect it.
2. People wear masks (like a white surgical mask) in public places when they have a cold or allergy. This is both to protect from germs and to hide the mess of runny noses, etc.
This year, hay fever season is quite strong, and I have been wearing a mask for about 3 weeks now.
So, on to the story---
Today, in between teaching my Saturday classes, my daughter and I went to our 'regular' coffee shop for lunch. We've developed a reserved and yet very warm affection for the 2 men who run it. Recently I found out that they never take a day off, and yet they are always going strong.
I entered the coffee shop carrying bags of art supplies (for my class), wearing my 'mask'. Looking ever-so-pitiful from the hay fever and perhaps, the heavy load. One of the owners expressed concern about my hay fever, in polite conversation.
When we finished eating, the unexpected happened. He came over with the coffee pot and, everso gracefully, as if it was something he did all the time, he told me this would be the cure for my hay fever.
And he re-filled my cup.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
We were looking at "hair things".
I always tend towards the simplest, no frills and ribbons.
My daughter likes the largest, the most colorful, the ones with frills and ribbons.
(after all, she's 8 years old)
I am always saying
"not those, they're too big; not those, they're too frilly..."
To her, it's always "no...no...no..."
This time, when we were standing in the accessory area, I stopped and took a deep breath.
I looked around at all the colors. It's almost spring. It was like a garden of blossoms.
My daughter was revelling in it.
"I at least want one ribbon," she asserted.
"ONE BIG RIBBON", she added.
I could see in her eyes that she was prepared to hear my usual response.
Little did she know I had already formed the word
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Friday, March 7, 2008
I'm waiting as the female optometrist takes the final measurements.
I'm writing these words that I can't see in my notebook. Or rather, while she has my glasses I see the lines of words I am writing as blurred, horizontal streams of black squirls...(I think I made that word up, but that's what they look like)
For these few minutes I am dependent on my own weakening eyes.
(I feel I've just accomplished a hard-earned "pass". I sat thru the eye test in Japanese, this time not missing a beat as the male optician asked questions as he quickly switched the screen from letters to dots to various thicknesses of lines, closing off one of my eyes after the other. I just as quickly shot back my responses---hai, hai, migi, hidari, onaji-gurai, amari kawarimasen---to which lines were thicker, which images were clearer, and whether I could make out the Japanese characters as they got smaller and smaller...)
She is back with the adjusted new pair. She reaches over and rests them gently on my face. Now she's taken them off and gone back for more adjustments.
"Irrashaimase", I hear welcomes from the staff as other customers enter the shop.
Meanwhile, as I wait for her to return I pick up my "old" glasses which I notice are lying on the other side of the counter. However, they are taped up and marked off and full of measurements-in-progress.
"Massugu kochi ni goran ni natte..."
She gently asks me to look straight in front of me.
She continues taking measurements for the new glasses.
If it only it were possible to calculate one's inner "vision" in so systematic a way...
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I found this list of words, handwritten on a piece of white copy paper. I must have written it, perhaps taken the words from some article, ...to explain something...but I don't remember having written it. When I "found" the list in a pile of papers I noticed how it was comprised of 'disparate' words, which, together, were like some kind of undecipherable text message, a communication from mankind, written on surfaces, between continents; a feverish need to relay emotion unexpressed.
(note: on the back of the page was a xeroxed bit of the spiral edge of a notebook, and in the upper right hand corner, floating in what looks like a drop of water that still appears wet, the word
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Sunday, March 2, 2008
I was at the library coffee shop, finishing a cup of hot cocoa that I got from a machine.
My pile of books was stacked on the table.
An old woman came in and sat down across from me.
Why "my" table, when there were so many tables in the empty coffee shop.
It was still before noon.
She wanted to talk with me, it was clear.
What were we to talk about?
She proceeded to order lunch for herself, and called the waitress back again.
2 Orange juices.
One for me, she obviously wanted to keep me there a while.
She pointed to the stack of books and asked me about them. She'd noticed the title of one was in Japanese.
What brought us together in conversation turned out to be, amazingly, the soup cans in that Andy Warhol book.
2 pages filled with them (soup cans)---
chicken gumbo, tomato, potato, cream of corn.
She was drinking miso soup.
She couldn't connect the red and white abstract shapes with the concept of "soup".
She couldn't believe it when I told her I grew up on "can-somme", canned soup.
What?!, she said. In Japan we make miso soup, daily.
I know, I told her that I too make it for my daughter.
But when I grew up, and where I grew up, we ate (drank? in Japan soup is sipped, without a spoon)
- ► 2012 (62)
- ► 2011 (108)
- ► 2010 (147)
- ► 2009 (247)
- Tulip and Cactus' Flower
- J is for Joanne, Japan
- Idea for a movie
- Step 1: Bring camera, take stills
- Speaking of Kafka, and of Coffee
- I stopped to listen to the sounds
- Moment Surfing
- Better than a Mask
- Graphic Variation (inventing meanings)
- (no) Frills
- Sometimes a Picture...
- (leave space)
- Attach Sound
- New Glasses
- looking at proofs (nostalgia)
- Finding Words and putting them in a sentence
- The Library Coffee Shop
- ▼ March (20)