How We Respond to Rape in the News

I don’t usually make a whole post to point out an article I’ve written on another site. My husband doesn’t usually highlight something I’ve written, sharing it with a “Good job, Meliss” on Facebook. But maybe this subject is different. It’s more than about me.

It impacts more than a handful of kids. Way way way more.

This is about rape, abuse, tough words like “consent” and the sickening blurred lines. I actually penned three versions, all responding to the prominent Stanford Case. Who could believe that the parents of the abuser would not only come to his aid but vehemently argue his case? Never once was the woman, the abused and victimized, mentioned.

Like so many, I was so beyond frustrated with this specific case and so many cases before it. I couldn’t stop reading the details and it just kept fueling my disgust.

My article featured on the terrific, Parent.co.

At any college or university, abuse can occur. On a date. After the library. Preppy clothes, a solid GPA, urban or rural. Loose jeans or whatever. None of the variables matter. We live in a broken world. We must speak about the tough things—words like “appropriate touch” and “consent”. We beat back the darkness by shining a light. We use our words.

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Rape is just too prevalent. Too sickening. Voices are lost to shame and a legal system that can be flawed. We saw that with Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer and his parents. We saw that with the judge.

I sit with my children, watching the innocence, the fabric of their days, their joyous interactions, and I know there is grief in this world. Most children are sexually abused by someone they know, a figure they trust. Known or not, our girls may be blamed instead of the attacker.

I know that my sister, my children’s auntie, hears reports while away at college–reports of yet another incident, another attack on the college loudspeaker. It can seem like every night they are told to be careful, perhaps stay put. And the harrowing part is that most incidents of rape and assault go unreported. Mostly, a woman may be blamed and open to additional threats, should she go out on a limb and choose to report. That is if she can believe her own self-worth at that point if she can muster up the strength to look in the mirror and use the voice that has shrunk down so deep.

What is a parent to do? What can I do to battle the darkness now, even in this season of teaching my girl how to swim, of battling the formidable hill called Pottytraining? I mean, I’ve got milk leaking. What can I do? Rather, what must I do, for my son and my daughters? For others’ children, too? What am I called to do?

Speak about it, in the most direct, absolutely appropriate ways. To a four year-old, the talk will be very different that the way we speak with a sixteen-year-old. Of course. But talk. Talk. Let it be part of the family culture to talk about the tough news, the way abuse impacts lives, not just one. Talk about the way kind, respectful actions can go on to bless generations. Talk.

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I’m sparked, I’m on. I want to volunteer at hotlines. I want to organize nightly watches on campuses and in between parties. I want to offer young women a way out, even after they’ve already said “yes”, but feel otherwise. I want to hold tight, bring hurt girls and boys the freedom they need and desperately lack. I want to teach them to use their voice and treat others with some form of sacred respect.

In the end, I penned this piece (linked again) on what parents of young kids (and all kids) can do. It’s amazing what writing can do to soften the heavy emotional loads we carry. It’s a step, anyway.

Let this be the beginning of the kind of help I’ll do. Even if it is just towards my kids, let it be the start. May even the most grievous news catalyze, spark the understanding and a joy to help.

We’ve got to start somewhere. Let it be here, in this season, while my kids are 5, 3, and an infant. Let the light beat out the darkness, here, starting now, for all of us.

Fourth of July is another Monday in Japan—xoxo, An American Living Abroad

Abroad? Expat? Interloper? For how long can you stay and live in another country and still be considered to be living abroad?

Well, perhaps it depends on your home country. America allows its citizens to live abroad indefinitely, maybe forever, and still have the right to return at any time. In other words, I can retain my Americanness, in citizenship, and still reap the opportunities that living away affords me. I never have to choose; I will always be a citizen.

As it is, I miss my culture and country a bit extra today. It is the Fourth of July and I sit knowing there will be no fireworks tonight in Japan. I didn’t think to order any celebratory red, white, and blue goods early-on to be shipped–no tiny flags, no confetti with stars. Besides, my husband and kids are at work and school. It is a normal day here in Tokyo. While all of my American friends and the bulk of my Instagram thread shows lobster rolls and barefoot kids in cutoff shorts enjoying picnics and sparklers on parade-sidelines, I think about my Americanism and the dualities, the good and bad of living abroad.

People are complex beings. In eighth or ninth grade, I wrote my own mythological story to illustrate the origin of some emotion. I wrote about a rainbow after a storm and two Greek sisters experiencing something both devastating and profoundly beautiful. It was a whole dramatic story leading up to the origin of “bittersweet”. We can have warring emotions, two realities coexisting.

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To be of a certain culture living away from one’s home is often complex. One may love their newer home but greatly miss those they left behind. One may adore the transportation system and their new view, a high-paying or more satisfying job, but feel torn at times. It can all be a bit bittersweet, no matter how great the call or reason to come to this new land.

It is the 4th of July and it is more than nostalgia I feel. I identify as an American. I celebrate the country’s ideals. As a foreigner, I have spent almost eight years here in Japan adjusting and missing my family, adjusting and comparing cultures, walking in between language and customs.

Even if I spend the rest of my days here or anywhere away from the US, if I retire, become a grandmother here, continue to adjust and even become adept at language here, I will always, to some extent, be living abroad. The American in me may not ever cease being American. That is fine, that is A-okay. I’ll be complex. That is, after all, only human. We don’t get “wiped clean” to receive something new. We can gain and trade languages, add stamps and experiences to our passports, even become residents in a new country and still always be American, or Swedish, or Mexican. We don’t ever have to give up identity. This stays with us even while other variables shift. People are layered with gorgeous details and complexities. My sun-splattered freckles may stay with me forever, though I am far from the beaches and summer days of my youth.

We never really stop being that original person–the little boy or girl with memories of writing their name with sparklers on the beach, the kid who was afraid to try a new food, the shy preteen who realized they felt alive waterskiing at summer camp. The humor, even that we grow up with, watching movies and hearing our uncle, mom, or grandpa tell jokes. All of it is important. All of it speaks to identity.

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The way I grew up, all of the memories, the holidays like Fourth of July, vacations, and conversations–see, they make up our foundation. The way, the culture in which I grew up, that which I saw and experienced will always be my foundation. Part of that, a major part of this, is location, right? Country of origin. Opportunities, moments, the gifts and sadly, the tragedies that affect us. How we see others deal with pain. How we as a family, as a people, as an individual celebrate. These attributes can be tied to country. How we even view “diversity” and “challenge”. It’s all in there.

I am an American with a certain lens. Yes, it’s been widened a certain extent by living abroad. I will hopefully continue to grow and change, but I may never really ever stop being or at least at times, feeling “foreign”. I will continue to lay down roots. My children, though, for as much as they are Japanese, will always also be American. We can be complex people. People rooted to a space but also thinking of what we miss. This is some of the magic of America, in its collective self. Americans are not one type, not one general physique, not one accent, or one non-accent. We’re from all over and may live all over. All of us living abroad become part of the body, joining in a new cultural identity, landscape, an workforce, but we also retain our roots, enjoy new opportunities while celebrating our origin.

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My kids don’t know that if in the US today, they’d be home from school, gobbling blueberries, making eating someone’s wiggly Jell-O dessert, hugging their aunts and cousins. We’d probably be at the beach or in Philly with Grandma, looking at The Liberty Bell. They’d certainly know the words to our national anthem (Reminder, self. Teach this). They may not be privy to the nuances of each American holiday, but I do and I miss these things.

Yes, I get the double goodness of new holidays to celebrate in Japan, but I don’t have it all. There are costs to widening one’s vision. We don’t get to see our family, those close friends we left up close. We get tinges of nostalgia and the joy and pain of comparison.

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We get other kinds of popsicles and treats made out of sweet beans, but there is no ice cream man coming down our block in his ice cream truck with the song. There are no shops with the red, white, and blue flag hung outside. There is no Macy’s Day Parade on Thanksgiving in Tokyo. There is no float with veterans waving whom we may salute.

A holiday of one’s birth country or childhood may prompt some sadness or at least a moment of wistful thinking if we aren’t stateside or with others to commemorate the day. Celebrations may be internal and with a bit of pain. We see a whole big view and there is more cost than the international flight. There are new friends, though, a more complex understanding of war and international relations. There, like in my typed-up myth, is a whole rainbow to discover, yes. There is a greater appreciation for those here who bridge my world with their kindness and acceptance. There are trips to plan–both domestic and international. New memories to shape.

There are Fourths of July that are bittersweet. I am, after all, an American living abroad.

 

 

Making Peace & Raising Babies Out of Culture

Making our way out of the house, there are a few things you should know: it is June 27 and while coolish now, temps will continue to climb. I have with me in the stroller, my little girl, almost three-weeks-old. In Japan, it is obligatory for newborn babes to stay in the house a solid month—recovering moms, too, as they are both doted on by her mother. (This supposes that the grandmother/mother of the postpartum woman is alive and available and that the woman does not live abroad).

My baby and I receive stares. We are out and it hasn’t been one month.

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I am not new to the culture here; it is my third baby in Tokyo and because of that, I now have thicker skin. In the beginning, with my first, I was fragile. My second, too. We moms and those of us living in a foreign territory are vulnerable to jabs, even from well-meaning ladies who ask, “Isn’t your baby cold?” with sometimes piercing eyes and stern tones. A perceived judgment from a doctor any neighbor seemed to wield every power to make me cry and shrink into my skin. It used to, anyway.

On our walkabout this morning, my neighbor raises her eyes in alarm when she sees me with baby. “Ehhhh? Is it okay to have her out?” with an implied “already??” I know how to reassure her now with the Japanese for “it’s okay; it’s a very short walk, just around the neighborhood.” The stress is on “short, little, brief”, as in “Don’t worry–I know the rules and feel my own concern.”

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At the nearby market, the fawning cashier asks how old the baby is and upon my reply, she shuts down, just after giving me a double-take, mouth in a grimace. Three weeks is not the correct answer.

It’s cool–I’m secure. I walk with shoulders back, smiling at anyone who gives me eye contact. I’m proud of getting out. I’m proud of her.

I know I’m fortifying my baby with healthy sun exposure for the benefits of vitamin-D, cap positioned softly upon her head, stroller visor pulled down all the way, even a parasol. She is nursing so frequently; dehydration is not an issue for our short stroll. I also know my needs. We need out of the house sometimes! Some perspective! Some sun and the good of walking again.

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Thing is, mothering can shake our confidence so much so that one comment from another person who may or may not be speaking with experience or any authority may contribute to the fall of what little authority we may feel. A new mom can feel quite weepy inside.

Add the dynamic of being outside of one’s home culture? Eesh. Whatever we thought we were good at before may not even be relevant anymore in a different setting. Without language, too, we can feel like dopes. Or maybe we look reckless.

I’ve shocked, surprised, concerned the entire area with the fact that I bicycled while pregnant. I have been told on and talked about. I’ve defensively lifted my chin a bit too much sometimes, wanting to show that despite my lack of fitting in, despite my lack of language, I have my education and my own mother’s advice. Mommying in another culture can shift more than your body. It’s a journey, truly, of the emotions and the mind. Sometimes all of that gets mangled and tangled as we try to find our place and the things we’re good at in this new role.

I’ve wanted to scream just how okay, even celebrated, prenatal fitness is in my culture, throw a tantrum and hand them a map, give them a Dr. Sears book or one of the many articles that come out of Harvard Ed. I’ve wanted to lecture others about the things my country does (and sometimes does better, dare I say). Yep, I’ve gone elite and rude in my mind. I’ve absolutely had to fight the urge to rant back to nosey older women that there is more than one way to do things. (It’d be in English, anyway, or terrible Japanese). There is a whole world out there with totally safe, but different ways of moving through pregnancy and parenting. There is a bigger world-picture full of moms who can absolutely be trusted to know when their child is okay to be out, not too hot and not too cold.

I suppose that for my first two babes born here and all the subsequent days, I harbored anger. I wanted to everyone to just “get it” and recognize the background, the thought, the cultural perspective I brought. That doesn’t just happen. I had to change, at least to be more at peace for myself and my family. Little by little, I also built relationships with other parents. This is probably the best thing we can do, for our families, our kids, and ourselves. IMG_3854

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I compromise, too. I make room to incorporate the bevy of wise advice and wonderful treats found here (longer stays in hospitals and birth houses here; granting more independence to children; introducing different first foods to babies on a different schedule) thanking and appreciating others for their input; assuming first that they come with love instead of judgment, etc.

I have a bigger toolkit now, a broader palette—one that incorporates and understands two worlds. Sure there may be tough moments, but I’m grateful for the confidence that generally beams where insecurity used to slump. The questioning, negative comments, and glances I more easily shrug off.

I know I’m a good mom now more than ever, perhaps. My voice, my choices and the cultural decisions I weave into our life bring about confidence. I stand on the firm rocks of who we are as a family, who I am as a mom and woman, the confidence of two cultures who will catch me and gird me up. Maybe they’re also two worlds which laugh as I try to figure it all out.

~~~

Oh, heya–did you catch my post on Roasted’s Traveling With Toddlers series?

Here it is! There’s also Kenya, Colombia, Bali, China,…great for any of us who wonder about life around the globe as a curious traveler or expat.

kids tower

 

For Nine Months I Counted

I waited, hinged on the swiveling seat that holds me up to the light. Light that is steady, light that reflects from the pool in my belly. In my womb where she lays, sways, moves to the heartbeat of hiccups and every rhythm called the collective “us”.

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For nine months I wondered on calculators, figured on fingers and made plans on the assumption she’d arrive early. It was a lot like knowing I’d have to pick up a relative or best friend from the airport on some nebulous, far-off day, but not having enough information.  Sure I’d have enough gas; I’d have the house clean enough and an extra bottle of water poised in the cupholder, but the wondering was enough to stir up concern. Who can live this way?

Nine months of steady waiting and holding my tummy up to the light of ultrasound wands. When to stop working and when to return. When to pack a bag and when it was enough with the bike, already. One last month of pants barely fitting, of laying down after chugging streams of water, cupfuls of deep inhales and peaceful exhales. Of heartburn and steady contractions that kicked the wind out of my sails.

Forty-five minutes went the average cab ride. But maybe it wouldn’t be enough time. My other two came so fast. This time I needed time. Next week and the next and even the doc was a bit nervous. “Just get here when you feel anything different. We’re always waiting for you.”

And then. And then, after all the figuring. After dreams involving math and SATS. After fearful dreams of oceans and trying to reach, trying to even see my kids, and waking, lost in the grief from three AM dreams, forty-weeks was upon us. I got good at expanding breath, of stretching out deep exhales to the slow count of eight.

After all that figuring and waiting and wrestling in the deep, our daughter came on the very due date she was assigned. Out of all those calendar days. All those Sundays and Wednesday mornings and days my husband was in Korea. She came and I knew just when to say, “We better get the cab” and “Holy oh my goodness, this is real.” Then a string of “Holy sh–.”

A thirty-five-minute cab ride. Five minutes-apart-contractions that squeezed my husband’s hand and made me absolutely consider naming our girl after the cabbie when he ran a yellow light. Just twelve minutes from getting out of the cab, my voice laced with expletives—twelve minutes divided by how hard it took to walk those steps and get to the room to give birth. That’s all it took. But pain and faith are not measured in minutes. More like centimeters and breaths. More cuss words and prayers. Eyes of faith and knees that shake.

And I couldn’t stand anymore, thought I would faint. And it was so fast, so fast and intense. Twelve minutes from reeling outside of the cab to you. You in my arms as if timed and paced and fully realized. You in my arms. You on my chest. Done. Here. All of it real. As real as any math. As solid as a beam of light reflected off of water and blinking like a beacon, a message in the night.

Believe in goodness. Believe in the timing that is right. In the grandness of design that    G-d, Himself, has birthed. In every bolt of magic in holding our child’s sweet, soft hand. Especially for those first hundred times.

IMG_3052IMG_3113IMG_2817IMG_2702Maybe it’s also okay to wait. Maybe it’s good to stay on your toes and prepare to remember all that you do not know but hope to remember. And all you really can cling to, all that has grown up in your very bones.

Twelve minutes. Forty weeks. The short and the fast. Every bit of it worth the wait.

Ways to Wait For Baby, A Lazy Version

Besides tracking contractions with the hawk-eye of a track coach, finger utterly poised on the button of a stopwatch, there isn’t a terrible lot one rotund, pregnant chica can do. Sure, there is going for the occasional walk and wishing Tums worked a little more, but there isn’t so much a very pregnant woman can do. Sure, some of my most endeavorous friends went to the gym up until major contractions began. Sure, some of them powerwalked, enrolled in prenatal yoga, cut out all caffeine and sugar. Some meditated through so many sessions of birth affirmations, they could watercolor the phrases in their sleep. Mostly, none of those are me. Instead, I wake up nightly for 58 pees. I eat cereal and scroll through an hour of Instagram while, through contractions, I breathe.

Here are some of the other, very academic, very holistic things I do. Ahem.

Lay down a lot, like a lot a lot. Watch so much TV. Get into new Gordon Ramsey shows, like Hotel Hell. Think that while each program’s family members are riddled with issues and this cannot be so beneficial for baby or for setting the mood for a Hypnobirthing-style labor, the resolution is always satisfying and full of healing.

Take off polish and repaint nails. She may come tonight or tomorrow and never again, at least for two years, will you have the opportunity to create smooth, smudge-free nails. Keep painting. (So far I’ve painted and repainted nails three times this week and it’s Thursday).

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Do the girly stuff. Do every kind of home-grooming task now, because again, you will be a nursing, milking, sleepy machine with zero grooming points to speak of soon enough. (Two days ago, I covered my roots with an at-home kit, painted nails, scrubbed feet (somehow I could somehow see part of the feet), shaved bikini area blindly (again, zero visibility beneath or around my hulking baby belly). In that same stretch of time, I shaved legs, bleached my arms (yes, see this article in Lilith Magazine that I wrote on the subject ). Oh, and brows. I also cleaned my rings and flossed my teeth.

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Watch more TV, totally dependent on it for background noise and a motivating distracting force when dealing with contractions, washing dishes, or waiting for your roots to be buried in a smelly film of dye. You can get through whole seasons like this. I am, by the way, hooked on The Mindy Project. It is probably no small coincidence that the main characters all work at an OBGYN office. Maybe this show is beneficial to me and bebe?!

Eat eat eat and then, eat.

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Garden. Til some soil. Pluck off aphids and voracious caterpillars. Plant seeds and sprouts and watch them grow. See, even if you watch somewhat mindless TV, you can still be an earth mother woman, tuned into nature and good things. Then come inside, wash hands, eat and watch more of that fun Mindy Lahiri on Hulu. And the rest of Park and Rec. And another Hotel Hell.

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Track contractions and obsess. Wonder if now will be the time to think about skedaddling to the birth house. If contractions subside, think about painting nails again.

Get excited about the next OBGYN baby appointment. Wish you could go daily.

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Think about more three am cereal!

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Sing and talk to baby. Wonder about her eyes. Wonder about the incoming fatigue. Imagine her big sis and brother falling madly in love with her and wanting to kiss every soft inch of her newborn skin. Thank G-d that even through your discomfort, another life, another amazing member of your family will be born.

Track another contraction and let the loud, expansive breathing begin.

thing about babies & change

1. the thing about babies is that you don’t know how much, exactly

is gonna change,

besides, say, everything in the practical, emotional,

physical, …

 

but you don’t really know

so much like

even now on my third,

how will the labor & delivery go

how short, how long,

how much breath will i be able to pull in

between each surging contraction, each wave pulling us to

each beach

& will my focus be so much better than the last times

i birthed?

how much will i change?

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will her eyes be lighter than my eldest daughter’s

hair curly curly or straight

ahead eyes heart serious yet glimmering-

will i rest in the calm of dim lights

and how much sleep will i remember

i can go without?

how much will my heart mush to see

brothers and sisters meeting

meeting

for the first time?

 

how tired, how languid, flushed with fatigue and love will i be?

so i’m doing these things now,

a sitting, ripening plum,

halfway between industry and rest,

near-continual heartburn

to the occasional forgetting i’m even pregnant

somehow maybe only in sleep.

(who am i kidding? i’m restless and big).

 

and today we built cupcakes sanded with sugar,

read three books before 7:30, dishes soaped and put away;

today we burried 48 morning glory, nurtured and snipped spreading leaves,

and i was patient, more than before.

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we laundered, we showered,

created, & put away.

killed one harmful caterpillar

curled up in leaves like a sleeping bag;

i rescued one spider and carried him outside.

we sang lots of songs and i know we sure danced,

laughter pooling inside and out, onto the patio, out to the driveway and back.

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11. every day is the same and yet so very different

i can tell time is folding and growing our family

and stretching our long legs.

 

my memories sugar on the counter from this afternoon,

a coating that sticks to the floorboards and each uncovered little toe

like his little hairs that fell off his head and clung to his neck,

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i want to remember everything before the change and now

 

111. when i shave my legs, i wonder if it’ll be the last time before

i work so hard to see my newest babe

 

and when i apply mascara, three generous coats on dark

lashes, i wonder how long before i am doing up my eyes again

once baby comes? that is, how long before i regain momentum & the balance

to pull a straight line, a carved out time

 

altogether, me.

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i wonder each day what time line, what story we will say

when describing the moon, the errands, the metaphors

the field in which you were born

from conversation bubbling with “i love my family”,

to a small argument, perhaps, with a little speck of feeling

lonely or weightless

within the movement of infinite details and ohmy

 

goodness

infinite process

all moving towards birth

 

who really is ready and who just takes

a couple hundred deep breaths?

 

i eat three more mini cupcakes before bed

drink anything fizzy, wonder about each pull,

every sensation

and smile, try

to swing legs and hips to each side–

remember the change before and after this night.

 

remember the air, all the was done and spoken

in each room.

 

853 Things About Not Having a Car

If you live in the suburbs of South Florida and walk to the grocery store, you’re kind of a weirdo, standing on the swale of the road, while everyone gapes behind their sunglasses and steering wheel. You look like you’ve hit hardest of times and you might in fact, actually get hit. Not every place is Portland or a woodsy Vermont town. Not every place has a safe sidewalk you should be on past 7 pm.

If you want to be in a position to ditch the car, you ought to move yourself to a city, preferably New York, for the transit system. You’ve really got to either ride a skateboard, live in The Big Apple, or move to Tokyo (especially if you want a clean train).

Only then will it not be weird that you cart carrots home in bushels, underhand, or fill double bike baskets all day long. Here, you can walk. You can take Tokyo’s gazillion on-time, clean, and quiet trains, walk to any of 2,210 train stations (no joke, and this doesn’t include or account for the shinkansen. Go ahead and say “adios” or “sayonara” to the idea of a car. You’ll also be saying “tata” to insurance, to papers, to a loan or lease hanging overhead, and you won’t be weird. You’ll be on-time and in shape. You can put that gas money towards new shoes.

Okay, you’ll get wet sometimes, and snowed on, but you’ll have cheap transport and a clear connection to the climate and people. Mostly, you’ll love it.

You’ll become a “City Person”.

Here is a partial list of why living the “no car life” is cool:

The air becomes so delish with blossoming flowers, you can’t stop inhaling. Air. (Take now, April in Tokyo. It is the freshest, the time before summer sweat, all the air before mosquitos. It is the month of sakura and new beginnings, cute kids walking towards their beginning of a new school year. Or September when these itty flowers the color of goldenrod, called

Air. Take now, for instance, April in Tokyo. It is the freshest, the time before summer sweat, all the air before mosquitos. It is the month of sakura and new beginnings, cute kids walking towards the beginning of a new school year. Or September when these itty flowers the color of goldenrod, called kinmokusei, make you want to chew the air and grow your own fields of the stuff. It’s elysium. Think of all that oxygen.

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You can see your neighbors, actually know them more. Without a windshield of glass and a personal sound system, there is no limit to how deeply you may view and interact with your world. It’s like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but without chrome. Just the pedals, baby. I practice real face-to-face interaction that much more with our kiddos.

We know so many more neighbors without the bubble of a car. We know the old, the young, the shopkeepers, the new moms, and recognize the dry cleaners on their way home from errands. We know so many of the people who make our part of the city feel smaller. It’s connectivity.

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Beyond the “Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood” fuzzies, you can cry or curse and no one really hears you. Or maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe keep that drama for the car.

Everywhere is your gym and nowhere is the cost. Simply by roving from point a to point b, you are more in shape. No gimmicks, just movement. You will become adept at biking while holding an umbrella or pedaling through flashes of rain or even sleet. You will be your own version of Iron Man.

In this city, if you’re not on your own wheels, you’re on a train track and that has its own advantages. Train people get so much more done. It’s like having the time-equivalent of a finished basement. It’s not cheating, but you have so much more room to do things. Learn a new language, write fifteen poems, braid lanyard key fobs, again! Sleep. Zone out. Nurse your baby. Whatever. No stress of finding a parking spot or making that light; your conductor has got it under control. Just get off at the right stop.

Plus, did you know that you can drink beer on the train in Japan? Or sake, whatever. You can get smashed if you want. No one is driving drunk. They’re all asleep on the train, leaning on you, and hopefully not getting sick. Every single day and each glittering night can be a party. You’ve got the train.

Okay, that’s it for now. I realize I haven’t come near my 853 Things, but I’ve scratched the surface.

PS My kids are home with me today because I just can’t fathom getting us to their school via bike or puddle-laden walk in the torrential rain that is ALL DAY. For good or bad, there’s that–something called weather. Sometimes, and this may be the one drawback, city people have to sit one out.

How about you? Do you wish for simpler time or schedule without the expense of a car? Wish your city was safe for biking? Or would you continue driving and paying for the parking required in a big city?