The Blur Behinddddd

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I love you on the train,

your eyes roving, flicking with equal interest

flirt and tired.

Eyes that speak: touch me, feed me.

Eyes alight.

Bags rumple

crunkling

as she readies to get out.

A “people person”, not yet shy,

you

catch their eyes

in your big smile, cheeks widening,

pluming

Eyelashes that flutter.

You know how to get people to see your very soul.

Smile, as I touch your hand.

You, sweet, are the sounding train, bright light trekking

wordlessly, even, into all you will do.

I jotted this down on the Yamanote line 山手線 recently, with my boy.

The Yamanote is a huge train loop, 34.5 km, connecting most of Tokyo’s major centers & stops. We are train people, here in this metropolis. Our stroller is the car, on and off trains, up and down hills with shopping bags pinched on to handle bars. Besides swiping our train passes, we sure do walk a lot.  

Incidentally, I was riding this very line when my water broke the first time around with my daughter. A very excited & incredulous me walked off at my stop(at 36 weeks), to go pack my bags at the house, eat a quick something while waiting for my hub, & climb into the cab that would take us to our birth house (also along the Yamanote line). 

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Inspiring Blog 1 while I Try an Epic Cleanup & Figure Out Thanksgivingukkah

Just a quick little referral to this neat blog, Cranes and Clovers, created by three sisters.

Totally bilingual. Just choose English or Japanese. Really speaks to living across two continents, two worlds, raising kids and ideas, with some fashion & food sprinkled in.

I’m gonna be a busy bee this week and beyond, as Hanukkah and Thanksgiving get ready to literally collide and give us one big mashup holiday of Pilgrims, Macabees, latkes and garlic smashed potatoes. (The world has aptly titled this not for another 70,000 years phenomena as Thanksgivingukkah).

(When you live abroad, hosting Thanksgiving can feel both like a joy and a great civic duty, like installing voting booths or teaching literacy. Hosting or even talking about Hanukkah also carries its own joys & sense of responsibility, particularly when you may be the first Jew your guest has ever met. Seriously). Dunno why this is in parenthesis; it deserves its own paragraph.

I’m here and in between my assessing essays, gathering info for our guide book, transcribing an author interview, teaching,

nursing, changing diapers, walking dogs, cleaning out the crazy laundry heap that is our room,

figuring out dinner,

figuring out the holidays & baking pies,

I may post itty bitty notes about people doing neat things on blogs.

Have a really fabulously great one.

I’ll leave you with some pics of my boy trying out pancakes for the first time.

I’m off for my day called Extravaganza Cleaning, otherwise known as:

Epic-don’t-get-sidetracked-but-crank-some-Beastie-Boys-while-you-clean-even-if-only-for-an-hour-or-6 (even though you’ll have to wear Mr. Fat Baby in the carrier & further injure your shoulders to get anything done)-Day

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Peace.

A Little Eyeliner Can Cross the Line

It was so easy, a smooth soft rimming of kohl along her upper eyelid, then a winging out. It was so fun to cross that line, to sail past that light blinking yellow. Unchecked. So easy to continue with momentum.

It was the easiest to go from natural makeup for our daughter’s special Japanese ceremony pictures to full-blown dramatic. Five minutes into my first dream-session with my daughter and some sharpened liner, I sailed through that light, scribbled over that line. You know, the boundary of Respect Thine Three Year Old Daughter’s Young, Unmade Face. Teach her to splash in puddles, be strong on the hanging bars, build up her inner confidence. Thou Shalt Not Be a Mom Competing With Your Toddler for a Crown. Don’t even look like it, either of you. Be careful of sequins across the seat of jeans, even. These are troubling times.

The thing is, it was so fun. I have a daughter who is both Japanese and American Caucasian/Jewish. Her eyes are so different than mine, though I see traces of a little me in there, too. They are gorgeous. Artistically, I’d been wanting to trace that line, study the form since she appeared and was mine. Plus, my curiosity had been building since I’d even started dating my husband. If we have kids, they will beautiful, no doubt, and I wonder how Japanese their features will look? It is an exciting thing, genetics–wondering how God will use the best of each of you to create this totally new being. It’s a little crazy, even.

So artistic, she painted the frame

So artistic, she painted the frame

All this to say, I’d held-out this long, wanting to trace her eyes, get to know her sweet eyelids in the way only makeup can. It was as dizzying a prospect as an artist’s first stroke, first curved lines of a subject he truly loves. That watercolor on paper can help you see that still-life a little clearer, better, a study of line and shape. Structure.

With a little wardrobe help, she could have been an Olympic figure skater or a snow queen from the Mariinsky’s Nutcracker. It was a bit shocking, but still, I was proud–proud as her mother, proud as a newly-realized makeup artist, unleashed. I could be employed to paint on stage makeup. Of course, we chatted as I held the bronzer’s little mirror up to her. Words like, “This would not be every day and can you imagine how dreadful that would be to put on this gunk everyday?” No, this was a one and only special occasion and we were just having fun. She is way more beautiful natural, without it. But still, it was all exciting. (Looking back, I can remember her swinging her little legs on the stool, saying she didn’t look like herself. Eeek).

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We elegantly scrambled upstairs to show her daddy. I felt valiant, my heart beating to the beat of “The Nutcracker’s Waltz of the Snowflakes“. He looked at her. He looked at me. No real smile. “I wish we would have talked about this first.” I felt crushed, deflated.

“Oh, we were just playing around,” though I wanted to add, “Other moms are putting on makeup for this day, too, this shichi-go-san. Some even will apply red lipstick.” I felt a bit superior, since I had only dotted her bottom lip with the palest bronzy-pink.

He was right, though. “We are taking her out, she will be on display.” This was just the situation we wanted to avoid—everyone calling out, “Cute! Beautiful! Kawaiiiii!” We don’t want her to feel her worth in her level of cuteness or how much attention it garners. Sigh. Although, I could argue, it doesn’t take much to hear every neighbor marvel after my girl, dropping the, “Kawaii! So cute!” Just a little pink jacket and another matching accessory, Or an urban walk with our little doxies. Everything, it seems, can win you a, “Kawaiiii!” Be that as it may, in our home, we make our own choices. Cutesy culture or not, we are her parents. We choose to stay in our lines or not, honoring her and protecting childhood, even from me and my new lease on art.

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Time to take it off, or at least the dramatic part. Before leaving, I brought up my mini makeup remover and some tissue. I rolled that purple plastic bottle in my hands, then shook it, the oil mixing into to the more watery solution. It was like that little wave simulator in science class. And like that, my three year old had her fist lesson in removing makeup, taking off that which gets in the way of her natural beauty, in her being a mere, exquisite girl of three. In the end, none of the gunk remained, but a mere shadowing her eyes, what I couldn’t take off standing outside of her Jijji & Baba’s house. A little raccoon, but our girl.

I’ll just be looking forward to doing her up for prom, if not a ballet recital.

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How about you? When did you first want to put on makeup as a child or teen? When were you allowed to leave the house with it on? Any great stories?

How ’bout with kids? Did you change your policy ever because you got caught up in a costume or pics or something? 

Things that Clog

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Last night, in order to counter the burning smell

of my croissant in the toaster because of all of these little crumbs

that need to be emptied out, 

I opened the kitchen window. 

 

I let in one of those mosquito/daddylongleg combos,

with a leg-span the width of my hand. 

 

I swat at him until he fled to a corner underneath my stove. 

Then I squeezed in my dishtowel and I got the sucker out. 

With a yell, I threw the whole towel into the already crowded sink

and turned on the water. 

I flushed that guy out.

But I wasn’t absolutely sure, and I didn’t want to unfold the towel or any such nonsense. 

And so, that towel has been sitting there even while I do dishes,

clogging

everything

up. 

Gross. 

And so, I am working on that sink now, and everything that is clogging stuff up. 

Maybe this is another moment of growing up. 

Emptying the toaster, cleaning crap up. 

 

Making sure you finish what you start and for goodness sake, make sure the squeeter is dead. 

 

A Nest, Part 3

This is a little running post I’ve been writing on the subject of…nests, people. 😉

A nest is to fill.

There is a little more in that nest today–it is a gathering up of what is sent to you on the wings of a strong wind and with pollen, with all forms of seed. It was sent your way. A little like the Keats’ story of Jenny’s Hat. Those birds just came down and laid upon her plain Jane hat all the garnish of fancy. Bows, vintage Valentines, paper swans.

Even the very chicks, a crown at the top, singing, “Make way.”

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One of the fabulous pages from Ezra Jack Keat’s Jenny’s Hat story

This is some nest. This is the heart of a girl, of a mother, realised. All a family might need in the first six weeks.

And we all know, down deep, it is not the babes who need so much stuff. My gosh, even their food is chewed by us, first. We just need to feel there is some wealth. There is order and a sweet little shelf. The presence of wood, transcendent; the squeak of straw, age-old classics like a rocking chair, and those Russian matryoshka nesting dolls. (The five toys you might save from the proverbial fire). That old Velveteen Rabbit copy from when you were five. This show and tell from your own dissolved, scattered nest, to pass down, its weathered, loppy ears finally alive, useful.

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And it’s really just the platform and the boundary between earth and sky, sidewalk and sun; the holding up of family, a signature crest up high, on beams. The numbers your friends will pen on their envelopes and packages, so that vellum announcements and paper airplanes can find you. A gathering. A quarry. A place to sing for meals and say, “sorry”. A refrigerator and a tool shelf. An alabaster knit sweater which will fit your entire family.  The swelling in the chest–it is a good fit.

What does your nest mean to you? What does it hold inside?

Falling is Never Dainty

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My Cinderella-like zori for kimono wearing

 

I felt fairly glamorous

robed in my kimono

wrapped, stuffed with towels

smoothed with a creamy obi

and tied

tightly

footed with white tabi

until my fourth trip

up and down

stairs

working to get us

out of the house

and on our way,

 

when

 

I slipped

in those white tabi

and scraped and bruised my arms

the back of my left knee

and some of my baby toes.

 

Now with pins removed

belts untied

hair washed and combed out

my arm, neck, and shoulders

look like they were left behind,

rolled under a great heavy truck

and them marks

look pretty tough.

 

Not so dainty

not like in the pictures

we’ll see soon enough,

feeding ducks

strolling under

the most aged of pine.

me in the taxi, ice pack tucked

under arm.

 

I did learn some more Japanese:

subette koron da.

Gee, did I slip and fall.

 

Now I feel more the part of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in those

split toes

than a woman from Edo times.

Could also be

those little stick-on carpet pads

were not around in those days.

 

They are frickin’ scary.

 

I have “bit it” on so many steps. What are some of the fabulous wipe-outs you’ve endured? (assuming you have my “grace”) Do tell.