Category Archives: My Life


One of the many monumental challenges that moving to Hawaii poses: I will have to drive. Our house is in the middle of nowhere. Even fetching an egg will mean getting in the car and driving. The closest store, imaginatively called “Da Store”, is three miles away and the only fresh produce they have is wilted lettuce.

I will have to drive. I have a license, but since I left the States 30 years ago and gave my 1974 Super Beetle to my mom, I haven’t driven. Not really. I hate driving and I suck at it. I did drive for a few minutes in the Florida Everglades 25 years ago, but as I approached, crocodiles ran in all directions, screaming in terror. My driving skills, never worth sneezing at in the first place, are rather rusty.

Having a car in Tokyo is really more of a liability than an asset, so I’ve always been a bicycle gal. My bicycle, though, is as old and rusty as Methuselah. It’s not worth the price of shipping it, so the trash people came today to take it away. We came back from lunch today and it was gone. It made me sadder than I expected.

earthquake tree

I’m trying to make the transition to car life. We’ve been casually shopping for cars, meaning looking at other people’s cars as we walk around. Honestly, I’d be afraid to drive anything bigger than a Tonka truck, so when we found this one, we both fell in love.

Daihatsu Canbus

It’s a Daihatsu Canbus and just as cute as a baby bunny wrapped in a pink blanket eating marshmallows while being cuddled by a koala. I mean, this sweet little guy is actually smiling. It doesn’t matter that he’s a roller skate with a box on it and powered by a sewing machine that tops out at 60 mph. That’s just my speed.

Unfortunately, it turns out that these tiny Matchbox cars are not up to US crash test standards and therefore unavailable in the States. I have the option of self-importing, but that would be a mistake for several reasons: 1) it would be expensive, 2) the car would be an orphan, unable to have his cogs and switches replaced without significant trouble, and 3) he would get stolen within minutes because everyone would be so terribly jealous that I had the cutest car in the universe.

So I’ve come up with a solution. I’m sure Tonka trucks do come up to American safety standards, so I am going to get myself a pair of Tonka dump trucks, lash them to my feet, and use them as roller skates to get around the island. That’s a sensible solution, no?

Tonka truck


                                    Who, me?

I woke up this morning to discover that she’d done it again, this time at the foot of the futon. So as we set about all the requisite scrubbing, I remembered how painful it was nursing Plato through his final days. A wave of such unfathomable grief washed over me that I could barely breathe.

The thing is, I loved him completely and he adored me. I don’t love Twitchy yet. I don’t even like her much. But she’s not merchandise. We can’t return her. We made a commitment to her and all that entails. Still, the thought of having to cope with such an unpleasant behavior was too much. I had to sit down. I had to sob. The feeling has stayed with me all day, but I recognize that it is grief, not despair.

I’ve been impressed and rather moved by all I’ve seen written about Robin Williams in the past few days. He seems to have touched so many lives. Or maybe his death is hard to accept because he was all about humor. How could someone who brought such laughter to so many have been unable to find any hope in his own life? I can only guess, but it seems like that is the curse of depression. In his case, he could make other people laugh, and could probably laugh at other people, but he couldn’t laugh at himself.

As sad as I am in my unending grief, I still have hope. If I have to clean up cat pee every morning for a while, I guess that’s something I can cope with. I will remind myself that she isn’t doing it out of spite and I will continue to hope that she gets over whatever is bothering her.

On the plus side, just before we left for lunch, she plopped herself down on the floor and let me pet her, and it wasn’t just a touch on the shoulders. I petted her whole back, scratched he cheeks, stroked her forehead. The bud of hope blossomed in my chest. For that kind of reward, I can put up with a lot of pee.

Three Months, Baby

The Evil Nico-demon (If he reminds you of a pile of poo, then I drew him well.)

I guess it doesn’t sound like much, especially compared to how long I smoked, but it is a quarter of a year, and that feels significant.

I had no idea this was going to be so hard, not just breaking the addiction, which will probably never go away completely, but also the violent mood swings, the chemical warfare being waged in my brain as it tries to cope with its waning desire for poison, my lungs finally beginning to heal, the unsettling calm that comes from not having to go outside to smoke, the sense of shame for having exposed everyone, including myself, to a filthy habit for so many years.

Along this journey I have learned one vitally important lesson. Smoking is not cool. I have not made a sacrifice. I have not given up something good. Instead, I am finally free of a form of slavery that was destroying my life, my health and my bank account. Every time I feel an urge or get a craving, I remind myself of that.  I look better, I smell better, sometimes I even feel better. I am free at last.

Souvenir for Twitchy

Going through security at Fukuoka airport this morning, my carry-on set off an alarm. I wasn’t alarmed; I knew there was nothing untoward in it. But they sent it through the x-ray machine again. And again. And then took it off to the secret place they take bags that have been naughty.

A minute or so later they came back looking sheepish and handed it to me with apologies. PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAI suppose they saw the mysterious bundle of twigs and wondered if they were detonators. Opening my bag, they would have seen them clearly marked “matatabi”, which is a type of tree bark that has the same effect as catnip. As far as I know, it is not particularly combustible and has very little street value.

Good Cat, Bad Cat

Good cat has a healthy appetite and uses the litter pan.

Bad cat shattered the alabaster vase we got in Egypt and hides on top of the fridge where we can only see the tips of her ears.

She doesn’t know, yet, that she’s safe here. She’s still rather skittish, so we have decided to call her Twitchy until we get to know her better and come up with an adequately beautiful name.


Fuku-Kitty II

She’s here!

So far she’s hidden next to the fridge, on the floor behind the curtain, on the windowsill behind the curtain and on the windowsill behind the fridge, sneaky little bugger, but my word, she’s beautiful. I haven’t taken a picture yet because I don’t want to frighten her with the flash, but you can see hints of Abyssinian, tabby and calico in her. Plus she’s wearing mascara and brown eye liner and has Dana’s white tuxedo shirt and fingers. I am humbled, as I am before great art.

On the other hand, it hadn’t really dawned on me exactly what we’ve taken on. No doubt her parents were domestic, but their people are most likely gone, and Kitty was born feral. She’s only been an inside cat since March. She had already been adopted once but was returned; the people were older and couldn’t deal with her running around all night. For the time being, at least, we can keep her locked in the living room/kitchen where she can tear around all night if she wants and we won’t hear it. I’ve already forgiven her for whatever damage she causes.

Volunteer lady said again and again that we can return her if we can’t handle her, but I have already promised both myself and the universe to love her, and I feel as strongly about that as I do about never smoking again.

As Maria sings so beautifully in The Sound of Music, I have confidence in me. Let the games begin.

The Battle Continues

The Evil Nicodemon lunges at us with his nasty pitchfork, artfully finding the tenderest bits where he can poke and jab. I draw my trusty saber and fence him into a corner where I plunge the shiny blade deep into his foul heart and laugh maniacally as he bleeds green slime all over the floor.

This is how we look.

ernie and bert healthyThis is how we feel, except for Ernie’s cigarette.

Ernie and BertComing up on two months, time has never moved so slowly.

The Mammomat

I had an appointment with the Mammomat today. If you haven’t heard of  it, it’s a new type of vending machine where you drop a 100yen coin in a slot and a little door opens revealing a boob-shaped cookie.

Nah, it actually is just what it sounds like, but such a thing wouldn’t surprise me. Japan does come up with some pretty weird inventions and even weirder names for them. The irony here is the thing is made by Siemens USA, so the silly name can’t be blamed on Japan this time.

While these appointments are uncomfortable, they’re not actually painful. The technician’s hands are warm and she’s very gentle. Plus that’s the most anybody but me has touched  my boobs since she did them last year, so it was kind of nice.

The doc says everything is still hunky-dory, so feeling pretty good, I popped into the Baskin-Robbins across the street, where the girl behind the counter offered me a taste of something that was entirely the wrong shades of pink and green.

“What is it?” Aren’t they supposed to wait until you tell them what you want to taste?

“Macaroon Macaroon.”

“Yeech! Uh…I mean…no thanks. Can I try the Burgundy Cherry instead?” It was a much more appropriate shade of pink, and tasty too.

So having done my part for the pink ribbon, I rewarded myself with a pink spoon.


The Tale of the Little Green Monster

I’ve never met most of the people who read this blog, so you can’t know this about me, but I was a heavy smoker for more than thirty years, Rochi even longer, both of us for our entire adult lives. I’ve always been careful not to mention smoking here, fearing people would think less of me because of it. (Yes, I’m that much of a weenie.) Add that to the lengthy list of reasons to quit.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAAnd quit we did, just over a month ago. I have a lot to say about that but it may take some time before I’m ready. The little green monster who lives behind my left ear still jabs my brain with his pointy pitchfork every now and then, giving me a “Ka-Pow!” moment. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and send out thoughts of gratitude for dopamine replacement therapy.

Wish me luck. Or better yet, wish me strength.

Weary, Bleary, Teary

Coming up on the 14th hour in the studio, I glance through my calendar and realize I haven’t had a day off in the past 12. I guess that explains my foggy head.

Yes, I am at work…still. There are barely a dozen English lines in the video, but I have to be here and I have to stay until the bitter end, while every tiny detail gets discussed into oblivion, and all I really want to do is curl up in a corner and snivel.

I hit the energy wall a couple of hours ago and we had nothing nothing left to snack on but sembei, so I trotted over to the convenience store and cleaned them out of chocolate, then downed an entire Snickers bar in three bites, something I haven’t done since high school. A sampling of other treats followed along with a sprinkling of potato chips for good measure, all topped off with a cup of tepid coffee.

The cast and crew descended on the delectable trove with gusto and gratitude, but I dread what will happen when we come out of our diabetic trance. Perhaps the studio staff will arrive in the morning and find us strewn about the floor semiconscious, arms and legs splayed at awkward angles, eyes bloodshot, hair disheveled, puddles of drool adorning the cool, concrete floor.

Or not. Perhaps we will, as we always do, take a deep breath and persevere. It’s not like we can re-schedule. The number of people involved and the cost make that impossible. The thing that’s hard, though, is that they never ask. Everyone just assues you’ll stay until it’s done, regardless of whatever other commitments you might have. It’s very Japanese; we’re all in this together and complaining about it won’t make it any easier for anyone. In many ways, its a very sensible attitude.

So I will try to contain my temper and continue to chant my mantra:

I am grateful for the work. I am grateful for the work. I am grateful for the work.

I’ll  be a lot more grateful, though, once I’ve finally had a chance to wash my hair. I’ll bet everyone else would be grateful for that, too. And would it be so bad if I crept off and had a good cry? A couple of heaving sobs, at least?