Friday, February 23, 2007

Universal Cosmic Protection Plan

The other day I found myself standing in a cooking class room with 8 Japanese high school boys. I was trying to look as confident and poised as possible as I instructed them in how to bake an American pound cake. (I had never baked a pound cake in my life before that moment.) Although I had to pause frequently to stare fiercely at the recipe, things went fairly smoothly. They seemed to truly enjoying baking something and while we were baking I was teaching them bits of useful English like, "teaspoon, mixer, batter, pour, measuring cup." I was the guest English speaker for the day.

I don't recall anyone's foreign born mother getting coaxed into coming to my high school to say, whip up a French crepe or reveal the secret to her amazing enchiladas. . . but when a teacher from this local high school turned up on my doorstep to invite me to come as a guest speaker for a day even his suggestion that having the kids cook something American would be fun made perfect sense to me.

I have lived in Japan for so long now that it is hard for me to extract amusing cultural differences to hand out to friends back home like little gems gathered on a foreign shore. Everything here seems normal to me now and it is only occasionally that something jars me out of myself. I suppose the flyer in the newspaper yesterday for a new restaurant that featured a bowl of miso soup with a crab perched in the middle of it was one of those moments. I mean really, who wants to eat soup that has the potential to reach up and pinch you on the nose?

But more often than not it is something in me that is more inborn, an unconscious response conditioned during my infancy/childhood/young adult days of living in America that registers a cultural difference. In the middle of baking the pound cake I experienced one of those, or actually a series of those moments. First came the flash backs--my mother baking in the kitchen while my brother and I circled her, tiny vultures waiting for the demise of the beaters so we could lick them clean. Then memories of my grade school girlfriends and me baking cookies together. . . having egg fights, eating fist fulls of cookie dough, proudly presenting our mothers with a plate of three or four surviving cookies.

But it was a stronger impulse that led me to squeak, "chotto matte, wait!" "When I saw one of the towering high school boys (Japanese men are no longer short! All over Japan the high school and junior high school boys are looking down on their male authority figures--fathers, uncles, teachers) scooping a finger full of butter, sugar and creamed raw egg up to his lips. "Salmonella!" The Japanese English teacher with whom I was co-teaching the class inquired as to what that was exactly. I just paused and waved the boy on-- "Sorry.Go ahead."

While America has become super conscious to the risks of contracting salmonella from raw eggs in Japan raw eggs are still an accepted part of the National diet. Many dishes arrive on a diner's plate with a spectacular raw egg floating in the middle. Asking for them to leave the raw egg out has always resulted in consternation and confusion on the part of the staff. . . at least in my experience. So I have taken to deftly scooping the raw egg out on my own. I would never be so mule headed or foolhardy as to eat a raw egg.

I don't remember exactly when my mother decided that we should no longer touch raw eggs and that the act of touching, much less consuming raw egg yolk or egg white promised dire consequences for us. . . .but she imprinted it well. Should someone offer me a raw egg my response is similar to being invited to play a round of Russian roulette. RAW egg? Raw egg is dangerous. I assume my mother must have given me many detailed descriptions of what dying from salmonella would be like. I don't remember the exact warnings, but my body remembers the feeling those warnings left me with. I touch raw egg and my body tenses just like it does when I touch a loaded fire arm.

I do remember her warning about the tornado bell in Minnesota when I was three. "They found her arm on Evergreen Street and her leg on North Toledo Avenue. They never did find her head." And that was what happened to little girls who didn't heed the tornado bell and come home promptly to take cover.

My mother's method of raising strong independent children who could take on whatever life had to offer was to tell us in detail all about what life could throw at us. It used to kind of knock the wind out of my friends when they got caught in the teaching process. For example:

My thirteen year old friend and I are leaving my house on a beautiful California summer evening. We saunter down the gravel drive way, setting out on the three mile walk to the tennis courts inside the gated upper middle class foot hill community in which both our families live, tennis rackets swinging at our sides, laughing and occasionally stopping to strike absurd "tennis" poses. We stop when my mother yells for us to wait as she comes running after us stirring up a storm of chalky gravel powder in her wake. My 5 foot 4 inch mother stops in front of us, panting to tell us a cautionary tale. "Last week, just last week, 2 young girls like you were viciously beaten and raped at a tennis court." Then she cheerfully tells us to be careful and starts back up the gravel driveway, the chalky gravel dust seemingly parting to let the petite prophet of doom pass.

So, did my mother raise me to be fearless or fearful? Mostly fearful and pessimistic or at least that is how I turned out. Whose to say how much of that outcome had to do with her penchant for telling chilling tales from the real world and how much of it comes simply from my own personality? Regardless of how it was formed, mine is an outlook that is always waiting for what is not on the scene. If there is sunshine and blue skies outside the window I still check the weather channel before going out--they have radar that will show what storm clouds may be lurking out there waiting to roll in later.

An example of how this outlooks spills over into my life is: Even after getting married a decade ago I still occasionally have dreams in which my husband reveals that he has never really loved me and never will and that our 10 year courtship was all an elaborate plot/hoax just to ultimately expose me as a complete fool and laughing stock. In the nightmare he always delivers the same speech in the same flat emotionless voice except for when he turns to the woman he has his arms around (he has been talking to me over her shoulder while she has been sneering at me the whole time) and then his voice turns very warm and vibrant as they laugh together--at me.

When I wake up I am usually grumpy and short tempered with him for the whole day. Although as we are truly an old married couple now and our children are growing up I am getting a little better at reminding myself, "for the love of God, it was only a nightmare. . . "

I think I chose him (and oh yes, I did choose him. It was my intention to keep him the first time I met him) partly because he was so diametrically unlike my pessimistic mother. He took life as it came and didn't waste any time worrying about the future or the past. He was of the moment.

Our first date was in Portland, Oregon and the car broke down on Burnside--in basically the most dangerous area of the city. When we first met he was an exchange student from Yokohama, Japan at my University in Oregon. When the car broke down just as we were leaving the city it didn't seem to phase him at all. If it had phased him, even a tiny bit, I would have felt comfortable enough to begin my headless chicken dance of panic. My friends have seen the dance. I'm famous for quoting Indiana Jone's movies "We're gonna die in here!" over something as simple as missing the right freeway exit. But he didn't panic. He smiled sort of shyly about the car breaking down. He apologized. He looked incredibly cute.

We ended up walking all along Burnside, smoking as we walked and stopping frequently as the inhabitants of Burnside (mostly prostitutes and homeless men and women) would invariably, drawn by the plums of smoke, come investigate whether or not we had a cigarette to spare. He handed out almost a whole pack, smiling each time he was approached. As the night turned to dawn we finally encountered a taxi. The driver looked at us with wide eyes and told us we were in the "wrong" neighborhood and took us off to a Red Lion Hotel in a safer part of the city.

But I had found that even in the wrong place I felt safe with him. Without him I would have seen murders, drug addicts and rapist on every street corner (or better yet, hiding around the street corners out of sight), with him I was able to see who he saw, people who wanted a smoke--people who perhaps used drugs or performed sexual acts for money but people. For that night, he had managed with only his presence to help alter the filter through which I was used to interpreting my world.

Plus he had this notion that he was living a blessed life. Literally, he felt that he was under some sort of cosmic protection and that "nothing bad" would ever happen to him. If he loved me than that cosmic protection automatically extended to cover me as well.

After growing up amid body parts flung about by the wrathful winds of nature and violent rapists waiting at every tennis court. . . it was an irresistible invitation into a much more welcoming world.

So, despite language difficulties (he was really a beginning level English speaker when I met him and my Japanese was even worse) and geographic challenges we somehow managed to arrive at the state of marital bliss in 1996, just months shy of 10 years from the first day we met. Of course, by the time we were swapping vows he had become fluent in English and I could at least converse at the level of a grade-schooler in Japanese.

And those were pretty good--luck wise--years. Nothing horrible happened to either one of us. While my husband's car at one point was flattened into a tin can--he and all the passengers in his car escaped unscathed. We both flew many times, on both domestic and international flights without any kind of aviation glitches ever taking place. I don't even remember getting a bad bout of the flu until years later when my daughters started to bring it home to me! But the year 2000, having missed the boat on the millennium bug, seemed set to deliver us a message of doom none-the-less.

Life was really coming together. The evening my husband arrived back from interviewing for a new job in Japan, one that would be higher paying and give him more social status, was the same evening that my home pregnancy kit told me we were expecting baby number two! And, as he had gotten the job in Japan, the pink plus sign I showed him on the pee stick didn't even phase him . So we both spent the following three months looking forward to the future. He was enjoying telling everyone at his present workplace exactly what he thought of the board members and upper echelon administrators as he prepared to leave for the new job in Japan and I was excited about the prospect of being able to afford to buy meat again not to mention having health insurance for the whole family! And as most pregnant women do, I was reveling in the role of "mother earth".

My first pregnancy at the age of 32 while in the midst of a PhD. program had taken me completely by surprise. I had gone into the University's health center thinking I had the flu and had come out pregnant. And for some reason I had pregnancy symptoms when I was only about a week along so I spent the first month obsessing over whether or not the pregnancy would continue. The doctor had basically told me, "You're pregnant but it is so early that I wouldn't be surprised if you miscarried. Many women miscarry this early without ever realizing that they have even been pregnant." Then she sort of patted my hand, gave me pamphlets on different "choices" and told me that I should stop smoking and drinking coffee if I was going to keep the baby.

So for about a month I spent most of the time between dawn and dusk wondering how things were going on in there. Then I had an episode of spotting and light bleeding. Anxious phone calls to the Health Center told me that I should just take it easy and wait until the first trimester was up when I could go to the ob-gyn. for my first official pregnancy exam.

The rest of the pregnancy I stayed just about as tense and worried as I was those first four weeks of it. I hate that bible of pregnancy "What to Expect When you are Expecting". It is probably actually quite a good reference book for people who use it responsibly. But I was always reading in the areas I wasn't supposed to be in, "if a problem arises. . . when the baby's heart rate drops. . . " and so I spent a lot of time imagining the worst possible outcomes.

I think that first month of being pregnant but not "knowing" what was going on made me fundamentally distrust my own body. I mean, here I was, "pregnant" but I had no way of knowing what was happening in there. Was the pregnancy progressing? Was it progressing the way it should? Then the bleeding in the second month of the pregnancy really shook me up. I had just begun to settle into being "comfortable" with being pregnant and suddenly my body starts to do something that it shouldn't. I never trusted it for a second after that. It was a classic by the book pregnancy after that but I never relaxed.

So with my second pregnancy I decided to enjoy myself. I looked at my then nearly two-year-old daughter and thought, "look what you can do! You did that!" and silenced any of the doubting worrisome voices that tried to get my attention. I decided that my body was wonderful. It could grow and nurture new life. I was sickeningly in love with being pregnant.

Then, just a day shy of the end of my first trimester of pregnancy, I spotted. I debated over whether or not this merited a trip to the doctors and after ringing them was told that although it was probably nothing, as I would basically just be coming in a day early to go ahead and drop by. My husband enthusiastically offered to go with me which puzzled me at the time. Generally he was not excited by keeping our young daughter entertained in public areas. I learned later there was a rheumatology hospital located opposite the Royal Woman's Hospital where I was going and that is where he really wanted to go.

Just before I was called into the examination room, my husband mentioned that he wanted to dash across the street for a moment to get a consult on his knee. His knee had been bothering him for several months but then this was the same man who during graduate school used to poke himself in the armpit to the point of causing pain. He poked at it in the morning. He poked at it in the evening. Sure enough, no matter what time of day it was, if he poked at it hard enough it hurt. The doctor at the University Health Center all but wrote out the word "hypochondriac" on his forehead. So I had been treating this more recent "my knee hurts" episode as more of the same. While I was a bit vexed by his choice of timing, I acquiesced. So when they ended up subjecting me to numerous ultrasounds (invasive included) while my exuberant toddler raced around the examination room unconfined and stopping every few minutes to look at the blank monitor and chant in a singsong voice, "where's the baby? where's the baby? baby? baby? baby?" I was effectively, emotionally, all alone. There was no baby. My wonderful Mother Earth Temple had crumbled. I was living in the ruins, had been living in the ruins for weeks and not even known it. Silly me, doing my palace dances and singing my palace songs. If my body were anything really, it was a walking coffin.

My body was a failure. The pregnancy ended in a D & C (dilate and curate) which got me one night's stay at the hospital before I went back home and started to pack up our life in Australia and get ready for the move to Japan.

I eventually got over the miscarriage but just a year after the birth of our second daughter, my husband finally got a positive diagnosis on why his knee (and by that point his wrist, right index finger, lower back, right shoulder) was so painful. He was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. He was 40 and suddenly the universe had revoked it's cosmic protection. I only realized much later that his first symptom of RA had stood up to be accounted present at the same exact moment that the doctors had been staring at the ultrasound monitor looking at the absence of a baby. . . I guess if his universal protection policy had covered me as well then I lost my coverage along with him.

The future suddenly disappeared. Being told that the pain you are experiencing is of a chronic nature and that the disease causing it is terminal sort of wrings the last drop of optimism out of future vistas. We are probably both still in some stage of denial but for now our focus has swung completely onto the present. I have ventured on-line and googled RA only a handful of times since my husband's diagnosis and each time I have left with a new appreciation of why his doctor once told him, "best not to think about what the future may hold. If you think about all the different twists and turns that RA can take you'll become suicidal."

The present however is very helpful in keeping us awake, alert and on the scene. You can't have two children under the age of 10 in your household and NOT be living in the moment! They need orange juice, and they need it now. The smaller one (only just four-years-old at this writing) can't possibly pee without an audience and the older one (at eight years of age) still can't fall asleep at night unless you are holding her hand. Since my future has temporarily evaporated (I'm sure that we will regain it eventually. It is there, just as solid and inescapable as the past, we in our disillusion are just looking the wrong direction--when we lift up our eyes from the ground where we have been hurled it will be there, in front of us still) I have found a kind of comfort in experiencing the present, in relishing the present.

But the shift in the nature of the universe from benevolent to malevolent has led me closer to the world that I tried all those years ago to escape. I want to get those muggers and mad men out of the shadows. Realistically speaking, concern over the safety of children has increased in both Japan and the U.S. since the 1970's and 80's when I was a child growing up with the petite prophet of doom. Growing up my schools never had a color/level warning system in place for parents to alert them to the possibility of harm occurring to their children or the presence of a child predator in the area. My mother never received a phone call that told her to come gather me at the school gates because someone had sent the school a letter threatening to kill one first grader every day that week. My older daughter's school in Osaka did phone me with that message. And now in America, when I was home on a visit, my friend popped the trunk to her car and hauled out an extra pair of jeans for my daughter. We were visiting a Chuck E. Cheese's (child pizza and play area) and she advised me that it would be prudent to have my three-year-old daughter don the jeans instead of the skirt she was wearing. She explained to me that children who have been the victims of sexual preditators in turn sometimes perpetrate sexual violence on smaller children. She had a friend in child protective services who had taken her aside and warned her. Suddenly, my daughter needed to be wearing protective clothing in order to enjoy the indoor slides/climing maze.

So, yes, unfortunately we as parents need to take more precautions regarding our children's safety than parents of yore. But I don't want my children to play tennis nervously, I want them to play joyfully! And I realized that my husband's (and my) new found sense of dread was threatening to change a sunny world view into one that focused instead on all those resulting shadows the sun casts.

It wasn't a subtle realization that came to me as I sat in the park watching the girls play. It didn't come to me in a quiet moment over a cup of morning coffee in the stillness of the house that I enjoy before the girls wake up. . . No, simply put it was a few weeks ago at bedtime when my eight-year-old, with my hand firmly grasped in hers as we both snuggled down under our winter comforters (My four-year-old was already asleep on the other side of me, her little hand still resting on my tummy.) suddenly sat up and said, "Mommy?"
"Mommy. . . can you tell Daddy to stop telling me those stories?"
"What stories?"
"The ones he sees on the T.V."
"Oh." (I knew instantly what she was talking about--I had caught him telling her in detail all about a 10-year-old girl who had been killed--run over and dragged several meters by a big rig truck in Tokyo.)
"I keep having bad dreams. . . make him stop okay?"

I know why he told her that story. He didn't need to, and he shouldn't have, but I know why he did it. He did it because he is scared--of the malevolent future. When I broached the subject with him he was quick to point out the 30 minute walk to and from school she has each day--all those shopping centers that she walks past, cars going in and out, the icy roads of winter, children laughing, talking, not paying attention to traffic.

But the child who was tragically killed in Tokyo was crossing an intersection after looking both ways, the walk signal was on, she was doing everything right. It was the truck driver who came careening around a blind corner and simply swept right over her who was not doing right.

The potential dangers that he identified in our daughter's commute to school would have been better addressed in a simple traffic safety talk not in the gory details of the tragedy on the T.V. news. I grew up with a small girl's body parts littering the neighborhood because she didn't heed the tornado bell. Do I want my daughters to grow up with little girls pinned beneath the tires of every big rig on the road?

Where my husband used to quiet my general misgivings and "what if?"s he now silently absorbs them, he lets them settle and solidify there before us, and before our children. So I have suddenly learned to quiet them myself. In an odd way, losing the future temporarily has helped me really embrace and live the present. The present makes an excellent shield. Do my children need to watch the tragedy unfolding on the T.V. about the 34 year old local mother who threw her daughter off a bridge?--no, deflect it. It is also a useful sword. Can anything be gained by watching the T.V. footage of cars sliding into each other on ice coated roads? Perhaps, but the best way to illustrate the slipperiness of ice? It's the puddle frozen out back in the garden! If there are bad things waiting in the future than I'll take the opportunity now to sharpen my sword. I will not poke holes in my own armour with self-doubts, fears and general forebrooding. Nor will I weaken my children's defenses by drawing murals of modern day cautionary tales from the evening or morning news in their dreams. Instead I will teach them how to hold the sheild, how to lower it and jab with the sword. I will teach them how to spot black ice and let them practice how to fall when they do hit it.

We couldn't have ever planned for living life at the mercy of an incurable terminal immune disorder. And even if we could have, wouldn't it just have sucked all the joy and fun out of the years prior to the official diagnosis? (something I had a taste of in my child hood. . . ) Or maybe the fear of its shadowy presence solidifying would have propelled us into a head long rush into overdrive and self-destruction--neither ways of living life very appealing.

I know why he did it. My husband was scared. He is scared. I am too. Of course I feel my chest tighten, my heart contract whenever I realize that a child, a child like one of my children has been hurt, abducted, abused, killed--in accidental or criminal circumstances. But I am not going to raise potential victims. I want to raise happy, confident children who grow up into young adults who choose wisely. I want to bring up my children as safely as I can. I want them to have long and interesting childhoods. Then when they are teens, I want them to explode the world and set out to find what in it is theirs. I want them to find out how they fit into the world, what they can do here and what they can do well. Of course they will make mistakes and take risks: it is through finding out who you aren't that you often discover who you are. Failure leads to success, eventually. But I want to weight the odds in their favour. I want to increase the probablity that they will make good choices. I am a mother after all. I want them to avoid doing foolish, mule headed things like smoking a cigarrette because it will cut their appetite, drinking to get drunk, forgoing the use of a condom in the heat of the moment, or eating--God forbid--raw eggs. But the bottom line is that I want them to grow up secure enough to be optimistic--not looking fearfully into the future over what it might disclose, but eagerly looking into the future exicited to engage it, live it and make it uniquely theirs.


Sarah said...

Wow, what an amazing post. I want to respond to so many of your thoughts but that would probably end up being as long as the original post and this is your blog, not mine!

You guys met in Portland? That's where we met, too. I lived in Portland from the time I was 13 until we moved to Japan. We lived near Rocky Butte off I-205.

Also, when I was pregnant with our first child after a year of trying to get pregnant I had spotting at 9 weeks. We went to the doctor who ordered an ultrasound. As we were leaving the clinic, our doctor came running out after us (which freaked me out) and she asked us, suddenly and out of breath, "When was the last time you had sex?". I couldn't even think of the answer. The three of us just stood there for at least 10 seconds staring at each other until my brain unfroze so I could answer her. Then she said, "OK", and went back in the clinic. I read later in What To Expect When Your Expecting that sometimes sex can cause spotting during pregnancy but at the time I was totally lost!!

Emi goes to Elementary School in April and even though it is only 3 blocks away I am not sure how I'm going to handle her going out into the world alone and unsupervised. My mom always says that your firstborn (that would be me) is the one who stretches and pulls the family in new directions. Sometimes I have to do deep breathing when I think about this kind of stuff. It's good to know that I'm not alone.

coarse gold girl said...

You deserve a prize. . . if only I had one around here that didn't come out of one of those ball toy machines! You read the "whole" thing! I was really hesistant to post this one as I thought it was just too too long for anyone to bother reading it!
I love what your mother told you about first borns. I will now deep breathe while reflecting on that myself! Thanks!
Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, I didn't mention it in the essay but do you ever find yourself wondering if you are over stressing/over worrying about safety here in Japan just because it is, well a foreign country? In the states, I can take my girls through LA, Portland or Sanfrancisco (or even more impressively, FRESNO) feeling confident, I know my way around, I can "feel" and instinctively recognize safety and danger zones and situations, but here, when we were living in Osaka. . . I just never knew. . . good park? dangerous park? harmless men on lunch break? perverts on the prowl? harmless drunk? raging maniac?

Sarah said...

Yes! On one hand my husband is always telling me to calm down but then he'll get tense about other stuff that I don't see as a big deal. I worry a lot about teachers, too. Will they see in my children all the potential that I do or will they treat them weird because they're half?

It's not just me having a hard time, either. We had friends from college come to Japan to teach English with the JET program. When they got here they found out they were pregnant (after two years of trying - surprise!) and were a little nervous about having a baby here. The wife had been a nanny for five years and they had both been from large families so they felt pretty prepared to be a parents. Well, once that little girl was born they both freaked out. Even in the hospital she didn't want to put the baby in the nursery at night (which was a hospital rule) because she didn't know what they would do to the baby while she wasn't there (it's a good hospital with good reputation). Even though she was exhausted from a long labor she would stay up each night with the baby in the waiting room until a nurse came on that she felt she could trust. That fear took over everything. When the baby was 8 months old she started turning over in her sleep to sleep on her tummy. Even though the little girl was able to sit up on her own and had no other physical problems the mom was so freaked out that the baby would die while sleeping that she would wake up 2-3 times each night to check her which inevitably woke up the baby which meant she had to take an hour to rock her back to sleep. She kept this up for a month until she passed out one day from sheer exhaustion and her husband told her to cut it out. Since they moved back to the States they have calmed down a bit but their experience here has really left a mark on them.

Also, I love to read long posts so knock yourself out whenever you'd like!

coarse gold girl said...

LOL. That poor woman! I can just picture her in the maternity hospital, clutching new born baby girl and sessing out the midwives and nurses! I did that "is she still breathing?" thing with DD#1 too! Each and every time I wondered, "why did I just do that?" as I had to pick up, rock, cradle, nurse and beg DD#1 to go back to sleep. . . but I kept doing it! Have you ever read Edgar Allen Poe's short story, "The Imp of the Perverse"? something along those lines. . .

But it is so hard as an expatriate mother here. How about the first time they hand you powder and tell you to give it to your child? I am still so nervous about medicines here, even with my Japanese Health Handbook and concordance of Japanese/American medicines! Or when they want to give your baby an IV? or tell you that you shouldn't cover a new born's head or that you should plop baby into the hot ofuro just after birth? Cultural traditions and customs are difficult for any foreigner to adjust to, but it is really hard when you are trying to become a parent and parenting styles turn out to different!

Sarah said...

I took Natsuki to the doctor when she was 3 months old because she had a cold right before we were taking a trip to Canada for Christmas. Even though I've received powder medicines for my other girls they were always older so I assumed that it was normal for kids over one. When they handed me powdered medicine for Natsuki I was dumbfounded. How was I supposed to feed this to a baby who only nurses? I knew if I asked then it would make things difficult so I ended up putting it in melted ice cream and feeding it to her with a syringe. She thought it was great. Then after she took the medicine she got worse so I stopped giving it to her. What a mess that was!

My last three girls were born in Japan and I decided that at the hospital I would do whatever they told me to do with a happy smile because I knew that when I got home I could do whatever I wanted. It helped me handle all the crazy stuff that came my way including an older nurse who was helping me check out and kept telling me loudly, "NO SEX, ONE MONTH, NO SEX"! I don't know what she thought I was thinking but at the time it definitely wasn't to rush home and have sex!

coarse gold girl said...


LOL That's funny! If a nurse had screamed NO SEX at me as I was leaving the hospital I think I would have burst into hysterical laughter!

I have a friend who's husband is a Japanese doctor and when my second was given powder medicine as an infant I immediately called her and asked how I was supposed to get it in the breast fed only baby. I made it into a little paste with a drop or so of water and then stuck it on the roof of her mouth far in the back. Nearly gagged her and she DID NOT LIKE THAT, so I ended up hitting on the "ice cream" method too!

Sarah said...

Because my girls don't get sick very often and we don't have family histories of illnesses, I've only ever taken the girls to the hospital for ear infections, colds and mizuibo (warts!). I'm worried that if the girls develop something more serious that I will have conflict with how the doctor wants to treat the illness. I think they hospitalize (nyuin?) children here too much and for too long. My husband had back surgery when he was in high school and he stayed in the hospital for ONE MONTH! Half of it he spent in a bed hanging upside down. He said the whole experience was horrible. I'm hoping that this situation doesn't come up because I'll probably turn into some sort of control freak and add to the misconception that Americans in general are rude and difficult to work with. Yep. That'll be me!

Tigermama said...


I loved the post too but I`m so knackered (word from Midori..hahaha) that I just can`t articulate a cohesive thought right now. So basically this comment is of no meaning...except to say that I read your WHOLE post and thoroughly enjoyed every word. Thanks for sharing so much about yourself and your experiences! :)

coarse gold girl said...


By any chance, are you American? I am, and it's funny how I had to come to live in Japan to learn British English! Although, to be fair, my two years living in Australia helped me pick it up too! But, my friends back home just think I am so affected and weird for saying things like "knackered", "bloody", "snogs", "nappy", "singlet" etc. LOL. Here's a confession: I prefer reading Harry Potter in the British version now than in the American versions. Okay. Maybe my friends are right and I am getting a little weird.

Tigermama said...

LOL. I am actually a dual citizen of Canada and the USA but I`ve never actually lived in the US so I consider myself Canadian through and through. I definately picked up the British/Australian lingo from friends here in Japan. My LSF (lovely Scottish Friend) is so funny and has the BEST sayings. The latest being "Hashi Bashi", it means clumsy and falling all over the place. Don`t you love it?!!

"Snogs" is a great one too! :)

Diane said...

Hi Laura,
I was very moved by your posting. What an incredible writer you are! The way you tell your story sucked me right in from the first sentence--all the way to the end. I don't know why you don't write for a living!


medea said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm in awe that you have the strength to share your experience. I've hd 3 miscarriages but can't talk too much about them, although it's much easier now that Julian is here and that overwhelming fear of never having kids has abated.

I have to tell you what a hypocrite I am. I always scoop out the raw egg from my noodles and whatnot, but I have no problem eating raw cookie dough! To be honest, raw egg is a lot yummier than that half-cooked stuff they serve. Oyakodon and whatnot just grosses me out.

What To Expect When Your Expecting is scary- and so is The First Year. I need to ignore it but I can't help worrying.

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