Wednesday, June 20, 2007

8 Random Facts/Habits Meme

I've been tagged for a meme by Gina over at Life of an American Mommy in Japan (It's my first, so I hope I do this correctly.)

Here are the rules:

1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.

2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

5. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

Here goes:

1. I grew up in an area of California, so unpopulated that for fun we kids used to hang out on the road and lure and scare turkey vultures. Here's how: lie flat in the center of the road like road kill. Have your brother and his friends scattered livers/kidneys, whatever you could get off the butcher around/on you. Wait. When you get a vulture stand up and scream.

2. If my husband weren't on medication that prevents us from having more children, I probably would have had at least one more child. However, this would not have been the case if we were living in the U.S. Why? When I was pregnant with DD#2 I realized that pregnancy focuses everything inwards. All my thoughts were tilted away from external forces. My creativity, empathy, sensitivity all seemed to increase. I lived centered, on my pregnancy, on my elder daughter, on our family. This is not a bad way to exist when living in a foreign culture that often sticks out hurdles in front of you. Even hurdles over silly stupid things like reading a memo from your kid's school. Or figuring out on which day you can put out the empty tin cans for disposal. Then when you have a newborn, a one-year old and later a toddler--you are so busy! The physical momentum required to keep up with a young child propels you into each day. In a foreign country--this again, is a good thing. It is through the sheer force of parental responsibility that you find yourself hurled into social gatherings and community events.

Now, in the U.S., my native country, I wouldn't need any extra impetus to get out and involved in my community. I also wouldn't be thinking about banging my head against the wall for amusement (less daily stress). I think I would feel pretty much that I had life in hand, things under control, the lid on. Here I often feel exactly the opposite: my life is whipping away out of control, we're walking where there is no path and I often don't even know where the hell we are headed.

Being a mother is the hardest job I have ever had. It is also the most awesome. I mean, I still can't get over the fact that these fascinating, wonderful little people came OUT of me! And while I was just as scared and nervous as any other first time Mom or second time Mom for that matter--caring for your child/children, nurturing them physically and mentally and emotionally and seeing them grow and bloom--that is a confidence builder. Of course, I still maniacally purchase parenting books, fret over my mistakes (a whole 'nother post in the making), and am far, far, far from the perfect parent: but it gives me something to strive for.

I guess what I am trying to say is that being a mother is meaningful. And while I would have had access to many different areas in which to find meaning in the U.S., here in Japan I often feel a bit diminished. I am diminished when I have to use my hands to communicate at the post office. I am diminished when the water delivery man speaks to me so slowly that I nearly nod off in between words. But I have never once felt diminished in the face of my motherhood.

Also my husband comes from a large family. He has two brothers and one sister. He always wanted more than two children. As it turns out, life has dealt us a different hand and I am good as a mother of two.

3. I currently have two musical passions: Shakira and Michael Buble. If you know these two artists than you're probably snickering behind your hand thinking, "manic depressive!" Because yes, you just can't listen to Shakira without getting up and dancing! And Buble? Well, did you ever have your wisdom teeth extracted? Did they give you some Demerol? Did you feel completely relaxed and more like a liquid than a solid? Did you sort of sway and smile and close your eyes? I love listening to my daily dose of Buble.

4. I loved Disney films even before I had kids (and after I had already hit the age of 30). In graduate school I once went out and celebrated getting my student loan by buying Disney's "Aladdin" and "Robin Hood" videos. I've been in love with the fox that plays Robin Hood since I was in first grade. And did you realize that in "Sleeping Beauty" prince Phillip doesn't utter one word after Maleficent captures him? Not one. Not during the big break out scene, not during the climatic fight scene and not at the end, not even a single syllable when he is reunited with Aurora. I haven't figured out what this signifies. Or even if it is important at all--but it is interesting, isn't it?

5. I didn't get the joke behind A.A. Milne's naming the mother "Kanga" and the baby "Roo" in Winnie the Pooh until I was in graduate school. Honestly. And I wasn't even drunk or stoned or anything. I was just sitting around with friends when it came to me, "Kanga and Roo. . . Kanga and Roo. . . KANGAROO!"

6. I was an early reader. I was reading at high school level by the time that I was in second grade. Because of this, I still mispronounce some words. I say them the way that I "read" them in my mind. Like Parmesan. I say it "pare-me-sion." Or the FF button on VCRs? I call it a "forward fast" button.

7. I am not a morning person. I will never be a morning person. I hate the morning. The dawn is an affront. In college I once had a roommate who actually woke up every morning with a "smile" on her face. Honestly. A couple of times when I pulled all nighters I saw it. She'd start to move a bit, and this sickening grin would splay across her face THEN her eyes would open. Even when the first thing she saw was hyped on too much coffee, chewing roasted coffee beans, chain smoking, sleep deprived ME glaring at her she'd smile and chirp, "Good Morning!" I recall asking her to help me get to my morning lectures by making sure that I went to the showers when she did. She'd get up, wake me up and I'd mumble something about "meet you in the showers in a sec" and then I'd stump over to the door, lock it and go back to bed. And she STILL was sweet, even when she had to get the RA to let her back into the room as she was only wearing a towel.

8. I love to sleep. I LOVE to sleep. I love everything associated with sleep. I like comfy p.j.'s and high thread count sheets. I like aromatherapy and soft music. Enya is a good one. I especially enjoy: waking up and then going back to sleep. Even when I am not sick or exhausted, if I can, I love to just sleep. My mother used to get so angry at me when I would come home from university on break and sleep--all day. My Japanese Mother-in-law was horrified to learn that I will happily sleep until my children absolutely demand that I wake up. I remember the look on all my in-laws faces when I woke up at about 10:30 a.m. once when we were down at my parents-in-law place. In Japan mothers/wives and especially daughter-in-laws should be fully dressed (including makeup) have the laundry washed and hung out, the butsudan attended to (family shrine) and breakfast well underway by the time the sun rises. Or at least, that is how the women in my husband's family are. My own mother, bless her heart, often wore her night gown until noon. And still does I think. She still drinks a cup of coffee or tea in the morning that she doesn't actually finish until just before mid day. I remember being trained not to interrupt mother's morning "ritual." Now that I am a mother I have to admit she was good. I mean, my mother's morning ritual took up the entire a.m. Maybe she inadvertently influenced my attitude towards getting out of bed, which condensed down to one word is: Why? Right now it is June in Japan and the rainy season is coming. I LOVE the rain. The pitter patter is soothing. The clouds keep that sun at bay and mornings are soft and sleepy.

I am tagging Claire over at Sakura Family

Vicky over at Hyotenka

Lily over at Cafe Yamashita

Trisha over at Mommy Colored Glasses

& finally

Christine over at Wedding Countdown

It's not eight, but that's as many as I can do--too many others are "out of country" reconnecting with family back home!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Crumbs of Creativity

So, what do you do when you have writer's block?

Sometimes life becomes so predictable that it lulls me into a kind of mental slumber. I've been hard at work trying to be a better parent by keeping my kids on a stricter daily schedule. The scheduling seems to have succeeded in squelching my creativity nearly completely. Here's the most creative thing I've done recently:

The other day I was at the park, unofficially supervising my 4 and a half year old playing with her spirited neighborhood four-year-old friend (it has to be unofficial supervision or the girls demand that I play with them. Or they try to escape from my line of view.) On such occasions I tote along a large mug of ice coffee and a book. Then I sit on a park bench and then, I eventually lay down on the park bench (stomach down) which always causes every single child in the park to stop what they are doing and laugh and point at me. "Ha ha ha Miss 4 1/2's mother is laying down!"

I have this vague idea that mothers aren't generally supposed to relax or take it easy here in Japan. Based on observations conducted at my in-laws dwellings the women/mothers must be in perpetual motion--cooking, cleaning, washing, hanging up laundry, bringing in laundry, dusting, vacuuming, sewing, folding laundry, shopping, scrubbing. It has always disturbed me that the majority of time in which I have observed the male in-laws they have been seated, watching T.V., drinking beer or tea and smoking. Only my very oldest female in laws appear to be allowed to sit in one spot for a decent amount of time.

So I guess the weird gaijin (foreigner) mom who does a belly flop down on the wooden bench in the local park must be funny. I don't care. My back hurts if I try to sit up straight and read. Plus, and here's the purpose of this tale: I have found that I can see the print perfectly and without any kind of resulting headache if I lay the book on the ground and look down at it from my prone position on the bench. Good god am I old now or what? But I am not comfortable holding the book at arm's length away from my face while reading sitting up. This book on the grass and me laying on the bench solution is so much better. Although laying on the bench like a blob of baker's dough left out to raise isn't increasing my productivity much.

Speaking of dough, I got my haircut last week. The results in the salon were amazing. I have no idea how he did that to my hair. No matter what I do I can't get it (my hair) to do anything other than form awful cowlicks all over my head. My husband's comment on the new style was, "it's completely flat on top and frizzy on the sides". Of course he only saw it after I had attempted to style it myself. You got it. I now look like Bozo the overweight, 40-year-old mother clown. You know her? The one that is always passed out on the bench at the park?

Back to the hairdressers though. In Japan there are two things about getting your hair cut that I absolutely love. The first is that when they are shampooing your hair they lay a fine gauze cloth over your face. It's absolutely lovely no longer worrying about whether or not they are looking at my nose hair or worrying that they caught me gazing up in horror at their nose hair.

The second thing I love is that after the shampoo they lead you back to your chair and before your stylist reappears the shampoo girl or boy gives you a shoulder massage. Some places have even given me hand massages too. This last time, either my stylist understood that due to the incredibly baby fine nature of my gaijin hair my head was going to swell up like a loofah gone mad as soon as I left the premises and walked out into the hot humid Japanese June weather and felt guilty about it or he just sensed that in my pathetic uneventful, fairly frustrated existence I needed a massage badly, but the girl gave me the world's best massage for about 15 minutes! It went on and on and at first I worried about why and then I worried that she was going to stop soon and then I just started to think the same thing over and over, "I wish I were a lump of bread so I could be kneaded and kneaded and kneaded."

So I have writer's block. I am enjoying life as a carbohydrate. Eventually I'll have to snap out of it and resume human form. And when I do, maybe I'll be able to write something decent again. What do you do when writing seems like an act too tedious to be attempted?