Thursday, March 22, 2012

Japan Journifications, Ear/Eye Hustles & Such

All Sense Hustle

Ever wonder why a comforter is called a comforter and not a bulky, pretty, warm, soft, extra-extra blanket? You got it. Because it is designed to make you feel good. Make you feel safe. Make you feel comfortable. And this is how I felt when I spent a miniscule moment in time in the lovely Okinawa. Each corner like its own kaleidoscope. Each person a parts of speech trinity embodying person, place AND thing (simultaneously.)

As soon as I got off the plane Okinawa said, “Baby girl, come let me comfort you.” The voice (Barry White meets Frederic Fracncois Chopin) was in Japanese but I knew that’s what it said. I am learning that each person’s definition of comfort is as multilayered as ones definition of, let’s say, love. One person may say that they love shoes. One person may tell a complete stranger they love them. One person may theorize that they love life and everything in it. Another person may clearly make the dividing line between love for self and love for ants. Everyone is different.

As a spoiled brat—i.e. a feisty feminist who is a wimp about not having her comforts…I started to fade away in a bit of funk. Okinawa Japanese voice also told me to open my eyes and get back to the business of being a student of life. (Yes, in Japanese. But I knew that’s what it said.)

Thank you Okinawa for ocean, shrines, temples and believe it or not, super thank you for some of the best Jamaican cuisine I’ve had in months. And for the stern rejuvenation of my spirit via words I could somehow understand. 

Ps. Do check out the history/herstory of Okinawa.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Japan Journifications, Ear/Eye Hustles & Such

Random Random’s in Japan: All Sense Hustle

Fire hydrants are underground, I get all spiritual woo-woo every New Year, afro’s are popular in Japanese pop culture, I can pierce any part of my body without seeing a piercer and my facial small fuzzy hair is unattractive. And none of this is connected and all of it fits together perfectly.
When the New Year rolls in I always ask myself to look for signs. The thing is sometimes I can’t tell the difference between a sign and a random-random. Somebodies random-random is somebodies coveted sign. For instance, one person walks down the street and gets pooped on by a bird, her reaction, Are your friggin kidding me? Ewww. Another person walks down the street and gets pooped on, her reaction, Something wonderful is about to enter my life! Yippee!
I know it’s not that simple and the lines we draw around what we deem sacred and what we deem sick and what we deem random-random and what we deem sign sometimes seem to cross and uncross daily. And do you remember those connect the dot puzzles when you were younger? When you started out with 1-8 the dots made total sense and you felt like you were on the right path but by the time you got to 22, you wondered if you messed up somewhere and cheated and saw the complete picture in the back of the workbook. And this is my grand checkitout revelation: life is a series of random-randoms AND coveted signs.
Japanese fire hydrants are underground; how they work underground I have no clue. What this means? There are no dogs pissing on fire hydrants, there are no children secretly opening them on sweltering days, teen agers aren’t using them as seats while they swig on Red Bull and wait for school busses. But they exist. It’s an unseen safety net. An underground fire hydrant says you don’t need to see the safety but it’s there.
The woo-woo in me wonders if this is an omen? A sign for my internal make-it-happen-ness that says, you don’t need to see how all the good stuff is coming and/or it has already arrived. Underground fire hydrants mean we don’t have to show you anything for you to know we exist. Underground fire hydrants say faith. Or—someone’s reading this thinking, underground fire hydrants are just a way to simply store an object used to put a fire out. We live in a world where random-randoms and signs peacefully coexist. Whether we see them sitting together or not.

Below, a couple of random-randoms in Japan.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Japan Journifications, Ear/Eye Hustles & Such

Eye Hustle

The thing about babies is that they appear to be looking inside your soul. Beneath all that slobbering and what we perceive as cooing and face grabbing, they are really divine geniuses placed here to make us wonder about our us-ness.

I recently attended a children’s Christmas party and watched an American Santa try and keep up with the cool kids. Some of them quite frankly confused that the jolly man in red request they sit upon is lap. After all…this is such an intimate act. Some parents choosing to simply take pictures standing next to Santa. Some of the children fascinated by his beard (it happened to be a man with an authentic long, long, long white beard) not fascinated with it because it was long nor white but fascinated because it covered his face. And why would a happy man in a red suit want you sit on his lap, cover his face and gently say ho-ho-ho?

The children searched for answers. At the end of the party they played a competitive game of musical chairs…this they quite enjoyed. One stand out kid in particular had a strategy to run outside of the circle and just when he intuitively felt like the song was approaching its end… BAM, he appeared out of nowhere in a seat. My kind of kid. 

Still, I couldn’t stop staring into the eyes of the baby with the big cheeks. His mother carried him like he was a bag of precious history or a key to a secret room, her hands never leaving his back…his eyes focused on my insides. Sadly because I am a semi-Japanese speaking coward, as in even when I know what to say I rarely verbalize it, I couldn’t figure out how to begin to say “Your baby is so cute and precious I want to eat him up…” and after thinking about it, it’s probably best I don’t tell a stranger I want to eat her baby. Yes I am absolutely sure that wouldn’t translate well. Thank goodness for the universal grab your heart, make cheesy smiley faces and sigh…this translates to nearly the same as I want to eat your baby because he’s so cute.

Something happened in that sign language-ey, optical, heart to heart exchange though. Not sure how to pen it. But I liked it. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Japan Journifications, Ear/Eye Hustles & Such

All Sense Hustle

Today Japan is fried chicken katsu swaddled by an egg yolk. The colors bright, the people crispily, (as in chicken kind of crisp) protective, resilient and very clear about what goes where, why, when and how. I like the way the people in my prefecture glide/ride/fly through life on their bicycles. Their eyes focused on what‘s ahead never worrying about what’s behind…or on either side. And in the end aren’t we all better for it? Moving forward? Moving on?

The roads are miniature and I have spent many car rides in the passenger’s seat sucking my teeth and breath, pushing on my imaginary break and listening to my heart ask my brain, “Really? Are you crazy? Is this safe?” Yet, something in me deeply admires the way they navigate traffic. How they mentally transform a seven inch across road to at least 100 ft.  Will I ever ride a bike on what is dubbed “chicken road?” HELL TO THE NAWL...but if I figure out the recipe for the fearless pill…I just might.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Japan Journifications, Ear/Eye Hustles & Such

Japan Journification
Private Eye Hustle

I’ve always been a squatter. As in, never had a need to use those little thin toilet covers. As in never sit my booty down on the toilet seat. As in the same routine: open the door, score the bathroom on cleanliness, if it’s dirty—I’m out. If it’s decent, get centered in front of the toilet, move back slightly so that my front and back door hover over the toilet, release debris from front or back door, grab tissue…you get the idea.

Aside from getting really personal I really am going somewhere with all of this. On the second day I arrived to Japan, I visited the cleanest McDonalds I’d ever seen. I noticed women, American women and Japanese women coming out of the bathroom with a particular look. A look that smelled like new sheets & fresh ginger. I wanted to have this look. At least once.  

Hey, what the heck, I’m an internal tourist soI go.
I noticed the queen of toilets. Equipped an after bathroom sort of perfume (oranges maybe?) with water to rinse away front or back door debris and a noise to cover up the reason why we all go to the bathroom. I really don’t need a noise to cover up the fact that I am using the toilet. Is a toilet not for using? If I push the magic button to make the noise to cover up the fact that I am using the potty won’t you still know I am pottying?  I digress.

The fact of the matter is though I have been here 3 months I have not joined the particular look coming from the bathroom club because guess what folks?? YOU HAVE TO SIT YOUR BOOTY DOWN ON THE TOILET? Ew. Sumimasen. I am just not ready.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Japan Journifications, Ear/Eye Hustles & Such

Eye Hustle
120-150 yen please

This is how it starts. You have no idea what the words say you just know you want a drink. You have no clue what the flavors are. You just know you want a drink. You have no idea if you’ve got the right amount of change you just know the small can with the bright orange letters looks like it MIGHT taste like an American orange dream icicle. You have no idea what the words say but you know coffee seems to mean coffee in this machine. You know tea seems to mean tea. You know Coca Cola seems to mean Coca Cola even though it's purple. You know the picture of an apple looks like it must be a picture of an apple. Of course. And a cute hamster is just a cute hamster that has nothing to do with a drink. You hope...and if you find out there's some new drink called "hamster-aid" written in just hope you find out years later.

This is how it started for me. I noticed on nearly every corner of Japan there were vending machines filled with beveragical assortments. I realize beveragical is not a word but I honestly can’t think of any other word that quite gets you to get where I’m coming from. It’s like beveragearama or bevefreenzy. Bevafuckinfantastical. The amazing part is the machine keeps the cold drinks cold and the hot drinks hot and some of the cold drinks double as hot drinks.

That’s how it continued. And who would have known a simple vending machine would help to break down my walls of distrust. Because if I can just pick and choose any drink—without knowing what it tastes like or knowing what it’s made from—I can learn to trust humans again. I can begin telling secrets again. I can trust myself on the train alone. Hell, I might even befriend Pinocchio. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Japan Journifications, Ear/Eye Hustles & Such

Eye Hustle of the Day

So far I haven't seen any underwear. A plethora of linens, tunics, sweaters and trousers but no underwear.
My newest project is the study of laundry and fabric and the people who wear the lines of clothes hanging. I've been taking pictures guessed it, the lines of laundry. Dryers aren't very popular. Energy conservation is. I get it. But where do they dry the underwear. This is my quest. Unmentionables. Unshowables.

My new fascination/obsession/photographation with laundry--fabric--the people behind the laundry and fabric teleports me to a time when my grandmother folded linen like a heart surgeon. Each crease placed exactly where it should be and no fabric ever bleeding upon another. Oftentimes I was her assistant. I stood at one corner of the room and she on the other to fold comforters and sheets. Something about the way the comforter did a whisper-yell when we shook it to make it straight stained my eardrums. In a good way. Laundry makes me think of love. Of warm beds. Of summers and garden tomatoes. But still...wheres the underwear?