Thursday, July 4, 2013

Words for Wednesday: Blood Meridian

Right now in book club we are reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.  It is a great book, even made the Time Magazine list of 100 best books written in the English Language from 1922-2005.  But oh man is it a book that takes forever to read.  It is filled with tons and tons of run-on sentences and is very similar to reading Faulkner.  If I were in uni I am sure this book would really have me going, but with my current life of job and baby, it is slow going.  However, I still reccommend it if you have time at work or are looking for a slight challenge.

Here is what Wiki says about the book, as far as a plot summary...
The majority of the narrative follows a teenager referred to only as "the kid," with the bulk of the text devoted to his experiences with the Glanton gang, a historical group of scalp hunters who massacred Native Americans and others in the United States–Mexico borderlands from 1849 to 1850 for bounty, pleasure, and eventually out of sheer compulsion. The role of antagonist is gradually filled by Judge Holden, a large, intelligent man depicted as entirely devoid of body hair and philosophically emblematic of the eternal and all-encompassing nature of war.

I will say that this book definitely opens up my mind to how bad people in the west literally had it in when settling America.  This is the complete opposite of the Little House books and can be hard to read due to its frank depictions of violence and suffering.  While reading the first part of this book I had a horrible cold and cough and I could really "feel" the scenes where the boy and a friend were wandering through the dessert.

I will also add that this book opened my mind to the idea of Mexicans fighting with Native Americans.  I mean, it should be obvious that of course the Mexicans had skirmishes with native peoples, but for some reason that whole idea had never entered my mind before.  I must also say that it is interesting to read this book and see the Mexicans as the ones with civilization while the Americans of the west are considered an unorganized, uncivilized bunch.

I haven't finished the book but just thought I would bring it up in case anyone is looking to flesh out their summer reading list.  It is a hard book, but really the type of thing that is good for me to read once in awhile.  I am ashamed at how lazy the world has become in regards to language.  Our vocabulary is becoming extinct and there is no excuse for me to be having to look up two words from every page on this book (I wouldn't go through the trouble but on the kindle you just highlight the word and the meaning comes up).


Holy wow.  Today, July 4th, I turned the big 30.  Time flies and yet I have done a lot of living in the past 30 years.

Thanks to my parents and Camp Adventure I am quite well traveled and have been to 28 countries, though I think that there is still a lot more to see.  After all, I have friends who have been to twice as many.  In the next 30 years my dream would be to go to China, South Africa, Turkey (maybe not now but when things were settled), and India.  I would also love to take my husband and children to all of the countries I have been to.  Motoaki has only been to America, China, and Singapore.

I have also reached a lot of life milestones.  I have gotten married, had a child, and found a career.  I am actually where my parents were at my age as they had their first child when my mom was 29. In the next thirty years (well, more like 8) I would love to have at least two more children and also remodel/reform our house.  I am happy where we are at, though, and if nothing really changes, I would be ok with that.

I have made some wonderful friends and have even managed to stay in contact with a lot of friends from childhood.  It helps when you are from a small town and when your mother is a teacher in that town.  I have seen a lot of people come and go from the community I live in now (foreign teachers  have a HIGH turnover rate) and have really been influenced by a wide variety of nationalities.

I have managed to read an amazing amount of books and have even read many books over and over.  But there are still so many out there yet for me to read.  Hopefully through book club I can find out about ones I have missed and hopefully I can make time for reading despite being a mom and a teacher.

Turning 30 is a little weird since both of my parents passed away in their early 60s.  If my life is like theirs', it is half over.  However, they lived quite full lives and managed to do a lot from 30 years on.  Some might be depressed at turning 30 and there are things that do make me sad.  I am sad that I will never really fit in at a dance club again and that I can't really be considered young anymore (although I guess to many I have been "old" for awhile- after all, a the majority of my students were born after 2000!).  My nights of reckless abandon are gone for good, and while I feel happy in being a parent and an adult, I will miss that thrill of staying out all night in strange cities with other young people.  Though I technically could still have the chance of moving somewhere foreign, for the most part I think the days of "real" traveling are over.

Turning 30 really makes me think that I need to be better about really making the best of my holidays, my money, etc  At this age in life it is easy to just go day to day looking at the small picture- what I am making for dinner, what part of the house needs to be cleaned, etc  Life is short and there is still so much more to see, so much more to do.  I am lucky that I have a fairly decent career that allows for me to travel, and that I have a husband that let's me go where I want when I want.  I hope that the next thirty years are just as good as the past thirty years, or even better.

7 Months

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New Year's Resolutions: 6 Months In...

So I suck at this.  But maybe posting about it will motivate me...  Maybe...
Below are my New Year's Resolutions and where I stand with each.  It is isn't pretty...

In 2013 I will...
1. Lose weight. Seriously this time. I'm sitting at 75 kg and want to get down to 62. Added to this is to run... something. Thinking a 5k in May at Tottori. Will be consulting Lenny and Maggie for help with this. And will be packing a map this time...
Missed the 5k in Tottori because I wasn't prepared and because I had guest coming the following week and wanted to clean house.  Quite pathetic, but running is not really my thing...  I have lost some weight, but more just to getting further away from having a baby.  Really need to step it up.

2. Keep up with email/mail/and my blog in a timely manner.
Nope- not happening....  Being a stay at home mom meant I was laaaaazy....

3. Document Robin's first year with a scrapbook/baby book. I have a friend who does a page a month and I think I can do that.
I have been taking pictures but haven't printed them out.  But I did make a shutterfly book for the first six months.  That counts... right?

4. Quit being depressed and resentful about motherhood and will start enjoying it. This includes coming to terms at aspects I fail at (BFing) and focusing on things I rock at (CDing, burping).  

OK- now we're getting somewhere.  I have definitely done this.  Though I still do let not being able to bf (we stopped awhile ago) upset me now and then, I am pretty cool with motherhood.  Especially since Robin has become more fun.  Her laughing and being able to interact has helped a lot.  She's actually like a person now.

5. Keep up with book club despite being a new mother.
This I have done as well.  In fact it was my main release for awhile.  Though our group has dwindled in numbers, we have a lot of fun.  And the books have been really good this month.

6. Save and manage my money (and inheritance). Also learn how to file taxes and invest... stuff.
This one I have done ok on.  I actually haven't spent too much because I haven't gotten out much.  Except for my days traveling with Connor and my time in the US, I have been very good about not buying stuff for myself.  I haven't learned how to do the taxes (I am talking about on the money I am getting from my parents) but will do that this summer.

7. Work on training Tom. He is doing ok on the toilet training front but he needs some more basics to keep him safe and us sane.
I can't take credit for it but Tom is doing wonderful.  Mostly due to Motoaki teaching him how to sit, and him just growing up.  He still chews up stuff he finds but as long as you keep him occupied, he is great.

8. Steal the show with my awesome karaoke and dance skills at Mags Stalter and David Weber's wedding.
Wait for it....

9. Have Robin be the best dressed kid at daycare next spring (with large help from Anne Monsma's hand-me downs).
I must admit she rocks it every day, though my taste might not be what others would pick.  She wears a lot of gender neutral clothes that are cute but not traditional.  I love dressing her in cool shorts and t-shirts.

10. Will skype Amy White every (or every other) weekend.
Fail...  but mostly because Grandma can't remember how to use skype.  I do call her once a month though.  But need to get better about that.
Here's to stepping up my game these next six months. 

Words for Wednesday: The Roads to Sata

For book club last month we read one of my new favorites, The Roads to Sata by Alan Booth.  It is about a British man who walked from the northern most tip of Hokkaido to the southern most tip of Kyushuu in the 70's.  Though the book rambles a bit it is a great read for anyone who has been living in Japan for awhile as it is easy to relate to a lot of the experiences.

One of the most exciting parts for me was the fact that he walked through Tsuyama and Ochiai, the towns I call home.  Though he only talks about them for about half of a page, it is interesting to get his take on them.

As a group I think the book club felt that the author came off as pretty grumpy.  He complains a lot about Japanese children chasing him and calling out in weird English and also about Japanese adults who won't talk to him even when he is speaking perfect Japanese.  Though we have all felt those frustrations, and can only imagine how walking miles and miles would make those feelings escalate, we also felt that he could have left the negativity out of the book somewhat.

The book is great for showing sides of Japan that most people don't see.   The author definitely knows his stuff when it comes to history and Japanese legend, and he introduced me to many tourist destinations I had never heard of.

I am not sure how I would feel about the book if I had never lived in Japan.  Some people in the book club thought it might be a turn off.  Though the man is a bit short fused with the people he comes in contact with, I think it makes the Japanese people come off as interesting and unique.  Though the book has too many encounters to remember specific characters, I remember vividly certain comments.  For the most part the Japanese people  in the book come off as kind and welcoming.

I let a friend borrow it or otherwise I would quote it.  I guess you'll just have to read for yourself.

Tom Turns 1!

 (Written June 17th).
This year has been full of changes for me, but you can't even begin to imagine what my puppy Tom has been through.  In one year he has gone from the breeder to the pet store to our home.  Our home has added a new baby who has gone from a crying thing in a basket to a squealing thing moving all around the floor.  He has seen several house guests and various different parties.  
Recently I have been impressed with how much he has matured.  Motoaki taught him to sit in March and he has since learned how to lay down.  He has also calmed down a lot and we no longer have to hold him back from Finn's food bowl- they share bowls these days.

He has taken to barking recently and it doesn't help that everyone and their mother uses the bike path outside our house.  But he is easily distracted with a toy so at least if I am available, I can deter him from focusing on what's outside.

The best news is that for the most part he has stopped eating his own pooh.  He will occaisionally eat Finn's  if he catches it on the toilet (they use a litter box type thing in the kitchen- though we prefer that they go outside it is nice to have for rainy days or when something else is happening and we can't rush them outside- ie Robin is eating), but he has finally stopped going in his cage and eating it.  Or esle he has just gotten better at hiding the evidence...

He loves Robin but not as much as she loves him, and the few times that they have played on the floor together, he has been a sweetheart.  For the most part we restrict their interaction to me helping her pet him while he sits on the couch.  But I know that when they finally are together they will be fine.

This is a bit random but I just thought I would mark the big day.  Tom's being a puppy was largely overshadowed by Robin being born.  We kept that fact that we had even gotten him secret for quite awhile.  I know there were some who had their doubts about getting a puppy when I was 9 months pregnant, and even I had moments where I regretted it.  But I am so happy that everything has worked out and the Finn has Tom to play with and that Robin will have both as she grows up.

Robin is 6 Months

(Written June 3rd.  Work computer won't let me get on blogger so I wrote this and emailed it to myself... and then didn't get online at home).

And we're back...  Hopefully for good this time.  I am back at work so the regular schedule should help me stay regular.  Being a SAHM  was just way too unstructured for me.
Robin turned six months on June 2nd and for me I don't feel like she has changed much since she was three months.  But maybe that is because I see her everyday.  She was rolling around three months but now doesn't do it much except for when she is asleep.  I think because she is content to scoot on her back to get things and when she is on her stomach she just wiggles her legs.  She has become a champion bouncer and would do that all day everyday if we let her.

Last week she started daycare but only went half days at it is a rule for beginners.  Though she did cry in the mornings the staff reported (we get a little notebook that they write in everyday) that she calmed down.  Since she was only there for about four hours, she mostly just ate and slept.  Although they did say that one day the older kids were singing and Robin was quite entranced.  I hope she can carry a tune and sing in the children's choir that is connected with my adult choir.

Unfortunately she came home Friday with a cold that included fever, throwing up, cough, etc This was way worse than the surgery she had in January, IMO, because we were kind of our own as far as what to do when. We went to the Dr and got medicine, but it was impossible to get her to take it and then to make sure it stayed down. She kept throwing up. Then at 8:30pm when she was sleeping, we kept wondering if we should wake to feed her because she hadn't held anything in since about noon. I was afraid she would get dehydrated but also felt bad waking her and going through the stress of getting her to eat again. Luckily she woke up twice that night and ate a bit and Saturday managed to eat and take her medicine. At the hospital with her surgery it was easy as they had IVs and nurses to tell us when to feed her.  By Monday she was pretty much back to herself but the weekend felt like it lasted forever.

During this she also puked on me for the first time and it was horrible.  I have been peed on and will take that.  I think I would even take poop over puke as her puke smelled like spoiled milk.  Sorry if that is a bad image for some.

It has become humid and hot which brings all new worries as a parent.  I worry if she is comfortable and I worry about Japanese insects.  She has already had one small mosquito bite but she didn't really seem to notice it.  Though I haven't seen any yet I am worried about the giant bees, wasps, and centipedes that come out in summer.  And though we figured out it was non-poisonous, there was a big snake in the yard one morning that just made me want to pack up Robin, Finn, and Tom and move to Iowa where the summer bugs are cute- like lightening bugs.  I am being a little silly since most stuff doesn't get into the house and Robin is still a little too young to be out in the yard (if we had grass, maybe, but we only have rocks....).

No teeth or words yet but Robin has discovered how to blow spit bubbles and seems to have a knack for comedic timing.  When we were visiting temples on an island near Hiroshima, many women would stop to comment how cute she was, to which she would respond with blowing spit.  As if to say, leave me alone granny.

We tried our first food, avocado.  She was pretty uninterested for the most part.  She ate it but didn't get excited.  Avocado on it's own is pretty bland, but we wanted to start with that so as not to shock her.  When we were giving her the medicine she was quite upset because she was not used to such a sweet taste (I didn't try it but it smelled like a sports drink).  We wanted to try more foods this past week/weekend but with the cold we decided against it.  Motoaki has voted banana for the next food which should be fun, though I personally HATE bananas.

I feel like I need to be recording stuff and at the same time I am not bothered enough to.  I will say that in her first six months Robin has been to Osaka, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Tottori, Okayama City, and Kurashiki.  In America she has been in the San Francisco and Denver airports, and she has visited or at least driven through Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.