Sunday, August 28, 2011

No More Corruption But No More Hunger Strikes Anywhere, Please

むむむのむ  m in "Mmm"
The brushstroke by Iida Kazuko Sensei

Don’t you think hunger-strike is outmoded style of protest?

No, it’s highly effective. Peaceful method is better than violent one. We are peaceful people.

If we starve ourselves, we’ll die. No one in the great tsunami survived after three days in cold without food. Is he okay?

He sprints like a young man after four days of fasting. He is 74. He is not an ordinary man.

If he died young, he would be unable to lead this important anti-corruption movement. Don’t you worry about his health?

If he died, the masses become violent.

That will prove the people are violent.

No, that won’t happen. Only a few can do this.

Do those few live only in your country?


If we want corruption to stop, we have to remain honest, don’t you agree?

Hunger Strike is peaceful mean. Not like Libya.


It’s non-violence.

I think hunger strike and bribe are similar at the root. They both threaten.

There is a need of a change in the system. When we face a huge social problem, a drastic measure can be employed. This is a case in point. People think he is a saint.

If he were a saint, don’t you worry a lot about his health?

When fasting is combined with spiritual power it strengthens rather than weaken.

You mean he becomes stronger as he gets hungrier?

Yes! And people become hungrier for a huge social change!! People become POWERFUL!!!

Don’t you worry about his health?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Immediate Theater

Late afternoon, I sit at a patio table in my local café and sip my coffee. I’ve been dragging my feet to finish my current project of last 15 years. I’m getting slower, less focused, bored. I need a break. A book “The Empty Space” by Peter Brook also sits in front of me. I don’t know how many years I wanted to read this book, but a few months ago, I found it in the library. It was only $1.00. I open the book and begin reading the first chapter “The Deadly Theatre.” I sigh. I don’t need to know what deadly theatre is. I can tell without anyone telling me. I yawn and gaze out to the street.

I’m looking ahead for nothing. Over an empty parking lot, only cars go back and forth. What am I doing? I page through the book. The second chapter is “The Holy Theatre” and the third, “The Rough Theatre.” I respect Peter Brook, but I don’t feel like reading those chapters. I throw my glance at the empty parking lot again.

Across the street beyond the parking lot, a willow-like tree stands on the pavement. I like trees. It’s probably elm tree, or maybe a droopy kind of eucalyptus tree. Trees are nice. Trees are like people. Green trees always nurse us back to health. I drop my gaze under the tree branches and spot a man in sky-blue, short-sleeved shirt standing next to the tree trunk. He carries a lunch box. He must have been standing there all along, but I haven’t noticed him until this moment. There must be a lot I don’t notice in my life. It’s amazing how absent minded I am. It’s been a constant struggle for me to be aware of things inside and outside.

Over sudden, the man throws his lunch box high up in the air and start to circle his arm. I blink. His arm goes round and round. What is going on? He switches his hand for carrying the box and circles his other arm, up, up in the sky. A pause. The box dangles from his hand. He starts to circle the box in place clockwise, round and round in circle. He stops. Then, he circles in counter clockwise, round and round and round. Then, he switches his hand and does the same.

A commuter bus passes a block away. He probably came back by the previous bus and has been waiting for his family member to pick him up. He is exercising his shoulder and arms so that he won’t waste his time. He is probably thinking why his ride is late.

A large truck appears in the parking and park away but in front of me. The color of the truck is beautiful dark blue, but I can’t see the man anymore. Ordinary people probably stop gazing out the street by now. But I have already watched a half drama, so now I feel the need to see the ending. I can no longer see the man, but soon, a beige passenger car enters the parking lot behind him.

I stand up and lean rightward. A woman in a yellow t-shirt comes out of the car and goes around the trunk of the car. I don’t see what she does after that, but she returns to her driver seat. I think she has gone to check if his seatbelt is snugly fastened. The man probably has complained that she is late, and she probably has told him that she needed her laundry folded, otherwise they would get wrinkle. Why didn’t you finish the laundry in the morning? He might say. She would reply, I was too busy and forgot. She will probably drive straight down the street as she has come and make a turn at next stop in order to return home.

The car drives out of that parking lot and goes straight along the street a little bit, then makes a big U turn. Wow! She is daring. The car speeds away. I wonder if he will complain the way she drives or not. Men usually do. I go back reading the book.


The last chapter is “The Immediate Theatre.” This seems interesting. I hold my pen and start to read. In the first long paragraph, I underline a sentence and write, “disagree.” The sentence is, “It is always hard for anyone to have one single aim in life.” My mother had one aim only in her life. I’m sure of it. I’ve been writing about her on and off for last 15 years. Her aim was nothing other than practicing Ocha (tea ceremony.) I underline two more sentences in the next paragraph. “Furthermore, in society in general the role of art is nebulous. Most people could live perfectly well without any art at all.” Gee, Peter Brook is so wrong about that. Mother even practiced Ocha during WWII when they couldn’t get any sweets or tea. And that’s not only my mother. Many artists were the same. Without arts, artists could not survive the war, and most people are artists.

Come to think of it, the man in sky-blue shirt and the woman in yellow t-shirt have gone back in the direction of my house. I wonder if they are my neighbors whom I have not yet met. This morning, I said hello to the sunflowers peeking in to my backyard. I appreciate their company, and I hope the neighbor who owns it will not cut it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Beware! 99-Cent Phone Cards

99 cents for 99 minutes sounds great.  Calling Japan for 5.9 cents a minute is pretty good, too.  Even if the price might go up a little without notice, it wouldn't shoot up sky high.  That was my thought.

A friend of mine sent me a card.  In the meantime, I bought five cards.  It doesn't work.  The local number the company claims for my number  is not the same area code as mine.  The friend sent three cards for her mother out of state.  It doesn't work.

Does the company want to argue about the concept of what "local numbers" are?  Consumers are not all linguists.  The ads says "Call anywehre" but please include "But not from anywhere." 
I guess that is how they make money.  Is it ethical? 


Sunday, August 14, 2011


After the Cal Tech Poetry meeting at Red Door, some of us went to see this play in the campus
Play by Mary Zimmerman
Directed by Miranda Stewart
Presented by Explicit, the extracurricular palyers of Cal Tech

They made a pool for the stage.  It must have been very difficult to manage all the splashing and watering all around the stage.  As the evening progressed, I wore my fleece jacket.  I worried about those wet performers.  But the show was exciting because of it.

The Cal Tech Poetry Club headed by Kathabela Wilson meets at 4:30 pm every Friday at Red Door Cafe in the campus.  Bring your poems and look for the flowery hat that Kathabela wears.   

Friday, August 12, 2011

"The Last of the Knotts"

OnTuesday, I went to see “The Last of the Knotts.” It was very satisfying experience.

Many of us are affected by our crazy parents, so I read about it often. But I haven’t read much about men’s POV on very important issues such as “Why doesn’t he choose to be a father?” I appreciated the well developed story, simple stage, and honest and brave story-telling performance. I’d like to hear and see more of men’s deep and personal POV.

About the title, I think this way. Although it seems stopping our lineage if we don’t marry, produce children, and if the children do not carry our ancestor’s name, I think it isn’t the end of true lineage. Whether we like it or not, someone somewhere carry on our lineage. We don’t know everything for sure. In Japan, we have quite good records for many generations. I haven’t investigated every possibility, but as far as I know, there are many loopholes. In the past, many people adopted their children, had second wife or girlfriends, or instead of divorcing wife and marrying other woman, some people turned ex wife to be his sister. Women’s cases are equally complex. Are you confused? Well. Good. Anything is possible, that’s my point.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Canter's and Blintz

I love their foods and bread.  This is Canter’s in Fairfax.  I used to work not too far from this district.  Boy, did I miss their foods!  I also had more than a few favorite restaurants there.  Mmm.  Delicious.  Blintzes and Barley soup were the best!  On the way out, we bought a loaf of pumpernickel and lye bread, and a bagel.

Melrose and the Steins

Mr. and Mrs. Stein.  They are Julia's parents.  Aren't they good looking couple?   Her father passed away.   He was an American pilot who flew over Holland at the end of WWII.  There was a movie made for the incident.   Let me ask her what the title of the movie was.  James Garner appeared in it. 

A good old street in Melrose where I stayed yesterday.  I felt the history of Los Angeles and a Jewish family, looking at trees, pavements, and various shapes of houses.

This was not a luxury hotel although it looked that way when I entered.  Her brother has moved into an assisted living place near their parent house.  I told him that he looked healthier and much happier, and I was glad to see him.  He said he walked to the same restaurant as we had just gone to have our lunch, and bought a gift for her on the way back.  Wow!  What a brother!  I wanted her to open the gift and see her use it, but it was a mace.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Bicycle Instructor

Gail is a friend of mine and former colleague.  Yesterday, she lifted up the seat of my bike and showed me how to mount and dismount.  She said it would be much more comfortable riding.  Gee, I didn’t know that.  All I felt needed was to touch the ground with my feet.   Maybe Rebb is already doing this, but someone can benefit from her instruction.  So, I’m writing this down.

On mounting bike, first, step on the right pedal down, and at the same time, my left foot pushes the other pedal forward. This brings up my hip naturally to the seat. On dismounting, I push brake as my right foot pedals down, and then I lean my bike leftward, reaching the ground with my left foot. I did this successfully yesterday, but old habit is hard to break. I have to practice this again. I still try to reach the ground by pointing my toes without dismounting. I have to remember to lean my bike leftward. But I felt comfortable riding. I didn’t need to bend my knees too much.

I showed Gail my manga characters that I had drawn twenty years ago.  I drew most of our coworkers and boss in our operating systems and network departments.  We had fun!  But she forgot a copy of her manga character, so, here it is.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Low and High Gears

Last Thursday, I asked Cliff, the assistant organizer of Coffee House Writer Meetup if he could examine what was wrong with my bike. He said yes. I told him the bike didn’t go up more than 10 or 15 miles per hour. I said something was wrong. I fell down twice. Not that I wanted to compete with cars on roads, but I felt pedaling in the air when the right gear handle went up to 1. I usually started my right gear from 7 or 6.

After the meeting was over, Cliff rode my bike around in circle in the parking lot. He came back and said that he changed the left gear handle from 1 to 3. I didn’t read the manual on the gears because I thought it came with the safest default. He told me to leave it there. He also said I could start at 1 on my right gear. What? I said. He also said, when I go uphill, I could change it up to 7. His last sentence threw me off. I kept asking him to repeat it because I was so confused. I still don’t understand, but he was right because I’ve been riding my bike, and it’s been working fine. Thank you, Cliff, for adjusting my bike.

About gears, I just can’t understand why I can ride now from gear 1, and before, I could only ride from7 or 6. For the past one week, I changed my gear from 7 all the way to 1 going uphill. But now, I’m starting at low gear 1 thru 4 and change it to as high as 7. Although I’m still confused for what happened before, I’m glad that the concept of low and high gears is the same as when I used to drive my stick shift car. You can imagine how confused I was before the left gear was adjusted. The Low and high became opposite in my head for about a week.  Did you get it?  No?  Never mind.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New Bike

I sold my black mountain bike more than 10 years ago. I regret it. A week ago, I bought the bike in the photo. This time I chose Ladies' bike. It has 21-speed instead of 3. I didn’t think I needed 21-speed, but it came with it. I also knew I was a bit short for this 26” bike. I’m 5'3". Before I bought it, I asked a man in Walmart if 24” was better for my height, showing my small hands. He replied 24” was for kids. I nodded, but thought in Japan many adults ride small Dahon bikes. We have very little room inside or outside our Japanese homes.

Not to prove the point, but I prefer not using my garage right now. Why? Please don’t ask. I let readers make a wild and kind guess. Anyway, I park the bike inside for now. Look at the shape. Mountain bike is boyish looking. Does the attached basket look funny? I used to dislike the shape of Ladies bikes because many of them have feminine curvatures. But this bike has just an inclined but straight front bar. I hear that the Ladies bikes with curvatures—I don’t know what to call them-- are much easier to ride. It is probably so.

But I like boyish looking bikes, and I like my new one. The second day after I purchased, I rode it to a local market and bought a quarter cut water melon, a cantaloupe melon, a bottle of vegetable sauce called tonkatsu sauce, and a few other items. I filled them in the white basket attached to bike. Going down to the market is easy. But coming back, my gear was already up to the top of my right hand lever, 7-speed. I thought I should take advantage of 21-speed. I reached a turn and felt a bit uphill ahead. I exerted the left lever for the first time. The bike wiggled. Bang! I didn’t fight. I let go. I sat on a residential road for a while. No car passed. I knew I had just scrapes. My body ached here and there, but this accident proved to me I needed more exercises. The bottle rolled out of the basket on to asphalt, but it was fine. No crack. I needed it for my sautéed cabbage.

I've been thinking. It’s possible for me to learn how to use all 21-speed, but my body is not as young as I feel. It's better to ride the one I feel most comfortable with. The last bike I owned was also Schwinn Mountain bike. I didn’t ride that much. I guess I was busy. Wait a minute. I think I didn’t ride that bike because it wasn’t as comfortable as my childhood bike.

My childhood bike was Maruishi Ladies bike called Pink Lady. It was pink. I was a fifth grader. I used to ride it to my ballet class which was five or six bus stops away until the day I was hit by a small truck. I didn’t stop at a stop sign near my house. I was on the way to see a classmate of mine in next town. In those days, traffic education was for car drivers. Children had ridden bikes like born free. Stop signs were strangers, and they hid way above our heads on wooden telegraph poles. In the same week I had the accident, another boy in my class was also struck by a large truck. I was absent from school for 10 days or so. When I returned to school, I learned that the school started a traffic education. I looked forward to such lesson, but someone said all the students in the school took the lesson in the quad, and it was already finished. The boy returned to school after two months. He wore a casket on his arm. The boy and I missed the traffic education.

After that, a pair of women wearing yellow jacket appeared at stop signs. The term, Yellow Ladies, became popular. Shortly after that, Green Ladies sprouted and became well known throughout Japan as traffic controllers and protectors of children.

Let’s jump back to my new bike.  There is nothing wrong with the bike.  It’s beautiful, able, and good price.  A friend of mine says I can exchange it, but I hardly ever return any products.  So, I’ve been thinking, then, my daughter calls me.  She has returned from her vacation.  I say she can use the bike when she comes over.  She says yes.  Maybe I'll buy the kind of very comfortable Ladies bike which allows my feet to touch the ground with minimum effort, and my small hands can rest on break handles without extending my fingers.  I don’t feel motivated to go shopping right away though.  In the meantime, I’ll ride the green bike and sweat a lot.

Rock'n Roll in Claremont

Summer means concert in park.  But first, we sit in a beautiful garden in Claremont, eat, drink, and talk about very important subject.  Birth of babies.  Three of us are experienced women.  So, we can talk, talk, talk all kinds of horrible situations in delivery.   Our conversation escalates.  It becomes like a competition except no prize.  How fun it is!

This house was built in 1921.  It has a basement.  Claremont is old town, and there are many old and big houses like this one.  

After dinner, we walk to the park with chairs and blankets and listen and dance to Rock'n Roll.