September 2008

The Chicago Cubs are going to the post season again!  Wooooohoooo!  We fans are all waiting with bated breath to see if this will be the year we go all the way for the first time since 1908.  It’s high time, really.  For as long as I can remember, the Cubs have been a great team, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a rabid fan.  We’ve had spectacular players, amazing seasons, exciting post-seasons… but of course, this hasn’t carried us to a world series (let alone *through* a world series) since 1945 (only four years after the Cubs became the first major league team ever to have organ music in their ballpark, just to remind you how long ago 1945 was).  The Cubs in my lifetime have never actually stunk, contrary to other-team-fan popular belief.  My point is, this year, after 25 years of loyal fandom, I just want to watch the Cubs rock the world and the world series.

Yeah, I know, I’m counting my chickens before they’re hatched, but that’s not even the start of it.  Since I got home from Japan, I’ve sort of been counting my chickens before they’re even eggs.  I want to think that I’ll be publishing one of those novel length manuscripts that are hanging out and collecting virtual dust on my hard drive, but that’s more because hope springs eternal than because I’ve been given an especially solid reason to hope.  I want to start making plans for a move to Hawaii, and I doubt UHM has even reviewed my application yet.  Every time I show up at an audition, I’m dreaming of being in the play (0 for 7 so far, incidentally).  Heck, I was even under the impression for a while there that Borders would consider hiring me so that I’d have a source of income until that unhatched move to Hawaii.  These past four months or so have been an exercise in hurry-up-and-wait, and it’s turned me into a neurotic e-mail checker and phone-answerer (despite the fact the pollsters are calling off-the-hook).  I submit material, and then I wait (this usually results in quick rejection, but I hear that’s an industry standard).  I submit a grad-school application, and then I wait.  I audition, and then I wait.  I submit a job application, and then I wait.

But you know, I am a Cubs fan.  Waiting is something we have been trained to do very well.  We wait, we hope, we cheer our heads off.  In the meantime, I can’t tell you how much I want 2008 to be the year it all happens.  And you know, this time, I’m not *just* talking about the Cubs.  (Well, ok.  Mostly, I’m talking about the Cubs).

Holy cow, that moon’s been up there for a long time.  It’s not even nearing the horizon and threatening to set, and it’s almost 10:00 AM.  It’s huge, it’s full, it’s quite pretty in the blue, daylit sky, and it has been hanging around full-time for days.  Ah, New Mexico, sweet New Mexico.  I sometimes think this state has the quirkiest sky in all the world.  I’m also glad I’m not a warewolf.

It isn’t like I’ve been back in the States for very long, but it’s been about a third of a year, and I’m starting to wonder when I’ll stop thinking of Japan in terms of every-day-life… more specifically *my* every-day-life.  To explain, there are more things (sometimes little things) than I can count that constitute every-day-life in Japan that simply are not easily available in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Take, for example, the stellar nation-wide public transportation system.  I find myself occasionally waking up in the morning and thinking I’d like to hop on a train and go somewhere completely different for a while.  This is a feat that is none-too-difficult from Tatebayashi or Midori-shi.  I could go to historic Kamakura, the ski hills of Nagano, or heck, I could go to the beach on the country’s east coast, and I could still be home to sleep in my own futon at night.  The landscape is extremely varied within *bike riding* distance from where I was living in Japan, but I can’t say the same for Albuquerque.  Point being, I still get the urge to just get up and go, and it isn’t so simple at the moment.  That aside, I still think of 4-hour to all-night blocks of karaoke with my friends, all-we-can-drink non-alcoholic beverages in a private room while we’re doing that, and the option of singing old Japanese cult classics as the height of the pleasant mundane.  I don’t think of matcha (green tea) or red-bean or sweet potato ice cream as novel.  It’s late summer, and I’m ready to air out my yukata and hit the fireworks festivals.  I sort of ache to do a gig at Veggie Popolo with JET Coaster (the tatami-band I played with in Tatebayashi.  I call it a tatami-band because we practiced and jammed in tatami (traditional woven-grass-mat) rooms rather than in garages, which are virtually nonexistent in Japanese homes.  I still have Japanese words dotting my spoken-English usage.  I think of manga as cheap, disposable entertainment to be picked up at train station kiosks.  I think vending machines should sell hot beverages (especially tea) in steel cans more often than candy bars and chips, and I must say, I really liked the fact that they were everywhere I wanted to be (more-so than any credit card).  These things are still very  much taken for granted in the back of my mind until it hits me that I can’t have them, at least not with the speed and convenience I could in, say, April.

I bring this up because CBS Sunday Morning did a story on the bento this morning, and it struck me as familiar, mundane, and intensely nostalgic.  A bento is a Japanese lunch box, inside which people often arrange a widely varied and artistically arranged set of lunch food.  This often includes food with faces.  Mothers will make rice balls look like pandas or smiley-faces, or they’ll carve little faces into hot-dogs they’ve cut and boiled specifically to look like octopuses, and then send their kids off to school to compare with their friends and generally feel special because their moms care.  Some very ambitious bento-makers will make roll sushi with centers that look like super-hero faces or flowers.  They’ll cut apple slices to look like rabbits, and use cookie cutters to make sliced carrots look like myriad other cute things.  Anyway, CBS Sunday Morning showed a shelf at the Daiso, which is a chain of stores where most everything costs Y105 (about a buck, USD), and I couldn’t believe it.  It was like a major national news show filming the kitchenware section at Wal*Mart or Target, only for me ten-times more familiar.  I had seen that bento shelf perhaps a hundred times.  I owned a couple of those bentos, and used them often enough so that the paint on the top was wearing off.  Suddenly, though, that Daiso shelf is on the other side of the world rather than a ten minute walk from my apartment.  Funny thing, international moves.  The bento is newsworthy, and I didn’t bring a single one home to the States with me.  I’d thought of those things as inexpensive and normal.  Maybe I should have brought a couple back with me, though.  Just for the nostalgia.

So, check this out!  I’m writing a second post while taking a yard-work break on a bright and breezy day.  Technically, according to the calendar, it is still summer, but the breeze speaks of autumn, and seeing as that’s my favorite season, I’m thrilled to be starting early.  It’s peculiar to think I’ll be spending autumn in Albuquerque this year!  I haven’t done anything of the sort since the year 2000.  I spent three autumns in Tulsa, OK, one autumn in London, and three autumns in Japan between then and now, but there’s something pleasantly nostalgic about spending what might be my last autumn in Albuquerque after all those years.  Albuquerque, you see, doesn’t have the most active professional theatre community in the world.  The movie industry is thriving like crazy, but pro-theatre?  Not so much.  This is why I’m not considering permanently settling down in my hometown. 

Anyway, all the cool Albuquerque stuff happens in September.  First off, there’s the state fair,  which is where I spent four hours of my day yesterday.  New Mexico has a truly awesome state fair, for those of you who don’t know.  There are art exhibits of every possible sort, contests for everything from sugar cookies to scrapbook pages to barbershop quartets, and foods that involve delightfully large quantities of green chile.  I had a Navajo taco for lunch, bought a jar of honeycomb (seriously, honeycomb.  Wax and all.  In a jar.  Can you get more awesome than that?) for my Dad, picked up a Smokey Bear comic book (Smokey is originally from New Mexico.  I used all my old copies in Japan in my English classes and didn’t bring them home, so I needed a new one.) from the forest service exhibit, and bought a book on the Navajo code talkers from WWII (a brilliantly interesting bit of history I encourage you to look into if you haven’t already).  I bought the code talkers book from the Native American Indian Village because there were eight code talkers there to sign the books!  They were doing a fund raiser for their community-improvement organization, and I must say, it was the most awesome part of the fair for me this year, even if it did cost me $45.  Worth every penny.  The gentlemen who were signing were so nice, and they pointed to their pictures in the book as they signed.  It was really cute.  Some of them even signed right under pictures of themselves from the 40s in their uniforms.  My mom got pictures of my sister and me with them, and then I snapped a shot of her, and they were very cool about letting us.  I’ll be giving that book to Mom and Dad for Christmas, and Mom really likes the idea ^_^.  The irksome part about that is I can’t read the darn thing until I’ve given it to them and they’ve read it!  I have to wait three months!  Ah well.  Moving on, though, after admiring enormous pumpkins, lamenting the loss of Heritage Square (formerly my favorite part of the fair, but no longer in existence), watching a couple shows, and finding all the mainstay booths and foods that constitute my family’s fair-going traditions, I left feeling like I’d given myself a pretty thorough first-step to my Albuquerque last-harrah.  Next stop, the Albuquerque International Baloon Fiesta!  Then, there will be the Albuquerque Aki-Matsuri (which I’ve never been to, but which my sister assures me is awesome).  Now, all I need to do is figure out what the heck I’m doing for Halloween, and I’ll be set! 

While I’m at it, we’ll see if I can get cast into one of the local Christmas productions.  Most all the auditions for those are held in September.  Woooohooo!  And off I go.

Since web logs came into vogue in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I’ve attempted bogging on multiple occasions.  I had a livejournal first, which I updated twice total.  Then I had a Greatestjournal, which I kept up for almost two months!  Then I had a Xanga to which I copied and pasted the e-mails I sent my family and friends from London (when I studied abroad there in 2004).  I haven’t touched any of those sites in years.  So, naturally, rather than wander back and poke them, I’m opening yet another blog with a different host/server.  Oh, the worlds of sense that fails to make!  Anyhow, I toast this site with my mugof tea *raises cup* cheers!  Caffeine down the hatch, and here’s to my attempting to actually update a blog every now and then.  -E.G.D.