Monday, December 29, 2008

for emily

Chris Romain told me this great quote. It's from the integralnaked blurb about Saul Williams.

"The goal is not to be color-blind, as our politically-correct society often tells us to be, but to allow ourselves to see the entire spectrum of color, much more vividly than ever before. From this integral vantage point, we can see that our similarities are where we find Truth, our differences are where we find Beauty, and navigating between the two is where we find our Goodness."

This year, my family and friends got Kapibara for Christmas. Japan has a way of making even the most random, ugly animals cute...

Here is another cute animal from Japan, Satoru. He is visiting me until the 5th. It's his first time to America so I have been trying to show him the greatest parts of Kansas City. We have already seen great KC Jazz and KC's best break dancers and poppers. We also got to see Ad Astra Per Aspera at the Record Bar. They blow my mind and take me back.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

christmas windows

These are pictures from my iphone. I met these two angles in Kansas City thanks to Micheal Garfield and this sign was by the front door of their apartment house. I want to use it in an English lesson.
My parent's front porch.

Kitty on the couch.
Boo defeating the Kapibara.
Edemame-san in the yarn jar.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

December 2008

Pope Benedict XVI has said that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behavior is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction. What is he thinking? How hurtful. I'm very disappointed.

In the video below Jon Stewart makes some good points about how ridiculous and inhumane it is to be anti-gay marriage.

I was surprised to see on the cover of a recent Newsweek the bible with a rainbow bookmark and the caption, "The Religious Case for Gay Marriage," complete with a very convincing and interesting article inside titled, "Our Mutual Joy," by Lisa Miller. The online version has some shocking comments. There is a culture war going on here. "Is Gay the new Black?"

My rule of thumb: be thrilled when anyone finds love in this life. Support all marriages. Support all forms of mutual love. Conservatives try to make a good point by equating same-sex love to incest and pedifilia. "Not all forms of love are good." Yeah, but all forms of mutual love are. Just imagine two old ladies that are soul mates and want to get married.

The great American bumper sticker is also settling: If you don't believe in gay marriage, don't have one.

Ashley and I playing our roles at a local kindergarten. It was my first time as Santa.
The Dalai Lama is so cool. Just check out this short article.
Also, Paul Lonely, author of the mind-boggling Suicide Dictionary, recently added me to his website! I must be dreaming.

I visit the largest elementary school in Ehime: six classes per grade, 35 to 40 children in a class, six grades in the school, plus a special needs class. That's about 1,350 kids, perched on the side of the mountains, overlooking the city, sea, and islands beyond.

It's beautiful, and freezing here in Niihama right now. The kids have to wear their regular uniforms, which means skirts and short shorts. The cold is a stupid distraction from learning, in my opinion. Either heat the schools (which they try to do, with loud, smelly kerosene heaters), or let the kids wear the warmest things they have. Japanese kids are pretty damn tough, you know. May I remind you that they clean their own schools?

Here we all are in the cold, cold gymnasium for an actually quite impressive morning assembly: the monthly poetry recital. Entire grades recite famous poems to each other. I could sometimes hear a single voice, the first child to shout out the next word, so confident, everyone else coming in half a second behind.. It looks like second grade is standing up and reciting theirs in the back left corner.
A typical choice at a vending machine. Red means hot. See the hot chocolate in the middle? It's so good. They have hot corn soup and hot lemon water, really good teas and coffees. That hot coco in the middle, though, is mine. I don't even look down at the cold stuff any more. Notice, though, that there is nearly no pop; it's mostly coffees and teas. Japan is very caffeinated.

A Christmas tree decorated with Santa Hello Kitties. Emily and I visited Osaka this weekend. We saw the forest of bright yellow ginkgo trees that line Midosuji street and witnessed first hand the monstrous Christmas cheer infesting the entire city. Modern versions of old Christmas songs blast throughout the streets...sales!! sales! sales. Christmas in Japan is weird. Man I'm excited to come home!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Here is that moss-covered holy tree again, with the nondenominational temple and friends on her roots. We move so fast.

Dr. Suess, Joyous Leaping of Uncanned Salmon. This painter was and still is a huge influence, I imagine.
Mark Tobey, he and I share a vision. Here, I'll give you another one of his. Tobey was a Baha’i Zen Buddhist living in Japan for a while, too. Hmm.

oil on wood
This painting is pretty small. not so new. I put it in the show and Yasuchika said he liked it the best."It gives me so much space to enter and create.It's full of space, and I like."
That made me happy. And then today Tricia said she liked this painting the best because, "it feels like me. or at least, how I want to be."
Support is cords of god.
Hammocked in support cords of god.
This is heaven.

And here is my sister Martha, teaching at Niihama elementary school when she visited this fall. You might already know this story, but I want to publish it here because it is so epic, and so telling about how wonderful my sister Martha is.

So, how should I put this? While Martha was visiting me in Japan, I planned for her to visit an elementary school. This was a great idea, except that the best day to visit was when another English teacher would be there (I had to work at Junior High and couldn't be with her), and that day was also the day after Saijo Festival. Which is bad news. Because Saijo festival is an all night long event. So, after we walked all night with the city of Saijo up to a fertility shine in the heart of the mountains, we got home at around 6:45 and fell asleep for 30 minutes. When I woke my sister up, she was so angry; she was crying. “You will thank me later,” I told her. "But seriously, if you can't make it, you don't have to come." I said.
"No, I can do this." she insisted.
"Thank you. Alright, let's go. It takes about five minutes by foot, so we better get moving." How dare I.
We hurried down the street and were there by 8.

So in this picture is Martha, on next to no sleep, with her legs and feet killing her. And she looks great! She is a brilliant actress, and a strong, powerful woman. Imagine though, elementary school, alone, all day. It takes a lot of energy. Just repeating the flashcards to the kids wears the voice out. And head, shoulders, knees, and toes? You are on your feet all day. I am pooped at the end, even when I have had plenty of sleep! Did I mention Martha had no breakfast?
Of course nobody at the school knew this. She looked great and acted impeccably.

It gets better. After some weird Japanese lunch, when she was finished and all she had to do was walk home and sleep, she took a left instead of a right and found herself wondering around Niihama for three hours in the hot sun, on her now blistering feet. I went looking for her, worried sick, finally gave up, came home and passed out. When Martha finally made it home, I remember being woken up by some severe cursing.
God bless her.

I know it was cruel, what I made her do. And I told her she didn't have to go, and definitely not all day…, but she said “I don’t want you to look bad.”
And so, with a smile, fighting back tears, she taught elementary school, four classes back to back.

You see, I wanted her to experience what I experience every Wednesday. My family is so in the dark about what I do over here. This was my chance to share something golden. Hundreds of excited kids happy to see you. I wanted her to stand in front of a class of shining, beautiful almond eyes, and listen to them try to speak English. She got it, but her feet will never forgive me.

Martha left such an impression that when I visited the school last week many of the kids said, “Hey Look! It’s Martha Sensei’s brother.”

More influences.
Thanksgiving at Emily's.
Everything was heaven.

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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