Archive for 3f’s

You Are Here: Writing For Tohoku

You Are Here: Writing For Tohoku.

The E-Book is out, with all proceeds going to Tohoku.

I am so proud to be part of such a fantastic effort, so many writers coming together for Japan, from Japan.



Saudade.  I am a word collector like some people collect baseball cards or travel stories.  This one is Portuguese for a certain type of longing. It is on the 2009 list for the Most Difficult Words To Translate.

I will translate and transmogrify the word to suit myself, to define my own, current, perpetual longing  — but not for you.  (Sorry.)

I will give you some hint:  It is not always a sad longing; it is not wistful, looking for things past.  The word to me seems strong, defiant, ready (readiness is all) — longing can turn into reality, if you smile into the face of your dream and wait.  This is the longing I have now, this is my word for it. Saudade.

(I apologize to any Portuguese reader who says, BUT THAT’s NOT WHAT SAUDADE MEANS.  Don’t tell me. Don’t email me.  This is what it means to me, right now.)

Saudade: solitude and motorbikes; sleeping under the stars and walking under the trees.  Finding a way to find a way out.

I have one half day, a night, and another half day to myself — working on my dance play — and I am cherishing the time to write and sleep and write and muse and daydream and write and walk and write and watch a musical tonight alone and write and count stars and write and sleep alone.

And wake up alone and write again.  Saudade.

Amid Shortages, a Surplus of Hope –

I’ve been wanting to post for several days now, but the energy it takes to be happy, carefree and fun for my sensitive 9 year old, who keeps asking me if the people in Sendai are okay, and alert and attentive to tremors for my 6 year old, who is tired of all the earthquake/tsunami talk and swears she will just climb the nearest tree if another big one comes — well, by the end of the day, I have little energy left to write.  Luckily, someone else said it for me, everything I feel about this horrid tragedy and unfolding nuclear drama:

Amid Shortages, a Surplus of Hope –

I also want to show appreciation here for my ballet sensei who greeted us all on Monday (all, meaning the four of us, hesitating and creeping in the door, half guilty, half defiant, out of the usual 18 who made it to class two days after the quake) with smiles and jokes and DANCE and blessed forgetfulness, reminding me that ART is the most wonderful remedy to heal the uncertainty of the human condition.

We are fine right now, and hope to be fine tomorrow and the next.  Hope you are too, wherever you are reading this.

in Just —

The world is mud-luscious, full of piracies and marbles, puddle-wonderful indeed. The sky slapped me into awareness today, its vibrancy a reprimand to appreciate and savor, to throw off my winter gloom and revive. The boke buds outside my home whispered dreams and the daffodils nodded in cheery agreement.

If only I could throw off the lame, goat-footed balloon-men, divorce myself from my own inner days of Spring。三寒四温 (san kan shi on), the Japanese say, but for me it means three days numbed, four days warmed by a fever inside I increasingly fear.

The season is upon us, Grendel reminds me with his fire-dragon’s cynical mirth. (I always reread my favorite books, in times of need.)  Its worn pages, the faded scribbles caged within the margins comforts, a reminder of alternative me, alternative lives. The choice we all have, as Beowulf tells him in the last pages of his life.   A fitting book to read in just spring.

Two days ago it snowed; today the sun burnt off our jackets and gloves, coats and hats abandoned on the withered grass like wildflowers.

I am a frozen bud, suspended between bloom and possibilities.

(The kanji on the top is an old Japanese word for courtesan: the first kanji means flower, the second one is a meld of two meanings:  demon and  trail-blazer/pioneer.  The title of this post for those of you unforgivably illiterate in American poetry, is the same as e e cummings’ poem on ambiguous spring. I borrow it here, for, ambiguous me. )

The Opera Critic Reviews :: New National Theatre Tokyo | Yuzuru

To me, watching YUZURU and writing this review was primarily about family — the family I have chosen, with choosing a Japanese husband, choosing to live here in a world unfamiliar.  There is such a subdued beauty in Japan that I appreciate, even as many things are tiresome or difficult to understand, both literally and metaphorically.  Thank you to Michael, of The Opera Critic, for publishing my view.  Thank you, to my husband, for watching with me, a sacrifice in its own.

The Opera Critic Reviews :: New National Theatre Tokyo | Yuzuru.

Family: Authentic slice of Japan preserved in South Florida | The Japan Times Online

Star, fished from the sky.

The cement sea could drown you,

Like me, adrift inside a distant dream.

After nearly a week back in Kamakura since my longest stay in Florida for 12 years (three weeks exactly) — and I still feel the lingering shadow of a stranger in a strange land. Not a stranger in Japan, but a stranger in Florida, and how strange that feeling was for me, a Floridian, alien and fumbling among my family and friends, calmed and belonging now again across the sea in a small fishing town filled with ghosts and smelling like seaweed.

In other emotional news, the imprint of my imagination has now proved stronger than reality — and I am both humbled and angered by the power of my own creativity.  Wish I could learn to live inside reality instead of my own head.

Still, the torn observer can turn off enough to hail a hundred year old connection between Japan and Florida; squinting, I can see the mikan fields and the hope spreading out under the sunshine back in 1905. Here’s a recent piece I did on the Yamato Colony, a group of Japanese in South Florida, who perhaps eventually felt stranger in Japan than among the crocodiles.

Authentic slice of Japan preserved in South Florida | The Japan Times Online.

Black Swans are not all black —

My twin is on the right --

Growing up, Swan Lake fluttered my heart with dueling emotion.  Although it seemed a necessary lesson in my dance education, it was the one ballet I refused to see growing up.  The music enchanted me; the costumes fascinated me; the story repelled me. It had everything to do with being an identical twin myself, and the idea of a white swan/ black swan rivalry squirmed through my insides, contradicting everything I knew from my own life experience, drowning in comparisons and expectations as the good twin.  My sister, with nary a nefarious bone in her body, earned the title of evil twin, simply because I was a rather goody-goody pleaser, and it pleased people to classify us easily when they could not tell us apart so easily. We resented the stereotype, and lamented that people judged us as a pair instead of as individuals.

Now too well into adulthood, my twin and I have successfully navigated most of the trials of being twins.  We recently went together to see Black Swan, the new movie with Natalie Portman and Vincent Cassel, and I have already made a promise to myself to catch the next production of Swan Lake that swims my way.  Without saying much about the movie, except– if it’s on your list, go see it — the movie’s underlying message, that we all contain the black and white inside ourselves, made me realize how I was foolishly following the stereotype myself.  Of course there is black and white swan rivalry onstage – there are 100 year sleeping princesses and dark princes of the underworld and life sized dolls and rats in soldier suits, but I never considered missing a performance of Coppelia or Sleeping Beauty or The Nutcracker.

It’s one of those lessons I think of as  “Water/Fish Wisdom” — an ‘ah-ha, well, duh!’ lesson that should be self-evident, all around us, pervasive and repeated, but easily ignored in every day interaction:  Humans naturally contain a myriad of shades and shadows, light and brightness; it is up to us to color ourselves with compassion and goodness, not primarily by what is inside us — we all have some darkness probably best buried or excavated — but by what we allow to grow, by what we nurture from inside ourselves, to influence and tint the outside world.

I needed the reminder.

Family: Shun’s exhibition

Shun’s painting, “Rainbow Sea” was chosen to be part of a city-wide elementary school exhibition.  Here are Shun and Kana and I, in front of his painting.


Here is a close up of the picture itself.


Water Child

Growing up in Florida, it’s not unusual to love water. Summer lasts most of the year, and with no alternative for out door play besides melting, kids swim. A lot.  Most of my life, I took for granted my joy in water, whether it be an ocean, river, pool, or bathtub — after moving to Japan, I could add onsen, ofuro, and sento — and I pushed my reluctant husband-to-be into an hour commute so that we could settle by the sea. Everything about the sea attracts me, still, ten years since moving two minutes from the shore:  the smell of sun and sand, the crest of silver waves in moonlight, the salt on your skin after swimming.

I’ve realized lately water fits me, too, as a metaphor for living.  I have never been a solid-of-the-earth type, yet I could never quite lose myself to daydreams and possibilities, no matter how much I wanted to fly.  Although I occasionally explode, a fiery-consumed life in passion and hot pain describes our daughter much more, I’m afraid.

What I have hated about my watery self and still hope to accept: my fluid tendency to assume the shape of my surroundings, like liquid poured into a cup.  Nothing solid myself, but capable of becoming firm and resolute, in the right surroundings.  Capable too, of sniveling, dripping, imbalanced waves of fury or frustration — but certainly I have  been aware of flow, of what washes around during conversations, currents carrying the words,underlying riptides of assumption.  Sometimes I have drowned in someone else’s expectations, or in my own misled determination to assume a shape I scented on the surf — but sometimes this flow has given me a compassion and a strange belief in all humanity as one ocean of souls, bobbing along in our desperation to stay afloat to see the sun again.

Something lovely sailed my way recently, a writing opportunity that came in a typhoon and left with a gentle drizzle of satisfied completion.  In its wake, now the evening after my rush of creativity, I thank my family, my friends, my flow.  Sometimes I know I am treading water, but I can still look up at the clouds, and dream.  Thank you for this wave of chance.

Japanese CUTE extends to food

Japan’s food culture infiltrates all aspects of society; a judgement on your attitudes in life, a personality barometer, a declaration of affection — and yet another example of Japan as the kingdom of cute.  Nothing special; just a bakery in Yokohama, running a cute campaign for the end of summer.  To read more about Japan’s food culture from yours truly, please see: