Archive for wisecracks

Longing, Limericks and Levity in this Rock and Roll Time

A friend recently shot out a quick email regarding the continuing after-shocks: “I’m tired,” he wrote, “of all this rocking and rolling.”  Other friends, Japanese and other, frequently complain about the constant quaking, these shaky reminders of our ultimate vulnerability.

I appreciate them.  I even, well, I like them. Not that I enjoy imagining myself in a dire earthquake/tsunami situation, scrambling with two children up a mountain to escape the insidious, insatiable waves.  I don’t want to discover first hand whether ‘duck and cover’ is the best course, or if actually the trending ‘triangle of life’ works better if the roof comes crashing. Like everyone else here, I pray I will not ever experience any higher level of shake or wave than I did on March 11th.

But I want to live in the present.  I want to appreciate every single blue sky or yellow rose.  The ajisai will bloom soon; I want to see them.  Too often, I see only my own unreachable dreams, daydreaming about a future that is not mine.  The small tremors act as a gentle call back to reality, like a child’s insistent, sleepy tug to bed. Back to all I have to be thankful for,  helping me forget what I long for — and a strangely whispered comfort: we are/ I am only a human, after all.

I decided this rock and roll time needed some hip quick fix.  Here’s a limerick to even out even the most imbalanced lives  — like mine right now–

Said the Earth to the ants as they scurried

“Whatever can merit this hurry?

All this to-ing and fro-ing

Quite makes me feel low.” and

Earth hiccuped the ants topsy turvy.

(That one, for better or more likely worse, is my own invention.  Here is my favorite limerick, but I am not sure whom to credit –)

A crafty young bard named McMahon, 
whose poetry never would scan, 
once said, with a pause, 
“It’s probably because 
I’m always trying to cram as many extra syllables 
        into the last line as I possibly can.”

Rock on, Earth and all —  Levity can be a soul for shit.


Terpsichore, the muse for Dance–cover yourself, my dear.

The mind lays out the world in blocks, and the hushed blood waits for revenge.

John Gardner, in Grendel

Love and war, equally rude, cutting in front of our line of thought, a sweet delete of the entire text of life.

Kris Kosaka, Beyond the Confusions of Tongues

SOS…. SOS….SOS….  I strive to be wise, just end up cracked!  Only another sonnet can capture the irony!!

I wait. His breathing paints the dark; I sigh

your name because I can. All that I can not

blaze with the stars, glittering like the lies

that illuminate each day. I can not

but weep. How weary, stale, and flat the night

for we with shadow dreams. Darkness rips from me

the weapons that wield power in the light:

shining duty, honor and integrity

melt to black. Can-nots swirl, I can not tame

this foolish love – if I dare to seize the day

would you dare too, towards what I dare not name?

I climb upon the stars, I feel my way

across the sky into your room. Too late!

The sun alights my shadowed heart. I wait.

The Eternal Observer

My son and I were sitting quietly together last night and he turned to me suddenly and said, “we all have a god inside of us, don’t we, Mommy?”  Loving someone deeply brings such treasures — unexpected, pithy grace, bestowed with the shining eyes of a 9 year old philosopher.

Sometimes I forget about the god inside me, and I focus on the observer inside me, that being that sits at the corner of my eye, legs dangling, hat askew cynically, as it judges everything I do and say.  Sometimes I catch myself watching, creating, imagining, and I miss the god right in front of me: the child I love waiting for me to come into the present, the breath I take rushed, instead of savored, the food I eat, untasted but consumed.

Part of what makes me a writer is that little observer, but sometimes it robs me of the sacred.  Part of what makes me sacred are my children, all children, all humans, caught between the doing and the thinking, the imagining and the action.  Sometimes I secretly call my observer Prufrock, that gorgeous humane force, full of wondering hesitation.  (See the poem by TS Eliot)  I hope I will still hear the mermaids singing; I hope I can teach my children to dare to eat a peach; I hope I can balance watching with being, imagining with doing.  I treasure every reminder of the still, silent, sacred place inside me, even as I am the outsider, eternally observing, detached and disconnected.

Flights of Fancy —

Writing is a solitary art, and some writers enjoy staying inside the lovely cocoon of their own minds. My own mind, frankly, is not so hospitable, and I thus make concentrated efforts to connect with other writers to build a society, especially as a writer living in a foreign country.  I was pleased at the chance, therefore, to work with a performing arts buddy, who shares my love of ballet and opera in Japan.

It was not always a smooth collaboration; I worried about balancing my own agenda and ego, completely forgetting about her own, but ultimately I learned not only about opera, but about people and culture, communication and working styles.

Here is our finished piece, on opera in Japan.


New National Theatre, Tokyo, hopes Yuzuru will help Japanese opera soar | The Japan Times Online.

The American Diet

A general disclaimer for Steph —

Americans are fat; no time for euphemistic padding. We are obese, swollen with our own importance, gagging on our overflowing economic pursuits, on the chase for a swimming pool, three car garage, country club membership and personal bath for each family member. Americans waddle in credentials and qualifications, weighted down by an economy that increasingly demands education for financial reward, a civilization where learning has become a capitalistic advantage for one’s resume. The New American: bloated with success.

This land of dreams is also the land of extremes, and on the other side, Americans are wasting away. No jobs, no security, no hope, their skeleton frames peer through the bars of poverty and drug abuse, shunning nutrition for quick, cheap meals or the needle. They gaze in envy and awe at their neighbor, but if given the chance, they will adopt the same attitudes towards food and waste.

No wonder we have problems with our diets.

The modern American struggles within a strange love-hate relationship with food. Instead of food as a cultural icon, food must be outwitted, restricted, above all—controlled. Once, counting calories overshadowed all other strategies; then fat—lowfatnofatleanmeatmolypolyfolly-saturated. After fat there was food combining: fruits before meals, starches without meat, sugar with carbohydrate; we have the AB diet, the South Beach Diet, the Atkins Diet, all building towards today’s mechanistic attitude towards food as only fuel, a necessary evil.

Behind our obsession with food, and our ironically growing obesity, lies a fundamental problem in American culture, a problem with the individual and waste. Wasteful attitudes, wasteful habits, inevitable waste for a number of reasons. Certainly America earns its title of “land of plenty”, despite its population of poor. American culture loves to boast of its potentials. Every drink size seems extra large, portions in restaurants overflow, stores advertise “two for one”, and pizza companies make it a policy to bring you double the pies you ordered. There is more in America, even if every person can not access that more—more food, more space, more choice. No wonder the gap between classes is ever widening, as those who have are determined to have more, more, more. The world watches our waste and wonders: when will it ever be enough?

What is never enough is man’s instinctive search for goodness, and that idealism remains fresh and alive in America.  Somewhere, perhaps, the collective soul of America senses the emptiness of its waste. America has the most direct, honest and transparent policy towards many of the evils of society: discrimination against the disabled, the different, or the weak; abuse of animals, environment, or power. America openly, proudly fights these battles (and many others) as it blindly seeks to equalize the emptiness within its ethical domain.

What a colossal waste of possibility!

How can we Americans pretend to do what is good for the whole world when we do not know what is good for our own communities? How can we fight prejudice, stupidity, tyranny, when we fail to notice the superficial posturing of our own arguments? Americans have never understood that the most important things are invisible. Stuffed full with our own drive to boss others, to justify our “rightness” by forcing all to follow our lead, Americans again waste an opportunity to truly share one of the best American qualities, the rights of the individual as a human being.

Truly, I believe American simply lacks perspective. Faced with a swollen world whose borders resemble a distended belly, it is easy for each American to lose sight of the ground. If only every individual, as a collective group, vowed to narrow, reduce, and focus in order to streamline our American lives – then we would truly find the land of dreams.



Marital Amiss

Four Ways To Guarantee Divorce

If only we could register for everlasting happiness, tick off our modest request right between the Wedgewood’s Runnymeade Blue and a Riedel Decanter. While there are no guarantees for marital bliss, there are some guarantees for eventual divorce, and where ever you stand in your relationship now, it’s a good time to reevaluate yourself and your partner. We’ve all heard money matters and know thyself first, but making love stick around when things get sticky can become an emotional game of Twister that defies cliché. If you want to avoid the often tiring drudgery of making your longterm relationship longer, follow these four guidelines.

  1. Embrace the Fantasy Factor: Although no one can really know a potential spouse’s potential for faithfulness, you can certainly encourage your own potential to stray. If you find yourself fantasizing about the biker in the bookstore, or your true love from 6th grade, give into that fantasy. In the flush of passion and the warmth of a new love, small yearnings can be dismissed as healthy distraction, but in ten years, when your love (and partner) gravitates to drooping with second-degree freshness, it is simply too easy in today’s world to make fantasy a reality. If you’ve had too much reality, thank-you, with dirty socks and boring music and the same bloody soccer blaring through your Saturday, simply nourish those too-romantic tendencies and create a world inside or outside your head with a new target. Realizing that half of real love is the every day choice to be with that love, to nurture and nourish that love, and no other love is only for those who want to stay married.
  2. Stale, baby, stale. Putrefy thy love: Presenting our best face for company is an instilled value – but a lifelong partner no longer enjoys company manners, and many couples make the mistake of eventually showing only their worst face at home. Such an insidious vice often takes the mild form of leaving the toilet seat up, gaining twenty pounds, or scattering your tampons in plain view, but you can use this familiarity to breed contempt. Show your partner he deserves better, by giving your best face to company only; reserve the worst of yourself for him. Divide the Pie between work, children, Girl’s play, home, the Gym, colleagues, your garden – a few years of licking the crumbs of your time, and he’ll have his fingers in someone else’s. Happy couples keep allure and respect in a relationship, sharing more than complaints and the last beer. Bring home your stress and dump it into the family vault, and you’ll win the keys to freedom.
  3. Misrepresent yourself, especially to yourself: A single human personality contains many (hopefully) integrated versions, but if you are playing up your earth goddess side to complement his hunter/gather side, you may find yourself stuck in that role forever. If you are Investment Banker Supergal to his Wall Street Maven, what happens if you want to kick off your heels and make hummus? You can insure a trip to Las Vegas for a quickie if you walk down that aisle revealing only one dimension; we ladies are more than 3-D, and no one can maintain the facade for a lifetime. We all know that Magic Slate girlfriend, who slid the bar under her own personality, erasing or adding to satisfy her current beaux – be a Magic Slate Wife and someday, the real you – maybe a few of them – will lead a revolt to take control of the slate and erase your current life.
  4. Ignore your conversation compatibility: Sex ends every disagreement when you’re in the heat, and the added passion pushes you towards those colored lights. Disregard any warning signs – your secret disdain for his every true interest, from baseball to lawn care; his tendency to rant over politics while you stifle a yawn; your divided interests in everything from food to fashion. Relax. You are headed for a limited partnership, quickly terminated when one or both of you cool down. Yes, a great lay makes your bedroom an attractive place, but real marriage takes place in other parts of the house. Sex, stronger than any other part of marriage, rollercoasts through highs and lows, feast and famine, lactating mothers and bone-tired daddies. Sex matters, but if you want an escape clause in your relationship, make it matter too much, and enjoy the (brief) ride while it lasts.

You don’t have to be a neurological surgeon to appreciate the difficulty of lifelong commitment thus the eagerness to avoid a lingering slow death of love. Better to head straight for D-Land; who wants to be a Silver Divorcee? Don’t worry if you can’t follow all four suggestions – a thorough rendering of one will probably suffice to topple an already shaking structure. Bon Voyage!