Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The End Is Just Another Beginning

Dear Readers,

As of today, October 11th at 11:26am, I am officially ending the posts to this website and migrating. It has been a good year on Kyoto Kanji, but as my Fulbright year has ended, so too must this blog. But do not despair! If you would like to continue to read about Japan and my adventures in East Asia, please change your bookmark to soycube.
Thank you for your support this year and I hope to read comments from you in the future.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Awkward Pauses

I have now met up with approximately twenty friends from my life before Japan. It's sad, but I can judge just how good of friends we were from the ensuing conversations. Of twenty:

Three wanted to hear everything. It was just like I had never neglected to email them for a year.
Five wanted to hear highlights and to ensure that I was happy.
Ten were satisfied with the "How was Japan?" "Great!" exchange.
And two had to be reminded I was in the room.

But there were others who also surprised me with the sincerity of their remarks, despite the brevity. There's nothing like time away to put life and friends in perspective.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Issues I Can't Handle

Returning to the United States is depressing. Let me tell you why. In Japan, I am a tall, white, not skinny person. But that's okay, because I am surrounded by short, unhealthily skinny Japanese women who do not eat. I don't worry that I don't fit into the clothing or I take up twice as much space on the sidewalk because the attitudes toward body and appearance in Japan are crazy and unrealistic.

However, I come home to the US and all of a sudden there are people who look like me wearing all sorts of skimpy, stylish clothing and somehow it fits them. Why are the white people Asian-size skinny? I go into a store and try on some of that style clothing on only to find that the size I used to wear has been reassigned a number three sizes larger and looks a whole lot ridiculous.

How is that the US as a whole has a major obesity problem, but all the clothing I try on is too small? And don't tell me, oh Laura, you've probably put on a little weight from eating all that rice. Oh no, it's quite the opposite. But seriously, most people go to Japan and become upset and depressed that they can't fit into tiny Japanese sizes. I come home and hate it that I can't find a decent pair of pants in my size.

So I wonder, what exactly is the weight problem in the US? I think it's a double-edged sword situation; the large are getting larger and the small are getting smaller. And those of a stuck in the middle are just screwed.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Beantown Tours

For me, Boston is a city filled with memories. There are quite a few places that I frequented or happened upon during my four year residence here. For the past two days I have been reliving these memories and their backdrop. Wherever I go I get the eerie sense that everything is the same and everything is different all at once.

I started out this morning in the North End. My friend Damien and I went to see if the Big Dig construction had been finished. It wasn't, but at least the quaint Italian neighborhoods are no longer obstructed by enormous elevated highways. We stopped in at Old North Church where we both learned, to our surprise, that Paul Revere himself did not climb that steeple and light those lanterns. No, he delegated that duty to the steward of the Church, Robert Newman, who was arrested for his small, but important, part in the Revolutionary War. I couldn't help taking a picture of the pews which were built with high walls, presumably to keep in the heat during cold winters. I believe these pews could be considered the forerunners of the cubicle.

After consuming the most decadent chocolate brownie I have ever eaten, courtesy of Mike's Pastry, we strolled down to the waterfront, admiring Boston Harbor on a foggy morning. Fog is something I feel like I don't experience in Japan very often. Somehow the contours of the land around Kyoto only allow for the intake of humidity. But fog in Boston covers the unslightly construction and transports the city back a few centuries to when there were no skyscrapers or shiny glass buildings. In the midst of white vapor, Boston once again becomes a colonial town.

Wandering around downtown, I began to feel one of the major differences between social interaction in Japan and the United States. In Japan, when I pass someone on the street I immediately avert my eyes and stare at the space directly next to them, and they do the same. It is very rare to meet anyone's eyes. Here, I am disconcerted as one after another people look me over and meet my eyes as I walk passed them. I don't know whether I should be looking back or looking away.

As the day wore down, I turned back toward Chrystina's apartment in the Fens. I admired the brownstones I love so much and took a picture of an intersting colored one. Maybe someday I'll come back to Boston and live in a restored brownstone. Who knows?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I knew something had to be weird

I walked into the Louisville, Kentucky airport to hear this announcement:

"Passengers who have not done so, please do."

And then, I walked to my gate, A14. I walked past A11 and A12 and immediately proceded to A14. The Louisville Airport does not have a gate A13. I thought these superstitions disappeared a long time ago.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


You may not think it's awfully short, but I got ten inches cut off. This is the shortest my hair has been since I was three years old. When it's all dry and curly it falls just past my shoulders.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Sourthern Hospitality

Louisville, Kentucky is a city on the southern bank of the Ohio River. It is home to Churchill Downs of Kentucky Derby fame, the largest Victorian architecture historic district in the country, and my good friend Jill. Jill lives in the historic distric in a three story, six bedroom, original hardwood floored, nine fireplace, soon to be restored historic house with her Egyptian cat, William. William likes to attack his toys and your hands with vigor and then apologize by curling up on your feet while you're going to the bathroom.

I took a leisurely bike ride around the area this morning and was awed by house after magnificent house built of solid brick and limestone with expressive arched doors and columns. Old Louisville is a beautiful place. The people are real friendly-like too. I got three hello's and had a little conversation with an aspiring author on my tour this morning. Even just across the river it seems that southern hospitality is alive and well.