Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

So hey, have I mentioned yet?  I made it home to Seattle.

My flight actually wasn't very bad - the first was a two hours flight to Korea, which went super fast.  I had a four hour layover in Seoul, which was not the most fun I've ever had, but I had an epiphany about my Japanese skills that was pretty cool.  When the Korean airlines would make announcements, they would have them in Korean, then Japanese, then English.  Strangely enough, I understood more of the Japanese than I did the English.  It's also funny that I've started to be able to recognize when Japanese is accented: a vowel here, an intonation there.  I feel sometimes like my English skills have deteriorated - I find myself struggling for words or almost saying something in Japanese.  At the same time, it feels like a novelty to be in a place where I can speak my native language, almost like it's cheating to be able to understand every word in a sentence.

The 10-hour flight was similarly not too bad.  I slept for about five hours of it, and watched some really bad movies for the other five hours.  Since then, it's been a whirlwind of yarn stores, hanging with old friends, and lots of last-minute Christmas shopping.

My favorite present this year was one that I already knew about: my mom bought me a pair of Fluevogs!  They are the most comfortable heel I've ever worn, and I'm a sucker for the bright yellow.  They've got some great touches - there's white floral embroidery on the toe, and a cute little button that connects the strap to the body of the foot.  The design sort of reminds me of vintage dishware.  I have a feeling that they're going to get a ton of wear, and I may be converted to a full-blown Fluevog addict if I'm not careful.

Also, remember this belt?

My mom is super stealthy and got one for me, shipped all the way from the UK!  I love it, and would definitely buy from the seller again!  Please note the super hippie hair.  I do my college proud, man.

Tonight it's off to see Tron with some friends and prance around in my new shoes.  So far this Christmas has been a good one, and I hope it's a good one for you too!  For those who don't celebrate Christmas, hope that you're having a lovely Saturday!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Leaving home

In my last days in Japan, I'm finding that I'm so exhausted that it's hard to focus on all of the good things.  So much of what I've seen remains unknowable, from kanji and vocabulary to the meanings of gestures.  I still feel so much frustration at missing the nuances of things, and I doubt that that will every really go away.

Yet, there is comfort in the everyday.  The hiss of the electricity on the tracks as the trains go by.  The ducks in the culvert at midnight.  The road home, that has taken me from summer dresses and handcloths in my bookbag to cold hands and white clouds skittering across a winter sky the color of a bruise.  My host family joking at the dinner table: my otosan kissing a leg of crab and offering it to my okasan.  I will miss all of this.

A few days ago I met with a professor of mine from Oberlin.  Over coffee, we talked about Japan and Oberlin and my impending graduation.  I talked about stainless steel and silk yarn; going to fashion school; not being ready to leave in so many senses of the word.  She told me that last week, a biochemistry professor was in a terrible car accident in the snow.  It's strange to be familiar with the utter whiteness of that road, to know the way by heart, and to also know that someone was hurt doing something that I have done before.  I don't know the professor personally, but I've been keeping her in my thoughts and hoping for her safe recovery.

And then there's graduating.  When I think of it, I think of the night my friend Emily and I sat in Tappan Square in late May, clothed in bare feet and pajamas, and talked about how scary it is to leave home.  Home: Oberlin, the place of unsettled dreams and unrelenting cold and living in every nerve-wringing moment before exams, of freshly plowed snow and bad coffee and staying up too late drinking wine with people you love.  Even though when you remember those times, that stress and fragility has become soft behind the sharp outlines of the dances you went to, the shoes you wore, and which boy you liked and never told.  You remember grades, but only in that you remember the physical imprint of studying six hours a day while it snowed outside and that one score of 76.5% gnawed on your thoughts all the while.

I've recently found out that although I got close to being accepted into one of my fellowship programs, I was not offered the position.  It's been an exercise in reevaluating: who am I?  Where do I want to live?  What do I want to do?

I've been in the bubble of Oberlin for so long, with expectations of grades and graduation and thinking about what will get me a good job, that it's hard to take a step back and think about what I want to do, instead of what I think other people want me to do.  Because as far as I've been able to figure out, very rarely are people's expectations of you as strict as your expectations of yourself.  I have a lot of thoughts about where I'll actually be going and what I'll be doing.  And although it's scary as hell to suddenly lack plans right after graduating, it's also strangely freeing.

So in the last few weeks I'm here, I'm hoping to take a breath.  There's always more things to do, but there's also always more time, and right now I just have to get through ten days.

Monday, December 6, 2010

FO post: Home Socks

Whew!  It's been a while.  I've been pretty busy with school: a few weeks ago I went to Kenninji in Kyoto to see a dragon painting, the next weekend I went to Namba for karaoke and clubbing with a bunch of friends from school (surprisingly fun, since I am not a clubbing kind of girl), and this last weekend was spent writing a cinema paper and going out for okonomiyaki and sake with my jazz piano teacher.  In between all of that, I managed to knit a pair of socks in a week.  This is the previously mentioned Madtosh sock in colorway Home, and I'm in love with the stitch definition and colors.  I can't wait to work with the semi-solid colorways that I have, in Robin's Egg and Coral.

We have also hit peak season for the wearing of woolies.  The weather is just cold enough to need a sweater and a jacket and a scarf.  Heaven, I say!  Also, I have found out that wool skirts really do pack a major draft-banishing punch.  Which makes a whole lot of sense, considering.  But still, you sort of forget sometimes, because so many clothes are designed to be pretty rather than functional, and a Pendleton skirt manages to do both without sacrificing an iota of either.  I have to say, too, that Japanese houses are cold.  Even when I'm sitting in bed doing homework or procrastinating doing homework, I generally have long underwear, regular pants or skirt, a thermal or long-sleeved t-shirt, and a sweater on, along with house socks.  

It's sort of nuts that I'm going to be back in Seattle in less than two weeks.  I have some major Christmas shopping to do, and some major errands to run once I get back, but first I gotta get through finals.  And I think the best way to describe my feelings on that are summed up with this picture.

Good kitty.