Wednesday, July 27, 2011

pert near sayonara

it is so hard to believe that im really sitting here thinking about next week and next week does not involve sitting at this desk, being on this island, speaking japanese or even being in japan at all.  and neither does the week after that or even the month after that.  in fact, there is nothing in the near future that will have to do with japan at all and there wont be now in the foreseeable future at all.  my heart is just torn.  living here and doing this all consuming job has been one of the greatest challenges of my life, yet being here and doing this job has meant giving up many of the greatest loves in my life as well.  though i have grown to love this place and these people as home, there is a voice in the back of my head that keeps telling me that moving on is the right thing right now.  i am doing my best to listen to it in spite of the fact that every movement towards leaving feels heavy and sad, every goodbye feels surreal and every last meal, walk, ride, swim, run, sunset ect feels like i wish it would go on forever.  i am doing my best to imprint these people, places and things into my memory but there is a fear that i will forget and that time will erase them.  i know many will stay with me forever but i want to remember them all so badly, i want to remain in this little slice of heaven and let my mind marinate in its goodness. 

but, alas, time is marching on and i am preparing to re-enter a world of love and comfort that i have not known in so long.  so long now that i have nearly forgotten how good it can be and so i am anxious to see and feel it again as if for the first time, yet with a residual memory reminding me that it is so good and that i DO want that again.  my mind and my body are warring right now with how to feel and what to do.  i see the piles of things on the floor of my apartment asking to be delivered to Oregon or to new owners here, but moving them into boxes and bags and suitcases is not as easy as it should be.  how do i say goodbye? 

leaving is as scary for me now as leaving was for me two years ago.  its so scary in fact that i know more and more than this IS what i am to do now in life and that i have made the right decision.  when life is this scary there has to be amazing change and opportunity just beyond its haze of thunderclouds and driving rain.  its just that getting through the clouds and the rain isnt easy.  im doing my best to get my little boat to a safe harbor with many people i love in the near future and to zip my rain jacket up to my chin and dig my paddles in just a little bit harder.  moving moving MOVING!  trying to get the momentum going is just not so easy.  i will do it though and continue to do my best in enjoying all of the moments as they come down the line.  after all, there are no ordinary moments in life, remembering that is key to my success now.

onwards and upwards.  here i come!  making my way through the storm of sadness to find the rainbow of lovelies waiting on the other side.  I WILL be seeing, hugging and loving you soon.  ive just got to get these goodbye blues out of the way first. 

and here is another quick shot i stole from the entrance of the main garden.  a LOT of work.  a LOT of cool.  cheers man.  keep up the good work on making this little island a unique little slice of heaven. 

im leaving this picture small to retain some of its clarity, so sorry yet again about the photos here.  this whole trip to this part of the island was unplanned but i was glad to be there anyhow.

this is hands down the coolest garden on this island.  this guy (and i know its a guy, cause he showed up about two minutes after i took this picture to make sure i knew it was his.  ohhhhhh!) has labored long and hard to collect all of these buoys from the sea and hang them carefully around his plants.  i was in awe.  this is just the first plot of his huge garden.  there were three more like this just to the right of this one.  cheers for creativity in surprising places.

egami tori

for some reason i had never seen this tori on the island before.  maybe because it is on the way ne side of the island that i dont get to much.  that fact was made obvious while i was out there this day taking pics with my phone and every little old lady in the neighborhood slowly started coming out of her house to see me and ask me what i was doing there.  it was pretty funny, but i was glad to talk with them and happy to know that they are still the curious old ladies that i have been meeting for the last two years here.

i cant believe that i am almost done with two years.  where did they go?

Thursday, July 7, 2011


a little asian history, japanese culture lesson from me today.  Tanabata is celebrated here by people making simple wishes on paper strips and hanging them from huge bamboo stalks, eessentially making a wish tree.  i forgot how beautiful this holiday is and wanted to share it all with you.  the kids at the elementary school had a ceremony this morning and gathered around the huge bamboo stalk that they had decorated and hung wishes on and sang.  of course i stood there watching and crying knowing that it would be the last time i would see these kids performing this ceremony.  what a wonderful moment i got to be a part of.  what a wonderful time in our lives we have been able to share over the last two years.  i didnt expect to feel this way when i left here, but deep down i knew i would.  i have grown so attached to these kids and these teachers and this community.  they have welcomed me and shared their beautiful lives and island with me, letting me make it my home too.  i know that change keeps us moving in life and gives us strength and character, but why does it have to be so hard?

The following variation of the story of Tanabata is known in China and Japan: A young farmer named Mikeran discovered on his farm a robe which, unbeknownst to him, belonged to a goddess named Tanabata. Soon after, Tanabata visited Mikeran and asked if he had found it. He lied and told the goddess that he hadn't but would help with her search. Eventually the pair fell in love, were wed and had many children. However, one day Tanabata noticed a piece of cloth which had once belonged to her robe on the roof of Mikeran's hut. His lie discovered, Tanabata agreed to forgive him on the condition that he weave a thousand pairs of straw shoes, but until that time, she would leave him. Mikeran was unable to weave the shoes in his lifetime and thus never met Tanabata again. However, it is said that the pair meet once a year when the stars Altair and Vega intersect.
Tanabata song:

Sasa no ha sara-sara (笹の葉 さらさら)

Nokiba ni yureru (軒端にゆれる)

Ohoshi-sama kira-kira (お星様 キラキラ)

Kingin sunago (金銀砂子)


The bamboo leaves rustle,

shaking away in the eaves.

The stars twinkle;

Gold and silver grains of sand
i will always keep the memory of these children as they were this morning; busy minds working over the present, quiet hearts contemplating the future and eyes that were asking the world for kindness.  it is my Tanabata wish that they will find this kindness and so much more in life.  it is my Tanabata wish that this beautiful country will rise from the hardships we have faced this year and find new ways to thrive.  it is my Tanabata wish that safety and health will follow those i love and me as we journey on through this magical thing called life.
make a wish and see it through, you never know it might come true...
love to you all out there. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

trash talk

i cant get this tune out of my head.  its a happy little jaunty tune that sounds like it should be coming from an ice cream truck down the street.  i hear it every monday, wednesday and friday while im teaching.  it seriously makes me nuts and today when i heard it, i lost track of what i was teaching the 4th graders sitting in front of me.  it is that distracting.  where does this singy little tune come from you ask?  the garbage truck, thats where.  it really is the damnest thing.  a trash truck that plays happy tunes as it goes about its business of loading our waste into its belly.  some days it makes me really smile to think that the japanese people thought to do such a thing and some days i just want that song out of my head.  today is the latter. 

im not even going to mention the fish truck...oh man.

by the way, this blog officially does not like my videos.  i cant seem to get a single one to upload.  im blogger challenged.  know i have tried though and continue to try...

love and hugs

Monday, June 27, 2011

this one time...

i want to tell you a little story about this one time when i made the right choice.

sooooo... the weather was forecast to be terrible, as in typhoon terrible.  i had made plans to go with some friends from the islands to the mainland for a good-bye party with many of our mainland friends in an attempt to start the inevitable good-bye process.  this would be a one last chance to see those who i had grown closest with on the mainland and have one last good hurrah with them.  i made these plans prior to knowing about the typhoon.  i had also made plans, or rather they had been made for me, to have my debut with my taiko team for the 20th anniversary of our team's existence.  the good-bye party was saturday night and the taiko performance was sunday afternoon.  this meant that i would have to catch an early boat sunday morning in order to make it back in time to perform, for the first time in front of people, with my taiko team.  okay, i can do that, i can make it happen i thought to myself.  no problem.  this was before the typhoon forecast too. 

after i head about the typhoon i started to doubt the possibility of all of this happening as i had planned.  on one hand there was missing the good-byes to consider and on the other hand there was missing my debut with my team to consider.  still on a third hand (i know there is no third hand in life, but just go with it okay!?) there was the typhoon to consider.  we rarely have weather really pan out to what it is forecast to be, so when everyone around me is telling me a big typhoon is coming i tend to not really believe them.  upon investigating it myself i found that they just might be right this time.  just maybe.

i really, really, really wanted to go to say good-bye to my mainland friends.  after all this was kind of the one last time where they would all be there together and a final chance to see many of them.  i wanted to go if there was even a chance i could do it.  i also really, really, really wanted to be able to perform with my team after all of the months (I've been practicing with them for 18 months now) of work and i didn't want to let them down as they were counting on me to be there.  what does a girl do?

i woke up saturday morning early to check the weather and finally decided that it just seemed like it might be too big of a risk to get on a boat because having them canceled on sunday would be devastating for me and my team.  i let my friends know i was going to stay put and sent them off with hugs for everyone i was going to miss.  sniff sniff.  then i had a little pity party for myself and tried to get excited and focused on what i wasn't going to miss.

as saturday wore on the typhoon slowly came on full force.  the rain pounded down and the wind made being outside nearly impossible.  it raged on, as i knew my friends were too on the mainland.  i wished i was there with them, sent my love to them from here and tried to sleep.   i woke up sunday morning to the island intercom man announcing "ohio gozaimasu.  good guess work beth.  all of the ferries for the day are canceled.  no one is getting on or off this island for awhile."  (okay, he didn't really say that, but he did tell us that all of the boats were being held.)  a HUGE sigh of relief.  if i had gone i wouldn't have been able to make it back for my performance.  yesssssss!

sunday was fantastic.  i spent most of the day preparing for the party with my team who thanked me again and again for staying and giving up my party on the mainland to perform with them.  i couldn't believe how much they actually cared.  they repeated this thanks in front of all of the guests later at the party after we had given a really fantastic performance.  the kindness of these people really is just astounding some days.

so there it is.  the time i made the right choice.  not easy, but i just listened to my heart and the weather report and decided i should stay.  what is not so easy right now is dealing with the choice i have made to go come august.  I'm sure this will all work itself out, but for now I've got a lot of goodbyes to get on.

leaving you with some pics of my team practicing last week and from the pre-party last night.  trying to get the video up of our performance last night.  gambarro.

hope life is letting you know you're on the right track too, whatever track that it.  and if you find you're not, take a chance and skip onto the next one. 

love love

ps-sorry about the photos that arent right side round.  i still cant get my computer at school to do as i ask.  appologies for my lack of kanji skills.