beach day

Today, my first full day back in the USA, we went to the beach.  I had planned to spend some time by and in the pool in my mom’s backyard, so as to acclimate myself to this time zone, using the sunlight on my skin as the main helper.  But, when I went downstairs to find food to heal my headache, my mom suggested the beach.  Obviously, the answer was yes.

My cousin, who lives in Galveston, walked down to meet us at the beach with her pup.  I had a wonderful time just hanging out with her and my mom and the dog.  We walked, we swam, we boogie boarded, we tossed a stick for the dog, and we, above all, chatted.  We didn’t talk about much, which is something that I noticed much earlier on today, but we did talk.  It were as though we were all really close, and we saw one another all the time, that we didn’t have much anything important to discuss.  It was like we were just hanging out for our regular hangout time… which  we don’t actually have, but hopefully you get the point.

We had a wonderful lunch afterward, and then my mom and I headed home to grab the rest of my stuff, and to head out to check my new bicycle’s height, before going to my friend’s house (where I’ll be staying for about six weeks).  My friend and her husband were super stellar when we arrived this afternoon, and they have been just wonderful so far since then.  I think I’m gonna like it here.

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Post-a-day 2017

More than they can handle?

Riding the trains recently, I am often reminded of one of the – if not the – first times I rode on subways.  I was with my mom and two brothers, and we were on vacation in Washington, D.C.  I was around age ten or twelve.  Throughout the trip, we used public transit.

While we were on the subway train one particular time, I was hanging on some of the handles that dangle from above, and chatting with my mom and brothers.  One of my brothers then commented to my mom that she needed to start teaching me how to shave.  I had only just recently begun having hair growing under my arms, and this was the first time I ever really noticed.

I was totally embarrassed, but that was no surprise / nothing new for me, since I was with my brothers.  They regularly said and did things that had me be embarrassed.  Not in mean ways, or anything – they just called me out on things.  Like the time I did everything backwards in my dance recital, because I was watching the teacher off to the side.  They weren’t being mean to me after the performance, but simply pointing out in a slightly teasing way that I had done everything backwards.  So, it was definitely teasing, but out of love and good humor.

Anyway, I remember that experience.  I was a bit embarrassed to put my arms up to hold onto the handholds on the train, because I had hair growing from my underarms.

Now, fast-forward to today.  I have hair growing from my underarms, as well, but, just as it was new to me then, this is new to me now.  I have only recently given up shaving.  It wasn’t even entirely intentional – it kind of just happened.  I can talk about it more at another time, but for now, I’ll leave it at that.

So, I have hair on my underarms.  I don’t have purely clothing that covers my underarms.  I use public transit here in Japan.  Therefore, there are times at which I am on the train in something like a tank top, and don’t have a seat, and so need to hold the hanging handholds.  Doing so, of course, exposes my underarms.  Each time feels a lot like that time in D.C.

Except, this time, I consider things a bit differently.  At first, I worry, of course, as it reminds me of the D.C. experience.  Then, however, I consider what my specific worry is.  Is it about looking good?  Mostly.  Is it about social standards?  Somewhat (part of the looking good aspect).  Is it about concern for exposing people to something distasteful?  Barely.

The only reason that actually holds any merit after these considerations is the distasteful one.  As odd and harsh as it seemed at the time, I still believe that the Scientology guide we read in high school held merit in it.  Long story short, I did a summer symposium at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas.  There is a Scientology place on one of the main strips around campus, as a couple of us picked up the free guides one day, and ready through them.  The guides were kind of like a list of rules, so to speak, of how to do certain things for daily life, so as to be a good person.  Some were entirely normal and standard concepts for being a good person.

One, in particular, struck us, and has stuck with me ever since then.  I don’t remember the exact wording, and so I won’t attempt to quote it.  However, the words we used to explain it were, “So, don’t be ugly, because that’s displeasing to others.”  Our words, of course, were a bit abrasive, but they relate the idea.  Take care of your appearance, because who wants to look at someone with matted hair, rotting teeth, dirt-caked skin, and the rest of that kind of package?  I don’t know anyone who truly enjoys seeing people like that.  And I do know that, for myself, I rather enjoy seeing people who are cleaned up nicely.  Who doesn’t enjoy a chance to see someone beautiful?

This isn’t a matter of dressing to impress, but simply dressing to be appropriate, so to speak.  What I gathered for myself from that guide was one simple question that I ask myself:  Do I enjoy looking at myself?  Whatever I am wearing, however things are, I just check in with myself.  Am I okay with what I am wearing, with how I look?  Would I be offended seeing someone in my place?  It is not a question that often is answered with a negative, and so it is often more of a background idea, as opposed to a conscious effort.  However, this is what comes to mind with situations like this whole train thing.

That being said, I consider this Scientology guide’s note of personal appearance whenever I am in my train circumstances these days.  Is my showing arm hair actually offensive, or merely unexpected and outside of the ordinary?  I believe it is the latter.

At this point, I consider things in terms of male standards of acceptable behavior.  Yes, it would be rude to put my underarm into someone’s face, I think.  I would be totally annoyed if some guy had his pit in my face on the train.  Though I would be totally fine if he were in a tank top, holding onto the handholds up above, if his pit were not in my (or anyone else’s) face.  I know that guys traditionally have underarm hair, but they don’t exactly flaunt it at everyone.  And so I want to do the same.  I don’t love seeing guys’ underarm hair all the time, but I’m also not offended when it shows up here and there.

And so, I go ahead and hold onto the handholds most of the time.

I am cautious due to cultural standards, and I don’t need to freak out these poor, unsuspecting Japanese folk.  However, that just means that I don’t flaunt it.  Perhaps I’ll turn a bit one way instead of another, but it is specifically so as not to scare people (even though I find it silly that such a thing would scare people, I keep in mind my own former comfort levels with female underarm hair, and my own in particular – it has been a process).  I am not stopped for a fear for myself.  I am not worried that these people will dislike me – not at all.  It is kind of like how I don’t walk up to fat people and tell them that they would do well to eat a good diet and get a significantly greater amount of exercise than they are currently getting – it is entirely unnecessary, and could be incredibly rude.  (Though, I currently don’t really see a scenario in which that wouldn’t be totally rude.)  I do not fear for myself, and have that stop me.  That fear ends at the first round of questions regarding my worry.  It just becomes a matter of whether people can handle that part of me, or whether it is best to leave that out of the social conversation.

 

Post-a-day 2017

Shower heads and Showers

There is something about a shower that feels almost life-saving.  I was in a huge sort of panic, which kept increasing in intensity as time passed, the other night, and I just felt like the world of my life was a decided failure and blah, blah, blah. I arranged with a friend to talk briefly about this, but she still had to finish something else first.  I, having just arrived home, and needing only to shower and prep for bed, took a quick shower while waiting for my friend to finish up her things.

I went into it almost shaking with concern and nerves, yet came out of it just stressed a bit.  No more feelings of insanity or utter failure remained.  Yes, I was still a bit down and out, and yes, I was still concerned about my somewhat immediate future.  But my experience of life was completely transformed from before the shower.  I was essentially a hot mess about to break down before the shower, and I came out calm and just somewhat stressed about things.

I remember putting my face under the shower head, feeling the individual streams of water clink onto my face in what felt like a hundred different individual places – in that moment, everything else disappeared.  It was almost as though my brain took a break from really existing for a few seconds, and all focus and attention was freely and passively noticing these streams of water hitting my face, stimulating something refreshing within and all over my body.  Nothing existed outside of that moment of cleansing.  For a few breaths, I was free (so much so, that I couldn’t even have told you from what or that I was free).

The rest of the shower typically seems to be the same for me – just a shower.  But the effects of it all were immense. 

Post-a-day 2017

My feet sit still

I have been sitting here for over an hour, not going home.  The semi-excuse was that I was talking with my mom, but the phone call has finished, and here I still sit.  I also had a high level (for me) of caffeine this afternoon, and so I wanted to get the jitters out as much as possible, while I still had the chance to walk around outside and all.  Now I feel the sleepy sliding into place, wishing me to bed.

And yet, here I still sit.

I do not know if I am afraid of tomorrow, and am letting that stop me from ending today, or if I am afraid of tomorrow, but have some other reason that I still sit here on my little piece of green-light-backed bench.  Either way, I can see clearly that I am afraid of tomorrow beginning.  I leave in 12 days, and the planning I didn’t want to do would be coming into effect now, if I had done the planning.  Instead, the events are all floating around, wondering if and when they will be accomplished by me.  I can almost see the Super Smash-like challenge at play around me, each item fighting happily for a place on my life this week and next.  But they all have so many lives, it is taking forever to figure out who ranks where – the current lowest position might still come through and win the whole thing in another 40 lives.

It is such a beautiful night right now, right here, I want to keep it.  I want to roll into a hammock out here in the plaza, and sleep with the cool breeze brushing and rocking me all night, clouds floating slowly by above me, and slight coty noises rumbling off and on in the nearby distance.

But, even still, I don’t want to close my eyes.  I don’t specifically have a desire to remain here on this bench. I also don’t specifically have a desire to walk the block home or to go to bed.  It is not apathy necessarily.  I just can’t figure out what feeling is there.  Because I know that there is something there…

And so I sit, writing this, and taking my time to do so, pausing so as. It to finish and have no other reason good enough to keep me here on this bench.  Here, I am intentionally on my own, alone.  Once I move onward, that will not be the case.  While I am here, there is not much of anything for me to do but to sit and to enjoy.  Once I move onward, again, that will not be the case.

However, the plaza decided for me just now, as it turned off its lights.  No longer is my bench wall green, and no longer are the ground lights shining.  The plaza now sleeps, and I accept that as encouragement enough to send me home.  I still do not want to go, but I certainly prefer that to being in trouble with the security guard who already stared me down earlier, when all the lights were still glowing.

Anyway… yeah…

Post-a-day 2017

Why you gotta be so…?

Why are we ever mean to others?  Really, truly… why?  

Can we go Taylor Swift on the situation, and have the cycle end right now?

I see potential in this, but are we brave enough?  Is bravery even what it is that we need?  Perhaps love is all we need.  And not even in the cheesy way, but truly.  Beatles it all the way, because all we need is love.

Post-a-day 2017

Don’t play favorites?

We grow up always hearing about not playing favorites.  “Don’t play favorites,” and, “Treat everyone equally,” everyone always seems to say.

And yet, I struggled through the constant questions of “What’s your favorite _______?”   I even made up a favorite color, because I didn’t have one, but people constantly asked what mine was.

What’s more, if we look at it purely on a human perspective, not to play favorites, then does marriage even really work?   Exclusivity in relationships would be impossible.  How could I treat someone else with the same passion, love, care as I do my partner?  And then, how could I treat everyone that way?

How could I have an intimate and loving relationship with my mom, if I am to treat her as I treat all others, despite the fact that I spend most of my childhood with her, and not the rest of the world?

I’m not looking to cancel exclusivity or marriage or anything, here.  I’m just wondering at our concepts of ‘treat everyone equally’ and ‘don’t play favorites’.  There seems to me to be a sort of inconsistency in the thinking here – something is missing in our mentality, and I want it to come beautifully to light to save the day… something like that, anyway. 😛

Post-a-day 2017

Washington

My mom is on a sort of artist retreat in Washington right now.  She called me up to show me the place where she’s staying for the retreat, and it’s gorgeous.  The barn-like house and other beautiful, wooden buildings on the plot of land look fabulous amongst the unfamiliar greenery.  I kept looking at it all, trying to place it.  It looked somehow familiar and yet totally not.  But I’ve never been to anywhere that has foliage like Washington, so it’s no wonder I couldn’t quite figure it out, place it all – it actually is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

The temperature was in the 50s, with humidity in the 80s, as it was early morning.  I found myself asking my mom how far she is from Forks.  I had to spell the name for her, as well as tell her that it’s a city in Washington.  She had no idea that I was semi needing out.  But that’s okay, because it turns out that she’s something like four and half hours away by ferry and car.  So there’s no chance she’d be able to pop by for a quick look and a photo for me.  (Aka I’m not missing out on a total nerd opportunity.)

So, that was fun, discovering that I’m a bit more of a nerd than I had expected. 😛  Gotta love nerds, though, right?  I know I do.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017