Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Sayonara (from "Naked") by Shuntaro Tanikawa

I have to go now,
right now,
but don't know where.
Cherry trees bloom along the street.
I cross when the light turns green.
the familiar mountains beyond as my guide.
Have to go by myself
but don't know why.
I'm sorry, Mom.
Treat Dad nice.
I won't gripe about food
and I'm going to read more than I used to.
At night I will look at the stars.
During the day I will talk to all sorts of people.
Try to find out what I really like best and
if I do I will hang on to it and live as long as I can
and not be lonely even if I'm a long way away.
I have to go now.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The countdown has begun already

I took a nap today and had a dream. I was at school at night. I had to go into my building but it was pitch black inside. Spooky. I didn't wanna go in but had to for some reason. I decided to go in. I didn't see a ghost but felt and even stepped on something indescribable. It was like a horror movie. I couldn't handle it well, so I stepped outside. There, I found many cats laying around everywhere. I got excited. I saw one of my students and asked him where all these cat were from. He said they're hiding during the day and comes out at night. Then all the sudden I realized that I had something in my pockets, both sides. I reached inside and touched something warm and fluffy. There were two kittens in my pockets! One was black and white and the other one was brown. They were tiny. I put them on my palm and carefully wrapped my hands around them. I want them! I screamed. And the very next moment I realized that I was leaving this place in a couple of months, so I can't have them.
I woke up there, still feeling the warmth of the kittens in my hands.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

snow on a windy day

dancing in the air
wandering about
carefully deciding where to land
some land on a branch of a tree
resting quietly after a long journey from the sky
some land on the frozen pond
becoming a part of ice, floating until the spring arrives
some even succeed to land on a jogger's shoulder
hoping to travel a little bit further
and some decide to land on my porch
hello there
i hope you are happy about your decision

Monday, February 18, 2013

Yearning gaze at the perfect bed from the not-so-perfect bed

This is one of the pictures on the wall next to my bed. Who wants to be looking at the picture of the bed while laying on the bed already, right? Really. I don't know what I was thinking when I got it up there. I think it's from one of the Anthropologie catalogs came in the mail a while ago. I thought it was nice. Well, when I pay attention to the detail now, it is actually nice. This bed with the cute pink pipe frame is obviously for a couple, one side is for her and the other is for him. Two matching bed side tables, reading lamps, and books. Can't be more perfect than that.

I have a big bed for one person, and I always sleep on one side and other side wide open as if I'm always expecting someone. I have two pillows too when I only need one. Looking at this photo really makes me yearn for dozing off and waking up next to you and feeling complete again (so funny someone said, "each day is incomplete until I watch this video.")

Sunday, February 17, 2013

my new discovery, Gotye

So, I've been listening to Gotye's music all week, ever since I discovered him last Sunday night while I was half-jokingly watching the Grammys just so that I could tease and tweet about Carrie Underwood's ridiculous LED dress. So, discovering gem like him there came as a complete surprise. I think I had heard his Grammy winning song, "Somebody that I used to know" somewhere briefly before and thought it was nice but never paid close attention to it. When I listened to the whole thing last week, I was like wow, holy christ, where have you been all my life? I guess he's been famous for a while now, but I always happen to be the last person on earth to find out about everything. You guys do such a fine job to keep me uninformed of all the goodies out there. Anyway. He was a nice discovery, and I love his music.

And today, I found this documentary, The Making of Eyes Wide Open. It's simply enjoyable to eyewitness the process of making a song and it really shows you how carefully, meticulously, yet spontaneously he creates his music.

He's truly an exceptional artist. Not to mention he's so hott and can speak Japanese.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Oh aye Friday night!

Ahh...Friday night! The best time and day of the week! I was waiting for it all week. I've made it. I'm celebrating it with a real matcha, strawberries and leftover Valentine's Day chocolate. Ah, life has just become a bit more beautiful now.

This week went fast, and mann, I was busy! I don’t remember which day, but one day this week, I was getting ready to go to school and I was in the bathroom, putting some make-ups on or brushing my hair. I realized how untidy the bathroom was; clothes laying on the floor just as I took off before taking a shower, all the cosmetic stuff, earrings and rings were all mixed up, lying scattered next to the sink. I sighed looking at the mess and looked at myself next. I looked tired and stressed. I was running late, and I didn't have time to tidy it up or lament the current state of being. I said to myself in the mirror, “Why am I always so busy, doing million things at a time! When will I ever be not busy???” When will I ever have time to read all the books I want to read that are on my kindle? Or movies I want to watch? The DVD’s on my dining table keep piling up. The list of things I want to do when I'm free piles up while more new duties pile up even higher, catching up and eventually overtaking and swallowing all the fun part of my life before I know it.  

I couldn't afford for just standing there thinking about it all day, so I grabbed socks (of which took forever to find the matching pair) and left my apartment. By the time I got to school, I realized that all my life, I'm always either really busy or sunk by absolute boredom, so I'm always on either side of two extremes, never comfortably busy or comfortably not busy. Well, I don't know if anybody can possibly relish the state of being "comfortably busy", but it's ironic that when I run out of things to do, meaning when I'm free,  I don't know how to be "comfortably not busy." It should be easy, right? but I really don't know what to do. I only manage to glance at all the books and movies I'd put aside when I was too busy to do so, in hopes of indulging myself into them when I have the time to do so. Strangely, when I'm actually free, I don't feel like it anymore and kind of become unsure of what to do with all this free time in hand and sort of miss having million things to do and the state of busyness all together. Yeah, it's nuts. 

Well, tonight, I tried to enjoy this state of being comfortably not so busy but ended up tidying up my room a bit while listening to Gotye, my recent discovered gem. Talked with mom and dad on Skype and later with mike. I will have to finish Chapter 4 tomorrow, so I'm gonna be hella busy again, and no, I won't complain. I will enjoy the state of busyness while it lasts and keep looking forward to next Friday.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Day ritual: green tea cupcake-making

Here comes my Valentine's Day ritual...yup green tea cupcake-making! This morning, I had mil de cosas hacer, like reading four chapters for the evening class, preparing for tomorrow's class, typing up my thoughts for the group project, etc., and I had to do all that before 1pm. I tried to ignore that it's Valentine's Day and attempted to complete the assignments but when it was past noon, I put the books down and shut off my computer. Forget it. It's Valentine's Day for god's sake! I couldn't resist it any longer.

I dug out the recipe I used from last year and started cooking. It took only 30 minutes or so for the entire process. I only managed to make 8 of them though. I ate two (yeah I had to taste two of them to examine carefully if they're edible, right?) and gave the rest to my friends.

The photos below green tea cupcakes are homemade fish-shaped chocolate from my former students. They stopped by my office in the evening. How sweet...! It is delicious, and I'm munching this all up with strawberries as I type :)

Hope everyone has had a happy Valentine's day today!
Sending much love to you all...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

'real' news

So I was wrong, about mom only emailing me whenever she has news about Nene, the cat. She prove to me today that she actually does send emails with 'real' news. That 'real' news was...my sister-in-law, Kazumi is pregnant with her second child!
Here is an email from Kazumi that mom forwarded to me:

("Just came back from the doctor. I'm six weeks pregnant. I will go get the maternity book later. It's still as small as 'slime', but I could see its heartbeat on the screen. I'm happy!")

So I'll be an auntie again by this November, I suppose?
Life is good.
Real good.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mama's report on Nene and anko

Mom emailed this evening. The subject read, "おはよう!" OK, she sounds excited about something. What's the occasion? I opened the email and found this photo of Nene, my cat, sitting on top of the small Japanese heater, looking down, pensively.

Mom said,

("Heavy snow here, but the weather is nice so it will likely to melt soon. This morning, Nene ate anko (sweet red bean jam) and I am thrilled. She came downstairs when I was fixin' to eat the toast with butter and anko, so I let her try it. She licked the big chunk of anko, then she kept moving her mouth, as if she were enjoying the afterglow of the anko taste")

It made me laugh.

Mom always reports to me whenever Nene does something new, like she feels responsible for it or something. When I think of it, that's pretty much the only time I hear from mom. So, if there is no news about Nene, no news from mom either. The last time I heard from her was about Nene too, when Nene got a running nose. I just have to smile when I receive emails like that. Mom always wonders why Nene doesn't eat fish, because she'd always assumed that all the cats love fish. One time Nene ate ham and cheese and that shocked mom, but everything became crystal clear since then and now she is convinced that Nene is indeed an American cat, and that's why she doesn't eat fish. I bet some American cats love fish too, but I don't tell that to mom. She seems pretty convinced with the theory established on her own.

Anyway, it's getting late here. I gotta get up early to teach the Japanese culture class.
Until next time...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Eddie is here!!

He arrived, safe and sound.
Ever so lovely.
My days are looking brighter now.
I didn't have a calendar until now, so feels like the year 2013 has begun, finally.
Well, wait a second, it actually arrived Saturday, Chinese (Lunar) New Year's Day.
Like I'd planned it.
Can't be more proper than that.

I'd been buying Audrey Hepburn's calendar every year since 2003 or so.
Chain is broken now, but change is good.
Most of the time.

Happy New Year, everyone.
May your wish come true.

(yup, two calendars. one for me, one for the upcoming birthday gift for my friend who is also a Eddie fanatic. :) shhh! it's secret. she doesn't know it's coming!)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ochazuke on rainy Sunday

Rainy Sunday. I didn't go out, but not because of the rain. I love the rain and always have. I have a perfect pair of moss green rain boots and a cute polkadot umbrella, but that's not the only reason why I love the rain. I love the rain for many other reasons. I like the sound of rain hitting my umbrella while marching in the puddle with my rain boots and feeling epic. I like watching the rain outside the big window from my bed and pondering random things. And of course I like listening to the rain when I'm dosing off at night.

I woke up around noon. I wasn't planning on sleeping in today, but I stayed up until 4am, watching mike and other speakers at the HTML5 conference in Japan live on UStream, so I guess I was pretty tired. I only had some cold rice from last night in the rice cooker, so I decided to make some ochazuke. Inside the shelf, I luckily discovered some homemade pickled ume that mom had sent me before, so I sprinkled the ume flake over my ochazuke and poured genmai green tea on top. That was such a brilliant idea. The pickled ume certainly added a nice flavor to it. I enjoyed ochazuke and felt the kind of serenity, which is usually what I gain from eating Japanese food.

There are so many tasks to be cleared away from my To Do list, and the list seems to accumulate every hour or so. My first priority for the weekend was finishing Chapter 4 of my thesis. Yesterday, I was at the computer lab on campus and worked on it for 6 hours. I wrote about 10 pages and complied some data. I haven't finished the chapter, but I feel like I've accomplished for the weekend, so I didn't feel like writing my thesis today. I managed to finish grading students' essays though, which was the second priority. My students in Modern Japanese Civilization are all motivated individuals who tend to get involved in the topics. So their journals end up being novels, which is great, only if I didn't have to grade them... I'm glad I've got it done though and marked it off from the list.

Other items to be completed by early this week are...(I do this so that it becomes visual and public and I can't cheat or get away from it!):

  • finish Chapter 4
  • write a recommendation letter for my former student
  • finish e-filing taxes (I'm so close to finishing! I just need to enter my freaking bank info)
  • update the course schedule and post on Blackboard
  • submit my paper to Purdue Literary Award
  • buy gifts and cards to people I love & ship them
  • go to Walmart (yikes!) and get a coaxial cable (so that I can watch this year's Academy Award—to see Eddie Redmayne, specifically)

Well, something like that...hopefully by my next blog entry, the list is shorter. 
Until next time.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My book!

My first book will be published in April! ...ahem, well, not exactly...but I wish!! But, I'm not entirely lying. My name (appearing as "Ishikura Naoko") will be on one of the stories as a translator in the book called Fishing Stories. It's the very first time to have my name on any printed books in history, and I'm really excited!

Fishing Stories is written by Henry Hughes who is a professor of English at Western Oregon University and is also a renowned poet and writer.

This book is comprised of stories about fish and fishing all over the world. Last summer, I had a privilege to work with Henry on translating Ueda Akinari's Muo-no-rigyo 夢応の鯉魚 (translated as The Dream Carp) in Ugetsu Monogatari (雨月物語Tales of Moonlight and Rain, 1769).

It took a good two weeks or so working on translation, submitting several drafts, emailing back and forth with Henry and discussing and examining the translation, word to word. I had translated some work instructions and manuals when I worked at a Toyota group factory, but I'd never translated literary work before. So, I struggled a bit between accuracy and creativity. The more I read the original Muo-no-rigyo, the more I was able to capture poetry of it, and from time to time I experienced some sort of translator's ego to add "personal color" to the work, just because I think it would sound more beautiful or what not. But, in the end, I learned that I should always be true to the original, because it is not my work, after all.

Anyway, it was such an extraordinary experience that I'd never imagined I would be part of, and I would definitely like to work on translating more literary work in the future, maybe after I finally receive my master's degree in May! Until then...I'd better be back to my thesis, like right now :)

Fishing Stories will be published from Random House, Inc. on April, 16th, 2013, and can be pre-ordered here.