little sarah Big World

Month: May, 2013

What We Write (part 2)

Sunny Days

“He woke up every morning, thinking that today would be a new and distinctly different day, that somehow newness was possible, as long as he didn’t remember what had come before.

Which is why he tried to remember only his dreams, as if they were the one solid truth in a sea of memory.

Sweepin the Clouds Away

People, thoughts, indignities, shouts, caresses, sincerity and faking it. Ebbing and flowing. Each wave new and just like the one before it. Each night’s dreams an unremarkable revelation, which is why–after a time spent chronicling them with sincere devotion and optimism into a blue suede journal purchased for that express purpose–he eventually gave it up, leaving both dreams and memories to others more sturdy or more creative than himself.

He left the journal to bleach in the sun.

On My Way

Like sun leaking through the shutters of the window, he felt warmth in small, straight, disconnected lines. There was no, he realized, grand narrative into which it all fit. No satisfying, complete story to tell. His dreams were lies that somebody else whispered into his mind while he lay helpless. Creativity, true creativity, lie in thinking about himself as a thin, straight line of warm humanity touching others while they lay trapped in their dreams.”

*       *       *

(Written Saturday, May 25th, 2013 on the semi-enclosed outdoor patio at Design Festa Cafe & Bar, Harajuku, Tokyo. It was around 10 o’clock, after karaoke. Chad suggested we play exquisite corpse, passing a notebook back and forth, each writing a sentence, a thought or paragraph. And this is what we made 🙂

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What We Write (part 1)

written

Chad and I fell in love through writing. Did you know? We met volunteering, flirted tenaciously, felt parallel panic, talked like we’d known each other forever, and then fell into an easy-yet-awkward (and very much sporadic) penpalmanship.

We would check in via letter, or email (or–let’s be honest–facebook) every six months to a year. Then drift off into our own separate lives.

Except one time that didn’t happen. One time we just kept writing. And writing. And writing, until we’d written a book–228 pages of hopes, fears, and things that you’d never want your parents to read.

Anyways, so that’s what we know, and what we come back to, though we’ve also been known to talk on the phone for hours at a time, or stay up all night diving into the oceans of each others minds. Or–lets be honest–watch a movie and then go to bed at 9pm.

And one time (just once), we played around with our new iPhones, dictating random thoughts to Siri to see what she’d turn them into. And that one time, I asked Chad to talk about “what it would be like if we had a kitty cat.”

Then Siri gave us the following, which I have transcribed into poem format. Because it is truly poetic. Thank you, iPhone. Thank you, Siri. Thank you, Chad.

*       *       *

What Would it Be Like if We Had a Kitty Cat?

What would it be like if we had a kitty cat?

Odelays, and having a KitKat
(that we got to snuggle with)and had the to-take for you

Catwalks, in the looking
Little Kitty Cat(and I’m bad)

and then we were–I’m pretty

Nake-Etiquette
daycare, Oberlin

Good little kitty cat

Mayonaise
(and I don’t get off)

Balancing Act

thanks, Starbucks dude!

Guys, it is not all doom and gloom here. It may FEEL like all doom and gloom, but it’s not. I guess that’s what’s so maddening–knowing that things are, in reality, quite pleasant and interesting but feeling increasingly like a twirly-out-of-control-stress-bomb-crying-anxiety-mess.

Still, I wanted to balance out ALL ANXIETY, ALL THE TIME with some sweet and silly tidbits from everyday life. Like my baristo excitedly running from the register to the espresso machine, in the middle of ringing me up, to write something on my cup, which turned out to be kind English well-wishings. Thank you, mystery Japanese baristo at Shinjuku station!

And thank you to all my dear and precious friends, who keep in touch with me through the ups and downs and give me an outlet to say things like:

“I’ll try to take some stealth fashion photos of strangers, though that may be difficult, as all Japanese-designated smartphones work in such a way that you CAN NEVER TURN OFF THE CAMERA SHUTTER SOUND. Not even in silent mode. This is due to rampant up-the-skirt photos. Thanks, Japan!”

Thanks Japan, indeed, and thank you, friendships, and thank YOU, Friends. More to come.

 

In a Nutshell

comedic relief

Even in the throes of a panic attack, I can appreciate that Wikipedia has chosen this exact image for this exact page.

I can get up out of bed, even though I’d rather shut my eyes and pray for this feeling to STOP. To GO AWAY. I can get up, instead, and go for a run.

I can stop drinking alcohol (due to hangover-induced anxiety, something I only started experiencing in my late 20s and WTF), stop drinking caffeine (a joke, at best, as I’m so sensitive that I only ever drink the tiniest amount. Still, even the tiniest amount can eff with my already-tremulous mental state), and start adding structure to otherwise nebulous days. I can run in the mornings, and eat Omega-3s at almost every meal.

I can console and comfort myself with the amazingly-well-written and thoughtful Anxiety blogs on the New York Times website.

I can read up on Buddhism, reminding myself for the one hundred millionth time to Just. Breathe. Breathe into the moment. Stop bumming yourself out over the past, or stressing yourself out over the future. You are married to an unbelievably gorgeous man who enjoys talking to you (all the time, about everything) as much as you enjoy talking to him. You live in Japan, where opportunities you could never have imagined practically throw themselves at your feet. Where new friends, sweet neighbors and earnest students show you a sort of quiet kindness, unassuming generosity and simple, silly camaraderie you never knew you needed.

Then, considering all of the above, I can consider, for the first time in my life, that my Anxiety may not be entirely situational. That it just might have some small relation to brain chemistry and genetic predisposition. And I can seek treatment, and help.

*       *       *

I may be in a nutshell, but I refuse to be a nut.

Today

My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel.

Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.

– John Lennon

Web - deW

Today I am pleased with a mid-morning snack of oranges and chai tea. With my new, clean work clothes, grown-up clothes, and a day to myself. I am happy to be outside, running, happy for the warm, misty morning rain. Dew drops on a spider’s web that stop me in my tracks. Small things, like that.

beauty in the details

And, like many days, I find beauty and elegance in the small details. A sense of grace in what might otherwise be simply puttering about the apartment, quietly ricocheting from one project to the next.

Except, in the past, this fragmented approach underscored steady progress, and all the projects came together, one by one, each occupying a determined and defined space in my mind.

Now I spin in a soft frenzy, unable to finish anything, worried about doing things the exact right way and unable to commit to even the smallest decisions. I am overwhelmed by what I perceive as an insurmountable chaos–lesson plans and textbooks and a closet without drawers–and overwhelmed by the choices required to properly order things–buying notebooks and folders, filing things away, choosing between a dresser for the bedroom or plastic bins in the closet.

And what if I don’t get the right laundry hamper?

(The BEST one. The one that will solve everything.)

I am stressed out by Chad’s email inbox, by my sisters owning too many clothes, by the thought of all of the people in the world and their own disorganized closets, email inboxes, photos, and files. I want to know that I’m doing things the right way–the best way–with no excess, perfectly streamlined, and that everyone else is, too.

Simple Citrus

So. I take solace in the curve of an orange rind on a tea-stained ceramic plate. A simple mid-morning snack. A simple day, not much to do. That’s about all I can handle. Still, even then…

*       *       *

I don’t feel very grown-up, at all. I feel anxiety closing in on me, waking me in the morning and keeping me up at night. Pushing me away from the love of my life. I feel it growing inside of me, like some long-dormant monster I’ve been unintentionally nurturing all my adult life, awakened by the one-two-three punch of marriage-moving-IUD.

Sorry, no conclusion yet, Friends. Just field notes. Just feelings. Just trying to give an accurate reflection.

Simplify

(w/ Chad)

And so we turn towards simplicity. Towards sanity and good health, and that means early morning runs and healthy, home-cooked meals, fewer vices and better sleep.

Our first meal cooked together!

It means long walks and longer talks, checking in every morning, and after work, and before bed. It means facing our problems (for me: job stress and anxiety) head-on, rationally, and knowing the difference between a worthy challenge and a waste of time.

momiji

Most of all, a turn towards simplicity means a turn towards each other, and towards what really matters in life–our well-being, our friends and family, our passions and interests, and our sense of wonder, inspiration, creativity and drive.

And yesterday it meant epic shopping: new wardrobes for new jobs, plus bags of books to feed our hungry minds. It meant a day trip to Tokyo, a shopping field trip, with burgers and fries and iced coffee and frequent pauses to observe/avoid the madness, plus a Sunday stroll through the park, and big plans for the future.

*       *       *

It feels good to follow our own good advice.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Chad and Sarah = Jack and Rose

Sometimes I can’t go straight from things being broken to things being fixed, because I need to make a rest-stop in a place where things are okay. Like a waiting period between identifying the problem and tackling it.

I remember a camping trip, age 19, summer after freshman year of college. I had taken ecstasy for the first time (heavily cut with speed) and spent a wild night talking and emoting at full blast with my best-friend and roommate in the front seats of my boyfriend’s parent’s Subaru. Despite what I’d heard about gnarly emotional come-downs, the next morning I mostly felt tired and newly opened, or pleasantly vulnerable. I got dropped off back at my Mom’s place, where my older sisters were bustling about, cooking and gossiping with Mom, taking care of baby Bashy. The air seemed abuzz with a sort of hectic femininity, with childcare and recipes and house work and strong female bonds. I felt so susceptible to all that womanly grace, and also very overwhelmed.

Because…how could I ever express to my mother and sisters what they meant to me, and how much I admired and needed them? How could I gracefully make the transition from sullen, solitary teenage angst to warm, giving, jovial womanhood? Most importantly, how could I share this new-found love and appreciation without revealing the fact that I’d taken illegal, mind-altering substances the night before?

Ha! Then I remembered I didn’t have to do it all at once. That I didn’t need to make any grand proclamations or sudden life-altering turns to affect the change I wished to see in my life. I could do it little by little. I could start by just being there, spending quality time with my beloved female family. So I sat down on the bed where Natalie was changing Bashie’s diaper, and we talked.

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Things I Have Not Been Telling You

On a Windy Day

It’s not just adjusting to a new life, Friends. It is everything all at once. It is a new life, new country, new apartment, new job(s), new marriage and new definition of myself. Who is littlesarah, after all, without her friends? Without her family, or her coffee shop job, or her perfect apartment in the Avenues? Who am I in this Big World?

Better question: how am I coping? (Answer: not perfectly. Not as well as I had thought/hoped).

Historically, I have not dealt particularly well with Changes.Yet, as my mom so astutely pointed out, “I don’t know anyone who places themselves at the epicenter of change more than you.” (And I did appreciate that little earthquake reference).

So. What I’m trying to say is there are many reasons I’ve been distant, silent, cryptic, etc. But I’m back, and I want to let you know why I was gone and what’s been going on.

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Presently

buildings and wires

We live in an apartment on the fourth floor of a pink building with a dinosaur on the side. He’s a mascot for the laundromat downstairs.

Next door is a “Girl’s Bar,” in a black building so close you could reach out our bedroom window and touch it. Must be a tame locale–we’ve never heard any music, laughter, or shouting.

Just around the corner is a blue building with an Okinawan food restaurant, where we speak Spanish to our Japanese waitress.

There’s a partially-covered highway just down the street, and we use it as a landmark on our long, winding runs. A sort of homing device.

We’re about 2 blocks away from Makuharihongo station, and at night we can hear the trains passing in the near distance, going “shk-shk-shk.”

Spanish meets English meets Japanese meets French

Across the street is a French-style bakery named Elefante, where we get sandwiches for picnics with friends, or sweet buns and pastries on lazy weekend mornings.

There’s a grocery store, a convenience store, a dollar store and a discount liquor mart, all within a one-block radius.

It’s a small, sleepy commuter suburb, but it has everything we need. It’s our little corner of the world, and it’s perfect.

*       *       *

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