Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It was one of those times you just dream of.

Have you ever had one of those dreams? You know, that time when you were dreaming about being at school or work. You are well into your day when you realize you have nothing on but your underwear? You wonder how you didn't notice, you wonder what to do now that you noticed and you wonder where to hide out, wonder what to do to salvage your dignity.
The other day.
Dawn, a Missions to Unreached Peoples missionary in Shikoku was in and around our humble little town of Osaka. While in the area she dropped by for a visit with us. Aukje threw together one of the house favourites for supper, after which Dawn and Aukje went for a little walk. They wanted to get out of my hair so I could get down to studying for my two-day Japanese test, (it requires a bit of prep) and then Aukje was going to drop Dawn by the train station.
After they left, I got down to work. I studied so hard, well I was working up a bit of sheen, (it is still stinking hot here) and well you know, I made myself a little more comfortable. Suddenly I heard the door open and not one but two voices in the doorway. Our apartment is very small and I didn't have much time. I didn't know what to do. Panic was rising. I spied my shirt and managed to get it on outside out and with the logo in front. But my shorts were nowhere to be seen. I didn't know what to do. I heard people approaching and quickly sat down at my desk. Fortunately I don't wear one of those new-fangled thong thingys that are so popular with all the kids these days. In spite of my panic-stricken mentality (I didn't know what to do) I did my best to look nonchalant.
Dawn came into the room, I said hello but couldn't politely and nonchalantly turn to face her without keeping my dignity intact. I felt rude. I pretended I was busy studying but I didn't know what to do. Eventually she left and I was able to relate to Aukje what really went down and why I was rude. So, now by way of apology and in an attempt to stave off a sudden rash of underwear nightmares I pen this blog. I've been rude. JつれいJまJた.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Its More Scrambled Than Ever.

I have been learning to write in Japanese. One of the common letters is shi which is denoted by the symbol し. The trouble with this is, of all the conceivable memory mechanisms there are, my brain for some strange reason associates this character with J. This has become a problem for me. My brain (without thinking) thinks they are pretty much interchangeable. So if I am hurriedly writing a sentence with a J in it, it will end up saying, "It's しust a しoke". Havoc I tell you. Before you know it I'll be getting all my English and しapanese characters mixed up. JつれいJます。

Monday, August 21, 2006

It has become the season when watermelon is delicious.

The salutation on the card says so anyway. I get the feeling that Masumi is trying to put a nice facade on this stinking hot summer. I say call a spade a spade. It has become the season when it is so hot you might as well try and find a nice cool air conditioned department store to browse in; and take your time! Try and make it last! Yes I know it lacks poetry and it is a little too long for the card.
Like we do with Christmas Cards, Japan does New Year Cards, but they also do a mid summer card. There doesn't seem to be as much enthusiasm for the summer cards though. Perhaps it is because it comes across as more of a sympathy card than the celebratory nature of the new year's card. Sending a card to commiserate with you for the heat of summer, it does seem to lack some appeal, on the other hand we do like getting mail.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Night Time is the Right Time.

It's three in the morning, the sultry, dog nights of summer in Japan are upon us. As I lie on my futon, an occasional slight breeze brings a hint of relief through the open window, but it is only teasing.
It's dark, that is the sun is on the other side of the world, but there is so much artificial light here that you hardly notice the moon let alone any stars.
Under our window a truck idles, it's driver who is 'working' snoozes in the air conditioned comfort of his cab.
At the LTL truck depot, kitty corner, as always, work goes on. Some nights they are not as noisy as other nights. This morning they aren't quite so exuberant in their toil, but they are making up for the lack of any big noise by a constant niggling of smaller noises. The jiggle of a forklift's cables, the bouncing of it's forks as it moves around the truck dock. Or the sound of yet another truck's diesels coming to life, the whoosh of air brakes, all of which seem to happen way out of proportion to the actual number of trucks in the dock at any one time.
The sound of a finely tuned motor cycle changing up through it's gears far too quickly for our little street, whining by just under our sixth floor window.

Looking at the city as if I were one of its ugly crows (making a Canadian crow look almost cute and petite, like a pet you'd name); looking down...
The beginnings of a Lord's prayer being offered up. Lazily filtering upward through the sweaty night, not unlike the steam that rises from a sewer grate in the dead of a Toronto winter, though immediately two things come to mind. The dissimilarity in temperature that such a metaphor construes, and the fact that the steam dissipates quite quickly in those low temperatures. No. In fact, similar to the contrast of temperature, this prayer is not dissipating as steam would, it is continuing to be offered, and heard. Hallowed be thy name. It joins with other's prayers continually being offered and heard. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Not just Japan, or Canada, but on earth in its entirety. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts. We ask for what we need most, and with much learning and practice can see the wider meaning of both. As we forgive our debtors. With our supplication comes responsibility. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Prayer is our shield.
From my perch, I wonder for a moment how many driftings of steam rise from this city. It may be the only one at three a.m. in Osaka, but probably not. And to step further along on that train of thought, together with Christians across not just city and country borders but also the borders of time, prayers constantly drifting Godward from all over this ball we live on.

Since my soul has not yet arrived, my body doesn't know it shouldn't be taking all this in, that it shouldn't be listening, let alone comprehending and pondering. Ahhh, the benefits of jetlag.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Confessions of an Airline Passenger

William Gibson's Pattern Recognition's Cayce Pollard's friend Damien has a theory.

[Cayce] knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien's theory of jetlag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can't move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.

While I await the arrival of my soul and perhaps my wits as well, (I'm not certain weather or not your wits stay with you or your soul). I am forced to face up to certain facts.

I'm not sure, but I'm worried I may be a terrorist. You see I unwittingly at first and later wittingly brought my toothpaste with me to Japan. (Without my wits I have been unable to determine the ramifications of jetlag (with my tethered soul) and how that relates to my being unwitting, as I had my toothpaste even before I left Toronto). In any event we went through US customs in Toronto. Getting through security was quick and easy since it was early in the morning, not busy and because the news of the latest terrorist plot had not broken yet. We arrived in Dallas without losing any vital plane parts, and while we were in the lounge awaiting our next flight I heard snippits from a nearby TV about a plot to bring liquid on board airplanes. There was also a very insistent man who kept announcing that passengers were not to bring any liquids or gels though the security gates or on board any aircraft. Before we could get in any kind trouble, Aukje and I surreptitiously not to mention hastily chugged the remainder of our bottle of water. With a satisfied expression I wondered what other illegal contraband I had with me that could be a problem. After a few moments of pondering I realized that I also had a tube of Japanese toothpaste. As everyone knows it is a luxury to be able to brush your teeth once in a while during a twenty five hour journey. Since our journey had just begun I wasn't willing to scarf down the remainder of our toothpaste, just to become airport compliant. After brushing our teeth, (since it may have turned out to be our last opportunity) and then checking around to make sure we were not under surveillance, Aukje determined that I would continue to keep the toothpaste in my carry-on. We boarded our flight and left Dallas-Fort Worth Airport forty-five minutes late due to increased levels of security. I still had my toothpaste though. We arrived at Kansai Airport in Japan a little over thirteen hours later. The authorities here had their dogs on patrol sniffing us passengers and our baggage. We were stopped on the way out of the airport by the security officer so he could inspect our luggage.
We are now safely at home and I managed to smuggle my toothpaste through three countries. I must confess that I feel absolutely no remorsefulness, nor have any feelings of repentance, but perhaps when my soul and my wits are reeled in I will feel more. convicted.