Friday, March 14, 2014

Haiku Friday - Speaking With My Heart

Haiku Friday

we were both so young
there was so much more to say
please hear my heart speak

Today is that day. It's been 19 years since my mom's last birthday and her death the next day at the age of 56. I was 22. Somehow this all seems so much younger now than it did even then. A lot happens in that stretch of time, and there are certain moments when it's especially noticeable that my mom is gone. The big milestones are obvious, but in some ways it's the little ones that are harder. I remember the last time I saw my mom and knew that it was likely the last time. I tried so hard then to tell her everything I thought I would want her to know. It came out something like "I love you. I will never forget you. Thank you." In some ways, I suppose that's enough, and it hits the most important points, but how could I know all of the gazillion other things I'd want to say. So many of my friends get to call their moms regularly, and it's so beautiful. I'm not bitter and jealous about it, partly because I wasn't raised that way, but I notice it and admire and appreciate how special it is and do wish I could have that, another conversation with my mom about everything. Since I can't call or email, sometimes I just talk to her with my heart and hope that she can hear me.

More for my reference, but also in case anyone wants to read, here are my three most favorite posts I've written about my mom. They aren't terribly sad, I promise. One is actually hilarious, and I bet you will cringe with embarrassment for me and giggle out loud.

Thursday Thirteen about my mom, lists of stuff, written in 2008
But Where Does It Go? I just read this today and still find comfort in it, whether there is a heaven or not
Legacy this is the hilarious one - really, just go read it

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring Clean Update (with Decluttering)

Since I said hello again yesterday, I figured I'd go through my old and outdated About Maggie page and update with current stuff since a million things have changed since the last time I updated it. Not sure if anyone is still reading, but I still like having this space to be and to write, and a little spring cleaning feels nice this time of the year.

Speaking of...

I'll be moving out of my current apartment of 5 years (!) this summer, and there is just so much stuff that has accumulated. Some of it is junk left behind by others that was there when I got there, and some of it is stuff that I at some point thought I wanted or needed. Just going through little by little and seeing what all is there and then putting things into one of three piles

Keep
Toss
Dunno Yet

seems to the be best way to get any of it done. I've been reading a little about how to decide whether I actually want or need something I've been holding onto for so long so that I can best put things in the proper piles. Some of the best questions seem to be these:

Do I NEED NEED this?
Does it make me happy?
Does it add any value to my life?
Is it worth repairing/maintaining?

Of course, there are more really good questions to ask when actually de-cluttering physical junk, but the questions above have also been really helpful in de-cluttering my thoughts so that I choose which to give the most attention to in my mind. My mind races with a million thoughts and ideas and beliefs because that's what minds do, but that doesn't mean I have to assign high value to all of them or put them all in the pile to keep, especially if they don't add anything of value. This is what I've been learning from various situations over the past few years, and you know what? I feel lighter and more free than I ever have in my life.

This afternoon, I tackle a good chunk of that stack of papers on my desk.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

If It's March, It's a Blog Post

Of all the months, March is the one that brings me back here, a place I used to write, a place that felt like home somehow out in the public of the internet. Every March, I'm back and feel like maybe I should make some new resolution to get back into blogging. But, then, now there's my personal Facebook page for my thoughts. It fills the gap of self-expression, but, of course, it is different.

Anyway.

Today is March 11th in Japan already, the 3rd anniversary. I've already talked about this when it happened and as it was unfolding, and I woke up today just feeling the same things: relief that my friend and her children were alive and well, in shock at the images on TV that I still can't un-see even years later and heartbroken for all of the pain and fear and cold and sadness that so many had to endure. It still feels like yesterday. So many are still living in temporary housing, their lives on hold while the world moves forward. I just... I don't even have the words anymore.

On another day, maybe soon, I'll update what's been going on in life. First, though, today my heart and mind is with Japan, wishing I could wrap up everyone still hurting in my heart. Then at the end of the week is my mom's birthday on the 13th and the anniversary of her death on the 14th. Then there's graduation on the 15th. Like I said, there's enough going on in March to bring me here, this place where I can stop a moment to think and write. Maybe I'll be back tomorrow. If not soon, I'll likely be back this time next year. If anyone still reads this, I hope you are well.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hi. It's already September 11th where I am. A few years back, I had the honor of writing about a beautiful young woman we lost on that day, and I'd like to re-share it. Go have a look. Go give someone a hug.

http://www.maggiesmind.com/2007/09/jean-d-roger-lived-until-september-11.html

Friday, March 29, 2013

Haiku Friday - We Meet, We Part

Haiku Friday

end of march, japan,
much ichi-go, ichi-e (一期一会)*
april start anew

(*perfectly worded reminder from Patty's comment on my Facebook status)

Today is the last day of the school year for teachers, and this year so many at my school, including some of my favorite teachers that have made here feel more like home when I'm living so far away, are being transferred in this puzzling Japanese March tradition. Today I wrote some letters and shed some tears, and people finished clearing out their desks, slowly transitioning them from full to empty by the end of the day when they will leave for good. This year has been the biggest transfer time blow I've experienced since I've been here. Tomorrow night, we will eat and drink and cry and maybe sing karaoke together one last time if I'm just lucky enough. 

Next week, about a third (!!!) of my co-workers will be brand-spanking new total strangers.

It's hardest on those leaving, for sure. This isn't their blog, though. From my side, like many foreign teachers here, this big shuffle that happens in March can be really hard in a different way. It can be exceptionally difficult for a foreigner to fit in in Japan, and most of us never really feel like we completely do. Still, I/we finally manage to navigate the complexity involved in achieving even just a handful of those super elusive meaningful relationships, only to have to start all over again, from scratch, come Monday (or, OK, technically, Tuesday) morning and do this all again come this time next year. In one word, it's bittersweet.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March Madness, Japan Style

No, this isn't about whatever brackets or grids or sports or whatever is going on back home, about which I clearly know too little about to even be saying as much about it as I have. In any case, there's this thing that goes on in Japan in March, right at the end of March, when Madness descends, and people find out that they are being transferred elsewhere while others learn that even if they are staying, everything will all be different come April One. April Fool's Day has never sounded more appropriate than it does on that day when everyone is new, and everything is a scramble, and nobody has any idea what the hell they are doing. In truth, leaving people usually find out a week or two sooner than everyone else, but it's all such a Big Damn Secret, and that's hardly enough time for people that need to, you know, find an apartment in a new city. In the case of teachers, it's usually just a matter of doubling or halving their commute, but for some it can require more change than a reasonable person cares to deal with every 3-5-7-or-so years. Yes, changes happen that often, every March/April.

I used to ask why Japan chooses to go this route. I kind of get the idea of shuffling teachers around to prevent certain schools from always having/keeping the best teachers and the idea of sharing the goodness or diluting any badness, or in a company to provide advancement and promotion in other roles or locations or to take cross-training to the next level and not let any one person become too powerful. Sure, some of that makes sense, but the whole last minute top secret silliness makes it tougher on everyone than it has to be. Anyone that's ever tried to explain it to me kind of ended up shrugging and admitting that they don't really get it, either, so I've just stopped asking and put it in the inscrutable column along with face masks, lack of soap and waiting at a completely empty intersection in the middle of nowhere (come visit me once and giggle) until the light says you can cross the street before people will make the leap. 

My school is losing A LOT of teachers this year. I cried a little as the official word was released. Some changes I saw coming, others where completely out of the blue, and all of them just made me wonder what the next school year (we start in April - so, yah, not much prep time on that side, either - silly madness, all of this is, sincerely!) will be like. In most jobs, probably all around the world, the people that you work with side by side every day can really impact the experience. Mine's been really good so far, overall, and I'm sad to see some really excellent teachers go. Hopefully we will do OK in the trade and get some more of the good ones. If not, there's always next year. Sigh.

Goodbye Flowers
(Not Mine)
There will be lots of these saying goodbye all over Japan in the weeks to come.
These are actually the second ones I've seen so far.
I saw the first in the clutch of a man passed out on the last train the other night,
presumably coming back home from his own goodbye party. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Are you there, blog? It's me, Maggie.

I managed to go an entire year without blogging, and I kind of miss it. I don't miss feeling obligated to write something just for the sake of writing something (OK, maybe I kind of do?), but I do miss having a place to express myself in ways I otherwise don't. That said, I'm very (perhaps too) active on my personal Facebook page, and it has filled some of that need I have to say stuff where people can see it. I'm toying with the thought of spending a bit more time here, sharing some pictures, writing some haikus, waxing on while I navel gaze, you know, the usual fare around here. Part of me wants to start a 365 project of some kind to hold myself to being here, doing this. Part of me is afraid I'll fail again. Part of me doesn't care because it's my blog to do with as I wish. So, we'll see what shakes out.

Meanwhile, it's been a year. I wonder if any of you who used to read here will even see this, especially once Google Reader goes away in a few months (I'm using Feedly instead and am liking it quite a bit!). Are you here? Maybe say hello? Anything you'd like to see happen here if I get this thing rolling again? What have you been up to? Are you still blogging? Should I follow?

I'm still in Japan. Tom and I really only expected this Japan thing to be for one year, but here it is already my 4th year. I'm still having a ball, and he's still OK with it. We finally got Tom out of Tulsa and up to Chicago, and it will make leaving here a lot easier knowing that we are reuniting there. Surely there are a million other things that have happened in this past year, and so much is still on the horizon, but this is what I've got for now.

Oh, and maybe a picture and haiku, inspired by the most delicious sakura (cherry blossom) tea I'm drinking. If I do get back to blogging, look forward to pictures of Japan's gorgeous spring. Cherry blossoms are just around the corner. Lots of flowers are beautiful because that's what flowers do, but cherry blossoms reflect the cycle of life (or love gained and lost, I suppose) with their fleeting beauty. There's that giddy sense of anticipation for their arrival, the joy of savoring every moment they are here, and the realization one day when you are used to having them around that they are suddenly just gone (until next year, anyway). Along with them, so come and go all the seasonal sakura flavored joys of the season.
All things sakura
this is springtime in Japan
so momentary.