Riding the bus with my mother

There are three lots on my block which recently have had their houses demolished.

Two of the lots are nearing the end of construction on their new houses, and the third has, so far, sat empty for a while.

Just about every morning, around 7:30, workers arrive and get to making noise on this, that, or the other part of construction for the two houses.

I have noticed a certain inattention to caution regarding trash and scraps, and so have been quite careful not ever to walk over by either of the houses, as there is an ever-changing blanket of glass, nails, wood pieces, and other sharp objects on the ground by them both.

Today, in an effort to dodge some potholes, my mother drove directly in front of these two houses…

A few hours, a free concert, and almost five hundred dollars later, she had two new rear tires on her car, out of necessity, not desire.

You see, she was picking me up to go to an opera performance, thus her being on my street in the first place.

She had dropped me off to allow me to go use the bathroom and to pick up our tickets at will-call, and gone to park her car, only to discover that the tire pressure, whose warning light had signaled on our way to the performance, was decreasing at an alarming pace, and so needed to be handled immediately.

She told me to leave her ticket at will-call for her, and that she would join me when she could, and then took her car to the one place she found open on a Sunday to handle such issues as her current tire predicament (which, fortunately, was only about a mile away from where we were).

At intermission, she joined me at our seats, her having sat at the back for the first part, due to her having arrived late.

She informed me that she had made it to the performance by asking a woman to drop her off, since it was only about a mile away from where she had had to bring her car.

We laughed at the slight absurdity of it all, and discussed how to get back to the car after the performance ended.

Yes, it was close, but the place would close only half an hour after the performance ended, and my mom wasn’t in running shoes (nor was I).

So, I offered the idea of my spare bus card.

At first, she aimed to find someone we knew after the performance ended, so as to ask for a ride.

Then, she considered Uber (but I was opposed for the cost of it, and the fact that my account isn’t set up properly anymore for here [remember how I lived in Japan]), before reconsidering just asking someone else from the performance whom we didn’t know.

We were running short on time, and I didn’t feel comfortable asking for help, when I had means to handle the situation myself – I’m always rather like that… if I can do it myself, even if it is more difficult, I typically still will handle it myself, so that I only ask for help when I truly need it.

So, I looked up the bus route options, and started walking to the bus stop, which was enough encouragement for my mom to give up her idea and go with mine.

I knew her main opposition was simply the same as most people’s in Houston – most people do not use the busses here, unless they financially have no other means of getting around, making the bulk of bus patronage poor laborers, cleaners, minimum wage people in rough situations, and homeless people…, and that can be an uncomfortable, and almost dangerous-feeling experience for those who do not belong to those groups of individuals…, and it can somewhat easily create a feeling of being somewhere dirty, at times…, so no one wants to ride the busses in Houston…, not really, anyway.

I, myself, struggle with it, despite the fact that I use the busses here… I want to promote public transit as much as possible, but I also prefer feeling safe and clean than the opposite, you know?

Nonetheless, it was our most logical option today (in my head, anyway), so we went for the bus.

Another lady coming from a similar downtown performance also joined us in waiting for the bus, and it was quite cool to me to see another ‘normal’ person, so to speak, taking the bus.

My mom, while waiting, mentioned how she had never ridden the bus here, and that she was a bit excited for it.

I smiled and was glad, and told her how it all worked, and that it was mostly just like any other public transit she had ridden elsewhere (except in Vienna, which has one of the best public transit systems ever, and in all aspects of it).

While riding, she asked about how to signal for our stop, and I explained her two options, however, another woman clicked for our stop first.

I told my mom that she could push the tape anyway, just to have the experience and to know what it’s like, pushing the tape on our busses, and she replied coolly and smiling, “I’m touching enough.”

We had seen a whole range of riders come aboard, including all of the stereotypes, smells and all, but also a few other ‘normal’-esque individuals.

Nonetheless, I understood entirely why she had no interest in touching anything more than was necessary at this point.

When we exited the bus, I rushed off in one direction on my predetermined path to the car place, while covering my gaze to the right hand side, and ignoring my mom’s questioning as to why I was going that particular direction, knowing that she would follow me because of my quick pace.

When we were walking into the driveway of the car place, I slowed and dropped my hand, turning toward my mom and informing her of how I had been avoiding any sort of interaction with the man who had been urinating in the trash can that was next to the bus stop.

No, I had not been certain of that being his task, but it looked to be enough so, and I had no interest in discovering anything further on the matter, and so I blocked it from my view, and headed off with the intention of getting away as soon as was possible.

It is funny to me a bit – perhaps ironic – that my mom has told me so much since I’ve moved back to Houston (from Japan) that I need to be careful here, and that it is not like Japan, and yet she does not herself seem to understand how to be careful when in Houston.

She asked why I hadn’t gone the other way around the block, and I, at first, didn’t understand why she was asking – was it not obvious?

And, of course, it wasn’t obvious, I realized… she had no idea the type of hangout that the area was, nor that more people tended to hang out over by that underpass all along its length, and that it was a better idea for us to avoid it altogether, always.

So, while being a bit nervous at my mother’s lack of understanding as to how to be safe in Downtown Houston, I also was consoled in my own ability to be safe here – without realizing it, I had developed my own appropriate way to keep myself safe here in Houston – that’s part of why I tend not to go out at night.

I typically ride my bicycle or scooter, or even take the bus or walk for getting around anywhere near me, and none of those is a very good idea at night…., so I usually just don’t go.

I had begun to think it was merely because of my anti-social emotional side lately, and my dislike for drunk people, but this had me recall that it is more than just an aversion for stupid people that keeps me in most nights. πŸ˜›

Anyway, my mom picked up her car and was bummed about having to spend the money, as was I, but we were grateful for the bit of time we had been able to spend letting my mom experience a Houston Metro bus, and that, at the very least, the concert itself had been free.

But this did remind me of that time we drove way up north to a special spring to get some free, natural spring sulfurous water straight from the source – the city had it posted that anyone could come have water from it, so long as the sun is up – and then drive back home an hour and a half, during which time my mom commented, “Well, that was the most expensive free water I’ve ever gotten,” referring to the gasoline cost and the tolls crossed for the journey. πŸ˜›

It’s been a bit of a joke of ours ever since then.

And so, today’s performance, one could say, was the most expensive free concert we’ve ever attended. πŸ˜›

(Actually, my mom did say that… haha… I’d forgotten that it wasn’t just something I’d thought, but that seems actually said aloud. πŸ˜‚)

Post-a-day 2019

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Memories in alcohol

Walking through an absurdly large and diverse (product-wise) Kroger today, I was struck with a sudden and momentary shift back to Japan, as I passed one of the drink aisles….

There was something about its seeming chaotic orderliness, and its crowded feel that took me back to the alcohol aisles in the store near my house in Japan, and, at first, of this one particular store near the train station in a nearby town where I went to help with English stuff…

And the memory was really nice… it was a very good feeling of transportation, and I felt very much at ease, belonging, and comfortable…

Weird to see Japan as such things, but I also totally get it – it is part of me, and certain points of life were stable there that are not stable for me here and now, thus the feeling of stability and comfort from the memory, despite the fact that Japan as a whole was kind of nuts and really hard on me… πŸ™‚

The aisle…

It is definitely more spaced out in the middle than Japan’s comparable aisle, but the setup and feelings were quite the same for me… who’d’a thunk alcohol could be so warm and fuzzy for me? πŸ˜‚

Post-a-day 2019

Cultural Villainy

This afternoon/evening, I found myself discussing various voice and talking style stereotypes in American English and in Japanese (from Japan, of course*).

It all started with seeing the film “Aladdin” in the cinema this afternoon, and then, over ice cream afterward, we veered onto Disney music and its composers a lyricists (and how amazing some of the greats are[!!!]).

Then we branched into the Japanese versions of this music, as the friend with me is Japanese, and she grew up only hearing the Japanese language versions of the songs.

We discussed differences I had found in the music, and why I thought each one was so… now that she has been living in the US for about a year, she saw exactly what I meant and genuinely understood.

“Colors of the Wind” sounds somewhat stressed and so compounded and busy in Japanese, yet the English sounds so open and contemplative, filled with deep breaths and space through the notes and the words… there are just too many syllables in the Japanese, and too many consonants in between all the vowels…

An American likely would be appalled at hearing the Japanese version of Scar’s voice, because the voice doesn’t match the type of villain that he is… it is not entitled and brooding and, almost like serial killer style, the voice of someone who is biding his time until his plot can unfurl perfectly to his advantage – until, at last, he is granted his dues, as Scar says.

To American ears, the Japanese Scar in pathetic and angry and holds no weight behind his short-man angry yelling of a voice, desperately hoping someone will listen to him and do what he wants others to do.

And yet, to Japanese ears, the Japanese Scar is exactly right: He is the stereotypical ‘bad guy’ voice and has that same ‘bad guy’ and ‘villain’ manner of speaking… the English version would sound just ‘American’, and have nothing special tied to it for Japanese ears.

And my friend was able to see and hear just these things, and mainly because she has become accustomed to hearing so many different ways of speaking that people have here in English (unlike Japanese English in Japan, which is pretty much always the same).

And, somehow, I found the whole situation to be fascinating and utterly fulfilling… I had never really thought quite so much and quite so pointedly about the translations and the voices of actors until today, though it certainly was not my first or, even, tenth time considering it all.

It had me feel an almost silly passion for Disney and, in particular, “The Lion King”, and yet I couldn’t find a reason not to care so much about it all – I love languages and music and seeing things in new ways, and these Disney movies had huge impacts on my childhood and, therefore, my life as a whole… they are a part of me… and I care about and love myself.

So, I guess I get to love those Disney films, too, silly little perfect details and all. πŸ™‚

By the way, I went into “Aladdin” with an attitude of its being a different film and perspective of the same story as the animated version…, and I thoroughly enjoyed the film – it was wonderful(!).

And it was filmed in Jordan(!)… how cool is that?!

I don’t often go to cinemas these days (in the US, anyway), but I am glad I went today – it was a lovely experience. πŸ™‚

*Does Japanese have a culture of native speakers anywhere else in the world?

Post-a-day 2019

Karate

Whenever I do this teeth whitening thing, I have to keep his little blue-light mouthpiece in my mouth, gripped between my teeth, for five minutes.

Afterward, I spit out the excess gel in my mouth and I wash off the mouthpiece.

Whenever I’m in the cleanup stage, I’m always adjusting my jaw, stretching its muscles, and feeling around my teeth a bit with my tongue.

As I do this, I find myself remembering strongly my days of American karate in my youth.

For sparring, we had to have a rubber mouth guard to protect our teeth… I remember how, every time I got a new mouth guard, my mom and I would be in the kitchen, trimming edges, boiling the rubber, and mashing my teeth into it to make it mold perfectly to my bite and teeth.

It was always so exciting to me, for some reason I cannot yet understand… perhaps it was the specialness of the whole process, like we were doing a whole (and real) science lab experiment, tongs and boiling water and all… and it was for me… so it was something unique and special and process-filled, specifically being done for me…

Perhaps that was a large part of it…

Whatever the case, I always enjoyed it, forming my mouth guards.

Especially the bit of biting down on my mouth guard, squeezing my teeth tightly, and wedging them each into the rubber, claiming specific territory to be forever theirs in that particular mouth guard…

Whenever we did spar, and I got to wear my mouth guard, I rather enjoyed sucking and chewing slightly on my mouth guard, tasting the rubber, feeling the tiny rebound it provided when I clenched my jaw and released, hearing the squishy sounds of saliva being pushed around and in and out of the mouth guard’s coverage area as I clicked my teeth (with the rubber between them, of course) together several times in quick succession… and then tasting again, as I held my jaw snug and sucked everything out of the mouth guard.

It all seems odd to me now, considering it and sharing it, but also still quite familiar… I don’t see myself doing half these same things nowadays, yet I remember them fondly nonetheless.

And, every time I whiten my teeth, I am filled with a few drops of that excitement and delight brought it me for years by karate…, making it a unique and somewhat special experience so far as teeth whitening goes. πŸ˜›

P.S. I love finding words that I’ve known for years, but whose language of origin I didn’t initially speak, but now speak, and, therefore, as I cross the word anew, I suddenly see it from the eyes of this language I now speak, instead of as a foreign word with meaning I must struggle to remember… karate is one of those words… from my American eyes and ears and mind, it is pronounced the American way and means merely a form of martial arts… from my Japanese eyes et cetera, it is pronounced with a Japanese pronunciation, it means 空手 (からて), which literally means “empty hand”, and it is a form of martial arts… and, somehow, the two are simultaneously the same thing and two totally different ones… so it goes… πŸ˜›

Post-a-day 2019

Dressed for Work

Tonight, I attended with my mom a sake mini-course and tasting event.

As predicted, every Japanese man was in a dark suit with a white shirt… however, the slight touch of color was found in a tie or pocket square in the Americanized men.

Also as predicted, there was a fabulous array of Japanese foods, the presentation was brief but extremely informative, and the tasting was hilariously wonderful.

While there, I considered strongly at one point what everyone else was wearing.

Beforehand, I had asked my mom, a person who is usually quite particular about dressing to the appropriate level for things, if I needed to change into a different dress than what I had on… I showed her the dress, which was a much nicer and more business-y version of what I already was wearing, and she didn’t think the change was needed…. she pointed out that she was wearing something quite similar, albeit slightly nicer-looking (same color scheme, different pieces).

We had been at an art film showing earlier on, and I had worn my current outfit for that and felt totally comfortable in my choice, but I figured it was best to check with her regarding the Japanese event.

Sure enough, once there, she commented that we should have known everyone would be in business suits and the likes, since it was a Japanese event… I reminded her that that was precisely why I had asked about my outfit ahead of time, and she rather shrugged her shoulders unconcernedly at this with an Oh, well…, and we moved on to enjoy ourselves, anyway.

At this point, I thought about how everyone was probably just coming straight from work, anyway, and so they were all just in work clothes… and then I realized that I, too, was coming straight from work and that I, too, was just in work clothes…

I don’t have a corporate job in an office with a cubicle on a floor in a big building… or anything like it… I’m a writer and photographer… and, today, I was editing photos, and then sent them off to a client – much work accomplished for a single afternoon, actually… and this cotton dress and summer sandals are what I wore to do that… casual and cute, but not office business…

In “Hannah’s Life, Created”, a notebook I compiled a couple years back, while living in Japan, I have a brief description of what I want my work attire to be… tonight was a beautiful acknowledgement of my having achieved that desire, and, in that instant of noticing this, I was filled with a sense of calm confidence in regards to my life – I am doin a beautiful job of pursuing my goals and dreams and of becoming and being the person I want to be.

I’m not all the way there yet… I am there with some things, though, and I am well on my way to more and more at any moment(!!!)…. and I love it.

I really do love it.

Yes, it would have made sense to wear the nicer dress tonight… no, it didn’t ultimately matter for what tonight specifically was…, yes, it was amazing to notice what I did about being in my ‘work clothes’, and so was totally worth it this time to be a bit under-dressed…, and no, I never really quite fit in at Japanese events, anyway – Gaijin Smash to the max!**

So yeah… we had an awesome time at the event, learned loads about sake. – and yes, I am fully aware of how odd it is that I take such an interest in sake, when I drink just about no alcohol in the average month – and ate wonderful foods over wonderful conversations.

And I had a lovely discovery about my current status in life, and it tickles and overjoys me even now, hours later. πŸ™‚

Yay, life!

And thank you, God, for entrusting me with this piece of the path – I love this part, and I trust you fully, as I throw myself fully into this lovely hard work!

Peace

Hannah

**Man, do I miss my store Mister Maxx in Toride, Ibaraki!… like a cross between Target, Petsmart, and a bakery!

Post-a-day 2019

::sigh… snore…

Today was a really good day, all around, it feels… I’m going to bed later than I’d like, but it’s only because I did so much work After Dinner.

And that’s because I spent time before dinner buying groceries from three different stores, in preparation for my mostly raw vegan time, which I’ve been wanting to do for a while now.

And so, I started with lunchtime today doing the pure foods deal, and I had a fabulous salad for dinner (which always seems like such an unfulfilling idea, but that worked out really well tonight, even though the salad was of my own devising).

I’m actually looking forward to breakfast (and lunch) tomorrow, and I can hardly stop thinking about it all… I love drinking my meals, despite how odd or hospitalized it sounds – there’s just something so refreshing about having a meal out of a smoothie and some veggie juice (and no, I am not left hungry afterward, so long as I follow a balance of nutrients with them)… I love it.

And now, I shall go to sleep, so I can dream of smoothies, and then actually have one.

Yay!

Post-a-day 2019

Caffeine

My protein shake thing had caffeine in it… I can still tell… twelve hours later… it is past one AM, and my eyes are only just starting to droop a bit, and my body grow slightly weary…

I have to get up to sub tomorrow, which means leaving home at around seven AM… which, rather, I suppose, is today, not tomorrow… and just thinking about it makes me feel exhausted…

I am so tired, so sleepy, but my eyes and body are not having it… the caffeine won’t let them relax.

But it is beginning, at last, to give in, ever so slightly…

So, I suppose, I shall see if it will allow me to fall asleep now…

Fingers crossed!

P.S. I bought a plane ticket today to visit Japan this coming winter… woohoo!

Post-a-day 2019