Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mid-Summer Ruminations

今年東京的夏天雨特別多。And it hasn't been as hot as what I have remembered of a typical Tokyo summer. Last year around this time, I was sitting in the mid-town garden with YC dipping our bare feet into the cool summer stream, chatting about life, school, the meaning of getting a doctoral degree and some of the new, frivolous developments in the love department of our lives. This year, I've been so busy that I didn't realize that 隅田川花火 has passed, the month of July is almost over, and I missed all the 朝顔・ほおずき festivals in town.

Missing out on the seasonal changes is a very sad thing to me. More reasons for me to embrace the rest of the summer harder till it slips away!

At least I'm gearing up for the 高円寺阿波踊り祭り even though I still can't imagine dancing in 下駄 for 3 hours straight. The Japanese 我慢 spirit is no longer a surprise to me, but how to 我慢 on that painfully tight pair of 下駄 remains a puzzle still to me. Should I wrap my toes with extra layers of band-aids or should I try to somehow pull those straps apart as hard as I could so that they could allow for more room and less blisters?

Will also be attending a friend's wedding party in a week. Having known him since the beginning stage of his relationship to now watching him busying himself with wedding preparation, I can't help to still be amazed by how two human beings with drastically different upbringing and past could come together and vow for spending the rest of their lives together. Just like the U.S., people in Japan too like to show a collage of pictures at the wedding reception that show the grown-up process of the bride and the groom and the magical point in time when God or whatever invisible hand (or pure forces of nature as some may believe) orchestrate that meeting and that spark of affection. Seeing M putting that collage of pictures together and how each of them grown up so differently and having embraced so many different experiences in life before coming to meet each other and forming a new life together, there was no other word to describe how I felt but the word, "awe."

Then given the request by A for her little bro's wedding also coming up in 2 weeks, I emailed Prof. W for advice on a suitable Chinese poem/prose to be read out at the wedding. In less than a day, Prof. W wrote back suggesting the following from 詩經:



執子之手, 與子共著.
執子之手, 與子同眠.
執子之手, 與子偕老.
執子之手, 夫複何求?

And according to 『詩經釋義』:


In order words, to translate the line「死生契闊,與子成說。執子之手,與子偕老」into modern Chinese language - 「不論生死離合,我皆與你有誓約。與你攜手,直到與你一起變老。」

Romance, love and commitment - who's to say they are only modern-day products?! Apparently people back in the 11-6 centuries BCE had already known what they are about.

But have we truly understood what they mean? And does everyone have the privilege of meeting that very special one to enter a sacred covenant as the Book of Songs spells out?

梅ちゃん at 12:15:00 AM


Thursday, July 16, 2009


It was a really hot day today. Really really hot.

Till mom reminded me in her email that Taipei is currently 35-36 degrees and has been that way since 2 months ago. How did I manage to grow up in that country for 15 years of my life?!

Compared to the frazzle of running around all day running errands and carrying my 10kg-worth of laundry back and forth between home and coin laundry (still, a nicely heated and fluffy towel/sheet makes all the sweat worthwhile), I much enjoyed the nice little stroll home from the station after a long day coming to an end.

A mid-summer night walk beats it all.

Popping in 溝口肇's music with my earphones, I took my time to walk. I walked past the 24-hr RH, the Doutor that I only occasionally visit ('cuz the smoke always drives me out of the door within 40 min), the bakery where I like to get a freshly baked mellon-pan, the Korean obento-ya that I recently started to frequent more after a long day of working, the supermarket that (thank god) opens till 11pm, the yoga club that I haven't visited for almost a month.

Then the Taiwanese dinning place - not necessarily a hole-in-the-wall place but certainly a ma and pop store - where I too have become one of the 常連さん. Perhaps due to the heat, the two pans of door were slid half open tonight, and the small, 10-person country was almost full. I could see A-san busy fixing someone and O-san quickly filling up a pitcher of nama-biru. I could also see the little haze created by M-san's chain cigarette smoke and heard bits and pieces of laughter from someone trying to tell a funny story. I decided not to stop by for a quick 挨拶; with such a nice summer night breeze out, I'd rather leave the party undisturbed inside.

Out of the blue, I thought about my friends from Penn - T my then little brother and M now his wife; J helping A fold up her laundry like what real bro's and sis's would do; my Argentine roommate J who gave me my very first salsa lesson; A my first Thai roommate whom I'd never seen an angry thought crossing her mind. The Sept showers that blew my umbrella away and wetted all my freshly purchased textbooks; the snowstorm night trekking through half a campus trying to make it to b-study; many many 10:20am rushing down locust walk with only half of my Japanese vocab list memorized; and many many more late-night study time with coffee from X at S study hall.

How did those bits and pieces of memory suddenly appeared in mind? I'm not sure. But knowing that I can somehow recall them with crystal clear images years later offers nothing but sweet comfort.

Perhaps one day, I will be talking a walk somewhere, on a cool summer night, with some warm summer breeze blowing and roadside scenes entertaining to watch. Then, I'll think of tonight, this night when I walked down this little 商店街 in west Tokyo and past a one-bar-large TW restaurant, and realize how much I've been blessed by God to have travelled this far. Despite loneliness sometimes, yes, and despite the unknown certainty of where the next stop may be.

I looked at my songlist on the iPhone - 「ふたり」, the song name reads. A really really song.

梅ちゃん at 12:19:00 AM


Wednesday, July 15, 2009


At school, I was given the greatest time and wildest space to think, to ponder, to contemplate, to wrestle, to write, to listen to my own voice and the voice of others. I wrote a lot, reflected a lot, struggled a lot, but remained hopeful despite periodic restlessness and constant questioning of the meaning of it all.

Now in Tokyo, I've thrown into the world of reality - both work for a future career and work for the present daily living; stress of dealing with a foreign language and living like a foreigner in a gigantic city; the physical challenge of pushing through walls of people on any given platform or roaming across half a city at any given time of the day; the encountering of people beyond school walls and handling of the most guarded, less transparent, further convoluted human relationships. I got to see a lot, experienced a lot, shocked and surprised and rebuked if not offended a lot more. In the end, I come back to a house of darkness with a beat-up body that is too tired to write up much.

But the mind never stops running.

I hope this is just the process of finding a better place between ideals and reality, between what is to be hoped for and what is to be practical for. To find that exact shade of color between the blacks and whites.

I feel like the real battle has yet to begin. But I hope that at least I am more and more equipped when the real battle comes.

梅ちゃん at 1:54:00 AM


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Makes me wanna sing ...


心が今とても 穏やかなのは この日を迎えられた意味を
特別な事など何もない ただ いつもより少し
シャンとした服を着てるだけ 君はとても綺麗だよ

何かといつも忙しく まだまだ想い出は多くないけど
始まりの鐘が 今 この街に響き渡る

共に歩き 共に探し 共に笑い 共に誓い
共に感じ 共に選び 共に泣き 共に背負い
共に抱き 共に迷い 共に築き 共に願い

気付かぬ間に二人 似たもの同士 仕草も笑い顔も
そこに生まれくる命には 何よりも尊い 二つの光を

ぶつかり合う時も来るさ 綺麗な事ばかりじゃないだろうから
始まりの鐘の音を いつまでも忘れない

偶然という名の運命 そんな出逢いだからこそ
何気ない瞬間を 今日からは かけがえのない瞬間に

共に歩き 共に探し 共に笑い 共に誓い
共に感じ 共に選び 共に泣き 共に背負い
共に抱き 共に迷い 共に築き 共に願い
ささやかな幸せが 木漏れ日のように
やわらかに降り注ぐ そんな日々を描きながら…
いつの日も どんなときも

梅ちゃん at 12:24:00 AM