A Trip Around the World, Part 4

Writing on train. (Photo by Chris)

It’s Sunday, July 2, as I begin this new entry, and my friend Chris and I are back on the Trans-Siberian Railway, having traveled from Vladivostok to Irkutsk and spent a day and a half in the town of Listvyanka on the shores of Lake Baikal.

It seems like we’ve been traveling for days, yet we’re not even halfway between Vladivostok and Moscow. We’ll pass that milestone sometime this afternoon.

Akiko didn’t write that many poems about her train trip from Vladivostok to Moscow. But we do know about her Trans-Siberian journey from her account Pari made [パリまで、To Paris], which was published in four installments in the Asahi shimbun newspaper.*

And I’m really struck by the differences between our two journeys. Continue reading

Our Favorite Films: A Tribute to 16 Years of Watching Movies with My Kids

Charlie Chaplin, Tramp, Modern Times
Charlie Chaplin in “Modern Times”

My oldest son is leaving for college tomorrow. He is so ready for this and so psyched. I am not ready at all. I’m happy for him, of course, excited, proud—all of that. But ready? Not so much.

This may seem to have nothing to do with favorite movies, but bear with me.

In three years, when our youngest leaves home, my husband and I will experience the more monumental transition to empty-nestdom. But the shift from a foursome to a trio feels pretty dramatic in its own right, and I wanted to honor it in some way.

Some people are surprised to learn that such a bookish family watches so much television. Continue reading


Photo by Pryde Brown
August 15, 1987

My husband Dan and I were married 25 years ago today. In honor of this milestone, I share the following:

A few weeks ago, an alarm went off in our house in the middle of the night. Dan got up to investigate. He returned a minute later and crawled back into bed without a word.

“Was it the smoke alarm?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he mumbled, clearly ready to resume his slumber.

“What did you do?”

“I took out the batteries.”

“What?” I was now more awake. “But what if something’s burning?” Continue reading

On Mornings

tea tray
My daily tea

I am not a morning person. I often don’t sleep well or enough, and frequently wake up feeling exhausted, unwell, or in pain.

Yet I’ve settled into a daily a.m. routine that not only reconciles me to waking up but reminds me pointedly of my blessings before leaving me blissfully alone to work. One day I’ll look back on these mornings with fondness, which I guess makes this post an exercise in prospective nostalgia.

Waking begins, at least in these cooler months, by fumbling about for my Japanese hanten, a quilted, hip-length, kimono-style jacket. If I can just find it and put it on first thing, getting out of bed doesn’t seem so ghastly. I’ve owned a hanten since my early 20s. My current one was a 40th birthday present from my mother and would be one of the first things I grabbed if the house were falling down and my family was already safely outside. Continue reading