Small things

Keisei Makuhari station, where I caught the train home every day. Tokyo, June 2009

1. Betsy Dunlap is one of my favorite calligraphers. Her work is so distinctive and beautiful in a funky way. You can scroll around her blog to get some ideas of what she does. She’s kind of like a superstar in the wedding blogosphere.

2. We had a minor flood in the kitchen last night. Guion went to answer his phone and forgot that he left the sink running. I was talking to Emily on the phone (which was unbelievably lovely; I miss her so much) and wasn’t paying attention. Our neighbor Hannah comes upstairs and is all, “Um, do you have water running? Because our ceiling is leaking.” Yeah. Not fun. But we got it under control. I’m glad we have a mop and at least four towels we don’t care about.

3. I can’t wait for my new Japanese pens to get here so I can start on Rose and Kemp‘s wedding invitations! I’m hoping they will come today.

4. I also can’t wait for Cristina and Eric’s wedding! And even though we can’t be there, Megan and Charles’s! Just a few more weeks!

5. I suppose I forgot how utterly dark and depraved Mishima’s fiction can be. “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion” is certainly interesting, but it’s hard to handle sometimes. Mishima, likely drawing from experience, preferred to focus on society’s rejects. But instead of giving them touching qualities (so as to creep into your latent store of compassion), he makes them extra-sad and dark. Still, reading this novel rushes me back to Tokyo in an instant. I read 12 novels by Japanese authors that summer, mostly in transit. Sometimes, when I get absorbed in this book, I feel like I’m back on the train, reading intently as I sway back and forth and listen to the announcer’s high voice calling out the stations…

Making friends, watching football

We are getting settled in Charlottesville. Our apartment is beginning to look like a home (thanks to generous gifts of furniture from our parents, grandparents, and the Habitat Re-Store). We have also started to make friends, particularly with our neighbors. Par example, we walked a few blocks with Hannah and Olivia to Megan’s boyfriend’s apartment to watch the England vs. U.S. game.

It was about 98 degrees today and we walked into this sweaty, welcoming room of upper twenty-somethings piled on couches drinking PBRs. The game was being broadcast by a vintage projector on the wall and we were watching it on Unavision, delighted with the rapid-fire Spanish that was scarcely understood. I pressed myself flat against a bookshelf full of records and international books and observed. The women were beautiful and make-up free, all in dresses, with lots of bobby-pins and bangs between them. The men mostly wore their hair long and their shirts were either composed of plaid or political statements; one had a little girl on his hip, the other a tambourine. We joined them and they accepted us. Everyone was friendly. There were a lot of humanities grad students, a lot of “young professionals” who would never call themselves “young professionals.”

I realized, in my first moment of post-graduate self-awareness, that you have to change your language when you meet people now. The first question, after you exchange names, is no longer, “So, what’s your major?” but “So, what do you do?” It felt good to actually have something to say in answer to that question, although I still feel like a baby. By any comparison, I certainly am. Megan, our cheerful neighbor who invited us to the World Cup showing, mentioned in passing that she’s been in journalism for 10 years now. I nodded, as if I could relate.

It was a good day. The rain came thundering down halfway through the game. During halftime, we wandered onto the large front porch (which had its ceiling painted robin’s egg blue, which would have pleased my mother). Hannah (who is lovely, a fiction MFA student, reminds me of Rachel H.) stepped silently into the rain, looked up, turned around once, and then came back under the shelter of the porch. She performed this little act so gracefully and quietly; I was oddly impressed.

My husband (yes! I have one of those now!) is unpacking books in the living room. I need to switch over our laundry downstairs, write thank-you notes, make summer tea and dinner, and do a thousand other things. I start work on Monday. I feel happy and strange all at once.