I got this from another blog but I think it rocks...
Those conservative people who stridently declare their patriotism and say that all liberals are traitors--I wonder what they think patriotism is about. They seem to think it's about attacking anyone who thinks that America has ever done anything questionable ever. I guess that's easier than actually doing anything to help our country.
I think patriotism is about making your country your family. Which means you want to take care of it and help out those members who are not doing so well.
When someone in your family has a drug problem, you don't want to stick your family member in jail for 80 years. Instead, you'd want to get them help. When someone in your family gets pregnant, you give them a hand. When someone in your family loses their job, you do whatever you can to get them through the rough time. Most importantly, when someone in your family is in trouble, you care.
I care about my fellow Americans. And I think that makes me much more of a patriot than someone who sticks a "Proud to be American" sticker on their car while simultaneously chanting "personal responsibility" instead of helping out their fellow Americans.
I wonder if I'm just not compatible with people romantically on a long-term basis. I don't know if I have it in me to compromise and negotiate through all the landmines and details that makes relationships LAST. Sometimes, I feel like I'm just not cut out to be with anyone aside from myself, and the funny thing is- the older I get, the more I'm OK with that. Some people say that as my youth fades into the twilight and old age creeps up to take over my every movement like a shadow, I will regret the choices I make. I don't know. Loneliness has never been my primary enemy- it's been an annoyance at best. The biggest and worst fear in my life is boredom. My mind is capricious and moves very quickly through people and interests and subjects. In that way, I am a Gemini. As I mature and change, will that part of me change as well? Will being alone slowly take over the fear department in my mind over boredom? Will I trade comfort and security for independence?
It's strange to come back to the states after being away in a foreign country for so long. First, it's a feeling of familiarity and differences of being in Japan and being here.
I'm a foreigner in both countries. As much as I love Japan, my "motherland," it is in many respects a strange combination of my "homeland" as well as being a foreign country. People pick up the fact that I am different in both countries, but I am different for different reasons on each side of the Pacific.
In Japan, I notice the "American" part of me, and people notice me as a very rude Japanese. It's not to say that Americans are de facto "rude." It's cultural differences- like eating as you walk about town. Eating on the run is considered extremely rude- and it's very rare to see people in Kyoto doing it (Kyoto still being a very formal city)ANYWHERE. OTOH, people don't consider it rude stateside- in fact, among college students- it's an art that needs to be developed in order to survive as one navigates classes, work and a hectic schedule.
In fact, I realized that I was the one Japanese (gasp) female (gasp) in the middle of Kyoto eating food on the streets while walking home from the train station. I had three people joining me in this food on the run act- and they were all foreigners. During my whole stay, I rarely saw a Japanese person eating on the run, and when I did- once- it was a homeless guy. Ouch.
Stateside, people don't even bat an eye when I wander into a grocery store in middle of my cleaning spree wearing my sweats and a t-shirt. That so would not be a good idea in Japan. I was way too casual in terms of apparel while I was there. I noticed that even with women that "look" casual- it's very thought out and stylized. It's clear as day that they didn't just run out of the house in a hurry- their wardrobe has been very carefully chosen for a "casual" feel and effect, but again- it has been very thoughtfully considered. Me, on the other hand, with my obviously makeup-less face, hair pulled into a ponytail, with a baggy sweater, comfy old jeans and doc martens- have not thought about my appearance, other than to make sure my clothes are clean and hygenic to subject upon the public (I'm traveling folks- fuction over fashion when I'm travelling). The biggest part is that people can obviously tell that I have not put the fashion aspect of my appearance in high consideration. Hence the comments from people pointing out this very fact in Japan that I probably would not hear nearly as much stateside.
Goodbyes are always hard (especially when they're not "Good"-byes). The hardest thing about any parting is when you're not sure if you're ever going to see them again. I recently left Japan. Now, I have known this in many respects, but my parents are getting old. I haven't seen my dad in a while and he's aged quite a lot. He used to be a saracstic bastard of enormous proportions (and I mean that in a loving way). I get my wise-ass, dry humor from him. I see that his harshness and rough vocabulary has mellowed like wine. It was shocking, amusing, and somewhat bitersweet to be able to talk to my father without it turning into World War Three of debates and devil's advocacy. My mom, while I see her much more frequently as she lives with me part-time in the states, have also aged now that I look at her with my dad and also my grandma. It was kind of jarring to see her with my grandmother, with my mom is the "adult caretaker" role compared to my mom, the "stubborn daughter" that I'm used to seeing when my grandmother and my mom were together. My grandmother is 99. Nobody will be surprised if she just did not wake up one day. I should, and am, grateful that she's still alive and mentally still together. That's a huge blessing in itself. She's still full of smiles, and while she's slightly forgetful (I hope to be as together as granny IF I make it to 99) and less mobile, she is obviously still very much the grandma that was full of smiles, cuddles and love that I remembered as a kid. My grandma still insists on helping out around the house- helping with dinner, laundry, dishes... She still watches my mom and corrects her on the tempura recipe, and shows me how to slice the leeks properly for the Udon.
She still tells me to sit up straight, and tells me to brush my hair before dinner. She always insists on serving everyone at the table. She is still grandma, and for that I am just blessed and eternally grateful. My aunt on my father's side used to be a spry firecracker of a debater. A real sharp wit. Age has softened her quite a bit and rounded out the sharp corners to a nice, alabaster smoothness that was not there before.
Leaving them was very, very hard. Especially my grandmother. She helped raise me as a child and she is a big part of who I am as an adult. Her love and affection made what could have been a very lonely part of my life into something filled with happy memories. I had not seen her for a decade and then to leave her again, especially knowing that it may be my last time, was the hardest of all.
I hope this was not my last good-bye, but the beginning of a lot more. I can always hope.
This is the first time i've really been back to Japan in more than a decade.
Last time I was here, I was still a teen. Now, I'm (age-wise) a legitimate adult. Funny how my relatives still see me as something equivalent of a grown-up 5 year old. That was the last time I lived in Japan- between the age of 4 and 5. After that, it was all short, punctured visits. As a result, most of their memories of me revolves around me @ age 5.
Well, I'll be leaving in less than a week. I leave with a lot of memories, but one of them with a firm sense of the passage of time. My grandmother is almost 100 years old. My aunts and uncles aged. A lot. It seems obvious, but it's almost shocking when you haven't seen them in a decade. During my teens and 20's, you don't feel the passage of time nearly as much. You don't even think about growing old, growing frail, your thoughts escaping your mind more often than you like. You really do think in a sense that you will be "forever young." My 20's are coming to an end, and I am starting to feel the passage of time. Hopefully, when I turn back to this moment 10 years from now, I won't regret the last 10 years.
I am a late bloomer.
I think I always will be.
That's OK... my favorite flowers are late bloomers (Moonflower, Brugmansia, Datura, many Jasmines...)
I always SUCKED at keeping diaries. However, since I spend so much time on the net, I hope I will be able to keep up with this one.
So, cheers to my new blog (currently being typed on my mother's beautiful new 15" ibook). I am going to go eat some melon sherbert to celebrate my new blog.