Reflections on healing trauma, writing, and books by Tokyo-based memoirist
It’s Christmas and Time to Prepare for a Beautiful Week

It’s Christmas and Time to Prepare for a Beautiful Week

Every time I come here to write lately, I’m surprised that this blog has so few entries. I keep forgetting that I just moved my blog because I’ve changed blogs so many times. If I think back and try to count, I’ve had around 9 (maybe more) different blogs over 26 years of blogging.

I think that for next month, I’ll try to update daily to build up some entries. I’ve never done any sort of writing challenge on a blog before, and I’m simultaneously a little curious and apprehensive about it. Anyway, it’ll be interesting.

There will be no hard rules, of course. The only time I ever gave myself hard writing rules was when I participated in Nanowrimo a couple of years ago. I’m glad that I did it because now I know what it’s like. I also know that having a word-count goal doesn’t really work for me. I got it done, but I was completely exhausted by the end. Updating here daily should be nothing like that.

Adam and I are on the cusp of taking a week off. We’ve gotten pretty good at staycations because we’ve had ailing cats over the years that prevented much travel. Now, we only have one cat, Dylan, and while his health is relatively good, he still needs regular care.

During the break, I’ll make banana bread with this recipe that I’ve already made a few times this year. I substitute a flax egg for the egg to make it vegan. It’s healthier than a standard banana bread recipe because it gets its richness from dates and some coconut oil, rather than butter and sugar. I just have to get my hands on some dates, which aren’t easy to find in Japan. The weirdest things are hard to find here. I might make some cookies, too, because I’ll have the time, and it’s the season for it. I haven’t baked much since moving here because our kitchen is really small and our oven isn’t very good.

I don’t miss Philadelphia much, but I miss my old house a lot. Specifically, I miss having a clothes dryer, a dishwasher, and a big kitchen.

I’m looking forward to a Nora Ephron movie marathon. At first, I thought I’d have one alone because I didn’t think Adam would be interested, but he said he wanted to join in. Then, he suggested that we skip Sleepless in Seattle. I said, “Well, you’re out then, because Sleepless is happening!” He relented but insisted that we include My Blue Heaven. I can live with that. We casually settled on six of her movies, but we haven’t made plans beyond that.

Yesterday, I tried to go to my regular ballet class, but it was canceled, which made my week feel oddly incomplete.

Tonight, we’re going to check out some more holiday illumination. A lot of the illumination is canceled this year, did I mention that? There’s still enough to enjoy, though. I was worried that London wouldn’t have as much as Tokyo, but my brother (who lives in London) says they do put up lights and decorations for the holidays, which was a huge relief to me. If you’re wondering why that is, go back to this entry.

In the past few weeks, I’ve read Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld, The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka, Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell, Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler, and a couple of books from the Madame Chic series by Jennifer L. Scott.

I thought I’d get more enjoyment out of Rodham than I did. It’s a fictional re-imagining of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life if she hadn’t married Bill. I’ve read a couple of other Curtis Sittenfeld’s books before, and I find that her writing sits on a line between intellectualism and sensationalism that suits me. She’s also very sharp about popular culture, something that usually goes completely over my head, so I’m happy to have her summarize it for me. I’m not sure what I expected from Rodham because it delivered in all of the ways one can reasonably expect from any semi-realistic view of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life.

I almost always enjoy Anne Tyler’s writing. Sometimes, I feel like her plots get a little janky, but her word-smithing is so good that I don’t mind.

I don’t have much to say about The Buddha in the Attic or Winter’s Bone. They’re the kind of books that you either like or you don’t, I think. I enjoyed them enough because I enjoy reading most things enough.

The Madame Chic series is mostly lifestyle tips that most people will probably never use, but the books were good for killing five or ten minutes at a time. They exist in a nice little cocoon, where a person has so few problems (and so little awareness) that she can absorb herself with things like place settings and sleepwear. Actually, while some of her advice was almost creepily Stepford Wifey, the overall message is about living intentionally; to think about what really brings richness to your life and indulge in it. She encourages returning to the basic things that have helped people be happy for centuries—nice meals, comfortable homes, and stimulating conversation. I can appreciate that, and I was happy with that as the takeaway.

Speaking of beautiful things, I can’t stop watching this video by Kathryn Morgan where she dances all of the parts of the Snow Scene from the Nutcracker with herself (using editing). I’ve been following her for years, and she just keeps getting better and better. She danced with the NYC Ballet and more recently, Miami City Ballet. She left Miami due to fat-shaming. Yes, you read that right.

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