Friday, February 28, 2014

Lack of Fiction

Lemonade Mouth
It was Halloween night when I first saw a tanuki. The jollier-looking raccoon sprinted in front of my car as I drove around the base flight line. I braked. 'No, tanuki-san, no!' a friend responded when I texted her that it had finally happened. (We worry they'll be hit.) It seemed like everyone had seen one but me. The slightly foggy night added to the magical mystery of it; the base was already flush with witches and colorful characters getting candy. As we enter year two over here, every holiday has now been experienced Japan-style including President's Day snow monkeys.

A group of us watched and called to the dark, fuzzy blobs perched in trees off a ridge run at Happo-One (pronounced o-nay). Every now and then one would leap from its wishbone cradle in play or fight, maybe screeching a little. It was cold and gray, and they should've been making their way to their natural hot springs that attract tourists. I learned you can get in the water with them in one spot.

Hey from Japan - Notes on Moving, Emily Cannell
I'm learning about whiskey and that earthquakes really can last longer than a burp. I've ranked the different chocolate chip cookies on base and know which bathroom stalls at the Exchange and OClub have locks that suck. I realized the Japanese national anthem, when sung, actually comes close to giving me goosebumps like ours. And Cary showed me how Butters cocks her ears and looks for Cheerios under the kitchen table when she sees you pour them into the bowl - it now never ceases to cheer me in the morning.

I finally got tickets to the Ghibli Museum, which is in a quiet Tokyo district. At the time, Mitaka was all wintry air and light, leaves underfoot. Some trees bright red in the nearby park. A friend and I walked the sidewalks and enjoyed until we saw the first wrought-iron signpost indicating we were on the right path. If you don't know, Studio Ghibli could be summed up as Japan's Disney. But it's more than that I think because it's foreign and more calm and introspective. It's the most peaceful way to make a statement that I've seen.

We looked at animation cells and a replication of Hayo Miyazaki's cluttered and inspiring office. I had a dark hot chocolate and left with a bag heavy with souvenirs and books. The details are the best, like in the films - as if they had Gaudi design Sesame Street for the outside and on the inside, a perfect cartoon screening, whimsical staircases and stained glass windows. In the theater, the ceiling is recessed into a vivid cartoon skyscape, the yellowest sun smiling down.

My Funky Worlds
Art is something I love but don't fully understand why. Why does editing text make me feel better about the world...I'm not building roads or bettering lives. Why does writing something down make me feel more complete...No one will read most of it. When I was little I watched this morning cartoon about a group of neighborhood friends who also go to sleep each night and meet up in their dreams for adventures. One of the little boy dreamers dreams of becoming a famous painter. Everyone loves everything he paints. No matter what. His work is epic. Sounds good right? But then he's on a stage, everyone going to watch him paint, and he's at a bit of a loss. He starts with a swipe of green for a tree maybe and everybody cheers. They give him a standing ovation after the next stroke. But of course none of this makes him truly happy.

To have their kid be a writer, WINK
I'd love for every word I write or comma I insert to be praised. For literary journals to clamor at perhaps a skimpy 200 words I write about how the only cold feet I've ever had for my husband is in winter when I give them to him to warm. Aw. That the paragraph I have from my 11-year-old self's journal is one of those read-it-and-weep passages. That I would be the one to bring the fiction column back to Seventeen magazine. That I would somehow live my own version of Dan Humphrey's life (link spoiler alert). That I would be like Dan says and take Fitzgerald's advice and write myself into the world somehow.

But a masterpiece without hard it really a masterpiece? Do our favorites get produced in a brush stroke? Ehh... But if an artist has poured their self into something, someone somewhere will like it, love it or at least relate to it. And that potential for connection tastes better than Mel's Lemonade.

It's hard to remember the sweetness of that fact according to myself when the day is bitter though. When life takes you away from the bliss of your true craft. It's just plain hard to get back there. To that wide-eyed kid and his dad at the air show. To the brown berry writing in her neighbor's tree, a less coordinated snow monkey, trying to bring fiction back.