Sunday, May 4, 2014

Allyson Wonderland

J.D. Salinger's infamous story of Holden Caulfield, among others, went through
(Analog Yalanlar; also deviantart)
My parents visited this wonderland recently. The cherry blossoms finally popped, and the 'hurry up and happen' everyone feels turned into 'wait! don't go!!' I imagine it's something like fame or having a kid.

A third of our way through this tour, there are times I want to fast forward. Get back to English bookstores and the people who knew me when I was little. But there are times I want the days to stretch...and having family visit does that.

It's like taking your toddler to Disney for the first time. The Japanese vending machines are like the snack carts; it's as if heavenly light shines down on them, illuminating their shiny facades while sparkly music urges you to go ahead, enjoy some sugar, caffeine or vitamin C. The bullet train is like Space Mountain, thrilling yet soothing. The sakura (cherry blossom) trees are the stuff of storybook pictures.

River in Kyoto
Further, on ambiance: their hair was blown back by how spotless every car was - even the garbage trucks - every sidewalk, every train, as well as how wonderful the people are and the cheerful music that permeates both indoor establishments and neighborhoods.

We frolicked around Kyoto's blue-green Kamo river, and Iwakuni's Kintai Bridge at night - the trees were still in bloom and highlighted by paper lanterns, and the giant cobblestones leading into the dark water begged Cary and I to run across them. We strolled beneath bamboo forests and explored the world of Hakone, where we snacked on magical black eggs and rode a gondola across a fantastically windy, gaping canyon, then a pirate ship across a Loch Ness Monster-esque mountain lake.
Kintai Bridge
via krstarica FORUM

It really is as if Underland, Star Wars planets and Instagram were all whipped into one when God created Japan. (No joke. Dead serious. Come visit, statesiders.)

We made our way to Hiroshima. I can't put my finger on why I like this city more than Kyoto. It rained while we were there, turning the river that dissects downtown an appealing, mottled gray. It's not about Scarlet Johansson wandering lost across koi ponds; it's about this suddenly somber appreciation and a respect for the rebuilding that took place on both grand and small scales.

On the lighter said, it's home to my new favorite Japanese food: okonomiyaki. And it's the birthplace of Koyudo makeup brushes, which look like hearts and daisies more than a utensil to paint the barn.

Okonomiyaki is a real tasty mashup.
(Kaelazors's blog)
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After they left, I returned to a mound of work. I should've been thrilled to have the pile-up, because freelancing usually means having too much time to eat Fritos at 10 a.m. and watch miniseries. Yet after this recent marathon of trying to harness my best column journalism, I got rejection, and then rejection. Nothing truly final, I told myself, just revisions and new leads. But I wasn't getting the scored-goal gratification of publishing that I've been needing over here. Copyediting just doesn't cut it. A byline buried in the credits and in eight point font only goes so far... Just like a personal blog's a dime a dozen if that.

I call myself a writer because that's what I do all day. But journalistically, I haven't gotten past local newspapers, travel guides and magazines the physical equivalent of TV Guide. Each time we move, I stand at the doors to the publications I admire like a Mervyn's customer. Open, open, open. Publish, publish, publish. While I wait, indefinitely, in whatever land the Navy transports us to, I guess I'll have to rely on proofreading tweets and entering speed typing contests.

Add this to your queue.
(via the review by Christopher Fowler)