Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sayonara 2009

2009 was good to me. Several long-time, big-time dreams came true.

Most notable was flying back to the States this past spring. Not only did I get to go home and see family and friends, but the trip also coincided with my first book, a short story collection called A Robe of Feathers and Other Stories, being published by Counterpoint Press LLC.


I also had my first ever book signing at the Bookworm in Omaha. That event went better than I ever could have imagined. People showed up, lots of people--old friends and teachers, favorite doctors and distant relatives. Even kind strangers. The staff were amazing and the books sold out. I don't recall a word of what I said or how I answered questions. I might have just sat there and drooled the whole time. I don't know. All I remember is the incredible high that lasted until almost the end of September.

Beautiful People.

The third whopper of a dream was flying to New York City and meeting my fabulous agent, Ethan Ellenberg. I can honestly say I was more nervous meeting him than reading and answering questions in front of a hundred or so people. It was a whole we're-not-in-Kansas-anymore moment and I am still carrying with me the inspiration I garnered from him.

Look J, the back of my mom's head and is that Elvis?

After all of that it was a bit of a downer when J and I returned to Japan only to be quarantined for 10-days because they feared we had H1N1. Although the people who called us daily asking how we felt and explaining that if we had to cough we should cover our mouths were nice enough.

From June it was pretty much a lazy slide into Christmas.

Oh, there was a highlight in November when I went to Osaka to do a reading at a Four Stories event. Again, the people were awesome. The vibe was surreal. Three of my best Shizuoka friends went to support me and I just can't tell them how much that meant to me. I also met an online buddy who was so way cool that it felt like hooking up with a long-time friend.

Still as wonderful as 2009 was, I'm looking forward to next year. I've gotten rid of some baggage, rearranged my priorities, and am really hoping to be a creative, productive force of nature. Okay, maybe force of nature is a little ambitious. Fingers crossed for another book published.

I wanted to thank all the Kappa no He readers, subscribers and followers. I hope each and everyone of you have a New Year filled with health and wealth and happiness.

2010 is the Year of the Tiger. Here is a New Year's postcard I painted. I was going to send these out this year, but I couldn't successfully reproduce the tiger. It warped into some horse-rat looking creature.

Tomorrow I'll post the card I did end up sending out.

Good bye, 2009. I'll miss you.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Big Cleaning

So in Japan they have something at the end of the year called Big Cleaning. I like the idea--getting all squeaky clean before the New Year. But it is cold. And there are postcards to write and food to prepare. And some serious napping to be done.

I'm making an effort though.

Today I scrubbed the foyer, the front door, and then all the tiles outside. I swept away spiderwebs (and one giant dead spider), crunchy leaves, and loads of dirt.


I even used my bowl of hot soapy water to wash the tanuki who sits by my door. Doesn't he look happy? I even gave him a new little mat to sit on.

The whole time I was doing all this scrubbing and wiping and sweeping and polishing, my little's a picture of my little buddy:

...was working on his work of art, a hole.

The photo doesn't look too bad. I filled it in before I thought about taking a picture. And I really wish I had taken a picture of that dog grinning ear to ear covered in dirt from his paws to his belly. He promptly got a New Year's Big Cleaning Bath.

After that fun, we went shopping to buy all the special N. Y.'s food. And I picked up a hakusai that was so big it didn't fit in my fridge. So here it is, a nice addition to my clean foyer.

And there you have maybe the only good thing about not having central heat. Foyer's freezing.