The Beautiful Mrs. H

Somewhere in the muddled mind of youth, where I meandered from day to day clutching a withered hand-me-down school bag and wore white Oxford shoes that I carelessly painted in all directions with drying white polish, my perfect friend Grace would run ahead in her long pigtails and beautiful book bags.

I loved her book bag, a handmade piece created from her mother’s thriving imagination.

Grace always had something that I admired. Her mother made all the nice things she had, which were intricately sewn dolls or little patches, cute little faces on clothing and bags so lovingly stitched together, completed with a silky lining so that books could find a gentle place to lay.
Mrs. H’s mind seemed to be an animated universe of fascinating skies and mezmerizing creatures, and she was adept at bringing it to life. This was a gift she passed onto Grace, now an artist, who once drew Snoopy pictures with precision and spunk, and he took on animated poses that went beyond the scope of Schulz’s pen.

You could fall in love with such beauty and colors. This was pre-anime universe, where Disney and Mr. Hashimoto dominated. Most images were familiar and came with a jingle or product, but Mrs. H stepped ahead of this. Hers was a world she shared with her children, and then with me.

It was on my 7th birthday when Grace gave me a handmade book bag made by her mother. It was scarlet red and had beautiful miniature dolls sewn into the fabric, while the inside lining was white or pink. I held the bag up to the light and looked at every tiny stitch, caressed the character faces that were on the front of the bag and marveled at a singular beauty that could never be replicated. It was an overwhelming gesture that I could hardly interpret, but that bag would stay with me, sometimes hidden away from my mother so it would never enter that “too old to keep so throw it away” category.

This was all so long ago, and I have never forgotten each fine detail.

There are so many things for which I must say thank you, as Mrs. H’s generosity and kindness extended far beyond that little bag and a childhood BFF.

For today, thank you obasan.

Hit and run is the new black



On my second full solo outing with my husband’s Lexus, a charcoal grey car that he cherishes and cares for as a child, I had the misfortune of having some young punk’s motorcycle leave a giant dent followed by a trail of a long, deep scratch on the front end of his car.   Continue reading “Hit and run is the new black”

A very Japanese New Year (with some moonshine)


On the evening of the very last day of 2010, my husband and I zig-zagged our way through the Musashi-Kosugi train station markets where I admired clear plastic boxes of fresh shrimp tempura and soba.  Continue reading “A very Japanese New Year (with some moonshine)”

Father doesn’t always know best


In the year of my early youth when my father was charged with bringing me to the Emporium rooftop for an afternoon of Santa photos and Christmas rides, he bundled me into a series of sweaters and scarves so tight that I began to sweat while riding the 5 Fulton.  Continue reading “Father doesn’t always know best”

Sister Linda did not like my Thanksgiving




The ritual post-Thanksgiving writing exercise required that Sister Linda’s third grade class detail  the holiday events. Continue reading “Sister Linda did not like my Thanksgiving”

Daddy teaches me how to to eliminate Public Enemy No. 1


My father forced me to go to the polling booth with him every year.  Dressed in my Catholic school uniform, I would walk with him to the local polling station, where he would force me to stay in my spot as he moved towards a heavy apparatus that looked like an essential part of Frankenstein’s laboratory. Continue reading “Daddy teaches me how to to eliminate Public Enemy No. 1”

Three out of five ain’t bad!


The team of my youth, the San Francisco Giants, has just won its third World Series in five years.  It is an amazing accomplishment, though it is still difficult for me to fully comprehend. Continue reading “Three out of five ain’t bad!”

Me, my selfie and I


(my steady hand)

On a recent vacation, my husband and I found ourselves walking past dozens of stumbling drunk people who would abruptly stop in place to take a selfie, posing against the backdrop of casino lights and celebrity impersonators that would dot the Vegas streets. Continue reading “Me, my selfie and I”