「学校、2週間閉鎖になっちゃった...」

朝晩は冷えるけれど、日が長くなって、暗いうちに仕事へ行って、暗くなってから帰ってくる(これ、結構ディプレッシングです)ということがなくなってきたから、例年の3月なら、「春ぅ!つぼみ!植物!」という明るい雰囲気ですごしますが、さあ、今年は随分違っちゃったなあ。アメリカに越してきてから、ちょうど20年経ちましたが、9.11、2016年の大統領選挙と並んで、新型コロナウイルス感染症は大きな事例になってしまいました。

シアトル周辺のパブリック、プライベートスクールが2週間の閉鎖になりました。わたしのボスのチャンダ(3男児の母)が青い顔で、「これから2週間、どうしよう」とぽつりとつぶやきました。わたし達の会社はすでに1か月のリモートワークなので、ビデオを使って会議やら、チャットやらをしていますが、彼女くらいの役職になると、1日中会議、しかもビデオ会議なので、9時間ほど、コンピューターの前に座っているという状態もあるわけです。しかも、家の中で。プレティーンの3人の男の子達は、これから2週間退屈するだろう、お母さんが家にいればうれしいし(いつもいないんだから、尚更)、おなかもすくし、外に出ないようにするだろうから、家の中でばたばたするだろう、しかも喧嘩とかもありそうだし。。。考えるだけで、会社の上級役員とどうやって会議するんだろうと心配になってしまう。うちの会社は、かなりの理解があるけれど、それでも、やりにくいこと、この上ない。働くお母さんの現実。

パブリックスクールが、閉鎖になると聞いて思ったのは、貧困層の家庭、シングルピアレントの家庭はどうなっちゃうのか、ということ。パブリックのフリーミールプランに頼ってる人達は、たくさんいるだろう。サービス業についているお父さん、お母さんはリモートワークなんてできないんだから、その間、子供達はどうしてるんだろう。シッターさんを頼める余裕がある家庭は少ないんだろう。アメリカでは、一定の年齢に達していない子供は、一人で留守番ができないようになっているから 、そしたらその親御さんたちは、仕事を休むしかなくなって、お給料が入ってこなくなる。そうなったら、ごはんが食べられなくなる。。。そのあたりの保障、ワシントン州は、きちんと考えているんだろうか。どこもそうかもしれないけど、この国は貧困層は、さらに貧困にさらされるシステムになっている。そういうときに「だから、選挙が大事!」とよく聞くけど、選挙で、そういうシステムをひっくり返してくれる人が選ばれて、ちゃんとひっくり返るかどうかなんて、信じてないし、可能だと思えない、もう。遅すぎるよ。

チャンダのつぶやき、重いなあ。

Tender Heart Heals Your Broken Heart

Tender Heart Heals Your Broken Heart

I want that kind of face with a huge smile. I admire her gentle heart. Her smile reminds me of autumn sunset.

Cindy was sitting and waiting for me to meet up for a coffee that morning. She was looking at her phone and reading something. Even from the distance, I could see her kind eyes and lips were forming my favorite shape. Smile. I approached to her and she looked up. Her smile got bigger and that made me choke. My throat got tighten and my eye welled up. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t.

She is a great hugger too. She held me the way I wanted to be held (of course, I didn’t realize that until she did). As soon as I started hearing her soothing voice, my emotion got flooded. I told her my struggles. She showed her empathy, understanding and shared her own struggles. She was there. I mean, she really exited and showed up to heal my broken heart. She did not lose her smile even when we were talking about rough subjects. Then, I lost it and started sobbing.

“You are enough.”

Cindy said that to me twice sincerely when we said good-bye. She went through rough times, challenges and difficulties, but she embraces all of it. That makes her such a strong and resilient human being. Because of that, she possesses the tenderest heart and she is a person who tell others “you are enough.”

Those three words are so powerful and beautiful to me.
I will keep them with me each and every day. Thank you for your gift, Cindy. You are enough also.

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Instant Antidepressant: Baby, it’s cold outside so let’s go out!

Watching the snow falling is one of the beautiful things in the world, but it is not really my favorite thing to do. It makes me feel a bit blue and depressed. I think it’s because I know this peaceful quietness would disappear very soon.

Yesterday, Sunday November 5th 2017, it was a bit snowing and intensely cold for November in Seattle. I love Seattle autumn, but I guess I was not ready for this weather. However it turned into one of the most delightful days.

Here is list of how I make those cold and blues go away.

OXTAIL PHO at BA BAR (http://babarseattle.com)

Classic Vietnamese repertoire, beef noodle soup. Noodle have gotten better now at Ba Bar. It won’t get bundle up and like a giant mochi any more. Broth tastes exactly how I wanted it to taste like. Combination of savoriness, tons of umami, a tat sourness and slight sweetness. Make sure to breathe in the complexity of this noodle soup before digging in. Then, you taste the meat falling off from the bones and noodle at the same time. It warms your belly and heart at the same time.

PIPE & ROW (https://pipeandrow.com) and BURNT SUGAR (https://burntsugar.us)

Strolling stores in cute neighborhood like Fremont is essential especially on a chilly day like this. Looking at those pairs of shoes that cost way more than you can afford but it’s so nice to dream. Someday in Paris 🙂 You can do it yourself but it would be much more fun with your trusted and honest friends who are not afraid of saying, “No, you look ridiculous in that dress” or “You look amazing. You must get that sweater.”

YOUR BESTIES
I don’t call people “friends” very easily. Honestly, I only have several friends whom I gave my respect and the highest regards to. I got to go out and eat pho, drink coffee, shop, talk, make fun of each other and laugh. Most importantly, love. Since I have a few friends, I can easily open up my heart and show who I am when being with them. I show how important and precious they are to me. I share my life, small and big with them. They give me so much hope and strength to keep going. It’s pure happiness. There is no better way to fill your soul.

Dark, rainy and cold days are coming in Seattle soon. However, as long as I have these things, I don’t need to go seek for antidepressants. When your heart is open, depressing days can easily turn into happy days just like I experienced yesterday. That’s instant and long-lasting at the same time.

FOB (fresh off the boat) Seattle: Love Letter to Seattle

FOB (fresh off the boat) Seattle:  Love Letter to Seattle

There were so many clouds to see through  the window of the plane.  The plane was about to land but I remember it was gray and wet.  I thought it was the most beautiful place on the planet however.

February 13th, 15 years ago I moved to Seattle from Tokyo.  I love Japan and I am proud to be Japanese but I have never felt I belonged there.  I have been wanting to get out of there since I was 5 years old.  When I studied 1 year in college as an exchange student, I fell in love with this City.  Ocean, lakes, mountains, trees…I even didn’t mind rain at all.  I loved everything about Seattle.  I tend to use my guts to decide something significant.  So moving to Seattle was the easiest decision I have ever made actually.  All I had to do was to follow my heart.

Here I am, 15 years later still in Seattle (I took a detour in Atlanta for a couple of years).  Where is the best place to celebrate for this crazy life for 10 years and merry-go-round life for 5 years?  There are millions of wonderful restaurants in Seattle but there is only one place I want to go with Archie for this kind of celebration, of course Emily’s place, The Corson Building.  Archie, a couple of friends and I went there last night and their theme was “Winter Vegetable Dinner.”  Her vegetables gave me so much more than just vegetables.  She took “just vegetables” to next level while she uses spices I can’t really identify and made them taste so much more than just vegetables, but you can still identify each vegetable she uses.  She is just like a magician.  I do not know how she does it every time.

My love for Seattle will never go away.  I am happy to call this city my “home” and I want to thank everyone who loves me and are always there for me.  I have just a few and I hope you know who I am talking about.

Superhero:  The Awesome Man

Superhero:  The Awesome Man

Have you seen him before?  He is quite cute and powerful.  He is a super hero who can make me cheerful instantly.  Just like snapping fingers.

I hadn’t eaten my lunch for a while at work only because I didn’t have enough time.  Everyone, I mean EVERYONE is moving 100 miles per hour because of the major re-org.  It feels quite unsettling.

Around noon yesterday, I got a call from reception saying that I have a guest.  I was not expecting any visitors yesterday so I wondered who it could be but I headed to reception area anyways.  Then there was Awesome Man!  With cape, masks and everything…no, not really.  Instead, he had a tiny bouquet of flowers in this cute glass vase, salad and canele from London Plane in Pioneer Square, Seattle (one of Emily Dann’s restaurant. http://www.thelondonplaneseattle.com/london-plane  As soon as I received those from him, he quickly kissed me (yes, he kisses) a good-bye and left.

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I barely had time to thank you, Awesome Man.  Your gift brightened my day and lunch satisfied my stomach and soul.

If you see him somewhere, please thank him for me.

Merry-Go-Round Life: Sending Aloha from Seattle

Merry-Go-Round Life:  Sending Aloha from Seattle

Sometimes it happens.  Your gut is telling you to do something right now.  That was me in April 2010.  I moved back from Atlanta, GA in November, 2009 with all these boxes and mental baggage. All of a  sudden, 5 months later, I felt an urge to reach out to her.

So I did.  The first 2 times, she wasn’t able to answer (later I found out she was vacationing in Honolulu, HI), but she called me back.  I asked if she could meet up with me for brunch and she was up for it.  We had brunch on Saturday morning at Broadway Grill in Capitol Hill, Seattle.  I remember I felt so relieved as soon as she gave me a BIG hug.  I nearly cried from the feeling of release.  The funny thing is that we worked together for a while and got along great, but we were not that close until that day.

Since then, we were lunch/brunch/movie buddies.  She is one of 3 people on the earth who does not make me feel uncomfortable and insecure about speaking English in front of them (my native language is Japanese).  I lost a significant person in my life in Atlanta and it had been destroying me.  I was able to be honest with her about what I was going though.  She listened, commented, encouraged and listened.  I have a few close friends in Seattle but she was the first and probably only person I wanted to tell what the hell was going on with my life back then.

A couple of years later when I decided to move on and made a big decision about my life, what she said to me was, “I am so happy for you because now you can ride a merry-go-around.”  My life had been insane like riding a roller coaster until then, now I can live a calm and quiet life with occasional exciting adventures without drama (well, most of the time) that I had longed for.

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My dear friend.  You made a courageous decision to move forward to find your own “Merry-Go-Round Life” filled with happiness, fun, glee and joy but without obligations and dramas (except for Korean & Taiwanese dramas!).  Whatever you choose to do, I promise I will always be your biggest supporter and be here for you.  Thank you for being such a great friend and never giving up on me.  I am forever grateful.

Now you go get it, girl.

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