My sports ineptitude is legend. The phrase “can’t hit the broad side of a barn” was coined to describe my throwing prowess. So when my dad brought home a couple bows and set up a hay bale-backed target in the backyard, we all expected that I would wipe out half the squirrel population by accident. All of us were surprised (stunned, shocked, amazed) to discover that archery was something I could actually do. No neighborhood pets or small children were harmed as I practiced. It appeared that all I had needed for my latent athleticism to emerge was a sport that involved weapons. Continue reading
It started when I was in junior high. President John F. Kennedy was determined to get us into shape, so we were condemned to physical education classes every day. Even if it wasn’t every day, it seemed like it because I spent the time I wasn’t in PE class dreading it. On top of that, every year we were confronted with Physical Fitness tests: softball throw, the broad jump, the 50-yard dash and other indignities I’ve blocked out.
I envied the girls who were good at sports. They made it look fun. And easy. But I was one of those who, when it came time to choose teams, was always left on the sidelines until the last minute. And with good reason. Continue reading
I had heard much of Japan’s cherry blossom time before I moved to Japan in the early 1980s, but I had lived in southern California too long to expect much show from spring. So I wasn’t disappointed, my first spring in Kyoto, when the cold wind and rain beat the blossoms to the ground almost as soon as they appeared. Continue reading
When I went to Japan in the early 1980s, I expected to love many things: the simplicity of the architecture and the art, the gardens, the calligraphy, the pottery, the flower arranging. But it came as a shock to me when I became a passionate sumo fan. Continue reading
Twenty-plus years ago, when I decided to freelance full-time, my father wrote me a long letter extolling the virtues of corporate job security, medical benefits, paid holidays and 401(k)s. Not an unusual reaction for a parent concerned his thirty-something offspring had lost her mind. But it was unusual for my father who was always a little too incorrigible for the lock-step of big business.
Different and daring were my father’s watchwords. He worked his way to the top of his profession as a mechanical engineer with no high school diploma. His brilliant mind and unique approach to problem-solving were his keys to success and upward mobility. Continue reading
Mother’s Day was beautiful here in Oregon. The kind of day where my mom and I would have headed out for brunch, then headed for the coast, hit the iris gardens, or wandered through a nursery. But my mom is gone, so I had brunch with a friend instead.
Standing in the buffet line, I happened to see a woman at a table in the grip of helpless laughter. She was shaking all over and was holding her hand over her mouth as if her shout of laughter would rock the restaurant. I found myself smiling just to see her. And I remembered my mom, her laughter, her joy in laughing, and her joy in making others laugh. Continue reading
Our family had friends who collected. Not one thing in particular, but a little of lots of things in particular. Some of it was purchased with the thought of “investment” for retirement. Some of it (all the magazines and other etceteras) accumulated and was simply kept. Eventually, there was little living space in the house, as everything was packed floor to ceiling. Small trails let from sitting area to sleeping area. When they passed away, someone had a fearsome task to clear things out.
I’ve found that many people I talk to about our friends knows someone whose collecting has gotten just this out of hand, whether it’s family, friend, friend of a friend or neighbor. The topic makes some of us a bit queasy Continue reading
Most of us have a drawer–a trunk, a closet, a garage, a basement–filled with things we don’t use but can’t bear to part with. Some of it’s useful, some of it’s not. Some of it’s interesting, if only to us. A lot of it is sentimental. But we keep it because somehow it’s become part of our lives. It says something about who we are and what’s important to us.
Writers not only have the usual stash of tangible stuff, most also have files and notebooks filled with intangibles—fragments of story ideas, notes about experiences, op-ed pieces on topics they’re passionate about–that they haven’t sold or maybe even tried to sell, but that haunt the attic of the mind. Continue reading