Category Archives: Stories

The Grown Up Room

grown up roomI was teaching map-making to my 1st grade Geography class. After drawing a map of my own house on the board, complete with a legend indicating bedrooms, backyard, and the titter-inducing bathrooms, I instructed each of the students to create a map of their houses.

They were eager to do so, making good use of the card stock and washable markers I’d set on the center of each knee-high table. The students worked hard to re-create from their minds the way they viewed their homes.

As first-graders will do, each one quivered with excitement to share their work with me.

Here are Johnny’s bunk beds. Here is Kayleigh’s mud room, where the backpacks get hung. Here’s how Sam’s room connects with his brothers (through the — titter — bathroom). And see this? It’s Tasha’s trampoline in the backyard.

One common feature of nearly every house was a TV room. But Alissa’s explanation of hers is what merits this post:

And this is our TV room. It’s where my sister and I watch TV while my parents have their Grown Up Meetings over here [points to master bedroom].

I could not tell if Alissa’s pronouncement of “Grown Up Meetings” had quotation marks around it.

Titter.

Image from Freepik from www.flaticon.com, licensed by CC BY 3.0

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This post is a part of #Microblog Mondays. Whazzat? A post that is between 1 word to 8 sentences long [oops!]. Head over to Stirrup Queens to join the fun.

Gingerbread Men

Liam was Reed’s first friend. They met when Reed was just 6 months old (Liam’s mom is in my Vino Support Group). They went to the same school for a few years and must have had ten thousand sword duels and gunfights over the years.

Boy friendshipLiam and Reed on the first day of school 2007

Then Reed switched schools and though the boys stayed friends, they were no longer connected at the hip.

Reed was so excited on Friday to unexpectedly see Liam at the cross-country meet he’d been training for. Liam was running too! The boys were thrilled to be sporting together again.

But Liam’s school is configured so that he would run as a middle-schooler. And Reed would run as an elementary-schooler — even though they are in the same grade.

Liam’s group went first, and no lie, Liam found the 1.5 race really tough, as evidenced by the chunks he blew just past the finish line, and his declaration to never ever run again.

Moments later, Reed was sucking wind in HIS race, albeit toward the front-ish of his heat. At about the one-mile mark, Reed passed his dad and me, indicating that he couldn’t breathe and that he might not be able to go on. I watched him falter as he turned a corner; then I lost sight of him.

Amid the chaos of thousands of colorfully-clad kids and their their parents mulling about, a recently-purged Liam spotted his friend.

Liam picked himself off the grass and bee-lined to Reed. Liam ran the rest of the race alongside my son, urging his friend to keep going. “Stay strong!” he’d say. “Hey Reed — I just barfed! You got this!” “Don’t worry! You can vomit when you get there!” “Almost there. Finish strong!”

Reed did finish. And he DID finish strong — first from his school and 14th from his heat (out of about 60).

I was so proud of both boys.

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This post is a part of #Microblog Mondays. Whazzat? A post that is between 1 word to 8 sentences long [oops!]. Head over to Stirrup Queens to join the fun.

Transformative Travel: A falling out

Twenty-four years ago I was halfway through a year working in Japan. I had been teaching English, traveling the country, and working out some issues by leaving my falling-apart life behind for a bit.

Phase 1 of the year was Wonder. Everything in the first half of 1989 was new and fascinating: the food, the people, the culture, the freedom. This period of growth and opening was exactly what I’d come for.

Summer brought Phase 2, which was Settling In. I felt confident enough in my language and getting-around skills to host my parents and sister for a visit in July and my boyfriend in August.

2011 Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto 1Things fell apart for Phase 3. Let’s call it Ick. I had no more visits to look forward to, I became very homesick (especially for Boyfriend), and I was bored to tears with my job. Speaking simplified English and covering the same topics over and over allowed me to practice and perfect the art of the clandestine yawn to the point where I thought my cranium would explode.

The heat and humidity were stifling to this dry-heat girl raised in the semi-arid Rocky Mountains. By the end of the summer, I was sick of sopping though my clothes ALL THE TIME. It was only after midnight that it was tolerable to go outside. Conveniently, this is also when I would gather several hundred yen and head to the international phone on the street corner to call Boyfriend, who would be available then due to the time difference.

One suffocating night, around 1 am on my way home from the phone booth, I noticed a man with a flannel jacket (??) hanging over his forearm. Odd. He began to follow me along a deserted street, and I saw that his OTHER arm was moving up and down. Rapidly. With a grin, he flapped open his first arm to show me what he was pumping.

I freaked out, even though I knew I wasn’t in any physical danger. He was a swine, but a harmless swine.

Still, I felt violated. The next day at work, I insisted that my coworker, a bilingual Japanese woman, help me make a police report.

She explained to me that reporting such a “crime” was just not done. Men will be men. Even if police DID look for the perv, even if they DID find him, nothing would happen to him. Shikata ga nai.

I insisted, and she accompanied to me to the local police station. In my mind I was quite powerful, bringing healthy feminine boundaries from America to my host country. I would save other women from this preying public crank wanker.

While my colleague stated my case in Japanese with the unamused officer, I puffed myself up with over-the-top dignity and  self-importance. When she turned back to me, however, the translation deflation hit.

Know what the police officer said, as relayed to me by my coworker?

It probably fell out by itself.

Ma-tha-fa-ka.

I may have fallen off my chair. All by myself.

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This is a former Show & Tell post repurposed for the Generation Fabulous bloghop around July’s theme of Transformative Travel. Click for more linkies.