Friday, March 14, 2008

Save Frank!

Dear Friends and Family,
It has been a long time since I've updated you all...but it's been a long couple of months. I really appreciate all the kind words and wishes you sent my way after hearing of my mother's passing. It meant the world to me to hear from you. To know that people are thinking of you during a sad time just makes the burden so much easier to bear. Thank you.

Fortunately, I returned home before catching The Flu From Hell Which Warped into Seasonal Allergies. I have spent the last week on the couch feeling like all the energy had been sucked out of me, but I am on the mend, finally. Unfortunately, Frank is not faring as well...(cue the haunting, forlorn strains from the string section)...

It all started when I took him through the car wash for the first time since we acquired him (maybe his whole life?). I wouldn't have even gone to the trouble, except that some green dust cloud (apparently a mixture of Gobi desert sand and industrial pollution blown in from China--woohoo it's Spring in Japan) deposited a smeary layer of gook all over the car. Since I can't be bothered to buy windshield wiper fluid, and I couldn't see out, the car wash seemed inevitable. I was in awe watching the nifty Japanese machine do its magic, the giant purple strips whipping the dirt off the mangled sides...when Frank became alarmed. There, on the instrument panel, was a cry for help: a simple exclamation point surrounded by a bright red circle.

He sounded kinda wheezy a couple of months ago when we started him up, and that light came on, but we just ignored it. Eventually he gave up his pathetic quest for attention. Our lofty goal is to spend no money on all...ever. This time, though, the shock of being clean must have have created some PTSD reflex, because Frank refuses to become un-alarmed. Maybe it's because, now that the filth is gone, his scars are painfully shiny and noticeable. Maybe he found out we will be buying a "new" car at the end of the's hard to tell. Regardless, unless some concerned celebrity puts together a "Save Frank" campaign, replete with a rock concert and t-shirt sales, I'm afraid it's the end of an era.

Besides dealing with vehicular guilt, not much has been happening around here. I did go up to Tokyo awhile back with a friend to fetch some money her daughter had earned for modeling. We stopped into "Bagel and Bagel", well, for A BAGEL and a cup of coffee and were shocked to find out that they sell gourmet muffins, too. You would think that they would have mentioned that in the title, but apparently the bagels are that good. Nevertheless, they offered a muffin (not a bagel) cookbook, called "She Loves Muffin". We were still scratching our heads about that one, when we wandered by a "Nail Museum". Ewwwwww. Surely, they meant "Nail Boutique", but my bagel and bagel was on its way back up after just imagining what might be on display in that place.

I teach my senior's group tomorrow so I am sure I will have an interesting discussion about call girls and politicians. I can't wait to hear their take on this one. Strangely, we broached the subject of female entertainers while talking about geisha a couple of weeks ago. Geisha still exist today in Kyoto and parts of Tokyo. As has always been, there are different levels of Geisha. High class Geisha are schooled in the arts: calligraphy, tea ceremony, poetry, an instrument, etc. They do not provide "sexual entertainment". Servicemen from WWII experienced lower class geisha (prostitutes) and brought home an inaccurate view of what constitutes a true geisha. Most probably never met the highest class geisha since they are only hired by extremely wealthy patrons to provide artistic entertainment for important dignitaries and business clients. Once a high class geisha has become renowned for her art, and her art only, she might become a wealthy man's "kept woman". Nowadays, it is no longer acceptable for a politician or wealthy businessman to have a geisha. The men seemed kind of wistful about this and the women seemed ambivalent--on the one hand, they admire the artistic tradition but seem bothered that geisha still entertain only men. I am curious to hear what Japanese men and women think about the whole Spitzer fiasco.

Well, hopefully Spring is on the way wherever you may live...the cherry blossoms should be out here very soon. We have a couple of trips planned for the next few weeks so we'll keep you updated about our (mis) adventures as they pop up.

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