Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Preface

Empty Suitcase: High Heels on the Track
By Naoko Fujimoto

Writers need inspiration, just like a spark at first sight, so they need in some flesh experience every day, which was an excuse when I bought my pointed-toe pumps in Chicago last weekend. I believe that those shoes will bring an unexpected spark for me.

My new high heels are streamlined yet elegant in deep ruby. I looked at them hundreds of times before trying them on. How enchanted the high heels are! I took pictures and I even read poems to them. I adore my new pointed-toe pumps.

Putting my shoes on the dining table, I still wonder what extremely unusual experiences I could have in those shoes—dive into the St. Joseph River without a lifesaver, running one mile on Mishawaka Ave. without any clothes on (of course avoiding Police officers,) or sing Over the Rainbow on campus with a microphone. I only came up with these extreme examples, so to refresh my mind, I decided to exercise at the SAC last Thursday with my gym clothes on.

My only gym clothes are my tennis uniform—the Fujimoto Family occasionally has tennis tournaments and my grandfather must win (an extremely strict rule,) which my sister complains about, and I usually sit down under the parasol with my grandmother while my mother enjoys baking—so my gym clothes are a decorative tennis uniform, which is totally different from others.

How nice people’s exercise clothes were in the gym!

Some women showed their proud chests under tight stretchy tank tops… even their tops were sparkling and had something written on the butt of their Yoga pants, which must have been produced by Victoria’s Secret, while they were stretching with a pole—excuse me— bars around the track.

On the other hand, some men wore the same clothes in classes; perhaps, in beds, cars, or everywhere—white sleeveless shirts and basketball shorts showing their checker-box underwear—sometimes small polka dots or many miniature SpongeBobs on it.

The only common thing for the runners was that everyone put on earphones and wore their I-pods on their arms. In the gym, with the background of loud pop music, everyone listened to their own music and I could hear them—hard rock, romantic, and folk songs. The runners were against every noise and their right and left legs dexterously made tapping rhythms. I needed my proud high heels, so I could be louder than them.

It was not a competition, how of a loud noise I could make on the track, but how cleverly I could adapt those noises into my exercise rhythms. Perhaps, people needed these noises to divert their loneliness on the track—just like some people who come back home and imminently turn on their TV. After their exercise, they never felt loneliness again because they were checking out each other while they were running in the self rhythmical modes.

Consequently, some people made a fragile promise for following weekend—Thursday night at the IUSB gym is a picking up day— Unfortunately, only girls in Victoria’s Secret are targets that night. I realized that it was time to look up those exercise clothes on the internet so I can more proudly run showing the word—Pink—on my butt. However, I am not ready to order earphones for running. It will just disrupt my rhythm with my high heels on the track.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Preface: Empty Suitcase

The Exclusive Phone Bill
By Naoko Fujimoto

My phone bill was a couple hundred dollars over my plan and I fainted. I talked 3000 minutes over my free limit last month, so I investigated why it happened by looking over my bill.

I remembered that I talked about stray cats almost every day in early last month. A cat and her four newborn babies were rescued from a narrow gap by my friend’s barn. The conversations started using up all my free minutes because her husband mowed the lawn while she talked to me.

I spent sixteen dollars to talk to someone who has the last four digits, 0987. Even though I had no idea who they ware, I talked to that person for fifty minutes on one Friday evening. The person must be close, but I did not find the phone number in my address book. Did I talk to my imaginary friend when I spent a lonesome Friday night?
My phone usually does not ring at all, but on one Tuesday four people tried to get me at the same time and the four phone numbers were beautifully juggled like modern art on my bill around 7:30pm on that day; moreover, I called China House every Wednesday.
When I look over my phone bill, it reminds me of my life last month. Someone called me at 1:30 am in the morning, and we met at a 24 hour coffee house to talk about something…something…nothing…but I ordered a glass of lemonade, which tasted like a broken heart. The midnight meeting may be recalled as a memory of youth when I become older, but the following morning, I called my close friends to hear “you deserve someone better.”

It is sad to say, but last month is really nothing; perhaps, my everyday-life means nothing—I order food from China House and add extra flavors (mayonnaise and ketchup). When I call Team Naoko—I secretly call my friends by that name—they always tell me what I am supposed to do in those crisis situations.

I suddenly realized that I am broke and spoiled—I do not mow the lawn, or find a job, or cook, or wake up in the early morning but I talk on the phone, 3200 minutes—all I need is to hear nice words from Team Naoko—if my friends give me lectures, my hearing process unfortunately shuts down.

Consequently, I came up with a new strong belief— I look over the sky and swear—I am definitely going to earn the total charge of 3200 minutes, and I will not call my friends except for ‘emergencies.’ I cherish them in person more than ever until I finish paying the bill. I sighed when I looked over the bill again, but do not worry, I am not going to stand on a dark corner by the pole wearing torn pantyhose downtown.

I rewrote a story from my blog to the Preface.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The IUSB Vision

Toilet Battles—Western or Asian style?
By Naoko Fujimoto

“Oh the bathroom! I wish it was the exact same as Asian style!” screams a student from Japan. A student from Taiwan added, “It is a kind of embarrassing to use American bathrooms” and another student from Thailand said, “American bathrooms have no privacy!” Some Asian students complain about precise differences between Western and Asian style restrooms.

Let’s imagine restrooms at IUSB. When someone is in a bright red stall at Wiekamp, you can see the person’s legs, which means the door has a space to show somebody is in it. The space would be helpful for security reasons, etc; however, the door is one of the reasons Asian students feel uncomfortable.

Most Asian bathrooms have full cover doors, which mean that you cannot see inside and need to knock on the door to make sure nobody is in it. You may think that it is not good for security but there are emergency call buttons in most restrooms and stalls. If you are in a stall and a person knocks your door, you scream, “Somebody is in here!”

Asian bathrooms promise a very nice private room with a music box, called Oto Hime. A Japanese bathroom company, To To Toilet, exploit noise problems and relaxation in the stalls. Some people are embarrassed when they make bathroom noises; therefore, they flush twice—before and after—using bathrooms. The company produces the music boxes, which make the sound of running water, classical music, etc so when those sensitive people use the bathroom, they just push a button to reduce the noise.

Moreover, some music boxes have emergency call buttons just in case something happens in the stall. Now the music boxes are popular in any kind of public restroom, even schools in some Asian countries, especially Japan. The music boxes decrease wasting water and promise users relaxation and a safe environment while in the restroom.

In addition, a reason for the full cover door is differences between Western and Asian style toilet seats. Western toilets are like chairs; however, some Asian toilets are not like the chair style. People stride over a toilet and squat, so they need to hide themselves with the full cover doors. To keep those traditional Asian toilets clean, there is a sweeper in each public restroom, so in some Asian countries people tip the sweepers one to two cents after using.

However, if IUSB wants to adapt for those minority opinions—it may be difficult to exchange all doors for Asian students but they may be able to adopt the music box idea since people in the stall can feel more relaxed and safe— IUSB needs to budget about two hundreds dollars for each music box. So if IUSB adds the idea to the library, it needs at least fifteen music boxes. (Hope they find some discounts for educational industries.)

The most important thing is that bathrooms should be clean and safe. Some bathrooms at IUSB, especially some restrooms in Northside, may not be perfectly safe since not many people are around. If restrooms have enough toilet paper, soap, paper towels, sanitary maintenances, and security, the bathroom should be perfect. Flush away any cultural differences if you find the perfect restroom for you.