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Showing posts from November, 2007

The Preface

Empty Suitcase:
An End of the Year

“All I want is Christmas is you,” was playing from the radio in my car. It was a rainy day, past midnight. The windshield wipers swept with raindrops reflecting red signals on Ironwood. On that night, I received the first email about my grandfather. He had been suffering from senile dementia (like Alzheimer’s disease) for a couple of months. His memories were like withered leaves; falling apart from his brain. He is nearly 90 years old, so it may be natural for him to forget about some memories.

My family had been hiding his health problems from me because they did not want me to worry about him; because they were busy taking care of my stubborn grandfather in a wheelchair; because I did not call them for two months with the excuse of concentrating on writing stories. My family and I have a distance between us. The distance seems to be longer every year. It is no longer just between South Bend and Nagoya, Japan. It is somewhere between a local coffee sh…

The IUSB Vision

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
By Naoko Fujimoto

Santa Claus, reindeers, fir trees, illuminations…Christmas is coming! You wonder what gifts you are going to give your family. For your sister’s baby, you may give an Elmo with Pizza toy; for your brother you may give a Nintendo DS if you have a big enough budget; and for your mother, you may buy a cake plate set because they were at a great price in an after Thanksgiving sale. On Christmas holidays, most American people have a wonderful dinner, exchange gifts, and stay together with family.

Unlike American people, Christmas in Japan is not family oriented. Most young Japanese people do not celebrate Christmas with their families when they go to high school. Children in elementary and junior high schools are, of course, looking for Santa Claus. They are seriously worried about how Santa Claus will get inside their Japanese style homes. Because most Japanese people live in apartments, they do not have chimneys.

So their parents make t…

The Preface

Empty Suitcase: No.10 (Wow I already have 10 stories!):
The Pink Washtub


When I came to America for the first time, I was sixteen years old. Escaping from my high school in Japan, I was in Portland, Oregon for the summer of my senior year. The summer was the most important season if I wanted to pass Ivy League-like universities in Japan. Unfortunately, I could not wake up at 7:00am, take a subway at 7:45am, and run in to a private women’s high school before the teachers started to take attendance with a ruler.

In my high school, there was an appearance examination every morning. Students cannot wear their uniforms like characters in Japanese manga do; but of course, the students change their outfits after school just like Sailor Moon. But in the summer, I did not have any chance to wear my uniform because no matter how early I went to bed, I woke up at 3:15pm. My poor mother was stressed out about me, who was failing all her classes.

So, my father bought a one-way ticket. My mother kicked…

The Preface

Empty Suitcase:
A Favorite Day

I cannot wait for November 21st—my most favorite day of the year—when I think about the day, I want to waltz around on flaming leaves by the St. Joseph River. The day is not my birthday or another special day with someone that I know. I just like the sound—November twenty-first—as if I have rum raisin ice-cream in my mouth.

November sounds like a sweet vanilla ice-cream before adding the rum. A young miss in an accordion pleated skirt under the autumn sky must have it. But the 21st is wild like bottles of rum. So, the day represents the combination of sweetness and wildness in a year. The sound melts into my ears and makes me feel romantic.

But November 21st is not just another romantic day in autumn. I have important steps to make it the perfect day. I prepare my list for grocery shopping because I deviate from my normal breakfast menu for this particular day. I usually go shopping on Saturday evening. The Saturday before the 21st is November 17th, so I ha…

The Preface

Empty Suitcase:
Dear Mr. Black Hair

“You fall in love with…someone…dark…jet-black hair,” a fortuneteller told me last November. It was actually a great suggestion because I had no longer made any mistakes on Friday afternoon while having cups of coffee; perhaps Saturday morning lying next to blond, brown, or bald heads. Every night, I have just meditated on my future black haired man in my mind on a Yoga mat with my drink in a plastic cup.

A year, two weeks, and three days passed. Where is the black hair?

“You have already met the men with dark…jet-black hair!” said the fortuneteller again last week. He looked at me with his bloodshot eyes and added, “Naoko, you need to look carefully.” Before I complained to him, I went to every place for possibilities to meet the black haired man. So I ended up heading toward Club Fever, the Landing, and etc.

“Shall we dance?” a guy took my hand—black hair—actually I met him last November in a club. Since then, when he found me, he surely came to me. My…