Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thank you!

My paints are sold out within two days...wow... Thank you very much for everyone who is interested in buying my art.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Piano Recital of Tamar Mikeladze

The Northside-Hall of IUSB
Wednesday, April 23 at 4:00pm

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wolfson Poetry and English Department Awards–this Saturday


A little get together after the Wolfson/Analecta festivities for those who are interested at Neil's house.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Preface

The Empty Suitcase:
An End of Semester
It was like a normal, ordinal day: I worked part-time and had some appointments in the afternoon. I needed to finish my literary analysis paper for an English class before having fun on Saturday night. In the evening, I wanted to write the paper, and I wanted to eat dinner, straighten my naturally curly hair, dress up in a pretty summer dress. Until sometime in the morning, I wanted to have a good time with my friends and strangers, which was my ordinal plan on that Saturday.

But the ordinal plan is always changed; perhaps, distracted by ‘emergency’ situations. At first, I called my mother because I totally forgot her birthday. I am never sure when my mother’s birthday is, which is always changing between the 16th and 19th in April. Her birthday seems to change every year so I usually called around the 18th. Sometimes I called her on the exact day but sometimes I wished her happy birthday hours; perhaps a couple of days, later, but I excuse that I live in a different time zone from Japan. Her birthday always changes when it comes across the Pacific Ocean.

So I talked to my mother about an hour and then I opened my literary textbook, thick as a telephone book. When I started reading, my cellular phone rang. It was my beautician, who I had an appointment with to straighten my hair, and she wanted to meet me a little earlier. I closed my textbook and visited her shop.

While my beautician straightened my hair, I got a text message from my friend. I was borrowing his global warming documentary films and he needed to watch them to finish his assignment by midnight on Sunday. I promised him to drop the films off after my hair appointment.

But another friend called me right after the text message. My phone is usually quieter like a shell and colder than stone, but on that Saturday, it was constantly vibrating. The other friend fell in love with her dog; perhaps, she loves her dog more than her husband, but the dog was sick and something wrong with its stomach. Her husband worked at the time, so she needed me to drive to her veterinarians’ house so she could hold her dog wrapped up with a blanket in her arms.

When I hung up all the phone calls, I was very satisfied with my straight long hair by the beautician. With silky Japanese doll-like black hair, I was really looking forward to how many phone numbers I could get that night after driving my friend and her dog to the vet and dropping off the documentary films.

When I headed to the vet, my roommate called me. Our washing machine had a problem with continuously running water. The basement became the Pacific Ocean. I immediately drove back from the animal doctor’s house and I swam in the basement in our house. An extremely old pipe attached with the washing machine was broken. It was time to ask for a new machine from the college housing office. My roommate and I came up with a temporary solution and decided to call the office the following Monday. My straight hair already became curly because of water from the pipe.

When I dropped off the documentary films, it was already morning. I could hear the birds chirping and the east sky was brighter and my stomach rumbled. I realized that I had nothing to fill my stomach since last lunch. I knocked at the door of my friend’s house with the films and he amazingly woke up even though the sun wasn’t completely risen. Then I saw a Pop Tart on a coffee table next to his socks. I hesitated to have it since it was beside his used socks. A corner of the marshmallow Pop Tart seemed to touch the socks. But I had it anyway. I needed to fill myself with food to be ready for Sunday; the literary paper assignments and final exams week.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

------------------ After Norman Dubie and for A.K.

“Nobody is perfect,” a poet tosses me a white
paper airship and I thought it was ash,
the ashen love letter. There is limited
mind in his eyes with eternal excuses for a blue-birdhouse,
gunpowder, or the virginity. I’m the stone
nude under the half

moon and still feel Indian
summer on his palms. In late June
he devoted his tears for a hydrangea. It’s 1983,
on his ex-wife’s birthday. The dewdrops
from the moon wash away the star-
sky maps on straddling spider webs. He was pure,
the pure blue deer. I start

writing poems so I can see
my past for the sleepless night. I know
the smell from the center of his room
like the early spring moon, popcorn, and the yellow
milk. A corn husk-
feathery heart bares under my shaved ribs like a hairless cat;
your cat is always selfishness. It’s still preparing to leave,

returning to your heated kitchen. Roasted pork
bones are on the table and peppers
fragment on the broken white, the lilies. You pick
up the receiver and I say, “I can’t sleep.”

Everyday fills me a cup of coffee my roommate
makes. My mother used to make tea every morning. Scorched
dandelions were on the dining table.
They were in the trash can when I came back
home with new flowers. We’re all the same; no home, no
home like a slug.

“There is true love,” I said. You smile.
The fork always stabs;

Stabbing your forehead. I look for gold dust,
mixed with his blood. I can paint a white
canvas, my poem. Your blood is always

wasted on a palette. “I’m tired, tired, very tired. Tell me
about your dream on snowy dunes, white on white
with ashes and ashen love letters until I fall asleep…”

You slowly replace the receiver. A broken linchpin,
my roommate trashes it every morning at six o’clock. A white

coffee cup clatters in the sacred light.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Preface

The Empty Suitcase:
Filling Me Up with the Soul Foods

The 9th Annual International Food Festival at IUSB on April 5 was the most fantastic food festival the International Student Organization has ever had! For a cover charge of $9, guests can taste any Asian, European, Middle Eastern, South African, South American, and even North American homemade traditional food in buffet style. Foods were unbelievably delicious since I have never had a tasty appetite from Malaysia, noodles from Indonesia, a main dish from Zimbabwe, an intermission hotdog from America, and dessert from Ukraine. The main cafeteria, The Grille, was packed with hundreds of locals and others representing mixed cultures, America.

I had greeting kisses with South Americans, hugging with South Africans, shaking hands with Arabians, and smiling and bowing with Asians, and then all the people asked me, “Did you cook Japanese food?”

This is the most painful question for the international student, me, who had attended four food festivals in the past—I have never cooked for the festival— I always received participation notices from the International Student Organization and my heart ached with my shame—it is very hard for me to feed myself with everyday cooking so how can I cook for hundreds of guests— almost all international students participate to cook and show their patriotism in this foreign country, America. I join the festival as I write articles, sell tickets, call for people to cook Japanese food, and other extremely minor supports, but which are nothing compared to actually cooking.

Their food was different than something from a restaurant. They cook like their mothers do— when they come back home, the food is on the dining table, the warm, cozy, and healthy mother’s food— their recipes are from their grandmothers’, family tradition, or the network of international recipes.

The 9th festival started organizing since this January and the students turned in their recipes about one month before the festival. The International Student Organization ordered ingredients, carefully following the recipes. The students cooked a day before the festival in the Grille under other chefs’ observation and strict cooking rules. The food is held in the kitchen under certain food safety conditions until the food festival began. Cooking usually took three to four hours to prepare— it is a lot of work— even though the students have homework and their final exams in the following few weeks.

Why do the students commit themselves to the festival? One Japanese student told, “My friend called me to help. Pounds of rice wait for me in the kitchen, so I started making sushi, which reminds me of my mother but I still have unfinished papers!” when another Japanese student spilled soy sauce over the traditional clothes. They seem to extremely enjoy being in the festival. I realized that they also fill their hearts cooking their traditional food in America, the same as the guests fill up their hearts with their hospitality. It may not matter that the students can cook or not because the dishes were soul foods to fill up any person’s heart with the taste of home.

Felix E. Marquez is the president of the International Student Organization. Without his motivation and cooperation with other supporters, the festival would never have been successful this year. I would like to thank all of the international students who remind me of home, the Japanese heart.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"Koi-Kokoro" By Naoko Fujimoto