Friday, March 27, 2009

10th International Food Festival
April11, Saturday3:00pm-6:00pm,
Main Cafeteria(Grill), Administration Building
Ticket: Adult $8; Children (6-12 years old) will be $6

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Empty Suitcase: My A.C.

I received my tax return— it was very generous spring financial support from the American government— I saved most of the return because I am going to be out of college this summer and head into the worst economic situation. I can clearly hear, “Good luck getting a job,” so this tax return will definitely be the apartment rent for June, which is the anniversary month for my arrival in America.

Six years ago on June 1st, I came to America and would not have guessed that I would become a struggling job hunter with a Master’s degree six years later. Situations of being short on cash is only an experience in movies or musicals like RENT, which I believed in my B.C. “B”efore I was a “c”heerful girl who had no worries with God-like sunshiny hope and financial security from my family. I had never imagined that poor would slowly come toward my life. Working for rent and credit card payments and everything will be left in my pocket. No more new accordion pleat skirts, navy blue scarves, and pearl necklaces. This June 1st seems to be my fork in the road and my A.C. will start; my “a”ccount “c”rash.

My mother said, “If you get a job in America, you are going to be removed from the list of Fujimoto credit card members.” I got a warning when I told her about my future plans. Of course like any other parent, she is hoping that I will come back to Japan and live within a three mile radius from her apartment in Nagoya after my graduation.

Withdrawal from my family credit card is the right thing if I want an independent life in America. The independence is about supporting myself with my own salary. This June, there is no magical gold credit card to swipe for my emergency financial situations like airplane tickets for sudden homesickness, splendid handbags on sale, and Hawaii trips every spring break.

So I asked my death metal guy how I can make enough money to keep living my life in B.C. He said, “Filming your own porno like the movie, Zack and Miri Make a Porno.”

Well, it is an unfortunate truth that young females sell their sexuality to support their life like a college student in the Southwest region who sold her virginity on an internet auction. She earned over six figures, which is more than enough for her and sister’s college tuitions.

I cannot easily say whether it is good or bad that they sell their sexuality to support their life; however, I cannot be a porno star just because I have a petite athletic body. I promised it to young students when I was in the Philippines. I used to study volunteer work like the United Nations does in a Japanese college and I was an elementary teaching assistant in a village of Cebu when I was nineteen years old.

The village had descended from a group of outcast lepers in the past, but now the villagers are as healthy as other human beings. They are still separated because of historical misunderstanding and discrimination. Therefore, many villagers are out of employment, so young healthy females fall into the prostitution industry and give up their education. Moreover, they become breadwinners for their family at the age of seventeen. Some of my elementary students become seventeen this year. I pray that they somehow receive scholarship for high school.

I always aware of how lucky I am— I receive whatever I want— but at the same time, I understand that life is not that simple. My death metal guy is broke like other Americans with his health insurance, being a fulltime student, and a worker. In addition, he does not receive tax returns but he actually owes tax because the government did not take out enough from his account last year.

I really wish that I am a billionaire. I can support the students who I met in the Philippines for their education and give my death metal guy a semester off from work, so he can only concentrate on studying for his degree… I know that there is always a start from nothing, so I will start figuring out how to pay for my rent every month and then something more.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Urban Jangle and Cat

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bang! Bang! Bang!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Empty Suitcase:
Bangs, Bangs, Bangs!

Mr. Shinoda is my worlds-best beautician. Without his scissors— he has four scissors dangling around his waist like a cowboy with pistols— I have never had happy semesters.

I have naturally curly and unruly hair; especially with water from South Bend, my hair is out of control. They go wild every morning. I have no idea how they make permanent and complicated poses while I sleep. In front of the mirror, I have to tame individual strands to stay calm and make it as shiny as it can be. To be honest, I can comb my hair during spring break but not every day with classes and writing, which means that I am one of the mop-py haired girls on the campus.

So Mr. Shinoda designed my hair as a super easy maintain with minimum treatment, no hair drier, and comb free last November when I went back home to Japan. I usually meet him before I meet anybody else, even my own sister and grandparents. Because my mother treats me and my suitcases like a mop and bucket after its duty of wiping floors at McDonalds, I am prohibited to be shown in public before an extensive makeover.

My mother seemed to accept my hair style during the last trip because her mind was occupied by my grandfather’s funeral, so she did not say anything but gave me some cash and a direct phone number to Mr. Shinoda. I still remember when she threw away my entire belongings in a suitcase when I came back from America for the first time. “Sorry, honey, I cannot stand this smell of detergent” was her excuse. Of course, she booked Mr. Shinoda seven weeks before my arrival.

During this spring break, my hair is reveling in a new level of chaos. Every time I looked into a mirror, my bangs made me depressed and I knew that only Mr. Shinoda can make me happier, not anybody else, even my death metal guy.

But Mr. Shinoda is across the Pacific Ocean; far, far away from South Bend. In addition, I am forbidden against trying new beauty salons by Mr. Shinoda because I swore that my hair has never cheated on his scissors. He and my hair went though all kinds of horrible damaged situations— when I cut my hair in the Philippines, my hair was chopped into different lengths, so it looked like a short bob after a scientific explosion and when I dyed my hair dark orange in America, he gave me special treatment to return my cuticles back from the red hair like Garfield after never taking a bath.

I cannot visit any other beauty salons in South Bend under my oath to Mr. Shinoda, so I cut my hair myself after carefully watching America’s Next Top Model. All I needed was the beautiful bangs that those top models have. Mr. Shinoda will probably be upset with me cutting my bangs as a non-professional cutter, but if I do not cut my bangs, I crush every mirror into pieces.

As one of my hobbies, I record each episode of America’s Next Top Model. Therefore, I can pause, forward, and rewind whenever I need close observation. Fortunately, the last episode was making over each model’s hair style.

Spreading newspapers, holding a hand mirror and scissors, I pretended to be a world famous beautician on TV. My bangs are treated; perhaps, well imitated of a fabulous hair style with my hands and very sharp scissors from the kitchen.

My death metal guy said, “You are beautiful to me in any outlook” when I asked him for his opinion of my new hair style. I am actually looking forward to seeing Mr. Shinoda and what he is going to say about my bangs.

If he is upset, I can always tell, “This is designed by the world famous beautician who has a salon in New York City. No, no I never met him. I took his lessons. No, no it is not expensive. It was a generous free offer on TV. I paused at his every movement.” Mr. Shinoda will know that my hair was obviously not cut by a specialist just by looking at it. I really hope that he actually considers opening his salon in Chicago in the near future before my hair is gone.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We-- Mitch, Eric, and Naoko-- finished editing Analecta,
so it is ready to PRINT.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Greenhouse" is accepted by Pebble Lake Review for inclusion in the 2009 Health & Illness issue, which will be published in late May.



The foreign sky is foreign gray; my frozen marrow:
my mother’s blood is carrots: her carrot cake, the crumbs
scattered on the range and shears: sharp shears tangled
with a steel kettle; it was the spell to find lost needles
after she sewed a skirt: my gingham skirt; the needles
pained my father’s eyeballs; his pallid tie: no job
but his record player played Debussy; from the rusty sprinklers,
the snail escapes and I still cower in the shrubs of rhododendron
in the ever-green greenhouse; my mother listens to a music box
on the first day of March: the warmest afternoon
in a nameless city: miles away from the foreign gray.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

By Elizabeth Bishop

I I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn't fight.
He hadn't fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled and barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
--the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly—
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
--It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
--if you could call it a lip
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings
,the gunnels--until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!And I let the fish go.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Writer's Meeting
This Saturday, March 14th, 1:00 p.m., The Chicory Cafe.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Coldest Afternoon with a Yellow Sock

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Empty Suitcase:
The Coldest Afternoon with a Yellow Sock

My hair was defying gravity under a knit hat and I wore a long black jacket with one sock, holding recyclable and non-recyclable plastic bags when I closed the front door. “Oops;” my key was still on the dining table. I locked myself out of my apartment on the coldest afternoon of March, early early spring days.

I did not freak out. I immediately accepted my situation and ridiculous outfit despite mothers shielding their children’s eyes as they passed. I just held my jacket tight in front of me and asked for a key from the office. At the main office, my legs shivering with one yellow sock, I gazed at the sign, “closed.”

Fortunately, I had my cellular phone in my pocket. It amazingly had enough battery and had all its bars— my phone somehow rejected most reception; perhaps, it is the dropout of perfect signals by AT&T— I texted my death metal guy to ask for his key.

Thirty minutes later, with three phone calls, two voice messages, and five text messages, I did not receive any response. He is usually very good at dealing with emergency situations like during last November, when I urgently changed my flight to Japan, he came to my apartment at three o’clock in the morning. But with my locking out situation, he did not respond to me at all.

I was a freezing Asian girl, but I could still wait for his phone call while sitting on a staircase covering my feet for another twenty minutes.

While I sat on the stairs, I was thinking about what I wanted to be in the future when I was five years old. I remembered that I wrote, “I want to be a stationer,” in a yearbook from a kindergarten. (I actually wanted to be a florist but nine girls wanted to sell flowers in their future, so I decided to be something different like a stationer.) But the reason that I wanted to be a stationer was so, “I can use all stationeries to make my Barbie’s dresses with colored papers, cellophane, clips, beads, glue, and staplers.”

I had never been good at making handicrafts but my sister was. I just liked drawing pretty girls in fabulous outfits and my sister made my ideal dresses by cutting and gluing those common objects from home together. It was the most pleasant moment when I drew pictures with scenes and themes and made conversations with those characters inside my head.

My mother used to say, “Don’t scrawl all the time! Learn something at the professional level!” She always reminded me that scribbling was better if I keep it as a hobby.

Coming close to my graduation day, I am finally starting to agree with my mother. I am in my future with the point of view I had at five years old and I am still drawing characters and making imaginary conversations in writing columns, poetry, and my mind. At a certain point, my creative career may dream come true but at any moment, I can easily be flipped over as an office worker who answers phones, does paper work, and looks for doughnut days with new international permission; the working visa. My stomach aches when I think about what comes after my graduation.

Maybe because I was cold as hell frozen over; maybe because my heavy metal guy never responded to my text messages, I felt depressed and thought in a negative way. But March’s chilly wind definitely brings a reality; the reality by being out of college soon; SOON.

When my cellular phone finally rang, he was standing behind me and said, “I thought that you’re rocking out!”

Well, now I understood why he did not come right away because I texted “I’m rocking out” instead of “I’m locking out.” He thought that I was dancing around with rock music. Again switching “L” and “R” as my Japanese-English problem, I sighed. Maybe it is not good idea that I support myself with a writing career neither.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Please join us for an evening with Ashley Capps
Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
Location: Third Floor “Bridge” of Wiekamp Hall