Tuesday, November 18, 2008


...on my way to my California Tour 2008!  I leave tomorrow, and can't wait!  I am leaving John and Gunner and Deuce Fishalo Fish Gigolo (our beta) for Thanksgiving and am feeling very guilty about this.  John already has about 6 invitations to various holiday parties without me.  I've also heard him make secret plans to have Guitar Hero parties with his friends which will involve beer, pizza boxes and couch-sleeping.  
It's about 70 degrees today which is a great deal colder than it has been (November?  I thought it was still August.) I'm looking forward to a crisp clear San Francisco trip and am packing accordingly.  Can't wait to see all my friends and family!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Power of Words

In 1971, Archie Bunker lit up television screens with what would now be seen as shocking political incorrectness.  His views stemmed from his experience, from his hard life, from what he knew. He was liked by audiences - thought of as a decent man, if not somewhat misguided.  A product of his times.  

Watching "All In The Family now," in 2008 - the jokes don't even seem that funny.  We've left that dialog behind... it doesn't resonate. From the Greatest Generation to the Boomer Generation, to Generation X, Y, Z (Can't we do something noteworthy already?) the discriminatory language and animosity against other races has faded.  Political correctness has won the day.

And everyone makes fun of political correctness, but I'll tell you what I think it's brought.  It allowed a black man to receive 62 Million votes today.  9/10 people polled at the booths said "race is not an issue".  How is that for the power of kitchen table conversation?  Because my parents and their parents would not tolerate racism or any talk resembling racism in their homes, my brothers and sisters and I didn't blink at the thought of electing a black president. And because millions of other homes around the country did the same, we've made a seismic shift in less than half a century.

Only 40 years after MLK was shot. Whether you voted for him or not, that is something that should give us pride.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


The Japanese kids LOVE the trick or treat holiday. Oh boy.  With pitch perfect English, these midget pumpkinheads and witches would ask "Trick or Treat?" and say "Thank you!" Not a one needed to be prompted on the "thank you." So adorable. So very wee. 

From what I understand, Okinawans don't celebrate Halloween, but because there are so many Americans here, the kids get into the spirit. Not every one of the houses in my neighborhood were giving out candy last night, but apparently word got out that C-17 (ours) was flinging bags of M&M's like it was goin' out of style (and we were).  At about 6:30 pm, I had to leave to pick up John from the office.  I walked over to my car in the driveway, and out of no where comes a pack of two-wheeling 5 year olds, biking past all the other condos, then promptly flinging their bikes on our doorstep and furiously knocking on our door.  They didn't even notice that the mistress of the house was standing 5 feet from them.  The word on the street was "C-17's got the goods!" and that's all they needed to hear.   

After several rounds of this dance (me trying to escape my own driveway, then going back in to get candy) I finally got John and we went to Gordie's for the evening.  Gordie's is a hamburger joint in the neighborhood run by a lovely Okinawan couple. It's pure 1950's hawaii, complete with surfboards and palm leaves.  Limited menu, but the best onion rings in town. Even some of the tables are made from 1950's school desks.  You can count on hearing the Beatles, Elvis or oddly Jack Johnson (Okinawans are obsessed with Jack Johnson, it seems).  John had arranged to have Gordie's play Ju-on, the Japanese version of the Horror movie "The Grudge".  They have an outside deck complete with projector and huge screen.  It felt like we were at a drive in.

The scariest part of all was the bats.  They flew overhead the entire movie.  I'm always afraid one is going to dive-bomb me. Two nights ago we were standing underneath a giant tree just infested with bats.  We had flash lights, and we would try to illuminate them.  They are more monkey than bird - they have these creepy little hands that climb through the branches like monkeys, trying to find the perfect branch for upside-down hanging. Up close their faces even resemble frightful little monkeys, with blonde goatees that stick straight up when they sleep upside down. How fun to have a Halloween complete with herds of bats flying overhead!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!  I tried to carve an elaborate pirate pumpkin and it ended up as pumpkin soup.  Oh well. 

John got a defense verdict this week!  Yeah!  He's so much fun to watch... I try to go to his trials when I can.  I feel like I'm back working in a law firm, sizing up the jury, etc. 

I finished this session of bootcamp today - 5lbs and 3 inches trimmer.  It is still 85 degrees here if you can believe it.  I am just so excited to come home for Thanksgiving.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I'm reading this book - Blowback, by Chalmers Johnson, a UCSD professor (although I never had him).  Prophetically written just prior to 9/11, its title refers to CIA terminology for the unintended consequences of secret American foreign policy actions. Interestingly for me personally, a large portion of the book talks about Okinawan and the continued American military presence on this island. I'm not sure if I've expressed it in previous posts, but Okinawans are not Japanese. Their history includes Chinese colonization, then Japanese, then American, (it actually became part of America from '45-'72), then America "gave" it back to Japan.  That's fairly recent. That's Watergate recent. 

Without going into Dr. Johnson's entire thesis, I found as I was reading that his account of Okinawa and their feelings towards the US Military to be a little.... extreme.  He details a deep seated resentment by the Okinawans (and many mainland Japanese) at our foreign policy and it's implications for their country. He warns that the results of this resentment have been, time and time again, a blowback, or some form of terrorist attack on American interests. (like I said, pretty prophetic that it was written just prior to 9/11.)  Still, his inclusion of Okinawans in the book seemed so extreme to me.  The Okinawans are lovely people.  Sure, I can't converse that well with them, but they always greet me with a smile when I run into them on the street.  I haven't noticed any outright hostility.  Sure, there are some restaurants that shoe us out, pointing to signs that say "no Americans."  And some of the places we do like to go definitely give us the cold shoulder and bad tables. There are the hand-painted wooden signs in our neighborhood that say "No more Sunabe Airbase." And obviously when the alleged attack of the young girl by the Marine happened several months ago, the island was pretty hostile to Military.

All in all, I think it's really easy for the military to live in a bubble as to how our hosts really feel about us. After all, it is the Japanese government, not the Okinawans that have acquiesced to our residual bases here. The word on the street is that Japan relies on us for safety in the treacherous Asian continent, what with Kim Jon Il, et al. Although,  Johnson really refutes that theory as a cover for our own interests.

Yesterday, I was driving home from the gym, and as I crossed out of the Kadena gate, I noticed large film crews filming cars as we exited the base, and a good sized mob of protesters, all Okinawan/Japanese.  The signs were in Kanji, and I could not read them. I presume that they were not protesting Johnny's Used Cars, which is located across the street from Kadena AFB, but rather the base itself.  No info on the news about this protest (the only English TV we get is AFN, provided by the military, and not likely to cover a protest to our base). Japanese TV may have had a story, but I really can't understand Japanese enough to get much from it.

What is my point?  I'm not quite sure. Much of the point of Blowback was that it was the result of SECRET foreign policy actions taken by our government (in our name). Like our role in the coup of Mossadegh in Iran.  Like arming the Taliban in the 80's.  The secret part is key.  But it does not have to be a deliberate secret. An ignorant population has the same effect as a secretive government. I did not even know that we had military bases in Japan until my husband's job dragged me into the middle of it, nor did pretty much anyone I know.  There are thousands and thousands of Americans on this island. An island the size of Los Angeles... U.S. bases take up one fifth of it.  So maybe it's not that US foreign policy is secret - the information is out there for those who search.  But these protests are not on the news.  As an American citizen and a military wife, I am interested in knowing why my neighbors are upset. And yet, I can't seem to find out the details of this protest directed at one of our bases. But I think I can make a guess.

Just trying to make sense of it all.

Friday, October 24, 2008


So, certain readers have complained recently about my lack of bloggage. I have no one to blame but myself.  Those of you who know me... (and lets get real, the only people who read this blog are my father, mother in law and father in law.  And George.  Hi George.) ... those of you who know me, know that I can be focused to a fault.  These days, graduate school is sucking up the majority of my focus, which also entails a ton of political reading, and then, naturally the election which is driving me insane.  My poor overworked husband is not home enough to distract me out of this hole, so I'm left here stewing in my own juices.  The jewelry biz has also been taking a lot of time.  We put together a really great photo shoot last month, and I will be posting the photos on the Jib & Genoa site soon. Lord knows that the first thing to go in a bad economy is JEWELRY, so we'll see how long we can stay afloat. 

So speaking of jewelry, I realized that I never posted Tokyo photos other than the Mt. Fuji ones.  The second day we were in Tokyo, we stopped by Takashimaya, the Japanese department store that carries our jewelry.  

Takashimaya is like a Neiman Marcus only much bigger.  I'd compare it to Harrod's of London, and they have many many stores around the world.  They are one of our biggest customers. 

We even made it into their Christmas catalog last year!

Lauren and I were milling around the jewelry section, looking for remnants of our jewelry (they had ordered for Holiday '07, so if they had anything left, I figured it would be in a sale bin.)  Very shortly thereafter, I spotted the Jib & Genoa case.  I was so excited to see it, and Lauren said I should snap a photo.  I know that most department stores forbid photography, but I thought I'd take a shot.  In my broken Japenglish, I asked one of the shopgirls if I could take a photo.  She politely declined my request.  So then I said "I am the designer" trying to tell her that I'm only taking a photo of my own pieces.  Meanwhile, I couldn't have looked less stylish.  I'm pretty sure I was wearing a beanie, a baggy t-shirt and baggy jeans not in an interesting, Kate Moss sort of way.  There is no way she's going to buy that I am a designer.

WELL.  She just about fainted.  She starting waving her hands around and putting them over her mouth.  Then she told another shopgirl and that one put her hand over her stomach and her heart and started smiling and giggling. Then those two go tell two more shopgirls and they are literally freaking out. Yammering to each other putting the back of their hands to their foreheads.  thankfully, they composed themselves long enough for me to take a photo.

Meanwhile, Lauren, who has the most infectious laugh you've ever heard, is laughing hysterically at this ridiculous gaggle of Japanese girls who are freaking out because I am an actual designer and clearly look like a fool.  It was the most embarrassing and flattering moment that I can recall.  

I think I should get a videographer and just go around to clothing stores here and tell people I am the designer of this or that, and just film them freaking out.  I love Japanese people. 

I am counting the days till I get to go home for the holidays.  I am craving some heirloom tomatoes from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market.  It's odd how you can miss certain types of produce.  Daikon radishes and bitter mellon just don't do it for me.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Welfare and Pork

Want to know how those bi-partisans in congress got that dirty diaper of a bailout bill passed? How they garnered the support of those liberal Democrats looking out for main street tax payers and conservative Republicans who are ideologically opposed to corporate welfare?

They bribed them.  Works every time. Here's some fun ones:

1. Repeal of a $.39 excise tax on wooden arrows manufactured in Oregon;

2. $128 million of tax relief for the manufacturers of car racing tracks, aimed at congressmen in Nascar states, such as Virginia and North Carolina;

3. A provision to give $10 million in tax breaks to small television and film producers (thankfully not my congressman Waxman, because he had already, amazingly voted for it. At lease he's not being bought);

4. $223 million to Alaskan fishermen who were affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

5. An increase in limit on the excise tax of RUM to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

6. $19 billion for companies doing research and experimentation in the United States, (Microsoft, Boeing, United Technologies, EDS, and Harley-Davidson)

7. $148 to clothing manufacturers that use imported wool fabric.

8. $3 million to businesses doing business in American Samoa.

Full list here, in full Orwellian prose. 

Friday, October 3, 2008

Testy Armchair Punditry

Andre left today.  We had a great time, did some jungle hiking, drinking habu-sake with cross-dressing performance artists, got some acupuncture, went to McDonalds...the complete Okinawa experience.  Much of the time we sat around and watched the American economy flush down the toilet.  Fun times.

Ah, the election that never ends. Everyone's an armchair football coach. Everyone's got a better strategy, a better plan for victory. If only there was a direct line to the QB's headset from the red phone on my coffee table, surely the darn Chargers/49ers/ Patriots would win.  Right?  

This is how I approach this election.  Sitting on my leather recliner, O'Douls in hand, (have to keep the mind clear during the debates) I can shoot down at least 1/3 of everything these candidates say.  And all I can think is WHAT IS STOPPING THEM from just GOING THERE.  I guess Biden's not supposed to attack a woman because he's a loudmouth and it would look bad, but she sure got off some snarky and sarcastic remarks, but laced with that twinkle in her eye, it passes for charm?  

So she says that McCain is a warrior who's been in wars and knows how to win wars, and I can't help but ask, "what war would that be? what war was he in that he knew how to win?"  I don't understand the touchy-feelly nostalgia that haunts the baby boomers about Vietnam that makes it a subject that can't be brought up, but hello?  Did we not LOSE THAT WAR? Can we say that yet, cause it's been 33 years. Did it not take tens of thousands of lives and years to realize that?  Have the books not been written? When McCain says "we're safer today than we were 7 years ago" this is your chance, big O, this is where you say "NO WE'RE NOT. We've unleashed a virtually unilateral, illegal war in the center of massive cluster of really pissed off people and created generations of potential terrorists, our ports are not an ounce safer, and we're making enemies out of former allies." But no, Obama agrees with him.  

And McCain had the perfect opportunity to gather a ton of public support and re-energize his conservative base voting no on this crazy bailout. The public is overwhelmingly against it.  My Senator Feinstein got 95,000 phone calls, 85,000 of which told her to vote no.  Voting "no" falls right in step with what had once been the republican party line of fiscal conservatism.  I don't get it.  Now he's wishy-washy and said something to the effect that Gee-Dub should now veto it? Amazing. Then again, what the heck to I know?... they're the politicians.  They see these big crisis' coming, except, when of course THEY DON'T.

So I learned something interesting today. The Democratic and Republican candidates actually made a confidential contract this year regarding the "terms" of the debate, presumably to determine what was off limits.  The public does not get to see this contract. The organization that conducts the debates (every debate since 1984) is run by a private corporation, funded by none other than (.....wait for it.....) corporations that have regulatory interests before the congress!! Yep, that sounds just about right. Anheiser Bush is the largest contributer, and that's why the debate took place in St. Louis. Corporate sponsored debates!! 

Originally, debates had been funded by the League of Women Voters ('76-'84) who would refuse to implement any secret contracts between candidates, and would also allow third party candidates. In 1987, the parties created a private organization, run by two lobbyests, who has, ever since, had 100% control over the moderator and the subject matter that can be discussed. No third party candidates are allowed, unless the two-party candidates allow them to come in (as was the case with Perot - Dems wanted him in, Reps agreed if they cut the # of debates).

So, No Cynthia McKinney, No Ron Paul, No Ralph Nader, No Bob Barr.  Oh and BTW, McKinney, Paul, Nader and Barr are the only people running for president that don't want to bail out wall street with tax revenue we don't actually have.  They are the candidates that want to limit the military industrial complex and end the Iraq war.  We don't get to hear from them. Because those apparently aren't options worth debating with Obama and McCain.  Both parties are complicit in this wall street/sub-prime mess, but we don't get to hear any dissenting voices.

Instead we get a weak debate with sound bites, repeating everything we already know about the two corporately funded candidates.  How do we expect to have candidates that represent us when I can only contribute $2000 but there is practically no limit to the money that corporations can run through their campaigns.

Anyway, that's all the news from Lake Wobegon.  Johnny has another trial on Monday, will keep y'all updated!

Friday, September 26, 2008

New to the Island

Ron-Dre has finally arrived. That is "Andre" to those unaffiliated with the Toman family. Our first visitor. Today I took him to hit some balls and the #1 driving range in the Pacific. Then we patronized the "Partridge and the Pear Tree" a Japanese supermarket, given it's name by unknowing Americans because of it's twin bird logo. There we found a de-rish-us assortment of Nori (seaweed leaves) Pockey sticks (Japanese cookies) Asahi Beer (Naturally) and vats of Kimchi for Andre whose taste buds have been depleted by one too many government-issued MRE's in the dessert. Blech.

John won his first trial today!!! The defense had no idea what was coming, and no idea that he has years of experience in the Demonstrative Evidence field....he blew them away with an animated powerpoint presentation. A man after my own heart.

My International Relations classes are so exciting. I basically sit in a classroom and argue politics for two hours a day. Happy as a kid in a candy store. John is now pleased he's off the hook as my political punching bag.

Feeling grateful at this moment that I am too broke to worry about a stock portfolio. Here's apropo quote that a friend of a friend wrote the Washington Post:

"While witnessing, but not participating in, the home real estate frenzy in 2005 and 2006, I kept asking: Who is the idiot buying up all these mortgages issued on inflated home prices to all these people who have neither the capacity nor the intention to repay the loans?

Now I learn it was me."


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Typhoon "Siniaku"

Siniaku is making a visit to our shores. It's a good thing because all that beautiful grass was drying up and it was starting to look pretty dismal. Good thing that this entire island is built from slabs of cement, which I now thoroughly embrace and am thankful for, even if it makes for a less than aesthetically pleasing landscape. Hopefully we won't lose power for too lone. As Aviva said, clearly I've irked someone upstairs because this typhoon is interrupting our jewelry photo shoot, which was supposed to happen on a lovely serene beach just as Siniaku is hitting the shore. I think it could make for some interesting shots, but I don't know if our models would be into the whole 150 mph wind thing.

Updates as I have them.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Back from Fuji!  What a beast that was.  It was not snowy like in this photo, but it was just as high. My friend Lauren convinced me to leave the comfort of my tropical island to see what the mainland had to offer. I had in my mind the idea that it would just be a few hours of hiking and snapping pictures.  It was quite a bit more involved than that.

We left the hotel at 2 am to get to the mountain at 4:30 am, bags packed with liters of water, energy goo, tuna triangles (japanese treat) and government issued-peanut butter. I decided to be on the safe side and buy canned oxygen and a walking stick - no sense in being unprepared. 

The hike started out in a foggy mist through a forest, the outline of the trees barely visible in the dark. The only time I actually felt out of breath on the hike was in this initial stage, and I think it was just getting used to hiking with all that junk on my back.  The breathlessness quickly subsided.

You can climb during the day, or at night. Obviously, it seemed a better choice for us to climb in the day light, as much of the terrain was rocky, sharp basalt rocks that required some skill even in day light. But looking back, one of the most mentally challenging parts was seeing a rest stop just above you, thinking it was about 10 minutes away, then not getting to it till an hour later. Also, it always appeared we were at the top.

Then, once you get to that point, the mountain, inexplicable seemed to grow taller. I think I would welcome the cover of darkness just to keep my expectations in check.

After a few hours, we emerged above the cloud line.

Every now and then, there were leveled off "check points" where you could take off your pack and get a brief rest. Towards the top, I started to nap at each one for about 10-20 min, which was not a good sign. At each check point, they would burn a stamp into your walking stick, to show your progress.

Lauren refueling.  We ate about 2000 calories before noon.
Most of the walk was barren basalt with no foliage above the cloud level.
One of the check points
I was really surprised to see so many children on the hike!  I think these kids spent the night on the mountain (the checkpoints have a large room that I think you can camp in).  That way, they could break down the hike and adjust to the altitude. 
They were enthusiastic and even carrying there own stuff! I honestly cannot imagine American kids hiking up hill all day without complaining - especially this American kid....

There were many older Japanese people as well - I'm guessing 60-70. Maybe even older. I read somewhere that one of the reasons Okinawans live the longest on the planet was that extensive walking is part of their daily routine.  This was becoming evident as many of the Americans were peeling off and feeling the pain, getting whooped by 70 year old grampas hiking to the top.

Here we are at 3000 meters above sea level. (9842 feet)

This is about where it started to unravel for me.  I wasn't breathless - and I used my can of oxygen just in case.  My legs weren't even really tired (not until I was hiking down hill, and that was more of a knee/shinsplint issue).  I was well hydrated and well-nourished. It was the altitude sickness.  Basically my organs were expanding.  I had consistent nausea and a migraine that seemed to increase with each foot of altitude. I started to take mini-naps at each stop to relieve the headache, but as soon as I would stand up, it would return. I made it to the last stop before the top, about 300 m, and then decided it was best for me to head down. Knowing I would probably never attempt this climb again, I was a little disappointed that I couldn't make it to the top, but I was afraid I would get really sick. 
Here I am grinning through the pain.  

It's hard to see perspective in this photo, but the clouds were so far beneath me it felt like I was in an airplane.
Lauren powered through, and made it up to the top, and took a great picture, which I will post as soon as I get it from her.  I mean come on, would you expect any less from an Air Force 1st Lt?

I did meet some Army guys who turned around where I did, so I didn't feel so bad. We got to the bottom at 5:15 pm - 12.5 hours of hiking. When we got back on the bus, I overheard a guy say "Why did I think that was a good idea?" That pretty much sums it up. Except that as I was descending as quickly as I could, trying to relieve my altitude sickness, I glanced up at this volcano, and I couldn't believe I'd gotten up so high under my own power. That moment was worth it.

More about Tokyo in next post!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"The fastest I ever swam" or "How not to become lunch"

It was a bad plan from the start.  We were too casual.  We didn't have a buddy system. Looking back it was just a badly executed dive.

We went snorkeling today.  Correction, I went snorkeling, John, Cortney and Dick went scuba diving. There is a big difference. Scuba divers sink to the  bottom of the basin to check out the the intricacies of the underwater netherworld. Snorklers flail about on the water's surface looking like bait.

We went as a foursome, and we ended up as a twosome and two loners.  I was one of those loners.  We went to a place called "Toilet Bowl" which you have to hike in to on really sharp coral. It is very deep and wide, and so deep that when the scuba divers drift down to the bottom, you can't even see them.  Once I couldn't see John, Cortney and Dick anymore, I just shrugged my shoulders and started swimming.  The water was beautiful.

There were some fish to see.  There were Emperor Anglefish

Clown Fish

There were long skinny baracuda-looking fish that hung out on the surface.  I swam through massive schools of tiny fish, thousands and thousands of them moving in incredible synchronicity. As long as I stayed on the reef, I could see clearly to the bottom (about 3-10 feet).  

Then, about 45 minutes into it, I found myself hovering over some very deep water.  The fish coming up from the bottom were huge - 2.5 feet long and fat. The face of the wall of coral went down over 90 feet, as I would later find out, that's how far down John and Cortney were.  Big fish and cool fresh water just kept streaming up from the dark below.  

I find myself mezmerised, and at this point I'm just kind of floating and staring down.  I started to get kind of irritated that I was floating there alone.  I'm a pretty good swimmer, but this is the ocean.  I am no match for nature.  I have fins on, and I know that if this tide gets too strong, to swim parallel to the shore till I'm out of it's grip, then in to shore.   These life guarding lessons are going through my head when I look straight ahead of me and see this.

He was about 6 feet long, about 200 lbs.  he did not have a white underbelly like this one in the picture - just solid gray.  He was staring right at me, with his tail waving behind him. I'm pretty sure I saw him lick his lips.

Here's what was going through my head.  My brothers and sisters and I were raised on terrifying shark tales.  It was like my stepdad mentally filed away every terrifying shark tale in history and would tell the stories to us at night while we were vacationing on the beach in Del Mar. To be fair there were stories of deadly snake attacks and mountain lion attacks as well. The thing about those land animals is that you could reason with them. There were strategies to avoid becoming lunch. Play dead.  Never run. Stay quiet.  Show no fear.  Appeal to their maternal instincts. Somehow you know that you and that mountain lion could lock eyes and possibly come to some arrangement. She lets you go, you promise to return tomorrow with some filets for her cubs.  Trust can be established.

Not with a shark.  A shark is a perfect eating machine.  There is no reasoning with a shark.

So at this point, I'm thinking - holy irony batman - I am actually going die in a shark attack.  I should have played the lottery with those kind of odds.

You understand of course that these thoughts are flashing through my brain in nano-seconds and I am actually swimming as fast as I can to a piece of jutting coral that has formed an island about 20 feet from me - about the same distance from the shark but in the opposite direction.  The islands is about 5 feet wide and completely covered in very sharp mollusk shells which then cuts the crap out of my hands and legs.  So I'm hanging on this rock, bleeding and completely losing my mind, muttering "no, no, no" in a  whimpery voice.

I have no idea where John, Cortney & Dick are, and I have no way of finding them.  Minutes later, John and Cortney surface right in the area where the shark had been.  Thankfully they were able to keep calm, and after a few minutes they talk me off the rock.  We booked it back to the cove as fast as we could.  I was basically hugging the coral wall the whole time.  Meanwhile, there are fishermen overhead with lines of bait hanging right by us - footlong, bloody fish bait.  I don't think I've ever swam faster in my life.

Once we get back to the cove, we become worried about Dick, the other loner, who they have not seen in a while, even though their air is pretty much at the end. They take off their gear and reluctantly get back in the water to go look for him.  

Meanwhile, I'm on the shore and a woman diver surfaced, and she had apparently seen the shark too.  She seemed to have handled it better than I, although she was in a pack of divers, and crawling on the floor of the sea.  Apparently the sharks go for floating food, snorkeling food, like yours truly.  The ram you and then the eat you, she tells me with a grin.  I don't think I am ever going in the ocean again.

Thankfully Dick was already on land, by the car.  John and Cortney return and we all get in the car in the pouring rain to head home. 

So there you have it.  We returned home, John was nauseous with dive sickness, from going too deep. I am pretty banged up from scaling the mollusk-cover rock in 2.5 seconds.  The adrenaline has sapped me.  I'm sticking to land sports for the time being.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pandora's Box

Hello, loved ones.  I sure miss you all.  I wish that you were here to experience this crazy country with me.  Man these Japanese are funny. The children on this island run around from about age 4 without trace of an adult.  They hold hands and run across the street in a row.  They all wear uniforms - black skirts/shorts, white shirts, shiny red backpacks.  The smart ones go to school on Saturdays too.  They ride like 3 to a bicycle, hanging off the back, no helmets. Just out there having fun.  This is what I picture when my dad tells me about his childhood in Palo Alto. I caught the very tale end of that carefree independence in American cities.

I was shopping in a department store this week, and whenever the Okinawan children would stare at me, I would offer an "Konichiwa, ii desu ne??" which would make them giggle. Oversized blonde glamazon speaks Japanese!  Just a bit.  I actually found 2 dresses in my size....in the "Big & Tall" store.  I'll take what I can get.

I start graduate school in 4 days!!  Very excited about this.  Have been doing a good amount of reading in anticipation.  Lots of books about the CIA. Just finished Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. According to the author, it is based entirely on recently declassified (2005-2007) documents, revealing an inept and quite frightening secret police/military paid for by our tax dollars.  Yikes.  I've opened Pandora's box.

Conspiracy central over here! John and I listen to Democracy Now! every night before bed, which he [jokingly] calls "Conspiracy theory radio" but I have to remind him that it's merely radio without corporate oversight.  There is a whole underground flow of power and pressure and influence that is completely removed from democratic oversight. Oh I'm so going to enjoy these classes!!!

Putting the finishing touches on this season's jewelry line.  I'm doing a one-of-a-kind line for the Tokyo stores as well, I hope it goes over well.  I've gone slightly over the design deep end as well. 

John says Hello!  Gunner is freaking out right now because apparently our house is haunted. More about Okinawan ghosts at a later date.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

new adventures

Here are some recent photos from the Torii Beach Wine Festival.
Kimono girl

Jazz all day long

Jazz all night long

hanging out on the grass

serious fireworks

John is back, yay!  Before he came back I got a chance to go rock climbing with some friends.  It was at an indoor "gym" here, and really fun.  I wasn't sure if I would be able to even make the first couple of steps, but it's surprisingly easy when you use your legs instead of hands to force your weight up.  The wall that I was able to climb was about 30 feet high, and straight up.  Most of the walls actually slant backwards, so you are not only gripping on the tiny rocks to keep from falling down, but to keep from falling backwards.  I made it about 75% up one of those more advanced walls before I fell backwards, but you have a friend attached to a rope that keeps you from falling to your death.  It was so fun that I actually found myself the following day kind of itching to climb a wall. We're going again next week and I', sure John will love it. 

Then, saturday, Lauren and I went snorkeling off the Kadena steps.  It was the best snorkeling spot I've seen so far - the fish were really diverse.  I saw a black and white striped water snake, which was apparently poisonous, although the sly little sucker swore he wasn't harmful when he was cozying up near me.  Then I saw a fish that was square around it's girth.  It was black with neon tiny spots of pink and yellow all around it.  It looked like a tacky-Pier-1-Imports-table-art-tchochky version of a fish.  I can't imagine how these fish evolve to be neon pink, blue, yellow, and square???  

Lauren swam up to me, and said, "are you getting stung?" and I was like "no, what are you talking ab.....ah? ouch! ouch! ouch! what is that?????" And I was getting stung all over my legs.  I couldn't even see what was stinging me, there was nothing there, but I hi-tailed it out of the ocean lickety split.  I had puffy irritated spots all over me.  Microscopic jelly fish?  Toxic nuclear waste from the Chinese subs??  I'm hoping it's the former, as I'd like to snorkel again soon.  Ironically, I had been mocking our friend Dave for wearing a full body wetsuit.  Needless to say, he did not get stung.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Camilla & Lee

Thought I'd share some pics of Camilla and Uncle Lee

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Haps

Just got home from my Japanese final.  Such a great feeling.   I remember when I got on the bus on the way home from my last final at UCSD - art history.  It was 5 years late, but like grapes left on the vine too long, it was only that much sweeter.  I rode the shuttle around the campus an extra loop, looking for ghosts who lurked amongst the eucalyptus trees....  DDcones, TylerCones and all the 80's guys, Andris and Ani and all the people who had been a part of that campus for me.  They had flown the coop back in 2000, and here I was, riding the loop in June 2005, extra unused bluebook in hand. It was my best accomplishment yet.  I did it alone - my only friend all year was my roommate Lu. 

So now, I'm starting my masters...here in Japan!  What unbelievable circumstances have brought me to this point?  Marriage? I thought that would never happen.  Living in Japan?  In my wildest dreams!  And yet...here I am.  Okinawa ni sunde imasu!

Had my first "driving-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-road" experience today. It was bound to happen. At least it was on base - I don't think the japanese police would have gone easy on me for that one.  People were looking at me funny, yes, but I thought they were just thinking, "wow, she must really like that song cause she's got no shame in singing it out loud."  Really they were wondering how drunk I was.  Anyway, situation resolved itself once I got to a stop light.

John is in Ohio on a TDY, and as much as I say that, I don't know what it stands for.  I'm thinking... Temporary Duty.....Y-something.  Acronyms have become a part of life here.  I can also identify the type of plane flying over head BY IT'S SOUND.  Yes it's true.  The F-15s are flying quite frequently these days.  Lets just hope they don't go the way of the B-52s and start falling out of the sky.  

Speaking of DDcones, I am beside myself with the time that has flown....her babies are no longer babies.  Here are some photos she was kind enough to share.

Oh man, Keira is going to cause her daddy to lose sleep - what a beauty.  I have not met Jaxon yet, but I feel like I have because he looks just like Marc.

Colbert Nation is on, must run.  Sweet dreams....

Friday, July 11, 2008


In case you're wondering what those crazy looking dogs are in my header, those are our new shisa dogs.  Every house in Okinawa has them... We went shopping on Kokasai Street (big shopping district) to buy Clay some Shisa dogs before he moved off the island. I saw these and there was something about the bright colors and just the lunacy of these guys that made me think they'd fit in well at our house. And they do.

Natalia, my vigilant intellectual property watchdog back in the states emailed me from this photo she took in a store in Venice Beach - selling my trees!!!  Thankfully, these appear to be the designs that our partner company has produced for us, so rather than getting worked up, I am pleased to see they are out there on the market. Funny that the tree was the first thing I ever did in metal, on the first day of class.

Our new designs are looking spectacular, and I'll be sure to post as they come.  John's heading back to the states tomorrow for two weeks, and I'm jealous...i am itching to come home, but I think it would be best if I waited till Thanksgiving. 

There is a persistent rumor that our lovely ex-neighbor Vic is going to spend her precious vacation time and come to visit us this summer.  I've also been told that Andre might come and stay with us for a bit?  I'm thrilled at the prospect of both, and I'll tell you what - first one to reach the shores of Okinawa gets the fresh sheets!

Speaking of the shores of Okinawa, we were told that when the US troops came ashore during the Battle of Okinawa, they came up in a stretch of beach exactly where I live.  My grandfather was in that battle.  It is astonishing for me to think about. 

Thursday, July 3, 2008


We were driving to Japanese class last night at dusk, and a huge black bird was flying along side the car.  No. Wait.  That's a....oh my god, that's a BAT.  Bats instead of birds.  They are everywhere.  This one was like a Gunner bat, nice and round around the belly, no doubt from sucking children's blood.  They hang out in the trees, come out at night. 

In other trees, the cicadas loom large.  These are knarly bugs, although I haven't actually witnessed one up close.  By the sound coming from certain trees, you'd think there were thousands and we are being visited by a plague.  Here's a video of the sound.

John has a 4 day weekend for the fourth.  We're off to the Tori Wine fest and AMERIKA fest. Photos to follow.  Happy fourth of July!!!

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Today we spent a good many hours studying for our Nihongo (Japanese) midterm on Monday. A couple weeks ago, I made the mistake of articulating out loud that I was really getting the hang of the language, and that it was starting to click.  Then something tragically unclicked, as I seemed to have reached saturation point.  I had to beg Miyagi Sensai to please stop repeatedly calling on me as I had no idea how to answer her socratic badgering, and the jeers from my 19 year old class mates did not help.

Mostly we are learning the types of things you would need to use in every day conversation... "John walked from home to work yesterday"  =  "Johnsan wa kinoo uchi kara kaisha made arukimashita."  But occasionally, there's the odd phrasing that has somehow slipped on to my vocab list... "Omikoshi o katsugite, kudasai"  which translates to "Will you please carry my portable shine?"  This makes me recall the portable training potty I used to use as a two year old, but I don't think this is what it means. Now you can understand why I'm at mental capacity.

After one too many flash cards this evening, we decided to take a stroll around the block... the seawall is lovely this time of night. And the locals are quite handsome....

You'd think we were in Mexico.....
Little buddy must have gotten baked in the sun.

John's mom and Maurice gave me a sewing machine for Christmas two years ago, and unfortunately, I hadn't gotten to use it much until recently. I'm teaching myself to sew which means no patterns and a lot of improv. I made some pretty curtains and two dresses so far. Project Runway here I come. You think I'm joking.

Our friend Clayton, the one who went to Korea with us, left on Wednesday (for good!)   I drove him and Homer, his dog, to the airport. It's sad, since he was one of our better friends here.  I guess this is how it goes in this lifestyle...but in a way, it's really amazing, because there are people that you meet, become great friends with, and then they go, and you always have a friend that lives in ... Qatar, in Clay's case.  Ok so I'll wait till he gets back to the states to visit.  Booster, who has graced the pages of this blog several times (so photogenic) has left us for Saudi Arabia, although he will be back in about 6 mos. 

I'll try to keep up on the blog more these days.  And more photos of Gunner for Captain Ron!
  Dewa Mata! (until Tomorrow!)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Taco Rice, Cosmopolitans and Political Incorrectness in the Jungle

Thank you to everyone who sent birthday wishes!  On Sunday we went to watch some dragonboat races down the block from our house.  It was steaming hot out, and there was a festival going on. They had booths selling tasty sweet-potato flavored icies, and ramen.  Hot ramen.  I don't know about you, but when I think of summer festival in 90 degree heat, the last thing I want is to slurp some ramen.  But then, I'm not Japanese. 

Our motto on this island is, "Why not?"  Why would you put a car dealership on beach front property? Why not?  Why would you sell tacos in the form of sushi rolls, wrapped in seaweed and rice instead of tortillas? Why not? 

After the dragon boat festival, John and I had a little Cocktail party at our house and then about 10 of us dressed up in dresses and heels to go see Sex & the City the movie.  There were cosmopolitans. There were tears shed. Mainly female tears. It was a grand ole time. 

Feeling like crossing into a new decade is cause for reflection, I was looking for bits of wisdom in the subtext of the movie and came to a couple conclusions:
1. Laughter really can cure any ill. 
2. Loyal friends are truly a blessing and not to be taken for granted. 
3. Truly fantastic fashion, although superficial, really does make me happy. 
4. Life is not linear, it is wonderfully spherical. Life is wide open in ways you can't imagine if you just step from the path you thought you should be traveling 
5. 30 is soooo far from old. It's not even in the same area code.

We finished boot camp last week, and I can't believe I did it.  Final results - 1.5 mile run in 14:02 (and that was in asthma-inducing 85 degree humidity) - and I went from 35 push-ups in a minute to 80, brandishing me the PUSH-UP CHAMPION...ROAR!!  Okay, I admit these were girl-pushups (knees, not toes), but I can bust out at least 30 real ones in a minute, and that is better than my before-bootcamp number, which was zero. My victory won me a lovely Nike purse.  I loved my group and trainer, and we really supported each other a lot, which is the only way we made it through 8 straight weeks. I may have an athletic gene after all.

Our friendly neighbor Lauren was recently promoted to 1st Lieutenant, and she threw a fantastic Jungle themed party.  Relishing any opportunity to don some body paint, I did a cheetah/Wilma Flinstone combo.

John, preferring the thinking-man's costume, dressed as a traveling Mormon, tragically wounded with an native's arrow.

There was some debate as to where his costume ranked on the political incorrectness scale, but we determined that it was like the proverbial tree in the forrest - if no Mormon's were at the bar to be offended, it wasn't offensive.

1st Lt. Lauren Calhoun on the left.

We're off to the Tsuboya district of Naha to check out the Okinawan Pottery. Then perhaps some afternoon snorkeling at high tide. Cause why not?

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Found my camera cord

We have a drawer with about 23 different white Apple cords.  My camera cord has been hiding in there.  So now you get to see photos!

A tasty meal at Thai in the Sky

As if eating the shrimp wasn't mockery enough, John has to give it the bunny ears.

The lovebirds at sunset.

A view of our neighborhood from a penthouse bar.

Booster enjoying a girlie drink inside the bar

Tropical flowers at every turn

A garden path at Shuri Castle

John, once again mocking the wildlife.

Absurdly large coy fish, turtles and talapia (yum!)

I'm king of the rock!

Shuri Castle, where the king of Okinawa lived.

The king's throne

The king's crown.  Excellent beadwork.

A photo of the gang of 9 at the G8 summit, held in Okinawa a few years ago.  Look closely and you can see Tony Blair and Bill Clinton

A view from Shuri Castle

Watch for wild boars.  I feel like I live in an episode of Lost.

Me and Aviva, my walking buddy.

Our local ferris wheel at night

A roadside ice cream stand on Highway 58...cause why not?

Saturday is protest day.

The nice Okinawan ladies who had no idea where the train station was.