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The first stripe on my white belt



The first stripe on my white belt

Longevity runs in my family; my grandparents on both sides died of natural causes at around 90 years old. I prefer an early demise before all the problems due to senility catch up with me, but we can’t decide our lifespans.


After 10+ years of intensive work and study, I felt like I had mortgaged my future health for short-term goals. My body endured lack of sleep, nutritious food and regular exercise for over a decade, but these bad habits began to take a toll on me. I’ve been suffering from chronic left neck pain, persistent headache, and stiff shoulders. I need to be up and at ‘em until 90, but if my condition keeps deteriorating at this rate, I will be bedridden at the age of 70.


That was why I decided to join a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club in October. What on earth was I thinking? I’ve never experienced Martial Arts before. Worse still, I haven’t exercised at all for many years. Maybe yoga or walking would be suitable for a sedentary old lady like me, but I needed an extreme measure to abolish these bad habits.


When I first set foot on a BJJ dojo, I was overwhelmed by formidable guys; their masculinity, sweatiness and facial hair were more than enough to scare me off. But I soon realized that these people were kind at heart. I am awful at any kind of physical activity, but they were patient, and they readily took care of me. I can’t thank them enough for putting up with me, encouraging me, and executing an arm bar on me.


I had just begun my training about two months before and I hadn’t expected anything in the short term, but I received the first stripe on my white belt last week. It was totally unexpected. I thought I would get my first stripe at the age of 82 on the grounds of compassion or something before I die, but it just happened! I need three more stripes on my white belt before I am promoted to a blue belt, but this is a big first step. Getting a blue belt usually requires training for 3-4 hours a week for 3 years, but I have plenty of time. When I started training, I intended to continue for more than 30 years….


There is one more unexpected effect I would particularly like to mention; the chronic left neck pain I had suffered for more than 20 years disappeared! The neck and head pain were so tenacious and nasty that I assumed I needed a total head transplantation to cure this suffering. This astonishing outcome could be due to a chiropractic effect; BJJ movements require tremendous flexibility. As a BJJ novice, my body is stiff. My practice partners had to enforce some of the challenging postures on me. When my practice buddy executed some techniques, my muscles and joints extended beyond my comfortable range of motion. I groaned, whimpered, and moaned every time someone practiced on me, but this definitely had a therapeutic effect on the constricted muscles and joints. Now, I feel as if I am 20 years younger.


I rejoice in a world without pain. I joined BJJ in hopes that I could take care of myself in my old age, but now I aspire to more; I’ll be a kick-ass old woman at 90.






Putting on A Mask Again

Wearing a mask is part of Japanese culture. Everyone wears a mask casually; it prevents spreading and inhaling nasty viruses, it adds humidity when breathing in dry winter air, and it conceals half of the wearer’s face when they don’t have time to put on makeup. For these reasons, I love masks.


I had to give up this habit when I came to the U.S. No one wears a mask unless s/he is participating in medical procedures. If I put on a mask in public without wearing a white coat, people might think that I bring pestilence to the earth.


My two years of mask-free life was over when a new colleague came to our office. His desk is assigned next to me. Since I am at the end of my project, and he has just begun his, we both have quite a lot of paperwork. The problem is, he smells offensive. To describe the smell is challenging; rotten ham doesn’t fully define the complex odor he gives off. It is a combination of unwashed body and clothes, and a finishing touch of stale, oxidized oil he somehow succeeds in wearing as a natural perfume.


He is not a chatty guy; when I talk to him, the only word he utters is, “I know.” I don’t know what he knows and how he knows, or what else he knows, but it seems impossible to reach him further. “You could smell better”, is the least offensive remark I could come up with, but if I say this, I am a bitch. Besides, I guess that his reply would be, “I know”.


If I would be scorned by pointing out the truth, what about his offence to my nostrils? Shouldn’t it be punished? Maybe not. Life is not fair. That’s why I resumed wearing a mask. I’m Japanese; I don’t need reasons to wear a mask. I don’t think I antagonize our relationship as colleagues. My reason for doing this is not insulting the malodorous colleague; I simply miss the Japanese mask-wearing culture. I’m afraid he is not capable of sniffing out perjury.




先日購入した“642 Things to Write About”のトピックから、“これまでに経験した中で最悪だったサンクスギビングの料理”を。








Chicken Foot










“642 Things To Write About” のトピックに“最悪だったサンクスギビングの料理”があったので、ゲテモノ料理ばかり紹介してしまいましたが、チャーハンや野菜炒め、麵など、お馴染みの中華料理もあって、こちらはとても美味しかったです。鳥の足とブタ耳を食べるのには勇気がいりましたが、おかげで思い出深いサンクスギビングになりました。



This topic is on page 1 in the book, “642 Things To Write About”. What perfect timing, because I just had the worst Thanksgiving dish I’ve ever had!


I like Chinese food generally, but the Chinese food I eat is modified for foreigners. For example, I love ma-po tofu the most. What I love about ma-po tofu is the perfect combination of miso, green onion and ground beef. I was rather disappointed when I ordered ma-po tofu from an authentic Chinese restaurant. They didn’t use miso or green onions; they had tofu, ground beef, and tons of hot peppers. I could breathe fire after the first bite. That was not what I had expected, but I had to admit that the dish was authentic Chinese ma-po tofu.


My boss invited me for Thanksgiving dinner this year. He and his wife were originally from China, and all the guests except me were Chinese. They had traditional turkey and ham, but other than that, all the other dishes were Chinese.


One of the guests brought chicken feet in a plastic bag. When I see a chicken leg in supermarkets, their feet are cut off. But on that day, what he brought was chicken feet cut off at the ankle. It had four toes with crooked toenails; I could see goose bumps on their skin. These feet were soaked in sauce until they turned brown, but they seemed to be raw and lively.


The chicken feet turned out to be the most popular dish that day. Everyone recommended that I try them. They genuinely believed that it was the most delicious food on the table. They nibbled the foot first, separated each toe, and then crunched them. All that was left was toenails.


I bit the foot; it was sinewy and there was not much to eat. I couldn’t help but imagine that this foot had roamed around the earth until several days before. I put down the remaining foot silently, hoping that nobody pointed out I left the most delicious part.


I didn’t enjoy the foot very much, but it was an interesting experience. They don’t serve chicken feet at Panda Express; this is real Chinese.


I also tried sliced pig ear that night. It was mostly cartilage. The texture was unique, and the Chinese sauce was tasty.


I have to emphasize that there were also fried rice, sautéed vegetables, and bean sprout tofu salad. All of them were good, and I enjoyed these home-cooked dishes.


The chicken feet were definitely the worst Thanksgiving dish I had ever had, but also, it became the most memorable Thanksgiving dinner. For that, I was thankful for the chicken feet and the unique experience I had that night.


ライティングトピック:642 Things To Write About


642 Things to Write About








  1. You are a pirate. Describe your perfect day.
  2. Fix the plot of the worst movie you’ve ever seen.
  3. Write a love letter to a person you dislike.
  4. Pen an ode to an onion.











642 Things To Write About


I bought a book full of writing ideas: 642 Things To Write About. This book was published by the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto.


There are hundreds of interesting things to write about. I’ll pick out some examples:

  1. You are a pirate. Describe your perfect day.
  2. Fix the plot of the worst movie you’ve ever seen.
  3. Write a love letter to a person you dislike.
  4. Pen an ode to an onion.


It would be interesting to pick out one of these randomly. I hope this book helps to get my creative juices flowing!



【オーディオブック】The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girl with All the Gifts (2014)




オススメ度:5 out of 5

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 8.13.01 AM









ゾンビアポカリプスより20年後のイギリス。ゾンビというと、Grrrrと唸って人に噛み付く姿が思い起こされますが、その中に知性と理性を残した子供のゾンビ達が発見されます。メラニー達は、ゾンビ化を引き起こすカビ菌に対して部分的な免疫を持った”high functioning”なゾンビであり、軍の施設ではこのような子供ゾンビ達を集め、彼らを研究していたのでした。




作者のM.R.Careyはコンスタンティンの原作者であり、現在のX-MenとUltimate Fantastic Fourのライターでもあるようです。コンスタンティンの設定とは全く違うものの、この作者が作り出す独特の世界観が好きです。


YL:8 (概算)



The Girl with All the Gifts


Book Review: The Girl with All the Gifts



Melanie is escorted to class every morning. Sergeant Parks holds his gun pointed at her while two of his agents strap her into the wheelchair. They gag her, although she has no intention of biting them. When she jokes that she won’t bite, they don’t laugh. In all her life, she has never been touched by anyone. All she remembers in her ten short years is that she has been locked up in a cell along with other children. They go to school in wheelchairs with their limbs strapped, they are fed worms once a week, and they take antiseptic showers on Sundays. They have no knowledge of the outside world. After a dissident group attacked the facility, Melanie came to know what happened to the world twenty years ago.


My thoughts: Spoiler Alert!!!


This is a Sci-Fi novel by M.R. Carey which depicts a dystopian future. As the book title shows, Melanie is a girl with many gifts: she is smart, thoughtful, and kind, except for the fact that she is a zombie. Most of humanity was wiped out by a fungus infection that caused the zombie apocalypse twenty years ago. The British government set up a military base outside of London, and scientists have been conducting research to save humankind.


Most of the zombies act on instinct; they crave human flesh; typical behavior as we see in zombie movies. But some years later, a new species emerged; some of the children can think and talk, even after they are turned into zombies. These children are called, “high-functioning zombies.” Scientists believe that these children have a partial immunity to the deadly fungus, and that they are the key to finding a cure for the zombie infection.


Melanie loves her teacher, Miss Justineau, even though she is a developmental psychologist who is observing the children in her class. Miss Justineau reports to a scientist, Caroline Caldwell, who vivisects high-functioning zombie children for research. Dr. Caldwell’s behavior made me think about the balance between science and ethics. These children are already technically dead, but they can think and feel like ordinary children. They behave like zombies when they smell humans, but they can contain their hunger if necessary. They don’t know that they are already dead; they are pure and innocent. Dr. Caldwell and Sergeant Parks think these children are monsters, and they don’t hesitate to cut them open for the greater good. People can be very cruel when they don’t regard these children as the same species. I felt sympathy for these children, because I believe that they are not monsters; they are sick children to be saved.


I’m not fond of zombie apocalyptic stories, but this book was special in good ways. I liked how Melanie and Miss Justineau developed mutual trust. I’m glad that I didn’t dismiss this book because it is all about zombies. This book is a great addition to the zombie literature, and I hope a lot of people read this book without prejudice against the genre.



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