Happy Friday + Randomness

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My mom left Tuesday, and we’ve been off kilter  — it’s how we always get after her visits. K’s emotions spiral out of control, I get flummoxed with having to cook again (yes, my mom cooks the entire time she visits. It’s her thing) and after speaking so much Japanese, I tend to get thrown off for some reason. M laments that we can’t have impromptu date nights and is disappointed that I’m back in charge of meals.

This visit was slightly different in that we took a number of little trips and had big events: K’s birthday bonanza full of drama (more on that another time), a 24-hour Portland tour via AmTrak, a day spent at a nearby island. The photo above was taken at KVI Beach on Vashon Island. We loved it. On the ferry over, she challenged K to a fierce arm wrestling match:

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My mom is eccentric and she wears her eccentricity proudly and boldly. Maybe it’s because she’s an artist, but she’s incapable of being anyone but herself, and when I was a kid, this was a source of constant embarrassment for me. Our house was the only one I knew where innumerable completed and in-progress canvases obscured furniture and we literally had to leap over her artwork to get from one room to another. Her daily uniform was (and still is) a paint-splattered t-shirt and polka dot shorts.

She rarely abides by rules, especially when she doesn’t think they make sense. I remember traveling through Europe when I was about eleven, and my mom maddeningly wanted to picnic in off-limits areas. Undaunted by watching eyes, she plunked herself on a grassy field that was clearly closed off and busted out a camp stove to boil water for instant miso soup in the middle of Spain (or at least I think it was Spain, it might have been France. Either way, I was mortified). She did this while munching on rice balls that always seemed to magically appear at picnics.

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As I grew older, I began to appreciate this almost complete disregard for other people’s opinions. I used to think it was because she was an immigrant and didn’t understand the Western cultural subtleties, but no, from the stories she tells me of her youth in Japan, she’s always been this way. Sure, she had her insecurities and probably still does, though she doesn’t show them to me. I believe she possesses a rare sort of self-confidence and comfort with herself.  It’s the reason that I’m drawn to people who are like her: settled in their uniqueness, even oddness – the kind of people who don’t try to hide who they are. Because let’s face it: we’re all weird.

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She has strong opinions. Above she’s imitating my poses when I take photos of my handmade clothes. “Why are you always looking down? Stop standing pigeon-toed!!” She’s not one to mince words, and when I was super sick a couple of years ago, she told me that I looked like death threw up all over me. She was right.

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Though she’s lived in Los Angeles longer than she had in Tokyo at this point, she still retains many distinctly Japanese traits – like covering her mouth when she laughs (not always, but often) and wearing stiff slippers made out of a strange, cardboard-like substance when indoors. She teaches K so much. Not just the Japanese language, but how to live, how to observe the colors and textures and shapes and the very essence of the world. She shows K how to enjoy each day, because no one can celebrate the simple pleasures like my mother.

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My mom has a whopper of a life story, and my hope is that one day she’ll let me tell it in full. Her tale has everything: love and loss and romance and scandal and adventure and rollicking humor. And a lot of instant miso soup and rice balls.

For a woman who barely stands five feet tall, she can leave a gargantuan hole of emptiness when she leaves.

Ba-chan has gone home
Three weeks slipped away too fast
I miss all the laughs

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Happy weekend, everyone!! Thank you for all the stress-relieving ideas; I loved reading every single one and found myself nodding enthusiastically and making mental notes to incorporate many of the suggestions. The winner of the giveaway is Anita. Congrats!!

 

37 thoughts on “Happy Friday + Randomness

  1. What a beautiful tribute to your mom, Sanae. So moving and your love for her shines clearly throughout. I would love to hear her full story someday should she grant you permission. How lucky that K is getting to know her so intimately as well, and you get the joy of watching your two most special girls bond with one another. Hugs to you and K as you miss her daily presence.

    1. Her story is so so good, Lucinda. My mom is a swashbuckling adventurer! We are missing her terribly, but it’s also nice to get into a routine as we gear up for the beginning of the school year 🙂

    1. She is! My friends always thought it was so cool that my mom was this completely unselfconscious artist. I think we all yearn to be that unselfconscious on some level…

  2. Have a happy weekend! Where does one even get polka dot shorts? Do you have to make them? Anyway, I hope you are having a nice time without your mum. I know it takes a while to regroup.

    1. Ha, she does make her own polka dot shorts and has several that look exactly the same. It does take a while to regroup, though we’re starting to get there. Thank, Max!

  3. I want rice balls to appear magically when i’m out and about with my little boys. I must work on this. This was a lovely post.

    1. Rice balls have always been a picnic staple in our family for some reason, Anna! If you figure out how to make them magically appear, let me in on the secret! 🙂

  4. aw what a brilliant tribute to your mama. wish i could’ve met her when you guys were here! i think a biography of Ba-chan would make a fantastic third book. 🙂

    1. Definitely on my bucket list to write my mom’s biography — she’s just too fascinating, you know? Thanks, Kristin!

    1. My mom’s a riot! She’s hilarious and so incredibly smart (she had top marks all through school) but she’s also a rebel. A very unpredictable mix.

  5. I agree with Kristin- a ba-chan biography …yes! She really sounds like wonderfully unique person. Sounds like you all just soak her up while she’s there. I can imagine it would be hard to have her gone.

    1. We do try to soak up the ba-chan visits, especially now that she’s a little less nimble than she used to be. This was the first visit that she didn’t go crazy making stuff for K because she’s been having some health issues…we’re planning a trip to Los Angeles in the late fall/early winter so we’re hoping it won’t be too, too long until we see her again.

  6. I loved this post, it’s made my morning 🙂 I have a friend who’s like that, just her own self no matter what and her presence is always a good reminder for me to try harder to be the same. I third the biography, I would love to read it! Though I have to say that the polka-dot shorts were a bit tamer than I expected after seeing some of the rainbows she’s made for K 😉 I love that you still admire your Mother’s aesthetic even when yours is so different.

    1. Haha, I guess it would be natural to assume she’s be dressed in some wild get-up. 🙂 She’s actually partial to wearing dark colors, though in her paintings and creations she loves to use a profusion of bright hues. And yes, I very much appreciate my mom’s sensibilities — how boring would it be if we all had the exact same taste, right?

  7. I understand the feeling of being “off-kilter” when your family leaves. I think that’s hilarious that your mom busted out a camping stove to make instant soup! hahah! My mom is the other way around… so cautious it’s frustrating!

    1. Oh, there are so many other much more uproarious incidents, Adri, so many more…that’s so interesting that your mother is so cautious. Did that make you throw caution to the wind more, do you think? I’m always curious to see how parental personalities affect their children. 🙂

    1. Write what you know, right? I have a very limited breadth of knowledge but I could write about my family for a long, long time. My dad’s story is very dramatic and riveting too….

  8. Seriously! I love your mom now. What a great tribute to her. I would love to hear her story. Glad you had such a great time with her again this year.

    1. There’s a lot to love about my mom! We are finally easing into a routine that feels good again. It’s always such an adjustment when you’re living with someone, you know? Thank you, Amber!

  9. That is such a lovely commentary on your Mum. You must all love her visits. All little girls need someone to tell them fantastic stories and lead them into breaking the (right) rules…. I bet K looks up to her massively!

  10. Hi Sanae! the words about your mom made me get a lump in my throat. i’d love to read her story one day- she sounds so inspirational. just as you are. hugs from your friends in the NL 🙂

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