This is how it is with us professors. We have answers for almost any question posed us about almost anything. But we never have a simple answer. If we don't have an answer immediately, we can produce one on assignment because to answer any question properly we must conduct a research and we do and that we do, oh, so efficiently. Most of us. 06.14.04
Self-expression in art, though prized in modern studio teaching, is worthy only to the extent the self who expresses itself is worthy enough to be expressed. 05.15.04
I am old but I don't have to look old or even try to look old; if I do, so I do. 03.15.04
Happiness is being content with what one has and not idly wishing for more but without bothering to entertain the possibility of having more but always ready to welcome any such possibility. 06.01.04
I can stand on my head but not float in the air. I can take you by the hand but not carry you on my back. I'll help you but only so far and that only if you do what you have to do. 05.01.04
The best way to remain healthy, I believe, is to keep away from doctors. Reason tells us that it is the other way around; deep in my heart I know I that if I am examined in a doctor's office, I get sick when I was not and I get sicker if I was. I'll go to a hospital when I am really sick or if I really want to get really sick
PAST AND PRESENT
Past was good but the present is always better; I don't know the future but what comes will come, good or bad. I am content to be happy in the present. There are people who think the present is bad enough and it could only get worse in the future. I pity them. 06.15.04
Writing is never easy. The first sentence is the hardest. Many wasted first pages had to be thrown out before proceeding farther. I had to sit at the typewriter to wright; now I am learning to write longhand, away from the typewriter or, now, computer, like while sunning, standing in line, waiting for a bus, etc, thus capturing epiphanies. These I now do on my Palm Pilot.
Old women, trudging along in mincing steps, are small and fragile. I wonder what tall women, like me, get to look like in advanced old age. Probably like a witch. How about big women? There are women who get loud as they age, pushy, bossy, and aggressive. Aging takes different forms. Being assertive is expression oneself without reserve; being confident preempts getting pushy.
Nosegay is a little bouquet of flowers held in hand and sniffed for its fragrance. This brought to mind that the flowers celebrated in Japan are not generally fragrant: camelia, cherry, azalea, peony, chrysanthemum, among others. In the West abundance and variety were elebrated as we see in flower paintings in Holland and France in the 17th century. In fact, flowers that bloom in different seasons were artificially brought together in a single vase for the effect; the more the merrier was the idea. Flowers brought in the house were in Japan markers of the season; so, the painters also painted only one variety on one panel. The teamaster Rikyu, in receiving a dignitary who visited him specifically to see the morning glory for which he was famous, found not single blossom on the vines along the approach to the tea house. Whe he entered the room, however, there was one large morning glory blossom in a vase. Rikyu had plucked all the other blossoms to focus on this one glorious blossom. Smelling flowers is a bit indiscreet. Nosegay is an expression of love. In the West flowers allude to Spring, embodied in Flora, who is also Love; they are all aspects of Venus.
Disabled Toilet is the sign that appears on certain doors of public toilets in London. I took it to mean at first that the toilet is out or order; but what it means is actually the toilet for the handicapped, or disabled, persons. This is like the road sign that reads
I am a notorious night owl. I rarely go to bed before 1:00 a.m. More often than not it is close to 2:00 when I finish up the night's work, usually writing. In my younger days, I sometimes stayed up all night of necessity, trying to finish writing a lecture for the next day or the paper to present at a meeting. This is a carryover from my student days in architecture when we learned to charette to make the deadline for a project. We were told that the word refers to the cart on which the painter rode with his or her submission to the exhibition being hauled to the Salon. The longest stretch of time I stayed up without any sleep was three nights straight. The intensity of work was always exciting, and the camaraderie in the studio among the charetting classmates was uplifting. There is also something thrilling and very special when the sky starts to lighten up in the morning and the birds start chirping. The whole town is asleep, and you are alone working. It is so quiet. There is a feeling of claiming the world all for yourself. 03.01.02
Pigeons in the concourse of Philadelphia's 30th Street Station walk gingerly and more awkwardly than usual, because the marble floor is slippery. The claws skid now and then. I know exactly how they feel. When I walk home in rain from Swarthmore Station, I find the bluestone pavement, still in place yet to be replaced by concrete, very slippery and I walk just like those pigeons. Having osteoporosis, I cannot afford to fall. 04.13.02
As I sit and wait for the train in the station concourse, I watch people walk by, crisscrossing, some rushing, others dawdling. There are nowadays a good number of cops, too, male and female, going back and forth or standing and chatting. As it is familiar to us all, they swagger. The posture has to do with the position of the arms, hanging loose, slightly bent at the elbow, and swinging back and forth away from the body. But most characteristically the hands are turned so that the back of the hand faces the direction of the walk, and the fingers are loosely open, almost relaxed. This is the cop's swagger, and I have been noticing that policewomen walk exactly like policemen. As I watched I reckoned that the posture represents readiness; the hands are always read to reach the gun in the holster, which also physically prevents the arms from touching the sides. It must be a posture hammered into the trainees in the police school until it becomes a second nature. But I wondered. We don't see this kind of swagger in the French gendarme, Italian poliziotto, German Polizist, Spanish agente, and Japanese keikan, not to speak of the British bobby. So, the cop's swagger must be a matter of style, not of readiness, indeed a posture. 04.13.02
More women wear slacks than skirts these days. Women accustomed to wearing slacks and pants seem to find comfortable to sit with their knees spread wide apart, like men, sometimes with the feet splayed out, too. And, like some men, they hog two seat spaces on the subway. It's the posture we were taught to avoid for the sake of modesty; and the miniskirt naturally preempted it. I rarely wear pants, and find the manly posture physically uncomfortable not to speak of socially a bit vulgar, as one would expect of a woman of my generation. Oh, dear, I am so old-fashioned, yes, I am. Wearing the full maxi, we can safely spread our legs without lewd exposure; but then I think we'd look like slack women in Toulouse Lautrec posters. Some women in jeans even sit with one foot placed on top of the knee of the other leg. The younger generations brought up wearing pants since childhood no longer feel strange not to sit with the knees close together. But, then, ballerinas sit with the knees apart and feet splayed out when they are not dancing, and they are lovely that way. 04.19.02
My mother passed away in 1989 at the age of 87. When I saw her in 1977, she was 75, and I thought she looked very old. But, then, I thought she looked old when left Japan in 1952, and she was 50. It's the law of nature, naturally, that she is always three decades or so older than I was, and it stands to reason that she always looks old to me at whatever age I was. But I often think how odd perception of age is. "Old" applies continuously in life to those who are older than yourself, regardless how young old you are yourself. In 1952, when I was 19, my 26-year old sister was not only so mature but old, too. Conversely people younger than yourself are always young even when they are no longer young. At age 65 I thought anyone who was 50 enviably young. 04.19.02
What can you do to anonymous women whom you detest? I detest those women who splash all over the seat in public toilets. They are probably fastidious people who don't want their bottom to touch the dirty seat, generously sprinkled by the previous user. But they are not fastidious enough to think of those who come in after them. A further thought makes me realize that it is perhaps better that they leave the seat wet rather than do a cursory cleaning job; I can, at least, wipe it clean to my satisfaction rather than sit on a filthy seat without knowing. All the same I detest those women. They may think they are fastidious but they are beasts. 04.29.02
HANGING THE WASH
Among the chores around the house, the one I love in particular is hanging the wash on the line under the bright summer sky. I flip a towel or a pillowcase and get a fine spray all over my face, and the white cotton gleams in the sun, and the sky is so blue. It's all very refreshing. It gives me a vivid sensation of air on my skin, warm and cool at the same time. The first sunny day in the spring when I can hang the wash outside marks for me the day of liberation from the winter. 04.29.02
I don't jog. I see joggers in the suburb. I see joggers in the city. They are serious people, serious in jogging at any rate. But they don't look happy. Maybe they are happy but can't look happy because they are straining so hard. Maybe it's impossible to jog and smile at the same time. Tension and relaxation don't mix. As I watch them, I can't help asking myself. Are joggers healthy because they jog? Or do they jog because they are unhealthy or else will be if they dont jog? I don't jog but I walk. But I don't walk for exercise. I walk all over the place when I am in New York. I say in jest that I enjoy streetwalking, block after block. So, I exercise without trying. It's all relaxation and no tension. 04.29.02
I started washing my face in cold water about a year ago. It was still summer then, and the water from the tap was thoroughly refreshing. At first, I was recalling my childhood when we did not have hot water from the tap. Only when we were sick, mother made us a basin of warm water by pouring some hot water from the kettle. Then, I also remembered reading somewhere, years ago, how washing the face in cold water is astringent in effect and help the complexion glow. Cold water does perk you up. By the time winter approached I was totally accustomed to cold water and I continued the practice through the cold season. So much of what we do in everyday life is a matter of habit. 05.02.02
Japanese women tend to walk in mincing steps though the younger women do so less than those of the older generation. The particular walk is most likely the vestige from the days when kimono was the prevalent everyday clothing. It wrapped around the lower legs and prevented large steps. Then, with kimono, women wore flipflopping zori, and this made them shuffle in a particular way that one can best observe in a Kabuki play. As a fanatic and addicted spectator of the Kabuki, I think I still walked that way in my early years in America although, alas, there is no film that documents it. Women in the West walk in strides. It's not too long ago that I started noticing that I have been walking in strides, and felt very good about it. Hard as I try, I cannot bring to mind when and how the change took place. 05.02.02
I started to stoop since when I was diagnosed with osteoporosis and lost two inches. My co-worker, June, used to remind me to straighten my back. You look much better now, she would say. Since I started living in Manhattan, I became more aware of my tendency to stoop because wherever you walk there are store windows that mirror my walking self and reminds me how stooping makes me look old. So, I am forced to correct myself. I pull my shoulders back, the neck straight, and the chin up. Then, my tummy bulges less, too, and I breathe better; and I feel better. The stoop that leads to the front door of a townhouse is etymologically unrelated to the act of stooping. But I realized that sitting on the stoop, you lean forward and can't avoid stooping. 05.01.02
Newspaper is best when it's new. After three days, it is stale -- like fish. Bread stays fresh longer. I rarely had time to read the morning paper before going to work while I was in work, and often I didn't have time after dinner because I had preparations for the next day of teaching. Three days would go by quickly with a pile of unread newspapers. Sometimes I catch up the following weekend. Being unemployed as I am now, I enjoy newspapers new. One of the pleasures of retirement is reading the day's paper after breakfast as I sip the last drops of my morning coffee, and it is no small pleasure. I don't read while eating. I never learned to do it, and I don't like doing it. 05.01.02
A sweltering day, some water for one hot dog, one hotdog for me. Between <hot dog> and <hotdog> there is a change in the tone, like words in Chinese. Examine the tonal change in this sentence: Write now. Right now. There was a point I was developing on this observation but for the time being it went slipped away.