Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Approaches

And my holiday has offically begun! OK, so far it is off to a slow start, since although my school has closed, my paid leave doesn't kick in until the 24th, so I am back at the BOE, back on the computer, eating Goldfish crackers and drinking green tea. Still, I am not at my desk, pretending to work whilst actually playing Bejeweled Blitz, and so things are clearly on the up.

This positivity is tiring. It doesn't come naturally. So just to tempter it with some more chacteristic moaning, I have GIANT blisters on my left heel from my beautiful, but ever so slightly too small, new boots. This causes me grief not only because I am forced to hobble like a drunken sailor, which has all kinds of ramifications on the icy roads of Sapporo, but also because I am one of those people who must wear anything new IMMEDIATELY. Four out of five purchases I wear out of the store, forcing the long-suffering sales assistant to wrestle the tag from the nape of my neck (or the crack of my butt, if they're really unlucky) and provide me with a carry-bag for whatever sweaty discard I need to bear away. Thus, it is causing me inordinate amounts of grief that I cannae wear my leonine lovelies. I think of them, squatting sadly (can shoes squat? More to the point, can they feel emotion? Feck it, go with it) in my cold landing, all soft and un-scuffed, wondering what they did to be so swiftly replaced with my old boots (boots which cost $400 and are beautiful, so I'm hardly suffering from bootlessness, which is lucky, because it's a terrible disease). Bemoan the plight of the demoted boot.

WARNING: This post is about to shift in tone from grumpy and relaxed to sad and metaphysical. If you're not up to the mental segue, I suggest you part ways with my words here.

By rights, I ought to be hungover today, but the universe rebelled against this prediction in an awful manner: last night was supposed to involve the Christmas leaving party thrown by my school, but was cancelled due to the sudden death of the wife of one my teachers. No better excuse to postpone a party, really. She died at 5.30am on Monday morning, suddenly, of a brain hemorrhage, leaving behind three young children and a shell-shocked husband. Japanese culture still focuses heavily on the role of the woman as child bearer and raiser, and so I do not know what will be the fate of these children, or of the husband. All I know is that there is no way to prepare for this, no way to recover, and no karmic retribution cycle that justifies decimating this family so suddenly, so awfully, so close to Christmas.

I am aware that I have belittled the state of the Japanese family in former posts, but the shocking news made me realise that family, no matter how it is structured, no matter how the various roles play out, is family. For these children, innocence and trust is gone. The husband's life has changed forever. I can't even imagine the depths of the shock and horror and pain that he must be feeling, so I'll leave the subject, and the post, here, departing with intimations of mortality.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature's priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

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