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Archive for the ‘My Thoughts’ Category

I can’t stop watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC these days.  So Rachel showed a clip of Japanese Financial Minister, Shoichi Nakagawa’s “performance” at the G7 press conference making some kind of uh,  utterance in slurpy Japanese, which I could hardly make out.  Even for non-Japanese speakers it was obvious, as Rachel put it, he was “hammered!”

He claims it was a combination of the antihistamine he took for his cold symptoms and the jetlag.  Really?  Not to mention he has been known for his drinking habit for quite some time.

He is apparently a good buddy of the increasingly unpopular current Prime Minister Aso, who initially tried to cover his butt but promptly asked him to resign once the media was all over the incident.

I haven’t been following Japanese politics much.  It’s too frustrating.  The “Liberal Democratic Party” that’s been occupying the majority for well over 50 years – although they’re definitely losing their ground –  is exactly the opposite of “liberal democratic.”    It’s a joke.  I don’t see much democracy in the way the Japanese government operates in contrast to what America did in the last election.

I thought Washington was getting pretty scary before Obama came along, but Japanese government is beyond scary.  It is embarrassing!

(Sorry, no photo again!)

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Day of Inauguration

Day of Inauguration

この火曜日、1月20日、オバマ大統領がついに就任。
普段は人ごみが大嫌いな私も、この日ばかりは大衆の中でこの歴史的なイベントを味わおうと、朝早起きしてロスアンジェルスダウンタウンのノキアプラザへ繰り出しました。就任式は東海岸時間で正午、ロスの現地時間で午前9時。ノキアプラザは現地時間朝7時半から人が集まり始めていました。私と夫は8時頃到着していくつかの大画面に映るCNNの生中継に見入りました。

画面にオバマ氏が映る度に大衆は沸き立ち、 携帯電話やデジカメで大画面をスナップ。回りにいる人達は私を含めオバマの宣誓や演説を聞きながら涙を流しました。

もうこの日は仕事にならない事を予め見込んでいたので、就任式をダウンタウンで見届けた後はサンタモニカの地元でMoveOn.Orgの祝賀パーティーに出席。

MoveOnとは1998年にクリントン大統領の弾劾裁判がきっかけで西海岸のアクティビストが始めたメールによる草の根運動の非営利団体。それ以来民主党の選挙資金集めに大貢献しており今回の大統領選でもオバマの選挙事務所と並行して、前例のない選挙運動を繰り広げました。 この日はMoveOnの呼びかけで、全国の何千カ所でお祝いのパーティーが行われたのです。

私の住むサンタモニカ周辺でも終日、一般家庭やレストランなどでMoveOnのボランティアがホストとなったパーティーが行われていました。私が出席したパーティーは自宅から徒歩5分ほど先のデザインスタジオで地元のMoveOnボランティアの人達、また単にオバマ大統領の就任を祝う人達が集まっていました。出席者が持ち寄りのポットラックのランチににぎわい、白い壁に映写されたインターネットのCNN生中継で就任パレードを見ながら食べた同スタジオのスタッフが作った「オバマケーキ」は抜群でした。

そして夜は私の住むアパートの住人が集まってまたまたパーティー。オバマ夫妻が転々とした晩餐会の中継を見ながらシャンペンで乾杯。思えば我が家のネイバー(お隣りさん達)は人種多様。人口11人のうちイタリア系アメリカ人の私の夫の他、白人は2人、あとはイギリス人、イラン人、メキシコ系アメリカ人、ブラジル人、黒人、そして韓国人と私の日本人。あらためてアメリカと言う国のユニークさ、そして「やっぱり何でも可能なんだ」と言う希望と底力を感じます。

感動の一日。さあ、これからが大変です。オバマ大統領に習って私も頑張らなくっては、、、

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Perhaps I’m gradually pushed into the category of “older generation” which is qualified by a tendency to reminisce the good old days.

When I was growing up, our family had certain customs for this time of the year.  Some part of it may have been unique to our family, but I think most households did something similar.

The custom is we cleaned the house thoroughly before the year ended.  We’d purge a lot of things we no longer needed; organized everything in the house; cleaned the windows, and vacuumed every little nook of the house.  On New Year’s Eve, our house would be spic and span, have some fresh cut flowers nicely arranged, potted cyclamens, the New Year’s decoration (お飾り) and the kagami-mochi (鏡餅) all placed in their appropriate places.  We were ready for the New Year.  I was always very much into this whole process.  When I come to think of it, it was us, the women in the family who did most of the work, though.

Even after I left Japan, I’ve always tried to do this cleaning thing at the end of the year, but lately I’ve been aware it causes a lot of stress.  I don’t know if it’s physical aspect of it or my life as a whole has gotten to be so cluttered that I feel completely overwhelmed to face this process.  Really, if I wanted to do a complete job of purging, organizing and cleaning, it would require a whole week!  First it’s the physical space:  my apartment and my office.  Then I have to do my cyber space: i.e., my computer desktop, hard drives, the email inbox, and how about all my social networking sites, that are still not completely up to date!?

As much as I still like to be clean and organized for the new year every year, I’m definitely cutting corners now.  I have to let go of my perfectionism in order to maintain my sanity and my physical wellbeing.   This time I purged the closet, de-cluttered the living room and my office.  My husband did the sweeping, dusting and mopping, thank God.

I feel ready for 2009.sunset1

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