The clouds have descended to cover the tops of the mountains, making the air thick and gray and heavy.  My head is throbbing and my chest hurts and it’s hard to breathe.  On my way to school I passed the guy who followed me home the other day, and he recognized me but luckily didn’t turn around.  And my brother had a heart attack.  He’s doing okay, according to my mom- they’re keeping him in the hospital overnight, and he’ll have to take medicine, but he’s going to be fine.  My sister-in-law, Tina, is having a rough time too- her father died, and she was on her way to her mother’s when she got the call about her husband.  I really hope everything turns out okay.  I’m worried about money, and this paper I have to write, and all the people I want to talk to most in the world are far away.  Needless to say, it’s been a long day.

But my host mom made my favorite-Nabemono- for dinner.  Nabemono is basically a bunch of assorted veggies and meat boiled in a hot-pot, and everyone takes out the food and dips it in soy-sauce before eating, and as I sat there chewing on my squelchey mushrooms and soft beef I started thinking about the comforts in life- the things I use to prop myself up when life knocks the legs from under me.  And even though some comforts, like family, are far away I’ve got some that are always with me as well as some new ones I’ve found here.  I’ve compiled a list.  You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to.  This last part is more for me, I guess…

1.This blog, skype, facebook.  It feels good to stay in contact with all of you, to let you know how I’m doing.  Plus, I really like writing.  Which is probably why my computer and I are attached at the hip, come to think of it…

2.Enokitake mushrooms.  Okasan buys them every week, and they’ve since replaced brocolli as my favorite vegetable (sorry broccoli, but Okasan serves you cold and that just don’t turn me on).  She’ll boil them in nabemono, and they soak up sauce so well!  Plus, they have the stringyness of noodles, with a squelchy firm texture that is just immensely satisfying to chew.

3.Nabemono in general.  So warm and tasty and quick to make.  Chop up veggies, throw them in a pot with some tofu, mochi, and noodles,cook your own beef, serve boiling over a range.  It’s warm and salty and has so many textures.  It’s a great source of protein and veggies.  Plus, I enjoy having my tofu served WITH meat instead of it.  This is how tofu was meant to be consumed, in my opinion.  The two set each other off nicely.

4.Heated carpets, stoves, and ofuros.  When I’m away at school I miss the physical contact I get so easily at home.  The heat from these things helps me to feel all warm and toasty, like I’m being enveloped in a hug.  It’s not a true substitute, but it helps.  Plus it’s sooo relaxing.

5.Naps.  I enjoy napping alot.

6.Walking.  I used to hate walking, but now I’ve realized it’s a great way to clear your mind.  It’s moving meditation for me, not to mention great exercize.  My legs have become strong and well-toned, and I have a healthy pink in my cheeks every day.

7.The shower.  I am a pisces, so of course I love water.  But growing up in a land-locked area, the shower was often the closest I could get to swimming.  Water makes me feel whole, complete, relaxed.

8.The library.  My family and I go about every Sunday, and the library at school is accessible as well.  Both have a decent english-language section, as well as Japanese books at my reading level.

9.Grandma’s earrings.  Mom gave me these, and I know I wasn’t supposed to bring them (they might get lost), but I couldn’t bear to leave them behind.  I needed to take a part of grandma with me, take her back home I guess, and they help remind me who I am and why I’m here.

10.Penny.  I’ve had her since I was seven, and I couldn’t just leave the little stuffed dog behind.

11. The family photo album.  I miss you guys.

12. My legs.  They’re very long and strong-looking, and it comforts me looking at them and knowing that I have the power to get up and go somewhere.

13. Watches.  Last year, when I was in a really bad way, I used to lay in bed and listen to the seconds tick away.  I felt like I was lying in a river of time, and that the ticking seconds would carry everything away, just as they carried away the moment.  No matter how bad things got time still went on around me, and that’s a huge comfort when you feel your world is falling apart.

14. My words.  It’s times like these when I realize how much I was meant to be a writer.  When it hurts to breathe, and all I want is to cry but no tears come, I write.  And I feel less like exploding.

I have to work on my paper now.  3 pages comparing two dismal novels to one-another.  Ick.

Please write me though, everyone.  I’d really like to hear how you’re doing!




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