Sunday, August 26, 2007

the earth unfolds

[part three? four? of an unknown number of entries concerning my trip home. i won't lark on this forever.]
i've just settled back down into my desk with a mentaiko flavored rice cracker after walking through a group of boys tucking their shirts in before they entered the teacher's room.

within days of arriving in america, the red, destroyed skin under my eyes began to clear and i stopped itching. i've basically been itchy for a whole year, so it was really really a relief. mom and i headed to the utah desert almost immediately for a long-anticipated camping trip.
oh desert that i love!





usually, an august trip to this area would be ridiculous (think: ow, blistering sun), but there had been several days of rain, so we gave it a shot...and we were the only ones. we didn't see a soul or another track on the road.
the sun went down on our cheeseburgers and baked beans, and thanks to that rain, out came some seriously hungry mosquitoes...probably already two days old without a meal in their little blood bellies. after brushing my teeth at a brisk jog to keep from being an easy target, i dove into the tent after mom, and we made a desperate collective effort of zipping every conceivable opening in seconds. the tent was then engulfed in a haze of insects lusting after human wine. the volume of the whining hum was great enough to be truly disturbing, and they hovered around the tent all night. my dreams were colored by the pervasive sound. i shrunk away from the sides of the tent to avoid being stuck through the fabric, and indeed, there were hopefuls plastered to the mesh, beaks prickling, in case we chanced to lean that way.
the morning breeze blew most of them away, and we were able to get on with the business of eating breakfast. we headed up and up towards the edge of comb ridge. my pictures don't do the height justice, so here is a little more about it.
we drove on several hours through wide open roads to reach lake powell, essentially a canyon that's been filled with water. this was one of our frequent haunts when i was a little girl, though neither of us had been there for ten years. the resevoir is 186 miles long (300km) and is deeper than 500 feet (150m) in some places. it's the same approximate area as singapore. not to get all fact-y on you, but if you've never been there, maybe it's difficult to grasp the marvelous expanse of it...in the middle of the desert. not much has changed since i was born, even the bathrooms at the campground are exactly the same with the same cold shower.





we headed away from the arid red rocks and back into the mountains where we were arrested by a field of huge sunflowers. i'm sorta sick of seeing sunflowers on baby cards and calendars, but as the sun went down, it was impossible not to be amazed by their brilliance.


we frolicked in the field, laughing that the sun flowers were all pointed away from the sun. as we neared home, a rainbow formed over the valley. i thought to myself as i have many times, "holy crap, colorado is beautiful."

jumping oceans

i visited california first and found it amazingly good-smelling and to my newly-adjusted skin, cold. unbelievably, shiveringly, freakingly cold.
my parting shot of japan (not cold):



i had packed for 90F (33C) degree weather, so i had nothing resembling reasonable clothing for the foggy bay area. when we went out one night in san fran's mission district, steph was kind enough to loan me a coat!



a little farther east in moraga, the weather was warmer. kathy and i had a poolside catch-up session that was far too short, and i was back on the piercingly loud and vaguely dodgy BART rail (sorry, Japan has spoiled me).



next stop: the desert and the sky

fresh to death

hey. betcha thought i forgot all about you!
naw.
the truth is i haven't felt much like writing in this high summer heat. i don't even want to touch my own skin, much less the warm keyboard of my sweet little white portal to the outside world. i began emotionally preparing myself for the feeling of being painfully hot and disgusting for months before it began, but in fact, after surviving last summer, it doesn't feel that bad. recently i was told this summer is unseasonably hot, and i was truly surprised. i think, miraculously, my sweater-weather-to-the-bone self adjusted. sure, i still walk around like i'm in a coma, but it's not a miserable coma.
when i was little and mom and i went on long summer road trips to visit family in texas without an air conditioner (think 11 hours!), we'd spray ourselves off with a mist of water, and it worked pretty well to cool us off. but here, you're already swimming in the air, and the idea of being wetter doesn't really help. sweat doesn't evaporate, so what's the point of sweating? a hand-held fan is indispensable. even glasses sweat so much, you could get a full gulp of water from all the condensation on the outside.
people walk around with hand towels folded on top of their heads or around their necks, and eveyone is constantly fanning, blotting, wiping, and saying that one word that wins for most-uttered in every japanese summer "atsui"--hot.
here's a little mini-video i made featuring some of the teachers at my school.

video

so today is the first day of school. that means the first day the students have to be here; the teachers always have to be here. i'm sticking to my desk top and sweating puddles into my chair, but i have nothing to do for the next five hours, so finally i'll sit down and tell you some things.
firstly, it's time you saw my car. as i mentioned before, it's like a really big rollerskate. not particularly roomy, and the engine could maybe power a lawn mower, but functional as a virtual Whole New World of privacy, convenience, and entertainment.


it's a suzuki alto, mere bare bones of a car, but thank the lord it has air conditioning. still needs a name, though. i'm open to suggestions.

one of my favorite things about the summer here is the abundance of kakigori (shaved ice) stalls. i've found the best one in town with truly angel soft ice, and the lady knows her stuff...she puts in plenty of syrup. this one's mango. other notable flavors are cola and melon. no grape, no cherry, no orange. and they laughed when i asked if they had banana.


after i ate this, i rode a train for two hours; had a final sleepover with marina, and flew to north america.


here's marina showing her high-spiritedness. neiiigh!