February 4th, 2012

hiroshige: foxfires on musashino

Up and down Huazi Hill/ 上下華子岡,

Up: I have seen a Lion Dance, finally. A small lion (2-man) in a small venue (foyer of a downtown library) from a non-optimal location (3rd floor balcony of same) but very satisfying nonetheless. The foyer of course was crowded with small children and their parents and I got to watch toddlers trying to reach the drum, to be pulled back by five year old older brothers, and other toddlers trying to get in under the lion's skirts, to be pulled back by their mothers; and a small 3-year-old by the looks of it, break-dancing to the drum beat. Followed by a kung fu demonstration from a personable young chap who works in a bank by day and bar by night, who demonstrated how to deal with rowdy customers in the latter, if not the former, venue.

Up: And then because I love dumplings and umadoshi had mentioned a place called Mother's Dumplings nearby, I went and gorged myself on pork-and-chive dumplings and beef steamed buns. Takes a Haligonian to direct this Trawntonian to good places, evidently. (I don't doubt that the dumplings there are The Real Thing, but I naturally judge any dumpling by gyoza, which these weren't; and any steamed bun by 7-11 Japan's version of the same, which those weren't either. So as an exercise in nostalgia, it fell a little short, but as uninhibited gluttony it was right on the mark.)

Down: Didn't read library poster carefully enough to realize that because of dumplings I missed an erhu recital and a classical music one.

Down: Bought a book called 'The Tao is Silent,' by a mathematician. No matter that he's a scientist: he uses too many exclamation marks. That makes it read to me half fluffy twee and half snake oil salesman. I am disappoint.

Up: My bought-by-me stocks have ceased losing me money on paper. They may not make me much money this coming year either, but the high of having a positive balance is high indeed.

Down: Had a Thai massage yesterday. Had the occasional Thai massage result of anxiety, wanhope, and dark night of the soul. Had the almost invariable Thai massage result of aching muscles this morning. How will I ever get my shoulders stretched out when my acupuncturist, my chiropractor, and my masseur all comment at every session how tight my shoulder muscles are?

WTF?: There's an excellent little coffee shop a slow ten minute walk away from me, with excellent coffee and excellent croissants while-supplies-last, which sadly for me and happily for my weight they tend not to. Has tall, pale, accented, bearded proprietor whom I take for Israeli, since that's what he looks and sounds. Today I'm ordering my latte from one of the regulars when a bunch of people come up the path: owner, his small daughter, another customer only vaguely glimpsed behind them. This last falls on me with glad cries. Turns out to be a woman I worked with thirty years ago at the daycare, though she had to tell me who she was. (I, evidently, am still recognizably me 40 pounds heavier and silver-haired, because this isn't the first such encounter from the 80s.) "And this is my son [name redacted]," she says, putting arm around owner's shoulders. "He uses his middle name now." I would say my jaw dropped to the floor, except that The Rivers of London has made that phrase a touch oogey. But ah er argh er OK, I suppose that's the five year old I knew way back whenever.

She's also still in touch with a number of the old staff from back then which is-- mhh. Something I could have done without being reminded of. And they all have those vaguely defined government jobs that mean nothing to me, involving words like 'liaise' and 'manage' and 'consult'. 'Yes, but what do you *do*?' I always want to ask, and they can't tell me. They liaise between teachers and the Board. They manage a team. They consult on pensions. Must be a kind of learning disability I have; or maybe it's owing to having worked a maximum of fifteen months in an office, many many years ago, and never having discovered what activities match what labels.

飛鳥去不窮,
連山復秋色。
上下華子岡,
惆悵情何極!