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April 01, 2006

1. Mom

40 years ago, Mom gave me her shape, her whimsy, artistry, way with words, sense of good and unconditional love. She doesn’t interfere, but is keenly aware and always ready with support when needed. Thanks for the good start, Mom.

April 02, 2006

2. Maura

Tall, blonde and athletic, Maura moved in high school circles I didn’t have access to. In class I admired wit paired with handwriting as big and loopy as she was. She narrowly escaped being an April Fool’s birthday joke. Lucky.

April 03, 2006

3. Sean

Sean, like me, has lived 20% of his life in Japan. Gentle, fun loving and very clever, it’s delightful to watch him grow in size, strength and skills. He's taught me signs for potty, orange, cheese, and bread – his favorites.

April 04, 2006

4. Misao

Misa has a boy's name and a man's profession. She’s an architect – an unusual career choice for someone who’s a generation older than me. Misa’s elegance of line and space infiltrate not only her blueprints but her personal style, too.

April 05, 2006

5. Alan

The worse birthday ever, I woke naked and damp in Jana's dressing room. It was Alan's worst birthday, too. He found me passed out in his shower. He screamed & threw a blanket over me. He doesn’t even like girls.

April 06, 2006

6. Mrs. Richardson

Mrs. Richardson lived two doors over and let us kids play in her big back yard. She was our next door neighbor’s grandmother. When I got too hot and turned beet red, she brought me inside for lemonade and cookies.

April 07, 2006

7. James

James epitomizes bleakness. He puts on a brave smile and a wry laugh with a drink in hand, but you know behind it are thoughts as black as midnight. Despite his melancholy, he’s an accomplished cook, storyteller, and art photographer.

April 08, 2006

8. Jo

Equally beautiful in a t-shirt or a cocktail dress, Jo radiates happiness and calm, even in the midst of complicated sewing and unpicking seams. She’s the grounded one in our crowd. A cuppa, another fag, and then we’ll get moving.

April 09, 2006

9. Yoshiura-san

A chance encounter in the park, she was walking a rabbit on a leash as we passed by. I pet the bunny while she photographed Sean eating a cucumber. She ran after us to get an e-mail address – how thoughtful.

April 10, 2006

10. John

Though I’ve known him for almost 15 years, John remains a mystery to me. How does he sail through life unperturbed by daily annoyances? He thoroughly enjoys his surroundings and situation. He’s unflustered, self-reliant, and he’s great in the kitchen.

April 11, 2006

11. Miss Evans

Miss Evans needed to review before her law school entrance exams, so got permission to teach a 12th grade class the Constitution. I was fortunate to be in her class. She sparked my long-abiding respect for the document and herself.

April 12, 2006

12. Dan

Dan is involved in so many artistic projects (his own and others’) that I don’t believe he sleeps. I’ve never known anyone so full of truly novel and creative ideas. Dan’s a good guy – and he loves my sister, too.

April 13, 2006

13. Elizabeth

Elizabeth is the world’s English-speaking expert on Japanese cooking. She came to Japan in 1968 and stayed for the food – and her new family. An animated, eager teacher full of life and stories, she shares her knowledge in every encounter.

April 14, 2006

14. Chad

Always serious, earnest and wanting to do the right thing, Chad grew up to be a computer expert. Now he works for the government and I worry he’s going to turn up to arrest me for computer crime. Blaspheming Microsoft?

April 15, 2006

15. Kimura

Kimura is all about words. We write together sometimes, but mostly quaff beer and lament the ways of the world. I knew him six months before I learned his first name. He’s charming, but his personal life is nearly opaque.

April 16, 2006

16. Shinji

Shinji is mischievous. He gives drivers wrong directions, hassles women about their bad makeup, asks a million questions. He’s not afraid to talk to strangers or give his opinion. Before retiring at age 49, he produced hit Japanese TV commercials.

April 17, 2006

17. Robin

Now a valued friend, Robin was my (nominal) boss for many years, and he somehow learned how to get what he wanted from me without conflict or stress, even when I didn’t agree. He talked to me without corporate double-speak.

April 18, 2006

18. Carl

Carl plays piano in a swanky Kabukicho lounge club. He’s funny as an entertainer, and exactly the same kind of amusing off-stage. He wrote ad jingles a couple decades back: “Puppy Chow for a full year – til he’s full grown.”

April 19, 2006

19. Rosemary

Rosemary hired me for my worst job. She had a vision I fulfilled, but her ideas didn’t map to the realities of the job. We got along great but she left three months after I arrived. I escaped shortly after.

April 20, 2006

20. Ets

Ets doesn’t attend our dinners and I was sure Jeremy had invented his wife until I met her in person. We sat next to each other, unplanned, at a swim meet in 2004. After the introductions, we never spoke again.

April 21, 2006

21. Jone

Jone cares for the guests and is uncle to the staff at Moody’s Namena. He’s always smiling,, and its brilliance lights up the resort. When I discovered his natural talent for drawing; I gave him my watercolor pencils. Bula vinaka!

April 22, 2006

22. Rob

A beautiful young man who all mothers loved, Rob was a naughty boy behind the scenes. He dropped out of college and “toured with the Dead” in a VW bus. Later, he settled down to become a chef & father.

April 23, 2006

23. Manisha

Manisha joined my team as a graduate student. Her husband, on a student visa from India, studied medicine and she decided to take another degree, too. Diligent, smart, soft-spoken, she never seemed to mind that everyone mispronounced her exotic name.

April 24, 2006

24. Darryl

I met him one evening when I bought groceries for myself and someone else. I wanted to divide the order and started bagging solo before he came over to help. “I’ll bag in self defense.” I laughed. He meant it.

April 25, 2006

25. Terri

Terri is the embodiment of infectious enthusiasm and joy, tempered with actions taken to right wrongs and injustice. She flew from Japan to the US to knock on doors during the last presidential election, and discovered beauty all around her.

April 26, 2006

26. Jim

Jim’s the only other person in Tokyo who experienced Miss Judy and too much “haina” growing up. He captures the moods and people of everyday Tokyo photographed in black and white with antique cameras then developed by hand at home.

April 27, 2006

27. Stacey

Blonde tresses pulled into a ponytail, t-shirt snugging generous curves, Stacey cooked up the best cheeseburger on the South Side – perhaps in all of Pittsburgh—at Dee’s. She was smarter than any of us slacking college students, and sassier, too.

April 28, 2006

28. Imamura-san

Imamura-san owns the local liquor store. Hard edged and business savvy but unassuming and friendly, she runs the show in her trademark black apron. She is a seventh generation Tokyo resident, which makes her a pedigree Eddoko (child of Tokyo).

April 29, 2006

29. Cynthia

Cynthia is not otherwise elfish, but her smile makes me want to peek at her ears just to be sure. Interested and active in social causes, showering love on her family, she is also a smoother of ruffled departmental feathers.

April 30, 2006

30. Heidi

In 1976, Heidi spun rings around everyone on the monkey bars. Later, she turned heads and dated the cutest boy in school. Now her life revolves around her family of natural, adopted and foster kids; she teaches them her tricks.