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July 02, 2006

93. Seikya-san

She arrives on her bicycle, hair protected with a gossamer scarf like a movie star. “I just had it set for our photo shoot tomorrow,” she giggles, patting a stray lock and turning her head. Who’d guess she’s over 70?

July 03, 2006

94. Ron

We called each other Bish’ & Quill’. I was his secretary temporarily and though I had no idea what he did, he was a good boss. When my assignment was over he gave me an inlaid box he made himself.

July 04, 2006

95. Shannon

Shannon’s pixie features belie her inner force. She left the Midwest to become a documentary filmmaker in Brazil, then set out to better the developing world. Now she lives in Johannesburg and tends to people’s spiritual well being by channeling.

July 05, 2006

96. Mr. Matulevich

He taught AP History and had a reputation for being tough on grades and mental abuse. One afternoon during study hall, he informed me my classmates thought I was stuck up. I suspect this was his opinion of me, but…ouch.

July 06, 2006

97. Steve

We just called him Fatla. He was in the graduate English program when I started at Duquesne and he was there when I left. He was always in College Hall, hustling in the grad lounge. He graduated eventually, I heard.

July 07, 2006

98. Tomoko

UltraGirl is quiet, contentious and knows how to get what she wants – a step at a time. A month ago she moved into a new home. Last week she quit her job. Today she starts a new family register. Omedetou!

July 08, 2006

99. Mrs Brinster

Her classroom sported primary color posters with bold numbers, letters, and shapes. On her desk were sheaves of paper, boxes of crayons. She smiled at everyone and gently corrected our missteps. From her experienced tutelage, we learned sharing and order.

July 09, 2006

100. Taxi driver

“Only tourists go out in the day,” he admonished after picking us up, wilted, near the observatory. “We all stay inside in daytime. Night. That is when Kuala Lumpur comes alive. We come out to sing and dance and eat.”

July 10, 2006

101. Zoya

Zoya is a fluent Japanese-speaking Russian-born blonde who designs and sews her own clothes and bakes a delicious crumble. She’s also studying History at prestigious Tokyo University. She certainly does not fit the mold of most Russian beauties in Tokyo.

July 11, 2006

102. Natalia

Even her name makes me cringe. I withstood her wearisome non-conformity until she fired off wicked accusations against me. She compelled me to hate her. Brilliant and successful on paper, she is a horror of self-promotion and disrespect in person.

July 12, 2006

103. Mr. Thompson

He was strict and hard as becomes manual labor. Legends of body-dented lockers circulated the halls every fall. He ruled the junior high shop with an iron fist: everything in its place; all test passed before tools could be used.

July 13, 2006

104. Janet

I suppose we’d call it a “jewfro” now, but back in 1974, Janet’s bush of curly blondish hair was unlabelled. Her personality was as loud, brash and wild as her coiffure. I’ll bet she grew up to be someone interesting.

July 14, 2006

105. Parker

His enormous suitcase was stuffed with useless oddments and topped with a 1978 boombox held on with bungee cords. On his way to meet a girl, he primped in his aviator glasses and gold-shot black shirt. Ah, priorities at 16!

July 15, 2006

106. Parker's Mom

She doesn’t mind leaving Parker in Japan for five weeks with strangers; and she’s amused when he finds a Japanese girlfriend and temporarily moves in with her. She has every confidence that he’s going to be fine and she’s right.

July 16, 2006

107. Christopher

I’ve only met my cousin once or twice, but I hear good things about him. Christopher deals in antiques, creates gourmet dog treats and is terribly clever. He has a partner, but nobody ever says if that's business or personal.

July 17, 2006

108. Sally

Sally was full of life, a free thinker with a responsible job owning a personal care home. She dispensed wisdom, food and love from her kitchen. But she also engaged in risky behavior and died tragically in a car wreck.

July 18, 2006

109. Gerry

Gerry loved movies and Elvis but only through the 50s. I did yard chores in exchange for using her washing machine. We spent many afternoons chatting and eating chili over rice at her oilcloth-covered kitchen table while my laundry dried.

July 19, 2006

110. Wayne

Decked out in denim and leather, Wayne rode motorcycles and banged together sets for our community theatre. His impressive tattoos inspired mine. He could make my naive teenaged self blush with nothing more than a look or a stupid joke.

July 20, 2006

111. Mrs. Thompson

Married to the shop instructor, Mrs. Thompson was also a teacher. She taught music but in which school? Her very long dark hair was lightly streaked with grey and usually hanging loose down her back like a slightly haggard Rapunzel.

July 21, 2006

112. Mac

Mac was Tod’s grandfather. A paragon of business and engineering, he cut an impressive figure in retirement– authoritative and imposing, but simultaneously loving and relaxed. He grew tomatoes, sailed and maintained an office at his lakeside home in North Carolina.

July 22, 2006

113. Alice

Alice was determined to be a star; she even had a stage name decided – Shuray. Her strangely jutting overbite and mop of frizzy hair probably doomed her to character acting or best-buddy roles. I can’t find her name in IMDB.

July 23, 2006

114. Cara

Cara never cottoned to Tokyo. When she moved to Kyushu, she hoped the rural atmosphere would be more suitable. She started to feel comfortable in Japan after she decided to leave it. Now she’s adjusting to life back in Missouri.

July 24, 2006

115. Sayaka

We met online first. Her request for help with a local magazine I admired bonded us through e-mail exchanges. Finally we had coffee together. Then we visited when she moved away. Now she’s back and there’s time for coffee again.

July 25, 2006

116. Sue

Sue poked her head into the room. She’d just finished a day of art - draping wool over a haze in the fields in the rain. “You must be tired,” I said. “No, my work energises me.” She inspired envy.

July 26, 2006

117. Emi

Emi is slight and birdlike, but her art is on a grand scale. She is living at the Matsudai dormitory this summer and keeps it neat when more transient visitors neglect to. She’s the community anchor in a shifting commune.

July 27, 2006

118. Tim

Who can forget “Blue cows on the moon?” Tim coined memorable phrases and lived his dreams. He married his high school sweetheart, Janice; became a TV newsman. He taught me to appreciate clove cigarettes and hardcore punk. “Run like birds!”

July 28, 2006

119. Andrea

Andrea stopped off to see what we were doing outside our Matsudai space in the rain at midnight. We struck up a conversation that lead to me interviewing her for a podcast the next morning. She’s well-spoken in art theory.

July 29, 2006

120. Miss Cunningham

I didn’t push her into the dryer; I clumsily bumped into her on my way to the stove. Didn’t matter, I was relegated to Home Ec hell - sewing on paper, critiques of my vegetables – until I escaped to shop.

July 30, 2006

121. Miss Brennan

She risked censure (and found it) by teaching the 5th grade an Elton John duet for the Spring Play. “Ooooo, nobody knows it…” sung by 43 squeaky sopranos in rehearsal. Our disappointment in the program cut matched the principal’s relief.

July 31, 2006

122. Richard

Richard is my cousin. I remember him from one childhood visit. At my grandmother’s house we had a “monk’s dinner” – any table talk caused a utensil to be taken away. We ended dinner eating pie without hands on the floor.