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10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me

Since this blog is still fairly new, I thought it might be fun to make a little list-icle about myself, and who I am... What I do... Weird factoids that make you think, "That's weird," or "Me too!"

So here it goes, without much fluff. I'll just get into it.

1. I used to be a super picky eater up until 2007, when I was 21 years old. Yep. It began some time in my toddler years, and my aversion to new foods lasting up until the day I was sent to Japan to study abroad for a year. I wouldn't eat any vegetables, shellfish, not much fruit... when I was younger if it was green, I wouldn't eat it. What changed? I suddenly found myself in meal situations that if I didn't eat it would be considered offensive to my Japanese hosts. I didn't want to risk it, so I tried everything I could at least one time. I was forced out of my comfort zone, and discovered what I was missing out on. Now I eat almost anything! Except shellfish, and raw tomatoes and cucumbers. Hey, there's always something I'm allowed to not like.

2. I have a shellfish allergy. Which is probably why I didn't like the taste of it. It's one of those things where it would taste good at first, but the more I ate, the more nauseous I felt. I don't have a reaction from cooked shellfish, but to raw shellfish. It's something you'd come across more often in Japanese cuisine. So I just avoid it entirely.

Beautiful pink plum blossoms with multiple layers of petals open.
The plums are as beautiful as they are fragrant.

3. I think plums are the superior spring flower. Sakura, you are beautiful, but you don't fill up the space with a sweet fragrance, and the variety of colors you offer are lacking. Give me bright, beautiful blooms in the cusp of spring. Fill my senses with sweet smells, and starkly bending black branches. Then fill my cup with delicious plum wine.

4. I feel that I am more Buddhist in thought than Christian in my upbringing. I was raised as an Episcopalian, but I never found that I could align with it. It wasn't until I had some hard, emotionally upsetting times that I discovered Buddhism as a way of life. It was the only thing that made sense in my confusion. Christianity tells you that only God can help you, while Buddhism says the solution lies inside yourself. I found that to make much more sense.

5. I'm 1/8 Irish. Even though half of me is Japanese, I'm just Irish enough to have freckles, and baby fine straight hair. Which means my tan comes with freckles afterwards. It's not my favorite feature, but my husband likes it. I also wish I had thicker hair, but at least I love the texture of it.

6. My mother rescued my life as a baby. In the 80s, there was no ultrasound that could detect any genetic problems in the womb. They also didn't know if I would have been born a girl or a boy. Thank goodness I am a woman, because they would have just named me Mike if I were a boy. Then I would have two Uncle Mikes and then myself! Anyway, she noticed that I was getting more and more sleepy, and I wasn't a very active baby. The doctors tried to reassure her that everything was fine.

But then she saw that my lips were turning blue. She remembered knowing an older man in her past who had the same condition as myself, and what his symptoms were. She tried again to take me to the doctor. The doctor said, "We need to perform surgery, now." It turns out I was born with a hole in my heart, and I wouldn't have lived much longer if she had never met that older man with the same heart condition. The doctors patched up the hole, but I still have a slight murmur left. I had to visit the cardiologist every year up until I turned 18.

7. Phew, number 6 was dramatic! Let's write a lighter one. When it's my birthday, you should probably give me the following things: A local beer, pie (not tart pies though), a karaoke night, and just some hang out time. I don't need presents. Just presence.

8. I don't have any tattoos. I have thought about it, but I have two problems with getting one. The first thing is that I can't decide which tattoo I would like to have for life. Something I could still appreciate at 80 years old. The second reason is because I love the hot springs in Japan too much.

They all have a general rule of no tattoos allowed. That doesn't mean there are no Japanese people with tattoos using the onsen, but it is frowned upon because of its association with the yakuza. Cultural tattoos like the Maori have are borderline, and there have been legal battles for them. In the land of the rising sun though, the rules are God and everyone is equal under them. Until that changes, no tattoos for me.

9. Speaking of Japan, I didn't learn Japanese until I entered college. My dad is 3rd generation Japanese and he was never taught Japanese growing up by my grandparents. My grandparents wanted to be as American as possible, and probably in 1940s America, being not white was frowned upon. Even though they learned Japanese growing up, they decided for their children's safety it would be best to not be caught speaking something other than English.

A Japanese family stands outside their home, windows broken, and "No Japs wanted" graffitied on their house.
"No Japs wanted here," graffiti on their homes, something my grandparents must have experienced

Because of their decision, I could not learn Japanese growing up, as much as I would have liked to. In contrast to my dad, who grew up in the 1950s and 60s, and did not want to be Japanese, I very much did want to be. It was in the first grade when I could connect that all of beautiful tradition and art that Japan has to offer was actually part of my heritage and inside of me. This really made me feel excited, and I wanted so much to live in Japan someday. I made Japanese my major in college, and began my reconnecting of Japanese heritage. I even got my dad to be proud to be Japanese after a trip we had together to Japan in high school.

10. Our place is only 900 square feet large for our 3 person family, and I'm thankful for it. I've lived in all sorts of sizes in Japan. From 300 square feet to 900, but the small size makes you reconsider what is really valuable in life. It makes families have to interact. All of the spaces we have are shared, and it forces us to think twice before buying something new. We are lucky to have an extra terrace, and to have the sun in our place the whole day. Many places in Tokyo are shaped like a narrow hallway with rooms, and only the shorter ends have windows. We have been doing a Marie Kondo lifestyle before we even heard of her name. It's just something that comes naturally to us.

So, there you have it! I hope you found some of the things about me interesting. How about you? Do we have anything in common? Give me a comment and let me know.

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