Sunday, August 31, 2008

fish in the sky

The Sky Aquarium, Mori Tower observation deck, Roppongi Hills
Most of the fish tanks were inside a dark exhibit hall. This big blue sphere was my favorite...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I've made mistakes before, but....

...I feel really bad about this one.

So the boys and I were wandering through Roppongi Hills when we decided to go up to the top of the Mori Tower (52nd floor, 360-degree view of the city) so we could visit the Sky Aquarium, a temporary installation featuring all kinds of pretty fish. That part was great. But then....we made our way over to the Mori Art Museum, which is on the same floor. (The price of admission is included in the Viewing Tower ticket, which ain't cheap, so I was thinking we'd get our money's worth.) The exhibit changes every 2-3 months or so, and right now it's showing Annette Messager: The Messengers.

And now Conor is having nightmares.

OK, so I don't know for sure that he is, but I wouldn't be surprised. We had been in the exhibit hall for five minutes - the first room featured a series of authentic-looking birds and small mammals ('taxidermied'? 'taxidermal'?) with cartoonish stuffed animal heads -- when he said, in a low, slightly panicky voice, "I don't like this place. Can we get out of here? I don't want to be in this place."

"Freaky," added Dylan, staring at some ragged, deflated furry animal costumes and fake limbs dangling from cables.

I grabbed their hands and started walking quickly toward the exit, but it was just like the Ikea Marketplace: there was only one way to go, and the way out forced us to hit every department, or in this case, see every strange ensemble and disturbing set piece. We picked up the pace, through more doorways and down more halls, then up a ramp past some bright red silky sheet, spread across the floor, fans underneath puffing it up and making it billow, and I was reminded of that scene in "The Shining" when the hallway fills with blood...

Then we saw the bat. The wings of black cloth stretched along a wall, maybe 6-ft. across; the "face" was a photographic composite of a wide-open (screaming) human mouth and two bulging eyeballs. "Don't look," I said, and of course they did (who wouldn't?) and then we were running.

Outside the exihibit, heading to the elevator, Conor, now crying, demanded to know why I made them see that. I swear I don't know.

update 9/11: I found this image online (wish I could find one of the bat)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ebisu Garden Place

So we leave Terry alone for one month and he buys a purse.
Sorry, "men's carry-all" (calling Seinfeld...)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sunny Wednesday!

Things are starting to turn around here: we're officially unpacked, the kids are sleeping past 6 am and the sun finally came out (briefly) so I took the boys to Arisugawa Park for a bit. The bubbling brook, shade trees and stone steps were as lovely as ever.

Later on we joined our neighbors Karen and Sienna and hit the Children's Castle's rooftop pool, a temporary, shallow thing with lifeguards, a poolside shower, and benches and tables under tents, where parents sit and watch and supervise swimsuit changes and snack breaks. As we entered the pool zone -- after purchasing tickets for 200 yen a piece from a vending machine, which also dispenses little speedos and one-piece suits for girls, for a small rental fee -- the attendant handed each of us moms a little plastic crate for our stuff (with handles, like the baskets you carry around the grocery store when you're only getting a few items).

I don't know if the staffers in white shirts were trained lifeguards, all I know is that they kept a closer eye on this pool than the teenagers in charge of my parents' country club pool back home. One of them stopped Conor from completely stripping off Dylan's suit during some sort of dragging game. She even waded into the water to help retie his drawstring. It's okay to show your bare ass in the onsen, but not here!
It's too bad that this pool, and every other outdoor pool in the city, I'm told, closes for the season on Sunday, August 31 -- the official end to summer. Apparently the locals also stop going to the beaches once August is over, which is why expats are advised to take their weekend shore trips in September, when it's still hot and humid but the crowds have gone. We are thinking of going to Kamakura next week.

At one point I had to bench Conor for shoving his brother down in the pool. Sigh. (How many more days until school starts?)
The ramps you see in the distance behind him lead to a few different tricycle-riding areas and a basketball hoop, all part of the castle complex.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rainy Tuesday

If this photo was on Flickr, these would be the tags: rainbow-whale mural; guy napping; pedestrian bridge; Yoyogi Park; Tokyo
Today the kids spent the afternoon doing various crafts with their Japanese teacher, Eriko (she offers a "holiday camp" this last week before school starts, bless her), so I took the opportunity to walk through Yoyogi Park, alone, as in, by myself, no kids to chase or scold or look after. I love my boys, of course, but the three of us have shared, how should I put it, abundant quality time together this summer, feel me? (we're back watching The Wire, Season 5).

The park was practically deserted (due to the rain, I suspect) except for a few joggers and a group of young men singing under the shelter of a gazebo (choir practice?). There were a few other random people about, including two dudes who paused like me to appreciate this bit of pink.

I walked from the east end of the park to the west, then up and around the north end, until my legs ached and I had to get back to business and run some errands before picking up the boys. They had a full day, making shaved ice with syrup, traditional Japanese fans, and "stone art" (they painted some rocks). And because I had time to go to the grocery store, there was milk at dinner.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rainy Monday

Hmm, what'd we do today? Ah yes: Ate toast with peanut butter and nutella. Walked to the shoe store and back. Rode our scooters around the garage. Played Tetris on the Xbox, Funkeys on Conor's PC. Read some books. Did laundry, paired socks. Tried folding origami snakes. Had Henry and his baby sister over. Cut up a watermelon and talked about planting the seeds. Got naked and did a little dance (just Dylan). Watched "Flushed Away." Played Scrabble, then Battleship (until Dylan snuck a look at my warships, forcing me to quit on principle). The pizza guy came. The boys took a bubble bath. I unpacked a little more. And yet there's still two more hours to kill until bedtime... Then tomorrow we will get up (hopefully sometime after 5 am) and face another rainy day. The forecast says there will be thunderstorms all week! Seven days until school starts. Seven....days....

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Our first Saturday back. Ebisu Garden Place. This little boy loved us.

The arched glass roof overhead shielded us from the drizzle.
Cool door. Shop is closed. Looks like a designer boutique.
walking up Aoyama-dori in Shibuya
The ugliest building in Tokyo:
The Children's Castle exterior is pretty dreary too, but I like the bronze-cast girl skipping rope up the side of the main building.

we're baaaack

Been home two days and I'm still too tired to post anything real, but I will soon. Tokyoblog (man I need a new title) will rev up again once the kids are back in school on Sept. 2!

In the meantime, here's an easy one, Terry's latest street fashion shot. Working title: Guy riding escalator at Ebisu station

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Pat and his wife Kim and their two kids, Aidan and Kiera, just moved back to New York. We're leaving for Tokyo in two days, and we'll be happy to get back to our life there (and to Terry!), but probably won't see these guys again until next summer. And that, my friends, is what sucks about living so far away.
We also hated saying goodbye to my other brother, and his wife and kids...

...and not just because they share our fondness for Pokemon cards
...and Cookie Monster ice cream from Longworth's

Saturday, August 9, 2008

happy anniversary to me

On Valentine's Day in 1991, Terry gave me a single iris. Today I got a whole bunch!

I will miss the white picket fences

We leave Ocean Grove tomorrow (sniff)

all the way from the West Village

the boys with Mick (bed head!) and Evan (green shirt), friends from the big city

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Come back, Max! We miss you!

My sister Eileen, her husband Chris and their baby (awww...)

the race

"What place did you come in?," Terry wrote in a Facebook message earlier tonight, after I told him about the boogie board races on the beach today. (Yep, we will have been married for 11 years come Saturday, and this is how we keep in touch while living in separate hemispheres.) The answer: I have no idea, though I know I didn't medal, as those finishers were handed an index card with the number 1, 2 or 3 scribbled on it as they stumbled across the finish line, and I left the course empty-handed. I do remember that though there were quite a few people ahead of me, there were also quite a few behind me -- there were 15 of us racing -- so it was a respectable mid-placement.

I can not swim or paddle particularly fast with a boogie board in tow, and there were no waves to help us get back in (race day was the first calm day in weeks!) so that was a drag. We had to run down from the beach, boards under one arm, and into the surf, then dash out to a lifeguard who was treading water out past the breakers, make our way around that lifeguard (some of us approached from the north, others from the south, so there was some knocking about), then back to shore and up the beach to the finish line. It took about a minute all told. I can't even guess how many yards/meters. It was when I pulled out of the water that I was able to pass a few of the ladies on foot. It's all a blur, really, but what I do remember quite clearly is that at the end I was suddenly neck-and-neck with a woman almost old enough to be my mother, but then she sort of collapsed to her knees and had to crawl across the finish line. She did manage to put her hand over the rope before I could clear it. And I remember thinking something like, "Don't kill yourself over this! Neither of us is gonna place!"

After it was over my legs were shaking and I couldn't breathe but it was worth doing if only to see Conor's huge grin when I found him on the sideline. It didn't even matter that Dylan had picked race time as his chance to lie down on a towel in the sand and take a nap.

last days at the beach!

Our rusty screen door slams shut, and we are consuming far too many popsicles not made with real fruit juice, and it seems that Terry left for Tokyo ages ago, but life's good overall at the shore, and we will be sad to leave on Saturday. We've had visitors from New York, Georgia and Texas, Washington DC and Virginia, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, Singapore and Mexico. We competed in the boogie board races today -- me in the "moms" category (those ladies were all smiles and sheepishness until that fog horn blew!) and Conor in the 7-year-old group, where he made a very strong showing, taking 4th place. Of course I left the camera home, so this shot of the boys kickin' back on the side "porch" will have to do.

Monday, August 4, 2008

a whole mess o' kids

Georgetown friends Joanne and Lynne stopped by last month with all their younguns. From left: Jack, Conor, Luke (the little dude in front), Dylan, Alex, and Riley. (Luke's brother, Drew, was inside the house having his dinner...)
And here they are again! And I am shooting from the sidewalk. The side of the house isn't as nice as the front. But it works. And we have a grill!

Friday, August 1, 2008

the beach rocks!

This jetty marks the southern border between Ocean Grove and Bradley Beach. You can see the Ocean Grove fishing club's shack on the pier in the background. Here's Dylan, 6, (red swimsuit) with his best friend/first cousin Owen, who's 3 months younger.