17 April 2014

My Hero

It has been some time since I've written. I keep coming up with various topics to write on, but then life gets in the way. I am not surprised that having a 12-year-old in our life has made my life busier. In fact if it didn't make my life busier I would be worried that I was a neglecting mother.

A few weeks ago I was sitting in class listening to the kids. Every week they have a student of the week called the "Superhero." The teacher I work with had decided not to do a student of the week. It wasn't that there weren't deserving kids, but it had been so busy. The previous superhero had left the cape at home and forgotten his "About Me" paper. As she was explaining one of the kids yelled out, "But what about Little Miss. Will she get to be superhero?" The other kids joined in. Basically chanting that Little Miss should be the superhero for the week. The teacher agreed and she got everything set up for Little Miss.

The entire first grade gets together and all of the teachers announce their superheros for the week. The child then goes to the front and collects a prize and certificate. The teacher and I were worried that Little Miss wouldn't want to get up and it might cause a scene as the kids try and encourage her up while she fights back. When the teacher called Little Miss, she stood up immediately and hurried up to the front where she got her certificate and pencil.

The next week she would occasionally put on the cape and call herself Batman, or Robin as she twirled around.

Little Miss is autistic and will never live on her own. I am pretty sure she doesn't know exactly what the Superhero means, but she knows she has watched nearly every other student in the class wearing the cape. What really got to me was the fact that it was the other students in the class who really wanted her to get it. It wasn't something the teacher planned to teach the class an important message. It was something the kids themselves knew was important.

I love working at the school. These kids are good kids.

04 April 2014

A Perfect Parent?

The last two days, Moose and I attended a conference put on by the Utah Foster Care. The main reason we went was it was a quick way to get hours for our re-certification. Now we are already planning on going to next year's if they have it again.

There were two speakers. The first was Dr. Laura Bennett-Murphy. She works here in Utah with children who are from refugee families and endured severe trauma. Let's just say that I needed the tissues I brought. There were several points that really stood out to me. The first is that as a parent there are times that when my child loses hope, I can still hold on to it and reassure them that behind the storm clouds, the sun is still there and it will be back. I also loved the idea that children will get frustrated and mad with me as a parent. Even when they are yelling at me and telling me that I am stupid or they wish I was dead that they still love me. (And now for the cute picture she showed.)

Thursday's speaker was Daniel J Siegel, MD. Moose and I had to slip our an hour early and we were so disappointed not to hear it all. What he talked about was the Adolescent brain. 12-24 is the age of adolescence. They are neither child nor adult and knowing what is actually going on in their brain can help adults teach them. It was amazing. We sat in rapture from 9 until we had to duck out at 3. We spent the entire drive home talking about how things are now starting to make sense.

Tech is 12 but we can already see how the things Siegel talked about apply to our situation. He has a book out called Brainstorm that is written for both an adult audience and for an adolescent audience because adolescents don't always know why they do why they do but if they know how their brain works it gives them power over themselves.

Moose and I have ordered the book and I will do a review when I read it, but I can already tell you that I am going to love it.

What really stuck with me that both speakers emphasized was the fact that parents will occasionally flip their lids. Both speakers admitted to the fact that despite all of their education, training, experience, they still get frustrated. The fact of the matter is that it will happen, but as adults we need to repair the situation after it happens. That is what makes a good parent.

Maybe Moose and I have a chance at doing okay after all.

30 March 2014

*Dreamless

Moose reminded me that I wrote this story. This is a Fan Fiction piece based on characters from the anime series Ghost Hound. This is a series that Moose and I really enjoyed. It is a psychological horror. It is not what I expected it to be.

Taro wished he could dream. Since being at the university in Tokyo he hadn’t been able to dream let alone travel to the Unseen Realm. After five years he wasn’t sure he would ever do it again. He had hoped to Soul Traveled when he reached the island. His sleep was plagued by the pain in his chest.

He used the sleeve of is coat to clear the condensation from the glass as he looked at the passing scenery. He focused on the mountains. They seemed to have aged thousands of years in the time he’d been gone. He couldn’t see the shrine hidden among the trees. He wondered if Miyako would even be willing to talk to him again. He pressed on his chest and gasped as another round of pain threatened to crush his heart.

No one stood at the bus stop. He hadn’t told anyone he was coming home.

The winding road up to his house was slick from the light rain. Every step increased his heart rate. Puffs of breath accented the raspy breathing.

He watched the still from a distance, trying to regain his breath. People milled around the brewery, their focus on the product. One person paused in their movements and looked over at him, standing in the yellowed street light.

“Taro, is that you?”

Taro dropped his bags to accept a hug from Kei, the Master brewer. She nearly bowled him over.

“Why didn’t you tell us you were coming? We would have sent a car to meet you. Come on out of the rain.” She kept an arm around him. He couldn’t even his breathing. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine.”

“Did you hear about Miyako?” she asked. Her brows were drawn together.

“Yes.” Taro picked up his bags again and hurried to the house.

*

The next morning the sun peeked out over the trees as Taro rode his old bike into town. The pavement still showed wet patches but would be gone before lunch. The newsroom was packed with desks and chairs. One man sat in his chair with his feet propped up on the desk typing on a laptop that looked like any movement would send it crashing to the floor.

“Can we help you?” someone asked.

Taro tried to catch the eye of the man who was typing. “I was just hoping to have a few words with Masayuki.”

The man’s head popped up and a grin split his features. “Taro, why didn’t you tell me you were coming for a visit? How long are you here?” He just caught the laptop before it fell and set it on his desk.

Masayuki directed Taro to a small bakery down the street from his office.

“You’ve gotten taller,” Taro said as he looked at his friend. “And you cut your hair. I almost didn’t recognize you.”

Masayuki ran a hand through his hair and grinned. “It just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. It’s good to see you. How long are you in town?”

“I’m back. I just graduated and got a job.”

“You got a job back here? Why would you do that?”

“I’m the high school’s new psychological counselor,” Taro said peeling his pastry apart and hiding pieces of it in his napkin.

“Have you visited the others? I’m sure they would love to see you as well.”

“I plan on visiting everyone. But there’s something else.” Taro tossed his uneaten pastery in the garbage. “Have you seen anything in the Unseen World?”

Masayuki let out his breath. “I haven’t had an O.B.E. for almost three years now.”

“Do you know why?” Taro looked up, searching for any sign of pain on his friend’s face.

This time it was Masayuki who paused. “I moved in with Reika.”

Taro counted to three before he felt his voice would be normal. “I hope you and Dr. Otori are happy together.”

“We are,” Masayuki replied. “Most of the time.”

*

Taro sat on the steps leading up to the shrine. He held a letter in his hands that he had folded and refolded hundreds of times over the years. The year after he started his Masters he had received the letter in the mail: Taro, I’m getting married. The pain in his chest had started shortly after this.

“Taro? I hadn’t heard you were visiting.”

Taro was shaken from his reverie by the low voice. Makoto had gotten taller but nothing else had changed. His long hair was pushed back from his face, and no smile lines even hinted. He held a guitar case in his hand.

“It’s nice to see you, Makoto.” Taro stood and brushed at his trousers to clear the dirt. “What are you doing here?”

“I always come to the shrine at this time of day.” He paused and raised an eyebrow. “She’s not dead.”

Taro stuffed the letter back in his pocket. “I know she’s not dead.”

“Do you regret leaving?”

They started the climb up to the shrine. The steps had been repaired in a few places and Taro focused on the new patches as he tried to keep his breathing even.

“I didn’t think it would be this hard.” Taro paused on the stairs, trying to regain his breath. The stairs continued upwards into the trees. “I feel the weight of everything I left behind. I wonder if I made a mistake and lost something irrevocably.”

“College made you speak in big words.” Makoto stood a few steps above him, his breathing catching only here and there.

“Did you ever want to leave?” Taro asked and winced at an especially sharp pain.

Makoto turned his back and started up the stairs again. When Taro reached the top Makoto was there with a glass of water.

“Thanks.”

“Taro?”

Miyako stood a few feet from him. She looked exactly how Taro pictured her. Her hair was still tied in two parts behind her ears. She didn’t wear her shrine maiden’s regalia, but rather plain clothes. There were holes starting in the knees of her trousers. Her mouth was the thin line of somberness that often covered it when she was young.

“Miyako-san.” Taro winced as he stuttered. “I hope I am not disturbing you, but I would like to talk to you and your husband.”

She folded her arms and looked him up and down before giving a nod. “Come into the shrine.”

*

Miyako’s husband was a thin fellow who often had to push his glasses back in place. He explained that he had come to the shrine to study with Miyako’s father. Taro nodded and clenched his hands. He had chosen to leave. There had never been anything between him and Miyako more than Taro’s childish infatuation.

“Taro?”

He looked up and met her steel gaze. It was the same look as always. When she turned towards her husband it soften. A faint smile played across her lips and the corners of her eyes crinkled.

“I wish to express my congratulations. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to make it to the wedding.” Taro held out a gift and bowed his head.

“That was thoughtful of you,” Miyako’s husband said taking the gift. “I have heard a lot about your adventures when you were all in high school. It is good to finally meet the last of the group.”

Taro smiled, taking in the sight of Miyako smiling. He still wondered what would have happened if he had stayed. Voices of children could be heard outside. Makoto sat in the corner the case across his lap. He set it aside and stood up.

Miyako’s husband waved him back in place. “I’ll go take care of that. Would any of you like something to drink or eat?”

All three shook their heads. Taro stared at the floor, a buzzing in his ears. He held his breath.

After Miyako’s husband disappeared, Miyako turned towards Taro.

“Are you alright?”

Taro shook his head, his breath coming in labored gasps.

“College made you soft. We used to run up and down those stairs all the time,” Makoto said.

Taro pressed a hand too his chest. “It hurts. It’s like part of me is missing and my body can’t fix it.” His vision blackened around the edges. “I can’t do this anymore.”

*

Taro lay on a futon and stared up at the ceiling. Candlelight flickered across the rafters and he could just make out thin trails of smoke. Music thrummed. He tried to sit up and settled for rolling to his side. Makoto sat in the corner a child asleep on the floor in front of him. He held a guitar and picked at the notes softly.

“Is she yours?” Taro asked in a hoarse voice.

Makoto looked up from what his fingers were doing and nodded, not missing a note that Taro could tell.

“I didn’t realize you had a child. Are you married?”

Another nod.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“There are a lot of things you would know if you had bothered to keep in touch,” Makoto said.

“I tried — I wanted to. I didn’t want to leave.”

“No one forced you to.”

“Once I decided not to take over the family business, I had to find my own path. I always planned on coming back.”

“At least you could have come to visit us.” Makoto’s voice was soft. “You were the glue that held us together.”

“You and Miyako still seem close.”

“Our daughter’s enjoy each other’s company. And my wife is religious. She finds it important, so I find it important.”

Taro pushed himself up and his breath caught.

“You should see a doctor.”

“I have. There is nothing physically wrong with me. I thought that seeing Miyako—” he trailed off. “But that was apparently a stupid conclusion.”

Makoto strummed another chord. “How is your spirit doing?”

Taro shook his head and lay back down. “Nothing’s there. I can’t enter the Unseen World anymore.”

“We all tried to leave. And we all came crawling back. Even Masayuki can’t last more than a month away from the shrine.”

“What do you think it is?”

Makoto leaned his head back and closed his eyes. “Our spirits are tied here. Our bodies can go, but our spirits stay. I’ve seen flashes of your spirit in the unseen realm. I didn’t realize it wasn’t your conscious self. I thought you were just ignoring me.”

“I wouldn’t ignore you.”

“That’s what I kept telling myself, but then you never contacted me in the Apparent World.”

*

Taro sat on the steps and looked down the long flight.

“I won’t carry you.” Makoto said. His still sleeping daughter was on his back secured with some cloth. From the way Makoto moved, Taro assumed he had often carried her in this fashion.

“But you would give me a push?” Taro said with a half-smile.

“See you around.” Makoto gave him a small smile and started down the path. His flashlight beam focused on the stairs.

“Taro?”

He turned to look at Miyako. He rubbed the back of his head and blushed.

“I’m sorry I was such a bother this afternoon. I really am happy for you.”

She brushed a strand of hair from her face. “I want you to have this. Whenever we go visit my husband’s family I feel ill. This always helps make it better. Wear it especially when you sleep.”

Taro took the small charm bag from her. “Thank you Miyako-san.”

With the borrowed flashlight, Taro crept down the stairs. His bike rested at the bottom, leaning against the arch. How he always left it. A note lay in the basket. Makoto’s address and phone number.

“Come to dinner next week.”

*

Back at the still Taro lay on his old futon. His crystal radio sat on his desk untouched save for his mother’s habitual dusting. With the charm around his neck, Taro realized that his breathing hadn’t been quite so labored as he walked up the hill. The pain in his chest eased just enough that Taro slipped into a dream.

24 March 2014

AMV

Every year Moose and I go to an Anime Convention. One of the things that we enjoy is the Anime Music Videos. These are videos that people have creating splicing different scenes and putting it to music. Moose decided that he wanted to try his hand at it so he used his birthday money to get the needed software. We knew the good videos took a lot of time. Not only do they have to splice them perfectly but they have to find the perfect clip in the first place.

My own opinion on what makes a good AMV are as follows:

1. It has to work with the chosen song.
2. It has to make me want to watch the anime, especially if I've never seen the anime.
3. It has to draw an emotion from me.

So here are a few of our favorite AMVs. We watch these on a regular basis because we like them.

It's Tough to be a Host
Beyond the Boundary
Usagi Drop