The Veggies have less than two months left in Japan. I am in no shape to discuss this fact...I only mention it as it justifies the absolutely ridiculous number of activities we have been packing into the past few weeks. Additionally, my acting debut as a Japanese sea urchin occurs this Saturday so I have been rehearsing (with my fellow animals) a lot. Here's a sneak peak at the program for the play:

Boz is super proud. This picture has made the rounds in Tokyo.

Also, my costume is epic. We'll post the video on Sunday. Brace yourselves...it will be about 25-30  minutes long. If you actually watch the entire thing...well...then I love you.

I will post the story of how I came to be part of this play on Friday. For now I will just say that it is not only my favorite experience of our entire year, but also one of the best things that's ever happened to me. It's possible I was born to be a singing Japanese sea urchin. Boz, however, feels this is just the beginning and is therefore encouraging me to seek out my next acting role ASAP before I get typecast.

In other news, I took a calligraphy class last week. I found the class online, registered, and received an email confirmation with the date and location of the class. I took the train out to an unfamiliar part of town last Wednesday and followed my little Google map pin to the designated spot. To absolutely no surprise, the designated spot was actually a multi-level building consisting of several attached, condo-type dwellings. Of course, because all the directions and signs were in Japanese, I had no way of knowing which unit held the calligraphy class. I walked up to each door and looked at the various kanji characters on the signs (as I always do, for absolutely no sane reason) and...amazingly...found one condo with a calligraphy paintbrush drying on a little table on the porch. I rang the doorbell and no one answered but, as I was a good 15 minutes early, I decided to sit on the porch and wait. About five minutes into this, it occurred to me that I was possibly in for an incredibly awkward encounter if the resident of this condo came home to find a gaijin on his/her porch and was not actually my calligraphy teacher. I texted Boz, "I really hope I'm not scaring people right now." Fortunately, I turned out to be in the correct spot and the very sweet (and very beautiful) teacher arrived as scheduled.

We began with a 'lesson' on posture, brush holding, and basic calligraphy strokes. I use 'lesson' very loosely as the instructor spoke only slightly more English than I speak Japanese. We basically recited the days of the week to each other and practiced counting to ten in both languages. Riveting. The teacher was also disappointed to learn I am left-handed and informed me everyone in Japan is right-handed. I have a feeling something was lost in translation.

Anyway, once the practice part of the course was complete, she asked me which word I would like to paint on my little souvenir scroll. She had an assortment of pre-made scrolls from which to choose...all displaying the stereotypical, drunken-college-mistake Japanese characters that Americans tattoo on their bodies...eg. Wisdom, Remember, Dream, etc. (If I just offended anyone with my judgmental assessment of such tattoos...please. If you know me well enough to care about this blog, you also know there is only a very slim chance I will escape this earth without one of those tattoos. I am allowed to judge mistakes that I, myself, plan to make.) I was entirely unimpressed with the selection and asked the instructor to teach me the character for Mt. Fuji...or just Fuji...instead. She was completely delighted with my request and immediately drew the character on a scrap piece of paper. She then allowed me to practice a few times (and provided corrections) before I began painting on my actual scroll. I completed my character, fell completely in love with it, and sat back while we let it dry and made small talk about the numbers one through ten.

After about 15 minutes, she carefully wrapped up my scroll and began the customary process of bowing and saying 'arigatou' 400 times. I reciprocated...and happily exclaimed, "I love my souvenir! I can't believe I can write Fuji in calligraphy!". She froze...covered her mouth to suppress a giggle...and said "Oh no!! Fuji is two characters. No fit! You just write 'Fu'!" and then she just completely lost it. This made me crack up and we both stood there for a minute just laughing (hard) about the miscommunication and the awesomeness that was my hour+ lesson to create a souvenir that simply says "Fu". Priceless. I only love it that much more.

Boz wants me to sign up for more classes and learn the characters for fighter, manchu, and anything else that could complete a 'fu'.

He sees nothing but possibilities.

Just in case anyone needs to know, here is how you paint 'fu' in beginner-level, left-handed Japanese calligraphy:

Peace in the Middle East, folks.