Monday, May 24, 2010

If There Were More Hours in a Day, Would I Use Them Constructively?

I have a bad habit of wasting time. Then I complain about not having any time to accomplish the things I want to do, namely write. This blog, a monthly essay for Baseball Reflections, the occasional piece for Chopsticks NY, and as many articles as possible for create a long writing to-do list that weighs heavily on my mind. That's why I was drawn to "Finding the Time," a Writer Unboxed blog post by Twilight of Avalon author Anna Elliott. In the post Elliott describes how she balances her writing career with the responsibilities of raising two young daughters. After reading the challenges Elliott's writing endures in the midst of nursing and baking muffins, I felt as if I had no right to complain. Living a child-free existence, I have no little ones pulling me in different directions.

It's at this point the defensive side of me reasoned that Elliott is a full-time writer. That's what she does. What about me – and others like me – who want to be writers but have jobs that have nothing to do with writing? Being a graphics operator for live, televised sporting events presents interesting demands to my schedule. I work mostly nights, weekends, and holidays. My schedule changes frequently; no two work weeks are the same. I work until 11:00 p.m. on Friday and have to be back at work at 8:00 a.m. the next day. Finding time to write – and to write well – causes me great angst.

I have a friend who, like Elliott, has two daughters. As a freelancer in the sports television industry, her work schedule looks a lot like mine. Still, she manages to care for her husband and children, keep a household in order, and run a photography business on the side. Yet I still complain about not having enough time to write.

Let's see . . . I have most mornings free, no children, a low-maintenance cat, and an even lower maintenance husband who does the bulk of the housework and doesn't demand that I cook dinner. How can I possibly complain about not having any time? It's because that's the easiest excuse for not writing. It's easy for me to blame work and to claim that my best ideas pop into my head precisely at the moment I need to type a few statistics for a Yankees or a Mets game. Complaining is easier than doing.

I decided to air out my complaints and favorite excuses and find the solutions for "Finding the Time" for myself.

  1. It takes me an hour to get to work! Then stop playing Scrabble and write on the train! It's not like I'm driving and have to concentrate on the road. If I have to stand, I can type into my iPhone. 
  2. How can I get enough sleep, go to the gym, and write all in the same day that I also have to work from 1:00 p.m. until midnight? Do I really need eight hours of sleep? Wake up earlier or write late at night after work. I've done it before, so I should be able to create – and stick to – a schedule like that on a regular basis. 
  3. But what about the laundry? And the dishes? And the office with its stack(s) of who knows what on the desk? I'm the luckiest girl in the world for having a man who doesn't mind cleaning the bathroom. Seriously, I can't tell you when I last scrubbed the toilet. Laundry? I live in New York City. I don't actually do my laundry. Yao's Excellent Laundry and Dry Cleaning takes care of that for me. The dishes will get done when we run out of spoons for oatmeal. And the office? Well, I really should take a couple of hours to eliminate that clutter. But, as Elliott says in her blog, "My house may one day be as clean as I'd like it to be." And mine will, too, but not at the expense of hanging out with the hubby or sitting down at the computer when the words and creativity are flowing. 
Wow. I just convinced myself how to make the best use of my time. If I follow my own advice, you'll be reading more from me.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Wearing Kimono at Sakura Matsuri

The first day of May was the first day of the Sakura Matsuri, or cherry blossom festival, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I made channeled my inner cosplayer and dressed in kimono. Actually, it was my Japanese language teacher, Emi Kikuchi, who dressed me in the kimono. Sachiyo Ito, my former Okinawan dance teacher, was kind enough to share her dressing room with me while she and her dancers prepared for their performance.

I can't stand my hair in a bun. And my ears stick out. But I love the kimono, the obi (belt), and all of the accessories which I purchased at Kimono House, a store in New York's SoHo neighborhood. Yumiko, the owner of Kimono House, made sure the outfit matched perfectly.

My Japanese language teacher, Kikuchi Sensei, and I pose for a photo near the Cherry Esplanade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In addition to teaching Japanese, Kikuchi Sensei is also a certified kimono teacher who specializes in dressing brides in the traditional Japanese wedding style. Through her website,, she offers kimono dressing and photo packages.

Putting on a kimono is fun, but it's time consuming. The obi is twelve feet long – I'm not joking – and there are all kinds of sashes and ties and underthings going on to complete the look.

An enthusiastic crowd packed the tent over the Cherry Esplanade stage and watched a adrenaline-pumping performance by Soh Daikoh, a local taiko drumming troupe. Onstage is Shi Shi Mai, a dance by a lion dog.

The drummers played with boundless energy.

Dancejapan dancers before their performance of an Okinawan folk dance.

Dancejapan onstage

Young dancers Alisa and Felicity with Sachiyo Ito, from whom I used to take Okinawan dance lessons. Ito Sensei and her group, Dancejapan, was there for the 29th consecutive year. (That's basically every year there's been a Sakura Matsuri at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.)

My friend Lisa, who is part of Dancejapan, and I pose with Ito Sensei after their dance performance.

Dancejapan dancers display beautiful kimono.

Other costumes at Sakura Matsuri: I met some nice youngsters who like Japanese culture, especially Japanese fashion.

The glasses make the outfit. The fact that his "Oji Gothic Aristocrat" suit is Carolina blue wasn't lost on me, either.

This charming young lady corrected me by saying she is NOT cosplaying. In fact, she's dressed รก la "Victorian Gothic Lolita."

This old chap didn't seem to mind the 80-degree day.

Parasols are a common accessory with this look.

Here's Geisha Vi, a model, stylist, and . . . well, geisha. I had a great talk with her as she shared her experiences as a performer at comic, gothic, and anime conventions. She's wearing a Hello Kitty necklace.

Maids are a prominent part of Japanese cosplay/anime culture. 

Flashy Goth girls are always in danger of getting run over by golf carts.

Bento for sale under the food tent. They look tasty, but not as tasty as the bento my friend Furukawa-san makes at Fuji Catering.

Matsuri-goers goof off with sushi pillows.

YokoDana Kimono, an online kimono retailer from Delaware, sold kimono fabric.

The guys discuss what they could make with this cloth.

People had the opportunity to try on haori coats and take pictures.

The Cherry Esplanade was minus cherry blossoms because of a few warm days in early April. That didn't seem to bother anyone too much.

Revelers still sat under the trees even without the beloved sakura blooms.

Lots of babies were hanging out at the festival.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Nighttime Walk on the High Line

My husband and I are lucky to live in the amazing neighborhood of Chelsea in New York City. We're across the street from the High Line, the coolest new park in Manhattan. We love to walk along the elevated railroad tracks to check out the scenery.