Affirmation 肯定

Konichiwah. Doantashdemaschde. Anatawah. Makodonaldo. Genke des. Glando Canyono. Lentil Car.

Out of the evening with a colleague and his Japanese wife and her parents, I got a few words. I’d learned a sprinkling of Japanese from my Japanese roommate, Akihiro. I understood that the parents were going to make the big American Tour of the West and were going to rent a car, go to the Grand Canyon and Ras Vegas. It was a perfect time of year for the trip, too. I said so.

“You understand Japanese? Since when?” My colleague was a bit of a dick, actually.

“No, but…” Glando Canyono? How Japanese is that?

The evening wore on and I picked up bits and pieces and chimed in once or twice. I had once been fascinated with Japanese culture during my Yukio Mishima phase, but at that moment I’d only recently learned about the Rape of Nanking (I was writing my book about Pearl Buck as an author in the Chinese literary tradition) and I was really angry at the Japs. At that point they were Japs, a little retroactive outrage at events before I was born, right? I got over it.

You probably have to be a person who can get totally immersed in the past through research to fully understand. Anyway, my outrage ended a few years later when I read Tale of Genji and in the beauty of that book found a way to forgive EVERYTHING.

Finally it was time to go home. I tossed and turned that night (too much tea) but finally got to sleep ONLY to dream in Japanese. Since my Japanese was (and is) a sprinkling of polite greetings and words for various kinds of fish, it was all boring nonsense. I would wake up, turn over, and dream again — in Japanese. Finally at about 6 am I woke myself by sitting up in bed (still asleep) and screaming (still asleep)

Wo ta shi wa!

“I am!”


16 thoughts on “Affirmation 肯定

  1. My sprinkling of Japanese is something like yours. They have a tradition and have a different way of looking at things. I have seen a few Japanese TV programmes and I discovered they have a very strange sense of humour, but perhaps they find we are the ones with the strange humour – who knows. The world is full of variouis nations and we all have our characteristics. Konichiwa Marha-San. And yes I do dream – in Swiss German.

    • I have a Japanese joke I think is really funny. Back when I was fascinated by Japanese culture I was also teaching a lot of Japanese young people. One of them knew of my interest in Japanese folklore and old literature. So one day at a party he said, “I have an old Japanese story for you, Martha. It goes like this:

      Long, long time ago there was an old man and an old woman. Nowadays…”

      He paused. I was captured.

      “Nowadays they’re dead.”

      He also found characters for my name that were funny. The character for “morning” and the character for “devil.” I was his first teacher of the day…

      Lot’s of cool stuff happened during my “Japanese period” and I’m glad I had the chance to know so many Japanese people, including a beautiful Kabuki dancer who was a young teen at the end of WW II. My roommate, Aki, invited his father and his father’s friend to visit. They were WW II veterans. That was very strange. At the time I had a HUGE semi-oriental garden in my back yard, with a fake stream running through it. It was beautiful. He loved it but he said to Aki, “I didn’t know Americans liked gardens!” He had a lot to learn, too. His friend had been a guard at a POW camp in China. He spoke some English. Very, very interesting. My house at the time was full of artifacts from my time in China and that man had stories of remorse and respect he really needed to share. When he went home, he sent me a thank you present — things he’d saved from his time in China.

      We’re all just human beings. ❤

      I have had Swiss German IN my dreams, but no way could I dream IN it. Do you ever dream in Cockney?

      • For me english is english and not a dream language. I speak as I speak but do not actually use the cockney pronounciation or dialect . Even at school we were encourage not to use it, so I suppose I just slip into it when I amongst other cockneys. The Japanese joke you mentioned for me personalizes the Japanese sense of humour which is strange.

  2. I may not recover from glando canyono for days. I’m STILL laughing.

    I sometimes dream in Hebrew … but when I wake up, I can’t understand me. Funny how our brains work.

    • I’ve had dreams in French and Italian. One of my French dreams (I was reciting poetry in the dream) ended with me saying, “Je nes parlez Francais, et je ne’crive either.” That’s actually kind of profound since the French has grammatical errors thereby proving it. :p Sometimes in dreams there is Mandarin and that makes me happy. But I hope not to dream in Japanese again.

  3. Martha, you are a person of depth, multi-layered; and the more I learn about you and your experiences, as in this post, the more complex and admirable you become. It seems you have lived many lifetimes in your years. I also enjoyed the Neil Diamond you shared.

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