Mysterious Smell

February 16, 2008

So last night when I went to the kouminkan (town hall) to practice karate, I was the first one there, and I opened the door and went in. A horrible, unbearable paint smell wafted out. I froze inside. I didn’t know what to do. I thought that I should go in and try to open the windows if we were to have to practice in there. And then I remembered that it was only a little over thirty degrees out. And I looked at the windows. The screens had been removed, and there was construction staging all around the place. We had never opened the windows before. And I was afraid that there might be a sign somewhere that said not to open the windows. So I didn’t know what to do.

Meanwhile, I was being nauseated by the smell of paint that had been freshly painted somewhere and cooped up inside all day long. Great, I thought. I can’t work out in this. I would surely be ill after only a few minutes. I put my shoes back on, and I went back outside. I didn’t know what to do. I knew the teacher would be there in about ten minutes, but I didn’t know if anyone else would be there in the mean time. I felt very nervous. I didn’t know what to say or even how to start explaining the situation.

I stood by my motor bike, and I waited nervously. I had butterflies in my stomach, and my legs felt like jelly. I just wanted to keel over and disappear. But I couldn’t. I was supposed to come first and make sure things were ready for practice that day. I wasn’t able to fulfill my responsibilities because of that stupid paint smell. I tried to think of all the ways I could get rid of it, but it just didn’t seem possible. I was really afraid that things would not be able to get started at all, and it would be all my fault because I hadn’t thought of a solution for this smell. It was an agonizing ten minutes.

Eventually a child showed up. I didn’t know what to do, so I slowly made my way toward the door. Eventually two more children showed up. I still didn’t know what to do. So I got more nervous, but I just walked toward the door. The parents asked me if the teacher was coming. If only the knew, there were much bigger things to be thinking about. The paint smell would kill us all. Luckily, I caught a glimpse of the teacher coming over the hill. I told them he was on his way, and gestured, still moving slowly toward the door, until the teacher caught up with, and passed me.

In a stroke of genius, I told him that I had gone in, but there was a really strong smell in there, and I didn’t know what to do. He went in, and the parents and children followed. They agreed that the smell was bad, and they too began to feel ill by standing in there for only a few seconds.

I felt immense relief. Although I was looking forward to it, I didn’t even mind that practice had to be cancelled. I was just happy that I didn’t have to be in that smell. And I was happy that other people also noticed there was a smell and agreed that it was bad.

Sometimes I smell things other people don’t or I think things are much more severe than they actually are. And I was worried that this might be one of those times, and I didn’t want to appear weak if I could not practice because of what appeared to everyone else to be an imaginary smell. But, everyone smelled it, so I was relieved.



February 16, 2008

I went to the store with my friend the other day. Actually, we met each other there. I was already there and had finished the things I needed to do, including getting a hair cut.

She came, and she said she needed to look for boots. The weather has been cold, and she has been wearing little more than slippers on her feet. But she likes them.

We went to many stores where she looked at a lot of different things. I looked at colors, since that’s about all I see when I go into a store. She commented on a lot of different clothes and shoes. When she did this, I tried to pay attention, because I think it is good for me to know something about these things.

In a couple of stores she saw some boots she seemed to like. She made some comments about them. I looked at them, but I didn’t know anything about boots, let alone if she would like them or not, so I just smiled and I looked at the boots and at her.

She said, sort of to herself, “I’m trying to ask you what you think, but I’m not getting any response at all. But, I know because you told me. Sometimes no comment means, no comment.”

This gave me a chance to explain that I knew nothing about boots, or what she liked on her feet, so I had no idea what to say. I told her that my question would be, “Do you like them? If you do, try them on? Do they fit? Do you still like them? If you do, get them.” She laughed and agreed.

I walked back to the boots, trying to show some more interest in the tall pieces of leather. I picked them up, even though I did not like the way they felt, and she seemed interested. She took it, and I pretended I was the shop lady, and I asked if she wanted to try it on. She seemed to. Again, pretending I was the shop lady, I asked her what size she was. She had no idea, since in Japan the sizes are listed in centimeters. They looked a little small when we compared it to her feet. I asked the real shop lady if they carried any other sizes. Nope, that was it. So, I suggested that she try that one on. She tried it on, and I found it interesting how the top stretched when she put her foot in. I would never think of putting my foot inside anything like that. It was really interesting. But, her foot did not go all the way in, which rather surprised me, since although they looked small, the material was very stretchy.

But, I know how it is to be around shoes that don’t fit. And clearly those did not. So I suggested she not get them.

We then went walking around a table in another shop that had endless amounts of little bits of colorful jewelry. She kept picking things up and playing with them, and feeling them, and dangling them, and then setting them back down again. I tried to look for things that I might pick up and dangle too, but I really couldn’t find anything interesting to dangle. So I watched her dangle things when I thought about it. Otherwise, I just thought about other things and forgot we were looking at jewelry until I saw the long black table in front of us again, that sort of reminded me of a pirate ship full of treasure. Then it seemed sort of interesting.

Then, as we were talking, she suddenly picked up the tiniest bobby pins I had ever seen. They had jewels or something on the end. She said she wanted to buy them. But she didn’t for some reason. They were either too small that she didn’t know what she would do with them, or she was afraid she would lose them. Actually, I don’t know the reason she didn’t buy them after all that looking. They seemed to be just what she was searching for, and she really seemed to like them a lot—unlike me, who didn’t even know they existed, and would have gone my whole life not knowing they existed, until she picked them up.

Normal Life

February 16, 2008

So I decided that the best way to live my life here in Japan was to pretend that I was at my house in Maine.

Since I`ve been living here, there are a lot of things that I have wanted to do, but definitely have not done because of one thing or another. But each time I go home to Maine, I notice a difference. I feel like I am able to do more things when I feel like it. Even when I feel like, I have had a hard time doing things here in Japan sometimes.

So, this time, when I came back from my trip home, I just tried to keep my mind in the same mindset that I was still at home. And I have been pretending that I am there, and functioning based on that.

I have found that I have been able to do many more things. And I also feel more productive, which is definitely a good thing.

It`s really amazing how much place really affects how much I am able to live. So if I just sort of close my eyes (figuratively), and pretend I`m in another place, i.e. home in Maine, I can live my life somewhat like I would if I were living there. It`s pretty interesting.

What’s an Elbow?

February 16, 2008

An interesting experience about body language recently. I was leaving a restaurant with my friend, and suddenly he elbowed me in the ribs on the way out. I didn`t know why he was doing that, and I thought it was strange, but I just continued to walk forward, and I began to verbalize what I was doing at the time, which happened to be zipping up my jacket. So what appeared to him to be randomly, I just began talking about how I was zipping up my jacket. I didn`t think anything else about the poke in my side.

We got outside and he said to me, “Did you see those Japanese people in there?” I live in Japan, and he has taken an interest as well, so he wanted to show me. No, I had not seen them. He said that he tried to get my attention, but I just started talking about zipping up my jacket. This, as you can imagine, was quite confusing to him.

I began laughing when I realized I had missed the simple social cue of an elbow when someone wants to get your attention. I told him what happened and we laughed a lot about it the rest of the night.

Death Obsession

February 16, 2008

So I`m not afraid of dying. Not really. But I`m terrified of other people dying, especially people I love. Most of the time I try not to think about it. Or I just don`t think about it. Sometimes however, it`s unavoidable. About a week ago when I was getting ready to come back to Japan from my winter holiday, I had a spell, which lasted for a couple days. It was just before my period, when my hormones were most high. At this time, no matter how much I try to reason with myself, I sometimes still cannot get myself together.

I was worried about my mother dying, my father dying, my family dying, my family changing, never being able to have children. I felt like I wanted to stay home in Maine, and stay on my couch forever and ever. I`m not really sure why. I just wanted to stay right there with my family until the end of time.

Never mind the life I have going on back in Japan. Never mind all my friends and all my goals. Never mind my life. Just leave me alone (or don`t rather), while I sit and cry on the couch. And the funny thing was, I knew that there was really nothing to be sad about. Nothing in particular was really happening. It was just the chemicals were off in my system. And it was difficult.

My family was mostly good though. They stopped when I got sad if they started talking about someone dying…or a scenario in my mind that could lead to someone`s death, now or in thirty years. Sometimes though they tried to joke with me about it, but that`s not something I can laugh about when I`m in that state, even if I understand that it`s a joke. It`s just not funny. And I just feel sad beyond belief.

But, the upshot is, I`m better now. I have felt better since the morning I left to come back to Japan. It`s strange, it`s like I like being home with my family so much that I get so sad when I think about leaving, and well, that`s it. I find I feel the same when I`m having a really good time. Although I try to enjoy myself, I guess I know that it can`t last forever, and so sometimes I get sad. But I try not to.

Cartoon Connection

February 16, 2008

I don`t like cartoons much at all, and I definitely don`t connect to anything animated. I have never liked comics. However, when I was little I used to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings, and I remember loving them. I think that I could watch and still connect to those same cartoons even now. But not new ones.

It`s like I outgrew the cartoons and children`s shows, but I could sit happily and watch the same ones I watched when I was a child. I think this is because I don`t have a sense of time. Not in the sense of schedule, that I do. But I mean in the sense of past and future. My past, what I remember of it, is still as really to me today as the life I am living right now. And that is why it is hard sometimes, often times, when things change. Because I remember things one way, as they were in my past, such as my family for example, but then when things become another way, it seems like such a contradiction and it`s really difficult to deal with.

But not always. And now when I`m having a good day, I can recognize that life is made up of change, and that this is what makes living fun and exciting and enjoyable. If nothing changed everything would just grow stagnant and die. That would be it. But because things change, there is a fluidity, a flow to life that is also enjoyable. But difficult at times to accept or get along with because of my own longing for stability.

Peripheral Vision

December 4, 2007

So I realized that one reason I don`t pick up on a lot of visual details is because a lot of what I look at, I look at peripherally. When I am peering straight ahead, I am usually thinking, in my own space, in my own world.

If I am not making a special effort to study something or remember some detail, I usually only glance or see what I see peripherally. I think this is one reason why I often remember details completely differently than they are.

For example, I may describe a red truck as a small blue car. For some reason, that`s how the information was stored in my brain, it`s what I remembered. A recent example is a purple shirt one of the secretaries was wearing, I remembered it as lime green (…or perhaps the other way around…).

This is part of what makes communication difficult for me. If I describe a purple shirt as lime green one, not too many people are able to make the connections that my mind misses in the details. It`s interesting.

Another World

December 4, 2007

So the other day, one of the other teachers was talking about all the workbooks he had on his desk. I thought that was awful.

Meanwhile, I was thinking intensely about heading home for the holidays. I was getting on the plane and then I was home with my family.

He said, “I have to grade all of these…”

I thought, “That`s awful…”

I said, “That`s great,” seeing pictures of my family and celebrating the holidays with them.

The other teacher was very confused. And he told me I should think about my responses before I say them.

I was thinking about my response…I was just responding to a different stimuli, from a completely different world than no one enters but me.

A few days later I was able to explain a bit about this.

He felt lucky that he had gotten a response at all.

I felt lucky that I`m aware enough of what`s going on around me (usually) to be functional.

Barbie Story

December 4, 2007

So this summer I met up with a child I used to babysit when she was just 3 or 4 years old. She is now 14. She was telling me how she often asked me to play Barbies with her.

She said I told her that I didn`t know how.

One day she said that she begged me and begged me to play with her. So apparently I conceded and the imitation she did of me was so funny. She sort of pretended to pick the Barbie up in her hand, and looked at it with this really confused face, like she wasn`t sure what to do, and then sort of danced it back and forth a little bit and looked up at me.

And then she laughed, and was like, that`s when I knew you really didn`t know how to play Barbies…”How can you not know how to play Barbies?!?”

She said…even my little brother knows how to play Barbies.

New Sensory Integration Site

December 4, 2007

If you haven`t checked it out already, take a look at my new website:

It`s something I`ve been working on developing for the past year or so, and the vision has really come more into view over the past 6 months or so.

Basically I`m hoping to reach as many people as I can to educate them about sensory integration, and also to be able to speak for the kids who can`t yet speak for themselves (and some of who may never be able to speak for themselves) about what they are thinking and feeling.

Of course, one person never knows for sure what another person is thinking or feeling, but I have always had a strong connection with children who have special needs. And some parents have found my ideas helpful. So I hope to be able to help a lot of people.

You can also sign up for my free newsletter if you`re interested in receiving updates.

Have fun!