Thursday, August 12, 2010

Redesigning My Blog (& Life?)

Last weekend, I was strolling with my boyfriend through Grange Park, beside the Art Gallery of Ontario, enjoying the warm, leafy afternoon.  While he was taking photos, I was sitting on the steps of the Grange reading the novel that's always in my purse (that day, it happened to be The English Patient.  More on this soon).  On a whim, Chris took a picture of me.  Later that evening, he pointed out that it might make an interesting banner for my blog, which I'd been wanting to redesign.  I wanted to give my blog a more personalized look, but I'm not sure what my "personality" is at the moment....  Recently, I've been feeling less like a coherent "self" and more like a collage made from those ripped up magazine photos (wasn't it fun to make collages back in kindergarten?)  Whenever I get this feeling, it's a sure sign that another transition period is around the corner....     

In any case, it was lovely to have the photo before me.  I had a moment of pure recognition. 

Chris was very sweet in taking the time to photoshop it and even change the background -unfortunately, cherry blossoms do not in reality grow in Grange Park!   But the cherry blossoms seemed appropriate since they remind me of Japan and my long-lost Japanese heritage.  Ten or twelve years ago, I spent a summer in Osaka and I remember arriving during cherry blossom season.  The petals were falling all over the place, like streamers after a birthday party.  I was both excited and terrified to be in the country my ancestors had left over a hundred years ago.  Yet as the weeks wore on, I became increasingly melancholy.  It depressed me that I don't speak Japanese, while everyone there assumed I was a native.  Rather than confronting the cleft in my identity, I retreated into a shell.  I sat in noodle shops and cried all the time and rainy season went on forever.

Now, once again, I find the Japanese side of myself beckoning to me, mysterious murmurs.  But no longer do I want to visit Japan so much as I want to recreate the imaginary landscape of my ancestors.......

Photo from: here

8 comments:

Bushpig said...

11 years! My goodness. It would be very interesting to do a history trip through BC - from the site of the old home in Vancouver to the camps and the twisting room where you your great grandfather died. Prolly emotionally difficult, but danged interesting. And don't discount the old country. Don't forget your great grandfather's prayers and message to the east upon becoming a doctor.

Bushpig said...

hey! Where'd my coolio avatar go.

Leslie Shimotakahara said...

Bushpig, you have quite the memory! I had no idea that anyone was paying attention to my rambling entries (rambling both stylistically & geographically....)

An epic road trip down ancestral history lane is certainly in order. Now if only I could get 3 months vacation from work....

Oh, I'm terribly sorry about your avatar! I had no idea that giving my blog this facelift would set certain stylistic parameters.... I'll see if I can figure out how to bring it back.

Bushpig.vrc said...

BTW, are you sure those are cherry blossoms in the banner? They look like plum blossoms to me, and I am something of a blossom aficionado. If cherry blossoms, prolly kanzan.

Neil M Campbell said...

Recently, I've been feeling less like a coherent "self" and more like a collage made from those ripped up magazine photos .....

You're in good company, Leslie - 'The older I get, the less I know who I am.' Scott Fitzgerald

Leslie Shimotakahara said...

Thanks, Neil! Now I want to read Fitzgerald's Collected Works (in other words, I'm not entirely sure which novel this quote comes from, but would really like to find out). Happily, since I'm no longer a prof, I don't have to fake it

Neil M Campbell said...

Leslie, I do apologise, I've only just seen your comment. I've subscribed to comments now so I'll see yours in future as they appear.

The quote is from 'Scott Fitzgerald, A life in Letters' and I came across it - I think in a letter to Max Perkins - five minutes before reading your blog entry, so I just had to pass it on. But can I find it again so I can pinpoint it for you, lol? No such luck, but the hunt is on, promise, and I'll let you know soon as.

Scott Fitzgerald is hero of mine, not so much for the writing (I'll let others comment on that) as for his devotion to literature, to writing; he lived story, and gave his life to it. As an alcoholic he produced work in the face of incredible odds, not least the anxiety about and ceaseless care for Zelda. His letters to her, her doctors, their daughter, and various other people - editors and such about her plight - are heartbreaking.

His writing strikes me as one long cry of anguish but with it all the sense of humour leaps off the page, and the goodness - I believe he was a good man, incapable of malign intent, and without vanity. His true legacy is his humanity, his incomparable, heroic, self - the struggle, the process, that was Scott Fitzgerald, and his sharing of that with us.

Sorry, do rather tend to get carried away on the subject.

L lost in KY said...

it's amazing to me that although we have had very different lives, our struggles are so similar...hmm maybe it's the name...

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About Me

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Toronto, ON, Canada
Leslie Shimotakahara is a writer and recovering academic, who wanted to be simply a writer from before the time she could read. Hard-pressed to answer her parents’ question of how she would support herself as a writer, Leslie got drawn into the labyrinthine study of literature, completing her B.A. in Honours English from McGill in 2000, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Modern American Literature from Brown in 2006. After graduation, she taught English at St. Francis Xavier University for two years. Leslie woke up one morning and realized that she’d had enough of the Ivory Tower. The fact that she wasn’t doing what she wanted to do with her life loomed over her, and the realization was startling. It was time to stop studying and passively observing life and do something real instead. She needed to discover herself and tell her own story. This blog and the book she has written under the same title (Variety Crossing Press, spring 2012) are her foray. Leslie's writing has been published in WRITE, TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, and GENRE.