Monday, April 27, 2015

Happiness is Strawberry Mochi

Strawberry Mochi. YUM!

I became fascinated with the beauty of Japanese packaging and culture back when Hello Kitty invaded elementary school.

The darling little pink and white kitty-cat emblazoned scented(!) erasers and other teeny-weeny-yet-useful school items (tiny pencils, pads and itty-bitty crayons!) with their sheer adorableness captured our kid imaginations. It almost nonsensical they were so small, and certainly surreal to look at -- but that's what I loved about it all. It was like little girl princesses-dress-up-and-unicorn dreams packaging on everyday items. 

Still love the stuff.

Visiting Japanese restaurants followed in my mid-teens. My friends had interned at Marvel Comics, and there was an editor in the Epic Comics division that had befriended us. She was cool and amazing and knew Japanese and would translate Japanese comics into English. She introduced us to a really great Japanese restaurant a few blocks away from the Marvel Offices back when they used to be located down on Park Avenue South. I became quite the fan of sushi and sashimi. Wonderful food!

At my most recent visit up to see my folks, my sister and I walked over to a Japanese grocery store specifically to pick up some mochi. Heavenly-tasting are these rice-doughy-filled-with-sweet-bean-paste dessert delights. My favorite is the pink-colored strawberry flavored exteriors.

I recently found a cute little Japanese grocery store here and they have strawberry mochi! Happy dance indeed!! I've bought 4 or 5 each time I've stopped in. What a treat!!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Countdown to the Graffiti Graphic Novel

I've spent the better part of 7 years adapting and drawing a graphic novel titled A Church Called Graffiti, and the past year figuring out what to do next. Probably not the most intelligent tactic not to have at least put pages up online while I was drawing it ... but hindsight is 20/20 isn't it?

So I'm working on getting them online. There's just always a ton of other "more urgent" things to do because they have to do with school/work/church right here, right tomorrow. And drawing always comes off like it's "an indulgence".  Except it's not. Drawing is one of the ways I express myself, and I'm learning to value it for what it is, a language of pictures and words that I want to be more fluent in ... and it's becoming abundantly clear that I'm going to have to make time for my books to BE. And other things are going to have to make way for them.

The Graffiti mission is celebrating its 40th Anniversary in June.  I have to get these pages online.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Running The Race ...

A friend and I were talking a couplea weeks ago; discussing the (psychological) growing pains of being an adult and folks not always filling each other in on life-events or things to be aware of as we mature into our journeys and paths.

Now mind you, I think in this information day and age we're getting way, way better at giving each other a heads-up on things. We're discovering stuff about ourselves and sharing it more, in case our frames of reference can be useful for one another, and I think that's really helpful. It's no longer a situation where we only read about composite lives through novels or watch them through movies (although those are certainly way more entertaining vehicles!). But it's good we now can share the very ordinary (or extraordinary) moments of our lives via blogs and websites and etc.,. We have more emotional and even spiritual reference points of everyday human beings right at our fingertips.

Today being the day after Easter Sunday (and we had been talking then in anticipation of Easter) we also threw into the discussion the whole being a disciple of Jesus Christ thing. Following Him and calling Him Lord should really be a pretty big deal, and it truly does change lives; but sometimes some folks can take that for granted. We forget sometimes to cut each other slack. And sometimes we forget we're only human: we do continue to adjust and improve and correct ourselves and get better as people as we age.  It's not like we hit 21 or 30 or 40 or 65 or 80 and once we get to that "specific age" we stop improving ... We keep learning and growing until we leave this place.

So in that context of discipleship we discussed the "Running the Race" passage from the Bible. I had to look it up because we both knew what we were talking about, but because I wanted to share, for this post I realized I needed to clarify -- plus I wanted to remember more than just the "running the race" part -- which is a paraphrase anyway! LOL

The passage we were talking about is in the Book of Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 1 and half of verse 2: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." (For context, the rest of the chapter for the NIV translation of the Bible is on Bible Gateway.) 

So it says: "And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us," So does that mean running the race of life? That alone can mean very different things to each person who reads it -- and it did to the two of us. 

It says "persevere" so she saw it as a marathon; a test of endurance of conservation of energy, to get to the finish line. To her it evokes images of utter exhaustion, being out of breath, of getting crazy tired, cramps and fighting to finally finish. Weirdly, I had been mulling all this Running the Race business over recently. I used to see it that way, too -- as a crazy marathon -- but had recently started to see it way, way differently. 

I'm sure preachers have probably hit on this, so I'm not saying anything new, but I'm excited by the change in the POV:

It's a relay race!

Did you ever play relay races? Do you remember in elementary school? We used to have relay races and we would all be set on the playground at different points and we would wait and scream for the rest of our team to get to us to pass the baton, so we could then run to the next person on our team and pass the baton to them -- and so on and so on until all the teams finally won? 

Do you remember being little when your center of gravity was just so, and you could run and run and not get tired (just out of breath!?) Do you remember being so light that it felt like the wind helped you run SOOOOOOO fast, and how exciting and fun that was?

It's a relay race -- and it's supposed to be fun.

Grab the baton and run, my friend. Run your part then pass the baton to the next person! It's supposed to be a marathon -- but it's also a relay race and we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses cheering us all on.

It's a relay race -- and it's supposed to be fun!