A-Z Challenge – P

P is for “Pizza”

Austin, 2016
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/125 sec, ISO3200
Austin, 2016

Hello pizza fans! I think just about everyone loves pizza, and most have a favorite, right? Well, I love all kinds of pizza, from a loaded Chicago style, to a plain NY slice. For toppings, I’ll eat just about anything, including anchovies. In fact, I love anchovy pizza! So salty and delicious. Plus, not many people like anchovies, so that means more for me. 😊

I also love Japanese pizza toppings, which can be a bit different from American-style. For instance, corn-mayo pizza is great, also ebi (shrimp) pizza is wonderful. We used to order a lot from a chain called “pizza-la”. Click on this link to their site’s English menu and tell me those don’t look great. 😛

At home, Mariko sometimes makes a yummy negi (green onion) pizza which is super-popular at parties. Other memorable pizzas/toppings I’ve had are the Portuguese sausage pizza in Hawaii, mentaiko pizza, and lobster cream. And I love Costco pizzas as well. I don’t think I’ve tried a pizza I didn’t like!

As you can imagine, I’m getting hungry now! 🍕

A-Z Challenge – O

Redondo Beach, 2013
Photo info: SONY NEX-6, 28mm, f/13, 1/160 sec, ISO100
Redondo Beach, 2013

O is for “Ocean”

I’ve always loved the ocean… swimming in it, listening to the waves, or hanging out at the beach during the summer… so many good memories! Living in Central Texas for the past 16 years, I really miss the water. Sure, there are lakes and rivers here, but swimming in them gives me the creeps! Salt water is much more to my liking. Scuba diving in clear tropical waters is such an amazing experience! 🐠

A few of my fondest ocean memories are:

  • Torrance Beach (California) – My hometown actually has a small strip of beach, just south of Redondo Beach (my birth city), and the strongest memory I have of this beach is going there with my family when I was really little, and the smell of french fries from the snack bar was so strong and good! I have a vague memory of eating some fries, and they were limp and greasy but yummy all the same! 🍟
  • Manhattan Beach (California) – During my high school years, my friends and I would hang out here during the summers. A great period of my life, driving our used cars, working part-time jobs, and looking for parties. At the beach, we worked on our tans, but maybe now we are paying for it with extra wrinkles! 😝
  • Ho’okipa Park (Maui) – We visited my Dad’s hometown (Wailuku) on Maui during the summers when I was under 10 years old, and we would often go to this small beach. These days it is famous for windsurfing, but back then in the mid-’70s, there was surfing and spearfishing. While my oldest brother was riding the waves, my dad was spearfishing and my other brother and I would float along in inner tubes (real car inner tubes made of rubber) following my dad as he speared fish. Fun! 🐟
  • Enoshima (Japan) – This touristy island can be reached by a long bridge, and Mariko and I explored the island for a whole day. Lots of great views of the Pacific… a wonderful memory shared by us newlyweds. 💞

We are planning on moving to Japan when our kids are independent, and I’d love to live near the ocean again. Even if we don’t live in a coastal town, Japan is small compared to Texas, so we should be able to visit the ocean much easier. I need to hear the sound of the ocean waves on the shore again. It makes me feel alive! 🌊

A-Z Challenge – N

N is for “Nostalgic 懐かしい”

One of my favorite Japanes words is “Natsukashii” which means “nostalgic”. For instance, when talking with a friend and you reminisice about an old time, you will say “natsukashii”. Or if something spurs an old memory, you can say the same thing.

As I get older, I often have these moments where I remember something from log ago and I think back fondly about it. I was listening to some music from my library, and a song came on that always brings back a certain memory… it was 1996 and I was watching tv at my shared apartment in Tokyo and a commercial came on that had a song that I really liked. One of my housemates told me who it was (Sakamoto Ruichi and Fujitani Miki) and I told her that I really wanted to find that song. So a couple weekends later, we went to Tower Records Shibuya and at a listening station, we found that cd… Ten seconds into the song, the main melody came thru our headphones*, I looked at my friend and she looked at me and we both said, “that’s it!”. Needless to say, I bought that cd.

It’s so fun when natsukashii moments happen. I wish I could share memories better… if there were some sort of memory recorder, that would be amazing. I admire people who can illustrate on paper so much. If I could I’d love to documents some of these memories like that. Or writing as well… I wonder if it is something I should work on. It’s a worthwhile thing, I think.

But maybe these memories are so personal, that they will have no meaning to strangers. Which is why that shared experiences are so special. Now I want to get in touch with my friend to see if she remember that moment too.

*The listening stations were set up so with a pair of headphones for each station

A-Z Challenge – M

M stands for “Maps”

I’ve been kind of a map otaku ever since I was little. In my previous post, I talked about visiting the library when I was young, and one of the things I loved to look at there was the atlases and map books. These were the large books that were near the reference librarians and were items that you couldn’t borrow. But they were so fascinating to me! I actually have a bunch of maps I saved from National Geographic magazines that I had subscribed to. In fact, that was kind of the reason I had a subscription… because the Nat Geo maps were so nice! 🌐

These days, I like to explore using Google Maps, but it’s fun to look at paper maps still. I have a few road atlases, and my old Tokyo map that I used so much. I’ll never get rid of that one! It was my constant companion when I moved to Japan. A real life-saver.

Right now I am reading a book that I borrowed from the library called “On the Map” which is all about the history of maps (so far). It’s fascinating! I highly recommend it if you are a map otaku like I am. 😄

A-Z Challenge – L

L stands for “Library”

I’ve always enjoyed going to the library ever since I was little. My parents used to take us to the excellent Torrance Public Library, which was pretty huge, and really fun for a kid. The children’s section was upstairs on the second floor and I remember heading up the stairs that were just past the checkout desk and heading up to check out the cool books about dinosaurs or space or even just look at all the World Book encyclopedias.

As I sit here now typing this post, so many memories are coming flooding back to me… one of the strongest is of how the library smelled… for some reason the elevator had a distinctive odor… something industrial like oil or rubber. Anyways, I love that smell, but the only time I’ve encountered it is at that library. I wonder if it still smells like that after all these years… I’ll definitely have to check the next time I am in Torrance. I am curious to see if the rock and gem collection is still on display at the entrance to the library. That was always a treat to see those cool geodes!

But there are many things that I cannot remember… like the exact layout of the library… I think because these are children’s memories, I don’t recall a lot of the sections that had the grown-up books. Those areas are all very hazy in my mind. Which is odd, because when I was in high school, I had a part time job at the same library and had to shelve books in all sections. So I should have strong memories. I wonder why this is.

Anyways, the local library that we visit now is much smaller than that of my childhood, but it is top-notch. I always find something good to read there! And there is a pretty good manga section, plenty of dvds to borrow, and they even have ebooks that you can borrow by browsing the catalog online from anywhere! It’s such a great service. (you download the books to your Kindle)

Anyways, I am so happy that we have access to another wonderful library. With so much to be cynical about in the world these days, the public libraries have a kind of purity about them that is comforting. It’s like a reminder that there is still good in this world. ☺️