I’m a Worrier….

So…

One of the things I got, if you believe things like this get passed on, from my mother is that I’m a worrier.  When I was growing up, the bus my brother and I were riding on broke down and we got home late.  Since my mom was a teacher she also got home late but that day she beat us home.  We walked in to her crying and worried sick something had happened to us.  We were fine and really thought is was silly for her to be so worried that the bus broke down and she beat us home.  I mean how crazy is that, buses break down all the time, right?

Today, I was cleaning up some of Moka’s poop in the boys room.  Ya, she doesn’t whine at us when she needs to go out like wonderful Nala did.  Anyway, my phone rang.  Now on my phone I had an alarm sound for the ringtone, I just changed it and gave that one to my wife so I’d know when it rang it was her.  I answered the phone and said hello, a little bit disgusted because I was cleaning up poop. (Mad might be a better word)  Jo was crying and said she was just in a pretty bad accident but she was ok.  Now, I’m typically a slow thinker, sometimes it takes me days to come up with a good response to an argument I had 2 days ago, but when I get calls like this my mind starts  racing super fast.

I mean so fast that by the time she says she’s had the accident I’ve already thought about both the good and the bad.  After she says she’s ok, she starts saying “I killed them all, they’re all dead”.  Ok, bad accident, calling me so she’s ok but everyone else is…what…dead?!?  I try to get out of her  if the kids are ok and it’s like pulling teeth.  I’m about to freak out.  I mean get in my car and drive way to fast up there, calling my mom and having her drive way to fast to get down there, meanwhile I’ve got to call the in-laws and tell them…what?  And while I’m driving.

She, I think, finally heard the panic in my voice and told me they are all ok and the police just got there and she’d call me back when she knew more.

At this point I still didn’t know about the people in the other car, and to be completely honest it’d suck if they had been killed but my concern right then was my family.  I start calling people and when they answered the phone I gave all the pertinent details before I said hello, “Jo was in an accident and is ok, the kids are ok, they’re all ok.”

I made it through about 2 phone calls before I lost it, unfortunately I lost it at Pop’s secretary.  She took it in stride and when I called back I apologized and understood.

They’re all ok, the car is dented pretty good in the back driver’s side by the trunk and the other car ended up getting pretty smashed up.

I’ve been going around the house crying because I could totally have lost my entire family today.  Some things just never get thought of and now I know why…they’re just too horrible to have to think about.  As I’ve been walking through the house I’ve been thinking about being alone again.  And you know what?  I am absolutately terrified of the prospect.  That woman makes this house run, my credit score is 750, or something like that, because of her, we are almost out of debt because of her, I eat good food because of her, I’m back in college because of her, I love photography because of her, I have three wonderful children living with me because of her, she is why I have a relationship with God, she makes my world go ’round and I have no idea what life would be like without her.  Hopefully, and God willing, I will never have to find that out.

Dear Jesus, thank-you for my wife and my family.

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It’s About Time Yamada

So…

Here’s the thing.  I came back from Okinawa and had to drive on the right side of the road again.  As I type I realize the humor, right or wrong, left or right, oh man, that’s funny.  I’m really talking about the actual right side of the road.  We also had to adjust our speed, for the last 3 years we would go to Okuma (the military camp place near Nago) and would be flying, FLYING, past traffic at 55 mph.

After we got stateside and started driving our conversations in the car went a lot like this:

Jo:  Don’t forget to go to the far lane.

Brent:  Far lane, got it…wait…far lane here or far lane over there?

Jo:  Over there on the far side.

Brent:  Ok, far side, I got it this time.

(Light turns Green)

Brent:  (whispering to self)far side, far side, far side, far side, far side

Jo:  NO, NO, NO, STAY TO THE RIGHT OF THE DIVIDER!!!!!!!

or

Jo:  Honey, you know I love you and I think you’re a great, safe driver right?

Brent:  Why yes, yes I do…and thank you.

Jo:  You’re only going 50.

Anyway, lot and lots of conversations like that, and not to embarrass myself too bad but I still walk to the wrong side of the car both to drive and ride.  But all of this is to just simply say, I know I said in my last post that I’d try to keep up but to be honest that has proven more difficult than I had imagined it.  Studying for my Navy classes takes up a bit more time than anticipated, because I’m actually trying to learn the stuff before I get out to the ship.(sigh)  And for my actual school, school, I’ve been taking these retarded classes like Drawing…I think on my last post I put up some of my work.  I mean come on, I’m trying to be a photographer why not let me take some photography classes, my drawings ended up being not terrible, at least I think they didn’t.

Oh and Color Theory…color theory?  Really?  Color theory?  How’s this for color theory…my camera takes a color picture and I put it on my computer and change it to Black and White, or Sepia, or  some other thing.  I did end up actually learning quite a bit.  Like what colors might look good together and why, what is a hue, and saturation.  Tone, isn’t that the same thing as hue?  What’s a hue?  Ya, I can answer those questions now.

And this last class.  Survey of Contemporary and Modern Art, you might ask yourself, what’s that?  Those of you from PUC, I might liken it to History of Western Art.  Oh I’ve got this one in the bag, right?  Riiiiight.  No, there was an actual study of art.  Brushstrokes?  Are you kidding me?  P H O T O G R A P H Y ! ! ! ! ! !  Color palettes, you’re joking right?  P H O T O G R A P H Y ! ! ! ! ! !  7, yes you heard me, SEVEN pages of text later, with pictures so it ended up just about 8½ pages, I end up with not only an A for the paper but also 95% for the class and the instructors comments on the paper were all good. And I learned some valuable information on some very GREAT photographers, and photographs that changed the world.

Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, 1936.  Which was taken during the Great Depression and helped feed migrant camps around the US.  This particular camp got a shipment of 20,000 pounds of food.

Nick Ut a photographer for the Associated Press out of Los Angeles captured a Napalm bombing on the Vietnamese village of Trảng Bàng and saved a 9 year old girls life.

Timothy O’Sullivan, Alexander Gardner, and Mathew B. Brady, photographed the civil war when photography was still in it’s infancy and exposures were still to long to catch the action.  Your camera HAD to have a tripod and you had to have a horse or two to get your equipment from place to place.

It’s been a frustrating journey so far and I know as an artist I am supposed to take these classes, AND, despite how ridiculous I think these classes are they actually are managing to open my eyes and broaden my outlook.  Maybe there’s hope for me to be a successful photographer yet…We will have to wait and see.

Next up, Introduction to Photojournalism, I wonder if I’ll have to write for that one or if I’ll actually get to snap some photos.

Onward and Upward

So…

That third class I wrote about, you know, that one where I get to show you what I’ve been doing for homework. Well, I finished it this week and I’m not going to tell you I did horribly bad.  I am also not going to tell you I did horribly good either.  Horribly good?  Really?  What does that even mean?  Let’s just say I didn’t do as well as in this class as I did in my first two classes.

It all happened on the last assignment, I was hovering around 93% – 94% ish for the last several weeks and I thought it was ok, an A or A- won’t be the end of the world, my last assignment was worth 300 points and I figured I’d get most of them and keep the A’s going.  My final was a photographic narrative  on the Marriage of culture between the United States and Okinawa.  Pretty neat idea since I live here and it is distinctly Japanese but yet American also.  Anyway, these are some of my images:

The Flags

And

The Shoes

I really like this one.

What a great sign, right?

Jake and one of his good friends, who is Japanese, at their “graduation” from C-san to B-san.

Best Friends

Anyway, there are 16 others that made the final cut, I can show you more if you want.  Maybe I can download to flickr or something like that, hmmmmmmm.  I got a 222/300 on my final.  He just didn’t see the cultures mixing in my pictures.  Of course I completely disagree if he read my write up you can totally see it in my pictures.  His comment on this last picture was that this could be from any school in America.  Really?  I mean seriously!!!!  Any school in America where the kids wear Japanese name tags on their uniforms?  Where are these schools?  My wife is DYING to get Jake in to a Yochien in San Diego but with the pay cut we’re taking it’ll be impossible.

There are two others:

Quinn at the seawall

and…

Kira at the seawall

He said these could be at any beach in California, or maybe it was any beach…regardless he thought they could have been taken anywhere.  Ok, the first one is Nemo, with Dory’s tail with Bruce and the Hammerhead in the back, and way back there is Sponge Bob, overcast day, beach, ok…I’m not going to totally disagree with it, but in my artist statement I do say something about American influence on food, drink and cartoons.  With Quinn being in the pictures I think it kind of makes it a Japanese picture and it should be in the narrative.  The next one with Anpanman or the bread faced guy, is a Japanese cartoon character and I think superhero.  With his bread face saves people from starving by letting them eat his face…What can I say…It’s Japanese.

Anyway, I don’t think he liked me very  much, I can only hope to avoid him in the future.  Kinda like the first time at PUC where you’d hear don’t take ____’s class he’s a jerk, take it from ____ he is much better/easier.

So thanks for letting me rant, I’m sure after I get over this I’ll be a better photographer at least I’ll be one who can shoot pictures of a California coast while in Okinawa.

My Wife….

So…

My wife…is about the most amazing person I know.  She is truly a SUPERHERO to my boys, the girls and me.  Here is what makes her super….

This weekend she had her dreams crushed, I mean destroyed.  She has a picture of our lives and what she wants out of life and how we should be living.  She wants to raise her own chickens, if we could find the land to do it, she’d raise her own cows both for eating and milking.  There would definitely be some sort of garden and probably it would be significant.  We would go to farmers markets and personally know a fishmonger, a butcher and a baker.  We would not have HFCS in our diet, nor would we have Xantham Gum, Monosodium Glutimate(MSG), or maltodextrin.  We would like to eat “Hippie” and with all the other stuff be “Hippie”, to include live in a veritable “Hippie” place.  That was Whidbey Island for Jo.  She has more websites from her research of the place in her bookmarks than I’ve ever had in my life.  She has been researching for months and within the space of one day had it all taken away….

She called her parents, cried, was sad and hasn’t done the dishes.  This is since Friday night…LATE.  Today is Tuesday.  So this is, like, 3 days later.  Now for the new place, she has a website list that rivals (possibly beats) the Whidbey Island list.  She’s already found a place for us to get grass finished beef, she’s found a place for us to live…while we are looking for a house to buy.  She has found schools for the kids to go (Japanese) which are probably to expensive to enroll them into.  She has met with several people, sent e-mails and chatted…did I forget to mention I got sick today, I was going to be a good husband and do the dishes for her.  I got sick, and SHE did the dishes for ME.

She is my friend and the mother to my kids.  She is the keeper and caretaker of my family, she pushes me to new levels, new limits.  I’m back in college, Jake will have an easier time learning Japanese in the future, Quinn is the strongest most coordinated kid in his gymnastics class, and Kira is BE-E -A-U-TIFUL.

She is MY WIFE…MY HERO….

What DOES God’s voice sound like?

So….

I know I’ve told this story before, I just don’t remember who I’ve told it to, I know, I know…my memory… ok, I’m pretty sure I’ve told it before…how’s that.

I’m in England.  Joelle and I are trying to decide where to go for our next duty station, or get out.  As a side note my vote was for getting out, I was unhappy and was just FINISHED WITH THE NAVY.  My son was born with mild birth defect that had to be operated on in the spring of 2006 at Lakenheath Air Base just north of London.    So we are up there TAD(Temporary Assigned Duty) for 10 days or so.  Nothing to do but keep Jake happy, give his meds, make sure things are clean, and…you guessed it…watch TV.  What did we hear?  Japan this, Japan that, this week in Okinawa the weather is going to be sunny and warm with a chance of showers…Okuma somethin’ somethin'(Okuma is the military resort on Okinawa where we live) Okinawa, Okinawa, Okinawa…we began to wonder if God was trying to tell us something through the TV…So here we are Kadena AFB, Okinawa, Japan.

It’s time again to pick orders.  Our prayers about where to go next have not been as complicated as they were in England.   I guess part of that is I’m starting to realize I’m just gonna have to stay in this sucker ’til I hit my 20.  (That’s when I get to retire from the Navy)  We’ve prayed but we’ve heard that we can make it to Whidbey Island, near Seattle,  pretty easily from here.  There’s also some orders to Naples, Italy that would be divine (and Joelle’s favorite place in the world) and the food….  So I e-mail my detailer, he’s the guy that issues me orders, and he says he’s got some openings for the sea component that didn’t make it on the requisitions that are on the internet, do I want them?  (That’s a bunch of military jargon that means I can go to Whidbey Island)  Oh man, I’m gonna have to ask Jo if we should take a chance and see if those Naples orders come back up.  I got home from work and we just figured a bird in an egg is worth 3 in the half shell or whatever.  We are watching Brothers and Sisters and some chick on the show is moving to…you guessed it…Seattle.

Joelle says “this is just funny”, I’m trying to be totally cool about it but I think maybe God’s talking to us through the TV again.  I think I am probably going to end up in Whidbey Island, Washington near Seattle.   I’ll of course keep you posted on what is happening, but I did write the guy back and tell him yes we want to go.

Here’s another one.  I’m reading the Pioneer Woman Cooks and the recipe looks interesting when I get down to where she adds the sea salt…guess what kind she has.   No really, guess…Okay…Puget Sound Sea Salt.

I guess the bottom line is, I don’t know what God’s voice sounds like.  I don’t “hear” Him talking to me try as I might, I have a hard time putting the stories in the Bible together with one another.  I believe He exists, I believe He died for my sins, I believe he answers prayers.  It seems for me, when he wants me to KNOW He’s talking to me…He puts it on TV.

Koza Seibo Yochien Undokai

Ko-za Say-bo Yo-chi-e-n U-n-do-ka-i.  Meaning Koza Seibo Catholic Preschool SPORTS DAY!!!!!!!!  And it is HUGE.  It’s almost like a mini Olympics with races, performances and dances.  Undokai is a part of every school in Japan, and has been since the Olympics were in Tokyo.

Things got started pretty early for a Sabbath day and started off with a sort of opening ceremony.  The coolest part is they have the kids do some of the speaking on a microphone in front of everyone.

Opening announcements

Opening announcements

Marching around the track

Opening Ceremony parade

And then there’s the dancing, it took Jake a moment to warm up to the idea of participating in the singing and dancing but he sure didn’t take as long as he normally does to warm.

Jake doing the opening dance

Jake doing the opening dance

This is one of Jake's friends S.

This is one of Jake's friends C.

This is C, one of Jake’s classmates, we met her mom and dad at another event the school had.

So after all of that dancing and opening announcement stuff, it was finally time for some of the sports stuff.  Jake got to run a race.  They had the kids who were next to run get into these rings on the ground, a sort of on deck runner circle.

The on deck runner's circle

The on deck runner's circle

On your mark…get set….

Look at that stance, doesn't he just look fast.

Look at that stance, doesn't he just look fast.

GO!!!!!!!!!

I'm runnin' I'm runnin'

I'm runnin' I'm runnin'

1/2 way ’round the track and he is in first place.  He’s wearin’ the red hat.

He's winning

He's winning

This is where my son starts looking around to see where everyone else is and just enjoy everyone clapping for him.  Normally this is ok if you are this far ahead, however, Jake has a tendency to stop doing what he’s doing, in this case running, or winning.  You gotta love that at this age winning and losing doesn’t matter to them, only to us older folks.  Ahhhhh, the innocence.

Oh….and the win!!!!!!

He actually managed to come across first.

He actually managed to come across first.

We got to take a break and have some lunch.  Taba-san made it in time to see some of the running and dancing, she even brought some fruit for the boys.  She’s totally cool and has really become a part of our family, she speaks to Jake in Japanese and he blushes.

Our mama-san came to check out the activities

Our mama-san came to check out the activities

After lunch there was a dance for the mamas/daddys and the kids.

Dancing with mama

Dancing with Mama

They even put on a show with the A-sans (5 & 6 year olds) as Eisa dancers playing with drums and dancing and all just like the ones down in Naha.

The kiddos doing Eisa dancing...pretty cool

The kiddos doing Eisa dancing...pretty cool

We all got to have some shaved ice, during the Eisa performance.

Jake and C having some shaved ice

Jake and C having some shaved ice

It was a good day. There was a relay race at the end that involved the parents.  We won(the red team), one guy came trucking around the turn and wiped out just like several of the kids did on their race.  That must have made them feel a bit better.  The weather was coolish, it sprinkled a bit around lunch time.  It was a very well prepared day, lots of practicing and planning must’ve gone into it.  Trying to communicate between Japanese who speak a bit of English and Americans who speak a bit of Japanese was a fun challenge.  They give the kids Monday off as a holiday from the sports day.

Of course everyone was a winner.

Nice job buddy

Nice job buddy

Jake struck this pose without any prompting from me, but it sums up the success of the day.

Jake’s finger

So….

Saturday night…I’m in the kitchen, Jake and Quinn have been playing in their new play room and the bathroom.  Jake comes out and is telling me something, “Hey Dad, there was this thing….”  All of a sudden the  look on his face.  I saw the door close and I knew exactly what happened.  I bolted for the door handle, cranked it down and pushed.  Jake, fingers trapped, Quinn, behind the door.  Luckily Quinn managed to step with the door as I pushed it.  Turning immediately to Jake I grabbed his hand.  His fingers had a funny kink in them and he was screaming.  Not that kind of scream kids do when they get spanked, nor that kind when they out run their legs and crash on the sidewalk.  This was a scream that makes your blood turn cold, the kind that makes you freeze where you are standing, the kind of scream that makes you loose all your sense about what to do next.

I picked Jake up and took him to Joelle, saying I think we have to go to the hospital, we put the fingers on ice, Jo’s idea.  She called the hospital while I got ready to go and after about a minute of chatting with them I got Jake in the car.  By this time he’s sort of settled down a bit but he’s still crying.

We’re driving down the road and I’m trying not to break too many land speed records, not only that but I’ve so far hit every red light since I left the house.  Jake doesn’t look very good at this point, and he says “Dad, I don’t feel well”, after a few questions I figure out it’s just because he’s had his fingers smashed in the door jam.  Now it is at this point where I am starting to feel like if I could take this pain away from him and transfer it to my hand I would so do it, even if the pain I ended up was 100 times worse than he was feeling.

Joelle and I have been doing this Bible study on the Disciples, and they healed people.  I told her a thing about one of our friends that died in college.  Faith…Mustard seed…blah, blah, blah.  I know I have too many doubts to be able to heal Jake and take this pain away from him….Wait a minute, I know I have too much doubt, but I know someone who doesn’t…that’s right…God.  So I ask Jake and we are going to pray, at the stop light, trying to hurry….

All of a sudden, mid prayer, I am overcome with this peace and clarity.  Finish the prayer, Brent, take your time, you can drive and pray at the same time.  We ask the Lord for strength, we ask for Him to help Jake be brave and strong.  Jake’s VBS memory verse comes to mind, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:13.  This isn’t just a prayer for Jake, it’s for me also.

Now this is an amazing story so far.  I’ve been cool on the outside, completely freaked out on the inside.  I’ve been acting and not reacting, there’s no hesitation, I’m starting to do things before they’re even thought of.  Joelle is amazingly cool headed, Jake is fairly calm but I think that could be because we are calm.  But here’s the thing…this isn’t the REALLY amazing part of the story.  It is what happens after I say the word amen that is the most amazing.  Remember all the red lights, ya…missed’em all, it was like I was on the freeway.  Jake, ya…stopped crying and didn’t even cry again, X-rays, Drs., didn’t shed a tear for any of them.  ER…can I say 2 1/2 hours total, from the time I left to the time I got back.  No broken fingers, I saw them there was a funny kink in them after they came out of the door, NO BROKEN FINGERS.

Coincidence?  Maybe, but there is a lot of stuff that happened after I said Amen that went our way.

Thank-you Lord.