Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tonpan no Mi-okori

And speaking of convoluted messes of time and fate that still somehow work out...

I was surprised to hear that Swinebread was going to be coming to Japan. As he said in his own blog, he came because of a family emergency, so there wasn't much time for pleasure-seeking on his part. However, I was even more surprised to hear that he would be heading back to Portland via Narita Airport today (Nov. 18). Narita Airport really isn't far from home for me at all, so it seemed like a unique opportunity for us to meet face-to-face for the first time.

Not that the winds of fate were about to make it easy. (Ha! Ya think?) Today was the last chance I had for a full-scale rehearsal with the Flying Eggheads to prepare for next Saturday's Kashima Seaside Jazz Festival (brassy fanfare, Latin beat). The kids are doing a good job, as always, but they're still not quite at the level needed for a performance of this caliber. They apparently bit off a bit more than they could chew with the tunes they selected this time, so we're really down to the wire. I couldn't simply cancel the rehearsal. However, I could trim it back a bit to give me time to shoot on down to Narita, so that's what I planned to do. Just a little past 11:30 I gave Swinebread a call on my cellphone to let him know I was on my way (cutting him off in conversation a bit abruptly since I was rushed for time...sorry!) and hopped in my (dusty) BLUE RAV4.

Then a wrench got thrown into the works. I got a call on my cellphone from my daughter saying my wife was bringing them my way and would be arriving at Ye Olde Academy soon. Apparently my wife had been called in to do some work at her school, and she had decided not to foist the kids on my sick mother-in-law. Instead, she was dumping them off on me. That meant I had to wait for them. It wasn't a long wait, mind you, but I was well aware Swinebread was on a bit of a tight schedule, so every minute counted. I was thankful when we were finally shooting across Lake Kitaura on the New Jingu Bridge.

Traffic was light, so we were on the expressway in only about five minutes. The drive to the airport went really quickly, too. Getting through the security checkpoint, finding a place to park, and making our way to the departure lobby also went smoothly and quickly. Then I had only to find Swinebread, whom I'd never seen before in his secret identity mode. I made my way to the area near the Northwest Airlines check-in counter, which was where he said he'd be and then started looking around for likely candidates. Sitting on some nearby chairs was a group whose composition matched the description he'd given me, so I moved closer to investigate. That's when I overheard my name being mentioned. Bingo!

(Wouldn't you know it...I'd brought my camera, but since I've never been any kind of shutterbug I never managed to get it out and use it! Oh, well...Swinebread doesn't seem to want his face posted online without a mask on it, so maybe it's for the better.)

We didn't have much time, but we were able to have lunch together, and it was great. It turns out that it's a remarkably small world. He and I both grew up in the same town back home in Oregon. Two of his best friends were cousins of Don Snabulus, which is how they got acquainted. That's how he had come to introduce Don to his sister, and the rest is history! It gets even better. He was at the airport together with his Japanese SO and some relatives of hers who happen to live in Kashima. In fact, the daughter they'd brought with them knew me because she had attended one of my demo lessons for grade school kids!

Speaking of kids, my kids were a bit of a touchy issue, as always. My daughter is generally okay meeting people, but my son, ever the clown in any case, always gets bashful in the face of strangers and becomes even sillier than usual. Sometimes that can be cute, but it can also be embarrassing, especially when my daughter decides to start mothering him. At least she and the daughter of the relatives from Kashima hit it off well...and the drinking glass my son sent flying managed miraculously not to break.

It was a nice visit but sadly short. We had less than an hour before Swinebread had to get into the line to go through the hell of security and immigration, and it went quickly. (Hopefully I didn't monopolize the conversation too much...chronic chatterbox that I am...) I was still happy and grateful to have had the opportunity. We finished lunch, said our goodbyes, and went our separate ways, him on his way to Oregon, his wife and her relatives off to the airport shopping mall, and me and my kids off to...Toys R Us.

Definitely a day well spent, and a wonderful opportunity. If only the reasons for it had been happier. Now hopefully we can meet up again, hopefully also with the Snabulus family back home in green, wet Oregon!

Tomorrow is Monday...


  • Glad you got to hook up in Realityland. :D

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 3:27 PM  

  • What a recall to me for the first time I met our blog-pal LOW in the Macao Airport during the CNY.
    It was similar the same as a bit rush for me going to the Airport by taking an airport shuttle bus. It took me one hour to there (coz of traffic Jam), Low kept sending me sms text message said “Hey, I am in the airport right now, my flight will take off in half an hour later”. ..while I arrived at the lobby of airport, he was looking for me around (he hasn’t seen me or my photo before. Of course I recognized him from his blog posted photos) ^_^
    Finally, we only had half an hour to chat and had a little afternoon tea snacks. Still felt happy to meet a new blog-friend.

    By Blogger PinkPanther, at 4:14 PM  

  • I have met with some bloggers, 99% are Malaysian. Some met in Malaysia during my visit last year and the rest, I met them here in Jakarta because they are expatriates.

    It's an exciting experience to meet those people that we know from the cyber :)

    About you and swinebread, sounds that the world is really small, right? hehehe

    By Blogger Selba, at 8:47 PM  

  • That's amazing - first that you got to meet up in such a short time, and secondly that you both have so many real life links. Which, as you know, the odds aren't that great.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 10:55 PM  

  • That's great! I'm so glad you got to meet up. Hopefully he'll make it over here on a happier occasion next time. No worries about the pictures - Japan took his photo and finger prints on arrival. :^0

    Good luck at the jazz festival.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 6:15 PM  

  • It was a real pleasure meeting you. I’m glad you took time out your busy schedule (even for a Sunday) to meet my SO and me. I wish snab had filled me in sooner, so I could have met you 2-years ago under happier travel plans but of course he had no idea I had in-laws in Kashima… …and I had only a vague clue for that matter.

    The look of surprise on your face when I said your name to my relatives was a moment I won’t forget. It was kinda like a cross between “alright! I made in time” and “boy, I sure hope this goes well.” It was certainly strange to be talking about you and then suddenly there you were. I really had fun and it was nice to get some of the inside scoop behind events I’ve read about in your blog. It was a also great way to end my trip on a happy note that was tinged with sadness. My SO really enjoyed meeting you as well. She feels a little bit of a kinship with you because your situation is the reverse of hers, although she hasn’t lived in the states as long as you have lived in Japan. She also loved your perfect Japanese with an Oregon accent.

    It’s funny because you were worried about the behavior of your children (which was perfectly natural in MHO) while My SO was worried about the behavior her relations, especially her uncle that keep trying to speak to you in English. I think my SO’s relatives were intrigued because they had lived in Kashima for a while and were surprised they hadn’t heard of the American living there before. Well, that is except their granddaughter who had seen you at one of your many grade school presentations.

    I appreciate the effort it took on your part meet. Now you have one more person to visit on your next trip to Oregon. ;) Incidentally, if your wife comes too, she will have “shopping partner” in the form of my SO. My better half knows all the good spots that Japanese folks like.

    Thanks again.

    In another twist of fate it ended up being snabulus that picked me up from the airport. How about that!


    By Blogger Swinebread, at 4:44 AM  

  • the world is getting ever smaller
    and the internet community ever bigger

    the only thing we ever grow short of is time, whether it is time for more rehearsals, time for final preparations, time to go and meet friends, time to see more and more places popping up in this shrinking world.

    Who said "Life is not a rehearsal"
    Life is all about rehearsal and repetition (to do things well) with a little bit of virtuoso improvisation thrown in, to help us on our way.

    By Blogger QUASAR9, at 10:33 PM  

  • Caught in midflight
    whether in one's train of thought
    or literally flying down the m-way!

    By Blogger QUASAR9, at 10:34 PM  

  • Who said "Life is not a rehearsal"

    Well, Jethro Tull tried to when they recorded the song "No Rehearsal", part of the aborted "Chateau d'Isaster" project. Maybe that's one of the reasons why they canceled that album and made "A Passion Play" instead...

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 8:39 PM  

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