Thursday, April 22, 2021

Me and my "Brand"

I've been waxing not very lyrically lately about all the things I, as a writer, am now supposed to do. I have had a couple of dear friends understand what I'm talking about and at least listen to me gripe and commiserate, for which I heartily thank them. 

Theoretically, I gather, I am supposed to promote myself like a celebrity, like I am somehow a Person of Interest, though not in the law-enforcement sense, and Do Stuff -- I am not sure what. 

This most recently came from my Asian Serial Platform Distributor (you really don't want to know, at least I don't think so, but it's how people buy books by the chapter) insisting that I "engage," heaven help me, "fans." And they also wanted a new, and very short, series description.

My books are interesting, my books are fun, my stories are exciting, and my characters are delightful. These just keep on coming, and that's great. This is what I sent them, and I hope they put it before the "author bio" this time.

This is what I want people to see. My books are worth reading! My life, however, is ordinary.

But, then, today, somebody told me that "you are your brand."

No. No, I am not "my brand." I may be sometimes interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes fun and sometimes exciting, but let us be fair: my life bears so little resemblance to anything anybody interested in dual-natured beings and assorted yokai romping through the Meiji-era might find "engaging", that disconnect is, in itself, funny.

I mean, OK, I have a garden. I live in Tokyo, so it's a very little garden. I have plants in it. I want to water them and I have been trying to connect an outside hose to a hose bib. One of the joys of being an expat is that one doesn't really know what things are called. One might pass likely looking stores and go inside. One might have photos on one's phone. And one might be disappointed for months on end when the clerks mournfully inform you that they have nothing of the kind and are not sure where you might get something that will work. And, yes, I did think to start at the place where I bought the hose. And, nope, they didn't have any idea either.

But finally, I got a line on a store that sounded like a relative of what I might call a DIY or hardware store, only a mile and (almost) a half away! I looked it up on a maps app (I never know which one is going to appear; I have two, at least) and off I went this morning.

Not only did it have a nice clerk who knew what I was talking about, took me to the right department and presented me with a part that really should have worked, the store had a huge gigantic rack of seed packets and also a very large covered area just full of plants!

I packed up my little shopping cart and walked home.

A bag of baby plants, plus seeds.

Some flowers I didn't buy, because my rose is enormous, but they're pretty!

 I now have a sage plant. I have a few basil seedlings. I have some basil seeds. I have pak-chi seeds. You might think that is cilantro, but people will be sure to tell you that no matter how much it looks like cilantro, and no matter how much it tastes like cilantro, it comes from Vietnam and is therefore not cilantro. I have an eggplant plant with a tiny little eggplant on it. I have a piman pepper, with blossoms. I know those are called "Japanese Bell Peppers," but they truly are not, being hotter and somewhat more complex in flavor than standard Bells. I have a cucumber vine that is ready to twine madly over a fence and I have a tomato. With a flower. I also have some nasturtium seeds, and we'll see how far those get. 

I could have made a return trip to obtain some bigger pots and bags of soil to get these little plants situated, but I didn't. I ordered from Amazon (also not a source for the plumbing part I needed.) I could have walked back and taken a cab home, but, frankly, was much, much easier. can sometimes rock. remains a force of idiocy, calamity, and the most expensive shipping costs in the world, for the worst and slowest possible service. 

Sadly, however, there is a problem. My plumbing part fits the outside hose bib beautifully. Even though the nice clerk showed me how it should attach perfectly to the hose (I had photos, remember, and he had many parts) it did not do so. Well, it did, but it still leaked, spraying water everywhere, which is not the goal. I begin to suspect that the problem is the fitting on the hose itself, so while I am waiting for to bring me pots and dirt, I am going to see if I can figure out a way to dismember the non-working hose thing and connect it to the faucet some other way. Carrying water cans of water outside every day is not "engaging" for me. Not even if it results in produce.

And here is my gorgeous, glorious, and wonderfully fragrant climbing rose!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Kintsugi, with apologies to Leonard Cohen

Kintsugi, with apologies to Leonard Cohen

However rough, however worn, the vessel when it comes into the world,

However fine, however fancy, however beautifully made,

The vessel still has cracks.

The golden lacquer fills it, coating, merging;

The patterns imperceptible before now proclaim its beauty.

Yes, there are cracks in everything, 

But that is how the light gets out.