Monday, June 22, 2020

Waking Hours

A day has 24 hours, and this is invariable.  Waking hours, more or less two-third of them, are also quantitively fixed.  With my bed hours, set at seven hours regularly from 12:00 midnight to 7:00 in the morning, my waking hours are regularly 17 hours, also a fixed length of time.  But, experientially, the same 17 hours vary day to day.  Some days are short; others are longer.  We are, of course, all familiar with this phenomenon.  The day is short when we retire at the of the day with the work planned for the day left unfinished.  On the contrary, as it is likely with most of us, when we are done with the day’s work long before bedtime, the day is felt longer. When we don’t have much to do through the day, the day is even longer.  So,  during these weeks of pandemic quarantine, with free time aplenty day to day, I am accomplishing a lot less.  I should certainly be writing more; but I am writing less.  My journal entires are skimpy, even left blank some days, so aggravatingly on reflection, when they could be and should be fuller. It is a truism, certainly, that we generally accomplish more when we have too much to do and have to work and try to finish under pressure whatever we planned to do.  A deadline, given or self-imposed, is an incentive we can not do without.  Without a deadline, I spent days to finish this little piece of writing. 


Sunday, May 24, 2020




Monday, May 4, 2020

Marion Faber

Marion Faber’s intelligence does not shine.  In her modest demeanor, it glows.  And, unintentionally, almost despite herself, it scintillates on occasion but only gently. 

I first met Marion when I interviewed her; she applied for a position at Swarthmore College in German language and literature, and I was one of the interviewers outside her specialty. In an instant I saw that glow and had no hesitation in recommending her, and she joined us. I also learned that we shared a parallel career course from UC Berkley to Harvard to Swarthmore, and, quickly, we became fast friends, discovering bit by bit our vast and varied areas of common interest in languages, music, art, and literature.  After my retirement from Swarthmore in 2001, I moved to NYC, and our distance widened but, her periodic visit of the city and my occasional trip to Swarthmore resulted in greater intimacy.  We came to know each other well enough that it was often unnecessary to say a lot as we understood each other without many words. 

In our interaction, if I bring up a subject she always had something to say about it and then querying words, and our discussion develops and then expands from one topic to another, and we have a wonderful time, a trite expression here but for which I have no better words. 

Marion was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on 27 March, and she passed away on 30 April.  I mourn her; or, rather more accurately, her living presence continues to dwell in my being, never to leave. 


Sunday, May 3, 2020

Clean Plate 食べ残さず

Having spent my childhood during the years of dire food shortage, during and after the World War, I acquired the habit of cleaning up the plate to the very last bit of food on it, whatever food is served on it, whether I liked it or not, and the habit never left me all my life to this day of old age. 
私は世界大戦中と戦後の最悪の食糧難に育ちましたので、 食べ物は、好き嫌い問わず、何であろうとも最後のひとかけらも残さずに食べる習慣が身について一生離れず、この老年までも続けてきました。


Tuesday, February 4, 2020


Somehow, lying on my back, I imagined getting up on my feet to go to the kitchen and imagination turned into reality. But trying to return to my bedroom,y somehow, I walked into an adjacent kitchen, a flipover of mine on the same 3rd Floor, (which, of course, doesn’t exist in reality). Trying to return to my apartment I then found myself in a room overlooking a 3-story art gallery. Down on the 2nd Floor I saw a sale of art works was taking place, and I saw that a receipt being written on a large brown paper had on it the name Tokiko, my wife, and the work was undoubtedly her handwoven picture from my apartment, I shouted and banged on the wall to get the attention of the clerk but no noise was heard. Then, I saw another package with a note on it also had her name, and I realized all the works being sold came from the walls of my apartment. When somehow I managed to return to my bedroom I saw women shuffling through my clothes, including those I was recently wearing and my bedroom was a
Goodwill Store. A door appeared now then on an empty wall of the bedroom and I walked in to find the gallery again but no one heard me (like silent movie characters). Trying over and over, I finally got the attention of a gallerist and was able to tell him that all those works of art from my apartment are already legally willed. He then replied that he understands, etc. Now, the reply came in a novel way of texting. He writes on a large brown paper, maybe 3’ x 4’ which he presses on the glass wall separating the gallery from me and a light cellophane-like plastic sheet with his text flying in the air and stuck on an empty  wall to allow me to read and it flies away back to him. [I shall call it <CelloTexting>.]  trying to get back to my kitchen I ended up in the room corresponding to my main room on the other side which was a lounge with a small alcove with a stage where a rehearsal was taking place. I sat on a bench in the dark side room adjacent to the stage and watched the rehearsal first, watching with great interest the woman scene designer working on the stage, and then the performance itself, for which   I was given a first row seat, almost on the stage. I beckoned the director to move my seat a bit away from the stage and he complied promptly but by means of . At some point I managed to be back in the lounge, but none of the people there, all of them actors resting, could hear me or even see me, though I needed a help getting out of the theater to the lounge. I just sat in the lounge idly and finally two people appeared on the fire escape outside the large glass wall, peeking in. They disappeared, having climbed up higher, and when they returned I recognized the woman as Liz Mackie with a man I didn’t recognize. As they peered, I shouted and waved and I was not heard but seen and Liz came in with the apartment’s super and immediately she called an ambulance and took me to Weill- Cornell. She said then it was the 9th Floor where she found me but she later told me she and the super found me in my bedroom. The hallucination continued in the hospital. I was seeing elaborate drawings that filled the wall on my room, like 9 or perhaps 12 square grids depicting Nativity scenes in narrative sequence, others on the floor and ceiling, and also those sheets no one else saw.  Finally after three days or so the drawings and the cellophane sheets disappeared. 

The Great Fall 12/26/19

    Right now Monday 6 January 2020 I am at the Upper East Side Rehabilitation Center after five days at the Cornell/Presbyterian Hospital.
     The day after Christmas, 12/26, after I chatted with a friend on the phone, I lay on my bed for a nap at 4:00, woke up at 7:00 and went to the bathroom. There as I got up from the toilet I lost my balance and fell on the floor. Fortunately I was still conscious and I was not totally immobilized. So far so good.
     But I could not locate my iPhone. I had returned an alert device because it was too elaborate and had not ordered a simple button as yet to replace it, and I was careful to have the iPhone next to me. With no access to it I could not call 911, nor any friend nor any neighbor and the door knob was  too high to reach to allow me out in the hallway.
   So, I decided to try crawl back to my bedside. I was on the floor supine and could not turn around to face down. I used my shoulders and legs to inch along  the tight space to reach the bedside but didtn‘t find my IPhone there. This took all night. Frantically, i went around all the possible places in the apartment for three days and three nights without water, nor food nor sleep until presumably I collapsed.
     Liz Mackie with whom I was chatting before the nap knew of my recent weakening of balance, and, having failed to reach me by phone, came all the way from Brighton Beach at the southern tip of Brooklyn, and found me on the floor unconscious (actually hallucinating wildly), and called an ambulance to Weill/Cornell. She found my iPhone at the bottom of the washbasin sink where it slid down from its rim where evidently I had it resting instead of down to the floor. So, there was no chance my seeing it, not to speak of grabbing it, from my position 3 ft. off the floor.
     Five days at the hospital I regained my strength except for the muscular pain that stabs me when I move the body. Now at the Rehab I will receive Physical Therapy. I am on the two-week stay-in program. Except for the lower back pain, I am well, sleeping well though in short spurts of an hour or two and I am eating well, too. 

Happy end, almost.

I am grateful, too, that so many friends helped me with many errands of all sorts and looking after Vif my cat.

Kaori Kitao 🐂 01/06/20

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


People waiting for a bus anxiously try to know when the next bus is arriving. They look up repeatedly at the lighted marker or google the bus checker on their iPhone.  Some step out on the road to look for a distant sight of an oncoming bus.  If the notice reports that the next bus arrives in seven minutes and it does not, they get irritated. The fact is that one comes when it comes.   If the wait is seven minutes, one only comes in seven minutes, supposedly, no sooner, no later.  This is the essential nature of anxiety.  All anxieties are superfluous.  A watched kettle never boils, we say; but it always does eventually.  It boils over dry, if we don't watch it; the bus we were waiting for came and and it went without me.