Random Anniversary 6: My Brain


These random anniversaries have a way of slapping me in the face with the extremely twisty road that is my life, and this anniversary is perhaps slappier than most. Over the course of this particular journal–a smart spring-green affair that was a gift from one of my favourite people–I went from running through the streets of London to buying extremely mislabelled “vegan” food in the night markets of Taipei to a narrow escape from a burgeoning plague in Tokyo to an actual pandemic in Toronto, where I have now been locked up in my apartment for the last three months using my sewing skills to craft masks for all my friends and family, only scurrying out for groceries and beer. It is honestly overwhelming to step back and take a real look at how life used to be and how it is now, especially because my science brain is only too well aware that the normalcy of the Before Times is probably never coming back.

And that’s a good thing in a lot of ways! The plague is certainly laying bare all the ways capitalism has failed us, and so many people suddenly have nothing to do but reassess the way we live in this world and discover the need to burn it all to the ground and rebuild a society that supports all of us, especially the most vulnerable among us, instead of a bunch of venture capitalists and tech bros and the general class of rich white people. Plus, we’re all expert handwashers now! And we have a new fashion possibility in the face mask. Continue reading “Random Anniversary 6: My Brain”

Amazoness Kiss: Natsuko Ishitsuyo


The luggage situation on the Japan side of the ocean has been getting increasingly over the top the last few trips I’ve made. I’m there for months at a time, so it’s only natural that I would take these enormous suitcases and a whole life’s worth of stuff. And when I am packing up my Toronto life, I deliberately pack a lot of presents and Japanese books I am done with and consumable items (like the quinoa that I love but is too expensive on the Japan side and the spicy jalepeños that have historically been hard to find but are now pretty much everywhere so maybe I will stop bringing a jar or two over with me). But lately, when I am putting my Tokyo self into those same suitcases, it seems like I am always overstuffed and overweight. And you know what is causing that stuffed weight: books!

It’s also long been a habit of mine to send a box or two of things to myself so that I can have a little surprise come in the mail once I am back in Canada and gloomy about the terrible winter. Even if you’re not coming back to cold Canada, I highly recommend sending treats to yourself when you travel. It’s such a happy thing to get a box full of things you love that you forgot you sent yourself. (I always remember that I sent myself a box, but never what’s actually inside the box, so it’s like I am Santa to my own self.) But the number of boxes has been increasing and they too are getting heavier. Because: books! I don’t want the takeaway here to be that I buy too many books because that is clearly not the case since you can never buy too many books. But I do feel like I could stand to spread my book purchases out more and maybe do more buying in Canada where I do not have a strict weight limit on how many things I can carry to my home. Continue reading “Amazoness Kiss: Natsuko Ishitsuyo”

Random Anniversary 4: My Brain


Almost two years to the day since my brain last celebrated the end of a journal, a sign that me and my brain need to work on spending more time with our journal and less time on Twitter. But the gratification from Twitter is instant, while the journal is more of a slow burn, and present me always needs cookies right now, all too often to the detriment of future me.

What happened in these two years documented in a little purple notebook that I got in Singapore? Who knows?? The notebook in question is tucked away in my Toronto apartment, while my brain and I are here in Tokyo. Recent happenings that are most certainly included in the journal include interpreting at TIFF in September and for author Hideo Furukawa last month (reasons why posting here has been especially light), but further back than that, and my poor memory grows hazy. I was in Japan a lot last year? Maybe? I lectured a bunch of hapless university students in America about gender in translation? I had some birthdays and my body continued its relentless march towards our inevitable decline? Continue reading “Random Anniversary 4: My Brain”

Majutsushi A: Natsuko Ishitsuyo

img_7144You know you are in for something when a manga artist chooses Ishitsuyo—“strong-willed”—as her pen name. You might not like whatever that something is, but you’ll probably remember it. Fortunately for me, Natsuko Ishitsuyo is exactly what I want to read, and I am frankly astounded that Majutsushi A, a collection of six short stories, is her debut work. It’s so assured and unlike anything I’ve come across in the world of manga before. My only critique of the book is that it’s not longer. Big words, I know, but I don’t say them lightly.

I’d heard nothing about Ishituyo before I stumbled across Majutsu in my neighbourhood bookstore when I went in to wait for the light to change, as I often do. When a bookstore is so conveniently located on the corner of a street you have to cross on your way home from the train station, you should stop in whenever you have to wait for a long light change. Because you will occasionally discover magic treats like this one. But the bookstore on the corner tends to be more mainstream, and their new release shelf rarely features anything that interests me, mostly run-of-the-mill shojo and shonen, with some mainstream BL tossed in for variety. So it was almost shocking to see the stark black and red and the strange portrait gracing the cover of Majutsu. The sly smile playing on the woman’s lips practically compels you to pick the book up. Kudos to the cover designer on this one! Continue reading “Majutsushi A: Natsuko Ishitsuyo”