There goes another one . . .

Another year, that is. It feels like just the other day I mentioned that ten years had passed since I started this blog. Now, another 365 days have passed and we are at eleven years since I started Sound to Sound. I was a new associate at a law firm in lower Manhattan when I started posting online for the world to see (however few of you are out there). The world and my life was ahead of me. I didn’t even have any children back then. Boy, things have changed; boy, how things have stayed the same.

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700 East

Twenty years ago I lived on the corner of a busy intersection on 700 East, Salt Lake City, Utah. At the time, I wanted to escape Utah, but this City and this road keep pulling me back. Even without intending to, I have found that my daily route to and from the office takes me on 700 East, where I am pulled, encouraged to stop by the wayside at a park they call Liberty, to walk, before I begin my busy day on calls, in Outlook, in legal documents, in meetings. Oh, the meetings.

In the sunrise, in the light of the moon, the drizzling rain, the afternoon heat, I walk briskly, or sometimes stroll, alongside 700 East, the cars next to me, heading south. I have consumed book after book in the park of Liberty, headphones on, movies in my head, ideas, sadness, drama, excitement, words fill my ears, various accents, genres, time periods, locations, some real, some fictional. But all alongside 700 East. I have not escaped the pull of the road nor the City of Salt Lake, but I have escaped through my saunters in the park, accelerated my car up and down the road, timing the green lights headed north, then headed south, day in and out. 700 East. My road. My escape. My daily drive . . . .

Oh Canada . . .

I made my first trip to Toronto this past weekend. The city left a good impression on me. Here are a few insights into the trip:

  • Urban Canada is a true melting pot, much more so than much of the urban U.S.
  • Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America
  • The PATH underground the downtown financial center could fit 19 Mall of Americas in its labyrinths
  • I thought I was brave enough to do the Edge Walk, but showed up at the base of the CN Tower and realized I could do just fine without walking along the edge of one of the highest structures in the world
  • The Nuit Blanche festival on Saturday night was both disappointing and mesmerizing (what were all of those people doing outside at that time of night, and where was the art we were promised?)
  • I enjoyed the Hockey Hall of Fame more than I thought I would
  • Ditto on the Maple Leafs game
  • The poutine I ate at the Maple Leafs game probably took a few years off my life
  • The St. Lawrence Market neighborhood seems like a great place to live, if I could ever afford it
  • Toronto is a great city; perhaps I should include it in my next job search . . .

Fifth Grade Memories

My oldest daughter, yes, the one whose birth I announced and wrote about on this blog more than a decade ago, just started fifth grade. Where has the time gone? Yes, it’s hard to imagine life without her, pre-kids, but if I sit still, close my eyes, and think, I can remember fifth grade myself. I know who my friends were back then. I can see my fifth grade teacher, remember her name. I can remember my school and the long bus ride to get there because they were completing the new elementary school in my neighborhood. I can remember how I spent my recess, can remember the school play I participated in that year, and I even remember that time when the girl I had a crush on kind of liked me back. I remember NKOTB was the popular music group and the end of the twentieth century was more than a decade away.

So, yes, fifth grade for me feels like a long time ago, a lifetime ago perhaps, but not really. As I sit here, watching the sun go down, I am reminded of just how short life truly is among the cosmos and eternities of the universe.

SF Thoughts

I was recently in San Francisco for the first time since I left California in June 2011. It was good to go back and brought back many memories. It is hard to believe I spent only two years working in the Financial District of San Francisco given that I have now doubled that time here in Salt Lake. The time has flown by. But with my visit, I had two main thoughts.

  • From a pure city standpoint, I like New York City more. It fits me better. If I were single, New York would be more attractive to me. However, since I am not single, were I to choose to move back to either New York City or San Francisco, I would be more likely to choose San Francisco, as I would much rather be in the suburbs of the Bay Area with my family over the suburbs of the tri-state area of New York City. However, I don’t plan to do either anytime soon.
  • The prevalence of ethnic and national diversity available in San Francisco when compared to my current location was extremely noticeable. The trend in Salt Lake is definitely moving in the right direction, but I am one who strongly believes there is unity in diversity. The trend cannot accelerate fast enough for me.

Class of ’97

I can’t believe it’s here. It honestly doesn’t feel like that long ago when I graduated from high school. I mean, it does feel like a lifetime ago, but I clearly remember the event twenty years ago this month. I remember being excited to be done with high school, to move ahead in life, to begin college, to move out of my parent’s house. Class of ’97, it was something to be proud of. But now it’s here, just like that: our 20-year High School Reunion, held in Washington later this summer. Wait . . . what, how has it been twenty years? Where has the time gone?

I know my classmates and I are all approaching 40 and appear old to this year’s crop of high school graduates, but it is true what they say: time flies when you’re having fun. I did not make my 10-year High School Reunion a decade ago partly because the logistics made it difficult to do so, and honestly, the people I most wanted to see did not end up attending. And, I am still unsure whether I will make this summer’s reunion, but I am still a bit rattled by the fact that twenty years have passed. Will I blink and wake up a decade from now in 2027 to discover that my 30-year Reunion is just around the corner. Is this how life works?

Perhaps I should attend, enjoy it for what it is. A chance to realize that I have done okay in life and humbly show my classmates that they were passed up by the unremembered, quiet, underachievers like me in life. FWHS Class of ’97. Like I said at the time of graduation: you can take a man out of Federal Way, but you can’t take the Federal Way out of the man. Some things don’t change, even with time . . . .

Japanese Immigration to Brazil

I had the chance to visit Brazil for the first time last month. It was a brief business trip which mainly consisted of long days in conference rooms negotiating a business deal in Sao Paulo. The parties involved came from various corners of the world. It was a good experience, but what was even more memorable was the chance I had to visit an old area of the city I first heard about many years ago, while in college, and studying Japanese immigration to Brazil. The area was Liberdade.

When my hosts learned of my knowledge of the vast numbers of individuals in Sao Paulo with Japanese ancestry, they all conspired to take me to the old Japan-town that night for sushi. And it turned out to be extraordinarily good sushi. While my Japanese language skills are much better than my Portuguese skills, I realized upon arriving at the restaurant that my Japanese would be useless, as the employees at the restaurant were just as Brazilian as my hosts. And I would have expected nothing less, given that those with Japanese ancestry in Brazil are three or four generations removed from their ancestors who made the trek across the ocean to a brave new land.

One of those pioneers was named Masatomo Murakami. As part of my senior research paper for my bachelor’s degree in history as an undergraduate student, I had to pick a topic and write about it. That topic for me was Japanese immigration to Brazil, a phenomenon I first learned about while living in Japan and coming across numerous individuals from Brazil of Japanese descent. I met the granddaughter or Mr. Murakami and had access to primary sources. I went back recently to the paper I wrote and relived the amazing story. I ended the paper in 2003 with the following last three paragraphs.

“Masatomo’s idea was to construct a Japanese Buddhist temple on a designated piece of his land. He did not get around to beginning the construction of the enormous project before his death, however. Nobuko, still in good health and living off the money her husband had saved, took up the construction of the temple as her project to complete before she passed on to be with her husband. She knew little of the construction of Buddhist temples and could do little to help, but it reassured her greatly to know the temple was being built where and how her husband desired.

Masatomo Murakami’s legacy lives on in the city and state of São Paulo. Nippakuji, the Japanese name of the recently completed Buddhist temple, lies just southwest of the sprawling city of São Paulo in the rolling, green hills that Masatomo spent so much of his life in. It stands as a witness of a great man that achieved his dreams a world away from his birthplace. Nippakuji, though more of an emblem to the Japanese heritage in the area than a religious structure, stands boldly in a beautiful valley flanked by rising hills, its newness and dominance radiating in the Brazilian sun.

On special occasions, the priests of the Nippakuji temple ring the large bell that stands guard in front of the main gate to the temple. Its tone resonates throughout the countryside, the breeze propelling the sound over the hills to the neighboring community. With most of her family now back in Japan, Nobuko especially enjoys the nights the priests ring the bell. She sits on her porch in the evening warmth down the road from the Buddhist temple made possible by her late husband and imagines the fond years she spent with him. Gradually, both the lingering daylight and echo of the ringing bell fade from Nobuko, carrying with it the memories of her ancestors and the distant land she hardly knew.”