Monthly Archives: January 2014

Visit to Red Hook Initiative / 生活問題としての「書くこと」

January 20th-22nd, Mon-Wednesday, 2014

On Monday, I visited Red Hook Initiative, an organization to empower local community.

Crossing by red brick buildings, went down to Red Hook area from my neighborhood Park Slope.


Cross the river.


Then I found their base, within 20 minutes from home.

Red Hook is one of the areas seriously damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. I contacted them to know their efforts and actions after Sandy. They are providing several programs such as an educational support for children and youth in community, setting wifi networks around the neighborhood to close digital divide. These days, they’ve launched a campaign named 500 FUTURES to call for support for youth empowerment. I attended an information session to tell us what they do and will do, and to involve more allies into their actions. What impressed me was that high school students themselves are also dedicating themselves to RHI activities. AT the session, 3 youth members made a small speech and self-introduction. Though they looked a little bit shy, I felt they are surely proud of what they do and where they live. I made a small talk with staffs, and now think about if I can do something for or with them by sharing my experience at Tohoku, disaster area in Japan.

On Tuesday, a brutal winter storm come to our town. Soon the street become covered with snow. I just stayed at home, and did my research work, without imagining about going out into the cold night.

On Wednesday, fortunately, storm ceased. I shoveled snow in front of the building again. I went to the cafe as usual, bought a cup of latte, and walked around streets in the quiet evening with a little breeze.






オンラインでin publicに書くのと、個人・コミュニティごとに話す・書くのと、二者択一でもなくって、うまくバランスとって社会で生きて、かつ表現してかにゃならん。


In society / とどまる

Sometimes when I’m writing, I suddenly feel myself crazy. My thoughts sound abnormal, far from standard in society. Today was such a day. Almost became embarrassed or depressed. Safely I met with friends in the evening. A duck noodle I ate at a Thai food restaurant with them was delicious. While I was talking with them, or eating it, I realized again each people in the world, though having lots of sufferings and challenges for each one’s life, still manage to live a day, and keep going on. This simple fact saves me, encourages me, and remains me in society.

文章を書いてるとだんだん俺頭おかしいんじゃないかという感じになって社会生活に差し障りが出る。なんでまたインターネットに向かって言葉を投げているのだと、自分が狂人なんじゃないかという気がしてくる。生きるのが恥ずかしくなる。書いている文章も、世の中の皆様に害悪をまき散らしているに過ぎないような気がしてくる。こういうのは定期的に来る。しかし、セーフだ。夕方、友人と会う。近況を聞く。仕事、学業、子育て…今日もみんなはそれぞれ踏ん張って、どうにかこうにか生きている。晩飯にタイ料理やで食ったDuck Noodleが旨い。ちょうどまた調べ物の仕事が来た。忙しくできる。それらの事実に、社会との接点に助けられる。ふみとどまる。

Life goes on as such

January 16th 2014, Thursday

I still rarely do small talks with a silent master at a cafe near my house. I just order and he serves coffee without smile. But gradually he remembers my preference, last day he asked me “Latte?” before I order, and today he said “see you soon” when I leave. Life goes on as such, with subtle changes.
In the evening, I met with CJR members and talked about our symposium in March. Last month, still we couldn’t figure out what we will do and who we will invite for the third year anniversary after the northern east disaster in Japan, but these two weeks we had progresses. Soon we’ll finalize guests and venue and publish ads.
At night, went to an event by RICOH, “Beauty Beyond Boundaries,” which highlights RICOH’s new product “THETA,” spherical camera.



Welcome to America with a suspended degree

January 13th 2014, Monday

It was first time to come to campus after the year-end. I met a friend and her research colleague and had lunch together. She was in the same cohort during the first semester and also an international student from China. We were struggling with terrible classes and exams every week, but it’s almost one-year before and now we can just laugh on it.

Yes, it’s over. I’ve done all the program last month, and should receive MPH degree soon. But, here’s America, things don’t go smoothly. The reason why I came to campus today was, to talk with Dean of Students on a issue of my registration and tuition status which prevents my degree certificate. Last month on 19th, while I’m working on finals, suddenly the Office of Student Affairs emailed me “You owe school $16,754 in tuition, and cannot get a degree until you pay” “What!? I took all the course necessary to graduate and paid tuition each semester as billed!” After emails and phone calls now I figured out what happened on me. Columbia MPH Health Policy Management Department has choices of 16-month and 2-year programs, but most of us take 16-month one as default. But I was mistakenly registered as 2-year program as default, and neither I and my department faculties knew that, cos the office of Student Affairs never told or warned that. Tuition is based on flat rate, not per credit base for our school, and 2-year and 16-month programs have different rate per semester. So, accumulated difference of tuition per semester is now billed at one time, at the end of the year. OK, now I understand the official correct tuition for my 16-month program was higher than I paid, and agree I need to pay the remaining for graduation. But who expects $16,754 is billed at one time? If I was correctly placed on the 16-month program and told the correct tuition per semester, I could have taken actions to prepare money earlier.

The office closed from the week of Christmas. I checked all the previous document and email related to registration and tuition, and confirmed I had no fault. Then, today I met with the Dean of Students. They admitted their fault and gave me apology, but told they can nothing to do that happened. Because of segmented departments, Office of Student Affairs cannot compensate anything or discount anymore. They confirmed me to write any documentation to prove my academic qualification if necessary anytime, but an “official” MPH degree will be never issued unless I pay extra. I gave up cos it’s waste of time and needs further stress and energy if I sue them. Hopefully I can prepare money within a year by working hard.

年末急に降ってきたトラブル。プログラムの登録ミスで、僕に請求されていた学費の額が間違えており、正しく登録されていれば支払うべき学費に$16,000ほど足りない、支払うまで学位は出せないという通知が突然学生課の方から来た。僕は入学を一年延期したのだけど、その合格・延期・入学の間に学部のプログラムが変わり、そのとばっちりで登録ミスがあったのだけど、見落とされていたようだ。こちらにミスはなく、請求された額を遅滞なく払っており、過去のメールからもその違いを認識する余地はなかった。正規の額を払う分には文句ないが、いくらなんでも突然年末に言い渡され(謝罪もなく)、あと2ヶ月で用意しろと言われても無理がある。そりゃおかしいでしょ、なんでそんなことが起こったんですかと、学部・学生課の担当者に聞いてもお互い「分からない、あっちに聞け」となすりつけ合うばかり。結局今日、Dean of Studentsと話すことになった。結論から言うと、誤ってはくれたけど、支払いと学位の件は、担当部署が違うからどうにもならないと。ちゃんと学業を収めてMPHに値する能力がある旨を説明する書類は、必要となったらいつでも発行してくれるとのことだが、正式なMPH学位は支払いが終わるまでペンディング。Late feeは取られないし、まぁ4月からの勤め先も理解あるところなので、学位なんぞの紙切れがなくても人生に支障ないのだけど、それにしても納得がいかない。お金はまぁ、1年働けば用意できる、と思う。しかし今回被った迷惑に対する慰謝料とか、減免措置とかは無し。日本でお金を稼ぐから、支払う際もアメリカの口座への振替手数料かかるのだけど、そういうのも負担してくれるわけでもなし。訴訟とか面倒だから、これで我慢するしかないけど。なんだかなぁ。NY暮らしが長い友人には、Welcome to Americaって言われた(笑)

Shovel again / 昼夜逆転、長い1日

January 5th-6th 2014, Sunday-Monday

It’s getting colder and colder. Snow keeps mounting. Owner of the building told me it was not enough that I shoveled snow yesterday. Yes, sorry, I wrote I did snow shoveling yesterday, but actually I never knew enough what is snow shoveling. Yesterday I saw other community residents just moderately shoveled snow so people at least managed to walk through, so I did the same. But it’s not enough. If I left small amount of snow on surface of the street, it would ice up during the night and cause people slipping, that’s too dangerous. A senior man in the same building taught and helped me shoveling again, asking me “Where’s your hometown?” I answered Kobe, west side of Japan where snow rarely piles, and he said “that’s why you don’t know how.”

This is how I should have done.

Even just for living a day, there is a plenty of learning.

In the afternoon, I worked at our new gallery, J-LABO Brooklyn. I painted pipes by white paint. It looks easy and simple job, but still needs some knowledge about accurate mix of paint and water to paint smoothly each material at each situation, without letting color splattered on clothes, walls and the floor. After struggling with Sunday DIY job, the owner gave us warm and delicious soup for dinner. Outside is still awful cold.

先月に大学院が一段落ついてから、調査研究の仕事にようやく本腰を入れられるようになり、年末からほとんど机に向かって過ごしている。日本の人と一緒にやっていて、あちらの1月7日にけっこう大事な中間報告のタイミングとして検討会があるから、ここ数日は特に激しい追い込み。だんだんと昼夜逆転気味になってくる。5日と6日は2日間というより長い1日だったという感覚がある。ともあれ、こちらの6日夕方、あちらの7日朝には一段落ついた。精度の国際比較というのは難しい。まずもって言語の壁がある。英語ならまだ良いのだけど、僕が担当している国のひとつはスウェーデンだから、なかなか大変。Google Translateにお世話になっている。また、一次データの収集方法も違うから、相互に比較分析可能なようにデータを整理するのが重要だ。最後に資料や報告書をまとめる段階には、脚注をしっかり示さなければならないのだけど、普段からの整理整頓を怠っていると、メモ書きの引用元がどこにあったかと探すのにまた時間がかかる。振り返ると色々もう少し効率的に早くできたなと反省することもしばしば。調査事業は3月までで、現地調査は昨年秋に行った。あとは本当に報告書をまとめるペーパーワークの段階。緻密に、丁寧に、調べてまとめてのプロセス。しっかりやろう。

Snow and Latte

January 4th 2014, Saturday

Little earlier than last year, winter storm has come. My town Brooklyn are filled with snow, of course in front of my building. Maybe it is just the second or third time for me to shovel out.

Chilly cold, but it’s ok, good exercise. Street is brighter than usual, thanks to snow reflecting the sunlight.

All the trash, refuse, recyclable materials that I and other residents threw at night, are covered with white.

After that, I went to my favorite cafe near my house. When I stand by the counter to order, the cafe master, a dandy middle aged man, quiet with little words, asked me “Latte?,” and I found that he’s remembered everytime I ordered latte. Unfortunately, today I took a cup of regular coffee! But it was still happy to know that my life in this town is peacefully continuing from 2013 to now, 2014.