Work In Progress

My money is in flames

I don’t know about you, but all these media reports about the current financial crisis just make me want to curl up in a ball and catch up on “America’s Next Top Model.” But no matter how loudly I hum the theme song to “Army Wives,” I can’t drown out the voice in my head asking: What the hell is going on with my money?

Today I took a …

I cain’t quit you, New York Times

A couple of months ago, just before I left for my hometown in Japan, I canceled my newspaper subscription. My reasons:

a. Money. At $1.50 a day, plus the pricey Sunday paper, I was shelling out $42.50 a month. That’s a wasabi pea compared to, say, my cable bill ($145 to Time Warner, with the employee discount of bubkis). But it seemed …

Trick or treat, says the geisha

It’s that time of year again. Even in Japan, the plastic Jack-o’-lanterns decorate store windows and candy is taking a more prominent position on shelves. My little one, the one who talks, is considering her costume options. At two, she was a kitty; at three, a princess. This year, she thinks, she will be a kitty …

AIG, Merrill, Lehman: If your company is tanking, is it riskier to stay or bail?

Yesterday was Keiro-no-hi in Japan, or Respect for the Elderly Day. It’s a national holiday, which means the press, too, gets a day off. The entire press corps of the entire country goes to the beach. With Obaachan and Ojiichan. It’s nice, isn’t it? Because it means that no matter what happens in the world, there is absolutely no news …

A house is not a home

We are in the process of clearing out our mother’s home. It is not easy work.

After all the fuss of the funeral had settled, my sister Emy and I settled down to the job of sifting through three-plus decades of junk that had accumulated in this, our childhood home. I say we but really my sister has been doing all the work; I have taken …

I heart Japanese bureaucracy

This morning I set off to secure my daughter her Japanese citizenship. The three-month time limit that began at her birth is tomorrow. Let no one say I don’t meet my deadlines.

Anyway, here’s what the local ward office needed from me:

1. A two-page form covered in monkey scratch registering my marriage to Kana’s dad in 1996 B.C., which …

Life as a full-time mom in Japan

I need a decoder ring.

I have enrolled Mika, my four-year-old, in a Japanese kindergarten for the remainder of the month as I stay in the country to sort out my parents’ affairs. It is a fiendishly difficult business, this settling of an estate, in a land that never saw a government-required form it didn’t like. Also it would help if I …

Our priest must be bored

My sister Emy and I visited with the pastor of our local parish yesterday to hand over a wad of cash. In Japanese funerals, guests offer up money as a condolence gift, and our mother had insisted it go to charity. Her longtime church is to be one recipient, and so we take this thick envelope to Father Sakurai. He was the one who visited …

My maternity leave thus far

I’ve been composing this blog post in my head for so long and now that I’m here, typing, my mind is completely blank. I suppose I’ll simply tell you what I’ve been up to so far on my maternity leave:

1. I had a baby.
2. I took my family to Japan.
3. I lost my mother.

All three things happened in such quick succession that I have yet to …

Baby Cullen’s C.V.


Goal: Week-old baby seeks position requiring no particular skills.

Education: None. Not a drop.

Experience: Nine months gestation.

Skills: As mentioned, none in particular. Can see, hear and flail. Recent acquisition of ability to extract milk from breast. Proven proficiency in hiccups.

Salary requirements:

Maternity Leave in Progress: sayonara for now

So after much agonizing over what I ought to do with WiP during my leave, I did what I always do and punted to someone with more brain cells: in this case, chief pooh-bah Josh. I offered two options:

1. Keep going, albeit at a slower pace and in a more personal vein.
2. Hang an Out of Office shingle.

As a brand new dad …

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