Three random stories from Japan – one is blooper reel worthy (if it had been filmed), one is amusing (at least chuckle worthy) and one is thought-provoking. 🙂

1. On the seventh morning in Japan, my eyes lit up as I saw applesauce on the breakfast buffet. Breakfast buffets in Japan usually have a “western” section and a “traditional” section. This particular buffet was not divided that way. I wasn’t in the mood for eggs so I took some fruit, made two pieces of toast and took a separate bowl of applesauce. The dining room was crowded. We found a few seats here and there and sat down to eat. I put my tray on the table and went to get some coffee and butter and by the time I came back the table was “just our group”. I was really looking forward to the applesauce. I don’t know why but I was. I scooped up a small spoonful and the moment the applesauce touched my tongue I knew this isn’t applesauce. I knew I couldn’t  swallow it. Okay proper etiquette is however it goes in your mouth is how it should come out of your mouth. So as politely as possible I spit it back unto the spoon and slowly placed the spoon back in the bowl. I glanced around the table to see if anyone noticed. Thankfully, no. I took a quick drink of coffee and a deep breath to stop myself from bursting into laughter. I looked at one of my fellow travelers and said “it wasn’t applesauce” and proceeded to share the story. 🙂

2. At one moment towards the end of our journey we all had to “pile” into one elevator. Luckily we didn’t have out luggage with us. We were definitely standing too close together. There wasn’t room to breath.I said “if this elevator gets stuck, I am going to need Dr Katz!” To which Dr Katz said “if this elevator gets stuck, Dr Katz is going to need Dr Katz!” Dr Katz is a psychiatrist.

3. We had the opportunity to visit a high school. School wasn’t is session but some students came to share their 3/11 stories. They presented their stories in English and two of Tribute Center docents myself included shared our stories. When I finished sharing my prepared presentation, I said “I wanted to tell them something I had always said to my daughters September 11 does not define you.” I told them that “March 11 doesn’t define you. It will shape you but it doesn’t define you. You have done a great job today telling us your stories. Keep up the good work. I am proud of you.” Later on the bus one of the Mount Sinai medical students asked if he could ask me a question. “sure” “You told your daughters not to let 9/11 define you but everything you do is about 9/11. Wouldn’t it be easier to just not deal with it. To just move on.” I made a few comments and said “I have to think about what you said and will get back to you.”  I have actually thought about that idea before by doing tours and speaking about September 11, I am allowing it to define me.The next morning at breakfast I said “I have to tell you this right now. It will seem totally random but I am tired and if I don’t say it now I will forget. Remember yesterday and our conversation about all the things I do being allowing September 11 to define me, that is wrong. All I do defines September 11.”


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