How cool is the interweb? I just got off an iChat session with my bro and we played dueling babies. Thank you DARPA (it's true) for making this moment possible.
But poor lil' Nico's got a bad case of baby acne. Her sweet little face is covered in tiny zits. It freaked me out until I read (everywhere I could) that it's a normal part of infancy.... still, it freaks me out a little. Explosive poo I'm cool with, but these tiny zits spook me.
In other news, as much as I'm bummed about getting cut from that NYTimes article, I'm equally excited about this week's new TIME magazine where I'll have 7 illustrations in a spread about future energy. Here's a sample:
I worked at TIME briefly back when I was doing graphic design full-time so it's really sweet to have gotten something into my old "alma matter".
Everything's good in Nico-land, but Dad got hit with a bit of bad news. The illustration above had been slated to run in the upcoming issue of the New York Times Magazine but got cut at the last moment. My piece, along with 3 others, got whacked in a late night editorial killing spree.
I've been wanting to get into the Magazine since, well... always. I've been in different sections of the paper twice already, but haven't yet made it to, what I consider to be the brass ring of the place, the Magazine. Except I did... and then I didn't. I had been invited, along with 14 other illustrators to submit our different takes on the future of the car. I guess only 10 made it in.
Between the sketch phase and the final illustration some changes were made. In my original sketch I played off a few of the ideas in the article: the idea of drivers being able to resell the electricity generated by their hydrogen fuel cell equipped cars, the idea of "plug-n-play" modular cars and the idea of stripping down excess weight for better fuel economy. I imagined how it might play out here in Japan. I imagined some enterprising folk would trick out their cars into essentially, mobile power plants. Right now people sell all kinds of the oddest stuff out of reconfigured vehicles, everything from hot, sweet potatoes to laundry poles to kerosene gas. Selling electricity didn't seem like too far a leap. The NYTimes folks asked me to simplify it a bit and place it in an American context... no problem. I just wish it had made it in. Ah well, maybe next time.
Miyuki's brother Yuichiro and his wife Yumi came for a visit yesterday.... Nico actually woke up from all the excitement. It was good to see them. They're holding down the fort back in Takayama. We'll be headed back in November.
Yesterday we took Nico out for a little daytrip, to pick up more baby supplies and to make her official. We went to the local shiyakshou, or City Hall, to have her name entered into our kouseki, or family registry. Kind of analogous to a birth certificate in the States. This is how Nico's full name looks in Japanese:
Huh? you might be saying.Well let me school you.... The first bit is our family name, "McKible" which as it's spelled out above in katakana (one of the 3 Japanese alphabets) is pronounced more as "Ma' kiburu".
The middle bit is in written in kanji (one of those other Japanese alphabets... not really an alphabet as it's based on Chinese ideograms, but another one of the 3 systems used here for writing) and can be read as "Nico". But when it comes to names here, the relationship between the written kanji and the way a name is spoken is pretty arbitrary. There's a number of ways you could say the kanji above. But we picked them to be read as Nico. Also since they're ideograms each one contains it's own meaning (well, actually each one could contain several... yeah, it's a fuckin' complicated language.). The combination we picked though reads as, "calling laughter" or "calling a smile". For a while we had "smiling flower" instead, but decided that would be just a bit over the top saccharine.
And the last bit is "Raquel" or as it's pronounced here "Rakeru".
Well, after all that we were pooped and needed a little break.
Looks like we attracted a little audience as well.
For those of you who are already parents this will come as no surprise, but for the uninitiated, the first few weeks/months of a new babies life find the parents of said baby suddenly gripped by a new found fascination with... poo. Me and my brother Adam have been regularly exchanging emailed observation of our respective newborns fecal productions. Currently both factory floors are churning out what appears to be a close analogue of Grey Poupon, or what is more commonly referred to in the literature as " yellow, grainy, seedy in appearance"... which is a pleasant enough, even slightly savory description. But I can guarantee that you wouldn't want to be spreading this stuff on your jambon et fromage any time soon.Of course, as new production facilities come on line, a bewildering new array of goods on offer will change accordingly.
Luckily, a Japanese baby formula company has thoughtfully produced a lavishly illustrated guide to assist the new parent in making informed identifications of each new season's offering. I feel like a new enthusiast who's just been given next years catalogue. I want to collect them all.But I can only imagine the poor studio photographer that accepted this commission and the concerns it might have prompted about their career track. I mean I wonder if he or she ever imagined they'd be pondering what the best way to light poo is?
So yesterday my "girls" came back home from Saito-san's, the mid-wife's place. Saito-san is in the center of the photo (uhm, without her fingers stuck up her nose... hey, I said the place was full of kids). She's really amazing. Miyuki was a bit sore from her initial breast feedings so at 5 a.m. Saito-san hopped on her scooter and put-putted away into the dawn light to pick up some medicinal leaves from a local farmer. She returned a bit later with a bag full of little, round green leaves that looked a little like organic pasties. When Miyuki put them on she looked a bit like a Green stripper.
But now sexy mama and the baby girl are both safely back home.
Miyuki and Nico moved to the midwife's yesterday. Wow, what a change. It's initially where we wanted to do the birth before opting for the C-section. It's a great, relaxed, friendly, warm place full of Mom's and kids. Miyuki's loving it. And Nico? Well, she's getting her first real meals. The hospital was fine, efficient and well run, but gave Miyuki squat in the way of info; but especially on how to get the breast milk flowing. The midwife, Saito-san, is apparently the all-Nippon champ in coaching new Moms how to breast feed babies. It's an amazing difference in only one day. Both Mom and daughter seem very happy with the results. Besides hospitals are for sick people. Even though Miyuki's still recovering from the surgery, still in a little pain, we're planning on bringing baby and Mom back home on Monday.
It looks like my bro Adam and his charming and lovely wife Julie have beat us to the punch. In yet another instance of the weird synchronicity of our lives (too many to mention here), we wound up conceiving our offspring within weeks of each other. Miyuki's C-section should have put us in the lead but it looks like Julie beat us to it by a few days. September 2 in fact. So say hello to Elijah Takeshi McKible:
All our love goes out to the newest McKible, our nephew, and the proud parents.
In four days, I'm gonna be a Dad... holy crap!!! We'll be meeting Nico Raquel (if she's a girl) McKible. I can be so sure about the date because Miyuki's getting a C-section. We decided to go this route because Nico-chan seems to be taking after her parents already... she's stubborn. As you can see in the x-ray above she's not turning; she's found a good spot and isn't going anywhere. A little over a week ago, we went in for a baby turning and nada, nothing, no dice, she's stayed in the breech position. Frankly I'm a little relieved about the C-section, for both Miyuki and the baby. Going into labor with a breech baby didn't seem like a pleasant prospect for anyone involved. A C-section just seems the safer thing to do. Also, nowdays, here in Japan they perform Cesarean's with a laser scapel... cool! It really appeals to the geek in me as well as the concerned lover (smaller, cleaner scar).
The (attempted) baby turning was pretty interesting. At the hospital, in the delivery ward, we were in the active labor area, which is a room where a you can move around and such during labor. It was a curtained off platform with tatami matting on the floor and a big thick rope hanging from the ceiling.... Pretty straightfoward; y'know, allot of room to move around and a sturdy rope to grab onto when the going gets rough and you need a little help squatting. Actually, before we knew Nico was breech Miyuki was planning on going all-natural. We had a mid-wife picked out and were all set.
The baby turning itself was a pretty direct affair as well. After giving Miyuki a shot to relax her abdominal muscles our doctor came in and kneeling down beside her, put one hand near where the baby's feet were and the other near the head and basically just tried to turn the baby. It seemed pretty clear after the first few minutes though that Nico wasn't having any of it. The doctor had a pretty good grip on her too. All I could do was hold Miyuki's hand as she went through it. It didn't seem very pleasant.
There was one interesting/amusing detail about the thing though... 2 nursing students from a nearby college were in the room us, basically just to observe and help out. The head nurse had fitted Miyuki out with a fetal heart rate monitor so she could check for any undue stress on the baby during the turning procedure. The two students were kneeling to one side of Miyuki in the seizaposition (knees tucked under the body, back straight) with the tiny little fetal heart rate monitor on the floor between them, occasionaly straightening out a paper tape that issued from the machine. The curtained off room was fairly hot so the head nurse asked one of the students to find a hand fan to keep Miyuki cool. But the only fan she could find was an enormousuchiwa(a non folding kind of paper fan) that was a bit of promotional marketing for a jpop group called the Kinki Kids (don't EVEN ask me about the name... I've got no idea). It must have been almost a foot in diameter and had plastered on it a gigantic image of the dude on the right (below).
It was just the most surreal scene... Miyuki flat on her back, hooked up to a tiny, noisy machine being attended to by one of two kneeling nursing students who's waving the disembodied head of a well-coiffed jpop star back and forth on an enormous paper fan. Add the doctor with an iron grip on my wife's belly and all of it set within a tatami matt room with a thick, stout birthing rope hanging directly above. Just. a. little. odd.
But come this Tuesday and we'll finally get to meet the little monkey whose been kicking around inside Miyuki's belly for the last 9 months. I'm scared and anxious and terribly excited.
mckible (aka "mckibillo") in nihon...
Hence "mckib in nihon" (go figure), where I'll strive to provide the occasional, piquant observation on the life of a gaijin in the mountains of Japan.
Since November 2004, adding to an already crowded field of ex-pat observation.
is Josh McKible. I'm an illustrator living and working in Kanagawa, Japan. My work has appeared in the New York Times, Esquire, GQ and many other publications. For more information please visit my portfolio site. For commissions, collaborations or just to say "hi" please email me. Thanks.