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the weekly tea
gold fu
from white2tea
weekly tea: gold fu
This is the almost-last tea from my Japan trip (the very last one is book-related and will be saved for a later time). I was going to send this earlier, but I’ve been so jet lagged that I kind of forgot that yesterday was Wednesday?
Gold fu is another fu brick heicha, and it’s a delight. The taste is amazing. The golden flowers (described in the link) are numerous and visible. It’s a relaxing delight of a tea. I also anticipated that there might be some travel-related back pain and brought it with me to Japan alongside my trusty travel tea set, and this enabled me to make tea in probably one of the most beautiful settings I’ve ever had tea in.
Matsushima is an incredibly beautiful place in and of itself: a bay filled with hundreds of tiny islands, each of those islands filled with pine trees that have been distorted and blown by the wind.
But if you take the train to the Matsushima Kaigan train station (the train station near the coast, not the one in the center of town), and then, instead of going down to the beach and the islands, you turn up, you can take a steep path, part stairs, part high-grade, up to a park called Saigyou Modoshi no Matsu park. There’s a story behind the name about a Buddhist monk being asked questions under a pine tree and being unable to answer.
But it’s actually one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever encountered in my life. I was there right in the middle of cherry blossom season, and was able to catch cherry blossoms in the foreground, ancient pines just behind, and in the furthest back ground, a bay filled with islands.
None of the pictures I took managed to truly capture the beauty of the park, which somehow felt at the edge of my experience.
But I don’t want to use the word “magical” to describe it. It feels like that would erase centuries of caretaking in building and maintaining something this beautiful, particularly after the area was rocked by one of the worst earthquakes in history a dozen years ago. 

Things that are not magical…
But speaking of things that are not magical: there was a thing that happened in Japan that’s kind of hard to describe without a little bit of my history.
Seventeen years ago or so, I had a job working for a federal judge where I was in the office from about 9:30 AM until about 1:30 AM on weekdays. On weekends, we were allowed to come in at noon. On holidays, we were allowed to come in at noon, although when I came in on Christmas, I got yelled at because the judge called at 10:30 AM and I wasn’t there.
One of the little bits of fallout from this job that I had was this: after I finished, my mobility was substantially limited. I’m not going to go into details, but let’s just say that I tried to go on a walk the week afterward, and I had stabbing pains in the side of my leg that were so bad I could barely move. I spent years trying to push through this and managed to make things worse. About six years after, deep into the “push through this” phase, I injured myself so badly that every step hurt, and I couldn’t manage as much as a quarter of a mile.
That was the point when I realized that perhaps pushing through it wasn’t going to work. At some point (insert a year of me trying basically everything that could possibly help)  I realized that I had a gait problem and I worked on fixing it, and that helped enormously, and made it so that I could walk again. Even so, I’ve been dealing with ongoing problems, particularly involving pain going up hills.
And then I went to Japan, which is basically all hills. Normally what I would do at home was take a hill, stress out my muscles to the point of pain, and then rest until the pain went away, because I have extremely bad experiences doing the latter. But I didn’t want to rest because my trip was short and I had a lot of things I wanted to do. So even though I was doing things that stressed my muscles, and caused pain, and even though there were a lot of hills, I pushed through it.
And something that was very…not-magical, but that felt magical, happened.
Remember earlier this year when I broke my toe, and then ended up having excruciating back pain and eventually saw a PT? My PT had me do a variety of exercises to treat the back pain, and also really worked on isolating and strengthening my hips and various other stabilizing muscles in my legs.
This…thing happened, as I was pushing through pain this time. After years of feeling like I needed to take tentative steps, I somehow managed to unlock a gait that finally felt like it was using all my muscles properly. I was using my hips and my glutes as I walked. I could actually walk faster and I felt stronger. I just needed to actually push myself.
There is no real moral of the story except that good PTs are extremely good. Pushing myself was bad when I didn’t have the underlying strength to do it right, but it was good once I had developed the correct baseline.

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Speaking of things that are not magical: There are some books that feel like they take forever to write. There are some books that seem to write themselves.
I wrote Unveiled in about five feverish months, which for me, is intensely short. It came after one of the hardest books I’d ever written, and it convinced me that I was, in fact, capable of writing a novel once more. This was one of those books that I needed, and I’m forever grateful to whatever book gods there may be for deciding I needed an easy one.
Buy Unveiled on:

Until next week!
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