It was the subtlest of changes, a transition so slight as to be almost imperceptible.  If not for the fact that we’ve been together for over a year, I might not have even noticed.  At first, I wasn’t sure but, as I began to suspect, and pay closer attention, it became obvious that something was up.  Akemi seemed a little distant, a little pensive – lately, a little less quick to laugh and more inclined to take time to herself.  Of course, when I asked her about it, she was quick to deny there was a problem.  I pressed and, in typical Japanese fashion, she begged off, hesitated, claimed it wasn’t important, said she didn’t want to bother me and then, ultimately, admitted there WAS something bothering her.

Her visa expires in three months.

Here I’ve been, so focused on work and enduring Toronto, looking ahead to finishing up the year and returning to Vancouver, that I failed to consider a very big part of my life for the past fifteen months will not be going back with me.  The next three months may not be ideal for me but for Akemi, they’re all she has left in Canada.  It’s heartbreaking to sense the struggle beneath that gentle, optimistic facade, doubly so because I know how much she loved Vancouver and how much happier these last three months would have been back home in more familiar surroundings.  It makes me sad to know we won’t get the opportunity to do so many of the things we loved while we were together on the west coast, little things like grabbing an ice cream at Bella Gelateria, watching a movie in the theater room, or even sitting in the backyard with the dogs.

The dogs.  They’ll all miss her, but Bubba especially.  Whenever Akemi is on the couch, he has to be up there with her.  Whenever Akemi goes upstairs, he has to bound up after her.  Whenever Akemi puts her shoes on to head out, he has to sit at her feet, gazing imploringly up at her, seemingly trying to convince her to take him along through sheer mental will.  So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Bubba was the first one to pick up on the change in Akemi, over the past few days snuggling alongside her a little closer, staying by her side a little longer.

For now, I’m going to try to concentrate on the present and not worry about the future.  Easier for me given the many distractions I have to contend with on a daily basis but not quite so simple for Akemi who has all day to think about it her impending departure.  And despite the fact that I finally got her to open up about what was bothering her, again in typical Japanese fashion, she remains reluctant to discuss, adopting a sunny smile and waving away my efforts.  The prospect of my worrying about her is apparently more distressing to her than her own personal distress.  And yet still, there are rare instances where the brave front falters and I catch a glimpse of the true emotions.  “I’ll be okay,”she assured me last night, bright-eyed and spirited.  And then, a simple request: “Please don’t forget about me.”


Speaking of forgetting – don’t forget to cast your vote in the Name Trevor’s Baby contest (see past entries for details).  AND don’t forget to post your questions and comments on Sweet Tooth!

Today’s Bento Breakfast –

56 thoughts on “July 5, 2011: Sad Rabbit

  1. And when her visa expires she’ll never be allowed back into Canada again?

    That’s the way you’re making it sound. Is there a reason she can’t come back/get a new visa/extend the visa/etc.?

  2. Having dealt with Canadian Immigration for the past 5ish years myself(got citizenship a few months ago), have you thought about sponsoring her? You’ve been living together, shouldn’t be hard to prove that it’s a real relationship. It’s a pain, but will be much easier in the long run than student or visitor visas.

  3. Aww, Joe…now I’M a sad rabbit. 🙁 Isn’t there any way for Akemi to get an extension or renewal? Joey, we can’t lose her! Fix this!!

    Ack – I’ve been so busy I forgot all about getting questions together for Jeff! I’ll get back to you!


  4. Well there is an obvious solution to this problem. I say we start a fund to be used to bribe the Canadian immigration officials to keep Akemi in Canada! The Keep Akemi in Canada fund! But in case the Canadian officials are one of those rare political breeds that can’t be bribed, then the fund could be used to purchase forged documents that would allow Akemi to stay in the country for at least 20 years before anyone caught up, if Canada is anything like the states. Or baring all else… naw just too horrible to contemplate the final alternative, especially for a man who has no strings attached. But… Bubba has been care free for long enough: Bubba and Akemi can get married and then the authorities will have to allow her to stay! Well first there is the little matter of getting Canada to be the first to allow inter-species marriage. 😉

    Nuts, I’m going to miss the Bento breakfast pictures…

  5. Look at Akemi’s sad eyes. Look at Bubba’s sad face. Do something Joe. We love her too.

    Really enjoyed reading Sweet Tooth Out of the Deep Woods, my first ever comic book. So much I already have volume 2 and 3. I was fascinated by the artwork mostly and how well it told the story too. Even more impressed when I saw Jeff Lemire did the illustrating and writing. So here are some curiousity questions for Jeff…

    1. Where did you get the idea for Sweet Tooth?

    2. Do you ever more deeply explain the plague and what caused it?

    3. What’s in the bag?? I’m sure you won’t tell. You’ll say, “read further”. Well, I am, and I know what’s in the bag. So sad.

    4. What are you first, writer or illustrator? Which do you prefer if you could only do one?

    5. Is it common for the writer to illustrate his own comic books or are you a “hybrid” too?

    6. The credits say Jose Villarrubia – Colors, Pat Brosseau – Letters. What exactly is “Colors” and “Letters”? (I’m thinking if you can write and are such a great artist, you can do these other two things too.)

    7. I was fascinated (almost to distraction) by all the pictures in the book. I thought they alone told a large portion of the story. Ever think about a comic book with very few words, that mostly uses the artwork pictures to tell the story?

    8. How old were you when you wrote (or drew) your first story and what was it about?

    9. What are you working on now?

    10. What advise would you give a first time comic book writer, someone like a Joe Mallozzi?

    Thank you Mr Lemire! Really enjoyed (and continuing to enjoy) Sweet Tooth.

  6. Marry her. Problem solved. Do it for your blog readers. Do it for the dogs. Do it for Bubba. Or sponsor her, saying no one but Akemi can do the things you and your dogs need. Now you have ME bummed out. 🙁 Give her a hug for me.

  7. Okay Joe, here’s the plan. Akemi goes back. Then you order her as a Bride through the mail. That’s right! A mail-order-bride. That is still going on even today, just mostly from Germany and Russia. There you go!

  8. It’s a real dog race for 2nd place in the Trevor’s Baby naming rights.

  9. Must admit to becoming rather distressed over Akemi’s situation. She is family! There has to be something that can be done to fix this.

  10. Relationship advice from people you don’t know… AWESOME! I know i love it when people do it to me, but here goes.

    Sponsor her for permanent residency, that way she doesnt have to go back, and she also doesnt have to give up her Japanese citizenship

    Either way, she seems like a great person and you have my regrets if you guys cant find a way to make it work.

  11. I’m a sad rabbit, too, but only so sad because I know she’ll figure it out. If she needs documentation that she’s in a real relationship, she can point out your blog.

    Just to bring up an internet meme (and the coat of arms of yet another of my mmo tribes)…

    Then there’s all the powerful people you know. (*ahem*Patrick*Gilmore’s*brother*ahem*)

  12. Application for a Permanent Resident Card :

    Application for Canadian citizenship :

    Japanese don’t need visa to stay/visit in Canada … is she taiwanese ?

    You could say she is your personnal breakfest-bento chef / dog nanny / food tester-reviewer assistant and you need her around.

    Or you could grow up admit you have feelings for her and that she’s one of those rare individual who make you laugh more then cry and can stand your bad ears , bad smell , and bad habits and ask to marry her … if things don’t workout you could always get a divorce , if your affraid for your toy collection just do a pre-nup. 😉

    She complete you …

  13. Couldn’t her Visa be renewed ? Couldn’t she apply for a permanent residency ? If I understand well, when you say you have been together for a year then it means its a serious relationship? How about make it officially serious ?
    I mean Canada doesn’t go crazy over immigration like US does.
    There should be a way for you guys to be together without a headache.

    Remember that it is much easier to be successful in your professional life than your personal life. If you found the right person, you shouldn’t let her go away.

    All the best to you and Akemi!

  14. Questions for Jeff Lemire:

    I’d like to say how much I enjoyed the first trade volume of Sweet Tooth. I was ready for the standard post-apocalyptic story, but got so much more, especially the relationship between Gus, and Jepperd, which leads me to my first question:

    1. I got the impression that Gus is a bit more than what Jepperd expected, and that the child’s stark honesty is opening some old wounds…or perhaps, some old eyes. How much impact does meeting Gus actually have on Jepperd?

    2. Will we see more of Jepperd as the story progresses?

    3. When first creating this story, where was your main focus – on the human journey, or the unfolding of the plot?

    4. When you write, do you get emotionally involved with your characters, putting yourself in their shoes, or do you remain detached, preferring to ‘watch’ what they do rather than ‘experiencing’ what they do?

    5. Who or what was your inspiration for the story and the main characters?

    6. Who or what was your inspiration for getting into comics/graphic novels?

    7. When creating a story, do the words come to you first, or the pictures – the mental images of how you want the scenes to look?

    8. What are the pros and cons of creating your own original work, as opposed to working on long-established, corporate-controlled characters and titles?

    Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, and looking forward to more of Sweet Tooth! Keep up the excellent work!


  15. Speaking from personal experience here, I’ve got to tell you that what seems like the more ridiculous, unreasonable route (doing whatever it takes to keep her around if you want her to stay around) is, in the long run, a better option than resigning yourselves to what seems like an inevitable fate. If you guys want to stay together, get it done, no questions. I know it’s your personal life and all, and I’m a stranger giving advice via the comments section of a blog, but you don’t read every entry of someone’s blog every day for several years and not feel a pang of sadness when you read something like that.

    In summary, if you care enough to keep her around, MAKE IT HAPPEN. ‘Nuff said (and I NEVER say “’nuff said”).

  16. Huge hugs to Akemi. Joe, get your act together and rewrite this script for a happy ending.

  17. Ah, you’ve been together for more than a year, you wish to stay together, and I’m sure neither one of you were be wasting your time, especially at your age, being together unless you guys were in love with each other. So, could you guys not get married? Wouldn’t that fix the problem and allow you both to go back to Vancouver in January? Am I missing something here?

  18. I finally was able to watch Blockade and Gauntlet on Hulu. Bravo!

    Re: Akemi. Methinks you are leading up to a big announcement!

  19. Joe, like nm says, there are other options. I would contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada ( ) and see what can be done about extending or renewing the visa. From what I can tell, it may still involve Akemi having to leave the country for a period, but I can’t imagine that it’s permanent banishment! I guess one question would be is Akemi willing to apply for Permanent Resident status? It’s kind of the first step to becoming a citizen, I suppose. Remember, if there’s a government regulation, there’s probably also a way around said regulation.

    Anyway, we can’t have Akemi being sad. It’s just not right! In any case Akemi, we would never forget you!

  20. I couldn’t find a copy of Sweet Tooth at Borders, either. I’ll order it old school and wait for my copy. No biggie but I’ll miss the Q & A. I suppose I could as the author “Why is there no ebook version?” 😀 I think it would look great on a tablet!

  21. Agreeing with everyone else for you to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to keep Akemi around. I would miss all the bento breakfast pictures. 🙂 And I actually also agree with noelm. Big announcement soon???

    Best wishes whatever happens, and Akemi, we would not forget you.

    Have a good day, Joe, and Akemi too!!!

  22. Yeah I agree with Debra, you and Akemi should get married Joe!

    Speaking of which Joe, its not really your fault that you’ve been busy and didnt notice stuff, you have a really important job and TV has been pretty much a huge part of your life, its not exactly a bad thing there.

  23. Big hug for Akemi. I’m so saddened that her visa is about expire. I hope there is a way to renew it. It just doesn’t seem fair. 🙁 I’ll miss all her sweetness about her. She is such a wonderful person from what you tell us. I’ll miss seeing those bento breakfasts. BTW…the latest creation is just best. Love the little bird she created in there with the hearts made with strawberries. Very cute, Akemi. 🙂 Joe…I think you need to do something for her to cheer her up. We can’t have sad Akemi.

  24. @HBMC
    @Lou Zucaro
    @My Name Is Scott
    @John Manzione
    @Narelle from Aus

    Joe to Minna ga yasashi sugite sukisugimasu…!!!

    I am happy because you guys are sooo kind and sweet.

  25. Whatever happens, Akemi should know that neither you, nor your blog regulars will forget her. Best of luck in this for you both.

  26. Nooo! What Canada needs is more Akemi. Clearly there would not have been riots if Akemi had been in Vancouver spreading good will and joy. Notice how there have no zero riots in Toronto since Akemi arrived. Coincidence? I think not!

    I agree with all above; extend that visa, sponsoring, how about classes? Can Akemi study on a student visa? Bueno, this is very worrying news. How about a work visa, using Akemi’s chef skillz?

  27. Hugs for our Sad Rabbit. Joe, this is not something which cannot be fixed! Hop on it!

  28. Aww Akemi, no one could forget you, especially Joerl

    “Sweet Tooth”

    Received/read this morning…I haven’t read other “Sweet Tooth” posts so sorry if I’m repeating.

    A very good read Mr. Jeff Lemire, I felt Gus was original and likable and that his situation fit well in the post-apocalytic genre.

    His age- he acts and thinks and feels spot on as a 9 year old, but did you debate a lot about what age to have him be, especially keeping him preteen?

    I wonder if BunnyGirl will be back, be a friend to Gus…(is she special as the spash of blonde color leads me to suspect?) Sad Bunny Akemi so ironic here with HoneyBunnyGirl…both with cute fake ears…

    Was Jepperd being sarcastic of the hunter, or sincere, when Jepperd rehashes “ain’t never seen a deer-one before” at the top of p.36?

    Some name associations from this reader…Abbot in charge of the Preserve/Abbey…Dr.Singh (Data’s ‘father’ STTNG, Re-Animator hypo) Dandy the BambiDeer – Candy is Dandy…

    What would be a viable payment to Jeppard? Something ‘worth’ turning in SWEET TOOTH?

    Of course I want Jeppard to redeem himself…and hope that Gus’ instincts pay off after all the ignoring of his Dad’s/dreams advice he has done-is humanities redemption keyed on Jeppard’s as well?

    Thanks I sure enjoyed the read, it took me back to Creepy/Eerie/Heavy Metal days.


  29. Agree with noelm. There are big plans for Joe and Akemi but with a twist on how it was presented.

  30. Marry her!

    There a random person in the bog comment section has spoken.

    You must obey!

  31. Aww I’m not on the kind list lol

    Seriously though, its not like I didn’t care by showing the same support as everyone else, if anything I just agreed with Debras comments almost entirely.

    That and I believe the situation your in isnt your fault at all Joe, you didnt do anything at all wrong. You work in the TV industry Joe thus you’re a busy guy, if that affects your relationship with Akemi its not your fault. Its just a part of being involved in TV.

    Just seeing things from another point of view there and more showing support to your side of things Joe.

  32. That bento breakfast was gorgeous!
    I bet that when Akemi looks into her visa it won’t be much of a problem. If Canada immigration laws are like America’s, she might have to go back home for a few weeks. Maybe, the timing will be good and you can take your Japan trip at the same time? We are all rooting for Akemi!

  33. @Akemi

    Bubba would pine without you – so you got to do what you got to do to stay in Canada.


    I am too tired to work out if the above sentence is actually in English !

  34. Good luck with Immigration, but if Akemi goes, you’re going to miss those cute breakfasts!

  35. Ghost Bunnies, this is the saddest of all things, my dogs (which I have four of) got a baby bunny and broke its back. My wife saw Princess (A blond girl, half jack russell terrier and half lab, her father was the lab) any my wife took the bunny away to save it. The poor thing was suffering so, it couldn’t walk, it just fell over. It couldn’t eat or drink. So the next day my wife went to work and I had to end the bunny’s suffering. I drowned the bunny. It BROKE my heart to do so. I suffered for days. I am still suffering over the bunny. I buried the bunny in a special place and built a small shrine with a stone that I sit by often. I can still see the bunny as he took his last breath, or at least when he tried to breath and his lungs were full of water. I am a grown man, I will turn 43 tomorrow. I cried for the bunny. Yet that was an irony because if it had been a man, I wouldn’t have grieved at all. My point is, you have to do what is best for the individual. If Akemi must leave, then let her. Remember that last moment. Cherish it as if it were a gem found in a torrent. It has been rolled and polished, by the rage of the waters. Just like you. You must roll with the path that you must take. However, you could choose to marry her. Even if you don’t quite love her. Or if you do love her and cannot allow your puppy to suffer a loss. Which he will, so do you love her for him? I cannot say.. I wish you the best….LRGII.

    P.S. I realize now that I was fooling myself that Stargate Universe would return. That was also a loss that was hard to take. The story line sucked you in, you felt as if you were a part of their adventure. I miss my friends, even if they never knew me…..

  36. Joe,
    ‘Janina Gavankar has a reacurring role on True Blood….she plays a Shape Shifter….a Horse….

  37. @Tam Dixon
    @Lisa R
    @Sue Jackson
    @Jim S.
    @Tam Dixon
    @susan TTT
    @L.R.Goodwin II

    Thank you so much for your comments. I’ve read everything.
    You are soooo sweet…

    That Bento box is a lion. 🙂
    I am lacking creativity lately. I am happy if you give me new Bento Box idea…

  38. Sorry I’m late to the party — well, not a party. Good grief. I just cried while I watched the Space Shuttle Atlantis take off on her final mission and then I come here looking to be cheered up and I’m crying like a baby.

    I don’t want to presume to know what level of feelings are involved in the relationship, but if she wants to stay and you don’t want her to go, then it is worth the effort to figure out a way for her to stay, even down potential scary roads you may not want to tread. I don’t know anything about the visa/immigration policies of Canada, so I cannot be any help to you there, but someone above had some good links to share. I know you are swamped Joe and overextended, but if you can’t help out with the paperwork, get someone to help — Trevor perhaps — your lawyer even.

    We love Akemi and we don’t like to see her sad. Or the dogs. Or you.

  39. You know, you could always say that her hiding it makes you worry MORE and be MORE concerned. Frame it as her doing you a favor to discuss it with you.

  40. Akemi, why not make a STARGATE bento box? That can be for Joe AND the fans!

  41. The sad rabbit situation has drifted into my thoughts several times over the last few days. While we are all aware that distance makes the heart grow fonder I’ve never been one to put my full faith in it. I’m certain both of you can be happy despite an ocean of distance between you, but if you both want something more then go for it. Imagine a world without a full bento box in the morning, happy pups roaming the house, and her smiling face. Not a fun thought is it? It’s rare in life when we find someone we’re ready to change our lives for and accept the good and bad for. I’m really hoping a way is found to ensure Akemi’s place in your home, this blog, and in all of our thoughts. Now I’m just rambling. Please give my best to her. Hang in there mister man and enjoy shooting the upcoming episodes.

    All the best,

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