This always seems to happen…

5 Oct

It’s been quite awhile since I last posted anything. The last several months have been insanity. What has happened since June?

I spent the better part of two months packing and cleaning my apartment. Moved in with a friend for the last few weeks. Saw A Tribe Called Quest and Stevie Wonder at Summer Sonic in Osaka (and CRIED). Returned to California. Reunited with Damon and had him meet my family. dramadramadramadrama. Went to Burning Man for the first time. Ran around the Bay playing tour guide and reconnecting with friends. Said goodbye to Damon. And now we’ve reached today and life is still insane.

I have a plane ticket to fly to Australia at the end of October. Less than three weeks away. I feel like my life is the plot of some overly dramatic romantic film. Full of twists and turns. WHAT WILL SHE DO NEXT?! I’m the one living this life and I only know half the story. I’m excited about moving to Australia and playing out all the little adventures being created in the happier, stress-free section of my brain. At the same time, though, I feel bad about being so far away from my family again. And while I have made a pros and cons list for the move (and lemme tell ya, the pros are winning right now), that doesn’t really make things any easier.

The biggest issue is that of change. When I left for Japan two summers ago, it seemed like was talking about how change was good and we all wanted change and change was growth and etc., etc. For a political theme, maybe it works. For me personally, its become a huge thorn in my side. A friend even said to me a week or so before I flew out “no matter what, don’t change.”

I thought that wouldn’t be too big of a problem, but then again I got flung into a foreign country to be immersed in a language and culture that, after two years, I still have plenty of difficulty understanding. I was living alone. I was self-sufficient for the first time. Independent. It was very different to how I had been living before I left: jobless, fully dependent on parents and responsible for helping other people. With one trip across the Pacific, I had gained a new-found freedom. “don’t change” Is that even fair to ask of a person?

One of the biggest lessons I learned (and am learning even now) is that above all, I have to take responsibility for my faith. 2007 and 2008 were some hard years for Christian churches across the globe. All kinds of scandals and lies and many people were hurt in various ways, including myself. When I left for Japan I was dealing with a lot of anger and hurt towards people who had broken my spirit through their own selfishness and greed. It was never a physical issue, but mentally I had dealt with a lot. It’s understandable that I didn’t want to attend church for some time. I went once in the two years I lived there. I caution the reader not to judge.

In any case, despite all that has been done I still believe in and love God. He’s like a dad: teaches you the things you need to know and then you get to a certain point where you have to walk it out for yourself. I have to make an effort to maintain the relationship and just like He gives each person a different gifting and we all have different personalities, we will all have a different relationship with God. I can’t use my perceptions of another’s relationship with Him as a measuring stick for my own. It doesn’t work like that.

I’ve disappointed people. I’ve changed. But I’ve learned as well and I think I’m the better for it. I can’t not change, that’s not how things work. All I can do is make decisions for myself because I can’t please everyone. Life moves forward. And like the song says:

Time is filled with switch transitions…♫

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New Camera

3 Jun

I bought a new camera recently, a Pentax x90, to be specific. It had just recently been released when I made my purchase, so there weren’t many solid reviews on it, but it seems to be just one step down from the Pentax k-x and I was mainly looking for something a little more powerful than a standard point and shoot but not ridiculously pricey.

The crummy thing is, since I bought it here in Japan, the manual is in Japanese and though I DLed a free PDF in English, I don’t like reading a lot of stuff on a computer screen, it starts to strain my eyes, so I’m slowly learning all the controls by fiddling with the different settings. I’m not a professional photographer by any means, so I think this camera will work well for me. Here’s a review that was actually just posted yesterday.

Something that’s interesting and fun about the camera is that it comes with a bunch of filters and frames that you can add to the image after the fact. The filters look cool and I will probably use those, but I probably won’t touch the frames after I played around with them today to get some samples.

I took a shot of Kobe Port Tower from across the water at Harborland while I was out with friends last week. The weather was gorgeous, by the way. Click the images to see the larger size.

The original shot

Color Filter

Toy Camera Filter

Old Camera Filter

Black and White

Color Filter: Blue

Sepia Filter (eew, btw)

Soft Filter

Heart Frame

Pin Board Frame

Memo Frame

Heart Frame 2

As you can tell, the frames are really corny and lame, but the filters are more interesting. I like the toy camera one best, now I don’t have to go out and actually BUY one. 🙂

Uhh… No?

1 Jun

A New Ad Campaign for Ciggs

Hey Japan,

Just so you know, this new ad fails. I don’t know what point you’re trying to make with this image, or who you’re trying to reach. Do you guys even know the meaning of homoerotic? Some questions for the ad creators:

  • Why is it a foreigner?
  • Why are his biceps so HUGE. (They hurt to look at)
  • What’s up with the teeny-tiny jean shorts? So Village People, ya know?
  • Not a question, but I’m a little jealous of the smooth silkiness of his thighs.
  • Or maybe… smoking will make my thighs that silky, だろう?

Maybe you should just go back to the old ads…

Sneezy, Grumpy and Sleepy So I Went to The Doc

1 Jun

Last week I kept having sneezing fits. I didn’t think it was a cold so I assumed it was allergies, although I never usually get allergies. It was probably because my eyes were itching something crazy, like when I was in Melbourne last Dec/Jan. I also thought it was allergies because whenever I left my neighborhood, I felt better. There’s a mountain in my backyard, so you can imagine the pollen count.

Look at all the allergies!!

So I finished out the week, sneezing and sniffling along the way, but on the weekend, the symptoms changed. Now all of a sudden I was feeling really tired, hot-flashy, the phlegm changed color and I could feel fluid in my lungs. I had also developed a cough and a sore throat. I knew I needed a sick day to rest up, but since it was a Monday and the first day back at my second school in two weeks, I had a feeling they wouldn’t quite believe me if I had just phoned in.

I woke up Monday morning and dragged myself to work, just to tell the Principal and Vice Principal and fellow English teachers that I was not feeling well. To make it even easier for them to believe me, I rocked up to school wearing a face mask. I hate face masks with all my might. I didn’t even wear a face mask during the Swine Flu freak out last Spring (and you can believe I caught all kinds of looks on the train as the only person NOT wearing one…) Anyway, I wore the mask and described my symptoms, including a headache, an oncoming ear infection and itchy eyes and general grogginess. I was outta there in less than 5 minutes. The only annoyance was that now I had to walk all the way back to the train station to ride all the way back to my neighborhood to get to the hospital. 5 minutes walk from my home train station. >.<

But, I got the the hospital about 10 minutes after opening and the place was already full of old people and babies. Had to wait about 90 minutes but in the end the doctor told me that I had in fact caught a cold at first, and then without treatment it developed into an upper-respiratory infection. That was a first for me! So I needed meds. And as MUCH as I try to avoid them, especially anti-biotics, I decided to take the recommended prescription because I didn’t want it to develop into pneumonia or something worse.

The best part, though: the kind doctor gave me three days of sick leave! Did I mention that I really don’t like going to the second school? The kids are kinda zombie-ish and the teachers are only lightweight friendly.

Today is day #2 of sitting at home recuperating (and I’m already feeling much better, btw), but I’m still going to take tomorrow off. I’ve been using the free time to clean my apartment and sort things out for the move.

Now, back to my movie.

Put a Hole in My Nose!

28 May

For several years now I’ve been contemplating getting a nose piercing. I’ve always thought they were really cute on practically any woman I saw wearing one. They’re also small enough that you barely notice them but give just a little extra detail to your face. When you seen photos like the one below of Indian actress Ashwarya Rai in a traditional Indian wedding outfit, how can you not appreciate its appeal? The tradition of wearing a chain connecting the nose ring to a matching earring has always seemed so beautiful to me.

Indian actress Ashwarya Rai in a wedding costume

But then again, Ash Rai could hawk Pet Rocks while wearing a potato sack and I would probably consider buying one.

In any case, the biggest opposition to this tiny body modification is, of course, from my mother. Who’s gonna hire you with that?! she asked, but that’s like a knee-jerk response to all of my non-corporate-world-friendly ideas. The same thing was said about wearing an afro instead of straightening my hair all the time. Back to the point, though.

Lately, my desire to stay out of the corporate world has brought the idea of a nose piercing bubbling back up to the top of my conscious thoughts. As with all forms of body piercing, the practice of nose piercing has been around for hundreds (if not thousands) of years already and across cultures on many continents. I just found out today that in Ayurvedic medicine, the left nostril is believed to be connected to a woman’s reproductive organs and that piercing that particular side can help ease child birthing pains? As a woman who has suffered from extreme menstrual cramping since the very first day of my period, the impending doom of birthing pain is enough to either A) choose to have a cesarean section (more risky for momma and baby, I know) or B) not have any babies at ALL! The idea of easing uterus-related pain (including the mittleschmerz pain that shows up 2 weeks before the actual period) while looking stylishly adorable is a major selling point!

The Ayurveda-recommended side to pierce

Now, I am considering trying my hand at a little local acting and modeling when I get to Melbourne (shallow?), so I don’t know how well a piercing would go over in most casting sessions. Though there are options available that can make the piercing less obvious, like clear fittings to keep the hole from closing. And since I definitely don’t plan on getting one while in Japan or America, that means I’ve still got several months to think it over, maybe get a few opinions.

All I know is, this girl wasn’t made for a corporate world, so I should be able to look any way I want.

Opinions??

Let’s Physical = GET!

26 May

So I’ve decided to start working out again. Most people figure that Winter is a pretty good time for that. Not me. Winter isn’t a pretty good time for anything. Anything besides sitting in my living room, parked in front of the heater and under the kotatsu table watching movies and TV shows until Mr. Sun and his buddy Warmth decide to come back. I mean, seriously, I can’t even muster the energy to clean when it’s super cold outside.

In any case, even though this week has apparently been a prelude to June’s rainy season and full of crazy winds and chilly weather, it’s still not as cold as that Winter weather. Plus, I finished my art piece for the Kobe show and I told myself I’d start working out after I finished dedicating two weeks to its completion.

I had a fitness DVD. Something really embarrassing and corny and 80s. The ladies’ outfits consisted of leg-warmers, plain white granny-style hi-top Reeboks (though I will admit, a pair of red-on-red would be noice) and those leotards that ride so high you can see their uterus’ (uterae? uteri?) with shiny leggings.

Ms. Fonda, are you... ovulating?

It was BAD. And not in the Run-DMC way. It was so awful I used to turn down the music on the DVD and play my own stuff just to get through it. It wasn’t made any better by the fact that once I left it out on the table and Damon saw it. He made fun of it for awhile and will still bring it up. But I got it for $5 at Fry’s, so… this cheap lady can’t really complain.

Anyway, my subconscious mind must have been so ashamed of it that it won’t let me remember where I put it. I searched hi and lo in my apartment and cannot find it. So I had to resort to looking for free workout videos on the interwebz. Maybe that was a good thing because the videos are a LOT less embarrassing and there’s not a single glimpse of scrunchie socks on the entire website.

Japan, please don't bring these back, too.

I’m only on day #2, which means my body huuurts. Thighs, abs, arms, etc. I really hope I can stick with it. My goals are to be healthier overall and to slim my waist and bust down a bit as well as tone up my upper arms and thighs. I’m not really shooting for a weight goal, since muscle weighs more than fat. I’m just focusing on converting fat to muscle and becoming smoking hawt by the time I board the plane for los Estados Unidos. Maybe I’ll be able to rock that violating leotard!

Let’s get physical, suckas!

A Change is Gonna Come

24 May

The weather over the past two days has been crazy. Winds like a typhoon blowing rain, leaves, tattered umbrellas and cars everywhere! Today two parked cars fell down a hill onto the train tracks, stopping travel for a 5-station range. I was thanking God I didn’t have to go to work today. I’m only hoping tomorrow the weather will be a bit more gentle.

It’s almost June, which means my time in Japan is coming to an end relatively quickly. I say “relatively” because when I think in terms of work being finished, being able to go back to the States (and then subsequently, Australia) and seeing people I truly miss, it’s taking forever. But when I think about having to clean and organize and get everything in order for my departure, time seems to fly by almost too quickly. Hopefully I can find balance and maintain my sanity.

I think the balance will come from my time between both schools. The main school I’ve been at for over a year now keeps me busy with lesson planning and chatting with the students, while my newer school, on the other hand, bores me to tears. I don’t plan lessons, the students are off-putting and the teachers are somewhat un-aproachable by comparison to my first school. During my times at the boring school, I’ll use all that free time to organize myself and my apartment. Sort things out and get ready to ship boxes across the world.

I’ve been doing research on different events happening in the Bay Area during August and September and trying to learn and acquaint myself with Melbourne events and culture from October. I can’t wait to see what the coming months have in store for me, though I’m going to try to remember to relish my remaining time here in Japan. Who knows what may happen.