Monday, December 26, 2011

Tokyo Plans

Oh, I don't know... I guess I'll do New Year's in Tokyo.

Ha!!

Actually, my plan for many weeks has been to go to Ibaraki to visit a friend and to take excursions to nearby Tokyo for fun and New Year's Eve.  It hadn't occurred to me, until Peter pointed it out, that Tokyo is one of the biggest cities in the world and a huge New Year's Eve partying destination.  And I was like, "Oh, yeah.  YOU'RE RIGHT!!  YES!!!"

I can be a little flighty. 

In Japan, as a JET, you can get lucky or you can get screwed on the topic of holiday time.  I didn't get lucky.  At my friend's Christmas party the other day, we were all talking about our plans for the week and they were all like, "You have to work tomorrow?!"  Yes.  I had to work tomorrow.  Assholes. 

So, I have to work some days this week, but then I am traveling.  I'm taking the bus, the least expensive means of transportation to Shinjuku, an area of Tokyo.  There have been a butt-load of expenses between getting my driver's license, buying a 2nd car, getting shakken and insurance on the second car, Peter moving out and paying key money, Christmas, Bonenkais... Oy!!!  So, the bus it is.  I like the bus.  My professional sleeping skills have diminished significantly since having a child, as I don't get as much practice as I used to, but I am confidant that I will be comfortable and able to sleep on the bus.  I once slept in front of a speaker at a Goldfinger concert.  Yes, sir, I did.

I will get on a bus from Oita to Fukuoka on Wednesday afternoon, then poke around Fukuoka for a while.  I planned my bus a little early so I would have time.  The Mac/Apple store is right near the station.  I'll go play with the iPads.  I'll lose interest in that in about 10 minutes, then maybe I'll go to the MAC make-up store.  Are there any other MACs I can visit?  Maybe I'll get a Big Mac.  Ha!  No, I won't get a Big Mac.  I can't believe you even suggested it.  Then I'll get on a bus at 7pm headed for Tokyo.  I will arrive around 9am in Shinjuku.  I'm looking forward to the hours of watching the Japanese landscape.  I haven't gone one place in Japan where I didn't spontaneously think, "Japan is beautiful." I'm really looking forward to it.

When I arrive in Tokyo, Melissa will scoop me up and we will see the land.  I want to see natural spots most of all.  I want to party like a fucking rock star on New Year's Eve.  Not like any rock star.  Like Ozzy.  Like Rick James.  Like the whole crew of Motley.  Motley Crue, that is.

If I live through that, I will be getting back on a bus the evening of January 1st at 7pm destined for Fukuoka, where I shall arrive around 9am.  I'll probably be tired and just get on the next bus for Oita.

I'm excited to catch up with Melissa, to see more Japanese landscape, and to experience Tokyo.  I've been to Tokyo, but I spent all but a very few moments inside my hotel for JET orientation.  I'm excited to have a real New Year's party experience, and I feel confidant to be in the hands of a very competent partier.  Our friend Mike, who threw the Christmas party, will also be in Tokyo.  We'll have a grand old time. 

Happy almost New Year!!!

From Japan,
Tiffany

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Konbini wa kureji desu.

I think it's funny that I just spent 7-man (around $750) at the konbini (convenience store, in this case 7/11). 

Wh- what? you may ask...

You see, in Japan, you can pay bills at the konbini.  Some of my bills come with a tear-off portion that has a bar code that is for the konbini to scan.  I paid my car insurance for the year and my Internet bill for two months, as well as for a salmon onigiri (a triangle of rice wrapped in nori (seaweed)) and a yogurt drink.  So, it's not that weird when I explain it, but it's still kinda funny that convenience stores are so integrated. 

Also, debit is almost non-existent and I'm not sure if lots of people have credit cards, but I don't.  So when you order stuff on Amazon-Japan, there are some interesting options.  One option is COD; cash on delivery.  This is great.  Another option is to pick up and pay for your item at the nearest konbini.  When you set this up on Amazon-Japan, it's kinda like setting up a payment option.  You click on a map and find the konbini you want to add to your account, then you are notified when your stuff is there and you go get it.  That konbini is then registered for you.  Cool, eh?

You might have noticed that I said I paid my net bill for two months.  I have recently re-assumed all control over my bills.  I'm not good with bills.  It's almost like when I get them, look at them, etcetera, I have a zen moment.  My mind goes blank and I pass over the bill and on to something else.  I don't know what it is.  I'm not broke.  I'm not opposed to paying bills.  It's just that money and I have a funny relationship.  When I look at money, I kind of just see special paper.  It doesn't click.  I often run out of money, so that I am stuck at a register only able to pay by digging every last coin out of my purse, or stuck out after the buses are done without enough money for a cab.  But, somehow it always works out.  So, I forgot to pay my Internet bill last month.  I went to pay it on the day after it was due, and when the convenience store clerk scanned it, it made a no-no buzzy sound.  I couldn't pay it because the bar code was expired.  They told me to go to the bank.  I went there.  They didn't know what to do, but they called the company for me out of the goodness of their hearts to help a poor foreigner in distress. 

People in Japan are very responsible.  The Japanese don't think too much about things like this, and bills don't just not get paid.  It seemed like the company didn't really have a procedure for late bills.  So, they just told me, in essence, that it was cool and that they would include both months on my next bill, which I paid today. 

And yesterday I paid my rent.  Aren't you so proud of me?  I'm proud of me.

I will be going to a festival in Beppu tomorrow to celebrate Christmas and see holiday fireworks.  On Sunday, Christmas, I'll go to Mike's house in Usuki to have a Christmas party with a bunch of my friends.  On December 28th-ish I will travel to Tokyo to see a friend.  I'll spend New Year's Eve in Tokyo and then travel back on the 1st-ish.  Then back to school on the 3rd, boo. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody.

From Japan,
Tiffany

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fight

Heeeeeyyyy.   I've been putting out a growing number of posts that sort of don't come to anything.  This blog is sometimes my pondering post.  Hope you don't mind.  Hope it gives you something to chew on, yourself.


The pondering of this morning:  Is “fight” a good or necessary quality in a person?

Although I asked the question and I want to explore it, my quick answer is “no.”  I think “fight” is a result of thinking you have to give extra attention and energy to a task or a cause because you think it’s the only way to get what you want.  A fighter thinks if they don’t “fight” they will be lost or left behind, or that they won't achieve their goals.  Impatience probably has something to do with it.  When you fight, you force stuff because you don't want to wait, or because you think time will steal the opportunity.  Forced stuff, however, is kinda false, and when things are false, they end up being… wrong.  And then you waste a lot of time on something that never woulda happened in the first place if not for the “fight.”  That’s not all, of course…

"Fight" is generally looked at as a good thing because many times it facilitates success, and success, our parents say, is necessary and good.  Sometimes things go to the person who “wants it more.”  So the attitude (fight) is confused with the desired outcome (success).  The person who wants it more may indeed more often than not be the victor, but it isn't necessarily because of the fight.  Maybe it is, many times, but it doesn’t have to be.  The thing is that fight is easier to achieve than calm… true calm.  We fiery humans with our hot heads and emotions get to the fight easier because it's the result of a process of falling apart.  Entropy just happens.  It's easier.  It’s the path of least resistance.  It takes work to balance one’s self.  Except, peace and balance are supposed to come as a result of complete surrender, which seems to conflict with my path of least resistance theory.  Surrender sounds like an act of no effort, but it certainly is not.  It takes a lot of understanding and letting go, which is sometimes harder than taking-up and often harder, or at least less naturally arrived at, than fighting back.     

I do think, however, that the opposite of “fight,” mediocrity and a sense of settling, are disturbingly prevalent in the world and in people’s lives.  This is because people lack faith in the idea that they will be taken care of, that they can achieve their dreams, that their choices are important in the grand scheme of things, and/or because they are afraid of something, most often, of failure of some kind… so “fight” is kinda the opposite of that, which is definitely the more desirable state in my opinion, but both are tipping the scales.  The scales are best when they are balanced, so what’s in the middle?  (It’s like past present and future… to be present is best.  In the middle.  Sort of.  Depends on how you see time.  Is the present in the middle?  Most probably not, but I’ll keep that since in our usual lives our tendency is to place the present on a line between the past and future.  In the middle.  Anyway… )  Some kind of peace is in the middle.  It’s not apathetic and it’s not over zealous.  It’s faithful and content.  It’s also rare.

How would a person operate who functions in that peaceful place between apathy and fight?  I think they would love what they do, and themselves, and they would be excited about their work, but they would not act based on the drive to achieve.  Achievements are ends.  Ends fuel the "fight" and are desired because people think when ends are achieved, they will bring peace and contentment.  The achiever will finally, finally have arrived.  They will put an end to the constant desire and fight for more.  But ends aren’t the point, and if you’ve achieved enough of these ends, you know they don’t change anything, at least not for long.  They don’t fill that emptiness or bring the kind of peace that only being present can bring.  It’s the journey that matters to a peaceful person, so the sayings go.  No matter what you achieve, time doesn’t stop.  The journey goes on.  May as well give each of those moments, too, the attention they deserve, not fighting or sitting back watching, but experiencing and honoring the moments we get.


From Japan,
Tiffany

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Approaching Balance

I was reading just now-- The Wastelands; book 3 in Stephen King's Dark Tower series.  I don't know why, but these thoughts came to me:

...actually, I won't jump into the thoughts that came to me, because it won't make any sense that way.  I'll start with an explanation and the thoughts will follow.  I have always been looking to the next moment.  Many people suffer because they live in the past.  A few people are at peace because they live in the present.  And many people, like me, are never content because they live in the future.  I have always been focused on my next achievement, my next place, my next stage in life.  Because of this, I guess, I'm always reaching, looking, feeling, dreaming, thinking, wondering... about what comes next; how I will get there; what I will find; how it will be.  Now that I am 31 and I have done many things, I feel like I've come to a place in my life where I can look back and connect the dots.  I have enough perspective to see where my ways of life have gotten me; enough content to reflect upon and enough distance to enable reflection.  I see that my most futile action has been doubting myself.  Doubt has created fear and anxiety about the future.  Doubt caused me to have higher expectations of myself than was fair or reasonable:  I have tried to prepare myself for any contingency.  My thought was, Be the best, and no obstacle will matter.  Be perfect so my reasons to doubt will be inconsequential.  In The Wastelands, I think this is what Roland, the main character, calls "the shadow of your self."  I'm going to butcher what Roland says by weeding out the message from the particulars of the story:

You haven't finished, but not because you are afraid to finish.  You're afraid of finding you can't finish.  You are afraid to go down there, but not because you are afraid of what may come.  You're afraid of what may not come.  You're not afraid of the world, but of the small one inside yourself.  Come from the shadow of yourself.  Come now.

I've struggled, and made many mistakes, mostly by doubting myself, by standing in my own shadow, but by reflecting on the things that have come, I have proof enough that I can trust myself, and sometimes I have the presence to step out of my own shadow and see that... I've done good, I think.  That's not what this is about, but one thing I've learned is to give myself a break, and to admit sometimes that I'm not perfect but... I've done good.  And I don't need to or have to be perfect.  My biggest struggle is trying to live in the present, rather than in the future.  Trying to live in a place that doesn't exist is very difficult.  Trying to live in your own shadow, a shadow that is as long or short as you make it, is very difficult.  The future never comes.  By the time it gets here, it has morphed into Now... sorry I'm confusing two things.  Right now, I'll let them stay strewn amongst each other.  They're good friends.

So as I was reading, I sort of had a daydream.  I was me, looking through my own eyes, and time was flowing at me and around me.  I stayed while everything moved, like a fallen tree in a river, who rocks in the current, but doesn't go along with it.  That's like us; timeless with time flowing by.  The tree is changed slowly over time by its surroundings, as we are.

In the sense that I write here, balance will never arrive because it is always coming, like time.  In this way, life teaches and we make decisions and the learning is never finished.  In the true sense, as I see it, when I stop to pull myself out of the gap between the present and the future and stand in the present moment, balance has not arrived because it has never been away.  You can't arrive at a place that you have never left.  But, there are two worlds of balance; the internal world, in which balance is always available to us if we choose it, and the external world, where balance teeters on the spinning world, reliant on our choices.

I guess that's it.  I'm off to read some more.

From Japan,
Tiffany

PS:  I don't know if it was the book or what, but sometimes I'm reading and thinking about something else at the same time.  No, I'm not that awesome that I can actually do that effectively; I always have to go back and re-read those sections.  This happened to me today, and while it did I thought of this:

Like fingers of the blind,
I'm touching you with my mind.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Jibber Jabber

I got nothin' to say, but I gotta write. 

This morning, I'm tired, but basically content.  I have noticed that I'm too busy.  I can't remember the last time that I could just come home after school and do nothing.  I can't even do my dishes or laundry-- there's always so much to do.  Well, I do kind of prioritize...  I had plans the other day, and like always I needed to run home from school to do this and that and then run out again and then meet someone and then get Knox home and yadda yadda yadda...  But instead of doing what I was supposed to, I took a bath.  When I went to bed the laundry basket was still full, and so was the sink, and it took me days to catch up.  So, one of these days very soon I'm going to have to disappoint someone and just stay home and vegetate; but not even vegetate; get some laundry done while I catch up on Dexter.  That sounds like heaven.

I like to take a bath with a candle burning.  I have a great bath.  I've described it before, but for those of you not in Japan, I'll tell you again:  Japanese bathrooms are great.  You walk into the shower room, mine is maybe 7 feet by 6 feet (I'm bad at those kinds of guess-timations) and there is a tub.  You can stand and shower, or walk around and shower... I often times take a quick shower and then, since it's cold and I want to stay in the warmth, but I don't want to waste so much water, I get into the tub and plug it while I stand there.  That way the tub is filling up and eventually I can transition into the bath.  Then I can turn the water off and continue to enjoy the warm water.  I leave a candle burning in the window between the little toilet room and the shower room.  It's really nice and relaxing.  I should add some Enya or something equally stereo-typically relaxing.

I've learned about the post office lately.  It's not so bad.  I've learned to take good care of my packages before I go to the post, and not to go to my local post.  I take care of my packages by taping them up well and wrapping them with brown paper.  It makes them look so innocuous, so even if I have alcohol or some other product in there that I'm not supposed to mail, they think, "Wow, what a nicely wrapped package.  I can't disturb the paper that was so painstakingly folded over its corners.  I will not question the contents of this box, which clearly holds nothing illegal."  Yeah.  That's what they think.  And I don't go to the local post anymore because they have too much time and too many resources.  They have the time to unwrap my package, nose around inside, and re wrap it better than I did.  I want to avoid being investigated, so I go to the big city post.  Also, I had been intimidated by the mail slips that come when they try to deliver a package when you aren't home.  Sure, I have to make a trip to the post office, but I just go up to the back counter and they can find your package or easily schedule a redelivery for later the same day.  It's way better than doing it on the phone.  I was afraid because I was ignorant, but I'm friends with the postal service now.

So I have this "friend" who likes to tell me when my blog sucks.  She called me out for a post a couple of weeks ago.  I said, "But I posted that Karate chop one, that was fun."  She said, "That was weak compared to your other fun stuff."

Well exuuuuuuse me.

This friend (KAPGP) also reads every post and encourages me.  She gives me feedback on almost every post.  She keeps me motivated to write consistently.  If it weren't for her pestering me last October for post after post, I don't know if I ever would have kept posting consistently.  I didn't know anyone cared to read what I wrote, so I didn't get invested.  But once somebody showed support, even just one person, I was happy to write.  I really like my blog, so girl, thank you for keeping me going and helping me to keep my quality.  I'd write only for you.

As for my "weak" post... she was right.  It's like she knows what I'm thinking.  She usually FB chats me and gives me a one line summary of her opinion, and it's like she drew it straight out of my head.  It occurred to me to write a post about not wanting to write a post, but I thought, eh, I wrote this little snippet the other day.  I'll just post that.  What happened is that I had been having a lack of appropriate ideas.  There's plenty going on, but it's not mostly stuff I can tell the world.  But there's always something to say, at least, I always have something to say... well, not to SAY, to type.  I can type about stuff literally all day and never stop except out of hunger or a desired change of pace.  Or to wake my sleeping butt up. 

I don't have time to read this over before class, so I hope it doesn't suck too bad.  KAPGP?  Does it suck?  ;-)

From Japan,
Tiffany

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tension-Blob Force Fields

Get ready people:  I'm feelin' the fire.  That's what the Boss will do to you.  I know you know who the Boss is.  No, dummy, it's not Andy Samberg.  No, it's not Seth Rogan, either.  It's Tommy Lee Jones.

You know why I like to write?  'Cause I can make jokes without anyone interrupting.  Don't you hate when you are at the pub and you are gonna say something miraculously funny, and then everyone is distracted because some asshole is like, "Hey, look, I love this commercial!" and then the moment is dead and your awesome joke never gets born.  Actually, lack of interruption is a perk of posting that I just thought of, but it's not really why I like to write. 

Ok.  This has been on my mind, and I'm gonna talk it out wit cha.  So, when I have something difficult to say, I do it in a few ways.  Category #1: I say it.  Cat #2:  I write it.  Cat #3:  I say it after lots of prodding (by myself or someone else) and I probably cry while I do it.  Cat #4:  I never say it.  There are probably sub- categories, and Cat #3 should probably be a sub- category.  Maybe not though.  You'd be surprised how often that actually happens.  I'm not that smart and I have a big mouth, you know.

Now, I have been trying to figure this thing out so that I can understand it and free myself of it, as I try to do with all unhealthy practices.  Once I become cognizant of dis-ease in my life, I try to do something about it.  I don't want to feel this uncomfortable tension between me and the world when I have something to say that I perceive will not be received well, and I don't think it's necessary.  It's just something I have to observe and release. 

So, for the first step in dissolving this discomfort, I tried to observe my feelings and thoughts, which led right quick to a visualization... or like, an awareness of the physical manifestation of my tension...  A wee tangent; people seem to treat intuition, and feelings especially, with inadequate respect because they are intangible.  Maybe they are intangible, but they are not abstract, and they are extremely valuable to us if tapped.  Intuition and feelings may be abstruse, but they are real...

So, the awareness... when I shift my focus to observe this thing that is happening with me, I am aware of a blob-like force field between me and the object of my discomfort.  There is tension.  I have been trying to find the right words to describe this thing, so I tried to draw a picture of it.  Why the picture?  It's always good to think of things from different perspectives.  I wanted to see it out of me and on the paper as to inspire new and different thoughts, and words.  I drew myself in stick-figure glory, and I drew the Earth as seen from space (Americas-centered).  I also drew the tension-blob force field.  So there is me, and there is the world.  First of all, it is interesting that I see myself as separate from the world.  That's definitely a point of value, and possibly the only point that ultimately matters in my quest.  Second of all, and which interested me more at the time, is that when I drew the tension-blob, without thinking I drew it at my head and my stomach.  This made me think of the chakras, which made me think of Natalia.

Natalia is my female soul-mate, I think.  We were neighbors in LA for almost 3 years, and became great friends.  Now I live in Japan and she lives in Hawaii.  Natalia does Reiki and a bunch of other cool stuff. 

I think there is something to the location of the TBFF (tension-blob force field).  On one hand, it might be interesting to figure out what the significance is; that's the Freudian hand that wants to know about the blob's childhood and shit.  On the other hand, the hand I prefer, it makes no difference what the significance is...

AWWWWWWWE shit.  Remember when I wrote A Healthy Whole and I said I didn't have the energy to expound upon my spiritual beliefs?  I think now is the time. 

You see, I believe that we are spiritual beings having a human experience.  I know, cliche.  But I believe it, so I'm funna say it.  I believe in all the cliches;  "All you need is love," "Love conquers all," "God is everything and everything is God," "We are the world, we are the children" and all that jive...  I believe that we are not separate from God and that God is not separate from "us."  (There can't be an "us" because then there has to be a "them" or some representative of that, and I don't believe that it exists.)  We all are.  It all is.  That's my truth.  What happens is that we get separated from the truth by tension-blob force fields.  All the TBFFs are the same, even if they are different.  They are shadow.  TBFFs are the thoughts and resulting feelings we have about everything.  Sure, we usually only complain when things aren't to our liking, but TBFFs can be good or bad.  When they are really great and awesome, perhaps we feel better than others.  Separation.  When our TBFFs are bad, perhaps we feel lonely.  Separation.  We are not separate; we CREATE separation.

At the first moment we are just aware.  In moments following we judge.  In the space in between awareness and judgement lives our divinity.  Our judgements open up space between ourselves and others, or the world, or whatever, and in that space manifest unhappiness, dissatisfaction, fear, and the like.  Those things are our tension-blob force fields.  If we are not at peace, then we've got a TBFF to bring the light of our attention to.  By "light of our attention" I mean our awareness, our consciousness, and only that.  Awareness separate from thought.  Consciousness separate from judgement.  How much time can pass between one's awareness of something and one's judgement of that thing?  That, my friends, is what I call meditation, and that's why meditation calms and heals; because you are spending time in the space of your divinity, and that's home.  That's heaven.

Problems occur when we fail to use the resource of our presence.  If I go straight from awareness to judgement, I am not present.  I am a hostage of my mind, which is a part of my temporal human body.  It's not ME.  When we let the mind run off unchecked, we let the sound of our own wheels drive us crazy, as The Eagles so aptly warned.  If I can get my brain to shut the fuck up for a quick minute, and focus my awareness on my personal TBFF, I can dissolve it.  I created it with my mind, and I have the power to dissolve it, if I use the tools at my disposal.  How to get the mind to quiet down and how to hone that power is another story.  Practice is a huge factor.

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.  I am the walrus.  Goo goo g'joob.

I'm not going to talk about it a whole lot because I can't find a citation, but I once heard about a group in Europe or the Middle East that discovered a text from biblical times.   From what I remember, they did a new translation that was of some validity.  They translated, again, John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life."  This tenet of Christianity covers pretty much everything and is used ad nauseam.  The re-translation went something a little different:  "The way and the truth and the life are in you."  Whatever the case that was true in the world, this latter version is what I believe.

I believe that the light is in us.  I believe that it is the essence of us and free of time.  Whenever I feel bad about something, I remember that there is a part of me, and I believe of you, that is absolutely perfect and cannot be diminished by anyone or anything.  Truly, there is nothing that we can say or do to earn our way to everlasting life or heaven.  It's hard to earn something you already have.  

From Japan,
Tiffany

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Life Update

I have this thing where if I don't stop and write at the moment my muse stirs, I lose it.  I mean, not my mind or anything:  I lose the idea, or the spirit with which I was cogitating.  I mention it 'cause right now I want to write and I have time to write, but I'm not feelin' the mojo.  Also, I need to pump out the posts or my stats will sink, which are the weights to my feelings-of-self-worth-buoy.  Just kidding!  Sort of.  I do love my stats.  I share that narcissism with A.J. Jacobs (he talks about it in The Year of Living Biblically), and like a million other artistic people. 

So, I got another box from Victora's Secret and I got a Victoria's Secret credit card.  I can hear the moans from across the ocean, but I swear, I'm...  I was just gonna swear that I was in control, but I'm not.  I'm not gonna lie or deceive myself.  I love shopping.  I love the feel of the super soft VS sweat pants, and having, I think for the first time in my life, matching bras and underwear that are not black or nude.  I've had a couple cute things over time, but very far and few between, and I had never owned anything from VS PINK until about 2 days ago...  But, I AM a little bit in control.  I'm only using the card to get free stuff, which the company sends you because you are using the card, and to maintain/build credit in America.  I can't just drop off the credit map for a couple of years.  I pay for an order and then go straight to my online VS account to pay it... I know, that's not helping build my credit much, but it's something (the credit companies LIKE to see a person maintain a balance and then pay it responsibly over time, but I don't wanna do that 'cause money has never really clicked with me and I don't want to forget to pay it.  Basically, the credit companies will get the proof they are looking for:  I'm challenged when it comes to asset management). 

You'll be glad to hear that things with me and Victoria's Secret are slowing down.  This is happening because I now own everything they have to offer me and my current needs.  I mean, I don't really have a situation where I'm gonna need the cowgirl teddy, so I'm not going to order it.  I might go for a thing or two here and there, but this recent obsession is ebbing.  On to J. Crew!  Ann Taylor!  American Apparel!  Banana Republic!  Just kidding.  Actually, now that I mention it, I'm going to check out BR.  I'm jonesin' for a Christmas-green cable-knit crew-neck silk/cotton-blend sweater.  Yeah, I get specific.  I'd say throw a little cashmere in, but even I, at my income level, know to stay away from $200 sweaters... you know, for the most part.  Wahahahahaha!!!!

Knox is great.  Although, I'm more a Sergeant than a Mommy.  I worry that I am too hard on him.  I don't know if it's his personality or if it is that he is 2, but he won't do anything I ask if I'm not all business.  Bribes work, usually, but I'm not really into that.  The trouble is that he's just like me:  Rascally, exceptionally stubborn, and SENSITIVE.  He won't do something, so I turn on Army Mommy, and he breaks down and cries with the saddest face I've ever seen, and I want to cry because I caused it.   

It seems like I get to be with him so little, and during the time I am with him I'm making him cry.  ;-(  It also doesn't help that I have high expectations.  I've taught 2-4 year olds ballet and tap since I was about 9 or 10 years old, as an assistant and a teacher, and I never realized how little they were until I had Knox.  My classes were not disguised baby sitting.  Two years old or no, you better get up on them toes.  Now though, I know how young they really are, and I see that babies are not just little adults.  Also with the expectations, I was at a Japanese friend's house last night and her kid was sitting on her lap at the computer, purposely pulling paper off of the bottom shelf with his feet.  It was going everywhere, and he was so proud of himself.  If that was Knox, we would've had words for sure.  As they say, parenthood doesn't come with a manual.

He's beautiful, though, and maybe it's mommy bias, but he seems so smart and talented and funny!!  He sings songs, like Bruno Mars' The Lazy Song, and he even does the vocal scats.  And he'll fake me out, which seems like a smart thing to be able to do for a 2 year old.  He's such an actor, and he even has different degrees of acting where sometimes he's doing it for a laugh, and sometimes he's totally method and really trying to get something.  Being a mommy is so not easy, but I love my little bubby boo boo.

Peter has his own apartment now.  He has described it as "pimp", but I haven't seen it yet to confirm.  His walk to downtown is 12 minutes, which is indeed pimp.  He has only slept there for the past 2 nights, so we are early in the transition, but now that he has officially moved in to his own place I wanted you all to know.  I think this is excellent for both of us.  We are both really happy with this change.

'Tis the season of Bounenkais (end of year parties) and holiday traveling.  I have friends going to Australia, England, and Thailand, to name a few, and I'll spend a few days and maybe New Year's Eve in and near Tokyo.  I had planned on Okinawa, but I'll save that for Golden Week in May, or the summer.  Plans change. 

Again, I'll tell you that I love Japan.  I want to stay.  I don't know for how long, but life here is very good.  Neither my mind nor my heart say go.  I can't imagine, right now, making the choice to leave this life.  I really want to visit the United States, maybe next summer, maybe next Christmas... I need to meet my nephew Aiden!!  There are lots of people I need to see.  I'm off.

From Japan,
Tiffany 

    





   

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Optimism

I am in the midst of grading many, many essays on the topic of optimism vs. pessimism.  The stuff they were saying was driving me batty, so I've written them a note.  It will be printed for them in English and Japanese. 

Students,

Many of you think that to be an optimist means that you feel happy all the time. 

This is not true.

The following is a very simple way to think of optimism:  If you have an optimistic perspective, it means that you maintain hope.  That’s all.

You know what that means?  It means when you lose a basketball game, it’s ok to feel sad.  It means that when you get a low score on a test, it’s ok to cry.  Feeling sad does not mean that you are not an optimist.  It just means that you feel sad.  Being an optimist does not mean that you deny your natural emotions.  Your thoughts FOLLOWING the perceived failure are what make you an optimist or a pessimist.

An optimist would think…
“I can and will do better next time.”
“With time and practice, I will be a better player.”
“I will remember all of the good things about being a part of this team, even if we lose.”
“I did poorly on that test, but I am still a good and smart person, and I know I can succeed.”

Give yourselves a break.  Relax…  I remember having a crying fit about getting a B in a psychology course when I was in college.  I was so sad, and mad, and disappointed.  Guess what?  It’s about 6 years later, and my B grade in psychology has not mattered at all to my life.  I also remember spending $1000 on surgery for my cat, a cat that I had spent a lot of energy being mad at because it killed my iguana.  It was probably stupid to spend $1000 on my cat.  It’s not something I wanted.  But, I did it, and I felt more love from that cat than I have felt from many people.  I felt how grateful she was that I was with her in the hospital.  I learned so much about the value of life and what we creatures are capable of.   I did not expect this experience to be good.  I had no goals related to this experience.  But, it turned out to be important to my life.  My point is that we have to keep things in perspective.  Sometimes it seems like the end of the world because WE have placed so much value on something.  Maintain hope and give yourself time, and you may laugh about something that once devastated you.    

Someone mentioned that if you have low expectations, then you won’t get disappointed when you fail.  Having low expectations brings you down from the beginning, making your chances of success less likely.  Don’t set yourself up for failure.  Maybe you don’t have to have high expectations OR low expectations.  If you can approach life with an open mind, free of expectations, you just allow things to be as they are.

Several of you mentioned wanting to be different than you are.  You also said that you can’t change.  I am here to tell you that if you want to change, you CAN change.  It is very difficult to change.  I won’t tell you it’s not.  BUT YOU CAN.  How?  Reflect on yourself, your attitudes, and your reactions.  Read books on ways to think.  Learn about yourself.  Learn what you believe about yourself and the world you live in.  Allow yourself to be just what you are, but also use the power you have to apply the knowledge you gain to make the changes you desire.  If you love something, you do what is best for it.  Love yourself.

Your ALT,
Tiffany

Yeah, I'm an over-ambitious idealist.  Maybe they won't get it.  But, hey, I'm an optimist, and maybe they will.

From Japan,
Tiffany

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Address, Refreshed

***NEW*** My High School changed so here is my new address for alllll of the presents you want to send me!!

Skype:  TiffanyHope7

*I now recieve packages at school.  It's much easier :

Getting those slips on my door that say they "tried to deliver a package and I wasn't home so I'll have to call for re-delivery or pick up my package at the post office" give me anxiety and make me groan.  You think speaking Japanese is hard?  Try it on the phone.  SO.  I'm now having my packages shipped to my school.  Everyone does it.  I even have one friend who gets packages at her school no matter what address is on the box.  Each town knows their foreigner, and where to find them.  :-)

Please send packages, letters, postcards, love, and the like to:

Tiffany Breuer
Hofu High School
Haya 600-1
Oita City, Oita prefecture
870-0854  Japan

***BELOW:  still valid home address information***

Sending to Japan seems intimidating and expensive, but it's not!  And think of the joy you will bring us lonely foreigners in a faraway land.  I got a card the other day and the stamp said 98 cents.  You can do it!

Don't worry about the address too much; Japan's mail system is so good that I think if you put 'Tiffany in Japan' it would find me.  Just get it all on there somewhere and it will be ok.

Tiffany Breuer
KR 1-6
Jonan Higashi Machi 1-6-1
Oita City, Oita
870-0824 Japan
Home: 727-599-0877 - That's right Americanos, make a local call right to me in Japan!
Cell: 080-5280-9138

From Japan,
Tiffany

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

CHARACTER

What is character?  It's really fucking important.  That's what it is. 

I'm in rare form today.  If you got opinions and judgements on your to-do list, avert your eyes now, 'cause I have no plans on sugar coating today's special installment.  I haven't had much sleep this week.  I drank A LOT on Monday night.  I'm quite a bit under the influence right now, and my head feels funny when I look from one thing to another.  I don't really have my wits about me, and yet I'm feeling passionate about this topic.  So, the way I communicate it might be... interesting.  Let's see how it goes!!  ( "LOL!" doesn't seem right... what's the initialism for "chagrined chuckle"?) 

Disclaimer:  This is a blog.  I want it to be entertaining.  As in acting, singing, painting, and writing, and any other art, I believe a choice should be made and a clear directive should be the goal.  I'm an aggressive communicator on top of that.  I know I'm no saint, and that I fuck up ALL THE TIME.  I try to always admit it.  Owning the truth of one's words and actions is the character I'm talking about.  Also, I was once accused of being biased in one of my posts.  Yep, uh huh, this is my blog.  I will be biased all damn day.  You want unbiased?  Read some dry psychology text.  You can't even get unbiased in the news, much less on MY blog.  I wouldn't have a blog if I didn't have so many damn opinions.  I'm not bad, I was just drawn this way. 

So, really, what is character?  According to me (and what do I know?), it's when you have a set of values that you believe in, and you act in accordance with them.  If I could enhance the "and" more, I would.  Words alone mean nothing.  NOTHING.

People almost always equate strong character with "being good."  This is not in my definition.  Whether or not you are a good person is very subjective.  Whether or not you have character I guess depends on your definition of character.  In my little world, it is not very subjective.  Maybe a little, but it's pretty easy to eye-ball it.

I do not believe having a strong character means being a "good" person.  I mean, if someone has strong character, they might be a good person, but they might not be.  I don't remember the terms from Logic... if you are a good person, you probably have strong character, but I think you can have strong character without being a "good" person.  Not mutually exclusive, I guess.  I don't know.  My head is swimming around.  I personally am much more interested in fraternizing with people of strong character, rather than "good" people.  If you have character, your words and your actions align.  That doesn't mean you are nice.  (I mean, if you are a mean person, or you like to club baby seals on the weekends, I'm probably not going to hang out with you, but that doesn't mean you don't have a strong character.)  That doesn't mean you are trying to save the world.  It means that if you say that you are a MAC/Apple elitist and purist, I better not find a Sony Tablet S in the magazine pouch next to your toilet.  And if I do, own it.  Say, "Yeah, I'm a hypocrite, but that thing was a steal."  Excuses make you a schmuck.  Owning the truth of your words and actions make you a person that deserves respect (even though you may still be a schmuck who likes to club baby seals on the weekends.  Ha!)

Having character means that if you love to talk smack about people, don't say you don't gossip.  You can talk shit all day, as long as your actions don't conflict with the words that come out of your pie hole.  Be what you are and let people choose to be around you, or not.  Do what you say, say what you do.  Own what you are, and don't pretend to be something you aren't, cause that is really fucking hard to maintain, and people will know you are full of shit in pretty short order...  For me, it's that simple.

For example sake, who has great character?

Jesus, whether you think of his story as actual or fiction, is the ultimate representation of character. WWJD?  Dude did not say one thing and do another and he did not go back on his word (so far!!! LOL!).

For the most part I'm going to stick with well known figures, but I have to follow Jesus with my friend Andrei L. (the Andrei formerly known as Andrei N.).  I do so because he lives by and up to his own standards, which led to a few friends coining:  WWAD?  If you are awesome enough to be that good of an example to the people around you, you get on the list.

Jon Stewart.  First of all, comedy isn't an easy thing to be a great success at, and he definitely is.  Imagine a young Jewish dude who wanted to do comedy, but moved to NYC and didn't get on stage for a year.  He had tons of shit jobs like most of the rest of us have growing up.  I equate his rise to the throne (and around 16 Emmy's) with strong character because he had the balls to recognize what he loved and to go for it, no matter how hard it seemed.  It takes character to make bold moves in your life.  It takes that kind of strength to have a belief and do what you have to in order to make it your life.  Lots of people love him, lots of people hate him.  Either way, he is, in my opinion, a man of character.

Your words and your loves should be your life. 

If they aren't, you are either weak or a hypocrite.  Yeah, damn that's harsh.  Yeah, well, damn that's true.  It's like in Fight Club when Brad Pitt's character threatens the shit out of that convenience store guy to either follow his dreams of being a veterinarian (I think) or get capped.  I fucking love that concept- "Follow your dreams or I am going to kill you."  Sure, people can't go around acting that way, but it's an awesome example in the fiction of film of what I'm getting at. 

WoOoOOooOw!!  I probably shouldn't post this.  Hey, there are a lot of things I shouldn't do.  We shouldn't do.  In song bird form, fuuuuuuck iiiiiiiiittt.  Hey, that reminded me of Tomek.  Oh, God, I have to go lay down.

From Japan,
Tiffany

Monday, October 31, 2011

...but it might just be a lunatic your looking for.

My eyes are open, but I think I might actually be sleeping. 

My mind is blank except for this thing I did yesterday that I remember I wanted to tell you.

I went to the post office with Knox, my back pack, and two packages, and we had to catch the bus to downtown after that.  I don't know if you know, but it's not that easy to go anywhere with a 2-year old, much less with so much stuff in tow, and public transportation thrown into the mix. 

I got to the post office and successfully mailed off my return to Victoria's Secret (the fuckers).  The other package was a present to my nephew, but I stupidly was honest about what was inside, and apparently you are not actually allowed to mail shochu (or any alcohol) to the United States.  So, I left the post office only one package lighter.  The post office is very close to my apartment, BUT the bus stop is in between the two.  If I were alone, I could've run back to the apartment and dropped off the package, but with Knox dawdling along with me, we would have missed the bus if I had tried to make it.  But I was not taking that package any further. 

What to do, what to do?

My neighborhood post wouldn't take it.  I couldn't bring it home.  I thought to myself that if I took it to the downtown office and tried to send it from there, lying about the contents, I would be caught.  I couldn't discount the possibility that every post office in town was already aware that a foreign woman with a child was trying to mail shochu to the US, in a memorable baby pink package, no less.  The woman had contacted a call center to ask for me about it, and I couldn't be sure that she wasn't talking to the main downtown branch that I would've tried next.  So, I knew that I would have to re wrap it in a different color and have someone else go lie about it.  That meant I couldn't get rid of it fast. 

That meant I had to leave it at the bus stop.

Oh, is it so crazy?  This is Japan.  People don't steal things in Japan.  Plus, I have two significant first hand experiences leaving things in public spaces and having them returned to me.  I thought it was more likely that someone would mail it for me than that someone would steal it.  I figured I had at least a 90% chance of it still being there when I returned, approximately three hours later.  I thought, "Who will pass by here in the next three hours?  A few old ladies?  Some school kids?  Some dudes walking their dogs?  The risk is smaller than the pain I would suffer from either lugging it around or waiting for the next bus.  I'm leaving it."

So, I tucked it behind the bus bench, still in very plain view, and went about my day. 

I arrived back at the bus stop a few hours later, and there it was... in a different spot.  Still, I wasn't concerned.  I got to it and could see that it had been gone through.  The pink, plastic wrapping had been nicely replaced, but the tape was pulled off, indicating that someone had rummaged about inside.  Still, I wasn't concerned.  I didn't even stop to look.  I just picked it up and took it home.  I checked it out when I got home and everything was accounted for.  I figure someone, maybe even law enforcement, had just wanted to make sure it wasn't something dangerous.  I'm sure once they saw the contents, they thought someone had misplaced it and would return for it. 

You may be right.  I may be crazy.  I left a few bottles of alcohol and a box of cookies at the bus stop.  But, all's well that ends well.  Hey, you should be impressed:  I bet YOU'VE never written a blog post while you were asleep.

From Japan,
Tiffany 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Keep on Truckin'

Yesterday...

I've had a pretty productive day.  I taught a Halloween lesson, and I brought my Halloween lights to class that my mom sent me.  They are skulls that flash and they are attached to a box that plays creepy music and screams.  It was cool to bring them in and see the student's reactions.  I did not get my pumpkin carved in time for class today, but I will have this class next Tuesday and I will have my Jack-o-Lantern then.  Contrary to popular belief, you can totally carve the green Japanese pumpkins if you find one that is big enough, and it really doesn't have to be that big. 

I also got a stack of essays corrected.  These essays have become a bi-weekly occurrence, and they are really shakin' up my weekly routine of blogging and arranging my social calendar, ya know what I mean?  I have barely had time to manage my e-mails, and I simply have not had the time to correct and re-order from Victoria's Secret.  How dare my school delay my enjoyment of new unmentionables, eh?  (PS: I'm totally kidding.) 

As for VS, they jacked up my order royally, and their error with my address delayed my package over a month.  Tiffy not happiness.  I got on the phone and said, "Please be very nice to me, because I am very disappointed by you."  They asked me what I wanted, and I said that all I wanted was for them to pay my return shipping in addition to giving me free express shipping on my new order, so that this panty mayhem can be smoothed out as quickly as possible.  They complied, but I haven't had time to reorder yet.

You see, you can't get normal bras in Japan.  They are all super frilly and weird.  I think they can wear stuff like that here because many Japanese women wear at least two layers, so the smoothness of the bra isn't really an issue.  I don't know.  All I know is that bra and underwear satisfaction levels are reaching a critical low.  And I want the one perfume that I have ever liked; Heavenly.

In other shopping news, I got an iPhone4.  I'm always angry at a new phone for at least a week, and it has only been 4 days.  We are learning to trust each other.  We are adjusting each others settings and expectations.  We should be on good terms by the weekend.  My iPhone4 and I actually had a lovely morning together.  I took photos of my students on the very decent camera, and I looked up an acronym that one of my students used, without leaving my seat in the agora.  I've figured out the messaging and e-mail quirks, and I'm working on getting an application that will make my emoticons compatible with other phones.  I think we'll be friends, we just need time.

Now I'm finishing up a mochi と anko and a latte.  Yum.

I have to be honest and tell you that I have been hovering at my stress threshold, and at times spilling over.  I can tell you that now because I've settled a little.  This is why I haven't been keeping up with my posts as reliably.  I haven't been able to organize my thoughts, and I would've said something crazy.  Even today's post is a little forced, but I have to keep writing.  I have to!  Sometimes I wonder if my emotions aren't exceeding the severity of my circumstances.  Sometimes I'd really like to disappear.  I am reminded by friends and loved ones that I am not different or alone, and that I am in an extraordinary circumstance, so I'm allowed a little leeway.  One of my friends asserted that all we friends in Japan haven't known each other for long, haven't spent all that much time with each other, and that we are really all still strangers.  We have been here for over a year now, and I think some of my relationships are moving past that, but for the most part, it's pretty true.  Also, more than one person has said that they would've been packed and gone by now.  I'm certainly not packing.  I like it and I want to stay...  In this foreign world, where we are all so far from our usual supporters, we have to be here for each other, and luckily for the most part, we are.  I'm glad I got dropped into the pot with a lot of motivated and social people.  I'm really grateful for them. 

I am faced with so much uncertainty right now.  I am faced with a loss of security.  It's not so much what is happening that is so stressful, but it is the contrast of what is happening in comparison to what I have come to expect.  For a long time, a certain vision of my future has persisted.  It has been etched into me.  But the etching no longer represents what is in store for me.  That kind of thing is hard to remove.  It's hard to adjust.  My strength of spirit is remarkable, but sometimes I wonder if my mind and body can keep up.  My friends give me perspective and assure me that they can and will.  To those who have sent messages, called, and prayed for me, and to those who have shared time with me in recent weeks, thank you.  I'm a little too good at looking like I'm calm and collected all the time.  I blame it on acting lessons.

Seriously though, we all put on a strong face for the world.  When someone asks us how we are we say, basically, that we are fine.  We just have to do our best and keep on truckin'.  In the mean time I'll keep adjusting, and enjoying this foreign world.

From Japan,
Tiffany

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Picture Window

You know about the den.  If you don't know about the den, you can learn about it here and here.  Let me tell you about the breakfast room.

This morning, it's a veritable monsoon outdoors.  It's beautiful and cozy.  I love the rain.  The breakfast room features a huge window, almost from floor to ceiling, and wider than my arms can go.  I know, I know, that isn't saying that much, but still, it's a nice window.  The breakfast table sits right up next to the window, coming out longways; The view is breathtaking in the winter when it's snowing, especially from time to time when a quail or some deer wander by.  I always sit on the kitchen side of the table, closest to the window, and I read.  This morning, I read the New York Times.  I like the New York Times.  It's gone through some interesting changes in the past year or so, but it's more raw and honest than most papers, and reflects the artsy mind of the city it hails from.  I like that.  And you don't win that many Pulitzers for nothin.

So anyway, I had The Times at the table, and I was snacking on lots of fruit and a cheese danish.  I'm crazy with drinks.  I had water, orange juice, tea, and coffee this morning.  I just can't decide!  And even if I don't want coffee, I love the process of the French Press, so I make it anyway.  I wasn't doing a great job getting through the paper.  I was staring out into the grey rain, aware of the drops dripping from the overhang, looking through the streaks of water on the glass.  The watery window distorted the world, gently pulled it out of focus.  It was easy for me to daze and daydream, to think about the world and reflect, to check in with myself.  Maybe that's why I like rainy days, because I like to sit and think.  Because I like to write.

The breakfast room is a lot less indulgent of a room than the den.  Just a farmhouse table with a pine plank top.  The chair seats match the distressed wood of the table, and the legs of both are painted white.  I painted them myself.  I like to have a hand in my things like that, but if you look closely, it's not a good job.  I pretend to be crafty sometimes, but I'm not.  I've never been good at making things with my hands.  I can dance, write, talk... but I can't make physical things.  I have some pottery I can show you to prove it.  The room is simple, but Tiffany things sit throughout the house.  My favorite Tiffany crystal vase stays on the breakfast table, whether there are flowers or not.  Today, there are not, but maybe when I go to the store tomorrow I'll get Irises. 

Today is a lazy day.  I have the whole house to myself.  I'll probably stay in this spot most of the day with my favorite throw wrapped around me.  I'll get up to get my Stephen King novel, the one I just can't seem to get through, not because I don't like it, but because I never seem to have enough time.  I'll finish it today, move on to the next in the series, and then not have enough time for that one.  That's ok.  That's life.

From Japan,
Tiffany

Monday, October 17, 2011

Recent Happenings and My Dream Day

So, the other day I wanted to wear this T shirt, but it was dirty, so I rinsed it out in the bath tub and hung it up in front of a fan in the bathroom.  There's this little knob that you switch back and forth for bath and shower, and when I went back in the bathroom to rinse a juice soaked towel (courtesy of Knox), the knob was turned to shower and I soaked my almost-dry shirt.  And myself.  Dang it.  I couldn't wear the shirt that night.  And guess what?  I did it again the next day.  I wore the damn shirt anyway, damp. 

I catch tid bits of radiation news in Japan from time to time.  I keep being reminded of the presence of radiation and the uncertainty of where it really is and in what quantities.  It's definitely in the back of my mind for Knox's sake.  I was thinking about it, and I will have to decide in January or February if I am staying in Japan any longer, so the last time we were at the pediatrician's office, I asked about testing Knox to be certain that he hasn't been affected.  If Knox's thyroid levels were at all awry, I'd have to peace out pronto.  The doctor said that the radiation in Oita is at normal levels and that there is nothing to worry about.  Maybe it's a flaw, but assurances like that are rarely good enough for me.  I asked if any children in Oita had been tested, and he said no.  I was really surprised that NO ONE had been tested.  That meant that I had no hard evidence to go off of, but lots of news stories noting cover-ups and inaccuracies.  So, I got Knox a thyroid test.  The poor little guy had to get a nasty poke in his hand, and he had to do it twice cause the nursed botched the first go.  But now, a few weeks later, his test has come back normal, and I have been freed of those worries.  And when the time comes to re contract, I can make a decision one way or another with a clear conscience.

I saw some live music on the beach the other night.  The strongest impression I left with is that people in this part of Japan don't know how to party.  I'll give them the benefit of the doubt; It WAS a Sunday.  Anyway, any live music is usually better than no live music, and it was still a really good time.  The lights were pretty.  This white guy was the last act.  OMG.  He got up there speaking some English and lots of Japanese and rapped in a sweater vest.  He did the "Hey, Ho" arm.  He did his best to rock the 30 people clustered by the stage, but something about him rang very artificial to me.  The night provided good people watching, and by the end of the night I had visited at least 3 konbinis, so all was well. 

I saw these advertisements in Beppu for some event where they set the mountain on fire.  I have seen the beer ads featuring the flaming mountain, but I just thought it was an advertising thing.  Whenever this great pyrotechnic event happens next, I want to see it.  Beppu people!!  Keep us informed!

Knox and I had a great day Monday.  I had the day off, so we went to his favorite play area at Youme Town, a mall in Beppu.  In Japanese, Yume means "dream."  "Yu" is pronounced in both English and Japanese like the English "you," but "me" is pronounced like the month of May.  So, when you look at the name of the mall, you see "you" and "me," which indicates togetherness, but you pronounce it like the Japanese word "dream."  Monday morning, we started at Starbucks where Peter and I had our regulars - iced soy chai, and Knox had a juice.  Then Peter went off to do some stuff and I took Knox on an adventure to get to Youme Town!  We went under the street!  Knox kept saying, "Mommy, we are going under!"  There are murals painted along the corridor under the street, and Knox recognized the Sunflower Ferry, the big boat that I rode to Osaka, in a painting.  I taught him Pegasus, as there was a painting of angels and winged horses.  We skipped over the witch.  I'm sure he saw it, but neither of us mentioned it.  Then we walked through a little park and played a game where if he walked on this certain plant, I would take him down with tickles.  He loved it.  I love his face when he intentionally steps on the right spot so I will tickle him.  Finally, we got there.  Mommy got very sidetracked on the way to the play area, as we had to pass through many floors of potential shopping on the way.  I contemplated ruffled socks for a few minutes.  Eventually, we made it.  This part was great, cause I got to sit and chill watching some Japanese cartoon they had on while Knox ran his booty off.  Whenever I can save energy and he can get rid of energy, things are in balance.  We took a train and a bus to get home - It was a miracle:  My bus pulled up right as I walked out of the train station.  By then I was tired, and I was grateful for that.  We finished the day with dinner at Surya, the best Indian/Nepali restaurant ever, and I went to bed with Knox at 9pm.  Nice.

My dream is to wake up without an alarm clock, slither to the couch, and watch TV all day, falling asleep intermittently whenever I want to.  Then, once it starts to get dark, I want to go out for dinner; maybe Sushi Meijin or something else that's relaxing, not fast food, and requires relatively little English translation.  Then I want to get some beers and mochi-with-anko from a konbini, and lay out under a sky not polluted by light, awash with stars.  And while I'm looking at the stars, I want to have some gooood conversation.  That would be refreshing.

From Japan,
Tiffany

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Strong

The other day, I asked a student if I could come to judo with her, and she gave me the big crossed arms signal (they do this in Japan: they cross their forearms to make an x meaning no, wrong, or bad) and said, "No, no."  I said, "Why not?!"  She pointed at my arms and shook her head, indicating that I'm too weak, which pissed me off in a good-humoured sort of way.  Like I have said, I'm competitive and fueled by adversity, so I dropped to the classroom floor, did some push ups, in my black pinstriped pants and button up shirt, and then got up and gave her an air karate kick to the head.  Then I circled the class, threatening to bow people in the face.  Everyone got a good laugh, and I left knowing they had a different opinion of how strong I might be.   When the bell rang, the students were all filing into the hall and pointing at me saying, "Strong, strong."  Who's weak now?

From Japan,
Tiffany

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Fine Line

Hi everybody.  I'm feeling a little shy today, after I've been gently admonished for perhaps saying a bit much regarding my life with Peter.  Peter doesn't mind anything I have written, and I think that's what matters most, but he says that other people are talking.  I never mean to cause bad feelings, so if I have, I'm sorry. 

I am walking a fine line with unpracticed feet:  I want to express myself, but I also want to respect the privacy of the other people involved.  We are doing a good job with this, but that doesn't mean it's not difficult, and that doesn't undo the years of what led us here.  All of that makes for a lot to let go of; a lot to say.  I guess I'll just have to find a better place to say it.  Forgive me.

We are doing well.  Knox is great - 4 hands full, at least.  We had to clean poo off carpets and tatami mats last night right after Knox's bath.  He told me he had to go and he went on the potty, but I didn't know that he had already made a deposit, and then tracked it from the living room to the bathroom.  Is that a better brand of TMI?!  I hope so!  ;-)

From Japan,
Tiffany

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Shopaholic

First, some business:  Family!!  Knox needs winter clothes.  Feel free to send footed pajamas, 2T, if you have a hankerin,' cause I haven't seen those here.

And now to the shopping...

Millions of people can't stop smoking.  Some people have issues with alcohol, some with drugs, others with sex.  A few get thrills by doing dangerous things like jumping out of airplanes.  Some people steal for an adrenaline high.  I shop.

I don't know what it is... I guess every person has an emptiness to fill, at some point or another, but whatever your vice is, the desire is always there.  I LOVE shopping.

I have asked for shopping as a present:  "Tiffany, what do you want for your birthday?"  "I want to go shopping.  Give me some money and 4 or 5 free hours, and my birthday fantasies will be fulfilled."  One time I asked every person in my family and Peter's to give me Banana Republic gift cards for Christmas.  Oh, God, it was glorious.  I shopped there whenever I wanted and could get there for 6 months.

I know one indication of being an alcoholic is drinking alone.  I don't know if it's the same with shopping, but I prefer to shop alone.  If people are with me, I feel too much pressure to get out of the dressing room quickly, and I can't browse with focus:  STOP TALKING TO ME.  I AM SHOPPING.  Oh, you want to go get a smoothie, that's cool... but in my head, I'm whining, "But look at all the stores we are passing and not going in to.  I know I'm not that good of a cook, but Williams Sonoma is right there and I want to see it." 

In LA, I got really into grocery shopping because I was exposed to Trader Joe's and my fav, Whole Foods.  There is no need for justifications or the after shopping guilt.  I mean, IT'S FOOD, right?  Well, not quite.  It's not just shopping that feeds my need, it's QUALITY shopping.  Maybe I didn't need the Raw, Organic, 16oz Live Granola for 13 dollars.  But it was really good for me!!  And I feel really good about eating organic, grass fed beef, and if I have to eat something quick, organic whole grain pancakes or a prepared vegan box is really nice.  I like chocolate.  Organic chocolate from the Alps.  Wahahahahahahaha!!!  Yeah.  I really like gourmet shopping.

Luckily, I had a better handle on the meaning of money by the time I moved to LA.  But, I still ended up with my first Citizens of Humanity and 7 for all mankind jeans.  Dang Nordstrom coupons.  But I must defend the quality stuff.  I keep my clothes forever.  Right now, I am wearing a Banana Republic skirt that I got before I met Peter.  That means I have had it for more than 10 years.  It's beautiful and in perfect condition.  I firmly believe that investing in quality is worth it.  Sure, you get like ten times more stuff from Forever 21 for less, but it falls apart the 3rd time you wash it and your money is gone.

So, I bring up shopping because, over the past 4 or 5 years, I have buckled down pretty seriously.  There have been entire months when I did not go shopping at all.  Yeah, I know.  Crazy.  (And probably not true, lol!  If I'm dying, but trying to be good, a tank top from American Eagle can tame the beast.)  But, really, I was much, much more frugal.  I became a fan of Goodwill, where I often found some of my favorite brands for 2 dollars instead of 50.  I have no trouble with the store name or the price, as long as I get the shopping experience.  Especially during the time post-pregnancy, pre-regular body, I needed interim clothes that I knew I would only wear for a month or three.  Goodwill!  But, I did really well for the past few years, rarely ever splurging, except on fancy food.  Which is ok, cause it's food, which I will defend by saying that healthier people don't have to spend as much on medical stuff.  Eh?

Yesterday, I went shopping.  It was fun.  I tried to order an electric blanket on Amazon, but it wouldn't ship to Japan, so I got myself one from Muji, our local... I guess it's kind of like IKEA/Target, except tiny compared to them, and completely neutral (colors).  As I understand, that's what Muji means- something like "plain" or "neutral."  It's pretty cool.  I needed the blanket because I am not messing around with the cold weather this year, so I got bootie slippers and the electric blanket before the time comes that I can see my breath in the kitchen.  I might order some serious gloves, too.  My coat is nice, but the feathers are starting to pop out of it and stick to my clothes, so a new coat might be in order.  I also got some organizational things for the closets that I am trying to clean out and organize.  In cleaning, I scored a PlayStation and some ankle weights, found in some dark dusty corner, left by my predecessor.  The ankle weights already improved my ab and leg exercises.  Awesome.

I also got some fun girly stuff:  A dress, some nail polish, some hair thingies... I went just a little crazy, but not too crazy.  Since college I graduated from credit to cash, so I can't get myself into too much trouble. 

I want to take some pictures of funny things around here that we don't have in the US- like this umbrella gadget I saw yesterday at Starbucks.  Since it was raining, they put this thing out by the front door...  It's about hip high and about 16 inches wide.  You stick your umbrella in to the top, push it down, and then pull it out the front, and your umbrella comes out with a plastic cover on, containing all of the mess a wet umbrella can cause.  Speaking of Starbucks, I have a mug collection, and on Monday night I saw two 15th Anniversary (of Starbucks in Japan) mugs.  I thought, oh those are cool, I'm going to get them tomorrow.  They were important to my collection, as they are unique to Japan.  On Tuesday, they were sold out, and apparently they are sold out all over Oita.  Grrrrrr.

Ok, enough of my ramblings.  Have a great day!

From Japan,
Tiffany

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hooking Up, with Japanese Students

Oh, I amused myself by getting fLisky with my Resson pRan today.  Maybe you'll be amused too!  Let's enjoy together! 

English Slang Expressions - Hook Up
Tiffany, ALT

A.   I will hook you up  means
I will give you some.
I will help you.
I will introduce you to someone.

B.   Hook me up!  means
Give me some.
Help me.
Introduce me.

C.   Did you hook up?  means
Did you meet?
Did you introduce yourself?
Did you work together in some capacity?

Let’s read these examples of how you can get hooked up, then pair up the explanations at the top with the examples below.  Put the letter of the closest explanation on the line under the examples.

A: I really want a cookie.
B: I have cookies.  I’ll hook you up.
___________

A: I like your friend.  Can you hook me up?
B: Sure, let’s go.  I’ll introduce you.
___________

A: Hook me up with some of those French fries!
B: No way, get your own French fries.
____________

A: You have to listen to this new band.  I’ll hook you up with a copy of the CD.
_____________

A: Did you and the new boy hook up?
B: No, he had onion breath when I went to talk to him, so I went to karaoke instead.
______________

Write one of your own!!


OMG. I crack me up.  ;-)
From Japan,
Tiffany

In My Life by The Beatles

The fall makes me so calm and thoughtful.  Here's a nice song for times like this...

There are places I'll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all


But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more


Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more


From Japan,
Tiffany

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Byouki Ballet

Byouki means sick.  I am sick.  Please ready the jet, Alexander, I require my mommy.

Actually, I need drugs.  I long for NyQuil, DayQuil, and Sudafed.  Especially NyQuil.  The glory of NyQuil is solidified by its mention by several comedians who were/are funny enough that you know their names.

Mitch Hedberg:  "What am I drinking? NyQuil on the rocks, for when you're feeling sick but sociable."

Lewis Black:  "I like a cold, because I get to do my favorite drug, which is NyQuil. I love that stuff. What do the rest of you use, Robitussin? Robitussin, why do you even bother? Non-narcotic, sissy-pansy bullshit. NyQuil's got the best thing I've ever read on a medicine package, 180 proof. It's the moonshine of medicine. You can buy it on a holiday. See, cause when I got a cold, I want something that's gonna *snaps* fuck me up. Cause that way the blur seems interesting. There's a day time NyQuil, there's a night time NyQuil, drink either one you want...cause your cold doesn't give a shit what time it is."

Denis Leary:  "I don't do illegal drugs anymore. Now I just do the legal drugs. Tonight I'm on NyQuil and Sudafed. Let me tell you something, folks. Forget about cocaine and heroine. All you need is NyQuil and Sudafed. I'm telling you right now, I took the NyQuil five years ago. ... I love NyQuil. Man, I love it!  It's never changed. All the other medicines are doing that inner-child thing. "we know that there's a small child inside of you, so now we have grape and cherry and orange flavor." Not NyQuil! They still have the original green death fucking flavor! You know why!? Because it doesn't matter what it tastes like! It's so strong you go, "*wheeze* Hey this stuff really tastes like.." Bang! Yer in the coma already! "What happened?" "He said tastes like and he went right into the coma, it was unbelievable!" We have reached the point where the over the counter drugs are actually stronger than anything you can buy on the street. It says on the back of the NyQuil box, on the back of the box it says, "May cause drowsiness." It should say, "Don't make any fucking plans! Kiss your family and friends goodbye. ... NyQuil is the secret for all you twelve step recovery program people. Yes, all you AA people, NyQuil is the key! It's the thirteenth fucking step! You can drink it! It's over the counter! Drink as much as you want. "Are you drunk?" "No! I have a cold. Same cold I've had for two years. I just can't seem to shake it. I'm high as a kite and my teeth are green. Merry fucking Christmas!"

The trouble is that NyQuil, DayQuil, and Sudafed are illegal in Japan.  What do the people do when they get mind twisting, insanity inducing sinus infections, as I have gotten about once a year for the past 6 or 7 years?  Seriously.  Last January - my sinus infection usually visits uninvited in January - I thought I was going to lose my mind, and there was just nothing to take.  I got sinus meds from the pharmacy and my usual slew of meds from the doctor (he prescribes me a stomach medicine, an antihistamine, an antibiotic, and a pain med every time no matter what I go in for.   National Health care is brilliant, but there are issues.)  I settled for a few moments of relief here and there by eating jalapenos and cayenne pepper.  So, this year, I'm not playing games.  Well, actually, that's exactly what I'm going to do, but I can't tell you what games I'm going to play, lest you ruin my evil plan!  Wahahahaha!

Since I just mentioned Lewis Black, and I may never get the chance to brag about this again, I'll tell you that I've had stand-up lessons with him.  I now know that I can't do stand up comedy.  This class ended up being torture for me.  We were all at a party one night and Lewis Black came up to talk to me about my routine, and I started crying.  He hugged me and gave me a really nice pep talk.  We were friends for that couple of months.  Maybe he wouldn't want you to know this, but he's a really sweet man.

And now for the ballet!  Despite being sick, I went to the ballet last night.  I already had my ticket, and I doubt another ballet will come around soon that I know about, cause if it is mentioned without a big picture of somebody in a tutu, it is lost on me because I can hardly read in this country.  I ran into a friend at the door who rushed me to my seat and ran away.  She is a ballet teacher, so maybe she had something to do with the show.  I wasn't really prepared to be moving that fast, but she was nice.

I felt terrible sitting between this woman and this young girl blowing my nose and coughing throughout the performance.  I tried to keep it to a minimum.  As is common in Japan with most things in my life, I didn't know what show I was going to see; when I buy lunch, I'm not really sure what's going to be in it, when I buy medicine, I'm not exactly sure what it's for, and when I go to the bank, I press buttons until the money comes out.  When a loud speaker comes on and then the masses start walking in a certain direction, I just go with them.  I've gotten used to it; turns out I was going to see The Nutcracker.  Funny, I've never seen The Nutcracker in September before.  But, Christmas in Japan is kinda like Chinese New Year in America:  No one really cares when it actually is, so on with the show!

The show was fine.  The two principal dancers were professionals and the rest of the performers were students from the Oita area.  I really enjoy going to stage performances, so I'm not too concerned if it isn't exactly ABT.  I made it through the show and went home to bed.

Other than that, I have been busily preparing for Halloween.  I LOVE Halloween.  I love it I love it I love it.  Last Halloween was fantastic, and I hope this year is just as fun.  Of course, Halloween isn't so easy to prepare for in a country that doesn't really celebrate it.  There are no costume shops that I am aware of.  They don't sell face paint.  So, I've been piecing things together and making my Amazon orders to people in America who will then ship/bring my stuff.  It's a bit of work, but it's fun. 

I'm only 3/4 conscious, so I hope this post was coherent enough.

From Japan,
Tiffany