Everytime you leave, the earth tears itself apart…

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Hey guys, what you been up to? It’s been far too long, right?

I don’t have much time, but I figured I should get another post up here so that this thing doesn’t feel too neglected. You know neglect is a form of abuse, right? Thank you, university! In one of my private lessons last week with a middle-aged woman, I taught many a sociological concept – the lesson was all about discrimination, sexism, ageism, prejudice, bigotry, etc…. Haha, I forget how it naturally came to that, but that’s some tough stuff for some to learn about, let alone learning it in a second language. But she did well. I like doing private lessons, and letting the theme/lesson arise organically through conversation. It’s fun.

Okay. Some things I’ve been up to lately. Incomprehensibly recounted. Go!

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Two friends, in this sorry excuse for a Real World experience, were about to move out. One was moving back in with her family in a nearby city. The other was going back home to Germany. We all had a farewell party for them, consisting of going to an izakaya (japanese style restaurant/bar), then a few remaining people went to karaoke following that. My first time karaoke-ing during this stint here. Good times.

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A few days later came the time when the peeps were really moving out. The German had to leave at about 5:30am, which was only a few hours later than my bedtime of late, 2:00ish. So, I thought why not stay up and say goodbye. The other leaving girl stayed up too for the same reason, while the German had to get a few Zzzz’s. He’s a real nice guy, and was the first person I met/talked to in the house, so it was sad to see him go. But I guess, especially in this revolving door of a house, that’s going to be a frequent occurrence.

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Anyway, get to the excitement, right??? Right! So, after bidding farewell, I was in the kitchen with the other girl (who was making some riceballs) scrambling some curried tofu for breakie when a big rumbling decided to rumble. To my sleep-deprived mind, this was just due to a train passing. But wait, there are no trains THAT close. My friends, I can now say, I survived my first earthquake in Japan. My friend was freaked out ’cause she still remembers the big Hanshin/Kobe earthquake of ’95 which was actually really bad (while this time it was just a little sugar frosted quaker). No-damage earthquakes = good times.

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Later that day, following some much needed rest, I decided to make some kind of curry. I’ve never made curry, and I had no idea of how to make curry. But why should that stop anyone!!! So, I chopped up some onions, tomatoes, sweet potats, carrots, tofu, etc.. I started shaking my bottles of curry powder, garam masala, cumin and turmeric like a mad man. And voila. Head-first-maybe-curry! It was quite delicious. I also added a little trick I learned from Sarah, by adding in a bit of wasabi! Not too much to make it spicy or overwhelming, but just to lend it’s talents to the taste. Good job, man, you came through.

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Also recently, I hit up Osaka Castle Park last week with a fellow English teacher at my school, and we checked out some bands there. It was quite fun. One band was quite the spectacle. They had a group of maybe 20 or more people with them dressed up gothic-ly, with faces painted white, along with army men, school children, etc all doing choreographed movements to their crazy metal music. And throughout the day, when they weren’t actually performing, they’d have some of these people in all black and facepaint walking extremely slowly….with huge clocks on their back. Huh?! Yeah! Okay, I can deal with that!

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One band in particular I really liked (joy), and ended up buying their CD. It was a beautiful day, and for lunch we ate our subs in the park! That’s right, there’s a couple of ‘Subways’ here. They’re hidden away, but the sub I had (veggie and avocado) was not too shabby. A good day all in all, and apparently every Sunday they do this kind of thing there.

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The following night, I met up with a couple friends in Kyoto. First we went to an English pub, which was OK, but the alcohol is expensive of course. So we decided to hit up a liquor store, get some stuff, and then chill by the Kamogawa river. I must say, having open liquor in the streets not be illegal is pretty liberating. Haha. However conflicted I felt about it.

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And I love that for, for the way I’m feeling…

Thanks, Matt! Yeah, it is quite fun right now! I’m gradually starting to teach more students of my own, privately. And I’m really enjoying it! One student is from Peru, married to a Japanese man, and so her Japanese is near fluent, but her English is very very low. So the lessons are heavily in Japanese. Explanations, or translations to make the meanings clear are usually in Japanese. We work on pronunciation a lot. She can read and understand the meaning of many words since her first language is Spanish, but the Spanish pronunciation is usually quite different, so when she speaks she finds that no one can understand her. So, this teaching experience is really quite interesting!

So now it’s time for an installment of Things that Japan loves (besides OBAMA)!
Obama 2008
Japan loves…..
HEAT! – hot springs, baths not showers, heated toilet seats, kotatsu (a table that’s heated underneath to warm your legs)
NOODLES – going along with the heat theme, it’s all about the noodle soups here (ramen, udon, soba, somen)
CONVENIENCE – convenience stores wherever you turn, the trains are ridiculously so (always exactly on time, frequent)
CUTENESS – happy cartoon characters at train tracks warning of the danger, Hello Kitty, Disney (even guys like Disney here), everything/everyone strives for being cute
POLITENESS – it’s kind of crazy polite, you enter a store – even to walk through it as a shortcut on your way home – and you’ve got people greeting you, thanking you for gracing them with your mere presence, bowing to you left and right; at the cash register, following the 2-3 seconds it takes to put your item in a bag, they apologize for making you wait. A housemate of mine is working at some kind of clothing store, and he is mostly there stocking, or folding things, but he has hopes to work the register at some point. Anyway, he must learn all the most polite language (not just polite, but super-polite, to which there’s no real equivalent in English), learn the right ways to bow, greet everyone who enters the store, walks by, or even thinks about one day visiting the store. Not so crazy, right? But all the workers also needs to do their smiling drills each day! My housemate was told he needs to improve his smile more, he needs more practice. He was told he should sit infront of the mirror daily, smiling to himself, to get it just perfect. No thank you!

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monkey

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うまく行ってるよ!

Things are going well lately!

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The weekend was good. On Saturday I worked. On Sunday I met up with a friend for lunch which we had at a hidden away little vegan restaurant in Kyoto. Good stuff. It was basically in someone’s house. With cats hanging out. Interesting. But very good and reasonable. Then I went with him to do some shopping for things to bring to Canada. Following that we went to see his friend’s tap dance recital. Then to a cafe together. Then to meet up with a different friend and the friends of his who I’d met before when we went to the southern island of Shikoku. It was good seeing those guys again. We had Okonomiyaki. With the exception of Sunday, I’ve cooked every day since last Monday. Something different everyday. It feels really good to be doing it. And a couple of times I’ve stumbled upon deliciousness I had yet to experience in this life. Bonus.

Today I first met with a prospective student, whom I had met at the American teacher’s farewell party. I met with him at the station, and then he asked if it’s OK if we go to his house to talk about conditions of the lessons. So we hopped on a bus, he paid for me, which was nice of him, and we got to his house (which is where the lessons will be). We just had a normal conversation for a while, and then we got to the matter at hand. We decided on a day of the week and time for the lessons. It works out for me pretty conveniently, as on that day I have a lesson shortly after our’s (in the same general area).

Then he asked me about what kinds of food I like, so innocently I talked about food for a bit. Conveniently, the American teacher he had previously was vegetarian too, so the student was no stranger to it. He left the room, and then proceeded to ask his wife to make some Udon for us (after I told him how I went with friends to Shikoku for Udon). Haha. I was quick to politely decline, as I had to go shortly to meet with another student. But he said there would be enough time, no problem. So I was fed quite well! Following the meal we ate, there wasn’t enough time to eat the Cherry Mochi (a kind of japanese sweets) I was given, so along with another kind of mochi, the man’s wife packed it up for me to take with me! Haha. Now, not only was I fed well. But, normally I charge a certain amount for one-hour lessons, and I previously had told this man how much it was. And I wasn’t expecting any payment today, since it was just a meeting to discuss the lessons we’ll begin on Wednesday. But he gave me an envelope with money in it, asking if that much was OK. I was surprised and said “no it’s okay really, we didn’t even have a lesson today, i don’t need it!”. He still insisted though. And he paid even more than the price I had told him last time! I told him “But it’s only X-amount!” but he said “No, Y-amount is okay!!”. Haha, craziness.

Then I rushed off to my 2-hour lesson. The student is just great! She brings a short essay each time for me to go over and correct, as well as grammar exercises from a textbook she has that she has me go over as well. And she is very eager to speak. So, my lessons with her are always enjoyable and go quite smoothly!

That lead me to return to my home station, do some grocery shopping, and come home. I hung out with a friend in the house who’ll be moving on Sunday. So we just sat and talked for a while, which was really nice. Then I tried a new kind of sandwich I’d thought up. I quickly, lightly fried a slab of tofu in a pan, with a little bit of curry powder. Cut up some tomato and onion. And put those between the slices of bread along with some avocado, a little more curry powder and a light drizzling of honey. Now, there was a small problem. Japanese bread is usually double the thickness of NORMAL bread. Haha. I anticipated this and foolishly thought I could skillfully slice one slice into two. But that didn’t work out at all. I just kind of mutilated the bread. But I stopped halfway through, so it was still kind of intact. I said, whatever, and tried it with the two thick slices. My first bites were all bread and it was a little bit of a struggle to get my mouth around it. But. It. Was. Amazing!!!

I’ve never been prouder in my life than I was today.

I even thought about buying some regularly sized slices of bread tonight and doing it up right-like. It’s definitely going to be a go-to. It was very quick and easy, nutritious and delicious. It was nutrilicious!!! No jokes.

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Sorry, about that. I’m done patting myself on the back now. But it kind of hurts…..

Oh yeah!
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Just when you thought you understood what “long” meant

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Howdy folks. I have a lot to tell you about. Let me start from the start. That seems as good a place as any.

Well, since coming to Japan, I’ve been having some good times. I’ve been meeting up with lots of friends who I met in Waterloo or from Osaka when I was there for a month 2 years ago. But, I haven’t really made any new friends. Work was harder to find then I had thought. Money was running out fast! I started working at an English conversation school, which is good, but there aren’t enough hours for me there to pay rent, buy groceries, and all that. Having moved into this new house, it’s been alright, but you know, unknown people who all know each other and don’t know me. Since leaving my friend’s house, and even for a few days before that, I’ve been sick. At first, I had a cold that wasn’t too bad, but draining and annoying nonetheless. Then, as luck would have it, that cold nicely segued into a new and different one. This second cold really killed my throat. I’ve lost my voice completely a few times, accompanied by my eyes starting to water. This is not cool in public, especially when it’s during conversations with people you’re meeting for the first time. Anyway.

Since I arrived in Japan, I’d felt a vague feeling of loneliness which turned into a big, hearty loneliness during my first week in this house (not just because of the house, but because of not having made new friends, all my other friends being busy, not having any music or vegetarian connections here). I had some almost panic attack sort of situations while wallowing a bit in my room. Kind of scary. Freaking out over how lost I was feeling, and how little money I had, and how little direction I had (in the bad way). And of course these feelings, along with bad, convenience store eating habits, fueled my cold and prevented recovery. In turn, the cold made me feel even worse.

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Okay, so I’ve painted a sad picture for you. Here’s where things start looking up!

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So, last week on a job seeking forum I saw a post by a teacher who had been teaching students privately for about a year and a half and had a LOT of them, and that was his sole income. He also lived where I had previously lived, which is still very close to where I live now. So, since he was leaving soon, he wanted to introduce his students to a few teachers so that their English studies weren’t interrupted. (What a good guy!) So, I responded to him and he then, surprised that I’d responded so quickly, invited me to his farewell party that Saturday. He also had me send him my contact info, picture, and a brief message in english and japanese for his students that he would, along with the other potential teachers, put on a page to hand out to them.

As I mentioned, I had found out about a Why? concert that Friday. That week I went through the pain-staking process of attaining a ticket for it. Register online – go to a certain convenience store, use the machine there to find the right concert – get a receipt – wait for at least a day – go back to that store with receipt – get the ACTUAL ticket. Don’t ask me why. But I guess since there are so many people in Japan, they don’t want all of them to go to concerts, ’cause they can’t possibly all fit. Therefore, they must make it as painful and difficult as possible to deter a large many from coming.

Anyway. Got that figured out and dealt with.

Thursday night. I was thinking, and since I’ve never been to a vegetarian restaurant in Osaka, I thought that I should treat myself to some the day of the concert. I also needed to get some healthy food (vegetables) into me in order to recover from my cold(s). So, the particular place I had in mind was to close at 5:00, and the concert opened up at 7:30. And they were only 1 subway stop away from each other, so I could walk it no problem. Friday came. It was hard to get out of bed (just like everyday here). I started drifting toward thoughts of just going some other day. I was also unsure of going by myself. Sometimes (sometimes=usually) when I go somewhere like that by myself, I end up feeling severe social anxiety and get in, eat (or whathaveyou) and book it out of there. But I forced myself to do this. I needed it badly. So I went.

The directions I had from the station to the place began from Exit 15 and then i had drawn a small map to get there from said exit. But at the location I came out of the train from, it was impossible to get to that exit. And it was actually far enough away, so I left through exit 3 or something, and tried walking in the general direction of where I thought exit 15 might be. After a while, I figured I was lost, so I thought I should ask someone about the one landmark that people might possibly know close to that area. The guy had no idea. So I tried making my way back to the station. During my walk in the general direction of the station, I looked up and there it was “Green Earth”. Thankfully it found me, ’cause I was incapable of finding it.

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I went in, and it was a cool looking place. The waitress/owner let me sit wherever I wanted, and then brought me a menu. I thought I’d make sure, and so I asked if everything was indeed vegetarian, being vegan myself. And she assured me everything was vegan. Right on. Everything on the menu was really reasonably priced, so I went with one of the most reasonably priced items. Hummus sandwich. It was really good. The next time the owner came out to ask how things were. I started asking her some questions and we got into a fairly lengthy conversation, about vegetarianism, where i’m from, being vegetarian in japan, and other things. I then ordered the pumpkin cake (which came with a creamy tofu icing-like thing on the side) half because I wanted to support her and half because it sounded really good. And it was fantastic! It was even more fantastic not having to worry about feeling bad or uneasy about what I was eating. Again, the owner and I talked more. I’d never met a vegetarian in Japan until that point, and it was really so nice. Through our conversation she also encouraged me to start cooking and what things I could cook. Things that are relatively cheap in Japan’s grocery stores. I hadn’t cooked yet in Japan at that point. She came back once more while I was eating my small slice of cake and asked if I wanted coffee. So I said yes, since it came with the cake at a cheaper price than normal. And let me tell you, coffee is really expensive in Japan for some reason. At your regular coffee shop, a small cup of black coffee, no frills, will set you back about $4.00 if not more. Once I was finished, she brought me my bill, and the coffee wasn’t on it. So I asked about it, and she said not to worry. That’s so nice of her! I went up to pay her for my meal, and we asked each other’s names, and she asked for my email (since earlier she mentioned her husband has an english school, although i was busy the times she mentioned were possible) in case something opens up. I also mentioned that I would love to work there if she ever needs any help. She asked if I had any recipes. I kind of do, but I’d have to sort them out more and practice. She said that next time I could try some of them and she can taste them, and we could see what happens from there. Wow! That would be awesome to work there! I mean, it’s not possible in the immediate future. I wouldn’t feel ready enough to do that. But I’ll practice and think of new things, get used to Japanese ingredients and tastes, and maybe some day I’ll give that a shot.

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Following this, I began walking toward the area of town the concert was in. I got there, with about 2.5 hours to spare. Seeing as how I had no money, not even enough to waste on coffee or a drink or something, and I had no idea of what else I could do with my time, I walked. I walked around and around, hardcore. Not even a leisurely walk, as when you find yourself walking in huge crowds of busy people, you speed up, and all of a sudden are in a rush. I wasn’t. But you know.

Time came for the concert. I was kinda nervous about it. I wanted to meet some people there, some like-minded people to relate to and chill with, instead of spending another concert by myself. The concert was at a place called “11” or “Onzieme” (the French, squeezed through Japanese, still sounding a little something like it). It was on the 11th floor of a big building. Doors were at 7:30, so I got into the elevator at 7:31, but the button for the 11th floor was not having any of it! “Sorry, man, not gonna stop there. Won’t do it.” So I went to near the front of the building again, where there was one guy looking at the concert posters. I asked him if he was going to the Why? show and he said he was, he had also tried the elevator. We decided to give it another shot. It was finally working, so we went up, handed over our tickets and the required 500 yen for a drink ticket, and we were in. We went to a table and started talking. It was cool. We talked about Canada/Japan, the usual where/when/why are you from? Then we talked about other bands we liked, after I mentioned I was surprised anyone in Japan even heard of, let alone liked Why?. He also really liked some of my favourite bands, Deerhoof, Broken Social Scene, etc. How wonderfully strange!

After a while, two of his friends showed up, who also liked said bands, and we talked more. At first the one guy looked kind of “what the hell is going on”, but the first guy assured him Japanese was OK. Haha. From there on we were like normal friends. They’re all in their early 30s, but for some reason, I’ve been meeting other people around that age here the past while and it’s not weird at all. I’ve got an old heart and an old brain.

The concert itself was really good. The band was tighter than the other time I saw them in Toronto. The drums sounded better and more intense too. Really good. And after I exchanged numbers with the guys, we said our “see ya later”s and I stuck around a bit, and had a good talk with the keyboardist of the band. A funny thing happened when some crazy Japanese fan in a suit came over to the keyboardist with a huge mauling hug and then a handshake, and then he continued to furiously shake my hand too. I’m guessing he thought I was in the band. He must’ve had a few drinks! But he had obviously enjoyed himself.

All in all, great day!!

Saturday. Crawled out of bed. Ate breakfast. Went to my friend’s house, where I had been staying, for a visit since the teacher’s farewell party was a 5 minute walk away. His family was there, with the exception of him, since he was busy. It was nice seeing them again, and talking a lot. Then I dropped by a grocery store to pick up some food for the party, seeing as how it was a potluck, and then made it to the party safely. Prior to the proper party, was a showing of a feature length film noir the teacher had just finished editing, which was shot 6 years earlier in America. It was really good actually, and had Japanese subtitles for all the english students of his who came. Fun.

This brings us to the party-party. We got the room set up, food put out in the centre of the room on tables and people started socializing. I talked to a couple people, and that was nice and enjoyable. Then, the teacher said a few words, and had us other english teachers say a few words, our names, where we’re from, etc. There were only 3 of the 5 or 6 people on the page there and by this time, the teacher had passed out the sheets of paper which had the messages from teachers with pictures. Immediately following this, I was swarmed by people!! People were seeking out a new English teacher, so they came to me, matching the picture to my face. People were even waiting patiently until I was free to talk to them next. It was bizarre. I was Mr. Popular all of a sudden. The party continued on like this. I was handed a plate of food and some tea, but I wasn’t even able to take a few bites (until much later on) because I was talking so much with everyone! I should mention at this point, that during the teacher’s few words at the beginning of the party, he thanked everyone for bringing mostly vegetarian food since he was vegetarian! I’m thinking, “am I being punked?” What a strange coincidence.

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I continued talking with lots of people, and by the end of the party I had set up lessons with about 5 students, and had about 10 other people who said they would contact me about setting up lessons. Wow. I talked to the teacher a few times as well. He seems like a really good guy. I asked him about vegetarian-ness in Japan, and he said that he has a book on it. And since he was leaving, and I’m the only vegetarian he knows in Japan, he should give it to me. Cool! I’ll get back to that in a minute. The party wrapped up, my voice was wrecked. At one point, my voice gave out and my eyes started to water. I was talking the whole day long. But I made it through it. There was a lot of food left, snacks and such, so the ladies who were taking care of all of it, stuffed my hands full of it.
And I said some goodbyes to all these new people I had met. What a great day. What a great situation to have found myself in.

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From there, I went straight to a party at my Italian friend’s apartment! He is so delightfully Italian! There were a few friends I already knew (from Japan, Spain, Germany) as well as some new people. It was cool meeting some more people, including one from Taiwan, and two from Korea who were currently in Japan going to a Japanese language school. The two from Korea didn’t know any English, so we spoke in Japanese, our common language. Again, a very strange experience, but very cool. We all had a good time. Oh yeah! My first time ‘missing’ the last train! Got home in the morning, slept for a while, and basically rested all day.

This brings us to Monday. Today. The conclusion to this beast of an entry. Woke up. You know. An hour after my alarm. Showered. Breakfasted. Went to meet the first of my new students. Met at the train station (in Kuzuha, the one next to mine when taking the express train, also where I stayed for a month). We then walked over to a nice little coffee shop called “Donnez-moi”. Up til that point, I had never been to a mom and pop style coffee shop, I’d only been to the chain ones like Starbucks, Mister Donut, etc. The Mama-san of the place seemed to have a good rapport with people there, including my new student. She noticed I was a new teacher immediately, as my student had been going there with the American teacher for about a year. But she knew I was coming. That guy had passed her the vegetarian book which she gave to me, and then started to ask me things like where I’m from. I said Canada, and then she started talking to me in French. In ACTUAL French! We seated ourselves, and then the owner came over again and asked some more questions when she brought us our coffee (which was the cheapest coffee I’ve ever had in Japan!! Yay! Only about $2.50 ish). She asked me, again in French, if I could speak Japanese. In Japanese I responded that I can speak conversationally. She then told to my student what I said, and of course the student said she knew that. I said it in Japanese. Haha. The owner broke down laughing, realizing this, thinking I responded in French. Haha. Good times.

The 2-hour lesson went very well. Very relaxed. But still very productive. Now. For me, finding music that I’m interested in, in Japan, is pretty difficult. But during this lesson, I noticed the music was absolutely amazing! I prayed that by the end of the lesson, the same artist’s music was still playing so I could ask the owner what it was. Luckily, it was. And I asked her. She showed me her ipod that it was playing off of, and it had a few lines of text, and I wasn’t sure which was the artist, it wasn’t so clear. She wasn’t sure, herself, so she said that she would find out and then tell me next time. I did remember one word that I saw that I thought might be the artist’s name. Asana. So I searched it after I got home. And I think I’ve found what I was hoping to. Check it out. ( http://www.myspace.com/asana73 )

Following the lesson, I went to the grocery store near my home station. I was determined to finally begin cooking. This would save me some money, and get me some health. I didn’t know what I would cook today for dinner, but I just bought a bunch of things that were cheap enough, and that I could use. Here’s my post-shopping grocery list:

Soy milk (coffee flavoured + matcha flavoured!)
Sweet potato
Carrot
Tofu
Veg Oil
Soy Sauce
Curry powder
Japanese 7-spice
Apples
Onions
Chinese Eggplant
Frozen mixed greens (for emergencies)

Oh, Wait! GARLIC! (That’s right)

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I chopped up some stuff, tossed together a stir-fry, ate it, not too bad, not too bad. In doing this, I learned the kitchen. Which is very important to have done. Now that I’ve done it once, it won’t be a big deal to do it again. And I hope to do this frequently!

This anti-climactically brings us to the end of today’s story. But there’s a few things I can now say.

I feel good. I have successfully conquered my cold. My throat is better. I feel happier in general. And I feel more hopeful about my life here. Phew! Now what I feel is relieved to have got that all out. Being happier now, I now feel happier about all my family and friends back home (or wherever). I feel even more fondly for all of you. Take care. I will try to.

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I moved….Why?

I won’t forget that song! Haha. I’ll write, Sharon.

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Soo, today I moved. I moved out from my friend’s family’s place and into something called the Osaka English House. A big house full of foreigners and Japanese university students. I was kind of nervous coming into, but I introduced myself to (almost) everyone and made lots of conversation and so it looks like most people here are pretty friendly and cool. I was invited to a Nabe party they had here tonight. I gladly accepted while mentioning I’m vegetarian though, so I don’t know if I can eat what everyone’s eating. So the girl organizing the party offered to make a separate vegetarian hot pot for me! So nice of her! Plus, she told me I only had to pay 400 yen instead of 500 yen since I wasn’t eating meat. Looks like vegetarianism is starting to finally pay off! It was good too. Curry Nabe. Talked to lots of people. Got lots of names that I’ll struggle to remember. 

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Then….I came to my computer (like, right now) and randomly went to the Anticon (indie record label) website, and even though I just checked like 2 days ago, it says that Why? (my favourite band/singer) has got tourdates in Japan! Say what??? Coming to Japan I had this fuzzy, optimistic idea that since they came here before they might come here again at some point. And yeah, they’re coming in one week to Osaka!!! It’s my year this year, apparently. Good heavens. And if I don’t get to O-O-Obama!

適当に。。。

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Today I bought a couple hoodies. I also bought a purple shirt. Maybe I’ll make some Japanese electronic music. The thing to do is to write songs in Japanese (occasionally with some English words added in for cool), and then to title them in English. One song will be “Remind me” and another song will be “Because of living in small spaces”. Maybe one will be “Can you make it here?” That’s the word.

As of late…

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Howdy Howdy

A little more than one month has passed for me since coming to Osaka. I’ve started working a couple part-time jobs. But money is still a problem. You know, since I don’t really have any yet. I plan on moving out from my friend’s place as soon as I can get a month’s worth of rent money together. Hopefully that can be Friday.

Due to this little problem, and other issues, things have still been okay, but a bit stressful. To be honest, I feel the pangs of loneliness more often lately. I went to a concert the other week (Deerhoof, band from America, Japanese singer, weird, but awesome) thinking maybe I could talk to some people there. Meet some like-minded friends. But that didn’t exactly turn out at all. I spent the concert stationed at a high standing table, amongst a few other people who had gone to the concert by themselves. I wanted to try talking to them, but I couldn’t figure out what to say. How I could start talking to them without seeming like some creep. And doing all this is Japanese was kind of daunting too I suppose.

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So, the bands (Urichipangoon opened for Deerhoof) played and were awesome. It was great. And then I managed to start talking to the girl standing beside me, about Deerhoof and bands of a similar ilk, ’cause I didn’t have any friends into Deerhoof and I especially didn’t have any Japanese friends who were into Deerhoof or the other music I’m into. But it was apparent that she just wanted to go home, so our conversation kind of awkwardly fell apart and she jetted. So, yeah. Haha.

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No big deal, at least I tried I guess.

Everytime a friend asks me about what I’m doing here in Japan, there comes the question of will I go back to Canada after the year or will I stay in Japan any longer than it. And the answer to that: I have no idea. It’s a question that I consider every day. I don’t want to though. I tell myself that I should worry about that later on in the year when I have a good chunk of living here experience, and can make a better decision. But still, the debate is endless in my mind. There are a few important factors that will obviously go into this decision and are factors that directly influence/determine my quality/enjoyment of life:
(in no particular order)
Work
Music
Vegetarianism
People

For work, I need to do something I can enjoy to some degree. I don’t want a job-job. I crave variety in my life, so i’m not sure how my working life will turn out. I like teaching English itself, but it could depend on how I end up doing that. English school? High school? Privately? I don’t know.

Music is something that is essential to my life. For the first while after coming to Japan, I had no musical output at all. I didn’t write/record anything, didn’t sing at all, play guitar, etc.. I actually started feeling depressed because of it. So, I’m kind of assured now, that in some capacity I will be doing music in life. The other day, I met up with a friend I met at the university I did an exchange at 2 years ago (Poole Gakuin) and we went to a music studio (a rehearsal space) and we switched off between guitar and drums and just jammed for a couple hours. It was fun. Although maybe it was a little harder for me to get into it because I was terribly tired, sore and I was dealing with a cold wrapping it’s hands around my brain. I’m not sure whether we really click musically, but it was good doing music anyway. And I think we’ll probably do it again, maybe with another person or two.

vegetables

Vegetarianism. It’s no secret that I haven’t been exactly vegetarian here, since I’ve made the concession of eating fish and other seafood. It’s beginning to get to me a little though. Some stuff is alright, I can stomach it fine. But other stuff is just disgusting to me. And if it’s disgusting to me, I find it to also be kind of wasteful. I mean, I eat it so that I’m not being rude to the people being so kind as to offer it to me. But Ideally, I wouldn’t be eating it. I panicked a little at first about this, but then I realized I’ll be moving out soon and will be making my own meals, thus, I’ll be able to be a lot more vegetarian. It can be quite stressful to spend so much time acting in ways that go against pretty fundamental (and almost religious) beliefs. So, once I’m living on my own, I’ll make my own meals and that’ll be better for me.

People. Of course I miss my family and friends back home. The internet, however, does in fact make it easier to keep in touch pretty well. Holy Skype! I started using Skype a bit lately. I feel like I’m in the future. I have friends in both Canada and Japan, so that by itself wouldn’t seem to pull in one direction or the other. But in Japan, I don’t really have any friends that I can connect or relate to about music and/or vegetarianism. I think this is a big source of my feelings of loneliness lately. So, the mission becomes to meet some music friends (to play with, or even just people who like the same kind of music as me) and it’d be really cool to meet some vegetarians here (they are quite few and far between, but there are a few). I think this will be pretty hard, but I’ll have to try.

That’s it for now. Keep in touch.