15 June 2011 § Leave a comment

Sometimes the fact that I’m here feels about as natural as the way in which we put one foot in front of the other to walk. Sometimes it feels effortless. It’s not a matter of thinking hard about what I’m doing, it’s about doing what I need to do and always moving forward. As I take things one day at a time, I’m often pleasantly surprised by the things I have the opportunity to do and the people I have the opportunity to meet and get to know.

Karaoke. I’ve gone to karaoke a couple times in the past week. It’s such a feel-good thing to do, especially with the right people. Sometimes I get the feeling that karaoke might be to actual singers/songwriters sort of like paint by numbers would be for real painters, but it just feels good to use my voice like that, regardless of whether it’s my own song or not. I think my new go-to song is “Rapture” by Blondie.

Aquarium. The Osaka aquarium is awesome. It’s huge. And it has a whale shark, and huge manta rays, and sharks, and eels, and penguins and otters and seals and monkeys and so much! My friend Laura and I must have spent over four hours, taking our sweet time walking through. Aquariums are one of my favourite things to see when I’m sightseeing.

Poetry. The poetry reading was fantastic. There must have been around 15 people who came out, which seemed like a lovely crowd for the small venue. Around half of those people read, which was more than I had anticipated. Most of them had never been to a poetry reading. A couple of them, when they went up, were clearly nervous, hands shaking and all that. It makes me so happy when people are willing share their poetry with a group of people, despite being barely able to hold on to their poem because of their nerves. It’s hard, and wonderful.

I had an hour and a half lesson with a student the other day and we talked about poetry. He shared a couple poems with me that he had written in English. He doesn’t normally write poetry, but he had done so in response to a message board on an ESL-related website. A few people the other night came up to the mic and just made up poems on the spot. They joked around, insisting that they’re in no way poets. But as much as people like to insist that they’re not, or that they can’t write poems, or whatever, I think a lot more people are poets than care to admit or realize.

A Little Help from my Friends. A lot of you were so supportive when my good friend, Joel, was in that contest. He certainly would¬†have been in the band, but he stepped down because he couldn’t be sure of what the band would be and if the right chemistry would be there creatively and what have you. So now, he’s continuing to pursue success. A large part of this is planning shows over the next while, in Toronto and Southern Ontario. Another part of this is taking advantage of other contests. If you have a moment (and I’m sure many of you do!), check out either or both of these:

MOArtist Competition: something to do with EMI Canada, a lucky person will “legitimately get one of [their] own tunes released as a single”. This involves texting, which many of you do. Text “Vote JOELMUSIC” to 79999 to vote for Joel. Text “JOELMUSIC” to 79999 to be added as a fan, which will provide you with a link to a profile with some of his songs that aren’t available anywhere else online. It’s free, guys. So what are you waiting for?

The Cool in You, Canada’s Next Singing Talent:¬†CLICK HERE, listen and LIKE.


Osaka snow.

11 February 2011 § 1 Comment

I’ve now been here a week. In a few days, it will be the longest I’ve ever been gone from home. The last time I was gone more than a week was once back when I was 12 or 13.

I’m not used to walking so much, and I’ve hardly walked anywhere while I’ve been here. With St. Catharines transit being what it is and having had a car so available all the time, I’m used to driving everywhere, even around the corner to the store. I went to a couple’s apartment this afternoon to prepare for our demonstrations tomorrow and I didn’t get back to my neighborhood until around 11. The station I arrived at is a main station in Osaka, and so has something like 20 different exits. I’m still getting used to it. Anyway, ended up getting out at one of the more inconvenient exits and had to walk an extra while to get to my apartment. It was hardly anything, really, but I’m just not used to it. I hate even admitting to how little I walk anywhere, but it’s something I’ve become more aware of now that I’m here without car. At least I wore proper shoes for walking today, for the first time in probably half a year.

For the time being, I’m doing surprisingly well. I expected to feel more immediately homesick. I expected to feel lonely. I mean, I miss people and home and all that, but I’m alright right now. And I was alright earlier today. And yesterday. And the day before that. I’ve been distracted, which I’m so thankful for because I have an awful tendency to over-think everything and I haven’t had a chance to think about “back home” at length. Sometimes when I am walking around, I wonder at how I’m okay with all of this. How I’m okay with being so far, with not understanding the language, with not seeing certain people on a regular basis, with being away from my family for so long, with not coming home to my dear, loyal cat every night. I’m sure there’s some obvious explanation for it, but it still surprises me.

As many of you might know, it snowed in Osaka this morning. I had a fun time figuring out my little washing machine on my balcony. It worked. I have some freshly clean clothes. They are still wet, seeing as there’s little airflow in my apartment, and I don’t have a very functional apparatus on which to hang them outside. When I looked outside and found snow, I was a little put off. I’ve been enjoying this non-snowy weather. I mean, I know I’ll miss it eventually. But there’s no way I miss it enough now to write a catchy song about it. I forgot that snow is not a common thing for a lot of people. One of the girls in my group after seeing the snow, apparently, immediately knocked on the apartment door of one of the others in our group (who lives across the hall from her), and told him excitedly about it. She is from New Zealand, he is from southern California. They were happy to see snow.

From english.kyodonews.jp today:

Snow covers Osaka

People walk in the snow on a street in Osaka on Feb. 11, 2011. Snow covered the major western Japanese city for the first time since 2008. (Kyodo)

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