Over time…

The following is a draft I wrote in November of 2009. I never posted it because I was planning on writing more.. and then I just never got around to it. This is as far as I got:

I am soon coming up on my six month mark of being in Japan. I’ve done a lot of things since I’ve been here: traveled across half the country, been in a major earthquake, been in a major typhoon, moved apartments, had a bike/car accident, ended my engagement, met someone else, broke up with them, got harassed by them, went to Disneyland, went to a hot spring, rode the bullet train, stayed in a capsule hotel, ate raw chicken (as sashimi), got my first gray hair… it’s been a whirlwind experience. Sometimes I get lost on trains and can’t get back on track–no pun intended–for at least another 2 hours. That can be extremely frustrating when you can’t read or speak the language. Sometimes I buy a pastry at the bakery thinking it would make a nice dessert and it turns out to be savory. Sometimes I buy a shirt that’s a size L and it turns out to be like a size S. These instances usually make me smirk a little because that’s the experience of a gaijin living in Japan. These are the things that will make me strut though life not letting the petty stuff bother me.

I just got my ticket yesterday to go back home to California and I’m looking forward to going home.

I’ve been in London for 10 months now. My time here is almost up (I leave in September). I felt so proud of myself for living in Japan and going through everything that I did. I’m still proud of it, but I have to say I haven’t exactly been “strutting” through life since then. Coming to England gave me a different type of culture shock I wasn’t expecting. I’ve already written about this in an earlier entry. It’s been about 6 months since my last entry and I’ve only come to find that I am becoming more and more set in my ways. The good news is that I mostly realize it. Stress has been building up with my coursework and when I do catch a break, I let loose completely. But now I am trying to find that happy balance between working and playing. I’m beginning to take my time with things. London, as with all major metropoli, is a fast-paced city. I’ve experienced this before. I am, as I was hoping I would before, toughening up. But I don’t necessarily like what I’ve toughened up into. So I’m stopping. Just because you live in a fast-paced city doesn’t mean you have to live a fast-paced life.

I’m currently working on my dissertation and, after that’s finished, I’m moving back to the United States. It’s time I came home. So, this blog probably won’t see another entry from me for a while. But when it does, we’ll see how I’ve changed again.

Land of the Rising Sun

Well, I have some very exciting news:

I am moving to Japan to teach English for a year!

I was recently accepted for a position in Okazaki (Central Japan, near Nagoya) and I leave this coming June.  I know that this will be an extremely enlightening and exciting adventure because, besides the fact that I have never been anywhere in Asia, this will be such an inspiration to my writing.  My whole experience there will be one based on language.  The challenges of learning a new language, teaching a language to a new people whose language I don’t understand, and immersing myself within their culture is going to be an invaluable opportunity for me!

I plan to use this experience to grow as a person, of course, but also to make my blog grow.  I think I’ll be able to write some pretty interesting things once I get to Japan.  At the moment, I’m going through some books I got about Japan, the Japanese language, and the Japanese people.  Because of their long history of isolation, they have been able to preserve some of their oldest traditions and remain very unique in culture.  Unlike Western Europe and the United States, both of which have common backgrounds and melded histories, Japan is a singular entity and I expect to receive some major culture shock.  :)

Hooray!

A fabric I might be a part of.

In my young adult age, I find myself wafting between a feeling of existential solitude and a feeling of powerful connection with the world around me.  As I sit here alone in my bedroom with no one around, I feel like I am untraceable; nobody knows exactly what I am doing right at this second and I can do anything I want without the consequence of anyone knowing about it.  I am unconnected to the world.  Yet at the same time, I have a cell phone in front of me and an internet connection at my fingertips.  I can hear the contractors next door working on the neighbor’s house and I saw the neighbor across the street take off on his Triumph motorcycle earlier.  I am aware of the world around me and just the simple observance of this world affects me and my day.

I’ve been rather busy lately, what with looking for jobs, working part-time and still looking for jobs, and dating someone with whom I spend quite a bit of my non-job-related time.  I’ve also been running errands and visiting with close family members, such as my parents and my grandmother, and yet I have not had a chance to keep in touch with my brothers.  This is an odd thing for me, because I am very close with all of my immediate family members.  However, half the time, I don’t know what’s going on with my brothers anymore.  It’s not that I’ve missed the boat and I have to catch up–I can get back into the game at any time.  But the point of the matter is that the world goes on without you and gets along just fine when you’re not there.  We (mostly) all know this to be true.  And I suppose I always thought it was a bad thing to let the world go on without you.  But lately, I’m seeing it differently.  Did you ever really think about what happens to those people that don’t keep up with the world they’re used to?

I used to be all over the internet.  I had an active account with almost every type of social networking site you could think of.  I still do have a lot of those accounts, but I’ve been busy with “real life” lately.  Some of my accounts, I often forget about completely.  Some, I feel a need to maintain activity on simply due to the fact that my friends (most of whom I haven’t seen in at least a year since I moved back to San Diego) use these sites.  But slowly, my site activity is lessening all the time.  My communication with my social network in all is dying down.  I feel slightly bad for neglecting my emails, comments, phone calls, and texts.  And yet, I have to ask myself why I should feel so bad about that?  I respond to people as necessity calls for it.  But otherwise, I find myself rather liberated by not needing to be online at all times.  Sometimes it’s nice to be alone.  And by that I mean free of social networking sites.

Another thing that is contributing to my progression away from the social internet is the fact that I’ve been paying more attention to the news and politics (rather than movies and celebrity gossip), as well as taking over certain bills and payments in my life (learning how to be an adult here, people).  Through this, I feel like I really am part of the real world, as opposed to before when I wasn’t quite convinced.  I am slowly learning that the taxes I pay and the votes I make and the way I drive and the things I eat really do have a large impact.  The last thing that’s giving me a hard time now is the way I communicate with people.  I know how to be courteous and polite, but I’m forgetting how to keep in touch with people.  The kinds of relationships I had with people before are not and cannot be the same anymore.  I’m unsure of how to approach it and all I can say when people ask me where I’ve been is, “I’ve been busy.”  And I have been.

This blog entry is one attempt to hash it all out.  I know this blog alone won’t help me understand myself or the world, but it helps a little.  You see, writing is a therapy for me.  Obviously, I don’t do it enough (as you can see by the date on my last entry).  But when I do write, it’s for a reason.  I do believe in the power of communication.  I preach this all the time.  But even I have my own problems with it.  And therein lies the beauty of communication: it is one of the few things in this world that can fix itself.  When you don’t use it, problems can happen.  When you do use it, problems can happen.  But either way, you can always use it again to right the situation.  That’s what I’m trying to do now.

As for my journey into adulthood, that’s a process that will likely take decades.  I’m okay with being a 23-year-old kid with hardly a clue of what to do.  It’s a learning process and I know it’s going to take time for me.  My values and priorities are definitely doing some changing and I’m learning how to accept that.  It’s okay to not be the person you once were.  It’s okay to become a new person.  It doesn’t mean you have to throw away your old world entirely for the new one, but it’s okay to move some things around (and possibly discard) to make room for the new world.  I hope people realize that.

Until next time.

A lesson in writing cover letters

So I had recently been applying to a marketing position in San Francisco and I went through about three weeks of interviewing for it. They even flew me up on their dime and the whole thing really was a great experience. I thought, for sure, I would get the job. Alas, I did not. So after notifying my friends and family, all of whom had been very supportive of my endeavor, I received a forwarded email this morning from a (present) coworker. I realized that I had gone about the process all wrong. It’s amazing what the use of language and visual images can do for blossoming professional relationships..

Resimay

To hoom it mae cunsern,

I waunt to apply for the job what I saw in the paper.

I can Type realee quik wit one finggar and do sum a counting..

I think I am good on the phone and I no I am a pepole person,
Pepole really seam to respond
to me well. Certain men and all the ladies.

I no my spelling is not to good but find that I Offen can get a job thru my persinalety.

My salerery is open so we can discus wat you want to pay me and wat you think that I am werth,

I can start emeditely. Thank you in advanse fore yore anser.

hopifuly Yore best aplicant so farr.

Sinseerly,

BRYAN

PS : Because my resimay is a bit short – below is a pickture of me

Employer’s response:

Dear Bryan,

It’s OK honey, we’ve got spell check. See you Monday.

Songs and “Kick Me” Signs

A friend of mine texted me today and asked, “If I wrote a song and it was bad, would you tell me it was bad?”

I replied, “No, but I would tell you how you could improve on it.”

He then forwarded me to his MySpace blog. He had written a song just today about a girl he was once with and still loved. Even though she may have found someone else, he wrote “I’m comin’ home to you, girl.” It struck a chord in me.

I think most of us has dabbled in (in varying degrees) the art form of writing songs and poetry–particularly when the subject most on our minds is love. Not all of our feelings come streaming out onto our paper/screen in a glorious moment of Shakespearian brilliance, but I think it’s still important that we try to write how we feel. By collegiate standards, most of what we write in emotion is pure trash. But by the heart’s standards, these small pieces of writing are gold. If for nothing else but the simple fact that writing your song or your poem proves that you have a heart and that you can feel. Maybe this is why we are so protective of our own work. We all want praise in some form or another so we throw it out there and test it on anyone who is willing to read it. But we refuse to receive any feedback without first announcing that we cannot write for beans. Simply, it’s because it’s your heart that you’re exposing. If someone likes what you’ve written, you want them to like it because they could relate to it. It doesn’t matter so much the way in which you’ve organized these words or why you chose those words to begin with. As long as they make the reader feel the same way you felt when writing the piece, isn’t that all that matters? It’s all about heart, isn’t it?

After reading my friend’s song, I told him that it made me a tear up a little and that I wished someone had written something like that about me–which was the truth. Honestly, it’s one of the better songs I’ve ever read. He said to me, “I thought you were gonna tell me how I could make it better!” and all I could reply with was, “I can’t tell you how to make it better if it’s already good.” I hope he realizes it’s actually a good song. I also had to make him admit that it was about a real person. People don’t write heartbreak songs about people that don’t exist.

It seems to me that in our present society, wearing your heart on your sleeve is like wearing a sign on your back that says “Kick me.” If anybody takes advantage of your vulnerability, you clam up and say “well I don’t know how that got there.” I don’t think this is the right approach. Am I saying we should all go around wearing “kick me” signs? Hell no. That would be just plain silly. But maybe every now and then when we do get caught with one of those signs on our back, perhaps we should say, “Yeah, I knew it was there all along. I just wanted to see whether you had the heart to sympathize with me or not.”

It’s just proof that we’re human. And that’s not such a bad thing.

Real and Unreal

A spider just ran across my bed. Scared the living daylights out of me, considering it was about eight inches away from my face and it was (a) not a daddy-long-legs and (b) nothing I recognized. I managed to smush it with a flip-flop before it crawled into my messy bedspread. (Apologies to all who dare not kill another living creature, but I have no problem killing certain bugs. Especially spiders that may or may not be poisonous. I’m not going to take that risk.) Anyway, I keep feeling an invisible spider running across my foot or up my arm now.

I had a dream a few nights ago about a small black spider (nothing like the one I killed tonight) that bit my hand right between my knuckles. Not only did it bite me, but it got stuck in my skin. I didn’t dare pull it out lest I pull off a couple legs and leave the body to become embedded in my hand. A day or two later, it finally came out but it left a nice little red bulge in my hand that was sore. I flexed and squeezed my hand so as to force out whatever was in this bulge and out started popping these small white eggs that looked and felt like tapioca. I know, you’ll never be able to eat tapioca again–sorry. So when I finally woke up, I checked my hand to make sure I hadn’t actually been bitten and I was safe. But it did feel funny right at the spot where the spider had bitten me in my dream.

Now, I’ll admit that I fancy the art of dream interpretation. According to an online dream dictionary, the spider is a symbol of female authority and to dream of a spider biting you is representative of some large issue that you must make a tough decision about. It does not, however, say anything about a spider laying eggs. Do spiders even actually do that? I mean, in your skin? I’m not even sure I want to know the answer to that.

The point is, I had a disconcerting dream about a spider and a similarly disconcerting spider actually come right at me, not a week later. I do have pressing issues I need to make some tough decisions about. So, have I just been reading too much Murakami lately? Or is there a real …or unreal… issue going on here?

It is events such as these that make me question the difference between reality and what I only think is not real. I believe it was Zhuang Zi () who once had a dream he was a butterfly and when he awoke, he didn’t know if he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man. Truly, how do you really know the difference? I do believe the life I’m living here where the spider ran across my bed tonight is actually the real thing. But it’s fun to speculate. I guess it gives us all something to do when we’re tired of the harshness and (dare I say it?) reality of life. Then again, you could say that’s why I’m writing right now as well.

So we’re all blogging now, are we?

‘_’

That’s me.  That’s pretty much how I’m feeling about this first blog post.  And quite honestly, I’m usually not one to make various over-creative emoticons out of punctuation marks.  However, my good friend Heather is.  I told her I was going to begin a blog where I could flex my writing skills and give people something to reference me with (Thanks, Tantek).  So when I finally signed up for a blog, I realized.. um.. I had to make a first post.

And I have no idea what to write about.  Heather said to introduce myself and, somehow, without following any rhyme or reason (as per usual between us), we started making emoticons on gchat.  One of my personal favorites of hers is <(‘.'<) <( ‘  ‘ )> (>’.’)>

It’s cute.  Hehe.  But still, all I could come up with was  ‘_’  …which I think is rather appropriate anyhow.

So, here I am.  Fledgling writer that I am, I’m thinking that this blog will eventually form its own personality and, most likely, take off without me.  I believe that words control us more than we control them.  But, with a little coaxing, maybe we can strike a deal.  Words, if you’ll make me sound good, I’ll put in a good word for you too.  No pun intended.