November 14th, 2012
|08:57 am - Finally, my pencils were getting dusty.|
Finally broke out the pencil and paper again. It's been months since I last drew, and probably years since I last drew using pencil and paper instead of the computer. But with so many anime fans at school, and many of them awesome artists, every time I go to their class I get bombarded with displays of their newest artwork, so this week I also dug out my own drawing tools.
First up, Sebastian from Kuroshitsuji, done on Monday.
Took about 1.5 hours (while watching Criminal Minds, lol).
Drew in pencil, then inked with a slim marker from the 100yen shop (equivalent of the dollar store). I used it as the cover for one side of a clear file I use at school to keep class worksheets.
Yesterday I did Ciel, also from Kuroshitsuji.
Same as the Sebastian one, 1.5 hours, drawn in pencil then inked.
This time I used a pen/brush that's meant to be used for writing Japanese calligraphy. Since it imitates a brush the tip was much softer than the regular pen/marker and thicker too. I found it was good for places like the body, but for details like eyes, hair, etc. it was better to use the thinner inking pen and then use the brush to help vary the width of the lines.
This one's going to be the other side of the clear file.
November 12th, 2012
|03:49 pm - USA elections, did you follow?|
So, anyone watched/followed the US elections? I wasn't planning to, but I ended up following in online during my breaks. I think I only had 3 classes that day so for the rest of the time I kept refreshing my BBC elections page to see who was getting how many votes, and in between that I was checking my Facebook since it appeared a lot of my friends on there were doing the same. We ended up sharing some interesting stories about the long lineups at the polls, the craptastic voting machines they were using, the incredibly undemocratic-ness of the electoral college system, and I don't know about my friends, but I was quite entertained at the expense of the poor Americans.
Obama won around 51 million votes I believe, with Romney winning about 50 million if we're looking at popular votes. Which leaves like, 200 million Americans saying "f*ck this sh*t" and choosing not to participate in the circus. If majority really ruled both candidates would be kicked out and a new round with new candidates declared since clearly neither on impressed the majority of Americans.
At the same time I loved that each side spent a few billion on election campaigning. It's so awesome. And they think every country can afford their lovely system, haha. I would vote for the first candidate who takes all his/her campaign money and donate it to those in need, or hand it out to those who are facing difficult times in this harsh economy. Using billions of dollars to tell us how amazingly wonderful they are and why we should give them power over us, what a twisted system. Can you imagine? Your friend gives you a few hundred bucks just to sit and listen to you brag about your incredibly self and how awesome you are. And then, at the end of the day, you get to dictate to your friend if he/she should give you more money (taxes) if he/she can go to the hospital (healthcare) and if he/she can go to work (employment). Oh, and maybe if you're generous you'll let your friend keep his/her house. But maybe you'll send your friend's brother/sister to go fight abroad and end up with a lost limb..or perhaps he/she'll never come back because your other friend's got some investments in weapons and has shoved a wad of cash in your pocket to buy and use some of those weapons.
Wow. They should be paying us to listen to their bragging, not the other way around.
It really was quite surreal, kind of like reality TV. I recall someone once said to me or I read somewhere that the US elections are the most undemocratic in the world because while the results will affect every person on this planet, only 300 million people get to decide the result, and in this case it wasn't even that many, it was a mere 51 million, so 51 million are dictating our world for 7 billion people for the next 4 years. Democracy at its best!
Current Mood: cynical
November 5th, 2012
|10:53 am - Camera whoring :D|
A few days ago I unpacked my...uh...not-so-normal wear and took 'em to the cleaners. My first time going to the cleaners, lol. Anyway, decided to take some photos of the clothes since I had them all out anyway :D
This is my little maid-ish outfit, made the cat ears myself. They're clip on and my favourite pair <3 Once I was in an elevator wearing them and a lady was looking at them, and then she turned to me and said she knew they weren't real, of course, but how in the world are they attached to my head XDD
October 18th, 2012
|03:08 pm - Lunch with students|
Today I went to eat lunch in one of the classrooms. In some of the smaller schools it's very normal for students and teachers to eat lunch together since there would be one lunchroom, but our school is quite big (500+ students, 15 classes, around 30 teachers). Each class has a homeroom teacher who eats with the class, but the rest of us usually eats in the staff room, but today one of the students asked if I wanted to eat lunch with them so off I went.
It's quite lively in the classrooms while they're eating, lol. Some of the boys had their rice bowl piled way high, and some students were trying to pass off disliked veggies on friends XD It was an interesting experience to be sure. Later, the homeroom teacher of the class I ate with caught up to me in the staffs' room and asked me to come again sometime to eat lunch together :D
Later, the classes were rehearsing for a singing contest for their Cultural Festival. Every class sings a different song, and all the parents are going to come and watch on that day too. One of the students who seems to really like chatting with me came up to me as I watched the rehearsals, and asked if I had seen their class singing. Unfortunately I didn't, but she said I definitely must see it sometime, and that if I'm watching she'd feel more energetic to sing. I have to say, that made me feel pretty good :D I joked that I should print our a giant poster of myself then, and stick it in front of them as they sing XD
October 16th, 2012
|09:10 am - One day trip to Nagasaki~|
Last Saturday I went back to Nagasaki for some Japanese lessons and to see some friends. I made plans with one friend to meet around 10am so I got up bright and early to catch the train from Saga to Nagasaki. It took about an hour and a half to go and I was really sleepy all the way since I was too excited to sleep well the night before.
The place me and my friend had planned to meet was Hamanomachi, a shopping arcade in Nagasaki, and it's also where my previous school is located, so while I was waiting for my friend I saw a bunch of my ex-students coming out as they finished class. They were super surprised to see me as well as my outfit, since usually when I was teaching it was suits all the way, lol.
Me and my friend went to a Russian restaurant where the food was delicious, but I ate too much @__@ I was so full for the entire day XD
Afterwards, I headed to my Japanese lesson. My teacher's family found out I was coming and so when I opened the door to the class my teacher's mom, dad and grandpa were all there waiting to see me. I was so surprised! They're all really nice people, and it was so sweet of them to want to see me :D The class was just me and my teacher so we chatted about my new job, how things were going, how it's different (read; BETTER) than my previous job where I had to sell over-priced CDs and textbooks to students who were already paying an arm and a leg just for lessons.
It was so much fun, and my teacher said she could tell I'm so much happier now than before ^O^
( The rest under cut~Collapse )
Current Mood: cheerful
October 11th, 2012
|07:40 pm - Hangman~! (Not "Hey man!" ...)|
Today was actually kind of busy. I had 5 classes, which was the most I've had since I've started working here, but compared to the previous job 5 classes is a walk in the park.
In one of the classes there was me, the main teacher, and another Japanese English teacher teaching together today. The kids had a speaking test so the main teacher split the class into 3 groups with each of the teachers in charge of doing the test with about 12 students. So the other two teachers took their groups to other parts of the school for the test and I stayed in the classroom...with 12 junior high first grade kids. And my Japanese isn't that great. So, I was slightly nervous to say the least.
We got through the test no problem, the kids did really well and I could tell some of them had studied really hard for it. Some were so nervous, I felt kind of bad since it wasn't such a big deal, just a short self intro.
But then came my big problem. I was left with about 20 minutes after their test, and no Japanese English teacher to help out, and not prepared with any activities to kill time. What to do, what to do...? I couldn't do anything too complex as my Japanese level wouldn't allow it, and their English level was even worse than my Japanese level, so running through my short list of games suitable for junior high school kids I decided to play Hangman XDD So we ended up playing hangman for 20 minutes, and afterwards the kids said they had fun (mostly cuz they got stickers for winning against me XDD).
I'm quite proud I managed a 12 student class of junior high school kids without having things falling apart, lol. And I'm so grateful the kids were cooperative. When they said something I didn't understand they'd all try to come up with a way to explain it so I'd get it.
Current Mood: cheerful
October 10th, 2012
|08:34 pm - BL fangirls at me school <3|
I had the most entertaining day today :D
I was helping some kids with English reading practice after school and when I was leaving a group of 5 girls came running up to me in the hall asking to see this folder I was holding. The folder has a picture from the anime Hakuouki on it, I bought it because I knew that walking around with it from class to class it'll be a good conversation starter for the kids that also like anime.
Anyway, these girls also knew this anime and we started talking about which anime we like, the characters we liked, shopping at Animate, etc., etc. Two of the girls were hardcore otaku, and watched a whole bunch of anime regularly, the other three were more casual watchers. After awhile one of the otakus pulled the other otaku to the side and they whispered something for a few moments then came back to us. One of the otakus sidled up to me and, between giggle fits, asked me which pairing I liked in the anime Kuroshitsuji.
From the way the two hardcore anime lovers were acting I had a feeling I knew why she asked that question. I told them the truth, I liked the Sebastian and Ciel pairing the most (Sebastian's a butler, Ciel's his young, male, master) and the two burst out laughing.
Then one of them asked me, "先生、腐女子ですか？" ("Teacher, are you a fujoshi?").
For those not in the BL fandom a "腐女子/fujoshi" is a girl who likes BL/Boys Love/少年愛/boyxboy comics or anime.
When I told them yes, I do like BL, they started squeeing and double glomped me XD And then there was this waterfall of questions about which pairings I liked in the other animes I've seen. One of the girls said she had a feeling I was into BL because of the types of anime I liked, Hetalia, Kuroshitsuji, Ouran, Hakuouki, all anime with incredibly slash-able characters and with huge BL fandoms.
We ended up talking for about an hour about anime, and I'm sure word's going to spread amongst the anime fans at the school, lol. あぁ、楽しかった！
And thank you to "The Ultimate Yaoi Fangirl Song" for informing me of the word "fujoshi", otherwise I wouldn't have known what it meant since we don't use it in the English BL fandoms (we use "BL fangirls" instead of "fujoshi").
Current Mood: amused
|02:40 pm - Seasons are changing~|
I wish the weather would cool down already. We have mornings and evenings usually hovering between 15C and 20C, but then during the day it gets up to around 25C. So in the morning I'm shivering as I go to school, but I know if I wear something thicker I'll be stifling in the teachers' room by lunchtime >__<
I think around 20C is when it's most comfortable, a light jacket if there's a wind but otherwise it's cool enough for pants, but if I really want to wear a skirt I can make it work too.
I have a lot more skirts than I used to in Canada. I almost never wore skirts in Canada, just jeans. Nowadays for work I'm still mostly pants, but on my days off I bought a lot of punk-y or alice-motif skirts to wear. It's just with skirts I either have to wear stockings with heels or sandals if I don't want to wear stockings, and I HATE stockings with a passion. But the good thing with skirts is that the waist is usually elastic so the size is much more open. I do want to get some of the one-piece dresses from Tenjin, but usually with those the waist and chest area are way too tight for me (and in this style they seem to adore the high waist, so I end up looking pregnant since it cinches right under the bust and then spreads out).
It's hard to believe that before back in high school and first year uni I couldn't care less about clothes. I just wore jeans and t-shirts almost daily, never looked at a fashion magazine, never complained I didn't have enough clothes to wear, and I used to really detest clothes shopping because of having to try things on and stuff. Nowadays I still hate the actual trying on part, but I love shopping for clothes (that I like...shopping for work clothes is no fun). And more than once I've thought to myself I have nothing to wear when I actually have a crazy amount of clothes for one person. I remember the first time I discovered the lolita/gothic styles, I thought they looked beautiful but that I'd look so ridiculous in it and so I would just admire pictures from the internet. And then the first time I actually tried a piece on it looked so odd on me since I wasn't used to seeing myself with lace and frills. I guess the mind does need time to adjust to the image of what we have of ourselves.
Current Mood: sleepy
October 9th, 2012
|04:12 pm - My boys make their debut on Livejournal~|
Ok! So the jobs update post is done, next up is hobbies. My hobbies keep growing and they get more and more expensive. Initially when I first landed in Fukuoka I just had to hit up the Takarazuka shop in Tenjin. Then I discovered an Animate and a whole floor of gothic, punk and lolita styled clothes that I had to visit too, and now I recently discovered a Volks shop that sells dolls, and clothes and accessories for dolls, so every time I head to Fukuoka I have to go to at least 4 places to shop. At each place I drop 10 or 20 thousand yen (approx. $100~200). Last weekend I went to Tenjin and spent 100 thousand yen, about $1000, on Takarazuka DVDs, clothes for myself and clothes for my babies (my dolls...not living babies <__<).
Ah well, I guess money's made to be spent. Some people make it a hobby saving, mine is more exchanging the money for other things ^^;; I've been happy recently with my job and everything, and when I get happy I shop, and I indulge in my hobbies. When I'm stressed or bothered, like in the last days at my previous job, I have no energy to indulge in hobbies, so I guess it's a good sign I'm getting back into my hobbies again.
Anyway, I wrote a bit about my dolls before my hiatus since April. In February I bought a Taeyang doll, he's 30cm with a huge head and enormous eyes. So cute and adorable. I never could come up with an original name for him and my co-workers started just calling him Taeyang since that was the name I posted him under on Facebook, and the name's just stuck with him since.
And then, in March I ordered a full set Ball Jointed Doll (BJD) from the Korean company Dollmore. His sculpt is called Kyle Reese from the company, and he's 70cm, quite a big boy. I had had my eyes on that particular doll since university so it had been years since I wanted him, but his price tag kept me from buying. In the end he costed me about $800 and I also ordered clothes and furniture for him too, so the entire order came to about $1,600. He arrived with face up and body blushing, so he was set to go out of the box and I took him out in Nagasaki for a few photo shoots. I didn't have a carry bag for him since he is so large, so I just held him in my arms and walked around, the looks I got from people were precious XDD Some people came up to talk to me about him, it was awesome! I named him Hisui (翡翠) meaning jade or jadeite in Japanese, and the Chinese characters in Chinese mean the same, because jade is my favourite stone above all over gemstones.
But then when I started looking for a new job my energy level for my darlings dropped as I was too tired from job hunting to play with him. So the two boys kind of just sat in my room for a few months without moving.
Now, finally, I bought them some new clothes and had another mini-photo shoot at my new apartment in Saga last weekend. Initially my big boy. Over on Facebook they've got their own album, but I'll post some of their photos here too since not everyone has Facebook :)
( Under cut! Wow, haven't done an LJ cut for so long!Collapse )
So, that's it for now. More to come later hopefully! I hope to have a change to take my boys out around Saga for photos before it gets too cold :D (But to be honest I'm still so new to the place that I don't know any good photo places OTL)
Current Mood: full
|10:21 am - Jobs update~ (finally!)|
Wow, my last entry was way back in April...so almost 6 months ago. It's interesting that in that last entry I was talking about my job previous job at the English conversation school (Japanese is "eikawa") ending and needing to find another job. I did start looking online for new jobs following that post, but most of the jobs I found were beginning in May or prior to the summer break, so since my contract didn't finish until late September I couldn't apply to any of those jobs. I began to apply for jobs in late July but most of the jobs were beginning at the start of September when the 2nd school term begins in Japan (Japan's school year starts in April, and first semester is to summer break. Second semester starts in September and goes to winter break in December. Third semester begins in the New Year in January following the break).
In the end, I had to quit my job prior to my contract finishing because I couldn't risk waiting until late September and then being out of a job since that would also mean no place to live. I felt really bad for my ex-co-workers since it meant they were left one teacher short for a few weeks as I had left early and the new teacher wasn't due to arrive until late September. The other teachers had to take over my classes so they had full days for a few weeks >___<
It was also crazy to move too. I thought I would be moving at the end of September, so I didn't really start packing or cleaning or anything. And then, I got an interview at the end of August, and was offered a job in Saga Prefecture (it's right next to Nagasaki, about 1 hour by train so I went in person to the interview instead of doing it over phone or Skype), but the job began right at the beginning of September, so I had to inform my previous school I was quitting early, and then had to frantically pack and clean. I ended up with about 2 weeks to pack, clean, find new apartment, change address at City Hall, cellphone company, and bank, and all that fun stuff that comes with moving. And since I was still working I could only do it all either before or after work. Those two weeks were insane, I think I made trips between Nagasaki and Saga at least 5 or 6 times in 2 weeks >___< My last day at the previous job was September 1st, and that night I took the train to Saga. The 2nd I had training as an ALT, and then on the 3rd I was off working at my new job, that was how tight the schedule was.
But now all that's over, thankfully, and I'm working as an assistant language teacher (ALT) at a junior high school. I have to say I'm enjoying it a lot more than the previous place since now I'm at a public school so I don't have to think about any sales or targets or any of that stuff. I just help the Japanese English teachers with their lessons, maybe think up of some activities to practice vocabulary or grammar, or helping with pronunciation or checking some English homework/tests and stuff. Outside of class I can talk to the students in English or Japanese which makes communication a lot easier since junior high school kids really don't know enough language to actually hold a prolonged conversation. I was a little nervous about being in a school where it's all kids, back in Canada I couldn't deal with kids if my life depended on it, but actually they're not so bad. A lot of them enjoy anime and stuff, and some are really talkative so it's fun to chat with them (despite my broken Japanese, lol).
I also have much fewer classes. Back at the previous job a full day was 8 classes, and in a week I was dealing with 25-30 classes, but here a full day is 6 classes, and I only have about 15 classes a week since there are 15 classes total at the school (3 years of junior high, 5 classes for each year).
The only draw-back I guess is that since it's a public school, aside from the English teachers, the other teachers don't really speak English so communication's a little more difficult that before where all the staff spoke some level of English. But, it's good for my Japanese practice :D And awhile ago we had a party where I was able to chat a bit with some of the teachers in Japanese, so it's not like I'm completely cut off from communicating with them due to the language barrier. They seemed quite surprised I was able to speak Japanese (my kids are too) since some ALTs come with almost no knowledge of Japanese and I had at least been learning for 2 years or so. I really think for the ALT job at least some basic Japanese is super useful, so I think it was a good idea to first work at the conversation school where I could get more help from co-workers and the company while I was settling into Japanese life, and then switch to ALT.
Most ALTs I think have to go to several different schools over a week since they don't always have classes at one school, but I got lucky and only have to go to one junior high school. Once in awhile when there are no classes at my school (like test days and whatnot), I might go to one of the elementary schools as a guest teacher to help the Japanese English ALTs there. So far I've only been once, and all I did was some self introductions to the classes which was fun. The younger kids are so much more energetic...and loud XD
Oh, and one more drawback was that there was no extra computer for the ALT here, so initially I didn't have much to do when I had no classes. But then I had bought a tablet back earlier this year so I decided to bring my table to school instead. But then, I couldn't connect to the school's internet, but then last weekend I went out and signed up for my cellphone company's Pocket Wifi, which is this little adapter thingy (about the size of a cellphone) that I can carry around and it'll hook up my computers/tablets to the company's Wifi/3G/4G network wherever it's available. So now I bring it to school and instead of using the school's internet connection I can use my cellphone company's internet -- problem solved~
So that's about it on the job front. I'm really enjoy my time here at the new place, and I had a chance to hang out with the other ALTs in my town. It's a small town so not many other ALTs, but they're super nice. One's a Canadian like me, and the other is Chinese, but she studied in Australia. I'm kind of right in the middle, lol. This past month I've been having a great time <3 And even though I miss my friends back in Nagasaki, since Saga and Nagasaki are close I can go back and visit too :D (Actually this Saturday I'm heading back to Nagasaki for a visit)
I wrote about my first few days on my Sina blog;
Current Mood: cheerful
April 24th, 2012
|12:33 pm - Life's crazy|
April has proven to be a very turbulent month, in both good and bad ways.
First, my work at my current job will be finishing later this year so that brings with it a bunch of decisions like what do I want to do next, where do I want to go, what kind of job should I look for, what am I going to do with all my stuff here, etc., etc. It's a headache to be sure, but I'm also looking forward to what might be in store for me next.
Then, my grandpa passed away in Beijing. On the one hand, I didn't know my grandpa as well as my cousins or other family since I left China at age 6 and only went back to visit 2 times. Most of my family in China I don't know very well, including my dad I think, so while rationally I feel like I should be sad I'm having difficulty even trying to remember what little I knew about my grandpa. On the other hand, it almost makes it worse that I didn't know him well because I feel like since he was my grandpa I SHOULD have known him well, I SHOULD be feeling grief, I SHOULD, I SHOULD, I SHOULD, and yet I don't, or not as much as I SHOULD. At work I still laugh and joke with my students, and yes it's part of my job so I know even if I don't feel like it I still have to, but I feel like I should be grieving so much it shouldn't even be possible to smile, like it's disrespectful to laugh so soon after he had passed.
Another thing is I feel like I should be doing more to respect his memory, send flowers or a card or hell, even make a trip back to Beijing or something. My family in China had a funeral and all, but over here I'm just going on with my life like nothing's happened. Go to work, teach, come home, go to work, teach, come home. Everything's the same as usual whereas it's like my family in China, they took time out of their lives to respect and honour my grandpa's memory. Me, I just posted a status update on Facebook (and got a bunch of sympathies and condolences that really, I don't even feel like I deserve since, as I mentioned above, my grief is about as minimal as one can get...)
And then a few days after I got the sad news, I got good news that the BJD (ball-jointed doll) that I had ordered in March got shipped out 3 weeks earlier than had been expected. I had been wanting these dolls for 4 or 5 years now so I was ecstatic, that most likely by the end of this week that dream will be coming true, but it's being overshadowed since I feel like I shouldn't be happy right now. I should be crying my eyes out and screaming to the heavens or something.
I don't know. I'm not sure what to do or feel these days. It's a good thing next week is a holiday in Japan, I can take the time to get my act together. Just trudge through this week of work and then we'll see how next week goes.
March 20th, 2012
|01:20 am - My FIRST ball-jointed doll!!|
FINALLY BOUGHT A BALL-JOINTED DOLL (BJD)!!!
I've been wanting one of these babies since university, and after years (literally) of pinning after them I'm finally getting one!! I placed the order last weekend. I bought a doll, with face-up and body blushing (some people buy just a blank doll and paint the face and body themselves but since this is my first doll I've decided to get the company to do it), along with a few outfits, some furniture, wigs, eyes (yes, we can change the eyes so I ordered some different colours), and accessories like glasses, necklaces, etc.
Everything else arrived yesterday but the doll's going to take about 2 months since they have to hand make it and the paint job. I'm so excited I don't even care I have to wait! Just dreaming about it and thinking up names and stories behind my baby's going to keep me busy until he gets here :D
The doll I decided upon is from the Korean brand, Dollmore, and it's their Model line, Kyle Reese doll. I don't quite remember how I got interested in BJDs but I know that since the first moment I laid eyes on Kyle he was the one I wanted. I'm not sure why, many BJDs are insanely gorgeous, but I always came back to Kyle (although I also hovered over Dollmore's Kara Klum who's from the Adam line, and SD sized which is around 60cm). I've seen other peoples' customized face-ups for Kyle and it seems whatever face-up he gets he always looks lovely. He's over 70cm so quite big for a first doll, but I'm not planning to take him out a lot so it should be ok;
I know most people think of dolls as Barbies or those porcelain dolls, either for kids or high-end collectors, but these BJDs are a little different. Their joints are connected using balls usually (hence the name) so they're highly pose-able and also customize-able. We can paint their faces ourselves, change hands, feet, switch heads and bodies, wigs, eyes, basically they can be any character we'd like. Also, they come in various sizes. At 70+cm Kyle is one of the bigger ones though there are even bigger ones on the market, and they can be very tiny and small too. Some people buy dozens, making stories around the dolls and inventing complicated relationships between the dolls. It's common for owners to come up with background stories for the dolls too, giving them personalities and such. I haven't decided on a personality for Kyle, or even settled on a name yet (though I'm really liking "Jae"...any suggestions for names?), but he looks very gentle and elegant...so I'm thinking he's going to be coming from a high class background with some expensive tastes.
Ooh I can't wait for him to get here!!!
January 25th, 2012
January 23rd, 2012
|09:05 pm - 新年快乐！|Happy Chinese New Year everyone!! Year of the Dragon coming up, hope it's a good one for you~
January 8th, 2012
|08:11 pm - First post of 2012!!|
So happy belated 2012 everyone XD
My friend from Canada came for a visit over Christmas and we had a pretty busy couple of days together. Good times though, good times. Hopefully I'll get around to posting some photos if I can stop being lazy enough to transfer them to the computer and get them uploaded :3
Oh, and I started a Chinese blog on Sina as well as a Weibo (Chinese version Twitter), need to practice Chinese since I rarely have a chance to use it here in Japan;
Blog - http://blog.sina.com.cn/bombaykitty
Weibo - http://www.weibo.com/bombaykitty
Going to write in Chinese on there as much as possible. It's also helpful for my family in China who wants to keep up with what's happening in my life since they can't access Facebook (not sure about LJ, but this blog's mostly in English anyway so most of them can't read it).
The first week of 2012's been pretty good so far. The weather's getting warmer this week, up in the double digits during the day this weekend. Saw a few snowflakes floating around near New Years but nothing stayed on the ground. Oh, and for my birthday yesterday I got some awesome presents, hopefully I'll get around to posting photos of those too XDD Need to stop being so lazy, seriously.
Anyway, wish everyone had a good holidays and all the best in 2012!!
December 20th, 2011
|10:28 pm - North Korea.|
So yesterday Kim Jong-il of N. Korea died. I'm sure many celebrated and thought good riddance. I never really gave too much thought to N. Korea since I'm a little biased in the issue. When the Korean War happened it was N. Korea and China vs. USA and UN forces. The first time I heard about it my reaction was wtf was the USA doing halfway across the world starting wars on China's border, so you can see where my bias laid.
But with the news yesterday a lot of the articles on news websites switched to N. Korea and it got me thinking about some things.
First up, what N. Koreans living conditions are "really" like based on accounts by defectors;
There's a glaring problem with depending on defectors of a country to talk about that country. First, since they're speaking of their experience from their point of view, it's completely subjective not objective. Second, considering they hated the place enough to want to defect then I'd say we know which way their bias leans. So every experience they had and speak about regarding life in N. Korea is coloured by that lens.
Now I don't really know what life in N. Korea is like since I've never been there. I'd imagine after several decades of international isolation it's probable that the living standards are quite low and the lives of the citizens quite different then those in other. more open countries. But I have a problem with only hearing the stories of defectors and not being able to hear those who might think differently of living in that country.
Granted I understand we only have access to those who defect and considering humans are curious creatures by nature we want to know what's going on in such a secretive country. But it's like we use these defectors stories to satisfy our already-formed opinion that N. Korea is this horror house run by this demon family from whom we must rescue them from (except they have these nuclear weapons so we're kind of not so gun-ho as we were in invading other countries that require a "regime change").
We don't actually want to know about the country. We don't really care if the majority of the people love it, hate it, or really don't care. Our opinions have been formed that N. Korea's rulers are bad. They are a symbol of problems for the country and for the region, so we just need some ego boosts to insure our views are validated. We can point to these defectors and say "See! Even the people living in N. Korea hate it, so our hatred of their rulers is totally justified and so would an invasion if we had the balls for it!!".
Second, accusations that the outpouring of grief by N, Koreans over their leader's death were fake/forced/acted.
Here's my two cents on it. In Western countries, crying over politicians isn't really well-documented. Politicians are generally considered lying cockroaches that need to be kept in line using our checks and balances in the democratic political system. We don't trust our politicians, thus, we check them and their powers.
Now that, of course, has many benefits, the biggest being it prevents the abuse of political power (granted that is on the condition that the checks and balances work properly).
In other countries, and here I'm going to assume N. Korea falls into this category with Kim Jong-il, and also looking back to China's past with the first generation of CCP leaders (Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and also Deng Xiaoping), the attachments of the people to the leaders are much more...intricate. Some would say it's that personality cult whereby the citizens worship the leader and idolize him/her. So in that sense, if one's idol dies, then it's not so far-fetched to imagine an outpouring of grief by citizens.
When Mao, Zhou and Deng died, many Chinese shed tears. I've only seen my mother cry twice, once when her mother died, once when Deng Xiaoping died and we heard it on the news in the U.S. 十里长城送总理..."10km Great Wall to bid farewell to the Premiere". This saying was coined because people lined the streets of Changan Ave. in Beijing to bid goodbye when Zhou Enlai's body was taken to be buried after he died. I'm sure in Western eyes the tears and grief of the people who waited alongside the street could easily be reported as having been faked, forced, acted, but Chinese people know they weren't.
I don't know how N. Koreans truly felt about Kim Jong-il, I'm not one of them and I have no contact with any of them, but I don't think it's so hard to believe that at least some, if not all, of the tears they shed for their leader were real. After all, he was their leader, for better or for worse, regardless of how we, the outside world felt about him and his reign, he was THEIR leader, and they are the only ones with the true authority to judge him.
Whew, hectic year leadership-wise. Not sure if it was good or bad, but here's to hoping things settle down a little next year (and our economy stops throwing us curve balls).
|09:55 am - UPDATE!! FINALLY~~!!|
Alright, it's been far too long since I've updated this thing. I've been checking some of the communities regularly but was just too lazy to update. So anyway, hopefully in the new year I'll be updating like I used to, at least once or twice a week.
So looking back on this year, let's see...
Well some of the big things that happened included my mom visiting in March, my diet/weight loss over the summer, and now my friend visiting for Christmas :D
Mom's visit was a lot of fun. It was good to see her again after over a year of working in Japan. And I think she enjoyed coming to Japan too. Now I'm looking forward to my best friend visiting. She's coming in 3 days, THREE DAYS!! Which means 3 more days until the holidays!! We're totally going to have a blast :D I have haven't seen her in like, two and a half years now.
Oh, and I'm actually starting to enjoy my kids lessons at work. Especially the older kids, around fifth or sixth grade up to the jr. high school kids. They're starting to open up and even try to communicate with me outside of class work. Last week they wanted to ask if I can read Japanese, so although they didn't know how to form the whole sentence they asked "Japanese-go, read, ok?" ('go' in Japanese means language, Eigo = English, Chugokugo = Chinese, Nihongo = Japanese). The younger kids listen much better than before which I'm super glad for, but I think their energies are just naturally so much higher that sometimes I get quite exhausted after their class.
Oh and the last 2 Saturdays I had Christmas parties. One for my Japanese school, one for my work school. Both were totally fun :D Usually at big parties I tend to be pretty quiet since I know only a few people, so I'll stick with my group, but at my work party even though it's a big party I know most of the students if not all of them, so I can chat up a conversation with everyone. Plus I can talk to the students in a less formal atmosphere (sometimes they get drunk so it's pretty hilarious XD).
Recently I've gained some weight which is the only thing these days I'm a little miffed over. I was doing well with my weight loss in the summer, got it down to 54kg at the lowest point, but now it's back up to around 59-60kg. Since about November I haven't been walking daily so I think that had a lot to do with it, and now I'm super nervous that over the holidays I'll gain more weight >__< Oh well, I guess it IS winter and everyone needs a little extra fat to get over the cold. Plus no one wants to diet over Christmas <__<
So yeah, a random update of my recent life. But totally can't wait for Friday to come when I'll be heading to the airport to pick up my friend. I love the anticipation of something you know is going to be awesome, granted it's not as great as once it's arrived, but having something to look forward to is super important too!
Current Location: Japan, Nagasaki
October 3rd, 2011
|07:52 pm - An interesting high school trip|
Today at the request of one of my students who is a high school teacher I visited his high school to help his students practice for a speech contest. One of the girls was slightly shyer than the others in the group (although they were all quite shy to talk with this foreign chick who was decked out in a tuxedo jacket and string of earrings topped with dark red lipstick) but I didn't really think much of it since I had seen more than my fair share of shy people at my school. This girl was shy, but I have students that are way worse, plus she's in high school, that awkward age where anyone outside of one's friend circle is met with at least some apprehension.
After the practice, as I was walking home this girl came running after me trying to tell me in English how sorry she was that she was too shy to speak to me. She was so frustrated that she started crying which totally caught me offguard so I tried to tell her that it's ok, that I didn't feel like she offended me or anything in my own broken Japanese (which consisted mostly of "daijoubu, daijoubu, nakanaide, honto ni daijoubu"/"it's ok, it's ok, don't cry, really it's ok"). I felt so bad for her, and I could see how frustrated she was with herself. She said she was really nervous since she couldn't speak English and as we walked a little ways together to her bus stop her tears kept coming.
Thinking back, before working at my current job I was also not the most outgoing person. Even now, outside of school, I tend to stick to myself. This job, has, however, really pushed me to work on my social skills, finding ways to start conversations and keep it going. Also, I guess to high school kids, although they're beginning to spread their own wings and find their own niche in society they're still kids, so although I didn't feel like I was that much older than them they saw me in the role of "teacher", a strange teacher with odd fashion and perhaps a little strange no doubt, but a teacher of some sort. I think it's the same with me and my high school/junior high school students at my school, I just want to be their friend who happens to know English, learn a little about them, have them learn a little about me, help them out with some English stuff, but because to them I'm in the role of a "teacher" it's difficult for them to think of me as just a "friend". I had high school teachers whom I thought were cool and enjoyed chatting with at school, but they were still "teachers", not until I went to university did I slowly begin to realize that teachers are people too with their own friends and families and no, teachers don't know everything. What a surprise that was.
Also, as the students were practicing their speeches today I realized that many of them were doing their best to copy native English speakers' pronunciation and intonation, but the problem was that while in their minds their voices were rising like mountains and falling like valleys, to listeners the difference was actually very minute. When I read the speech to them for them to repeat after I exaggerated like hell but in no way do I speak like that in normal conversation, but to high school kids it's probably insanely embarrassing to exaggerate to such an extent. Even to my students at my school, trying to get most of them to put a little more intonation is insanely difficult because they find it embarrassing. Before I started teaching I also would never intonate so much, in high school and university French class everything was read in monotone and thinking back it probably drove my teacher crazy too. Intonation's also really hard to copy because usually it comes naturally, so we don't really think about where an emphasis is or where our voice rises or falls. Sometimes it doesn't so much as rise and fall as...I don't know, go in circles or..something.
Anyway, the experience kind of made me miss high school, and at the same time I've realized that without my realizing it how much I've grown and changed. From the girl that used to only feel comfortable amongst friends and never owned a fashion magazine or knew how to use make up to the girl that strutted down the street in fashion that turned heads and am damn proud of it with little apprehension of talking to new people I think I've changed a lot. I hope I'll get to see that girl again in the future
September 28th, 2011
|12:13 am - Change is rarely easy.|
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I know this song is about God but I prefer to think that it's for everyone who wants to change something about themselves but is struggling to achieve that. Some changes come easily, but others are very difficult. Some changes never take root and you have to fight everyday to go forward and not slide backwards. Sometimes you think you've changed but something trips and you fall back into your old ways, all the while hating yourself for it and wondering why you're such a failure. Yet everyday we keep going, we keep fighting, jumping over the hurdles in our way, pushing past the barriers that challenge us through every stage in our lives.
There're many aspects of humanity I despise. More often than not I think being human is more trouble than it's worth, but in the one aspect in which I think humans are admirable is the ability to be faced with problems day after day but to always try and hope and keep our heads up high. Dealing with outside problems we is easy -
The test we failed.
The mountain of homework that needs finishing.
The friend that we fought with.
The co-worker we don't get along with.
The customer that complains.
The parents nagging us.
The boyfriend/girlfriend that's cheating.
The wife/husband who works too much.
The pressure to find a good job.
The stress of the deadline.
The worry of getting married.
The chaos of building one's own family.
But nothing quite compares to having to fight oneself. Faced with the one person we know better than all others on this planet, that's the hardest person to fight and to change because that person also knows you best and can think of every way to stop you from reaching your goal. And since that person is with you 24/7 you have to be on guard every moment of the day. But like the song says, that person in the mirror telling you you can't succeed is a liar. The fact of the matter is that you CAN, it's difficult, but not impossible. So while sometimes you'll want to ram your hand through a mirror or punch a hole through the wall the most important thing is to not give up. A new mirror can be bought, the wall can be fixed, but the guilt of giving in to that liar in the mirror will not be shaken for your whole life if you let it win because you can't run from yourself in the end.
September 27th, 2011
|12:29 am - ~A Wonderful Day~|
Some days are just so perfect you wish you could re-live it once more. Today was one of those days for me.
A few weeks ago a student told me that at the Hakataza theatre in Fukuoka there was going to be a showing of the musical "The Three Musketeers" (in Japanese "San Jushi/三銃士"). The main actor playing d'Artagnan was Yoshio Inoue, whom I had heard a little bit of because he had performed in shows with ex-Takarazuka actresses before. The actress for Milady, the main villainess, was Sena Jun, ex-Top Star for Tsukigumi in Takarazuka. Sena was one of my favourite Top Stars in Takarazuka but since she had retired by the time I came to Japan I couldn't see her live on stage, but now was my chance. I knew the story of the Three Musketeers, I liked the story, I knew I'd love the costumes, and on top of that I get to see Sena in person, so off I ran to the nearest ticket counter and got myself a ticket (after some fumbling around with my wonderfully non-articulate Japanese).
So today was the big day I had waited impatiently for. Last night I was so excited I didn't even sleep! At 7:30am I started getting ready, donning an all-black outfit of dress shirt and pants, with a red tie for emphasis and my red top hat to give it that little extra quirk. I headed for the bus station at 9:10am and got there with plenty of time to spare for my 9:45am bus. On the bus I thought I'd be sleepy since I didn't sleep the night before, but I was wide awake.
The poster for the show outside the theatre.
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So after the show it was 4:30pm and I headed back towards Tenjin, one of the shopping districts in Fukuoka. I went directly to Vivre, the shopping centre that had an entire floor for gothic lolita/punk/Japanese street fashion stores and hit up my favourite shops. Usually when I go to Fukuoka it's for work training, so I just go a little earlier and come back a little later to squeeze some time for shopping, but it's not enough time for clothes since I need to try them on and stuff. But today since I had more time I had decided beforehand that I'd shop for clothes. Recently I had re-gained some of the weight I had lost over the summer so I was a little apprehensive about the clothes fitting. All of the stores carried just Medium sizes (though the mediums varied by brand) and before I haven't had much luck finding particularlys shirts, pants or one-pieces. I could only squeeze into squirts as the waist was elastic and hips free-size, but shirts were too tight around the boobs and the upper arm, pants on the waist and thighs and one-piece on...well just everything (sometimes I couldn't even get into it).
My first stop was Putumayo, a not-so-expensive brand I liked to check out. I found a side-strap skirt that fit pretty well, and bought it;
Looking around the shop I decided to chance it, buying a white blouse (in the picture it's the black version, but I bought the white one. It also came with a tie as a set) and a black-and-white vest (the picture is the pink version) without trying them on first;
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What an amazing day. Definitely I'm going to try to go see more musicals in the future now that I know how to get tickets and stuff. It's just so much fun, dressing up for it, relaxing for a few hours while watching a good story unfold, and being in the company of such talented actors and actresses.
Man I want to wear my new clothes to work tomorrow, but it's totally against the dress code XD