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.  

My FIRST ball-jointed doll!!


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!!! 

[Animals-Drawn]Panda - CHOMP!


The man in the picture is named Li Yugang.  He's famous for being able to sing at an incredibly high octave, often taking on female roles, as well as including gorgeous traditional Chinese costumes in his performances.  This year's Chinese New Year Gala he performed his most famous work, "Drunken Concubine", a version based off of a famous Beijing Opera piece which he adapted.

To watch his performance at the gala, check the link;

超喜欢他的表演,穿得红袍子太漂亮啦 挠墙!
四个半小时。。。真长,我都看睡着了 郁闷。不过今年的舞台挺特殊而且看起来跟最早的春晚一样,演员都坐在底下一起看节目。不过很惊讶赵本山没有出演,听说是因为身体不好。
下一个该找戏曲晚会的下载地址啦~! 嘿嘿 兴奋
[Animals]Wolf-Nature's Majesty

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!!

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).
[Animals-Drawn]Panda - FOOD!!


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!


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   

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.

~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