Posts Tagged ‘Life’

To Life

2013年 1月 4日

Happy New Year! 2013 is the year of the snake, which is my year according to the Chinese zodiac.

I’m not much of one for resolutions; however, this year I have resolved “to live”. First, let me alleviate fear in any of my panic prone friends: I don’t have some kind of terminal illness. Simply I have been battling personal conflicts which have been horribly demoralizing. Over the past several years I have been struggling to rectify the situation; yet, some troubles are extremely persistent.

My hope is that my two largest struggles will be coming into check this year, but that was my hope last year and the year before. Even if things move on the path I hope, it will be six years before the main struggle is gone. Over the last year or two I have felt myself shrinking away from life and have come to the realization that even if the trials are festering I need to live and grow.

Some people viewing from the outside might look at all the things I have done and think that I have been rising above the troubles; however, it is easy for me to see the things I want to improve and change and realize how much time was lost in the last couple years doing nothing.

One clear sign is the number of posts on my blog. When I am feeling depressed or uninspired, I generally don’t post. Other creative outlets have also suffered in this time. Looking forward to my year!

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Learning Without Study

2011年 5月 9日

For the past couple years a few conditions have interfered with my ability to freely set my schedule: some good; some bad. The first thing cut from my schedule (after shaving, of course) to make time, is my Japanese study. So, imagine my surprise recently when I pulled out a set of over a thousand kanji cards and – starting from the difficult end of the stack – found I knew most of the characters.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say I cut my formal Japanese study from my schedule. Without awareness, I spend a fair amount of time studying everyday. For example, when I hear words I know I have studied before but can’t recall the meaning, I pull them up in my electronic dictionary and mull them over: often searching through other uses of the same word. Also, many readers know I was married 11 and 3/4 months ago, to a wonderful Japanese woman. Although my wife speaks a fair amount of English, she rarely does so with me. At least 99% of our communication has been in Japanese. Sharing your life with someone means you need to be able to express nuance. Just spending time with my wife has increased my speaking speed and proficiency, polished my expressiveness, and increased vocabulary for loving (and fighting).

Further, my wife’s main hobby is cooking, so I am learning how to express culinary terms in Japanese.

Hopefully, I will get back into my study groove, but rest assured – learning never stops.

Not According to Plan

2009年 8月 2日

I wanted to post a Sunday Soundcheck today, but a lot of things this weekend are not according to plan. The schedule shift started about 8:30 on Saturday morning while riding my bike home from a relaxing morning eating healthy food amidst misty mountains and watching misty rain tap on the river surface.

A young man in a small car, apparently late for work, decided that rules like stopping before entering a roadway are optional. I saw him coming and, guessing that he was going to make a hasty stop, started squeezing my brakes. Unfortunately, he didn’t even slow down and I had no way to avoid the accident. I got rolled over the hood and took a hard bounce on the other side.

A pedestrian called for an ambulance and I took a little ride. My vision was really screwed up for an hour or so, which prompted a CT scan along with the numerous X-rays. I’ll thank mom for making me drink all that milk as a kid, because the bones held up well; although my hip bone seems to be the first part that hit the car, so it is pretty sore.

My EarThe worst of it was finding out part of my ear had been torn loose by the pavement, but I had figured out that was where all the blood was coming from and held a clean towel over it. The pool on the roadway was pretty impressive. In the operating room, I made a nurse run for a mirror while we waited for the Otolaryngologist. He needed to check for any damage to workings of the ear before they could put the pieces back together, so I used the chance to get a look. Unfortunately (or perhaps forturnately) I couldn’t get a good angle to see exactly what was up. Later when we were checking the CT scan the difference between the ears was obvious.

Now my ear is covered with a mountain of gauze, so I have to trust it looks good under there. Tomorrow morning we’ll dig down and take another look. In the afternoon we’ll get to chat with the insurance company.

Naturally, I am feeling a lot of pain, but overall I feel pretty good and am hopeful that most parts will heal up well. Particularly, I am happy to still be among the living and enjoying God’s creation. I guess He’s not done shaping me yet.

Changing of the Guard

2009年 7月 23日

After graduating from college, I took a job in Houston, Texas working for a smallish, technology-oriented engineering consulting firm. Our field was considered black magic by many practical engineers at the plants. A couple other firms in the world were attempting to implement projects and failing at it; which furthered the belief that it was all smoke and mirrors. However, our company had successful methods and technology which allowed us to work worldwide improving efficiency in the usage of oil and chemicals. Being at such a place was certainly a special experience, but there was more.

Many bright minds from varying backgrounds were being added to the company at the same time. It was a period of rapid growth. Perhaps because of our similar goals, or possibly our unstable lifestyles hopping from plant to plant, many of us bonded together. All manner of social events were planned, guest lists were not rigid, members could be absent on travel for long periods and were accepted right back with no passive-aggressive pressures. It really was nice.

Saturday another member of this group passed away. Words are failing me lately, but it is sad to get these reminders of life’s precious and fleeting nature. One point that got my attention was how recently he found his true love. Although they have only had a short life together, it sounds as though they both enjoyed it thoroughly until his passing. I hope to remember this lesson and embrace the time that God grants me with my sweetie.

Early this morning, shortly after 1 O’clock, a new life has begun. A fellow teacher from the Pacific Northwest has a new responsibility as his wife gave birth to their son. He, like me, lives in Ise and commutes to Tsu. With luck, I will have many chances to see his boy grow up.

Out of Commission

2008年 10月 28日

My lingering cold has kept me from a lot of my activities, but not all of them. I was hoping the doctor would prescribe antibiotics (which is ironic, considering I used to refuse to take any med unless forced), but he gave me lozenges and a very small supply of pain killers. Fortunately, I awoke this morning with only a hint of soreness in my throat, so I may be OK. This is about the fourth time one of these persistent colds with sore throat symptoms has come on in Japan. One thought on why they linger is the constant need to talk over a group of 38 children… I really love working at the schools with calm, respectful students.

My knee has also been a problem and I skipped shuji on Saturday because of it. At first I noticed a lot of pain when squatting, so I thought it was a little tendon trouble from too much high-speed “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” singing; however, it seems a little more vexing. Having no trouble on the stairs yesterday, I thought I was out of the woods, but sitting on the floor in front of my computer I bent my knee and pulled my leg toward my chest. Ouch. That caused significant pain. My guess is now: ligament. Probably an injury received by getting really drunk and dancing around with a 300kg shrine on my shoulder. Let’s just hope it is something that will heal with rest.

Looks like I should take a break from calligraphy for awhile, but my work has been suffering and I want to get back at it. Just another one of the tests of life.

Happy Terrorist Day

2008年 9月 11日

Have we given a name to September 11th yet? If we expect everyone to remember it, perhaps we should name it. I was thinking Terrorist Day would get the point across. But that got me thinking: would it be in poor taste to wish someone a Happy Terrorist Day?

My feeling is that, if we all have to walk around sullen and somber on this day, then the terrorists have indeed won. However, if we try to enjoy this day and encourage others around us, then the terrorists have lost. Of course there was a lot of suffering that day, but mourning and being terrified should be two separate things.

I’m hoping to see my sweetheart for about 15 minutes tonight before she heads back to work, so I’ll be happy this Terrorist Day.

Finding Bikkuri 2

2008年 9月 9日

Someone found my site using “Drunk Life”. I was shocked when I noticed that Google put me as number two for that search; right behind drunklife.com. All I did was translate a piece of calligraphy from behind the Okinawan bar in Kill Bill.

* Update: I heard that Google.com doesn’t rate this post very high. Apparently Google.co.jp turns up a different list for the same search. Unfortunately, if I enter Google.com I am automatically redirected to Google.co.jp.

The Palm of Mom’s Hand

2008年 9月 8日

About a month ago I went to a restaurant in Matsusaka (松阪) with a very difficult name, simple but difficult. This is a fine distinction which is a struggle in both English and Japanese. Most folks will say simple is the opposite of difficult, but I would contend that simple and complex are opposites and, likewise easy and difficult. In Japanese I would say kantan (簡単) and muzukashii (難しい) are opposites and, likewise tanjun (単純) and fukuzatsu (複雑); however, many people take difference with this. Language is a delicate creature and should be handled as such, but I have wandered from the main topic… the restaurant’s name: Kaka no Te (かかの掌).

Readers who know a little Japanese might jump to the conclusion that ‘te‘ means hand, but a quick look at the kanji shows that it is more complicated, having the entire character for ‘hand’ as a part of this character. Different meanings, some religious, are described by this character but it can mean te no hira, which I’ll translate as ‘the palm’; more literally, it might be ‘the inside of the hand’. Kaka is a little simpler. being a loving term that children use to say ‘mom’ (お母さん), written in kanji as: 母, 嚊, or 嬶. So, the restaurant is “The Palm of Mom’s Hand”.

Normally restaurants should have very comforting names but, dad being absent alot, mom was the primary disciplinarian in our family; hence, the palm of her hand didn’t always have that comforting feeling. Spanking is not popular in Japan, so I’ll assume there’s no similar duality here. A business card labels this as Kami Shima Homemade-Style Cooking. It was tasty and seemed healthy enough.

A Touch of SiLLiNeSS!

2008年 9月 4日

I wanted to post something last night, but I guess I was too tired: I collapsed into a slumber fairly early on. I’m a bit tired today as well, so I’ll just put down a short one that I was thinking about the other day.

My favorite restaurant often serves a simple salad with their sets. It is made with yosedofu (寄せ豆腐), mizuna (水菜), and a soy sauce-based dressing. Yosedofu is a very soft form of tofu and mizuna is rape or colza. Such a simple, tasty delight; I like to make it often. The other day I spotted mizuna at the store and quickly grabbed it up. When I tried to make my salad the next day I realized I bought mitsuba (三つ葉), which is honewort (yes, I realize translating that to English doesn’t necessarily make it easier to understand.) I try to excuse my silliness by the fact that they are both very long, and they were next to each other on the shelf, and they were written in hiragana so they both started with み; but, the leaves are a very different shape and texture and flavor. At least I can cut it up and put it in my miso soup.