Thursday, February 28, 2013

I knew this would happen...

So with the iPad come apps, obviously. And with apps goes my sanity. So things I had been resisting for a while have bow taken over my life.

Namely Instagram.

From the moment I knew about it, I've wanted it, but not having a smart phone, I simply dealt with not having it. But then I got an iPad. Of course I've been busy for obvious reasons, so I really saw no reason to get into transforming my iPad into a toy.

But right now I'm in the middle of a long slow break at my grandmother's before returning to the real world. So I finally decided to get Instagram. I am a bit disappointed there isn't an iPad version, but that's not stopping me from wanting to put every photo in this iPad through a filter. Still playing with the artificial bokeh and trying to not use it with everything, but I love bokeh. It's one of those delicious things about taking pictures, isn't it?

Anyways, here's my account. I'm sharing the posts over on Twitter and Facebook and mixi as well, so I probably won't be posting them in the blog. Feel free to drop by. Same username as always:

Also, I dove into Pinterest. If you thought I was bad on tumblr, wow, Pinterest.

Kid + candy store = Mel + Pinterest

I'm holding back at the moment, but it's the same feeling I get when I go into an awesome stationery store and I want so many things in the store that my brain overloads and short circuits. Too...many...oooh shiny!! Shiny! Shinyyyyy...


Movie Monthly: February 2013

So I spent most of February in California, but I still managed to watch three movies in the theater. All of them satisfying in their own ways.

I ended up also watching a load of movies on DVD, both to have some kind of background noise as I worked on funeral stuff as well as just to keep spirits up. This would include, Ocean's 11, Ocean's 12, Ocean's 13, Robin Hood (the 70s Disney one where Robin Hood is a fox, literally), The Mummy Returns, スイングガールズ, Men in Black, and 逆境ナイン.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

British actors in Japanese TV

Or rather the complete lack of them.

Screenwriters here like to insert British characters, but the casting folk always go for the American to portray them.

And Aibo did a great job with three of their characters speaking English lines. If only it was to an actual Brit. I know most of the audience wouldn't know, but I have respect for this show for its attention to detail. Oh well.

Wordless Wednesday: Rainy day in Kamakura

Big and Small

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Skyping with my mom

Don't have a proper stand, so I used mikan in the mikan basket.

My mom came up with the idea of reaching for one.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

At the Theater: A Good Day to Die Hard

Yippee Ki Yay Mother Russia

It's times like this that I contemplate getting smart phone gloves

Then I realize my regular commute is by subway so there aren't many times when I'm waiting outside in the cold. And even then, I usually have a book. So "times like this" pretty much don't exist.

Needless item shopping averted! I'd call that I good save.

Time moves on

It really does just keep going.

As many before me have said, the only thing that doesn't change is the fact that things change. As much as the change can hurt, I find it comforting.

And these pictures are a sign of that. Though I think only my mom will know what I mean.

DASH Island

What I love about the Tetsuwan DASH staff: even when TOKIO can't go back to DASH Village because it's located in Fukushima in the evacuation zone, the staff send TOKIO around the country to visit different farms and talk to farmers about their crop. Probably to keep their farming skills in tact for when they can return and rebuild their fields. They've even been continuing their rice crop as well. That's right, my favorite band makes their own strain of rice. And have for over ten years.

And as if that wasn't enough, the staff go and give TOKIO their own abandoned island to rebuild. AN ISLAND.

TOKIO first landed (and they made TOKIO row the boat there of course) last summer and have been working on the island ever since. Nagase even built a tiny railway, finishing it just before he had to start filming his drama this season. They're trying to build a headquarter and start opening up the mountain, probably to start growing crops.

These are the same five guys I went to see perform and totally rocked out to at the Budokan.

And the next episode, their go check on their coast environment. Yeah, they have a little bit of coast in Tokyo near the factories. The area was highly polluted and devoid of life when they first started, but they've recovered it to the point where the local sea life has returned and they've started to grow different kinds of seaweed as well.

And watching the episode, they wanted kuruma ebi to return, so they created an environment the shrip would like and they ended up finding a black tiger shrimp on accident. The marine biologist who was with them totally freaked out. Black Tiger shrimp are not local. When one appeared nine years ago, it made the news...

Dude, TOKIO. Awesome.

Friday, February 22, 2013

One step at a time

Most of the time, I'm perfectly okay. Not great, but somewhere between good and meh.

But occasionally, I feel myself losing control. Suddenly the world is filled with things I need to do and I need to have full control and I know I don't. My whole body tenses up with a kind of almost primal fear that has decided on flight but then sees all the things that need to be done and there's no way out and in a split second of despair, the armor cracks and all the uncertainties flood in and I'm drowning.

In the real world, this takes less than a second.

Then I catch myself and remind myself to breathe. That I was smart enough to give myself time. That I not only can, but must take it one step at a time. I have to stop trying to carry everything at once. It's not a sprint. It's not even a marathon. It's a journey with no end.

And the vertigo is real. As is the chasm below. But I have to take a deep breath and look carefully. I don't need to take the Leap of Faith. The bridge is there. I just need to be calm enough to see it.

It's okay. One thing at a time. One step at a time.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fruitless visits to both Apple and Softbank stores

It appears I made a mistake concerning my iPad and using wifi spots that is irreversible. That's unfortunate. I totally thought I could sign up afterwards, but I guess not. Oh well.

I'll look into it a bit more, then take it as a blessing of less distraction and more focus.

脳男: The aftermath

So, um, DUDE.

Wow. That was one hell of a messed up movie. I'm not sure what I thought of it. Just. DAMN that was a hell of a ride.

Toma's working hard. I wonder what percent of the stunts they let him do.

One other positive thing to report, a relatively messed up movie and I feel fine. So at this point, I'm still okay. Will keep you all updated.

At the theater:脳男

Toma! Need I say more?

Sounds like it's going to be pretty heavy and with lots of action. I believe Toma plays a highly intelligent man lacking in empathy who helps the police find a bomber. Should be good.

Though I may have picked the wrong day. Thursday again. Ladies Day. And, again, it's Toma. Fingers crossed they're not here only for Toma.

Reactions after the show.

Johnny's marketing

Falling prey to the desire of more tracks and the possibility of meeting TOKIO, I bought both versions and put in my reservation for both of the next single.

Normally I would have just gotten the regular version for the extra tracks and been perfectly happy with the special DVD, but I figured, why not?

Oh, the life of a fan.

TOKIO! 1718 Tour DVD!!

Yay! And a single that was released yesterday and another next month. Yay!

That settles it! Going shopping today and maybe the gym too. And perhaps a movie as well.

I gave myself two weeks before going back to work. Stuff to do. Things to check. Taxes to file. Room to clean. Check in on my mom and my grandmother. Finally get international calling on my keitai. Sign up for Softbank wifi for my iPad. Try to lose the extra weight I put on while I was home and decided to indulge as I dealt with reality in a surreal way.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Turning Pages: 桜姫華伝 (Sakura Hime) [全巻]

Since I'm home, I thought I should catch up on the manga that I hadn't bought because I knew my mom was getting over here. One series is Arina Tanemura's Sakura Hime.

I've been an Arinacchi fan since her Jeanne days. I wandered away during 満月をさがして (Full Moon), which strangely was one of her most popular series, but came back for 紳士同盟クロス. Gentlemen's Alliance was awesome. There was a twist in every volume and I loved the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed that one.

I was hoping for the same kind of thing from Sakura Hime and I stayed with it until I moved to Japan. Since it finished recently, I thought I'd read the whole series through and go back for the important scenes. Unfortunately, I didn't care about the characters or for the plot. I had a complete lack of interest. A lot of what was going on just reminded me of her other stories. So rather than reread Sakura Hime for details, I'd much rather reread Time Stranger Kyoko and Gentlemen's Alliance which had so much more fun and chaos and enjoyable characters.

I still follow her Twitter and I still like her as the quirky human being she is, but this series was disappointing. Still pretty and interesting enough that I made it to the end. But yeah...I wish I could have enjoyed it more, especially knowing how much effort she put into it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Rwar! in Boston


Conversations with my mother

This morning I was looking into enunciation exercises that could help me at work as well as that volunteer radio gig.

My mother and I proceeded to talk about:
-tongue twisters in English and Japanese
-children's animal songs that would be good to use for a volunteer talk for small children at a zoo in Japan that my friend is trying to put together
-Old McDonald Had a Farm
-differing animal sounds in Japanese and English
-Japanese difficulties in pronouncing English
-"s" vs "sh" (which also confused the hell out of the cat who had been sleeping nearby)
-consonants sticking to vowels that follow
-examples of this in katakana pronunciation: Los Angeles (ロサンゼルス) and The Long and Winding Road (ザ ロン ガン ワイン ディン ロー)
-John Lennon
-me sharing a birthday with John and Sean Lennon
-my mom sharing a birthday with 堂本光一
-The Big Book of Birthdays
-back to tongue twisters
-into nursery rhymes
-Yankee Doodle and the meaning of "macaroni"
-Sing a Song of Six Pence and Anne Boleyn

This all in the span of one hour. And people wonder why I go off on tangents so easily.

Monday, February 11, 2013

At the Theater: Skyfall

Now with the memorial service done and all, I'll get to that later, my mom and I enjoyed some peace today. After a lovely brunch with a dear friend, I came home and my mom and I sorted out the koden "condolence money" and koden-gaeshi "thanks for the condolence money" (took a while to remember a few Excel formulas).

Then we went to see James Bond at one of the local theaters that shows older flicks. With my dad in the hospital more than not over the past few months, my mom didn't get the chance to see it. She was waiting to go see it with my dad because he loved spy movies. That chance never came, but we went to see it for him.

I think I liked it better the second time around. Despite the non-stadium seating and the obnoxiou people behind us (seat kicking, talking during quiet scenes, checking cell phones...).

It was also interesting to hear the different reactions between a Japanese crowd plus a British friend and an Orange County crowd of people who waited for the $3 theater release. Over here, the murmurs of approval of the Bond car were quite audible, which is quite understandable.

Overall, a great show and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Learning to choose my battles and not looking back when I walk away

I want to be stronger. I want to live life on my terms and not feel so hurt when those terms are criticized or simply ignored. I have to convince myself that those who matter will accept me without me having to spell it out. They won't criticize me for not fitting into their view of the world.

I have faults, but my friends and certain family members accept me in spite of or possibly because of these faults and the feeling is mutual. Imperfections make us perfect, right? And then there are those who are ready to pounce on my shortcomings or rub them in my face. Or what they believe to be my shortcomings - another thing we don't see eye-to-eye on. And I turn around, spear in hand, ready to point out everything I think is wrong with them as if that would make them understand or at least acknowledge me.

It doesn't work that way, does it?

I need to remind myself that human relations are a two-way street that loops back on itself. It's either a cycle of acceptance or a cycle of ill-will. And it's so tempting to go into that negative one, but more often than not, nothing good comes from it.

And I was going to go into metaphors about what kind of weapons I have in hand in what sorts of battles and tying those strategies to the kind of strategies I'd use in arguments and such, but I have other things to take care of today so I'll leave it at this.

Long story short, I want to be strong enough to win every battle, but I need to learn that not every battle is worth being fought. I know it, but I haven't internalized it yet.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

One week ago

Exactly one week ago, I was holding my dad's hand and waiting with my mom for the hospice nurse on duty, whose name was coincidentally also Melinda, to arrive and confirm what the slowly colder and colder hand in mine told me. My father had passed.

I had only landed in the country eighteen hours earlier. I went straight from the airport to the hospital. We had a moment together, the three of us, and my dad told me that he had a good life and that he was ready to go. He came home on hospice care that evening and later that night he was gone. He didn't even give us the chance to take care of him. My mom's still a bit bitter about that. She'll probably always be a bit bitter about that.

Since then, it's been a whirlwind of things to do and people to talk to. His memorial service is next Saturday and we're doing a lot of the work ourselves, so I've been insanely busy, but it's better than just waiting for the service. My uncle has been really great supporting my mother and I as we sort everything out. I'm pretty sure I'd be a wreak without him.

So that's where I'm at right now. I'm sure I'll be blogging my way through the grieving process over the next I don't know how long, but for now, my head is filled with programs and photos for a slideshow and keeping my mother company. There's plenty of time for long term plans after the service.