Unemployed (Job Hunting World 2-1)

Dear Readership,

I am unemployed. You may remember the ecstasy and relief I felt after spending so much time looking for a job (i.e. the whole blog), and when we talked last, I was moving to Tokyo and all excited to begin my new life.

Which is still in some parts true. I am excited, I do love Tokyo, I am getting skinnier. However, the most important thing, the job thing, is not going as planned.

I started the job (8/22), and quit the job exactly one month later (9/22). Put simply, what I was asked to do was against my morals. In part, it was my fault. I felt at many times there was resistance in my conscience to doing it, but I thought through sheer willpower I could get over it and do it properly. It turns out my internal sense of right and wrong was more powerful than I thought.

It is certainly a black mark on my resume, and I have had to explain myself during every job interview since. However, in my defense, the company goes through a lot of people very quickly. In the month I was there, I saw someone get fired and saw two other people leave (one after two days), not including myself. And it's not a big company. At my recent job interviews, it seems like some of the HR staff are familiar with the practices of recruiting firms and have comforted me by saying many of the people who work at their company now come from the same background.

Losing a job puts a lot of things I had counted on in limbo, like my visa status, health insurance, and most importantly my salary. Where will rent come from? How will I pay the bills?

Where will I get the money to buy more video games? Books? Sheet music? Gym membership? 3-star Michelin restaurants?

However, losing a job also means I am a bum, and am entitled to all the privileges that come with being a bum, like sleeping whenever I want. Which was 9-5 today.

I think I know what I am good at. I might even have put in a little overtime!

So, in the spirit of before, here is what I have been doing this past first week of being unemployed.

a) I applied to around 6-10 jobs, I think. I lost count. I had three or four interviews this past week, I also lost count. I find that losing count is a great way of alleviating stress. It's the complete opposite of having all my eggs in one basket. You see, not just in two or three baskets, but like the bunny that hides them in every single conceivable place in April, I have launched my resume to the far reaches of the internet. Yes, most of them will rot, like that egg those kids forgot to look for under the bushes, but I have had good responses from a number of potential employers.

Back to the launching of resumes. This is how I see it. Imagine the mothership is the KJS (Kingdom of Jon Ship) The Ego, a sleek black vessel orbiting Jupiter...

Scratch that, you and I know that at this point it's a POS space-junker orbiting Jupiter, and out of the jankiest looking cannons you have ever seen are empty beer bottles filled with a cover letter and resume each, aimed for a planet far away. Planets called Linguistica, Translatia, Educatium IV, Instructica. The aim is accurate, but since the technology is quite low-tech, who knows where they will actually end up?

b) I also asked about a job at a bar, since they had signs up saying they were looking for staff. Pity though, they just hired someone earlier in the week so they weren't looking. But I really want to do it, since I get to dress up in some over-the-top shiny outfit while serving drinks, and it sounds like the perfect foot in the door to gogo boying. They told me to check back later, and I sure will.

The most promising jobs look to be as an instructor with a one-on-one English teaching corporation, or as a translator with a large pharmaceutical company. I've progressed in both of their interview series, but a final offer isn't there yet. However, on a side note, I also passed translating exams for two different companies, so I am also a freelance translator, mostly for Japanese to English.

But I'm still waiting for them to give me something to translate or proofread (-"-;)

So if you need anything translated, holla!

I also did the obligatory hour of daydreaming where I thought (as I stared at the jumble of wires that lead to and from my computer), if I could invent an economical form of wireless energy transfer, I would be set for the rest of my life. My research brought me to Nikola Tesla, and my adoration for him and his work continues. I mean, if the sun can do it, why can't we? But then I read about all the physics and unfortunately, electromagnetism was probably my weakest subject in physics. I do Newtonian much better.

My greatest fear is my bank account. I can last for awhile on my savings, but the bills must be paid, not to mention getting gouged for national health insurance. When it comes to being frugal, I have my ways to be the most miserly of us all. Yesterday, dinner was a hamburger from McDonald's, and it was the most delicious hamburger ever because it was free! I had a coupon.

But I have my limits, and after I left the McDonald's to go for a night stroll in the beautiful weather (because it's free), I found a woman closely tailing me as I left the store, who then promptly turned around and returned to her original spot 20 meters later. I passed by on the same strip as I was walking home, and, as I had guessed, that's where many prostitutes hang out. Which I did not know before. One of them tried to catch my attention with Chinese accented Japanese, and I quickly looked at her and she seemed quite wholesome, not what I envisioned a sex worker looked like in my mind's eye.

Of course, sex workers nowadays I suppose don't do the feather boa fishnet stocking thing anymore, unless they are drag queens, and thus probably not prostitutes.

I wonder what brought her there, I wonder if she enjoyed her line of work, and I wonder how often she found a client. If I had the money, I should like to ask an hour of her time to have those questions answered.

I also wonder if I'll ever need to stand on that same strip. Five dolla make you holla! I jest. Or do I...?

The response I give to everyone that asks about my current situation is, "Yes, it might be difficult, but it's exciting! Isn't this what youth is about? Not knowing the future? Wondering where it will all end up?"

Which is for the most part true. It is exciting, and I wonder what will happen. But most older adults ask these questions from the security of their own job security and assets and savings. And while they may have been in a similar position before, I wonder if they remember what it's like to live it.

If you remember, please let me know.

To be honest, I am scared. I don't know what will happen, and even though I know what I want to do, I lack direction and do not have the gift of sight to see what the proper steps I should be taking are. At this point, I should be considering a career, not just jobs. But I suppose the best I can do is keep applying and see what happens. I've come to realize that the things that are most worth having in life aren't given, but earned. I hold no hope that it'll all just magically work out.

But sometimes, I wish that that was all that it took, just a little hope and it will all be ok.


Job Hunting: Part End

I have a job. I will be an associate consultant in a consulting firm in the middle of Tokyo. I will be headhunting, working with HR with different companies at first, at least to the best of my knowledge.

Which means that this blog has served its purpose, even if it was never utilized as a tool for finding a job. I do enjoy writing from time to time, so I’ll probably keep it alive as best I can with occasional posts on my new life in Tokyo.

Although you’ll notice that I don’t really share much of what happens in my private life. More like general musings on life that are hopefully applicable to my readers. Like “Ah, I’ve been through that before” etc… Of course if I started writing about what I ate everyday and how many times I pooped and what color hairball the neighborhood cat puked up, maybe my readership might increase…

Now that the future is set, I can reflect on the past and my last 2 years here.

From this point on, it’s going to be a lot of bitching. You can stop here if you’d like.


After the first 6 months, I realized how utterly empty this place was. Unfortunately, I had already recontracted 3 months before that, and I felt lied to when winter hit.

Like newlyweds living together for the first time. “I never knew he farted so much. :(”

Nothing can prepare you for a Tsugaru winter, unless you’ve lived in the arctic for the majority of your life, then you should be ok. There is nothing here. Rather than lament, I decided to make the best of my time here. And so I decided to become a monk, and live an ascetic lifestyle to further my own path to enlightenment.

And by enlightenment I mean getting skinnier and a lot of reading and videogames.

I think I have done very well, as my friends will tell you, but they won’t, because I don’t have many here. I have also adopted a great diet and exercise program, and have plowed through much literature and a couple Mozart piano concertos (Nos. 20, 21) and beaten more games than I care to list. I have also spent countless hours studying Japanese and watching youtube and have become a connoisseur of Asian cinema. Which means I have done a good job of hermiting in my hermitage.

Also, if you need a good skincare regimen, I think I’ve come up with a pretty good one. Please ask!

One of the many maxims I try to live by is, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds,” but when that hand stops handing out salary and belongs to a real asshole, can I chomp down hard?

I shall. Let ‘er rip!

Let me tell you what a pain in the ass it is to live here. The nearest McDonald’s is 40 minutes away by car. The nearest train station that actually goes anywhere is an hour. Everything shuts down at 8PM (the banks at 3PM),

Everything is a loose term because there is only a supermarket and a hardware store here

and then it gets completely dark and quiet, and rather scary, like I’m in a zombie movie and have to get my chainsaw ready every time I leave the house at night.

And boy, don’t get me started on winter. Right now, there’s a heat wave and we’re all kinda melting in our chairs (yesterday it was in the upper 30s, so higher 90s for all you non-metric peeps), but I have never wished for winter instead. It is an abysmal half year. The snow is ridiculous. It’s fine if it falls, but the local specialty here is 地吹雪 or literally “ground blow snow,” when the snow doesn’t exactly fall but rather swirls from the ground into giant funnels that leads to whiteouts. And they’re kinda interesting to be in, like a really bad dream and you can barely see past your nose and all that your headlights illuminate is a wall of white, except there’s a car coming at you since no one knows what lane they’re in since they can’t see the ground anymore.


I should also like to mention that they don’t salt the roads because it’s “bad for the environment.” Of course, compacted icy roads are a joy to drive, err, skate on. You know the McDonald’s I mentioned earlier? Make that an hour and 20 minutes in winter. Also, the nearest ski resort is about 3 hours in this frozen hell. Remember the big hullabaloo everyone made over Toyotas and not braking? One person with a Prius from Aomori was interviewed and they said (to the best of my memory), “Oh, there was a braking problem? I didn’t notice since the roads are iced over in Aomori and everyone slips anyways.” You would think with the nuclear disaster Japan wouldn’t have much right to be concerned about the environment anymore, but of course, living in the middle of nowhere tends to have people who are more conservative and slow or backward thinking. Of course, this isn’t true of everyone, and I have met a very, very small handful of Japanese people here that I like. However, balance that out with the fact that I make friends almost every time I go to Tokyo, and I have come to realize that there has to be a strong reason for people to stay in Aomori (especially where I work), whether it’s family or job commitment, or they have tasted what the world has to offer and find this place best, or something else I don’t know. Of course, people stay here just because they have never dreamt of anything bigger; they never sought to explore the world; they do not have the talent, knowledge or money to escape; or in the worst case they resign themselves to their lot in life, and that goes against basically everything I live for. The people from Tohoku (northern Japan) that I’ve really took a liking to are all in Tokyo because they needed to achieve more and couldn’t stand to live where they were born.

And I’ll be there soon!!! WHOOOOO!!!

Aomori is the second poorest prefecture in the nation. It also has the second highest suicide rate. And it can’t even be first in the categories of sucking. The best argument I heard for this place is that “the water tastes better than in Tokyo.” I use a Brita filter thankyouverymuch. I also work at what is well-known as one of the shittiest schools in the prefecture. At the welcome party all the new teachers said “I’ve heard it’s tough, but I’ll try my best.” They use the term ganbaru, which I connote in this situation with resigning oneself to one’s fate because there’s nothing they can do about it. I was a little taken aback, because Japanese rarely ever voice their opinions so bluntly. But if they all said it, then I guess that’s some kind of group permission.

My relationship with the Board of Education (BoE) has also hit an all time high, like shit ceiling fan high. There was a personnel change in April, and all the good people were promoted and replaced with assholes, and since then everything has just gone downhill. It’s not that my new supervisor isn’t nice, he is, but it’s just he’s completely new and doesn’t know anything about what I do. So it’s basically me against his boss and he’s stuck in the middle of our bickering. Poor guy.

I was speaking to my previous supervisor, and thankfully he has given me all the guidance and directed me to the necessary forms to make my transition from here to Tokyo much smoother. The BoE has just given me contradictory bullshit, facts they made up on their own and decided not to check, or just decided to ignore my questions altogether.

Let me give you some examples:

Q: “I’m moving out soon, I was wondering if you wanted to do the gas, electricity, water bills together so we could put my successor’s name on there too.”

A: “The Board of Education doesn’t pay the bills, so it’s not our responsibility. Do it yourself.”

And so I did it, and cut the bills early. If there’s any problem, well, it’ll be their responsibility then, won’t it :P

Two can play at being an asshole.

And of course, there was that incident when the kachou 課長 got drunk and started talking shit about me behind my back. I think I’ll give him a piece of my mind after payday. Or I might not even bother, because frankly cranky old men don’t deserve my time.

Of course, in any argument, there are two sides to the story, and yes, there is a reason behind their ire. These really demonstrate the difference in our cultures, and in the end, despite what everyone thinks, I am not Japanese. Thank god.

Fault 1:
I used to eat breakfast at the BoE.

Fault 2:
I came in late a few times.

Fault 3:
I want to use all my vacation days.

Let’s address these separately.

1. Yes, I used to eat breakfast there, and didn’t know it was a problem. In fact, my last supervisor said it was ok to eat there in the mornings. Not the new management. They threw a hissy fit. So cool, I won’t eat breakfast there anymore. I don’t now.

2. This is, admittedly, my biggest flaw. I cannot for the life of me get up. Mornings are not my thing. However, I do my best, and I have never missed a class. What I have done, is punch in late. By late I mean about 1-4 minutes late. I never understood the fuss because I don’t do anything there in the mornings anyway. My job lies solely with the education of the children, and if I do that to the best of my ability, then I see no problem. Also, to make up, I punch out later as well. Ah, but the BoE values timeliness above actual work done, and that is where we have a big riff. I see no point, but they see it as a rule that must be obeyed, even if I have no productive use during that period. To fit in with their culture, this is perhaps the spot I feel like I could have improved on the most, and I have. I haven’t been late in recent memory.

Check this out, next job, I can eat breakfast AND can come in later the next day if I work overtime. Win.

So now, I have improved, but has their treatment of me changed? Nope. They still refuse to give me the time of day. So…fuck it. I barely spend any time there anymore. I kinda stay home and do my stuff and show up for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 in the afternoon. The glory of being able to speak Japanese is that it has made me autonomous, while some other ALTs need their BoE to communicate with other entities. Of course autonomy means an excess of freedom, and perhaps I have drifted so far away from them and do everything on my own that they don’t know how to approach me anymore. Which is fine with me. Being able to speak the language also has backfired in some senses because it allows them to communicate with me and I can’t pull the gaijin card and say I didn’t know. The earlier bill example would never have happened if I couldn’t speak Japanese.

Ah, and the last one is my favorite, using all my vacation days.

3. I was discussing with my new supervisor the time I was planning on taking off. And out of nowhere, the woman in charge of vacation time jumps in on the conversation and asks,

“Are you going to use most of your vacation days? Like close to all of them?”

“I’m going to use all of my vacation days.”

“ALL of them?”

At this point, she gave me a dirty look and seemed quite offended.

“Yes, all of them.”

“Well, that one day you helped after the earthquake doesn’t count because it wasn’t an order from the boss. Also, we need to deduct one hour of vacation for every minute you were late.”

I see what you did there.

“My last supervisor said that I could get vacation for helping out.”

And the conversation died at that point. From the Japanese POV, I am supposed to be the drone and work for the establishment that is the BoE. Taking vacation is a bad thing, even though we have set days for it, because it looks like I’m slacking and not working for the greatness of the BoE.

But, once again, everyone seems to forget I’m not Japanese.

My logic is quite simply: Since I’m not going to be working here, why wouldn’t I spend all my vacation days? Also, the kids are on summer vacation. There’s no one for me to teach, and you hate my guts, so why do you want me to stay one day longer? I don’t want to be here any more than you want me here.

I will be using all of my vacation days, including the ones promised me by my last supervisor. Done.

Please excuse what this entry has become. A long rant, but a cathartic one for sure. I apologize for its lack of cohesion and really one-sided view of all my problems.

Part of my dissatisfaction certainly has to do with my inherent nature. I’m really goal oriented and put results above most other things. I have high standards when it comes to food and classical music; I need to go to at least three symphonies and one Michelin ranked restaurant a year or else I get grouchy. I dress up to gambol along the most gorgeous streets of the most beautiful cities, not the mall. I expect the students to exert the same effort I put into teaching them. When I am greeted by “die”, “disgusting”, and “big dick” I question the life decisions that brought me to this place, and moreover my absurdly low fate score that sent me here.

And with students like that, the BoE has no right to complain about me when they’re supposed to be in charge of education.

However, just a few minutes ago, a giant chrysalis popped into my mind’s eye, kinda freaky and large (for you Starcraft fans like the one Kerrigan was in), and at the top, a vertical rift formed across the hardened membrane. I will come out of this a butterfly, and enjoy all that life has to offer me and all the opportunities that abound in the city of trains and great technology and people that feel the innate drive to achieve and accomplish. I can’t wait.

I’m going to get an apartment next week.


Rambling Thoughts - Prodigies, the Digital Age

I started this post a couple months ago, but only got to finishing it now. Quite a bit has changed, but that'll come in another post. Hopefully one that isn't delayed for months.

Pulling back from the minute detail of hunting for individual jobs, isn't it time I see the forest for the trees? Take stock of our lumber and lounge in the great outdoors for a bit? With a mug of shitty coffee in one hand and an axe in the other, my foot resting on the stump of a newly felled evergreen, please join me as I try to take stock of my generation and our place in the bigger scheme of things.

chirp chirp.

From my relatively narrow point of view, it could be said that our generation is one of extremes. The gap in between the different levels of societies seems to be ever widening, and while the rich get richer, the poor try to scrape by with what they can. I don't think either one of them is good or bad, because the rich are indeed rich because the poor decide to use their products or services. Despite the cacophony surrounding big business, it is that very system that allows the world to develop because of each company's vast resources and the pressure of a highly competitive market. I'm sure the people who complain about big business wouldn't be complaining if they were in a well paid managerial position.

It has always been my belief that if you don't like the situation you are in, then find a better one. The limitation is oneself, not a system that people feel they are victimized by. Transcend your current position. Acquire the skills and talents you need to do what you want to do.

Which brings me to prodigies. I love them. And I not-so-secretly envy them. Not only for their phenomenal talent and genius intellect, but because they know what they are born to do. They know that they are going to play piano, violin, any instrument; they are going to study math, physics, computer science, and they are going to be good at it forever. And they'll do that for the rest of their lives and love it. Their path is defined.

The rest of us, however, have freedom to deal with, and our fear of it. What is my future? What am I supposed to do with myself? Is this the job that I really want? Because few of us are prodigies, our road turns more into a cornfield, and we can only see a few stalks ahead of us before we're struck with the nagging doubt of "is this the right way out?" And "out", of course is a very loose term since we might end up in the totally opposite direction of where we wanted to go, or even back at where we started once we've escaped the cornfield.

However, I cannot honestly lament my position nor the place my generation is in. The internet is great. I can make a talk to people across the ocean for free on my laptop by pressing a button. I can fly across said ocean in half a day as opposed to a half year journey that might end with pirates and living on an island for the rest of my life.

Which sometimes sounds really interesting. At least for a week.

In the hustle of today, we often forget to be thankful for the things that have made our lives so convenient, which is in large part due to the efforts of large corporations and their necessary competition. So be thankful for Wal-Mart, Costco, cell phone providers, electronics corporations

When you're not dealing with their customer service

because it is through their efforts that we have such amazingly high standards of living, not to mention unparalleled convenience (though this part is debatable in terms of health issues and stuff, and the price we pay for being able to get tomatoes and all other produce all year round.)

I'll end with this link to a youtube video that I really like that basically makes what I said funny.


This was well named a ramble. The next one should be a little more coherent, but no promises.


Eat, Pray, Love: Taiwan

I can't strikethrough titles, but it should really look like this:

Eat, Pray, Love: Taiwan

Did I visit an ashram? No. Do I think I need to find some inner peace? Not yet. Did I fall in love while having sex in a gazebo overlooking the waterfront of some exotic Southeast Asian country? No, but I wish I did.

Mini movie review time. I hated that movie. I would nutshell it like this: American woman finds perfect life meaningless so she decides to eat and fuck her way through foreign countries until her materialism and lust are satiated until the sequel. I want the 2 and a half hours of my life back. I can slit my wrists and listen to emo music in about 10 minutes, and spend the rest of the time doing something productive like lighting my farts on fire.

What I did do was eat. Because if there's anything I know it's Taiwanese food and the endless stories my parents told me about it. Like how what we were eating at Diho market near Chicago was nothing compared to what we could get in the night market in Shiling in northern Taipei.

They were right.

For those of you who aren't familiar, this is Stinky Tofu, one of my favorite dishes. Smells godawful and I pity the American household that decides to try to make this at home. Other than tofu and pickled cabbage I don't know what's in it, and I don't want to. I just enjoy the aroma and dig in. It is splendid. The rank crunchiness challenges the senses, much in the same way I believe people enjoy spicy foods. It burns, but it's so delicious!

It was a fascinating experience visiting my parents' motherland. Mother island. It's someplace I've never been to, but all of a sudden I felt like I belonged. The mandarin I grew up speaking

exclusively I might add, until I was 5. My English was horrible.

came out with no second thoughts, except for a cocked head when I came across words I had never heard before. The people looked the same as me, and the mannerisms vibrated with me on some fundamental level that I have not felt in either America or Japan. There was the grittiness of a country on the rise, still full of energy but firmly rooted in its culture.

The disparity between the rich and poor clearly showed, and while the Taipei 101 was a sight to behold, if one drives about an hour out the surroundings become really rural, really fast.

But what splendid rural lands they were! This was some of the best chicken I've ever had.

In fact, there was no need for labels saying that these were organic free roaming. They were running around right outside the restaurant. My aunt (who was the best tour guide) gestured to the live chickens and said that you could point to one and the kitchen would have it prepped and cooked for you. The meat was out of this world. Apparently it only goes through a quick boil and comes with a spicy dipping sauce. The flavor was spectacularly rich and the texture was wonderfully chewy and melty all at once.

Back in the city, the night markets were fantastic. The food was cheap, delicious, and even my delicate stomach could handle it! Ever since January, I've been on a salad for dinner diet. Nothing but leafy vegetables and tomatoes with some olives and almonds and vinegar for dressing. My appetizer would be a broccoli chicken breast salad, with a different kind of vinegar for dressing. All to lose weight for this trip. Totally worth it. More food! This time in the Ximen district where we stayed at.

This is honest to goodness o-ah-mi-sua. I'm so Taiwanese I don't even know how to pronounce it in mandarin :P. With real oysters and intestines! You should have seen the people serving it. It was a two man team, with one holding the bowl and the other ladling out the noodles from a giant pot, and the first person adding some condiments and giving it to the customers. My aunt says that from when they open till they close the pair don't stop, which isn't an exaggeration. The line extended far past the lens of the camera, and all the seats were taken so we all just ate standing up.

Taiwan reminds me of what I imagined Japan used to be to an extent. Japan has flourished and is considered a hub of business and is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, no doubt. But I believe the energy and life are in part restrained by the order, the cleanliness and formality of the culture. I am not complaining, because those are precisely the aspects of Japanese culture I love.

However, in Taiwan, driving is governed by rules that many seem to take as guidelines more than anything else. In fact, we witnessed an accident when someone with an SUV tried to park in a small spot and scraped another car with their bumper. In another area my aunt haggled in Taiwanese, and the shop owner finally acquiesced with some rather caustic final remarks along the lines of "Miss, you can look at all the shops here and tell me if you find a plate for as cheap as I'm giving it to you. My husband should never have quoted that price, we can't even make a profit!" she said in accented mandarin.

Finally, you may be wondering, and yes, I did do more than just stuff myself silly. In fact, I might have lost some weight. During the day we visited all the touristy spots and my feet were always exhausted by the end of the evening. Here's a picture to prove I didn't just eat!

There. I did go to some places. The picture doesn't do it justice. The memorial hall is gigantic, and is definitely worth seeing up close and live. Also there are motionless soldiers standing on either side of the entrance which are also interesting to look at. They have a very tedious yet tough job.

All in all, I love Taiwan. It is a wonderful place to visit, and is an accessible version of China to Westerners (like myself). In fact, I wouldn't mind working and living there. At this point, I can pass for Japanese to an extent (short conversations only), but I can certainly much more easily pass for Taiwanese with a lot less effort. It was pleasant, enjoying the lawlessness and spontaneity that comes with a country that's coming to grips with its position on the international stage. I look forward to seeing how it develops in the future.

I would write more but I just got really hungry so I'll stop here. The next entry will be a little more thought out, I promise.


Job Hunting Part 3 - Writing

Current eating: Jasmine tea and Japanese walnut tea pastry

It has been about a month since the last entry, and with the exception of some volunteer work I did in Aomori City, not much else has changed in this sleepy prefecture.

In reference to Job Hunting 2, I am still working on music, except now it's the shorter and much more easily managed topic of video game music remixes. I'm working on an obscure Kirby theme right now that I will probably post sometime later.

Today's new adventure is in writing. In my recently started never-ending search for a way to make money, I pull myself in the literary direction. And I always start with a grandiose end result dream.

Imagine, if you will, a podium with me behind it. On the side of the podium is an etched university seal with Latin scribbled across its face. Even though I can barely see through the spotlights beaming at me from across the stage, I can feel the expectant gaze of every single person in the packed lecture hall, waiting in bated breath for me to begin. This is the guest talk that has been advertised for months, and I'm both relieved and nervous that people are actually interested in hearing what I have to say. The lights cause a thin trickle of sweat to start pooling at my brow, which then neatly carves a path halfway down my face before I wipe it off with a flick of my wrist. A deep breath and sip of water later, I am steadied, ready to utter my first words.

And why are they here? Because I published a

...? What did I publish? A collection of short stories? A collection of poetry? A novel? A nude photo book? Regardless, it sold really well. I am also holding a martini in one hand, and my speech notes in the other, though I plan to throw them away in a dramatic flourish to emphasize how spontaneous and brilliant I am.

And therein lies my greatest problem. I may have these ridiculous fantasies of self-importance, but I require a medium with which to achieve it.

Out of all the insanity that my mind has shat out, in the realm of self-employment, writing is probably my best option.

Only option.

I am inspired. Right now. I'm reading Amy Tan's memoir, The Opposite of Fate, and her stories are moving, particularly because we share that silk thread of being Asian-American. She draws upon her own history, and her mother's history, and her grandmother's history to weave her stories into tales of hope and then tragedy and then some sort of hopeful ending but still tragic. And she probably gets paid a butt load for it. She has her own Cliff Notes, which really means she's made it somewhere in the writing world. I have often thought, and spoken aloud, that my own family could be the foundation for a great soap opera. Why not a work of embellished fiction?

I have thoughts. I have ideas. I have dreams of becoming the Ayn Rand of this century, just with less architecture and angry people. And, similar to the impetus of Rebecca Black's Friday, I have another reason to keep writing because I just read an awful book which I might review later. Let me just put it out there that if you are interested in the early Kamakura period of Japan, do NOT purchase White as Bone, Red as Blood: The Fox Sorceress. I think I should have heard the warning bells when the author's biography prints as such:

"Cerridwen Fallingstar, a shamanic Witch and Priestess, has taught classes in magic and ritual for over thirty years. Since childhood, she has had the ability to time-travel, entering alternate realms and distant times at will. She is a professional writer and psychic."

I shit you not witch and priestess were capitalized. But I am deaf to my own warning bells and plowed my way through some 300 pages of the most agonized reading I've done in a while. There are only so many lesbian love scenes I can take before I hit a limit. Especially when they are being described in terms of "jade pillar", "blooming orchid", or "dipping one's willow into the river". I can hear the koto in the background and it is being played poorly.

I may have higher standards because I studied classical Japanese poetry and literature and hold it in the highest esteem. Her anachronistic application of homeopathy and disregard for major historical texts and proper romanization was especially difficult to swallow.

But! Again, if she can get published, and even have the courage to call herself a professional writer, then I should be able to write and get paid for it as well.

To note, I have a poetry collection in the works, entitled 108 Poems Inspired by the Japanese (tentative). It is, poetry, inspired by earlier Japanese poems, but written by me, and not as good, all circling around the theme of love.

The pros: Poetry comes naturally to me. I think up poems even when I'm not thinking about it. I am minimalist with my use of words and meanings. I have won or placed in a couple of contests and got published in small magazines or mailings.

The cons: I'm afraid to my mind they seem so wonderful and metaphory, but to someone reading them they'll think I'm a teenager on her period who just got dumped after losing her virginity.

But you know, the great thing about poetry (and to my limited knowledge, especially Japanese poetry) is that the reader does all the work, and the writer only nudges the mind in a certain way.

Let's try a small example. Let's say I give you the description of a man:

"And I remember the first time I saw him. He was silhouetted against the spotlights, the light casting strong shadows that emphasized his physique; his musculature showed where the clothes clung to his body from the sweat. His chiseled features looked especially sharp that day, and while he may have seemed nervous as he gave his speech, his eyes bespoke a whole other world behind them. Was this the mind that created (insert masterpiece)?"

Or a woman:

"When it comes to hips, hers are unmatched. They're wonderful to look at when she's sitting down with her legs crossed, but when she walks, my god, not a single man can keep his eyes off her. Her hair is perfectly made up; when I asked, she says she only spends 10 minutes in the morning on it. Luck is quite unfair with DNA sometimes. However, she certainly knows how to pick the right clothes to emphasize those curves. She better watch out though, with looks like hers, there'll be a lot of angry wives chasing after her soon."

In these two examples, I have described a specific man and and specific woman, each conforming to ideas of traditional beauty, but not necessarily what each individual thinks is beautiful.

To test, what is the first image that comes into your head as you read:

"Handsome man"


"Beautiful woman"

Different than what I wrote right? With one adjective and one noun, your mind spins a whole being into reality, complete with looks and and a personality, the paradigm of what you believe to be  "handsome" and "man", and/or "beautiful" and "woman". For those of you that created a handsome beautiful man woman, I applaud your creativity for it stretches far beyond my own.

Now, if we enter the realm of what I believe is poetry, it gets even simpler. I just made this poem up a couple seconds ago to serve as an example.

Your face
among the drifting cherry blossoms.
Do they enhance your beauty?
Or do you complete theirs?

I actually kinda like this one. I think I'll put it in after a few more edits.

In this case, I have given you a simple image of floating cherry blossoms (it is Spring in Japan after all), and a face. The face is totally up to you, but because of the last couple of lines, it will be your lover, or the lover you wish you had. I personally like interplay between contrasts, which is the only thing I can think of most of the time, so that's what you get, the balance of beauty and the question of which one is the main and which one is the complement.

The most wonderful thing about poetry is that it's supposed to be deep. So hell, if you see an image that I never intended, props to you. Just give me the credit ;)

All in all, this is a rather late start to consider writing as a career, but Amy Tan first published The Joy Luck Club at 38 years old, which means I still have some time left. I'll just need to find a way to feed myself until then.

For those of you who have been published, in any medium, do you have tips for a hopeful writer?


Job Hunting Part 2 - Music

Current Listening: Mozart Piano Concerto No. 27 K595- Allegro
Mitsuko Uchida with Jeffrey Tate and the English Chamber Orchestra

I saw this performed live in Sapporo, although it was Mitsuko Uchida performing and conducting with the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. Absolutely gorgeous, by far the best concert I have ever attended. I feel, hearing Mozart live really shows the depth of how Mozart wanted to present his music. The layering of different sounds and instruments is something a recording just can't match. Not to mention Mitsuko Uchida is the undisputed queen of Mozart piano works. Her latest recordings of Mozart's piano concerti Nos. 23 and 24 won this year's grammy. Although I am more preferential to her recording of Nos. 20 and 27, I am glad she won either way.

Concerti is the haughty plural. O ho ho ho!

I can go for hours of why Mozart is the driving force in my life, but that will come near the bottom.

The situation in Japan has gotten better. I feel that the initial shock has worn off and people are able to assess the damage and begin rebuilding. The temporary shelters in the hardest hit prefectures are soon to be finished and they are taking applications for residents.

The Fukushima nuclear power plant is still a crisis, though less than it was a week ago. The Tokyo Electric Power Company has made quite a few mistakes when it came to reporting different facts and figures so things are a bit muddled, but the general trend is that things are getting better.

Thank you to the people who read the last entry. Indeed, if you write it

and post it on facebook

people will read it.

Since things are starting to get back to normal, my break from job hunting has come to an end and I am back in the game. The job hunt progresses. For lack of a better term, it's going. Forwards, backwards, in circles, I don't know. But at least it's moving. I have a phone consultation scheduled with another recruiting company next week. This time it'll all be in Japanese which makes me a little nervous.

Although I keep tabs of all the sites I'm using, I've decided to move on to a different job hunting site, called careercross.com that also specializes in bilingual jobs but it seems the layout is better and I can post a picture to attach to my resume. I have a typical Japanese resume pic (head shot, no smiling) that I scanned, applied liberal amounts of photoshop to and uploaded.

Also, I created a linkin account, because that's what the cool kids are doing. Also the rich people.



Shameless plug.

As for the actual hunting, I have shot my arrows at:

1. Helpdesk Support

Appeal: Computers! I like computers! Also, I am the tech support at home (which I am sure many of my younger brethren are) and I have set up a wireless printer network and that took balls. I'm not sure I could do it again. Um, I am also a team player, a fish out of water, a lemming at sea, and have excellent communication skills, honed by talking to children in English and getting blank stares and talking to Japanese English teachers in English and getting blank stares. At least we all understand Japanese.

2. Bilingual Desktop Engineer

Appeal: see above.

3. Internal IT Support

Appeal: see above above.

I think I can point out a trend. Essentially, these are all the same job, packaged a little differently and sent off to different companies. Like before, there was also a bonus job! And by bonus I mean one I didn't apply to through the site, but applied through direct means via the company webpage or was scouted / headhunted for.

Like going out of your way to save the little animals trapped in Zebes at the end of Super Metroid.

Bonus Job 3: I was contacted by a company that originally expressed interest in my IT background and wanted to set up a phone interview. I of course said yes, although I was surprised by being called 5 minutes late. Japanese are on time about everything, and it was really strange. Of course, the interviewer wasn't Japanese, so perhaps the culture is a little different.

The interview went well, and after the initial getting to know you / how much have you researched our company part, she stated her true intent, like a Buffy vampire changing from hot into demonic, but still a little attractive.

She asked if I wanted to work for her company itself, which was a bit of a surprise. But apparently some background in science and speaking a few languages is helpful when it comes to networking with clients and potential candidates. Unfortunately, she wanted me to start in May, and my contract doesn't end till August. She also hinted at wanting me to jump ship from my current job, but that wouldn't have been the best move. All in all, I noticed that I'm actually starting the job hunt a little too early.

I like the traditional job path. Working in a large company as a salaried full time employee would be fine. While I continue on that route, I am also starting to branch out into other, riskier occupations, since I have time before companies are really looking to hire for August/September.

Something that I have had an itch to do for a long time is make music. My inspirations are many but most importantly the Rebecca Black song "Friday", which really pushed me into seriously considering it.

Really, if something with such horrible singing, godawful lyrics, and shitty ass production can make money, then having a cat walk across my music program should produce something at least twice as good.

Maybe three times.

Let's talk about music. This is going to get technical, so if that doesn't appeal to you, please feel free to stop here. If you would like to see a little more in depth analysis of classical vs. modern music, please read on. I'm using the term classical loosely, but anything from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern periods I include for simplicity's sake.

Most people like music. I like music. I play music. My background is in classical piano, which I have about 18 years of. I don't do jazz, I don't improvise. I only play clearly written sheet music from long dead composers. But the depth of the writing of these composers is beyond anything I've seen in recent years. The average Mozart piano concerto is 30 minutes or longer, but each movement complements the other to create a wonderful complete piece. Beethoven's 9th symphony takes over an hour. Wagner's Ring cycle takes a week to complete in its entirety. And these are brilliant pieces with layers and layers of harmony that seem unfathomable to create, written over a century ago. Their complexity is unrivaled, and some have said understanding the genius behind some of these works is like touching upon God. The advancement of "classical" music stopped, I believe sometime in the mid 20th century, when John Cage decided that four minutes of silence equates to music.

Rebecca Black's Friday is 3 minutes 48 seconds. I lose attention and brain cells everytime I listen to it.

I like pop. I really do. But it's something light and fluffy. Catchy and short, and for the most part forgettable. To see their interchangeability, please refer to the Axis of Evil 4 Chord song:


The staple of my musical tastes has always been classical. However, techno is the one genre of modern music I feel connected to. The length is indeterminate, and one piece can flow seemlessly into another, provided the DJ is good. What techno does is create a beat, and layer things on top of it, until it attains a degree a complexity, and then each layer is removed or changed as the composer sees fit for different effects. The note harmonies aren't necessarily complex, but I believe it is the layering of different patterns that gives techno its appeal. Which isn't too different from a theme and variation piece from classical. The beat is steady, and once there's a main theme the importance lies in differentiating each section, yet creating a coherent whole.

Of course, playing music and writing it are two different things, just as reading and writing are. I may be able to follow instructions when given the music, but creating the music is a whole other ballgame. I have this nifty music making program, and after 3 hours of learning how to use it, I had about 11 seconds of drums leading to a shitty beat. Hopefully my efficiency will improve. But I hope that the important thing will be my years of music theory, and that it will help whatever I decide to churn out. And the other important thing is that for the first time, in a long time, I felt like it was something I really wanted to do. I find such joy in Mozart, and have always felt it was a pity nobody else appreciated it. If I can remix some of his melodies into something people want to listen to, perhaps that will lead to classical appreciation. It also helps me because I don't have to make up stuff by myself.

On a final note, the great similarity between classical and techno is that words aren't necessarily required. The music is strong enough by itself. It doesn't need words to impart extra meaning or to make an impression. And that is something I respect in both genres.

I will be damned if I have to sing. And if I have to, I can reverb, synth, distort and mutate my voice to the point where I sound like Lady Gaga.

So, dear readership, I have two questions. If there is anyone out there with techno composition experience, please give me whatever tips you have. To the extent that I know the program, it's like photoshop for music. Any help would be appreciated.

And the second question which everyone can answer: what should my DJ name be?

DJ Awesome is probably already taken :(

Second final note, Britney Spears is making some kind of comeback. I love toilet (literally) humor.




I had another blog completely prepared and about to be published, but considering all the news surrounding this earthquake, I thought I might write about it, for you, my dear readership, and for my own memory.

First, thank you to everyone who called, or tried to call, or left a message. Thank you for checking up on me. I’m fine, and nothing serious has happened in this part of the prefecture. Although Aomori prefecture is lumped into the earthquake origin disaster zone, it’s no different than saying Wyoming and Montana are close. The land area of each prefecture in the region of Tohoku (lit. east north) is quite large, and though we may be bordering, not that many people live here to begin with. However, though we might have escaped the direct effects of the earthquake, that doesn’t lessen the damage caused by the tsunami which hit the eastern side of the prefecture hard.

Following is a map that helps explain things. Also the resulting waves from the earthquake:

I was playing piano at the time, namely the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21. For those of you familiar with the piece, it’s basically a giant exercise in scales, chromatic scales, chromatic octave scales, arpeggios, and tricky but fun intervals. As I concentrated hard on hitting the right notes, I swayed my body to the music and really enjoyed the rise and fall of the melody. Not surprisingly, at a place with opposing arpeggios in both hands, I was really moved and felt like I was floating.

Man, this is awesome.

I continued to play and flow, and was surprised at how in touch I was with the music. It normally takes me much more practice to get so into the music, but hey, I’ll take it.

Chromatic octave scale passage!

As the lights suddenly cut off and I was plunged into darkness, but still moving, I finally realized it wasn’t the music that was moving me; it was the floor.

I was always the smart one.

So I sat in darkness at the piano, considered playing more, but since I didn’t have it memorized, I went out to check what was up. Apparently there was a giant earthquake.

Some other students and I all evacuated outside. It really is an interesting feeling. The earth that we all take for granted to be stable was trembling underneath, and I don’t believe we as humans are used to it. Even after it stopped, I felt like I was still shifting around, as if I were on a ship at sea, despite it all being my imagination.

After the initial tremors stopped, I rushed back inside to grab my stuff I left near the piano. Luckily, I normally wander around the area in darkness so getting back wasn’t an issue. I quickly grabbed my stuff and sheet music and started to close the piano lid, when I quickly pushed it back up, sat back down, and played Clair De Lune from memory.

Playing in darkness is fun. I should consider it more often.

As the aftershocks started hitting, I decided to pack up for real and got my ass out of there.

I work at the board of education, which has its own fuel powered generator. The rest of the town had no electricity, and from what I could gather, all of northern Japan had no power. Having the electricity off was good for a couple of reasons. First was to prevent further damage when the tsunamis came. And the other reason is just that there simply wasn’t enough power to supply the country with the nuclear power plants shut down.

It was Friday, and Friday is always hot spring / sushi day. Regardless of the national disaster, I wanted to get my fresh fish on and decided to drive to the nearby bigger town (Goshogawara) for their 100 yen sushi plates. With the stoplights out, traffic rules were reduced to dashing out into the intersection and hoping the other side would stop. I originally approached each stoplight as if it were a stop sign, but when I noticed no one else gave a shit, I took advantage of the police being busy with everything else and sped / overtook my way into Goshogawara in record time.

All was for naught however, when the mall, hot spring, and sushi place were closed. I death raced back home and resigned myself to a night of darkness.

To be frank, my evening was nothing more than a glorified camping trip with aftershocks. My house still had running water and gas, and since I never bought a flashlight, I decided to resort to candles.

I wish they were scented.

I luckily bought groceries earlier in the day before the earthquake, and made chicken soup and a green salad and ate it in candlelight. It was actually quite pleasant and the mood was romantic.

At this point, it was 7PM, completely dark, and I had two very tall and unstable candles as my only source of light and heat. I tried to read a little, but couldn’t make out half the words. With nothing else to do, I decided to go to bed early and see what I could do the next day to help out. Of course it was only 7 and I had trouble falling asleep, so I tried something I had always wanted to do, but never had the chance to.

Bending over and looking at the lit candles, I pulled my pants down and tried to light my farts on fire. My no-carb diet has more than enough fiber for an evening filled with fun.

Unfortunately, it never worked, although I did manage to blow a candle over and spill hot wax all over the place.

I blew out the candles (with my mouth thank you very much) and decided to sleep.

Of course, without heating, the night turned out to one of the longest ever. My house is large and frozen, and being bundled up in layers and blankets still couldn’t keep the chill away. I opened a couple packages of hand warmers (normally used for skiing) and it got a little better.

The next day, I went to see if I could help and went to the board of education. The generator electricity only serves a couple rooms, and the ventilation system for the building wasn’t working, and when I entered, it smelled as if the people who had kept vigil tried to light their farts on fire through the night as well.

I took the chance to charge all of my electronics. Getting used to the stench, I noticed many of the elderly decided to spend the night to escape the chill. As the supermarkets were closed, food was scarce, so I was sent to go make onigiri, or rice balls for everyone.

In the kitchen with other housewives and government workers, we spent the day making salt flavored rice balls for the evacuees. Throughout the day there were updates as power was being restored to all the larger cities in the prefecture. In the afternoon, they said there wasn’t enough power to spread around, so the majority of my town got shafted, and was to spend another night in the non-heated dark.

My luck is amazing.

However! I guess the energy fairy decided to pull some overtime or something, because by early evening our town was back online and I was able to get on facebook and send emails to everyone. Which also means everyone can cook and basically my whole day making rice balls was for naught. However, it has been a long time since I actually felt something. My life here seemed to be in stasis, and the rush was something I haven’t experienced in a while.

Now that the boring part of the post is over, I’d like to expand the scope of this post to encompass the crisis facing the country as a whole.

From this link, you can see before and after of the places that were most damaged by the quake:

I feel the media everywhere is reporting on it at length so you can get the pictures from everyone else. To get a comparison of the different approaches of the media, between Japan and the USA and other countries, you can read this link.

While the American news may be sensationalist and have a tendency of overinflating numbers and saying the next Chernobyl will be tomorrow; coming from Japan, we’re all trying to keep our heads up. Understanding the damage and hoping for the best.

All things considered, I am proud of Japan. Even though it has suffered one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded, the damage has been relatively limited. Despite the mounting death toll and missing persons, if the infrastructure and earthquake building reinforcements were any less, we would be in a much worse situation than we are in now. The reduced strength of the earthquake also hit Tokyo and the surrounding areas, but the capital is safe from most damage it would appear. No high rises have fallen, and the bullet trains were still running last I heard.

You can read more about Japanese buildings and structural integrity and tsunami preparation here:

Buildings can be protected from vibrations, but the tsunamis are a whole other issue. The devastation, I believe, judging from preliminary reports, has been mostly caused by the waves, with coastal towns and prefectures being hit the hardest. The news plays footage nonstop of whole houses being ripped away from their foundations, giant tankers capsized and lying in a field of debris a kilometer inland, survivors picking through the wreckage and families being reunited.

While I sit here and ignite my flatulence, a prefecture south of me has for the most part been annihilated. I do feel a little shameful. I offered to help, but all trains and transportation for the most part has come to a standstill. The rescues are all being conducted by helicopter as I’m typing this.

I’m going to sound like an asshole for saying this, but I am glad Sapporo, Tokyo, Osaka and Kansai were spared. The north, northeastern part of Japan where I live and where the damage hit hardest is mostly agricultural and relies on farming and fishing for its livelihood. Food and other resources can be provided by aid. However, the foundations of the government, and Japan’s powerful business and manufacturing sectors (and in my selfishness, the culture) all lie in Tokyo and to the west. If those cities were destroyed, Japan would have a much harder time coordinating relief efforts and rebuilding itself after.

Undoubtedly, the crisis is going to cost a huge sum of money to clean up. I was reading articles by analysts suggesting that Japan cannot burden the cost of it, considering the state of its economy and the massive public debt before the events.

I take a different view. The Japanese are a hardy people that recover quickly. They are level-headed and efficient. After the atomic bombings of WWII, they immediately gathered their resources and set to rebuild. Within 40 years they were at the top of the electronics and car manufacturing divisions, and that was before they had a stable government, in between the Occupation and the reclamation or relinquishing of different territories.

However, ever since the 90’s bubble burst, Japan’s economic decline has been the norm. The stagnating economy, borne from a lack of consumer spending, a government hesitant to increase tax rates and an aging consumer base has led to a massive national debt (though largely financed by the country itself). In addition, the young population is lost and not knowing what to do, burdened by the social welfare system that they increasingly need to pay into to support the ailing elderly.

It has always been my belief that trauma is the fastest way to maturation. People who go through a lot, whether it’s through the circumstances they were born into, or after suffering an event like the earthquake and tsunami, realize, whether they want to or not, the important things in life. That the things we all considered so important the day before pales in comparison to what really matters when we are faced with our own mortality.

Snookie eat your heart out. And that bitch on My Sweet 15 who complained / broke down after receiving a Lexus SC430 3 days before her birthday instead of the day of.

It is my sincere hope that within 1-5 years, the Japanese government will use the tragedy to unite the nation and justify a raise in taxes to not only fund the relief and cleanup effort but also to rectify the economic situation before the earthquake.

Also for the young people to realize how short life is and go at it like rabbits so we can lower the average population age.

Any disaster is horrible, but if we can take the positive from it, in one way Japan was jolted awake.

No pun intended.

The populace is united in grief, shock and rebuilding, and the question of deciding between the Hello Kitty or Doraemon cell phone strap has been replaced with being thankful that we have working cell phones to begin with.

I would never get a Hello Kitty phone strap. How tacky. Maybe Totoro.

Of course, this is still far off into the future. For the time being, all the roads leading into Aomori have for the most part been decimated, so people are running low on gas, both for their cars and the kerosene used to heat their homes and water. Luckily Spring seems to have finally come so I’ll bundle up and tough through what I can. We don’t know when we’ll get fresh supplies, but hopefully the people here will be ok until then.

When I went to the supermarket yesterday, much of the premade food was gone, including the bread and rice balls. Naturally, the salad was untouched, and because that’s what I live off of, I basically cleaned them out of leafy vegetables and cherry tomatoes.

All this wishful talk is only important if Japan survives. The nuclear reactors are looking to be a problem, with a second explosion, but from what I’ve seen and read, the explosions aren’t nuclear in nature, but caused by waste hydrogen buildup. If anything does happen, be assured I will be in my fridge a la Indiana Jones. Hopefully the blast will propel me to Taiwan.

Knowing my luck, it’ll probably be North Korea

I have faith in Japan, and believe that we can come out of this even stronger than we were before this all happened.



Job Hunting Part 1

Let's admit it, I have no creative writing skills. I'll try to stick to essays from now on.

I am in the midst of job hunting. My current job as English teacher / seat warmer / pianist in rural northern Japan will end come August, and within the next 5 months, I intend to find a job. In Tokyo.

Yesterday, I was semi-interviewed by a nice man I was introduced to by a mutual friend. I had originally thought it was a get to know you thing, but after the sudden change into testing how well I could speak and understand Japanese, there was a slight hint of interview, like strong cheese. Stinky but delicious at the same time.

During our 30 minute chat, I received a lot of good tips on how to network. And one of them was to write a blog, documenting the shit I went through, and the shit I'll go through on the road to finding a job. If I ever find one.

So let's start. I don't know if anyone will read it, but in our economy, perhaps there are those who sympathize with what I am going through and can write about their own experiences here. And I will learn or laugh, probably both. I will be candid, and I will document what I do and how it turns out. Hopefully you, readership, will get something out of it. But after I get the job. Because you know, I hate competition.

The whole reason I'm even doing this is because I was rejected from Kyoto University (ref. Entry 1). It was a rather large blow. I was confident I could at least get a trial period as a graduate student, but I wasn't even close to being admitted.

I just spaced out for a moment and thought about how I could make money by creating or discovering the next internet meme, like lolcatz, and selling T-shirts of funny pictures of animals with captions.

The professor said she was really moved by the fact that I actually attempted, but really, my Japanese level is so unbelievably rank that she didn't bother to edit my essay on what I thought of her essay on Heian, Kamakura and Muromachi era female spirit possession in literature.

After writing that sentence, I am a little happy I got rejected. Even though it's something I want to study, I don't see much of a future in it. I just like studying I guess.

I also think I have ADD.

After getting angry at myself for an evening, I channeled it into some ball of hatred/determination and fully dedicated myself to finding a job. Which I had to do again after I learned I failed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) a few days later. It's been about 2 weeks since then, and the motivation borne from hate is finally wearing off and I'm a little sleepy.

You know who I can network with here? Cabbage. And rice. Maybe they'll give me jobs.

The failure is completely my responsibility. I was off passing by 10 points, which is around 3 or 4 questions. If I had just gotten a few more right, if my luck was just a little better...

My luck has always been shitty. Remember when you tried to smuggle apples past gate security and they thought they were bombs? Yeah. Apple bombs. Who the hell even makes bombs in round shapes anymore? In conclusion, your luck is fucking awesome.

But I am looking forward

Totally backward and eternally regretting my endless string of failures

and I've applied to 7 or 8 positions since then. I spruced up my resume, wrote some new stuff about my job and dreams and why I love puppies but am willing to exploit 3rd world workers for additional profit, and sent it off.

I really do love puppies.

And! I've been rejected by all of them. For the sake of professionality, I won't post their names, just what field they were involved in.

1. Making executive office spaces both in real life high rises and digital spaces

Appeal: (A Japanese term for making myself appealing to the company) I'm pretty, and like fashionable things (which is true if I had enough money for plastic surgery and enough left over to buy a new wardrobe). I also understand Feng Shui, and man, if you're going build something in China, you better make sure it doesn't have mountains to the front and has enough water elements to counteract the fire properties in the kitchen and naturally associated with business.

Result: Rejection

2. Overseas Opportunity! Business establishment and opportunity!

Appeal: They wanted somebody with knowledge of the game industry and somebody who speaks English, Japanese and Chinese.

Result: Rejection. I either lack logical and efficient thinking, or I'm not 33-38 years old.

3. Medical Science Interpreter

Appeal: I studied it in university. I also looked up all the acronyms you used, including KOL, TA, IIS.

Result: Rejection. I don't have more than 3 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. I asked to be a part of their team instead of the manager, but it didn't work :(

4. Haneda Airport Desktop support

Appeal: Bilingual. Basic work experience with computer systems and I like airplanes.

I really do like airplanes.

Result: No response. I sent in my resume and other things separately. I will consider this a rejection. Like a date who decides not to pick up the phone, I have been dumped by this recruitment company.

5. Warehouse inventory manager

Appeal: Has worked with inventory: check. OCD personality: check. Considers timeliness extremely important: check. Fluent in 3 languages: check. Also the job posting had rather atrocious spelling, so hey if that's the level of quality they expect, I should be a shoo-in.

Result: Rejection. Thank you for not putting this on the job description, but in case somebody else applies, please write that the applicant should have 10 years in supply distribution, and at least 5 years of management experience. Which means I should have started working when I was 8. And write it before I waste a morning on the cover letter.

Of course, it's possible that I was an idiot and missed it or just didn't read it. Or it was edited after I applied. Because it's written there now. In which case, my bad.

6. Bilingual assistant to recruitment assistant exec.

Appeal: I speak multiple languages and have OCD and blah blah blah (ref. 1-5). Also, I would make a great office trophy wife. Look pretty and arrange flowers to liven up the workplace. Also willing to wear skimpy clothing if that is part of the gig. Did I mention I'm flexible? Not only in terms of available work time, but if you give me a pole, I can show you...

Result: I applied yesterday, they haven't gotten back to me yet.

In addition, there are two hidden job applications I did. Like the warp pipes in 1-1 in Super Mario Bros.!

Hidden Job 1: Serve coffee at a supposedly upscale boutique to Chinese customers.

Appeal: I can be decent looking (ref. plastic surgery above). I like upscale things. I speak multiple languages. I will give you sexual favors in exchange for that Prada purse.

Result: Rejected. They never told me why, but they probably were looking for a woman to be honest.

Hidden Job 2: Desktop support

Appeal: I was actually scouted (or head hunted) and it seemed like they really wanted me. I sent a response back saying I was interested a couple days later.

Result: No response (and it's been 2 weeks but still...), but this is the kind of love I hold onto forever. Baby, don't leave me!

And so ends the first part of my 就職活動 or job hunting.

I am so hungry right now.


First Ski of the Season

Skiing is a wonderful thing I realized, after I got the hang of it.

For people just starting, the "pizza" or the "triangle" or the "pie slice" do not work. In fact, they don't do jack shit.

When I first started, I looked like a bowlegged statue flying down the hill. Not only is it the n00b stamp, but it doesn't even reduce any momentum one might have picked up during a run down a slope, screaming all the way. I have yet to see one person actually stop from putting the points of their skis together. It is this one technique that made me hate skiing up until college, when I saw people who actually skied never did the fucking pizza. And when I realized how people actually stop, I started to like skiing.

I am but an intermediate skier. I had my share of wipeouts today. There was one powder course and, no, I don't know how to ski powder. I remember seeing a youtube video about pointing the ski tips up, but hey, when I'm tumbling head over heels they'll be pointing up anyway.

Thank god it was soft. I once heard skiing on fresh fallen snow was like skiing on silk, and it really is. Or skiing on clouds. When the skis and much of the legs are covered by a moving wave of snow, and all one feels is the quiet slicing across the terrain; there isn't another feeling like it. I despise winter in Aomori, but the snow does have its good points.

I also tried my hand at jumping again. The last time I did I landed on my tailbone and had trouble walking for a week. But today! Today was good. I landed on my feet. And airtime is fun. Although the whole jumping thing wreaks havoc on the knees. 

Unfortunately the high winds and godforsaken 2 hour drive made me decide to leave a little earlier. I arrived back home and fixed myself a quick salad. I decided to splurge on carbs since I skipped lunch in order to get as much skiing in.

I envy good skiers like I envy classical pianists. They have this skill, and it's so beautiful to see in action. And I want it. On not so steep hills, I have the hubris to believe I look like them. Like a child with delusions of grandeur, I see my hips sashaying from side to side, the poles lightly tapping the snow in time to every turn I make. But on those steeper slopes, whatever grace I have goes out the window. I try my hardest just to stay upright, and somehow the skis separate, probably from some fault of form.

Any tips for someone who wants to be a beautiful skier?