Monday, December 20, 2010

Looking up.

I went to church today. I don't usually go to church, and I'm not a Christian so this was a significant event for me. My friend invited me to her church's Christmas party and there was a service before the party which was mainly playing Christmas games and singing Christmas songs. I don't know how I feel about religion. It's always been something that sat kinda strangely with me. I wasn't raised religious, but I wasn't raised to be against religion either.

I've always believed in God (or something) and as a child and a teenager and on a few occasions as an adult I've prayed. When I was a kid I asked for stupid things, then as a teenager during that horrible shit time I prayed just for strength to get me through it, and as an adult I prayed for guidance because I felt so lost. I don't really know why I did it, I didn't really expect anything magical to happen. But for some reason, getting down on my knees and putting my head on my bed (cliche I know, but it *feels* right) and speaking out loud, even if I was talking to myself more than to God, I always felt like a weight was lifted and I could start to see more clearly. Usually, the second I spoke, I was in tears and just repeating "Help me, help me, what should I do? I can't do this" into my bed covers until my body was tired and I'd just sit there in silence for awhile. Eventually I'd sit back, wipe my eyes and go back to whatever I was doing before, feeling like I'd at least emptied my heart of whatever emotions had been building up in there.

At the service today people were making speeches about their own personal experiences with God and learning Christianity, because most Japanese people aren't Christian but find it later in life. Everything was in Japanese and English, so I could understand what was going on. I found myself tearing up a couple of times and I wondered why. I felt bad that I was there and I wasn't a Christian and that when they talked about Jesus and the bible a little part of me wanted to roll my eyes. But when they talked about their struggles and how they prayed for an answer, I knew how that felt and I understood their pain. So it made me wonder, is this something I should do? I feel like I could never really fully embrace Christianity, and I'd feel like an impostor if I tried.

Honestly I don't even know who I'm praying to when I'm praying. I call it God because that's what we all learn. But I don't know if it's a Christian God or if it's just the universe and fate and destiny and luck that I'm praying to. Religion is such a touchy topic, it's just too difficult to talk to people about without someone getting offended at some point so usually I just keep my thoughts to myself about it. I know I'm not the only person who prays without knowing who they're praying to though. Least we're all in that together then right?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Feel the swing.

Why do I always feel like I have more to hide than I have to say? I'm talking at walls and hoping they aren't listening. I'm so tired of compartmentalising my life. For so long I've kept secrets, not even interesting secrets, but secrets nonetheless. My real life friends don't know about my blog and sometimes I wonder if I'll ever tell them, not that it really matters any more. Although the line that separates "real life friends" and "internet friends" has become increasingly blurred over the last year or two. And then, the people who do know I have a blog don't read it anyway so what's the point in hiding it?

I guess before it was because I felt lame, and I needed an outlet that was just for me and this crafty thing I was trying to do. And then it became something else, just an outlet. And sometimes it's nice to just have a space that is for you and not have to worry about anyone else because you can do with it what you want and post emo thoughts and pretend arty pictures and indulge yourself with comments from super lovely people. But somewhere along the way I lost it and I stopped posting and people stopped reading and commenting and it felt lonely and bare again.

I remember when I was in high school. I went through a super horrible shit time and my head just wasn't right like it should have been. I remember when I was freaking out I used to crawl under my computer desk and just sit there, my back against the wall and my knees against my chest. I still don't really know why it made me feel better but somehow being in a small space felt safe and comforting even though I was hiding more from myself than from anything else. Sometimes now I feel like I need that small space, I need something to wrap around me and close me in and bring me back to my senses. I don't care if it's a desk or a blanket or the arms of another person. I just need my spot back.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This blog is bipolar

I know I sound miserable. When I reread my posts I realise how depressed I sound and how it seems like I'm having a completely horrible time. But in fact most of the time I'm ok, even happy perhaps? I'm cheerful and genki at work and I can be irritatingly upbeat in my classes, sometimes it the only way to make a seriously boring class fun. If I didn't have the tendency to whine about everything under the sun (bad habits die hard, though I do it while smiling), I think most people I've met in Japan would say that I'm a pretty happy and carefree person. For me that's a pretty major achievement, considering my attitude and mood in my last months (years?) in Melbourne was probably not an entirely pleasant one to be around most of the time.

I teach 34 forty minute lessons a week, my students are whoever has signed up for that slot and they can be any level. Classes are only between one and four students but most of the time it's only one or two. My job, basically, is to teach a conversation from a textbook, drill it a bunch of times, and then turn it into a real conversation. My job literally, is small talk. Back home I loathed small talk, I would do anything in my power to avoid it, which essentially meant avoiding new people in general. I was quite happy with the friends I had and I didn't need to make banal conversation with people I had no interest in at all. And now it's my job, ironic huh? But the thing is, I don't mind. If this job (and Japan) has given me anything, it's the ability to actually act like a social human being. When I tell students that I'm actually pretty shy their face almost falls off from shock, "Shy?! You are not shy!" they say. I'm still a bit crap at talking to people in real life, outside of work (when I don't have the power to simply say "ok ask me a question now", or "tell me an interesting story"), I've made a lot of friends that I probably wouldn't have if this job (and this country) hadn't forced me out of my Fibo bubble.

One of my biggest loves in Japan is of course the stationery. It's not even an exaggeration to say that I'm totally addicted to it, especially considering I have twelve letter sets, nine sheets of stickers and seven packs of envelopes. It's not even a guilty pleasure for me as not only is stationary awesome and cute and adorable with it's fail English, it's cheap! All my letter sets cost me 130 yen each, most stickers are between 100 and 200 yen, and the envelopes were 100 yen as well. In fact, the most expensive part of letter writing is the postage. It only costs 130 yen to buy a letter set with 8 pieces of paper and 4 envelopes, but it costs 120 yen for a stamp to send one letter to Australia. And yet every week I find myself at the post office with a pile of letters (and sometimes packages for my luckier friends). There's something that feels really really good about writing a letter for a friend or family member, choosing what letter set to use, decorating it with stickers, sealing the envelope with my polka dot masking tape, and picking a cute anime stamp to put on it when my post office lady asks me "kawaii kitte?" (cute stamp?) and I reply with "HAI!". Sometimes I think I enjoy sending letters more than people enjoy receiving them. Which is a good thing considering less than half of the 20 or so people I've written to have got around to replying, even my best friends (yes they are busy, I know I know). Still, nothing puts a ridiculous grin on my face more than ripping open a letter and reading it on the subway on my way to work.

So I just wanted to say that. Because most of the time I'm ok. Even happy. It's just I get lonely easily, especially at night when it's just me in this apartment and everyone back home is asleep because they don't get home from work at 10.30pm like I do, and they don't stay up until 3am like I do. So when I'm lonely I think too much, and when I think too much I get depressed, and when I get depressed and I think my twitter is sick of hearing about it I blog. So I might go write a letter now, because talking about my stationary has made my fingers itchy and I kinda need to get my hands on my stickers right now :) Mata ne..

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The reality of dreams.

There are things I try to put out of my mind so I don't miss them, because I know it's not worth it because I can't have them back anyway. Stupid things like my bed, baking, walking down my street, drinking tea on my balcony, driving, being able to *speak* to shop assistants. Non-stupid things like sitting in my loungeroom with my friends, my brother's unrelenting easy-going-ness, my mum's hugs, my dad's.. dad-ness. I put it out of my head because I know if I think about it I'll only miss it more and get upset, it's better to pretend I don't miss it.

But now I sit here and I think about the reality of my dreams. And it's easy to think about how wonderful it is to live in another country and how great my plans are to move to Korea next year and Europe after that and god knows what else. But the reality is that I'm not going home. And I don't know when I'm going home. And I never really think about that for too long because, as I always remind myself and my students and my friends here, I don't have a job back home. I don't have a future back home. But it's still my home. And it's still where my friends are, and my family is, and the part of me that loves Melbourne so much I can't help but brag about how great it is to everyone I meet.

And I wonder when it gets easier? When does not seeing your best friends and your family become ok? Because four months isn't a long time, I can get through this much. But a year down the track, two years? When people have changed and I've changed and our lives have changed, will our friendship have changed? Will I still know my family like I did then? Already I hardly speak to my brother despite having lived with him for the past 3 years, he was never good at phone conversations but surely we should try before it's too late and we don't know each other anymore?

I wonder if I'm still running. Running from whatever it was back home that made me tired and bitchy and upset all the time. Sometimes I feel happy here. But at night these sad thoughts rip through me like a knife and I don't know what to do with them anymore. And I think maybe it'll be better in Korea. But what if it's not? Will I run again? Or go back home?

Friday, August 27, 2010

In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.

- The Quiet World, Jeffrey McDaniel

Sunday, August 22, 2010

It's far too late for logical thought

I want to write. I want to take photos. I want to bake. I want to be more than I am here. Why do I feel like I'm becoming a newer better person here but I'm sad that I'm losing a part of me that blossomed and flourished through this blog and all those blogs I used to read? Am I losing that creative part of me? Have I been swallowed up into k-pop fandom so much that I've forgotten the person I used to be? And is that a good or a bad thing? I know that a lot of my photos and musings were inspired by feeling lonely and misplaced, so is it such a bad thing that I've moved on from that? Is this bouncy eager part that I play at work really me or am I just letting this fake personality take over my life? I really don't know what I want anymore. Except that I want to write, and take photos and bake. The only future I can see that makes me happy is to open that cafe/bookshop/bar that I've dreamed of a few times over the years on this blog. But it's too scary to even consider. There's no way I could ever open my own business. It's a nice dream though. It's 2am and I have a cold and I'm getting up in 7 hours to have lunch with a Japanese girl who I've never met before who may or may not speak English and I have absolutely no time to prep for a bunch of new special classes I have to teach next week and.. I just don't understand myself anymore.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Road-trippin' to the beach

What a day. Following a night that involved six hours of Karaoke and only two hours of sleep I went on a road trip to the beach with some friends. The beach was so beautiful, the water was crystal clear, calm and deep. The sand was soft and not like the many gravel beaches around here. Families pitched sun tents and parasols, played volleyball on the beach and floated around in inflatable rings. I've never had such a relaxing time at the beach! In the water we watched as fish swam around our feet, floated lazily without even trying in the super salty water and watched as one friend swam out so far we thought she was headed for Korea! On the sand we lay under our parasol, ate sandwiches, shared earphones and music and discussed the differences between Japanese, Korean and Spanish. In all, a very good day.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I told myself I'd be a better blogger in Japan..

I'll be honest with you, all of these photos are from my iPhone. My desire to carry a camera (even a tiny one) around in my bag which is already heavy from textbooks and pencil cases and god knows what else, is zero. Thank the iPhone gods for photos apps.

I do want to start blogging more, even though I've been terrible at it this year. I'm starting to feel this creeping need to write more, although I've always hated what I write. Maybe if I just post random drabbles on here it'll clear my mind more? It'll at least give me something to during these nocturnal hours considering I don't seem to get to bed until past 2am these days. We'll see how I go, I can always delete them later I suppose.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fighting battles against myself

Well I've been in Japan for officially two months now. It's certainly been the biggest challenge of my life and to be honest I didn't know if I'd even last this long. I've fought off major heart-wrenching homesickness, continuous work-induced panic attacks, overwhelming loneliness and that general overall horrible feeling that you've made the biggest mistake of your life. I really felt like I was failing and that I was a crap teacher and I was one of those people who just couldn't "hack it" in another country. It's really a terrible feeling when you look forward to something for so long and then you get here and think "what the hell made me think I could do this?".

But things are slowly getting better. I still get nervous about work but it doesn't send me into a spiral of panic. I'm still homesick but I'm not crying over the fact that I can't eat bacon and eggs with my parents on Sunday mornings. I'm still lonely sometimes but I've made some really great friends here who make my weekends something to really look forward to. Things are definitely not perfect and I'm not sure that I really love (or like) my job all that much but if I can get through each day and have a little bit of fun and maybe a few interesting conversations then that's a good day. A whole year here feels like a long time and I wonder sometimes if I can really deal with a full year, but I'm sure it'll start going by super quickly soon. I have a lot of things in semi-planning at the moment (day trip to Tokyo Disneyland, climbing Mount Fuji, holiday to South Korea in summer, a weekend trip somewhere with my cousin) so I have a lot to look forward to.

As always a bit of Dr Seuss wisdom fits perfectly with my experience here, my Mum even told me that she's been reading my "Oh! The Places You'll Go!" book that Halia gave me whenever I complain of being homesick and she feels sad.

"I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too.

Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,

Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot."

But in times like these all I need to do is look to my crazy Super Junior boys and they make me feel all better again ;)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Konichiwa Nagoya

Kirei desu ne? Watashi wa Nagoya suki desu yo! :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sayonara Melbourne!

I know I should've posted about this earlier, but I'm leaving for Japan on Wednesday! Since my last post I finally got that email I had been waiting for (after a horrible week where my phone broke, my apartment was flooded and we were homeless for a week and my car broke down again) saying that I had been accepted into the April placement!

I tried to write this post a million times but I never knew what to say and eventually I just gave up. My feelings have a been that weird combination of excited/nervous/freaked out/terrified/in denial and words haven't really been coming to me so easily. On top of that I've stopped reading blogs, I've stopped cooking and baking and I've been sucked into the magnificent world that is k-pop (korean pop, don't ask). It seems my brain is in another place and I'm not really coping well with this whole leaving-the-country-for-an-unspecified-amount-of-time thing. For awhile I was really emotional about it but that seems to have passed, in this last week of goodbyes and farewell parties I've been surprisingly unmoved. I suppose that even though I keep telling myself that it's the last time I'll see someone/do something/be somewhere there's really no way to actually accept that it's the truth.

So for some details: I'll be living in Nagoya in a one bedroom/studio style apartment (tiny! but cosy?) right near the Kurumamichi station which is just two stops from Sakae (downtown Nagoya). I leave the land of Aus on Wednesday afternoon and I'm staying in a hostel for two weeks during my training period while I wait for my apartment to be vacated. I start training on the 12th and I start teaching two weeks after that! I've been shopping like a mad woman for work clothes as I have to wear very conservative business attire, ie. button down shirt and jacket. And it's actually not that easy to find shirts in Melbourne as everyone here wears blouses and pretty tops instead of button down shirts! Anyway after the ridiculous amount of money I spent I'm pretty happy, I'm excited to show you some photos of my in my full teaching get-up!

I've spent a lot of time in the city over the last few weeks, hanging out with a wonderful girl that I met at the Japanese consulate who just left for Japan yesterday morning to study Japanese north of Tokyo, and also with the magnificent Halia who I only met in person for the first time on Saturday! I love hanging out with the city and I really wanted to soak up as much as I could because I know I'll miss it a lot when I'm gone. So I drank coffee in Fed Square at Beer Deluxe (best coffee ever) while people watching at the Saturday Book Market, I drank Asahi at the riverside bar on Southbank, I ate dumplings in Tattersales Lane, I ate cupcakes on the lawn of the State Library, I went to two comedy festival shows and I took numerous sets of silly photobooth photos at the Japanese and Korean "photo world's" on Swanston Street. In all I think I did a pretty good job of sampling Melbourne's little pleasures!

So for now I'll say 'mata ne' (see you later) and hopefully when I'm settled into my apartment in a few weeks I'll have lots of photos to share with you and I can start blogging again properly! Minasan arigatou gozaimasu, ganbarimasu! (Thankyou everyone, I will work hard!)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A new challenge

I've tried to write a new post a thousand times but it always feels so depress-y and I already feel like my blog is a bit of a downer anyway. I'm trying so hard to channel the good feelings into this space but I never really feel the desire to blog until something crappy happens. I think that's why my diaries are all so depressing as well, I never feel the need to write about the good stuff. Maybe that's because I'm out enjoying the good stuff instead of sitting on my computer listening to Conor Oburst and feeling sorry for myself.

So as much as I'd love to share a cheery story with you today I have to be honest and tell you what's getting me down at the moment. Because even if this space does get a bit depress-y sometimes, the comments I get always renew my faith in the world and cheer me up a hundred times over.

I didn't get a placement in Japan. Not for this round anyway, which means I have to wait another 6 months and maybe I'll be leaving in May/June. But I might not even get in that round either! I just wish I had known that it was a possibility that I wasn't going to get a placement, they never told us that. I still want to go and I'll wait until June but I can't hang around in Melbourne for another 6 months and continue treading water like I am. I'm not saving any money at all, I'm not happy at work, and I'm just not doing anything in Melbourne that is enough to keep me here.

So I'm planning to move back home with my parents, work at a local factory and save as much money as possible in the few months that I have left here. It's not exactly an exciting proposition but at least I'll get to spend some time with my parents before I move half a world away. I'm always hoping that living back home will force me to eat a bit healthier and the gym is just down the road so I don't really have any excuses not to get fit again. This is the plan anyway, I still have to apply for a job at this factory and see if I can get in before I do anything else.

Hopefully this way at least if I don't get into the next round of placements in Japan then at least I'll have saved enough money to just head overseas and start doing my own thing instead of continuing to put my life on hold and waiting around forever.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Counting to infinity

On this first day of the new decade I found myself randomly bursting into tears while cleaning my room for no particular reason. I guess I had hoped that by the time we had brought in the new year I would know where I was and where I'm going. Instead I'm still waiting on an email that seems to never be coming while treading water at work until I leave. Essentially I'm in limbo, and it's really starting to get to me. I can't make plans, I can't book tickets, I can't start packing up my room, it's starting to feel like I'm not going anywhere at all. And in the midst of all this I feel desperately lonely and lost, all I want to do is get out there in the world and start meeting people. I'm so glad that 2009 is over because it was a really crappy year, but I just wanted 2010 to start with a bit more clarity and direction than I have right now.