What do I really want?

edit1I saw a T-Shirt online this morning saying: I don’t know what I want, but I want it so bad.

Many do not know ourselves well enough to know. With busy schedules and chores weighing us down everyday, it is hard to spend some thinking time asking the big questions to help ourselves figure it out.

One year ago as I was walking down the hill on the way to work, I confronted myself for the first time with the question, What is it that I really want? Do I want fame? Do I want to be a singer? Do I want a boyfriend? 

I tried to be as honest with myself as possible, and when I came down to it, I realized that what I had truly wanted in that moment was for my sister to become successful.

A few days passed by and I forgot about the secret wish that I had made that morning and to both of our surprises, she got an email from the head design coordinator from the band Mr.Children(one of the most famous groups in Japan) asking for her to design the CD cover for their next single. We were jumping around with excitement. What an incredible chance!

It was only later in the evening that I had remembered I had wished for my sister’s success later in the week. Was it just a coincidence? It could have been, but perhaps because I put in enough brain effort to figure out what I really wanted, the universe was willing to grant it to me.

Asking myself, What do I want? became a habit. No other wishes have come true yet, but there is no harm in discovering more about yourself through the question.

What do I want? Do I want fame? Do I want to travel all around the world? Do I want to write a novel? I asked myself again this morning. Do I want to go to university? Do I want a new laptop? Do I want to become a millionaire? Nope. There is only one thing I want now: to not have made any mistakes on the bills from my busy day at the restaurant yesterday evening. 

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Mr. Morita brought potatoes

The first week of June is almost ready to bid us farewell. I woke up early this morning and grabbed my laptop first thing to check my messages and Facebook. Although I have a number of goals from here on end, I would say that killing my reflex of immediately reaching for my electronics would be high on the list.

Because we have been having lovely hot weather recently, I decided to take up a new challenge: Planting potatoes! I have been told that even if you have never worked with vegetables, the potato plant is a great place to begin. I bought healthy soil, followed the instructions I found on the internet, and after a month I was pleasantly surprised to find actual plants coming out of the ground. I showed them off to whoever stepped in the door and talked with neighbors to see if they could give me some tips. I was hoping to harvest my first crop this year, but after a trip to Korea I came back home to my house to find potatoes that had been long neglected while I was away. There was absolutely no rain while I was gone, and the potatoes started to rise out of the dirt, exposing themselves to the hot sun.

I was sad at the possibility of my potato planting efforts being in vain. However, as I was walking back home from the station this past week, I saw mypotato neighbor Morita-san walking up the mountain ahead of me. He lives two minutes down the hill and he loves to talk about gardening.  I ran up the mountain to catch up to him. In the beginning of my potato planting adventure, I mentioned often to him that I started making use of the big plot of land that I have. He would give me loads of advice and was excited about my new hobby. I was sad to have to let him know this time about the bad news. He immediately invited himself over to the house and told me he would check on them and give me a diagnosis.

He jumped right in and started covering the potatoes with dirt. He instructed me that no matter what you do, you have to hide them from the sun unless you want to eat very bitter vegetables. After a few minutes, he bid his farewell with a, “帰るわ! Kaeruwa!”, and left as quickly as he came.

I followed his instructions and covered my precious potatoes with dirt and weeded the garden. I thought that that would be the end of gardening for this week, but this morning I heard a loud pounding on my front door at 8:00 AM. Who would that be at this time? My sisters? My mom?

I let out a timid, Hello? with no answer and slowly opened the door to find Morita-san with gloves and a little bag in hand. I was surprised to see him so early. He had come again to help with the garden and also had brought new sweet potato plants to grow. After working in the garden for a bit, he explained to me what I had to do, and again was quickly on his way.

After he left I watered my new sweet potatoes and headed back into the house with a smile on my face. I now have something better to do than going straight to the internet in the morning: working on my new potatoes from Morita-san.

My bosses’ name is Bunny

11220839_10152807117600778_7347434529073034128_nThe restaurant that I currently am working at is an interesting place. Located in the middle of Kita-horie(Osaka, Japan), the upperclass side of the city, it is a little gem on the right-hand corner coming from Yotsubashi Station. It is a Spanish restaurant, with Paella, Tortilla, Pil Pil, all of that great Spanish food that you know and love, cooked by the chef from India that has owned the place for about nine years.

I have only been there for about three months, but I have learned a lot. I remember the first day that I started, Bunny gave me a run-down of the ropes and it freaked me out for a minute because it was a lot more to remember than the previous shop that I had worked at. The challenge was super refreshing though, and coming home yesterday I realized that working there has been a dream come true.

I made a list in my head of what kind of place I would like to work at a couple of years ago.

  1. A place where have a friendly relationship with other staff and the boss
  2. A place that had food that I would really recommend to family and friends
  3. A place that didn’t seat too many people.

I had forgotten about the list I had made in my head, and walking home yesterday it floated back to my memory.

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Bunny was born in India and grew up in Switzerland. His culinary career started in France and after coming to Japan worked in fancy places like the Hyatt before starting his own restaurant. He can speak seven languages, which I am sure is useful in the restaurant business(or any business for that matter) and likes hiking around on his free days with his two adorable children.

It is my favorite out of the three jobs that I have now, and hopefully I can be there for a while. The shop’s name is Poron Poron, and sadly will close at the end of July. Bunny is hoping to decide on a new place and have a different theme for a change. I am sure that anyone after nine years of Spanish food would be tired.

Let me know about the place you work. How is the boss? Is the atmosphere good? How did you remember the menu? Can you take peoples orders without writing it down? How much do you know about your co-workers? What have you learned from your job so far? Where is it? Will you be there a long time? What 10996036_10152723544795778_6108964435379518769_nmakes you a valuable employee there? 

If anyone is in Japan, or is interested in coming please let me know and will treat you to a Paella!

Theo O. threw away his art.

1545587_10151840901075778_903114813_nA couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of being approached by Theo O. I had been in Singapore at the time, and was sitting lonely in a cafe’ on the weekend. I wanted friends, but didn’t feel like I could approach anyone. I was drawing my carrot cake as I was sitting in that cafe’ and looked up at the group of four young university students in front of me, wishing I could be a part of the laughter. I was waiting for the Synagogue on the corner to open. I was excited because I knew I would be able to have the chance to make friends. I would finally meet people.

With these thoughts floating around in my head, I finished the drawing and my eyes scanned the rest of the cafe’. Most people were staring into their cellphones, their studies and laptops. However, there was one person stood out from the group: a guy with dark shades that was scribbling notes into a book. I assumed he was a company worker finishing up extra things after his job. The man lifted his head from his work and faced my direction. He looked at me, and gave me a little hot-shot nod and grin. Automatically I decided that I would be friends with anyone in the shop but him.

I checked the clock on my Itouch. Time for Synagogue! I quickly packed up my art supplies and exited the shop. I walked a couple of minutes down the road to find the building still locked down. Why does it look like it’s closed? I looked though the metal gates and saw a woman in a police uniform and waved at her to come to me. She was a serious yet friendly lady, and I politely asked why everything was still shut up. She informed me that it was very much open, but to my disappointment, guests needed to show their passports to enter for security reasons. I didn’t think of that.

Passport-less, I said thank you to the guard and started walking down the street. I was on the verge of tears when the thought passed through my head: Something good will happen. With that, I quickly regained my composure and wandered back to the cafe’ I was at. I stood outside of the coffee shop for about ten minutes wondering what I should do. Should I walk back home? The family I was staying with dropped me off, and I knew that their house was far. I could wait, but wait and do what?1492637_10151811158320778_1269779749_o

After standing there for a few minutes, I noticed the same hot-shot with the glasses going in and out of the cafe’. What was he doing? I didn’t think too much about it and went back to zoning out. As I was still staring into space, I get a tap on my shoulder and I find Theo O. in front of me introducing himself, asking how my day was going. He looked younger up close and guessed that he was around the same age as me. I was slightly hesitant to make conversation because of preconceived notions, but we got to talking. To my delight, I discovered that he was not doing company work at all, but was sketching. An artist!

We became friends, and I enjoyed meeting him in Singapore. He was my first friend there and I was ecstatic to have another person to talk to. A person that also loved art.

He flipped through his sketchbooks and I got to see his strange drawings and ideas on the paper. He told me that he wouldn’t think about what to draw, but just start and ideas would flow. I asked him how many sketchbooks he had.

Hundreds.

-What do you do with all of them?

After I finish one, I just throw it away.

I was in shock. All of this amazing art, just gone. What was the point? He told me that he could just re-draw everything if he wanted to. He didn’t see it as a waste, but the purpose of art being in the doing and not the keeping the final product.

Uh-huh… but still….

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Though we were only friends for a short time and didn’t keep in touch after Singapore, I appreciated his art and his friendship that day very much. That day changed the course of my trip and of my life. I fell in love with chance and serendipity.

Before we parted ways and left to go back home after Singapore, I was still confused about one thing. It bugged me and I decided to ask him:

-Why did you just come up to a random stranger and introduce yourself? You didn’t know me. 

A little grin formed on his lips he replied,

It just looked like you wanted to talk to me. 🙂

The Japan Cards

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My name is Johnna Slaby and I am a 22-year old watercolor artist based in Nara, Japan.
I started sketching postcards all around the country and sending them off all around the world.

I currently have an Etsy shop online of printed postcards from my sketch travels.

Since I started sketching, my life has changed in many ways. I am so grateful to have experienced so many new things because of art. If you would like to check out the online shop, please click here:

The Japan Cards

If anyone has any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to post and ask!!! Will be looking forward to hearing from you and having your feedback.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheJapanCards

Go find me on that corner

photo-144Yesterday I was particularly sad not to have had my camera or Itouch charged. It was a big day for me because I tried something new: Selling my postcards in the middle of the street in Osaka. I would only be on that corner for a short time however, after some lovely new friends from Senegal would pass by and be the first and last customers of the day.

They talked to me on that corner for an hour about law, the United States, the future of Japan, and predicted how my own future would pan out.

After treating me to a tomato water from the convenient store, the two brought me the bar that he plans renovate within the next few weeks. The shop used to be a bar, a hair dresser, and a kimono shop all in one, with a lot of the supplies still inside. He seemed excited about all of the leftover things that he found there that the owners had just left. I got to try on a few kimonos that was upstairs and told me to keep one along with a couple of tabi socks and a bright red tote bag. We talked while trying to fix a busted computer and I managed notice the time to catch my last train.

I was very glad that I had met them in that way. It was funny because I wasn’t going to sell postcards. If I did sell postcards it wasn’t going to be on that corner on the side of the street. Lastly, I was going to work at the Spanish restaurant that night so our paths probably wouldn’t have crossed had something been out of sync. I just might be selling postcards every Monday after work from now on to see who else will approach this girl sketching on the side of the road. Go find me on that corner!