London, Lists, Lines

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I have returned from London and I feel like I am still getting in the swing of things. When I say swing of things, I mean slowly preparing myself for going back to work. I love working and working hard, but there gets to be a point when the boredom at certain jobs can reach such a level of dullness, it starts to become painful. Wording it like that sounds horrible, but it some positions just don’t work for certain people.

What was a blast was some observations and sketches I made while I was visiting London. I will keep a few to myself, hidden in my notebook only available to those who come by for a coffee. Five for you.

toilets

  1. The toilets are square.Who has a square ass? 
  2. There is a lot of brick. Everywhere. I have never seen so much brick in my life.
  3. The “Tube” is literally the shape of a tube of toothpaste. 
  4. In London, shops look like Ikea. The whole city is a cute hallmark card.
  5. All museums are free. Sold me on the country. 

Oh, the things I wanted to be.

Here in Japanland, I’m currently working three different jobs in the Kansai area. I work part-time at Universal Studios, Kindai University, and Kindai Elementary school throughout the week, enjoying the different dynamics of each position. In the past as well, I worked on and off at different restaurants and learned a little more about how to work with customers. Despite the busy schedule, there is one position that I currently have my eye on. This one is different from the work that I have done up until now, and involves working at home from the computer. When I found it online, I instantly started daydreaming about applying for a job there. Yesterday I was challenged to think about why I want the job and be explicit about the reasons as to why this company would be a good match for me.

While I was pondering and doing a bit of writing for this, I got drawn back in time and thought about job aspirations from when I was younger.

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I switched dream jobs a lot, but I enjoyed the idea of each one. Perhaps from reflecting on my younger self, I will be able to have a clearer answer as to my reasons for wanting to work from the computer.


When I was 5 years old, it was my dream to be Minnie Mouse. I don’t know how I planned on transforming into a fictional cartoon character, but I just wanted to become her. I liked the idea of it and had no concrete reasons for my passions.

When I was 8 years old, I wanted to be a banker because the uncle that I admired and aspired to be like was(and currently is)the manager of a bank in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He also told me that my math skills would get much better if I would work there. I liked the idea of being able to improve in something I wasn’t confident in while doing work that I liked.

When I was 10 years old, I wanted to be a baker. My hero at this time was Scooby Doo. I loved to eat and I thought I had finally found the best job for me. The possibility of baking for other people as well made me happy. While enjoying creating cakes that not only looked beautiful but tasted good, the idea of Eat, Drink, and Be Merry appealed to me.1929830_13522065777_2991_n

When I was 13 years old, I wanted to be a singer and pianist. My idols at the time were Hilary Duff, Fefe Dobson, and Avril Lavigne. I was really drawn into the teen idols of the time, and practiced singing until my tone-deaf self somehow managed to improve. I pursued this dream the longest, practicing and doing random concerts and entering competitions.

Now, I am 23. I still love all of these things. I work in merchandise so I do deal with money and my math has gotten better since I was five, though I have to admit I should brush up on my algebra and geometry.

I have classes at my house where I bake every week for students and get the chance to try my best at making creative foods. I also love to check out different cafe’s and restaurants in Japan.

I sing at different places and play live on occasion. I love the technical side of music and enjoy joining different open mikes in Osaka. It’s always in the back of my head to somehow play regularly for events.

1929830_13522080777_3968_nThe only thing that has yet to become a reality is the Minnie Mouse dream. That is one that I will have to keep on the back burner for now, but I am looking forward to what I could be doing in the future. Hopefully improving my writing and helping other customers and people in my life.

The Snake Handler, Mr. Matsushita and a Blue Wig.

These days I have been getting into a funny new habit – selling postcards on the street after work. I haven’t been out this past week because I couldn’t find a place to sleep in the city, but I will get out again next week if the timing works out.

photo-178It all started when I finished a Chai tea and a sandwich at the coffee shop near Shinsaibashi-suji. One by one the shops in the area closed down for the night, leaving only the footsteps of those coming home from the office, or the ones on the way to their questionable midnight jobs. By this time it was around 11:00 PM and against the shutters of the medicine shop, I see the artist Matsushita on the street open for business. There hasn’t been a night that I haven’t seen him sitting there, yet I had never approached him. I didn’t like the idea of making small talk when I had no intention of making a purchase. This particular evening was different however, and I decided to go and ask if it would be okay for myself to start selling postcards along this road. He explained to me that it would be no problem as long as the shops around were not open. I was excited to start laying out my small postcard collection. I admired this artist and the stand that he started packing up after his long day. Matsushita and his snake-handler sidekick Daisuke were about to leave. With a few words of advice about selling and pricing, they reminded me to watch out for old drunk men, and left shortly after.
I was alone and some people actually came up and started a conversation, commenting on my art and the blue wig that I wore, which was an attempt to hide myself from any potential acquaintances that could walk by. I enjoyed meeting these new people of the night, feeling very incognito.
One man who spoke English came up and introduced himself. We talked for a good twenty minutes, and he decided that it was his job to help me get more customers. His business strategy began with trying to lure people to my little chair by practically harassing them in English. His theory was that people walking by would be more interested if I started speaking in English to them and leave out the Japanese. In my experience however, that is 100% not the case. In Japan, people are afraid of things that they are not interested in. I wish I could be as confident as he was, but I don’t think I could fall into that way of selling.photo-177
After a while, and a few postcards lighter, Matsushita comes riding back on his bike. He was worried about me and came back to check on how I was doing. It was so thoughtful of him to go out of his way.
No other customers came to buy postcards after that, but we talked for hours about his life, what I do for a living, and our opinions of the conventional way of approaching work in Japanese society. His family had different expectations of him, but he choose to be a full-time artist. Now around 30, he questions his choices in a positive way and doesn’t regret them. He told me that he loves what he does and is glad even though he struggles doing it sometimes.
He has lead an interesting life, one very much opposite to the usual briefcase carrying salary-man you see all the time.  I admired his relaxed disposition, and desired his lifestyle.
What would your mind be like after meeting different personalities and observing the world all day?
I hope to go back to the shopping street and see my artist friend and his funky art very soon.

In this moment

photo-174Your face will smile, your tongue will dance.

That was what was written on the sign of Papa Jon’s, the cheese cake shop in Kyoto we went to yesterday. The combination of the food and the lovely company did make my face light up, giving me the energy that I needed at the time. I have been working at USJ and it is not exactly the most relaxing position. With the smiling all day, arranging, and the tight-knit Japanese environment, it was not easy in the beginning. I have not been there long, but little by little I am starting to become more comfortable and more confidant in my knowledge with the park. I am excited about getting better and becoming even more familiar.

I also have been reading a lot of blogs and books that are keeping things into perspective. It is easy to think that your life is tiring, and when I am in a normal state of mind I laugh at how moody I can become. I realize how ridiculous it is to pout.

Life is so beautiful. What are some beautiful things that I jotted down this past month? The kids that I teach after school waved from their cars and screamed to me, “Johnna sensei, bye-bye!” My singing teacher, the absolute angel helping me pass a test that would be impossible to do with my own resources. Friends that you can jump on, laugh with… enjoy with. These are the people you don’t feel pressure to impress, and it is so relaxing. Thinking about all of these things made me so happy today. I don’t want to loose this feeling. For those times when I fall I want to remember this beautiful day. I want to remember that in this moment I have everything.

She played

I jotted this down while listening to my friends violin concert. I haven’t seen her in five years, and I was so impressed with her violin playing. 


photo-169The melodies move in a way I can’t explain. They are speaking to me but I don’t know the language. I listen hard and hope to decipher it. This language that couldn’t have come from us but belongs, and will forever be the tongue of the gods. Listen, take care, and they may grant you the miracle of being able to connect to a single note or phrase. The musician is the door to this language. I can’t believe I have known this woman for over 10 years. Oh, how she has changed yet the essence of her burns bright. When she plays, she looks up to the heavens, revealing to the audience the diamonds in her eyes. Then looks away, and she focuses, hiding her ivory stare. Oh, how beautiful she is. Oh, how beautiful her playing is. Oh, how amazing it must be to connect to something that is as wonderful as music. Oh, how fine it must be to speak the language of the gods.

Hearing her play made me transition into the world I want to forever be in. Not this current dream that I am living and have been living for as long as I can remember. Through her music I have seen possibilities and chances that I have not taken. I want to snatch them. I want to take them and make them apart of me. I want to feel the beauty in my bones and wake up. Not with groggy eyes, taking minutes to rub away the sleep. I want to look around and see the art of life. To smile at the unanswered questions. To love the who, what, when, where, why, and how of every situation and not be afraid of it. To not be afraid of mistakes. To own up to the lies I tell. To make up for all of the disappointments. To learn to say goodbye to people- even to those that love you. You have to go. Something, somewhere is calling you but you don’t know how to get there. You have to find it. You have to follow the voice. It needs you there for a reason and you are where you are for a reason. Something, somewhere is calling for you to come home.

What have I learned exactly?

photo-168I’m uncertain of how I should start off this post after a long hiatus. In my head, a lot has been going on, but at the same time it seems like I’m simply going through the motions rather than using my minutes, hours, days to the fullest.
I have started working at USJ officially and I’m currently on my second week. The first few days during the middle of my shifts I asked myself why in the world I decided to take this job. This week was a little bit better and upon finishing I thought, “I guess that this time it wasn’t so bad”.
In this short period of time I have learned a lot through this position, a few lessons that I can apply to my daily life as well.

What have I learned exactly?

I have learned to count money the correct way, and I have learned to speak politely in Japanese to customers. I have learned to smile. I learned that I am scared to go to certain areas of the park. I have learned to deal with customers that can be a little bit unpleasant, and realized that I cannot take their bad attitudes to heart. I have been in situations that made me have to stretch the truth to my superiors. I blamed a couple of things on the Chinese when it was my own incompetence. I beat myself up for that on the way home, but I am happy that I caught myself at least. I was not strong enough to handle it in the moment, but I am hoping that for next time I can because I am a bit more prepared.

There is a lot, a lot more that I have put to memory these past weeks, and I will update slowly on this Universal “journey”. I am not allowed to give away much for privacy reasons, but I think there is nothing wrong with mentioning experiences that are beneficial to growth.

On the way home, I saw this woman on the train. What was written on her shirt lifted my spirits.