The Irony of Intolerant Tolerance

 

 

 

 

 

So I just ate a bag of chocolate–ok, not the whole bag, but I definitely just ate a whole bunch of chocolate, and it was delicious.  And it kind of went like this, minus the throwing-up-on-the-carpet-part:

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I really just wanted to share that picture with you all.

Anyhow!  Good evening and Weirdmaste to all!  A friend posted a “weirdmaste” image on Facebook recently and I thought that it was pretty spectacular, because I am all about honoring the weird here at KP.  I mean, one of my childhood heroes was Weird Al Yankovic.  Let’s be honest—UHF should have won an Academy Award for awesome (and if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it).

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It’s time to spin the Wheel of Fiiiiissshhhhh!!!!

But I digress.  Actually, I wanted to touch on a more serious topic tonight; Facebook is an interesting animal.  Most of us use it to showcase the positive aspects of our lives: travel, engagements, weddings, children, pets, how we didn’t get fat after high school, how awesome and perfect our lives are–spoiler: they’re usually not as exciting and perfect as we try to make them out to be…and maybe we only take carefully angled pictures and use Instagram to filter out the wrinkles (and adult acne, for some of us).

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But we can also use Facebook to spread information.  This can be a good or a bad thing, depending on the information itself.  In certain areas of the world where information is limited to the general public by government, the advent of social media has proved to be a highly effective way for connecting and furthering causes, such as the push for civil rights in Middle Eastern countries.

Facebook also allows us to see many different opinions, and this is where the topic for tonight’s entry comes into play; the irony of intolerant tolerance.  I claim to be a highly tolerant person; I think all humans deserve to be treated with equal respect, regardless of gender identity, race, age, nationality, body type, etc.  However, I still find myself critical of others at times, and I know part of learning to be tolerant is allowing others to be who they are, even if I don’t agree (although some people…just, no):

 

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Give me back my rainbow, damnit!!

I’ll never forget, I knew two people who had a very tumultuous relationship because one was Catholic and the other was Protestant.  As someone who doesn’t follow any set religion, I didn’t understand why the two had such a difficult time, because I thought it was silly to be so divided on what I considered “trivial” issues.  One day, while on my soap-box of “How-I-am-right-and-you-are-silly-and-your -problems-are-silly-because-I-don’t-understand-you,” the girl looked at me and said, “You know what I really dislike?  Non-religious people telling religious people how they should think or feel.”  And she had every right to say that.  I had no right to lecture her on my beliefs.  People are entitled to believe what they want, and as long as we are not harming others or supporting causes that harm others, etc, we should be free to our own beliefs.

100% absolute tolerance might not be a completely achievable goal, but as long as we are actively working toward a greater understanding of others, we will progress as a human society.  We can practice tolerance by stepping outside ourselves and trying to see things from another’s point of view.

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Thoughts?

Historical Selfies, LOL Feminism. Give me tuna instead!

I love the internet.  Seriously, I always wish we could bring back famous dead people and see what their reaction would be/how they would handle the internet.  I can just imagine Napoleon Buonaparte taking selfies or posting in an online dating forum.

LonelyinElba4U- online now!

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 Likes: attempting to conquer large European nations, standing with hand in front of shirt, posing dramatically on horses for paintings

Looking for: That one special lady who can handle a whole lot of dynamite packed into all 5’6” of this love machine.  Must be clean, non-smoker, like dogs, okay with living in exile for long periods of time, and being with a man who knows how to lay down the law–that’s right baby, as in my very own Napoleonic Code 😉  Hit me up if you’re interested!

 

This site can be credited for the awesome Napoleon selfie!

Or what if famous historical people could ask for dating/marriage advice?  Anne Boleyn writes to dating coach Evan Mark Katz for advice:

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Dear Evan,

My husband recently became very withdrawn and non-affectionate since the birth of our daughter, Elizabeth.  Where he was once all over me and daresay I, a touch “handsy,” now he avoids me like the Bubonic Plague!  I am doing my best to make him see me in the same light he did before I had the baby….and  I know he MUST love me, I mean, the man BASICALLY caused a schism in the entire fabric of the Church in our country because he wanted to divorce his wife before me (she just didn’t “get” him, but I know I’m special!  He’s TOLD me so like, a gazillion times!).  It’s just so hard to keep a man hooked when you have all these 14-year olds prime and ready for the picking around here!  Please help me, Evan!

-Losing My Head

Dear Losing My Head,

Your husband sounds like he is the classic emotionally unavailable man, and it sounds like he just isn’t doing what he needs to do on HIS part to keep you happy in the relationship!  Remember, the best kinds of relationships are built on mutual love, respect, and trust.  If he isn’t showing you these then you might want to think of leaving for someone who can better fulfill your needs, otherwise, his emotional unavailability might really cause you to ‘Lose Your Head.’

-EMK

***

Switching gears, you know who also would do REALLY awesome on the internet?  Abraham Lincoln.  As this site points out, Lincoln was actually the original hipster.   Think about it: Lincoln would have been all over his own blog or website.  He was tall, lanky, moody, and had his own fashion sense.  

From the Hipster Lincoln on Tumblr:

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Okay, okay, so now digressing to the other part of this post.  So we’ve established the internet is fantastic and everyone who never had the ability to watch the Hampster Dance or Nyan Cat  just because they HAPPENED to have died before it was fully realized into its current state of awesomeness really missed out, there’s also SO much epic fail.

I’m not a fan of the hate of (insert any type of group here).  Recently I guess there’s been all this hoopla over the Fat Acceptance Movement?  It makes me think of this (except in reverse, I guess?  I have no idea):

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Except, lezz be real, because I think the REAL issue is THIS:

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All right people, let’s get real here.  These are some serious pugs who will develop some major body image issues so we need to just back off and let them be free.  Pugs gotta do their thang!

Can we just accept that humans have bodies and some bodies are bigger or smaller than other bodies or different colors and with more or less fingers or have tiger tattoos everywhere and people can be attracted to what they want to be attracted to??. No one is wrong for “having curves” or being “stick thin” or super muscular or whatever! Let’s just stop hating on x as opposed to y. Fit people, go bust out another set of reps instead of hating on bigger people. Bigger people, just do your thing and don’t listen to the haters. Skinny people keep on being skinny with your crazy fast metabolisms that make me jealous. Tiger man, you do you, boo boo.

UnknownAnd that’s okay, and yes, healthy lifestyles are encouraged but can we please get past the hating on people too thin/fat/feline?  Because I know for me sometimes I’m really all about fitness (like 2 Hours in the gym a day!), and sometimes I’m really all about sitting on my couch and eating pop-tarts and watching bad horror movies and Forensic files and it goes in cycles and I do what I feel like I need to do at the time. And the good news is big people can get smaller and small people can get bigger and tiger man can get even more tiger and it’s all going to be okay in the end!

Also, apparently another thing to hate on right now is feminism, because who doesn’t love to hate on human rights?  Well, don’t worry, I’ve got a site that explains EXACTLY why we don’t need feminism:

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Go home, internet, you’re drunk.  Where is my tuna?  Here’s a selfie of Bill Clinton (someone who actually isn’t dead yet who really appreciates the internet!).

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-KP out!

 

The Stranger’s Always You

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A few years ago I discovered John Cameron Mitchell’s movie adaptation of his stage play, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  Actually, I first watched it after I had ended something that I now wouldn’t even say had any semblance of a relationship…but at the time I was hurt.  In the wake of everything that has happened recently, I have found myself suddenly turning back to this movie.  I have’t listened to the songs or watched it in about two years, but after watching it again only just recently, I realize how perfect a play and film Mitchell created.

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At first glance, the posters and trailer make one think of the flamboyant glam-rock film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  It certainly portrays a lead character who demands attention, but this film and its music are vastly different from Rocky Horror.  The central concepts center on identity, human complexity, love, and understanding what “wholeness” is.  Mitchell created a story based on a character who believes love from another will form the missing other half to the whole.  One of the songs, “Origin of Love,” is an illustration of this, pulling from Aristophanes speech in Plato’s Symposium explaining heterosexuals, homosexuals, and their longing to feel “whole.”  The story is that in ancient times human beings existed as three different types of creatures: male/male, female/female, and male/female.  Much like in other religions, notably Christianity and Judaism, humans made a costly mistake in trying to acquire too much knowledge (similar to Adam and Eve, the story of the Tower of Babylon, etc), and so Zeus sent thunderbolts to split the beings in two, causing them to then forever feel compelled to “find their missing other half.”

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In Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Hansel is a young man living in Communist East Berlin who falls in love with an American solider.  In order to marry the soldier and leave the country, Hansel must get a sex-change operation to fool doctors that he is actually a woman.  Note: he did not previously feel like a woman trapped in a man’s body.  The operation is botched, and what remains is something in-between male and female.  After moving to the United States, the solider leaves Hansel–now Hedwig, using his mother’s name–for another man.  Alone and devastated, Hedwig picks herself up and begins odd-jobs and writing music, sometimes performing with local military wives.  She meets Tommy Speck, a quiet, very Christian young man, and the two begin writing music together and falling in love.  Hedwig teaches Tommy about rock music and gives him the name, Tommy Gnosis (Gnosis being the Greek word for “knowledge”).  Tommy ends up rejecting Hedwig for her physical deformity from the operation and runs off with Hedwig’s music and claims it as his own, rising to stardom.  Hedwig now has her own band, and is in the middle of a lawsuit to reclaim what is rightfully hers.  She is caught between her desire to be with Tommy, who she believes is her other half, and wanting to destroy him if she cannot be with him.  Ultimately, she receives justice and the fame and recognition deserved for her music.  In the end, she comes to realize there is no “other half,” and that “wholeness” comes from within.  Tommy and Hedwig part ways, and Hedwig leaves behind all the wigs, costumes, and makeup, and comes to terms with who he is.  My favorite song, Wicked Little Town, sung by Tommy to Hedwig as a form of apology in the end, probably boasts some of the most powerful lyrics in the entire show:

Forgive me for I did not know
’cause I was just a boy
And you were so much more

Than any god could ever plan
More than a woman or a man
And now I understand
How much I took from you
That when everything starts breaking down
You take the pieces off the ground
And show this wicked town
Something beautiful and new

You think that luck has left you there
But maybe there’s nothing
Up in the sky but air

And there’s no mystical design
No cosmic lover preassigned
There’s nothing you can find
That cannot be found
’cause, with all the changes you’ve been through
It seems the stranger’s always you

The line “You were so much more than any god could ever plan, more than a woman or a man,” really drives home the theme of human complexity.  Ultimately, we are not “destined” to be with anyone; we are whole as we are and life unfolds based on the consequences of our choices and actions.  Love comes not from the need to feel “complete,” but by feeling complete as we are.  None of the characters in the show can be easily defined, which makes them so much more human and real.  Not male, not female, not gay, not straight, but human.  This film is definitely highly unusual and non-traditional, but it has one of the best story-lines I have ever seen and the music is wonderful.  John Cameron Mitchell really drives it home with this one.  I highly recommend for anyone who likes off-beat films with a sense of humor and a good message.

Only Human

It has been quite some time, and much has changed.

My job is transferring me to Hawaii, and I have a few months of training along the way.  It’s going to be a coast-to-coast adventure in America, starting from beautiful Northern Washington and ending up in Florida.  I will look out on to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans before June arrives.

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Although 2014 brings many promises of new beginnings, it unfortunately began on a very sad note for me.  My relationship ended in a very painful manner, and I never imagined I’d be writing an entry like this, but heartbreak feels like the equivalent of being sick with some kind of total body illness, it really does.  Regardless of whether it is you or the other person who ends it (for me, I was the one who ended it), it is horrible.  Ultimately for me, it came down to what I felt was settling in the relationship and accepting behavior that was very much not okay.  It still seeps deep into the core and unfortunately only the passage of time will heal what has been damaged.

It really made me start to think about how different people perceived love; or rather, what they thought was love.  The same man who said “I love you,” to my face was, behind my back, telling someone else how he wished he “could hold her all night.”  For any couple in a healthy monogamous relationship, this is not acceptable.  For people in polyamorous or open relationships, I can not speak, but I would assume that in those relationships, in order for them to be healthy, all parties must agree to whatever stipulations (and I would imagine there would be a good deal of communication involved).  I really do believe that for different people, different types of relationships work.  However, it is WRONG for one person to be covert and hide something from the other person when they are under the impression no such thing is going on.  That is cheating, in one of its many forms.

It saddens me to know that, at the end of my relationship, instead of being sincerely sorry for doing something that was wrong and hurt me a good deal, the man I was with was angry because he felt I had invaded his privacy and did not trust him; however, it was his behavior that prevented me from fully being able to do so.  The spectrum of human behavior is fascinating and terrifying all at once; whereas some of us are staunchly opposed to the idea of such behavior in relationships, others have no qualms engaging in it.  On some level these individuals must have issues with commitment and cannot enter the relationship both feet fully in.  Nevertheless, it does not take away from the hurt we feel when we cross paths with someone of that nature.

I think of Mary Oliver’s quote:

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The Sun Will Rise (Welcoming in the New Year)

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Happy New Year!  I have been a terrible writer this past year.  I have barely written at all, so first and foremost, one of my New Year’s resolutions will be to write more!  

I can’t believe 2013 has ended already.  So much in my life is changing; I’m getting transferred to Hawaii for my job and will be also working out of Okinawa.  My apartment looks like it’s been ransacked due to packing up all my belongings.  As I look back over my pictures from the year I am reminded of all the things I accomplished and was able to experience.  I did quite a bit of traveling, both locally and abroad.  I went to mainland China and Hong Kong, visited Kyoto twice, caught up with high school friends from my time in Shizuoka, ran my first sprint triathlon and first full marathon, and secured a competitive and coveted position at work.  I met a good deal of people, made some new friendships, rekindled some old, and entered into a relationship.

2013 was a year that allowed for growth; there were some truly positive moments (being selected from a large pool of candidates for a very competitive position, crossing the finish line at the Mount Fuji Marathon), and there were also some very difficult times, regarding friendships, relationships, work, and life in general.

I was skyping with my mom recently and I was talking about some of the difficulties I was dealing with in regard to certain relationships and I think the overall sentiment for the New Year will be her advice:

Do good and have faith that good things will happen to you.

So my New Year’s resolutions are as follows:

1. Write more.

2. Be a more dependable person.

3. Be better at keeping constant communication with friends and family.

***

Two years ago I found a local shrine near my home that was up a small hill; the pathway was illuminated by lanterns.  After walking past the main shrine area a bit there was an opening and I could see out across the bay to Yokosuka, Yokohama, and Tokyo.  I could see the ships sitting there, too.  The lights shimmered against the darkness of the night and I remembered the opening of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God:

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the same horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time.”

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I looked out on to the black ocean as a child, watching the ships sit against the horizon in the night, and I looked out on to that same darkness this night and thought of how my life has changed over the past two and a half years.  Although I am proud of the person I am continuing to grow into, I do not forget that it has taken some very difficult lessons.  

Here’s to another bountiful year!

What I Learned from Running a Marathon

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My coworkers are probably sick of hearing me talk about running a marathon.  Look, okay, running a marathon doesn’t suddenly make you a better person, you’re not “holier than thou.”  I will tell you this, though–it teaches you an incredible amount about YOURSELF and what YOU are capable of.  Sometimes it takes 26.2 miles of pain to figure sh*t out.  Oh yeah, there’s a little bit about running that you learn about thrown in there too (like don’t wear gear you’ve never worn before on race day, don’t forget to bring warm up sweats when your race is at the end of November and you’re the only idiot walking around in shorts in 35F weather before the race actually starts, and don’t just “wing it,” your body will thank you later), but mostly, it teaches you about life.

1. COMMITMENT AND DEDICATION ARE THE PILLARS OF SUCCESS.  You have to really be committed to the goal of finishing a 26.2 mile race.  I love the quote, “Do or do not, there is no try,” because you are either going to finish the race, or you aren’t, plain and simple.  Who the hell gets satisfaction in walking away saying, “Yeah, well, I tried to run a marathon.”  Injuries aside, you are going to be the one to ultimately decide whether or not YOU are going to cross that finish line.  Can you envision it?  Is the goal greater than the momentary doubt or pain?

2. YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK.  I have NEVER felt so much continued pain in my body before.  Hours of pounding pavement is absolutely killer on the joints.  By the time I reached mile 20, I was really, really spent.  I thought about giving up so many times, but I kept thinking about crossing the finish line and about why I was even running the race to begin with.  Wasn’t it to prove a point to MYSELF that through willpower all things are possible?   And if that’s not enough, think of all the people, good and bad, that were there along the way–the naysayers, the people who supported you, the people who hurt you, and the people who ran alongside you through the pain–think about them too.  

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3. DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS THAN YOU DESERVE.  This is perhaps the most important lesson I learned. Since YOU have put in the time and the effort, you have pushed past the pain and torn down the walls of doubt, you know what it takes to be extraordinary, you know that success means being better than you were before, and we all have the ability to be better within us.  Don’t make excuses, don’t accept excuses.  You will never succeed by taking either action, you will only be holding yourself back..

4. CHANGE IS POSSIBLE.  If after touching down in Japan 2.5 years ago, someone would have come up to me and said, “You’re going to run a marathon 2.5 years from now,” I would have laughed in their face.  I had never run more than 5 miles in my entire life.  Why would I even waste my time doing something ridiculous like that?  Well, because sometimes the things we once see as “ridiculous” and “impossible” suddenly become important to us, and as I learned how to push past pain I understood what it meant to change.  It was a long, slow process from within that required the aforementioned commitment and dedication.   Change isn’t easy, but it is possible, and it allows us to grow.

5. BE GRATEFUL.  You have a body that allows you to absolutely feel what it means to be alive–everything that you are made up of is working together intricately, allowing your body to run the race.  Be grateful you have the opportunity to do so.

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Run for those that matter, run for those that don’t, because in the end you are going to have made the good ones proud and you will have left the bad ones 26.2 miles behind.

***

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” -Da Vinci

Anaïs Nin, Hong Kong

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It’s late, and I’ve got an early day tomorrow, but these thoughts seem to be swimming in my head like carp in an endless pond.  I recently took a vacation to Hong Kong, and I’ve been flooded with ideas; and the world changed in a day, or maybe it was a day and a night and a day, I honestly don’t know.  We’ve been rocked over here with the disaster in the Philippines and somehow everything is both the same and different.

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I met up with a friend in Hong Kong this past week and was finally afforded the chance to visit a place I had always wanted to go.  And it doesn’t diappoint–the garish neon signs, the crowded night markets, the smell of noodles cooking in the street–it’s like the dirty underbelly of Singapore, international and gaudy and full of alleyways teeming with dealers beckoning tourists into their backrooms of illegal goods.  I made it a point to see the Temple Street Night Market, the Ladies Market, acquire good dim sum, and visit the Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden.

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The Temple Street Night Market is located in Kowloon, where we were staying.  If you take the MTR to Jordan Station you will be very close.  You can buy cheap goods such as watches, sunglasses, t-shirts, scarves, food, antiques, and more.  It’s quite crowded, and a definite MUST is haggling with the dealers; although don’t go too low or they will begin to heckle you.

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The Ladies Market is located in Mong Kok, and is largely the same sort of merchandise.  However, I thought it to be a bit larger and, as the name suggests, a bit more geared toward women (I bought a lovely pashmina scarf and mint skirt).

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Switching gears a bit, we ventured out after experiencing the crowded markets into a more serene part of the city, but not before finding some delicious dim sum.  I did a bit of research beforehand and found Tim Ho Wan restaurant in Mong Kok.   Not only is it Michelin rated, but it’s SUPER cheap!  We ate plates of dim sum for no more than $20 and walked out feeling more than full.  Afterwards, we hopped on the MTR and headed toward Diamond Hill to walk around the Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery.  

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The garden is fairly new, having been commissioned in 2006, and is a nice break from the urban setting.  The Chi Lin Nunnery was founded in 1934 but rebuilt in the 1990s.  The buildings are built in the style of traditional architecture from the Tang Dynasty, which uses the interlocking of the wood to keep the structures in place and contains no iron nails.  One can see statues of the Sakyamuni Buddha (actual Gautama Buddha), Guanyin, and other bodhisattvas.  I recommend for anyone wanting to see a bit of traditional culture and needing a break from the usual hustle-and-bustle of the city.

***

I recently discovered writer, Anaïs Nin, who kept journals spanning 60 years, starting at age 11 and up until her death.  I think of the first journal I kept, around age 8, and how I’ve kept them (or these blogs) through the years.  I love looking back and reading through, seeing what my concerns were at the time, seeing who I loved, seeing what I found it worthwhile to write about.  I kept two journals through Japan, writing almost every day.

A few of Nin’s writings strike me particularly:

“You can not save people.  You can only love them.”

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” ― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 7: 1966-1974

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”

Waterfalls

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My job can really be a downer sometimes; often my schedule changes at the drop of a hat and before I know it I’m in the drug store scrambling to pick up enough toiletries for an impromptu trip.  Today was spent much at the mercy of my bosses waiting for word from their bosses (this sounds like a bad comedy, right?) about my schedule in the next few weeks.  Things ended up turning out a little better than expected, and so to celebrate I came home, had a few drinks, ate some of the leftover Easter Ham (I believe my words as I walked through the door were, “I want this [piece of chocolate], I’m having a drink, and all I want to do is eat some of that ham.”), watched a few Twilight Zone episodes, and listened to some “oldies” (aka 90s music).  

One of my all-time favorite songs is TLC’s Waterfalls.  I love, love, LOVE that song.  If any artist(s) ever wanted to write a song about life it was done perfectly with that song.  Genres aside, the lyrics ring out true:

Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to

Those lyrics are screaming, “Don’t go after things that are out of your reach (for good reason), stick to what you should be focused on in life.”  I feel like at any time in my life when I have questioned whether something felt right or not, I can hear that line playing over and over again in my head (I definitely soundtrack my life, sue me).

My favorite part about the song is Left Eye’s rap, which is actually much more beautiful when read:

I seen a rainbow yesterday
But too many storms have come and gone
Leavin’ a trace of not one God-given ray
Is it because my life is ten shades of gray
I pray all ten fade away
Seldom praise Him for the sunny days

And like His promise is true
Only my faith can undo
The many chances I blew
To bring my life to anew
Clear blue and unconditional skies
Have dried the tears from my eyes
No more lonely cries
My only bleedin’ hope
Is for the folk who can’t cope
Wit such an endurin’ pain
That it keeps ’em in the pourin’ rain
Who’s to blame
For tootin’ caine in your own vein
What a shame
You shoot and aim for someone else’s brain
You claim the insane
And name this day in time
For fallin’ prey to crime
I say the system got you victim to your own mind

Dreams are hopeless aspirations
In hopes of comin’ true
Believe in yourself
The rest is up to me and you

I don’t know if I would ever get a tattoo (one day I’d love it, the next I’d be over it already), but in my imagined maybe-someday-when-I-get-a-tattoo reality, I would probably want to be even artsier than I already am (so, would that cancel out “being artsy”?), I would want to get one of those bolded sections in some super feminine print (so I could be like one of those fabulous examples on Pinterest).  Okay getting waaay too hipster for my own good!

Anyway, for a fantastic blast from the past…err, 90s (and some just plain old good life advice) listen to some TLC.

Moonstruck on Easter

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Happy Easter from Japan!  Things have been quite hectic here (as always), but we managed to get in Easter Dinner with a few friends.  And what Easter could truly be complete without a good dose of none other than Cher and Nicholas Cage?

I am most definitely NOT a lover of romantic comedies.  I love horror (NOT gore!), thriller, or dramas.  Romantic comedies rank pretty low on the list of movies I usually want to see, but Moonstruck is, without doubt, one of my favorite movies.  It won three Academy Awards in 1987, with Cher winning best actress.  I had never seen the movie until last year, but had heard that it had taken a few awards.

The plot is not overly-complicated.  It is not a grandiose piece.  It is a portrayal of an Italian-American family living in Brooklyn.  The first time I watched the movie, I was not completely moved.  It took me a second time to really begin to take things in; the beauty in this movie lies in its subtleties.  The basic story is as follows: Cher is a 37-year old widow named Loretta Castorini living with her parents in their Brooklyn townhouse.  Her father is a plumber and makes good money.  Loretta is proposed to by a respectable, albeit spineless, gentleman by the name of Johnny Cammareri.  Loretta isn’t head over heels for Johnny, but he is a respectable man with a job.  He says his mother (in Palermo, Italy) is dying, and he must tend to her before he can fully commit to Loretta and their relationship.  He also asks her to invite his brother, Ronnie, to their wedding.  Loretta agrees and telephones the bakery where Ronnie works.  She goes and finds that Ronnie is eccentric with a few screws loose; years earlier he was talking to his brother and became distracted while slicing bread, his hand subsequently getting sliced off.  He says his fiance at the time left him because he was then maimed, and he fully blames Johnny for the pain he incurred in his life afterward.  I would venture to say that the scene in the bakery is undoubtedly Nicholas Cage at the height of playing Nicholas Cage–it is absolutely fantastic.  It is so over-the-top, but it’s absolutely perfect!  

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Loretta and Ronnie end up creating this passionate connection and the rest of the movie deals with the relationships among the different characters.  Loretta’s mother finds out her husband, Cosmo, is having an affair and proceeds to ask various men throughout the film, “Why do men chase women?”  Johnny gives her the answer she seeks, “Because they fear death.”  Again, this film is not monumental in its cinematography or by way of some epic story; it is a simple portrayal of human beings, but it is done so well that it forces you to go back and take a second, third look.  It’s a love story about people who find love in each other’s imperfections, and acceptance of those imperfections.  Ronnie says to Loretta after they go to the opera:

Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is,
and I didnt know this either, but love dont make things nice – it
ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We
arent here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The
stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves
and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die.

Oh yeah, and it’s got a bit of opera in it too (and may be a modern-day opera of sorts).  You will definitely get a good laugh out of this one.  My personal favorite line is when Nicholas Cage picks up Cher and just screams, “SONOFABITCH!”  Definitely recommend Moonstruck for anyone looking for some laughs and a good story!

Kamakura Again and Return to Shizuoka

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These past two weeks have been quite busy at work, but definitely not busy enough to stop us from enjoying the good weather and traveling a bit.  To catch up, last weekend we traveled to Kita-Kamakura to visit some famous Zen sites.  We started the day at Engaku-ji, one of the most important Zen Buddhist complexes in Japan, and ranked 2nd among Kamakura’s “Five Mountains,” or state-sponsored Zen complexes.

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This temple was founded in 1282 by a Zen priest at the request of the Regent Tokimune Hojo.  It was built to honor those killed in battles against the Mongolian Invasion between 1274 and 1281, obviously as well as to spread Zen thought.  There are 18 temples on the complex, and it is home to 2 national treasures: the Shari-den (the Reliquary Hall built in the sixteenth century Chinese style, said to house the tooth of Buddha), and the Great Bell (said to be the largest in Kamakura).  You can read more about Engaku-ji here.

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After walking around Engaku-ji we made our way over to Tokei-ji, founded in 1285 by the wife of Hojo Tokimune, who then became a nun after his death.  In memory of her husband’s death, she opened the temple, also making it a place for battered women to take refuge.  If a women stayed at Tokei-ji for 3 years, the state recognized her as officially divorced.  It is estimated that 2000 women took refuge there.

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This weekend I visited my favorite place in Japan: Shizuoka.  A few weeks ago my friend S. came up from Shizuoka to visit me.  We were classmates in Shizuoka Johoku Girls High School (now co-ed).  We met up with a few of our other friends and went to Muse Cafe, which is full of stuffed pandas, chandeliers, and American pop music playing in the background.  For 3000 yen per person you can do free time, with quite a good deal of food and unlimited drinks.  The only caveat: sorry, gentlemen, men are not allowed to enter.  I’m not completely sure why; I think it’s to provide women with an atmosphere to chat and eat together in without the noisiness of men.  In Japan, genders are more segregated than in the United States, so it isn’t that unusual.

Quite a few of our classmates are getting married; we made a video for our friend, wishing her luck and happiness.  Mostly everyone is busy working, buying apartments, and the like.  Some of our teachers are still at Johoku; we reminisced about our English teacher’s class, having to memorize idioms (they memorized the English, I memorized the Japanese).  Everyone seems to be doing well, and it was lovely being able to see them all.  I love Shizuoka City, too, walking down all the old familiar streets I used to ride my bicycle to school on.  Things have changed but somehow still remain the same.

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