Thursday, February 28, 2008

How Japanese Are You?

A Test for Foreigners Living in Japan
(taken from Courrier Japon, February 2008)

("Yes" means you're guilty like the rest of us. My answers are in brackets [ ].)

1. You bow involuntarily while talking on the phone. (YES. My ex-boss made a joke out of watching me bob my head up and down during a telephone conversation with our GM.)

2. You bow even when those tiny men on ATM screens bow at you. (No. Please, I haven't even seen those bowing machines in my life.)

3. You buy individually packaged potatoes while at the supermarket. (Nope. I buy grown-in-China potatoes, pesticides or no. They are cheaper.)

4. You're in a Japanese countryside and there doesn't seem to be power supply for miles. Still, you hardly bat an eyelid when you come across a vending machine selling canned drinks in between paddy fields. (Yes. Don't the rice farmers use them during the day when they get thirsty?)

5. You think eating curry rice constitutes a complete meal. (Yes. It's got carbos, proteins, and those itsy-bitsy pieces of potatoes and carrots are more than necessary to meet my daily dietary needs right?)

6. You think nothing of having potato and strawberry sandwiches for lunch. (No. You mean they make those type of sandwiches in Japan?)

7. You make it a point to kick up a big fuss when you see people pour miso soup over their rice but you're guilty of the same thing when in the comfort of your own home. (No. I've never tried pouring miso soup over Japanese rice. Really.)

8. You think cod roe spaghetti is typical Italian fare. (Yes. I still get upset when I cannot find mentaiko pasta on the menu at Da Paolo's.)

9. You get excited at the sight of a sailor uniform. (No. Thank goodness.)

10. You don't think it's weird when large trucks start blaring the tune to "Lambada" or "It's a Small World" when reversing. (Yes! I also like it when trucks and vans play the theme song of "Godfather" in place of horns!)

11. You argue about why a traffic light is called 青信号 and not 緑信号 in Japanese. (Yes! But I realised sometimes the Japanese don't differentiate between green and blue. And besides, ミドリシンゴウ is such a mouthful.)

12. You tend to say 「頑張ります」all the time, no matter how insignificant the task at hand may be. (YES. There's a reason why every non-Japanese speaker knows how to say 「頑張ってね~」.

13. You tend to apologise an average of three times when talking to people. (Yes! Yes! I even do it when I speak in English.)

14. You can rattle off important dates in your life according to the Showa and Heisei calendars. (Yes. I was born in 昭和55, completed my studies in Okinawa in 平成15 and am returning to Japan again in 平成20. Ta-dah!)

15. You can't help but flash the peace sign when having your picture taken. (Enough said.)

16. You keep asking your friends what blood type they are. (No. But I'm convinced people with A+ blood type are sticklers for cleanliness.)

17. When negotiating your way through crowds, you mimic the motion of karate chops with your hands while bobbing your head up and down. (Yes. This is getting really bad.)

18. You're thinking that the questions in this test are really nothing to crow about. (No. Does it mean there's still hope for me??)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Happily Never After

I think I might have to rethink my options a little.

a slight incident yesterday reminded me of the need to step back from where i'm headed and take in the Big Picture. we have issues from religion, to me keeping my maiden name, to how we want to raise our children, where we will live and settle. not to mention the smaller things like how i would like a bed and he prefers a futon. oh, and he doesnt want a TV set in the house.

i always thought i knew where i was going with all of this. i put up with some very tough times to get to where i am today. for some reason i'm not so sure about the future anymore.

maybe it's what's been happening at home of late. maybe it's the fear of not being there when people need me, or because i'm exhausted from looking on the brighter side all the time. i can no longer keep giving without getting something concrete in return. and it just doesnt seem right for me to sacrifice the rest of my years, along with my responsibilities, for something that i try very hard to earn but may never get.

i now realise it's not about the time or distance. love does not always save the day because there are mountains that can never be moved, and people that wont ever change.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Went to the hospital to visit my cousin's grandmother today.

her condition took a turn for the worse and she had to be put on dialysis. it's worrying because there's only so much her frail body can take, and the risk of further complications is very apparent.
i am constantly reminded of how transient life is and how fragile people actually are. last week, sam's mom was warded for a spinal cord operation and jac lost her grandmother.
it's hard keeping your own emotions in check when you're faced with people who are dealing with the loss or suffering of a loved one. for me, it always triggers the memory of the time when ken's grandmother passed away. it was especially painful because he was living in singapore then, and we couldnt manage to get ken to her side in time.
i was woken up one weekday morning at 6am by a phonecall from ken, who had been putting in the night shift at work when his mom had called to say that his grandmother had collapsed at home. they rushed her to the hospital but she had deteriorated so badly by then that she didnt even manage to regain consciousness.
i remember rushing to the airport so that i could get ken on the next flight out. everything was full so in the end he had to fly via seoul to okinawa. just when we were about to leave the ticketing counter, his mom called to say that his grandma didnt make it. i dont think i'll ever forget ken's reaction for the rest of my life. in my years of knowing him i have never seen him cry, but he literally fell apart at the news. letting him take the flight home alone was one of the hardest things i ever had to do.
ken loved his grandma and was very close to her because she took him in when he was a wayward youth who didnt believe in going to university. i think ken feels that he owed everything to his grandma and her "tough love" policy. he tells me she was very critically injured in a road accident once, but miraculously she survived, except for her muddled cooking skills that saw her come up with an endless slew of near-inedible dishes after her recovery.
ken said his was the only grandma with nine lives. until this day, not having ken see おばー for the last time remains one of my biggest regrets in life.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hunting for Cows

Move aside Prada.

My latest obsession is this gorgeous wallet from Marc Jacobs. It's only US$350! Small price to pay for a pretty pink piece of cow! What better way to declare my love for the girly pastel shade than with this?
Just let me call Ken now. E heh.

My Clutter

I haven't been writing at all these days.

a lot has happened since i quit my job, things both good and bad have been coming in from all sides and just keeping up requires quite some effort.

but today, just as i was feeling powerless and lost, i found solace in a very comforting embrace from two very loving friends.

everything is going to be alright.
if i might indulge in a little J-pop, the original queen namie amuro offers some sound advice here: