Friday, March 21, 2008

To My Double Scoop

I haven't seen Ken in six months.
a mutual friend from argentina who visited okinawa recently sent me some snapshots and i managed to get a good look at ken since the last time i saw him in september 2007.
we send messages to each other's phones and skype as often as we can (which has sadly dwindled to twice a week these days), but he doesnt have a webcam so i cant see his face when we talk. work keeps him very busy so i dont ask for him to send me pictures of himself either.
mostly i just imagine how he might look when he tells me he got a new haircut or that he shaved off his beard. when he says he has put on weight, i try not to conjure up images of a moses lim-sized girth. very thankfully, the pictures my friend sent me has put the worst of my fears at rest.
i dont know if people would understand what i'm trying to say here but seeing ken's pictures brought on a curious feeling. it reminded me of his first visit to singapore four months after i left okinawa. when he came through the arrival hall, things were awkward at best. for some reason i couldnt imagine that the person standing before me was my boyfriend. perhaps not meeting someone you wanted so badly to see confuses the mind and bring forth mixed emotions.
separation is a joyless thing but as the weeks stretch to months you begin to take comfort in the fact that you've grown stronger in his absence. and without knowing, the relationship starts to feel surreal, and the person you love becomes further withdrawn from your daily life.
when did i begin thinking that i would be fine without him? how did i start entertaining thoughts of reassessing our relationship, of giving up?
i think i need to be reminded of why i fell in love at the beginning. i need to have him close by, need to be able to look at him when we talk. i want to see him in the mornings and at night, breathe the air he breathes. i need to be with him.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Counting Down

In less than two weeks from now I shall be typing in a different place miles away from home.
it's strange but suddenly it doesnt seem so important to leave anymore. it feels as if whatever i had been hoping for could wait for a little longer. there are still tons of things to do, people to properly say goodbye to and family to spend time with.
if i sound melodramatic, it's simply because i am.
some random things that might make me ache for singapore and my life here:
1. the sun-dappled, tree-lined avenue leading me home from the mrt station.
2. sue's exquisite hot chocolate. my favourite chicken rice stall. teh-O.
3. the comfort of seeing malays, indians and chinese squeezed nonchalantly into the same row of seats on the train.
4. shopping at far east plaza.
5. christmas light-ups in orchard road.
6. my mother's pickled vegetables with sliced pork and everything else that she cooks.
7. the smell of my father's aftershave. the tinkle of my mother's laughter.
8. sunday mornings spent bitching about the gahmen over newspapers.
9. my cousins calling me "ah ping". my brother calling me "jiejie".
10. eating at crystal jade with the girls.
i'm lonely already.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Fluff Academia

I had a gazillion things I wanted to talk about today but a programme I saw on ChannelNewsAsia changed all of that.
i was channel-surfing when an all-too familiar face popped up on my tv set when i least expected it. the show was "beyond the red dot" and they were featuring singaporeans in tokyo (like there arent singaporeans in other parts of japan and like waseda is the be-all-end-all of tertiary education in japan. but yes, before i detract, these are grouses that would have to be aired on a separate occasion).
i wont be baring my fangs over whose face i saw since she is on close terms with a good friend, but imagine my bemusement when the camera pictured her perched on a stool in a maid cafe gesturing in what would best be described as cutesy kitty sign language.
oh, and i almost forgot. she was dressed in a blue maid's outfit complete with a ruffled lace collar and headgear.
before anyone gets the wrong idea, this entry isnt about to get personal (and neither was the show really about her). but i really recoiled in horror when the narrator called the squirting of ketchup by a maid waitress onto a plate of omelette rice (into the shape of a Hello Kitty face no less) "the love touch" and mindless karaoke singing by two maids in really short skirts "connecting with customers on an intimate level".
lets just call a spade a spade shall we? the maid cafe phenomena that has been sprouting up all over tokyo's akihabara should really be acknowledged for what it truly is. i'm not a japanophile (despite how i might look to people outside) and i dont profess to know all about the otaku culture, but if all that gunk about "moe" (otaku experts liken it to a "kinetic and intimate experience of otaku community that allows room for fantasy") serves to conceal what i think is a convenient expression of an inclination towards the lolita complex and the sexual objectification of women, i say take a cold hard look again.
no one goes to maid cafes for food, really. the disproportionately male clientele, the maids in uniform (i dont think they make skirts THAT short for real maids though) spouting subservient lines and sporting a servile attitude, complete with chargeable perks like getting up close and personal with famous maid personalities ought to be more than enough to raise a few alarms.
despite the recent academic hoopla about japanese popular culture and the sudden proliferation of research interest in anime, manga and the otaku brigade, have we really succeeded in demystifying what we have sought to examine? or have we perpetuated canons of academic fluff and weaned an entire generation of students on the myths of contemporary japan in the process?
of course i wont go as far as insinuate that the study of japanese popular culture holds little value. but all too often, when we fall over ourselves to give academic credence to the new darlings of social research such as the otaku sub-culture, we inadvertently do more harm than good. we take the akiba geeks, throw in some academic jargon, fluff it up with some mead and mills, and oh what the hell, heap debate on structuralism for good measure and call it sociology. or modern anthropology. or the social psychology of the concepts of self-identity and group behaviour whatever.
as much as attention to popular culture is drawing more undergraduate researchers to the social sciences than ever, there is good reason to believe that we are close to scraping the bottom of the barrel as we happily dish out the fluff and candy floss. the study of japan should not be founded upon repeated attempts to locate the social implications of anime or otaku within academic literature. there are real problems to be solved and real research just waiting to be conducted.
as for the frilly maid i saw on tv, it seems that she is attempting to change people's perceptions about what it really means to be an otaku.
very well then. i will prepare to be amazed. in the meantime, check out this link below. it's by a singaporean who went to tokyo in search of her dream to set up a global otaku portal. dont say i didnt warn you:

Sunday, March 02, 2008

TIT Stands for "Tai-tai In Training"

So because when Jac and I went for the inaugural HSBC Women's Golf Championships (thank you 91.3 FM for the free passes!), a reporter from the Singapore Tatler approached us for a picture.
i might just be on my way to becoming a socialite. move over, jamie cuaco! wah hah.

better yet, the three-day crash course in golf has actually whetted my appetite for the sport and more importantly, in a little pocket dynamo called Ai Miyazato. vested interests notwithstanding (she hails from okinawa), this girl is really the one to watch. while she might still need to fine-tune her focus on the game, her first day on the green has proven that she has plenty of potential.

what's best, i now finally know the difference between a birdie and an eagle. par? check. bogey? double check.

this is long overdue but yuuki came to visit me two weeks ago and here are some highlights: