mental soundtrack

Sometimes I have songs in my head for no apparent reason. This is what’s been playing in my mental Spotify.

Panama“–Van Halen

Wheat Kings“–the Traigcally Hip

Private Idaho“–the B52s 


memory and objects

I think I’ve unleashed some kind of crush demon.

Let me explain. For Christmas, I got a Yamaha Silent Brass system. It’s a brilliant marvel of engineering, somehow interrupting the vibration from the bell of my trumpet and redirecting it into a set of stereo headphones. this allows me to play any time without risking eviction or grievous bodily harm.  It had been a good while since I dug out my trumpet, and it felt good to play again–even if only a few notes to try to regain my chops.

But ever since I started playing again a few days ago, I can’t stop thinking about the first-chair player I obsessively crushed on in band. Not the same sort of crush-sick horny desperate feelings I had, but rather cringing regret at how I stalked the shit out of that poor bastard my first year of college, with all the freedom and anonymity of a new place and new life, and none of the social grace everyone else seemed to have. Much like my trumpet skills, thoughts of Mr. First Chair had been dead for more than ten years. That is, until, I oiled the valves and started to blow.

Mind you, I have absolutely no intentions or even desire to contact him or try to make something happen. In fact, the one who gave me the Yamaha Silent Brass system is my boyfriend of nearly two years who I love very much, who is adoring and attentive and gives me confidence–the opposite of what my obsession with Mr. First Chair ever did for me. (Not to mention, the sex is fantastic, so it’s not any kind of, erm, lacking in that department that would mentally drive me into the imaginary arms of an imaginary person.)

The only explanation I really have for this phenomenon is that, perhaps objects with history have some kind of hold on our memories, like smell. As hokey as that sounds. Maybe I have to forgive myself for being woefully inexperienced and for wasting so much time and energy on someone who wanted little and less to do with me. The real kicker here is that, had I spent all that pent-up passion and mental energy on actually, you know, playing the trumpet and not pining after Mr. First Chair, I’d be touring the world with the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra or something.

And so, I will play the past, and I will play the present. Youthful pining and dissonant regret, followed by crescendo and resolution into true love. The stuff true music is made of.

Well. It has been some time.

And the good news is, it’s because I got a job. A real one.

Funny how it happened: I finally sucked it up and asked for help from the place where I did my internship. The very day I verbally accepted another English teaching job, my contact/headhunter asked me to come down to a certain house that houses the exact kind of work that I do. Well, almost. It’s a lot more education-oriented. However, the Big Boss wants projects and workshops to be more based on data and research which is… well, what I do. And he also wants to be more “internationalized.” It’s like it was made for me. I spent a good few months wondering if it wasn’t too good to be true, like the bubble would burst at any second.

Well, yes and no. The job is still mine. The paychecks are still coming, and the translations I do would be really expensive to outsource, and I bring in lots of foreign tour participants once they hear that they can get the tour in English. The financial case for my being there is strong.

So why do I still feel like I don’t deserve it?

Hell(o) Work

Hello Work my ass. At the insistence of various well-meaning persons, I went to the employment office to register myself as an incompetent asshat aspiring employee of an environmental company or CSR division. the gentleman I talked to all but wiped his ass with my CV and told me my cute little Business Japanese class was all well and great but utterly meaningless.

As if I were expecting to be employed tomorrow, FFS. I KNOW my level isn’t there yet. It’s as though I have “entitled” written on my face, when it’s not that way at all.

Anyway, I muttered to the Captain of the Douche Canoe that I’d like to see him get work in another country, to which he responded… nothing. Because he doesn’t speak a word of English. and yet, he has the right to lord over anyone who doesn’t speak perfect Japanese.

Judgmental hypocritical prick.

this book is kinda brilliant

I don’t know why my posts about this keep getting deleted, but anyway. Resilience: Facing Down Rejection and Criticism on the Road to Success by Mark McGuinness is… yeah, brilliant. Mainly in that it doesn’t do the kind of Pollyanna, chest-pounding, extroverted “motivational” bullshit that promise that you’ll never feel a negative emotion about rejection again, or imply that you don’t have what it takes if you do. Instead, its main tenet is that it is NORMAL–I repeat–NORMAL!! to feel like an incompetent piece of shit when you’ve been rejected, and realizing this is key to… if not overcoming it, then being able to keep going. Highly, highly recommend it. I have never heard of this author before, do not know him, and am not receiving advertising money of any kind. I’m just saying “hey this helped me, and it might help you too.” Plus, McGuinness. Can’t go wrong with that.



Networking. Ohhhh, how I fucking hate networking. The name itself implies a mechanical quality about it, as if the people around me are just little cogs in a matrix meant to do my bidding, and the job market rewards such a mindset.

as with writing a cover letter, it’s amazing how one can simultaneously come off as an incompetent beggar and entitled little snotball. “Hey, I’m obviously incompetent; that’s how it has come to pass that I am unemployed. Which is why you should totally give me a job.” Image

at least, that’s how I feel about it.

Probably the scarier a networking contact is, the more helpful he/she can be. But therein lies the problem. My former boss is “kind of a big deal” in my field; that’s how he got to be the boss. But that means he’s probably, I don’t know, drinking Scotch and smoking cigars with the President of Vietnam right now. Or something. What the hell kind of business do I have asking him to find me something? In the scenario that plays out in my head, he’s there in a smoke-filled room, and a butler brings out an iPhone. He reads “Hi, remember me? I did a really shitty presentation for you back in January. Unsurprisingly, I am still unemployed and would like you to help me…” He chortles and shows the Vietnamese President, who holds his nose to stop the Glenmorangie from spraying out his nose in an undignified manner. They erupt into laughter characteristic of successful middle-aged men.

OK, I guess that scenario was a bit ridiculous, but that was the point. If I can make my fears a bit absurd, my brain starts to realize that, hey, maybe the reality won’t quite be so bad.

Musings on Immigration


Today I read probably one of the most scathing accounts of Japan’s immigration policy that I’ve seen. It had a lot of very valid points about how unfairly people from South America or Southeast Asia have been treated under guest worker schemes.  I do agree that Japan will have to “getdafukover” its gaijin-phobia if they are to even remotely maintain population levels, and I do have a healthy distrust for all of the registration and tracking that goes on here. But scroll to the bottom and you find that basically, the author, like many others who live here, is butt-hurt that simply existing in the country for long enough doesn’t automatically entitle him to any kind of continued special treatment, including preferential visas under the new points system which is portrayed in the article as an overarching qualification for everyone who tries to extend a visa… except the policy is un-apologetically elite and not meant for everyone. Then he whines about how he doesn’t qualify. Neither do I–yet. But I’m working on it.

I think a big contributor to long-termer’s culture shock in Japan is that, for the first two years or so (maybe more like five if you’re a straight Caucasian male), you’re treated like royalty–that is, until the point comes where one must proverbially shit or get off the pot. Leave, or start pulling your weight. Although I do have the grievances mentioned above, is it really so bad if a country prefers that its immigrants actually contribute something beyond being willing to settle for a boring, dead-end job that pays just enough for them to spend their weekends getting wasted at the local faux Irish pub whilst letting their dutiful Japanese wife handle all the big, bad kanji. And while we’re on that topic, heavens forbid anyone actually have to learn the language!! Nooooo!!! What an insurmountable barrier of discrimination! Nooooo! We should continue to be entitled to high-paying English teaching jobs in which we do dick-all just for having been born to English speaking parents in an English-speaking country! How DARE Immigration expect such basic levels of assimilation of us! As if the immigration policies of their home countries are the paragon of internationalism and tolerance (Arizona, anyone? Germany? Iceland?)

It’s not that we’re being treated differently from Japanese; it’s the shock of going from dancing on a red carpet to being treated exactly like them (i.e. expectation of contribution) that gets to us. They have hoops to jump through too, just as I would if I were to repatriate. Yes, I’ll be the first to admit to a bad case of recurring butthurtitis every now and then. We’re all susceptible. But you know what? Instead of whining about how unfair it is that we have to work twice as hard to be seen as half as worthy, maybe all we can really do is say “Challenge accepted.”