Heart-ing Accents

I love accents.

Tonight, walking home from an incredible sprint to the train station, which was through the ridiculously cold weather (causing my throat, all the way down into my chest, to burn most of the way back home), in order for a friend to catch the last train home for the night, I called up a different friend of mine, just to check in and say a ten-minute “Hello.”

Now, I don’t have many acquaintances who are Australian, and I see and speak with them rather rarely.  So, whenever I talk with this particular friend, who, naturally, is Australian, I am delighted with the mini surprises the accent provides me in conversation.  I am accustomed to the British and Canadian and US English accents, and even the New Zealander accent.  But that Australian one just drives me so goofy (Yes, I realize that is not a standard phrase, but let’s roll with it, shall we?  Yes, let’s.), I get a rush of joy and giggles when it pops out, differentiating itself from the other accents to which I am accustomed.

I’m not sure how this love for accents developed, but I have a hunch it was in our societal view of foreign accents.  For some reason, it is always the foreigner who is exotic and desirable above all others in a TV show or movie, or even book.  Sure, they are different from our everyday, but they are just like loads of other people in their own home countries.  (You know, this really doesn’t make much sense, where I have this heading…)  So, yes, they are different and thereby exotic when they are here, and not when they are back in their home countries.  But why must they be so portrayed as desirable, sexy?  How did that get decided, I wonder?  Just a wondering, I have…

Anyway, the point of all of this was that my friend has an Australian accent, which is a new thing for me (my first full-time Australian friend, you see), and it always surprises me when things end up being pronounced a different way than I had subconsciously expected, and it makes me smile and giggle with delight every time.  So, thank you, God, for the cuteness and wonderfulness of various accents in our world.  🙂


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Gumbo is a family affair

Tomorrow, I get to make my first attempt at Gumbo.  I am thrilled, and totally terrified.  😛

I asked my mom for the recipe, so that I could make it for Christmas for Japanese friends, in order to share a bit of my culture with them (Even though it’s definitely not a standard Christmas dinner for Texans, it’s my family’s Christmas dinner pretty much every year.), and also to feel at home a bit for the holiday.

Now, my mom couldn’t just send me the recipe.  Why?  She said that she would have to tell it to me.  “Really?  It’s not written down somewhere?” I thought.  Well, apparently it is possibly written somewhere, however, my mom doesn’t use it.  She uses the recipe her mother has used for the past however many decades, which is probably just about the same as her mother used.  How cool is that?  Family tradition that’s extra-especial.  We have a family recipe.  Well, sort of, anyway.  😛

Now I just have to get it right, and then remember it forever, so that I can continue the tradition of delicious Gumbo in our family.


P.S.  “Loser’s Gumbo” is a fabulous song by Shake Russel and Michael Hearne.  Find it.  Listen to it.  Laugh at it.  Enjoy it forever.  🙂


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Perfection in the Unexpected

Tonight I went to a bar.  (For me, that’s actually a somewhat surprising event, for those who don’t already know this.)  A recent friend just started working there, and invited me to come by on her first(?) night, tonight.  I figured it would be nice to see the friend, as well as get to know a little place in my town (and, by going early, I could potentially avoid smokers filling the place).

In preparing to go to the bar, I figured I would bring along this speech I just wrote (like yesterday), so that I could spend my time practicing the speech, whenever the friend was busy working.  Plus, I knew there’d be a slight chance of getting a local to help me with the speech (because it’s in Japanese, so I can use the help!).

What I was not prepared to have happen, was pretty much everything that happened.

The bar was quaint and cool, and had an art gallery as half of its space, along with fabulous music playing quietly in the background, such that it was never a bother.  The people were not only friendly, but American-like in their open conversations and friendliness with one another – it was as though they were all already friends, although they definitely were not.  Following that style of friendliness, they all rather quickly learned of this speech I was reading over, as well as the details of the competition, and when I have to do what, and the fact that I decided to participate only last night.

As I was preparing to leave, and the people nearest me were wishing me luck on my practice, someone suggested I come back and read the finished product.  We all agreed that it was a good idea.  Then someone else suggested reading the speech now for practice. Seeing as how I had hardly practiced reading it, I knew it would take forever, and said so.

Thirty seconds later, silence was attained throughout the bar, and I read the first section of my speech to my avid audience of these Japanese bar-dwellers.  I messed up.  Of course, I did.  And it was fabulous.

It was totally terrifying, and I did it anyway, and I even did a decent job.  Some of it was perfect, and some of it was not even close to perfect.  But the experience, in and of itself, was absolutely perfect.  (Even though there was a guy smoking off and on…, but he, being the wonderful smoker he is, always held his cigarette high, and blew his smoke up as high as possible, to keep it out of our faces.)  And that’s the point of it all, anyway.  Once I arrived home, I even got to chat with a friend I’ve been missing lately, and that was a blast…  Perfection has been attained tonight, so now I shall sleep.  Goodnight!  😀


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Afraid of Greatness (in Language) (Really?)

I recently have been terrified of learning and using the Japanese language.  Why?  Because I am terrified of the millions of mistakes I know will ensue the moment I attempt to use anything beyond a small “Ohayou,” or “Konnichiwa,” (which I already happen to mess up regularly).  

What is it that has me be afraid of these millions of little mistakes, which I have make thousands of times before with other languages?  

Truly, I believe it is because I know what happens when I make mistakes.  When I make a mistake, firstly, I am opening myself up, making myself vulnerable to all those around me; secondly, by being open and vulnerable, I am allowing myself a chance to learn more about who I truly am, what I have inside.  And, frankly, I’m terrified of what I might find.  Not because I think what I might find is bad.  Certainly not.  But because, as the beautiful words of Marianne Williamson said, my deepest fear is not that I am inadequate, but that I am powerful beyond measure.  What if, by opening up, making mistakes, and throwing myself into learning Japanese, I finally discover what I want to do with my life, and I go and do it?  

How amazing would that be?  

And, thus, how terrifying.


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Women’s Gym Buzz

Something that I noticed today, was how our mutual love of human connection, and the pursuit of it, help build connections and relationships among one another.  Allow me to explain with the circumstances of today’s noticing.  Be forewarned, that this might just be a female thing… and it might not be…, but I’m going to write about it from the female perspective and such.

At the gym this evening, one of the ladies was asking politely about me, various this-and-thats.  However, the moment one of her questions led to my explanation of a boy I’ve somewhat recently met, the polite, casual interest of the surrounding ladies/girls turned electric – anyone could have felt the excitement and intrigue, as eyes, ears, and smiles all focused on me and my wacky story (yes, it is actually wacky, I promise).

In those few sentences, polite acquaintance took a sharp turn toward a friendship sort of connectedness.  These women/girls became invested in my life and the outcome of my story.  They can hardly wait to hear what happens next, they even checked schedules for when they next would see me, so they could plot out what all could happen between tonight and then, already in preparation for more of my story.

And the best part is that we all know the story might go nowhere.  However, we so care about intimate human connection, that we want everyone to have it, and we can enjoy others’ pursuit and acquisition of it.  (Yes, perhaps there are a handful of people who are so angry and sad and lonely without human connection, that they wish no one else to have it.  However, in everyday circumstances, we are nearly as excited for a friend finding a boyfriend (and half the time for anyone, really – have you never rooted for that guy or girl in a film?), as we would be for ourselves.)  These ladies/girls are so incredibly excited for my potential situation, that they can hardly stand it – one even did a sort of little dance, and they all were cracking up laughing, with joy and excitement at my whole situation (as I explained it in broken Japanese (though, to my delight, successfully!)).

Anyway, I just wanted to share how beautiful I find that whole event from this evening.  We went from a group of ladies/girls who happen to be at the same gym, to a group of people tied together by the common bond of love.  As human beings we have bio-philia – we love living beings, and especially other humans.  And it’s so fun getting to share that love with others (thereby satisfying part of that bio-philia by bringing us closer with those others around us) as we pursue another form of love and connection in our lives.

Gosh, it would be really fun if this whole story of mine turned out totally fabulous – what a tale to tell, it would be!  ;P


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Architecture is a gray area

Walking along with a friend yesterday, I paused and backtracked along the walkway, until I reached what would have been the center of the road (I say ‘what would have been’ instead of ‘what was’ simply because we were on an elevated walkway, a couple or few stories up from ground level, so we weren’t actually in the road… plus, I’m not so sure the road actually went directly underneath us, as we were in front of a train station… anyway…).  I gazed, intrigued, down the corridor of this main street.  We were a few floors up on all the buildings, and so, instead of seeing the gray lower portions of each building, we saw the upward-reaching, colorful advertisements attached like little stick-on banners (although they were glass or metal or the likes) on most of the buildings.  All I could think was, “Look at all the colors.”

We had earlier been talking about how gray Japan seems to me.  Not as a society, but in terms of its buildings.  Everything constructed just seems so gray, I can’t imagine why anyone would want such dullness?  Streets, buildings, houses – everywhere you look is a shade of gray as its main color.

Now, as we looked out on this surprising mini-sea of colors, Japan seemed even more crazy to me.  Why?  Because who on Earth is going to see those advertisements?  Sure, we just noticed them, but only just barely, and I can’t read any of them, anyway, because each individual ad is too small (assuming I could read the Japanese in the first place).  Even on the ground, craning up your neck, you’d hardly be able to read anything more than the first one or two signs (Yes, I have tried many-a-times).  So why on Earth is 1) advertising so inaccessible to the eye of the passer-by, and 2) all the color up where no one gets to enjoy it, and all the gray down low for everyone to see?

In expressing my thoughts and sentiments on the matter, my friend shared with me the fact that Japanese law only allows buildings’ exteriors to be black, white, or gray.  Why?  ‘So everyone is together,’ he replied.

This struck me even more odd.  Not for uniformity, as I felt it was forcing people to be, requiring them to set aside their individual personalities and self-expressions, but for togetherness, for unity.  Now perhaps this was merely how this one person worded it.  Perhaps it is the way everyone who knows about the law would word it.

Nonetheless, it really had me think about how I was viewing the situation.  Perhaps it isn’t such a troublesome annoyance, so much as a team-building, unifying experience.  Maybe that’s why Japanese architecture is renowned – because they have so much emphasis on lines, angles, shaping, knowing that they have limited options on color.  And perhaps it isn’t.  Either way, it’s a fun thought experiment to play, and it reminds me to talk more to local people about things that rub me an odd way – perhaps they have the keys to transforming my experience, simply by sharing the Why behind the event.


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Life & Illness

Today has been a beautiful day for many reasons- weather, activities, clothes, company, sights, etc. And yet, here I am at 6pm feeling dreadfully ill. Some days, you know? Haha

I guess I’all have to take what I said to a friend today (though it was about pets, and his not wanting them, because he didn’t want to be sad about their dying down the road): If you want to be amazingly happy, you have to have that stint of sadness at some point- they come together. So, if you never want to be sad, then you also never really get to be happy and experience joy in life… I’m sure this ties into my getting sick at the end of this wonderful day… too non-functional right now to reason it all out any further…


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Henna, Henna, & Hannah

Today, I shared henna with a Japanese girlfriend of mine.  She thoroughly enjoyed it, as did I.  We drew on one another (well, she wrote a Kanji on me, which, being a sort of picture, I think can count in the drawing spectrum), and had a delightful time just sitting around until it all dried, and we could go get marshmallows and chocolate to make our s’mores (to have with our mulled/spiced wine).

Now, what do I find delightfully comical about this?  Neither of us commented (and I didn’t even notice until just now) on the name of it.  Henna, a word which, to me in English, means fabulous dried, crushed, and paste-made leaves for hair and skin coloring use.  However, in my almost-daily life now, I use the word henna, a Japanese word that means “strange”.  So this strange, new paste stuff, henna, which Hannah has brought to share, is suitably named.  😀

Kind of henna, huh?


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Friday Fame

Today is Friday, and it was a beautiful day.   I experienced lots of love from people, and gave lots of love to people and to myself.  As I passed an empty classroom, I recognized a student’s muffler, and decided to leave a secret note.  An hour later, three girls appeared in the room where I had been secretly sleeping in the sun all morning, their having deciphered my note.  I was so proud, I didn’t even mind that they woke me.  😀

A few hours later, heading to the end-of-year party at my other school, I noticed that I was surrounded on the bus.  We got off at the train station, and the girls all gathered ’round me to say their farewells (which happened to include, “I miss you already,” and “We love Hannah-Sensei.”).  As I walked away, the thought popped into my head, “I have a posse.”

And then I burst out laughing, utterly delighted, and simultaneously slightly appalled. I, Hannah, actually have my own sort of posse.  Wow.  What a life.  Michael (another language assistant) was totally right, when he said I was probably surrounded by a group of students somewhere unexpected, that time I wasn’t responding to messages.  Huh.  Guess this means I’m kind of famous (and the liked kind of famous!).  SOOoooooo weird!

Although this does have it make more sense, when you consider the fact that one student is painting me for one of her major projects in the art school…


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World AIDS Day

Today is December First, World AIDS Day.  First, thank you, Hal, for everything you have been and have yet to be in my life and in the world at large.  You are in every note I hear, and your goodness lives in my heart with every good deed I do that shows people – and with extreme clarity – that they are loved and valued, and especially whenever I get to share music with them.  I love you.

On that note, I thought I would share what I wrote a few years back for a World AIDS Day performance/show.  I collaborated with my neighbor and friend Jessie, and we did a reading with music, for which I read the following (and, naturally, cried, because I’m me*), and she played guitar in the background, and eventually led into singing “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack.

I spent some time that day talking with my friend Hal about the experience of living with AIDS, in preparation for the celebration/performance/show that evening, because I really didn’t know what to write.  (I had agreed to it only that week, and possibly even just the day beforehand, because another friend really wanted us to do something in it.)  This was the resulting ponderings after that discussion with Hal.


The long and winding road of life is, indeed, long and winding.  Constantly, when I think about life, I remember the line from the fuzzy blue fellow, Stitch: “Is little, and broken, but still good.  Yeah… still good.”  The first time I heard the line, I couldn’t help but to hear it as talking about life.  Originally a simple statement about an odd little family, that line has been in existence for me every minute, every moment of my life.  The first part is a fill in the blank, but the second remains constant: “…, but still good.  Yeah… still good.”  Life is hard and life is fun; it is painful and it is calming; it constantly gives us trouble and it constantly provides us with joy.  Life sometimes just straight up sucks, but it is still good.  Yup… still good.  I cannot say that I know pain, but I can say that I know my pain.  I have not lived through everything, but I have lived through my things.  And in all my stuff – all my pains and my everything – , I’ve discovered that there is always going to be the bad stuff.  Though crazy , I enjoy the fact, because with every event, there is opportunity; with every hardship, there can be growth.  I still remember often seeing the line “Pain is weakness leaving the body” when I was younger.  It was an Army poster in my eldest brother’s room.  It never made me think of the Army.  Truly, with every pain in life, one can grow stronger – there is always something to get from every situation.  The part that people often miss is that they don’t look for it, and they are left in pain for who knows how long; they are left in sadness until they’re either shocked out of it, forget about it, or die.  Rather than be stuck on the bad things that happen in life, if we were to take them head-on, bash into them, and yank out whatever is there for us to have, to learn, we would no longer be subject to…anything, really.  Sometimes life just lifes you in the butt, but if you learn from the experience, if you let that weakness leave you, you can come out stronger than ever from it, happier than ever thought possible.

I cannot recall how many people in my life have AIDS or any other disease, virus, or whatever.  And it isn’t because I don’t know they have it.  I know it, but I don’t notice it.  These people, the ones with the life-threatening illnesses, are the people who see life differently, clearly.  These are the people who grab life by the horns and go for a ride.  These are the people who see life for the opportunity that it is.  These are the people who climb their mountains with a smile on their faces and in their hearts.  These are the people who can teach the world to live.

Sometimes life does life you in the butt – as often is the case in having AIDS or any other life-threatening illness.  When you see it happen, help.  Encourage.  Love.  Learn.  Remember that, though it sucks, there is still something to get out of it, even if it doesn’t happen to you.  Learn from others whom you see living life – don’t sit around and dwell in sadness; grab it up with both arms, give it a good hug and let it go; don’t fight with it – dance with it.  And when you see other people struggling, with whatever they may be struggling, remind them that they, too, have a choice:  they can be hurt and go nowhere.  They can sit it out or they can dance.  I implore you: dance with them.  Dance.

—–cue singing by Jessie —–

“I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’
Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin’
Don’t let some Hellbent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to sellin’ out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance (Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along)
I hope you dance

I hope you dance (Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder)
I hope you dance (Where those years have gone?)

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance


I hope you dance
I hope you dance (Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along)
I hope you dance (Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder?)

Written by Tia Sillers, Mark Sanders • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

*Yes, that grammar drives me nuts.  I.  I am I. !!!!!  😀

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