Making conversation at customs

Tonight, at the airport’s immigration and customs check, I was chatting casually with the girl working my counter.  When my passport scanned, and my picture appeared on the screen, she commented that I had had short hair back then, and, after a comment from me, she asked about the reasoning behind the short hair.

I told her that I had shaved it as part of a fundraiser for pediatric cancer, and we both marveled at the idea of having no hair at all.  She asked about people’s reactions to it, and I shared of the regular misconceptions people had – first, when it was very short, that I had cancer, then, as it grew longer a bit, that I was either making a political statement or was a homosexual or gender fluid individual.  At her request, I told of the oddities that come with growing one’s hair long again, after having it be short for so long (it takes a long while to grow out long hair from a bald scalp), and how I regularly am surprised still today when my hair whacks a guy in the face while dancing, or gets stuck as I roll up the window in the car.

She told me of a time that she had complimented a woman’s hair style, which happened to be quite short but super flattering on the woman.  The woman had replied that she had only just recently been free of her cancer, and so this was her first hair growing back in, and she was utterly flattered and touched at the simple compliment from this sweet immigration and customs worker, who, in turn, complimented me on my fundraising efforts, my confidence, and my general desire to do good in the works.

As we parted, I had tears in my eyes.  I think that might be the best airport staff conversation I’ve ever had and ever will have. 

Post-a-day 2017

 

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Surprising Beauty

Some people have a sort of surprising beauty, I swear.  Not that I find myself surprised to find someone beautiful, as though he or she ought not to be, or anything like that.  But that the beauty is so subtle that it takes a little while to be fully observed – that, the longer you look, the more beauty you see.

At first glance, the person just seems like a nice-looking person.  But then, upon closer inspection (especially via conversation and direct interaction), something that begins in the eyes seems to spread slowly and powerfully outward, almost like a flower comes into bloom.  But this flower was already in bloom – it’s merely the viewer’s perspective that is suddenly adjusting to this particular kind bloom, discovering suddenly it’s true beauty.

I’m not sure how else to explain this, really, but I find it a very powerful thing, this beauty, and I wanted to share about it.  I met someone tonight who is like this.  I had seen him various times already, but only from a distance.  After a very brief minute or two in conversation, – looking into his eyes, seeing his smile up close – I was staggered.  Books talk about people having these “bright eyes” that don’t actually have much to do with their hue or shade, but I had never encountered such a set of eyes until tonight.  Though these eyes were not particularly bright in color, there was a sort of deep light exuding from them, creating a sense of grounding and peace with their gaze.  From these eyes, the other facial features slowly came to life in a whole new way – in a way that made it almost impossible not to stare.  It is just that kind of beauty.  And the unexpectedness of this sudden release of such beauty made it all the more powerful.  Societal standards of being well-behaved prevented me from simply gazing openly at him, even though this was not in a sexual way, but as though observing reverently a piece of magnificent art.  However, I certainly looked forward to every opportunity I reasonably had to experience the delight of viewing such beauty again.
Post-a-day 2017

Trying something old newly

Today, I was granted the opportunity I have so greatly desire these past few years to compete in a certain category of dancing.  Years ago, it was only normal for me to compete in this category, but then some mental things happened, I didn’t like where I stood with the category, and so I stopped.  Until I had a new perspective and relationship with it all, it was best that I not participate…, though I am only just now realizing the truth to this – at the time, I was just tired of my fear of rejection, and especially the seemingly constant unfortunate partnerships in which I ended up being.

So today, I had a beautiful and brief and clearly god-given chat with someone who gave me my new perspective.  There was barely ten minutes remaining for sign-ups for all competitions, though everyone was pretty much all signed up for everything desired at this point, and a guy near me suddenly turned to me and asked me if I were competing this weekend.

We talked about it.  I explained where I stood with perspective, including my desire for a new one, and he gave me his own perspective, and well as some on-the-spot thought-out ideas.  I was nervous, yet excited, as he accompanied me to the registration desk, and I registered myself for one category, and asked for help in finding a partner for the other category.

Thirty minutes later, I had my partner (who had already signed up, but just without a name for the parent, so we just added my name onto his registration), and I was even excited about competing.

When it came time for competition tonight, he and I had danced maybe four songs together total.  So our fifth ever song was in competition (and sixth and seventh).  I felt a bit meh about our performance, but I was okay with it – we had only just met, and I hadn’t really known the songs too well or at all, not was I in the habit any longer of competitive dancing.  So there were a million improvements to be made to meet just my own standards for making finals in a contest of this caliber.

Sure enough, my sentiments were validate when I  watched the videos of our dances – not bad, but not great either.  Just meh – average whatever mixed with good spurts here and there.  And so I didn’t much expect to make finals, leaving me comfortable with the resulting non-finals-making.  Yeah, it’s a bummer not to make finals.  And I want to be confidently in finals whenever I am in them, instead of being in them by surprise.  You know what I mean?  I want to deserve it without a doubt, as opposed to being mediocre and that being enough.

And so, I am happy that I competed. And tomorrow, I might not make finals either.  That one has been mentally harder for me on the past.  However, I think this is the perfect time and place for me to try it out, give it a go, and keep my head held high, all in preparation for future dancing events.  I want perfection of myself, and competition is a darn good way to work towards that.  I was reminded of that today.  Both parts of it.  So I no longer have to compete to win the competition, but can compete in an aim for my own perfection.  I mean, come on – who doesn’t want perfection when hundreds of people are quite obviously watching?  Hmm??  🙂
Post-a-day 2017

A New Self in an old place

I find it amazing how it is somewhat terrifying to face an old circumstance as a new person.  When one has changed so much – one could even say that a transformation has occurred, at times – that the behaviors previously associated with a certain circumstance seem incredibly strange, not you, almost foreign.  And yet… when the circumstances present themselves for the first time since this transformation of the self, the transformation seems to rush to the corner, preparing to cower and disappear until the circumstances go away.

I say all of this, because I find myself tonight in one of those circumstances.  I was once a very active member in this portion of the dance community.  Who I was and how I was when I last was really involved, they are completely different from who and how I am now.  Especially through all of my struggles, and my rustling self-improvement and self-empowerment these past 8-ish months, I am not the same person as I was back then, in the dance world.  However, tonight is the first time that I am really back in that world – it is the first time the new self meets the old circumstances.

And so, as I began tonight’s events with the dance community, my comfortable calm from earlier in the evening began quickly to quaver, giving me a sense of panic, overall discomfort, and rather short breaths.

However, I was able to notice these things happening to me, almost as though I were metely an observer of the events, and not the one actually experiencing them.  In doing that, I was able to make sense of the situation – I began to panic, because panicky stress was who I was being when last I was in this world of dance.  I had never known this world as the new self, and it was so second-nature for me to behave the old way, as I had done it so often for so long.

So, instead of panicking further about my panicking, or letting the old ways take hold, I thanked them for sharing their thoughts, and evaluated the actual situation in front of me.  Do I actually care about such-and-such?  No, not really.  Other people see it differently, though.  Am I okay with that?  Yes, I actually am.  Okie doke.

And suddenly I am free of the stress, and I get to be myself again, and freely so.  And it is wonderful.  It is still a bit terrifying, thinking of going fully back into this world in the coming months and year.  However, this rough but groundbreaking start was a great way to get the ball rolling, and to encourage and empower me to be my true self, no matter what.
Post-a-day 2017

Shaving

The last time I recall shaving my underarms was in late January, when I attended a friend’s wedding celebration.  This is not to gross out anyone, but just to share this brief bit of my journey so far in my endeavor to be comfortable with my natural body.  That being said, I continue…

The hair was not too long, and I always kept it all clean.  I recently began wondering if I were, in fact, just plain tired of having the hair, if I weren’t ready to shave it all off, just so I could not have to think about it ever, wondering if it is visible and freaking out someone nearby.  However, as I shaved it all off tonight, in preparation for warm and balmy Singapore and a weekend of likely-to-be-sweaty dancing, I was rather surprised.  Rather than being filled with the usual feeling of freedom and easiness that typically comes with shaving my underarms, I felt something quite different inside me – I felt a sense of… well… was it loss? I’m not sure exactly, but the sensation was something peculiar, as though what was happening was quite odd and almost uncomfortable, unnatural.  I felt so exposed, and incredibly so, once the hair was dissappeared, I was unsure of myself and my relationship with the hair.  Had I somehow become accustomed to having his hair I have been rather looking forward to ditching?  I’m beginning to think so…, and I think I’m liking the feeling.  🙂
Post-a-day 2017

Rain and Love

Last night, as I was heading out from school, I left the well-lit library to find incredibly dark hallways.  As I passed an adjoining hallway, I joked with a group of girls who seemed to be heading in my direction.  We all headed down the hallway and downstairs in a goofy, laughing group, and were met at the front doors by a group of students and pouring rain.  I sighed at the rain, and began to accept my wet and cold fate, but slowly.  I was mostly concerned about my backpack and the fact that I’d only just this week left home without my backpack rain cover.

“No umbrella?” one of the girls asked me.

“Nope.”

“Me, too.”

“Me, too.”

“Me, too!”

There were several other nods to these statements.

“Six people. One umbrella.”  They all laughed, and I with them.

I quickly corrected the ‘too’ to ‘neither’, and we all set out to the entranceway’s outdoor covering, where another group of students was standing around.  With only a brief pause, as though to psych ourselves up, we then shot out into the rain with squeals and laughter and sloshes and splashes in what seemed like every direction.

As we bounded down the hill, I fell behind with calls for being careful on the slippery slope that had developed from our driveway.  One girl called out to me, and urged me closer to her.  She was on her own now, the pack of howling girls just ahead.  But she had the umbrella, so I had little hesitation in joining her beneath it.

As we made our final descent to the train station, she struggled through bits of English to inform me that her grandmother’s car would be waiting for her after the bus, and so she only needed to get to the bus at the station, and then would not need her umbrella, so would I please take it?  I eventually acquiesced, thanked gratefully, and told her to come to my desk the next day to pick up her umbrella.  She was delighted, and so was I.  I was delighted beyond reason at the scenario itself, and I was naturally excited that the contents of my bag were now safe.  What an evening!  🙂
Post-a-day 2017

Baby Blue Eyes

Today, I met the other half of my new students at my base school.  It being their first lesson with me, the bulk of the lesson was designed around a sort of self-introduction on my part.

We did some fun warm-ups, – I must say that there is nothing quite like watching a group of girls suddenly start waving their hands in the air, shouting, “Money!  Moneyyyy!  Moneyyy!” over and over again – followed by a PowerPoint of ten fun questions about me.  No, these kids don’t know me or much anything about me beyond what can be seen, but that’s the whole fun of having them decide answers to questions about me.  I set it up, of course, in a natural flow of easy answers in the beginning and complex ones by the end.  So, things like my height, my eye color, whether I can eat natto (a local specialty that foreigners typically not only hate, but cannot even manage to eat), pets and siblings, places I’ve lived and languages I speak…, those sorts of things.  It does a rather good job of giving me a feel for the students’ abilities and comfort levels with English, as well as allowing them to have and understand a somewhat well-rounded background for me (even if it is a rather well-rounded background that only tells them that there is a whole lot more to me than could be expected, and that I’m totally awesome and utterly weird compared to what they’re used to having in their daily lives here).

That being said, – this is a kind of long set-up, I know, but bear with me – one might think that students would have all sorts of questions to ask me about me and my life.  And they actually do, really.  However, they all have a desire greater than wanting to know more information about me, something they want to do first.  And that desire is the point of this set-up.

This afternoon, after school, I was walking across the outdoor walkway, heading to pick up something across the school grounds.  One of the students from one of today’s classes happened to be walking in the opposite direction on the walkway.  As our paths began to cross, I greeted him, as I usually do with my kids, and he responded happily.  However, he had an air of hesitation about him, and so I paused with raised eyebrows to see what was up.

He stood silently at first, but soon began, “Could you…,” mumbles in Japanese, then mumbles, “… show me…,” before coming out with the full sentence, “Could you show me… your eyes?”

I kid you not – this is Japan.  Being accustomed to the never-ending desire my students all seem to have to gaze into my blue eyes, I smiled brightly, granted him an, “Of course!”, and opened my eyes wide.  The sun just might have given them a bit of a sparkle for this little guy to enjoy.  For a good, true five seconds, he stared, amazed, at my eyes.  Then, having verified the truth of my blue eyes, he thanked me and said his goodbye, heading off on his original path.

Adorable.  Just plain adorable, these kiddos.
Post-a-day 2017