Work love

Tonight, I did photography for a corporate Christmas party…, and I loved it.

It was more like play for me than work.

And I got paid for doing it.

I think this was my first time being paid for doing photography (aside from the small handful of photos that went to the college campus newspaper back when I got involved with it while in college).

Thinking about that now, I recall a recent talk from a local musician, and something she said about her process to becoming an effective full-time musician.

“Did I pay all my bills… doing this thing I love? Okay… maybe I can do it again next month…” -Kam Franklin

Quicker and quicker, I slither and slide toward that goal, and tonight was a perfect example of a great scoot forward.

Post-a-day 2018

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A found letter from Japan

I found this today.  It is from last August….  I suppose I sent it out in an e-mail to people… but I might have just considered sending it out, and never actually did it.  I have edited only the name of the town… just ’cause… you know, Japan.  😛

…………………………………………………..

My dearest family (and my friends who are like family),
I write to you from my new home in T—, Japan.  It is a small suburb of Tokyo, with a whopping (supposedly, anyway) 100,000 people.  I am tasked with assisting English language teachers at two different high schools in the town, one of them an art school, with specialties in painting/drawing/arts of that sort and music, and the other school a sort of engineering-for-mechanics-esque school.  My vagueness is purely due to the fact that no one seems to be able to explain to me about the schools.  On that note, no one seems to be able to explain anything to me clearly.  Guess that’s why I’m here in the first place – to help them with English, and to learn Japanese.
Going along with the lack of understanding point, I literally have no idea what’s going on around me a good amount of the time.  I was sort of trapped in my apartment the night I moved into it – I had purchased a futon (Japanese version of  a mattress – not too sure if I’m fond of it yet, ‘cause I miss my bed, but I think I can handle the futon alright) and toilet paper and towels, but that’s it.  No one could give me a map of the area (and didn’t think of it except for when I specifically asked for one); I didn’t have a copy of my address; and I don’t speak Japanese to be able to ask people for directions to get home if I went out and got lost.  Oh, and I had no phone or internet to look up where on earth to go without a paper map.
And, the best part: My predecessor told me that she had a lot of things she was giving me, so I wouldn’t need to buy most things like a fridge, storage, dishes, “that kind of stuff,” she said.  Way-to-be vague… 😛  So I had to eat food from 7/11 until she delivered her stuff to me… three days later.  No way to cook anything, because she has the electric burner for me to use.  No way to keep anything cold, so I couldn’t have fresh food of any kind for lunch at work (slash at all, since 7/11 isn’t entirely in the category of ‘fresh food’).  No way to feel like I’m not just possibly going to die (Yes, I realize the drama here.).
On top of it all, I was super stressed that I kept asking about going at least to get me a phone number, so that I could use the internet to function (map, translation, where to buy what, etc.), and they, unconcerned, mentioned that someone could take me some time next week “probably”, but I had to know exactly what plan I wanted and from which company.  Thanks, dude.  And how exactly do you propose I figure out that information with no internet, no map of the town, and no Japanese skills?
How did I solve the problem?  I went to meet another ALT (Assistant Language Teacher (Terminology for my program)) in Tokyo.  We’d become friends during the brief orientation in Tokyo earlier in the week, and she was up for helping my get a phone, so I didn’t have to stand in the 7/11 parking lot for super slow, choppy internet anymore (which I’d only discovered the night before).  Plus, I just needed some love.(1)
So I spent the day in Tokyo.  After two hours in the phone store, and using a translator (real person) on the phone, I had a new phone and a decent phone plan for the next two years.  We then went to Starbucks for a break and free wifi (for my friend to use), and we each caught up on all of our e-mails, messages, etc. from a million different people.
We then walked around a bit, and visited the Tokyo Tower area.  I had this realization as we passed one part of a temple there, that still hasn’t fully hit me.  Back home (USA), we have houses, etc., designed to look like traditional Japanese architecture, yes?  When I was looking at the temple building, my background, passive thought was the same as when I see such styles back home… and then I realized that this building is not made to ‘look like those buildings in Japan.’  This building IS ‘those buildings in Japan.’  It’s still sinking in.
(1) I can note here that I’d actually gone down to Tokyo that Friday night, just after discovering that I had internet in the 7/11 parking lot, which is down the street from my apartment (so I was able to find it without getting lost or anything – FYI streets don’t exactly have names here).  I was absolutely ready to cry from the stress of sitting around, waiting for people to take forever to accomplish tasks – unfortunately, my supervisor has never done this sort of thing before, so she had to have everything explained to her multiple times – and not knowing how I was even going to get dinner (I only found the 7/11 that night).
A friend who already had a phone (because he speaks Japanese, and so figured it out while we’d all been at orientation), happened to be in Tokyo for a festival with a coworker and the coworker’s friend, and invited me to come down for the evening.  So, I managed to access train schedules (just barely with the internet connection there), screen shotted them, and set up a rescue plan, should things not work out (i.e. I knew 7/11 had internet, so I’d go find any 7/11, and the friend would come find me there), before rushing off to Tokyo.
I walked right into my friend when I arrived in Tokyo, and was given a nice, big hug.  Hugs are really one of the best medicines.  We watched the tail end of the festival (very cool with dancing performances and drums and bells all along this long street), and then all went to dinner.  Turns out I only live a town over from the coworker’s friend, and she and I decided to be friends.  (We’ve been in touch ever since.)
………………………………………………..
Post-a-day 2018

But… those are mine – the things we do for love <3

Girls and bracelets.  Seems like a rather simple topic, right?  Just girls and bracelets.  Nothing special.  Today, however, they were both special.

It was my last day going by the school where I have been based this past year.  A student had been in touch to find out this information, and so knew that I was going to be there today in the morning.  When I arrived at my (well, it’s not my former desk, but I guess it must have still been mine, since the stuff all on it was for me) desk, I was surprised by a small and adorable (because Japan) pile of wrapped gifts.  Each one had a different note and was from someone different, both teachers and students.  They all surprised me, but the one that got me ready for tears was the one on a beautiful piece of Rapunzel Disney (C) paper, with “Love” tape to attach it to the pink bag.  It read:

Dear Hannah
Present for you.

From Nono, Yuna

These were the two main trumpet players in the band at school, the two with whom I had spent bits of time here and there, just listening to them play, chatting with them, having lunch with them, taking photos with and of them, letting them paint me (yes, they painted my arms one day), giving them fun jazz (which they had never heard!) music to play, and also playing trumpet with them.  Of course, I am going to miss these two dearly.

However, I never quite expected a present from them.  Let alone the nice little Japanese mirror, charm, and coin purse (or maybe it’s for makeup, even).  They’re designed to go with the whole yukata/kimono getup, and I had never found ones to go with mine.  So it was essentially a perfect going-away present for me!  And they had no idea.  They were just being sweet and giving me something Japanese.

So, a short time later, they show up to the teachers’ room and ask for me.  I rush over to them and shove them out of the teachers’ room in a hurry – no one else needs to be part of this little celebration-slash-goodbye ordeal that’s about to go down.

With the two are a handful of other girls from the band, too.  I thank them eagerly (Is that right?  Let me check… “eager, avid, keen, anxious, athirst mean moved by a strong and urgent desire or interest. eager implies ardor and enthusiasm and sometimes impatience at delay or restraint,” says merriam-webster.com, so I accept it as appropriate in this case.), and give hugs all around.  Some embrace the american social norm, and others delight in it hesitantly, but they all hug me with joy and enthusiasm.  I will miss these guys, runs through my head as we’re all chatting and being silly together, and I know my thought is right.  I will miss them desperately, and I know they will miss me, too.  The simple fact that my successor is not even musically inclined shows the unlikelihood of their finding a replacement-ish for me, and the fact that I am leaving Japan almost guarantees that I couldn’t even begin to find a sort of replacement for all of them.

As we are wrapping things up, so that they can go eat before they have to be back at band rehearsal (to which I had been listening earlier on in the morning, secretly), I notice yet again a comment directed at my shins-ankles-feet region.  i couldn’t hear what was said, as it wasn’t said to me.  Each time it happened, the comment was almost whispered to another girl, just quietly enough that I couldn’t quite hear.  But I could see.

I wondered if they were finally noticing how I don’t shave my legs – I kind of gave up shaving… not sure where I’m going with that in life, but it seems to be the current situation.  I am always happy to talk about almost anything with the girls, despite their often being incredibly shy about most things.  So, as I usually do, I encourage the comment to come to the open.

Finally, someone gets the nerve enough to say it aloud, and I am surprised.  It was not, as I thought, anything to do with my hairy legs (it is dirty blonde, after all, so it isn’t all too noticeable in the first place, but I imagine they’re all accustomed to mine already anyway, plus they seem to love the colors in all my various hairs (since they’re not just black, like Japanese people’s)).  What was the comment regarding?  My anklet.

“She… want… it,” was the oh-so-embarrasing phrase.  And oh, what self-searching consideration I had to make all of a sudden – I was amazed at myself at my success in the matter.

And so, as we all hug once more (or twice more) and say our goodbyes, I watch with a huge smile and a chuckle, as three of the girls bounce off wearing my anklet and two bracelets, all of which I had made for myself a couple or few years ago, and all of which I absolutely love wearing.  But, hey, as I told the girls, I made those myself, so I can get some more Mookaite and Jasper stones when I get back to Houston (I might even still have some, actually), and make myself some new versions of those same bracelets and the matching anklet.  Plus, as much as those meant to me, it pales in comparison to how much each now (and likely for the rest of their lives) means to those girls.  As they say in Japanese, one of them told me that it is her “precious treasure”.  I’m not sure they could have been more grateful, even if I had made the bracelets for them specifically.

I still kind of can’t believe those girls got my bracelets and anklet off of me.  But I also love how wonderful it felt to give away a part of myself to those who so greatly longed for a bit of it.  It was more than just giving away something I had with me, because it was 1)something I valued and 2)something I made myself, for myself.  It really was giving away a part of me.  It kind of feels like I’ll be able to take care of them forever, in some small way.  I like that.

Anyway, that was about ten minutes of today.  A really, really good ten minutes.  🙂


 

Post-a-day 2017

Breakdown in Town

Today I did a sort of volunteering, and I had a total breakdown for myself.  (Yes, tears and all!)  😀

As I noticed my irritation at being skipped over for helping with certain things, I wondered why I cared – it’s not like any of this takes master brain power, or special Hannah skills in the first place, so why am I annoyed at being asked to do this task versus that task?  I eventually got to the source of my irritation:  I was asked to do this task, because it doesn’t required any Japanese knowledge or use.  I was not asked to do other tasks, because the assigners believed me incapable of accomplishing them (due to my level of Japanese).

It was a three-part annoyance initially.
1) They aren’t letting me to something, because they think me incapable.
2) They didn’t even check if I were capable of the tasks, but just assumed me incapable.
3) I actually was incredibly capable of those particular tasks, and had even done them before, when my Japanese was a much lower level than it is now.

Now, these are all things that could cause some real annoyance, right?  Right.

However, I looked further than that.  I am here, making a difference, and that’s my purpose of being here.  So why am I getting annoyed at this whole thing?  What’s behind those three concerns?  Well, I didn’t know at first.

As part of the thing at which I was helping, one of the conversations was about complaints we have in life, and what we get out of those complaints, as well as what we miss out on because of our having retained the complaints.

The area which stuck out to me instantly (and which I did not want to address, of course) was my job.  Almost immediately from the start of this one-year-contract job, I disliked it.  And, here I am, four moths later, still hating it.  Even though there are plenty of things I love about it, I still have this utter dislike of my job.  It’s boring.  It’s a waste of my time.  I’m better than this.  They’re doing it all wrong – it would makes Loads more sense to do it This way instead.  They’re stupid – they just need to listen to me and let me do it.  Why do I have to do it This way?… This way sucks! And, most of all, Why do I have to be here in such a crap situation?

So, seeing this constant, repeating complaints about my job, I looked at what I got out of the complaining.  More than anything else, I get to be right, and I get to avoid responsibility.  I get to be right that my job sucks and, obviously, everyone telling me what to do or how to do things is totally wrong, as well as that I shouldn’t be here and am better than all of this boring nonsense that a Monkey could do.  I get to avoid the responsibility of finding a job I love, and putting forth the effort required for such a task, allowing me to be a victim of the situation of my job, as opposed to the fact that I was lazy, and just went one of the easier routes in finding an international job.  This sucks, and it’s totally not my fault at all.  That was about it.

And, what did I miss out on by being right and by avoiding responsibility in finding a great job?  Relationships with the people around me each day.  Sleep (from staying up, hating having to go to work the next morning, and so putting it off as long as possible).  Fun at work.  Joy in my day-to-day.  Sharing my love and wisdom with the world.  Being happy, and spreading my usually-infectious happiness all around me.  Being calm and relaxed (because I was so stressed all the time with the annoyance of “My job sucks.”).  Loving life.  Being me*.

So, what did this have to do with my annoyance in the volunteering?  Well, with all of my complaints around my work, I had been so focused on proving to who knows who that everything is just wrong about my job, that I had sacrificed not only getting to know the country around me, but also really studying, using, and learning Japanese.  So, essentially, I was pissed off, because I had kept myself from learning more Japanese, which had caused the problem of the people here today thinking I didn’t know enough Japanese to help with certain fun tasks.  Wow.

 

Now, I cried tears of fury when I finally saw that.  Total breakdown, right?  Right.  So, I declared that, in terms of the Japanese learning and studying, I would write out the list of phrases and such that I normally would learn (when learning a new language) before going to bed tonight, and that I would have them translated correctly to Japanese by 6p.m. Wednesday.  A first step in creating my advancement in the study of the Japanese language.  And I’m actually really excited now, thinking about all the fun and silly and crazy things I’ll get to go do, now that I’m actually taking on learning Japanese (and by “actually taking on learning Japanese”, I mean learning it Really, ridiculously well).

I’m still not willing to give up everything on the work complaints, and I’m not so sure why…, but I’m going to look into that this week.  There’s something still in the way for me in letting that all go.  I’m okay letting go of most of it, but something deep down is holding tight to a wadded handful of complaints. (Haha, how ridiculous does this sound?  Ridiculous to me, and yet I still won’t let it all go!  Craziness, Hannah.  Craziness.)  😀  How about we plan that I get over it by Tuesday of next week, 12 noon?  Sounds good.  I can get my final hours and days of being angry at my job, and hopefully see how utterly ridiculous it, and just let it go and have a breakthrough where I create something new and fabulous (and beneficial, of course!) in its stead.  I’ve had a breakdown, so now it is time for a breakthrough!  Okay, go!  😀  Yess!  😀

 

*I, because I do care about grammar.

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