What(-anabe)?!

And, yet again, 渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe has shown up in my life.

I was visiting a friend in her classroom today at lunchtime, and some kids needed instruction and practice on how to do quick-changes for a theatre contest this weekend.  (We won’t discuss how they’re only just learning this skill, despite their not being new to theatre and despite their being enrolled in that particular contest [of many contests] over the weekend.)  I happen to have a rather strong background in the workings of theatre, and so I took over helping them, while my friend worked with other kids on tying knots (No idea, but maybe it connects with lighting in theatre?)

Anyway, as we were about to do a practice run-through of the quick-change I’d set up, using clothing items I’d found around the classroom, one of the kids with me asked, – and somewhat snarkily (though not rudely) I might add – ‘Are there even any shows that actually need this?’ I responded with an immediate affirmative, to which he queried, ‘Like what??’
Again, immediately, and out of seemingly nowhere in my brain stores, I said, “‘The King and I’… Yes.., Yes! ‘The King and I’!”
Somewhat chastened, though still quite happy, he said an, ‘O-kay…’
I had surprised even myself with my immediate response, and wasn’t entirely sure of how I’d found the video of that memory so quickly.  “There’s actually this really great video,” I said, “of a somewhat famous quick-change from it.  I’ll pull it up in just a minute, so you can watch it.  It’s actually really cool.”

And so, I pulled up the video and played it, admiring the quick-change and the whole concept of Broadway and fabulous singing voices and all that jazz, and explaining to the students what was happening and why.  Then, we resumed our practicing.  The video, however, continued on to another video, as YouTube’s auto-play feature does.  It was the same quick-change again, causing us to look briefly at it once more, but with the scenes before and after it included.  I happened to glance up after the quick change finished, and what did I see?

You guessed it: The leading lady dancing in the arms of 渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe.

And I was blown away doubly.  Because, despite the fact that I was remembering this quick-change video from “The King and I” at (I think) the Tony Awards, I had not made the connection from having read 渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe’s Internet info pages the other night that his being the lead in “The King and I” several years ago was the same production.  I’d even told my mom just this weekend about his having been in it, and we talked about it briefly.

But the two pieces of information were stored in such separate cabinets and files that they hadn’t linked up yet in my head.  Until, of course, I saw the video with him in it, and it all clicked.  And then I was actually jumping up and down, declaring that it was ‘渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe, it’s 渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe!’

Boy, I’d really like to interview him.

I wonder how he’ll pop up next into my life.  I can hardly wait to find out. 😀

Post-a-day 2018

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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

Music creates life

You know, music really can make life feel worth living.

These past few weeks have been really odd for me, and this week, especially, has been quite filled (to partial explosion) with stress, and an odd kind at that.  This afternoon, as I had still two hours to fill, after what had felt like a day’s worth of work and several hours of painful efforts to sleep, I put on my jacket and rushed out into the hallways to get myself moving around, and in hopes of finding something to help pass the time, preferably involving movement (thus my vague plan of aiming for the gymnasium).

The music students are currently preparing solos (with piano accompaniment), and so I came across one of my lovelies (the Bass player) rehearsing in the hallway/student entrance area (there’s a piano there) with her accompanist.  They welcomed me joyfully, and so I watched and hopped around (it was filthy cold) with semi-frozen delight for a bit.

They finished after not quite ten minutes, and so I wandered on my way toward the gym again.  As I was making the final turn, I was caught by a trumpet and a couple clarinets (which was fine by me).  One of them had told me that she wants to play with me, but our scheduled time for today had to be canceled, because she had to go home after rehearsal.  But she was here now, and practicing…, so she dragged me in and got me to play a bit (though not together, since we only had one trumpet).

Then, when I thought they were all leaving, they told me to come with them upstairs to what turned out to be a brief a capella singing rehearsal.  They were sopranos, so I got to stand with them and learn the soprano part to a very pretty Japanese song.  It was almost spooky how cool it sounded and felt to be in the group, making such beautiful music.

Afterward, we established that one girl is crazy, and I declared my similar mental state.  She and I, and others off and on, proceeded to dance around to the music of others rehearsing… we high fived as I was about to leave, as a sign of joint craziness and joy, and I said my goodbyes to the room, with lots of love in reply.  I truly felt myself at home with this goofy group of musicians.

As I rushed out the door, and put back on my shoes, a flautist was in the hallway, next to my shoes.  He excused himself, and I said, “Play!”  Instantly, and with a smile and an “Okay,” he played part of his solo piece for me.  It was beautiful.

And it was standing there in that freeing hallway, listening to this boy play flute, that the thought crossed my mind, unbitten, “Music really can make life worth living.”

As I have struggled with life lately, – and no, I don’t mean in the sense of giving up on life as a whole, but just on giving up on this part of life, living here and doing this job and all of that – what has gotten me through every time has been music.  Sometimes it has been live music from these kids at school, or from the guitar I got as an early Christmas present last week.  Sometimes it has been from Spotify or my music collection.  And sometimes even just a single song that a friend sent me from YouTube.

Whatever the case, the source of my survival, my strength, my belief that this life is worth continuing and working at, despite its near-overwhelming hardships, has been music.  I finally understand a bit what a friend of mine meant, when she said she felt like she had died, when she lost her hearing and, thereby, music.  When I don’t have the music, I just get used to the solemn melancholy, the deafening silence of a lifestyle I don’t love – I grow accustomed to not living, and I despise the existence (but that all just becomes the norm).  And when I do have the music, I am excited for today, for right now, and for what tomorrow might bring – I feel the life inside me and all around me, and I yearn to spread myself around and live to the fullest.

Music really does give life and make life worth living, even when it feels like you have nothing else for you.

I'm part of Post A Day 2016