Thursday, April 24, 2014

We don't need tickets

My absolute favourite line from Gossip Girl is this:
"We don't need tickets; I'm Chuck Bass." 

I have always wanted to say something even half as cool.

I've mentioned a few times that I have no money right now. I've quite gotten used to being constantly broke at a level that only a constantly broke person could understand. But, being broke has caused me to realise that pretty amazing things happen to me, and they are completely independent of cash flow.

Having just got back from Nigeria, it occurs to me that the majority of the coolest places I've been on have been paid for by someone else or heavily subsidised. Jamaica, Colombia, Japan - all not me. Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Morocco, Bermuda, Montreal, 11 US states - I actually got paid to see them.

Even apart from crazy travel experiences, there are a lot of other ways in which things just fall into my lap. I am the sort of person who gets jobs first and applies for them after. Who gets amazing opportunities to meet really famous/ really inspiring people like Maya Angelou without going out of her way. The sort of person who finds herself in positions people work really hard to be in, without putting in the effort and purely on a fluke.

And even outside the big things, there are little things that the 'having of no money' usually prevents that I still have access to. But my amazing support system of family friends makes it possible for me not to be a complete recluse. Thank you. (Or as they say in Yoruba "ẹ se" - eh sheh)

And I say all this not to boast, but to be appreciative of the good things that come my way. My new Yoruba name, Oluwayemisi, loosely translates to "God honours me."

Fo sheezy.

So while I may not have enough money to be sure of all the things that should be bought or paid for are actually bought or paid for, I do have a list a mile long of amazing blessings. So much so that I'm able to match Chuck Bass. If only in reverse.

I don't need money; I am Claire Dawn Oluwayemisi.

àṣẹ (asheh)
(Yoruba for Let it be so.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

World Order- Far Out Friday

 Every year, after watching the previous year's Danthology, I make a playlist with all the songs. The songs I can't stand eventually get deleted - rap that's too raucous, electronica with no words, Gangnam style... But other than that, it makes an awesome playlist. This year I discovered's #thatPOWER.

I'm jamming along to the track for like three seconds, until... Wait, I've seen that dance somewhere before... Huh? That street sign is in Japanese. Oh my gosh, yes! What's the name of the crazy- skilled Japanese-guy slow-walking dance group?

Yeah, now I remember. World Order. Pretty sure that is NOT them in the vid. Unless it's like their second-string team or something. The vid was filmed in Japan. I have no doubt about that. So why aren't World Order a part of it? Were they like, "You cute, but no. We can't be tarnishing our name with the likes of that not-surgically-precise thing you're doing there."

Either which way. World Order is amazing. I love how they're like, "We will just dance in the middle of Narita International Airport, the biggest airport in Japan, and one of the most trafficked in Asia. Meh, no biggie." And I love that the world tries to copy it. Even if they come nowhere close.

Looks like Japan leads the world in more than just technology.

One more vid for the road. And yeah, Japanese dating is pretty much like that.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Danthology 2013 - Time Travel Tuesday

Maybe, you've never heard of it, but every year this dude named Daniel Kim, mixes together a bunch of music's biggest hits (from a North American perspective). Living in Japan, it's too hard to keep my finger on the Western pulse, so I tend to ignore it. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to know who sang what, and who the new guys in the game are. So every January, it's Danthology time.

Any tunes on it that you LURVED? Any tunes you think were big enough to be on it and weren't?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Re-finding my Blog Voice (MomM)

Once upon a time, I was an avid blogger. I had a plan. There was a designation for every day of the week.

Monday on my Mind.
Tell it Tuesday and Time Travel Tuesday.
Write Away Wednesday.
Talk Back Thursday.
Far out Friday.

I was so into the blog scene that I even gave a lecture on the topic at the Japan Writers' Conference.

Oh, how the Mighty have fallen.

Back then, I didn't look for blog topics. I was tripping over them. I'd have 3 or 4 blogs pop into my head almost fully written every day.

Hold up a sec, let me repeat that slowly.




I couldn't very well post them all. So I wrote them down, just in case I had a drought. But I never did. Until now. Wish I could find that notebook...

Now that I'm not in the practice of belching up my soul every 24 hours, I can't really remember how to do it. I can't remember what you like. Or how I used to be able to tap into that. I hardly even get to read anymore, and I don't know the last time I did any novel-writing. The biggest thing that defined this blog isn't even really a part of my life right now.

I feel like the biggest disappointment. I mean, I know noone's crying into their Earl Grey over the state of Points of Claire-ification (except maybe me). I'm just that kind of person. I like to keep my word. And every time one of you comments or follows or even reads all the way to the end of the post, it's a vote of confidence. And in return for that small favour, I make a promise. It's woven into the words the second I click the "Publish" button.

I will not waste your precious time.
I will try to be relevant.
I will interact with you.
I will educate and share my world.
I will be fun and entertaining.

I will give you what you want.

It's been over a year since I've properly kept any of those unspoken promises. So, in apology, I offer you a new one.

I will re-find my blogging voice.

Here's hoping you're along for the ride.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Translating it is

This month's contribution to the happiness project will be translation.

How'd I pick it?

Well, I'm not one to fight the tide. (At least sometimes.) And the truth is there's a lot of translation going on in my life right now. I've been translating for school and for work. And yes, I work at the school, but I don't work FOR the school, so it's two different things. Plus, the mayor has put me on a committee, so I have a massive amount of translation related to those documents. Just so that I understand what is going on and pull my own weight and stuff.

But why does translation get a month?

I've been thinking about my Happiness Year, and I realise it's not htat much about happiness. At least not in the Western sense. Maybe in a Socratic sense. I mean I'm manic-depressive. Half the time I'm too "happy" and when I'm depressed it's because I "can't" be happy. So happiness really isn't my problem.

Unless we're talking Socratic happiness. Because to Socrates had a lot to do with being the best person you can be. And personality-wise, I don't think I do a bad job. But in terms of moving forward in life, I don't feel like I'm growing. At 32, I feel like I'm at exactly the same place as when I finished secondary school. Yes, I've moved from Barbados to Japan, which is literally half the world and all, but still. It's like I'm spinning and spinning and all I get for my efforts is dizzy.

So my Happiness Year is really about cultivating the habits and skills that will make me a better person in the future; the sort of skills that will maybe move my career forward when that career finally falls into place.

Translation happens to be one of those things.

How about you guys? Do you feel like your lives are moving along swimmingly? Is there anything that you really want to improve on?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Far out Friday - Days by Yoshida Yamada

When I came back to my tiny town in backabush Japan, I went to the bank. While there, this song came on the tv. (Hmm, do Western banks have tvs? I think all the Japanese banks do...)  The song is called Days. It's about all the ups and downs of love (and life) and it made me cry right there in the bank. I was in a translate-y mood last weekend, so I thought I'd make an English version. The NHK (tv station) animated version and the official music video are both below the lyrics.

First- two caveats. There are no plurals in Japanese, so some of the "days" might be plural, but I kept them all singular for the feel of repetition from the original. Second, Japanese hardly uses pronouns. So all the pronouns are my own doing. "He" could as easily have been "she" or "they". The bit at the end that's in quotation marks, I've written like the singers are sending a message to the audience, but it could be the grandfather or grandmother speaking to their other half.

That said, I give you "Days" by Yoshida Yamada.

Grandfather locks eyes with Grandmother, they hardly speak
They’ve passed the time cuddled together, but it hasn’t always been happy
Thick-lens glasses, wrinkly palms,
There are memories you can’t see in photos that make them laugh together

The day they met, the day they realised they were in love
The day they got married, the day they almost broke up
The day they first held their child, the day they let him go
Tears overflow
These are happy days

Grandfather never uses Grandmother’s name, even when he calls her
His angry face is his every day face, but he whistles when he’s happy
His favorite knit cap is one she knitted for him
Just like his childhood, he can’t find the words to say thanks

The day he made her cry, the day she left home
The day they embraced, the day they slept backing each other
The day he gave her hope, the day she hated him for it
The tears overflow
Frightfully up and down days
Grandfather gets sick, grandmother cries alone
“You have to tell him how you feel. Always. Everyday. Truly.”


Just count the tears.
Surely these are happy days.

NHK animated version.

Artist Official Music Video

What makes life happy, is that it's not always happy. Strangely beautiful concept.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Happiness Year - January

This last time coming back from home, I picked up a new book in Chicago. It's called The Happiness Project and it's by Gretchen Rubin. I've only read about 10 pages, since my life is stupid busy right now, but I've read enough to understand the basic concept.

Gretchen Rubin was happy. But she wasn't as happy as she figured she could be. So decided to take active steps towards seizing her happiness, but like most of us, she wasn't in a position to drop everything and Eat, Love, Pray her way across the world. And so she decided to make a happiness project. There's a lot more depth to it, I'm sure but, essentially she decided to spend each month for a year improving some facet of her life.

As I coincidentally picked up the book in January, that wonderful resolution-filled month, I thought it might be fun to try my own happiness project. Of course, then I promptly forgot, and got caught up in watching the Gatchaman (Live Action) movie on the in-flight entertainment system. Following that, I watched two more movies in Japanese. And as I'm not one to halfdo anything, it didn't stop when I got off the plane.

When I got home I watched the movies I bought for my birthday as well as the series I bought for Christmas. And then I watched the ones I bought last year. And now I'm working my way through rewatching the series from 2 years ago.

Here's a list of the Japanese movies and tv I've watched in January:

Gatchaman -movie
The Sunny Girl - movie
I need to buy new shoes - movie
Atashinchi no Danshi (My Boys - More than friends, less than lovers) - 11 episodes
Hentai Kamen - movie
Surely Someday - movie
Ikemen Desu Ne - 11 episodes
Sailor Moon (Live Action) 49 episodes

And so without even trying this month has become the month of on-screen Japanese.

But what exactly does that do for my happiness? Well, I'm a screen addict. Obviously. So massive amounts of DVD time always make me happy. Apart from that, watching Japanese products in Japan tends to mean no subtitles. It makes for incredible listening practise. Even though it was my 13th time watching Ikemen Desu Ne (yes, believe me, I know) I still heard new words and noticed new grammatical structures. So apart from the instant gratification that is burying myself in a cocoon of Japanese drama, there is an application for future happiness.

Also, I'm pretty sure I haven't mentioned it here, but I've decided to get into the entertainment industry in Japan. It will be quite a few years before I can do anything major towards that end, but in the mean time, all the time I spend watching DVDs is almost like an industry internship. Another application towards my future happiness.

As I didn't mean for January to be the month of Japanese DVDs, I have no idea what February will bring. I'm going back and forth on a few things. Maybe I'll get back to my efforts to get in shape. Maybe I'll try to do something more tangible for my entertainment future, like intern at a radio station or something. Maybe I'll get back to my writing in English. Maybe I'll start writing in Japanese. Maybe I'll work more on my Japanese-English translation.

But I've come this far - even if accidentally - I might as well do something towards my future and my happiness next me. Looking forward to seeing what it will be.

PS, You guys are observant so I know you've noticed that the name of the book is The Happiness Project and the name of the post is The Happiness Year. The Happiness Year is actually the name of the year running from April 2013 forward when Tokyo Disney celebrates it's 30th anniversary.

Details can have an inverse effect on me, working as demotivation.