Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 mash up set: Bridget Jones style :)

Well, another year has come and gone. Here's a snapshot of what I've accomplished.

Countries visited: 7
Countries flown through, but didn't stay in: 2
Amazing MA programs discovered: 2
Novels completed, but not edited: 2
Weight lost: -2 kilos :'(
Celibate days: 364 (lol)
Totally awesome Prince Charming's met: 1 :D

It was an absolutely fantastic year for me (except for the weight, but hopefully we'll fix that up next year- and yes, I am celibate on purpose...). I'll be rounding it out sitting on a Cathay Pacific aircraft. I can't help but think that's the perfect way to end my most travelled year.

Best wishes to everyone for 2010! I'll catch you next year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

WaW- A Christmas Gift

So you want to be a writer?

Great! What's stopping you? You heard me right. What is stopping you?

Are you super-busy? Do you worry that your work isn't good enough? Are you torn about where to start?

Well, join the club.

If you really want to be a writer you've got to stop making excuses, and start carpe-ing some diem!

Here's a quick checklist of things to do to put the dream in motion.

1. Write!
Okay, I know it sounds silly. But it's something that's often overlooked. People sit around agonising forever and ever about what they'd like to do, and never actually DO it. The proof is in the pudding, people. Pull up a chair and grab a pencil or a keyboard, and get some words down. It doesn't matter what you write about. Even if you write on a topic that you're sure would interest noone, all that matters is that you get a start.

2. Manage your time
Everybody is busy. It's the way the world works these days. (If you happen to be one of the 10 people in the world who isn't busy, please feel free to come to Japan and help me with some of my work.) If you really think you can't find time to write, here's what you do. Grab a notebook, and record everything you do for a week, along with how long you do it. You'll be surprised at how much time you spend doing a large roll of nothing. Do you really NEED to spend 40 minutes on youtube watching music videos? Not unless you're a music critic. (Credit for the notebook idea to Chris Baty- "No Plot, No Problem.)

3. Write every day
Now, on first glance this may appear to be the same as point 1. It isn't. (Or maybe it is and I'm shortchanging you- but, wait, you don't pay me- so yo've got nothing to lose anyhow!) In point 1, I'm reminding you to start writing. Now I'm telling you to keep writing. The way you get good at something is to practice, make it a habit. Every day you'll be a little better. Noone's any good the first time they jump on a board. (Believe me, I had my first surf lesson two days ago, and I've got the bruises to prove it.)

4. Get your feet wet
There are a ton of ways to publish your work in places that others can see. You'll open yourself to criticism, but it will also help you improve. And you want to improve- unless you're just writing because the flesh on your hands finds HB's sexy. You can find a magazine or newspaper you like and try submitting articles or short stories. And in this internet age, there is nothing easier than posting to a blog every day.

5. Study the craft
There are several ways in which you can do this. None of them need cost you a single cent more than you already spend. Firstly, read with a critical eye. Get a pile of books, preferably in the same genre you'd like to write and read them. Note what works and what doesn't. Did you like the really vivid descriptions, or do you prefer the writer leaves more to the imagination? Does a first person narration draw you into a story or do you prefer a third person so you can see multiple characters at the same depth? When you note these things in reading, you may want to carry them into your own writing.
You might also want to do some more formal study of the craft. The internet is a fantastic medium. You can find many writer resources free online. And if you chose to, you can even enroll in a course.

Well, there's an early Christmas present. Everybody enjoy your Christmas! Don't overdo it! See ya soon!

DISCLAIMER: Claire Gittens (Linguista) is not a published author, and has no authority whatsoever. She just thinks a lot, and sometimes it makes sense!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Watering the lawn -MoMM

22 by Lily Allen
When she was 22 the future looked bright
But she's nearly 30 now and she's out every night
I see that look in her face, she's got that look in her eye
She's thinking how did I get here and wondering why

It's sad but it's true, how society says her life is already over
There's nothing to do and there's nothing to say
'Til the man of her dreams comes along
Picks her up and puts her over his shoulder
It seems so unlikely in this day and age

I heard this song for the first time yesterday in my step-grandmother's car. (Forgive me if it's been around forever. I live in Japan so my perception of things from the rest of the world is seriously skewed.) My first thought was "Wow, that's depressing." But then I thought it was, as Lily herself asserted, "sad but it's true."

As females, from the minute we pass 25- earlier for some, later for others, we start feeling like we should be at this point. We should be married, or at the very least be involved with the guy we're going to marry. And we should have a child, or be in a relationship which will produce a child in the near future. And if we're not, we can hear this clock ticking, like a large biological time bomb.

It's not so bad for me, because I have a son, and so, I'm not thinking about the fact that I have 7 reproductive years before I put my child at higher risk for Down's Syndrome. By extension, marriage shouldn't be etched in my mind, since I already have a child, and I'm living the life, even without a husband. Still, I here the clock.

And even with not particularly female issues, I hear the clock. I look at my friends who graduated secondary school with me and have their Masters or Doctoral Degrees, my friends who are accountants, lawyers, doctors, etc. And then I take a little peep in the mirror. Just a teeny-tiny one, because a full-on stare is scary. A 28 year old unmarried, Assistant teacher living across the world from home, in a semi-permanent arrangement. Freddy Krueger move over- I am my own worst nightmare!

And when you pile it up that way, who wouldn't feel like the woman in the song? Who wouldn't want to go back to 22, and cram as much in as they could?

And then I stop myself. Okay, I'm unmarried. AND in a job with a maximum of 3 more years. AND living in a country where I don't want to spend the rest of my life. AND with just a Bachelor's degree in French and Spanish to my name. AND with nothing in particular in the bank...


I have a beautiful, brilliant, zany son
I've seen 6 of 7 continents
I speak 5 languages
I live in a country half the Western world wants to visit
For pete's sake, I am typing this at my step grand-mother's computer in Western Australia having just completed my first surf lesson!

And then, I think, my life is kinda cool.

Sure the grass is always greener on the other side. But you can bet your last goanna that someone, somewhere is looking at your lawn and thinking, Damn, I wish I had it like that!

And you know what? You do! You do have it like that. So enjoy it. Live it up! As Samuel Selvon said in "A Brighter Sun", "What is to is, must is."

I still hear the clock ticking.

Tick -tock. Tick-tock.
What have you enjoyed today?

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.
Are you seizing every moment of every minute?

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.
Did you water your lawn today?

Tick-tock. Live!

(PS- I'm still in the bush and on a dial-up connection- so no pix, and I won't be on often :( )

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009- Oh the Awesome Sauce Places you'll go!

Today, I'm recapping the totally awesome places I've been in 2009. It's been an awesome (and crazy) year, and I'm kinda wondering how 2010 is going to top it.

First off, thanks to the trains of Japan, which make my life a lot easier than if I didn't live in a train town. Even though the train to Dinkvilla (the proper name of my town) is relatively inconvenient, it exists, which is better than not having a train like some towns. The IGR is my train, the JR trains service most of Japan.

And of course the Shinkansen (bullet train)

I started the year out at home in beautiful Barbados.


I went cherry blossom viewing in Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan (1 prefecture North of where I live).

I went to Bangkok, en route to India.

I spent the first few days in India in Mumbai.

Then I flew my first (and only ) 5 star airline to Chennai.

I met up with the volunteers and we took the train to Eluru, Andhra Pradesh.

The toilet on the train.


I did a volunteer trip in India. The group I went with is called longitude. If you're interested in donating or volunteering, visit

This is KI Village (sorry the name is really long and noone uses it, so I forgot it) where longitude and Indian group ARV set up a feeding centre providing each child a boiled egg and a glass of milk every morning. Most days it's the only thing some of them eat.

Kids in GP (Gummalapadu Villlage) -where my team worked for most of the trip- playing with some of the volunteers.

The girls on the team, in donated saris.

India's caste system, illegal but noone enforces the law, so it still exists.


I visited Jesus' grave, Japan.



I went to pick up new JETs (Japan Exchange and Teaching participants) in Tokyo. Then I went to Summer Sonic, the crazy concert in my last post. Then I came back to Tokyo an dstayed in the cheapest hostel here- Khaosan. It was excellent and for only $18 USD a night.

John looks like he's about to turn into Agent Smith. lol.

A shop in Harajuku, Tokyo.

There was a Gundam in Odaiba, Tokyo for the month of August.

Then it was off to Hong Kong.

We flew through Taiwan, where Kim Possible is Ron Stoppable. lol.

The City and Victoria harbour, between Hong Kong and Kowloon, as seen from the Peak. There's an incredible sound and lights show, the biggest in the world, held every night at 8 pm. It's called The Symphony of Lights.

I went to Mme Tussauds to show former Presidents how it's done.

Then I showed Einstein a thing or two.

Off to Avenue of Stars.

Bruce Lee is from Hong Kong, and so is Jackie Chan.

I visited the biggest bronze Buddha in the world. And climbed the 8 million steps to see it up close. UGH!

On the Disney train. Hair is a mess. Haven't seen those shades in a minute. Wonder where they've gone....

Look who I ran into!

From there it was back to Japan, and I climbed Mount Fuji at the end of the month!

Flying the Barbados flag in front of the "Congratulations, you've reached the top of Fuji" sign.


A week of holidays in Japan coincided with my Secondary School best friend's birthday, so I went to visit her in Toronto, Canada.

We stopped by Niagara Falls, as we drove down to New Jersey.

And we hung out in New York City on Saturday night with another friend from school.


I visited a friend in Miyagi, one prefecture South, for Thanksgiving.


Perth- adventures in progress.

Can't wait for 2010!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

2009- Awesome with Awesome Sauce on top! - Entertainment Events

So just because it's the in thing to do (and I'm too hip to be a square) I'm going to run off a list of the media that really impressed me this year. Some of it was released this year, some has been around for a while and I've only just discovered it.

Awesome blogs discovered: Nathan Bransford, Ex hot Girl, Marsha Sigman, Turning Iwatean (who happens to be a friend up here in Japan), Natalie Whipple and just in at the buzzer, Jewlia!

Awesome movies: Twilight (released in Japan in April), New Moon (yes, I'm a fan. Twilight is an awesome fairy tale, and Edward is nowhere near as creepy as some of the other fairy tale princes), Changeling, Angels and Demons,The Proposal and Harry Potter.

Awesome books read: To Kill a Mockingbird (I've never had to read it, because I'm not American, and because they forcefeed the classics in secondary school, I've avoided reading them voluntarily), Prom Nights from Hell, The Other Boleyn Girl, Cosmetique de l'ennemi, Th1rteen R3asons Why.

Awesome songs on my Yahoo Music:

John Mayer "Who Says",

Leona Lewis "Happy",

Alicia Keys "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart",

Regina Spektor's "Laughing With", Relient K "Who I am Hates Who I've Been",

Julieta Venegas "Limon y Sal",

Jennifer Lopez "Que Hiciste",

Keith Urban "Only you can love me this way",

Taylor Swift " You belong with me",

Kellie Pickler "Best Days of your life",

Owl City "Fireflies",

Weezer "If you're Wondering if I want you to (I want you to)

Flying Machines "On a whim"

and Kris Allen "Live like we're Dying"

(Couldn't embed for some vids, but you can look them up on youtube if you really want to hear he rest of my all-over-the-road musical taste:)

Awesome things famous Barbadians did:

Ryan Brathwaite won 110 m hurdles at World Championships

Shontelle Layne's song Battle Cry was released on Obama's compilation, Yes We Can.

Rihanna released her 4th album, Rated R, after a topsy turvy year involving the most public domestic violence case since Tina Turner.

Livvi Franc teamed up with Pitbull for "Now I'm that Bitch (Chick)"

And I loved her song Free. It's so Caribbean, and it's filmed on my beautiful island, Barbados.

Singer/Songwriter Hal Linton signed with Rihanna's management team, and appeared on BET's Rising Icons!

Awesome Performers I saw live:

I went to a 3 day music Festival in the Summer in Osaka, Japan and it had a crazy awesome lineup. I missed Linkin Park to catch my bus.

It was a great day with great whiskey! :)

Crowd on the big screen!

Random shirts are the in thing in Japan. This is a guy. Guys have cooler hair than women here :)

Standing in front of the crazy awesome lineup.

Scott Murphy- one of those people who's "big in Japan"

Solange Knowles

All American Rejects


Puffy Ami Yumi (like the Cartoon Network show)

UnicoOorn! A Japanese band from the 80's- I caught a drumstick they threw into the crowd!


Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

The Ting Tings


Elvis Costello


Lady Gaga


Nine Inch Nails

My Chemical Romance were a big hit, because they wrote their name in Japanese.

Katy Perry missed the show because of exhaustion, so I wrote this on the Summer Sonic wall.


My friend Wayne only came on the first day, but we had an awesome time!

Con, who I met at the hostel, was there all three days. He was disappointed that Phoenix couldn't play because of Swine Flu.

Sorry about the length of this post. 2009 was really awesome it seems! lol! I am just trying to get it all out of the way because I go to my grandmother's tomorrow, and I won't be able to use my computer, so I might not be able to upload photos.

Awesome Places I've Visited yet to come...