Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hana[meat] 2017

Today is Mac's Gotcha Day!

8 YEARS ago I went to a SPCA event and fell in love with those -once orange, now white- eyebrows.  I've had this pup by my side for some of the craziest, most life-changing things I've lived through.  Lots of celebratory snuggles and treats and running around the little neighboring park shall be taking place today.

night one.  he was the same size as Bubba.  so smol.

Instead of a blog post today, last week we finally got a chance to check out Hanami.  If you're unfamiliar, this is the annual celebration in honor of the cherry blossoms blooming throughout the country.  It happened to coincide with a lot of rain this year, so we were lucky for one good day to jaunt over to Tsurumai park for the have one last sakura flower hurrah.  Mac was also pretty pumped*.

Check out the vid below, and have a great day!

(click to play or click here to open in a new window)

*You may remember from previous years when I mentioned the awesome food truck guy who sells kebabs and happens to be in the same place in the park each year for hanami.  He always remembers Mac, and Mac DEFINITELY remembers him.  I obviously played around with learning editing software on this little video, but I have to add that what you don't see here is the moment when Mac actually realizes there are food trucks in the park, and he immediately beelines to the spot where this particular food truck always is.  Mac and Meat Friend are for sure biffles.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Do You Remember The Time When I Was Electrocuted?

This morning, The Mister texted asking for a video of Mac doing his trademark “Moon Walk” trick.  It triggered a soundtrack for today consisting entirely of Michael Jackson.  I’m a “Dangerous” (on cassette tape, no less!) era kid - 
What was your MJ album of choice?  
Tell me in the comments!

*also if you want a giggle, here’s said Moonwalk video, which you should watch before lawyers swoop in and are all “you used less than 30 seconds of his songs and are gaining nothing monetarily from their use!  Cease and Desist because fun is illegal!”*

So.  Hi.  It’s been a hot minute.  Let me catch up quickly on life here since… well, November:

  • Kp2 and her SO moved back to Australia.  I am so happy for her to be reunited with her sassy little puggle dog… but I miss her bunches.
  • I have done approximately 0 things of notable interest outside of the daily “wake up, clean house, grocery shop, lather, rinse, repeat” mantra, and I’m struggling to find motivation to expand past that.
  • I failed the JLPT again.  For the third consecutive time, I passed every section of the test individually but missed the cumulative number of points needed for a pass by an infuriatingly small number.
  • We have officially entered our last year here in Nagoya.  Which means we’ve also entered into that lovely feeling of being constantly in limbo with regard to having any idea what the company really intends to do with us and on what timeline.  Note the sarcastic use of the word 'lovely.’

And so… the blog has suffered.  Like any other person with a presence on the internet, I prefer to share the things that make me happy, because spending time putting together verbal vomit on things that have made me sad or upset doesn’t do too much for me beyond making me more upset while also worrying my friends and family.

That said I’m about to spend a little time putting together some verbal vomit regarding the lights in this apartment because today we had ANOTHER LIGHT GO OUT.

But stick with me, maybe I can make it funny.

Lightbulbs are one of those things which have made me very aware of my inability to work outside my cultural comfort zone.  Because it should be. SO. EASY. to replace a light bulb.  I should be able to take the burnt out bulb from the socket, buy a new one at the store, and then come back plug it into the socket and rejoice in the light of the lord.

We’ve had a few lights burn out in our time here… our first one took me three trips to the store and then one very flustered call to an unhelpful “relocation expert” to finally successfully change.  Other bulbs… have just remained burnt out because we didn’t have a ladder and I was not keen to have to relive the feeling of a grown ass adult woman being the origin of every “how many [insert disparaged ethnicity/ gender/ occupation/ generation here] does it take to change a lightbulb?” joke.  I can change a lightbulb in the states, no problem.  Just so we’re clear.

Our shower room light died last year because that room is used for showers and as such the connections rusted and corroded.  Who’s surprised? We weren’t.  The “relocation expert” took days to bother getting someone lined up to come and fix it, so there was a week or so where the poor lighting lead to some “creative” leg shaving styles.  

A month ago the main light in our living room went out while The Mister was away with a navy commitment.  Determined to fix it myself, I push our arm chair underneath it so I can get a better look at the tiny kanji on the light shade instructing me to simply turn the shade clockwise to open it and access the bulbs.  I did this, but my gut told me it didn’t feel like it was turning “correctly” and so I let it go, admitted defeat, and contacted our “relocation expert.”  It took three days for any solution to get back to me; a duration of time that included me going to the Daiso to buy a stretchy headband and two little clip flashlights to make myself a headlamp by which to read.  

is it funnier if I keep pretending that's just a joke or
if I fess up and show you photographic evidence that I really did that?

The solution I eventually received was to simply keep turning, get the bulbs out and replace them, then twist the shade back on.  So.

*somewhere around here you may be noticing an outside force which seems to make every frustrating encounter I’ve had with our lighting a tad MORE frustrating.  I would touch on this further except I have actually tried to on 5 (FIVE!) different occasions to expand my thoughts on the subject and those writings are… well on every occasion that tangent has turned into a very ugly tirade.  To be clear, they make me laugh really hard and it helps me get the ick out of my system, but if I’m going to hell I don’t need to be dragging anyone with me.*

So. I’m back up on that arm chair and I did manage to get the shade off and the old bulbs out.  With NO ONE’S HELP I MANAGED TO FIND THE RIGHT BULBS FOR THE FIXTURE. (This is a personal win that I might have celebrated as if I had just received my first Oscar.)  
And then I went to put the shade back on while standing on an armchair, while on my tippy toes… and the entire fixture just unplugged from the ceiling and rested itself in my hands.

To reiterate, I am standing on my tippy-toes on an arm chair for all of this.  I can’t see to be able to line this stupid thing back up to plug it back into the ceiling.  We don’t have a ladder.  So I take a deep breath and do what I had tried so hard to avoid:  I call the “relocation expert.”  I explained I do not have a ladder or similarly sturdy structure in the house upon which I could stand to put the light back up.  That they need to get me help.  

Let’s long story short the ending - the response was “looks like you just need to plug it back in, good luck!” And so I waited another night or two until The Mister came back home from the navy, we went and bought a ladder, smashed into our little car, lugged it up to our little apartment, and we fixed the damn ceiling light ourselves.  Then, after joyously dancing around and double-fist-flipping-the-bird at the ceiling light, I proclaimed that I would NOT be dealing with another light bulb situation in this apartment; if something burned out we would just consider it mood lighting.  The Mister agreed, and we went out for Thai food.  It was good.  mmm, Pad Thai.

given the opportunity, I would gleefully 
become an endless looping gif of pad thai noodle consumption.

Yeah okay so then this morning the light in our entryway burnt out and there are zero windows there but also it is where the only full-length mirror is in the house and ugh it’s just one little lightbulb and we OWN a ladder now so I might as well.

This had every opportunity to go smoothly.  Old lightbulb out.  New lightbulb acquired.  New lightbulb in.  Switch on... and feel like I’ve leaped out of my skin because even though I did my part right the electricity is not going to the bulb but is instead zipping right into my finger through the light switch.  I shrieked.  I fell down.  I peed my pants a little.  It was a proud moment.

…I took a moment to get the rainbow of colorful language out of my system, and I have emailed the "relocation expert."  So let’s see where this goes.  Or not.  I mean, it’s a little hard to see in the dark. 

We’ll have to train Bubba to be a seeing-eye cat in that section of the apartment.

Random tangent I just have to share:  Today is Bubba’s 11th Birthday. He’s been along with me for over a decade and he’s still the most handsome little tabby cat who croaks instead of meows and holy gosh all the snuggles today to celebrate.  Sorry that we had to put you on a diet recently dude, but we gotta keep you in spec to weigh in as “carry on size” when we are all ready to leave Japan and come home.

*wait wait! where do we go from here?  I can promise that... I will try.  It will not be once a week, but I will try to be more frequent on this blog, and I suspect there will be more things to talk about as we prepare to go HOME, so stay tuned.  Meanwhile, I would remind you I am much more active on Instagram because it is very quick to update.  So.  You know, there's that.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Year in Review 2016


Well goodness, hello.
If you’re reading this, we’ve BOTH made it to 2017.  Let’s make ourselves at home.  I hear they have bananas.  (you know, for now.)
If you’re unfamiliar, each year in January I take a second to recap my previous year’s hopes and aspirations, and make a plan for the coming year.  It’s been nice to look back at these, so that’s what’s about to happen here.  You ready?  Let’s go.

2016’s goals:

1.  Pass the JLPT 4 (Japanese Language Proficiency Test, level 4). 
Did I do this?  Maybe?  Very possibly not.  There are only two testing dates a year for this exam.  In July I sat the exam and passed each section individually… but I did not get enough cumulative points to score a pass for the whole shebang.

I sat for it again in the beginning of December.  I felt confident going in, I felt WAY less confident coming out.  Results post in February, so… this one remains to be seen.  If I failed again, I will sit the exam *again* in July.  Third time’s the charm?  I take some small solace in the fact that at least if I failed, then the guy who unabashedly cheated off of me (SERIOUSLY WHAT THE HELL?!**) also failed.

and I'm particulately proud of the suite
I put together that not only
celebrates a marriage of two people,
but a marriage of two cultures.
2.  Do something I'm proud of with FINvites.  
I put together 2 large wedding packages during the past year, and had a slew of smaller pieces I created for clients throughout the year.  I am pleasantly surprised at how I managed to keep a queue of work going for this little business even though I’m so far away from it’s home-base physically… So I’m proud of that.  We’ll mark this in the win column.

speaking of... nudge nudge wink wink, instant download valentines are up in the Etsy!

3.  Another 4 Fabu Arts. 
4 Fabu Arts has been a goal of mine each of the past few years, and it’s always my favorite goal to look back on.  It’s another check in the win column.  
My baking game leveled up impressively, if I do say so myself.  

Spice cake with gingerbread cookie villiage.

With the PokémonGo craze rolling in, I made an adorable Bulbasaur costume for Mac, and an equally adorable Charmander stuffie that’ll rest on your shoulders.  

I made not one, but two(2!) piñatas for birthday celebrations.

And I began the journey of teaching myself flash animation.  The Mister got me a Wacom Cintiq Tablet for Christmas, so this learning will certainly continue.

4.  Maintain the pant size, and loose 10 lbs.  
Welp.  That’s a half-nope.  I maintained the pants size, I did NOT lose any weight.  Any.  I’m actually up a few lbs at the moment, because Christmas happened and the cakes I made were not just pretty, but also delicious.  But I mean, I can still get into my pants without having to do that thing where I lay down on the bed and wiggle the zipper while sucking in with all my might, so I’m okay with it.
mmm... kinda.

So that’s 2.5-3.5 out of 4 goals marked *win*  I’ll take it!

Now let’s take 2017.  There’s a lot that’s on the docket to happen, and I’m going to take a slightly different direction with goal setting this year.  For one, I’m done setting public weight-loss goals for myself.  Instead of constantly reminding myself and others that I’m not where I want to be, maybe I can start to get comfortable and happy with myself as I am.  So what goals will I set?

  1. Take an actual. Vacation-only trip. With just my husband. That’s planned ahead of time.  Specifically, a trip To Disney Land Japan. 
There are a lot of reasons this has not yet happened, and all of them make me mad at us as a couple.  We have to plan ahead, set aside money, make reservations, and then punch the people who want to steal our time in the face.  This can’t be spontaneous in any way, which is still something our American-ness mucks up CONSTANTLY.  We sit on planning crap until it’s too late, and rather than stressing out, spending a ton of extra money, and trying to mash a square peg into a round hole to make things work, my immediate reaction is always “eff it, no, I’m staying home.”  

So I’m putting it out into the ether.  I’m “secreting” this.  I have never been to a Disney park.  I want to go to a Disney park.  It’s not a temple, which is great because I love the many temples of Japan, and they are beautiful, but I’ve seen so many that they’re losing their wonder and that’s unacceptable.  I need a different thing to visit and enjoy.  And I want to go with just my husband, because there’s already going to be a million people there, I don’t want to have to keep track of more than one person.  Disney 2017.  This is the year, dammit.

2. Continue to learn Flash animation as a guilty pleasure which I feel zero guilt about.
I love making art for people.  LOVE.  But I realized somewhere around October that this past year I didn’t make a single piece of art which wasn’t intended for someone else.  I put my drawings up on Redbubble and Etsy for sale.  I made a bunch of trinkets for craft fairs.  I created designs for FINvites.  I painted and baked for friends and family.  I even started cross-blogging for a Japanese ex-pat site.  I love that I made all of the things I made, but it also affected my creative flow because I’m too concerned about what others will think about that art instead of just making what I want to make.  As such I’ve decided animation must be JUST for me.  I will likely share what I make.  But I’m not making a single animated thing for anyone else.  In just the little time that I’ve had to play with the tools The Mister gave me for Christmas, these little blips of animation have made the wheels of creativity turn at a speed I haven’t felt in a while.  And I’ve felt motivated to actually make the ideas I’m thinking of, which is perfect.  To keep me growing in this skill, I’d like to have at least 15 seconds of animation created for each month of the year.  (that sounds like not a lot, but I promise at 24 frames a second it is.)

3.  4 Fabu Arts.  
 As with previous years, this can be any 4 things that I create.  This can include animation, but I have a feeling the animation will serve to pave the way for lots of things.

4. Get settled in a home that is conducive to a PUPPY.  
I’ve long had a life plan which stated when a critter in my family turned 6, another critter would be added, because I know in my heart of hearts that on the unfortunate day that I will have to come home without a Mac-dog, if I have to see dog-things that do not have another dog to claim them, I will be irreparably broken.  I gambled on this when I agreed to come to Japan with The Mister, knowing Mac would be 9, and as a big dog, well into “senior” category, when we returned, but it will wait no longer. 

We’re officially on the last stretch of The Mister’s 3 year contract.  We’re hoping that it wraps up a little shy of the actual 3 years and we repatriate in the fall.  There’s a lot of work involved in this - figuring out where exactly we’ll be calling “home,” getting Mac and Bubs on planes, me trying to find a job which I can be happy in that will also work with whatever plan we settle on when we come back to the US, and I’m sure, a number of arguments with the people who handle our relocation.  We have an actual team of people who will help us accomplish this goal, but sadly that doesn’t make it an easy process.  So wish me luck.
Either a puppy will be adopted and added to the McD family before the end of 2017, or we will be ready for a puppy and waiting for the right one to become available for adoption.  Ideally, we’ll even be fostering a senior pup, because I’m still riding high from the feel-good that Little Miss Addie Pants gave us back in 2014.  

In short, I’m setting 2017 up to be a year that I take care of things that I need to be a happy person.  Because I would like to feel good enough about my life to get back to sharing it on this blog in a consistently fun and amusing way.  

What are your goals for 2017?  
Tell me in the comments!

*Full disclaimer:  I don’t know that this is a return to regular blogging.  Part of me wants to, and another part of me needs to be real honest that I don’t want to come back to this regularly until I know I can regularly write fun accounts of life in a positive voice.  I’m working to stop stalling out in grumble-cakes town, but that’s not something I’m going to do online.  That’s Ms. Lippy time.

**I just need a minute on this because I likely won’t be going back to write about this test on it’s own.  There is a set of rules that comes with your ticket to sit this test, and one of them outlines that cheating is strictly forbidden and results in immediate failure of the test if you’re caught cheating.  But if you’re caught cheating, the person you’re cheating OFF of is seen as an accomplice, and ALSO fails.  So even though I watched this guy LEAN OVER in his chair to look at my answer sheets, if I would have called him out I would have for sure failed that stupid test.  Lame to the lamest.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Give me a Break

I’ve been blogging at KpQuePasa since early 2011.  And every once in a while, I need a break.

This blog is best when I’m excited to write in it and share.  It suffers when I feel required or stressed over making sure I put something up.  And I’ve been feeling that obligation yuck lately.

So I’m gonna take another hiatus.  It’s happened before and it’ll happen again but it is not permanent.  I’ll be back once I’ve had some time to get reenergized and re-excited and compile some great stories to share.  

See you soon - I will obviously still post on my instagram, twitter, and tumblr when I have little snippets to share.   in the meantime have an adventure yourself so we have something to chat about :)


Monday, October 24, 2016

I want NOTHING for Christmas.

tiny disclaimer:  this isn’t really a blog post for the world at large, it’s more for my inner circle of people, who I hope do not take this as a personal offense or me lacking gratitude, because by golly that is 100% never my intention. In fact, I think I got into this specifically because I’m too intent on not offending to be able to protect my own interests in not being buried in stuff.  So there’s that.  Read on!

I finally snapped, and today I spent 7 hours decluttering our tiny apartment.

It’s been a long time coming (like at least 6 months I’ve been telling myself “tomorrow I’ll go through this place and reorganize”).  Because Japan is tiny, but we live like big Americans.  But also because I am terrified of taking out our trash.  So we had a lot of old and used up stuff taking up space in our home.  

I’ve talked about trash in Japan before; it’s a well-oiled system that takes a bit [<-understatement] of getting used to.  We sort all types of trash, and each kind goes out on a specific day at a specific time.  Combustibles, glass, plastic bottles, paper, styrofoam, soda cans, food cans, electronics, spray containers and more all get their own trash bag.  Any deviance from this culture-wide plan is irresponsible and will lead to shame, scrutiny, and mumbles of “inconsiderate gaijin* from your community.”  

It is admirable how well Japan handles their trash.  There are even villages in this country that have a ZERO trash output because of how well they sort and recycle their waste.  I truly wish that Americans were brought up with such sensibilities.  But I didn’t, and that, combined with a ridiculous level of anxiety stemming from just making sure people don’t hate me here**, means I will do my very best to stall the trash bag being full with a time The Mister is home and in a “I want to do something nice for my wife” mode.  He is blessed with an ability to turn off the “give a sh*t what others think about me” section of his mind, and when it comes to trash, he is so kind as to let me capitalize on that while I sheepishly hand him bags of garbage to lug downstairs.

And so back to this declutter project.  I got rid of expired condiments in the fridge.  I went through my shoes and threw out the ones which had holes walked through the soles (a surprising number, thanks for all the exercise, Japan!).  I sorted out the dog toys that Mac’s loved a little too much.  I consolidated the three bottles of the same scent lotion I had all at differing levels of full/empty.  And I re-organized our cabinets so our dishes all fit inside them.  

Then I sat down with the piles of trash that comes from all this organization, and I sorted all of said trash into 13 different 45 gallon trash bags.  Which were then relegated to the balcony until they can be taken to the trash collection area outside our apartment at the appropriate times***. 

how to sort trash in the city.  this is printed poster size on our fridge, and even after a year+, 
I still have to double check it once a day.

I… Hate.  Hate with a passion.  Hate taking out the trash.  Hate it hate it hate it.  I have reasons even.

The first is my fear of my neighbors seeing me hauling a bag out and reporting to the apartment management that I’ve done it wrong.  We’ve even had other expat acquaintances here tell us about neighbors tearing open their trash and interrupting them while entertaining guests to angrily explain how disgusting the expat was for doing it wrong and then handing back the trash that had been improperly sorted.  

Second, I hate the smell.  I hate having to sit in a tiny elevator for an agonizingly slow 11 floor ride with the smell of my trash.  The tiny space traps in that scent which triggers your gag reflex, and really lets it sink into your pores.  Plus it certainly doesn’t air out by the time you’ve put your trash at the collection space and re-boarded the elevator to go back up to home.  This is especially notable as generally speaking our burnable trash includes… well the sort of trash that Mac makes.  By eating and digesting.  You see where I’m going with this.  Dog poo fumes in my lungsssssss.

And third - all trash bags are clear here.  Which I have decided is to strictly enforce proper trash sorting by allowing your neighbors to see your trash and see if you put it in the correctly marked bags.  It also means your neighbors can see that you ordered large pizzas.  They can see what brand of ginger ale you drink.  They can see if you’ve had the sniffles and worked through a box of nyquil.  They can see EVERYTHING you throw out, is what i’m saying, and they can learn a lot about your life.  Japan’s already enough of a “Big Brother is watching” type of society for me thank you very much.

It occurs to me, with the amount of unneeded junk we accumulate at a fairly steady rate between me, The Mister, Mac and Bubba, that this aversion to taking out the trash will turn me into one of those off-the-deep-end hoarders who shout at kids to stay off their lawn.  The kind of person who talks about “going off the grid” with absolute sincerity.  The one who insists they can fix anything that breaks with just some duct-tape and string… no need to throw it out.  Just put it in the corner with all the other broken things I’ll get to some day never.

why yes, I *did* build Bubba a Kitty Castle out of cardboard specifically so
I wouldn't have to take out a bag of cardboard trash.

It’s a realization which bugs me, because The Mister and I, we have everything we need, and certainly we have plenty that we just wanted.  We’re not hurtin’ for stuff.  Whenever a friend or family member asks us what we’re missing from home, we can both pretty confidently say “nothing!  we’re doing well!” And so I’m just gonna throw this out in the cosmos:  

Please don’t send me stuff.  

I don’t want stuff.  I don’t need stuff.  I’m not missing stuff.  And I really really don’t want to have to throw other stuff out to make room for the stuff sent to me.  I say this because Christmas is just around the corner (yikes.) and though I was straightforward in saying “I don’t want anything for my birthday” back in August, there are still things here that came with “happy birthday” notes attached.  Please be clear!  Thank you!  I’m grateful for the thought and love that went into these gifts.  Really, and truly.  But.  And this is a big but (ha, see what I did there?).  I would be most grateful to not have to figure out what to do with more stuff.

If you’re reading this and something in you insists that not giving a gift for Christmas is somehow against the will of Sweet Baby Jesus and will cause him to rain down Fire and Brimstone and maybe even those stink bombs that smell like rotten eggs, here is my suggestion: 

I love my Alma Matter****

These places and people could use stuff.  Green, paper-like stuff.
The could also use your time.  Your peanut butter.  Old towels.  Dog or Cat food.  Gently used books.  And they would put it all to WAY better use than anything you might have thought about sending to me.  So give where it counts, including helping me avoid taking out the trash. :)

Do you live abroad?  
How do manage the amount of stuff you accumulate?  
What causes do you support?  Tell me in the comments!

today's little language lesson
inu no unchi wa nioii ga totemo warui desu
dog poo smells very bad.

*gaijin (or 外人): a slightly rude term for a foreigner.

**Our neighbors already hate us.  Not ALL our neighbors, just the old couple that live next door.  They have a reason, but sadly we didn’t even really earn it (I say that because if someone is gonna go ahead and hate me, it’s a little better for my peace of mind if I know I am responsible for turning the screws of my own volition, you know?).  This is a story for another time.  The moral of said story is that I don’t need to give anyone in this building more reasons to hate us.  Or me, specifically.

***The Mister threw himself on this sword. Amazing isn't a big enough word for this simple act of love.  

**** Happy 10 year homecoming to my fellow class of '06 Green Knights.  And thank you for video-chatting me while you celebrated so I could pretend I wasn't half a world away from the fun!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Foreigner at a Craft Bazaar - Year 2!

First and foremost- A big old thank you to everyone who supported and came to visit me last Friday at the Nagoya YWCA Fall Bazaar.  I had a great time AND I managed to come through with a decent profit.  I hope you enjoyed your cake pops!

After wrapping on the bazaar and lugging my set-up back home, I immediately hopped on a bullet train out to the Navy Base with The Mister to attend a ball celebrating our anniversary (actually the US Navy’s 241st birthday, though we’re good at pretending)... but that might be for next post.  

Back to that Bazaar.  I had a lovely spot at the back of the main entertainment area, which meant that while peddling my wares I got to watch a few acts.  I also got a fantastic vantage point for people watching.  So in the spirit of my bazaar reporting from last year, let’s talk about 

The People Foreigners See at a Craft Bazaar Part Deaux 二

1.  Stamp Collectors
It’s not uncommon in Japan for events to promote the collection of stamps.  A person who manages to get all the stamps in any particular collection can be entered to win prizes.  At this bazaar, each selling area had a stamp which visitors could collect in order to, I believe, be awarded a free pen.  That morning, the very first people I saw enter my area (where I was sitting next to the stamp station), were two nuns in full habits, who came in, excitedly stamped their flyers, giggled, and immediately turned on their heels to find the rest of the stamps throughout the event.  Since I never saw them again, I hope they got their pens… and I hope those pens were worth the 500yen entry fee they would have paid to enter the bazaar and presumably buy and participate in nothing else. 

2.  The Children’s Entertainment
As the stage area was directly in front of my table space, I was elated to watch the children’s entertainment at the bazaar.  A fun, colorful duo lead all the little kids at the bazaar in songs about frogs and snakes (with puppets!), the Totoro theme, and my personal fave, a song about a farting cow, which featured a man in a cow costume playing a kazoo and cow bell while pretending to fart real loud.  This number was an obvious crowd pleaser.  And honestly, I really loved how easy it was to understand what was going on in their show because obviously they were using real simple baby Japanese.  

3.   The Seller of Questionable Health
The booth right next to mine was a jeweler.  Selling not just any jewelry, like, NICE jewelry.  Real Minato Pearls, precious gems, gold and silver, you get the point.  But maybe once every 15 minutes the jewler (who was super kind, if not a quiet fellow) would duck out of the room, leaving all his wares unattended.  Thankfully, because this is Japan, there is no actual concern for his wares being knicked.  I was, however, concerned that this man’s frequent potty breaks were signifiers of a real danger in his prostate.  I said as much to KP2 (who was so kind as to hang out at my booth and help peddle cupcakes), and we had a brief conversation about how to politely share with someone that they need to see a doctor for a very *ahem* personal exam.  Then he mentioned he was going out for a quick smoke and left again.  So we switched our concerns from prostate cancer to lung cancer, as clearly this man had packed a carton of cigarettes to bring along to the bazaar, and he intended to go through them all in that 5 hours.

4. The Looky-Lou of Questionable Motivation.
An older man accompanying his wife to the bazaar took a seat in the back row of the stage area to wait while his lady tried on some jewelry.  He took this fifteen minute time-frame to twist around in his seat to intently stare at me.  The entire 15 minutes.  Just staring.  I couldn’t tell if he was offended by my foreigner presence, or maybe just confused by it, but his facial expression clearly wasn’t one that gave off positive vibes.  It’s not the first time I’ve gotten “gaijin glares,” but I have come to the conclusion that I really need to work on a canned response to being oogled like a zoo animal.

5.  The Lady I Looky-Loued.
She caught me staring, so I didn’t take any pictures, because I was already admittedly being a creeper.  BUT.  There was a seller in my area who had exactly one product and it was brilliant and I watched her demo it at least two dozen times.  She had engineered an Obi belt for Kimono that was an already made bow and sash which one could position and tie themselves without any snaps or clips (if you’ve ever tried to tie an Obi yourself, you understand this is a magical invention).  I sort of wanted one, but I was too embarrassed to ask if she had one for women with a waist bigger than 15 inches, so I just kept to my cake pops.  *le sigh, the joys of being American Sized.*

6.  The Adult's Entertainment
This is a misnomer, but the second musical act which came to the stage was a musical story-teller who played the shamisen and recorder as he told stories about historical Okinawa.  He was well dressed, well spoken, and had a confident swagger that is not super common in Japanese men.  KP2, as she sat next to me, was having a hard time not swooning ad his swept back salt and pepper hair.  And judging by the event organizers needing to bring out extra chairs for the gaggle of obaasans that crowded the space, she was not the only one.  

7.  The Final Act
A troupe of four ladies played us out of the Bazaar.  They all had guitars and sang some very pretty traditional Japanese songs.  A lovely act, all the more endearing because they’re all women who work with the YWCA, and as such, they had a fan base at the bazaar who brought out decorated fans like one might see at a boy-band concert.  They also got a standing ovation and an encore at the end of their set, which they used as an opportunity to play Edelweiss from The Sound of Music.  It was precious.

All and all it was a great time, I’m flattered to have been asked back, and I hope I can make it a three-peat next year.  And in that vein, someone remind me my big lessons from this year’s table, K?
  1. Japanese people do not want Chocolate Chip Cookies (I sold zero! ha!) 
  2. Japanese people TOTALLY do want cake pops.  Make more of those, less of everything else.

Have you been to a Craft Fair / Artists Market like this?  
What was your favorite find?  
Are you a gaijin? 
How do you handle the Gaijin Glare?  
Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
Hakuchō wa, watashiwomite teishi shimasu

stop looking at me, swan.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Side Hustle.

Hey oh gosh hi ho there.

I am alive.  I’m struggling a bit for something worth writing a blog post about, (day to day life isn’t all that riveting, you know?) but I’m still kicking.  Mostly I’m having a hard time getting over some super funk type blues that were kicked off with a month of everyday rains and a canceled craft fair, but a big whine fest isn’t really good reading material.  [unless you’re weird, in which case, it is in fact, at my homepage blog here.]

This week I’m preparing for my NEXT craft fair, which is indoors, so rain or not by God it’s happening.  It’s the YWCA’s Fall Bazaar, which KP2 and I did last year as well, so I’m very pumped to have been invited back.  

This year will see all the same crafts that I’ve talked about in previous blog posts (since there was no previous craft fair at which to sell them due to rain), plus the famous carrot cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, and I’m thinking maaaaaaybe some cake pops.  Because those are a fun thing that are big in the states but I haven’t really seen them here… even though I have noted the Japanese culture very much enjoys food that is served on a stick.

 try to contain your drool over kushiyaki.

Anywhoozle, that’s all on Friday, October 7th, from 10am to 3pm.  If’n you’re in Nagoya it’d be cool to see ya at the YWCA in Sakae.

After that, The Mister and I will be celebrating our wedding anniversary by attending a Navy Ball out in Yokosuka.  Always nice to have an occasion to sort of gussy-up, but a sad reminder that I need to not “taste test” my goods for the fall bazaar so I can still fit in a pretty dress.  Fingers crossed on that.

And last but not least I’m working on embarking on a new avenue for online sales of my designs.  It’s called RedBubble, and it works as thus:

  1.  I can upload designs, to which I retain my ownership and rights.
  2.  Through that site I can select from a myriad of items from clothing to home accessories, which I can then tweak to alter how my design will be printed upon it.
  3. I can select my preferred markup of the item, essentially determining my profit on any sale.
  4. The site from there works to-order creating whatever was purchased.  You pick a design and an item, they will print that design on that item, handle the transaction, pay me and ship you your new stuff.

Sometimes to keep your head above water, you just gotta find a side hustle.*

Do YOU have a side hustle?  
I want to know about it.  Tell me in the comments! 
(and gimme a url link if you’ve got it!)

*thank you to blogger helloalissa for such a very apt term to define all the little projects in my life.*

today’s little language lesson
Mai-nichi watashiwa hasuru o shimasu.

Every day I’m hustlin.