Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's Been A While...

It's been literally years since I last blogged about my little life. I am an avid blog reader, though, and have lately been feeling the need to get back into blogging.

So here we go, trying this blog thang again, hoping that you find some inspiration or at least some positivity in here, and hoping also that by writing again, I may also inspire myself! Now, I'm off to play around with blogger, see you in a while when I am ready to share something!

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Our summer continues to be miserable. My skin is not brown. It does not glow. What gives?

Anyhoo, I decided the other week that it was high time I had some people round for chat and grub. I LOVE cooking for people, I enjoy using them as Guinea pigs, and they seem to enjoy being cooked for. With Rach, I decided to put my Christmas soup cook book into action, and made a really yummy chilli crab and butternut squash soup. Pretty good if I do say so myself. With Katy, just last night, I was presented with more of a challenge: what DOES one cook a vegetarian wheat allergy sufferer? In the end it was a korma with prawns, green beans and more butternut squash (I love the stuff), then apricots poached in Grand Marnier on a meringue nest with whipped cream. Hee, my presentation skills leave a lot to be desired, and the korma was a little bland, but it was ok. Katy brought round a fantastic bottle of Ruggeri, and I am not enjoying the last half of it right now.

I had more culinary happiness when I met Rona and Nick for sushi a couple of Fridays ago. It was GOOD sushi! I really wish the Yo! sushi place hadn't closed down...

Tomorrow, I am very excited, as I am off to play Ultimate Frisbee on the Meadows! Whee! I've always suspected it was a game I might love, and that was confirmed during my last Japan year, when games were organised semi-regularly. I don't know anyone I am going to play with, I saw the ad on Gumtree, but I guess that's half the fun.

Speaking of Gumtree... does anyone reading have any opinion on social clubs? In the past, I always felt they were an organisation for people with below-par social skills who needed organised fun on order to meet people. Social crutches. And they always seemed to have a secondary 'dating service' theme to them, which I always found highly off-putting, and even sad and desperate. Now, after moving back to the city, it seems to have become a much more normal way of meeting people and taking part in any hobbies you have. It doesn't seem to be a last resort for social gooseberrys. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Last week, I was pointed in the direction of a WONDERFUL music website, You have to be in the US to become a full member (so I made a zip code up) but if you get in, it's a fantastic way of finding new music. I'll for sure be making some iTunes purchases based on what I have heard on that site. Currently reading the 'Tales of the City' series, and thoroughly enjoying them, even if I have started to say "Far out" to most anything. I wanted to write more, but the Ruggeri is having none of it. It is demanding I go and lie on the couch, switch on the Open, peruse the employment pages, and then possibly fall asleep until tea time. Sounds good to me!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Low Place Like Home

Due to various stuffs, I haven't blogged in a good long while, so a fair bit has been going on. I guess.

1- Return to the Hood. At long last. Almost a year after my return to Scotland, I have finally made it back to big, bad Leith Walk. I am actually home. It is weird. I am not sure how I feel yet. Well, no. I am. I am relishing my space again. I am walking round naked. Bathing with the bathroom door open. Watching The Daily Show on a daily basis. Getting up at a civil hour, instead of the 5.20am madness I was enduring in Roslin. I get to shop for the stuff I want. Go to bed late, and make long distance phonecalls. However, I also get to worry about tax. The price of milk. How much electricity I'm burning. Whether I have enough clean clothes for the next 24 hours. All normal stuff, but all stuff that, to some degree, I haven't had to worry so much about in the last 3.75 years. Even in Japan, when I was living alone, none of it felt that real, there was some sort of diminished responsibility at work on my persona. It feels real here. I'm also without a housemate, the first time I've lived alone in Edinburgh. I am sometimes loving it, sometimes wishing I had someone to bounce things off at the end of the day. It's mostly good, though.

2-Tsujino-san. This old Japanese guy at school just now. He's just the best. He is no more significant an ojiisan than any of the other old guys I encountered out in Japan, except that he decided to come to Edinburgh to study English. Excited to meet with someone I knew would be impressed at my (rapidly diminishing) grasp of the Japanese language, I bounced into the student lounge last Monday morning, walked up to him, and introduced myself in my most polite Japanese. Never missing a beat, he gave me his best English introduction. "Bless", thinks me, "He wants to do it in English". The next day, I enquired, in Japanese again, how he had enjoyed himself at his host's granddaughter's third birthday party. A shocked look came across his face, and he took a couple of steps backward. "Why...?", he stammered, "How...?". Smiling, and shaking my head with the false modesty I had become used to displaying in Japan, I started to explain that I had lived there for three years, but that really, my Japanese wasn't all that great. He stopped me. No, no. He wanted to know how I had known about the birthday party, and I had to explain (in English) that his host had told me about it in a recent phone conversation. Bit of a wake up call! Not all Japanese people care that you can utter a few phrases (badly) in their native tongue. I felt suitably reprimanded, even though dear old Tsujino-san had never intended to show me up like that. It wasn't embarrasing or anything. It was actually refreshing to encounter someone Japanese who didn't give a damn that I could hold a basic conversation with them. But it was a timely reminder not to get ahead of myself. And not to pigeon-hole Japanese people.

3- Iris Murdoch: I am reading the biography of her written by her husband, John Bayley. It's the most beautiful, unsentimental love story I have ever encountered. She was not perfect. And because she knew this, and John knew this, she became perfect to him. I came across this particular passage:

"And so married life began. And the joys of solitude. No contradiction was involved. The one went perfectly with the other. To feel oneself held and cherished and accompanied, and yet to be alone. To be closely and physically entiwned, and yet feel solitude's friendly presence, as warm and undesolating as contiguity itself."

This just blows me away. Expanding it to any close relationship you care to imagine between humans, I feel like this is truly what it means to know another person absolutely, and be totally ok with not talking to, or even being with them 24/7. I have sometimes felt with some relationships (whether they are with friends, lovers or parents) that there is some sort of expectation to always talk, always know what the other is thinking, always know where they are, who they're with and what they're doing. I have a hard time giving myself over completely like that, but part of me felt like it was necessary. But really, it's not. I think what Bayley said perfectly captured the thoughts floating in my head, but which I was unable to pin down. I wonder now how many people are lucky enough to find someone with whom they feel comfortable enough to let solitude enter the relationship. I think that these days, too many people are afraid of being alone, and so they constantly push at each other to share everything, to talk constantly. When they wake up feeling alone, even though their partner is lying beside them, they take it as a bad sign. I wonder how many marriages, or friendships or whatever, would be made better by each person embracing this feeling of solitude rather than running from it. It's a difficult line of thought to unravel. And I think there's a danger of taking 'solitude' too literally here. But I like the idea of being so at one with another person that I don't feel afraid when I sense them withdrawing into themselves for a time. It's something I have felt with one or two very close friendships I've had.

4- Lack of summer. It was someting stupid like 10 degress yesterday. We are about to come across the longest day of the year, and we are still getting 10 degree days. This country sucks. No wonder the entire population is miserable.

5- Andy. I just found this guy, he works at my school. We don't see each other so much during the week, but always go out on Friday after work for a few drinks. He is an exellent conversationalist, and looks like a less-wacky version of Russel Brand. He tried to brainwash me with SNP politics last Friday there, but I was sort of tipsy by then, and was just nodding in the right places, and making noises of disagreement in others. He bakes. He drinks Bailey's. And he wears Converse trainers with second-hand suits. Sadly, I have to say goodbye to my new friend this week, as he's jetting off to Italy to be with his girlfriend over there. Friday afternoons won't be the same again!

Today I went out for a walk down to Ocean Terminal (a big mall, located right on the shore). I wandered, bought a book, and spent too much money on Marks & Spencer food. I am now stuffed full of chicken supreme, profiteroles and orange and raspeberry juice. Tomorrow is Monday. I didn't even mention the ridiculous shape my professional life is in. It's just too awful to waste time writing about it here.

Umm.... Joe are you happy now?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Triumph of the Serbian Lesbians

Yes, last night it was time once again to bring out the scoresheets and leave behind normal standards of cultural acceptance as Europe errupted in a wave of bad taste: the Eurovision Song Contest 2007.

For those unitiated readers, Eurovision is gayer than Liberaci. Tackier than Anna Nicole Smith (God rest her poor soul). And more eagerly awaited in the United States of Europe than the football World Cup. Ok, maybe not, but you get the picture. Each country in Europe enters a group and song, and they perform it all in one night in a country in Europe (typically the winners of the previous year's tournament). Not having been around for it in a few years, I was psyched to head to Kirsty's last night for a Eurovision party. Well, yeah it was pretty shocking, and the members of the Dewar party were gobsmacked and indignant at Serbia winning, since we had judged them to one of the worst entries. Think a plump KD Lang, surrounded by femme (but scary) bitches, singing her broken heart to the world. Shudder. However, since I had awarded the most points to these horrors out of all guests at the party, I won me a mini bottle of champers, and a 'Bucks Fizz Greatest Hits' CD, Bucks Fizz having won Eurovision for Britain in years of yore. Really, the whole thing is a political 'scratch our back, we'll scratch yours' with bloc voting running amok. Pah!

Much further up the good taste scale is the German film 'Lives of Others' which I caught with Ms Dewar last weekend. It's about the moral dilemmas of an East German Stasi officer, assigned to spy on a couple of liberal, intellectual artists. Really great film, with a beautiful ending.

It's brass monkeys again though. The sun must have decided that it wore itself out in April, and has sulked off to another part of the world, leaving this miserable little island to bathe in drizzle and gloom.

I got wonderfully drunk at a party last Friday, and I think I may have insulted my new boss. I hope not. But if I did.... well, I shall act like I didn't.

I also had an awesome dream last night, where I was a bad-ass cop who shot a warehouse up, then drove away in Dave CC's old Honda Civic.

Currently listening to Gym Class Heroes.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


I was somewhat surprised and impressed at the domestic display of cherry blossoms this spring. Of course, I've always known that Scotland has cherry trees, and that they have wonderful blossoms. But because I was sort of looking for them more this year, there appeared to be more than I previously thought, and they were every bit as impressive as their Japanese counterparts. They don't occur in the same concentrations as they do over there, and neither do people revere them as much. But I was comforted by the sight of something I have come to associate closely with Japan.

Sakura in Japan is the signifier of new beginnings, of changes, and of a time to reflect on the past. The frenetic pace of life in Edinburgh isn't really giving me much time to reflect at the moment, and I feel like I'm zooming along at an alarming rate without the chance to breathe and take it all in. My house is gradually becoming more inhabitable, I am making real ground in my thoughts on moving abroad again, and I am also having to look at my current job very closely, as I have been told it won't exist come September.

This last is worrying and exciting and annoying. I won't be made redundant, I don't think. But my job will change drastically, and I feel rather cheated. The changes taking place had their inception way before Christmas, when I interviewed for the post, and I fail to see why this was not discussed with me at the interview. Still, as I have said since day one, this is a job, not a career. I am getting experience, and making money. But I don't think I could say I love it. I love parts of it. Other parts of it I worry about enough to have them encroach on my dreams at night.

So maybe the change in job (to something I did not, and probably would not, apply for in the first place) will force my hand. Make me choose. Actually kick me to jump ship and head abroad, like I've been deliberating over for so long now.

And the incentives are there. Nicer weather. Cheaper living expenses (but probably also proportionally smaller salaries). Inexpensive property.

That is what I am interested in. I just finished reading a great book on personal finance that Nate recommended me, called 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad'. And it really got me thinking. Too much to go into here, and probably too boring for anyone reading too. But basically, I have to mind my own business. The book talks about one's job, and one's business, two entirely different entities, but not mutually exclusive either. I have a job. But I need a business too. I don't want to work to make some faceless executive rich. I want my money to work to make me rich. So now, I am doing my best to educate myself, and build up my brain so that it can think in financial terms. Ok, maybe it's boring to most of you, but I actually find it exciting. :p Anyway, one way I'd like to make my money work for me is in property. So things like the foreclosure market in NA are looking mighty attractive to me. So is the cheap land in Australia. I don't have total confidence in what I am talking about yet, but the altered perspective (ie thinking about my business instead of my job) is really having an effect on how I see my future.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Goodies purchased

If you are on my Facebook, you'll see my staus right now as 'Elizabeth is wondering how she ever got by without her ghd straighteners'. And it's SO true!! My hair can get be kinkier than the gimp when I wake up in the morning, and I when I arrived in Japan last month to discover that my old straighteners had been destroyed by an unruly conveyer belt, I moaned inwardly, knowing that my entire holiday would be spent with bad hair. In an effort at damage limitation, I bought a crappy pair of Japanese straighteners, which tried their best, but my stubborn hair was having none of it. Back home, I bit the bullet and went for the brand new MK4 ghds, purchase price £100. All that for straight hair. SO worth it.

Ok, girly moment over, my other new favourite purchase of the minute is my sweet little iPod 4GB. Oh my is it cute! And it is a real mood-fixer in the morning. I seem to do my best thinking and dreaming when plugged into personal music, and after so long with a fritzy, ancient, jumpy personal CD player, I am all sorts of happy with my top-of-the-range MP3 player. Except I am prone to dancing around with it on, and need to be careful I am not caught by anyone. Not that I mind, but I do get looks. Whatever. Raspberries to your looks, Stevo, try dancing around the staffroom sometimes, it might lighten your day.

And on my iPod? The Yeah Yeah Yeah's 'Show Your Bones' ('Turn Into' particulalrly doing it for me right now) and as of today, the new Arcade Fire's effort, 'Neon Bible' (so far, so spectacular).

I am moving back home this month! Part of me is sort of apprehensive at taking on the apartment again, knowing that I am nowhere near being settled at the moment. The other part is giddy at the thought of my own space again. I'm putting in a new bathroom (why THANK YOU Mr Japanese Social Security Man), as the current one is a) ugly, b) ancient and c) ready to give up the ghost. To celebrate my return to Leith, I will be having a serious poker night,. You're all invited, the buy-in's only a tenner, but flights from wherever you're reading this from might cost somewhat more than that. ;)

This being Easter, I decided to head to church this morning for the first time in ages. It was comforting.

I don't feel like being introspective today. Summer's coming, and I decided to go on a road-trip with Joe to New Mexico. But not really, maybe only in our heads. What I am in the process of deciding about is a real trip to Canada in September/October. Flights are WAAAAY cheap around then, and I want to see the family, not to mention Joe and Heather. Would've been great to squeeze in the BC crowd too, but I think that's being rather ambitious. Anyhoo, Cousin Gillian is due to give birth in July, so it would be cool to make it over for then christening, if it happened around then, since I missed her wedding.

Summer's coming indeed. I want to run around outside.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tokushima Revisted

It's been a while. A very long while, and I'm not sure where to begin.

While much happened to me since my last post, the biggest things to happen were my return to Japan and the death of Granny.

Poor Granny first. Since I returned home in August, Granny had been getting progressively worse. Basically, she had Alzheimer's disease. A few weeks ago, she stopped eating and drinking completely, and was going downhill rapidly. Mum was taking care of her, with poor Grandpa still clinging onto some sort of hope that she would pull out of it altogether, and things would go back to normal. It was not to be, and three weeks ago, she was taken to hospital. There, they re-hydrated her, and put her on a drip (at night so that she wouldn't pull the IV out). She seemed to regain her strength, if not her marbles ("Married? Me?!"), and it was looking like she would be getting home to us again. Last week, though, she got some sort of infection in her pancreas, and she left us at 4am on Saturday. I still cannot believe she has gone. I have not cried yet, though I know it's coming. Right now, I'm concentrating on Mum and Grandpa. I have a lot of thoughts on the passing of my Granny, but I haven't the energy to put them down as carefully as they need to be. For now, let it be said that I still expect to see her puff of white hair through the window as I come wandering home at night after work.

Sadly, I wasn't around when Granny went. The cheeky trout chose the week I was in Japan to make her exit.

Yep, that's right, I just couldn't stay away. March 10th saw me standing in front of Tokushima station, feeling like I'd never left. I chose March to return as that's graduation season in Japan, and this year's third graders had been my students since they were in elementary school. How could I NOT go?! So I went, and it was a really amazing trip. I had the warmest of welcomes from everyone I saw. In the space of little over a week, I managed to squeeze in just about everybody I wanted to see. I got lots of cuddles, shared lots of jokes, even played some frisbee, and had the most epic poker game of my entire life.

This was a really eye-opening trip for me. It made me realise that as much as I miss the place, it really is a second home. Tokushima will always be where I left it. I realise that I won't ever feel like a stranger in that land, and that is incredibly heartening, not to mention privelaged. How many people can truly say they feel right at home in more than one place? I also came to the realisation that I no longer have any desire to be an ALT there. That part of me is over and done with. I think I knew this well before I left that summer, but I felt reassured to have it reiterated again during this trip. While I loved every second of my job (ok, every OTHER second), I have no aspirations to do it again.

No, what I miss about Japan, what I truly miss, and what I know will never ever be recreated in my life is the feeling of life being one big holiday. Now, I think 'holiday' is the wrong word here, but I'm not sure what else there is. There was always something to do, somewhere to go, things to see, people to meet. And because we all knew (know) that it's temporary, it gave life over there the special feeling you get when you go on holiday: do it all, cause it won't last. That's what I miss, and that's what can never ever become a normal part of my life. It makes me sad, but I think it's a good and necessary realisation to come to.

Of course, I miss the people over there terribly. Not even so much my Japanese friends. Japan is their home, and I know that in returning to Japan, I will return to them, and they will more than likely be there. But my fellow JET friends. Ugh, the wrench of leaving them again was almost too much. I think it's partly because I haven't found anyone here at home yet that I can talk to in quite the same way as I spoke to my best mates over there. It'll come, I know it will. But in the absence of such relationships here, I pine for the ones I had there, and it's enough to make me cry. The feeling I got when Nate picked me up from the bus station that first day, when I got in his car, and he switched on the tunes, and we started gassing like we only saw each other yesterday... it felt so comfortable, but it served to highlight what is lacking in my personal relationships in Edinburgh.

That'll all change soon... things are moving on. I'm finally getting my house back (come late April), and that'll change things for me a whole lot. But I feel that I won't be in Edinburgh much past the summer of 2008. There's just too much out there to do. I feel like I'm standing at a crossroads in my life, and I think decisions I make over the next few months will affect the rest of my life. I've come home feeling inspired.

Highlights of the trip in brief:

-Poker with the Deer, Saori, Nate and Julie: in this one night, I got FOUR sets of pocket rockets, TWO four of a kinds, was waaay the hell out in front, and then lost the lot to Jord in one hand. Flabbergasting stuff.

-A walk up into the mountains of Higashiiya: all on my ownesome, just me, my camera, and lots of little hamlets. Two hours of listening to the bamboo talk, and simply marvelling at the remotness of it all.

-The musical. Always a joy, and touching to see Jordan so emotional at the end of it all. You done good, Jord.

- Ultimate frisbee: a game Nate arranged for the occasion of my visit. So. Much. Fun.

- The graduation: Such an emotional day, but so happy I was there for it.

- Onsens: Nuff said.

-Inarizushi: Nuff siad.

- BGM, dabaru panchees, vaaaaaaseline, But Fest, secret okonomiyake, rich dads and poor dads, UFC, being pensive in company, viking and all that garlic, that other stuff.

I feel like I have more to report, but truth be told, I'm sleepy, still processing the events of the last week, and getting cold. So here endeth the update. :)