New Diggs

I know I haven’t been blogging very much over here lately.  I’ve been working on a new blog project and that’s where most of my focus has been.  I’ll be blogging over there more often, so if you want to go check it out, head over to jennerosity.org.  Don’t forget to add it to your .rss reader or bookmark it so you can keep up with all my Geeknesses.

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My Own Domain

Today is turning out to be a GREAT DAY!  I just won my own domain.  So, now if I can work out some hosting deal with the current web host L and I use, I can actually play with WordPress.org!  So, if things start changing around here, that’ll be the reason why, just fyi.

Phone Frustration

So, my phone has gone and died on me.  Well, not entirely.  It seems as though the speaker is just shot.  So I can still make a phone call, but no sound actually gets transmitted.  Plus, it seems to be having a few problems handling text messages too.

I’ve yet to get a chance to bring it in anywhere to get it looked at, so I have no idea if it’s fixable or how much it would cost to fix it.  Plus, since I bought the phone from a place that refurbishes them to begin with, there isn’t any kind of warranty to fall back on – my own fault.

So, I’m starting to consider the possibility that I might just have to buy a new phone.  The problem being that I like sexy smart phones and hate being locked into expensive phone plans.  So, it would probably be a fairly major investment.  And, I then have the dilemma of what kind of phone to purchase.  I’ve been very unimpressed with the task management with this phone.  So, it’s tempting to check out a Treo.  But then there are also all kinds of new phones on the market.  I don’t think I’d get an iPhone, but a new Blackberry or the Android (if those are even being sold in Canada yet) might be a good option for me.  Must do some pondering.

Considering a Re-design

Since WordCamp Fraser Valley, I’ve been thinking much more about my blog and about blogging more frequently.  I’ve also been thinking about making some changes to my site.  I’d like to have greater control over the theme and layout, so I think that I’m probably going to go to a self-hosted set up.  It’ll make sense at that time to change some things around with the structure of the blog too.  Until I’m ready to make the switch, I’ll try to get my act together and do some more frequent posting too.  I’ve already downloaded WordPress.org, but haven’t had a chance to play with it yet.  I also need to contact the web-host that my husband and I use and make sure everything would work if I installed it.  Then I’ll also have to see about purchasing a domain and all that other fun stuff too.

Re-framing Happiness at Work

I recently read an article over on Think Simple Now about finding passion in your job.  It reminded me that even though I don’t think my current job is the right career for me, my happiness there is largely dependant on me and not everyone and everything else.  So, I’ve started on the first suggestion the article had – writing down things that you do like about your job.  I’m thinking that this will not only help me reinvigorate my interest in my current position, but also help me clarify what I like and don’t like so I can find a different job that plays to those strengths. 

So far, I’ve found that I enjoy meeting with interesting and diverse people and I like explaining how things work (when I understand it well enough to do so). 

Life Interference

One of the problems with having so many different interests and projects in my life is finding the time to work on them.  Inevitably, life interferes.  Not just work, but family dinners, social functions, and all that housework manage to eat up most of my time leaving very little for other pursuits.  And now, just when I’m given an opportunity to have an evening to myself that could be filled with anything I want, I get a cold that makes me just want to crawl into bed and sleep.

I’m hoping I’ll have the energy and mental capacity to sort some more of our Japan pictures and upload them while I listen to some podcasts.  I’d really like to do a bunch of house cleaning as well, but I’m doubtful that I’ll have that much energy.

Reality Anxiety

I know that in general, people do not like change.  We like our safe little worlds and our safe routines and everything being the same from day to day.  But, change is also good.  It keeps our brains active, it brings in new ideas and helps keep things interesting and fun.  I have to force myself to get out there and engage in new and challenging activities and vacations are a part of that for me.  However, now that our wonderful 3 week vacation in Japan is drawing to a close, I`m having reality anxiety about plunging myself back into the real world again after just getting used to the relaxation and exploration abroad.

Part of it is my own fault.  I am an information junkie in a serious way.  I collect books (even in foreign languages that I don`t yet know how to read).  I subscribe to many blogs and information web sites.  I listen to several podcasts.  And now, I`m behind in all of it.  I brought a book with me on vacation that I haven`t even started reading yet.  I meant to get caught up on podcasts with the waiting time and such, but am not even close.  And, I`ve got podcasts from the three weeks that I was away to get caught up on once I return.  Then there are all the mundane household things that will need to be attended to as well – laundry, bills, cleaning, doctor appointments, grocery shopping, cooking.  That`s also not to mention that both my husband and myself will be going back to work almost right away.  I`m lucky in that I get an extra day to readjust to being on home time again, but my husband goes back to work on Monday.

I knew that I was going to be faced with this problem so I did manage to do a few things before I left.  It`s far from an all-encompassing strategy, but hopefully it`s something I can develop further in the future.  It`s similar to a `re-locating` strategy where you go through and declutter as though you are moving to a different house.  I tried to digitally declutter my life a bit before I left. 

First, I unsubscribed from as many email newsletters as I could.  I wasn`t sure how easily we`d be able to check email while away and I didn`t want something important getting lost in the hundreds of essentially useless messages that would pile up.  Many of these things weren`t really adding value to my life anyway and were just serving to clog up my inbox and waste my time.  Unfortunately, there are a few that require account information and I`ve forgotten passwords, so I`ll still have to continue utelizing my delete button for a while. 

Second, I went through all the feeds that I read and cut semi-ruthlessly.  But, I have to admit that I did make a backup here.  As I unsubscribed from some of the feeds, I wrote them down on a list so that when I return home, I can see if there`s anything I`d like to resubscribe to.  At this point, I don`t miss too much, but I get a lot more computer time when I`m in Canada, so I might add some back in.  I`ll have to see how that goes.  I think I`d probably rather be more involved in the communities of blogs that I do read, rather than being involved in a higher quantity.  In particular, I`ve found a few new blogs lately through twitter that I`ve enjoyed reading.  I`d like to start interacting with those bloggers rather than just being a passive audience member.

As much anxiety as I`m having about getting back to reality, there are a few things that I am looking forward to about returning to Canada.  Even though it`s going to be a huge job, going through all the pictures we took is going to be awesome.  Plus, we bought some decorative items to put on our walls, which have been mostly bare for the 2 years since we moved in to our townhouse.  (Visual space is nice, but it just feels big and empty instead of calming).  A bunch of my family members and friends have been vacationing lately, so I`m looking forward to getting caught up with everyone`s adventures, exchanging stories, photos, and souvenirs.  Plus, there are a few small homey details that I`m looking forward to – soap in public bathrooms (usually), keyboards with the ` in the more familiar location, the morning calls of Canadian birds, and the smell of our familiar laundry soap on our sheets and pillowcases at home.

Variety is the spice of life

One of the things I am loving most about this trip to Japan, is that seeing other things and other places helps me get a sense of what qualities and features I like and dislike.

A perfect example of this is my reaction to the cities we`ve visited so far.  We just arrived in Tokyo and so far I`m not feeling very comfortable here.  The crowds are even bigger in the area that we`re in.  While that in itself isn`t too much of a big deal for me, there are certain side effects to the crowding that I`m not enjoying.  The city is dirtier (compared to other Japanese cities – still cleaner than quite a few Canadian ones), buildings are more generic in construction and features, and there`s a greater need for systems to impose order instead of depending on the basic understanding of the citizens. 

One of the biggest things I`m finding I miss about the smaller cities in Japan was the pride everyone took in their place in the city.  In Tokyo it seems to be more Westernized with the focus on the individual.  In the other cities, there seemed to be more pride taken in their neighbourhood and home.  People would have planters in front of their home or business – even on the bit of public sidewalk.  Many businesses in the morning would wash the sidewalks (something very shinto) which helped keep the cities even cleaner.  People seemed to be happier about where they were as well. 

It`s hard to put my finger on it exactly but the tone of the city seems a bit more depressed.  Of course, that`s just my own impression of it based on a very short snippet of time.  However, it has helped me think about some things to incorporate into my own life for where I live.  I never realized just how welcoming a cluster of plants and flowers could be in front of a home or business.  Now, I definitely tend more toward the black thumb rather than the green, but I might be more willing to try some stuff out this year to make my own place a bit more welcoming.

The other thing I`m realizing is just how lacking my western life is of custom, ritual, and tradition.  Those are some of the things I`ve been most fascinated with by my time in Japan.  From ringing bells to sumo tournaments, there are rituals that frame the way things are done here.  I`m not sure what it is that appeals to me about that, but there is something there.  I`ll have to think of some ways to incorporate that into my own life at home as well, though I don`t have too many ideas about that yet.

I only wish the variety of fashions and colours were helping my sense of personal style, but no luck so far with that <sigh>.

Living in Japan

Today as my husband and I were walking once again through the streets of Osaka it occurred to me that this is probably one of the few places that I could see myself living.  We had considered moving here for a year to teach English and while I don`t think that`s going to happen, it is kind of nice to know that we could have gotten by here with few problems. 

The seafood has not been as much of a problem as many (myself included) feared it would be.  It may simply be because we`ve only hit main cities so far, but there has been a fairly good variety of protein to eat: chicken, beef, pork, tofu, etc.  The lack of fruits I would definitely miss.  I didn`t realize how much I was accustomed to my daily infusion of sweet fruits until I spotted a banana in a local combini and just about ran over to snatch it up.

So far, we`ve experienced almost every form of transit imagineable.  As I predicted, I love the trains here (though I might not like them quite as much if I had to pay full fare for every trip – Yay JR Rail Pass!) and have figured them out fairly well.  The biggest obstacle is my natural tendency to walk in the wrong direction which can get a person quite turned around in stations this large!  We`ve also taken a local bus and the subway.  Both of which would be more challenging in a smaller place where the stops were not also written in English.  We managed to grab a ferry over to the island of Miyajima.  And we landed by plane of course.  We have yet to try a taxi, car, or bicycle.  I don`t think it very likely that we`ll get to the car or taxi, but we`ll probably rent bicycles in one of the cities that we visit next.

Day 1 and 2 in Japan

So far I am loving our time in Japan.  The most difficult aspect to navigate so far has been this strange keyboard, since all my reflexes from typing are working a bit against me.  My husband is writing a more full description of everything we’ve been up to on the other blog, but thought I’d do a post on my own musings while he’s busy.

It feels like the kind of vacation I haven’t had in a long, long, time.  The kind of vacation some people take with their parents when they are little and it’s summertime.  The sun is shining and we walk around with wide eyes trying to take in everything – afraid to miss any of the amazing details.  It could be any city or place, but it’s different for you and so you take note of it more carefully.  We have no fixed timetable and I’m enjoying the freedom.  We struggle against our own indecision and competing politeness for one another’s preference, but we are pretty carefree.  Get lost or turned around, it’s ok.  We know enough Japanese to at least ask for help (even though we might not fully understand the answer).

I am struck by how similar and yet strange everything is.  I keep trying to elaborate more on some of the similarities and differences, but it doesn’t seem to be coming out quite right.  Perhaps by the end of the trip, I’ll have had enough time to think it over some more and be able to write it up more coherently.

The food is all good so far.  I’m not quite caught up on rest, but that’s more normal than strange for me.  I’ve been catching a lot of the words, but not fast enough to understand everything.  But, a few words is usually enough to get by with.

I’m looking forward to catching some main sites soon.  Tomorrow will be Hiroshima and Miyajima.  I’m hoping the serenity of the afternoon on the island will help to balance the intensity of the morning at the memorial.  I’m trying to process a bit each day and hopefully I’ll be able to keep up.

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