Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My Auntie Karen

Four years ago my Aunt Karen was diagnosed with brain cancer. At that time I barely new her.
This evening (Feb. 26, 7:00pm Atlantic time) she passed away, I had gotten a chance to get to know her.
The death sentence she was given four years ago united the family. As tragic as that may seem, it does not feel as tragic to me.
My aunt was given time. She got to greet her grandchildren Liam and Olivia when they came into the world, she got to go on family vacations with her three sisters and parents, and most importantly she saw how very loved she was and how lucky she was to have a family that would do anything for her.
I got to get to know her. And that is a gift I will always hold dear.
Kathy and James I can't even imagine how hard this has been for you.
Mom, Auntie Judy, Auntie Cheryl, Nana and Granddad you are an amazing family and you gave her so much.
I wish I could be there.

Auntie Karen, oh the beautiful world you must be in now. If you have a chance to check out Japan, I recommend it. It is really cool. You would love it.

My love to all.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Chinese New Year

Yesterday Ani and I went to Yokohama to Chinatown for Chinese New Year. Chinatown was not as festive as I expected but when the dragon dancers came around it was a different story. Ani and I went through a lot to get these pictures...elbowed in the chest, trampled on, basically beaten up by little old ladies in a massive crowd all trying to see the dancers. Please enjoy!
The last picture is Shibuya crossing in the rain with all that umbrellas.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Pigeon-toed Brain

So I don’t know if I have mentioned it much but there are a lot of women here in Japan that are pigeon-toed. And yes, when I say a lot, I mean scary high percentage. So you ask yourself why? Why in this highly developed country are so many of the women pigeon-toed? Is it because they sit on their knees from childhood and this deformity can take place? Is it a genetic trait? If it is genetic, why does it not also affect the men?
These questions have been plaguing me since my arrive in Japan, so many months ago now, and today I got the answer.
It is not a genetic condition, it is not because they sit on their knees. The pigeon-toed walk is an attractive feminine walk. Little girls, as in just learning to walk little girls, are taught by their parents and their community to walk this way, to turn their toes inward to that the to big toes touch. Their bones set in this way and that is how they are basically forced to walk throughout life.
I am. Horrified and shocked. It may not be Chinese foot-binding but it is still deforming your child to that they will be more attractive to men in basically taking away their ability to run. This might be a totally western view, and maybe I should be more culturally sensitive but I can’t help it. The Japanese society has some major failings (in my view) when it comes to the gender roles for women but this physical deformation has gone to the top of my list.
The thin stereotype that we are so obsessed about in the west (and here), and many other “attractive” qualities and pressures that we place on women are not far from my mind. Am I wrong to be so horrified by this one?
I feel uneasy about passing judgement. I have fought weight issues all my life and will continue to. Wax, shave, pluck. I wear my hair long, I straighten it, curl it, dye it. I wear high heels, I wear make up. I take pride in the fact that I have blue eyes and brown hair. I tan in the summer. Some of this I do for myself, but most for men and society in general. Beauty is necessary, its a fact of life. If walking in a "feminine" way is just another form of beauty is it that different? But then again what I do is temporary and can be changed, I can go all "natural" if I wanted though I don't think I would wear a skirt, shorts, or a bathing suit. But I can still play sports, these women can't.
Any thoughts?

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,
You gave me three weeks, it has been five months. Come on Dad, when have I ever done what I have been told?
I am so looking forward to your trip. And if you were staying long enough I would be spending my time scouting out golf courses and driving ranges for you, but as you are only here a week there will be no time. Stay longer and I will see what I can do....
Oh and you should try to get the bucket seats on the plane- the emergency exit seats. Your knee will have all the space you need there. And British Airways is NOT the standard in flying as I found out on my first flight to Asia so be prepared to be squished and to not be able to see the movie screen which is not on the back on the seat in front. But I know that no matter how uncomfortable the flight you will only be thinking of the fact you get to see me so you will be okay.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Tokyo pictures

This is a link to Ani and Nina's blog. This is a link to pictures that Nina took over Christmas. I realize that I have not been taking pictures of Tokyo, so here are some. They are Nina's pics but with all but the exception of the Disney Sea pics they are the things are see day to day in Tokyo.
I hope you enjoy.

Museum d'Orsay

I don't know if I mentioned it, but on the day that Ashley left to go back to Toronto Ani and I met up and went to the Museum d'Orsay exhibit at the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art in Ueno Park. Ani was wonderful as she tried to lift my spirits. She did not have to work hard to show me the wonderful life we have in Tokyo. I never wanted to go home, I just didn't want Ashley to leave. Anyway, here are some pictures of our day in the Park. I can't wait to see this park with all the leaves on the trees. It is supposed to be very nice for Cherry Blossoms!
I know I say it a lot but man I LOVE Tokyo.

Nina's Goodbye Party

Nina is not leaving us right away but as her parents are coming on Friday this was the last chance we could all go out just us Tokyo Girls.
We did dinner at a Thai restaurant and then it was off to Karaoke!!!
This was one of my absolute favorite Karaoke experiences.
We sang our hearts out. My throat is killing me today. We danced. We didn't cry, but it was fabulous!
Nina, karaoke will not be the same without you. I am going to miss you so much.
What can I say, it was a fabulous Tokyo night.
(this pictures have been taken from Ani and Nina's blog..I forgot my camera)

Free the Children Tokyo

Okay so Ani and I went to this concert at the Canadian Embassy.... it was in partnership with Free the Children Tokyo. Now many of you reading this might not understand why this is funny. Free the Children is a great organization, no problems with it exactly. The humor lies in that Free the Children was started by Craig Kielburger who went to Trinity College with Ani and I, same year and all. There is nothing wrong with Craig, it is more the whole hoopla surrounding him and well if you didn't got to Trin you probably cant understand.
Anyway... Ani and I were trying to hard not to laugh at the fact we were at a Free the Children even in TOKYO when we avoided them in Toronto. It was really really funny.
And the whole Free the Children thing wasn't the funniest bit. OH man the performers! They were good, most amateur but fine. One of the last acts of the night was done by this "Choir" from Tokyo. They were a group of 40+ women wearing really tacky black and gold clubbing outfits and they had all their songs choreograph! Oh how I wish I had a video camera. I can not describe to you what this looked like. Props to them man, they were good and entertaining but oh man it is not something you would EVER see in Canada or probably anywhere outside Japan. God I love this country!
Any and I were killing ourselves laughing. But don't think we weren’t supporting. We were standing up in our seats and clapping along with everyone else! That Choir were not the only crazy acts of the night but they will be the most memorable.
I don't know how much I can fully express how much I love the crazy tackiness that thrives in this country. I really love Japan!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mid-week update

Well life is moving on here in Tokyo without Ashley but I still miss her greatly.
I am continuing to get private students. I now have a young boy who takes a two hour lesson ever Sunday and a little girl who has two lessons a week. I was just hired tonight by a small language company. They are mainly a Chinese language school but they teach some English classes and I am now their English teacher along with one other Canadian guy who is really cool.
I have a few more interested students who have set up trial lessons so hopefully they will become students.
Sooo I am keeping myself very busy.
I am recovering from being sick. The symptoms may suggest it was just a cold but I still say Ashley's leaving me brought it on.
Mhairi has also become sick now but her cold is in her chest where mine was in my sinuses mainly.
Ani is doing well and keeping herself amused with the people at her work.
Nina's farewell party is this Sunday. She doesn't leave until the end of February but her family comes to visit in a week so the only time we have to spend together just us girls is this Sunday.
I hope everyone is well doing their various things. I would love to hear from you.
I go from feeling like I am floating on my back, to swimming hard, to barely able to tread water here in Tokyo. All these emotions can come on me in the course of a day or a few hours. Hearing from home always makes my days better.

Friday, February 02, 2007

And then there was one...

I have had a very full time with vistors this past month and a half or so. First my girlfriends over New Years and then Ashely. Pictures of their visits are in the posts below. It is just Ani, Mhairi, Nina and I again now and Nina will be leaving us shortly. Jenna comes at the end of Febuary and I am really looking forward to her arrival and then my parents come just as she leaves.
So Ashley has left me now. I miss her terribly. Life was so full when she was here.
The following entries are pictures from her time here in Tokyo with me. Ashley's blog entries are long but very good and if you have not read them I suggest that you do if you would like to know about our time together. Although the entries are long and detailed, they don't come close to telling all that we did and experienced. We had a very full and exciting month and to describe it all would take far to long. We have become even closer over this trip and our separation is now very hard on me but I am so grateful that we had this time.
Enjoy the pictures.

Pictures: Ashley's visit continued

Oh little dogs are everywhere in Tokyo and they all have outfits!

Park Hyatt Tokyo
New York Bar

Isn't she beautiful?!

Yummy food...

Pictures: Ashley's visit continued

Pictures: Ashley's visit continued

Koya San- The Mecca for Budhists in Japan.

Pictures: Ashley arrives (Jan3rd-31)

Did Ashley mention how much we loved this temple/mountain full of arches? Yes, I realize there are lots of pictures but it was so fabulous!