blacklilly: (Amelie)
Happy New Year to everyone!  My New Year didn't actually start until January 2nd as I allocated January 1st as an official day for doing absolutely nothing constructive whatsoever, so I stayed in bed until 1pm and then watched movies the rest of it.  Although, if you take into account that for the first 7 hours of January 1st, I was actually conscious and for the most part in control of my faculties, it wasn't such a wasted day.  I even got to take this rather blurry photo of sunrise at 6.30am.

The skyline is heading towards Shinjuku and Nakano, then you have the moon and what my friend was absolutely adamant was the International Space Station.  To keep with the poetic moment we all waved at the astronauts, but in my head I was doing the math.  The ISS orbits the Earth twice a day, which means you would actually be able to see it moving, and when I went to bed it was pretty much in the same place.  But, whatever, eh.  My same friend went off on an amazing drunken tangent the other night about how having sex three times a day makes your cock bigger.  We let it go the first time he told us this, but after the third time everyone was starting to get a bit uncomfortable.  I like having male friends:  they generally don't want to talk about their uterus all the time*, or blame everything in the whole world on their hormonal cycles, but they do try my patience sometimes.  Speaking of hormones, I was discussing my tattoo with a friend the other day and was talking about how I found the shading more painful than I remembered.  She informed me that hormones lower your pain threshold a week before your period.  I would start stabbing myself randomly with needles and then charting the pain levels over the course of a month to see if this is true, but actually, I don't care.  More on the tattoo in a bit but first...


I spent the week running up to Christmas in Bali on a yoga retreat in Ubud.  It was possibly the best holiday I have ever had.  Three hours of yoga every day, amazing scenery, beautiful food and three full-body massages in as many days.  It was heavenly.  I actually managed, despite the frog song cacophony outside my window every night, to sleep without ear plugs for the first time in months, nay years.  Which demonstrates that I have no problem with natural noise, just man-made ones.  It was a much needed vacation and was pretty much everything I could have wanted out of it - lots of time to think, read, paint, write (I wrote so much that I used up an enitre new pen in a week), and relax.  It's amazing what directions your mind takes you, and how much peace you can feel when you don't have the constant worries of paying the bills, or what you can't be bothered to cook for dinner, or whatever message your company has left on your answer phone etc etc.  I came back from the holiday so relaxed and content that a security guard at the Denpasar airport commented on how happy I looked.  It's effect now is that I realize just how much of my thoughts are taken up with things I need to do for work, worrying about money, obsessing about what I can and can't eat, whatever email I need to write to somebody.  Much as I love teaching, I have come to realize that it absorbs most of my brain power, so I need to save some of that for myself. 

So the tattoo.  I've had this one in the pipeline for the past couple of years, but had not found a tattooist for a job.  Then I met a few people who had all had work done by the same tattoo artist so I went to check him out back in the summer.  I waited until the hot weather subsided before going back and discussion ideas for the design, and at the beginning of December set a date for it to be done.  I gave him a bunch of drawings I had found on the net, and told him he had the artistic license- which is a little odd for me.  I was quite surprised by what he presented me with.  I had always had this idea of something a little more "aggressive" in my head, but I think Carlos actually seemed to spot my cute side as the drawing he made was perfectly in tune with the other tattoos I have.  He also inked in some cherry blossom for me, freehand.  I was a little nervous about this as I had no idea what he was going to be doing, but when I got to see it at the end (and the cherry blossom was by far the most painful of the whole thing) I was very very impressed.  I know, it's rather cliched to get cherry blossom done, but I really wanted something that epitomized Japan for me.  I  think the transient nature of the flower itself, so integral to the Japanese appreciation of it, symbolizes a few things for me: the transient nature of all things, particularly as I begin to feel that my time in Japan in coming to a close; and the appreciation of the present moment.  I love how everyone anticipates and then suddenly rejoices in the cherry blossom season - very carpe diem, and something I aspire to do more of.   It was actually not half as painful as I remember it being, either because I'm getting tougher with age, or Carlos is just gentle.  The only time I found it hard-going was during the cherry blossom, right next to my paw prints, which hurt a fair  bit last time, so maybe it was the location rather than the shading that was painful.

I will be continuing this one with a body at some point this year, and then mulling over where to take things from there in the future.  I think ultimately, I would like to cover one half of my back with ink, but we can't keep with the cat theme any further.  This cat, with it's body, completes the image I had in my head for so many years, and then it will be on to something else!!













* I'm talking about people who use periods as an excuse to not do anything, not people who genuinely have issues with their lady bits.
blacklilly: (dean you're soooo sexy)
The weather this morning was amazing.  Just as I left for work, the first rumbles of thunder were heard overhead and the rain came gushing down.  I quickly swapped into my skull-print wellington boots and headed out into the storm.  By the time I got to the station (4 mins) the rain was pelting down and the thunder overhead was AMAZING!!!  We must have been under the centre of the storm as the thunder absolutely ripped apart the sky above us.  It was all I could do not to jump up and down gleefully on the train platform, but I''m sure someone must have spotted the huge grin.  Interestingly, I'm just this minute listening to a lesson on Japanese onomatopoeia and how to describe thunder...

So I booked a holiday to Bali for Christmas.  Much as certain people may feel this is a rather rash decision on my part, given my various financial commitments, I need a frelling holiday, somewhere that isn't Japan.  I haven't had a holiday since last Christmas, and I haven't left Japan since May 2008, so I'm busting to get away.  I want to go somewhere reasonably quiet, in the mountains, and preferably warm.  As it happened, it was rather a spur of the moment decision.  I was at work mulling over what I wanted to do for the Christmas holiday, when the idea of Bali popped into my head.  It has long been on my list of places to go, but I was at a loss for what to do there, as me and beaches don't often go well together.  And then it hit me!  Yoga!!!  There are so many yoga websites I read which have advertisements for overseas yoga retreats, so I googled a few places and eventually found somewhere which people seemed to highly recommend up in the hills of Ubud.  It's a week of yoga and meditation, spa treatments and wandering about in the jungle.  Most importantly, it's going to be really quiet, especially on the one day when they run a voluntary silence for 24 hours.  I'm around for a day and a half after the retreat finishes so I'm planning to go stay in a family compound somewhere in Ubud and check out life when you're not staying in a luxurious hotel room. 

As a result, I'm limiting myself to living on 500yen per day, which is entirely doable, as long as I remember my lunch.  As it happens, I've not been feeling too hot since the weather changed, so not going out or even doing anything suits me fine.

Now, this book has totally bypassed me before, but I have been made aware of Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" by Front Row and Women's Hour on Radio 4.  The more I hear about it, the more worried I become.  According to what I've read, Gilbert went to Bali to "find herself" or whatever, thus sparking a flood of "women of a certain age" (whatever the hell "a certain age" is) heading to Bali to meditate and attempt to find love.  Which makes me wonder who I'm going to be on holiday with...  I for one, am not a "woman of a certain age", especially as I'm still passing for 26 years old at the oldest estimates from drunken strangers (beer goggles do me wonders).  I'm certainly not going to Bali to find love.  All I want is some peace and quiet, lots of yoga, and to chill out.  And to eat all the vegetarian Indonesian food I can.  So, I may have to get a t-shirt made which says: "I do not Eat, Pray or Love".  It's a suitably grammatically dubious statement, so could pass for a Japanese creation.  Maybe I could sell it...?
*       *       *
 
Attention-seeking Parrot

This guy is part of a pet shop in Asagaya.  The shop is full of cats, dogs, rabbits, a giant tortoise, masturbating monkeys (it's a long story), and has a HUUUUGGGEEE dog who lols and slops about the place.  The shop absolutely stinks.  I don't know what animal rights laws Japan has in place for such places, but it would be shut down in the UK.  This guy stands outside and occasionally responds to the call "Banzai!" by raising his wings and posing.  He also loves having his photo taken, as evidenced by the following:




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April 2011

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