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: (Takoyaki!)

Just when I had settled on a Canon, along come  pictures from the NYE party which get me thinking again.  

Here's one of me taken with an Olympus EP-1.  It's not so obvious in this one, but the colouring and image clarity were spot on.


Here's another one taken with what I think was a Canon DSLR:



 
It was taken rather suddenly, hence the blurring, but again, I liked the colouring in all the photos.

And, in my hand you will see my Holga, which is now serving as main camera until I figure out what I'm going to do, and which kidney I'm going to sell.  On Thursday a friend of mine will be giving me his 35mm/120mm negative scanner, which will make my Holga life a lot cheaper.  Expect to be hit with plenty of Holga yumminess at the weekend.

Today I went to my student's house to play with his cat, Hana (that's Japanese for flower), and eat o-sechi-ryouri, which is traditionally eaten over the New Year to give wives a break from cooking.  I particularly love the kuro-mame, sweet black beans, and the tonnes of vegetables you get to nibble on.  Here's a picture of me and Hana:


 
Last night, in a bid to be a bit less reclusive and more spontaneous, I decided (after initially turning things down) to meet up with some friends from Nagoya:  Audrey, and Jay who was only up for the evening.  Jay's a nice guy, but when he gets drunk he becomes quite aggressive.  This was actually brought up by both Audrey and I and he seemed rather shocked by the accusation.  Given that this was one of the first things I spotted about him, when meeting him for the first time about two years ago, I too was rather taken aback.  Anyway, Jay was on good form all evening, which is not something that can be said for the  buddy of his who turned up after having been drinking his fiance's family dry all afternoon.  He launched himself into the Irish Bar we found in Shinagawa, spouting various profanities in Japanese, before entertaining a Scottish couple sitting behind us with some slurred discussion about Sheffield.  He then introduced himself to everyone, forgot everyone's name and then insisted on loudly telling the whole bar about the 50yen beer bar he was taking us to.  There were 8 of us in total, and we all agreed that we were only tolerating him because he knew where to find beer for 50yen in Tokyo.  

On the train there, he started talking about the time he got into a fight and was wrongly accused (he says) or pulling the hair out of the skull of one of his four attackers.  Allegedly they tried to sue him for 'emotional harm' to the tune of £20 000, but settled for £2000 when he threatened to leave the country rather than pay up.  All of which sounds like a load of bollocks to me.  While the story was being told, the train around us slowly emptied out as more and more people sidled off into nearby carriages.

So we get to Gotanda and set off to the bar, only to find it closed, which is really no surprise.  We ended up in an izakaya, where Audrey and I gave each other moral support (having two vegetarians is quite glorious when you need to pressure people into ordering salad), and Mr Obnoxious continued to test everyone's patience.  As I bailed out he grabbed my hand and said:  

" You know, despite what people have said about you, you're actually quite cute..."

...which I shrugged off as the ravings of a drunken, obnoxious twat and went home.  It's nice to be reminded why I don't like hanging out with most foreigners.

And just think, if I'd stayed at home, there would have been no story to tell you.  Which is why going out more is worth it.

Hello Tiger

Jan. 1st, 2010 06:01 pm
blacklilly: (Smiley)
2010 is the year of the Tiger in Chinese astrology. In Japan that starts today. I wonder what it will bring.

Last night I went to my co-worker's house near Shibuya for New Year. The plan was to go round, have some drinks, watch a bit of TV and then head off to my favourite rock bar in Shibuya to see in the New Year. As it turned out, we got a bit carried away enjoying ourselves and I ended up having to run to the nearby train station at 11.45pm to collect two friends. We barrelled through the door at 11.56pm, kampai'd the near year and wished someone a happy birthday. It was a pretty good night.

A student of mine sent this picture to me this morning, so I thought I'd post it here for you:


It's the first sunrise of 2010 taken from the top of the Mori Building in Roppongi Hills.  Next year, weather permitting, I want to be there.

In a bid to find something decent to wear for the party yesterday I decided to be brave and cut up one of my t-shirts.  Goodness knows why it took me 29 years to finally start cutting up T-shirts, but I'm glad I started.  Here are before and after pictures:


  Before     After

The necklace is a brilliant little thing my mum picked up for me from a jewellery shop in Burnham the last time I went back to England. 

In fact, it's not just T-shirts I've been revamping.  I've been mulling over moving my room about for a month or two and the day before yesterday I got fidgety enough to do it.  Again, more pictures:
Before   After (though not finished)

I feels a little more spacious for some reason.

Anyway, more later.  I think I need some sleep, or a bath...

Photos

Apr. 2nd, 2007 04:14 am
blacklilly: (Default)
You can see some of my photos from New Year at Flickr. A little late, but it has taken me that long to get the film developed.

In addition, here are some of the photos from the party we had a few weeks ago: )

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