Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Tokyo, Japan

My last trip to Japan was recent, quick and heartwarming. The culture is so deeply rooted, the people are delicate, gentle and polite, and the city is an exquisite juxtaposition of modern and ancient. Temples rest between high rises, statues guide your way throughout the day, and the serious lack of trash bins is perplexing. This city is one of the cleanest, most organized, and most efficient I have ever seen. They honestly think of EVERYTHING, right down to the warmed toilet seat in my hotel room.

Courtesy is of the utmost importance here. They must think of Americans as barbarians, the way we chew with our mouths open (actually, a major pet peeve of mine. I'm with ya on that one, J-Pizzle), laugh and talk loudly about lewd topics, and refuse to yield when walking straight toward someone on a busy sidewalk. I went for a casual lunch with a friend, and the hostess took my coat, folded it neatly across the back of the chair next to me, and placed a large suede square of fabric over it so it would look pretty. Then she handed us steaming towels to wipe our hands! Before every meal, no matter where you are, you are given a warm towel - We even were handed them on the airplane! Can Americans please get with this practice?

Every time I go to Tokyo, I make it a priority to ride the train to the Harajuku district. This is one of the biggest shopping areas of town. The main street is lined with upscale boutiques like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, etc. Behind those are a twisty labyrinth of small roads filled with local and international designers, vintage and novelty shops alike. I love walking around and looking at all the stylish guys and gals!

After a long day of sightseeing and shopping, we all went to a traditional Japanese dinner. No one wears shoes in this restaurant, even the servers! The meal was seven courses! Admittedly, some of what they brought us wasn't quite to my tastes, but I did at least try everything. I can't get over how amazing the sushi is. That is definitely THE thing to eat.

We had such a wonderful time. I love Japan, and with everything that is going on there right now, I encourage anyone and everyone to donate money, time, good thoughts, and prayers to this beautiful and unique country in need. Here is a link to the American Red Cross if you wish to donate.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Out There

Last night, I watched Disney's "The Hunchback of Notredame." I had all but forgotten about this movie, until a friend referenced the movie's ballad, "out there," which begins with the villain, Frolo, telling Quasimodo that he isn't fit to be loved, let alone the outside world. Frolo convinces the hunchback that he deserves to be isolated and alone, for his own protection. There is something about underdog stories that just make me lose it. The last time I was in New York City, my good friend Jess and I went to go see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, and even though both of us had seen the show more than once before, we left the theater and walked several blocks before the tears stopped flowing.
If someone makes you believe you can't/shouldn't/don't deserve to shine in every way you are capable, they do not have your best interests at heart. More likely, they are afraid of what would happen if you did. Would you leave them? Would it shed light on their own shortcomings? Probably. Fear is only useful as a red flag in physically compromising or dangerous situations. When you make decisions, make sure that what you are choosing is what you actually want, not whatever is the less frightening option. Be active; not passive, be on offense rather than defense...you get the idea. We only have one chance at this, and everyone is rushing towards the grave...so why not live as wholly as possible on the way there? Make mistakes, get messy, laugh, cry, feel, be.