Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lazy Update

I met one of the local "bosses" (whatever that means!) at a sushi bar the other night. He owns various hotels in the region. And he was drunk, but he gave me some great advice: 「ちゃんと愛するんだよ!」って。 "Love (someone) properly!"


Note: This is a "Lazy Update" because it's literally just my latest facebook status update, used as a blog post until I have time to actually write something up. Hopefully this weekend! Unless I'm out...which is entirely possible.

Word of the Day: 愛する 「あいする」 "ai suru," or "(to) love." If you want to say, "I love you," in Japanese using this verb, it would be 「愛している」 "ai shite iru" in the written form. If it is verbal, you may drop the い (i), and it would become 「愛してる」 "ai shiteru."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lazy Interlude

The title of this post is actually quite misinformative (yes, that's an actual word). While the writing of this post is lazy, the reason for it (and the lack of posts over the past few days) is that I've been quite busy. Both my professional life and my social life have ramped up in busyness (and business) that I've actually lost sleep from having too much fun. Oops! Haha. That said, I intend to get at least 8 hours a night every night this week while still making time for all of the things I need (and want) to do.

I will respond to correspondence, e-mails, comments, messages, facebook pokes, text messages, and post a new blog entry in the near future! But please be patient, my adoring fans.

Also, a new project is in the works; still brainstorming, but let's just say I've been practicing guitar a lot. (The latest songs I am learning are "Because of You" by Ne-Yo, and "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz [SO FUN TO PLAY, especially 'cause I've learned it in two keys, but playing each set differently so that it ends up being in the same key, but with the guitar tuned differently; put in guitar terms, I learned it with the capo at the 2nd fret or the 4th fret, A E F#m D chords or G D Em C chords, respectively].)

Oh, and to give you an idea of what I've been up to:

Word of the Day: 楽しい 「たのしい」 "tanoshii," or "fun."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lazy Sunday

Happy Mother’s Day! Treat your mothers right, ‘cause you’ve only got one of ‘em! (Yeah yeah, I know, some have more than one. Treat them well, too!)

So where was I? Ah yes, my dreams. I have a ton of dreams. I’ve mentioned the “doctor” dream and the “headmaster of a martial arts academy” dream already. But you may not know that I have other dreams; “closet dreams,” which I shall reveal now.

Acting. Have you ever wanted to be an actor? I was joking with some friends a couple weeks ago about becoming a タレント (“tarento,” or “talent”), which is the name given to TV celebrities who don’t really have any particular talent. But they’re just on TV for the sake of being on TV. Many shows in Japan have people just sitting on the side, occasionally commenting on whatever topic the hosts are talking about.

More and more foreign タレント are appearing on Japanese television, for better or for worse. The good is that Japanese people, especially those who live in the countryside, are getting more exposure to foreign culture. The bad is that sometimes this is the ONLY exposure some Japanese people get to foreigners, so the タレント end up becoming representatives of whatever country from which they come. This is a big problem because people in Japan have a tendency to think “Oh, David Specter said this on TV, and he’s a white American, so that must be what every American thinks.” (Conversely, people in the US are also guilty of this too, for Japanese people, or other foreigners. “He’s Asian? He must use chopsticks.” Etc.)

Anyway, back to the point. My dream isn’t to become a タレント. But I think it would be fun. And I would like to be on Japanese TV one day; ideally as a regular (like a タレント). But my real acting dream is to star in a hit blockbuster action/martial arts movie. I don’t know where I would get my start, though. I was supposed to star as the main villain in a movie that a friend of mine was going to direct, but the project got cancelled. (Actually, not the villain, technically; but rather, the last person whom the protagonist meets, fights, and kills. From the context of the story, though, my character is more of a hero, as he is the victim of the protagonist’s looting.)

My acting experience is minimal. I was an extra in my friend’s short film, “Mixed Drinks,” which is the story of a foreign English teacher who went to a party to meet a friend of his, another foreigner, who had been living in Japan for a few years. The two of them share stories and interact with other foreigners and Japanese at the party, but some drama happens, and the movie ends after a climactic physical argument. The short film serves as social commentary to various issues that occur between foreigners and Japanese people. I’ll post it here, if I can get permission.

I’ve also starred in a short documentary that my friend, a film major, created (directed, edited, filmed). The documentary was about me as a martial artist. I went with the approach of a comparison between traditional karate (using Shotokan Karate as an example) and modern karate (using my American Kenpo Karate as an example). It was really fun to make, and I’m thinking about doing a project like that again, where I delve deeper into the meaning of martial arts, and explain more philosophies and theories. Maybe I’ll make it a series...a YouTube Series…::gears are spinning in my head::..

To be continued…

Word of the Day: 俳優 「はいゆう」 “haiyuu,” which means “actor/actress/performer.”

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lazy Saturday

Continued from yesterday’s post, which itself is a continuation of Thursday’s post.

I think about those dreams and think about how awesome it would be to build that clinic. But then I think about the long and arduous road to get there. And I think about all the issues and problems about being a doctor in the first place. And I begin to question my desire to be a doctor. Is that really my dream? Or was it something that just sounded good? Or was it because I “dream big” and reach high because I want to fulfill my potential, but without really considering whether I would enjoy doing it? I think about the hours on the job and the stress of dealing with sick patients, and overall happiness. I currently enjoy working a “35 hour week” (actually it’s about 40 hours a week, like any other regular job, or more when I stay longer), but I still have a hard time finding enough time to do everything in the day that I would like to. And doctors have even less time! (Another reason I would prefer to run my own clinic than work 60 hours a week in a hospital.)

But before I get ahead of myself and worry too much about potential problems in the future (which may not necessarily affect me), I need to look at the “getting into med school” problem. And a big problem indeed it is, for me. One of the biggest faults of it is timing. The application season begins over FOURTEEN months before matriculation into the program. How much sense does that make? That means if I want to go to med school in Fall 2013, I need to have all of the application materials and documents and everything prepared by late May 2012.

Can I still apply this year? Yes and no. Yes, theoretically, if you look at the date. But in all practicality, no. And for various reasons. The biggest reason being that I wouldn’t be able to get the packet of recommendation letters written by my university’s “Pre-Professional Health Committee,” as I believe the due date for that has passed. But moreover, I would also have to refresh my MCAT knowledge, and take the test again. There are two test dates offered in Japan this year: June and August; neither of which allow enough time for me to review. Lastly, I haven’t had much volunteer experience relevant to medicine recently. So in order to wow the admissions committees and convince them to let a fun-loving late 20’s guy into their school, I would have to really bust my ass and prove to them that I want this, like I did with getting to Japan.

So what do I want? That’s the question of the decade; nay, century. Nay, millennium. I seem to never know what I want. Things here and there, yes. Dreams here and there, yes. And I’m fulfilling a lot of them simply by being here in Japan. I know my hobbies, and I know my interests. I love a lot of things. I have a passion for a lot of things. I have a burning desire to DO SO MANY THINGS. But I know that if I delve into medicine, that’s it for me; that’s it for those dreams. That’s it for those passions; I know that I would have to invest so much time and effort into medicine that I wouldn’t have the time or energy to focus on anything else. And perhaps that’s what has been preventing me from finally just going through with it all. My other dreams.

What are these other dreams? Find out next time, on ハロルドin Japan.

Word of the Day: 幸せ 「しあわせ」 “shiawase,” or “happiness.”

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lazy Friday

This is actually a continuation of the post I wrote yesterday, but it is a new topic, and thus I wanted to save it for another day.

And this brings us to my next topic: life. Rigidity in life allows us to proceed forward on a certain path; rigidity on this path allows us to (theoretically) succeed by moving up the ladder and mastering one particular skill. Of course, one has to loosen the rigidity to allow acquisition of knowledge passed on by mentors and peers; the concept of keeping an open mind. But this sort of rigidity and single track mindedness, while benefitting us in the “mastery” concept, restricts us from trying out new things, venturing into new fields, or exploring other professions.

I am at this fork in the road; which I’ve been stuck at for a while, actually. Too long, arguably. Basically, I’ve had this sort of “dream” to become a doctor. But I can’t solidly specify where this dream came from. There isn’t any one point in time where something happened and I had a lightbulb moment: “Eureka! I wanna be a doctor!” No, nothing like that. It was more like, “Hmm, I like sciences and math. I like people, and I want to help people. And it’d be cool to cure disease and fix people’s ailments. Hey, maybe I should be a doctor.”

And over the years, I’ve bounced around ideas about what kind of doctor I would want to be (oncologist, cardiologist, dermatologist, and most recently, pediatrician because I work with kids), or where I would want to work (hospital or my own private clinic; honestly would rather have the latter). Most recently (couple weeks ago), I DID have an apple-on-the-head moment: I should build a health clinic that is part clinic and part dojo. That way I can teach martial arts on one side AND give medical checkups and be a doctor on the other side. One of my friends joked that I could fix up one of my martial arts students in the clinic after giving them a proper showing of the ropes in the dojo.

(This reminds me of another Hajime no Ippo character: the medical student who challenged Ippo after he won the title belt. He made a comment that his hands are used both for fixing and for breaking. He was an interesting character, as he utilized his knowledge of the human body to pinpoint specific targets on his opponent. As a pre-med student, of course I was immediately interested in this character.)

To be continued…

Word of the Day: 夢 「ゆめ」 “yume,” which means “dream(s).” It may be used in both the figurative sense and the literal sense, just like in English.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lazy Thursday

So here I am, sitting at my desk, on a Thursday morning at the junior high. There were no classes here yesterday. There are none today. And there won’t be any tomorrow. Why, you may ask? Because the first years were on a field trip to Hiraizumi, a town with a famous temple (Chusonji, a World Heritage site), the third years are on a field trip to Tokyo (JEALOUS, I wish I could go!), and the second years are doing job training. Er, not job training…but something like job shadowing. Where they split off into groups and help with work at various stores and such in the area, like hair salons, kindergartens, nursery schools, convenience stores, department stores, etc. So…yeah, no classes for the rest of the week. Yay, that means more time for blog posts and studying Japanese! And…sitting. Lots of sitting. Time to get up and do something.

...Whew! Okay, I’m back. I just did some shadowboxing and freestyle form, karate style and Bruce Lee style. I have been in a martial arts kick lately (see what I did there?). I have been talking to a friend recently who is interested in starting martial arts, and as a result, I’ve looked up a lot of Bruce Lee quotes and other Jeet Kune Do philosophies.

Jeet Kune Do means “Way of the Intercepting Fist.” It is Bruce Lee’s philosophy of martial arts. This philosophy entails a few basic key concepts: that of simplicity, practicality, and disobedience to tradition. With this philosophy in mind, martial arts practitioners should be able to adapt their techniques to a given situation rather than strictly adhere to certain stances or certain ways to throw an attack.

The downfall of traditional styles, according to Bruce Lee, is that the rigidity of the stances and attacks ends up becoming a limitation on the user. Think of it this way: if Guy A knows exactly how Guy B is going to throw an attack, Guy A can easily counter it. This concept was even touched upon in one of my favorite manga series: はじめの一歩 (Hajime no Ippo). The series’ “big, tough guy” Takamura was going for his first world title where he was fighting the champion (Bryan Hawk) who was a master of “unorthodox” style boxing. In other words, he had no set style; he was incredibly wild, and he threw punches from the strangest positions. Conversely, Takamura was well trained, and thus had perfect boxing form and textbook boxing techniques. Unfortunately,  Hawk was able to capitalize on Takamura’s “by the book” style, and he easily countered the attacks. It wasn’t until Takamura started resorting to his pre-boxing, wild gangster-style fighting and animal instincts that the fight started going in his favor.

Anyway, point is, rigidity leads to limitations. Let’s not get too limited by the routine we’ve created for ourselves. (Tomorrow’s blog entry will be a continuation of this one.)

Word of the Day: 無限 「むげん」 “mugen,” or, “infinity.” Literally, it means “no limits.”