Friday, October 30, 2015

Positive Energy.

Today I received the most beautiful compliment from the same customer who noticed me reading in the store a couple of weeks ago.

"You know, you're a really nice person. I notice these things because I work with special needs kids, and I study a lot about how positive energy can affect people. I see you around this store, and you're kind of mellow but you're always smiling. And that positive energy just comes out of you, and you know, other people can feel that." 

Thank you, sir!

Talking with Yasmin 4

Yesterday's session was a dud. I was feeling really down and didn't want to be there, but went anyway because I knew that I needed to go (plus those late cancellation/no-show fees are no joke). But I got the feeling that Yasmin didn't really want to be there either. I didn't walk away feeling like we'd talked about too many significant things. Eh well. Hopefully next week is better.
  • Been keeping yourself from singing because you don't think you sing well enough
  • Mastery takes time and hard work; you could probably reach the level that you think these "real artists/musicians" are at; but you're already assuming that even your best will leave too much to be improved upon and it won't be worth it
    • When you have a passion, of course you want to be great at it; but give yourself a chance to be your best before you take yourself out of the running!
  • ASSIGNMENT for this next week: Do one thing that makes you feel good about yourself. Not something that just enriches your mind or potentially enhances your skillset. Not a wanton distraction. Something, just one thing, that makes you feel good about you.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

BOOKS! (The Round House)

THIS BOOK NEEDS TO BE REQUIRED READING FOR ALL STUDENTS IN THE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM.

Life on Native American reservations. Desecration of bodies and sacred spaces. Historical legal precedents of white people giving themselves the right to steal Indigenous land and lives. Loopholes and an inability to obtain justice due to a messy overlap of competing land rights and jurisdictions. Violence against Native women.

These are real. These are things that are still going on that we need to know about. And these are the details that we need to be studying in school, instead of being fed farces about Thanksgiving goodwill and acting like Christopher-he-who-shall-not-be-named wasn't a murderous, navigationally-challenged fiend. Requiring students to read this 2012 National Book Award winner would be an invaluable step in that direction.

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Joe is a boy living on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. He is only 13 years old when his mom, Geraldine, is brutally beaten and raped in the spring of 1988 at the a Native place of worship called the Round House. Tribal, state, and federal authorities launch an investigation on the attack, while Joe and his dad (Bazil, a tribal judge) pick up the pieces at home and try to keep a wounded and broken Geraldine from giving up on living. Bazil and Joe dig for as many answers as they can on their own, but when the investigation stalls and it becomes clear that the perpetrator won't be punished even after everyone figures out who did it, Joe decides to take justice into his own hands. Over a tumultuous summer he is emboldened by the support of his four best friends, the spirits of his ancestors, the knowledge of his people's legal history instilled in him through his father's instruction, and his elders' folk stories.

This novel is heavy. As it should be. Erdrich states in her afterword that at least 1/3 Native women will be raped in their lifetime, 86 percent of sexual assaults upon them are committed by non-Native men, and the vast majority of cases aren't prosecuted. And you really can't talk about sexualized violence against Native women without discussing their status as Native people, and how Native peoples have been gruesomely and criminally disenfranchised by this country from beyond the beginning. So in this novel, Erdrich uses a fictional incident of rape to discuss all of this. And it. is. heavy. As it should be.

What's crazy to me is that Joe's mom isn't even the main target in the particular incident she was involved in (you'll know what I mean once you read the book), and yet look at how brutalized she is. And look at how much her family and others on the reservation suffer and are forced to become different people as a result of what she is going through. When people talk about trauma devastating communities, especially in regard to communities of color in this country, this is what they mean. If it happens to one of us, it happens to all of us in some way or another. I find this to be true in my personal experience as a Black person, and The Round House appears to indicate that individual trauma becomes shared as part of community-wide trauma in a similar way for Native Americans.

I would recommend this book to any American citizens or residents who don't want to keep their heads in the sand about the people who were here first, and are still here.

Favorite quotes:
"They lived and died too quickly in those years that surrounded the making of the reservation, died before they could be recorded and in such painful numbers that it was hard to remember them all without uttering, as my father did sometimes as he read local history, and the white man appeared and drove them down into the earth, which sounded like an Old Testament prophecy but was just an observation of truth. And so to be afraid of entering the cemetery by night was to fear not the loving ancestors who lay buried, but the gut kick of our history, which I was bracing to absorb. The old cemetery was filled with its complications" (100).
"Look at me. Would I wreck her life? The Creator made us for each other. Me here. Zelia there. Space was put between us by human error. But our hearts listened to divine will. Our bodies, too. So fucking what? Every bit of what we did was made in heaven. The Creator is goodness, brother. In his mysterious mercy he gave me Zelia. The gift of our love−I can't throw it back in the face of the Creator, can I? That's what her parents are asking me to do. But I won't do it. I will not throw our love back in God's face. It will exist for all time whether or not her parents can see that. Nothing they do can get between us" (312).

Monday, October 26, 2015

Talking with Yasmin 3

Friday's session included a lot less crying than usual (woohoo!). Lately I've been thinking a lot about some things, trying to face myself and figure out what I need to be doing. Not any more clearer on any front, but at least it was nice to talk it out.
  • Thinking about what Ma said about my focus being misplaced/off (obsessed with and intimidated by end result instead of enacting "whatever it takes" mentality to work through the middle) + things the poets said at the PIA Tour (desiring God, wanting what God wants even if it means letting your own dreams and desires go/take a backseat)
  • Talking about God (since I brought it up, Yasmin was allowed to talk about it) 
    • I'm always wanting things I'm not ready for
    •  No idea what God wants from me; no idea what He's calling me to do
    • hard to fully trust that God will make a way if I truly believe, since I don't know where that'll lead me or what I'm supposed to do; too terrifying to consider that it means giving up what I've always wanted
  • You have to define what you want out of this life.
    • it's about your truth, your passion, what makes you happy; because making Danielle happy is #1
  • What's your passion? Your dream?
    • singing, writing. Living and working as a singer (band's lead vocalist) in Japan
    • talked to Tiffany Toriumi for information/inspiration/encouragement→got into the jazz thing singing at jam sessions, started seeing vocal instructor
    • but then started feeling again like I'm just an amateur and everyone else are the "real artists" (plus got my keyboard to tinker around with my songs)→started shrinking back again
      • but in the pursuit of your dreams, you'll likely have to be under someone doing grunt work for quiet a while if that's what it's gonna take to get you there
    • why're you crying talking about your passions as if you're embarrassed? they should make you excited! if they matter to you, then they matter!
  • Yasmin reading You Are an Amazing Woman by Lisa O. Engelhardt to me 
    • not overloading yourself by doing too much; you can't do everything
    • people respecting/looking up to you, feeling support and light through you, maybe even envying you; you can be/are useful to others
    • sisterhood; been burrowing yourself in your own little hole since graduation; maybe should reach out to friends from college
  • Too preoccupied with thinking about what you should do with yourself and figuring out what kind of artist you want to be, to be fixated on usual bad feelings about your body! Yay for positive distractions and refocusing!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

'Cuz Commies. 'Cuz 'Murica. - Bridge of Spies

So I know I made a commitment some time ago, in the interest of maintaining my sanity and preserving my sense of self, to only go to the cinema to watch movies starring people of color or featuring stories of color. But this one sounded interesting, my vocal instructor recommended it, and Tom Hanks is the GOAT, so this evening I made an exception. Ma and I's selection for this evening was a film about the Cold War, one of many wars of dubious necessity injected with American-made  fear and fantasy in order to justify violence and make Americans feel good about themselves. A war which has also spawned many a film such as this one. And the story goes...

Seen Friday, October 23: Bridge of Spies

"In the shadow of war, one man showed the world what we stand for."



First America's like, "Ayo Donovan! We caught this dude with an inexplicable Irish?Scottish? accent who we're sure is a Russian spy, and we need you to defend him in court. Can't have our justice system looking like it throws people into the trash heap even though that's exactly what it does. So help us give him a semblance of due process to make us look good." Then America's like, "Look, we know as a lawyer you have a duty to abide by the law and the Constitution and human decency and all that stuff, but we didn't really want you to do the job we appointed you to do. Naw man, you exemplified honesty and American values too well, and that's just un-American 'cuz we really just wanted to fry that Commie! Why couldn't you have just played along?!" And then America's like, "Alright man, we know we just finished dogging you out and the CIA tried to intimidate you and your house just got shot up, but since the Commie was found guilty like we wanted him to be, and now the Russians have one of our pilots in custody in the USSR, we'll give you one more chance to prove how much you love this country. Go to East Berlin and negotiate a swap to get that pilot back in exchange for the Commie you just defended. We can't get our hands too dirty, so this is totally under wraps and we can't officially acknowledge you. As such we can offer you no help, so if you mess this up or something goes down, we will not protect you. Oh and there's some other American doctoral student wrongfully imprisoned in East Berlin, but we don't care so much about him, so just focus on the pilot." And then America's like, "Oh! You managed to trade one for two and get both the American guys back. You're a true American hero! Right on!" 'Cuz Commies. 'Cuz 'Murica. And so on and so forth.

And I'm rolling my eyes all the way home.

Not about the film itself, mind you. The film is great! Tom Hanks is a legend! And this is an intensely engaging story that I'm glad Steven Spielberg chose to highlight. In my humble opinion, he treated the story with dignity, as he is wont to do. What I roll my eyes at is what the film reveals about American society that most audience members won't  realize is actually sickeningly typical. Because they'll probably be too drowsy from having their appetite for testaments to our so-called "exceptionalism" satiated. Bridge of Spies lays two grand jokes out on the table for us to chew on: that of the justice system (due process as a fraud, a facade, a spectacle, going through the motions, little more than an aspiration) and that of American heroism (oftentimes America will only celebrate you as a hero or a patriot if you demonstrate American values the selective way people want you to, not if you actually play by the rules, do the right thing, genuinely stand by what you claim to believe in and do so not only as it conveniences you, etc.) But these are two jokes that I'm pretty sure few people will get. I imagine there'll be a lot of talk like, "Man, what a crazy scenario. Sucks for that guy. But hey, those were the times. What do you expect? Besides, it worked out for him in the end." Instead of,  "Man, that's wrong and messed up. Why were those folks put in such a situation anyhow? And how much have we really evolved from that particular moment in time?"

On the whole I say, Bravo! This is most definitely a film worth watching, and deserving of whatever merits it might be considered for. (Come on now. Tom Hanks? Spielberg? War film? With award season in just a few months? In this country that's a no-brainer.) My only qualm is that the film has a lot to teach us that will go over many heads, because if we look beyond the surface it shows us too much of what we'd prefer not to see.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Things People Give Me #24

Today I received a card from my friend Kristi! She took it back to our pen pal days by writing a nice note and mailing it to me, just to check in and say hello. We met at a fine arts camp called Blue Lake during the summer before 8th grade, and from there we kept in touch as pen pals. Then email and Facebook and texting happened, so we don't write each other in letter form as often. She asked for my address last week but didn't say that she'd send me anything, and then I forgot about it all so this was a very pleasant surprise. Thanks, Kristi! 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Ma, on hazing.

Ma: Nah, I never wanted to pledge 'cause I didn't want to deal with the hazing. They'd try to do something to me and I'd end up hurting somebody.

Me: No you wouldn't.

Ma: Why wouldn't I?

Me: Ma, when have you ever hurt anybody?

Ma: You never know.

Me: ...

Ma: ... Nah, I haven't. But I'm just saying.

Oh hey, didn't see you there.

Almost fell over trying to get up this morning because somebody crept around in the middle of the night and decided to get cozy on the ends of my blanket. Thanks, pup.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Poets in Autum Tour!


Ezekiel. Janette. Jackie. Preston. At least two of them are rappers. One's also a singer and musician. All of them are married. Three of them are parents. All of them are friends. Most importantly, all of them are spoken word artists who use their gifts to share with people about Jesus.

Ezekiel Azonwu is a true thespian. His movement and projection are hauntingly masterful.

Janette...ikz (pronouned "genetics") is everybody's big sis and is also a one-woman show. She gets into character like no one's business.

Jackie Hill Perry is an OG, the first one of these four poets that I became aware of. She's blunt and she really doesn't care.

Preston Perry is just an extremely cool and sincere dude. His rhymes cut you like his wife's does, but with his poems it feels like he's really trying to make his heart reach yours.

Thanks to all of you for humbling us, exposing us to ourselves, and reminding us to seek God's will for our lives, even over our own ambitions. Good luck to you in Toronto tomorrow. God bless y'all and your ministry.

#thepiatour

Talking with Yasmin 2

Today's session had me thinking that maybe I underestimated Yasmin. I'd suspected that she wouldn't be able to handle me with all my issues, but today I learned that she's one of those therapists who talks back. A lot. Not sure if I like this or not yet, but I am impressed. Today we addressed my willfully uneventful weekend, lots of time spent sulking, and for some reason we ended talking about guys? Why I'm not sure. Obviously the point of it wasn't "finding a man will make you happy" or any crap like that. I guess it had more to do with countering this forever-alone-and-single-by-default attitude I've had ever since, well, ever. But I'm not used to talking about guys in relation to me in any way, shape, or form, so it still felt a little off base. Meh.
  • The terrible, awful, no-good weekend; had 3 days off Friday-Sunday but instead of taking advantage of it and maybe going to visit friends, just stayed home, down and unmotivated, only leaving the house twice; plus Ma was out of town so it was just you and the dog
  • Feeling so bad about your weight and appearance that you don't want to go outside
    • not so much about people looking at you/mistreating you/saying mean things (though that does hurt), as it is about not feeling like you measure up
    • think so highly of people that you want to be at the same level as them, but feel like you're not because you're "fat" → don't want to be in the way or cramp people's style (be an inconvenience)  stay inside because you feel undeserving
  • Maybe think about dress size rather than weight on the scale? So like, aim for, say, size 10 for now instead of focusing on that ultimate 100-lb wight loss goal? And maybe you don't even need to lose as much as 100 lbs?
  • All the things you occasionally like about your body are from the shoulders up (lips, face, complexion, collarbones, curve of shoulders); need to reach a point where that appreciation expands downward to rest of you
    • get like your friend Nyasha! bigger girl taking ownership of yourself and how you feel about yourself; loving yourself and treating yourself well regardless of anything else
  • Not that you're looking or interested right now. But if, hypothetically, you had a partner/mate who loved you as is, would that help you feel more comfortable accepting yourself? Answer: That could help some but... nah. Would still need some convincing. As long as you're not 100% satisfied, then you still feel like you have a ways to go
    • wondering what about you would someone find interesting or appealing? always thought of guys as being someone else you need to convince; another tiring task or obstacle not worth the trouble
    • But no, honey. You don't need to convince/persuade/prove anything; a guy could actually meet you today and like you all the more for who and what you are "as is" (Hmm? Hmm...)
  • For next week: Do some journaling and bring it in to share. Also, remind Yasmin about reading some book?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Nice to see you reading :)

"It's nice to see you reading. Usually you're,  you know,  working."

I came into work early to buy a used book that I'd been eyeing last night, and as I paused to flip through some new releases a regular customer passed by and said this to me. This is probably the sweetest thing a customer has ever said to me, and I don't even know why I appreciated it so much. Thanks for noticing.

Heart beating in my ear.

I've been feeling this light throbbing sensation and hearing this whirring, wooshing sound in my right ear since about last Thursday or Friday.

At first I feared that a bug might've gotten in there while I was sleeping (I had a similar scare a few months back when weird things were going on in my left ear). Turns out that the sound in my right ear isn't a bug, but my pulse. I've been hearing/feeling my heart beating in my ear this whole time. A couple days back I was randomly compelled to take my pulse, and as soon as I applied the requisite pressure to my neck just under my right jaw, the throbbingwhirringwooshing stopped as if muted. Took my fingers off the spot and the throbbingwhirringwooshing kept going like before.

Haven't experienced this before, and I'm not a doctor, so I don't know what this means. I tried googling it (not always the best idea when something's going wonky with your body), and plausible answers ranged from nothing-to-worry-about to the onset of hearing loss. I certainly hope it's not the latter. Maybe I'll go get this thing checked out. Dunno. In the meantime, though, I'm rather fascinated. I mean come on, I can hear my own hearbeat! Got new access to my pulse and don't even have to lift a finger.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dee Dee's Feathers + Dishonor on your cow! (continued)

You're not sorry. You want done what you want done, without looking bad or having me develop a lower opinion of you. Even your apology is all about you. You've been coming into this store multiple times a week and spending hours at a time for almost as long as I've been working here. I'm sure there's been a myriad of things going on around you and music played while here that could've annoyed or disrupted you enough to complain. But I guess Dee Dee's Feathers of all things was just the most egregious and penultimate aural obstacle to your reading experience. Okay, whatever.

When you finally walked away, my face was aching from being frozen in fakeness for so long, and my throat was burning with all the words upon words that had been eager to leap out to correct your wrongness and declare dishonor upon your cow. Instead, they were relegated to piling over each other and stuffing themselves into an increasingly dense, strained, and repeated "Okay." Like I said earlier, Miss, enduring this unnecessary conversation took a lot of effort on my part! I said I'd change it, dang! What else do you want from me!

Listen, your musical preferences aren't my business; I shall neither judge nor be persuaded. But please, Miss, if you're going to approach someone with that much audacity over something that frankly sounds like a personal issue to me, please. Please. Just let the conversation be over when it's over! So you haven't let the brilliance of jazz and expert vocal stylings into your heart. Fine. But don't try to talk my ear off disparaging an art while you try to justify yourself.

Whenever I'm assigned to be in the music/DVD department I intentionally play the Black-est and most soulful music at my disposal out of the selection that record companies pay this franchise to play in its stores. I do this because, hello, gotta represent for the magic my people create and/or have originated. But I also play such music because most folks who frequent this store in this rich white area haven't yet been exposed enough to appreciate (or simply refuse to appreciate) said magic. But let this be the first and last time you or anyone else asks me to switch to something else, Miss. 'Cause today was the first and last time that I'll oblige. 

Dee Dee's Feathers + Dishonor on your cow!

Miss.

I'll have you know that it took me a great amount of woo-sah for me to fix my face and keep #84 of my many plastered situational smiles together when it so behooved you to walk all the way from wherever you were in the store, down to this here music/DVD department to ask me to stop playing the CD that was currently in rotation. Apparently Dee Dee Bridgewater's new album was interrupting your precious reading. I had things I wanted to say and looks I wanted to give you in return, but I held them in and said in spite of myself, "Okay. I can change it." (Now, it's possible that my eyes may have been glaring at you while my mouth was smiling. I don't always have complete control of my facial expressions, especially when I'm agitated. And sleep deprived. BUT my point is, you presented a "problem", and as the bigger person/a proper agreeable salesperson, I told you I'd fix it.)

"Okay", I'd said. You could've walked away then, hurried along back to your sacred and direly compromised reading, leaving me in peace so my face could thaw while I begrudgingly switched to the next CD in the queue. What you did not have to do, however, is exactly what you ended up doing.

What you did not have to do was 1) continue standing there and proceed to explain to me how, in which way, and in what state or quality of being the album disrupted your concentration. You did not have to 2) include how you had to keep painstakingly starting over from the same spot in your book, as if being distracted while reading is a criminally cruel grievance that no one else has ever endured before. You did not have to 3) lower your voice to conspiratorially gripe that, "I hate to say this [No you don't], but big band is for old people", as if I would agree with you. Especially since I don't (respectfully reminded you that plenty of young people like jazz); there was no one else in the department to hear your slight, much less care; and the styles of jazz graciously offered to us on Dee Dee's Feathers aren't even (consistently) big band! You did not have to 4) meticulously describe how listening to this album makes you feel like you're outside with birds mercilessly squawking overhead. You did not have to 5) ask me, "I mean, do you actually like this stuff?" when you yourself started your complaint with the assertion that another salesperson had told you yesterday that we control the music played in the store. Of course I like this "stuff"! There's no one else standing behind this counter; who do you think played it?! You did not then have to 6) suggest I play something else, preferably not something everyone knows because then you'd just haaave to sing along, and then you'd just be distracted from reading all over again. Does this look like a DJ booth that takes requests to you?

And you most certainly did not have to 7) keep profusely apologizing and saying you didn't mean to be a b*tch throughout your extended complaint. Because if you're so sorry, why are you still in my face right now? Why are you still forcing this conversation along when I clearly said "Okay" three minutes ago, if you're so embarrassingly sorry for inconveniencing me? If you indeed feel sooo bad about not being able to appreciate an art form that you don't understand, then why aren't you asking me questions to learn more about it instead of asking me to turn it off?

[Not done yet. Still a bit on my mind that shall be expressed. Proceed to the second part HERE.]

Monday, October 12, 2015

78.

Today, on this righteous Indigenous Peoples' Day, my grandpa turns 78 years old. He and a bunch of the family celebrated the occasion yesterday.  Lookin' good! Wish I could've been there.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Name is a Name is a Beautiful Name

So so important. My name is Danielle, but I easily could've been Darleisha or Daquan (not joking in the least; these were among my dad's name ideas). And Darleisha/Daquan would've been no less lovely or brilliant.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Talking with Yasmin 1

Today, after a whole five months of trying to go it alone since my last Session with Sue, I bit the bullet and started seeing a new therapist. I always prefer to do things myself and then I convince myself that I can handle things solo dolo, but more often than I'd like the results of such efforts prove otherwise. I sooo badly want to be self-sufficient on so many different levels, but life post-graduation is proving slower and more uneventful than I'd dreaded, and I haven't been handling it well. Like at all. At. all. So today I met with a new therapist for the first time. When I contacted this particular psychological clinic through its website, my message went something like this:
"22-year-old recent college grad dealing with depression. Also struggling to feel a sense of purpose/direction in this time of post-graduation uncertainty. Would like someone (a female therapist of color, if available) to help me with these issues, as well as my lack of confidence (mostly due to negative body image). Was seeing a therapist from November 2013 through May 2015."
Yasmin isn't a therapist of color (at least, she doesn't seem to outwardly identify as one), but she's very nice. Her real name's not all that fun to write, so I'm choosing to refer to her as "Yasmin" instead. Today's introductory session included me spilling out my guts. I tried to avoid telling my life story but once I started talking and crying, I couldn't stop talking and crying. She's young─maybe late 20s or early 30s─which in no way means that she doesn't know her stuff. But I'm concerned that I might've overwhelmed her with all my, well, "stuff". Hopefully I don't scare her off. We'll see how next week goes. I'll be journaling again for my own personal benefit, and posting notes from each session here for anyone who'd like to read them. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

ドラマ (Dorama) Time! 10 - pt. 2

Okay, so it took me a little longer than "tomorrow" to get this done, but it's done! So let's get into it! Picking back up from part one, here's part two of the Japanese dramas I watched this summer:

37.5℃の涙 (37.5°C no Namida/Tears at 37.5°C) - TBS/2015

Main character Momoko (Renbutsu Misako) works for Little Snow, a homecare nursing service that dispatches its employees to families' homes to take care of sick kids when their parents can't take off work to tend to them. (37.5°C is the fever cut-off point, at which school and daycare staff are required to send children home in order to protect the well-being of the other children.) Momoko loves her job and is dedicated to being the best she can be, but she isn't always received well because she has trouble communicating with people and has an awkward smile that weirds both children and adults out. We find out later that her awkward timidity and lack of confidence are due to her being abused by her mother and two older siblings from childhood until she left home at age 17. After six years of living free and clear from her toxic family, her relatives find her and proceed to guilt/strong-arm her into returning home to look after her dying father. None of them wants to be bothered with him so they pass the responsibility onto her. Desperate to finally feel like she belongs somewhere, Momoko is torn between her family's (especially her mom's) sadistic clutches, and overcoming her trauma to commit to doing what she loves for once. Oh and of course, that and responding to the competing affections of her boss and the soon-to-be divorced father of one of her homecare kids, because what's a J-drama starring a female protagonist without a love line or triangle?

'37.5°C no Namida' spends a lot of time getting viewers to consider how modern families with one or more working parents operate in various forms, and to consider how much parents love and make sacrifices for their kids even though for some it may seem at first glance that their children aren't a priority to them. But what endeared me most to this drama is its focus on a grown woman still struggling to overcome her abuse and the mentality she developed because of it. I wasn't abused as a child, but I do have an extremely difficult relationship with one of my parents, so I felt for Momoko. Trying to deal with that as an "adult" in addition to giving yourself permission to do and be what you want is hard. Really, really, hard. So props to this show and everyone behind it for giving this perspective some attention.


恋仲 (Koinaka/Love and Friendship? LoverFriends?) - Fuji TV/2015

 Akari and Aoi have been best friends since childhood in their hometown of Toyama. In high school, Aoi tries to express his feelings for her, but when Akari has a family crisis, the new kid and their mutual friend Shota swoops in before Aoi can make his move. Then Akari disappears. Six (seven?) years later in Tokyo, Aoi is working at an architectural firm when Shota shows up to reacquaint himself and announce that he and Akari are an item. This makes Aoi realize that he's not over her, but he spends most of the show fighting his feelings (as does Akari) because he doesn't have the courage to be honest. So in this love triangle we have: two long-lost friends who love each other but are terrible at expressing their true affections, and another man who's desperate to cover his tracks and keep the woman all to himself. With whom will Akari end up? You'll have to watch the show to find out.

'Koinaka' comes from two of the same three directors of 2013's 'SUMMER NUDE', another summer drama based on first loves, coming to terms with the past, and young attractive people toeing the line between friends and lovers. Except I found the premise to be much more engaging and easy to love this time around, for a few reasons. First, while I do have a soft spot for Fukushi Shota (who plays Aoi) due to his role in 2013's 'Starman', there are no absurdly big-named stars to distract from the quality of the story (at least not for me, unless I'm out of the loop). Second, it's not set away in some idyllic beach town detached from real life, but in the mega city of Tokyo. And third, the main characters are much more relatable: 20-somethings from the same hometown in the countryside who are each beginning their careers and meandering their way through adult life and love in the big city, hitting external and internal bumps along the road as they go. I loved this show so much that I live-texted my friend each time I watched an episode! 'Koinaka' is a drama about young love and the quarter-life crisis that pulls at your heartstrings, but isn't so lovey-dovey as to induce eye-rolling or nausea.

And there you have part two! If I had to chose my favorite out of all four dramas that I watched this summer, it'd have to be 'Koinaka'. Hands down. With 'Kare, Otto, Otoko Tomodachi' and '37.5°C no Namida' tied at a close second. But as usual, I would recommend all of these dramas to anyone interested (except for 'Hanasaki Mai'). Hope you enjoyed my review. Until next time!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Things People Give Me #23

As of last night I am now the owner of a Casio PX-120 digital piano, all thanks to the benevolence of my favorite family friend/pretend aunt Ms. Yvette!

Back in July after I'd just ended the jazz workshop, for some reason Ma, Ms. Yvette, and got on the subject of pianos and Ms. Yvette remembered that she had a keyboard collecting dust in her basement. She said it was all mine as soon as she could find all the requisite parts! Last night Ma dropped me off at the Lianne La Havas concert and hung out with Ms. Yvette at her place nearby, and then Ma took me back there after picking me up so that my famished self could eat their leftover pizza and rib tips. Once I got there Ms. Yvette revealed that she'd found the parts to the keyboard, and that I could take it home right then and there, free of charge! So after setting it up to make sure it worked, Ma and I packed it into the car and now it's mine! I'd never really wanted a piano or keyboard, but now that I have one I'm so excited! I have something more accurate to tinker with when writing songs now! And Ma might even start back up playing the piano again!

Thank you so much, Ms. Yvette! We'll have to come up with a way to repay you somehow.  

LIANNE LA HAVAS :)

Fourth concert of my life, and the second of two in a one-week span. I am on an ongoing cloud of inspiration that nothing can conquer right now.

Lianne La Havas is just... a vision. A pure and magnificent vision. She sang the two songs that I'd been waiting all evening to hear ("Wonderful" and "Midnight"), and she moved me so much that tears streamed down my cheeks as I sang a long. And she sang the whole rest of her new album in addition to gems from her first one. She truly shared her gift with us, and Detroit responded with so much love that I think she was taken a little off guard. But in a good way! Thank you for sharing your gift with us last night. I came to learn and heal, and you made it possible for me to do that. Good luck with the rest of your North American tour!
Oh, and speaking of learning, I'd like to make a point about concert-going as research. I had an inkling that I was doing this back at the Chrisette Michele concert last year, had a more concrete feeling last week with Stromae, but was fully intentional when I went to see Lianne La Havas last night. I studied her music for an entire week, listening to both of her albums back to back everyday, just so I could be prepared to be enveloped in her mesmerizing vocal stylizing and thoughtful lyricism.

I realize that I go to see these artists because I'm seeking something; not just to be entertained, but to be schooled and challenged. How do these people I admire embody their own "maximum expression" (shoutout to Kanye West)? Ho do they give themselves to their audience? How do they transform the person-as-image that people know through a recording or video or promotional photo, into a living and moving artistic being right in front of everyone's faces? And not only that,  but such a being that people can connect to, be disarmed by? Or called by? Every time I see a an artist (especially a vocalist) perform live, something in me responds as if I've received a charge from a superior: I must make a way to do this too. 

So thank you Lianne! You taught me a lot and made me feel things deeply, and that's all I could've asked for.


Check out my other pics from last night here: