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Pearls of Truth

My Adventures in Japan & Life in General

I recently experienced the best birthday ever. There was only one drawback…

I think I was incepted. [More on that later.]

My… let’s call him boyfriend, for now ;), came to Japan to celebrate this momentous occasion with me, and we did it super big.

We started off the festivities with a road trip to Shirahama’s Adventure World, an amusement park and zoo where you’re invited to “Feel Nature.” There’s something about a zoo on a cloudy, slow day that makes you feel less excited to see the animals, and more sorry for them. We kept noticing things, like the leashes tied to the birds ankles to keep them from flying far. Or the generally shaggy appearance of most of the animals as they grew out their winter coats. It didn’t help that we watched videos about lion cats the night before, so the shaggy guys we kinda laughed at, with pity, of course. ;)

The next big thing was the WAJET Bunkasai Talent Show & Fundraiser in Yuasa (random fact: Yuasa is known as the home of soy sauce.). It was a great event – there’s so much talent in our prefecture, from photography to baking, sign language, juggling, martial arts, comedy, and of course, music. I was trying to figure out what I would do for the show when one of my good friends who plays the sax asked if I’d sing along on his set with some “Summertime.” Then, after a great night of karaoke, another friend asked if I wanted to do something with him on the guitar. We went with Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” and India.Arie’s “Beautiful Surprise.” I had a chance to practice “Summertime” over Skype, but I couldn’t rehearse “Grenade” and “Beautiful Surprise” until the day of the show. I was having some trouble with the words of “Grenade,” (I thought I knew it… sike!) so I wrote them down for a little cheat sheet. “Summertime” went really well – my friend is a beast on the sax. “Beautiful Surprise” went pretty well too… then “Grenade” happened. I was in it, feeling it, with hand movements and smiles, when whoosh… the words just left me. Fortunately, my friend was there to help me out, and we did a little impromptu duet until I got situated. By that time, I was reading directly out of my little notebook, and I thought I was good until I lost the order of the words in the chorus. In true Kaila fashion, I yelled, “dangit!” and tossed the notebook. It was epic, hilarious, and a wee bit embarrassing. But then, I was super shocked when they announced the winners, and I got first place! While each person performed, an envelope with their name on it went around, and whoever raised the most money won and would get to decide to which charity we would send the money. I think it helped that my sugar daddy was there. ;)

Summertime, and the livin is easy!

Click picture to watch video… “Beautiful Surprise” From Bunkasai
Click picture to watch video… “Grenade” From Bunkasai

These ladies wanted to take a picture with me! I felt famous! :D

The next week, we headed to Tokyo Disney & Disney Sea for my birthday.
And so, the inception began.
We were heading out by night bus on Tuesday, and while I was at school I got a message from Ken saying that he finished wrapping my birthday present, and that it would be ready for me when I got home. When I got home, sitting on my genkan step were flowers and a huge bag with a box in it. I asked what was going on, because my birthday wasn’t until Thursday. He said it was my present, and I could open it then or on my birthday. Like any not-yet-adult would, I asked, “Will I have something to open on my birthday?” He said “Well, no…”
“Hmm…” I thought to myself. [I should mention that I had a gut suspicion that Ken had come to Japan to propose on my birthday. He was originally going to come early in May for Golden Week, but decided to plan the trip around my birthday instead. He’d also been dropping hints, some subtle, some not so subtle. For instance, when one of my best friends got engaged in late April, and he said, “You’re next.” So, I thought my birthday present would be a ring. You can imagine my confusion when I saw this huge box that he wanted me to open two days early.]
“Hmm, hmm, hmmmmm…” I kept thinking. “Why do you want me to open it early?” I said, “You don’t want to carry it around?” “Right,” he said, “it’s kind of heavy.” I told him I don’t mind carrying it around, and then I asked, point-blank, “well, what is it?” He said it was something we could use, either now or later, and mentioned it would be nice to have on the 12 hour bus ride.
“What is it?” I asked again, and then jokingly added, “an iPad?” “Maybe,” he said.

Maybe.
Maybe?
Maybe.

Maybe an iPad. “Hmmmmmmmm” I thought. By this time I was way past confused. I didn’t even want an iPad. Ken wanted an iPad. It looked to me like one of those, “I’ll get it for you, for ‘us'” presents. I thought back to one of our conversations where I said the only way I’d get an iPad is if someone gave it to me. “Hmmm…” But then, I thought again… “What about the ring? I’m not gonna ask him, ‘Aren’t you supposed to be proposing?’ I know there’s a ring here somewhere…” And then it clicked. iPad PLUS ring! Of course! Most balling-est birthday EVER! In my mind, it was all connected… there’d be a picture of the ring on the iPad or something… or maybe it’d be an engagement iPad?… my mind was whirling with ideas. What’s engraved on it? What apps will I download first? 10 minutes before I wasn’t even thinking about an iPad, and then all of a sudden, here I was, completely consumed with the idea of it. [For shame… I promise you I’m not the materialistic girl I allowed myself to be.]
I decided to play it cool. I knew that Ken had a master plan for the way he wanted things to go, so I sweetly asked him, “What do you think I should do? Do you want me to open it now, or on my birthday?” He said, “Well, I would like for you to have something to open on your birthday so…” “Ok!” I said, “birthday it is.”

We got packed up and headed out for the train. The next morning, after a bus ride that would have had us back in Seattle if it would have been a plane, we made it to  Tokyo Disney & Disney Sea. It was amazing.

...and not just because I met Eeyore!

I really wanted to go to Tokyo Disney because I heard a lot of good things about it from other JETs, and because I felt it would be an awesomely sweet sayonara to my childhood & adolescence. It was all that and more, mainly because Japan just takes things to another level of cuteness and customer service.

Just look at these guys! How cute is that?

In the states, we just get the same ol Mickey Mouse ears. In Japan, you can buy a full on Mickey Mouse hat. Like his whole body, chillin on your head. They have ponchos and headbands and underwear… all Disney themed. It’s actually a bit ridiculous if you step back and think about it, but I wouldn’t recommend it… just go with the flow.

Check out my Goofy hat, complete with ears hanging from the sides. Love it!

Then, the customer service is out of this world. Everyone, from the characters to the janitors are super polite and committed. On my birthday when we were at Disney Sea, while buying some socks the cashier asked where I was from and I told her Wakayama. ;) I mentioned that we were there for my birthday and she squealed with excitement and clapped for me. Then, she took a “Happy Birthday” sticker out of the register and wrote my name on it. She told me that then, people might say “Happy Birthday” when they saw me. She was serious. For the rest of the day, as we walked around the park, every time a staff person saw me, I got a round of applause and some form of “Happy Birthday.” Talk about validation and celebration! You just can’t beat that! Some people even went out of their way to say it. I felt like royalty.

The poncho that saved my day & the sticker that made it.

I didn’t really want to leave Disney Sea (wasn’t ready for my little celebration to end), but it was raining cats and dogs so we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I had noticed Ken doing some scheming with the hotel staff before we left for the day, and when we got back to the room there was a “Happy Birthday” card from the hotel, complete with two origami cranes. I loved it.

We went down, present in hand, to dinner at the hotel restaurant, which was beautiful. I don’t care much for Paris Hilton, but her pops knows how to put a hotel together. Our seats were next to this fountain/waterfall kind of fixture, tucked away in a private corner. Dinner was great, but I noticed Ken wasn’t eating much. “Is he nervous?” I thought to myself.

The whole day I had been expecting for the proposal to happen. I’m not usually that girl… but the inception was working. I woke up the morning of my birthday thinking, “By the end of the day, I’ll be a fiancée. This is crazy. & exciting.” I know my Kenny, and I know he likes to go all out. I remember telling one of my friends that I wouldn’t be surprised if he found a way to have Mickey Mouse hand off the ring, and have a whole parade singing me love songs. Since we went the day without a parade or proposal, I figured at dinner, it was going down.

So there we were. Me, handling a steak, and Ken, pushing his pasta around his plate. I finished and Ken had the server take both of our plates away, claiming he didn’t really like his food. He asked me, “Would you like to open your present?” “Oh yeah!” I exclaimed, thinking, “Disney Sea, applause, steak, iPad, AND ring? Best birthday evaaaa!”

I took the box out of the bag, and as I unwrapped it, I noticed something. This was the box for the food processor my friend gave me the year before when she went back to Hawaii. My inception started lifting… I opened the box and saw it was filled with goodies, one of which being a smaller box, about half the size of the big one. I made my way through the gifts, layer by layer. There were cards, a journal (for me to start writing poetry again), candy, our favorite gum, and finally, the bottom. I was then granted permission to open the smaller box. I noticed there was writing all over it, which I assumed to be Swahili and Luganda, and I asked Ken about it. He said, “I’ll tell you about that later.” “Umm hmm,” I thought, wondering how to play it, “I know what’s up.” On opening the smaller box, I found another box, bubble wrapped  and tissue wrapped. “So he’s gonna make me work for it, huh? Ok…” I unwrapped layer after layer, box after box, until finally, the one I was looking for. “I’ll take it from here,” Ken said with a smile. Then he got on his knee, opened the ring box and asked me if I would do him the honor of being his wife.

I’m not proud of what I did here, but let me explain first. I knew this was going to happen. We had talked about it, prayed on it, and I had been preparing myself the entire time leading up to Ken coming to Japan. I knew that by the end of his trip I would be engaged… but there was something about the tangibility of the ring that caught me off guard. I thought, “Oh my goodness!! This is really happening!!” And almost like I was in a trance, I started reaching for the ring, just to touch it, like a pinch to see if it was real. Ken said, “Kaila, you have to say ‘yes’ first!” “Of course!” I said, laughing. He put the ring on my finger, and that was that. :D

That wasn’t the end of the celebrating though. We spent the next day (Friday) hanging out at the shopping complex that was part of the Tokyo Disney Resort, ate Hawaiian burgers and watched Pirates of the Caribbean. Then we  made our way back to Wakayama, and arrived Saturday morning. We had just enough time to get unpacked, for Ken to write a paper, and then to get ready for my birthday party in Wakayama City.

I had the party at Mr. Magic, a great pizza restaurant, and the owner is amazing. Lots of the JETs came up for the party, and some of my Japanese friends came too. We ate pizza and pasta, my friend made a bomb German Chocolate cake, we laughed, Ken helped serve, we sang songs, celebrated my birthday and our engagement. Then, we ended the night at karaoke. It was beautiful.

Our gracious host Mr. Magic. (center)

As we talked over dinner on my birthday, I told Ken that this was the best birthday ever. I reminisced on all the birthdays I could remember, all the way back to my 14th. There was no comparison. As I went into it, 25 represented the end. The end of my adolescence, almost the end of my time in Japan… but it turned out to be a beginning too. The beginning of new adventures back home, of (finally realized) adulthood, of a deeper knowledge of myself, and of a lifelong partnership with a man who loves me, and who I love.

This is soo much better than an iPad.

Love > iPad.

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Oh Golden Week… Thank you for existing.

I’ve talked about the beauty of Golden Week before – May 3rd, 4th, and 5th are Constitution Memorial Day, Greenery Day, and Children’s Day, respectively -3 holidays in a row that equal, for those of us lazy enough to take vacation when it’s given to us, 3 consecutive days off. I say lazy because there are those overachieving (aka “hard-working”) people who work through the holidays, coaching their sports teams and making sure those of us vacationing are fed and properly transported, who make the rest of us look bad. What’s up with those guys? To them I say, “This nap is for you.”

We got really lucky this year, and Golden Week was preceded by a 3 day weekend. Showa Day fell on a Friday, so we had 3 days off, 1 day on, 3 days off, 1 day on, and then 2 days off. Some of my friends took vacation on the 2 days on and had a 10 day holiday. Nice, right?

I have no idea what I did for Golden Week last year. I probably sat around my apartment in an attempt to save money. I say probably because my usually quite detailed planner gives no hints either way. This year for Golden Week, I had a really good balance of chillin out [maxin, relaxin all cool] and living it up. A definite highlight was my trip with some JET friends to Iga-Ueno, where we gallivanted as ninjas for a day. It was fun, and yet a little embarrassing. In my mind, at a Ninja Festival, everyone is dressed up as a ninja, and we all run around town like…ninjas, I guess. Turns out the only people wearing ninja outfits were little kids, their parents, and the four of us. That’s cool.

In addition to my ninja-fication, I went to my student’s Kendo tournament and I went shopping with one of my teachers who was recently placed at a different school. I think I just skyped and sat around on Saturday, and then on Sunday I went to the Kishigawa Line Festival. I also went in search of taiyaki, which was a bit of a fail, but since I had some time until the train came back around, I went to the shrine nearby and took some pictures. All in all, a pretty good week!

Here are some pictures from my week of good times…

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I have this love/hate relationship with spring. I love it mostly because of the warm sun, especially after the soul-freezing cold that is winter in Japan. Trees and flowers are blossoming and blooming, biking to school is once more an enjoyable experience, and I don’t have to spend tons of money on electricity or gas. It’s great. Everything is alive again, green and fresh.

But then again, everything is alive again. Everything.

Everything.

My stairwell is like a greenhouse, but not one for plants… no, instead it is a breeding ground for many of Japan’s many-legged (and winged) creatures. In the winter, it’s cool because it keeps me dry and all the bugs are dead. Oh, but then spring happens…

Stairway to Hell O.o

It starts with the flies. All sizes. There are these super tiny ones that only come out during the rain, by the millions. There are also these mosquito looking gnats that look menacing, but really aren’t so bad. Unless, of course, you ride your bike through a swarm of them, when you’re rocking a glorious afro. Then, they embed themselves in your hair, and that’s never a good look. Wishing death on every single one is completely rational at that point. There are also the always surprisingly huge “mosquito eaters,” or crane flies. Gotta love those guys… even if they don’t want my blood, I still don’t want them in the way of me and my apartment.

Then, the spiders start hatching. Or coming out of hibernation. Or whatever it is that spiders do during the winter other than my preferred activity for them, dying. Last year around this time, there was one spider in my stairwell. He hung out by my door, and I let him because I was trying to be nice. Plus, he was eating a lot of bugs and keeping them from coming into my apartment. Then, one day, he was gone. I didn’t know where he went, and I didn’t care too much until other spiders started showing up all throughout my stairwell. Turns out that spider went and told all of his cousins that my stairwell was prime real estate, and they needed to stake their claim, stat. Next thing I knew, morning and night I had to carefully navigate my already dangerously steep stairs, now made into a perfect nightmare by the hundreds of grown and baby spiders residing there.

Then, the roaches show up. Prior to coming to Japan, my knowledge of roaches came from what I saw at the Woodland Park Zoo, and in movies like Men In Black, and every movie about living in the hood. Thus, I thought 1) roaches are always huge, 2) they like sugar, 3) they may or may not try to take over my body, 3) they love places that aren’t clean, and 4) they like kicking it in cereal boxes. When I first moved into my apartment, I had a couple of roaches welcome me in, but I didn’t see anymore after that. I thought this was mainly because 1) I didn’t buy sugar, 2) I didn’t buy cereal, and 3) I kept my place clean and put all food-like items in the refrigerator. (Even bananas, but I quickly found out that was a major fail. So, I stopped buying bananas.) I lived in fear for so long, but little by little, I allowed myself to get comfortable and feel free in my place. Seasons changed, fall, winter, and finally spring, until one day after school, I was talking to my boyfriend on Skype when I saw something come from underneath my rug. Instinctively, I grabbed the tissue box near me and proceeded to smash whatever it was to smithereens. However, the box wasn’t heavy enough, and the thing tried to make its escape. I grabbed a couple of pieces of tissue out of the box and snatched it up, squished it, and twisted it for good measure. When I opened the tissue, my heart started pounding… That thing was a roach. I was still on Skype with Ken mind you, so he got to see my major freak out first hand. I started breathing really fast, and crying, “I can’t live with roaches!” “My place isn’t even dirty!” “Why is this happening to me?!” He tried to talk me down, and he did a pretty decent job, but deep inside I was thinking “It’s a wrap. I’m on a flight to Seattle ASAP.” I slept with all the lights on that night, hoping to give the potential other roaches the impression that I was up, waiting for them with nothing but murderous intentions. I told one of my teachers about my visitor the night before and she was like, “Oh yeah, that’s the inaka for you.” I wondered to myself how I, of all people, wound up in a place where things like roaches are the expectation. I didn’t get on a plane headed home, but I did high-tail it to the drug store right after school to assemble my arsenal of roach death. After that, the only roaches I saw in my place were dead ones. Which, truthfully, is still pretty gross.

That’s how it went last year… Now that it’s spring again, I live in expectation of the uprising. So far, the flies have made their appearance. I did some major preventative spider spraying, and I’ve only seen a couple webs. Those will be taken care of soon. Believe that. Just this week though, we had some new additions to the stairwell party: Japanese hornets.

This is a Japanese hornet. (not my pic)

This is a dead Japanese hornet. (I took this one in Hokkaido)

These pictures don’t really give the full effect of a Japanese hornet sighting though. You have to hear the buzzing, and feel the fear induced by their hovering. Maybe this will give you an idea of what I’m talking about. These creatures are no joke. I was walking up my stairs and I noticed something different about the railing. There was a huge hornet rolled up into a ball, and its bottom was twitching into what looked like a little cocoon of sorts. I did everything I could to get up the stairs unnoticed, succeeded, and then made my way into my apartment. I quickly re-emerged, bug spray in hand. I knew I had to do this carefully. I tried to see if there was a way to keep my door open, in case I needed to run back to safety, but my arms weren’t long enough. I had to get closer. I took a few steps down the stairs and sprayed until it dropped. Then I ran back up the stairs. The sound of the hornet’s buzzing against the plastic covering of my stairwell as it struggled was reminiscent of an approaching helicopter. I ran back down and sprayed it some more, and the little cocoon thing too, for good measure. I figured that was that. Then, the next morning as I was leaving for school, I noticed the hornet had dropped into a little crevice, and it was still twitching. “Ha! Sucker!” I thought, perhaps too spitefully, because the next morning, there was another hornet. Whaa? I scurried down the stairs as quickly as I could, and drove away as fast as my little Alto would carry me, for fear that the hornet was following me. When I got to school, I started doing some research.

[Internal ponderings] “Oh, so when hornets are killed, they release a hormone that attracts other hornets, huh? But I didn’t squish this one so, does death by spray still bring revenge seeking comrades? Ahh, the nest also has pheromones… should have gotten rid of that part, instead of just spraying it down… Oh, Japanese hornet venom dissolves bone and tissue? I’m pretty sure I didn’t sign up for this.”

I went to my trusty drug store after school and got some bee spray, which for some reason had every kind of bee and unwelcome creature on the list of things it kills, but not hornets. I hoped to the high heavens that they just ran out of room on the label, and not that it wouldn’t work. Which then reminded me that I should probably ask Jesus, at the least for some courage, and at most, to completely clear the way and get rid of the hornets. He gave me both. I made my way up the stairs cautiously, yet there was nothing to fear. This morning, I took the little nest down (via Ziploc bag) and took it to school with me, showing kids and teachers evidence of my victory.

I’m sure there will be another adventure soon. Such is the rural life…

In the past year and a half, I have seen, and lived with, creatures I thought I’d only see on TV or in a zoo. And as much as I hate spiders and roaches, bugs fascinate me. Thus, whenever I see them out in the wild [aka outside of my apartment], I tend to stare for a while, and try to get a picture or two. I’d like to introduce you to some of the ones I’ve come across… Enjoy! :D

Great sites about Japanese bugs:

Natural Japan

Common Spiders in Japan

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I didn’t think I’d find a church in Japan. In fact, I had pretty much given myself over to online sermons and Fred Hammond CDs. I looked at the JET Christian Fellowship website for churches in Wakayama, and the only one listed was 2 hours away. I just knew there was no way the little town of Kishigawa had a church. No way.

Then, my predecessor told me about the little church that was easy to find at night because of the cross on top of the building. What? No way. I printed out the map he sent and went exploring.

I rode up and down the main road 5 or 6 times looking for that cross. Nothing.

So, I took to the map, and after about 20 minutes of getting lost on little back roads, I saw this:

Yes! Right?

Of course, it probably doesn’t mean much to you because of all the Japanese, but this is the church schedule. From left to right, there’s the phone number, the pastor’s names, the name of the church (Kishigawa Kyokai, which translates to Kishigawa Church, easily enough),  the denomination (Wesleyan Holiness), and times for weekly prayer meetings, Sunday Service, and Sunday School.

This was everything I needed. I thought it was coincidental and wonderful that their Sunday service started at the same time as my church back home. I had to do some research though… What exactly is Wesleyan Holiness? After confirming that it wasn’t a cult, or some off brand Christianity, I figured I’d go for a visit.

After reading about holiness, which for women often translates into extreme modesty, I got dressed up in my most inoffensive outfit. A long skirt, turtleneck, low ponytail, no earrings, no makeup. Upon arrival, I was welcomed heartily by some of the nicest people I’d met in Japan. They greeted me with sincerity and excitement, and got me settled in. Their friendliness was my first impression. Second, I noticed that it was a pretty small congregation – less than 10 people. My third impression? I was the only one wearing a skirt.

The service was pretty straightforward: scripture reading, hymn, Apostle’s Creed & Lord’s Prayer, hymn, scripture reading, prayer, hymn, sermon, prayer, offering, prayer, doxology, prayer. All of this took a little over an hour. I didn’t understand much of what was said, but it felt great to be in the house of the Lord! After service, the pastor, Ms. Naoko Sugimoto, invited me to stay for lunch. We talked and ate, and just enjoyed our time together. I told her I’d definitely be back.

Since then, the church has become “my church.” It is one of the communities here in Japan in which I feel loved and at home. My pastor checks on me via emails and text messages during the week, and we have lunch together often. When I was heading home for Christmas, I asked her, if it rained, if she could give a ride to the station near my apartment. I was going to take the train to Wakayama City, and then take the Airport Bus to Kansai Airport. She did me one better, telling me that either way, rain or shine, she’d take me to Wakayama City, no need for a transfer. I was so humbled by her going so far out of her way for me.

The same hospitality and kindness they’ve shown me, they have also extended to my friends and family. I have brought many of my JET friends to church with me, and Pastor Sugimoto always asks about them and prays for them. When I went home for my brother’s graduation, and then for Christmas, Pastor Sugimoto sent me with gifts for my family from the church. When my boyfriend came to Japan for Christmas, they welcomed him with a lunch, and when my family came last month, they did the same thing. It was a beautiful reception, and my brother said, “She needs to come back to Seattle with us!”

My church has welcomed me with open arms. There is nothing like fellowship and community, and I feel so blessed that God prepared and provided a place for me, right here in my town.

Tomorrow (here at least) is Easter, and I’ll be singing during service. As I think about the sacrifice of Jesus, in His death, and the victory we have in His resurrection, I also think about who Jesus was as a person, and who he called us to be. In John 15:12, He says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” This is something that I am continually working on: being a person who loves sincerely and unconditionally. This love, sincere and true, is the same love I have received from my pastor, and from my church. God is good.

Kishigawa Church Congregation

Kishigawa Church & friends from Osaka

Pastor Sugimoto & my family

Me & My Mom Singing @ Kishigawa Church (Video)

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Lent ain’t over yet!

In preparation for Lent, we’re called to do some soul-searching, to look at our lives and our walks with Christ, and honestly evaluate where we stand. What are our obstacles, what are the things hindering us from fully communing with God and others? Then, we’re called to do something about it.

For me, it came down to two things: laziness & distraction. Maybe it’s really just laziness. I’m too lazy to get my life together, so I allow myself to become distracted. Thus, I decided to give the following things up: laying in bed past my alarm (seriously, one day, I laid there for 45 minutes… unacceptable), using facebook and twitter at work, and shopping. I added on daily prayer & scripture reading, proper correspondence (with myself via journaling, and with friends and family via emails and letters), and cleaning my apartment for 15-30 minutes in the morning (hopefully, it will increase my general cleanliness and decrease the amount of times I look around and say, what happened to my apartment?). I have also created a schedule where instead of coming home and vegging out on my shows every night, Thursday & Sunday are TV days, and the other days are open for exercise, studying, exploring, and other, more productive, hobbies.

My hope is that by practicing productivity and self-motivation for 40 days, it will stick, for at least another 40… maybe even for life. And perhaps, by actively pursuing a deeper and closer relationship with God, I will be a more loving, more impactful person.

Sometimes, I feel like the things I give up (or take on) are things that I shouldn’t (or should) be doing in the first place. Why does it take a season of sacrifice for me to work toward becoming the person I should be? What about being a living sacrifice, offering myself daily, always growing, and always learning? How much do the when, why, and how, factor into the equation? Perhaps, and hopefully, the reflection, the acknowledgment, and the working to be better are more important than the stimulus that inspired the process. Maybe Lent in and of itself is primarily an opportunity, and the question is:  what will you do with it?

Teacher teacher, please reach those girls in them videos

Little girls, just broken queens, confusing bling for soul

Danger, there’s danger when you take off your clothes

All your dreams go down the drain, girl

-Janelle Monae, “Sincerely, Jane”

Wow, right? These lines are game changers.

After writing about V V Brown, I couldn’t help but think of one of my other favorite new artists, Janelle Monae. I heard about her around the same time I heard about VV, but thankfully, I didn’t have to wait 7 months to get a hold of her music. During my first months in Japan, her “Metropolis: The Chase Suite” was my faithful travel soundtrack, just long enough to get me from my station to Wakayama City. In May 2010, she released “The ArchAndroid,” and it’s full of everything I loved about Metropolis, with a little somethin extra.

There’s so much to love about her, but I’ll just give you my top 3 or so. ;) 1. She has a beautiful voice 2. She’s fly as she wanna be, in a TUX. 3. She’s a genre-bending, innovative, thoughtful, beautiful individual. AND she’s like the female Andre 3k, and we all love some Andre.

She’s all kinds of famous now, so you probably know her, but in case you don’t… enjoy!

P.S. You can catch her on tour now with Bruno Mars. They’ll be in Seattle on June 2… MY birthday. If you need an excuse to go, you can call it a birthday present to me. Tag me in a picture or somethin.

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Ok, this is totally relevant. Good music is always relevant. Plus, I listen to her all the time, here in Japan. :D (Tonight’s impromptu dance fest inspired this post, btw.)

I heard about VV Brown over a year ago, around when I first came to Japan, but I couldn’t find her music anywhere. Then, in February 2010, her album Traveling like the Light was released and I was ON it. & I loved it. I still do. She’s so funky, free, & incredibly talented.

 

If you don’t know her, you should.

 

[UPDATE 4/11] She’s working on her new album! Yeaaah!

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Yeah you!

It’s been a while, huh?

I have to apologize, I’ve been holding out on you. We’re a mere four months away from my return to America and I had a realization: I haven’t told you everything. A little somethin here and there is not enough, wouldn’t you agree? Unless you read the blog, and we’re facebook friends, and we skype a lot, you don’t know the half of what I’ve been up to these last years. I ought to be ‘shamed.

I am.

So here is my public declaration: I, Kaila, am stepping my game up.

Get ready!

Here’s a cool tree for you.

1= The one question almost everyone asked me: “When’s the wedding?” (Second most asked: “When are you coming home? …for real? priorities people!… Third most asked: So how is China? hahahaha, ummm… uh oh…)

2= The number of things on my list that I didn’t do. (I didn’t have my mom’s spaghetti, and I didn’t go see Christmas lights… but I did have collard greens that my dad grew, twice, so that’s kinda doubly dope.)

3= The number of times I had Ethiopian food. (Cafe Selam with Sam, Meskel’s with Paula, Altaye with Ken.) You can’t find Ethiopian food in Japan, so I had to stock up, in a sense.

4= The number of times I walked around Urban Outfitters, looking for my brother, before I left the store to look for him… in Downtown Seattle. Without a phone. All I can say is thank God for my iTouch, Barnes & Noble’s free wi-fi, facebook & Verizon’s email text messaging. Number of minutes it took to get found? About 60…

5= The number of times I had to remind myself to drive on the right side of the street… Oops! It’s cool though… No harm, no foul, right? Also, the price, in dollars, of 1 dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts after 9pm. If you don’t know, now you know!

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Gotta love candy canes!

All I Want for Christmas (Vacation):

– candy canes

– eggnog

– Ethiopian food

– Mexican food

– family time

– friend time

– booski time

– bacon

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