The bloggings of an Upstate NY-born Tokyoite. Now with 20% more verbosity!

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Life happens fast

"If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it" - Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

It's unbelievable this decade is coming to a close. I'm in a state of utter doubt. It is simply beyond my comprehension as a human being. Ten years ago I was 13, had almost no friends and spent hours after school playing the same E-A-D-A riff on my guitar in hopes of getting better some day. Shortly thereafter I started my first band and had some memorable, lifetime experiences. Smoking weed for the first time on my 14th birthday was one of them. Playing my first live show at the now defunct "Rensselaer fest" with our foul-mouthed singer (who got us banned from ever playing again with his stunning barrage of F-bombs) and covering Pantera while two of our friends moshed in the parking lot, and many parents sighed, mine included. I could barely lift my head up at that time to face the audience...

And now here I am, on the other side of the world, and I sing dance and entertain groups big and small on an almost daily basis. I'm talking about teaching kindergarteners here, by the way, at least for the singing part. With the adults I more often try to coax THEM into the singing. But at any rate, what I want to say is I no longer fear the crowd; I no long fear a future without companionship, and I can walk with my head up proud of who I am. It's a big change, and to be sure the next decade will be full of them too.

A very busy December has arrived, but it's the good kind of busy. I'm wrapping up the most hectic work week I have, but 3 weeks from now I'll be in Chiang Mai, Thailand, sipping a cool beverage and enjoying exotic foods in a much more beautiful environment than concrete-crazy Tokyo, praying to not contract traveler's diarrhea. There are a lot of things to do before that, most especially taking the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) Level 1 which will be conducted 48 hours from now. I'm not really ready, but with a little luck and some educated guessing I might just swing a passing grade! Which would be cool. I could get a job at any old Japanese company if I a) had the supplemental qualifications, ones in demand like engineering or programming (yea right!) and b) if I wanted to change jobs. But I don't. I'm content with what I do, except that I strive to become better. Stronger. Faster.

That's where the Master's comes in. Still looking into which University to attend, and anyone who wants to drop me advice on this big decision is welcome, but I'm going for my Masters in TESL through an on-line program starting in the fall of next year. I'll be more qualified, possibly make more money, but most importantly learn to be a better teacher. Lord knows I have improved by leaps and bounds since 2008, so I can only get better from here on! Tentatively, I'm planning to enroll in the fall of 2010.

Oh, and by the way, next month, if you're in the San Fransisco or Los Angeles area, come say hi, my band is playing SHORT FAST AND LOUD Fest and a subsequent show with Capitalist Casualities the following Sunday:



In F.I.D. news, new CD is being recorded this month, along with final preparations for the big California trip next month. I could go into more details, but I'll save it for another time.

Back to the present: After this little landmark test is over, I'm done with formally studying Japanese. I've done it (and pretty hardcore at that) a smidgen over 4 years, and I need to invest time elsewhere. Where exactly? Well, I want to up my knowledge of philosophy, American Contemporary and Classic Literature and overall "well-readness." Oh, and I want to learn another language and be able to speak it reasonably well by the time I'm 30. No biggie. =P

I've heard the theory some people are attracted to big goals? I am most definitely one of them. Eerily true to my star sign, I like nothing better than a project/task/relationship which takes a long, steady time to build up and is one that I can feel good and proud of. Don't misunderstand, I also enjoy my fast-food-style-whopper-with-fries-give-it-to-me-faster-FASTER-NOW-style things, as any good 21st Century Boy with a fleeting attention span should, but none of these can ultimately satisfy in the same way. I forget where I read it, but a veritable slogan for the modern American identity is this: "we want it faster, right now, for cheaper, and with less effort on our part." This works great when you're hawking used electronics or automobiles, but as for personal gain and getting somewhere in life, it isn't a very sustainable work-model.

Still with me? I'm getting to the big point here! For 2010, or at least until I start college, I'll be undertaking my biggest New Years Resolution since not being a fat lazy inactive slob: THE BOOK A WEEK PROJECT, A.K.A. "The Reader The Better" (pronounced in the past tense like the color red + er) I've seen mentions of it and other people have done it and blogged about it, now it's my turn. It won't be so strict as it may sound, and I reserve the right to read 3 or 4 or 5 different things at once. Comics will be mentioned by won't really count. Audiobooks count. I'll blog what I've accomplished as I go, starting January 1st.... or 5th, since that's when I get back from Thailand. The best used bookstore in Tokyo, the Blue Parrot, is having a big sale next week so I'll pick up a ton of reading there. Also thinking about a Kindle next year.

The main purpose of this project isn't to hit the goal or exceed it or anything, just to give myself motivation to read more. I'm no speedreader either, I take my time and enjoy my books, so it'll be a hefty time investment which I am more than ready to make.

That's what's up!! My dork senses are tingling all over, and I'm looking forward to 2011, with it's 12 (er, 9) months of complete freedom to live, work, and read as I please. No more shackles in the shapes of Chinese characters, also not as crazy with extra part-time work (hopefully) and most definitely am not letting anyone else run my life but me.

It's 23 degrees in Tokyo today (around 80 for you Fahrenheitians), with gusty winds and almost two dozen train delays. This is a sign of things to come.

Happy Holidays!
Ben Belcher

P.S.

A taste: Currently in the process of reading:

Audiobooks:
Shelly Kagan's "Death" - philosophy course from Yale Univeristy
Bertrand Russel - A History of Western Philosophy (made it past antiquity and to the part about the Papacy, and while history isn't my best subject and makes it hard to follow at times, it's still really fascinating and interesting stuff!)

Books:
Frank Herbert - Dune

Comics:
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - Volume 2
ジョジョの奇妙な冒険42巻 JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, volume 42 (in the middle of Part 4 of one of the most epic Shonen Jump series ever released!)