3 year anniversary

G’day, mates!

Wow has it been a while, or what? I just realized I only published three posts since my last anniversary post. Oops?

To be fair (read: list of excuses), a lot happened, just not writing wise. As you know, I packed up and relocated again, somehow made it halfway through grad school with a minimal two breakdowns and one near all-nighter to receive decent grades (but then again, my standards being what they are, I could really call them “good grades”), while working part time.

The good news, as you can probably guess, is that I survived! Summer was long, and hot, and (mostly) pleasant. One of the most memorable experiences would be learning to dive. I did have to do the course twice, because of reasons (which led to my first panic attack and my first real moment of “omg, should I call an ambulance or get on my next bus to make it to the doctor’s?”). And, perhaps predictably, the second time was better than the first; I more than survived, I sucker punched it in the face!

Except you really don’t do that because marine life will punch you back. But you know what, fish are pretty cool, and so are manta rays, and sharks (it was a wobbegong, relax). Jelly fish though, not so much. Sadly, yet unsurprisingly, the ocean floor is literally littered with trash. Plastic goblets, remnants of plastic bags, gum wrappers. You name it, it’s down there. It’s gross, is what it is. Doesn’t surprise me one bit most divers are environmentally conscious.

One of the surprising outcomes of getting my certification as an open water diver, was my manager saying I’ve inspired her to go diving! I don’t really know how I did that, all I mentioned was self-deprecating about my first experience, but I guess the fact that I went back makes it motivating. So I hope she does learn and maybe one day we’ll go explore the ocean together.

So here we are, on year 3 of my blog, and I’m not talking much about writing. Apologies, I don’t think that’ll happen until mid-June or later. Unless you want me to talk about academic writing, which is much less fun. Good news in that respect would be that I am not doing a dissertation but a special project, like normal people. And while I had four months to think about a topic, I of course “decided” that in less than three days, because why not! (I feel strongly about the actual definition of student being “procrastinator.”)

I do feel the creativity and imagination coming back, slowly but surely, strangely as I grow more confident and at ease with myself. Baby steps. I’ll tackle the procrastination issue, hopefully before the end of the semester, before tackling the black clouds of uncertainty…

All in all, thank you all for sticking around, all 146 of you! I’d apologize for not updating more often, but look at it as less emails you need to read (or “read” if your inbox is overflowing). I’m sure when things get moving again you’ll hear more from me.

Happy anniversary, from me, to myself & you, dearest blog.

Ali J.

P.S: As always, let me take a moment for a more somber anniversary. It’s now been five years since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and it’s truly fallen out of sight. Sparing thoughts for those lost and those still affected is always appreciated, and if you can give more than thoughts, the Japan Society is still accepting donations, as well as Global Giving, which lists over 28 projects. A fund that I personally contributed to and remains close to my heart is The Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund, in honor of a JET Program participant who lost her life. They are currently matching donations by 50%, so if you can spare even $2, you’d be contributing to a great cause. (And think of the extra 50% of good karma coming your way!)

Never forget.


1 Year Anniversary

A year ago, in a far away, cold and snow filled rural land, I began my blog.

From my first two followers, I somehow gained another 100! ヾ(〃^∇^)ノ

Sorry, I couldn’t help my excited-ness from creeping out. (See? It did it again!)

A lot of things have changed in my life, starting with the obvious: country(ies), job, friends, etc… As life would have it, I’ve had my share of ups and downs, longer than I wished un-creative and sadly non-writing phases with good times peppered in between. But for all of you who supported me through that time, my complaining and blues-y-ness, a huge heartfelt thank you.

Your support means more than you know, and although I might not be overly grabby, touchy-feely about my love for you, know I have it inside my heart and I’m still working on expressing it.

Thinking back now, I have a feeling I chose this particular date to start my blog. It’s no coincidence that I began a new quest on this very day.

Today, March 11th, marks another, sadder, anniversary, touching not only my grieving heart but the many hearts of a people and country I love, respect and pine for: Japan.

When the earthquake and tsunami hit the Tohoku region, it tore my heart apart. I would watch video after video, unable to stop the tears streaming down my face and the grief from cutting me to pieces. Cities and livelihoods were destroyed, people were snatched away from loved ones in a blink and a part of Japan was forever altered. Yet stories of unbelievable bravery kept surfacing, bringing a strange yet undeniable glow of warmth to a very dark tale.

For days I would check for news when coming back from classes, wishing I was there to help. Then the news of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant made headlines, and from the wounds caused by grief a hole formed in my chest and seemed to suck out hope.

But the Japanese endured, and persevered, and endured some more as headlines faded to other worldly matters, leaving tens of thousands of people in temporary shelter even three years after the disaster.

I can hardly believe three years have already passed, and I’m sad to note their worries and troubles are far from over. I would be immensely grateful if you could take a minute to remember the lost ones, and send good vibes to the grieving families, those still struggling today and our beloved Pacific Ocean.

Never forget 11.03. 11.

Ali J.

P.S: For those of you who can help, please join me and my fellow JETs and see your donations doubled here. (Donations made on March 11, 2014 (Japan time) will be matched by Global Giving.)