Word Japanese Use: MY Anything

  The morning coffee had an ad under it, which reads “My Dotour replacing the wallet”. Once again I was fascinated by the Japanese invention of the word “MY”.

  Many years ago, I thought it was ridiculous learning the word “マイカー” (lit. my car) as new vocabulary for the class debate (“whether owning a ‘my car’ should be limited to preserve the environment?”) Now as I have stayed long enough, the word’s amazing and amusing wide application keeps me dawning a smile with every thought of it.

  “Do you have My Dotour?” No, I don’t. “Would you like to make My Dotour?” No, thank you. “Do you bring ‘my mug’?” “If you bring ‘my shopping bag’ you will have more points.” “He just bought “my home’, wonderful isn’t it?!” (No, the one saying this didn’t even own a house.) “She logged in to ‘my page’ to change the password.” (No legal regulation infringement.)

  Everyone can possess every MY thing, but at the same time no one lays a finger on my things. People have MY things, some of which I simply never have.

  A word has expanded beyond its original meaning to reach other persons, and the evolution took place in a non-speaking country. Isn’t it how our world should revolve?

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A Grateful Day

<featured image: coffee time while waiting for the visa to be processed at a vintage friendly cafe nearby>

How do vampires feel when the silver bullets penetrate their hearts? I think I can understand them today when the beautiful staff over the counter confirmed, with a bitter smile, that I did not have the right visa to embark on my plane for Taiwan. My long planned vacation closed the door before it opened.

Never had I hated being my country’s citizen than that. I didn’t know what overwhelmed me at that moment: the guilt of not doing things right or the gut of making things right. Perhaps, the latter did.

I could still feel the chains of logic flashing through my neuron channels creating a whole picture of algorithm to deal with the situation. Yes, I’m an engineer; so proud! Actually, normally I work things our intuitively (as my type ENFP tells) but under stress I extremely switch on the Sensing and Thinking mode (or so goes the theory). Thus, I clearly visioned every step and procedure. I then step by step implement all of those processes neatly.

I managed to apply for the visa with express service surcharge and successfully canceled with a small amount of refund together with booking a new itinerary for tomorrow. Wow! Everything started to come together and ran on track.

Living in Japan is wonderful. It may sound unrelated to the topic I’m writing about, but that is true. Whatever citizenship/nationalities you hold, even the foreign country officers are nice and helpful. The Taiwanese staffs were all so patient putting me through to Hashimoto-san who undoubtedly saved my life this time by letting my application through and arranging the visa to be issued at 5pm. Before that, I encountered a cute girl at the copy corner and asked her to change me 1000 yen for coins. She just gave me 100 yen with a shy smile. Oh god! I must have blushed all over and mumbled some shit. The obachan at the cafe I stayed at after I successfully submitted the application kindly let me charge my phone for 2 hours plus (of course I drank two cups of coffee).

Beside such flukes, I stumbled upon some embarrassing situations but for today I could gather no strength for embarrassment. I opened the toilet door unaware of a little boy on the other side trying to grab the handle. The mother of course gave me a long preach about reading signs and careful this and careful that. Usually, I will erupt and backlash at her because it was her fault too letting him running around like that. Not this time, though. I repetitively uttered sorry sorry sorry sorry, even after I had done with the toilet and met her and the boy at the register counter. At least, the boy nodded when I got down very low to him and sincerely muttered “Gomennasai”. Additionally, on the way home I was trying to give my seat to a woman with a very big belly who turned out not pregnant at all. That was so awkward that I had to say Gomennasai again and silently focused on my iPhone till my terminal.

On the other hand, I learned quite a lot today. First and foremost, even if I think I know (or think I already research sufficiently), it is always better to ask for CONFIRMATION. The idea of emailing to ask about my eligibility for the entry permit applied online crossed my mind several times but I was so sure of my research I gave my time to other stuffs. Second, when facing with unexpected situation, stay CALM. Easier said than done, yet not impossible. When I figured out I could not get on the plane today, instead of freaking out, I called the office in charge and consulted them for solution. I also asked Nao to bring the gifts and go first. I phoned Serina and Sasahara-san, indirectly to Miwa-san, for help with the employee certificate.  However, it turned out the employee registration card worked (only in this case). Third, be SINCERE and people’s fondness will help me through. I gathered all my ability to stay patient and explain simply the situation. The Expedia operator was super nice helping me cancel the previous flight in a way that cost the least. I’m grateful.

I found out a good tip about printing at convenient stores too, especially 7/11. After several minutes of registrations, I can print almost anything by uploading it to a cloud platform and download the spool for printing at any 7/11 store. That app features printing from files, or websites and several other methods. Super convenient.

In the end, despite the loss of a whole lot of money and time and the nearly destroyed vacation, today turned out not-that-bad. It was all my fault I admit; but I don’t regret much. Honestly, I am very grateful.

About Josh

Josh is trying to change his major. Well, he seems unable to stick to a thing for long. He could not do very well at the college we both attended, thus quit and moved to the U.S. for better education (or so he thought). 

At first, he was very excited and eager to learn this whole new realm of knowledge. And now he just got enough of it and wants to make it a minor. The options he has for replacement are Math and Politics. If he changed, I wonder how long it would take for him to start moaning about his choice. 

As long as he feels satisfied with his decision, I am happy. However, he is not the type that sticks to something for long. Usually, he gives up just before the best part of the process. Perhaps, that is just my supposition. You never know if you have tried enough if it never reaches to either extreme: the peak or the abyss. 

I disappoint myself in my inability to give better advice to him, or simply better words of courage. Still, it’s his life which he holds the responsibility for. The best I can do is believe in him. 

From the Rare Talks with a Buddy

[photo of a Godzilla poking out on the roof of a cinema]

After three days spent hanging with this friend of mine who came over from the U.S., this morning commutation suddenly turned out rather mundane. In fact, I somehow feel doubtful of my belonging here. Still, I am not dissatisfied; nor am I stressed over it. My stupid aspiration of doing big has risen to a new overwhelming level, drowning me in an utter state of self-pity. 

I decided to note down several eye-opening points in the several talks I had with my friend here because they truly helped organize my messy set of perspective. This guy has acquired a quite substantial a position in Google in Silicon Valley, and he thinks on a much higher corporate and global standard. I was, and still am, impressed at how much he has grown.

These notes are merely bulletted memo to retain the precious upset (uneasiness) I gained during these three days.

  • Drones are revolutionary. It is not hard to make, perhaps, but it opens up much more horizons to explore.
  • There’s a new trend of sharing drones: owners let people from other states borrow their drones to fly to certain places and collect information via a designated app. 
  • Drones are already used at Google as surveillance and several other purposes: checking broken pipes remotely.
  • A guy promoted his device which can collect and share information among various manufacturers’ drones. The making takes only a few dollars while the margin surpasses your imagination. 
  • Considering the large number of drones sold last year in the US, the market for such a device promises fortune. 
  • Services with drones, however, still stay limited in the US because of other countries’ different legal system.  
  • Cloud market is already flooded with competitors.
  • A guy, studying chemicals in school, devised a type of kitchen paper which can effectively wipe oil-stained utensils. He managed to persuade stores to put his product on their shelves and sold them at $2 each. Now he’s a millionaire. 
  • Revolution can come from the most down-to-earth daily feature and affect households, which in turn brings a huge progress in living personally and socially.
  • Knowing how to market is a crucial key. Your self can become a commodity.
  • While some are interested in making money – most of those in Silicon Valley do, others including me find creating things more exciting.
  • No one is ever too old to succeed; always remember to come up and sustain ideas, even the most trivial ones.
  • Do what I like, never give in to boredom.

As I carve these on my brain, hopefully I can make good use of them when the chance comes. 

[no, the featured photo does not have anything to do with the contents]

Of Me and Sports

<A Ski Slope in Karuizawa, Nagano, Japan>

We junior high boys gathered in a yard beside a pool on a summer day.

“You can’t play. Don’t interfere!”, one said.

“OK, I’ll will cheer you all”, I replied.

After a few acclamations, one of those resting on the side till their turn in the game grumbled “You just know nothing”.

All of those boys sneered at me for my inaptitude for soccer, and that was not the first time. Now as I am reminiscing those incidences, scenes of classmates running round the soccer balls in the park, on the pavements of the nearby university, in the yard by the pool and so on flashed back ceaselessly. My disparage of being a loser at sports revived and surged up my stomach with a big kick of solitude.

I was a loser at all kinds of sports: soccer, basketball… Even now, I couldn’t make head or tail of whether I lacked perseverance or they never had patience with me. Either way, I ended up envying junior high classmates’ maneuvring a ball under their feet, or high school friends’  sweating in a basket ball game. They got all the glorious attention from the girls, and even if they lost they would receive sweet gifts of comfort. I was off the edge of the paper (sports-wise).

Now, however, I have continued tennis for 3 years, and picked up skiing since last spring. I enjoyed the sports themselves very much. Every time I could hit the racket perfectly at the ball and the sound beautifully popped up, my heart pumped up a potion of adrenaline into the veins. What a feeling! When I first got on the skiing slope, after a whole morning of falling off, I managed to slide all the way down safely in wedge style. Today, I succeeded in making parallel turns across a wide slope. I realized, once again, sports served not to draw attention but help perfect myself. The feeling of achievement was tremendous.

Always do I dare take up a new hobby. The issue lies in whether the experienced dudes welcome newbies. Back in high school, they quickly gave up on me for my clumsiness (or, perhaps, my enormous pride gave up on dealing with deep sighs and cold shoulders). Now, however, I met these people who never turned their back on me. They give me every chance to improve my performance in the sports; they are willing to instruct, not scorn or sneer; they are generous with words of support, not the sigh of surrender. I feel blessed and grateful now.

I do not blame my high school friends for their ignorance whatsoever; it might have been hard coping with this nerd; or it might have been my own delusion. Still, if they had had the sympathy as my friend now has for me, those lonely days would not have gone down recorded in my lifetime. A person can, I strongly believe, walk miles farther beyond the limit as long as there are others have faith in his/her achievement. Giving one the care equals giving one the boost.

Nevertheless, without such a gloomy puberty, wouldn’t I value my colleague’s patience and kindness toward me now? In the end, everything is worthy.

Thoughts on Cast Away

I was about to go berserk on twitter about how I was overwhelmed by the movie Cast Away when I realized 140 characters per tweet cannot hold back these million thoughts outflowing. Thus, I came here and poured them out as fast as my fingers could type.

From yesterday my obsession with Marvel’s heroes came back. I re-watched the Avengers’ series and determined to re-watch the Matrix trilogy although it does not have anything to do with Marvel (it is categorized in the heroic genre, by me). Suddenly, I scanned through this fact tweet about how the screen writer for the movie Cast Away did desolate himself on to a lonely island to find inspiration. Duong gave me a push later, recommending it on twitter (which she rarely, or more precisely never, did).

The movie was very long, to be honest. I normally do not watch movies that span more than 90 minutes. However, Cast Away kept my eyes glued to the screen its whole time. Even after finishing it, I rewinded several impressive scenes to re-taste its wonderful seconds. I could easily recall how the golden dusk cast it marvelous light over Chuck’s silhouette when he spent the last of his first day on the island. I could still feel the tremble as if I was on the same life-boat with Chuck trying to row against the massive waves cascading down. The deep dark night on the sea surface dimly moonlit struck me with both fear and anxiety, culminating with a whale moaning. It seemed like I was in the movie, not just watching it.

Beside its gorgeous cinematography, Tom Hanks’ acting was beyond my limited vocabulary to describe. It was diverse as he subtly transformed from a jovial exuberant guy to one who succumbed to the vanity of his stranded life, to a self-sufficient survivor, and then turned into this composed heartbroken struggling to fit in. Tom acted persuasive and sophisticated. I could read his melancholic eyes and shared the character’s pain at the same time as I dived in the sea of Chuck’s vigorous will to live. Apparently, such a character would finally find the way home; I knew it from the beginning – or sensed it because it was fiction and fiction is obliged to possibilities (quoted). Nevertheless, after sharing his hurtful cry over Wilson’s drift-away, I got super contented watching Chuck raising his hand to the ship for rescue.

I bet most people would compare Cast Away with Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. I did, too. An accident happened, isolating the only survivor on an island in the middle of nowhere; the survivor, as the word suggests, survived by gradually managed to gather foods, to make clothes, to create fire, and finally set sail on a hand-made raft. Both Robinson and Chuck found their friends, Friday – a man with a non-human name and Wilson – a human-named volleyball. The two works, however, led different approaches to the same storyline. To me, Robinson stood out as a heroic fighter who overcame all natural hardships, while Chuck appeared as a realistic emotional modern person. Defoe focused more on how his character survived with his smartness, while Cast Away portrayed its Chuck in his most realistic form: determined at one point, fragile at another. Perhaps, it has been so long since I last read Robinson Crusoe that my impression does not reflect the novel’s true value. Yet, I felt, the novel told the plot while the movie triggered emotional thoughts.

I lost a friend of mine recently, abrupt as Chuck’s flight accident, hopeless as his first days on the island, and lost as his days back home. The movie told a totally different story, but I felt connected. After a horrible event, everyone has to suffer. Regardless, we still have to live on, as Chuck said “tomorrow the sun will rise; no one knows what the tide would bring”. Hopefully, a sail.

Blue Bird Flies

August came with a blast of heat that burned my face to crumbles. I forgot to turn the pages on the calendar so I had to do it just a few minutes ago. “My life is progressing on to another month, to new days. Your life, my dear, forever stays like the 25th square on the page of July. At the end of this year, I will fold the calendar up and toss it into one of the trash boxes in the kitchen.

So thought I flipping the page on the calendar. My friend died exactly ten days ago. There was no night passing by without me remembering him. I could not make head or tail of this melancholic state. I could not simply say “sadness” or “sorrow” or “grief”. Imagine myself an ice cube be removed from the tray, the type of which has a hollow tube in the middle. Hard as I tried to melt down hoping the newly formed glacial fluid would fill up that empty space.

In an attempt to not rely on metaphors to describe myself, I focused on my hands. I spent a handsome amount of time staring at them as if I could never see them again in the next second. Philosophically speaking, I certainly would never see those same hands again in the next second. Such an idea still made more sense than my best friend back in high school drifted to the Hades’ world without a word. “Am I looking at my hands? Or am I looking at your hands? In some tens of minutes, these hands will turn to ash.” I glued my look on what seemed to be my hands, now made up of grey particles.

  “The first time I saw you was in front of nhà con Ánh in 9th grade. There was little time left before the high school entrance exam. You came in with that group of pompous dudes and drew all the attention. When I knew we were going to be classmates, I did not feel comfortable. I never thought I could bear you a minute. In fact, I was more feared of how your massive talent would outshine my existence. (Back in the day, I was a box of insecurity wrapped in damp tissues with unreasonable judgmental resentments written all over.)

  It turned out, however, we managed to talk more than a minute. I do not remember how and what we talked about before November 1, 2002; perhaps, it was mostly about Metallica and a bunch of teenager-curious dirty jokes. After our little group formed on the day we invented your Blue Bird name from a piece of news, we grew closer. We shared dirty talks, which we thought were “cool” then, and shared the money for mỳ tôm trứng, bánh mỳ bơ đường, nem chua rán ở Trang; shared the fights over foods and over bills. Or perhaps, that was only me. I will never forget how you licked your bread to secure it from other predators, although bánh mỳ bơ đường was such a disgusting thing.

  Years went by and the memories we had piled up. If I listed them here, I bet this text box would explode.

   I could not grieve over him as when I broke down on my granny’s death and shut the world out for a month. His news (unfortunately, he is/was famous in my country) flooded the pages, and deluged my mind with fond memories. Usually, I and others booed him for being “bland”, or “lack of salt” (=dull, tasteless, nonsense). Now his memories became salt. On the dishes, salt creates fineness; on open wounds, salt tortures.

Yesterday I swam 27 rounds. I did not know what it might mean to you or to anyone, or whether it could do any good to the world, or whether it could ease the pain I bore in my chest. I still did it just because I felt I needed to. Nonsense as always. We needed no specific reason to have become friends.

Or so did I stop trying my best to write him a piece of mourning. I realized, accepting each other’s existence bonded us together; now similarly, we had to accept each other’s non-existence in each other’s world.

That is how our friendship has always been and will always be. Love and miss you, dear buddy Blue Bird. Bon voyage.