February 27, 2006

Tokyo Baby!

Booked my tickets to Tokyo last Friday (that was when the managers confirmed my time there), and I'm flying out Wednesday morning from London. I'll arrive in Tokyo Thursday morning at around 10 AM. It's finally settled in that I'm going and that the duration is somewhat undecided. Currently, I'm planning to be there for 3 weeks, but I may very well stay longer or end up going back to Tokyo again in April. It's times like this that I feel like my life doesn't belong to me, but to my managers, the customers, and my peers. Sigh.

I'm looking on the bright side, which is that I'm finally going to Japan! Ever since I can remember, I've always wanted to go there. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to go, stay in a nice place, experience the culture, etc. The problem is I don't remember any of the Japanese I had learned from my Japanese tapes long time ago. I probably need to find a little phrase book and travel guide. I'm going to have some problems as I might pass for a local but will look obviously clueless if someone tries to speak to me in Japanese. I need a sign on my forehead that says: "Sorry, I don't speak Japanese."

One phrase I learned from my good friend Hannah is: "Dozo yoroshiku onegaishimasu," which means something like "Very nice to meet you, please take care of me." I wish I could take her with me. She lived there for 3 years, speaks the language, has friends there, etc.

Hopefully, I won't be stuck working til the wee hours of the night. I'm not going to set my expectations too high just yet. I'm hoping to have at least the weekends off!

Domo arigato gozaimasu!

Posted by oneray at 5:00 AM

February 21, 2006


When Max was in town for work, we went to visit Amy in Cambridge one weekend. She's there for some extra special graduate degree in International Law. We were lucky to have had a lovely, sunny Saturday there. After a late lunch at a local Greek/Mediterranean restaurant, we went punting. This was obviously my first time, as I didn't even know what "punting" was other than kicking a football. Before leaving, we had tea and cake at a local coffe shop. Can't remember what it was called... Auntie something? Here are a few photos from our relaxing trip. These pictures were taken mid-January.


Posted by oneray at 7:47 AM

February 9, 2006

A Little Inspiration

I've been working mad hours once again. In the past 8 days, I went to bed at 2, 3, 4, and 5 AM working. Needless to say, I'm a little burnt out. In need of some inspiration, good words to warm to soul, I found this article on NPR. Hope you like it as much as I do.

The Artistry in Hidden Talents by Mel Rusnov

All Things Considered, February 6, 2006:

Mel Rusnov is a civil engineer in Woodbury, Conn. Her love of music came from her father who played in a Croatian folk group and took her to concerts in their hometown of Cleveland. Rusnov also enjoys tutoring high school students in math.

"I believe in cultivating hidden talents, buried and unrelated to what we do for a living.

In ordinary life, I'm a civil engineer. I make a satisfying, comfortable living working quietly in my cubicle. But in my other life, I am a pianist, bringing to life with my own hands the genius of Bach, Mozart and Chopin.

While earning my engineering degree, I worked as a waitress in the dining hall of a retirement community. One day during a break, I discovered a piano in a meeting room. I sat down to play a few Bach Two-Part Inventions. Those crisp, driving rhythms and harmonics flew out into the hallways. Residents, numb from ceaseless easy-listening radio, tentatively peeked in, then sat to listen.

Disbelieving, they saw plain, old, invisible Mel, the lunch waitress.

"She plays the piano!" "Where did you study?" "How long have you played?" "Can you play Rachmaninoff?"

They no longer wanted me to quickly and quietly disappear from their dining tables. "Mel, wait a minute. Who do you think was better, Gould or Horowitz?" I answered "Gould," and a raging debate ensued.

For over 20 years, absorbed in my engineering career, I let my musical life die, but I was always reminded of it when I'd encounter the secret creative life of others.

At a holiday concert, I heard a tenor voice so glorious it brought tears to my eyes. It was the sweetest, most touching performance of "Silent Night" I had ever heard. This masterful voice belonged to a colleague, Steve, with whom I had worked for years, side by side in adjoining cubicles.

I had narrowly defined him, and so many others, by their occupations. Since I had let myself get consumed by my job, too tired and spent for anything else, I assumed all other hard-working people had, too. But Steve's artistry reminded me of my own hidden talent.

I began to practice again, and started taking lessons from an inspiring teacher who pressures me every week to keep at it, play better, get to that next higher level.

One time, feeling bold, I played a Mozart Sonata in an airport lobby, between connecting flights. People slowed down or even stopped to listen; readers looked up from their chairs. I saw smiles and heard a smattering of applause.

I thought: No one smiled and clapped after my presentation on the site engineering for a new strip mall.

I believe we are more than the inhabitants of our cubicles, more than engineers or even parents, husbands and wives. I believe we are transformed and connected by the power and beauty of our creativity."


Posted by oneray at 1:44 PM