Reason #59 to Keep Living: Sweet Treats

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To you they may seem trivial, but to me, “sweet treats”, or baked goods in this case, have been my saviour over the last two weeks. Japan is full of little bakeries strewn in the most unlikely places, and it’s one of my greatest guilty pleasures to shuffle through the sliding doors of one of these shops and take my pick of doughnuts, tarts, and fruit breads (melon and lemon are my favourite).

I know it’s dangerous for someone with a sweet tooth to depend on pastries for comfort, but, seeing as I’m only two weeks into a new and energy-consuming job, I’ll take what I can get.

Eating at these bakeries is like enjoying a slice of home. Besides these little pastry shops, Japan doesn’t pay much attention to bread, so this is indeed a treat.

Here’s to comfort food in unfamiliar settings!  Continue reading

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The Early Stages of Living and Working in Japan

About a year and a half ago I visited Japan for the first time. It was an out-of-this-world experience (I’m not kidding, at times I felt I had landed on an alien planet), and I vowed to return. I loved the food, the architecture, the language, the outstanding customer service, and, above all, the deeply-rooted tradition.

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Here’s me in a yukata (summer kimono) at the Tanabata Festival in Nagoya, 2016

When I vowed to come back to Japan, I knew the easiest way to stay here for an extended period of time would be to work. Of course, the most available employment opportunity was teaching English. I signed up for a TESL certification course, and, in the mean time, completed my undergraduate degree. I soon got a job, did the necessary paperwork, and booked my flights. Continue reading

Reason #58 to Keep Living: New Challenges

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Here’s me in Thailand. I am sweaty, fatigued, and my thighs are smeared with mud. My boyfriend and I had been exploring for a while on and around Railay Beach (near Krabi) when we decided to take a “trail” which supposedly led to a lagoon. The path, which started steep, soon became a climb. I ditched my flipflops. Before long, my muscles were aching, the trail became a sheer drop-off, and I realized I wouldn’t be making it to the lagoon.

This was one challenge I couldn’t complete, and for good reason. (Who wants to traverse the possibly deadly side of a ravine far from any medical help, anyway?) But this wasn’t the only challenge that my travels have faced me with. Continue reading

Reason #57 to Keep Living: Fresh Starts

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The title of this post was going to be something to do with goodbyes — how rotten they feel, how draining they are — because goodbyes have filled my life over the last four days. I’ve always viewed goodbyes as an integral part of living and as something for which to be thankful (goodbyes don’t hurt unless you really love someone, after all), but the amount of farewells I’ve had to say recently has left me more than overwhelmed. Who knew I loved so many people! Who knew it would be so difficult to leave my old life behind… Continue reading

A Slant Cut

Issue 6 of Western University’s interdisciplinary journal, The Word Hoard, was published online last night! It features my story on doctors, definition, compartmentalization, human connection, sickness, and love. I wrote “A Slant Cut” under the theme of “Hangover” and in response to Devon Balwit’s three poems. Please enjoy!

Here is The Word Hoard‘s home page, with Issue 6 featured below.

Here is my story (you can download the PDF).

And here is my page of published works, in case you want to read more of my fiction, poetry, or experimental writing.

Reason #56 to Keep Living: Getting Back to Normal

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Goodbye 2017, and good riddance!

Don’t get me wrong, this year had some pretty nice highlights. I traveled to Hawaii, received my TESL certification, got a job in Japan, and graduated from university. The end of the year, however, was challenging in the extreme. November and December brought the death of my grandmother, an absurd amount of preparations for my travels in the new year, surgery, and a nasty cold that erased any chance of New Years celebrations.

After all of this, in addition to a schedule that gets me up at five in the morning, I am more than ready to get back to normal. Continue reading

Reason #55 to Keep Living: Making Space in a Crowded Mind

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Although I’m a detailed person when it comes to my schedule, my teaching, and, most importantly, my writing, I have never liked the act of organizing. Making phone calls, memorizing dates, and attending to trivialities puts my mind in a state of foggy uproar.

Unfortunately, if you are familiar with the Canadian health care system (I live in Ontario, and this is the system I am talking about—it could differ from province to province), you will know how agonizingly slow and complicated getting appointments can be. There is the receptionist for the family doc, the receptionist for the surgeon; there are referrals and booking times and addresses and phone numbers. Oh, so many phone numbers. Don’t talk to me anymore about phone numbers… Continue reading

Reason #54 to Keep Living: Grief

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Grief is pain. And it is a reason to keep living.

I know, it seems paradoxical at first. But bear with me. Grief is pain. In fact, grief feels a lot like mental illness, but grief has a source for the emotional pain where mental illness has none. In this way, grief is a little bit of a relief. It’s purposeful. I can see the point behind it. I can feel something intrinsically human in my own pain and the pain of my family.

Also, grief is fantastic in the way that it brings people together. My grandma died this past week, and I have seen more of my extended family in the last five days than I have perhaps in my entire life. Continue reading