Thursday, January 31, 2008

Julieta, will you walk with me?

I really like the Mexican singer/songwriter Julieta Venegas. As an exercise in practicing my Spanish, I've translated one of her songs into English. It's perhaps the first song that hooked me and turned me on to her music, though I've since purchased a few of her CDs and love all the songs. She's really sassy and rad. The songs, after being translated by my inexperienced and fumbling hand, sound better in the original Spanish. Still, I don't currently have any other chance to use my Spanish, so I thought I'd try to do this once in awhile.

Andar Conmigo
Walk with me

Hay tanto que quiero contarte,
There's plenty that I want to tell you,
Hay tanto que quiero saber de ti,
There's plenty I want to know about you,
Ya podemos empezar poco a poco,
Still we can start a little at a time,
Cuentame que te trae por aqui,
Tell me what you're bringing here,
No te asustes de decirme la verdad,
You're not scared to tell me the truth
Eso nunca puede estar así tan mal,
There's nothing that can be that bad,
Yo tambien tengo secretos para darte,
I too have secrets to give you,
Y que sepas que ya no me sirven más,
And that you know won't help me anymore,

Hay tantos caminos por andar,
There are plenty of roads to walk,
Dime si tu quisieras andar conmigo, oo, ooo,
Tell me if you want to walk with me,
Cuentame si quisieras andar conmigo, oo, ooo,
Let me know if you want to walk with me,
Dime si tu quisieras andar conmigo, oo, ooo,
Tell me if you want to walk with me,
Cuentame si quisieras andar conmigo
Let me know if you want to walk with me

Estoy anciosa por soltarlo todo,
I'm anxious to let it all go,
Desde el principio hasta llegar al día de hoy,
From the beginning until we arrive at today,
Una historia tengo en mi para entregarte,
I have a history in me to give you,
Una historia todavia sin final,
A history as yet without an end,
Podriamos decirnos cualquier cosa,
We can tell each other anything,
Incluso darnos para siempre un siempre no,
Even if we give ourselves for always or not,
Pero ahora frente a frente aqui sentados,
But now we're sitting face to face,
Festejemos que la vida nos cruzó ,
Celebrating what life has crossed with us

(Repeat chorus)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

King of Hanko

Last year while in Malaysia, I met this really great guy called King who carves seals for his trade and his passion. I wrote an article about him over at PingMag.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Suzy Bega Bega

I adore Suzanne Vega. She's my number one girl. I've loved her since I was little and my dad bought her Solitude Standing (on cassette, it was, at first) and I sang along to Luka. As I progressed, we continued to collect her albums, and as I got older I continued to collect them myself, even as my dad was diverted by other things.

I'd had the chance to see her twice in the past: once for free on the Boston Commons, along with my ex-roommate Amanda and our friend Heather; and once in Portland, along with my Dad and friend Cristina. Both times were amazing - the shows were excellent, and we were able to get up close both times. In Boston, she was greeting the fans and signing autographs. My young twentysomething friends and I waited in line to see her, thinking to buy the newest album; but when we got up front, they weren't selling it and we were at a loss for words, starstruck by this smart, beautiful, cool woman. We muttered our embarrassed thanks and left. "What am I supposed to say, thanks for getting me through high school??" Amanda wailed. Indeed. How geeky is that? In Portland, we were seated in the third or fourth row, center, of the beautiful old Aladdin Theater. It was intimate and lovely, and my dad later proclaimed it to be the best show ever, trumping his then-favorite Shawn Colvin. At both shows she sang the lovely "Rosemary", which isn't on any of her studio albums but does, it seems, appear on her retrospective disc.

So when I heard she was coming to Tokyo to support her new album, Beauty and Crime, I definitely wanted to go. Even though it was a work night, and even though I'd have to take time off, I was determined. I got my shifts rearranged and left work two hours before the show was to start, driving to the train station and getting set to hop on the first express into the heart of Tokyo.


Except there were all these announcements, and all this bustling, and all these train station employees walking around looking concerned and important, and all of these people NOT riding on trains.

And after I had already gone through the turnstiles and realized something was wrong, I set my ears to "decipher" and figured out that there had been a 人身事故、a "jinshin jiko", an "accident involving human life", which is the official party line euphemism for "someone splattered their guts all over the front of a speeding train, ruining some poor sap driver's day".

Yeah. So no trains were moving. Just then, my phone buzzed. I. was stuck at Ichigao. Clearly, we weren't going anywhere by rail. I ran back to the car, jumped in, zipped down to Ichigao to pick up Mr. I.L., and we raced into Tokyo to swishy Yurakucho, parking at 7:30 in the garage, about half an hour late so far. Running around trying to find the show, we finally located the International Forum, and after several confused minutes, our seats.

Ms. V was halfway through "Gypsy" when we walked in, and did a few more acoustic songs.
Her band came on and enthusiastically made some noise, performing several of the new songs. Unfortunately, I felt like the sound was a little too much, overpowering her lovely voice. I've seen her play when they get it really right, and it was a little off. However, when she sang the slower songs and did acoustic ballads, the simplicity of the form let the gorgeous music and lyrics shine.

The show lasted for another hour, including two encores.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

J-DMV part ugh

I made another attempt to complete the first step to getting my driver's license. On my mom's advice, I went to the Samezu location instead of Fuchu, like last time. She and sister C. say that they're nicer at Samezu.

Since getting to Oimachi station takes many fewer changes than to Samezu, I opted to go that route, because I'm a pedometer freak. I wandered around with my little map, past street corner octopus-ball stands and tiny, perfect shrines.

I arrived at the Driver's Test Center in plenty of time, reams of documents in hand. I had my alien card; my passport; my U.S. driver's license, the translation of said license, a letter from the DMV with the original date of issue of said license, and gobs of money. I waited in line and was sent from window to window, presenting things and paying for other things. Window 25 on the first floor; to window 8 on the third floor; back to window 15 on the first floor again before going up to window 29573 on the second floor. At least I was a bit familiar with the layout, having been there before with C. to attempt (unsuccessfully) the 50cc bike test. After presenting all my documents, paying money, and getting an insta-photo down in the lobby, I was allowed to take the 10-question written test on a touch-screen computer, in English. The questions were simple and common sense. It took about 10 minutes. I got 9/10 correct - I had misinterpreted a sign painted on the road. Since the requirement was 7/10 correct, I had passed.

I then had to make an appointment for the practical exam. It was chock-a-block booked for several weeks, especially on the days that I have off. No weekend tests. I finally settled on an afternoon almost a month in the future. They gave me yet more papers and what looked like a gym membership card and a printout of some of the major test points. Fingers crossed; I've heard they fail everyone on the first try.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


1.swelling; slightly tumid.
2.exhibiting or affected with many ideas or emotions; teeming.
3.pompous and pretentious, esp. in the use of language; bombastic.

To think that all these could refer to a single person~

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

PDX reprazent

Oh Portland, how I love you. Grey and green, wet and verdant. A hotbed of radicals and loggers. Where dressing up means a plaid and often flannel shirt tucked in to khakis.

Portland fits me very well. So many veggie restaurants and nerdy Americana activities. Some highlights this time around included Nutshell, the new vegan semi-fancy spot in North PDX; Open Hands Acupuncture, where they'll poke you with needles for money (I.L. did their identity, so we had some trade); Ground Kontrol in downtown/Old Town, where I got my Tetris on; bingo at Sunset Bingo in Beaverton; sammiches and root beer floats with beefcake at Veganopolis; and lots of good friends and good times.