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Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Wow! I can’t believe that it’s already the end of February. Where did the time go? The beginning of 2015 has been a whirlwind of me (still) trying to get myself settled and find friends in this fine city. Halifax has been treating me well and I feel like I’m finally starting to dig out my little spot as a Haligonian. I’m already part of the cool kids club because I work at a pretty awesome little cafe downtown which has been a staple in the coffee scene here for well over 20 years.

Winter is still treating us fairly well, but the sidewalks are whole other story. Still being able to walk outside and not instantly regret that decision is a wonderful perk and honestly makes winter more bearable. I don’t feel confined to my house which is more than I can say for the way I was feeling this time last year. That being said, I’m still very much looking forward to spring when I don’t have to don ultra thick layers of winter apparel. Can anyone tell me how to be fashionable in the winter season in Canada because I am still trying to figure that out. My motto is warmth first, fashion later.

For the most part lately I’ve been avoiding social media. I’ve deleted all of the apps off of my phone except for the less distracting ones that keep me connected to friends across the globe. Facebook? Gone. Instagram? Gone. SnapChat? Yup, that’s gone too. I even stopped using Twitter which is one of the ones which I thought I might have continued to use. It’s liberating. Now instead of instantly posting a thought/observation that I think is hilarious to the world I now revel in my own comedic genius, text it to a friend or post it to the blog.

From a career/business standpoint clearing my life of social media might have beeen suicide but I don’t own a business nor am I employed in a field which requires me to connect with the outside world. I’m happy with my circle of friends and coworkers and actually enjoy meeting people the old fashioned way; through mutual friends or randomly. I tried getting rid of social media once before but was unsuccessful. What helped the process this time was an article I read about the way our brain works on social media. Those likes, follows and comments feed us dopamine which before these applications we got from real social interaction and being creative. This video (which you can watch below or at this link) planted a seed and once I realized that I didn’t give a shit about how many likes or follows I had, it was easy to remove the apps. I don’t know if it’s a conspiracy but social media applications do not make it easy to cancel your account hence why I only deleted the apps.

Maybe I’m a hypocrite considering the venue for which I’ve chosen to talk about this decision but for me, blogs (including this one) exist for an entirely different reason than accounts on Facebook, SnapChat or Instagram. I’m not writing here to impress anyone or to receive likes, nor am I here to brag about my life, I’m simply here as a writer, to express myself and my opinions in a safe environment. If I feel like debating an issue I’ll seek that interaction elsewhere on the world wide web. My blog is simply an outlet.

 

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I’ve been feeling like this move back to Canada has been some weird ethnographic study. I’m very curious about my fellow Canadians with whom I haven’t lived or worked for six years. I’m curious about the way they speak, their perspective, their thoughts and their situations. To find out why they do and say they things they do, I ask. I ask what would normally be considered very personal questions not because I’m nosey (because that has a negative connotation) but because I truly want to know, I want to understand why.

I am, in no way, shape or form the same person that I was when I lived here 6 years ago and I really feel that disconnect now that I am back living the “Canadian life”. It’s a different kind of disconnect than the one that I felt when I lived in Japan. It doesn’t make me feel lonely, it only heightens my awareness of my surroundings and the people in it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to connect on a superficial level (similar likes, drinking buddies) but how many times have you really felt connected to someone, I don’t necessarily mean through a sexual partnership because I believe intense connections can be had between platonic friends as well. I think this is where a lot of confusion happens and why some relationships don’t work out or fizzle out. You feel this intense connection with someone and if that person is of the gender that you are sexually attracted to we tend to think, “this must be my soul mate” or “I could spend my life with this person.” Why can’t we explore relationships with each other without all of the expectations? That’s what I’m doing with my life right now and have been for a few years, exploring. I discovered not long ago that being a serial monogamist was not a healthy lifestyle choice for me so I have consciously made the decision to remain single and really get to know myself and others. I don’t limit myself to one “type” or another, if I feel like someone is interesting and worth spending time with I pursue it and watch the relationship, how it moves and grows and changes shape with each new interaction, with each passing day.  I use the term “relationship” not in the traditional, romantic sense of the word but in the literal, dictionary definition of it, “a connection, association, or involvement; an emotional or other connection between people.” We have these connections with a lot of different people but we don’t refer to them as “relationships” that term is reserved for the precious few whom we love and adore. Other connections are referred to as “friendships”.

What is your definition of “friendship”? Is it someone you speak to or see everyday? Every week? Is it someone you tell your deepest, darkest secrets to? I refer to a lot of people as “friends” only for lack of a better word, most of the people in my life are more or less acquaintances, people I talk to occasionally or drink with but don’t tell personal/intimate details to. My “friends”, my true friends are the ones that meet me in the middle, the ones that truly understand me and doesn’t judge me or my decisions, instead stands by me, listens and I in turn do the same for them.

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Job Market Perspective

Before I relocated to Canada, I heard a number of times from people living in North America that the job market was leaving something to be desired. I’ve been back for two weeks and I’m starting to believe the horrible job market is all in your perspective.

Although, I have not found a full-time position yet I have had several interviews and been offered a number of part-time positions. And I snagged a freelance writing gig within a week of of being back. So, really it all depends on what your expectations are and what you’re looking for. I’m prefer to free style it when it comes my work life (my whole life actually). I like to dabble in a lot of different things to keep myself inspired and motivated. It worked for me while I was in Japan so why shouldn’t it work in Canada too? It’s not like I have a family or house payments to worry about. That’s the beauty of being single, you only have to worry about yourself and your own interests.

It’s amazing what potential you see when you change your perspective.

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I thought maybe coming here and writing may help my writers block.

I have a little over two months left in Japan and after living here for 5 years, it’s hard to believe that this chapter is almost finished.

Have I achieved what I came here to do? I’m still not sure what it is that I came here to do but I can say that I have learned a lot about myself and the world. I’ve tried a lot of things that I never would or could have if I had stayed in Canada. Most importantly, I’ve met a lot of incredible people and to me that is priceless.

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Suicide Girls

I used to like Suicide Girls but the types of models they use still promotes the unfair reality that you have to be incredibly hot and a certain size in order to be a model.

Honestly, the only difference between Suicide Girls and other models is the presence of body art and hair color.  Where are all the average looking girls and plus sized models?

Suicide Girls Logo

“SuicideGirls is an alternative to the mainstream media’s obsession with the silicone enhanced Barbie dolls and the incredible shrinking starlets.”

Maybe these girls don’t have fake boobs but in my opinion they’re just as harmful than their silicone counterparts.

I don’t have anything against promoting an alternative to mainstream beauty but if you’re going to do it, do it right. Skinny, fat, big boobs, small boobs and everything in between.

End rant.

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Since my last post had a very Eastern European flavor I thought I’d bring the flavor of this one a little closer to home.

When I’m feeling homesick there’s little more that can make me feel better than a huge ass burger or a fat slice of warm apple pie. When I’m longing for a Pile of greasy spoon poutine a feed of sushi just ain’t gonna cut it. That, is when my favorite western restaurants come in handy. Sadly, they’re not serving up all-you-can-eat bacon or peanut butter and banana sandwiches but what they do serve can satisfy even the most brutal of cravings.

Bubby’s – Yokohama, Akasaka, Yaechika

Love at first bite was this place. I had heard the rumors of delicious apple pie being served here but had never taken the time to check it out. My first experience at Bubby’s wasn’t great. My apple pie was still cold, that was disappointing especially considering the fact that I went all the way down to Yokohama just for their pie. Despite the pie blasphemy that was committed that day, I gave them another chance but ordered the maple pecan pie instead. Maybe my body isn’t used to dealing with so much sugar intake at one time but the day I ate Bubby’s maple pecan pie was the day I gave myself a the most intense sugar high I have ever experienced. It was awesome.

Shutters has amazing made-to-order apple pies, they’re a little pricey but definitely delish, especially that generous scoop of ice cream and fruit sauce on the top.  You can find Shutters (シャッターズ) in various locations.

TGIFridays – various locations

Maybe the service ain’t so good but TGIFridays offers up one of the best mojito’s this town has to offer and they do a swell job at curing the foreign country blues with their America sized portions. TGIFridays has become somewhat of a regular spot for me and the girls lately. Half priced mojitos and super sized salads are the way to go.

Good Honest Grub – Shibuya

For me, this place is extra special. It’s not only independently owned and operated it is done so by a Canadian. Although there are a lot of places offering brunch menus this is one of the better ones. Everything tastes homemade. If you’ve got room after your eggs benedict and pancakes you have to try the carrot cake. You’ll get a generous portion with loads of cream cheese frosting. Yum!

And don’t forget the Caesars! Yes, Good Honest Grub has Caesars. Yay, Canada!

Rocky Mountain Tavern – Seoul, Korea

Okay so this isn’t in Tokyo or even Japan but maybe there’s a chance that you’re reading this from Seoul, Korea or you’re planning a trip there.

From the name you could guess that this place is a Canadian joint and you’d be right. Nachos, poutine and wings all grace the menu as they would any regular pub in Canada and the atmosphere is as Canadian as it gets. Hockey jerseys on the walls, sports on the TV, dude at the bar talking about how awesome he is at hockey. When we went in November, they were actually streaming NHL playoff games.

This place is definitely worth checking out. It’s one of the least sketchy drinking establishments in Itaewon. For those of you who have never been to Seoul, only Tokyo: Itaewon is the Korean equivalent of Roppongi, complete with sketchy Nigerians trying to convince you to enter their establishment.

Robson Fries – Shimokitazawa

Let the angles sing! Poutine has arrived in Tokyo! This is a relatively new place and I have yet to see how their version of the Canadian greasy, cheese and gravy covered fries compare to the stuff you get in Canada. They have regular poutine but they have also had some interesting menu specials like Cajun BBQ veggie poutine.

I’ll let you know what it’s like once I get there.

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I get cravings occasionally for non-Japanese food, particularly for things that are available in abundance back home but rare in Japan.

When I lived in Fredericton I lived above a Greek restaurant and because I knew it would always be there I rarely took advantage of it and then I moved to Japan and immediately started to regret not frequenting Dimitri’s more often. Tireless Google searches and conversations with friends brought us to (what we thought was) the only Greek restaurant in Tokyo. The Aegean in Shibuya did more to turn us off of Greek food than it did to satisfy our year-long craving. The only good thing about The Aegean was the salad, it’s pretty hard to fuck up salad though, or at least I hope. The main dishes were mostly dry and under seasoned and tasted like they had been reheated in a microwave. In fact, a couple of times we actually heard the “chin!” of a microwave while we were dining.

Fast forward 3 years. After giving up hope on ever finding decent Greek food in Tokyo I stumbled upon a humble restaurant in Yokohama. Not Tokyo but close enough. Sparta claims to be the oldest Greek restaurant in Japan serving up mouth-watering Grecian cuisine since 1953. All the dishes are seasoned and cooked to perfection. It’s good that I don’t live closer to Sparta, I’d be seriously overweight if I did.

(image courtesy of Sparta)

The most recent addition to my list of favorite restaurants is Shamaim. This place is about a 15 minute (maybe less) bike ride from my house. Dangerous? Yes. Awesome? Yes! I’ve read from several different sources that Shamaim has the best falafel in Tokyo. In my opinion, it’s the best falafel I’ve ever had–and I’ve had a lot of falafel in my life. It wasn’t dry like a lot of the falafel I’ve had in the past and didn’t crumble. For ¥2100 you can get an all-you-can-eat option which includes a little of everything with the exception of drinks and dessert. The Arabian coffee with cardamon was quite nice as well.

The one craving I have not yet been able to satisfy is my samosa craving. I’ve had plenty of samosas here (you wouldn’t believe the number of Indian curry joints this city has) but none have really hit the spot. I think I spent too much time at Boyce’s Farmers Market in Fredericton and got too used to the delicious samosas offered up there every Saturday. But I will keep searching.

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