Once upon a time, I used my winter vacations to escape to places like Thailand, India, New Zealand, and Nepal; places that, while my own home was buried under snow, enjoyed mild temperatures and dependable sunshine.
Now I seek out the snow during winter; I’ve gone full chionophile. Last year, I scrapped a three-week vacation to Laos and Cambodia to head to Hokkaido to snowboard. This year followed suit; going back to Japan to board had always been my plan. (Korea has many, many things going for it….powder is not one of them.) And while I was excited to return to Niseko, the mega-resort in Hokkaido, for a week, I was even more thrilled to go back to Hakkoda, my home mountain while I lived in Aomori. Continue reading Querencia→
As much as I love my day-to-day life, sometimes escaping is the only thing on my mind. Sometimes daydreams of far off beaches, exotic foods, and foreign horizons take center stage in my brain.
And when summer vacation is just lurking around the corner, that feeling has only become exacerbated. Sometimes it’s just me feeling antsy. Sometimes it gets a bit more severe. (Case in point: for the past few months, I’ve flirted with the idea of dyeing my hair blue and just heading to South America for a solid year or so when I’ve finished my time on the JET Programme.) And despite the fact that I’ve been grounded in Japan for almost three years now, some people might think that even that venture was an escape from “real life.”
But aside from traveling, the other form of escape I so often utilize is far more accessible on a day-to-day basis: books and movies. I’m a bibliophile and cinephile in equal parts. In my college days, one of my favorite classes was one on film theory, a love that I later parlayed into writing frequent reviews for the campus newspaper. And my love of books? Well, that’s been running rampant through my veins for the better part of two decades now.
What I really get a kick out of, though, is when those two loves bleed into each other. It’s why I loved seeing Pont de Bir-Hakeim , featured in Inception, in Paris. It’s why I loved visiting the Hobbiton set outside of Auckland in New Zealand. And most recently, it’s why I loved seeing the Chand Baori stepwell in India this past winter.
Seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day, I though I’d dedicate a post to Cupid and his well-aimed (well…sometimes) arrows. Before I moved to Japan, I confess that my opinion of Valentine’s Day had flat-lined at “meh”…now, though, it just means that my desk disappears under a mountain of homemade chocolates, cookies, and other deliciously unhealthy sweets from my students. It’s a pretty good development all around.
I’ve written about how much I love untranslatable words in the past; the fact that a feeling is familiar to people across cultures and continents and yet is only expressed in a certain language is fascinating to me. On Valentine’s Day, emotions run a headier, more dramatic spectrum than most other days of the year, and there are plenty of foreign language words to describe all of those feelings. Here are fourteen of my favorite untranslatable words that have to do with love in some way or another. Some are about the euphoria of falling of love, some are about the depths of heartbreak, but most are feelings that, I’m willing to bet, we’ve felt at one time or another.
1.) Forelsket (Norwegian) – Let’s start off with something positive. Forelsket describes how you feel when you first begin to fall in love. It’s that euphoric feeling of walking on air, when you view your paramour through rose-colored glasses and are convinced that the sun shines out of their posterior. All you want to do is gaze into each other’s eyes longingly and forget the rest of the world exists.
I’m genuinely doing a fair bit of hyperventilating over this. As in, barely holding myself back from audibly squeaking in an unabashed geekout at my desk at work. Anyone who has read American Gods, Sandman, Stardust or any other example of Neil Gaiman’s sublime books will understand why I couldn’t resist ordering a signed copy of his new novel.
Despite the title of my blog, I find I rarely get a chance to write about many of my geeky interests here. Japan and traveling are far and away my most common topics, and I’m not looking to change that anytime soon. That being said, I still love letting my geek flag fly with total abandon. Joining Mind Equals Blown in February has given me an opportunity return to writing about music on a regular basis, and I’m stoked to announce that I’m jumping onto the staff of its sister site, Dead Screen, which focuses more on television, film, and video games. The site doesn’t officially launch until July 15th, but you can still head over to check out the content that’s up so far.
As far as my role goes, I’ll mainly be writing about Doctor Who, which is enough to get every geek cell in my body fired up. This editorial was the first piece I wrote for Dead Screen, and it originally appears here.
When Matt Smith announced that he’d be leaving Doctor Who after this yearend’s Christmas special, you’d have thought someone had died, judging from my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Reactions ranged from “WHY, MATT SMITH, WHYYYYYY?!” to “The next Doctor will never fill his shoes” to the ever-so-slightly overdramatic “I don’t want to live in a world where Matt Smith isn’t The Doctor.” To put it lightly, people weren’t greeting the announcement that Smith had decided to move on, apparently of his own accord, with happy smiles and rainbows. Continue reading Why I’m Glad Matt Smith Is Leaving Doctor Who→
I have been obsessed with language, both my native one and otherwise, ever since I learned to read. I’ve been a voracious reader my entire life, and in the past ten years, I’ve studied two languages, German and Japanese, in-depth, while delving into two others, Arabic and Spanish, for shorter, less dedicated stints. Now, I make a living out of trying to explain the labyrinth of the English language to Japanese high school students. I like words, to put it plainly. Continue reading The Beauty of Untranslatable Words→
When I started learning German in high school, I, like so many others who have delved into the language of the Vaterland, encountered scores of people who would make a face and ask me, “Why would you want to learn German? It’s just such an…ugly language. Everything sounds so mean.” Continue reading Why I Love the German Language→