Thursday, 18 August 2005

First Day of the Week

Blogging from my lounge chair and ottoman. What a luxury.

This week started on a Wednesday. It just started, and I'm already tired. Or am I still tired? Either way, I'm tired. I need genki-juice.

As soon as I had cleaned up and replied to emails, my box was cluttered with replies again. It will never end. But I'm glad they are mostly replies from my hello's.

I slept much too late last night. I was a zombie (although a very busy one) at work today and almost fell asleep driving home. I must sleep earlier.

My schedule for tomorrow (today) was set just a few minutes ago. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw it.

10h00 - meeting with animation company to see about voicing over some cartoons
15h45 - interview with chairman of Council for Cultural Affairs about promoting festivals and culture in Taiwan
24h00 - report on Ghost Festival in Keelung, as the lanterns are set out to sea

I had no idea the lanterns would be set out at midnight. I was so excited that I would have short day tomorrow, since I'll be reporting and won't have to stay until the show is done taping. Such is life. But I will be seeing beautiful things and the water, so I'm happy. But for staying out so late, I'm going to make two stories out of this one--one for promoting culture and one for the festival. Both the chairman of the CCA and the premier will be at the event.

I still haven't decided if I will be there from the start of the parade (19h00) or show up right before the lanterns are sailed off. There will be two other teams from our station there, so I will get footage from them. All I really need is to do a stand-up. but perhaps I can find a nice cafe to think and nap in between the parade and the lanterns. It would probably be best to at least be at the site. The festivities should give me some inspiration and ideas of what to say in the stand-up.

I still need to find a place to rest between the morning meeting and the interview, though. Kinyoshi recommended me to get a massage. Since I will be in my heels all day, I think a foot massage may be the way to go. I really want to find a place to hide and nap, which isn't the office. Home is too far away. Any ideas?

I don't even know what I'm going to wear tomorrow yet. For the festival, I wanted to do something a little more casual. I don't think a yukata would work, since this is Taiwan, and I'm technically a journalist. Plus, I can't interview a minister-level government official in that. Since it will be dark dark dark tomorrow night, I think I'll wear something bright. White pants, white button-down shirt with a cute handkerchief around my neck. I'll put a jacket on during the interview and then go without in Keelung, and I will roll up my sleeves. Maybe that's what I'll do.

It's 01h15. I'm supposed to be up at 07h30. I'm going to look like a monster. Good night.

Oh oh, when I was talking to a PR company over the phone today about something they wanted to do with our show, they asked me if I would be interested in hosting events for them. I hope this is the start of something!

Wednesday, 17 August 2005

A Nice Finish to a Day Off

After finishing my interview questions, I played a little piano, for the first time in almost ten years and then headed out to Taipei. This time, I took the train, because the car I was driving started making a very scary noise when I stepped on the brakes. Michael says the brake fluid is low and I shouldn't drive it until it's replenished. It's been months since I've taken the train in Taipei. I tried calling for a taxi to get me to the station, but there were none available. Luckily, Dad came home just in time and drove me to the station in Mom's car.

My bag has gotten big and heavy enough that I've finally hurt my shoulder. It hurts even when I'm not carrying things. It hurts when I type. Now I've really done it.

I went to my Uncle Tsu's. Wise, his son, is leaving for college, and I wanted to say goodbye and also had some MP3's to...share...with him. We did contribute to the industry tonight, however. We bought three songs through Apple's Japan iTunes store. We're not all that bad. Then I finally got to see my audiophile uncle's stereo set up. And although I don't know much about these things, I've always been interested. My father and brothers are fanatics, too. It was a lot of fun, becuase I could ask what everything was and also since I share some of my uncle's taste in music. He has a humongous collection! He has handwritten notes on every song of every CD in the case! It was great. I am once again amazed and inspired. Gosh, I had so much fun that I bounced up and down in the car all the way home to Danshui. It's past 02h30 and I still can't sleep.

My uncle inspired me to enjoy the gift of hearing even more. Instead of turning on the TV when I got home tonight, I hooked up the DAC he lent me and turned on my mini stereo set, most of which belongs to him. He gave me the mini amp for my birthday. The CD player, DAC and speakers are his. My father does have an extra set of excellent speakers somewhere. I just need to cart them into my room and figure out where to put them.

While I was putting the stereo together, I realized that I had forgotten about the classical ivory-colored lounge chair and Ottoman I have on the other side of the bed. I had my pillows sitting on them all this time. I've decided to put that to use. I am going to try reading and doing leisurely things from there from now on. It's what I originally set it up for. It's even right next to the stereo, which sits atop a beautiful dresser. To the right of it is a nightstand that has just enough space on it for a tea cup, next to the Heart Sutra, an incense plate and the Christofle photo frame from Yuko and A-chan that I still haven't put a picture into.

It's a nice change of scenery as well. Also, I think it will be good because now that my bed will only be for sleeping, when I get into it, I may actually sleep.

Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Still Here

Ok, I managed to leave just seven recent emails, and I see one from 6 January from Lydia at the bottom of the screen.

But if I scroll all the way down to the end of the messages, I see...6 Feburary 2004. Someone please shoot me.

This will take a bit of time...

I was sending out iCards with my own pictures, and I realize that I have very few pictures of just myself to send to people. It's kind of strange when I'm sending out greeting cards to people who don't know the other bodies in the same picture. I'll try to remember to have pictures of myself taken.

By the way, if you want an iCard, please email me or leave a message here. Anna Banana, your request quota is up for the year.

No more emails for now. I have to write questions for the head of the Council of Cultural Affairs, whom I am interviewing on Thursday. I just got the case yesterday. They've come up with some cultural festivals that is being held throughout the year in various parts of the country. They had a reporter from our station do a story, but my boss didn't like it, so she wants me to redo one in English for our show and for CNN.

Speaking of CNN, they ran my Eslite story last week! I have so many stories to blog about. Please stay tuned!

Emailbox Explosion

Today's my day off, and as Mom and Dad are both out of town, I decided to take it easy and do some housekeeping on my room, on my desk and on my computer. I've been replying to old emails and putting appointments into my calendar for the last three hours. I've started with the newest emails, working back to the oldest. I'm still at 13 June. Help!

Friday, 5 August 2005

Nice Surprise

I came home, expecting to see just Pearl. I put the key in the lock, turned it, and realized that it was unlocked. All the lights were on, and for a second, I thought I remembered wrong. Mama said she was out of town.

It was Lesley! Her father and Mama have been friends since teenagers. When Benjamin, Lesley's older brother, was born, Grandpapa (Mama's father) named him, and he became Mama's godson. By extension, Lesley became the goddaughter. And since I'm a goddaughter, that makes us godsisters? Wait until Michael gets here on Monday. Now it's sounding like the mafia, but with a GODMOTHER instead of a godfather. I'm sure the Godfather would be no match for this Godmother. In any case, I found Lesley here. I thought she was staying in the guest room downstairs.

It was a pleasant surprise, and although I was ready for a quiet night with Pearl, we did some catching up. The last time (and first time) I saw her was last summer. The 18-year-old girl has calmed down a little bit since last year, or perhaps it's the cold medicine that's keeping her sedated. She has more energy than five golden retrievers waiting for biscuits.

I hope I don't catch her cold. I'm good at getting these things.

It really looks like Mama has her hands full here. I wonder if I came at the wrong time. Come to think of it, I'm not sure if there's ever a time when she is not busy with something. Gosh, that sounds like someone I know.

On the Way Home

Kuma-chan is in safe hands now. Hopefully it will be back in my hands before the 12th. Otherwise I'll have a big problem.

I left the Apple store around 20h30, prepared to have a quiet night by myself and Pearl-chan. I tried very hard to not check my phone for messages. I swung by Itoya, an art and craft supply store, which I knew about but never thought I would step into. Who knew I would start drawing? I never thought I had any desire to try an art. When we were little, Daniel, my youngest brother, was the artist. He was the painter, and a wonderful one at that. Whenever it came to anything artistic, I would say, "Daniel's great at that," and wander off to do something else. I didn't think I had a chance in doing well in it and I guess was therefore never interested. Perhaps it was my competitiveness that stopped me from trying and even finding out whether I liked it or not. Or maybe because it wasn't cool to be artistic and refined. In any case, I was a tomboy, as some of you may know painfully (for me) well.

Anyway, I wanted to buy a small sketching pad for when we go to Aomori, but they had closed for the evening. But as I walked through the streets of Ginza by myself at 20h30, I realized that it was the first time I had done so. Previously, I've popped out of the subway and gone straight to some stores and then rush right back into the underground, but I don't recall ever actually walking around in Ginza so leisurely before, definitely not by myself. I don't think my friends were the Ginza type. My godmother was always busy, so it was usually car to shop, shop to car, car to another shop and so on. One Christmas, Grandmama wanted to see the tree in front of Mikimoto, so we walked half a block and were shoo-ed back into the car so we could get to dinner on time. Well, there is always a first, and it wasn't so bad afterall.

My walk very quickly ended as it was closed and the entrance to the underground was two doors down. Starved and relieved to be finally going home, I get on Yurakucho Line and changed to Hanzomon Line at Nagata-cho. I got off at Hanzomon Station, at last.

Riding the escalator up to the exit of the station, I felt the familiar gust of wind that always hits me as I come out of the station (or that practically shoves me down the steps into the station). As I stepped out onto the street, which slants horribly from left to right and which I always have trouble walking on when I wear heels, I recognized some of the aromas that had escaped from nearby restaurants. I could feel the still-bearable summer humidity on my neck and realized that I was wearing too much (which is already less than I usually do at the TV station). Just a few cars passed by, and some men dressed in suits were quickly walking toward the station, looking like they finished work late and were wanting to go home for dinner. They were speaking in a mellow tone, not like some of the younger, rowdier shakaijin who need pints and pints of beer after work, having put in overtime or not. There were a handful of women walking away from the station, going home. Most of them wore summer dresses and skirts, which flowed quite nicely when the occasional breeze came by. Chiffon skirts must be in fashion this year. Sadly, I haven't been paying attention.

On the walk back home, I came to another realization--I was looking for a job in Japan mostly because I was afraid to face working in an all Chinese environment. Of course, the overall quality of reporting in Taiwan is not that great, but until I know what I'm doing and am doing it better than almost everyone else, I stand to learn a great deal back in Taiwan. If I leave Taiwan now, I will have accomplished nothing and almost nothing to offer. I have decided that I will not continue looking for reporting jobs outside Taiwan just to get away from reporting in Chinese. I'm not going to be a coward.

I'm going to tell stories, in any language that I have to. Right now, I'm going to do it by being a journalist.

I've come to quite a few realizations lately. Perhaps it takes being tested and completely stripped down to see these things sometimes. Perhaps it also takes a change of scenery. Perhaps it also takes a trip back home, any one of them, I guess.

Thursday, 4 August 2005

Hello Tokyo!

Picture: boarded and seated.

I am in Tokyo now, and I made it in one piece! I got home quite late from work last night and tossed everything in the suitcase and had Michael, my brother, drive me to the airport. I almost missed the plane, and if it weren't for Nancy, my friend from the Hsinchu days who now works at China Airlines, I would have surely missed it.

Picture: Formosa TV on the plane. This is Pasuya Yao, head of the Government Information Office, and our real boss.

I forgot to get my clothes I meant to bring from the dry cleaner's. I forgot to get the gifts I said I would try to get. Aigh.

I slept during most of the flight and I watched "The Interpreter." It was a good movie. Nicole Kidman is really a dynamic, and beautiful actress. I haven't seen a movie in ages, and had forgotten who I used to enjoy watching. I shall go rent her other movies.

Picture: a view of Chiba.

After sending my bags home by delivery, I headed straight for the Apple Store in Ginza to have my iBook repaired. Little did I know that at 16h00 on a weekday, the Genius Bar would be backed up for hours. I left my Kuma-chan (iBook) with them and headed over to Daikanyama to have my hair cut, as I was one hairy mess. Thank goodness for Yamaguchi Sensei at Boms. Thank goodness for my godmother who made the appointment for me.

Now I'm back at the Apple Store, waiting for my turn.

It's another lonely night for me, as I'm stuck here, starving and still waiting. By the time I'm done at the store, it will be too late to see anyone else. Godmom is out of town on business.

On the way back to the store the second time, I remembered that being tired and being lonely are two inevitable things. The only good solution to not being tired and not being grumpy from being tired (asides from drinking), is to rest. I wish I can sleep, but I don't think the Apple people here would like to see someone with a travel carry-on bag sleeping on their floor. Worse than looking tired, I'll look homeless as well. But I do wish they had stools to sit on at these consoles...

The only way to battle loneliness is not to. I don't know how I'm going to convince myself of this one. It does remind me of a conversation I had with one of our anchors, Ken, after taping one day last week.

Ken: one of the nice things about working odd days is that you can go to the movies on a weekday and enjoy the entire theater by yourself
Michella: yeah, but the problem with that is you can't find anyone to go with you
Ken: that's the point

What a concept. I thought I could never do it, and up until now, I thought I could get away with never having to do it. What do you know.

So as I was walking through the subway tunnels, I thought I might try to enjoy being by myself instead of desperately trying to find someone to talk to. What if I tried to not want to call anyone? I have decided. It will be a Mi-chan night.

It's 19h42, I'm waiting and my feet are hurting. I'm bored.

When I was in the trains, I felt so uncomfortable. I felt so uncomfortable being me. I don't know what it is. Is it something I've become that I am just starting to notice? Hopefully it's just the fatigue and stress monsters.

Back Among the Living

My iBook is sick, and that's why I haven't blogged. I guess not having a computer doesn't work for an excuse anymore, does it?

My iBook really is sick and needs a brain transplant. Honest! I think the logicboard wigged out again. I love my iBook, but I've had such bad luck with it.

Here's a brief recap of what's been happening:
work work a little bit of sleep work work a little bit of sleep work work

That about sums it up. I was complaining that I was totally bored at work, even though I am really busy throwing the show together with the other producers all day long. But like they say, be careful of what you ask for. Out of the blue pops several people with translations and narrations that need to be done for the Asian TV Awards, tomorrow. Everyday, they would come with something that needs to be done tomorrow, and tomorrow was the submission deadline. But there were so many tomorrows. Isn't tomorrow today by the next day?

The translations take hours for each piece that's about 15 minutes long. Then the narrations take at least an hour for each piece. My editor and I split the work--he took most of it and I got to do the narration and got stuck doing the application forms for almost everybody. Yesterday, I was looking at my calendar and realized that I had just three days off in July. All those translating and narrating nights were so very long. I didn't know if I was going to survive and I was starting to lose my voice by the end of it all. It was a lot of work, but great fun as well. I loved the narrations.

In those tough two weeks, I discovered something about myself. I love telling stories. I love telling stories that I write, and I love telling stories that other people write just as much. There's another piece of my puzzle. All that hard work was well worth the finding. My half has again been half-filled. I feel much stronger now.

I have been in a deep rut lately. I've been feeling completely bored at work, though it's busy all day long. I come home at night, totally unsatisfied and just itching to talk to someone, but of course there is no one. Even the fish are sleeping. I end up crawling into bed and watching TV until I fall asleep. I haven't been able to report since we're so short on producers, either.

With the GIO contract ending, I've been very uneasy as well. I have been anxious about what will happen, where I will be sent, and whether I should start looking for another job in another country. I've gotten over it somewhat. If the show ends and there will be no more English news in Taiwan, then I will probably be sent to be a daily news reporter doing silly infotainment news. That's not a bad deal. Everyone starts somewhere. The people I feel sorry for are my editors who have to fix my Chinese that I never learned how to write. I can speak it, but honestly, I can write better in Japanese than in Chinese, since I've actually learned Japanese. Oh boy.

If the show goes to another station, I will probably go as well. If the show continues at Formosa TV, I will give up chocolate.

My producer again tried to get me on the anchor desk this week. The managing director said she was worried that people would say things, since I've only been at the station and in the industry for such a short period of time. They said if I reported more and thereby proved to everyone that I do know what I'm doing, then she has nothing to say. Fair enough. But I can't report if there aren't any other associate producers to cover my position. Earlier this year, the MD said to me, "don't worry, you've already broken the station record. No one has gotten to anchor after being here for just two months. No one but you. Don't worry." All I can keep telling myself is: patience is a virtue.

In the meantime, I wish to learn how to tell stories.

I have three hours left to pack. I am going back to Tokyo! I wish to hide away and sleep in my tiny tiny bedroom for three days straight. I wish to play with Princess Paolo and take a nap with her on my stomach. I wish to take walks around the Imperial Palace in the evenings. I wish to visit the Ueno museums that I have been meaning to but never did. I wish to practice sketching, all morning and all afternoon in Mejiro. I wish to go to dinner with my godmother in our yukata. I wish to see my old friends.

Here is my schedule. If anyone who's reading is free, please let me know.

4 August: arrive in Tokyo around noon, get hair cut in afternoon
5 August:
6-8 August: Nebuta matsuri in Aomori
9 August: tea with my zemi professor in afternoon, We Will Rock You musical in evening
10 August:
11 August:
12 August: returning to Taipei on 09h00 flight

My body hasn't been all that well lately, so I will be resting quite a bit. Let's try to get together nevertheless.