He lives in Toronto, Canada, and has never been to Japan.
However, he has followed this blog from Day 1, and reads it out loud to his boss while his boss, Chris, apparently is working. I don't understand that, but that's okay.
Chris, by the way, played on the same soccer team as Rob and myself about 30 years ago. Yeesh. But how's that for a cool coincidence?
Rob and I have been friends since we were about 14-years-old and in Grade 10 at Burnhamthorpe Collegiate Institute (our high school) in Etobicoke. We were the two youngest kids in our grade (as were were both ahead by a year).
Not only did we play soccer on the same team, and against each other, we also coached women's soccer together for at least seven years (he a lot, lot longer, as I quit to go to Japan).
Rob, much to my chagrin, wrote to me some 68 times while I was in Japan for three years. He and my friend Doug McIntosh share the same letter writing record, actually.
And, while Doug was my writing mentor, Rob was the real reason why this blog exists.
The Awesome Origin of Andrew Joseph, Creative Writer:
You see... it was in the month of March back in 1991, when I realized his birthday was coming up... so I told him that for the entire month of March - during each week day - I would write a letter to him for his birthday.
(Seven months earlier, I began a once a month column of comedic adventures for the local JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme entitled It's A Wonderful Rife - so yeah, I did know how to write creatively, and prior to that, I was journalist for the Toronto Star).
But... after about four days of "How are you? I'm fine thanks.", I got bored with that structure and decided I would write him a short story.
And the rest, as they say, is his story. History, too.
From that first time I wrote a short story, I felt good about myself.... that this is what I am supposed to do... do define who I am.
So... the next envelope contained two stories... then three... sometimes more... sometimes less.... and all inspired by my need to entertain Rob for his upcoming birthday. As such, my imagination kicked into over-drive. Or it was sleep deprivation and or boredom fueled by vast quantities of alcohol... though I have only written smashed maybe three times in my life.
I have no idea what happened, but from then on... whenever I wanted to, or needed to, or had to write a short story - whether it was comedic or dramatic, I could sit down in front of a computer or pull out a notepad and a pen, and simply write. It was not work. It was pure fun.
I would never have a clue as to what my topic would be. I would just write the first thing that popped into my head - a title - and off I would go. And... even then, I would have no concept of where the story was going or how it would end, and thus, like Rob, I would be surprised at the story. But I always needed to have that title first. Even now.
Simply thinking, made it so.
I've done that from time to time - even a few weeks ago for another friend of mine. I write on top of my day job as a magazine writer, and my fun job as the writer of this blog - often twice or three times daily... but I will say, that for that one month period, I wrote stories for my friend Rob and created over 30 short stories and have always felt since then, that I have never been as creative again in my life.
You might think I am creative with this blog... I suppose I am, I don't know... but an idea will pop into my head regarding a topic, and then I will research it - which takes away some of the spontaneity, I think.
But, for 30 days or less in March 1991... I was like Ferris Bueller... everything I touched with a pen and paper was like gold.
You can read one of those stories HERE. It's weird, but fun.
Rob had kept all of my letters and stories (ya big lug) and gave it back to me a few years ago, because I didn't always make a copy for my own records.
I first posted the story on this blog - something about the Awesome Origin of Ralph Tochigi - back on June 10, 2010. You probably missed it then, because at that time this blog only had about 700 hits for the entire month. Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife now with more hits - gets about 1,100 a day.
And it's all because of Rob Jones' birthday. You can blame him. I do.
Thanks, buddy! And Happy birthday!
Somewhere writing this at 3AM, your pal,
PS: I think I may have also just missed the birthday of Alex, Matthew & Takako's son. Belated happy birthday, kiddo! It's a big cake, you and Rob can share.