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Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Easy Life - And How To Say It In Japanese

While admittedly my life in Japan seemed charmed as far as finding admirable people to be friends with, as well as lucking into a Board of Education that looked after me far better than my peers on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, and having one of the largest and most comfortable apartments in said programme... and heck, I lived the Life of Riley as far as my luck with women goes... though I'm unsure if quantity equaled quality... and I got to meet and be with Noboko... at least for a little while.

Everything just kind of fell my way.

Now, I'm not saying I didn't earn it... because I did work very hard at least for two years of my life prior to going to Japan. (smirk)

Still... someone recently commented on one of those other Japanaese blogs I wrote (to the right), that I am an ego-maniac.

Well d'uh. No sh!t, Sherlock.

I'm a writer. All writers are ego-maniacs. We crave attention, and want people to know that it is us who are telling them a story, or are teaching them something. Sad but true.

Ego? Sure... why else would we write stuff for other people to read? It's because we think we have something to say, and gosh darn it, we want everyone to know about it.

If you are a writer and don't believe what I said is true, you are either naive or stupid. Go ahead... write a story, newspaper or magazine article, a book... and don't use your name.

Granted, I know that Stephen King used Richard Bachman as an alias because he wanted to know if people were only buying his books because of his King nom du plume, or if it was because they actually liked his writing.

Edith Mary Pargeter... she wrote as Ellis Peters because she wasn't sure if she would be accepted as a writer if they knew she was a woman, which seems silly, if only because of fellow sleuth writer Agatha Christie. Pargeter wrote the Brother Cadfael mystery books... my favorite mystery books, alongside the books of Paul Doherty.

Doherty's most beloved creations (to me) are the medieval Hugh Corbett novels and his Egyptian mysteries with Amerokte, the chief judge of the temple of Ma'at.

I guess I just like historical murder mysteries.

By the way... Doherty... after I wrote a fan letter to him and mentioned that I had lost a few of his books in a house fire, was kind enough to send me a box full of his books - personally autographed to myself.

It's not why he is my favorite writer, but it sure doesn't hurt. I love opening up a book and seeing his penned scrawl of his name on the frontspiece.

I'm a trained journalist who worked briefly in the newspaper industry, and now the magazine industry, and have written far too many stories in these blogs and in comic books - and all of them bear my name... because I want to see my name in print.

It makes me feel alive. It makes me feel that when I die, I won't be forgotten by uncaring future generations.

Caring about what others have done in the past is one of those reasons why I take such pride in my work trying to make real sense of historical data to create the most accurate depiction possible in my Pioneers of Aviation blog.

I have maybe 20 people read each article... articles that take me well over 20, sometimes 50 hours to complete.

And yeah... I definitely get a kick out out of solving a mystery or three that no one else has ever been able to - or cared to try and - resolve. And I don't mind bragging about it, because when it comes to writing about and solving real mysteries  about pre-1919 aviation... well... I freely admit that before I began the blog, I didn't know a damn thing about the subject.

I just knew I liked to write, liked to learn new things, liked to have the complete story, and wanted to ensure that there was at least one person out there (here) who cared enough to do it. And I wanted to share that knowledge.

Now, ego aside, and Japan aside, things haven't always been easy for me... especially after Japan.

In fact, I used to sort of write about that time of my life in another blog and under a pseudonym because it was raw, real, explicit and embarrassing... but what the fug, I, or whomever the hell I was, felt that even though some of it was private stuff, what was in that blog was important enough to share so others might learn from my mistakes or perceived successes... teaching moments.

The most important thing for me, however, was  - just like in this blog - that I have fun doing it.  It means being an ego-maniac. It means showing my vulnerable side. It means sharing my mistakes, my ups, my downs.

I eventually got bored with that other blog, and erased it from the Internet... a strange thing to do, I suppose, considering it had over 1-million views in just over a one-year period. I think only about 12 people knew my dual identity... but it was no longer fun.

Or maybe I just screwed up and accidentally erased it from the Internet. The point is, is that I didn't recreate it.

Anyhow,  after coming to my senses in college doing journalism, I realized I had to put in some effort in life... so I did.

Of course, I had done that (effort) in teaching piano and clarinet and in coaching soccer... but now it had to be in school. 

I was never one of those kids, however, that had it easy. No... I didn't have it hard, either, but again, it wasn't easy.

I jokingly rib my dad for not being one of those immigrants to Canada who worked so hard in having their own successful business that they could leave for their son to run.

Still, he was one of the earliest computer programmers in Canada in the late 60s, and was able to retire when he was 42. But that didn't mean we were rich. It just meant we weren't poor.

I sure as hell missed my chance to retire when I was 42... probably because I was just becoming a father for the first and last time.

I wish (I think) I was one of those guys who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

In Japan, they have a similar turn of the phrase. 

"Hashi yori omoi mono wo motta koto ga nai (箸より重い物を持ったことがない)."

It means: “Never having had to lift anything heavier than chopsticks.”

Both phrases correspond to someone who come from a wealthy family... and in the case of the Japanese turn of phrase, it means they never had to work a so-called "real job".

What I like about both phrases, however, is that they both utilize eating utensils.

Also, while no one could ever truly be born with a silver spoon in their mouth, it was until recently one of those things that only the rich would have had - silverware.

Unlike the Japanese, who would only have chopsticks... though I imagine there are differing values for chopsticks... wood, plastic, lacquered wood, fancy carved ones.

I actually have multiple sets of chopsticks presented to me upon my leaving Japan that were carved in the early 1990s by a man designated as an official living treasure of Japan, and as the official chopstick carver for the Japanese Royal Family.

I can't find them, however, leading me to wonder if they did indeed get burned up in the house fire I had some 10 years ago.

Lastly... while my folks never went in for such things, my wife's grandparents had silverware which has somehow found its way passed down to us.

While my son, Hudson, has never had a silver spoon in his mouth, he certainly did have a Spider-man spoon in his... which is appropriate considering we (meaning me) have a large 30,000+ comic book collection.

Look... I admit to sometimes writing with an ego (or maybe I always do, because all writers are ego-maniacs).

What I don't get are the people out there who feel the need to write in via a comment and say that I am an ego-maniac. What purpose does that serve?

Seriously... what purpose does that serve?

It sure doesn't serve me.

If you are writing to an ego-maniac and telling him so, he doesn't give a crap about you or your opinion.

He thinks EVEN less than that when the comment isn't backed up with a real name.

Why are you even wasting your time to anonymously insult someone you don't even know?

Who does it serve?

Who does it serve when you write in to try and insult someone?

You probably don't know, so let me tell you.

It serves you.

So... now who has the ego problem?

Andrew Joseph
PS: That "ego-maniac" comment didn't bother ME, because I know what I am. I just felt a teaching moment was necessary. Hmmm... that's two in three blog articles. Ugh. It's like a battle of wits against an unarmed opponent. Actually, I kind of dig it.
PPS: Lastly... if you have ever used Facebook or Twitter, for example... ego mania. Same for taking a selfie. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with those things, by the way... it's apparent that those are all tools of self-expression to tell people all about you and your self.

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