Life in progress


Zone – #AtoZChallenge & Song-Lyric Sunday

When you see me staring blankly into space and it takes several seconds for me to answer a simple question, I’m in the zone.

For the final post of this year’s A to Z Challenge, I chose from my thesaurus the word “zone.” The first thing the word always brings to my mind is the zone I need to be in, in order to create. Free from most outside distractions, particularly ones that require concentration on things I’m worried about.  I’m able to do mindless things and stay in the zone: I can get up and make a grilled-cheese sandwich for my son, but not answer any questions; I can let the dog out, but God forbid the phone rings. Having said that, sometimes I burn the sandwich and the dog will scratch at the door to come back in for half an hour.

Getting into my little bubble of creativeness is often difficult. I can’t do it when I know I’ll be distracted in the near future–I’m okay if Alex is due home from school in an hour, but not if I expect him in forty-five minutes. But there is one thing that always helps: my inspiration, my muse. Buck-Tick.

This week’s prompt for the lovely Helen Espinosa’s Song-Lyric Sunday is “consequences, good or bad.” (Click here.) Claiming that my favourite Japanese band’s music is the consequence of being able to write is a bit of a stretch, but I’m going with it because it fits.

This song inspired my upcoming novel, The Great Dagmaru. The lyrics tell the basis of the story. I can’t not disappear into the world of my creation when I listen to this song and watch this video. The English captions are available when you watch it (please do–it’s a fantastic performance), but I’ve copied them out below.


Megami (Goddess)
Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi (vocals)
Music: Hoshino Hidehiko (acoustic guitar)

Within the heat wave,
a goddess alights
Now no longer lonely,
grant my wish

I’m going mad in this overwhelming emotion
consoled many times
I sin and wait anxiously for punishment
just getting corrupted

I’m in an agony of immorality,
shivering with a premonition
She smiles at me
and grants my wish

Screaming out, I explode
It’s maddening, precious
Even that profile distorted by fear
is beautiful, precious
Turn into chaos before my eyes
Hold me… I can’t see anything

It’s a quiet night, isn’t it?
Such a beautiful night
She smiles at me
–my wish did not come true.

Screaming out, I explode
It’s maddening, precious
Even that profile distorted by fear
is beautiful, precious
Turn into chaos before my eyes
Hold me… I can’t see anything

Only you are kind to me
Only you


Song-Lyric Sunday – Rain – Buck-Tick

I’m back again at the Song-Lyric Sunday prompt with my favourite Japanese band, Buck-Tick. “Rain” is a song about sadness and regret, but it’s also about hope. It’s a really lovely song. Please watch (English subtitles are embedded in the video) and listen.

And don’t forget to check out Helen’s prompt and all the other participants here: You can even join in too!

Lyrics by Sakurai Atsushi (as copied from the video)
Music by Imai Hisashi

Please try to see, even I’ve become tainted
Wounded with a worn-out blade
Irritated by the warmth and kindness, you turn your back
One, two, three, tears fall

Since when did even this become draining?
Nursing the wounds with whiskey
Confused by happiness and joy, you turn your back
Four, five, six, my tears overflow

Sing in the rain
The rain pierces you
In the end you laugh, and I am a Pierrot unable to smile
I never intended to make you sad
but even so…
Sing in the rain
People are such sad creatures
Smile for me as, soaking wet, you dance
If maybe one day the world will sparkle again
then I can go on singing.

Please don’t say goodbye,
happiness was being able to meet you
Seven, eight, a flood of tears

Sing in the rain
People are such sad creatures
In the end you laugh, and I am a Pierrot unable to smile
I never meant to hurt you
but even so…
Sing in the rain
The rain pierces you
You make me smile, even though I’m a clown who never learns
It was never my intent to cause you any pain
Even so…
Sing in the rain
People are such sad creatures
Smile for me as, soaking wet, you dance
If maybe one day the world will sparkle again
then I can go on singing

Sing in the rain
Sing in the rain
(If you want to sing along at the end, the Japanese lyrics are Ame ni utaeba.

If you’d like to sing along to the whole thing, here are the Japanese lyrics in full

Mitegoran konna ni mo yogorete
Boroboro no yaiba de motte kizutsuketa
Nukumori ni yasashisa ni iradachi se wo mukete wa
Hitotsu futatsu mittsu namida koboreta

Itsu kara ka konna ni mo yogorete
Kizuguchi wo whiskey de motte gomakashita
Shiawase ni yorokobi ni tomadoi se wo mukete wa
Yottsu itsutsu muttsu namida koboreta

Sing in the rain. Ame ga kimi ni tsukisasaru
Waracchimau ore wa waraenai piero
Kimi wo kanashimaseru tsumori ja nai sou ja nai no ni
Sing in the rain. Hito wa kanashii ikimono
Warattekure kimi wa zubunure de dansu
Itsuka sekai wa kagayaku deshou to utai tsuzukeru

Sayonara wa iwanaide kimi to deaeta yorokobi
Nanatsu yattsu namida namida afureta

Sing in the rain. Hito wa okashi na ikimono
Waracchimau ore wa waraenai piero
Kimi wo kanashimaseru tsumori ja nai sou ja nai no ni
Sing in the rain. Ame ga kimi ni tsukisasaru
Waracchimau ore wa waraenai piero
Kimi wo kanashimaseru tsumori ja nai sou ja nai no ni
Sing in the rain. Hito wa kanashii ikimono
Warattekure kimi wa zubunure de dansu
Itsuka sekai wa kagayaku deshou to utai tsuzukeru

Ame ni utaeba ame ni utaeba…


Song Lyric Sunday – Django!!! by Buck-Tick

I’ve made a promise to myself not to plague you with Japanese band, Buck-Tick, songs too often for this prompt, but when I read this week’s theme given out by our own, lovely Helen, I couldn’t help it. The theme is ‘songs that make us happy.’

I’m not able to include the lyrics here since the one site I trust to properly translate doesn’t allow me to copy them without express permission, but I can tell you what they’re about. To read the actual lyrics (in English) please watch the video. And hear the song! Any song with the lyrics “bibbidy bobbidy boo” must be listened to!

The song is named “Django!!! – Genwaku no Django” or “Django!!! – Django the Dazzler” after the jazz guitarist Django Reihardt.  Born in 1910, he started his career as a guitarist early, but lost the use of two fingers on his left hand in a fire. From wikipedia:

He created an entirely new style of jazz guitar technique (sometimes called ‘hot’ jazz guitar), which has since become a living musical tradition within French Gypsy culture. With violinist Stéphane Grappelli, Reinhardt co-founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France, described by critic Thom Jurek as “one of the most original bands in the history of recorded jazz”.

He was known as a “magician” guitarist in his time. Django was further referenced in the recent movie bearing his name. You can read about him here:

But before you do, watch the video and read the lyrics. And as a bonus, hear a song that’s guaranteed to make you want to dance!


Song Lyric Sunday – Long Distance Call by Buck-Tick

Buck-Tick is a Japanese band who I was so impressed with right from the first time I heard them, that I’ve traveled to Japan to see them in concert. Twice, in the case of the lead singer, Sakurai Atsushi.

I thought I’d share the first song I ever heard of theirs. It’s called “Long Distance Call,” and was written about Mr. Sakurai’s mother and the last time he talked to her before she died. The band was out on the road, and he couldn’t get home to see her. Honestly, I don’t know how he keeps it together when he sings it.

Unfortunately I’m not able to copy and paste the lyrics. It’s sung in Japanese, but the translation is available; the lady who translates them prefers to have a link back to her site, which is here. However, if you watch the video, the subtitles are there and easy to read. You just have to click on the settings button (the cogged wheel) at the bottom of the video and you’ll see how to access them.


This post is part of Song Lyric Sunday, brought to you by the lovely and talented Helen Espinosa at This Life One Word At A Time. Click here to see this week’s prompt, and join in!



Tokyo, Japan – My Final Day

Though after eleven days I’d had plenty of time to miss my family, it was with a deep sense of sadness that I packed up all of my belongings and set out from my hotel room on the morning of December 17th, 2014. Since my flight wasn’t scheduled until 5pm, I was pleased that the hotel agreed to hang on to my luggage, so I was able to wander about for a while before I made my way to the airport.

I figured, why not go on a little adventure? I’ve been on the London Eye, so I figured I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to go on the Giant Wheel in Palette Town. Among many pictures were these:

From Daiba Park:

Here’s what I wrote in my notebook:

Palette Town, ODaiba, Tokyo – Tanto Tanto Restaurant, Venus Fort

Spent the first part of the morning packing and checking out of the hotel. They kept my bags so I’m out wandering. Went on the Giant Wheel where it was VERY windy. I think I may have prayed a little not to die. Walked a lot after that – to Daiba Park and then back here for lunch. The solitude in Daiba Park was almost overwhelming. I felt like I was alone at the ends of the earth.

The restaurant and the Venus Fort mall were pretty amazing. Here are some pictures – the first two were taken from my table in the restaurant:

It wasn’t until I got back outside that I found out I could have had the “dog.”


For Jason


And finally, Haneda Airport.


I had an incredible time in my eleven days of wandering, getting lost, meeting some wonderful new friends in person – Jay Dee, Susie, and Shigeyoshi – (please click on their names for links!) sightseeing and taking pictures and really just re-discovering who I am and what I’m capable of. And of course, the spectacular concert which was the reason I went.

I was there!!

I was there!!

Japan is a truly amazing country. Its people, its culture, its natural beauty… all of it. Rather than try to write something new, I’ll leave you with a journal entry I wrote the first time I left there. For me, nothing has changed and as I said at the end of this, “Japan, I will return.”

October 31, 2005 4:58pm, Kansai Airport, Japan

Well, this will be my last entry here in Japan. I’m sitting at the gate with my Starbucks tall mocha looking at the plane I’ll be spending the next 10 hours in.

What am I going to miss about this place? The fact that you can smile at anyone and they’ll smile back. The bowing. (There’s nothing quite like having a gorgeous young man bow to you, particularly when he’s a tough looking goth type.) Eating with chopsticks. The endless *different* scenery, both natural and manmade – for the natural scenery, you can’t look in any direction without seeing mountains. And of course the faces. Amazing how many Japanese people there are here!

I really do feel home here. I feel like I belong. Is there time in my life to find this place as I should, and everything that belongs to me here? If it is within my power I will return

Nihon ni kaerimasu.



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Tokyo, Japan – Part 1

A few things I learned about traveling in and around the Tokyo area by train: if you go onto google maps before you head out, you can find out how many stops it is between you and your destination, how many minutes it will take, whether or not you’ll have to transfer from one line to another, and best of all, google maps actually tells you how much it will cost, which is essential information for using the ticket machines. Also, inside the trains there are screens to tell you where the next stop will be with numbers beside the names. I assumed they were stop numbers, but I soon figured out (when they kept changing) that it was the time to the next stop. Very handy in a packed train car when one needs to plan an escape route around all the other passengers. If you visit Japan, you’ll thank me for this.

I left Kamakura with a measure of sadness. I’d grown to love the little town and having never been to Tokyo before, I didn’t have much of an idea of what to expect. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the area in which I chose to stay.

Odaiba is a quiet part of Tokyo compared to the other places I eventually visited. It’s off to the east of the city and a great place to stay if you’re planning to go to Disneyland, though I didn’t get close to the place. I stayed at the Sunroute Ariake Hotel.


Under $100Cdn/night, it was very clean and there’s a Lawson (convenience store) right in the hotel, so I didn’t have to go out to get something to eat, nor did I have to eat in the restaurant, which was a little pricey to be dining in at every meal. It was also only a two minute walk from the Kokusai-tenjijou (I always find the longest named-place to have to locate) train station, and it was easy to find! so I didn’t have to lug my cases far. The reason I stayed there was the proximity of the venue in which Buck-Tick was playing – I wanted to be able to walk back to my hotel after the concert. It turned out to be a nice 15 minute stroll.

The morning after I arrived I walked over to Zepp Tokyo to see how best to get there. The one thing google maps is not always good for is guiding one in the right direction for walking. It was hard to tell from the map whether or not they were sending me on a stroll down the train tracks. As it turned out, the fastest way there was a humongous foot bridge.


No cars – bonus


When I arrived there the crews were working on emptying trucks of equipment.


The trucks were at the back, which is where the street is


I was surprised to see dozens of girls wandering around pulling small suitcases. With not a hotel in sight I wondered what they could have been doing. I found out later.

I went for breakfast and decided to head in the direction of Diver City Mall. Then I saw this guy.


Here’s a rare selfie of me beside his foot. He’s pretty tall.


I wasn’t really sad – the sun was in my eyes

I walked around the mall for an hour or two – there was a band appearing live outside for a small concert and meet-and-greet and thousands of rabid fangirls screaming their heads off to wade through when I came out. But I was heading out to meet Susie, the lovely lady whose Etsy shop is NOW OPEN! (click here) and who was kind enough to buy my concert ticket.

While we had a quick chat, I found out what the deal was with all the young ladies and their suitcases. Not a bag was left to be found but instead, hundreds of heavily made up costumed cosplayers, just there to get together and walk around. The area, being Palette Town which is apparently famous, has apart from Zepp Tokyo this,


Giant Wheel

and this,


Mega Web – lotsa cars

as two of its main attractions.

By the time Susie and I said goodbye I was good and tired, so I headed back to the hotel. The next day was dedicated to getting ready for the concert.

To be continued.



Note: The following is something I posted yesterday as a Guest on HarsH ReaLiTy. Apologies if you’re seeing this in duplicate.

I went to Japan for five minutes and thirty-six seconds. I’m not talking about a virtual trip on the internet. I’m not talking about astral projection. I’m talking about an eleven day trip which included 25 hours of flying time from Toronto to Tokyo and back for the sake of a five minute and thirty-six second long song.

I fell in love with it the first time I heard it. It moved me to tears and I knew deep inside that I HAD to hear it and see it performed live. I was that passionate about it, about the man who wrote it and sings it – about the deep meaning in the lyrics and just the way he sings it and how utterly beautiful it is… So I made it happen. I couldn’t not.

Before you write me off as insane, please consider…

Merriam-Webster’s definition of Passion, ganked off the internet:

noun \ˈpa-shən\

: a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something

: a strong feeling (such as anger) that causes you to act in a dangerous way

: a strong sexual or romantic feeling for someone

Passion is something we humans share. It’s responsible for much of the world’s most beautiful art in all its forms; it is the cause of some of the most heinous crimes. It gives us the ability to love deeply and to hate with seemingly every fibre of our being. It’s something that our children have also. And how scary can that potentially be?

You can say to a ten-year-old, “Son, there are things you will be passionate about when you grow older. You may feel like killing someone one day. Don’t,” but what’s the use? Because in the heat of passion we lose all reason. Logic goes off into the stratosphere and all that is left inside of us is pure emotion.

Passion is one of the things I believe we can only teach our children by example. For instance, if we talk about killing the guy in the car that cut us off, they will learn that passion can turn us against one another. If we follow our passion and turn it into a career, we will teach our children to follow their dreams.

And so I come back to my adventure – my trip to Japan. Aside from personally needing to make the trip, I feel in doing so I showed my children that if they want something badly enough, they can make it happen, no matter how unlikely. And no matter how insignificant it might seem to someone else and no matter how they may be judged for going for it; just do it.

The song? It doesn’t really matter. But here’s another one by the same band. It is appropriately called “Passion.”

The lyrics, in English, can be found by clicking here. But if you read them, don’t do the stuff he sings about – just sayin’ 😉

If you’d like to read about the absolutely incredible experience I had at the concert, click here. The post includes a picture of me, taken by the lead guitarist of the band from the stage during the concert!

Thanks very much for reading,