Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Edith Piaf- Non je ne regrette rien

I regret nothing!

I live my life with the intent, power, and words that Edith Piaf has put into this song...
Amazing woman, tragic life, eternal spirit. Enjoy this video!

Friday, December 25, 2009

the art of gift giving...

In Japan, there are two things you do a lot..bowing and gift giving.
These are two facts of Japanese life. One would think, it being so far from American customs, that it would be hard to pick up. To the contrary. The bowing sets in almost instantly, as it is done everywhere for absolutely everything. By the second or third day, your body has muscle memory, and takes over.

After awhile the awkwardness of it all is taken over by the intrigue. It is interesting to watch. To understand the level of respect that the Japanese hold, just for their fellow man, is admirable. There is no caste system, where one group of people deserve bows more than others. Everyone is equal. Everyone is important. When you sit back and watch it, it's a beautiful thing.

Gift giving is also a fact of Japanese culture. There is no investigation into how much the gift costs, or what it is made of. It's just the act of taking the time to think of someone else, and give the gift, that the Japanese appreciate most. You can bring a small bag of candies, or a cake to share, into work and the gratitude is overwhelming. People do this like second nature here.

I once hit the car of a fellow teacher as I was pulling out of a parking spot. While I was freaking out, she was assuring me that everything was ok. I couldn't afford much on my salary here (anything really) but I went to the 100 yen (dollar store) and bought her a handheld fan. She was so surprised the next time she saw me, she nearly didn't accept it. For me, I felt it was the least I could do.

Gifts are important. There is no other holiday that embodies that more than Christmas. Christmas is number one, and birthdays are number two.

True to Japanese culture, it's not 'what' it is that's there, as much as the fact that something is there.

I was speaking with my mother recently who concentrated on the fact that people just don't have it this year.

This is true. I feel that means that those who do have it should not take that for granted, and those who don't still have the abilities to make things, even together, as a family. It starts with a creative approach.

I love the JFK quote.

"When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters.
One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity."

These times, yes, are full of crisis ALL around the world. But, there is no denying the opportunity that awaits these times as well. Be creative. Be simple. Be outside the box. Be grateful. Be giving. It will come back to you. That's how the Universe works.

Give what you can. If all you can afford is a $1 fan, then give it but give it with pride. If all you can afford is a handmade card with crayons, then draw the best damned card you can and send it to whomever it is intended. If all you can afford is a smile. Then smile so hard that the other person will think you recently underwent a facelift.

But give what you can. The receiver's reaction is all the more worth it. I am grateful I was able to pinch my pennies this year and do the same and supply every single person on my list with something. I make that a priority.

Christmas is over, in Japan, but I have been invited to a traditional Japanese tea ceremony with the office staff of one of my schools. I am looking forward to it. Now, I must head to the store to find a gift. I am thinking a small cake...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Evierobbie Christmas in Japan 2009...

It's officially Christmas Day in Japan, and Christmas Eve in New York.
As much as I wanted to be home, and others wanted to be here, it wasn't feasible. So I was trying to find a way to share my Christmas with you all.
Two weeks ago a friend of mine, Kotoyo, had a Christmas party that I attended and shot video of. The video below is a peek into my Japanese world during this holiday! I love and miss you all.

In Japan, Christmas is not a big deal. Everything is still open, and the attachment to Christianity is enough for the Japanese to be 'ma-ma' (so-so) about the idea of the holiday. Therefore, I will spend this holiday doing what I love most, writing. I am going to cook an amazing breakfast, and set up shop at a Starbucks in order to fully embrace my creating. I hope you enjoy the video! Arigato!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

a writer's winter...


"The tendinous part of the mind, so to speak, is more developed in the winter; the fleshy, in the summer. I should say winter had given the bone and sinew to literature, summer the tissue and the blood." -John Burroughs

This quote is warming me during the tail end of the worst snowstorm in this part of Japan, in 25 years....

Monday, December 21, 2009

emotional protocol...

Are we conditioned to react certain ways, in certain situations, as the process of grieving and letting go commences?

Over the past few months, but more recently over the last week, I feel like I have been in the middle of emotional protocol...certain feelings that are necessary (habitual) in order to keep it moving, as well as keep it together.
No one knows our personal patterns better than ourselves.
Some turn to anger, while others turn to art. Some saturate themselves in alcohol while others attempt osmosis through random sexual encounters.

Tonight, I sit in my semi-warm Japanese apartment, drinking plum wine that is a bit too sweet, yet potent enough to purge my thoughts into words. I have been fighting these words...and as per usual, they have been fighting back. This is what happens when you are a writer.

The pen is, most definitely, mightier than the sword.

The holidays bring up an array of emotions for me. Snow glazed streets, cuddle weather, slow holiday music, and the gift of giving all put me in a state of emotional confusion. Not to mention, the effects of Seasonal Affect Disorder.

When there is no significant other in my life for the holidays, I do feel a 'piece' missing. This feeling has since been magnified due to the isolation of being in Japan, kind of newly completely single, and alone in my staying in Japan for the holidays.

This is the first Christmas away from family, friends, and even the possibility of intimacy. I can say, I am officially feeling it...

I long for the same attention I will not ask for. I crave a body to lie next to...a body complete with a heart that gets excited in my presence. I miss so many simple things...a text, a call, a "hey you", a "you're beautiful".

This is the other side, that I have written about before, to the type of life I currently lead.

Emotions have compounded for many of the friends here, in the wake of the bomb dropped on us that one of our main components is breaking his contract early. He leaves tomorrow
for a vacation to Thailand, and will not be back in Niigata.

It has started already. I revisit the process of attachment and detachment. Saying goodbye, indefinitely, is the worst part. In fact, it is the only true part of the traveling experiences I have had, that I genuinely despise.

I feel the internal pulling...wanting to capture every moment from here until March 19th, take it with me and hold it dear to my heart forever. You start nearly memorizing conversations. You start wondering if you will ever be in the same place, same time, with these people ever again.

The imminent goodbyes are becoming too real too early. These are friends. There will be a point, sooner rather than later, where I will have to do the same to thousands of students, dozens of teachers, and seven schools.

I have Japanese friends who barely speak a word of English, but whom I've developed the Universal language of pure love and friendship. Them, I will have to leave here in Niigata, as I continue on whatever journey I am supposed to lead. I only hope to leave a piece of me here as well.

Lately, I have been reminded of that last day I had in Paris...

Waking up alone because Brittany's flight left the night before. The apartment was bare and I had to move my bags into the hostel next store. That day I walked around aimlessly.
I ended up in a cinema house, watching a film completely in French, subtitle-less. I felt so alone. The night before, I had premiered my first short film in a full sized movie theater and had never felt a rush that incredible in life. I was on a 15 out of 10.

Then the next day, I was alone. With an uncomfortable need for company, I got on that Metro to Larmark-Caulincourt to La Femis. There I spent the better part of the day with Jarod. We went to Sacre Coerce and ate gelato. I wanted to scream out so badly, "Please don't leave me," when he had to depart for prior scheduled plans.

I ended up on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower...

There was the first time I truly felt groundlessness. The ultimate vulnerability of having everything you have ever thought you wanted in life being ripped from under you. In what seemed like a flash, my entire five weeks in Paris hit my psyche with such power the only thing I could do was smile.

I realized then, that whatever I was destined to do in, film, and writing were going to be a part of it. Up until the summer of 2006, I had fallen in love with many men, and many things.

But that day, I fell in love with my life...

Japan has been round two. I have not felt this alive since that day, on that grass, staring at the Eiffel Tower, whispering to myself "Did I just do that?"

"Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for." -Dag Hammarskjold

Sunday, December 20, 2009



I know I look a mess,but the girls at ECS really hooked me up. Mizuho I love you. My last night class got ditched so they could play dress up with me and put me in my very first kimonos. I was also in a green version of this. What I found interesting is that the cloth reminded me of kente designs.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

my best friend`s racism...

This morning I woke up to a rather urgent message from my best friend, B, telling me to check a note her boyfriend T has written on Facebook.

The context of the note is this...apparently for a month B has been on the receiving end of some blatantly racist words and video in regards to her being in an interracial relationship. This has led to the letter you will read below, as well as porn being sent to her. I would like to precede this letter with a few facts.

T is a very successful African-American male (with mixed Black and White origins) artist in Detroit.

B is White. She is also a Harvard and Columbia graduate, MacArthur Fellowship scholar, Doctor Beyond Borders, surgeon, teacher, single-mother, cancer survivor, and under thirty years old.
She also happens to be my hero. B also has a flawless way of accomplishing this while preferring to rock tossed hair, high boots, and short skirts.

She has traveled to every single place I ever wanted to visit on Earth, probably twice, and with the mission of bringing food and medical care to those who die from even the most mundane of diseases, from lack of water and food. This includes Africa, which only adds to the irony of this woman`s letter.

Keep that in mind when reading this below, and when considering the questions I pose after it.

This is an excerpt taken from the attention T has put in regards to this situation:

`Without further ado, here is the message sent to my girlfriend today from "Armani Afrika", in all its graphic and hateful glory:

I don't know if you remember me but i remember you. I've struggled back and forth as whether to contact you or not. After much discussion among my community of friends we discovered our equal concern. Also, let me say I know that some of the other women involved in this discussion have contacted you in the past and sent you some very messages and videos. Know that I had nothing to do with that. Though I may agree with the sentiments, as a woman I was horrified. Detroit is a very small community with a tight knit art scene. TB is somewhat of a fixture on that scene and is admired by many of the younger up and comers. Here in lies my problem. He has a responsibility to end the white girl trophy myth. A successful black man should be with a successful black woman, not a ditzy little white girl who has to flaunt her body to feel important, rather then educate herself and take back her pride. As a black woman I understand your attraction to T, but it has become clear to us that you two seem to be in a somewhat serious relationship. Having you on his arm around town is starting to isolate him from certain parts of his community. I understand that he is a young attractive man who mistakenly finds the novelty in playing with a little barbie doll, but know that he deserves a true queen on his arm, not some little ballerina girl. I know what youre thinking. It doesn't matter, love is blind, yada yada. Well, let me tell you something in this city it does matter. I know you probably think his kinky hair is so exotic or who knows maybe you think it'sghetto and that gets you going. But what do you really know about it with your vanilla party girl hair? You think it's dangerous when you wrap your legs around him and welcome his black cock inside you. Do you understand that everytime he takes you to his bed he is essentially telling the world that he hates himself as a black man? Lastly, let me just appeal to you on an equal level. I see you have a son. To be clear, T will never commit himself to you. You are a shiny toy who will fade over time. Do you really want that for your son? I'm assuming his father tired of you too. Take my advice and take the time while your still young to feed your mind and make something more of yourself. Plan for your future. What will you do when you can't dance anymore and your pussy is all torn up? No man, black or white will want you then.... If you have any real feeling for T. Do what's best and stay away from him. Again, you have been warned. Peace.

Dear "Armani Afrika",
My girlfriend rocks; you Suck.

Best Regards,
T B`

Why, in the final weeks of 2009, are we still going through this?
In the comments section, I will post the initial reaction I had to this post, but I felt the pure racist nature of this needed more concentrated attention.

I will say, personally, identifying as African-America, yet having an entire side of my family being of Italian, Irish, and German origin, in regards to relationships I`ve experienced a great amount more racism from other `sistas` than I have ever from White women, or Asian women, or Spanish women.

There is a sense of hate that lingers extensively under this situation. I don`t mean hate in regards to the opposite of love, but hate as in bringing negativity to the positivity in someone else`s life.


Monday, December 14, 2009

the Talent Age...

I was watching "Morning Joe" today with Joe and Mika on MSNBC.
It opened with a personal favorite of mine, Deepak Chopra. If you aren't up on his books regarding enlightenment, intention, and positivity, you should get on it.

During a segment, they began talking about the concept of a Talent Age. How theorists are saying that we had an Industrial Age, which gave way to an Information Age that so many of us are familiar with, and we're now approaching a Talent Age.

The premise is, many of the left brain activities that people and businesses need, can be done in the speed of light with the technology built during the Information age. We are prepared for the pendulum to shift towards the creative.

This age will be defined by those in the arts and those who use creativity and innovation in their business endeavors.

Obviously, with me, this would strike a chord. I would like your opinions on this.

Speaking of the creative...this past week I found myself at FM Niigata's radio station recording my voiceover for DJ Minoru Chris's show on Sound Splash.

It was an amazing experience, full of laughs.

I had a moment taken right out of Sophia Coppola's "Lost in Translation".

Chris, "Can you say it with more intensity?"
I erupted in laughter, predicting that the next request would be for me to say it more mysterious. When you live in Japan, you realize how on point that film truly is.

It parallels this whole concept of Talent Age because in walking into their studio I was brought back to the prior radio and television stations I used to work in, in NY.
You have the business suits on the Sales floor.

"I will take you upstairs. You'll be more comfortable there," Chris said.

Upstairs was the creative hub. Japanese celebrity signatures adorning posters of themselves, polaroids of people in compromising positions, Macs on every desk, and relaxed attire.

I was at home. Niigata definitely got some cool points, and my international creative connections just got a huge jolt in linking up with Chris...

The Talent Age commences...

As of January 4th
Sound Splash Niigata FM Radio
DJ Minoru Chris' Show
and my voice....too cool

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"I want your voice..."

That's what he just said to me.

I was knocked out in some much needed sleep, only to have my cell phone go off before hitting my zone of REM.

Pissed, I looked at the phone and saw it was the manager of the bar I work at on the weekends.
Not picking that one up. Not at damn near 11pm on a 'school night'.

Something told me to check the message though. I could barely decipher what he was talking about. All I heard was a guy wanted to meet me and pay for something that had to do with radio.

The sheer curiosity made me call back.
I did, and was given the contact info for this guy.

Within five minutes, I was just booked to do a voice over talent for a new FM Niigata radio show, in Japan, that starts to air in January.

How bizarre....and cool.

Back to bed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Most people don't know that when I was in Middle School I used to create elaborate mazes in my notebooks. As the creator, my goal was to somehow stump myself. They would take up the entire space allocated on full sheets of notebook paper, as well as the back binding of the books themselves.

I haven't done this in years.

Today, at lunch with a second grade class, I saw a kid trying to create a maze of his own, with little to no luck. I asked to use his notebook and began going in on a maze that drew a crowd around me. One little boy pushes to the front and, in Japanese, explains that he wants one in his book too as he pulls out a pencil kit. The full notebook was laid flat and I was going in on one side, while he was creating one on the other. I thought this was a competition. The kids were in bliss. I heard a few "Unbelievable" and "Sugoy's" floating around.

At one point the kid hits the book lining barrier and instead of stopping, drawing right into my maze, making them connect.

We connected through art.

When the class was finished with their "Gochisou sama deshita" offering after lunch, I went over and signed the maze.

The look in this kid's eye is hard to define but he didn't smile. He gave me the most intent and grateful look, and stuck out his hand to shake mine.

I smiled and shook.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome homie."