Back in 2014 I moved to Japan and had the experience of a lifetime. I was all set to be an English teacher, and ready to move to my first big Japanese city, Nagoya. It's located in the Aichi prefecture in central Japan. I spent a hot and humid August training, teaching, and exploring in the "peaceful" city.
Today we commemorate a strange holiday called, "National Roof Over Your Head Day". No one knows the exact origins of this holiday but I think it's an important thing to consider since many people do not have the luxury of shelter.
Every time I encounter a homeless person I feel such sorrow and shame. Sorrow because it's a very difficult situation and it's even harder to solve. Shame because I feel like I could be doing more but I don't know what that more could possibly be.
Last year my partner and I purchased our first home together. It was a large investment but we both felt that it made the most sense. Every day I'm grateful for the wonderful home I'm living in. It's warm, comforting and it's always there. I know I'm incredibly lucky. Before we decided on purchasing a place we looked at renting. It's outrageously expensive, unstable, the neighbours are not always pleasant and your rights are very limited. Living in a rented space is very common and for some a stepping stone.
Long before I ever met my partner I had lived in an apartment with my first boyfriend. It was a nice location but the apartment was a humble bachelor suite - in other words no bedroom. While it wasn't a bad size I can tell you it's not all that great for two people. Perhaps for one person it's quite reasonable but for a couple, it can make things tense and stressful. I suppose what made it more trying in my situation was the fact we didn't have a stable income. I worked and he worked but he would inevitably quit. Over and over and over again. This made it difficult to get enough money for rent and utilities, never mind food or recreation. So we barely lived from paycheque to paycheque. Sometimes we borrowed ahead on our paycheques or went to the local grocery store where every cart returned meant one dollar.
When I think back on how hard it was in that little bachelor apartment I remember thinking how close we were to being homeless. The months we couldn't pay the rent on time and begged the landlord for patience and compassion. It wasn't easy. In fact it inspired me to go to university. More than ever I appreciate the fine line between having a place to call your own, no matter how small and sleeping in a cardboard box.
So today I celebrate how lucky I am to have a roof over my head.
I had the excellent fortune to attend a Just for Laughs event in my city. In case you were wondering, Just for Laughs hosts comedians to travel to different venues. I was extremely excited since I've seen their events on television numerous times but never had the opportunity to attend an event until now. It was absolutely fantastic. The show featured Last Comic Standing John Heffron along with Godfrey, Canadian comedienne Debra Digiovanni, Jim Breuer, Roman Danylo and Diana Frances. I didn't find out the show's theme until we actually arrived and it turned out to be "The Relationship Edition". Perfect for my partner and I on a night out.
Roman Danylo and Diana Frances opened the night with improv to get everyone started. They were great. With audience suggestions they turned something mundane into something exciting and hilarious. A great way to open a show and get everyone ready to laugh. John Heffron came out next and hosted the show. He did a fantastic opening bit. He discussed the difference between being in a relationship as a man in his early 20's to being a married man at 42. One of the funniest things he mentioned was going out to dinner with his wife. He goes on to say that he didn't expect a performance review. He was quite funny.
Next was Godfrey, an honest and very active comic. He brought the stage to life with hilarious comments on everyday life. He made jokes about everything from the incredibly cold Canadian weather and mitten wearing to Victoria's Secret and American Airlines. I laughed particularly hard while watching him. He really knew how to make people laugh. He was quite a ham.
There was a brief intermission before they continued on to one of the most well known and respected comics, Debra Digiovanni. If you've ever watched Much Music's Video on Trial, you would be familiar with her kind of sardonic humour. Most of her humour is self deprecating, something I truly appreciate. I like when a comic can make fun of themselves. It's too easy to make fun of others. She's really very intelligent and witty. She's the one comic I would love to meet in person. I think she'd be terrific fun.
Last but not least was Jim Breuer. In a way he was similar to John Heffron, in comedy and appearance. He also commented on the inner workings of marriage but extended it to having children. After he was done I couldn't help but be more afraid of the possibility of ever having children. Children are a handful. Regardless, all the comedians were truly on their game. I appreciated every minute. I love to laugh. If Just for Laughs returns, I will be there.
Good day to you all!
Starting today I will be writing a story segment every Sunday. The theme will be a story my mother used to tell me when I was a young girl before I went to sleep. My younger sister and brother and I would sit around, listening to my mother spin tales I've never heard. In homage to my mother I will re-create the tales and share them with you, my readers.
The City of Gold
There was a young girl, curious and sweet, always in search of answers to life's mysteries. She would ask questions about everything, always desperate to learn more. One night after she was put to bed she found herself restless. She could never sleep. So she got out of bed and stood in her room, peering through the murky light of the moon. She walked towards her closet and opened the folding door. It was a small and modest closet with only a few things hanging. Her family had recently moved into the house and everything still felt unsettled. She still felt a panging curiosity to explore the house and get to know every nook and cranny. She loved exploring. It made her feel like an adventurer. Her favourite thing to do was seek out mystery and solve it.
She stood in front of her open closet and stared, seeing only the darkness. She kneeled on the floor and examined the odd protuberance; it looked like a carpeted bench in her closet. It was odd to her since she had never seen anything like it. Her family moved often and every house was very similar. Sometimes there were minute differences but mostly closets stayed the same. Yet this closet was different. This odd carpeted bench made her think. It made her imagination spin and whir thinking of all the possibilities. So her tiny hands reached out, feeling the object. It felt just like the carpet did. She loved the texture on her hands but couldn't help feel disappointed that it felt normal. Her hands continued to search around, feeling every centimeter.
She withdrew her hands feeling a spasm of disappointment. There had to be something different about it. There had to be. Otherwise it was just a normal house and she was just a normal girl and nothing special would ever happen. She sat in front of her closet feeling her head spin with frustration. She just had to be more thorough, really look at it. She glanced at the switch to her ceiling light, wondering if she could turn it on without anyone noticing. She doubted it. Her mother seemed to patrol the hallway, sensing if something was not quite right. She knew she had to maintain absolute silence in the dark if she hoped to stay up and discover the closet's secret.
After our long day of travel our next day was a simple jot into Kelowna. We wanted to check it out and buy a few supplies like groceries for the week and a HDMI adapter for our iPods. Which, by the way, is a brilliant little cord connecting a monitor or television to the iPod, so you can view any videos you may have. Quite a handy little thing to have.
The drive was rather peaceful. I live in a city that's around 1 000 000 people while Kelowna is only a bit over 100 000 people. It's completely different. Everything is a bit more relaxed, a little more calm and serene. In this photo on the left there is the stadium named Prospera Place. It's home to the local hockey team the Rockets. It's also going to be the venue for a Metric concert! I'll be seeing Metric when they come to Edmonton.
The best part of getting away besides the change in scenery was the weather. The weather was quite beautiful. On this particular day I actually wore a dress, that's how nice it was. It was wonderfully sunny and warm. A nice surprise considering it's already October. Meanwhile back home it snowed. That's what really makes a vacation, knowing you're getting better weather than where you live.
The day after our drive into Kelowna was a very relaxing one. We decided to relax and just stay in. It was something we can't really do at home, take a day off and just watch movies together. It was really nice not to stress or worry about anything. The best part was the view from our balcony. We watched the sunset together, enjoying the sounds of the lake lapping up on the shore while a few birds chirped happily.
The only stress we had that day was actually changing rooms. Initially they gave us a room right next to the stairs and with no private balcony since it shared the public patio. It was a terrible room. So we asked to change rooms and they moved us up and over. It was wonderful to have our own private balcony. It was a vast improvement and really affected the rest of our stay. As you can see, it was truly worth it to have a view like that.
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