I miss watching HGTV. There’s something incredibly soothing about watching other people take a house and rennovate it. For a while I even enjoyed watching shows about people fixing up old cars. The feeling was the same.

HGTV is one of the channels I miss the most since coming to Japan. I know I could always buy a VPN or satellite and get the channel back again, but the costs are fairly prohibitive to me. Instead, I try to make do with whatever little tidbits of shows HGTV’s official Youtube channel decides to upload.

Japan, for it’s part, has one home-rennovation show I used to watch all the time called “Before After.” It was the show that had it all for me – beautiful Japanese traditional architecture, rennovations and reveals with cozy music playing in the background. I really loved watching houses get rennovated, too, while being sandwiched right up against the neighbors’ houses. It is amazing what can be achieved here.

Unfortunately, this show is only sporadically aired, at best, and I don’t know any other shows like this in Japan. I wish they could make more.

Thus, I find myself going back to HGTV’s official channel, where I watch in disbelief at people who take one look at a massive kitchen and say “It’s so tiny.”


It comes with the territory of trying to become a professional author, but rejection still stings. I know fear of that pain is why many people I know have written stories that will never see the light of day.

For me, I have a couple of metaphors running around in my head when I submit stories to various publications and agencies, only to have them be rejected:

First, is the metaphor that my stories are like homeless pets. I feel like I’m their foster parent, and it’s my job to find their forever home. This metaphor helps to slightly lessen the sting because I can simply say to myself, “Well, then clearly that publication wasn’t meant to be this story’s forever home. I’ll keep looking.”

The second is dating. When I was younger, I felt the same sting of rejection from people I liked or even loved as I do now when I get that email starting with “Unfortunately…” A lot of publications may have realized this similarity, too, because I’ve noticed some have added words of comfort at the end of their rejection letters that amount to “It’s not you, it’s me.” Words like “Please note that this is a subjective industry” or “Please note that we reject up to 80% of what gets sent to us.”

It doesn’t help, to be honest. Much like, I think, it doesn’t help anyone during a breakup or any other kind of rejection to hear such words.

Every now and then I think “Maybe I’m just not meant to be an author,” and that could be the case, but I would love to learn that unhappy discovery on my deathbed, preferably at a ripe old age. Until then, I’m going to keep plodding along, nursing my rejection wounds and hoping I can find publications that will be my stories’ forever homes.

One podcast that has helped bolster my confidence comes from CBC, and it’s called “We Regret to Inform You”

The podcast focuses on some major Hollywood star, TV show, film or even brand that was repeatedly and horrendously rejected just before the breakthrough came. Hearing the show, I can only slightly commiserate with many of the rejections people like Ed Sheeran have endured, but it gives me hope that maybe if I keep going, something good will happen.

However, I also have to wonder how many countless others have gone through the same kinds of trials these major stars and major films survived, only to not make it out the other side victorious. How many great ideas, great actors, great stories have we lost along the way?

Being in an earthquake

Yet another devastating earthquake has struck the world, this time in a region that is already in chaos.

Before moving to Japan, I had no idea what it was like to be in an earthquake, and I think a lot of people in the world have no idea, so I thought I’d briefly share my own experiences to help those with no experience better picture the nightmare.

I think I’ve mentioned it before in previous entries, but try to picture yourself on a suspension bridge. Some playgrounds have them for kids to walk across and squeal with delight as the bridge shakes and rocks back and forth. So maybe picture yourself on one of those bridges right in the middle.

Now picture several adults suddenly grabbing the edges of that bridge and pushing that bridge back and forth like they’re trying to work through their aggression. They’re shaking it to the point you think “I want to get off this thing right now,” but it’s shaking so much you can’t even move anymore.

That’s one type of earthquake sensation I’ve experienced.

Another is standing on a platform at a train station only to have the ground rumble as a massive train suddenly thunders past. It’s like you can hear the earth grinding against itself as it moves. Right after the massive earthquake of 2011 in Japan, I moved to an apartment on the first floor right outside a busy road, and every time a bus rolled past, the floor of my apartment would rumble, and for the first year or so I swore another earthquake was starting up each time.

Another type I’ve experienced is one that felt like suddenly being thrown onto a boat that was at the mercy of some fairly high waves. So much so I thought maybe my eyes were deceiving me because I was looking at my apartment rather than the inside of a boat.

Now imagine being in a building that’s not meant for this type of shaking, and it’s woken you up in the middle of the night, in a place that apparently hasn’t experienced an earthquake like this in about 200 years. All the lights have gone off everywhere, too, just to make reality that much more distorted for you.

I’ve had friends say they want to experience an earthquake just once “for the fun of it”, and I can understand the thrill of the earth suddenly but lightly moving for a few seconds before settling again, but after the 2011 earthquake, now even the slightest movement has me on edge that the next big one is about to happen.

For the people living in Turkey and Syria right now having survived this nightmare so far, they might not know if the “big one” has hit yet or not. Every tremor is going to make a lot of them wonder if it’s an aftershock or the build up to another, stronger earthquake. It’s easy to look back later and sort the chaos out, but in the moment, you have no idea what’s happening, and you realize how much of your survival isn’t in your hands anymore.

Time Magazine has helpfully made a list of all the ways in which you can help the survivors. If you can, please donate.