Saturday, June 27, 2009
So I woke up on Thurs, June 25th to the sad news of the passing of Farrah Fawcett. Damn...it finally happened. FF put up an amazing battle against cancer for about 3 years..but I guess it was just getting to be too much. She had officially decided to no longer continue with any more treatments. Her family and loved ones all said it was only a matter of time. I watched the documentary on Farrah a few weeks back and was extremely moved by her courage and positive attitude, even though she was undergoing such aggressive and excrutiating treatments for her cancer. It was a really well done documentary...and it was no holds barred. She let the cameras into her life and let them see what she was going through and what this ugly disease was doing to her. I was really moved.
We were all expecting the news of her death. But yet when it actually came out that she had died, it was a sad, sad moment.
So when I got a press release from a good girlfriend of mine who is in media around 1:30 saying that Michael Jackson had just had a cardiac arrest and things weren't looking good, I just knew that something wasn't right. I searched tmz and they also reported Joe Jackson as saying "things are not looking good". They also reported that the whole Jackson family was hurrying to be by the side of their beloved Michael. And a little before 2:30, they called it. Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, was dead. I couldn't believe it. How could this be true? From what I read in all the news/gossip sites, Michael Jackson had just been practicing for his upcoming tour LAST NIGHT! He was only 50 years old. NOT MICHAEL. MJ has been through a lot in his life....he will make it through this. They can'T be right. He CAN'T BE DEAD. He still has so much music to share with us!
I looked at all the websites...CNN, BBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX...they alll said the same thing.
Michael Jackson is in critical condition and is in a coma. BUT NOT THAT HE WAS DEAD.
So maybe there IS hope?
Then my phone rang. It was J-wave....the radio station that I do some work for in Tokyo, Japan.
"Lisle, we hear that Michael Jackson is dead. what is the situation over there? do you know?"
I explained to the director that it is total chaos. No one knew what or who to believe. All the "respectable" news stations weren't calling him as dead. But now a few of the other sources...such as tmz, OK magazine were the first to call it. The world of the internet was a flurry of people trying to find out THE TRUTH. For about an hour I felt this sense of despair...not knowing what was right and what wasn't right.
When Elvis died in 1977, they didn't have this kind of problem. The news came from either the television or the radio...and then of course from newspapers. OUr generation had the internet... one of the most powerful tools to have ever been invented. A weath of knowledge which gave us everything we needed to know....except the truth about what was going on at the moment.
I was getting text messages from people all over the place...are you SURE he is dead? WHAT is GOING ON? Can someone please TELL ME?
I looked on twitter and it was ablaze with rumors about what was going on...
Then my phone rang. It was a little after 3p.m. My friend who works at UCLA called to tell me the news. They called the death. Now they are going to be making an official announcement in about 15 or 20 min.
Sure enough...after about 15 min, there was an announcment from UCLA Medical Center...all of a sudden, it was like a ripple effect... all the news stations changed their website front page to read "Michael Jackson- dead at 50" or some other title...
WOW...it was such a surreal moment.
For those 40 min or so, before I got the call, I felt this helplessness. IT was like being caught in a new media tidal wave...all the information was engulfing me and I didn't know what to do with it.
I will never forget that feeling I had that day. And the impact that the series of events had on me.
The first time I heard the announcement that he had had a cardiac arrest and things weren't looking good, I knew the news was not going to be good.
I am sad that we have lost one of the biggest minds in music. One of the most brilliant entertainers to ever have walked this earth.
yes, there was a lot of "stuff" that was said about him....who knows what is true and what isn't.
I can't even imagine being in his shoes.
But I DO remember the day I first heard his solo debut album "Off the Wall". I was floored by the incredible passion and energy in the songs. And the purity of his voice. That album will always be my favorite album of his. And will always have an impact on me musically.
Michael Jackson, you will be sorely missed. RIP
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Rememer all those years ago when Eddie Murphy/Arsenio Hall came out with the movie "Coming to America"? IT was a 1988 comedy about an African prince, Prince Akeem, who came to discover America, the "promised land" to find a wife. The movie deals with his culture shock, expectations of the U.S., misunderstandings with American culture and its people, and all the funny experiences he has.
I remember watching that movie thinking "wow...I can't even imagine going through that." LOL...
then fast forward about 15 years later and guess who is headed to the promised land? YEP, ME!
In fact, the last time I had spent any time in the US was when I was a freshman in college...all those years ago. And that was give or take about 20 years ago! So I decided to enter this new chapter of my life knowing that there would be all kinds of twists and turns. And I knew I would have to have my sense of humor close by, cuz I was going to be relying on it A LOT.
About 2 months before my "coming to america", I decided to start telling various agents and clients that I was working with about my big move. But Tokyo is a small town...the word started spreading around that I was leaving Japan before I could leak it myself. I started getting people coming up to me- some in my line of work, some totally unrelated. But they were all in disbelief that I was actually going to be leaving my home of about 30 years. " Lisle, IS IT TRUE? Are you going to the US? For how long?" Unfortunately, Tokyo can also be quite the unsupportive town as well. Many of those "friends" also said " Oh, I give you six months and then you will be back here. You won't make it." Hmmm....ok. Interesting.
I always found it quite bizarre...in Japan/Tokyo, as a minority (and if you aren't born and raised in Japan as a Japanese, you ARE a minority. Even spending a few years in a foreign country as a Japanese national makes you "tainted" in the eyes of the Japanese) Anyway, the gaijin (which means "outsider" literally, but is used to mean "foreigner") community is incredibly backstabbing and just not very supportive. OF COURSE there are wonderful people and relationships that you make there, but for whatever reason, I have always found it pretty tough to find good, healthy, supportive adult relationships in one of the biggest cities in the world. And of course it doesn't help that it is a very transient city...especially with the gaijin community. People come and go all the time.
And it really is too bad, because Tokyo can also be a very lonely city. It seems that many times the gajin look at each other as competition, instead of trying to uplift each other. All that being said, by the time my "coming to america" date was approaching, I found out that some of those "friends" I had known for so many years were making bets on "how long will it take before Lisle cracks and comes back to Japan?
When I heard that this whole thing was going on, I was really quite baffled. Because in all honesty, my situation was/is very different from a "gaijin" who heads to Japan as an adult. I GREW UP THERE. So it was really all I knew, yes. But to me, that in no way meant that I couldn't find my way in another culture/country....and I thought that those around me would know that about me. But nope, guess not.
It was a bitter/sweet time for me. I loved Japan and Tokyo for all it had been for me. But I was also ready for a new chapter in my life and after hearing about the "lisle bets" going on, I was even more determined to make things work, no matter what.
So the big day came..jan 19th, 2008.
It was a 9 hour flight. Very long. And the whole time I was worried about my poor little kitty making it through the flight in one piece.
I was told at the American Airlines counter in Narita when I checked in that because it was such cold weather, it was a risk to put the animals in cargo. "In fact",the woman at the counter said, "if the temperature drops 1 more degree then we will have to refuse your pet." WHAT???? Oh great! Thanks for telling me IN ADVANCE! What am I supposed to do now...! But Genki ( my kitty's name) made it on the flight. And we were off! COMING TO AMERICA!
Once I arrived in LA I just looked all around me and was trying to soak it all in. WOW...I hadn't even been to VISIT the US for about 15 years! I felt like Rip Van Wrinkle just waking up...
Everything was so much more fast moving. People everywhere were in a hurry, pushing through the crowd to get ahead of someone. Definitely much more aggressive than Japan. or Tokyo ( most of the times)
First thing I looked for was a Starbucks. yes...my place of comfort. I went to Starbucks ALL the time in Japan. So this would somewhere that I was familiar with and I was sure I would be able to hold my own against all the US Starbuck-ers. I mean I even had a "Starbucks friendly" high maintenance drink...grande nonfat wet cappacino. So I would be fine...WRONG! LOL...
I get up there to the counter and the woman at the register starts rattling away at me...
I stood there watching her lips moving...knowing it WAS English. but also knowing that it was 5 times as fast as I was used to.
Sigh...Ok, let's do this Lisle.
So I ordered my drink and then she quickly told me how much it cost. I opened my wallet and started counting out coins to give to her. She looked at me a bit annoyed like "what the heck? is she going to be paying with pennies or something??!!!?"
I didn't realize until I was waiting in line for my drink that everyone else in the line was paying with card.
WHAT????!!?!? They pay for a coffee with their card?
Hmmm....ok, well, wasn't expecting THAT one.
Sigh...ok. this is going to be a VERY interesting transition....
It was at that moment that I remembered the Eddie Murphy movie and thought to myself as I chuckled to myself "guess I know how Prince Akeem felt..."
More memoirs from a 6ft blond geisha to come...
Friday, June 19, 2009
so the day rolls around for my driving test. (First of all, let me say...that written test is NOT EASY! or is it just me...it took me FOUR times before I could pass it. lol...In fact I started having nightmares about taking the test) Anyway, SO I talk to Camillo,my driving teacher, the afternoon before. He gives me my VERY NECESSARY pep talk...telling me that I am ready. telling me that some teachers all throughout the test to see if they can throw you off. Camillo then went on to tell me that he will come and get me bright and early at 8a.m. Then we would go together to the Hollywood DMV, where I would sign up and get ready for my test. So I went home and started mentally preparing myself for tomorrow's adventure. After a big of a sleepless night, I woke up to rain!!! WTF!!???! WHAT DO YOU MEAN RAIN? I started to have a mini panic attack..."hmmm, ok. windshield wipers...have I used them ever before? NO!!! well, at least I know where they ARE...but yikes, I have never driven in the rain before. Will I make it out ok?" I run out to the nearby Starbucks to get some coffee because I would need it to keep alert. 30 min later Camillo shows up with the little Prius hybrid from driving school. When I got in the car, I started freaking out to Camillo that I was going to flunk the test because I wasn't prepared for a rainy LA day. I mean....do they even really HAVE any of those in LA??
Wasn't there a song that's called "It never Rains in Southern California"???? Am I missing something?
Camillo starts laughing, and says "Don't worry. You are Lisle Weapon. you will be fine."
So we head to the DMV. I get in line and sign up.
Then my DMV tester comes up to me. Hmmm...I look him up and down. If there were a token "smoove pimp daddy" at the Hollywood DMV, I am sure it would be him.
He was a tall, good looking older Hispanic man with a mustache. Quite the distinguished looking man.
He looked at me and introduced himself. ( darn, I forget his name. but I will call him Mr. Smoove) We did our "parts test" and I kept giving him a BIG smile to see if I could get a smile back or SOME kind of reaction. but NOTHING!
Oh boy...I knew this was going to be a tough one.
Then he gets in and starts guiding me towards the course he is going to test me on.
(there are two courses they use to test people in the Hollywood DMV)
Whew...it's the one that I am more comfortable with...
We get out of the DMV parking lot and I start driving away.
Then as I am getting more comfortable with the whol scenario, i say to him ( with my eyes on the road at all times OF COURSE!) " you must test a lot of nervous people everyday, huh?" as I start laughing nervously.
Silence... hmmm...ok, well, what do I do now...
"yes, I do" he answers.
Ok, Mr. Smoove. Short but sweet. I see how this game is being played.
But I don't give up.
"how long have you been testing at the DMV?"
"for a long time"
LOL...OK, Mr. Smoove. I get the hint.
So I just keep my eyes on the road and the task at hand and just keep driving.
I must admit...since Camillo was such the chatty kathy kinda teacher, I wasn't at all accustomed to driving in silence.
But I got over it.
I kept noticing Mr. Smoove scribble things on his notepad. Everytime he did, I kept saying to myself "oh no...I wonder if I did that wrong?"
Needless to say by the time I finally made it back to the DMV, I was a mess.
But there in the parking lot I saw Camillo wave to me with a big smile on his face.
YAY! I finally FINISHED!
Just as I am pulling into the parking lot, Mr. Smoove says "you can park right over there" and points his finger to a parking spot right near the DMV building.
"OK!" I say to him in an upbeat, confident voice.
"OH SHIT! I haven't really practiced my parking that much!!!! I am going to BOMB this one!"
And YES, bomb it I did.
After parking half in one space and half in another...LOL....he chuckles for the first time since I met him earlier that morning and says "It's a good thing that this doesn't really count on your test. You should probably practice your parking a bit more."
I laugh and say "yeah, I will".
Whew! that was close!
Then Mr. Smoove says "well, you passed"
YIPPEE!!!!!! Now I am officially an adult in the eyes in the U.S.! LOL...
Camillo comes up to the car laughing and asks me how I did. I told him about my ride of silence and how Mr. Smoove told me I should practice parking. Then I went on to tell him the good news of me passing. He gives me a big hug and tells me he is very proud of me. We both laugh and head into the DMV. Now the 6ft blond geisha is READY to terrorize the streets of the US!
More memoirs of a 6ft blond geisha to come....
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Ok, so here's the deal. I grew up in Tokyo...which, for those of you that aren't in the know...is a city similar to New York. We rely HEAVILY on the public transportation system. In fact, getting a drivers license is EXPENSIVE in Japan. not like the $30 kind of price tag that you find here...more like a few thousand dollars. PLUS parking is incredibly expensive and hard to find. Houses/apts in Japan (especially Tokyo) are much smaller than in the U.S., and so many times they don't come with parking spaces. So to find a parking space can be a real pain in the ass.
Needless to say, I was very used to just riding around the city on my mountain/city hybrid bike and that was my main means of transportation. I rode to the gym on it, to work on it, to go meet my friends for drinks, etc. (bonus right there! you won't get picked up for a DUI on the bike! lol)
SO one of the biggest transitions for me in my "coming to america" journey ( reminds me sometimes of that Eddie Murphy movie...and believe me, some of what I have experienced is about as crazy as that movie) is the whole "DRIVING" factor. Until about a year ago, I had NEVER ( and YES, I DO mean NEVER) driven a car before.
So this whole thing was quite terrifying for me...
but after being in LA for a few months, I finally called Melrose Driving School. When they picked up the phone and I mentioned I was interested in their driving classes, the woman on the phone said "ok, miss. is that going to be for your daughter or son? " Sigh...." No, I answered, it is for me" I answered with a slightly embarrassed laugh.
So driivng class began...and the little hybrid Melrose Driving School car came to pick me up at home for my first lesson.
It was quite funny to watch the reaction of many of the neighbors in Hancock Park, the area where I was living. They watched puzzled as I got in the car. Yeah...I know...full grown woman stepping into the passenger side of a driving school car and learning the basics of driving...probably not something they ran into everyday. Oh well.
As for me and my journey through driving school, I had this great teacher, Camillo. He was a wonderfully patient guy ( much younger than me of course! LOL) who was really passionate about teaching his students how to drive and navigate through the streets properly . On the second lesson, he brought out these handwritten drawings and diagrams that he had made to explain some of the rules of the road. He told me that when he retired from teaching, he would frame the various drawings and hang them up, because he had used them to teach so many students and he was quite proud of them. I agreed with him and said it was a great idea. (I hope Camillo DOES do that when he does decided to retire from teaching driving. He was a great teacher.)
Anyway, my transition on the roads took a long time. It seems that there is this energy on the streets that, if you grow up here in the U.S. you totally don't notice, but if you are a newcomer to driving AND to the streets of the U.S. it can be incredibly overwhelming. So for me, I was on sensory overload...I would react to everything probably more than I should have...LOL. yeah, Camillo never had a dull moment when he was teaching me, that's for sure.
I would tell him some of my Japan stories and he would listen in fascination while we practiced our sudden stops, parking, u-turns ( which was my favorite thing to practice, by the way), etc.
Every once in a while I would make a rough turn or something or would feel like I wasn't in control, and I would laugh nervously and say something like "hold on Camillo...this might be your last lesson!" Camillo would just laugh and tell me it is good I had a sense of humor about things and could laugh about my mistakes.
OH my dear Camillo, you have NO IDEA... if I didn't have a sense of humor, I could have never made it in Tokyo! LOL..
and I DEFINITELY could have never done this big transition back to the U.S.
Then it came time for the driving test...
stay tuned for more memoirs of a 6ft. blond geisha!
Monday, June 15, 2009
So about two years ago while I was lying around my apt. in Tokyo, Japan, I decided to change the course of my life. no more bad relationships, no more of not being able to control my career/life...had enough. was ready to move on and push that "reset button". So I started preparing...figuring out what I would need to do to make the transition to a "home country" which I pretty much knew nothing about. LOL...yeah, go figure. here i am...tall blond who looks as American as they come, but hasn't really spent much time in the U.S. I knew it would be a very challenging move for me...don't know many people in the U.S. Would have to try to figure out how I would be able to make a living....been in the media/entertainment industry for about 18 years in Tokyo, and was well-connected there but knew very few people in the U.S. Would have to learn how to DRIVE! (and yep, that was quite the adventure in itself!!!)
Anyway, there were giong to be many obstacles that I would have to overcome. and I knew this going into it. But I was ready to take on the various challenges that would be thrown my way.
Because I knew that this would be good for me. So I was ready to "absorb the process" of starting over...starting pretty much from zero.
NOW...fast forward to two years later, and here I am in the U.S.
STILL going through culture shock moments on a weekly basis....
STILL trying to figure out what I am going to do work-wise...and where I am going to live.
and STILL frustrated with my situation. LOL...
Funny. I thought that within a year of moving back to the U.S. I would be totally acclamated into the American way of life.
Guess things don't always go as planned.
Now don't get me wrong...i am not bitter and I hope I don't sound like I am ungrateful...
because honestly, I know that I am very blessed.
But I DO get frustrated with how slowly the "reset" process is taking.
I guess it wasn't exactly good timing on my part that the year I came back to the U.S., the country experienced a HUGE financial meltdown. oops...
It was also a great year to come back....the year of presidential elections. I had never really had the opportunity to witness the whole campaigning on the road, debates between candidates, etc.
Sure you can get the news via internet/television in Tokyo, but since I grew up in Japan and continued to live in Japan pretty much my whole life, I felt this huge disconnect to things in the U.S. So I didn't follow the elections that much. I knew all the candidates,etc. but it wasn't a topic of everyday conversation for me.
So I really enjoyed being able to witness the debates live on television for the first time. Being able to go out to dinner with friends and talk about what was going on with the various candidates/issues.
It has been a year of ups and downs...probably quite a few more downs than I was expecting...but I try to remain positive and keep my eye on the jar of lemonade at the end of the tunnel. But yeah, sometimes making lemonade out of lemons isn't as easy as you think...
more memoirs to come from the 6ft blond geisha!:)