Expression

Itte rasshai,” he said, right after we kissed.

Itte kimasu,” I replied automatically.

A usual exercise in my Japanese for Beginners class was that the teacher would say a phrase or expression and all the students would give the response in unison.

Arigatou gozaimasu,’ she’d say. ‘Dou itashimashite,’ we’d respond. ‘Tadaima,’ she’d say next. ‘Okaeri nasai,’ we’d answer. These expressions were common and therefore useful to memorize, she told us. And then she told us about the situations wherein they were used. ‘Itte rasshai’ and ‘Itte kimasu‘ were said whenever someone left the house to go to school or work, she explained.

But R said it to me in front of the turnstile at the train station, just before I went past it to catch the Shinkansen to Tokyo.

I gave the expected reply without thinking, and smiled and waved goodbye before turning the corner to get to the platform and disappearing from his sight. I did notice him taking a deep breath after I said it, as though it was something more than a language nuance. But at the time I didn’t think it was important. At the time, I was mostly thinking about catching my train.

When I finally had some time free, I realized I didn’t even know what the phrases actually meant. I knew they were used together, but what did they translate to? I looked them up and somewhere on the Internet I found they were interpreted like this:

Itte rasshai – You’re leaving now, but please come back.
Itte kimasu – I have to go, but don’t worry because I’ll come back.

I’ve previously read about one’s significant other feeling like one’s home. I think that’s already romantic without context, but being in a long distance relationship now, it feels more relevant to me somehow. We have places we need to go and things we need to do, but at the end of the day, we come back to the person who feels like home.

Itte kimasu, Ryuichi. I love you.

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さよなら と がんばって

R is leaving. The Philippines! Forever!

Okay. Forever is a strong word. I’m sure he’ll come back some time in the future. But, it will only be for a visit. Maybe a long visit. Like 30 days, since that’s how long he can stay here without having to file extra paperwork, being a Japanese citizen. Of course, there’s always Skype and Facebook and whatever other new thing for communication that technology comes up with. And Japan is only a 4-hour plane ride (but of course, money matters) away. But one thing’s for certain: We will no longer see him every weekday at work. And for us, I think that’s a huge change. I mean, he gets awards for having perfect attendance and zero tardies that’s how reliable he is when it comes to being present. What are we going to do without him now?

But before all that drama, of course, a さよならパーティー! At my house. Because where else? And it’s only apt since it’s usually where we hang out and before R leaves we want him to feel all the nostalgia he can manage.

It wasn’t such a fancy party this time. We didn’t have time to prepare–we only found out he was leaving last Monday (Dec 7) and the farewell party was last Friday (Dec 11) and I didn’t even get there until 2:20 a.m. on Saturday (Dec 12) because I had work until 1:45 a.m. So we just had beer, a bottle of wine (a bad one, I was told), some roast chicken and liempo and Nagaraya and chicharon and brazo de mercedes. Very normal, very low-key, which I think is how R wanted it. Though unfortunately, because of the short notice, not a lot of people were able to make it. Still, I think we had a lot of fun, which of course is the point, and we took some photos! Which, of course, is the point of this blog entry.

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In betwixt M and I, R poses with our farewell gift. (It’s a fleece blankie!)
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Somehow, we couldn’t get at least one shot with everyone looking good.

The blog title means “Good luck and Goodbye” in Japanese, by the way. Because R is Japanese. And we wish him the best of luck, even though we’re really, really, really, really, really, really, really sad that he’s leaving.

Happy Family Day

Kwentong buhay naman (with pictures) !

Kahapon, graduation ng kuya ko from his MBA class. So nagpunta kami — my parents, lolo, tita and pinsan. Medyo significant dahil hindi kami naka-attend ng graduation ng kuya ko nung college. Mahabang kwento kung bakit. Suffice it to say that kapag na-late ka pala sa graduation ceremony mo, may possibility na hindi ka i-allow na mag-march. 😐 Anyway, ayun na nga. So medyo excited kami na manood ng graduation ngayon. Matagal na rin akong hindi nakakapunta sa graduation ceremony. Maliit lang kasi ang pamilya namin at halos lahat ng pinsan ko ‘eh matatanda na sa’kin kaya hindi ko na talaga naabutan ‘yung mga graduation nila. O kaya naman, limited lang ang seats ‘dun sa graduation kaya hindi na rin ako nakakasama. Not that gusto ko talaga sumama, lalo ‘yung mga high school/grade school graduation, ‘eh diba super boring naman tapos nasa gym ka na mainit tapos isa lang naman ang kilala mo sa mga gragraduate? 😛 Pero ‘yung kahapon oks lang, masaya kasi kaunti lang ang graduates (mga 70 lang sila) so hindi ganun katagal ‘yung ceremony tapos aircon ‘yung venue, hindi mahaba/boring ‘yung speeches at may pagkain afterwards. 🙂

MBA Graduates 2010
Buffet Table at Graduation Venue
(L-R) Kuya, Papa, Mama, Tita, Pinsan, Lolo

And even better, after nung ceremony mismo at nung cocktails ‘dun sa venue, nag-lunch kami ng family sa Tsumura, Japanese restaurant sa Makati. Super sarap. 😀 Here are some of what we ate (Hindi ko na nakunan ng picture lahat, pasensya na. Gutom ‘eh! Hehe!), hindi ko na isa-isahin ng description, masarap naman ‘yan lahat. 🙂

edamame
sahimi platter
mixed teriyaki barbecue (chicken, pork, beef)
cheese and fish tempura

Then hinatid namin ‘yung lolo ko sa bahay, tapos attend ng mass ‘dun sa simbahan sa Magallanes, and then daan ng Starbucks Madrigal para madagdagan naman ng stickers ‘yung booklet ko. 🙂 Nakakatuwa, ang sabi ko ‘dun sa barista, “Tatlong Praline Mocha. Isang short, isang tall, isang grande.”

I half-expected her to say, “Ba’t ‘di mo na lang gawing apat para meron ka ring venti?” But she didn’t.

Pero nung ‘pag balik ko sa car tapos kinwento ko sa kanila kung anong nangyari, sabi ng kuya ko, “Hindi ba niya sinabi na sana ginawa mo na lang apat para meron ka ring venti?” Haha!

Me and Christmas Tree

Pahabol na picture, dahil ang pakilala sa’kin during the ceremony ‘eh photographer/sister nung graduate, nagpapicture ako ng solo sa Christmas tree sa lobby ng dorm ng AIM. 🙂

Target Audience

I’m probably in the minority, because one of the first things that teachers will tell you in any writing class is that you should think about your target audience: Who are you writing for?

I understand why this question needs to be asked. Because if you want to write for young children, then obviously you shouldn’t be putting any profanities in the dialogue of your characters, or if you’re writing for an adult audience, then there’s no need to explain every reference you make, e.g. it’s safe to assume that anyone over 25 years old would know who The Beatles are. So yes, I know that there are certainly merits to this and that it is necessary to know your audience whenever you’re writing, but… doesn’t it seem a bit like discrimination?

This is always my problem when I want to write something. I can never bring myself to start because this question, which you should ask before you start anything, always stumps me. Who am I writing for?

There is this quote that says that you should “write what you know”. I guess that’s pretty good advice, but here’s the thing: what I know is already what most people my age know, and so there’s no point of writing it with my same age group audience in mind. But if I write it for a different age group, then it might not be as interesting to them as it is to me, because they’re a different age, and so it would also be a waste of writing.

Also, when you say “target audience”, to some people (I’m assuming publishers), this automatically means “target market”. And I know this is necessary for business or whatever, but I just can’t help but think that when you have a specific “market” in mind, then all you’re doing is exploiting that group of people, taking advantage of their interests and just feeding them what they want so that you can earn some money. Plus, I think it makes your work less original, because you’ll inevitably end up incorporating concepts, deliberately, because you think (or you know) that they would appeal to your audience, and thus, make what you wrote instantly popular. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be popular because I wrote about something that I’m sure the audiences would like, but that I wouldn’t really have thought of, had I not been thinking of a particular target market.

Take the genre Young Adult Dark Fantasy for example. I’m sure you’ve all noticed that ever since Twilight became “the next Harry Potter” (only phenomenon-wise, I don’t mean that Twilight is just as good as Harry Potter because it obviously isn’t), a plethora of fiction about vampires, werewolves, and other creatures of the night suddenly popped up in the Young Adult section of the bookstores. Because vampires are what’s “in”, suddenly, there are hardly any books like Sweet Valley and Nancy Drew. Or maybe there are, but they’re all still infused with fantasy elements, like ghosts or witchcraft, because dark fantasy books are what’s more “marketable” nowadays.

This really bothers me because somehow I feel that some writers, no matter how good, aren’t published because they don’t write about vampires. Or the other way around, that there are some writers, despite being especially bad, but just because they wrote about the undead, suddenly have all their other (crappy) books published and they become famous. *ahemStephenieMeyerahem*

Doesn’t having a target audience mean that you’re taking advantage of what a certain group of people like, instead of just writing something from your heart (or brain, if you don’t want to be all sentimental/dramatic) with the hope that people will understand and like what you’ve written?

I’ve recently been reading some comparisons about The Hunger Games and Battle Royale, and one of the blogs said that they’re different because Battle Royale was written with an adult audience in mind, whereas The Hunger Games are for teenagers, hence, they shouldn’t be compared in terms of the level of violence or the words used. I guess this is one interpretation, but I find it somewhat inexact, because from what I understand, Battle Royale was not written with an international audience in mind. And anyone who’s watched an anime can tell you that what appeals to Japanese teenagers is way different than what appeals to American teenagers. And, unless you read Battle Royale in its original Japanese, you can’t accurately compare the language or other elements that they use in the book, if it’s too violent for teenagers or not.* There is one other blog I read that “reminds” people that Battle Royale was written for a young audience and so you shouldn’t mind how “middle school” the sentences sound. Maybe I’m just being too nitpicky, but I think this would’ve also been more accurate if the blog had said that when Battle Royale was translated into English, by an English publisher, it had a young adult audience in mind, and that’s the reason for the “middle school grammar” type sentences.

But again, why be so discriminatory with your audience? Why say something like “this book was written to appeal to teenagers so adults shouldn’t expect to be blown away”? Who are you to say what kind of stories a certain group of people should and shouldn’t read or like? Of course, I’m not saying that kindergarten kids should be reading books about gruesome murders, just that when you’re writing or reading or critiquing a story (but mostly if you’re writing), shouldn’t you be more concerned about what the story actually is about, and not who it would appeal to, or if you have a market for it?

* I bring this up only because I’ve watched a lot of Japanese movies/drama/anime wherein some words, although the English translation is correct, when you encounter them used in a different context in Japanese, can give an entirely different meaning to a scene. Example:

In The Seven Samurai, after a recon mission, a samurai tells his friends, “I killed two.” Or at least, the subtitle says “I killed two.” But what he actually says in Japanese is “Futari.” which literally translated means “two people”, and not “I killed two.”

It may be a small thing, but isn’t it character building for that particular samurai, that he only has to say “two people”, and his friends will already understand, without any further explanation, that he killed those two people?