Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Robin Thicke Can't Sing Live

Robin Thicke @ Yahoo! Music 1, originally uploaded by emayoh.

It's really sad. tragic even. His voice sounds amazing on his album but when he performs, i'm like ew. voice coach, stat.


he writes great song lyrics...

I wish I could change
I wish I could change
I wish I could stop
Sayin the same old things
I wish I could be
Who u want me 2 be
I wish I could stop
Being the same old me
I wish I could lose
All of my blues
I wish I could stop
Puttin my blues on u
I wish I could love
Like nobody loves
I wish that my goods
Outweighed my bads enough

You know its killin me
Baby how can I let u go
Suddenly theres nothing I need more


Monday, May 28, 2007

This Belongs here.

Probably more than anything else i've ever written about. This kid lives a pop lock life in Nagoya, Japan. Every night, he and his friends hang out in front of an office building and just dance. all night. dancing. he seemed like he was adding on a little extra for my camera, though...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Say Yes to Life

For the second time, I'm attempting to read James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room. It's a part of my new Summer Reading Initiative, which is simply me attempting to pay some more-than-cursory attention to the the books that i own that i haven't read. My Amazon wish list/cup runneth over with prospective purchases, but to indulge would be unfair to my current progeny. (i doubt they really care)

so i chose Baldwin. why? twofold. start small. only a couple hundred pages long. secondly, it's literature in the truest sense of the word. a book that you don't just read, but you languish in it. you get a lawn chair and lie between the middle pages...just waiting for the tide of joy and understanding to eclipse you. each page is a delicacy.

a tiny morsel:
"But people can't, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents. Life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say Yes to life."

it always amazes me how the most important concepts come in the most simple packages. say yes to life. how easy it is to overlook something so seemingly mundane. But those four little words represent an abyss that most people are not equipped to peer into.

that leads me to the question: How do we instill this in our children? How do we teach them to 'say yes to life'? if there was ever a parenting goal to have, that would be it for me. I want them to be men who aren't afraid of a challenge or of the unknown. I want them to have the courage to take the calculable risk and every now and then, the perceived "foolish" one. how could they learn otherwise?

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I don't feel like writing about Japan anymore. Here are the rest of the photos I took w/stories and descriptions:

i also have a bunch of videos on youtube under my screenname damali. just do a search and you'll find them

Monday, May 14, 2007

Breakfast of Champions

Most people who know me know that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. So imagine my sheer joy upon finding out that Yumi arranged for us to have complimentary breakfast buffet at the hotel for each day of our trip! We had to be down to breakfast by 7am since our tour day was starting promptly at 8:00. The layout was amazing. I didn't get a photo of it because i needed two hands to carry my tray and food and drinks etc. plus i would have felt really weird trying to photograph the food while people were trying to serve themselves, etc.
everything was represented though...Western foods as well as Japanese foods. there was orange, apple and grapefruit juice, scrambled eggs, waffles, bacon (not crispy tho..yuck) sausages, hash browns, miso soup, smoked salmon & mackerel, fresh fruit, garden salad, fresh pastries, yogurt, cereal, hard boiled eggs, broccoli and a bunch of other vegetables and Japanese dishes that i didn't recognize. just amazing. all for 1900 yen. which was approximately $15. i was in heaven. cuz we certainly were not about to pay 1900 precious yen to buy that buffet every morning on our own.
when we were done, a big brown tour bus waited for us outside. we were scheduled to see 3 temples in the morning, break for lunch, then see 3 more temples in the afternoon. then go back to the hotel, get changed quickly and be ready for our geisha entertainment dinner. hectic, man.

We left our hotel then picked up a bunch of other people at other hotels until the bus was full. Our tour guide gave us an oral history of Kyoto while we rode to our first destination...i was barely listening to her cuz i was too busy looking out the window. the city was so fascinating. the streets were incredibly litter anywhere. in fact, it was even hard to spot trashcans on the streets. also it was car horns blaring at each other...folks ride their bikes on the sidewalks, sometimes in the bike lane and sometimes not. people don't jaywalk. even if there are no cars coming, 99% of them wait until the get the WALK signal before crossing. and the cars ...they were so incredibly tiny and odd-looking.

but the most striking thing about Kyoto was how you would see regular buildings and houses with huge temples sandwiched between was obvious that the city of Kyoto was literally built AROUND it's historic temples. speaking of which...our first stop was Nijo castle.

Walking through the gate of such a place...the type of place that i'd only seen on tv or in kung-fu was really surreal. As we entered, we were told to remove our shoes and that we were not allowed to take any photographs. the tour guide also explained that this was the home of the shogunate back in the 17th century. as we walked through the long, sunlit hallways of the castle we all heard this faint chirping sound coming from underneath the wasn't squeaking; it was chirping. we were told that one of the things the Shogun did to protect himself and his family from attacking ninjas seeking to overthrow his empire was to install 'nightingale' floors. the floors had these metal contraptions built underneath that would immediately betray any unwanted visitors. once we were all outside again, we attempted to really couldn't see much of it from the would have to crawl all the way under the deck and peer into that dark grating. not many adults were able to successfully get down under there. or they didn't want to try. I was one of them...knees getting too old for that!

the guy on the left was our "paparazzi", Lee. He was hired to take photos of us during our entire trip. it was fun stealing photos of him cuz he hid from my camera alot. the other guy was taking a break from his sweeping duties....maybe to watch the funny looking black people?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Robes, Son!

Water, snacks and a white-gloved driver greeted us as we loaded into the van for the long drive to Kyoto. I fought off sleep as hard as I could...i was like a little kid that didn't want to miss a moment of her favorite program that doesn't come on until midnight. But the seduction of sleep was too overwhelming...i succumbed after only seeing 10 minutes or so of Osaka at night. The adrenaline rush returned once we disembarked at our hotel, Kyoto Tokyu.

I suddenly felt wide awake again. The hotel was beautiful and classy and everyone greeted us with deep bows and smiling faces...irrashaimashite! they said, sincerely. (welcome, in English). Since i didn't know how to bow properly, i just did my head nod thing said 'arigato' (thank you) profusely.

Meanwhile, Yumi bounced over to the front desk, got us checked in and instructed the bellman where to take our luggage. The rooms were beautiful...simple and elegant. Plush robes and slippers awaited us, as well as soft earth tones of beige, brown and tan. The far window had a sliding, rice paper shade...we all ran back and forth between rooms to check if they were the same...i had to take a photo of this one funny sign in the bathroom tho...

After we got settled in, 3 of us decided to take a short walk outside just to see what was around. (Stef stayed behind cuz she was too tired) It was dark and late and we were hungry so we ended up at the Royal Host restaurant across the street. Royal Host was pretty much like an IHOP type of place..real low key with soft booths. it kinda felt like home. The most appealing about it was the HUGE photos of desserts all over the walls, parfaits, sundaes, cakes, tarts...we were like YEAH! so anyway, we walk up in there and hold up 3 fingers to the hostess who quickly ran (i mean really ran) over to greet us.

The place was full of young people and they all turned to look at us 3 black women walking up in was weird.
so we sit down and look at our menus with superhuge pictures and no descriptions that we could understand. i guess the waitress saw as all confused and ran over again with the two words that would save us multiple times on this trip:

"English menu?"

"Hai!" we yelled back.

so after going over all the menu items, which ran the gamut from steaks to bowls of noodles to sausages, we settled on tacos and dessert. yeah i was kinda ashamed that my very first meal in Japan was tacos...good lord. but they were good as hell...perfectly crunchy shell, great fillings....but my favorite thing about Royal Host: no tipping! in fact, that's everywhere in Japan. you don't tip anyone ever. They don't need that incentive in order to do a good job for you. They have such pride in their work and such a high work ethic that i was truly inspired...

As we left the restaurant, i got a chance to show off another phrase that i'd learned:

Gochiso sama deshita! (it was a real feast)

ok it wasn't a real feast but the hostess was surprised and appreciated my compliment. or she was just being appropriately polite and was thinking that i was a stupid, wretched gaijin who needs to go the hell home. I guess i'll never know.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

On Seeing Japan for the First Time

When we broke thru the clouds after 14 hours, my heart was beating so fast. Queena and I kept saying to each other "oh my god! We're actually going to Japan!"... i mean there it was right outside the window. it was real. a real place. not just on the news or in a magazine. or a sweepstakes. or an idea. or an itinerary. or a map. it was FOR REAL. Just thinking of how as little girls, we would sometimes drink sugar water and pretend it was juice or soda or something else we couldn't afford...and now we're on a plane to Japan, a place that most people in world never get to visit.

If i ever make an album it's gonna be called "From Sugar Water to Sake"

ok so anyway, we're standing around clueless in a foreign country, signs everywhere that we couldn't read. of course some were in English but still..."Follow the crowd" was my advice, so we did. Immigration was easy...there weren't many foreigners on the flight so our lines were short. We got our bags then made our way to the main area to look for a guy holding a sign with my name on it. As we were coming down the elevator, we spotted our driver. My heart lept when i saw my name on the i got closer, i noticed it said "Veronico"...we all busted out laughing. Close enough, i guess.

the airport looked more like a shopping mall. it was NOT CUTE. all one floor and long as hell

Our van driver (who was wearing a suit, hat and white gloves!) held our bags while we exchanged our money. In Japan, you can't just walk up to the window, hand over your money and get yen. First you gotta fill out this form. Name, amount of money, where you're staying, the phone number...i was like damn! then after that, you take your money and form to the counter and they do the do. PLUS you don't just hand people money hand-to-hand...there's always a shallow tray (this is at all stores in Japan) put the money in the tray, they take it, then put your change in the tray. I had a hard time remembering this teeny piece of etiquette throughout the trip. (among a couple others)

So after we got our money, we met up with Yumi. she informed us that the drive to Kyoto would take about 2 hours so we'd better go potty. (she ain't say like *that* but you get the jist). The bathrooms were fantasically clean and you didn't really have to touch anything. The handryers were dope. it was this open oven looking thing on the wall that you stick your hands into...once you do, it glows red and your feel this hot air on your hands till they "bake" dry. it was weird, creepy, fun and efficient all at once. But my favorite bathroom feature was this:

A Baby seat!!!! Yes can take the baby in the stall and strap them in while you use the bathroom!! Brilliant! If you only knew how many times Marius crawled out from under the stall and away from me while i was trying to pee and there i am, pants down, trying to run out there and bring him was crazy. they need these in the United States...stat!!!

ok. midnight. i'm turning into a pumpkin. but first, the 3 ladies have something to say about the airport bathrooms...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

8 Million Stories

I guess we'll see if i can remember them all...
A week ago, I returned from the trip of a lifetime. An experience I will never forget...i hope. So to ensure my lasting memory, i will attempt, over the next few weeks, to record as many memories as i possibly can. Here goes...

friend. cousin. me. sister. Detroit Metro airport. there's nothing to do there but shop and eat so we decided to eat. besides, we had 3 hours until our plane was leaving for Osaka..

remember that old Sesame Street segment where you'd see 3 kids jumping rope in 3 squares and one other kid on a pogo stick in another square? and then the song was like "1 of these things is not like the other, 1 of these kids ain't doin' the same..." or whatever the lyrics were. but anyway yeah...3 of us had salads and 1 of us (wasn't me) ate some chicken and fries. if i had only known what a harbinger this photo was...

we had good conversations tho...this was there first time meeting Stefanie but it didn't seem like it. she fit in no time, her and Queena were busting on each other like old friends...the flight was good too. even tho our arm rests didn't work and we couldn't hear the movie and we couldn't turn on the light and the radio was But it was still fun. me and stef and queena (with the help of our awesome BLACK flight attendant, Michael) found some seats with working armrests so we could watch Dreamgirls. Michael was so cool with us by the end of the flight that he stole a bottle of champagne from first class and gave it to us.

the flight was long but i pretended that there was no time. and i looked out the window alot...

Alaska. wow. still can't believe I saw it...the mountains seemed to go on forever...

that looks like a road but it's not a road. i wish there was something on the ground to give a frame of reference but i'm willing to bet that gap is at least 1 mile wide. i'm still bugging out on how close those mountains look from 36,000 feet in the air...

ok, exhausted. 130am. bed. write more tomorrow.