Stepping Stones

I wrote this song for the band I’m in. I’m still trying to work out the second verse, but I’ve grown to be quite fond of this little tune. Special thanks to the boys that helped bring it to life.

I wanted to be a hair on your head
So I could go anywhere you did
Or pull out your teeth, wear ’em on a string
So you couldn’t eat without me

All I wanted was everything
Somehow you consumed me

I wanted to die by your side
Looking into those eyes
Like black stepping stones to your dark soul I tried to light
Once they flickered
But went out, like the fire you let die
I know now
All that’s love isn’t always right

My you have such deep eyes
All the better to deceive me
And it’s true I once believed the lies
Thought I could make you happy

All I wanted was you babe
But we burned out so easy
All I wanted was everything
Somehow you consumed me

(Chorus)

You left but left that fire burning
And I couldn’t put it out
I all but begged, sick sick yearning
But it’s flickering now, burning out

And I wanted to die in your eyes
Black stones and pretty lights
Watching stars on hot summer nights
Yeah, the shoot across the sky
They flicker then burn out
Like the love you let die
Well I know now

It’s flickering now, burning out
Is it flickering now? Are we burning out?

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Jeffrey Campbell

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5.18-5.24

I think I had the busiest week of my career here last week. All of the sudden everyone I work with/for needed my help AND I had so many plans!

Around this time every year, I conduct an interview for students hoping to study in America. The program is run through my board of education, and they always ask me to help out with the English portion. It’s pretty simple; I just have to make sure the kids have decent communication skills so they don’t faint or something the first time they interact with an American in America. I knew about the date and time way before, but five of the students hoping to go this year are students at my junior high and a few of them asked me to help them prepare for the interview. We met up a few times last week, and I gauged their attitudes and skills. One girl in particular wants to go so bad, that she’s been visiting me every week after lunch or after school since the beginning of term. I love when my students are motivated and passionate, no matter what it’s about, but when it’s about English…and they want to talk to ME, I get super excited. So even though I haven’t had a break at work since March, I’m pretty happy.

The actual interview was Wednesday. There is also a high school program, and one of my favorite students from two years ago was there! I haven’t heard the results for the high school interviews yet, but I hope he gets to go to America. He is such a kind kid, and I know he’ll do great. (I did get results from the JH interview and all of my 8th grade girls are going to America! I am so proud!)

In addition to this interview’s prep, I’ve been helping students with English test prep as well. The test, called Eiken, has a speaking component from level 3 to level 1, and one of the students didn’t have an idea how to do it. I helped again during my “break time,” and I feel confident she is going to do well!

Okay, let’s go back to Tuesday. I’ve been applying to some jobs online, and I got an interview for a school in Fukuoka. The interview was via Skype so I didn’t have to go anywhere, but I was surprisingly nervous. Talking to a stranger via a computer screen is really odd. I think it went pretty well though. Even if I don’t get the job or even a second interview, talking about myself really helps me put my thoughts and dreams into perspective. I’m really starting to get a good idea of what exactly it is I want to do with my future.

I also had to practice music a ton this week because, the band and I had a show on Sunday. We messed up super super bad on one song (I blame the sound guy ha), but we performed all of our originals and had a good time. Some friends came to watch, and I saw some people I haven’t seen in a while. That’s always a treat. Anyway, I really think our sound is coming together nicely. We even finished recording some songs and sold a few copies of our single. Baby steps guys! Baby steps.

Other than that, I hung out with my friend Kina and some new friends. I’m a pretty shy person, but I’m getting better at talking to new people. BABY STEPS.

Although it was a hectic week, and I literally slept all day Saturday to make up for it, it was wonderful. Being busy with things you enjoy is certainly a good thing, and when it’s all over and you take a breath, you can look back on it and feel accomplished. Yea, I definitely feel good about last week.

party with my girl!

party with my girl!

show time

show time

Where have you been?

I’ve been pretty MIA recently, and I apologize. I’ve been super busy. The old school year has finished and another has begun, so I’ve been wrapped up in planning new lessons for new classes and getting used to all the teacher changes. Let me say that I am very excited to start the non-ALT part of my life, because dealing with some of the teachers at my elementary schools is a nightmare. All but maybe two or three of them speak zero English, and yet half of them insist on controlling the lesson (but not their students) and I frankly can’t take it anymore. My junior high remains a very exciting and interesting place, and some of the new teachers seem really cool as well…so no complaints there. BUT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL! I love the kids though. In the next couple of days, I’ll definitely be posting about some of the crazy and cute things they say.

new school year opening ceremony

new school year opening ceremony

In addition to all that I’ve had a lot more social gatherings planned because of the beautiful change in weather. It’s like all the bears have come out of hibernation and are ready to go fishing. Everyone is doing something. I also can’t really complain about this; being busy with fun is never a bad thing. Although I wish I had a few more days to myself, it’s been great to see most of my local friends and catch up!

we wet to a rock festival at Sakurajima (volcano)

we went to a rock festival at Sakurajima (volcano)

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Tesla wa nakanai–pianist

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Tesla doesn't know how to cry's singer and the gang

Tesla doesn’t know how to cry’s singer and the gang

a little jazz concert in a temple

a little jazz concert in a temple

had an amazing friend date with one of my favorite people

had an amazing friend date with one of my favorite people

monthly international party in Shibushi

monthly international party in Shibushi

The biggest consumer of my time, though, has definitely been the band. We’ve been really focusing on polishing our original songs and getting ready for shows. We had one today at Kanoya Earth Day, and we should play at least one next month as well. I am so into this band, and I’m super excited to play live more. Creating music is definitely a challenge, especially when you’re writing personal lyrics and all that, but it is so rewarding when it all comes together. If we get some good videos or recordings done, I’ll be sure to share them on my other blog!

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the boys of Ashfall

the whole band and a friend

More adventures and pictures to come!

What a year can do

It still amazes me what can happen in a year. People can walk in and out of your life, changing social circles overnight. You can try new things, gain new skills, and do things that before would have frightened you to tears. For me, a lot of what has changed this past year can be traced back to one person–a person who walked out of my life and quietly locked the door. He shook me up and helped me realize a lot of things about the world and myself. But no matter what the cause, no matter who started this tiny revolution inside me, I know now that I continue doing it because of me.

I keep pushing myself to try things I’ve always wanted to do. This past weekend I performed on stage with a band for the first time. It was always a silent dream of mine to be a musician in some capacity, but I never had the courage or motivation to do it seriously and in front of people. I was so shy and too self-conscious. When I moved abroad and essentially had to rearrange my personality to keep from drowning in the Pacific, I gained a lot of confidence.  So when I met a few guys through my program who play music, I had a decent opportunity to put myself out there. The old me would have said no and hoped I was begged to sing, but over time I loosened up. We started hanging out musically around April and continued playing music and improving up until our first performance together.

Being in a band is hard work, especially for someone like me who isn’t exactly a musical genius. Going solo or doing a two-piece act is difficult too, I’m sure, but for different reasons. With a band of four, you have to think about the schedules, styles, and personality types of three other people. Everyone has their own way, but we all had to find some common ground. Maybe in a bigger city where it’s fairly easy to find driven musicians who share your tastes this isn’t a huge problem, but here in small town Japan, it can be challenging to start and keep a band. My two friends (and band mates) have had three different projects in the last year. The whole thing is and was a massive learning experience. Working with friends and being subject to criticism is uncomfortable. It’s like hearing that you snore for the first time…all the things you think you don’t do are reveled and you want to cry a bit but you also realize the benefit. Now you can get better!

I’m really looking forward to getting better and trying new things in the future. I’m 24, but I feel like there’s so much about life I’ve yet to discover, so many layers to myself I’ve yet to peel back and expose.

 

I am nowhere near perfect. At all. But I’m not really trying to be Beyonce or anything. I just enjoy doing this, and seeing as this blog focuses on my more creative interests, I thought I’d share! Maybe next time there will be a video. See you next time!

Live Music in Japan

Recently, I’ve realized how much I truly miss going to see live music. My best friend always tells me about the amazing people she sees live, and I can’t help but get a little bit jealous. It used to be so easy to spend the night lost in the music of a band you love, but here…not so much. I grew up near Houston, a fairly large city, and went to school in Austin, the “live music capital of the world.” Austin is home to tons of live houses, Blues on the Green, ACL, and South by Southwest. Japan has big music festivals too, I just live no where near them. In Japan, I live in the country and most of the live music I see is in tiny bars or outdoors on tiny stages. Needless to say, my experience with live music in Japan is not really comparable to that of America, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been interesting!

I have only been to two stadium shows in Japan, and they were both for Korean artists (Big Bang and G Dragon). At big-name stadium shows, it’s nearly impossible to take pictures; you will be thrown out if someone sees you with a camera or phone. And people are really quiet. People cry and scream at pop shows in America. I’ve seen the videos. In Japan, people act very polite. Even people in the front rows just sway and sing in unison. It’s actually very strange. I’ve seen videos of huge rock shows in Japan, though. At least they crowd surf.

I haven’t seen any smaller venue professional shows yet. In America, I went to a lot of indie shows, and they were always so much fun. The bars and venues have room for people to stand in front of the stage and dance or sing at the artists or whatever. There’d probably be somewhere to sit near the bar or on a patio, but at shows I’ve been to, people stand most of the time. Or mosh or two-step or something. In Japan, at every music show I’ve been to, there are tables and chairs. People sit quietly and watch. They clap politely afterward. Sure, I haven’t been to see an artist I’m really into with a dedicated following besides Big Bang, but even at small shows in America, even at high school Battle of the Band’s, people get into it. Here, it seems, that’s left to the old people. That being said, I have had a lot of fun here. Even in this rural area, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to see live music…good live music. Kanoya, the city near my town, has a few monthly music events, my favorite of which being Takibi Live (takibi means bonfire). Professional and local musicians perform once a month at a riverside stage surrounded by fire. Best of all, it’s free.  Going to friends’ shows in America was always enjoyable, and that hasn’t changed. I rather enjoy seeing unknown bands and their relaxed jam sessions. I like hanging out with friends and not having to pay to see decent music all the time.  It makes this little part of the world comfortable and more like home.

Anyway, last weekend some friends of mine performed at Takibi Live and another monthly live held in a hall attached to an onsen. We had to wear slippers inside, but it was enjoyable! I took some videos! As you can see, the venue is fairly small, and no one’s really moving. That may just be because it’s so small though. Enjoy!