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Published… WTF?? June 7, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Language, Other Arts.
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Thanks to Sacramento writer buddy Josh Fernandez, the haikus I wrote in Okinawa got published in a poetry journal!

WTF is a free quarterly zine produced by Rattlesnake Press and the Poetry Unplugged poets from Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento. It features “X-rated” works from local writers and artists.

I hoped mine would be printed in English and Japanese, to give them some kind of context. They only printed translations (I swear, I know how to count syllables), but it’s still an honor to get published.

You can pick up a copy at The Book Collector or order it online here.

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Life As an Observer May 26, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Other Arts.
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While in Okinawa, I got in the habit of always carrying a camera, an audio recorder and a notebook. Even a 10-minute trip to the convenience store usually warranted something worth documenting. I became hyper-aware of unfamiliar surroundings and sensations, wanting to share everything “strange” with people back home.

So, I have hundreds of photos of plants, architecture, artwork and geography. I have dozens of recordings of the monorail, the beach, the bugs, the birds and the music. I have pages of notes of history lessons and song analyses.

But, as much as all those have taught me about Okinawa, it taught me that there are things worth documenting anywhere in the world — including, most importantly, at home. We get so used to our everyday surroundings that we forget they might not be “everyday” to someone else.

So pay attention! Look up and around you when you’re walking instead of down at the ground! Take those earbuds out of your ears! Take your time eating! Slow down and enjoy everything!

This will sound dumb, but it really bothered me that I couldn’t record smells in Okinawa — sweet-smelling dusk air, salt that smelled more like the ocean than the ocean smells like the ocean, peculiarly good-smelling bathrooms. But we have equally fascinating scents at home: railroad tracks, the Rainbo Bread factory by my house, the kettle corn vendor at the Davis Farmers’ Market.

As a full-time observer, I learned so much about the island, but I learned more about how to enjoy day-to-day life. I hope you can take some of that away too.

Even If the Engine Fails April 30, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Music.
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I guess there’s no point in trying to hide that we’re no longer in Okinawa. Jojo and I returned to California on Monday due to a family emergency, with many lessons, concerts and friends left unseen. Another trip is definitely in order, partly because I don’t feel I’m finished with the studies I wanted to do.

Please don’t stop reading — there’s still lots of catching up to do, some audio and video that never got posted, plus reflections and further research.

While there, I tried to think of all my favorite traveling songs. Here’s a homecoming song by Sacramento artist Justin Farren that became painfully relevant. I listened to it about a dozen times on the plane.

“Cassiar”
from Songs from Spare Rooms
© badservicebadger 2008

By the way, I had Justin in mind when I wrote about the anonymity of folk music. He’s been locally famous for years, and even though he could arguably make it big, he’s always opted to stick with a faithful Sacramento audience. I like that.

A たんじょうび Day March 17, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Food and Drink.
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The best possible birthday/homesickness care package:

The U.S. Postal Service rules. Thanks, Mom and Pop!