Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Home, Home on the Strange...

Sometime earlier this year I got caught up in one of these tag things and put up a lengthy post describing several unique qualities about myself. Well, now I've been more or less tagged to do a similar post describing nine strange things about myself. At first I thought, "Only NINE? " Then I figured, oh well. I might as well do this. I realize some of these strange facts about myself may very well be repeats from that earlier post, but at least I won't have to worry about being cursed by the people that tagged me...

Anyway...Nine Strange Things About Myself:


1. I was born breech, i.e. feet first. I was also a very large baby. Needless to say, my birth was not exactly an easy process. My mother was in labor for a long, long time. I've often wondered if that has anything to do with some of my more unique qualities...

2. You'd be hard pressed to find a bodily system or function in me that isn't flawed or deformed somehow. The bones in my arms, legs, and part of my skull are crooked. Because of that, some of my joints are deformed, and the muscles aren't connected properly. I have a recurring, mild carpal tunnel syndrome in my left wrist which the doctor says is related to the deformity. My nervous system works way too fast, meaning I am not only naturally nervous and tense (and no treatment has worked thus far), but my powers of concentration are extremely limited. My stomach is sensitive and acidic, and my colon is irritable. I have two pairs of kidneys, which means I tend to dehydrate quicker than most people. My respiratory system is plagued by mild (but apparently worsening) allergies which doctors have yet to identify. My circulatory system is increasingly suffering from ever-increasing cholesterol which a no-meat, no-egg, lots-of-fish diet hasn't really helped. I'm sure there are probably other things, but I'll leave it at that.

3. My brain seems to have a built-in math blocker. I was always interested in (obsessed with?) science while I was growing up, I majored in science in senior high and my first few years of college, and I even have an associate's degree in chemistry, but the fact is that I've always been weak in math (and ONLY math!). In every single area of math (algebra, trigonometry, geometry, calculus) I started out really well, finding it all ridiculously simple and getting straight A's with no effort, but for some reason I'd always wind up hitting a point where I simply couldn't progress any further, and I never understood why. No matter how much I studied, practiced, asked for help from others, and got insulted by my teachers, I'd be virtually paralyzed. It's like my brain would literally lock up and refuse to work, leaving me staring blankly into space unable to answer the problem.

In fact, when I finally gave up and dropped out of my last attempted college math class, I went to the Department of Math to take care of the humiliating procedure, and when they asked me the name of my teacher and the time my class was held my brain locked up again and I was unable to say anything at all for a number of minutes. First the secretary laughed at me, and then she looked frightened. Finally she just named off all the calculus classes and professors, and I nodded at the correct one.

It has to be a psychological thing, but I can't imagine what it would be.

4. On the other hand, I've always had a knack for language and music. It's hard to say when I really learned either, but I do know that when I was four I was already reading books and picking out TV show theme music on the piano. When I was five I argued with my kindergarten teachers when they misread the instructions on our worksheets and made classmates who were taking piano lessons mad because I'd listen to them struggling with their practice etudes, say, "Is this what you're trying to play," sit down next to them, and crank it off in one go. In the 4th grade I scored second place in Oregon (4th place on the West Coast) on an English proficiency test, and when I took up the clarinet later that same year I was put directly into the advanced band after only two weeks of instruction (which is probably what finally cost me my best friend at the time). In college I took beginning and second-year German at the same time (which my professors thought was totally insane), got straight A's, and decided to make it my major.

I guess it makes sense that I work as an English and music teacher and moonlight as a musician/composer/arranger...

5. I sometimes have prophetic dreams. They tend to happen in waves. I'll often have several within a period of anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and then nothing for months after that. Usually when a "prophetic wave" happens it manifests together with other strange symptoms, such as me seeming to become temporarily left handed, being perpetually dizzy and unable to concentrate, or having occasional, sudden, intense flashes of waking dreams that have proven clairvoyant. These dreams may involve me or people I know. They are usually rather metaphorical in nature...or the prophetic bit will be embedded in a metaphorical environment...but they have proven chillingly accurate.

I once had a couple of such dreams whose warning was very clear. I didn't take them seriously, and it nearly cost me my life. Needless to say, I make a point of trying to remember what I see in my dreams just in case.

6. Speaking of dreams, from the time I was about 11 years old until the year 2002 I had occasional waves of dreams that not only shared a common theme but were amazingly interconnected. The main themes/events of those dreams were often repeated many times over the years with increasing detail as if my subconscious were gradually filling in the gaps. They took place in a sci-fi/fantasy setting, and they centered on me, but not really me. It was almost as if they were depicting me in an alternate universe, a past life, or even a future one. People I knew often appeared, but sometimes I'd see the same scene over and over again with different people playing the same roles as if the events were more important than the characters. Looking back, the way my real life has turned out has paralleled those dreams in many ways, so it's possible that the sci-fi/fantasy setting was just my subconscious adding artistic license to prophetic vision. Nothing like some of the more important events I've seen has happened yet, however, so the story is far from over. In any case, it has inspired all kinds of artwork, stories, cartoons, and even a role-playing game over the years, and it is still very precious to me.

7. My tastes have never meshed well with those of my peers. In my elementary school days I hated sports and loved music, reading, and learning. In my teens fashion and all that social bullshit really annoyed me. (I tried to be "normal" for a very brief period in senior high at the urging of some of my classmates, but I hated it, and they quickly gave up.) Even now I tend to shun parties, preferring the company of a few good friends. I'd much rather relax with beer and chat than go out for an "exciting" night on the town. Come to think of it, I'm not even really all that fond of towns in general, preferring the quiet of the country or wilderness. I don't mind traveling, but I don't do it very often, and when I do I try my best to avoid the really glitzy, touristy places (which annoy me...and tourists in general tend to annoy me even more!).

I was never even able to fit in with regard to religion. I had a conservative, Christian upbringing, went to church, read the Bible cover-to-cover, and mostly tried to live according to Christian morals when I was growing up (which earned more than a little ridicule from my peers, particularly with regard to my firm belief in God and dislike of casual sex), but traditional Christianity never really computed with me. My tendencies toward objective science, reality, and basic logic kept me constantly at odds with Bible literalists. I also had problems with religious intolerance, let alone dogma. After squabbling with priests and members of the congregation at more than one church I finally gave up going altogether. I also started studying and even incorporating elements of other religions into my "belief system". A "preferred religion" test I took online not so long ago said that I should be Buddhist. I am strongly interested in that religion as well as others, and recently I've been studying a bit of Islam.

Yes, I'm a geek, and I may be going to hell...but at least I'm not suffering from an identity crisis.

8. Objective realist or not, you'll still find a healthy dose of the supernatural in my life. I carry a lapis lazari luckstone in my pocket at all times except when I'm bathing or sleeping. I keep a crystal in my briefcase and various luckstones (garnet, tiger's eye, amethyst, jade, and rosy quartz among others) in my BLUE RAV4 and in my bedroom. I have an Irish luckstone (which I bought in Australia) on my desk at Ye Olde AcademyTM. I have a couple of tarot card decks, and I used to be pretty good with them in my college days, but now they just sit in the "altar" in my bedroom. Since Shinto believes that spiritual energy flows from the East, I tend to give that direction special significance. I once composed and recorded a tune because I was told to do so in a pacify a restless spirit that had been causing trouble in my household.

I look at it this way: if these things are real, then doing them might bring some benefit. If they're not real, then doing them won't bring any harm. That means that, logically, it makes more sense to do them.

9. If you ask me what kind of music I like, I will answer, "Yes!" I like and listen to a very wide variety of music. I also like to play a very wide variety of music. I performed Dvorak's "New World Symphony" with an orchestra, me playing all those clarinet solos, and it was a headrush. I performed "Sing, Sing, Sing" with a jazz big band, me playing that screaming clarinet ad-lib solo, and it was a headrush. I played my university's fight song with our marching band after we'd beaten our biggest rival in football for the first time in twelve years, me on clarinet standing in the rain, and it was a headrush. I performed the rock classic "Hush" with a (very good) rock band, me playing keyboards, and it was a headrush. I performed the Judas Priest song "Sinner" with a (very bad) heavy metal band, me on lead guitar/vocals, and it was a headrush. I performed the song "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic, me on alto sax with only a piano accompaniment, and it was a headrush. I performed the song "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown", just me with an acoustic guitar and my singing voice in front of a large festival crowd, and it was a headrush. I sang The Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" at the top of my lungs at a karaoke party, and it was a headrush. I played a jig and a reel on an Irish tinwhistle for a group of students who had never heard such music before, and it was a headrush. I tried playing my first tune on a kokyu (Japanese version of the Chinese violin), sucked really badly, and it was a headrush.

Music is my life!

Okay, that's nine, so I guess I have to stop there. I won't bother tagging anyone, as I figure anyone I might tag either wouldn't do this or has already, but if anyone wants to go for it, please do! And let me know, too!


  • OOOOOPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    I guess it was supposed to be ten weird things about myself! Speaking of being hopeless at math...

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:06 PM  

  • Awesome! (Although you have taken a couple of categories away from me as did Tooners.)

    2) You have a fast nervous system - I have an imbalanced one. I am not a stressful person, and yet I get stupid panic attacks or palpitations or red ears, etc, not to mention every other awkward moment with any of the systems regulated by my nervous system.

    3) You have a math-blocked brain. I have a plateau. I was great at science and arts - got As in everything at school - and have done the whole spectrum of degrees (bio, psych, art history).

    Problem for me is that with any body of knowledge, I hit a plateau. Therefore I specialise in a little of everything, and not a lot of one thing. It is fun, but frustrating because it lengthened my years at university throught trying to take all the classes, also confuses potential employers, and frustrates me.

    For instance:
    I was mediocre on the piano, my French pronunciation is great but mu grammar is juvenile despite studying it for a decade - and yet my friends call me out of the blue to answer any and every question, and most of the time I can do it so they call me the walking encyclopedia/dictionary.

    About that psychological block with the teachers, I was a bit like that in uni - I could list 4 classes but never the 5th, and it was never the same class each time, i was just limited to a list of 4.

    8) Spiritual stuff - I grew up in church too, but haven't had many spiritual experiences. Had a couple of good ones, seen some bad stuff, but I believe in it all. My mother grew up in a country with many psychical phenomena and ghost spotting and stuff, but I haven't seen anything myself.

    7) My peers didn't "catch up" with me until I reached university. Before that, everyone seemed so unrelated to me, as I was an only child and more compatible with adults. I didn't follow fashion trends until I was in my mid-20s, and even now I remain classic with either an individual streak, or a concession to the current trends.

    I can type this because I'm taking an extended lunch break because otherwise, I will run out of work to do.

    By Anonymous Olivia at Work, at 10:32 PM  

  • Clearly, you are right brained, that is where the creative energies typically flow from, unless your brain is in backwards, which would make it the left tht is the cretive side.

    I don't believe in luck. So I don't arry lucky charms with me. Luck with me seems to work in reverse, which is why I seem to have good days on Friday the thirteenth.

    I find it hard to study the religion of Islam when I see verses that tell people to hunt down and irradicate the Jews and the Christians and the Infidels. even if a majority of Muslims don't do or believe that sort of thing, the religion seems to be built on intolerance of other religions.

    I also have prophetic dreams, but also dreams that occur because I stayed up late watching television. Dreams are a window to the soul, and my window is very big.

    Yesterday I ate a pickle.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:57 AM  

  • Nice list but they sound all quite normal to me. Right-brained - creative - and are you left-handed?
    Lucky stones? A nice thought, but... I just keep stones for their beauty.
    Music - of course, the centre of the spin of the world for sure.
    I'll make a list sometime.

    By Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog, at 9:54 AM  

  • Interesting...

    yes, it's interesting to know you more :)

    As for me, I used (or make myself) to believe about lucky charm but unfortunately, it doesn't seem really work after all...

    About religion, I was baptized when I was a baby, I atteneded Christian schools and was very active in church (sunday school teacher, choir, usher, collecter etc.) but then these days, I prefer logic thinking, so now.. for me, religion is just an spiritual organization made by human to make boundaries between the good and bad things according to human's cultures and what they believe it's right and wrong.
    But yes, I believe in God, not the religions...

    By Blogger Selba, at 10:35 AM  

  • What a weird Sensei! *O*

    Would you help me to solve some doubts by using your Tarot skill via internet? ^_~

    By Anonymous L.C_D, at 1:26 PM  

  • love the list.. you are very interesting. a lot of this i knew, but some i had forgotten.

    i can imagine how difficult the labor was for your mom... did she deliver you in normal fashion or by c-section?

    i have never been good in math. i get a block too, but never knew what that was. i draw blanks all the time... wasn't quite sure what that was about either. i always took it that i was nervous or something. i made really good grades in math, but had a hard time w/ languages and still do.

    you dreams make me wonder more about things i believe in... like reincarnation. the things you saw in your dreams and how they're coming to light as time goes on... well, it makes me wonder if it is indeed the way i think in that our lives are already mapped out and we know everything before we're born, only to forget once we become human/are born. i think some ppl can see these things and you are obviously one of them.

    your two kidneys really gets to me... i find this fascinating. i didn't know about your bones and such.

    i grew up w/ religion... it was shoved down my face and i feared God more than anything. now, i don't believe in organized religion. islam is a peaceful religion but w/ the things i've seen, i've pulled away from it somewhat. i am also interested in buddhism.

    i sometimes carry stones w/ me. i went to one woman here after i had trouble w/ this guy at work over evil eyes, and she's really into stones and guardian angels and such. well, she told me to put a blue shield on every day before going to work and to call on an angel to protect me. i have a hard time visualizing this stuff, so it was difficult for me, but another thing here is to wear blue stones to protect you from such. i sometimes do this. i carry a stone sometimes to help me stop biting my nails. i rub the stone instead... when i can remember to take it.

    By Blogger tooners, at 5:04 PM  

  • I guess the luckstones must be working, since I keep finding all these kindred spirits on the internet!

    It's interesting how we seem to have so much in common, yet we are so different on a few key points.

    Actually, I also studied a wide variety of subjects in college. When I got the two bachelor degrees that I completed I was told by the registrar that I was very close to finishing a few others, as well. That's why I planned to come to Japan for two years, get some experience, save up some money, and then go back to the uni to wrap up a couple more degrees. But then I wound up staying here instead...

    I took all those subjects because I had so much extra time. Budget cuts meant not enough teachers in the foreign language department, meaning no one was available to teach the upper division courses. My final "year" wound up taking three, so I spent my time studying Japanese, music, psychology, and sociology. I wanted to take oceanography, too, but you had to have a bachelor's degree in biology for that. I was also teaching English to foreign students and working as a teaching assistant in first-year German and a secretary for the music department. There was no pressure, and I could pretty much take things at my own pace.

    Now get back to work!

    Those last three years were the best by far.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 6:24 PM  

  • Pa've
    I definitely seem right-brained, but I'm also right-handed. That's also odd...

    I find it hard to study the religion of Islam when I see verses that tell people to hunt down and irradicate the Jews and the Christians and the Infidels.

    But there aren't. We have discussed this before. There are verses in the Q'uran that say devout Muslims shouldn't take Jews or Christians as friends, and there is one verse that says "unjust" Christians and Jews should be subjugated (or at least made to pay taxes to the Caliphate), but the verse so often mistranslated, misquoted, or taken out of context by evangelicals and islamophobes reads:

    "And when the sacred months are passed, kill the polytheists [often translated as "infidels", "unbelievers", or "idolators"] wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush" (IX:5)

    What people tend not to say is that the following verse (IX:6) reads:

    "But if they shall turn to God, and observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way, for God is gracious, merciful."

    (Another translation of that verse that I have read, one that was written by an Arab scholar, reads: "But if they turn from the ways of evil and offer you peace, then let them go their way, for God protects them.")

    They also never mention that Sura IX before and after those verses is only concerned with Arabs that claim to worship God but then turn to the old polytheistic pantheon, i.e. hypocrites and idol worshippers.

    The truly militant and bloodthirsty verses tend to come from among the Hadiths, but there are so many of those, and they are so varied, that it is possible to find justification for just about anything in them.

    Nope, I'm right-handed (most of the time, anyway).

    I admit I mainly bought the luckstones because they looked cool, but I carry them just in case they do have some kind of practical benefit.

    I'm looking forward to your list!

    What about Lucky Charms cereal? They're magically delicious! ;-)

    I've always believed that religion should be tempered with a good, healthy dose of rational thinking, and Biblical interpretation should be taken in line with scientific discovery, not held as eclipsing it. Believe it or not, that has been official Vatican policy since at least the 15th century (even when certain Cardinals were harassing if not burning scientific thinkers...). Since the Catholics are the ones that put the Bible together in the first place, well, I'd say "end of discussion", but an awful lot of believers don't see it that way.

    Whose to say the voice of God hasn't been viewed and interpreted through the lens of different cultures over the ages? Don't forget that Hinduism (and therefore Buddhism) began as a monotheistic religion, and it still technically believes in only one supreme being (but whose too-complex-for-us-to-comprehend persona is perceived by us mere mortals as many different deities). The same was true of the religious beliefs of ancient Egypt.

    Taoism seems to be the most no-nonsense religion I've seen, but it's hard for people to figure out.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 7:06 PM  

  • L.C_D
    I consider strangeness a virtue, and it has proven to be quite an asset in the teaching profession. K8-)

    E-mail tarot? Interesting idea, but I dunno. I haven't used my cards for a long time, for one thing. For another, the person asking the question is supposed to shuffle the cards, so your not being here would make it difficult.

    I was born normally. My mother was in labor for something like 16 hours. Poor woman...

    I've often wondered about reincarnation, too, but after much research and thinking on the issue, I find it doubtful that all souls are reborn, at least not in their complete form. Perhaps some do, but it seems more likely to me that "weak" souls break apart (like an iceberg), and pieces of them might wind up caught up in a newly-born soul (like bits of an old iceberg being refrozen into a new ice block). That would mean that people could have past-life memories, but not necessarily as a reincarnated immaculate soul.

    But you just never know.

    The problem with organized religion is that the organization often becomes more important than the religion. That's why I don't commit to any. I'm a proverbial pray-in-the-closet believer.

    Blue shield, eh? Interesting. My lapis lazari luckstone is BLUE. That's why I got it in the first place! ;-)

    Are you happy now?

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 7:21 PM  

  • Aren't several Star Wars characters based on you?

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 10:25 AM  

  • secret is out!

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:46 AM  

  • Like Pave, I somehow suspect your brain is in backwards, which make the left the right, and the right the left.

    Prophetic dreams, I have not experienced, though my bro seems to experience deja vu in life which coincides with his dreams previously. But I often hear some sort of beautiful music (some sort of background music), sometimes just melody, sometimes with singing, at the point just before I wake up naturally. I could never get the tune nor the words, but it is unlike any other music I have heard in real life. (it's not my mobile ringtone either)

    you have TWO PAIRS of kidneys?? wow... have you considered donating a pair or something? What did the doctors say?

    By Blogger YD, at 7:39 PM  

  • Do two pairs of kidneys make you wee more or less?

    By Anonymous Olivia at Work, at 10:11 PM  

  • Probably more, but I'm not sure how to compare... I do know that I tend to dehydrate quickly, which means, though I don't get drunk all that quickly, I seem particularly susceptible to hangovers if I drink too much. (Ask my college buddies about that. On second thought, don't.) I also know that if I drink caffeinated beverages, which tend to make the body dispose of fluids quicker, I'm off to the loo every half hour. It can really suck, especially as much as I need coffee on certain days of the week to remain effective at my job.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:28 AM  

  • Wow, Moody, thank for providing the link to this post. And I thought I was unusual! Two pairs of kidneys. I never heard of that. I am not surprised at all that you are blessed with proficiency in language. Your blog reveals that, and your musical gifts too.

    You are unique, blessed with many gifts. (And challenges, which looked at slantwise, can be blessings too. I know something about that too.)

    By Blogger San, at 6:12 AM  

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