T’was a month of floods, sudden snows, electricity outages, and food shortages (due to panic buying). All the while I was looking at the gorgeous fall photos coming out of Japan. Ginkgo trees were in full yellow regalia (seriously, check it out on Twitter!). On FaceTime the other day my father-in-law in told us of how it was getting cooler in Japan. The sun was shining brightly into his Kyoto apartment. He wore a nice fall sweater over a black turtleneck. I looked it up and it was 27 degrees Celsius.
Unfortunately due to border closures we were not able to visit Japan this autumn. Since June our apartment in Kyoto sits waiting to be cleaned out. It will sit longer due to the latest Omicron-inspired Japan border closure. And it looks like we will miss the usual spring visit, leaving us to merely hope that we can make it next summer.
But all is not lost. After 21 months off, I am once again gainfully employed. I started a new, fully remote, job last week. It has been tiring getting used to the pace of working life again after so much time off. However, I am in my element, learning about all sorts of new things (the company is an applied research firm working on internet protocols).
The job search was quite a drawn out, demoralizing ordeal to be honest. The first problem was trying to figure out “what I do.” As someone with a very eclectic background, this self-branding exercise has long been a challenge for me. Luckily, I was finally able to figure it out. However, another major hurdle: I decided to focus solely on fully remote positions, which are extremely competitive at the moment (The Great Resignation is a major factor). It also meant I could not rely on my significant local network here in the Okanagan. Over the last four months I made 8 formal applications, underwent 5 interviews, 4 weeks of trials, received 5 rejections and had 3 no replies. Additionally I had 4 warm intros through my network, resulting in 3 offers! In the end it really is who you know. Regardless, I am relieved to be working again, and with some cool people. As things settle down I intend to return to regular writing. I have quite a backlog of travel reports and photos to share, but in the meantime there are two new pieces by me shared below.
As we move into the final month of a(nother) harrowing year, Happy Holidays and mettā to you all!
Another month with no new posts to the blog! I did have the following pieces go live in other publications:
Review—Buddhism and Modernity: Sources from Nineteenth-Century Japan
In Books On Asia I review this fascinating source book, translations of Buddhist thinkers from around the turn of the 20th century, as they work through the challenges facing Buddhism amidst an onslaught of foreign influence and changing domestic sociopolitics.
From Far Away
An essay in the December issue of the Literary Review of Canada. I wrote the first version of this while still in quarantine after returning to Canada. My dad passed away on Day 11, and I had 8 more days of stewing inside a sweltering isolation accommodation, coming to terms with the whole situation. The always gracious editor of the LRC helped me polish it, so it is much better than my blatant rant on Canada’s systematic culture of failure. I also hope it communicates some of the emotional depth of the situation.
This long piece on David Graeber is touching, and got me excited for his new book. Link →
This rap version of the Heart Sutra is bangin’! Link →
“We must acknowledge no nation has completed its development because no advanced nation is yet sustainable.” From David Attenborough’s COP26 speech which you should watch. Link →
Places by Setouchi Jakuchō
The infamous (at least in Japan) Setouchi Jakuchō recently passed away. She would have been 100 next May. I was reading her most recently translated work (which she wrote in her seventies) for a review in December. Sad that the review will have to discuss her death. She was a firebrand. I am just on the final chapters so look out for a review in Books on Asia next month.