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Monday, February 6, 2012

Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back

It occurs to me now that I may not have yet mentioned on this blog that my wife and I are planning to take an extended vacation.

I've brought it up on YouTube, mentioned it casually on TV in Saga, and actually gone ahead and launched another website (running total : 4!) at 国際結婚旅, which is a succinct, apt, and catchy name in Japanese. In English (maybe "Mixed Race Marriage Trip?"), it sounds terrible.

But for readers who follow The Yo-ji exclusively, I'll bring you up to speed: My wife has long dreamed of going on a 世界一周旅(sekai isshuu tabi; round-the-world-trip) and before we start thinking about family and kids, we're gonna go ahead and do it. We've been planning and saving for about a year and a half, and we leave on April 4th.

Less than two months from now.

You can follow along with us on the blog mentioned above and on YouTube, and I'm sure I'll have occasional things to say that would fit best here as well, so don't go deleting your bookmarks just yet.

Today, for instance, I want to talk about what this trip means for me in terms of work.

As of now I'm still doing "Bobby's Kitchen" on Saga TV, which is every other week, plus occasional guest spots on other corners. Still on the roster for TNC's Gee Bee, and Mezase Golden. And the cooking show on KBC, which I talked about last October, has become a regular thing. It's 4 days a week, 2-3 weeks a month, and it's equal parts awesome and taxing.

The producers and directors are extremely kind, and I hear nothing but good things from everyone about how I seem to be so "used to being in front of the camera." Plus, apparently they see a ratings spike every time I'm on, which is fantastic. Today after we finished a segment on making chocolate mousse, one of the producers said "It's really such a shame you're leaving so soon. We'd been hoping to do something more regular with you."

I wrote about this on the travel blog if you'd like to check it out, but there's something really difficult about having made it to EXACTLY this point, and then walking away for a year.

Breaking into Fukuoka, being able to actively contribute to a show, feeling like I've finally started to get good at what I do. I feel like I've built up a lot of momentum... and am now letting that go to waste.

But those feelings are tempered by a couple of things.

First, the more I develop the ability to work on larger and larger platforms, the more limited I'm becoming in how I can move. Over the last three weeks, I've spent most of my time in either TV studios, on location, or at home in my kitchen building recipes to introduce on the shows. Add part time job and commute to that, and that's my life.

I would love to become a regular on some show somewhere, but that comes with contracts, appearances, and other obligations that I wouldn't be able to set aside to take a trip with my wife. It would be cool to have that level of exposure at some point, but if I'm going to pursue that, taking this kind of trip will only work... now.

Then, there's the fact that the trip doesn't mean I have to stop what I'm doing completely. Not only can I keep doing my internet stuff, which is how I got into all of this in the first place, but I'm hoping that there are TV shows and magazines that would be interested in showcasing food, photos, and stories from our travels. Saga TV is trying to work something out, and I'm headed to Tokyo next week to test the waters with an outdoor magazine that I've been working with recently.

So there is hope for the future.

The problem, in the interim, is keeping my motivation up.

I go through regular cycles of ups and downs triggered by... well, pretty much anything.

If I have a great show, that can make my week. If I have a subpar show, however, that can ruin my month.

Today, the chocolate mousse went really well, the on-air interactions were crisp, fast, funny, and I felt great about it.

Then I was hanging around Fukuoka with Micaela, and we were approached by a crew filming on-the-street interviews for TNC. This isn't uncommon; there are 5 or 6 TV stations based in Fuk, and there are always crews filming around Tenjin and Daimyo. But I work with TNC. As they approached, one of the crew members was like... "Oh that's that guy," and I said "Yeah, hi, I'm actually お世話になっている (currently involved with) two of your shows, so..." and they were like "Oh, yeah! But that's cool, if you don't mind being on, we don't care."

So they interviewed us anyway, which was fine. Except that at no point during the interview did they say "Oh, hey it's Bobby! He's totally on our network!"

I felt kind of insulted. Like... it didn't matter that being on TV was my job... that they as a TV station are currently paying me for. Whatever I am to them, it's not enough that it's worth mentioning. I can also be used as just a man on the street.

I know, I know... there's nothing wrong with being just a guy on the street in an interview, but as a person who craves recognition, it blew. Especially because I felt like I'd gotten to a place where I ought to be able to expect it.

Part of it is me being overly-sensitive, another part is ego. But things like this tend to happen, and sometimes they make me feel like I haven't really accomplished anything at all.

When those co-workers go "We can't believe how used to the camera you are!" in praise, a part of me goes "Why the hell not? It's been my job for over a year!"

But as others are quick to point out, some people try to do the same thing here for years and years and never make it this far.

I'd like to take it further... but I don't really know what I'm trying to prove. And sometimes I don't know if I really believe it would be worth it.

In any case, starting in April, I should have about a year to figure it out. Hope you guys will still be around if I ever do.