Author Archives: CynthPop

Poetry Class at The Writing University, Iowa

I decided to take the free, online, six week class on How Writers Write Poetry, offered by The University of Iowa. I do so much duty writing these days, I feel like my creative chops are a little dry (ever get that feeling, writers? It’s a drag!). Anyway– so far it’s really been interesting to flip words around a bit and play with some exercises. I’m not a poet– at all– so this is a real creative challenge for me.

Our first exercise was led by one of my mentors in school, American poet Robert Hass. I highly recommend his books, Sun Under Wood and Time and Materials. He’s utterly brilliant and the most lovely man. We had to write four poetic sketches: one, two, three, and four line bits just to play with technique and get our ideas down. Here’s what I submitted to class this morning.

sugar cookies, death, and broken teeth: 1-4 series.


The coarse sugar cookie grits my teeth as I stare at the floor, waiting.


Two suits sit on the train.

Nodding at the air in agreement.


The left eye beamed brightly still.

Beneath the swelling and scars and smoke-stained nails.

Somewhere, under it all, she was there.


A hidden tongue on a chipped back tooth.

And pangs of want of the world.

He sits flat with his twisted jaw,

and wonders why she left.



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Filed under Writers on Writing

Come See Me Sometime

Ahoy hoy!

I’m sloooowly merging my blog worlds from the US and Japan, so if you want to see the latest, check out my other blog, 


Thank you for reading at Popper Creative. 


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Me,me,me. Copywriting vs. Citizen Journalism

I started writing for GaijinPot about a month ago and I have to say it’s a totally different kind of writing than I’m used to. I’m a copywriter by trade, which means my writing takes on the client’s voice. I write for your vision, your company, your brand. But op-eds or citizen journalism is about what goes on in my sick little brain. Let me put it this way… if you’ve been a back up singer whose job is to make the pop star look good, and then you get handed the center stage mic, one of two things will happen.

1) You’ll either wet yourself and run off stage or

2) You’ll go big, even if you suck, just to have your moment in the spotlight.

Not sure where I’m at just yet… but I’m loving it so far. 🙂

Check out my articles here. I’m writing weekly so stay tuned. 🙂


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Gets the ladies everytime – Imgur


Gets the ladies everytime – Imgur.

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Filed under Fun Stuff, The English Department

Trade Tools: Get Mooing

Anyone who freelances knows that having a web presence is key… social plug-ins, community involvement, yadda yadda. But another detail that shows you’re the shit is having the right business cards. Especially here in Japan. (Hi. Yeah, I live in Japan now… but I still write for the U.S. so please don’t freak.) 🙂

Say hello to Moo. These are cards for creative people.


Mashup your info in fun ways with their templates or, design from scratch.  In my case, I just used my own photos. I model too, so to cover both worlds, I upload a couple of different versions of my CPC logo and a bunch of modeling shots. Each card has a different image (up to 100). Fonts, colors, backgrounds… I wrote my name in Japanese and in English, then put the usual contact and social stuff.


I use the mini-cards: 70mm x 28mm. I always get compliments from clients. Little is cute. It’s science.


Mini-card case holder in hot pink… has a key ring too if you’re into that sort of thing.

Instant portfolio the size of a card case– BOOM. Oh and the clincher? They’re on thick, 16 point card stock and cost less than twenty bucks. At

They didn’t pay me to write this. 🙂

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Filed under Fun Stuff, The Big Red Dot

The “Other” Woman

I’ve never had it rough. Ever. A healthy white girl from a great family, I grew up in nicer-than-average Californian suburbs and spent most of my adult life in San Francisco. Beyond shoes, books, and  travel, I’ve never really wanted for anything. A close friend of mine likens this kind of life to “playing a video game on the easiest level.”

my life

I love this analogy 1) because it’s so true, and 2) it also speaks to the natural curiosity that goes beyond perpetually playing Level One. Traveling off the beaten path to developing countries has taught me that I have absolutely no right to bitch about anything. At all. It’s also shown me the chasm between the obscenely wealthy and the crushingly poor, and who ends up on which side of that chasm often has little to do with hard work or perseverance, but rather luck of birthplace. Of race. I guess that luck is a big reason I moved to Asia.

Now I’m not in a hut in the middle of Calcutta. But being in Japan for a few weeks has made me unpack my longing to live abroad, and not just in another English-speaking country like Australia or England. For over a decade, I yearned to be turned upside down completely, I just never knew why.

The foreign population of Japan is less than two percent, and being a minority– an extreme minority– is a jarring experience. I’m overtly stared at and photographed on the train. I’ve been blatantly ignored and avoided. I hear conversations in rapid-fire Japanese and pick up “Shinshia” and realize people are talking about me, right in front of me. I talk to people who’ve never spoken to a Westerner before. Being the only person of another race in a room is an unclear feeling. It doesn’t exactly bother me, sometimes it’s strangely freeing to be the novelty, but I’m constantly reminded that I don’t, nor will I ever, fit in. I could speak fluent Japanese, live here twenty years, marry into a Japanese family, learn every possible cultural custom, and not much would change. It’s sounds like I’m whining, but I’m not. I asked for this because I needed to experience first hand what otherness feels like. I don’t know why exactly. I’m not sure that it matters.

Maybe it’s good to feel uncomfortable sometimes. (I know– very Robert Frost of me)– but when you’ve been so lucky in your life it’s important to remember that most aren’t as lucky as you. Being lucky doesn’t make you special, it just makes you lucky. And maybe not being grateful for that luck is the definition of being spoiled. It’s a real fear of mine– forgetting just how lucky I am.

I hope this doesn’t sound like syrupy, white-liberal rambling–though I’m pretty sure it does. And I realize despite being part of the”other” two percent here, the racism or exclusion I deal with isn’t a fraction of what some endure. When you bring on the otherness yourself, it’s something of a contrived experience. It’s just the best I could come up with.

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Filed under The Big Red Dot

No Hablo Nihongo

It’s been just over a month of living in Japan and I still have no idea what I’m doing. I have a slightly better idea than I did when I got off the plane four weeks ago, but that bar was pretty low. Pretty much on the ground. Actually there was no bar. More of a random line of dust.

Trains, directions… easy. Just be patient and follow directions. But banking, post office-ing, taking a bus: the language barrier makes doing even the simplest tasks exponentially more time consuming. And the few phrases I do know are pointless because they invariably evoke questions for which I have no answers. For some INSANE reason, I sometimes try to answer in Spanish, (the only other language I do know) so I find myself saying “si” when I should be saying “hai.” It’s like the Foreign Language Department in my brain is headed by a over-tenured professor who hears a question, shrugs, and says, “Here try… this?” and then goes back to his New Yorker. Lazy bastard.

I was fake-whining about shopping with a friend today who, like me, has traveled extensively without the native language…but as a tourist.“Oh just buy what you know,” he tells me, “fruits and vegetables… things you recognize.” OH OKAY.  Gee why didn’t I think of that. Have you been to the grocery store?

Is this soy sauce? Fish sauce? Mystery evil pipe cleaner sauce? What about soup? Or coffee, or tuna, or butter… or those squishy purple things in the meat case? WHAT ARE THOSE. Even things I think I recognize aren’t what they seem… I bought a case of eggs…EGGS for crying out loud, and they were partially hard-cooked for some magical fish broth egg soup dish. Eggs. I can’t even buy eggs right.


But other things I buy really right.

Like the Family Mart mini pancakes with happy-sauce inside.

I am SO nailing you when we get home.

Or the Calbee potato chips in Nori flavor.

And even some healthy stuff I happen upon by accident, but that isn’t nearly as exciting as when you stick the contents of a cartoon packet of madness in your face and realize not only that you’re not going to get sick, but you’re going to possibly eat whatever it is, forever. The little successes keep you rolling.

Same thing goes for the beauty stuff, which by the way, like the Nori potato chips, the Japanese have mastered. Hair products, makeup, skin care, body voodoo creams… I’ve just scratched the surface of what’s going on because I can’t read anything and just go by the photos… or the occasional generous phrase of English. Want to know the fairy dust they use over here for amazing skin? I’ll post about it later but here’s a hint:

This is happening.

Since being here:

  • My skin is looking rad (surprisingly), no thanks to stress, weather, Nori potato chips, and Crunky.
  • I’m eating more junk food than I have in years but I’m not gaining (I attribute this to chasing trains and constant fear of offending someone with my apparently giant 8.5 feet. PS: Shoe shopping? Another story).

I can’t imagine what I’ll discover once I can speak at a higher level than age four.  In the meantime, when I do ask for help, people are always kind enough to give it to me, but seldom to they take the initiative to offer it without request. I’ve come to the conclusion that in Tokyo, there is nothing more frightening than a middle aged, unmarried, nori-chip reeking American woman with giant feet.

You know what they say about women with big feet. THEY WILL CRUSH YOU.

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Filed under Fun Stuff, The Big Red Dot