Direct Translation Impossible

Tales from the Land of the Rising Sun


Every stupid thing a person could do in Japan, all in one place.

Many Westerners are intrigued by Japanese culture, but only a small percentage of them get to see it up close.

Very few of them get as close as Chad has been fortunate to. He is an accomplished Japanese speaker who spent five years living in Japan while working at elementary and junior high schools. In this mostly silly book, he shares my experiences:

– Struggling with and mastering a foreign language

– Overcoming culture shock and its neglected cousin, reverse culture shock

– Backpacking without a backpack (spoiler: get a friend with a backpack)

– Breaking into traditional Japanese festivals

– No holds barred athletic competition with 14 year-olds

– Constantly feeling stupid

This book is a window into the life of a foreigner in Japan and will appeal to anyone who is considering teaching English abroad, wants to see Japan from the inside without buying a plane ticket, or enjoys the occasional dose of schadenfreude.  Chad made the mistakes and hope you will now join him in laughing at them.

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Interview on Konnichiwa Seattle Terebi

With Knight-san of Konnichiwa Seattle Terebi: Part One
We talk ego-deflation and the death of faulty expectations.
Part Two of Knight and my conversation.
We talk language flubs and misadventures with a variety of toilets.

Selected Praise for Direct Translation Impossible

“Loved this book. A very thoughtful piece about the triumphs and trials of living abroad, the challenges of assimilation and the glory of small things. Lots of great 3rd party quotes to give context to the author’s thoughts. Really captures the difficulty of coming of age in a foreign place.”

–Five-star Amazon Review from Mike

“I purchased this book because I have always been interested in the Japanese language and culture. My step-father is from Japan, and I also took 3 years in High School. Instantly I could relate to the author in the first chapter. Those awkward moments when you first start a language and have no idea what the hell is going on. This has been a pleasure to read, and the stories are hilarious and intriguing. If you have ever wondered what it was like to live over seas, leave your family and friends behind to go on an adventure that could possibly change your life, this book is a great start to live some of those experiences. It is well written, witty, honest, and a downright a blast to read. I wish Chad Frisk success.”

–Five-star Amazon review from Kyle

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This is Not a Sutra

A Trial and Error Guide to Meditation for Secular Thinkers


Question: Can you meditate without becoming a Buddhist?

Answer: Maybe.

Meditation is increasingly described as a secular tool for supporting mental health; that said, it is less common to hear about the challenges involved in actually trying to do it.

One challenge is that meditating can be hard. The practices themselves require training and dedication.

Another challenge is that meditation often isn’t very secular.

This book represents my attempts to work through those challenges. Inside you will find common instructions for four practices that I engage in. After presenting the instructions, I detail my difficulties both understanding and carrying them out. Then I offer some suggestions on how someone might try to learn how to meditate without becoming a Buddhist.

This book does not claim to be an authority on any meditative practice or tradition; rather, it is an account of my personal efforts to develop a non-religious practice. I hope that it will get you to the trailhead so that you can explore your mind for yourself.

Free PDF of Introduction: Entering the Maze

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Selected Praise for This is Not a Sutra

“For anyone who wants to learn to meditate, fears they might not be much good at it, and is certain they won’t be much good at adhering to invariant step-by-step instructions, this book is a gem. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.”

–Tucker Peck, PhD, from the foreward

“A pithy summary of a few different styles of meditation, with practical tips and funny stories along the way.”

–Five star Amazon Review from nyc-consultant

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Hard Ninety

The Birth, Death, and Afterlife of a Childhood Dream

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Lessons learned from losing a lot of baseball games.

As an elementary schooler, I spent my days dreaming of my next at-bat.

As a college senior, I hoped that my name wouldn’t even be on the line-up card.

Many boys grow up with baseball. I was no different. In elementary school, I lived for spring. Through junior high and high school, the baseball field was my favorite place to be.

After high school, I was accepted to a small college where I’d heard I could walk onto the team. You can imagine the thrill I felt at the prospect of playing college baseball.

Unfortunately, the reality was much harsher than the dream. My body broke down, my swing fell apart, and our team lost most of its games—often brutally. After four years playing for this very bad team, I was left with one question:

“Do I still love baseball—or do I hate it?”

Join me as I review the scorebooks, bus rides, and practice plans of my seventeen-year baseball career in an attempt to answer that question.

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Selected Praise for Hard Ninety

“This story follows a kid’s T-Ball beginnings thru his college baseball playing career. Mr. Frisk provides a transparent account of a youth who showed great determination to participate in a sport he loves while never making excuses for his physical and team’s performance limitations. A good read for young people focused on a sports life objective while confronting the hard realities of achieving success.”

Five star Amazon review from Douglas Wilson

“Yes, this book is largely about baseball, but not in the way you think. The sport is a lens through which the reader glimpses how the author grew and developed- not just as a player, but also as an individual. As Frisk reflects on the good and the bad moments of his own youth, adolescence and young adulthood, we witness baseball’s constant presence through it all, and how his relationship to the sport transformed along with his own growth as an individual. This is why I found this book so engaging, even as someone who knows very little about baseball. Highly recommended!”

Five star Amazon review from FT

Translated Indirectly

Japanese Wisdom, Mostly in English

(Expected Publication Date: Spring 2021)