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6/27/17 10:04 pm - *sigh*

Yep, still dealing with culture shock. I read a journal page I wrote in my work notebook back in October, and I'm basically feeling the same things now, just a little more jaded to it. Still, doing my best to make what I can of life, even if it's not what I pictured a little unrealistically. Let's face it, I'll probably never have a lifestyle again quite like I had in Matsue on the JET Program.

But guess what? I'm still trying. XD I am still pushing myself to try to BE MY ACTIVE SELF here in China, and I'm already poking around to work in Japan again starting late 2018. The stroke of inspiration it really took to push me to this side of a decision was wanting to be a Tokyo Olympic volunteer, and it would really help if I were in Japan for the training in advance.

But really I just came to say that I'm feeling nostalgic for Fushigi Yuugi. That is all. And knowing me, it's nothing new.

5/29/17 10:11 pm - : 3

Today two different coworkers who I talk with a lot calling me the Chinese or Japanese equivalent of "Princess" in passing, and I'm actually really happy about this and kind of hope it becomes a thing. It's not really in good form to openly state that yes, I see myself as a princess (particularly a shoujo manga princess complete with sparkles and flowers in my background), so it's really nice when people start seeing you the way you see yourself.

5/22/17 10:29 pm - When insomnia hits, I somehow get productive?

Today was another one of those "I'm gonna figure out what I'm gonna do with my life" days and this time I started planning on getting an MBA in Kyoto. (Because Kyoto is my placeholder for Shanghai life, basically. No real plans at this time.)

The rationale is that I'd like the option of moving back to Colorado someday and still be able to have my niche skills in Asia-stuff be a core part of my career. And, you know, I'd like to make money instead of just scrape by with interpreting jobs and such. At least at the city level it's hard to get the government to invest in tourism campaigns for Asian guests, so this makes me a little dependent on business relations with Asia. Theoretically I should be able to do business; I have a BA in Economics and I've done some business-y things, and even though I beat myself up about not being good enough I am really stinkin' good at a couple of Asian languages. But no, I don't actually have a marketable title. : / Or much of an idea how to lead businessy stuff. I'd like to think I could learn through experience, but getting a position that will teach me things is a difficulty...

So I did a search for international businesses in Kyoto (because hey, doing business + living in Kyoto means making money while being in a place I love, and if I've learned one thing about myself, it's that I'm a big brat about where to live and I love tourism cities with natural scenery most). That led me to business schools, and I was like, "hey, yeah, sure, I should totally do this."

You know, sort of how I felt some months ago when I looked up graduate programs for interpreting. In Kyoto.

So I'll probably change my mind again several times, and I do also have a big part of me that just wants to settle in Japan and not think about my parents getting older someday. Plus, I don't have the same appetite for business as many people I'd likely be competing with (I'm more interested in being a liaison than in going after deals myself). So whaaaatever.


Anyway, I've been trying to be productive, as hopefully that will keep me from feeling down about my job not being what I hoped it'd be. I still want to make use of my time here, after all. Trying to read articles, trying to study both Chinese and Japanese. The cultural studies (martial arts and tea) are not panning out as hoped, but I'm finding ways to justify to myself that I am getting very practical cultural experience through my job. I knew coming in to this that I would have to be a more flexible person to work in China, but experience is making me know this at a much deeper level.

And trying to work on my novel(s), because hey, maybe things will pan out in the future so that I can be a novelist and make enough money to embrace a fully eccentric lifestyle in both the US and Japan.


Oh, and I started listening to War and Peace. I like it so far.

5/17/17 09:39 pm - General updatey updateness

So that title? I had it in mind, and evidently I've used it before because it auto-filled it for me. So on to that updateyness.

Today was a really nice day (in general, my days off are my favorite days, and I have indeed had a lot of nice ones). I started early by going to a bakery cafe I had often passed by on my walks to work on Sunday in office 40 minutes away on foot, as I had noticed the other day that it opens at 8, and I had always wondering about their upstairs balcony they advertised. The weather was wonderfully still and sunny, the bakery was deliciously Japanese-style French, and the odd little balcony upstairs was a very pleasant little space. There was a trio of stray cats lounging around or complaining about visitors, the plants both next to the balcony and around the alley it overlooked had fragrant flowers, and shadows of bees and butterflies danced around the table in front of me as I listened to the birds chirping (and the occasional drone of construction, because you never fully escape it in Shanghai). At some point a group of Japanese women came up and cooed about the space but decided it was too hot and went back downstairs, and at another point a young women came up with her tiny dog. That tiny dog wandered back and forth around the space, and at one point licked my legs with a tiny tongue, and very politely allowed me to pet it, and it hit out underneath me for some shade. As the young lady, who had been going back and forth on her phone, started to descend the stairs she smiled and bid me farewell, though we had said nothing to each other.

I had been working on my rereading/skimming my novel from last fall to write out the plot holes, and I found myself entertaining more notions of a sequel as I got to the end. I had spent my last four days off having misadventures trying to find good cafes to work in (because editing at home is a drag), and today's was my favorite, by far.

Still in a good mood after that, I wander down the street and some antiques caught my eye, so I went inside. The old man insisted I feel free to rummage through everything, and we talked a little in Chinese about the things I was interested in, and I found an old hanging bamboo scroll that I want to use as a table-runner to make my tea-time at home a little more atmospheric (I had been looking for just such a thing). I took the other street up and found a little tea shop and a bored looking young shop keeper, so I accepted her tea offer and kept her company for a little while. She had just that morning received a big shipment of very fresh pipa fruits from Suzhou, and they were tasty. I'll probably be back at some point; though every friendship I make feels daunting because I never know here quite how much I'm signing up for. With Chinese people, anyway--with expats, it's very easy to meet people, hit it off, exchange contact info, and then never see each other again.

I stopped by a hair salon on the way back that I knew was expensive, but I had always wondered about it because they (like many salons) advertised having Japanese stylists (yeah, that's a big fad lately. There are many, many hair stylists from Japan in Shanghai, like my hairdresser in Matsue told me that last time I got my hair cut before leaving. Speaking of Matsue, I've been really nostalgic for it this week). I went at a time when no one was busy just to consult him, and although I didn't really like what he suggested for my hair, it was fun to talk to him for a few minutes anyway.

And then after a little break and self-indulgent doodling for a sequel to the fantasy novel I really need to start editing, I did a bunch of research for the NaNoWriMo project I had in mind for this year (and my challenge to myself on that one is to try not to let it get too long--economy of language is a thing!).

And then I finished listening to the audiobook version of "The Invisible Man" and started "War and Peace" while doing a very, very poor patchwork job on my backpack. Although it'd be easy to find a new backpack here, I really like this one I got in a thrift store last year because it'd very stretchy so you can fit a lot in it, it's a nice color, and it has this adorable Engrish which make it a good travel/adventure backpack:

As it is fine,
I'll go out.
Let's decide together
where to go first.
Let's take the plunge.
I jumped for joy.
Getting better!

I showed it to a friend; she thought it was about marriage. Well, anyway. Speaking of travel, I'm planning a 10 day trip for this summer to a few spots smack-dab in rural China, and I'm a little nervous about it (and haven't told my mom about it). I do feel that one particular leg of it might be a little risky, but it'll probably be gorgeous, and this is the only place I've seen on TV--many years ago--and thought, I have to go there! And now the flights are purchased, so I guess I'm going. Originally it was supposed to be two or three small trips instead of one big one (because, frankly, China is big and those spots are all pretty far away from each other). But due to the nature of my work schedule, it had to all be combined into one, and I'm kind of looking forward to doing a night train again for the first time in almost seven years.

Did I mention before that I got a therapist? I just had my last session her the other day, and she was a great match. I feel better equip to make the best of the rest of time in China. I don't expect this to be the highlight of my life (because, frankly, my time in Matsue may be impossible to every top and I need to just be okay with that), and I need to appreciate it for what it is right in front of me, and not beat myself up about it not being everything I dreamed up. Like, martial arts? It's a nice idea I keep coming back to, since the place I had been going to closed a few months ago, I've made almost zero effort. (But I kind of started exercising again, a little, so that's something, right?)

Welp. Guess I gotta go to work tomorrow.

5/10/17 12:25 pm - .....ya~

Gee, I don't write much here lately, do I? Well, as a general life update...

1. First two plays done. Much better than expected. People are happy. I am relieved.

2. I did a freelance job for a Japanese company. It was nerve wracking, but the company is happy. I am proud.

3. I started the process to edit my fantasy novel. Not actual editing, just mapping it out. Off to do more of that now.

4. But first let me say that as I've gotten more teaching experience, I've found my character as a teacher, so to speak. She is sassy. Like, I don't think I was ever this sassy before gaining control of classrooms. Ohhhhh ho ho ho ho ho ho ho.

4/14/17 08:06 pm - Um... where do I start?

Life is still... well... something, a big mix of things, nice things, low things. Life, basically, and I've not been very inspired to write many journal entries. I guess the biggest thing going on is that I got attacked by a dog a week ago and that was unpleasant. I'm okay, it's wince-worthy but not cringe-worthy, bad enough to go to the hospital and start getting rabies shots, but it didn't need stitches or anything. But maaaaaaan, it's ugly. It was more so the circumstances surrounding it that made me upset, because the foster-owner of the dog had enough going on in his life that he really didn't need that sort of issue on top of it. We're keeping the situation as simple as we can (but ungh, I'm really not looking forward to the booster shots because I got such a bad headache after the first round).

Also, I got an online therapist to deal with some of my negative feelings about living in China. The purpose was to try to find a way to deal with it so I can make my two years here worth it, and I feel like she's a really good fit for me and she understands a lot of my circumstances and aspects of my personality really well, and she's been encouraging me to quit China earlier than intended and just go do what makes me happy (like living in Japan. Oh maaaaannnnn I miss Shimane). I have considered breaking my contract after the first school year, but if anything, being encouraged to do has reawoken a stubborn perfectionist bone in me that screams back that I'm going to stick to the plan, because I've had this plan a long time and I'm going to enact the plan, dammit!!!!

So... it's going well, I guess? XD

On a very, very random note, I started reading a light novel the other day about a girl who has been reincarnated as the Ojousama villain of a shojo manga, and she desperately tries to avoid her downfall by being a humble person who doesn't cause trouble for anyone. It's very cute and I love it, my brain got so sucked in partly because I see myself as an Ojousan type at times (but now I'm Ojousensei??). The main character is a very easy mask to put on, so I found myself thinking of myself in a more Ojousan way, such as going slightly out of my way to stand straighter and put my wet hair up in such a way that I knew I would get more corkscrew curls (plus, I have to wear skirts this week to treat my leg injuries more easily). But then I went to karaoke last night, which was a little meh because it was too boisterously noisy, and afterward someone posted a short clip of me singing. Ugh!! I hadn't heard my recorded voice for a while and I forgot how much I hate it. It broke my reality a bit and, silly as it seems, it plunged me into a general state of no confidence.

And you know why? BECAUSE I'M NOT A SHOUJO MANGA CHARACTER. Seriously, sometimes I forget that. The way I see myself and the world is through shoujo-manga tinted glasses and always has been, and sometimes the fact that I am human--three dimensional flesh in all its complexity--strikes me as a departure from my aesthetic. Which, yes, is ridiculous, but there's always that voice in the back of my head saying, "Okay, you worked hard for your dreams... when do you get rewarded by starring in a shoujo manga?"

But today on the way home, it suddenly struck me how human everyone is, in all those unconscious little habits and motions and expressions and imperfect actions. There really is no such thing as perfection, and as a perfectionist since I was a baby, I really do have to remind myself of that or I keep chasing something that doesn't exist.

Sometimes you just have to exist.

3/6/17 02:57 pm - China High

I want to record some happy China feelings from the past few days before I lose them. They must be savored!

Granted, some of this probably has to do with not haven't done much work over the past few days. I'm generally happiest on my days off. Anyway:

--Started a little bit rough, by the end of the morning the printer issues made me cry and ladies in the office caught this and gave me hugs. And it slipped their minds to tell me class was canceled that afternoon, so I left early (to some extent, people just don't care, and it drives me a little bit bonkers that I'm in the office a lot more than some of the other teachers, but even I have started coming in late and leaving early. This is semi-officially okay, yet not very clear-cut).
--As usual, I really, really enjoyed a lunch of tofu and vegetables at the Sichuan restaurant near my work place. I really liked their decor, and they switched out the flowers for some new seasonal ones.
--For the first time in over two months, I went bouldering. It was laid back and fun, and I could to see a Japanese lady I get along well with and brought one of my younger Chinese assistants along. It's very nice being the company of others who are wiling to try anything and like to be active.

--Technically a work day, but without any reason to be in the office and without anyone who would care being there, I "worked from home." No really, I did do work. Just enough to feel productive.
--Upon invitation from said assistant, I went out to a classical garden on one of the further parts of Shanghai. It was crowded, but for China, not bad at all. It was beautiful weather, I got up early and put on make-up so I felt pretty out there among the flowers. My friend had a good time too.
--I left a little early and, upon her suggestion, stopped by a local place for their local take on Xiaolongbao. The staff there was pretty nice and I didn't get food poisoning, score.
--I tried out one of those seasonal sweets I've been seeing everywhere but haven't taken the chance to eat yet. It tasted about like what I expected, what with already having eaten similar traditional sweets in Japan. It wasn't amazing, but I liked it.

--All in all, a pretty nice day. I should start waking up at 6am again now that the weather is getting a bit warmer. I like the early morning streets of the French Concession. It suddenly occurred to me that I could make it to a Wing Chun lesson, which in general I am no longer able to do on a regular basis.
--Started with Mass nice and early, then got to take my time before going in to work to teach a demo class, enjoyed chatting for a few minutes with online friends on Skype, had an okay class and follow-up and stuff. Walked home and attempted, unsuccessfully, to take a nap.
--Made a mad dash out to the bus to try to get to Wing Chun class at a new location in time.
--Remembered half-way that I left my public transportation card at home and I didn't bring any cash. Dashed back, and felt this was a good thing because I needed to get back into the habit of exercising anyway (it's so easy to break that habit).
--Made it to class in time!
--Had a good lesson, powered through the tiredness in my arms as much as possible. It was nice to see my teacher again, and kind of fun to work with the big French guy who came in late, because he doesn't hold back.
--It's nice when people don't hold back so that I don't have to either, but I hope that I left him with bruises too. That would make my bruised hand much more satisfying.
--They were doing kendo lessons next door. That's always nice.
--Talked with the French kid afterward. Felt like a senpai again. It occurred to me that, whether it is bouldering or speaking a foreign language, I have more confidence doing it if I'm around someone who is less experienced. I felt like I should feel bad about this, but instead I readily accepted that I do have a vicious ego. Really, whatever it takes to make me feel confident and motivated...
--Got distracted on the big ride back, missed my stop, took a nice walk home mostly without the aid of a smartphone. Mostly. Was in a very cheerful mood to wonder and figure my way through because I already had the after-exercise rush and it was good weather and I was in walking shoes and I wasn't carrying much.
--Got food from the local Uyghur place with the kid who I think is such a badass for how she deals with adults (both in the kitchen and among the customers) and takes care of her little sisters.
--Got inspired by the new chapter and did AkaYona fanart

--Technically my day off. I slept in a bit, but naturally woke up before my alarm with some pleasant dreams.
--Tried out some cheap tea tools I got on impulse. Set it all up nicely and listened to guzheng music and everything while I went through cup after cup after cup of some nice Dian Hong tea.

I'm not as elated now as I was, say, while walking home from Wing Chun lessons yesterday, but I do want to remember I enjoyed myself.

I thought of starting a podcast about life in China (and bought a new microphone and recorded one and wrote rough drafts for a few others) for a few reasons:
1) To make the most out of what I expect will be a once-in-a-lifetime thing
2) To keep myself observant of and involved in the world around me, like I was in Japan (I did a lot of very cool things in the name of getting blog material), thereby keeping myself from wanting to hide from the world most of the time
3) To contribute to world peace by giving the handful of people who might listen a different understanding of China than they get on Western media
4) To keep records for myself in case I ever want to use my observations for a project in the future

But the reasons I'm loathe to do so:
1) I don't have the technical abilities to make it actually sound good
2) I'm lazy and it's hard to stay motivated (though, back in those goals listed, this is supposed to make me motivated)
3) My creativity feels so scattered lately, I get a lot of ideas but can't focus on anything long enough to get it done

Well, anyway.

Speaking of making the most of China, I might hate myself for this later, but I'm using some upcoming public holidays to go traveling. Things are way, waaaaay more expensive then and everywhere will be hella crowded, but frankly, it's just too hard to take time off when classes are in session.

No regrets. Or at least, that's the plan.

For now I need to focus most on planning my early April trip. I'm taking someone to go enjoy Hangzhou for a day, so while I have some time to meander back, I'm going to check out some places in the area a little off the beaten tourist paths that have to do with my favorite folk legend of China that I'd love to write my own retelling of someday. I've started doing a little research, but I will definitely need a good plan if I'm actually going to find these places and then not wind up stranded in the middle of nowhere.

But hey, I'm mostly excited for this. That's a good thing.

2/25/17 09:59 pm - "I Wish" is the ending theme again, and I wish I had a better internet connection!

And so it begins again... my potentially very long and labored attempt at watching the newest Digimon Adventure Tri movie. Come on, Chinese internet, here we go!

--Welp, I've only had to pause and reload four or five times on the theme song, so far so good.

--And now we have a mountain. And we're paused again. Dammit, this probably going to take me 10 hours again.

--And now ominous water and some cool music to go with it...


More screaming, for a variety of reasonsCollapse )

--Okay, I got to ending theme! And I'm stuck on the most adorable frame of Sora hugging Biyomon, but I've been watching for almost 4 hours already on the first episode alone. Looks like it'll take me a while to watch any more tomorrow... and I have work. T___T I should sleep soon and suffer through the second part tomorrow.

EDIT: Finished!! The play-by-play reactions continue!

Parts 2-4 only took me about two hours! Yay! Thank you, Internet!Collapse )

2/16/17 08:43 pm - The only--ONLY--series that puts me through shipper hell for my OTP (and even then they're a BroTP)

I caved.

While in California, I stopped by a Japanese bookstore and bought all four volumes of Kaze Hikaru that they had on impulse.

Volumes 36, 37, 38, 39.

The last time I had a chance to skim through them at a manga cafe was around 36, and I had hoped that buying these would bring me closer to whatever conclusion they are doomed to head toward.

But. It's. Still. Going.

It looks like it will stretch out forever, what with the characters who are still alive and kicking for now (or in Okita's case, at least alive). And now that I've started I'm afraid I'm going to keep.


It all.


2/16/17 07:47 am - Still not unpacked but...

Back in China, went back to work yesterday, about to head out again. The trip was heavy and tiring, but worth it.

Need to get refocused on the weeks ahead, but you know what's coming?

Feb 20-ish: Another highly anticipated chapter of Akatsuki no Yona
Feb 25-ish: Another highly anticipated Digimon Tri movie

Life in the next couple weeks will be good. Gimme that **SPOILER** and Sora development! Answer my questions, tell me what's going on! You hooded figures that teased me the ends of the previous installments have some explaining to do!
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