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8/15/16 09:01 am - Uh... so... like, where am I?

The answer to that question is "still Japan."

Leaving Matsue was emotional but in a lot of ways perfect, that was just about two weeks ago. I'm primarily been crashing with my friend in Saitama, took a few days to go on a great trip to Kanazawa with crsg, and just spend the past few days with a friend studying in Tokyo right now. It just started to hit home yesterday that I'm leaving Japan on Friday and starting life in China.


It's so hard to process things right now. I feel I died leaving Matsue, and now I'm just a ghost hanging around. What do you mean, I have to pass on??? What do you mean, there's a world beyond this one?????

It's because things feel so in the air that I can't process things well. But frankly, even if I do waste a few hundred dollars rescheduling the flight due to more paperwork delays (but theoretically the company will reimburse me??), or in a worst case scenerio, not being able to enter the country and having to book a flight back to the US to reassess my life, things will be okay. This period of my life is keeping the plight of refugees, for whom things are far more uncertain, very close to my heart.

7/26/16 11:35 pm - I figure living in China will make me a stronger and more patient person. Sweden is not helping.

I'm crying with tears streaming down my face. I think it's fair to say I'm stressed out now.

It's 11:26pm on Tuesday night, I have going away parties tomorrow and Thursday, and I am leaving my apartment on Friday morning and I am not quite packed. There's still a few hours worth of work to do. That said, I got a lot done today.

But one thing I had been putting off thinking about was my bedroom furniture in China. It is a huge relief that my roommate has already moved in, and that she's arranging so much for me. But choosing bedroom furniture was stressing me out anyway. And today she sent me a reminder that we need to hurry up and order at least my bed. She gave me a few IKEA suggestions and the option of a cheaper source, but she really wanted me go with IKEA because that would be easier for her.

I wound up deciding I probably shouldn't do a bunk bed even though I really wanted one (darn it, why can adults have bunk beds!?), so I wound up spending several frustrating hours today looking through IKEA and drawing to make a layout that would be functional and not use up much space, and not look terrible. Apparently I'm in the "looking at IKEA designs makes me irrationally angry" camp.

I thought I finally got it figured out, and asked her to check if they would fit in the room according to the layout I sketched out for her, and later she replied that I shouldn't have the bed on that side of the room because the feng shui would be bad.

And I, whom rarely curse, opened my mouth and replied, "Fuck feng shui."

And then I started crying.

7/22/16 08:19 pm

I'm on an early 90's fantasy anime kick. XD Besides being hooked on a couple Weathering Continent and Record of Lodoss War theme songs, Highly enjoying the Arslan Senki OVA, and watched an episode of RG Veda yesterday for kicks and giggles. Ahhh, early CLAMP, I love you and your ridiculous character designs.

Oh, speaking of, did I share this? For this year's coloring contest lineart, my friend requested a guy and a girl in fantasy armor like in Magic Knights Rayearth.


That was a few months ago that I finished it though. XD More recently I drew a bunch of much more simplified armor because it suddenly dawned on me that I should make thank-you illustrations for my naginata teachers, so I made five of them (yeah, it took a while. As if I have all the time in the world. HAHAHAHAHA). And I figured while I was at it I should make a thank-you illustration for my kimono teacher, and although I already gave my tea teacher a vase from the US as a thank-you, I feel guilty not making something for her too. Oh well! I'll show up empty handed tomorrow to say hello one last time.

So after a long series of near constant outings (and more recently good-bye parties), I suddenly started crying when I was in the car with a friend today and she said her mom wouldn't be as mopey about me leaving as her dad would be because she feels like I can always "come home." And yeah, the sound of the word "kaeru" started very sudden waterworks. Not full on crying, just "please, keep talking, but don't look at me, something is leaking out of my eyes. Oh dear, there's more of it, it won't stop, how strange."

7/14/16 09:09 pm - Sing together, spar together

When you sing together with someone, your breathing and heart rates begin to sync up. When you spar with someone, I'll bet there's similar things going on.

Last night I went out to karaoke with one of the high schoolers who no longer attends my naginata class because she's busy practicing with her school club now (but her mom is one of the teachers), and with one of the girls in middle school who was one of her buddies. This three-person outting was their moms' idea. It was short and fun adjusting my songs choices to things they might know and be able to sing together, which worked out well.

I have one more naginata practice left at the end of the month during which I will focus on partner forms that do not require armor, and afterword will be my little going away party at the dojo. I might cry, we'll see.

Tonight, however, was my last sparring practice. I don't have much sparring practice, seeing as I only began using masks for the first time in the past year for only a few times when they were lent to me, otherwise I have only used the rest of the armor to do additional practice oriented towards sparring, but not actual sparring. And sparring is exhausting----besides a few minutes of straight activity and strikes, the armor is heavy, and helmets could probably make people claustraphobic with how hard it is to hear and breathe in them. This is all compounded in summer when you're drenched in sweat and your face gets really hot and red in it, and the tenugui slips over your eyes or over your mouth making it even more claustraphobic. I'm still not really used to wearing the mask, which means I'm really, really, really unpracticed---and overall, not very good---at sparring.

There's always a little lazy part of me that hopes we won't have extended practice for sparring that day and we'll all go home after regular practice, and when we do extend I try to get my efforts worth out of what I can do without a mask, and then there's that lazy part of me again that's always pleased when I can just sit back and watch the others do full-on sparring practice. But there's the part of me that wishes I could be out there too, wishing I could be gaining more experience, wishing I could be building more fighting sense.

Anyway, I made sure not to let the tiredness get to me tonight. It was hot, I was already in some pain before practice started and feeling low on energy all week, but that made doing it as best I could without regrets feel all the more satisfying.

My last sparring experience was with the middle schooler I was singing duets with last night. That was a really nice way to wrap things up.

I'm still in some pain now, some made worse by exersize and some due to sparring in bare feet, and I am still sweaty and have indigo rubbed into a few parts of my skin in the grooves and indents the armor left behind. But it kind of feels great. I don't have anything measurable to show for it, but this is the satisfaction of having worked hard, and having done so with people I care about. Thank you, brain, for giving me so many nice hormones to appreciate the experience.

Hold on, Hatomaru, my lovely naginata, we have one more practice together in two weeks. Let's do our best!!

7/11/16 07:27 pm - De... de.... de.... DEGUUUUUUS!!!!!! <3

It was a sudden encounter today, but I found my ultimate exotic pet:

They're like... they're like chinchilla rats!

7/3/16 11:14 pm - Are you ready for 24 seconds of cheesiness?

Testing this out here before I post it on Facebook later this month:


5/30/16 01:48 pm - Plans for leaving Matsue

We are, at this very moment, making plans for how I'm getting to the airport to leave Matsue on August 2nd. I chatted with my successor this morning.

Matsue's scenery has been heartwrenchingly beautiful over the past few days since I got back from Russia.

The end is nearing.

*dramatically clutches chest and falls to the floor*

5/13/16 11:45 pm - Crushed by the power of friendship

POOF! Suddenly I have tons of plans. Two trips that I figured I'd plan later suddenly took concrete form with swift communication and decision making, and getting ready for the trip I'm leaving for tomorrow has been really, really smooth (almost too smooth I'm afraid, haha).

And also, POOF! All my weekends through the end of June are suddenly gone, with portions carved out by many, many people I have long associated with here, and I am unsure how I'm going to fit in some other invitations that--POOF!--all came up at about the same time. This is a very good problem to have, though. Although I'm a little stressed and wish that more people could hang out with me on weekdays instead (because I will now literally be taking more weekdays off than actually working on them---yes, this has worked out extremely well, and partly by design), but I am touched that people want to make sure they fit things in with me. And for the most part, I do want to fit things in with them as well.

I wanted to write all the many, many, many little ways people went out of their way for me in this past week and how it makes me feel surrounded by this big happy bubble of kindness, but I'll just state that after a year of constant "let's do karaoke!" and "I want to go to karaoke..." offhand comments and a few failed attempts at prompting an actually karaoke outing, I found out this afternoon right about the time I was leaving that many of the people in my office had already tried to commit to a date (which I almost already had other plans for, haha). And this is of course in my honor, and because I and everyone else is extremely busy as it is, we already picked out a day for my going away party too. Basically, I'm getting two parties and I am really embarrassed that they're doing this just because I said I wanted it, but I am also honored and really, really happy. And that's how things have been all week, really.

I'm just going to Russia (and Korea!) for a couple weeks, I'm not leaving yet! XD But I guess this works out well, because it's a wake-up call to make everyone stake their claims on my schedule in advance. So anyway, tomorrow begins my long awaited trip to Russia and first long boat trip. :D And June's schedule is "PARTY HARD and sit at a desk sometimes maybe doing a little work."

5/8/16 05:09 pm - Please Save The Story


If anyone asks me what my favorite manga is, I automatically respond "Please Save My Earth" even though I'm less excited about it now than I am for, say, Akatsuki no Yona. And yes, I did translate the whole sequel and there were parts of it I loved, but I gradually lost a lot of interest in it because I feel like the story has strayed so much, and beat some things like a dead horse which I think were perfectly fine--and potent--left just as the way they are in the original.

If there's one thing I had, it's a sappy, overly drawn-out ending. If there's one I thing I hate more, it's sequels that suck all the meaning out of something that already had a perfectly good ending. That's exactly what Boku-Tsuki (the sequel) did to Boku-Chikyuu (the original) in a lot of ways, but I stuck with it, considering it a seperate work in some ways because Hiwatari's style--in both story and art, especially art--has changed so much.

But then she suddenly decided to conclude Boku-Tsuki and start Boku-Uta, the third series in the PSME series. Or rather, a sequel to the sequel which started serialization almost immediately after the previous sequel ended, and which showed no dramatic shift in style (only, as far as I expected, a few shifts in story about a 4-year time skip, but still the main character and worrisomely meandering story approach).

"Great," I thought sarcastically, after having been relieved to see Boku-Tsuki come to a conclusion after it squeezed whatever emotion it could out of what was left potent in the original. "Now we get a few extra years distance to go back and be nostalgic all over again." Now that I've typed this sentence, I see that was bugged me about the last arc of Boku-Tsuki was that, with a few notable exceptions, it didn't progress or go forward with the original plot elements introduced in Boku-Tsuki which made it a unique work. Instead, it was revisiting and revisiting and revisiting things that should have been left in the original. A big theme in PSME is "nostalgia," a sense of longing for that which one can no longer reach, like people we knew in the distant past. What Boku-Tsuki did by bringing in long-gone characters was take away the sense of longing, and making the nostalgia theme all but hollow.

I wasn't excited about Boku-Chikyuu. I took a peak at a chapter several months ago while I was in a bookstore with open monthly magazines, and at first glance it looked once again like it was relying on old drama and plugging in some mysterious, new and important character. She seemed to know too much about the "secret" past of the original cast, so my first instinct was to hate her for being some "new" character from "the past" (even though they're getting further and further from their past now--it's been almost 37 years since they were first reincarnated). But today I saw the first volume at the bookstore with a special fanbook attached, and I figured, "eh, why not, I'm so loyal that I want to add everything to my PSME collection anyway" and bought it.

I feel like I'm meeting old friends. ^___^ (Plus, Arina Tanemura apparently is a huge fan (like so many other of my old favorite mangaka are too) and drew some adoooooorable fanart in the fanbook, eeeeeeeeee, now THAT feels nostalgic on two levels.)

It's already taking some new, refreshing approaches. The disconcord between Ren and Kachiko as they grow up, and the earthly (?) origins of the mysterious girl, which actually fits along elements introduced in Boku-Tsuki and played a big role in them, and a new set of powers for Ren. Yeah, sure, I'm skeptical about how some of these plot items will work out (oh please, PLEASE don't have any special meaning for that stupid outfit Henruka wears), but if there's one thing about Hiwatari's work is that so long as you're willing to suspend some disbelief, she'll give you a complicate plot with intricacies you are unlike to encounter elsewhere, with a very multidimensional cast. I already feel myself wanting to give the mysterious Henruka a chance.

And Ren! He's growing up to be more Alice-like than Rin-clone (as we saw in the hints in the Boku-Tsuki concluding arc), and I really like these new challenges he's facing. He's in a not outright bad, but believably lonely situation, and he's handling it as maturely as he can and I'm so proud of him.

Also happy to see Jinpachi and Daisuke having AGENCY again. XD They got so pushed aside in Boku-Tsuki, I missed them! Myself of 10 years ago could never imagine me saying this, but I WANT MORE HARUHIKO!!!

But anyway. I'm happy. And they put a trivia quiz at the end of the volume which I scored high on (but frustratingly not as high as I hoped XD) and which made me laugh.

Yeah, Hana to Yume, you keep milking PSME for all it's worth, but fine. I will keep following and collecting, as the original means that much to me. <3

4/28/16 08:31 pm - Hatomaruuuuuu

Lately I don't think I've been doing well with this whole "leaving Japan" thing. Career-wise I know I'm really ready for some experience in China, but I do really love life in Matsue.

Tonight at naginata practice we focused on the basics, and lately I've been focusing on my engi (they're set forms like kata). The judo class was on break tonight, so it was easy to hear my own voice echoing through the dojo as I practiced strikes. It was the sort of practice that brought peace of mind (which I have been needing lately), and though there's plenty I still need to improve, I'm feeling to fruits of a few years of effort.

That said, I had one sparring match last November (I lost, but I'm so satisfied with having done it), and due to the numbers and skill levels of adult naginata-ka in the area, entering competitions has never really been s focus in my training.

Today they announced one in June for the kids, and I saw that technically, I could enter the adult engi portion with a partner, and I got my hopes up and asked about it, but no one else has signed up for it, so I can't enter. : / sigh. I find I really am disappointed, as that would have been my last chance, and it brought out the bittersweet realization that I'm going to have to leave my Hatomaru and my practices and my awesome teachers and classmates behind.

I do love bittersweet things, though. It's only bitter because I do find it so sweet.

And I still have a few months.

And I have a visa to visit Russia now. So yeah, that's happening. :D
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