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1/1/18 09:05 pm - The 2018 kick-off post

First things first in this week of firsts, my trip was stressful and one big metaphor for my time in China which would take a very long post to describe everything that happened, but it also provided ample reflection time for this New Years calligraphy and this year's theme:

Keikaku wa Kawaru Mono: Plans Are Things That Change

With that in mind, today I did not watch a sunrise but I had a very nice time watching daybreak at the beach, and a little over an hour later I had my first cry of the year when some of my other plans changed unexpectedly. But even though being flexible is a bitch, everything turned out okay, and I've got to remember that.

So, even though I had other plans written down, I'm going to stick to whichever ten come to mind here, because plans are always a good starting point (especially considering I don't know where I'll even be living at the end of 2018):

1. Get fit, dammit.
2. Triumph with the end of my China run, feeling more capable in China-related things
3. Visit at least five new places, in whatever countries (for now I'm thinking Australia, Mongolia, Fujian, Washington, and...???)
4. Do one novel rewrite and write at least two new stories (no need to be novel-length)
5. Reset my emotional programming for dealing with stressful situations, because the dial is stuck on "cry" for every little thing right now
6. Be less sassy at work
7. Get a new job, hopefully in Japan but be cool and positive if it's in Colorado
8. Manage money better (so no more retail therapy!)
9. Try to be a kind person again, one whom people feel refreshed after interacting with instead of worn out

...You know what? I don't need ten. I'm flexible! AAHAHAHAHA this isn't going to bother me oooooone bit.

12/17/17 11:06 pm - Gosh darnit I still love Fushigi Yuugi so much

I finally watched the first of, what, three FY stage plays? I was hoping it would be the one that Golden Bomber's drummer made in a more gothic style because he wanted to be Tamahome, because that would concept is hilarious and I was very curious what they would do with it.

But I was really happy watching this one! I fangirled so hard for two and a half hours. Oh my gosh, it was so over dramatic as well as so silly--in other words, very FY. My goodness, Miaka's actress was so adorable, I even started to enjoy the Tamahome/Miaka romance elements for the first time in, like, fourteen years. I do feel like I've gotten to enjoy these characters again for the first time.

THough.... ALTHOOOUGGHHH....... I mean, sure, I love them all, but I've always had a very, very soft spot for Chiriko. I like that they involved him in mysterious ways throughout the play since he wasn't going to actually play a part until the end, but....... but............. instead of a highly enjoyable solo song (even EIKEN had a song routine I loved, and I hadn't even remembered his name all this time), instead he got interpretive dance routines instead??? Also, his actor had such a low voice??? And his hair is shaped like a hornet?? Ungh, I never thought I'd prefer Chiriko to be off screen so that I can just enjoy the Tamahome and Miaka stuff instead.

But gosh, this Tamahome was adorable too. Like, he's so full of life and positive, while still being Tamahome. My goodness, I love what they did with him.


Chichiri, oh my goodness, his song was so catchy. I warmed up to Nuriko and Tasuki soon enough, I liked this interpretation of Yui and Nakago and Amiboshi, and although Hotohori's didn't feel like Hotohori to me, I like this interpretation of his character too. Mitsukake was a total Mitsukake and I love how much screentime was devoted to him and Shouka, whose actress really caught my attention. I grew to really like a lot of choreography of the chorus and how they made the special effects; it really suited the Universe of the Four Gods. Some of the costumes were just SO GOOD, others... well... hornet hair. But really, I was smiling and squealing and happy the whole time.

My goodness, I have an appreciation for Miaka again like I did when I was 14. This is a nice feeling. I can totally see why she annoys people and a lot of my interpretation of Miaka is colored by who she is in the latter half of the series and in the (I can admit now, truly awful) OVAs, but man, the early Miaka is something special in just how honest she is. MY GOSH, THIS ACTRESS WAS SO CUTE AND SO MIAKA.

T~~~~T I loved it.

12/14/17 08:38 pm - It gets me pumped, what can I say?

Yes, I am that girl who passionately lip-syncs anime songs on the treadmill.

12/4/17 08:58 pm - The AGGRESSIVE plan to CHILL.

Hot damn, I've dropped so much money. First things first, I need to publicly slap myself:

I have paid for the following to use over the course of the next 8 months:
--20 Wing Chun lessons
--11 more float sessions
--8 more full body Chinese massages (more on that in a second) + enough for a couple extras
--A freakin' 1 year gym membership

Alas, I have become the sort of person to drop large amounts of money for the sake of attempting to feel better, when I know that simple fixes like going out and running, spending less time at my computer, meditating, and talking to good friends are things that will help and will not cost me more money. But darn it, I feel STUCK. I need some help.

Yeah, I already got some help earlier this year with a couple months of talking to a therapist. But a therapist can't fix the aches in my shoulders, or my migraines, or low blood pressure, and general lack of energy to do anything. That's why even though I feel happy after Wing Chun lessons, I've hardly done it at all this whole year.

The floating I love, and I signed up for that without them even giving me a hard sell. I love how chill those Swedish bros who run it are. But even then, I thought the package was a cringe-worthy expensive.

Weeeeellllll, I thought I'd just get myself one massage last month, and I got talked into a package deal because I was in pain and they just dropped it on me and I couldn't think straight and just wound up agreeing to it, and it was a lot more expensive that the rejuvenating float package. But more on that in a second.

I know that what I need most is to exercise, because I just don't. Well, this gym has chains everywhere so I can go right after work a couple times a week, and now that I've dropped this much money on it and begrudgingly accepted the hard sell the guy gave me, I have no excuse. I HAVE TO DO THIS. But ugh, exercise makes me feel so sick; if I don't already have a migraine it usually gives me one. I'm at such a loss, I may as well go with what's going to give me a consultation with a trainer every month and teachers at whatever classes strike my fancy. NO EXCUSES. (To make myself feel more excited, I made myself a playlist for my old MP3 player. "FACE" is on it, totally.)

Now, those massages. These have been one big awkward experience. I keep thinking about what a funny story the whole experience makes, and I really should commit it to text.

.......=___= But it's 9pm and if I seriously want to get better, I need to get off my computer earlier at night. I can't buy better sleep if I keep sitting at my computer.

So those stories will be for another time. But for now, let me do what I've been meaning to do:

I hereby promise to myself to value my well-being, and to not regret this desperate purchases.
I'm obviously bothered by not feeling well, and if I'm the only one who cares about this, then I've got to take responsibility for fixing it.
Realistically, other people care about my well-being as well, and I'm doing them a service by taking care of myself so they don't worry on my behalf.
I have made my purchases and am now free to enjoy them for the remainder of my time in China.
I will make time for at least one float per month.
I will finish my massage package and not bow to any pressure to purchase more no matter how hard they sell it.
I will visit the gym with enough dedication that I can push through the difficulties of beginning a routine again, and feel I am getting good value.
I will try to take rest away from my computer more seriously.
I will make time to do things I like, and not regret their cost.
I will make more efforts to take to people I love on Skype.
I will try not to let matters at work get so deep under my skin.
I will not keep making excuses for my misery.

Well, there you have it. Feel free to hold me accountable.

11/25/17 11:27 pm - Yum yum, crunching numbers, crunchy numbers are tasty

It's November 25th and I have 69,240 words on my NaNo project, it's aaaaaaalmost there. I'm really pleased with myself for keeping this one under 100,000 words. Granted, my pace on it has been super slow the past few days because I trust myself too much to finish this weekend.

Speaking of numbers and distractions, though---yesterday morning I got the bright idea to look up apartments in Matsue to see how much different ones would go for. I found one that was like a dream come true for the same price I'm paying in Shanghai right now for a situation I'm pretty unhappy with. And then this evening, I thought I'd check what apartments go for back in Colorado Springs, and wow, that was a shocking. To get a nice place, it'd be like paying a mortgage.

So this evening I crunched a bunch of big numbers about housing and cars, assuming I'll be a spinster forever. What I've figured out:

1. If move back to Colorado and want a nice place to live and a good car right away and am willing to commit to them, and if I want nice stuff, that's going to be a very, very expensive first year, so I better save a ton of money first, and I better have a job that gives me a spankin' nice salary. Realistically that first year would suck, and I'd probably hate it and all the crappy furniture I'd wind up with.

2. If I move back to Colorado and live with my parents for three years and buy a car right away, I could save a lot of money and get a nice place when I move out and furnish it nicely, and by the time I'm 50 I could potentially be a happy homeowner, have a good car, have no debt, and $90,000 in the bank. You know, assuming I have a good job, never fall ill and never pay taxes, and even live that long and stay happy in one place. And assuming my family and I are all happy to live together for three years. That's a lot of assumptions, but this is still the most financially wise decision in the 10 years+ term.

3. If I live in Shimane for a long, long, long, that could be nice and not cost as much and it'd have me using my Japanese and doing Japan-related hobbies still. But that's assuming I can find a job that pays me more than I made as a CIR, which would be hard there. It would be doable to live more cheaply, but the move-in costs, even for a three year stint, would be pretty hefty. And I have higher standards for apartments now, but just having my own space would be an improvement again.

Granted, all of this assumes a really good salary, and says nothing about satisfaction with life in general.

11/20/17 10:25 pm - A little story from my family

We didn't do Santa Claus in my house.

My parents wanted us to know that our presents came from our family members, and they didn't want our trust in adults to be crushed by finding out that the world was in on some sick joke (but if we ever chose to act like we believed, they weren't going to get in our way). I think that's a pretty healthy attitude to have, but I also appreciate that he's a helpful legend for when children are too excited to go to sleep on Christmas Eve--"If you aren't in bed, Santa won't come!"

Some years back my mom got bored or something, and she told my youngest siblings, "If you don't hurry up and go to bed, the Christmas Monkeys will come steal your presents."

The Christmas Monkeys became a thing. I don't know if they're still a thing because I haven't been home for Christmas in almost six years, but I'm very excited for my mom to receive this in the mail:

I hope she has fun. After all, she had a ball with her Evil Peeps a few years ago Easter. But that is a longer story.

11/9/17 11:04 pm - This bodes well

First off, we're about 99% sure now I can get those vacation dates I want, though it's still been a back and forth battle and I'm still hesitant. Two out of three managers really want to give me those dates because they value the work I do and they know I haven't been happy lately, the third makes a good cause for why giving the dates I want may upset our clients. We shall see. *squinty suspicious eyes*

Also, today I happened to get two companies in Japan give me personal responses that sounded positive about future employment a year from now. The one that sought me out seems like steady employment that could potential be long term and pay very well while using a lot of my skills but doesn't personally interest me as much (but wow, it's flattering they really were interested in my profile on a job search site that mostly Japanese people use and that use more so to poke around with little success), and the one that I reached out to had a polite and hopeful tone but nothing overly promising, and that one might wind up as a short-term thing again for a few years but probably a lot more interesting to me.

So after basically nothing substantial except for very general ideas and talking and trying to lay groundwork and reaching out in many directions for career advice, the fact that I suddenly got these two unrelated messages today with possible futures attached to them is very uplifting. Japan, you're looking clearer and clearer, even if I wind up working someplace I haven't even heard of yet!

11/7/17 10:40 pm - What? Already another LJ post!?


But I'll come back to that in a moment. No, I'll say it now. I hardly watch any anime lately, largely due to my computer's atrociously painful streaming speeds. If I want to watch something, I have to really, really, really want to watch it.

Having said that, watching anime on vacation has been a pleasure this year. I watched stuff with my siblings back in Colorado when I was visiting for Chinese New Year, and this past July I visited a CIR friend in her hometown in Ningxia, a little region of China hardly anyone has heard of. We wanted to be lazy at home, so we looked through her on-demand anime for something that might interest us, and I saw Sakura Quest. It was by chance that I knew the premise and suggested we watch that one, seeing as we both had worked in tourism promotion for small towns, including a lot of gimmicky stuff here and there.

Well, we loved it. We marathoned all 16 or 17 episodes that were available at the time, and besides just generally loving the characters and nice slice-of-life pace and build, we had many "aru, aru!" moments. Man, it felt so familiar. Manoyama feels like a real place to me after watching that anime, Yoshino is basically a CIR.

So anyway, something that sort of bugged me for a while but finally hit me recently? Yoshino, with her personality and cute pink hair and main character status and an anime called "Sakura Quest" despite having very little to do with cherry blossoms (compared to other anime, I suppose? Or at least, the series itself had more to do with turnips than with cherry blossoms) and a birthday right around hanami time, she's the kind of character who is just supposed to be named Sakura. It feels like the only reason she was not named Sakura is because it's overdone.

But then it finally hit me. Her last name, Koharu, is written as "tree" and "spring." The most iconic variety of cherry blossom found throughout Japan is called "somei-yoshino."

She is named "Cherry Blossom", dagnabbit.


Okay, I needed to get that off my chest first. There's more of a point to this entry, really. Due to my inability to watch anime without wanting to cry and scream at the Internet to hurry up (hence, I have not seen the latest Digimon Tri movie... that last one was an especially painful experience), I did not continue watching the series after returning from my trip. Shortly before that really awful weekend in bed in September, I got a message from my friend about how moved she was by the ending. So I watched through the end (because I was stuck in bed, I had patience), and I loved it too.

Hahaha, I see that I already wrote about this after I watched it. It was LJ worthy! Man, I still feel so moved and so inspired by that ending.

Well, anyway, that's where the blame comes in. Just want to say I was poking around on Gaijin Pot and found a posting from a company that gave me those "I WANNA WORK HERE!!!!" vibes like the ones I got that night seven years ago when I first heard about the CIR position. I'll never forget that night. Here's a line from my LJ on November 16, 2010:

"I merely got an idea for something I could go back to Japan and do. Just an idea, which I'm qualified for, but wouldn't be able to start until July 2012. Still, the idea of going back to Japan made me so excited that I couldn't sleep much that night."

It worked. Somehow, that night, I felt like I was staring destiny in the face.

This is a similar feeling--maybe not as sure as I felt then, as I always have a shadow of doubt in the future and that's part of why that night seven years ago sticks out, because I felt so certain that it was going to happen (and it did, and it was the time of my life). I know nothing is certain, but I figured, why the heck not! It's giving me the same hopeful happiness to read about. I sent a message to the company introducing myself and telling them I'd love to be in touch, and we'll see (maybe they'll be the people who actually reply to me, as I haven't gotten any replies yet to other introductions I've been sending out over the past few months).

Anyway. If it were to work out, I'd totally be pulling a Koharu Yoshino.

9/28/17 06:44 pm - Is it... is it gone?

I know, I should always be wary of cold medicine. I have such a long history of poor reactions to cold medicine and such a slow metabolism of them, I should always know to be wary, but then when I just can't sleep without medication and the sore throat is too much to take, I just do it anyway...

Anyway. It's been a very difficult six days with one type of physical misery after another, and although it's been nearly 48 hours since the last conservative dose of cold medicine I took, I think I'm now finally starting to feel a little more human.

The plan is still to go to Matsue for a week; I've got three classes to teach tomorrow and then I'll leave on Saturday. There waaaaaas a chance that I was going to cancel the trip and go to California to see my family since my Grandpa had a blood clot in his lung and a blood transfusion, but he's home now and expected to recover, so I'm still going to Matsue according to plan (48 hours of no news apart from a distressingly short and dramatic email from my mom really didn't help me feel any better earlier this week, though).

Also, the new manager got fired (many of us were waiting to see how long that would take), and the guy who took over for him seems much more human, so when I went back to work on Tuesday like a hot mess I told him what was going on, and he seems sympathetic and willing to help me think of solutions. Although I spent all day there on Tuesday, yesterday I only went in for a half day, and today I didn't even go to the office, I just went to class.

Tomorrow is going to be my long day, though, and I hope I can actually make it through the whole time. Got to admit, I'm not looking forward to the evening class after having abandoned it halfway last week barely able to breathe. Thankfully I'm team-teaching/providing extra training to a new teacher with that one, but like, I still need to show my face to those students. They still gotta be my students too.

Anyway. Kitties are in my room playing with my suitcase, it's pretty adorable. I drank a bunch of Gatorade today, and I think it really helped. My brain is finally breaking out of the constant pain and/or fog.

I can do it. I can be excited for Japan again. It feels like going home. <3

9/24/17 12:48 pm

I've got a little cold right now, I basically have no food, and it's pouring rain. It's at moments like this when I really miss being at home, with family, in America. When you're sick, that's when you start to crave old comforts, as well as having people around who really care about you.

That said, I'm not doing too bad right now. Friday night, though. Pain wise, that was one of the worst nights of my life.

To cut the story short, it was many hours of many kinds of pain, many of which were pretty normal at first--just a regular menstrual migraine, I thought, and assured myself that I had worked through those before--but then I got what I'm pretty sure was my first full-on panic attack. I had had a couple of mild attacks earlier in the month, and I doubted if they could even be called panic attacks because I was able to talk myself through them and be ready for work again as though nothing happened, but with this one people were telling me to go to the hospital. I said it was just a migraine and went home, though I could barely form words, let alone stand up.

And it was a really, really, really awful night.

It basically shot my immune system dead right then and there, and I developed a fever around 3am, and I was pretty miserable with the fever most of the day yesterday. Right now I still have the remnants of the headache, a sore throat, and a little bit of a runny nose, so overall, a huge improvement.

There's still a bit of an emotional hangover from the attack, too. Like, great? Is this going to be a thing now? Am I going to be someone whose life is put on hold by anxiety?

Of course, getting more concerned about this lately, I've been learning more about anxiety and when it becomes a disorder, and I read article about high-functioning anxiety and time-related anxiety that resonated with me so deeply that it was a little freaky to read them.

I had hoped that coming to China would make me a stronger person, because I knew I'd find it kind of hard. I guess you have to break a little before you become stronger. Also, it's been an eye-opening experience in learning about myself, and my own limits, like the fact that I am inflexible to an extreme. However, Japan, as a culture, is one of the countries in the world least tolerant of uncertainty, and I think that's part of why I felt at home working there.

My plan after China is to find work in Japan again, at least through the 2020 Olympics, because I've always thought it would be cool to be a volunteer interpreter at a big world event like that. I had originally though "Kyoto, of course I'll work in Kyoto," but I'm more and more so leaning toward just going back to Matsue. In fact, when I'm visiting (next week---holy Shimanekko, I'm not ready! This panic attack has stolen some of my excitement!), I'm hoping to gauge how much they really like me there. As a CIR it used to feel like the world revolved around me sometimes, and making sure I had a bunch of cool experiences to tell the world about, and people were sad when I left and there were lots of passing comments about me working there forever, and I know plenty of JETs who stayed or boomeranged back, but how likely is it really to translate to a new step in my career? And would it be a career I could build on if I ever move back to Colorado, for the comforts of being near home and family and eating chicken soup and lying on a couch to watch TV when I'm sick?

Well. Anyway. Kind of on a related note...

One of the reasons my situation in China is drag is that I usually can't stream much more than YouTube, and even that is iffy. So I basically don't watch anime anymore, unless I'm willing to suffer for hours to watch it. It's a comfort to watch it while I'm on vacation with people I care about and who are fellow fans, like my siblings or friends who I stay with for a few days. While visiting a CIR buddy in Yinchuan on my fantastic trip in July, I mentioned that the premise of Sakura Quest seemed pretty interesting, and we got really into it. Having worked with many tourism associations in the inaka, and been put to work on similar shenanigans, we could really relate to it, and we took a liking to the slice-of-life characters. The other day she sent me a message to say how moved she was by the ending, but knowing my streaming speeds, I had not attempted to watch anymore.

But! Thankfully that fever gave me a good excuse to spend the time necessary on getting through four episodes (yeah, all day long), and this morning when I woke up early, I finished (my net is a little faster in the early morning, so it only took me about four hours to watch three episodes).

Man, this..... makes me want to go back and work in the inaka again so bad! I've known other CIRs who worked for tourism associations afterward and took a big pay cut, but they're happy. Granted, they're also happily married to Japanese guys who are public employees, so that gives them an excuse to get settled and not worry about money or visa issues. But still!!

......still, would that lead to anything I could take with me in America?

I've investigated what would be available to me in Colorado tourism. From the official standpoint, not that much. The Japanese method of tourism promotion functions inside such a bubble that I doubt those skills and experience would be useful outside of Japan.

And besides, I've seen what I'm like after leaving Japan. If I move back, I might not want to leave again. Sorry, Mom and Dad.

Oh well. For right now, I just need to focus on recovering and getting ready to have a nice time back in Matsue.
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