Tag Archive | communication

Another Revolution Around The Burning Sun

“Your password expires in 7 days.”

I’ve managed to hold my job for three months. If one of the perks is that I actually get to change my password, then a celebration is in order.

I did change my work password last night. I typed in the old password, which began with the name of my friend from Japan. For the new password, I chose to reference Moondragon, a Marvel comic book character that I never knew existed until Saturday night. Gone will be anything that will remind me of my Japanese friend.

Facebook has been reminding me of lat year’s split from the ex fiancé, not only of the day itself but also the days following. I, of course, had already popped in to OKCupid to see when it was that my Japanese friend first wrote to me. I wanted to write to him and say “hey, it’s been a year since you first wrote to me!”

But, I didn’t write to him. At all.

I had already said I’m done, but this time I felt like I was in a better place emotionally to make that call.

I have a long way to go before I can consider going to Japan in any capacity. Knowing that, I wanted him to come here, even just briefly. He told me I would have to come up with a plan for him to be here. I’ve made many plans, and considered many possibilities. The problem is, I can’t make plans for where he’ll stay if I don’t know for how long he would be here, or if one place would cost too much for him and another place just wouldn’t be good enough. I can’t make plans for where he would work, if I’ve only been given vague responses to that question, and don’t even know if he would be staying long enough and would need employment to survive.

But why did I have to make that plan… alone? If any part of him was serious about coming here, then he should have at least met me halfway. “Can you recommend a hotel that’s decent but not too fancy? Do you know of any companies that would hire someone with this kind of expertise?” I would have appreciated anything to guide me towards a plan that would work for him, for both of us.

Some people can be difficult. He was difficult, and at times he was impossible.

It’s not even that hard to make plans if you have an idea of what you want. My complaint was that he wouldn’t cross an ocean for me, and I told him so. And I didn’t care. I guess that made me brash, pompous, and a lot of other words that are characteristic of being American. But if I had to think about how he’s being Japanese, then I’d be reading between the lines, and he would have already been telling me that he wouldn’t cross an ocean for me, that it didn’t matter if he ever met me or not.

I feel like we ran out of things to talk about. It was always my debt, or the fact that I was still staying up until 2 am, or anything I did that was bad for my health while trying to tell me I should be walking more and eating better. I could have mentioned anything, from video games to Japanese food and festivals. Half the time, if not more often than that, I wouldn’t even get a response to whatever I said or asked. Other times, he barely seemed interested, with the extent of his interest being if he had a family of his own to do things with.

He remarked that I talked less while we chatted, compared to when I wrote email. I asked if he preferred chatting with me because of that, to which he remarked that it was an observation. But lately, my emails received the response of “I’ll be available to chat around this time on these days.” It was just before bed for him, but for me it was the start of my day, which meant I either had to get up early regardless of my plans for the day or I had to chat with him while getting ready for work. I missed the days when it was reversed, when he would catch me at the end of my day and he was just starting the next day.

But I’ve been writing to him less since moving in with J. Not as much has been happening, either. Well, I could talk about going to the store with J, but that seems mundane. Work is work; I answer the phone and make calls all day, and I’m not allowed to discuss my calls at all. At home, i cook and watch Daredevil with J. Nothing about my days stand out as much anymore, so I have less to write about.

So, that’s the end of that.

I got a letter in the mail recently, from the collection agency that holds my debt to my New Jersey apartment owners. They’re offering to reduce my debt from just under $10,000 to about $6,600. The difference is the cost of going to Japan, and a little extra. It would be a little less to worry about, just in general. I might manage to get my debt paid off sooner than expected.

Even on my days off, I can’t seem to sleep past 9 am, but like clockwork I manage to wake up around 6 or 7 am. Even waking at 9, after I’ve told myself I can be lazy and sleep in until 11 or later because I have nothing of great import and no place to be, I feel like it’s just time to start the day. I can’t seem to sleep late like I used to do. And unless I try, unless I make myself sit in front of the computer and write a lengthy email, or I try to play video games for a few hours, I can’t stay up until 2 am anymore. For the past two nights, I’ve called it a night around 11 pm.

My life is changing in ways that would gain the approval of my Japanese friend. However, it feels right to close that chapter of my life. He entered when my ex fiancé left, he kept my Valentines Day from being miserable, and perhaps all I needed was just someone to keep me going.

Not that J is a romantic partner. He had already said he doesn’t see me romantically, and another guy friend of mine says that won’t change once a guy says something like that. Yet I’m in this limbo of “he did this nice thing, so… maybe?” and “I see how he looks at his ex, or how he talks about his date ideas and how past dates have gone, and I’m clearly not a love interest.”

Saturday he was telling me about one girl he dated, or at least how the dates went. This was while we were perusing a discount store and checking out the books they had for sale. He was telling me how the date didn’t go so well, in that they didn’t have much in common. At one point, he started flipping through an encyclopedia of Marvel Comics characters, when he came to a page that said Moondragon.

I laughed and pointed out that there was a character named Moondragon.

“Yeah,” J repled. “I thought that’s who you named yourself after,” referring to the Luna Dragon moniker I bestowed upon myself. I have a very basic knowledge of comics and the DC and Marvel universes, so this was one character I had no knowledge about. I briefly read her description and noted that she kind of sounded like me. “Right?!” J said in agreement.

“Your password expires in 7 days” came the prompt on the screen at work. I had already been thinking of changing it to get my Japanese friend’s name out of the password, but I hadn’t taken the time to think of a new password. Although I had the rest of the week to consider it, I decided to ride the Moondragon wave for the next three months, and incorporated that into my password.

While writing this, my friend from Japan actually emailed me. He said he’s been thinking of me more than I probably realize, and that he doesn’t know what to say so as to not upset me or make me uncomfortable. But they’re only words now, I suppose. I can’t keep going just on words.

At this point, I need to be distracted from J. Mere words won’t be enough.

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Agent XXXX And The National News

The last time I spoke about work, it wasn’t long after training had wrapped up. I’m now approaching the end of my first three months at the job and hoping I get to stick around.

When I come home from work, J usually asks me how my day was. There’s very little I can tell him, because I’m sworn to secrecy when it comes to the content of the calls I relay. I’m not even supposed to discuss my calls with the people I work with, unless they have to take over my call because I’m leaving for break or to go home.

Technically, I can’t even give out my operator number, at least in connection with my real name. So if I’m on a call, I’m Operator XXXX, or Agent XXXX, or Communications Assistant XXXX, depending on what location I have to represent and how that area handles their calls. Even if I call a company, and they ask me for my name, I have to repeat, “I’m Operator XXXX.”

And I really want to give out my operator number here, because… I have the best operator number ever! It’s also the worst operator number ever, but let’s stay positive. My number stands out. It’s an even number, and I don’t just mean its divisible by 2. It’s a plateau number. Where everyone else on the call floor says their number a digit or two at a time, I can say the entire number all at once because it’s shorter to do so. And so, because of that, I stand out. It doesn’t help that my personality stands out either, so I have to try and not make waves. Because the number stands out, my favorite callers remember who I am, and are pleased as punch when they see my number appear on their screen. Likewise, I have a caller or two that remember my number and won’t let me process their calls, and while I thought it was just me, there was an audible groan from a coworker when I had to hand off my call one night from one such caller when she saw who was on my line.

Technically I’m not an interpreter. In most cases, there’s nothing to interpret. If you read this aloud, you’re doing the same thing I do every day, just reading words that are typed. You do have to assume a certain tone of voice, though I’ve noticed that speaking calmly reminds the other party that I’m just speaking on behalf of another person, that I’m not actually trying to fight just because I’m saying fighting words. The closest I come to being an interpreter is when I have to take “sign language” and convert it to phrases you’re more used to hearing. I used quotation marks because no one is actually signing to me, just typing the words. Perhaps you know of the gorilla that can do sign language, and you know how the phrases come out like, “Koko sad.” I would have to convert that to “Koko is feeling sad” when I read that out loud, and that’s the closest I come to being an interpreter. Most people use common phrasing, so at best I have to interpret their typing mistakes, and hope they interpret mine when the person on the other end is talking slightly too fast for me to keep up.

I do get all sorts of calls. What calls do you need to make? Deaf and hard-of-hearing people, in addition to those with speech impediments, make the same phone calls you need to make. It could be anything from dealing with credit cards (activating, making payments) to calling for medical-related reasons (pharmacies to refill prescriptions, doctors to set up appointments) and even calling friends and family members. We even have callers who are ordering takeout, in fact one woman was making me hungry because she was ordering chicken parmesan and a cannoli from an Italian restaurant one night.

I never know what the call is going to be when it drops onto my screen. I have to dial it and hope I do right by my caller. Like anyone, some people are more particular about how you handle calls, even going so far as to express a preference to the gender of the operator. I can understand the reasons for some of the preferences, such as the gender preference being there so that if the caller is male, he’s being represented by a male voice. Other preferences deal with how you introduce yourself to the other party (announcing relay or acting as if you are the caller), how you handle recordings (mentioning there’s a recording playing versus typing the recording verbatim), things like that.

So I got this call…

To distill it down to basic details, my inbound was a representative of a group of people seeking to gain and maintain equal rights for that group of people, and my outbound was a writer and reporter for a news outlet. You might not be aware of the group that my inbound was representing, but if you live in the United States, you’ve heard of the publication that the reporter works for. Knowing the scale of this call, you can understand the importance of making sure that I relay everything word-for-word, not omitting anything, making sure that everything is spelled as accurately as possible. Mind you, I’m already bound by FCC regulations (yes, the Federal Communications Commission) to make sure that my call is relayed accurately and completely. But one misspelling could mean that an email isn’t delivered, or a person is inaccurately credited, or any number of other things.

I figured the piece would be a fluff piece, like “by the way, this also happened.” So I shared the article on Facebook when I thought to look for it a couple of days later. I was so giddy, because I was even mentioned in the article… okay, so the words “speaking through an interpreter” were used, and in no way was I actually named or credited. But… that was my call, that was a half hour or more of my 8-hour day. I was so proud!

And then… George Takei shared the article on his Facebook page.

And then… my local news website paraphrased the article on their site. Which wouldn’t have been so bad, but I ended up making one guy feel like I was attacking him personally. While I wanted to explain my side, my maturity kicked in and I decided not to engage any further in the discussion. I won’t get into it too much, because part of his argument against me personally might be correct, but most of it was name calling and assumptions that weren’t true. So before the local news site’s Facebook page admin removed the comment thread between us for that post, the guy took the argument to Messenger where I ignored it. I might have carried on a conversation and intellectual debate if it seemed like a possibility, because I wouldn’t have minded it so much if I was going to learn something.

But oh well, it’s the price you pay for 15 minutes of fame.

Now mind you, I could have found this article online as it was gaining traction. I could have read through it and found a way to put myself in this story, weaving a tale about that unnamed interpreter being me and what my life is like. Or I could have added this paragraph to confuse you and to cover my tracks. Either way, whether this is the result of using a national article like a writing prompt or it really is my life. aren’t you a bit curious as to what it must be like for the person who gets assigned an outstanding number, or for that generic interpreter or source or informant or what have you?

Well, now you know.

Forgotten Relics

We watched Eddie Izzard last night.

I don’t remember how the conversation started, but J asked me which Eddie Izzard specials I had on DVD. Being unable to think of their titles besides one of them having Wembley in the name, I ran upstairs and retrieved one of my binders of DVDs. Instead of just flipping to the page as quickly as possible, we flipped through my binder one page at a time, reviewing my collection as a whole and discussing what was good and what hasn’t been seen yet. Finally we got to the page where I had standup comedy, to which he approved of my Blue Collar DVDs and Jeff Dunham as well. But we discovered that I had Definite Article and Live From Wembley. So we watched a special that was filmed in San Francisco, and found it to be relevant to current events as much as the bits were relevant back when that special was filmed.

Why do I even have those Eddie Izzard DVDs, anyway? I bought them out of curiosity. No, I wasn’t curious about what a transvestite looks like, I’ve seen Rocky Horror Picture Show, not to mention I’ve seen one in the Walmart where I used to work. Seeing men run around in high heels is impressive, considering I just put them on and can already imagine myself spraining my ankle before I’ve even stood up. But enough about men who dress more like women than I do on a regular basis.

I bought those two DVDs because someone had mentioned Eddie Izzard’s comedy routines. And as I watched J recite the show verbatim, all I could think, all I can think now, is that he was the one that got me interested and I bought the DVDs as a result.

I also think J was the one who suggested what kind of strings to get when I realized I had to restring my Mom’s guitar. I believe this, because I had just picked up the guitar when my car was rear-ended for the second time in 2011. I had to pay Guitar Center to restring a guitar, because I don’t play and don’t know how. Don’t judge me, at least not for that.

How many things did I lose from my memory?

I accidentally woke up and prepared for a 9 am shift today, only to realize that my shift started 4 hours later than that. I didn’t realize that until I was finishing my breakfast, and would only need to put my boots on before heading out the door. I’d say that on the bright side, I wasn’t late, however I can’t deal with an abundance of time because I actually do end up running late after occupying my time in other ways. Today was no exception.

In my abundance of time, I Googled the term “why would fate bring you back to unrequited love.” The results were mixed, but not quite what I was looking for. There were articles about what happens when it works out well, what to do so you’re not torturing yourself when it doesn’t work out, but nothing about unrequited love as an act of a cruel mistress.

In one of the positive articles, where meeting a past unrequited love would be for the better, it was said that the love would be stronger, better. For a moment I lived in a love story yet to be told, two hearts reunited under desperate circumstances find that… something… something… oh, who am I kidding? The only reason there’s a love story at all is because I have an amazing imagination.

When I got home from work, I ducked into J’s room to check in and talk about stuff. We discussed timelines, namely his because I was trying to figure out who visited him at work one time, back when we worked together. We got on the topic of dating, to which I was running between vague and blatantly obvious that I wanted to date him. Prior to this discussion, if I had to call what I sensed about him, it was that he was into me but reserved. I was pretty much spot-on, which means I might actually be energy sensitive… that’s another story and a small bag of crazy. Anyway, he said all this stuff about us getting along so well, but he doesn’t feel anything romantic for me, but would probably unleash his lustful side if it wouldn’t screw things up. There was something about me technically being homeless if it weren’t for him keeping me right now, and I’m not sure if he meant that as if to say he wouldn’t have taken me in if he couldn’t control himself, or if I’d be out of here if I unleash the wrong kind of crazy while living here.

I sat there in stunned silence. I had questions. I wanted to ask things. I wanted to say things. Heck, I wanted to cry, because that would mean I’d be living here and torturing myself.

He kept asking what was on my mind, and after a couple times of being asked, I threw caution to the wind. I asked about 2011, about how I remember being kissed and about the way things seemed to be back then. Was it timing? Was it because I went a bit crazy back then, with everything going on and not knowing what to do about any of it? Honestly I don’t remember his answers to those questions, but for good reason.

He invited me to watch some George Carlin before I went to my room for the night. After that, he asked if I needed anything before I went to bed. I said things like, “a million dollars… a stash of good chocolate…” and then I said “surprise me.”

So he kissed me. Not a forehead kiss like he’s been doing. Not a peck on the cheek like I had managed to get him to do, to see if he would open up some more. And no, it wasn’t a simple peck on the lips, like I kissed him last night to thank him for cooking Puerto Rican food and making a tasty meal. This was a kiss, a real, genuine, bonafide kiss.

I couldn’t properly walk down the hallway to my room after that. I was in a dreamy state, like Cinderella on the morning after the ball.

I have no clue as to where this is going. But at least the torture is seeing some improvements.

Walking Through The Park And Reminiscing


I’ve been riding a wave of euphoria for about two weeks straight, basically since moving in with J.

Well, it hasn’t been completely euphoric, as that would be a fantasy. Who can be that happy all the time?

I’ve been trying to remember the events of 2011, as if it would matter to look back at something that should be forgotten. I remember being mad at J, though I don’t remember what I said. I don’t remember how he reacted, if he just kind of let me walk away or what happened. I remembered that his girlfriend at the time had me labeled as someone who would steal men from their girlfriends, and I knew I wanted to get away from all of that.

I looked at the old texts I had. It was always him writing to me first, and me responding in a rather indifferent tone. It wasn’t that I was bothered by talking to him, but I wasn’t overjoyed. I had forgotten how much fun he was, but I had apparently forgotten the rough patch as well.

To be honest, I wouldn’t even want someone telling me what I said or did back then. If I can’t remember it, if I can’t pull up old messages with others that had my side of things, then my mind is probably blocking it from my memory for a reason. And I should just let it go.

After all, I’m living with J now. And I don’t remember having to apologize to get to this point. I have text messages from him, where he clearly started the conversation. He kept reaching out to me, until finally I needed a place to stay and then he let me in. A part of me feels like I don’t deserve this.

I’ve been doing little things around the house, from cleaning up the bathroom to doing the dishes and even making sure the dog is let out to do her business. J has said that other people have had an issue with doing the dishes, but I’m sitting here thinking about the dishes I have in storage that I can’t wait to use because it will mean we won’t be using paper plates all the time. I don’t mind doing the dishes, especially since it’s just the two of us. In fact, yesterday I washed out his lunch containers, despite him saying he would do his own dishes and didn’t mind. I was already doing the dishes at that time. It needed to be done. I’m beyond the point in my life where chores are a pain in the ass. A year ago, I lived in an apartment where I had to do all the chores because the ex fiancé had every excuse why he couldn’t do anything to support our household. Now I’m looking at dust, thinking, “I should clean that… I wonder if he would mind, or if he would get suspicious, or what would happen.”

For the most part, I did the dishes to pass the time yesterday. It wasn’t a problem.

The problem was being woken up at 6:30 am, maybe sooner, because the cat was insane and he woke me up. As I laid in bed, the aroma of coffee wafted through the air, and I was so tired that it wasn’t until midday when I thought that I should have asked J to make me a cup of coffee while he was at it. Just before 7, I gave up, and I sleepily made my way down the stairs to the living room where J was watching Firefly. It wasn’t because I wanted to be around J, it was because the dog would be in the living room and the cat would be too scared to approach me. It was my way of getting back at him for the wakeup call.

J finished that episode of Firefly, and then I bid him farewell as he left for work before getting myself ready for work.

After I returned home, I put the dog out, even though J would have been home about 20 minutes later and would have put her outside out of habit. To me, it didn’t matter, it needed to be done and there was no sense in making the dog wait any longer.

I put some chicken on the kitchen counter to thaw, and then I started doing the dishes. When J walked in, we talked for a bit and then he went off to play video games while waiting for me to get done. After I did the dishes, I made a few more as I cooked dinner. By the time I was done, it was a late dinner for me but slightly early for him. I made enough for two servings, but it would have been three servings if I had a little more tomato sauce. I just cooked the chicken in a frying pan, then added pasta and tomato sauce, and put some cheese on top once I put mine in a bowl. It wasn’t anything special or fancy. I offered some of it to J, who wasn’t going to eat it if it meant that I wouldn’t have any to take to work the next day. After some “do you want it or not?” he finally gave in and agreed to having some. After all, I had time before work today that I could have made something more, and there was still some plain pasta that I could do something with. I ended up eating the last spoonful of the chicken and tomato sauce mixture alongside the plain pasta that I added cheese and butter to to make macaroni and cheese.

That night, we watched The Avengers, which I’ve seen before, but since we’re going through the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe, we re-watched it for the important details. So of course, since we’ve both seen the movie already, we called out random trivia and quotes at various moments.

By night’s end, I was starting to feel a bit down. I cried myself to sleep, as I felt like I was bothering him and taking up too much of his time, probably even wasting my time by trying to do the right thing. I had closed my door, leaving a gap for the cat to leave to use the litter pan, but otherwise I kept it from being opened any further by putting my binder of music CDs behind the door. I figured if J got up in the middle of the night, he might wonder why my door was actually closed. Maybe he would care. But it doesn’t seen like he’s been waking up in the middle of the night anymore, at least since giving him the letter.

Saturday was a slow day at work. I wrote a letter that told him I had a thing for him. I told him I had written a letter, but didn’t tell him who it was for or what it was about, just that I stayed in the break room at work to finish writing it. So after I came home that day, and we went to the grocery store and looked like a romantic couple to at least one other customer (despite not wearing his jacket after he offered it to me, because I was dumb and chose to get my own hoodie), and we had dinner and watched a movie, it wasn’t until we were going to sleep that I handed off… the letter. After he hugged me good night, I handed him the folded up piece of legal pad paper, telling him “that’s the letter, good night,” then I headed for my room.

“What?”

“That’s the letter. Good night.”

I asked about it on Sunday, and he said he had read it. But nothing seemed to change between us, which was either a good thing or a bad thing, I figured it was a good thing for nothing to change, because that would mean he already felt that way about me. But it was a bad thing if nothing changed, because I had written the letter in such a way that said he wouldn’t be held responsible for making sure I felt good, and that even if I wasn’t involved that I did want him to be happy with someone and that he would likely make some woman happy, so he could be left to just do whatever, which would mean he wouldn’t have to start a relationship with me.

The letter was probably the stupidest thing I could have done. I’m 33 years old. I just did the 13-year-old thing. Clearly I’m not ready for a mature relationship.

So that, of course, weighed on my mind last night, along with everything else. I felt like I was bothering him. So I vowed not to bother him.

I managed to sleep in a bit today. I got ready at my own pace, and let the dog out just before I left for work as a means of preventing any accidents until J got home. I was scheduled to work until after dark, and normally on such days, I would drive to work so I could avoid a dangerous situation. I wasn’t yet brave about walking alone at night, but I decided I would do it anyway. I figured I needed the walk to clear my mind of whatever the sleep hadn’t erased.

I didn’t send any text messages to J all day. I didn’t check in with him at all. I spoke to a mutual friend of ours, and told her I felt like I was bothering him but it was probably just being tired after a long day. I also told her about walking to work, and how I wondered if I would get a text message from J when he got home and saw my car but not me. Well, I didn’t get any such messages. After work, she and I spoke for a bit outside the building, about the safety of walking after dark. I was going to listen to music on the walk, but then decided to take the precaution of keeping my ears open. As we parted ways for the night, she told me I should text him, just to let him know I was coming.

“On my way” was all I said.

A moment later, I got, “I’m still downstairs to keep an eye out for ya.” And okay, that thawed my heart, somewhat at least.

I wasn’t quite on the steps leading to the front porch when I heard the door unlock. He was right there waiting for me.

We spoke for a moment. He hugged me and asked how my day was, and I said it was fine. The calls were uneventful, but I wasn’t thinking of work when he had asked me about my day. I thought about telling him how I felt like I had been a bother, but no part of me had the courage to admit that, or at least no part of me wanted to create an issue if there wasn’t one.

We headed up the stairs. A little more chatting.

He opened his arms for another hug, so I hugged him. And then he kissed me on the forehead. For the first time since moving in, he kissed me, even if it was just on the forehead. That’s, like, the kiss of a guy who feels protective of you. If I didn’t already feel like he was watching out for me after I got out of work, that kiss sealed the deal. Suddenly, I didn’t feel like I was bothering him, at least not for more than the end of a long day.

My bedroom door is open again tonight. I like to think that when he wakes up in the middle of the night, or even when he starts his day, he peeks in my room and smiles. I’m probably snoring, my hair is likely a mess, and my body is probably contorted in some weird fashion. But I’m here. I’m not sure if that’s what he hoped would eventually happen if he kept texting me off and on again, but it did happen. I should just let the past stay where it is, in the past. He and I aren’t in our twenties anymore, a lot has changed in 6 years, and this is clearly the makings of something else as well.

Where Is There A Towel When You Want To Throw It In?

I started a new job almost two weeks ago, and let me tell you, a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Granted, I’m one paycheck down and my bank account is still in the red, but the next paycheck will put me back in the black. It’s just a matter of time, but things are looking positive just the same.

I’m a relay operator at a call center, so blogging is a bit of typing practice for me even though I have to drop punctuation and type everything as I hear it being said to me. It’s a fairly simple task.

Training went well. The first day or two, it had been said that training was the hardest part of the entire job. What seemed to be the hardest thing for me was the fact that there were countless macros, keyboard shortcuts that would automatically enter text to the deaf or hard-of-hearing caller to tell them what was going on with the call, and other macros that affected the call itself or the interface we use to relay calls. However, we had cheat sheets listing the macros and how they were used, which made things easy.

I suppose another difficult thing about the job is that there is a certain flow to each call, a certain procedure which needs to be followed. Press this button to start the timer, because that’s how we get paid for outgoing calls. Use this macro so the caller knows the person speaking is a male or a female. Record the recordings so you can relay them to the caller and they know everything being said. Yeah, I guess it’s not a hard job at all.

This past Wednesday, we went from practicing the call flow in the training room, to being on the call center floor taking actual calls. It started out easily enough, as there were four of us in the training group and we were paired up, one person taking calls and the other person listening in and being there to assist the other person if need be. For the first hour, I was on the listening end. It didn’t seem too bad, and I think I was either bored or maybe distracted, because I kept glancing around the room and taking in my surroundings. There was a window nearby, and I looked out at the businesses below and the rooftops of houses in the distance. The weather was typical for Syracuse, as it altered between being sunny and cloudy.

We went back into the training room for a bit, and asked questions if we had any. Then we took a lunch break, and came back after that to the training room. We spent some time in the training room before going back to the call center floor. When we went back, it was my turn to take phone calls.

I didn’t feel nervous or anxious, but I did feel like I needed to take a breath and level off. I needed a bout of confidence, I needed to relax, I needed… something. Most of all, I needed to tell myself I’d be fine, but with hardly anything to go on, I really didn’t know if I’d do well or if I’d screw up completely. I did my thing, logged into the system and started taking calls, and I let everything sort itself out.

I was terrible! Maybe I wasn’t completely terrible, but I forgot to assign genders, I forgot macros, I didn’t record the recordings to relay them accurately,… ugh. I had a call where I was going through automated prompts, and had to wait for the hard-of-hearing caller to give me the necessary response I needed for the prompt. By the time I got that info, the automated call would try to transfer to a live representative, but there was a half-hour-long wait if the caller wanted to wait that long. I was getting stressed, I felt like I wasn’t serving this person as well as I should have been, I felt like they were getting mad at me, and I hoped I wouldn’t be taking calls for much longer after that.

We went to break after that period on the phones. I took out my cell phone and went to YouTube, searching for a 5-minute meditation to somehow relax and calm down.

What was going on with me? The last time I can remember getting that overwhelmed from being on the phones, it was the second project of my first job when I wasn’t making any sales. I remember being on the verge of tears as I went to my supervisor and asked to quit that day. I didn’t give a two-week notice, but I just remember him seeming a bit disappointed that I didn’t try to stay on yet understanding that I realized it wasn’t a job for me, at least not at that point in my life if at all. Years later, he came through my line while I was a cashier at a grocery store, and he remembered me and was friendly to me and asked how things were. It was a step down, career-wise, but I was also working for a really great grocery store, and I think maybe he could tell I wasn’t the same person and was just doing what I needed to do.

But was I ready to quit this new job? I was thinking, at that point, that maybe it wasn’t the job for me. Maybe I can’t do relay services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. It’s too much work, and the bosses are going to complain that I’m not doing things properly. And, I just had anxiety, even if it wasn’t a full-blown panic attack, even if I was still able to function at life. Do I want to have anxiety, day in and day out? I had anxiety after one hour on the phones, so what am I going to do when I have to spend 8 hours on the phones?

The meditation helped, but I still wondered if I could do the job. Somewhat thankfully, I had to stay late to make up for time I lost while trying to get temporary living assistance. My after-hours time was spent just shadowing another person on the call center floor. The woman and I talked for a bit, and she told me that the supervisors expect new recruits to make mistakes for the first few weeks or so. Yeah, that made sense, but I also wanted to be less obvious that I was a new person when people called in. I didn’t want to seem like I didn’t know how to do my job. The woman told me to give it a few weeks before giving up on it. I knew it was good advice, and I knew I wasn’t in a good enough position to give up my job so soon. I needed the money, and I didn’t have any other offers lined up. I had to stick with it, for better or worse.

The next day, there was another hour on the call center floor. I still wasn’t amazing at this job I considered keeping, but I didn’t need the 5-minute meditation afterwards. Maybe I had better calls, who knows. I can’t really say what the difference was, but it seemed like it was just another day.

Friday, we spent at least 7 of our 8 hours on the call center floor. I was half-awake and a bit hungry as I had skipped breakfast. The first call that dropped onto my screen was a teletypewriter user who typed, “HURRY” and the number for me to call. As I was dialing, they told me they wanted me to press the button during the automated prompts to connect them to a certain department. My trainer listened in on the call to help me speed up the process, because she recognized the caller. My trainer told me that I had a difficult caller and that it would be a challenging call. A few expletives later, which surprisingly didn’t come from me in this instance, I was speaking to a different representative for one of the calls I had to make for the teletypewriter user. I had to make a few calls for this person, and some of the representatives just weren’t good enough for them. When the call ended, I wasn’t even exhausted. I was entertained, if anything.

The few calls I had that weren’t wrong numbers or hang-ups, I had a mix of rude people and sweethearts. I was feeling far more capable of doing this job after four hours than I had felt after the first hour of being live on the phones.

Towards the end of the work day, I ran into the woman I had shadowed on Wednesday. She asked me how things were going, and when I told her I was feeling pretty good, she basically said, “I told you so!” I explained that I didn’t know if it would be a few weeks before I felt more confident, and that I was surprised that I was starting to get comfortable with the job. She was glad to hear that I wasn’t giving up, not that I really talked like I was on the verge of throwing in the towel, just that I wasn’t confident in my ability to do the job until Friday.

Friday night, I got a text message. “You’re working with meeeeeee!” It was from a friend of mine who I met when I worked at Media Play back in late 2005, who I later worked with at another call center by pure coincidence. She saw my picture on the board of “New Graduates” and asked which section I worked in. She does CapTel, which is a captioning service for phone calls. I’m not sure how different it is from my relay calls, other than different software or equipment being used perhaps. All the same, it’s nice to know I’m working with someone I know even if we’re not working together.

I know I still have some performance issues to work out, and that a number of things will get easier in time (such as memorizing those macros). But I wanted to be challenged, I wanted to take job skills I already had and use them in a new way. So far, I’ve been challenged, but so far it’s also been rewarding. Learning Japanese won’t help me advance with this job, but it does give me the ability to work towards my dream of going to Japan. Hey, I’m not giving up on that dream, and I’m not giving up my job too easily. Both are a challenge, but both can be attained by stepping up and facing that challenge head-on.

Let’s do it!

Bravery To Know The Truth

I haven’t posted anything in about a week, and that post was on the serious side. What can I really say? I’m back to the desperate job seeking, money is tight, so I’m not really going anywhere and doing anything special. Not only that, but one of the cats is routinely urinating on the blankets I use at night, and my friend thinks it’s funny because “he’s just an animal who doesn’t know any better.”

So my self-worth has tanked. I was sitting on the sofa last night, staring randomly towards the floor, while my blankets were in the wash, and I was thinking there was no point to washing the quilt covering the sofa if it was going to get peed on again, that I might as well just deal with it since my skin never actually touched the part that got wet. Maybe I should just stop caring when the living room smells like cat urine, and let my friend deal with the smell while I’ve been blessed right now with a sinus infection. I didn’t feel worthy of sleeping with clean bedding. I didn’t even feel like my friend cared, like she would think differently if it was her things getting ruined and she had to clean her bedding before sleeping, but I just had to put up with it.

But that much wasn’t important, other than to say I was feeling pretty miserable. My phone, which was sitting on my lap, alerted me to a new e-mail message: “I can talk in about 30 minutes, if you would like.” It was from my friend in Japan.

We hadn’t talked in about two or three weeks. There was a disagreement between us, which resulted in the usual bout of silence. I had the last words, which I used to get a few things off my chest which had been bothering me, but I knew those words could also be my last words ever so I stressed that what I was saying wasn’t out of anger or spite but my own concerns.

If I hadn’t thought about him every day, then it was every other day. I thought about what I said, and I know how it sounded. When I was feeling weak, I considered apologizing for the things I said, but then I reminded myself to stand behind my words. I had concerns, I needed to address them, and I did, so why turn around and wave it off like I wasn’t bothered? I imagined conversations with him and how they would go. And I often looked out the windows towards the street and towards my car, on the off-chance that he got the nerve to come all this way to see me just to say what he needed to say. At night, I just had to pull the blankets over my shoulder and tell myself to stop trying to imagine that I’m living in some romantic comedy.

I really didn’t think that I was going to hear from him again. I questioned how long it would be before I would stop thinking of him. But then his message was met with a bit of uncertainty on my part, so I responded with an “okay.” When he messaged me later to say he was ready to call, I responded with another, “okay.” It’s not the greatest way to begin a conversation, I’ll admit, because I could have been in any kind of mood to give a simple “okay” and he wouldn’t know if things were fine or if I’d bite his head off. The phone conversation started with telling me he was only going to be on the phone for about a half hour. When he got into what he wanted to say, which was his response to my last e-mail and a few things left unanswered, I started to interject and he told me not to interrupt him. He had things he wanted to say, things I didn’t quite understand, and he wanted to make sure he said as much as he could in the time he had.

At one point, I noticed his voice was a bit shaky. I’ve thought about that a few times over the past day. Was it hard for him to say what he did? Was he nervous? Was he determined? Was he scared that I would escalate the argument and start screaming at him?

After two hours, he said he was ending the call. It was only the fourth or fifth time during that call that he said he was going to hang up, so part of me wondered if he was going to think of yet another thing to talk about with me. We got past the worst of the call, as we started talking about my job search. I was laid off a few days after our argument, and I never wrote to him to tell him about that. I just wanted him to think I was still doing okay, that I had a grasp on life and was taking care of things. So when he mentioned me working, I had to let him know what happened. I think it changed his mood a bit, because the conversation did shift gears. It wasn’t about resolving conflicts and having courage to do so, it was about realizing that I had more pressing issues than how things were going with him.

And then we talked about Himuro, which was the most fun part of the conversation. So it’s no wonder that the conversation as a whole lasted almost two hours. It wasn’t spoken, but perhaps we just miss each other at times like these.

I went to bed feeling a little better about things between us. Well, that and my blankets were fresh from the dryer and they were amazingly warm and cozy. I desperately needed the pick-me-up, and my Japanese friend will never realize how meaningful it was to hear from him at all at that moment.

Well, the sun is coming up. I’m not even tired, but this is exactly what my friend would complain about: my habitual bedtimes that fall in the early hours of the morning. It’s only 6 pm in Japan, which means if he finds this before he goes to bed, I’m going to wake up to a potentially unhappy e-mail from him. So… nighty-night!

J-Vlogger Spotlight – Chris Broad

As much as I love sarcastic humor, I can’t be as sarcastic as I’d like while writing here. The issue with sarcasm isn’t that it comes off as being bitter and possibly resentful, but that the written word isn’t always understood to be sarcasm.

However, if you want some spoken sarcasm, and you’re into watching videos about Japan, let me steer you towards Chris Broad of Abroad In Japan.

When he started his videos, they were basically like sending a letter home to say that he was still alive and doing well. After a while, he started having some fun, teaching profane English words to Japanese people and walking through love hotels. More recently, he’s been focusing on the area of Tohoku, where he currently lives and where he wants to boost tourism.

I barely think I need to do an entry about Abroad In Japan. Quite a few of his videos have been shared by other websites. He has also popped up on other channels, alongside Rachel And Jun for example, and has been featured on Odigo Travel.

If you’re interested in learning Japanese, Chris has a few videos with tips to help you improve your skills with the language. Based on his recommendations, I tried Memrise as one of the many tools I use to learn Japanese, and I have Anki on my computer though I really haven’t used it.

If your interests are about the sights of Japan, then he has you covered. Want to see a robot restaurant, with flashing lights and a stunning floor show? How about an early morning stroll through a market that sells fresh food, where you can get fried chicken for breakfast? Do you want to see the final burial spot of Jesus Christ? I wish I was kidding about anything he has on his channel, but some of these things exist.

Oh, and he does have two videos about love hotels, and a video about an owl cafe, and yet another video about a sake vending machine. All of the normal things are covered.

If you want to see Chris interact with Japanese people, that does happen in most of his videos. However, I do recommend the video where he teaches swear words to Japanese people. Play that video in a room full of people who have no issues with profanity, and you’ll get a few laughs. He also has a few videos where he has Japanese people try British or other foreign foods, such as Marmite and international chocolate. Why he subjected someone, anyone, to eating Hershey’s chocolate is beyond me, because their chocolate candy bars have an awful texture and are only good for s’mores, but that’s my opinion.

Recently he participated in a TED Talk about being a YouTube vlogger and living in Tohoku. If there was one thing to take away from that, it would be to just pick up a camera and show something awesome about where you live. Give people a reason to visit your area. Chris has found so many amazing things just in the Tohoku area, and says that it would drive up tourism if more people knew about what the area has to offer.

Lately there haven’t been many updates to the channel, with a new video about once a month or so.

However, Chris is supposedly working on something special with his friend Natsuki, and it should be interesting when that’s finished. Natsuki is… a character, for lack of a better description. If a video has Natsuki in it, the video will be far from serious. Natsuki is often involved when Chris is showing something from another country. The special project that Chris is working on will involve Natsuki running around the United Kingdom, and his reactions to things that are mundane to the rest of us should be interesting.

Chris also has another channel that rarely gets updated, called Abroad Perspective. It was started with the intention of continuing some of his reaction-type videos and being less about travel and tourism. I recommend subscribing to it just the same, if you do enjoy his videos.

I also recommend following his Instagram. If you’re aware of what many people are like on Instagram, especially with the Instagram Stories feature, then following Chris’ Instagram will be entertaining. He is his sarcastic self, starting his Instagram Stories by saying, “Yay, Instagram Stories!” He then finds something that’s not worthy of being talked about, and talks about it. One of his early Instagram Stories was a sandwich he randomly picked up at a convenience store, and he barely knew what was in the sandwich. It was worthy of a snicker, in the way it parodied anyone’s “amazing” food that they bought.

Time for all the links that are fit to print!

Are there any other links that would be relevant?

And were you expecting me to spotlight someone I’ve already mentioned in other entries? I’m getting there, don’t worry. But if you want me to check out any other YouTube J-vloggers, or even any Japanese blogs, leave a comment below, and I might spotlight them soon!