Tag Archive | friends

The Tension And The Spark

Tonight marks the eighth night that I’ve slept in this house, and the seventh night I’ve slept in this room.

It’s been a week that hasn’t gone by my expectations, and has been better than I could have hoped for!

There is a problem… or two… or so…

The first problem is that my friend and new landlord, who I’ll call J, plays guitar. And he sings. And he has taught himself how to play piano. Mind you, when he has played this past week, he has played for himself, more often than not just to pass the time. I’ve known him for years, so I already knew he played guitar and sang.

The second problem is that now that I’m away from someone who expects people to do things for her and complains if things weren’t done to her expectations, I’ve reverted back to… well, it’s one of my love languages, which is to do things for others.

I was making a lot of sandwiches for the first few days, using about half a loaf of bread in less than a week as well as the pack of deli meat that J requested I buy when I was getting cat food. So when I got groceries after work mid-week, I bought him more wheat bread and a loaf of white bread for myself and another pack of cheese slices. When I brought in my bin of pantry items, I set it where the remainder of a pack of water bottles was sitting, after I emptied the pack and put the water bottles in the fridge so they would be cold. And over the past 24 hours I tried to rekindle a friendship of his with a somewhat mutual guy friend, only to learn that the friend is only willing to hang out if J will go to him, he won’t come and visit J.

I mean the third problem is that I expected to be antisocial for at least this first week. I figured I’d come home from work, make dinner, take it up to my room, and eat it while watching YouTube on the television or something. I’d spend my free time playing video games or doing whatever on the internet. Instead, J went through all of his movies, asked me if I had seen particular ones or if I wanted to, and had me make a list of movies that needed to be seen. My nights have been spent sitting on his couch while he sits in the chair, and we’ve been watching a few different movies such as Birdman and the new Ghostbusters movie.

If I have a night shift at work, I’ll either text him to tell him I’m on my way back or he will ask when I’m returning. One night after I came home, I fixed myself a dish of ice cream, to which he asked if that was my dinner and I truthfully told him no, that I had brought dinner to work with me. He watches out for me, which is more than I had hoped for, but I certainly appreciate it.

So what IS the problem?

Well, I had a thing for him.

2011 wasn’t my year, even though it wasn’t quite as bad as 2016. 2011 began when J, a previous coworker from a previous call center job, found me on a lesser-known social media site. Later that year, things happened between us. So far he’s been the only one, at least that I can remember, who has pinned me up against the wall (or in this case, a door) and kissed me passionately. You’re probably wondering how things ended, and to be honest I don’t quite remember. I just know his girlfriend at the time claimed to be okay with opening up their relationship, especially since he’s polyamorous and it would make things easier for him, but shortly after that their relationship ended. I had a lot going on, and I don’t remember if I stopped talking to him for a while after the first time my car was rear-ended or the second time that year, because I’m pretty sure we had parted ways before the third time my car was rear-ended that year. Like I said, 2011 wasn’t my year.

Since then, communication was off and on. We might have talked for a day or two or so, and then said nothing to each other for months. So when he texted me a few weeks ago out of the blue, I was a bit reluctant to ask if he had a room to rent, but I was getting desperate and knew I’d have better chances of finding a place to live if it was with another friend.

How did I ask for a room? I asked to stay here platonically. That’s right, I didn’t want any funny business. I didn’t want to move in for sexual reasons, or romantic reasons, or anything like that. I didn’t want to bother him, especially if he had other friends staying here or visiting or whatever. I wanted all of that off the table so it wouldn’t get weird and awkward.

But I forgot, I had a thing for him.

We get each other’s humor. We’re both nerdy and geeky, and will make references that the other one understands and plays off of. We have similar life views. He plays guitar, and I melt a bit when I hear someone play guitar in front of me, especially acoustic.

I still have a thing for my friend in Japan, whose name was incorporated into my self-selected password for work. I kept telling myself, I’m choosing my friend from Japan, I don’t want to get tied down here in the States because then I might never leave and go live in Japan like I want to do. Even if I don’t end up with my friend from Japan, I’ll still have every reason to be focused on going over there.

And suddenly I understand why J is polyamorous. Because I know that my personality goes so well with J’s, but my friend from Japan makes me want to improve myself or otherwise be a better version of what I already am. J doesn’t share my love of Japanese stuff aside from some anime, but I could discuss the whole culture with my friend from Japan and get his thoughts if he’s willing to share them.

Just the same, it’s another reason why I’m in no hurry to find my next significant other. The question has become, “what do I really want in my next relationship?” The only answer I can give is, “to not make another mistake.” For now, it feels easier to not be in a relationship, to just spend time and observe, to not have hopes and expectations of marriage, and to not complicate things by having sexual involvement with anyone.

I may, in fact, be torturing myself. However, it feels like it’s been too long since I’ve been kind and thoughtful and generous without expectation for it. I like feeling as if I’ve done something nice, and then feeling like it’s been appreciated. I also enjoy feeling like my presence matters, like someone cares enough to make sure I’m getting home without a scratch. I wouldn’t have that much if I lived alone, and it might even be awkward if I moved in with people I didn’t know. So I’ll deal with the torture.

If nothing else, then I’ll know the reasons why the girl who has his heart will be a really lucky girl. I’ll know the things that would bother her, that she might have to overlook or compensate for if she got involved with him for the long term. I might be the one who decides between A, B, and C, with my choice being the thing that makes her happy. And even if he’s not with me, does that really matter? Because J is a good person, he cares about others and he deserves to be happy, So I want him to be happy.

And I want to stay here for a while. Not just because of him, but there is so much I enjoy about being here. I like not coming home to just my cat, I like living so close to work that I can walk there. I like the fact that I haven’t had to buy something to sleep on yet, that it was provided and it’s not a couch. I like that the only reason why I won’t have a wireless internet signal is because I’m too far from the router, not because someone else didn’t sweep a dust particle from the corner of the room and so the whole house looks trashed because of it and everyone has to be punished. Let’s not forget, I’m paying less to live here than I would elsewhere, and it’s a pretty good deal if you consider that utilities are included and I also get a person who gives a damn about me. Let’s not screw that up.

Supposedly my Facebook page, not my personal page but the one where these posts are published to, has been popping up for some people who I’ve spoken to in the past. Chances are, J will see this post as a result of that… and things will get awkward. Or my friend from Japan will see this post… and he will stop talking to me because he will say that someone else might be better for me or something.

Regardless of what happens, life will continue on the path it was meant to go, and I can only hope for the best possible outcome. It doesn’t matter what happens for me. I’d rather find out I wasn’t meant for a person before I get involved with them. I’d rather have J be happy with whoever and however many women it takes to make him feel complete. I’d rather have my friend from Japan find someone who is less of a pain in the ass than I am, but I don’t mind staying if he really enjoys me being a challenge.

There will always be a guitarist, somewhere.

There will always be someone who gets my humor.

There will always be someone who gives a damn about my safety and well-being.

And there will always be someone whose day was improved by my presence.

I Moved!

And oh, what a crazy however-long it’s been!

As you may know, I was evicted from my apartment in New Jersey last October. Thankfully I had a friend who offered me shelter, two friends actually.

The one shelter, a trailer home that would have been rent-free, needed renovations. As in, it wasn’t livable. There wasn’t even a toilet installed, or a shower head. The place was a mess, in fact some who think the White House is a dump might actually change their mind after seeing that trailer home. The renovations were supposed to be done in a week, or two weeks. After a couple of months, I was told it was move-in day, so I went down with my cat in tow and… found the place to still be a wreck. For wasting my time, as it was an hour-long drive each way, I gave up on that trailer home.

Unfortunately for my other friend, it has meant staying in her house. For the past ten months, that’s where I’ve been is sleeping on her couch, trying to find work and make a comeback of sorts. After getting this current job, I was handed walking papers. I’m not sure what the whole story was, because one minute I was a drain on their finances, and the next I’m being told that some of her friends think i “needed a direction.”

With nothing in savings, and a checking account that I was working on getting out of the red, not to mention the fact that I have a lousy credit score and especially an eviction to deal with, I had to look for a place to live. My budget consists of the moths flying out of my wallet as I open it, and then I need government assistance to get that first month’s rent if I should happen to find someone who is willing to rent to me.

Nothing I found was perfect. I found an apartment in a bad part of town that was slightly better than the trailer home, and the landlord would have rented to me but I decided against that. I found another place at the other end of the street from my favorite karaoke bar, but they wouldn’t rent to me because of the eviction. There was an old house that was subdivided into four apartments, but that was out of my budget and had more space than I knew what to do with, though I’d have rented it for how close it was to a duck pond I like to visit on rare occasions.

One day I got a text out of the blue from a friend I haven’t talked to in a while. I knew he had a house he was renting, and I knew that every time I chatted with him, there was someone else staying there. So I was like, “hey, do you have a room you could rent out?”

He did have a room, which he offered up as a last resort if I needed it. As time passed and nothing was working out, it was quickly becoming my only option.

So the room I would be renting was the smallest room, where the litter box from the last cat was located. The room across the hall would be available to move into in about… two or three months.

On move-in day, or at least the first of two move-in days, I was told the other room would be available in about… a week. So I slept in the cat box room last night, after showering off all the sweat that covered my body after going up and down stairs and back and forth from car to house. I didn’t get everything moved out as quickly as I thought I could, which is why I ended up with a second move-in day.

Today I went to work, and discovered it’s less than 5 minutes to drive to work now! And then I ended up late to work, because I had to run back into the house to get my house key that wasn’t given to me the night before so I could lock the door. And then after parking the car, I dumped my work bag as I was getting out of the car. This delayed me enough that I had to stand and wait for the freight train to pass through so I could cross, but of course it had to stop and leave me no way to walk around. After it moved aside, I continued in to work, which I was then late for the start of my shift. I have an awesome job, let me tell you, because they have the ability to move your shift a few minutes, so my 9:15 shift became a 9:30 shift. If I carve out a few extra minutes in the morning, I could walk to work instead and not have to deal with the train at all, which is yet another perk about living here now.

Once I got home from work, I was told, “hey guess what? The room across the hallway is available for you to move into!”

“No way!”

“Yes way!”

Okay, the conversation wasn’t quite like that, but it was close enough. So I’ve moved a few things across the hall already. The other room, I treated like sleeping in a storage room, as I had things just piled up so they were there but not taking up too much space.

After moving some things across the hall into the bigger room, I’ve made it feel a little homely. My computer is on a television stand right now instead of being on the floor, and I have things set on top of the television stand instead of being in reusable grocery tote bags or my suitcases. I mean, I might still be living out of my suitcases for a bit until I get some hangers for the closet (my hangers are in storage).

However, it feels a little more like I live somewhere. I have my own room, I can have privacy if I want. I can take a nap midday and not worry about being bothered by small children. I can leave my clothes on the floor… I can pick up after my lazy self. I can go to bed when I want, and I don’t have to worry about anyone playing on the computer until they feel tired (I often wanted to ask her if she could go to bed no later than midnight some nights, and other nights I could barely stay up that long and tried to pass out).

There is a downside to this, and no it’s not that I now have to pay rent. Believe me, for the perks, it’s worth it to pay rent. But my friend’s youngest son, the one who never stole my portable video game devices but who was often the louder and noisier one, cried and had fits when he realized that I was moving out. My friend, his mom, said it took about an hour to calm him down last night. Tonight when I stopped in, he was only a bit happy to see me but still quite sad that I had to go. He doesn’t understand that I was bothering his mom, and she was bothering me, even if we usually seemed to get along. I mean, there were times when I wanted to stand up for myself, or maybe just tell her how I felt about her at times, but I didn’t because I knew it would mean I had to leave and I was often in no position to go elsewhere. I’ve thought about ending my friendship with her so many times, I thought about writing a “now that I’m out of here and you can’t do anything” post, but… today I happened to think that I’m not that angry right now, and it might not even do any good in the long run. So my stay has caused quite a bit of hurt feelings all around.

But let’s think about this.

I have more space now.

I have space of my very own.

And I have a lot of stuff in storage that I need to clear out of there.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned lately, it’s that I have a lot of stuff, and I’m getting tired of moving it from place to place. So my mission is going to be to figure out a way to make the storage unit disappear from my bills, and then get everything I own down to something more manageable. Bonus points if I manage to do it before the worst of the winter weather, at least for the part about clearing things out of storage.

I think I’m going to like it here.

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!

Bootstraps

It was a quarter to 10 on Thursday morning. I knew my parking meter allotment was just running out as I checked the time.

If I left to feed the meter, I might have been called forth. If I stayed, it’s possible that a meter maid might not have been checking my car by the time I was done. I did get the parking ticket, as luck would have it, but I don’t think it could have been helped.

All the while, I was losing time at work. I sat there hoping I wasn’t going to lose my job as  a result of this absence, despite letting the instructor know the day before that I had things I needed to take care of.

All I could think was, I shouldn’t even be here.

I was sitting in the county’s government building, waiting for a response to the application I had submitted for temporary public assistance. It was your standard bureaucratic waiting room: uncomfortable plastic and metal chairs, posters with phone numbers to call for other services offered by the same or similar departments, tile flooring, fluorescent lighting, and miserable people.

I was playing on my iPhone 6S that I bought when I had more money. I was wearing a shirt and jeans from Lane Bryant, clothes that are never inexpensive even when they’re on sale. I wore my $300 ankle-high boots from the renaissance faire because they make me feel like a rock star, plus they looked better for wearing to work than my sneakers would have been.

For a little while, a guy was sitting in front of me who was wearing a Taco Bell uniform t-shirt. In another section of chairs, I saw a guy get up when called, and he looked like your traditional bearded Harley-Davidson-riding kind of dude. I saw a woman wearing pants that were open on the side but held together by a ribbon of fabric that zigzagged down the length of her leg, and all I could think was that those pants would be better off in a night club than any kind of bureaucratic office. I wondered what reasons the other people had for being there, but I was certain that their needs were greater than mine.

I knew I would have to speak to a case worker or someone, and while it’s been scheduled for next week, the fact remains that it’s a part of the process. So what do I say? Three years ago, I had about $100,000 to my name. After paying off a couple of loans, I had a little less than that. I basically went through about $40,000 a year, for two years, and barely worked during that time. I haven’t yet landed a job that will pay that much. So, at what point do I say that I’m apparently bad with money and shouldn’t be given hand-outs?

But that’s just the thing. Now, I need the hand-outs to get back on track.

I needed the $100,000, which was an inheritance. No, I didn’t need it in the sense that I had $100,000 worth of debt or any other such needs. I needed it as a test of myself and others. If given that much money, would I choose fun over responsibility? Having that much, would I have friends because I’m a nice person who buys things they ask for, or would I have friends because I’m a nice person who they respect and care about?

After losing the money, I lost the fiancé. While it became obvious that we were two different people, the fact remains that he ended our relationship after our eviction from the apartment was definite. However, I had just started a job that hadn’t started paying; if he had any faith or patience, he could have stayed “for richer or poorer.” I think about those words, “for richer or poorer,” in regards to the end of our relationship, and it reminds me that he left before he had to make that vow in front of God and our families. If he had stayed, I could have received homelessness prevention services easier since his name was on the lease for the apartment as well. It’s quite possible that I could have turned myself around months ago.

Of course, I wouldn’t have burned through so much money if the ex fiancé wasn’t so willing to spend it on me. He kept talking to his friends, and he was the one saying that I could buy a condo, or that I’d be fine living in a luxury apartment where the rent was $2200 a month. Well, it was a roof over my head that allowed me to have a cat, but I had never priced apartments before and I just assumed that the higher price was because it was New Jersey and so close to NYC.

I probably should have ended our relationship sooner, but I didn’t see any problems at that time. It was only 6 months into our relationship at that time as well, so I wasn’t thinking logically and nothing was sending up red flags. If anything, it was nice to not be alone after losing my Mom, and I think that mattered more to me than making sure I wasn’t getting screwed out of money.

But living with a friend I’ve known for over 10 years, I thought things were going to be different. I’ve done things for her, like teaching her how to drive, and I’ve bought things she needed when she asked for them. Looking back, I bought things that some of her other friends would have paid for just the same, and she didn’t really need them to survive but I did want her to be happy just the same. Within the past month, I’ve been “reminded” that she didn’t have to let me stay here, something that was told to me by some of her friends who she has no problem complaining to when I’ve done something she hasn’t liked, but she never seems to defend me or express gratitude towards me while I’m here. And I feel like everything I did for her was just to make her happy, so now I regret doing it at all. I feel used, as if I did nothing for her throughout the years, and I just feel like I’ve been taken in so there’s one more person to serve her and take her verbal abuse.

If I think about it all, I do need the government assistance right now. I need to get out of this house and live alone again. I need to pick up overtime shifts, not so I can keep an apartment and have food, but to pay off the debts I’ve racked up. And if I don’t live here, I can work overtime and not worry about missing dinner, or even feeling like I’m taking food out of other people’s mouths. So while it hurts a tiny bit to read the words “Notice To Vacate” on the letter that my friend gave me, it also is the kick I need to leave here and live a bit more comfortably.

Comfort is relative. I’ll be sleeping on the floor, getting government assistance. It’s not the life I want. It’s not a life I deserve, though I can’t decide if I deserve to have things be worse or if I deserve a bit more luxury. There are other people who are more deserving, harder-working, who had a rougher life growing up, who have to struggle more because of prejudices against their race or sexuality, people who have more mouths to feed and can’t make a more substantial income. I have been blessed and rather fortunate in life, which makes me wonder if it’s caused me to delude myself into believing I’m more capable of bouncing back without assistance than I really am capable of doing.

Perhaps appearances really are deceiving. Anyone in that room could have had less of a need than I do for housing assistance or food stamps, or any of the programs I didn’t sign up for. They might have other family members pushing money towards them to help out, just to make things easier for them. Me? I know people who can’t help me out because they have so much going on in their own lives, and those I haven’t asked would probably give me the same answer. But that’s just how things appear, which might not be how they really are.

I’ve learned a lot from this whole experience. I learned what it’s like to have to go on government assistance. I’ve learned that people can do things for you and not have any compassion, and those who are compassionate aren’t always able to do what you need. I’ve learned that holding money makes you nothing more than a wallet to someone else, and you serve no purpose if you’re empty. I learned who to trust.

And I learned I’m not as humble as I feel, that I have too much pride that I need to swallow. No matter what, government assistance is a need for me at this point. I have to get over myself and just accept that fact, and my life will begin to get easier.

Well, a lot of things will make my life easier, At least now I know what I can handle, and it’s not a windfall.

I’m Not Fine That You’re Not Fine With Me Being Fine

“You say you’re fine, but you’re not fine.”

Those words have echoed in my mind for over a week now, uttered in regards to my emotional trauma and grief that I’ve been dealing with for the past few months… couple of years… few years…

I refuse to believe it.

As I get nearer to the nine-month mark of living with my friend, things are changing drastically. I’ve started a new job that seems to be more than temporary, and at the same time I’ve received a notice to vacate from my friend. I have a negative bank balance, and a cell phone bill that’s been unpaid for a couple of months. With all of this on my plate, somehow it all seems easy to deal with.

She mentioned to me that I’ve been dealing with trauma. I couldn’t believe that, as my idea of trauma is associated with having to be rushed to the hospital while in the back of an ambulance, it’s bloodshed and adrenaline at the same time, but it isn’t all the things that got me where I am now.

But, not one to just take anyone’s words at face value these days, I searched online for “emotional trauma,” and found there was such a thing. And when I was looking at the signs of emotional trauma, I noticed I had many of them. So it was true, I was dealing with emotional trauma. For how long? Well, I noticed the signs were more present after returning to New York State than before I left the state or even when I was in New Jersey. My worst anxiety came while I was running out of money up here, because I still had some money before but I managed to stretch it. I lost more around the time that my fiancé ended our relationship and all, compared to losing Mom but having the financial and emotional freedom to go and do whatever I wanted.

“No, you’ve had emotional trauma since your Mom passed away… no, since your Dad passed.”

No, I didn’t. I had grief.

When Dad passed, I still had Mom, I still had a roof over my head regardless of how much I failed in life. I still had food in my stomach, a bed to rest at night, and just enough clothes to wear no matter what the occasion. But I was awakened to the fact that, hey, my parents aren’t actually immortal, they can be taken from me no matter how young I am. I was 23 when I lost Dad, the ink on my driver’s license and associates degree just barely being dried by that time. But I told myself, I had reached my adult years and maybe I didn’t need a fatherly figure anymore.

I told Mom that if she remarried, I’d never call her new husband “Dad.” She replied that women don’t usually need to be with someone, that they can do fine on their own, that it’s the men who need to find someone to replace the lost love of their life. Within a year of her passing, she kinda dated again, if you want to call it that. She met some old male friends down in North Carolina, and stayed in the same house as one of them while she was down there. When she came back, she had war stories to tell about her time spent with this guy, and I feel like she appreciated her marriage to Dad even more after that experience.

Then after Mom passed, I grieved her passing as well. But I had dreams about each of my parents soon after their respective passings, with at least one dream having both parents together after Mom’s passing. They were packing the minivan for a road trip to some unknown destination, and I remember saying to them, “I can’t go with you.” I really feel like I saw them in my dream, not some mental projection based on my memories but rather their spirits. I feel like they were crossing over together, and I knew it wasn’t my time to go. Not that I’d want to go with them, even though I would have joined them, but they needed to catch up on lost time together.

And I’m fine with that.

I’m still fine with that.

But if you haven’t lost a parent, especially if you’ve had a good relationship with that parent, then you don’t know what it’s like. And my friend neither has the relationship I had with my parents, nor has she lost either of them.

Once you reach the acceptance stage of grief, once you’ve accepted that your parent has passed, you’ve managed to make peace with your new reality. However, I feel that you’re still allowed to react when Mother’s Day and Father’s Day come around, because it’s hard to ignore. As for people, I feel like people expect that you’re going to start crying on the inside when they accidentally mention your lost parent, or they will think you didn’t care for your lost parent if you don’t even talk about them anymore. I’d rather not let people tell you how you should feel. I mean, you should be able to talk about your parents after they’ve passed, end of sentence. If something you said or thought of makes you cry, you’re allowed to cry. If you remember something funny, you’re allowed to laugh. Talk about your parents, just do it, remember and embrace the good times as well as the not-so-good times.

In my opinion, you are always allowed to miss your parents after they’ve passed.

And you can still be fine about it, just the same.

What is “being fine?” You know what? That’s up to you. If you’re fine with not talking about your parents, you’re allowed. If you’re fine with not thinking of them, if possible, that’s on you. I will say, if you start hoarding your parent’s possessions, or you become agoraphobic because the outside world is going to trigger your memories, or you do something else that’s obviously not healthy, then you’re not fine by any means.

I didn’t keep everything from the house after moving out; I couldn’t. I did keep some of Mom’s clothes, as I could wear them and I thought I might. But I’ve been able to part with a few things that she held onto, even in the time since so many things went into dumpsters.

And I can talk about my parents. I don’t shy away from thinking about them. I usually don’t cry as I talk about them. That doesn’t mean that I won’t cry, and it’s not like I’m forbidding myself from doing so, it’s just that I don’t have a reason to cry.

But am I “not fine” at all? I guess, but not to the point where I need a safe space and coping mechanisms to deal with my thoughts. It’s not fine that I don’t have my best friend, my Mom, in my life anymore. It’s not fine that the two most important people to me won’t be at my wedding, if and when I get married, and I somehow have to adjust for their absence. But, I can adjust to the changes. Like, I don’t need a big wedding, I just need to marry someone who makes me happy, and I truly believe that’s what my parents would have preferred overall (especially if it’s tradition for them to foot the bill). And I need to find someone who wants me to call or send a text message to let them know I’m on my way back or that I’ve reached my destination safely, someone who cares that much about making sure I’m… that I’m fine.

So, I’m fine with the loss of my parents. I’m not fine with my current financial situation. But if I hadn’t lost either of my parents, I wouldn’t be having my current financial situation. That’s not to say I wish they weren’t gone, but instead, their absence forces me to try harder to keep what’s important to me, like having a roof over my head and all of those other basic needs.

But, I’m not fine that you’re not fine with the fact that I’m fine. I’m fine, and you should be fine with that, but if it’s not fine to you then you should be fine with doing something about it.

Fin.

The Long And Short Of Why I Want To Travel Far And Wide

There are some things in this world that I shouldn’t have to explain.

Maybe I should rephrase that. There are things in this world that can go without an explanation.

No, that’s still not quite right. What about, once a person has made a few mistakes in life, they start to learn from them and can probably make better-informed decisions later on?

Well, I’ve made enough mistakes with this introduction. I guess all that’s left is to explain a few things. It seems counterproductive compared to the intro I was going for. Or, did I do everything as I wanted to do, and it’s now exactly what I was thinking?

Plotting and scheming aside, the point I’m trying to make is that I sometimes feel criticized for wanting to go to Japan. While it hasn’t been said in so few words, the statements come down to things like, “you should give up on going, I can’t understand why you would want to go to Japan, you will be disappointed when you get there.” I usually hear, “do you have to go now? Can you wait 10, 15, 20 years?” Why should I wait? I’m not getting any younger, my body isn’t becoming any more capable. I already have to wait until I get enough money put aside, and that wait will be long enough. But when I hear people ask why I can’t put off the dream of going, I feel like they’re really asking why I can’t give up on going altogether.

Clearly, I need new friends. Or I’m overthinking things.

The short answer is, Japan makes me happy. I feel like people who care about me should want me to be happy.

Why does Japan make me happy? It just does. I can’t really explain it, and I know if I try to explain it, I might lose the magic. But of course, I apparently need to explain the whole thing.

It didn’t start with Wakkanai.

My Dad was stationed in Wakkanai while he was in the Air Force. I don’t remember if there were slides. For you kiddies out there, slides are basically physical photos that you can shine light through, and you put a tray of them on a special projector to help a room full of people fall asleep quickly. Anyway, that’s not important right now. He was in the Air Force as a Russian linguist. For you kiddies, the United States had a grudge against Russia for a number of years, and it was called the Cold War. My Dad basically translated radio transmissions.

When his time had ended over there, he brought home some stereo equipment that probably still works to this day. I was raised with the knowledge that Japanese electronics were superiorly made in comparison to American electronics. I watched the movie Gung Ho, and admired the Japanese work ethic. I think I watched Big Bird Goes To Japan as a child. But, I barely knew anything about Japan, I barely had an interest in Japan.

I had an interest in the Moon.

By the time I became a teenager, I loved looking up at the moon and stars. Astrology interested me, and I learned that my sign, Aries, was a fire sign. And then I was flipping through the channels on TV one afternoon and saw a cartoon with these girls who defended Earth in the name of the name of the moon or one of the planets. I saw a bit of myself in the title character, Sailor Moon, but my favorite character soon became the one who’s a fellow Aries, Sailor Mars. When they weren’t saving the day, they were living their lives in and around Tokyo.

I started watching Tenchi Muyo as well, and even a bit of Yu Yu Hakusho. Eventually I watched Fullmetal Alchemist.

One time, I was near the comic and gaming store and decided to drop in. I found manga, and bought one book as that was all I could afford at the time. But after I started working and driving, one volume of manga turned into over one hundred. I was a bit addicted.

When I was still in college, though, I started getting into L’arc en Ciel. I remember looking up song lyrics and translations in the computer rooms while I was between classes or after I had finished up whatever I was working on. After I graduated, I bought an iPod while working at my first job, and I had some Sowelu and Utada Hikaru songs along with some L’arc on there.

It wasn’t an interest in Japan, just in Japanese media, but I was happy. Life seemed to be going well for me, I had both of my parents, I had started working and had a car to get around.

And then I met a guy.

When I first met him, he kind of had a significant other. She didn’t really want him, and had ended things with him by the time I saw him again. They were both at a party that one of my friends was hosting, and I was there as well for no reason other than I was invited to a party. He was there because his now-ex was going to be there, but he felt a need to heal his wounds by getting drunk and crying on the sofa. I had knelt down next to the sofa, the armrest being all that separated me from his feet. I wanted to help, I wanted to be supportive. He ended up calling one of his friends who drove over and picked him up to bring him home.

This guy’s life was a bit of a wreck. Someone broke into his station wagon and stole things from him. He was driving a station wagon because that’s all he could afford at the time, and it was already falling apart. He was also living with his brother, who looked Korean. He actually looked Japanese to me, but was apparently half Irish and half Korean. His brother had a different father and was full Korean, if memory serves me correctly.

Not that it mattered what he was, because to me he looked pretty good. I really didn’t feel worthy of being around him. Oh, I should mention that after checking up on him the next day, one thing led to another and I started going over to his place nearly every day. I thought things were going somewhere, but I had never had a boyfriend before and I had nothing to base my experiences on.

One day, he started talking about looking at newer cars, and had his heart set on one at a local dealership. Knowing his struggles, I did what any foolish girl would do. Well, because I felt a bit guilty for enjoying Japanese stuff while I had an interest in an Asian guy, I sold the manga and gave him the money to put towards the car.

After about a month, he didn’t want to see me anymore. I learned a lot in that one month, more than I really care to explain. But I lost my interest in manga, and my interest in everything else waned as well.

The second time wasn’t as good.

Eventually, I bought more manga, though my collection wasn’t as impressive as it originally had been. I didn’t read the volumes as often or as quickly. But I met a guy at work who became a bit of a friend, nothing more. To some degree, he got me back into anime, but I wasn’t as interested as before.

I went to an anime convention with him, my second ever anime convention. I remember feeling like I had outgrown anime. I was surrounded by people cosplaying characters that I didn’t recognize. There were anime titles I had never heard of. The finest moment was meeting Vic Mignogna, voice actor extraordinaire (seriously, look him up on IMDB or something, he’s in nearly every English-dubbed anime you can think of). Aside from that, the day was a bit of a waste.

Eventually, I was rescued…  by food.

While working at a well-known grocery store, I bought The Manga Cookbook. Unfortunately my ingredients were limited, and I could barely make anything in the book despite the grocery store having an Asian food section with imported goods. I did try my hand at making udon noodles, though, which turned out alright.

While working that job, I lost my Mom, which caused me to move to New Jersey. Okay, a lot of things caused me to move to New Jersey, most of which were bad decisions. While I was living in New Jersey, my boyfriend at the time introduced me to Mitsuwa Marketplace. At first I was interested in going, but after going I was in ecstasy! All the ingredients I couldn’t find before, I could find at Mitsuwa! And there was a bookstore nearby where I could buy manga in the original Japanese! And I spent more money than I should have, but it was necessary.

I returned a few more times after that. I always made sure that I ate something from the food court, because there was no way I’d be able to make anything that tasted quite like it should. I loved the feeling I had while I was there. I came home after my first visit, and realized that I didn’t have any L’arc songs in iTunes, just a couple of Hyde’s songs. I started tracking down all of L’arc’s albums on Amazon and eBay, which gave me a bit of an endorphin rush when I bought another album and when it finally arrived.

I had forgotten how happy I once was to listen to Japanese rock and pop music. I listened to Horizon, and it reminded me of a dream I once had. But the food also made me happy, because everything was new, and everything I tried was amazing.

Japan was where I needed to be.

The search for a job can make anyone go a bit insane. The thought eventually popped into my head that I could move to and work in Japan, so that became the plan before I even knew what I was getting myself into. But a plan like that is good to have when you think of all the angles, and in my case I realized that my then-fiance and I were two entirely different people. Ignoring what I had to consider for myself, I realized I couldn’t have my fiancé travel with me to Japan because the flight would be too lengthy for him to deal with his disability, and then he probably wouldn’t want to go out and do anything with me once we were there. Not only that, but leaving him behind meant that we were back to having a long-distance relationship.

I like to think that the entirety of that discussion was one of the many factors why we broke up. Our relationship left me broke, but it also left me with the freedom to go and do what I want to do once I’m not poor. Since I put more thought into going to Japan, I know what I need to do to go, and I don’t see a reason why I shouldn’t go.

So what else?

I’d like to think I’ll eventually meet someone while I’m in Japan, and maybe I’ll give in and have children, thereby helping out their birth rate and keep it from declining further.

If I’m in Japan before the Olympics, maybe I can get into hospitality and be of some use when the place is mobbed by tourists who speak more English than Japanese. Otherwise, I could always just assist in teaching the language.

My interest in Japan isn’t anime and manga. I might go to a concert, if time and finances allow. I might do some video gaming-related things. Or I might decide to be boring and check out as many temples and shrines as I can. If I lose interest in Japan, I could go elsewhere.

I’ll have to go over on a student visa and go to a language school, then work part time to make a living. I can’t get on a work visa because I don’t have the right credentials, and it would be cheaper to get my bachelors degree in Japan. But it is possible for me to go to Japan, I just need to get my finances in order before I can go.

Tomorrow, I think I’m going to make a PowerPoint presentation of this entry, then save it onto my phone so I can make the argument at a moment’s notice. Basically, the Japanese stuff makes me happy, and so I’d like to go to Japan and live there for a while. I know what I need to do to get there, and unless you’ve travelled abroad, you can’t say that I don’t know what I’m doing. But there are things I can’t plan for just yet, because airline tickets change prices, tuition costs increase, rent goes up, so those things will have to wait until I’m at a point where I have to consider such things.

This is what I want. This makes me happy.

I’ve spent enough time trying to make others happy. Now I want to do something for myself.

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!