Tag Archive | Music

Acoustic #3

A week ago, I hopped in the car and set off for New Jersey to retrieve more things from storage. I had a list of things I absolutely wanted to liberate from the storage unit, some things that would be nice but not needed, and even a really short list of things I would need to take with me when I headed down there (because I probably would have forgotten the GPS device without reminding myself to take it).

My number one priority was to grab my Mom’s acoustic guitar, a Fender Classic, model FC-10. Beneath the strings, there’s a label bearing my Mom’s name and the address I lived at until I was 8, a reminder of where it’s been and how old it is. As I write this, I looked up information on the FC-10 and found out they were made until 1981, which means the guitar is older than I am. While it’s been very rarely played, my Dad being the last one I remember playing it, that guitar is one of the things that’s always been in my life.

I carefully loaded the guitar, enclosed in a soft leather-like case, into the back seat on top of everything else I had packed up. I told J to pray for my safe return, sending him a picture of the guitar as the reason why he should hope I return safely. And while my return trip started with a two-hour delay on route 80, and I spilled a bit of my Dairy Queen Blizzard after a mid-trip stop, I did make it home without too much of an issue. There were no Fender-benders to speak of.

I’ve slowly been unpacking the car over the past week, with the guitar… actually, plural, because I also grabbed the electric guitar I picked up at a garage sale in 2014, along with my Rock Band guitar controller for the Xbox 360… I unpacked all three guitars as soon as I got back. Yesterday, I unloaded one of the random bags of things I put in the car, which had two miniature model Fender guitars and one of the guitar-shaped pens I found in a bookstore.

Why does a girl who doesn’t play guitar have so many guitars?

Well, condensing much of my life into one statement, I wanted to be a singer. A famous singer. I wanted to be a pop vocalist. I wanted to be the one recording albums and performing on stage. As I got older, I realized I loved music, and that being a famous vocalist was more an expression of that passion, it was what I felt I wanted to be because that’s where my heart was drawn. It’s not the path I’m on because of parents who knew what was best for me, as the story usually goes. I can’t resent them for that, because I might have started chasing an unobtainable dream.

Eventually, I started acquiring things to represent my love for music. My parents gave me a music note pin when I was in the school choir. I bought a smoothie at the state fair, and chose the tall cup that had a guitar shape around the midsection instead of the plain one or the one with an alien. I bought guitar earrings and a couple necklaces, oh do I have a lot of guitar earrings! My favorite guitar necklace is one where the body of the acoustic guitar is glass or crystal or something, and the neck is gold-plated. And then there’s the guitar pens, and the little guitar models. And the Japanese guitar magazine, because Hyde’s guitar was featured in its pages.

The first guy who I thought was possibly interested in me romantically, was a guy who was half-Asian and played acoustic guitar. He played for me one time, without me asking. Well, he played in my presence, let’s just say that much. The vibrations of the strings, the notes echoing in my ears, made me feel as if I was in love or at least a rather euphoric state. At no time was I really ever on his mind, it seemed. I went into that whole thing not knowing what to do, what I should do, and as it ended I was left wondering what I did do, what I should’ve done, what I should be doing.

At one of my call center jobs, I met this guy from Hawaii who brought in a teal electric guitar a few times.  The plate on the back was autographed by one of the members of Dream Theater, a band with whom he had spent some time hanging out. While I liked Dream Theater, after a mention from the previous guitarist got me listening to their music, it didn’t matter to me if this guy had spent time with any of the members of the band or even if he was one of the members of the band. Things had gotten playful between us, until I started getting uncomfortable. My desk was moved from being down the row from J to being on the other side of the room from J, not that J mattered at the time. We’re still talking about the Hawaiian here, and how I was moved to a seat where walking past me meant going out of the way to do so.

J and I worked together at that job in the sense that we knew that the other person reported to work there. We barely spoke to each other, unless it was part of a conversation with other people. I left that job, and that was it. A couple years later, he found me on a social media site and said hi. One thing led to another, and I end up hanging out at his house and meeting the girlfriend he had then. I think he brought in his acoustic guitar to work once or twice, but as I paid as much attention to him as I felt he paid to me at that time (which wasn’t much), I don’t remember if he did or not. I do know, however, that the first night I hung out at his place, I learned that he played guitar. And that we got along really well, so well in fact that it made his girlfriend jealous. But that’s a story I’m sure I’ve already told, even if I limited the details. Alas, things ended on a sour note.

Or did they? Because I live here now, with J and at least five guitars between us both (two electric, three acoustic), not counting guitar peripherals for video games, or any of my knick-knacks. And while I wonder what would really go on in J’s mind when he sees I’ve got something else that looks like a guitar, I have to think it amuses him in some way.

Just the same, I wonder what he thinks or feels as he’s playing guitar, if he can hear the creaking of the floorboards as I move to where I can hear him play just a little bit better. I can just barely hear him from my bedroom when he plays, so if I wake up and hear something, I can listen to him while I’m in the upstairs bathroom. I’ve gone from the bedroom to the windowsill at the lower landing of the stairs just to listen to him play. I wonder if he delights in knowing he summoned me. I wonder if we share the same smile, the same warmth. For me, it’s like Christmas morning, as there’s a gift to be enjoyed if I get out of bed, so I want to imagine him as the parent who gave a gift of themselves, knowing it’s nothing much but still appreciated. At no point do I remember thinking, “I would like to be awoken to the sound of an acoustic guitar playing softly in the distance,” but I have that now and I really don’t want to leave or lose that.

I share a birthday with Eric Clapton. I have no problem having a guitar collection… or collecting guitarists, whatever. Their expression through music is my passion, and I enjoy expressing that passion however I can.

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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.

My Waifu! ^_^

All right, so after all the views that I’m getting for the entry about Charles (Charusharu), it seems like people out there are curious about him or are already watching his videos. If you haven’t, here’s his latest from his alternate channel:

If he said his waifu was Sailor Mars,… I don’t know, I think I’d be done with the internet at that point, because otherwise I’d sit here and be all, “OMG Sailor Mars is my favorite of the Sailor Senshi and I have her deck from the collectible card game that came out and she’s just my favorite and I…”

Relax, take a breath, don’t be awkward…

Scratch that, it’s too late. I’m already being awkward. Might as well own it!

So what is a waifu? As Charles’ video explains, using a definition from ye olde Urban Dictionary, a waifu is basically your two-dimensional wife, it’s the character you would marry if it were possible to do so. The male version is a husbando. It’s not really limited to anime characters, your waifu/husbando can be a musician, an actor, or a character in a movie or book or television show.

My comment earlier today was to say that my husbando was Hyde from Vamps and L’arc en Ciel. It’s not entirely true.

My husbando, right now, would probably be Kyosuke Himuro. He has a voice like black velvet when he’s singing ballads, and I think the perfect evening spent with him would be spent under the moonlight of a summer’s night with him singing to me. He also has a well-toned body, like he works out and eats a fair amount of protein. Some of his body language suggests he has an ego, which would be nice to be around a guy with that much self-confidence. I like watching his concert performances, because I like his energy and the way he moves along with the songs. He also seems like a bit of a playful badass with a heartfelt side, but I have no basis for that other than his songs and just how he seems to act.

My waifu would probably be Hyde. I know, he’s a guy. But he has a more slender figure than Himuro, and Hyde has also cross-dressed as Harley Quinn and as a geisha-like character, so he’s rather androgynous. Just like Himuro, I wouldn’t mind being serenaded at night by Hyde. Hyde has a slightly deeper, slightly raspy voice, but it’s still nice to listen to. Hyde’s energy on-stage is different from Himuro, in that it comes from Hyde’s shyness and bashfulness. Hyde rocks out to his music just the same, but his dancing and spinning seem to be more of his personal enjoyment of the music. Back to his bashfulness, I think I would have too much fun, every now and then, doing things that would make him blush. I think he would be fun to be around by day, sometimes even at night. If we’re on the same wavelength, he seems like the kind who could tap into my sadness when I’m feeling down and make me feel like everything is going to be alright.

If I had to pick an anime husbando, it would probably be Sebastian from Black Butler. At least if I promise to be with him for eternity, there would be the possibility of that actually happening. I mainly chose him because I’d likely do like Ciel and be a little shit towards Sebastian, taking sarcastic shots at him when possible but knowing he gives as good at he gets. But I’d be impressed by his work ethic and skills, because after all, he’s one hell of a butler. Can you imagine him as a significant other? If he plans a romantic evening, you know that no detail will be spared, and you’d likely have a really classy experience.

Another husbando would be Kyohei from The Wallflower. Okay, so he has his moments where he only cares about what’s in it for him, but at the same time he does care about Sunako. I might not be able to deal with him if he often thinks only of himself, but if he points out when I’m being unreasonable or otherwise lights a fire under me when I want to shut out the world, then he’d be good to keep around. Also, he’s one of the most gorgeous people in the story (not an opinion, that’s part of his character as a “radiant being” or “creature of light”), so if I really wanted to be superficial about my choices, I would go for the pretty boy who gets into a lot of fights because he’s so pretty.

Do I have more on my waifu/husbando list? Yes, yes I do. There’s at least two more, but if it wasn’t so late, I could probably think of a few others.

But don’t tell ME who your waifu is! Go watch Charles’ video and leave a comment over there. No, seriously, watch the video and comment over there, and share the video with your friends. We’re going to get 1,ooo views on that video within a week. Let’s do it!

Wait, What? The Retraction To The Confession!

So I’ve been talking about my friend from Japan, and I’ve also been alluding to another person who was my valentine. Then, I confessed that they were the same person.

So what do I need to retract?

I wrote that entry when I thought things had ended, and after I said what I thought was going to be a final goodbye to him. I hit a moment where I thought that a few things about me were more than he could handle anymore. Here I was, eating sweets for my birthday even though he advised that I shouldn’t eat sweets if I wanted to get healthier, and I was acting carelessly by holding off on taking a guaranteed job offer because I wanted to wait for an upcoming interview. He was hardly talking to me around that time, which made me feel like he didn’t accept my own birthday as an exception to the suggestion about sweets, and he wasn’t thinking the same way as I was about what I was trying to achieve in my career.

Not to mention, he said that I’d do things my own way anyway. That’s not entirely true. I tended to be more selfish if I didn’t feel like he cared and I cared less in turn. But if I felt like he was into me, I stepped things up and did things that I felt he would appreciate. I don’t know when I started doing that in life, unless I’m just doing it now as a defense mechanism after my previous relationship ended. I feel like it keeps things in perspective, in a sense, as I would rather not give in so easily if a person isn’t interested in me, I’d rather know that they care about me and I’m just showing my love for them in return.

So anyway, I said my goodbyes, blah blah blah,… and I stopped talking to him for… two days? I wrote to him after my interview with Delta was cancelled, and I told him how I called the staffing agency to see if the other position was still open. And then I said goodbye again, because I was really going. I really meant it, you know?

And then, he wrote back! He said he was going to wish me good luck, that is until he saw my note about the interview being cancelled. He asked me a couple of questions as well. I  was like, “do you not want me to go?” Because answering questions means I have to write back. He didn’t say goodbye to me, or wish me luck in life. He kept writing to me as if I never was trying to leave.

Day two of the new job started with being too tired to stay up as late as usual, then focusing on getting ready for work, and then going and starting the work day. During each of those moments, he sent an e-mail, the last one containing a few music videos on YouTube. Damn it, I let him get away with speaking through lyrics! One song in particular went something like, “I think about you every day, you’re my partner in crime, I’ll catch you if you fall.” I have yet to actually see him before I buy into the lyric about “I’m taking a vacation, I’ll see you at the station.” I did giggle, as one of the lyrics says something about sleeping with strangers, which is what I’m doing if you consider I’m on their couch and they’re all upstairs in their own beds.

So wait, what about White Day? Surely he mustn’t be into me since he did nothing! Well… he wasn’t talking to me at that time. He said that he wanted to say or do something for me, which hurt him to not break the silence on his side just to do it. But, I don’t know. Ah, but that was a month ago, and I should just move on.

Maybe he thought I wasn’t trying hard to look for work, and that’s why he seemed to be giving up. Maybe his final goodbye would have been while wishing me luck with the Delta interview. But maybe reminding him of how I was trying to do things for him, and also showing that I understood my careless behavior but was fortunate enough that something worked out in my favor, maybe I reminded him that I wasn’t just reckless and selfish, that there was a method to my madness, a willingness to risk something of myself if only to gain something greater.

Have I fallen completely head over heels? Ha, not yet! I have yet to meet him in person, for starters. I figure that if he’s not who he says he is, although I have few people who would miss me, those people can’t pay my ransom if I’m kidnapped because they don’t come from money. Not to mention, I wouldn’t be the most sought-after sex slave if I was trafficked, and my bodily organs wouldn’t be worth much from having this much fat attached to them. So maybe I should just give in and trust that he actually likes me for my personality.

I must say, though, that he does have good taste in music. So maybe he’s the perfect guy for me, because no one else has presented me with music that I’ve listened to this steadily. I mean, when I thought I had ended it, I tried going back to the entirety of my music library, but I found myself wanting to listen to just Himuro. I’ve also listened to other songs by some of the artists that he’s sent me songs for, and they’re good songs.

So… I can’t really say what’s going to happen between my Japanese friend and I. Honestly, I don’t want to turn this blog into my own Asian romantic drama. I especially don’t want it to become a South Korean drama, because it’s usually the female lead that gets amnesia, and even though the guy does everything he can and she eventually comes out of it, I still don’t want amnesia. All joking aside, my love life is my personal business, first and foremost. If I talk about it, it’s because I’m trying to understand it and basically navigate uncharted territory. Usually I’ll point out some mistake I made, because I don’t mind being dumb if I learned something from it. It’s actually nice to talk about being won over by a guy who actually seems to get me, so I do want to talk about what happens.

But look at what I’ve done! Two things that I wanted to improve upon, and I did it! I found a new love, and I have a job now! But I’m not going to stop there, because there’s more I have yet to do. Let’s do it!

Aging Like A Fine Wine

I probably wouldn’t have written about my birthday, other than to say it happened and it was a good day as expected. But things happened, and I ended up crying for about half of the day.

When I woke up this morning, it wasn’t because I slept as late as I wanted to and then sat up and stretched like a Disney princess. I woke up to the sound of cats licking milk out of a cereal bowl that one of the kids left on the bookshelf. The cats’ drinking fountain was running low on water, and while there was enough to drink, it wasn’t enough to keep the motor from sputtering. I couldn’t just close my eyes and hope for another hour of shut-eye, especially since the sun was brightly shining which triggered my brain to stay awake.

The house was empty, a product of circumstances out of everyone’s control because my friend has to be elsewhere this week. I slowly ate my breakfast while navigating the offerings of the internet. Eventually I got dressed, debating between whether to wear a more feminine shirt with rhinestones or to wear my Hard Rock Cafe NYC shirt. The Hard Rock Cafe shirt won out, which I wore with blue jeans and my boots. I decided to bring Mom along with me, so I put on the necklace that’s holding her wedding rings. Since the weather was like spring, I donned a black hooded sweatshirt and stepped out the door.

I drove to the mall, opting to get a movie ticket first and then plan my mall trip around that. It was just before noon, and the 11:50 showing of Beauty And The Beast would have been starting already. When I asked for a ticket, I was sold one for the 11:50 showing, so I had no time to waste. I raced across to the other side of the mall’s third floor, away from the box office and towards the theaters. I entered my theater just before the last preview played, and found a decent seat near the center of the room.

Beauty And The Beast was absolutely fantastic! By the time the title card was on the screen, I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. Up to that point, it was a beautiful reimagining of the animated movie that I saw in the theater with my parents. I thought about how much Mom would have enjoyed seeing the movie. I thought about her as if she was there in the theater beside me, because she would have been there if she was still alive. But there were so many moments in the movie that made me cry, because so much of the story is dedicated to a parent’s love for their child and the child’s love for their parents in return. If you dropped a hat during that movie, I would start crying, that’s how easily the waterworks began to flow.

And then the movie ended, and I had to compose myself.

Before I did anything else, my next stop needed to be the craft store. The cord on my bracelet was starting to fray, and it seemed like a matter of time before it would snap. While in the craft store at the mall, there was a sale on beads. Okay, I didn’t need to spend any more money than the $1.50 for the cord, but some of the beads caught my eye and I was inspired to make a bracelet like what I’ve seen Kyosuke Himuro wear. I bought the beads, and the cord that I needed, and proceeded to my next stop.

Being a member for every rewards program is sometimes beneficial, even if you don’t frequent the business. I had a free dessert, no purchase required, from TGI Friday’s because it’s been my birth month. I hadn’t used the offer, so I figured that since I would be at the mall anyway, I would redeem it as a treat to myself. I only had a single dollar bill, and I wanted to leave a tip, so I ordered a soda so I had an excuse to use my credit card. I ate the brownie I ordered, then worked to finish my soda while I waited for the bartender to give me the bill. When the bartender asked if I wanted a refill on the soda, I politely declined, but asked for the bill at that moment. He waved me off, wishing me a happy birthday.

I was floored. I couldn’t think straight, not of the dollar bill in my wallet that I could have thrown down or anything. I walked out of the restaurant, trying to process my thoughts. My bladder was suggesting that I should find the bathroom, so I did. While sitting on the toilet, I pulled out my phone and pulled up TGI Friday’s page on Facebook, then typed up a thank you for the good service I had. The person behind their social media responded to me, wishing me a happy birthday and asking for my rewards account information. I passed it along to them, and was eventually gifted with 100 reward points. So not only did I get free dessert today, but I have enough points to go back and get a burger. Or I could get another dessert, if I so desired. The whole thing made me cry, because it wasn’t expected or needed, but I appreciated the gesture so much that it got to me.

Back in the car, because I was trying to figure out how to waste time before dinner, I typed up an e-mail to my friend in Japan. I started by telling him how much of a mess I’ve been. I cried through a movie. I cried over a free drink that I had with my free dessert, that I received free points for appreciating. And I still had dinner with friends to get through, but I didn’t know if I was going to cry through that. I didn’t tell him, but I was crying while typing the e-mail. I wanted to say that I felt like I didn’t deserve to be treated so well by people, but then I couldn’t help but think that maybe I have been good or otherwise deserving of the kindness. I sent the brief message, which helped me feel a little more grounded again.

I drove to where we would be having dinner, then parked my car. It was a gray, cloudy drive. Where did the sun go? I had a pair of nail clippers in the car, and I used the clippers as scissors while I restrung my bracelet to pass the time. Of course, there was still more time that I needed to occupy, so I made my Himuro bracelet. At one of his concerts, Himuro wears a couple of bracelets, one of which looks like a string of onyx beads. I bought black glass beads, which I alternated with wooden beads so it would look similar to the tigers eye and wood bracelet I had restrung.

I also bought some black glass beads that have blue iridescent enamel on one side, and I made a second bracelet with those beads and some wooden beads. As the blue iridescent side doesn’t always show, the bracelet takes on a personality where it coordinates with the Himuro bracelet for part of the time, then stands out on its own at other times. The name I gave that bracelet is rather personal to me, as it evokes feelings of a person I want to see. I was hoping they would surprise me and show up for dinner, but I told myself it wasn’t going to happen because I knew that it would require sacrifices that couldn’t be made so easily. So as expected, I didn’t see the person.

I did, however, have an awesome time with the ones who were there. I had one friend and my cousin, and my friend brought her significant other’s daughter, which made a total of four of us. As the party was all girls, things did get a bit silly.

After dinner was karaoke. I thought I’d start off the night by singing Vamps, but I didn’t pull the English-only song, and I didn’t bring up the romaji lyrics on my phone. As soon as the Japanese characters showed up on screen, a combination of kanji and hiragana, I cancelled the song and uttered an expletive. I could hear laughing out in the lobby, which I hoped was aimed at me because I was laughing at myself so much at that point. My friend picked out a song and performed while I looked for another song to do.

I started to look for anything performed by Himuro at that point. All I could find were two songs by him and one song by Boøwy. The Boowy song was Marionette, which I haven’t listened to too many times and don’t know how the song goes. I would have preferred Welcome To The Twilight or 16. The Kyosuke Himuro songs, which I recognized only by title and the kanji spelling of his name, were Jealousy and Kiss Me. I’m familiar with Jealousy, but I’m more familiar with Kiss Me because YouTube puts it as the first song for my Himuro playlist that’s automatically generated. So, I tried to do Kiss Me, and I stumbled over the timing and pronunciations. I would have rather had his ballads to perform,

Oh well, I still had anything performed by Hyde in one way or another, along with Tetsuya’s music. I did the Tetsu69 song Tightrope, eventually finding the Vamps song that was all-English (Love Addict) and then finishing with Horizon by Hyde. My friend sang Lady Marmalade, Taylor Swift’s song Love Story, and Scarborough Fair along with one other song.

Everyone had places to be, except for me, so we all ended the karaoke session. In the process of leaving, I managed to get a shot of pineapple vodka as a kind of free birthday drink. Then we all headed to our cars… in the rain.

I drove around to waste some more time, as I had a friend who wanted to celebrate with me but couldn’t get out of work until after midnight. So I walked around a grocery store where I used to work, and managed to be seen by people who I didn’t expect to see. One person I talked to was a friend on Facebook who had already wished me a happy birthday on the website, and then wished me a happy birthday again upon seeing me. It was pretty special that I ran into him after the events of my day. I actually paid for his $30-something grocery order after he accidentally left his wallet where he works. To pay me back, he gave me two prints for free of things in the Syracuse area that he’s photographed, one of the prints was framed and would have cost $200.

When I left the grocery store, it was just before midnight. The rain had started to freeze, and snow was falling. I sent a message to the friend who was working until midnight, asking if we could postpone because I didn’t want to be tired, out half the night, and driving on icy roads to get back to where I’m resting my head.

As soon as I got changed into my night clothes, exhaustion set in.

It was an amazing birthday! I don’t think I could ever have a birthday that ends up being “just another day.” I didn’t even try that hard to make this birthday amazing. Between the laughter and the tears, I certainly wouldn’t have changed anything. I’m alive, I made it through another year, and that’s cause for celebration and emotion and anything else that my heart calls out for.

Such as this little guy. My heart wanted him, and I had a coupon because of my birthday. Things will always work out well.

Bold & Delicious

I’m barely in a chipper mood right now.

So I found that GaijinPot has a study-in-Japan program, where an advisor will set you up with a Japanese language school, find you a place to live, and even help you find part-time work on the side (since you have a limit to the number of hours you can work in a week while on a student visa). That sounded amazing to me, but the biggest issue I have is getting the money to go.

Reluctantly, I set up a GoFundMe campaign, and then I didn’t have it in me to share it on Facebook right away, so I waited a day before doing so. Initially, I was thinking of sharing the link with my extended family, but I’m so timid about doing that and haven’t done so yet.

The friend I’m staying with took umbrage with me asking for money. She wants me to stay here, thinking I have something amazing inside of me hidden behind unprofessionalism and feelings of worthlessness. That’s the short answer. The long answer deals with how she’s “fiercely independent” and wants me to be the same. I won’t get into all the ways that she relies on others to make ends meet. I’m not here to rant, but I will take what she says with a grain of salt.

I have another friend who lives in New York City, and he’s willing to help me out if I help him out for a couple of weeks. He’s not offering the full amount that I’m asking for, but it would help me get by even if I don’t use it to go to Japan. He and I have an understanding that I might use it for things I owe instead of going to Japan, and he’s fine with that.

Oh NYC, how I miss thee.

I take that back. My car was broken into on the second night I was there. The only redeeming qualities that NYC has for me all exist in Manhattan, and they all cost money that I don’t have right now.

While I’m not living out of my car, I do have a lot of stuff in it that I don’t want to lose. The thought of lightning striking twice bothers me, because this time I feel like I might actually have something stolen from me. So if plans get solidified, I’m going to try to leave a few things at my Upstate NY friend’s place before I go downstate.

Back to the current time, and the state of things as they are, my friend from Japan had a few words to say about my plan. I read his message briefly, then nodded off back to sleep because the couch was way too comfortable and the house was reasonably silent except for my music.

My first thought was, he doesn’t want me to do this, he’s discouraging me from going to Japan at all because of my current situation. That was the thought that was on my mind when I had drifted back to sleep, and I don’t recall having any dreams as a result of that thought.

When I did roll out of “bed,” it was because one of the kids wanted to watch television, and he put it on an obnoxious cartoon that motivated me to leave the room and start my day. So when I sat down for breakfast, I had my headphones plugged in to my phone and was listening to music while eating and catching up with e-mail and social media. I read my Japanese friend’s message again, telling myself to read it in the tone of a concerned parent instead of someone who doesn’t want others to be happy. Doing so changed my perspective a bit, as I saw it as him making sure I had things figured out and settled before embarking on this quest of mine.

I’m not a huge fan of chess. I like the musical Chess, but don’t ask me to play the board game. The only time I like to think a certain number of moves ahead is in my own life, and even then, I prefer to consider that multiple options are valid if I have to consider what’s to come. So when I was asked what I would do after one year of language study, I listed my options: go for another year, go to college, or go back to the States or something. Do I have a guaranteed job? I don’t even have a guaranteed job now. Becoming bilingual, especially in Japanese, should be a marketable skill. I do need to go back to college, and Japanese schools are cheaper than in the States. Earning a degree in a second language should be impressive, I would think. Maybe I’ll even meet a nice guy while I’m in Japan, you know, if things with my valentine don’t work out in the long run, and then maybe I’ll stay there on a spousal visa. Maybe I’ll head to Australia once my first year in Japan is done, since I’m interested in things around Sydney. Maybe I’ll let myself get kidnapped and trafficked, sold to a high bidder and treated like property. Do I really need to have everything planned and figured out?

Not that I want all my friends to be enablers, but perhaps the resistance came at a bad time for me emotionally and biochemically. I had the house to myself for a couple of hours in the afternoon, which was enough to keep me from being distracted while I imagined myself having a breakdown in front of my friend from Japan, telling him that, yes, I am worthless, there’s nothing special about me, I don’t deserve a lot of the things that I hope to have in my life,.. I entered my daydream somewhere in the middle of that rant, so I don’t remember everything I was saying about myself. I imagined myself running upstairs after that, unable to face him anymore, feeling like I wasted his time in visiting me, and figuring he would walk out the door anyway. I revisited this daydream again in the early evening, changing the event that happens after I run up the stairs. In one version, I collapse at the top of the stairs, somewhere in the hallway, just from being emotionally unable to stand on my own two feet. In the other version, I go upstairs but shut myself into the bathroom, sitting in the bathtub and crying almost endlessly. In both instances, I don’t imagine my friend from Japan leaving. Somehow I imagine he’s the one who knows me well enough to play songs I enjoy, and I pictured him going on to my computer to find certain songs and play them loud enough for me to hear them. I did imagine him playing guitar outside of the bathroom, but I can’t figure out where that guitar came from as my guitar is in storage. I couldn’t imagine myself being in a happy mood again, all I could do was feel like whatever walls I put up were knocked down by hearing the music. I do wonder if any of my friends would consider playing music to affect my mood, or if they’d all be like, “just leave her alone for a while, she’ll settle down on her own.”

Maybe I needed to do something with my music. I created a new playlist in iTunes. I threw in all of my Himuro songs, a decent number of L’arc en Ciel songs, a good amount of Hyde and Vamps, one X Japan song, my only Acid Black Cherry song that I have so far,… basically, a random mix of Japanese music.

When I got to Ayumi Hamasaki’s songs, I double-clicked on one because, hey, it’s a good song and I wanted to hear that one specific song. And then I went to look up the lyrics, just to make sure it’s not a song about steak sauce. Thankfully, Bold & Delicious is about not hesitating, being bold and doing something in the moment, because it’s better to do something and regret it later than to do nothing and regret not taking the chance.

Maybe I needed that song today, in this moment. I thought about my plans for going to Japan. Sure, I’m not thinking like a rational adult by not considering the things I need to do here before I go over there, or at least by thinking I could live off a half-baked plan for a while. But what if I never get to go? What if I’m stuck in poverty and have to give up on my dreams, dreams which might actually help me out in the future with getting a better job? Is it so wrong to boldly go and assume that things will work out the way they’re meant to be? I guess so.

But… again, regret after action is better than regret without action.

I looked for the video for Bold & Delicious. Ayumi is riding around New York City. Her hair looks amazing, and it reminds me that I’m overdue for getting my ends trimmed, though I want to walk out of the hair salon with hair like hers. And again, she’s going around NYC. Maybe this is a sign, or a good luck charm, or something. If the NYC trip goes through, that will be money I could use.

But forgive me if I have that attitude! At least let me try to act bold, like I have everything figured out and I know exactly what I’m doing and nothing is going to stop me or mess things up. Maybe I can fake it for a while, maybe things will magically work out for me. I feel like I screw up more so when I don’t act confident, so convincing myself that I’m bold and delicious will be good for my ego, at least for a little while.

At that thought, I’m feeling a little better. I did also think of myself as having a flavor, if I’m going to be bold AND delicious, which made me snicker to myself. Yeah, music definitely helps improve my mood.

Eight Ways To Win My Heart

I greatly purged one of my social networking profiles over the past few days. There was a lot to be removed, not that it needed to be removed, but much of it felt like it was from a different time and no longer felt relevant in my current life. Honestly, I could delete that profile entirely, but I have friends who are both there and on Facebook who would express a certain amount of concern if I gave up on it.

I was removing many of the “journal” entries this evening. There was a series of entries that were a “writing challenge,” as they were introspective in a lot of ways. Some of those entries were still relevant, but they were more meaningful at the time that I took on the writing challenge.

Day Three’s entry, Eight Ways To Win My Heart, hit me the hardest. It was completely relevant, still to this day. Let me go through each item, with an explanation to follow.

1) Visit me. I’d prefer it if you made a special trip just to see me, but I would be just as thankful if you took the time to stop on your way through town. I’d drop everything and drive to see you, unless you had any objections to it. Knowing you actually visited me would make me feel good.

I was seeing a guy long-distance at the time, as is usual for me. This was before my Mom passed, so it wasn’t a serious relationship. But it also wasn’t directed at anyone in particular, just that it always meant a lot to me when the object of my affections would take the time to visit me, so I didn’t bear the burden of being the one who had to travel all the time.

2) Show me a good time. I do a lot by myself, from trips to the mall, going to the movies, even running errands sometimes. With others, there’s always that chance that you might want to do something that the other person doesn’t want to do, and you’re either at a stalemate or at least one person suffers through much. If you genuinely want to do the things I want to do, or your ideas for fun actually interest me but I hadn’t considered them, then I’m sure we’ll have fun together.

I try to give everything a chance, unless I’m absolutely morally opposed to doing a particular thing. This was me calling out for someone who does things instead of just talking about doing them. Doing things with another person is usually more fun than doing them alone. I’ve had to drag people to do things I’ve wanted, and instead of dragging me to things they wanted to do, I’ve had to deal with their resentment for having to go with me. That really ruins the fun of getting to do things with another person. So, if the opportunity presents itself, I will do things by myself because it’s easier that way. But I totally want someone who will get excited at taking me to different places and doing things together.

3) Listen to good music. “Good music” doesn’t refer to bands I already like, but bands you like whose music blends into my playlist. I’ll gladly tell you how I got into some of my favorite bands, because there’s usually a guy involved (as if you couldn’t tell).

Still so very true. There’s a guy behind my Kyosuke Himuro binge-listening and binge-viewing sessions, and Himuro’s music does blend in so well with the rest of my iTunes playlist. It got to the point where it went from “I like that song that you just shared” to “oh yes, I’ve heard that one, it came up on YouTube, and it’s pretty good!” and most recently I’ve been sharing the links, like “he also has this song that I’m fond of, I’m surprised you haven’t shared it with me yet.” But enough about that. The way to my heart is through my headphones, and that probably won’t ever change.

3a) Take me to a concert for your favorite band. Don’t complain if I ask you to go to a concert I want to attend.

Basically combining the second and third statements. Yes, it happened, someone didn’t want to go to a concert I wanted to see. And then I met my ex fiancé sometime after that, and he did the same thing except we actually went to the concert. I’d go to a concert by myself, but I actually want someone else with me for safety. I dragged my Mom to a concert once, and I knew it wasn’t her music, but she actually didn’t complain, she was just entertained by the other people who were there for the concert as well. She might not have kept me safe, but she was the one person who needed to know that I was still doing well. So if you can be a better companion than my own mother, you’ll have my heart.

4) Compete with me. I don’t care if you win or lose, as long as you don’t throw the game for the sake of my ego.

I went on a date once for dinner and miniature golf. I would hit the ball where you should hit it, and this guy routinely tried other ways of hitting the ball around the course. I should have dropped my putter and left before we were even done, but I played through the whole game. It was horrible! Please, kick my ass, make me vow that one day I will win against you. For me, it keeps things interesting. At the very least, it means we have to keep doing the thing that you won against me until I win, and then hopefully you still want to play so you can reclaim your title. But if I always win, it’s actually boring for me, so I need someone I can equally compete with.

5) Give me a direction in which to broaden my horizons. It doesn’t matter if you and I weren’t meant to be after all is said and done. If I learned something new during my time spent with you, I’ll still think of you when I have to recall what I learned.

“I’m using you to learn something.” When you put it that way, people sound disposable. I just want each new partner to have something different than the last one, something that I have to learn about or come to some kind of realization. I don’t want a partner who is some combination of things I already know. If I learn something during my time spent with them but things weren’t meant to be, then I’ve learned something new. If I only learned that I shouldn’t be with someone like that person, then I wasted my time. I don’t care if I learn how to play a tabletop roleplaying game, a card game, a new language, a new kind of food, a different religion, or how not to let plants die, what matters is that I learned something.

6) Treat me like I mean something to you. Show me off. Talk about me. If I’m kept as a secret, I might think you’re ashamed of me. If you are ashamed of me, polish me up until I shine like you’d want me to. If you’re proud of me, I’ll be just as proud to claim you as my own.

This actually depends on the person now. With my ex fiancé, he did talk about me and such, but it felt more like, “I have a girlfriend!” and less like, “she’s an amazing girlfriend!” Maybe I wasn’t amazing, I’ll say that much. After all, he kept bragging about how awesome of a boyfriend he was, which is something that I feel I should have been doing if he wasn’t already doing it. Anyway, as long as the person I’m with doesn’t act like I don’t exist in their life, I’m fine with that. But if no one asks about the existence of a significant other, then I don’t mind if I’m not being talked about. The moment someone asks about me, I hope I’m being represented accurately and I’m not just shrugged off as being an acquaintance or just a regular friend,… but, I can also understand if the person being spoken to is a busybody who doesn’t need to know everything that’s going on.

7) Save the day. You don’t have to thwart the dastardly deeds of criminals. You can get away with grabbing takeout when things get crazy, or saving me from people and situations by giving me an excuse to flee with you.

Takeout because you don’t feel like cooking is just laziness, in case you needed to know. Takeout because there’s no time to cook is saving the day. instead of excusing yourself from a conversation I’m in that I can’t seem to get out of, find a way to make an excuse for me as well. It’s not that I’m too polite to get myself out of conversations I don’t want to be in, it’s that I’m too nice or too passionate and can’t find it in myself to break away without thinking I’m going to be rude or that I might be able to contribute something to the conversation. So yes, save me from myself.

And finally,…

8) Give me a reason to think of you and remember you. Make sure it’s for all the right reasons, too.

Anything already mentioned applies to this. Surprising me definitely helps, but it has to be a good surprise. Look, I don’t like calling all the shots. I don’t want to tell you there’s a concert that I want to see or that you might want to see, and then tell you to buy tickets. Actually I might want to buy the tickets as a surprise to you. Better than that, tell me you’re taking me with you to some place, and surprise me with taking a walk during sakura season in a place where the trees are all in bloom. Or get my hopes up for going to a concert and surprise me with a sakura walk. Or tell me it’s just a walk surrounded by sakura, which it will be until you do like Elvis does in all of his movies and pull a guitar out of thin air and begin to sing a song. The possibility exists that you could convince me that you’re going to do any of these things and then do something else that you came up with. I don’t mind what happens, just as long as your intent is to make me happy.

Is this list selfish? Of course it is! It’s how to win my heart, after all, not what I’ll need to do to win yours. And every person is different. Cooking to win one person’s heart might cause resentment in another person who would rather do all of the cooking. Competing with someone will only last so long if the other person can’t stand to lose. So, if I want to win someone else’s heart, I need to know how to win their heart and not use the “universal” methods of doing so.

That other social networking site is not likely to win any hearts, just so you know.