Tag Archive | parents

Magic Man

Lately at work, I’ve found it’s impossible for me to get any reading done between calls. It’s not that there are more calls, it’s that I’ve spaced out, my mind has gone elsewhere and I’d forgotten I even had a book or two with me.

In my last haul from the storage unit in New Jersey, I brought one of my reusable grocery bags filled with books, and fortunately this collection contained at least one book that I had started but hadn’t finished. So I forced myself to finish Beauty’s Punishment, the second in Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy. I say that I forced myself to finish it, because when I started it, it was maybe 2011 or 2012 and I had a different mindset in regards to the subject matter of the series and my own experiences with a similar type of lifestyle. While I have the third and final book in the series, and was preparing to complete the story in my mind, J had another idea.

He handed me a book called Sweep, which was a collection of novels by Cate Tiernan, specifically the first three in a series. I suppose I could have chosen not to read it just yet, but J has been eager to know how far I’ve read or where I am in the story, not that his daily probing has been my motivation to turn another page.

It doesn’t take long to realize the series revolves around magic, or rather magick as it uses the other term to denote illusionary feats such as those performed by Siegfried and Roy, for example. More specifically than just magick, it involves the practice of Wicca, citing the various holidays and describing ritual work.

I should have stopped reading. In fact, I questioned J’s intentions for me reading the book. “It’s a good book,” was all he’d reply.

“You know, I’ve never even dabbled in Wicca. I didn’t know if you were trying to convert me or something.”

“Oh,” he said, mildly surprised. “I thought you had. Not trying to convert you, it’s just a  good book.”

I told him about what kept me from Wicca, which was the influence of my parents. I had put it out of my mind, it wasn’t even my thing.

Further into the book, when the morning winds violently shook the tree outside my window, I was reminded of a dream I had one time where strong winds pushed against me but I never fell over or bent to their will. Before I woke up from that dream, I noticed I was grasping something beaded in my right hand. I don’t remember all the symbols in the dream, just that I felt like I had some kind of powers or something, I felt like I was being called towards Wicca or witchcraft or something.

I read through Book Of Shadows, the first of the three books in Sweep, and the further I read into the story, the more I felt like I was being called again to try Wicca. But in the back of my mind, I wondered if I wasn’t just being lured in by a romanticized scenario of some sort, if I wasn’t trying to be the main character Morgan in some way. She pursued Wicca because it called to her, but she also kind of pursued it because of the dreamy witch boy Cal. Would I be pursuing it to feel closer to J?

Book Of Shadows ends on Samhain, but I finished reading it in the early hours of the 31st. It made me contemplate whether or not to take the plunge, or if it would even be acceptable to begin on the day that’s considered to be the New Year. Of course, I have to also keep in mind that the veil between this world and the next is the thinnest on Halloween night, or the night of Samhain, and I have two deceased parents who might still try to make their wishes known.

Well, if I decide to follow the path to Wicca, I have at least two friends who can help me down that path. And if I’m still contemplating whether or not it’s something I should do, there is always J to discuss what comes to mind. And if I decide not to start trying Wicca, it will either be a more educated decision than I could have made years ago, or it will be deep-seeded fear that I can’t get past

I already have the black cat. Being a witch might just be my fate.

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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.

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.

Missing Persons

And so we close out the month of May on an introspective note.

I had a family get-together on Sunday. Leading up to that, I had to consider what I wanted to bring for food, what I might wear, what I would discuss with my extended family, and what I would do if my brother showed up.

I made a macaroni salad, which in my case isn’t quite like anything you could get from the supermarket. I mixed everything together; a pound box of pasta, a can of tuna, some frozen sweet peas, a few hard-boiled eggs, and my secret condiment combination. When I tasted it once everything was mixed together, it didn’t taste right. Something was missing.

Mom. Mom was missing. The macaroni salad was fine.

I thought about how Mom would have been stressed while getting ready to leave for the get-together. Then again, I’m not sure if her mood could be described as stressed. Dad would have one of two moods: either he would sigh and say, “you know your mother gets like this when we get together with the family,” or he would be angry and firmly tell me not to upset Mom any further. But Mom would usually look for certain things on the day of the get-together, not have them ready to go beforehand. Things had to be “just so,” even though she wasn’t a perfectionist, but she did have a certain way of doing things.

I rolled out of bed, if you want to call it rolling and you want to call the couch a bed, and had a bit of a stiff back from how I slept. I took a hot shower, trying to relieve the stiffness of the muscles in my lower back. I found my shirt that has an American flag design printed on an electric guitar and wore that with a pair of jeans and my leather Ren faire boots. I really didn’t leave until the get-together was supposed to start, mainly because punctuality wasn’t as important as being there.

I walked in and was greeted by relatives who seemed surprised to see me, but some of them hadn’t seen me in over a year. I had been asked if I had spoken to my brother, to which I honestly replied that I haven’t spoken to him since Easter when I left his place crying after an argument. One of my cousins, the hostess of the party, mentioned an incident involving some photos being given to my brother, and my brother removing family members from Facebook in return. I vaguely remembered him telling me his side of things, and all I can say is that there was a misunderstanding.

I sat down and ate my plate of food while talking with other family members about life and such. The more I thought about my brother’s reactions to things, the more I realized that he wouldn’t be coming, that I wouldn’t see him at all. And he never did show up.

I needed a moment of zen, so I went back to my car and took out one of two kites I had in my backseat. I managed to get some wind, and had the kite up in the air a couple of times before the line knotted up as I was reeling it in after the kite came down. I sat down at a picnic table to fix the knot, but this picnic table was away from most of the people and close to the river that ran near the house. It was a nice day, only partially cloudy and not too cold outside, and the view near the river was quite peaceful and lovely. So I stopped flying the kite for a little while, and enjoyed the scenery. That, and another cousin’s daughter was quickly becoming a spectacle in a canoe, and a few of us were watching her to see if she would make it back to shore. I managed another flight of the kite as I headed back towards the house, but yet another cousin started singing a song lyric that went something like, “what goes up, must come down” and my kite inevitably landed in the bushes that time.

As I was packing the kite into its box, I had a few people talk to me about the kite and watching me fly it. It made me feel a little better, not that I was looking for attention from flying the kite. I just never had the opportunity to fly the kite since I bought it, so it was nice that it wasn’t too complicated (it is a little more advanced than the plastic kites I grew up using) and I didn’t get frustrated as a result. But it was easier to talk about a kite with my family than some of my other interests, and I wasn’t talking about my brother either.

So what is it with my brother? Well, he’s adopted. (Mom: “He’s still your brother!”) I know, I know. But a lot of things factor into his personality, and I think that’s one of the major things.

You see, his adoption has been on his mind a lot, especially since Mom passed. He actually mentioned to me that his records are apparently locked even to him, and while I knew his records were locked, I never thought about who could and couldn’t access them. When I thought about him saying that, it said to me that he was actually looking for his birth mother, that he probably had questions and was trying to understand his origins.

After Easter, something on Facebook prompted me to look up “toxic narcissism.” Sadly, everything I was reading was describing my brother. One part of it basically said that it came from issues with his mother, and maybe I’m being nice to my own birth mother by pointing the finger at his birth mother.

Think about it, though: he probably feels abandoned by his birth mother, unwanted, unloved. Maybe he resents her, I don’t know. I want to think that she didn’t want to get pregnant in the first place, that maybe something about her situation wouldn’t have allowed for her to care for a child at that time. She didn’t get an abortion, and maybe she could have, or maybe she didn’t realize she was pregnant until it was too late to abort. Maybe she assumed she wasn’t going to become pregnant.

Regardless, she did give birth to him, and then put him up for adoption sometime after that. I don’t know how soon after, maybe she tried to raise him but realized a month later that babies are too much work. Whatever happened, she figured that someone else might be able to raise him better than she could, and she wanted him to have a life that she couldn’t give to him.

But I can’t tell that to my brother. We don’t have the warm and fuzzy relationship between us, so I can’t be all heartwarming around him.

He is quick to anger, and not really one to look at more than his side of an argument. So that misunderstanding over photographs? He probably won’t try to understand that the family meant nothing by it, and if they really didn’t want to look at our faces, the photos could have gone in the garbage.

The family enjoyed seeing my face this weekend, and it was nice to let everyone know what I was doing with my life. They don’t know everything, but they didn’t seem too concerned for me, so I’ll just let them be satisfied knowing I’m nearby and doing relatively fine. I can only speak for myself, but that should be enough.

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Stealing Is Bad, Unless It’s A Flower For Mom

I have to begin by apologizing.

For the past two weeks, my life has involved late-night shifts at work. In theory, it wasn’t something I minded accepting, because I’m up late at night usually anyway. But after the first shift on this schedule, I came home and still had to do the dishes, and I was exhausted! So I started drinking the coffee at work, which helped, unless I drank two cups or started drinking too close to the end of the evening.

Mornings lately have involved me waking up an hour or two ahead of my alarm. More often than not, I’ve also had my Nintendo 3DS and Game Boy Color handed back to me along with some of the games. The first time this happened, I was too drowsy to understand why my portable gaming devices weren’t still in the Doctor Whooves purse I kept them in. When this became an everyday occurrence, I started getting annoyed and frustrated. The thefts weren’t limited to video gaming things, in fact I lost my lightsaber chopsticks and my Fitbit in this way. My level of trust, in general, has gone down as a result of this, and I can honestly say I’ve had a bit of anxiety.

Wednesday, I had to squeeze in a trip to an auto repair shop after my car overheated on my way home from work Tuesday night. I had to replace the radiator, which meant I never got to see the paycheck that was deposited into my account that morning, and I lost the cushion I made for myself in case an emergency came up. Well, I guess it was an emergency, but then I had to worry about every other expense that I needed to cover over the course of the week. To date, I’m still doing fine, which means I’m still fairly magical when it comes to money.

I had Friday off from work. And I had the greatest intention to post something here, of some variety. I intended to make good use of WordPress’ ability to schedule posts, so that I could sit down, write a few things, and then I wouldn’t need to worry about actually writing something every day or every other day. But that never happened.

So, please forgive me for the lack of updates.

What happened Friday? I’m glad you asked!

My other idea for something to do on Friday was to move my bins of video game console equipment and other miscellaneous stuff out of the hallway where it’s being kept, and put it into my car after swapping out some of the more boring things that I retrieved from storage when I last visited New Jersey. It sounds like it wouldn’t take much time, but it was a matter of figuring where to put things in general and what I wanted to bring into the house (yeah, don’t ask about my car being a rolling miniature storage unit as well). In the end, I had towels where I once had electronics, I had more of my clothes in the house, and I had reduced the likelihood of some random things getting “misplaced.”

In addition to that, I did a load of laundry, ran errands, and even made dinner to take to work while washing the dishes. I was exhausted by the time I had my laundry put back into the suitcase I’m living out of and put other things into a decent place in the house.

And then, my friend from Japan wrote to me. And I felt too compelled to respond, so I wrote back and told him to give me a few minutes. He told me to just go to bed, but I needed to unwind. I’ve been going almost nonstop for well over a week, my sleep has been reduced, and I gave it my all on Friday to get as much done as I could. I felt like, if I was losing more sleep, it would be worth it just to get things off my mind. And, well, I said some things that weren’t taken as I had intended. But if I’m going to upset an audience, I’d rather upset a single person than a whole crowd.

And so, I apologized to him before I left for work. I almost made myself late for work because I just HAD to write back right away.

In my contrition, I considered giving up my plans for Sunday. But I was still asleep, and the morning coffee hadn’t kicked in yet. In fact, I was still waiting for the coffee to not burn my tongue when I had a good start to my day at work. No, that’s being modest about it, I had an unbelievably amazing start that I wasn’t expecting. And then when the project I was working on for the morning was switched to another project when I came back from lunch, it was a project that wasn’t yielding the best of results overall but I was still doing fairly well compared to others that day. I wasn’t able to hate myself while at work, I was doing well enough that the endorphins made me feel like I wasn’t solely to blame for the argument, if at all.

Since I was definitely following through with my Sunday plans, that meant that I was spending Saturday night in the kitchen, nonstop. I made dark chocolate mochi based on the recipe printed on the Mochiko box, as well as tuna salad-stuffed onigiri (rice balls) and a dish of fruit sliced and arranged in layers. By the time I was done, I really couldn’t stand up for much longer,… and I was exhausted.

This morning, I woke up… and it was quiet. I got to sleep a bit longer than normal. It was nice! You’d think I was a mother, and this was part of my Mother’s Day treatment. Actually, the kids were in their mother’s bedroom, where she had breakfast in bed. But I had only a couple of hours to get ready, which always seems like more than enough time until other things come up.

I intended to do a few dishes that were left over from my cooking, so that was my first order of business. Since I also planned to take a shower, I took off my bracelets and my rings and threaded the Fitbit through them all to keep them together. When I had finished with the dishes, I heard one of the boys going, “look at me, I’m married!” I came out of the kitchen to see that he was wearing my sterling silver band with moons and stars on it, which I’ve had for a decade now and have rarely removed it except to shower. I panicked and probably raised my voice more than necessary, but I didn’t want it getting lost. As he was taking off my ring and handing it back to me, I noticed he was also wearing my bracelets. I asked for those back as well. The Fitbit, however, was still missing. The other boy started looking under the couch for it, but somehow couldn’t find the Fitbit at all. His father knew where it was, and sent him to his room to bring it back.

“Why did you take it?” I asked.

“I always wanted a Fitbit,” was his reply.

I only have a Flex, which displays up to five pips based on how many steps you’ve taken for the day, each pip being about 20% of your goal. So I tapped on the device and asked him if he could read how many steps he’s taken for the day. “Um,… none?” Without a smartphone or a computer with which to sync the data, there’s really nothing he could do with a Fitbit, aside from losing it on me. And being only eight years old and slender, there’s nothing he needs to do with a Fitbit. But I will admit, I was careless in leaving the Fitbit lying around, thinking that it would be fine.

I was actually glad to get out of the house, and especially because I wasn’t going to work. I needed to get away and just relax.

But, it rained.

Rain never stops the annual garden tour that’s held at this one person’s home every year. There is at least five acres of land that’s just a garden. There are koi ponds, cherry trees, stepping stones, statues of various mythological creatures and from different cultures, and flowers and other trees and shrubbery. There are gongs and wind chimes, there are benches and chairs scattered throughout. There is even a hedge maze, which I didn’t get to.

Saying I’ve already seen this garden from my car is an understatement. Yes, you can drive by the residence and see that there is, indeed, a sizable garden to behold. I actually had a chance to drive through the garden, keeping to the stone paths, while my Grandma rode along with me. I remember I had my first car at the time, and I was quietly playing the Silent Hill 3 soundtrack, and that it was autumn so nothing was really in bloom. I’ll admit, it helps to know the owners of the residence.

It also helps to know the crossing guard as you’re entering the garden tour. The county sheriff who was directing traffic happened to be one of my cousins. He called me by my Mom’s name at first, but I hesitated to correct him although he realized his own mistake after a moment. Although he said the rest of his family was already at the tour, I didn’t see them.

Once I was on the grounds, I saw one of the people who I was supposed to meet up with. After a few minutes, and wondering if the rain was going to hold off, we headed to the “usual spot.” For the past few years, the Japanese Culture Meetup group has gathered under the cherry blossoms for a picnic during the Mother’s Day garden tour. When we arrived, one of the members was already there and had put a tarp on the ground for us to sit on. She also brought matcha and hot water, and was starting to make tea for us when the heavens above decided that we needed rain. That lasted about a minute, long enough to get things wet if they weren’t covered. Later on, the sun came out and it was warm, but then there were also moments of passing clouds which cooled things off again. When the garden tour was ending, the rain was starting up again.

If you think you missed anything, the meet up was a few of us talking about Japan, traveling in general, upcoming meet ups, and enjoying food. But if you wanted to stray from that, you could wander the gardens, which I did do for a bit. I even took a selfie with a dragon statue, because… you know… that’s just how I roll.

As we all were leaving, I did what I saw most people doing, which was to take a flower (or two, or three) from those which had been planted in a few rows. Part of me didn’t want to take any flowers, because I was thinking of how that’s frowned upon in Japan to pick flowers or take branches of sakura off the trees, and I was also unsure if the owners even allowed people to take flowers like that at all. But I took a daffodil and two tulips, then I put them into my bag and headed to my car before it started to rain.

Unfortunately, when I got to the cemetery, it was raining. So there I stood, wearing a black and white dress, holding a black umbrella. You’d think it was a funeral, or that I was still mourning, but it was all coincidental. I gave the daffodil to my Mom, and I gave one of the tulips to Grandma. The other tulip, I kept for myself. Mom never had a chance to see the garden, so I could at least say I brought the garden to her. I spoke a few words, expressed some confidence and determination for the future, hoped I could make her happy in the afterlife, and even cried a bit. The cemetery was a popular place, and as I was leaving, I was momentarily blocked by cars of other people paying their respects.

Overall, today turned into what I needed. Well, I’ll always need my Mom by my side, even though I carry her with me in spirit these days. But I needed a bit of an adventure, and even though what I’ve mentioned doesn’t sound too adventurous, it felt like it to be there. I was neither trying to remember my Mom or forget her on this day, but I managed to do something that allowed me to live in both states of mind, to honor her and yet to not dwell on her loss from my life.

If you’re reading this and you didn’t do so yesterday, call your mom. Do something with your mom, or at least make plans with her that you intend to keep. The conversation might not be the best, but if you can still have conversations with your mom right now, do so. In the end, I’ll admit that regardless of how much time you do spend with your mom, it will never be enough. But at least try to do the things she has always wanted to do, because you will still have time to do the things in life that you want to do for yourself when she’s gone. If you learn anything from me, it’s that your life will never be the same once you don’t have your mother anymore. So call your mom now.

Self-Awareness Exercises, Question Five

I’m somewhat angered in regards to Rosetta Stone. However, I think my anger would be better directed towards the amplifier cable of my Turtle Beach headset. Perhaps the audio was cutting out because there’s an issue with that cable. Regardless, I haven’t tried using Rosetta Stone since then, but part of that is because I haven’t taken the time.

Things have been interesting, just the same. But this is yet another one of those self-awareness posts, so we won’t get into the latest happenings of my life… or will we?

For those of you playing along at home, there’s a five-minute timer in which I answer a writing prompt as a stream of consciousness. Of course, I explain myself after the five minutes are done, because it seems like a good idea to me but I’m sure it’s useful so I do it. I’m a rebel like that.

There’s also an introduction paragraph, which I’ll put… here:

“We each write our own story for our life.  What story are you writing for yours?  Set a timer (there should be one on your phone if no where else) for 5 minutes for each prompt and write as fast as you can for those five minutes.  If it goes off mid sentence, finish your sentence and stop.  You can always go back and do them again.  And if nothing come out at first, just start writing random words, and free write even if it seems like gibberish.  Remember to give yourself at least a little time to digest everything that comes to the surface for each prompt.  It may not hit all at once, or it may do so and it may even possibly overwhelm you.  Let it out and let it go.  There are no right or wrong answers here, only your deepest truths.  If it helps, look at these exercises as writing prompts for a novel, with you as the hero/heroine and write your story.”

Now for the magical prompt:

5.  The most incredible thing I ever did was. . .

And five minutes on the timer begins NOW!

The most incredible thing I did was selling a used flat screen television where the screen didn’t work anymore? I sold it for $50. That’s not my best work. Lately I seem to be recognizing my ability to make money appear out of nowhere. I’m the personification of taking your coat out of the closet and finding $20 in the pockets. I managed to have over $2,000 in the bank in NY when I thought I had very little, and that lasted me until now, but I have a job again so that helps. I was given a nickname by my Dad for my ability to always have money somehow. I don’t know how I do it, unless I’m irresponsible and lucky.

Stop the clock!

Yes, I sold a TV for $50. My brother said that no one would buy it. I might have been trying to sell it for too little, who knows. Mom and I had a few offers on it. We were trying to get it repaired, but the repair guy said there was nothing he could do. The guys who bought it from us said that they knew a way to fix it. That was fine by us. The television that Mom bought to replace that one is now my TV, and it travelled with me to New Jersey and back. It also has lasted longer than the TV it replaced, so I highly recommend buying Vizio televisions over Polaroid.

So I thought I was getting paid over the weekend. I checked my account, and there was nothing directly deposited into my account. I had an offer to settle one of my credit card debts, but “the offer would expire” on the 24th. Maybe it would, maybe not, but it’s an effective means of trying to get the debtor to pay back some of what’s owed. I made the call just the same, and I set up automatic payments to get this over and done with for that account. I told them I hadn’t been paid this weekend, and asked if they could postpone the payment by a week. So they set up the payment for the end of the month. And then my paycheck arrived in today’s mail. I’m not even mad, this actually gives me a bit of a cushion, but I still have to see what I have to work with before the weekend.

As for making a couple thousand dollars appear? I guess it wasn’t out of nowhere, but I had forgotten about it. I don’t remember if I set up my brother or my ex fiancé as the beneficiary, but one of those two… um, fine, upstanding gentlemen… one of them would have benefitted a bit off of my forgetfulness, assuming that either one of them considered accessing that account. And I don’t even know why I left that money in the account, when I knew I was moving to New Jersey and wouldn’t be near any branches of that bank. But I did, and leaving a little something for myself helped me out quite a bit.

One of my Dad’s nicknames for me was Moneybags. Part of that came from playing Monopoly, though my brother usually won while playing. Usually, it was my ability to make actual, real world money appear out of nowhere, as if I shouldn’t have some of the money that I did have. Part of my secret comes from having a frugal Mom, and part comes from having willpower at times, if I’m not just stashing money somewhere and forgetting all about it.

And yeah, irresponsible and lucky are both fitting. I’m probably making my Japanese friend panic because I told him I might overdraft my checking account this weekend. He already told me I should borrow a bit from family, just to get by and pay them back in a week or two when I’m able. I was sure that I would be able to get by, and that I might have enough if I moved some money around. I told him I still had something for gas, as I have cash in my wallet, and I had something for food because I still have a balance on my food stamps card. So even though finances would end up being the ultimate exercise in penny-pinching, I figured I still had enough to get by. And then my paycheck arrived in the mail. His mind is probably reeling, wondering if he can trust me with money and managing even my own finances. Then again, I’m already in debt and he’s still around, and I promised I’d never ask him for a dime and I haven’t needed to do so. And I have documents proving that I have this debt, so I’m not faking it for sympathy. All I can think is, despite my reckless behavior with money and my moments of derp, he must love me for me.

So, I must be pretty awesome.

If you want to participate in these self-awareness exercises, post in the comments or grab your own journal of some sort, or you can pop over to Facebook and post there! Don’t forget to check the “self-awareness questions” tag for all the fun I’ve had so far.