Tag Archive | writing

Tipping The Scales

I barely slept last night, or so it feels, and I spent this morning in the realization that I am dating another woman’s ex.

The new guy needs a nickname, because it’s clear that I’m not about to let him go, and he doesn’t seem willing to go anywhere. I will refrain from using the moniker that was bestowed upon him by his ex wife. After much deliberation, I’ve decided to call him Libra, which is his astrological sign (opposite from me, being that I’m an Aries). Also, it has a nice ring to it.

I had asked Libra if he wanted to visit me for my birthday, which was only a week after meeting him. He agreed, and I spent the entire week in anticipation of seeing him again.

Upon telling J about the plans I now had for my birthday, he told me he would have to cancel the plans he had made to spend time with me instead. I don’t even know how sincere he was, because every time I asked whether he’d mind if I had a get-together in the house or if I considered getting a few friends together and do something out on the town, I wasn’t getting much input from him on what he would be willing to allow or if he’d even join in whatever festivities I had settled on. But now I had a date. It almost felt as if I was being asked to choose between a new guy who wanted to see me again, or a guy who doesn’t want to date me but sees me every day anyway.

And I chose Libra.

In my spare time after work, I tidied up my room a bit. It was still a mess, but I forced myself to do some organizing that I had been putting off. When I had a day off, I redeemed my Red Robin birthday burger and accidentally wandered into a dress store after that. Maybe it wasn’t entirely accidental, but it wasn’t necessary, as I had dresses back at the house in my closet. I just felt like I needed something new. I found a cute black and white floral dress that was knee length, and then I picked up new shoes so I wasn’t wearing flip-flops (the only shoes I have that aren’t in storage and aren’t sneakers or my boots). I got absolute approval from my best friend, but J wanted to point out that I wasn’t cleaning my room.

Finally it was date night, and my birthday. I made the right decision to dress up, because it meant he had to dress up a bit as well, and I was treated to Libra wearing a black collared shirt with purple stripes. However, I didn’t make the right decision to not get a reservation at the fondue restaurant I planned to go to, however he was running a bit behind in getting to the house so it was what it was. When we were seated, it was around 9:30, but we had a fairly quiet table in the back room of the restaurant. By the time we finished, most of the mall surrounding the restaurant had closed up for the evening. It was a delicious dinner that I paid for, and he picked up the tip because I hadn’t taken out enough cash from the ATM.

I had to work a morning shift on my birthday, and another day shift the next day. As I worked, Libra drove around the city, occupying his time as he saw fit. He picked up lunch from Arby’s and met me outside my work building where we sat in his Frankentruck and ate. He went back to his thing after lunch, and I finished my work day.

That night, we went to the grocery store to pick up dinner, and we also picked up an ice cream cake because I was craving one for my birthday. The whole scene starts adorably enough, where he put 34 candles on top of the cake and lit them all. It ends with me having 34 candles in my mouth because I was starting to lick the whipped cream off the candles but Libra kept adding them to my mouth before I had removed the previous candles. Pictures exist, and laughter still ensues just from remembering that night.

He left on Sunday, and since we agreed to take turns visiting each other, the next trip was mine. There’s not much to say, it was dinner and movies and learning that if I put cannoli filling on his nose, I will have cannoli filling all over my face.

The night after an impromptu dinner visit, last night, I was reading a link he had given me days ago. Instead of reading just the page he had linked to, which was on a message forum somewhere on the internet, I read the first page of the message thread and continued from there. The thread was mainly from the perspective of Libra’s ex wife, and as I read her words, I kept an open mind. After all, I know I have a slight bias towards Libra. I also consider myself to be a writer, and as such, I paid attention to how she had written her characters. She portrayed herself as a loving mother who wanted to do some soul searching, and Libra was the husband who couldn’t deal with how she was living her life and how wonderful it had become. I read all about how their marriage fell apart, and how she blamed Libra, but she never tried to fix it and never had anything positive to say about Libra. That is, until the end when she said she missed the stability and security of her marriage to him.

Libra was already asleep, so I just left a lengthy message to tell him I read it all this time, and even gave him my thoughts.

This morning, it wasn’t until after we talked about it for a bit that I realized I was dating another woman’s husband. Well, ex husband. But everything I do, everything I want to do, she’s already done it with him, more than likely. Anything I try to do to be romantic, I might open an emotional wound without knowing. All of this, because some woman wasn’t happy with her own life so she had to ruin Libra’s.

But here’s the thing: I’m not her, and I know this.

I am Marybeth, or Luna if you prefer. I lost both my parents during my 20s. I have a narcissistic brother who I can’t deal with. I have two ex boyfriends and an ex fiancé. “The baggage that I carry would sink a thousand ships.”

While I may be worried that I’ll do something that reminds him of his ex, at the same time, I’m comparing him to everything I’ve had before. I compare him to my exes, for which there is no comparison, I barely knew what I wanted and I seemingly went for guys who were nice and who seemed to like me back. I compare Libra to my Dad, though I usually just think of how Mom would approve of his Southern and country qualities, which doesn’t even describe my Dad at all.

Tuesday morning, he offered me a choice between lemon meringue or key lime Greek yogurt, and it wasn’t until I chose the lemon that he mentioned buying the blended yogurt because I preferred it over fruit on the bottom. None of my exes have bought something based on my preferences.

I found a thoughtful and caring guy who is playful and mischievous. I found him because some other woman forgot what she had. And I’m keeping him because I have a fairly decent grasp on what I want, which is to say I could use more people like him in my life. So yes, he was another woman’s man.

And now? He’s my Libra.

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Girlfriend Litmus Test

I loosely decided upon a New Year’s resolution for this year. I decided I was going to finish one of the stories I’ve already started writing. I already have an idea of what parts I’m going to rewrite. The one major issue I actually have is finding the time to work on it, though I did come up with a solution to that.

I should back up a few weeks. J and I were returning from our weekly grocery shopping excursion, and I don’t even know how the topic came up, but he asked me what I’d want to do in life. If I said anything along the lines of making sure I could financially support myself, he rejected that idea, asking what would make me happy and fulfilled. I didn’t want to mention writing, because it’s not supporting me financially in any way right now, so I can’t give up my actual job in pursuit of something that might never be able to support me. But finally I did mention it to him, that I had two started stories on my computer.

That was the last time my writing was mentioned, but it stayed on my mind. I thought about what I had written so far, how I wanted to change or improve what was there. I contemplated making an outline or a chart or something of how I wanted the story to go, or writing up profiles of my characters so I had a certain set of rules for myself to follow. I bought the book There’s Something I Want To Tell You by Yuta Aoki, which is a compilation of real stories about one Japanese partner and one foreign partner, because I figured I could use it as research if not just for my own personal amusement.

As December, and thus the year as well, drew to a close, I became more certain that I was going to get back to writing, to finishing that story.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, I asked J about being in a relationship, to which he restated for the second or third time that he didn’t see me romantically. After everything, I needed to hear that once more.

The next time we went for groceries, I brought up the time when he couldn’t keep his hands off me for just over a week after I brought home a coworker’s phone number. “I don’t want to bring home some guy’s phone number just to see if you’d do that again,” I told him, on the verge of tears.

“Well then,” he replied. “Don’t.”

But how am I supposed to take that? For someone who says he’s been straightforward with his words, that still left me to wonder what he meant, since he didn’t say anything else after that. Don’t bring home any more phone numbers from other guys? Don’t try to see if you can get that reaction out of me? So do I not try to progress my romantic life, or is it just about testing him because it won’t work?

Things got tense on New Year’s Eve. I’d try to do the right thing or be helpful in some way, which was actually helpful, but in the process I’d somehow manage to almost make a mess, or put something in the wrong place. My confidence shaken, I started feeling like it would be better if I just didn’t try doing nice things. But I was teasing J about how I wouldn’t be able to put something in a certain spot, or another spot, or another spot… basically exaggerating how particular he can be and how things get moved around so much that I can’t guarantee that I’d be able to set something where I think it should go. It hit a nerve and flared up his temper. I picked up my stuff, put away food and put utensils in the sink, and told him I was going to spend the rest of the evening in my room. I was shaken to where I felt it would just be better if I didn’t bother him anymore that night. Perhaps he calmed down because I didn’t escalate things, that I was going to retreat, because he said he was enjoying my company. It was enough to make me change my mind about going upstairs, but I wasn’t back to the level of fun that I was before.

Midnight rolled around, which meant first kiss of the new year. I tried to say that I’d only do the first kiss of the new year with someone I was involved with, but that didn’t really deter J. So now I can’t help but feel like that kiss was meaningless, at least for this year.

If there is one thing I’ve changed, it’s that I stopped washing his travel coffee mug and lunch container. I’ve washed it maybe once or twice this month so far, but otherwise I don’t get the same feeling from doing it anymore. When I started, it was like, “teeheehee, he’ll wake up and look for it, and realize it’s been cleaned, and it will make him smile that morning because I’ve made his life a tiny bit easier!” Now he’s noticing that it’s not getting cleaned, but I started prioritizing what I want or need to do for me. Now it seems like he’s expecting it, and I blame myself for even starting to do it. Now it’s not as much fun for me, and I don’t know if it’s because he started expecting me to do it, or because I’ve started to feel like it’s meaningless.

I suppose everything that’s happened here these past few months could be taken as a girlfriend litmus test of sorts. Did she laugh at that comedian who I think is hysterical? Nope, not a girlfriend. How well did she bake or cook, especially compared to previous girlfriends? Nope, not a girlfriend. Does she enjoy that show I said she should watch? She didn’t react as I thought she should react to it, so nope, not a girlfriend.

He enjoys spending time with me, he likes when I do things with him and for him, it’s not just a matter of letting me carry out my life however I want to in the moment. But I can’t say to people, “I’m the title short of being his girlfriend,” because the truth is, if he actually wanted me as such, if he ever saw me romantically, then I’d already be his girlfriend. To me, he acts more like a boyfriend than anything else, or maybe I have some lousy friends.

So that’s it, then. We spend our time acting less like we’re just two people living together, and more like we’re two people making a life together. But I’m like the snow outside, I can be pretty to look at if you see the untouched parts of me, but otherwise I just make things a mess and you probably can’t wait until I’m gone, which means it’s a good thing that I’m only here temporarily. No, I don’t have immediate plans to move out, that’s not what I’m saying, but I don’t have a reason to stay permanently. So one day, I will be gone from here. By then, he will probably have a girlfriend, it won’t be me, so I won’t have anything to keep me here. But if I’ve failed the girlfriend litmus test, then I’m not meant to stay here.

At least I can say that we did fix what was once broken. It’s more than I can say about the friend I was living with before I moved in with J. I find it interesting that the worst I can say is, “I have feelings for him again but he doesn’t feel the same way,” and I can be melancholy about that but completely honest to myself about how I feel and what’s going on, whereas I was dealing with a friend who didn’t want to do much of anything with me, who basically told me that I was a problem and I was making things worse for her family, who didn’t even try to help me by listening and talking to me post-breakup and eviction, and whose life hasn’t changed even though I don’t live there anymore. If the worst thing is learning that one girl isn’t really my friend, that I now live with a guy who should have been my friend all along, then I’m still heading in the correct direction.

Agent XXXX And The National News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I got this call…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, now you know.

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.

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.

Self-Awareness Exercises, Question Four

I am dumb. There’s a retraction I might have to post in regards to a confession I made.

Then again, as far as going forward, I’m second-guessing things. It’s not him, it’s me, and it has to do with the Easter fallout with my brother and my trust being shaken. Well, my trust is shaken in the sense that my brother seems to be a textbook narcissist, so I’m really questioning how much my brother cared about me and if I might actually be part of the problem. But then that’s more baggage for other people in my life to deal with, which isn’t fair to them. So I have to work through it, maybe stop talking about my brother and just claim to be an only child (which, biologically, I am).

Ugh. So then, let’s work through another one of these self-awareness questions, shall we? It should help.

Just a refresher of the introduction:

“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.”

And what’s the task at hand?

4.  If I were to descirbe myself, I would say that I am. . .

I am dumb.

Okay, let’s take this seriously! Five minutes on the clock… and GO!

If I were to describe myself, I would say that I’m relatively intelligent. I would also say that I’m a nice person, perhaps too nice at times. Usually I wouldn’t say that I’m compassionate, but then I have moments when I see something and I actually care, like my heartstrings are pulled or something. I don’t really know if I’m introverted or extroverted, so because I seem to go both ways, I must be an ambivert. I would say I’m antisocial, but then I do want to socialize with people, and then I just want to be in my own little world when I’m around people I can socialize with. As for looks, I don’t think I look terrible. I think I actually look pretty cute at times. Then there’s moments when I’m self-conscious but don’t have the means to fix the issues I see, like my skin breaking out because I stopped caring since I wasn’t going anywhere. But I don’t think I’m a terrible person overall.

And that was five minutes.

I use the words “relatively intelligent” because of a quote about everyone being a genius, but if you judge a fish on it’s ability to fly, it will always think it’s stupid… or something like that. I believe Einstein is quoted as having said that, and I could look it up, but then I’d probably find a page that says, “this was originally quoted as this person, but it was actually said by this other person years ago in this ancient manuscript.” Long story short, there’s a quote, I wasn’t smart enough or old enough to think of it first, and it applies. So when I say I’m relatively intelligent, I might know more about computers than you, but I know there are people who are hackers, networking specialists, programmers, you name it, and they can run circles around me. I might know my way around a kitchen, but I’m not a five-star chef. I might not be working up to my potential as it is, I could probably do more if I focused on something and honed my skills in that one thing for a while.

I’d say I’m too nice at times, not in the sense that I would tell others I’m nice and they should believe it, but because there are times when I feel like something should run its course because I can’t find a way to excuse myself that doesn’t seem rude to me. I’m not entirely sweet, because I can be sarcastic or cynical at times. But I try to use my manners, I try to allow others the right of way before myself, I try to save or hold things for people. I try to care for others, sometimes putting strangers over myself.

In regards to being compassionate, some things don’t affect me. Starving children or dying pets in those commercials? I’m sorry, but if these charities have money for advertising, then they have enough money to allocate more resources to help those in need. But if my friends have a pet or a child in need of help? What do you need? What can I do? I want to help, if I can.

No people, some people, a lot of people, it’s all the same to me. Talking to everyone, talking to people I feel comfortable with, talking to no one, it doesn’t matter. I can exhaust myself if I’m left to my own devices, I can be exhausted after being with people. So as far as I’m concerned, I’m an ambivert. I do have antisocial moments, but then I have other times when I want to be around people and get disappointed when I can only get a small group of people together. Again, it’s all the same to me.

Ugh, I let myself go and my complexion is suffering right now. I need to get to Lush and get some of my favorite facial scrub. My face has some good days, but this isn’t one of them. But I wouldn’t use that to describe myself, because there are times when my complexion is better than this.

And again, I don’t consider myself to be a terrible person overall. I don’t really try to make new friends, but sometimes it just happens. I don’t usually try to reach out to people, but sometimes I need people for something and I get to see who’s looking out for me. I don’t think I’m anything too special, and I’m probably not interesting to most people. But I’m not going to try to be popular, or highly sought after, or even loved. I’m going to let things fall where they may. Right now, I’m comfortable with my existence. There ARE people who care about me. There ARE people who I care about, who matter to me. But there’s things I have to do for me, that I can’t ask of others, because it’s my burden to bear.

That’s about all I have to say for that question. If you’re following along, click the “self-awareness questions” tag for everything so far. And if you want to do the question for yourself, you can post in the comments or write in your own journal or blog. I keep forgetting to mention, you could also post on Facebook if you so desire, or just go there to follow me and any brief updates I might have to make.

Kore Wa Pen Desu – How My Scatterbrain Learns Japanese

Mornings around here are hit or miss. Either everyone is reasonably quiet, or I’m just in a very deep sleep when they’re getting ready to leave for school and work, because some mornings I don’t wake up until 9 am or so. Other mornings, it’s either a manic 6-year-old with no volume control regardless of how many times you tell him to be quiet, or it’s a banshee in her mid-thirtees complaining about what does and doesn’t get done properly around here. This morning was a combination of both noisy individuals, but it was fine because I had to wake up at a reasonable hour since a guest was stopping by around 9 am.

With all of this time on my hands, what was I to do? Supposedly, early daytime hours are better for learning things. I’ve only learned to either obey the alarm clock or go back to sleep for another hour. As long as I was awake, I pulled out Memrise and Mindsnacks.

I had the word kore (これ, this) drilled into my head by Memrise. It reminded me that the first phrase Japanese-speakers tend to learn when they’re learning English is “this is a pen.” So, I decided to teach myself how to say “this is a pen” in Japanese.

Google Translate converted the English into これわペンです.

I, however, don’t understand why it can’t be written as これわぺんです. So when I typed that into Google Translate and made it spit the English back at me, it said “this is very confusing.” You’re absolutely correct, Google! It IS very confusing! The hiragana is phonetically correct, so why can’t it still say, “this is a pen?” But I’m here to learn, not to teach, so I’ll have to do some research on that and talk about it later.

The new hiragana I did learn, I could write about it here, but typing the hiragana isn’t going to help me learn the hiragana. The computer already knows the symbol, I just have to type the letters for the sound it makes.

Speaking of, I’m going to get thrown by め and ぬ. One is me (pronounced may) and the other is nu (pronounced new). So it’s not just a matter of looking at the one and thinking, “it looks like no but has a little u-like marking, so it must be nu.” NO! I have to look for the little curlicue on the bottom right of the character in order to tell them apart.

I tried doing the N5 sample questions for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, just to see if I had advanced at all since the last time I tried looking at the questions. I still have much to learn, because even though I know more of the hiragana characters, I don’t feel as if I have all of the vocabulary learned and therefore there’s a disconnect.

And I don’t remember what word I was trying to commit to memory, but I was trying to put a word into context by putting it in a sentence so I’d remember it. Unfortunately, I noticed I was using Spanish articles. I learned some Spanish in high school, and I guess my mind only wants to have one secondary language. If it happens again, I’ll have to write down the sentence I was trying to make, because I had some wires crossing somewhere and I couldn’t help but shake my head.

Of the hiragana I do have memorized, I have ka (か) down pat. I associate it with my most recent Dungeons & Dragons character Kha’knacca, a tiefling warlock who acquired Hyde (yes, Hyde from L’arc en Ciel) as a sort of pet bard. Well, I’m far enough into Memrise that ka is now its own vocabulary term, and it translates to “mosquito.” Considering how many times people wanted to swat Kha’knacca, I guess か is rather fitting.

I’m watching more Kyosuke Himuro music videos tonight. I tried pulling myself away for a day or two, as my mood had changed a bit, but I’m still mesmerized despite watching the same music videos day in and day out. Also, I want to gaze into his eyes more, because they look like pools of ink from what I can see in the videos. I’m so used to seeing people with different colored irises, to the point where solid black irises are mysterious to me. That has nothing to do with learning Japanese, however, people have added the lyrics to his songs at the bottom of some of the videos. Knowing more hiragana helps a bit, because I can follow along with the lyrics even though I still don’t know kanji. One day, I’ll be able to do Himuro’s songs at karaoke without needing to look up the romaji lyrics, but that’s going to take some practice.

A Vamps song just came on. Hyde, you’re not helping my Japanese education by singing in English! You get a pass for putting dragons and a moon in the video for Replay. You did, however, inspire me to look up some of the first Japanese words I ever committed to memory, so you did teach me some Japanese. I’ll save that post for another day, or maybe I’ll turn a song into a vocabulary list.

For now, it’s late and I must be off to bed. Not that I have anything to do tomorrow, since my interview was cancelled. But there’s more Japanese to learn, and more self-awareness questions to answer. Tomorrow is just another day to do it all.