Category Archives: badness

I should probably be doing something right now

“Things have been pretty hectic getting ready for Japan,” I’d like to be able to say, but this wouldn’t be true.  The fact is, I’ve reached a point of semi-petrified stagnation where I don’t do much of anything other than work, then come home and nap or eat, go to Shinkendo, stay out too late with friends, don’t get enough sleep and repeat the process.  Every weekend is full of something seemingly negligible but necessary (today it’s Sister’s housewarming and picking up boyfriend from the airport, tomorrow is Shinkendo and lunch with a friend who’s moving away).  The list of things I need to do is slowly growing, and all that does is make me dig in further.  One more episode of that anime I’ve already seen, then I’ll do my laundry, I tell myself when I feel like lying.  Other times there is no pretense, and I waste my time trying to get rid of my self-inflicted anxiety by ignoring the list, which is obviously the dumbest move of all time.

Naturally, this blog, which started as a way to get my ideas down and give me a place to document my life, has become something of a burden.  I felt terrible when I started grad school and my posts went from at least 15 per month to a handful.  Now I’m lucky if I put one down.  I haven’t even written about my time working at the Renaissance Faire, all those beautiful details I’m starting to forget, the progress I’m making at Shinkendo, the coyote puppies who have moved into the backyard, the little pieces of my life I had every intention of putting down for my future self to recall and enjoy.  I’m failing myself, and the people I care about, in small ways by shutting myself away and not living the way I should.

How do I induce a change?  Small steps or some grand gesture?  The grand gestures never seem to work out, and they certainly don’t last, so maybe we’ll start small.  Every day, do one thing; pack one box, mail one important document, send one email, learn one Japanese phrase.  Starting today.  I think.  Because seriously, this is my life.  Nothing huge, nothing special really, just a beautiful life that I’m living one day at a time, and every day I don’t spend constructing it into how I want it to be is a waste.  Relaxing is good and all, but that’s not what this is.  I’m fighting the current.  I should probably stop being so afraid of going to Japan and just accept how excited I am, too.  I’ve said it before, and it’s time I practiced what I preach: I fear not the future for I am its architect.

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Japan, my future

I got a job in Japan. I’m leaving in less than two months. I’ll be there for a year.

Let’s blow right past the fact that I speak almost zero Japanese, which is really scary. Let’s ignore the reality that I’ve only been officially teaching for a month here in the U.S., and therefore feel pretty underqualified to teach in general. Let’s try not to think about how I’ll lose the vast majority of my Shinkendo skills while abroad, which kinda kills me.

Instead, let’s focus on the really devastating stuff: I’m moving away from the people I know and love (and love me back) so quickly that my memory of them makes a whistling noise as it whips past my ears. The way my father smells when he hugs me, how my mother wrings her hands when she’s been cooking with olive oil, my sister’s careless slouch, the sandpaper squeal of sinching himo, a friend’s gasping laughter, my bare feet’s gentle slap on the wooden stairs in the dark, the feel of his fingers sliding between mine, the familiar, easy everything. I’ve traveled the world, but lived in Los Angeles my whole life. A year is a long time.

When I voice my concerns, everyone says the same thing: “You’re going to have a great time.” They actually think what they’re feeling is envy, that they would relish having their lives torn up by the roots. They’re not doing me any favors by running away from the inevitable pain of leaving a good life behind for no reason other than to have an adventure, and do something that scares me simply because it scares me. They’re afraid to hear the hesitation in my voice, they look away as the anxiety creeps from one eyebrow to the next until they almost meet in the middle, and seals my mouth into a gently curved horizon of doubt.

And that’s the beauty of it: I don’t have any good reason to do this. I’m abandoning a loving boyfriend of six years, my family (who live within 20 minutes of me), my friends who are like a second family to me, my fellow Shinkendo-ka (my dojo family), a job I find rewarding and fun, and for what?

An adventure.

It’s odd that I should continue to learn about who I am by watching my actions rather than acting because of who I am. It’s like walking into a bedroom, then suddenly deciding you’re tired.

And yet I can say with confidence that I am ready.

Is this because I have to be? I wonder why I went after this at all. Naturally, Japan is a beautiful country that I’ve wanted to visit since I was a child listening to my father tell stories of his visits with his father, who helped with the rebuilding efforts after WWII. I’ve been reading manga, watching anime, enjoying little pieces of Japanese culture for years. And who doesn’t want to visit Japan? They’ve permeated American pop culture so thoroughly, I can’t think of anyone who would dare claim to dislike Japanese aesthetics. Japanese everything is chic.

But my country’s sudden obsession, my affinity for big-eyed cartoons and noodle soup, even my father’s stories cannot function as my motivation. Not long-term. They will not usher me through the quiet moments in my too-small apartment in Morioka while the snow falls impartially outside, and hundreds of nights just like this one stretch out before me in a seemingly endless line of solitude and the unfamiliar creaking settlings of a building I’m supposed to call home. “I chose this,” I’ll think to myself between tears. “You did this. You have no one to blame but yourself.” Where will I find comfort then? What mental nook will I tuck myself into like I did as a child on still Saturday mornings, dreading my waking hours, hiding in the cracks of the ceiling over my bed, slipping down the wall toward edible mountains and break-away tides?

And yet. I am ready.


Too much good, not enough sleep

I’ve been kinda desperately looking for a job, ideally an ESL teaching job, but those are pretty few and far between, and the market is flooded with teachers with more experience (read: any).  So imagine my surprise when I was offered a teaching position at a school here in LA, not far from where I grew up on the Miracle Mile.  Unfortunately, the teacher I’m replacing dropped out in the middle of the term, so the time frame is pretty tight: interview Thursday, job offer Friday, orientation Monday, start teaching Tuesday (tomorrow).  I should be excited, terrified, anything.  But all I can think of is how busy I’ll be, and how much sleep I’ll lose writing lesson plans and correcting papers.  I’m insecure about my teaching abilities (which makes sense, since I’ve never had my own class), but I’m sure I’ll be fine.  I’ll figure it out like I do everything else new and intimidating.  But god.  I’m so tired.  I just want it all to stop.  And now I won’t be able to take any of the vacation time I have saved up at Office Job, and I might not be able to go to that academic conference I’ve already registered for (SO EXPENSIVE).  I need a break.  I’m not getting one anytime soon.

hey look, it’s me at work today

I’ve been working the Renaissance Faire every weekend for the past three weeks, and its starting to wear me down.  My feet are sore and my voice is hoarse from standing and hawking food all weekend.  If I don’t quit that job, I’ll be working seven days a week for the next month.  I gave up on my standing desk at Office Job this morning; sitting feels like a luxury.  I woke up this morning with a stomach ache, and it hasn’t gone away.  I look in the mirror every morning wondering when the bags under my eyes will go away (hint: never, apparently).  I’m always tired.  Always.  Plus, if I get any of the substitute teaching classes at the ESL school where I’ve been volunteering, that’ll be four jobs.  Plus Shinkendo.  Plus the Japanese class on Thursday evenings (which I’ve already paid for).

Something’s gotta give, and I’m sad to say it might be the Ren Faire gig.  I just can’t do it all.  I need my weekends back if I’m working all day, every day during the week.  They’re already short staffed, and they really like me and my smartass mouth, so I’ll feel bad leaving, but I might have to be selfish and just drop it.  It’s $8/hr plus tips.  All my coworkers are high school or early college students.  It’s fun, but exhausting, and I just don’t have the time.

Even as I type this, I’m not sure I’ll quit that job.  Let’s analyze why that is for a minute, because it’s insane:
-I don’t want to let these people down (but I don’t know them well, they’re average bosses).
-I don’t want to give up my access to the Faire (which I’m not enjoying as a spectator because I spend all my time there working).
-They’re already short-staffed (not my fault).
-I don’t want to add extra work to my coworkers (who I don’t know that well, and they’ll likely take the extra hours without complaint).
-I don’t want to burn bridges (this is the one that’s getting me, but are these bridges that I’ll want to cross again in the future?  Will I want to work for these people again?  Even if I wanted to work the Faire again, I have a friend who works beverage there, too, who would love for me to work with her, so I’ll still have access to a Faire job that way).

So.  What’s holding me back?  I’ve always wanted to work the Faire, so it’s the romantic quality I’ve attributed to being an insider at the Faire.  I like the insider status, and I don’t like ditching people when they need me.  But things are lining up to make it impossible to hang on to this thing I’ve wanted for years that has turned out to be as much fun as I expected, minus the feeling of camaraderie I expected the Faire folk to share.  A lot of the people there are just working a job, and not having much fun.  So maybe it’s time I take the good times and bug the fuck out before I grind myself into a fine powder in an attempt to live the dream/not let people down.  At the end of the day there’s just too much good, not enough sleep.  I have to let go of some of the good.

I had similar times in grad school, and Shinkendo fell by the wayside then.  That was hard, because I knew my skills would suffer.  Here, though, what am I missing?  Lousy pay, sore feet, and no weekends?  Maybe it’s time to call it quits, kid.

I had a good conversation with Hollywood Coworker, who is now officially my supervisor, about my schedule.  If I’m teaching in the morning, and working Office Job in the afternoons, I won’t be able to attend several events where I’m needed.  “You’ll have to make a choice, and it’s up to you,” she said.  Meaning: Attendance at these events is mandatory, and if I can’t make it, I can’t stay.  Time to quit the job that pays well and doesn’t work me hard to pursue a career that will do the opposite.

Shit.

But she’s right, I suppose.  Today is orientation, so I’ll know more about my schedule then.  Terms go for a month each, and I would imagine I’ll be expected to teach them all.  I wonder if I’d have to take a full term off to get long vacation?  I’m not excited about the prospect of losing all the vacation days I’ve earned at Office Job.  Time to start cashing those in, lol.

And then, when I’d inevitably be forced to quit Office Job, I’d start hunting for another part-time position I could work in the afternoons.

*sigh*

I could use a break.

 


Jobs, jobs, and oh yeah, I’m bi

I’ve been avoiding writing a new post about what life has been like lately because there’s so much to report, and it’s not all good, and why would I intentionally, slowly, and in excruciating detail relive that?  Because that’s what this blog is for: my life.  All of it.

I need a full-time job.  So applied to the JET Program and got rejected.  I applied to AEON and got rejected.  I’d like to teach here in Los Angeles, and I’d like to travel, but really, I need a full-time job.  I heard from the host teacher at the ESL school where I volunteer that I might be offered evening classes as a substitute teacher, which would be a fantastic way to get my foot in the door, and get some real teaching experience.  Meanwhile, I had an interview at the journalism school at my university which sounds fun.  The woman I interviewed with was great, and we got along really well.  She mentioned that she might hire for the position I was interviewing for internally, but that that would mean another opening in her office.  I told her, “I’m not married to this title.  If I can work full-time in this office with people like you, that sounds fantastic.  I would love to work here.”  We chatted very briefly about anime, manga, cosplay, and martial arts (her best friend does Hap Ki Do, wtf).  She really seemed to like that I had gotten my master’s in teaching English as a foreign language.  Overall it went really well, and it would still allow me to be available in the evenings to potentially teach.  All good.

I got hired to work the Renaissance Faire this year!  All my weekends will be booked for the next six weeks or so (brutal).  I’ll be selling steak on a stake and sausage, which I’m going to be hawking in my best improvised, filthy Elizabethan (when we practiced during orientation, I shouted “Good day, m’Lord!  You’d like a hot sausage in your mouth, wouldn’t you?”  Once my mostly-teenage coworkers stopped laughing, our boss said, “But… make sure there aren’t any kids around if you’re going to say that stuff.”).  I ran into a friend from Office Job there, who invited me to work beverages instead, which I would love to do, so maybe that’ll happen!  I went to her place that evening to socialize with the beverage people, all of whom are older than me, and a total fucking hoot.  Working with them would be a blast.  I hope it works out.

I got drinks with a new friend from Office Job who used to work at an LGBT center at a conservative Christian university.  We chatted about gender and sexuality, and decided we should hang out, which we did last week at El Carmen.  When I went to the bathroom for the second time, there was a pretty girl sitting on the bench opposite the bathroom door, waiting her turn, whose face lit up when she saw me, and greeted me with a warm, “Hi.”  We flirted for a while, she took her turn in the bathroom, and when she came out we flirted some more, during which she called me gorgeous twice, we hugged, and before she left I said, “Wait, so, can I get your number?”  “Yeah!  Yeah…”  So.  I totally got some girl’s number for the first time ever.  I texted her a couple days later to see if she’d gotten home alright from the bar and don’t expect to hear back.  It doesn’t really matter.  I got a girl’s number!  Woot!

But what made me do that?  Hanging out with my new friend that night, we had been chatting a lot about sexuality, so it was at the forefront of my mind (plus I had a pretty solid buzz going after 2.5 happy hour margaritas).  I told her a I was bi, and we talked about that for a while, and she said, “Have you told your family?”

Cue record scratch.

My face dropped.  “Oh.”  It never occurred to me that I might have to do that at some point, unless I brought a girl home.  I don’t feel closeted, so I never felt the need to come out.  But she asked, and it got me thinking, and now I can’t stop thinking about it.  So when I hung out with Sister a few days later, I told her about this girl I had hit on.  “She was just so cute, so I asked for her number, and she fucking gave it to me.  Ugh.  So weird.”  Sister squinted a little during the whole story, but listened patiently with a hesitant “Ok…” here and there.  Afterward she said, “Wow.  So.  [my full name].”  We both laughed.  Then her boyfriend came in and the topic shifted to my graduate school graduation party.  However.  A couple days later she IM’d me over Gchat:

hey [tigerlilytoph]!
good seeing you last night and jumping on the invitation business
i want to talk to you about a conversation we stated earlier in the evening maybe next week

ok
I’m free most evenings I think
busy tuesday
and friday

ok cool 🙂
i have [friend]’s bday dinner wednesday

Monday?
or Thursday?

how about monday

okies
ugh now I’m kinda nervous
GROSS

about what?
me wanting to talk to you?

yeaaaaaah

llol
don’t be you goose
i’m just concerned your not happy that’s all

oh?

yeah so i just wanted to share with you my thoughts and be a good big sister

thanks 🙂

nothing to feel gross about silly [tigerlily]

well ok
i’ll stop throwing up now

llol
ew

right?

you going to hear [cousin] play tonight?

I am not going to [cousin]’s show tonight, but I definitely want to go to another one of his shows
His group has a good sound, and he seems really happy with them

So that conversation wasn’t a total disaster, and I think it’s going to be ok (of course it would be better if she hadn’t canceled to spend time with her friend who just broke up with her significant other, because now I’m all nervous all over again).  Now I’m mostly worried that she saw my hitting on that girl as evidence that I’m not happy with Boyfriend.  Blerg.  I can’t handle her judgement.  I want to hear her opinion, but if she could give it without all the fucking judgement, that would be just super.


Treat me like an adult or I swear to god I’ll act like a child

So… I got docked for not using what is essentially the two-column note-taking system most of us were taught in high school for my field notes.  They’re explained in the syllabus, and when I read their description at the beginning of the semester, I thought, “You must be fucking kidding me” for a few of reasons:

 1) If I need to be told how to take field notes in my last semester of grad school, I am fucked.
2) That’s not at all how this program taught us how to take field notes in the first semester.
3) Two-column notes are for high school suck-ups who don’t know how to take notes.
4) The two-column system assumes note-taking in an actual notebook…  We’re supposed to take down as much dialog as possible (to make the notes accurate and useful) which can most easily be done in real time by typing 80wpm instead of writing at less than half that speed.  Also, it’s fucking 2014 and we’re all in grad school.  Chances are there’s a laptop or two floating around.

I am now at an impasse: do I alter my field notes to meet the absurd requirements set before us (aka. be a kissass), or take a hit on my grade and continue to take excellent field notes?  I’ll have to email the professor and ask for some answers to the above questions (once I’ve taken the poison out of them).
.
.
Okok, I just had another look at the fieldwork observation guidelines, and it states we should either do two column notes, OR bracket our “analytical question or observation to think about later” amidst our field notes.
I cannot hate this more than I do at this moment.  This level of micro-management (and the fact that it has already affected my grade) makes me bristle.  It also makes me wonder how the previous classes fucked up their field notes so badly that this kind of hand-holding was deemed necessary.  I’m inclined to misbehave just to see if I get threatened with a spanking.

ATTENTION ONLINE GAMING MALES: Losing at combat is not the equivalent of rape. Obviously.

I used to play an iPhone game called Clash of Clans.  It’s a combat strategy (resource-gathering, town building/raiding) time sink that I played for months and months until I finally had to just delete it off my phone cold-turkey.  There was really no way to make any significant progress in the game without spending real money, which I refuse to do because that’s insane.  My clan was cool at first, but started to become a little bro-tastic.  I found myself feeling discouraged from participating in the chat since much of what was said was the kind of shit I would expect to hear in a high school locker room; weirdly explicit talk about sex, using ‘rape’ to describe something other than violent sexual assault and torture, a few instances of homophobic slurs like ‘faggot’,etc.  I would point these things out as childish and backwards, and get promptly shut down: “I can say whatever I want, if you don’t like it, don’t read it,” I was told, as if I could distinguish hateful language from normal, inoffensive language without reading it.  Those same idiots would then proceed to complain about how our clan wasn’t active enough in the chat.  I told them I would participate more if they stopped pretending like the whole clan was male.  I was not the only female in the clan.  They could not have given less of a shit.

I was pretty disappointed by the whole atmosphere until one interaction where one of the adult, male clan members used the word rape to describe how his town could not withstand attacks by other players.  I was especially surprised to hear that kind of rhetoric from him since he had just confided in us not a week prior about how he and his girlfriend had pulled into a parking lot to find a woman (a friend of his girlfriend, actually) who had just been raped.  They found her passed out and beaten in a state of partial undress.  They called the cops and stayed with her until they came.  He sounded pretty shaken up at the time, so imagine my surprise when he started dropping ‘rape’ like it was the equivalent of having his little imaginary villiage adorably knocked over by little imaginary dragons and hot air balloons.

As usual, I spoke up, and was shocked when a third clan member jumped in:

P: supercell needs to lower the cost of shit or give us more gold mines or collectors
P: this game is made for people to spend money
P: fucking bullshit
K: dude this game is for rich people
Toph (me): yeah, im approahing the point where ill have to either put in $ or stop playing.
P: me too Toph
P: like fuck
P: its impossible and i get raped in every damn battle
P: and its hard to 3 star
P: like its not fun if i can barley play…
T: raped? really?
P: Toph… its an expression.
T: …of sexual assault. was it you or S who found a rape victim recently?
T: because that’s what women picture when dudes throw that word around.
P: Toph. i did.
P: im a big boy. i dont need to be corrected.
G: P, Toph has had a bad experience in the past, who knows.
G: But you should show some respect because you really dont know.
G: has maby had a bad exsperience*
P: dude i just found a girl ik raped. i of all people know bro.
P: i show respect
G: I know, and im sorry fo rher and those effected by it, but its not A bug deal to not mention a word if it potentially upsets
G: someone
P: gotcha

So.  Wow.  Words of kindness from a dude in the clan.  Pretty amazing.  What’s more, if memory serves, this guy’s handle was something like Guntotinredneck, lol.  I never thanked him since there wasn’t any way to send private messages, and no way to tell who was online at the time.  I wish I could have thanked him.  I almost cried when I read this.  Thanks, Guntotinredneck, wherever you are.  Maybe next time it won’t take a man’s voice reiterating my point for the message to be heard.


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