dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
I don't really like being the center of attention at an event. I don't even like being the soft center, which is why I haven't had a party for myself in years--not since high school, I think. I thought about having a birthday party this year, but eventually decided against it. Maybe next year when I turn 35, since that's more of a milestone.

Which isn't to say that I'm one of those people who hates birthdays. I celebrate every year, just quietly, and this year was no different on that score. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd met me on Friday after work and we walked the two blocks from my office to Benny's Chop House for the first of two birthday dinners. It wasn't my birthday, but August 19th (until sundown) was Tu b'Av, an ancient festival that died with the Second Temple and was forgotten until the Israelis revived it as a kind of Jewish Valentine's Day. I only know about it because of the Jewish holidays calendar addon I have in my phone calendar, but it's as good a reason for a fancy dinner as any, even if half of Benny's menu is an abomination before Hashem.

The parts that are good are really good, though:


Filet mignon with a red wine reduction and black truffle on top.

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd told me that my whole face changed when I took a bite. It was probably the best steak I've ever had in my life.

The next day, I woke up to a thunderstorm just like I had on Friday, which is probably the best weather I could have wanted on my birthday. My parents came into down and met my sister, who was already here meeting up with high school friends before her flight to Costa Rica today, and we went out to breakfast at a French-Vietnamese restaurant nearby. I got duck curry, because curry for breakfast sounds amazing to me at all times, and then we went back to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my apartment until they all left to avoid the traffic. Then we mostly stayed at home until dinner time, when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd made me even more duck:


Crispy duck with mango-cilantro salsa, roasted cauliflower, and asparagus.

Not visible there is the flourless chocolate cake she also made, this time with real vanilla extract. It's in the recipe, but [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd usually left it out because we don't use vanilla for that much and it would just sit around otherwise. But my parents gave me a bottle of it for my birthday along with a few other spices, so why not use it? And I think I could taste the difference, too.  photo getin.001.gif

I was feeling a bit off for most of my birthday, and I think it's because while I wanted to have a quiet weekend I still ended up with a lot of stuff to do--yesterday I woke up at 8:30 and it still seemed like it was dinnertime before I had even blinked. Today has gone a bit slower, though I still haven't gotten as much time as I'd liked. But we never have enough, do we?  photo darksouls.001.gif

I got to read more The Lord of the Rings to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd today and have a quiet breakfast inside with her, and even though it's taking place today instead of yesterday, it's one of the best birthday presents I could have asked for. I don't mind getting older as long as those are the opportunities that it will bring.

That was a week

2016-May-11, Wednesday 10:41
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
Thursday we had [twitter.com profile] xoDrVenture over to watch Revolutionary Girl Utena, and then after she left I got a bit overwhelmed by my upcoming schedule and the fact that the pants I ordered arrived and didn't fit, and I ended up lying down in a dark room for fifteen minutes while [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd did some work in the kitchen.

The next day I sent back the pants and the replacements are in the mail, and then I got home from work, devoured dinner, and immediately turned around and headed out to Call of Cthulhu, which you can read about here. Then we came back home and went to bed.

Saturday was LARP and shopping day, taking up a large portion of the afternoon and all of the evening, but also the day where I received an email from my father with the subject "$" and then checked my bank and noticed a pending transaction for a substantial sum of money. Enough to pay for our upcoming trip to Japan multiple times over. When we called my mother for Mother's Day the next day and asked about it, their reasoning was basically that they're not getting any younger and who knows what might happen. So if you wonder why I'm all #doom all the time, well...

Sunday was the aforementioned phone call and the Beach Party of Hope, scheduled in February. Fortunately the weather cooperated, but those again took up a big chunk of the day. We also wrote a letter to Kaminaka-san, one of our old students from Chiyoda, since we're planning to visit Chiyoda on our upcoming trip to Japan and wanted to let him know! That took a bit of time mostly because I had to hand-write Japanese, which I'm not very good at and which always makes me nervous.

Monday was session six of Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom, which i haven't written about yet because over half of it was Small-time Peddlers of the Mushroom Kingdom, so I'll do a combined six + seven post next week and edit in a link here when it's written.

Tuesday was Japanese class again, which actually went pretty well. 世界の中心で愛を叫ぶ is getting better now that they're getting into more characterization, and at least with the most recent chapter, I went into class thinking I had a lot of trouble with the reading and it turned out that I actually understood almost all of it. Aya-sensei mentioned that it's easy to get caught up in a couple small things you don't understand and assume it means that you don't understand the larger picture and that's simply not the case, and that's definitely true. I think at this point I'd keep reading the book even if I didn't have class anymore.

Tonight, I have nothing scheduled and I'm going to play Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and watch Aria with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, and the only thing I have scheduled that is of any importance is that we're going to write another card to one of our students in Japan. And this Friday we're going out to eat at Travelle and then I don't have anything scheduled for the rest of the weekend. Other than beating Symphony of the Night and finishing up my Ender-kun costume for ACEN. Just need to do the grass block!
dorchadas: (Kirby sweatdrop)
Yesterday was a team building day at work. As much as I complained about it, it was actually pretty well-run and inoffensive. No stupid trust fall exercises or silly games, the icebreaker was just "introduce yourself to a couple people you haven't met," and the majority of the day was talking about what it is exactly our department does--summary: we're the ones who make all the money--or discussing different communication styles through the lens of the DiSC, which I had never heard of before. You may be unsurprised to hear that I scored by far the highest on C, with S as the second-highest category.

And even with that low level of intrusiveness, by the end of the day I was still:


I love Introji.

And then tonight I have Japanese tutoring, which is also very well run and extremely helpful in providing a chance for me to actually speak Japanese instead of just reading it (which I'm pretty good at, though still not at newspaper level), but takes a lot of energy to deal with.

That's the eternal paradox of my mental state. Even things I am really looking forward to I often end up dreading at times, with my anticipation wildly careening around like a bat in a Castlevania level. I know it drives [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd crazy sometimes how I'll agree to go to an event, then a few days later act like going will literally lead to my death, then be excited again, all with unpredictable frequency and lengths of time.

I know a lot of people were annoyed about those introvert vs. extrovert articles going around last year and the year before since they painted all introverts as anxiety-ridden wrecks with a deep and fulfilling inner life ruined by those damn extroverts shitting their interactions all over everything, most memorably summed up in this tweet:


And reasonably so. I know plenty of introverts who love social interaction and just need a bit of alone time to recover from it. But not me.

I really am excited about your invitations and the vast majority of the time, when I arrive, I have a great time and I'm glad I came. But often my instinctual first response to any event is, "Uh, I have some forbidden alchemy to do that night..."
dorchadas: (Not the Tale)
This post is inspired by an article I read entitled Two Couples, One Mortgage that I read earlier today, put up on Facebook, and got a bunch of comments on, so I figured I'd expand on what I thought about it.

I'm a pretty strong introvert, though a bit less now than when I had just moved back from Japan, and I also have a like of schedules and a desire to want to know how my days are going to go in advance. My typical response to someone wanting to do something the same day is to say no, even if it's just something simple like going out to dinner, and while I often override that impulse, head out, and have a good time anyway, any kind of changing plans that adds new things to my schedule closer than a few days in advance is pretty stressful[1]. So you'd think that I wouldn't be in the market for that kind of living plan at all, because a smaller household means it's easier to set all plans out in advance.

At the same time, though, one of my fondest memories of university was the ease with which I could see people if I wanted to. When I read the article, the main section that stood out to me was this one:
People talk a lot about how important it is to have privacy, but I’ve noticed that my own desire for privacy is sometimes more of an excuse not to take social risks. What I’ve learned from a decade of living with other people is that it is actually really good to have people in my life who see me in moments when I’m openly struggling—not just when I’m doing well. The times I would never post about on Facebook. But it’s usually those moments, when I probably most need to connect with friends, that I’m least likely to make plans to see them. Particularly for introverts like me, it’s easy if I’m feeling tired or discouraged to want to just escape by sitting at home and watching Netflix.
That's really applicable to me, though insert "video games" for Netflix. At university, I could sit in my room, but the cost of reaching out to other people was very low because almost all of us lived in the same building. And I did spend a lot of time in [livejournal.com profile] greyselke, [livejournal.com profile] t3chnomag3, and [livejournal.com profile] spacialk's room even when I was just reading my homework.

Based on traveling around Chicago and attending various events, I've come up with a kind of line. If something is further than 20 minutes away door-to-door, it triggers that "Nah I'm good I'll just stay here" reflex that I have to overcome. Anything closer than that is fine, and I think the distane might extend even further away than that as long as it's entirely walking distance. I'm not sure why--maybe waiting for public transit makes me annoyed because it feels like I'm wasting time, whereas walking means I'm getting exercise and always moving toward my destination? That's just off the top of my head, though[2]. Anyway, suites around a common area, or even just apartments all in the same building, would obviously fall well within that line and might actually serve to make me more social.

The main thing I'd be worried about is people having other standards that hit my trigger points. Like, I tend to like things to be cleaner than [livejournal.com profile] softlykarou does, but if I end up outvoted, would I end up having to clean everything myself to match my standard of cleanliness[3], or would I end up with a constant low-grade state of annoyance? What about food. I have enough trouble getting the calories to keep myself fed now, and I'd feel bad crowding the fridge with a bunch of extra meat or cheese or eggs or yoghurt to fill out the remainder of my diet, not to mention the way I'd constantly be asking everything that's in the food because I write it all down in LoseIt. How about my habit of constantly listening to podcasts? I obviously can't do that in common areas, but how is it any better if I'm just sitting there in headphones all the time? I may be too rigid and spikey for that kind of communal living.

I guess that's only a problem with a communal dining/family area, though. I'd love the "apartments in the same building" model that would put [livejournal.com profile] softlykarou and I much closer to people. Though then we'd have to deal with where the building would be located...but admittedly that's a problem for any sort of living arrangement where it's more than one person. The rest of it all sounds grand, if I have the temperament for it.

[1]: I even get a little stressed when I write down what I'm eating for the day in LoseIt and then it gets changed. (^_^;)
[2]: And I'm not sure how that meshes with me greatly preferring public transit to driving because I can read on transit. I guess it's a question of relative annoyance.
[3]: This is the accord that [livejournal.com profile] softlykarou and I reached. I'm the one whining about it, so I'm the one who should do something about it. Q.E.D.

2013 Retrospective

2014-Jan-01, Wednesday 22:31
dorchadas: (Default)
Let's talk about the last year!

I guess the biggest change from the perspective of this blog is that I started actually posting here again. I got inspired by RPGs--as is often the case, I admit--and started my Dungeons & Design series, and I think it was mostly the fact of posting those that got me into the habit of posting about other subjects. There are other factors too, like how I have enough down time here and there at work that I can write posts in notepad, send them home, and then post them. I also stopped friend-locking everything and started defaulting to public posts, even when they're about my life. It's essentially security through apathy--I can see how many people visit my blog, and on an average day it's a couple dozen. I post all these updates to Facebook and Twitter and the truth is that most people don't care. That may be a little sad, but it certainly tells me that the excessive care I was taking about talking about anything remotely personal is unwarranted. Whatever I say will mostly just get lost in the flow of the internet anyway, unless people are specifically looking to read it.

I was hoping that we'd be paid back by at least one of the people who owed us money this year, but it didn't happen. Aggressively didn't happen, in the case of the Japanese Pension Office. Or perhaps passive-aggressively? Regardless, it led to some tight moments at times, especially during the summer, though I do admit that some of that is because I refuse to touch the principal. Now that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd has a steady paycheck from her internship everything is okay, though I admit my grasping miserliness does mean I'm less happy with our finances that their absolute quality should lead me to be, but overall it's been on an upward trend. And maybe someone will actually pay us this year. A man can dream.

Work continues much the same as it has been. I had my annual review and did better than I did last year, and my job's bureaucracy and policies means that I'll get an automatic raise and a yearly bonus commensurate with my performance. It's theoretically possible that we won't get the bonus, since the amount and whether it occurs at all is based on the AMA's overall performance during the year, but I haven't heard of anything that would indicate that it's not coming. Even if it doesn't, I'll still get the raise. The benefits of working for a non-profit with no shareholders!

In terms of personal improvement, I took up programming! I originally thought about doing it back in May and was given a lot of resources, and later took a Coursera course that I wrote all about. I've even seen found an implementation of Python for the iPad, and since I have my iPad with me all the time at work, I can get that and then have time to bash my head against programs at work as well as at home! Indeed, during my interview for the job I was asked if I knew anything about HTML or programming and I had to say that I did not, so if I can actually learn programming to a useful level I can hopefully get a promotion. The end project was an implementation of Asteroids, and I'd love to do a lot more to work on it than I had to do for the class to keep my hand in, but what I did accomplish is reasonably impressive, I think.

Also, studied Japanese, but on that subject I'm less confident. I maintained my ability, and that's about it.

Last year, I told myself that if I maintained the weight I had reached in August (~77 kg) for a whole year, I'd go get my wedding ring resized because it's rather large now and I'm kind of worried that it will slip off at some point. Well...I did maintain my weight, but I didn't actually get the ring resized--see the above-mentioned grasping miserliness. I also linked up my new iPhone's M7 chip with LoseIt and started tracking my steps and apparently my average number of steps per day is...5,218. Out of the 10K that's recommended. Exercise is healthy basically no matter what, and getting that number up is something I'd like to improve on in the future, but so far I'm doing pretty well on that front.

I made much more of an effort to be social in 2013. In 2012, I think I had the tendency to hermit a lot more, turning down people's invitations and not really inviting anyone over to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my apartment. I'm not sure what exactly it was. It might have been some remaining difficulty with adjusting to the pace of social life in America vs. what it had been like in Japan, maybe some Anxiety Cat--there's a really old one that I thought fit me really well that said something like "too nervous to talk to people, come off as arrogant or standoffish"--maybe just my typical introverted personality, but this year I tried to avoid falling into the trap of staying home all the time. I like to think I succeeded, or at least reasonably well. And it turns out that traveling out to other places isn't really that bad, even on a work night. I tend to apply the maxim "past performance is no indication of future results" to social events if I'm not careful, in the sense that sure I had fun the last time I went to a party, and the time before that, and probably the time before that...but what about this time!?!? That's not a productive attitude to take, honestly. So this year, I made sure to try to shut that off at the pass. Once I get out of the house, then inertia takes over and I'm not exactly going to turn around halfway there. And it turns out that my friends are awesome people and fun to be around to an extent that far outweighs the annoyance of having to change my physical location. Who would have thought, right? Obviously, this has always been true, but it's convincing that little voice that's the trick, and in 2013 I beat it into submission. Or at least, I inflicted grevious wounds.

All in all, it's been a pretty fantastic year, and I'm looking forward to what 2014 will bring.

I realize that posting song lyrics is incredibly emo and so early-2000s as to be aggressively unhip, but it's pseudo-tradition for me, so:

A long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember the last thing that you said as you were leavin'
Now the days go by so fast
And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think that I could be forgiven...I wish you would
The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl
And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think you might come to California...I think you should
Drove up to Hillside Manor sometime after two a.m.
And talked a little while about the year
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her
And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
And it's one more day up in the canyon
And it's one more night in Hollywood
It's been so long since I've seen the ocean...I guess I should...

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