Scream dream

2017-Jul-31, Monday 10:12
dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
It took me an hour and a half to fall asleep last night and then I had horrible dreams for most of the night, but it did lead me to empirical proof that sometimes movie cliches are real. In my dream I was exploring a run-down mansion or house, by myself, and at some point I went upstairs and saw someone else. Being a dream, I went over to talk to him and he turned around and had a fleshless skull for a face, much like the strange woman from the NES game Uninvited. He said something spooky, I screamed...and apparently screamed in real life as well, loud enough to wake up both [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and myself. Fortunately, she rolled over and went back to sleep, though it took me a while to fall back asleep and then I woke up before my alarm.

I did not suddenly start up in bed with a gasp, though I have done that when I lived in Ireland, when I dreamed about a zombie cat trying to tear off my face. Eventually I will combine these two stereotypical incidents and have a real picture-perfect horror movie waking up moment.

Part of the reason I had such a hard time getting to sleep is that I was worried something would go wrong at work today. So far, nothing has, and I even got all of my vacation I need to take before the end of the year approved. Hopefully the day remains uneventful!
dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
It's probably not a good idea for me to read climate news right before bed.

I've since read some cogent critiques of the piece, pointing out its Eurocentrism and factual errors like the invocation of medieval stasis in the idea that for thousands of years, people would live mostly the same as their parents and grandparents did. This was the popular conception even at the time--see all those medieval paintings with Jesus and the disciples dressed like someone from medieval France--but it was never actually true. There were a lot of changes over that time, just none as visible from the modern age as the industrial or green revolutions.

There was also a good point about the wisdom of "The situation is bad and requires immediate action" vs. "Your descendants will ritually curse your names in the ruins of their ancestors' cities." The first is true, the second might be true, but encourages paralysis. If civilization is doomed, why bother trying to save it? Live in luxury now while it's still possible. Eat, drink, and be merry, etc. I'm definitely inclined more towards inevitable doom, but more in ScreamingInternally.jpg model than the conspicuous consumption model.

I could have written this last night around 1 a.m., but fortunately I've developed better bedtime discipline as I've gotten older and I just stayed in bed and kept trying to sleep.

I'm slowly making progress on re-linking all the photo embeds to their new hosting. I've done Darker than Black, all my video game reviews, and my Japan, Chicago, Translation, Warcraft, and Travel tags. Now I'm working on Fifty Weeks, Fifty Curries and then I'll get to the RPGs tag and that'll probably be the vast majority of everything necessary. I'll catch the last few photos when I find them.

Tonight is the next session of Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom after a month hiatus due to conflicting schedules. We left off right before the protagonists and their hired mercenaries entered a cave system in pursuit of a group of necromancers. They've spent half-a-dozen sessions tracking down the source of the walking dead plague and following them to this cave system, and now the climactic battle happens against at least three necromancers and whatever else is down there. They're mostly uninjured but fatigued, having force-marched through the day to arrive before sundown, and while they have mounts the mercenaries were on foot. Who will win? This or that by brokenboulevard
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
Came in to work an hour and a half early today, since I fortunately have a flexible schedule if necessary. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I are flying out to Portland tonight for [ profile] faylynne and [ profile] ntcomplete's wedding on the least annoying flight I could find, which still doesn't get us into Portland until almost eleven. Fortunately, my sister lives in Portland and has generously offered to pick us up from the airport and house us for the duration of our stay.

Of course, my stomach is tying itself in knots because that's always what happens with travel. What if the rain gets worse, what if we can't get to the airport on time, what if we can't fit everything in the bag. What if what if what if. Panic flailing At least we have an external battery, tablets, and a Switch, so we'll have plenty to do. We can be that annoying young hipster couple playing the Switch on a plane.

At least the problems mentioned in my last post were fixed. Without warning, of course--I just came in on Wednesday and it worked fine, and then on Thursday around lunch I got an email asking if it worked. Great response time, everyone. A+. Would use again because I don't have any other choice.

Alright, back to work.
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
Came in this morning to an email from the vice president that there were changes afoot. Several people were being shuffled around, new opportunities, maintain and expand our place in the growing market of Blah blah blah you know how these things go. I read it because it's good to know what's going on--those who have not swords can still die upon them--and near the end was a notice that I was being directed affected by being moved to a different team.

It's not a major change, since my new boss sits in the same room as my old boss, I've worked with them before on another projectm and I don't talk or interact with my boss that much anyway, but it's a little disconcerting to not have any announcement made to me. Not an email from my old boss, not an email from my new one, neither of them mentioning anything to me... And coupled with the note at the end of the vice president's mailing that more people were being turfed out, though with "dignity and respect," well. It's hard to maintain a level head.

I remember not long after I was hired, my then-boss mentioned that the department I worked in was a good one because there weren't a lot of major upheavals. And then six months later the division manager and assistant division manager were suddenly fired, and then the biannual layoffs began and will probably continue until morale improves. It's like the best take on those millennial articles:
Pundits: "Why aren't millennials buying diamonds or houses?"
Us: "Economic precarity makes any long term planning impossible."
Pundits: "It must be because they're lazy and buying too much brunch."
I think I just heard my now-old boss mention that they were surprised by the changes too, which is a great mark of effective leadership and direction. Emoji Kawaii frog

I really wish I were better at Japanese so I could just turf all this out and do what I've discovered I really enjoy.

In-progress Addendum: My now-old boss came over to chat while I had this sitting open in the background. They weren't particularly impressed with how this was handled--they knew it was coming, but though it would be more direct rather than being stuffed in the bottom of a generic update email--but said they'd be meeting with my new boss to transition things over and work out how my annual review would work since we're on a new system now with different metrics. They also said they'd approve all of my pending time off. Kirby laughing So while I remain worried, I am no longer covered in a cloud of doom like I was when I started this post.

Maybe this is why I was stressed earlier? Displayed worry from the future?
dorchadas: (Warcraft Algalon)
I've been on edge almost all day, which doesn't make it easy to relax on a three-day weekend. I even went to get a manicure with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and while my nails are much more manageable--they were long enough that it was pretty annoying to type--all I could think of while I was there was how long it was taking. I didn't find it relaxing at all. And I meant to start playing ふしぎの木の実 (大地の章) (Oracle of Seasons) today and haven't even booted it up. Instead I finished reading Japan at War, which is admittedly an excellent book, and fiddled with music for hours.

I've been really nostalgic for Warcraft lately. Not World of Warcraft, necessarily. The time of my life when I played MMOs is over. But the Warcraft setting, around which there isn't any way to interact outside of WoW and Hearthstone now that Blizzard isn't putting out Warcraft RTSes. I downloaded and organized the entire Wrath of the Lich King soundtrack, all fourteen hours of it, and have original WoW and Burning Crusade waiting for me to sort through when I can find the time. I booted up Warcraft III and played for a while before I tore myself away. And I made that icon that's up there from one of the few screenshots of Algalon I could find that wasn't full of PC nameplates or raiders trying to murder him.

I originally thought of putting "The stars come to my aid" as the text, since I played a Balance Druid and wore the Starcaller title from the moment I got it until I stopped playing even as I accumulated titles like "The Insane" and "Battlemaster," but I thought the current version would be more broadly applicable.

I'm all fired up over trying to make my perfect version of a WoW tabletop RPG game based on Pathfinder and using the Spheres of Power sourcebook to build spell lists for each caster class and Path of War for the martial classes, because I think it would work incredibly well even if it would be a ton of work. It'd be less work than actually balancing WoW is, though! And I need a new project now that Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom is in tinkering mode and I have multiple other games prepped and ready for when I have more time.

Of course, that's what I need, right? More time.

(On the other hand, an old woman at the nail salon told me that I had interesting pants and the proprietor said she was jealous of my hair, so some good things happened today!)
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
You can tell I made that icon in my early twenties.

I've felt a sense of impending doom for the last few days and I'm having a very hard time pinning it down. I suspect some of it is due to Japanese class picking up again today. Aya-sensei was in ConstantinopleIstanbul for a friend's wedding last week, and this week we've scheduled free chat in lieu of reading more from 世界の中心で愛を叫ぶ since she'll have a lot to talk about. Free chat is always more nerve-inducing, but I suppose it's payback for me making the final exam for my second-year English conversation students to talk to me for a few minutes. And I need practice asking questions.

I don't like small talk in English, much less in Japanese.

Some of it is probably because ACEN is coming up and I'm never sure how much I'll like it. The first year we went after coming back from Japan was, but last year was a lot of fun. It's never related to the actual purpose of the con, though. [ profile] stephen_poon said that he used to think "These are my people" when he went and never does anymore, and I feel the same way. "My people" are the friends who I see when I go. I used to be very confused by people who went to cons and spent the whole time in the hotel bar talking to people, but it's because I didn't understand why they went. Now I do.

Also, they don't even sell 焼き物 in the dealer's room. What the hell? We need more rice bowls to replace the ones we lost in the Great Dish Crash.

Some of it might be work, though here I can't actually point to anything specific. I just feel like something terrible is going to happen, like I'm going to get laid off or have all my duties switched up for no reason or something. There is absolutely no reason I have to expect this, since my evaluations are consistently good and we're making money for the organization hand over fist, but that hasn't prevented them from suddenly tossing people out the door before, so. I suppose there's nothing I can do but my work and see what happens.

Maybe it's that I didn't get to get a manicure because the salon was too crowded? I really don't know.

It's also reflecting in my dreams, too. I had one last night where I was some kind of space marine fighting horrible shapeshifting tentacled monsters, but fortunately [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd going through her morning routine woke me up, and when I went back to sleep I had no dreams until my alarm went off.

I just wish I could pin down what's bothering me.
dorchadas: (Kirby sweatdrop)
The weather has been lovely lately. I'm sure most people would disagree, but after the sun a couple weeks ago I was worried that Chicago spring was going to be even shorter than it usually is and we'd be heading into the furnaces of summer early. What was I thinking. Right now it's 7°C and it's supposed to be ~10°C all week, mostly windy or overcast, which is nearly my ideal weather. Maybe a couple degrees warmer and I'd be happy.

Last weekend was torrential rain and it was lovely. I heard some women who work on the same floor I do talking about how depressing it was with all the rain, and all I could think of is that there is an unbridgeable perception gap between us.  photo ashamed2.gif

I've been inexplicably anxious for the last few days and I'm not entirely sure why. Some of it I'm sure is that we still need to buy plane tickets for [ profile] faylynne's wedding in a month and a half (accommodations are already sorted because my sister lives in Portland and offered to house us). Some of it is because today is Japanese class and it's free chat, so that's an hour of me speaking in Japanese as well as I can. Some of it is because even though I work at a nonprofit and our department has been making record revenue for to support our mission...they keep laying people off, so who knows when my job will be suddenly snatched out from under me. I have no reason to assume that my high performance reviews will matter. The Company doesn't care about you.  photo emot-ohdear.png

It still seems like there's something else, though. I can't nail down what.

(There are too many moods in this theme that use 悲. For worries, something like 悩 might be better)
dorchadas: (Default)
I've dreamed more in the last week than I have in the months before that--or at least, remembered more dreams--and they're all about chasing or being chased. On Monday it was hunting vampires in a giant haunted mansion that was half chic restaurant and half abandoned wreck, like a hipster upscale Castle Gormenghast. I spent half the dream delving into the decaying hallways looking for vampires and half coming back into the restaurant with the glittering chandeliers, waiters in formal dress, white-tablecloth tables, and patrons glaring at me and my partner for daring to sully their experience. Probably should have let the vampires eat them.

Tuesday night it was the same location, but now completely ruined. I spent the time running from murderous ghosts, but unfortunately I can't remember if they were ghosts of the vampires, diners, waiters, or anyone else from Sunday's dream.

Wednesday I can't remember exactly what happened, but I remember waking feeling uneasy and harried. And not in the normal way.  photo _raincloud__rvmp_by_bad_blood.gif

And last night's dream was being a fugitive from justice, on the run from the government through a vaguely-southwestern-America-inspired landscape, all scrub grass and red dirt. I'd avoid them for a while, then they'd managed to track me down and corner me in an area with parallel ridges of bare stone exposed to the sky...and then the dream would start over. I went through three or four iterations, being caught every time, before I woke up.

What is it that I'm worried about? I can't bring something to mind, though I just realized that it might be self-reinforcing. After nights of dreaming of being chased, what do I expect to happen, and then what happens? We'll see what happens tonight.

Ending therapy

2017-Jan-13, Friday 14:41
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
I'm not sure I've written about it at all here, but I went to therapy for a year, starting last January and ending yesterday, spurred on by the stomach pain I suddenly developed a year and a half ago. I'd thought over the last couple months about why I was still going and didn't have a good answer, so I talked about it with my therapist last night and ended our sessions for now.

I always felt a bit guilty going. Like, am I really in enough distress for this? Is there someone else who could use this time more? I don't know the answer to that. I do know that I found it helpful.

It was mostly a re-calibration of my expectations. I went in with the goal of "stopping my stomach from hurting," and that didn't happen. But I suppose that was like going in with a goal of no longer being anxious, and that's not realistic either. Something I thought of as I walked away that I didn't get a chance to say is that anxiety is like fear. Courage isn't the absence of fear, that's either stupidity or foolhardiness. Courage is acting even though one is afraid. Successfully dealing with anxiety is the same way, and talking about it is what made me realize that. I'm never not going to worry before a social event or consider cancelling half-a-dozen times or assume it's going to be terrible, but as long as I go anyway, then I have succeeded in some way.

And I'm pretty good at that, overall. Other than back when I was a university student, this is probably the most full my schedule has ever been, socially. I keep going to Japanese tutoring even if I'd rather a meteor fall on me when I'm walking to class, and I can see my Japanese improving. I'm in a better place than I was a year ago.

And a lot of my other worries...well, there's nothing my therapist or I can do about the possibility of global thermonuclear war.  photo ashamed2.gif

She mentioned that I should email her to set up another session if I felt that I needed to talk in the future. Hopefully I won't, but it's good to have the option available.
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
I'm pretty sure that I've finished everything that I need to do before we leave. Our passports are sitting next to me, we bought our JR Rail Passes and know to make sure to get a Temporary Visitor stamp on our passports so we can exchange them when we arrive, we arranged for portable wi-fi so that we'll be able to check Google maps to find anywhere we want to go / look up train directions (Japanese addressing...leaves something to be desired), we bought a portable charger for our phones and a cord that'll connect our DSes to it too (and hopefully the wifi if it uses a minUSB for its charger), checked necessary visa status (none for our connecting flight in Canada, none for Japan), booked hotels including a ryokan on Miyajima, changed our money before the yen took off, alerted everyone important that we would be abroad, put a hold on our mail, bought new shoes and sandals, got some clothes that will stand up to Japanese weather (think "incredibly hot and humid" and you'll be right. Though apparently the rainy season isn't over yet...)...

But this is travel, so of course I'm running through lists trying to figure out what I've missed. The last post I made on this I thought we had finished everything, but there were some items on the list above--wifi, phone battery, shoes--that weren't still done and which I hadn't seriously considered before. What else am I going to want that I haven't thought of before now?

I made a couple lists on the app that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I use to coordinate chores and paying bills that'll cover everything we need to do before we leave and everything we need to make sure we pack. It's not enough to really make me stop worrying, but at least I can assure myself I've done as much as I can to prepare.
dorchadas: (Default)
This post is inspired by an article I saw about how procrastination is often caused by anxiety and not laziness, though I unfortunately can't find the source right now.

If something is bothering me, I have a tendency to let it slide for a while. Part of this is conflict avoidance, it's true, but part of it is that most of the time I'm legitimately chill and am willing to put up with a lot if I figure that it's going to be a short-term thing. The problem is that I let things go for a long time without saying anything, and then once I hit a particular threshold, I explode. Where normally I don't want to say anything because I don't want to upset things, or because I worry about what the other person will think, or because I can't figure out how to phrase my request properly, once I cross that threshold none of that matters.

The main example that springs to mind is cleanliness. I tend to prefer things almost completely spotless and the floor with no clutter on it at all, whereas [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd doesn't mind a backpack dropped by the door or a few pieces of clothing laid out for the week. What used to happen is that I let things go for a while, quietly getting more and more annoyed every time I saw a cardigan left on a chair or a piece of mail on the table, until I went into a cleaning frenzy and scoured the entirely living space with bleach and soap. The first time [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd went to a grad school conference, I spent three hours cleaning the entire apartment. And this was our first post-Japan apartment, when it was three rooms, one of which was the bathroom.

I have gotten better about it since then. I'm more careful to bring up when something is bothering me earlier in a way that doesn't lead to everything seeming okay until it's suddenly, overwhelmingly wrong. But one thing I've noticed over the years is that when I get into the annoyed side of the cycle, I don't actually feel anxious. If I'm pissed off at a company because of something I think they did wrong, I can actually pick up the phone and call them to complain, and yet I dreaded making restaurant reservations until I got an app that let me do it without any human interaction. Somehow, I need to find a way to synthesize those two attitudes into a Voltron of healthy response to my circumstances. I'm working on that.
dorchadas: (Grue)
Yesterday, my computer died. Right after I finished playing Shatterhand--literally, like two minutes afterward--the screen went black. Restarting the computer produced a restart loop where the dark colors had an alternating pattern of blues lines, and while it booted into safe mode and worked fine when I uninstalled the graphics drivers (well, relatively fine since the blue lines were still there), installing a new graphics driver in an attempt to figure out if it was a corrupted driver installation caused it to completely shit the bed.

When I left this morning, it had run a full CHKDSK and found nothing, then failed to start Windows and Startup Repair wasn't able to fix the problem. I left it running MemTest this morning, but even if that does find and fix a problem, my computer's days are now sharply numbered. Now that it's catastrophically failed--there was no warning and no performance problems, it just stopped working--I can't trust it.

Fortunately, I've got backups. I know that backups are like Schrödinger's cat and they are of indeterminate quality until used, but most of my stuff is redundant. I have a full cloud backup, a lot of my books and documents are backed on my iPad, my music is on my phone and an external HD (where my media is as well, plus another backup of the documents), some stuff is on [ profile] softlykarou's computer as well...I certainly have plenty of places to go to get my information from. The only problem will be getting it onto the new computer, since pulling down 1 TB of backup will take forever. Though not as long as it took to upload it!

I already ordered a new computer and paid a bit extra for faster shipping and same-day processing. The computer that just failed I built, and it worked for five years, with the only problems that ever cropped up when I tried to play heavily-modded Skyrim and the budget Nvidia GFX 570 I bought in 2011 couldn't handle it. Other than that, my gaming tastes have changed. Now, the games I anticipate are ones like Chasm or Eitr or I Am Setsuna, games that I'm pretty sure my old computer could run flawlessly. Of course, my stomach is trying it gnaw its way out of my body with worry--what if I wasted my money, what if it arrives defective, what if it fails just outside the warranty, what if, what if--but there's nothing I can do except wait and remind myself that the ratings on that particular model are good and the tales of computers arriving with massive problems are not automatically representative.

Well, it was five years old and it served me well. I was planning on replacing it anyway, just not for another month or two. In the meantime, I still have my phone and my tablet, so I guess I'll be doing more reading for the next couple of days.
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
I was telling someone the story of my first real experience in Japan the second day we were there, where [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd had to go to a lot of panels but I had free time. I looked at the guidebooks and determined that I was going to head down to Meiji Jingu, so I dressed, loaded up my satchel with the guidebook and map, and headed out to Shinjuku Station, the busiest train station in the world.

I watched the people at that station use the ticket machines for fifteen minutes until I finally felt confident to use them myself, and then I bought a ticket and got on the Yamanote line, and spent the whole day out wandering the city, coming back at dinner time to meet up with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd.


After telling the story, something was nagging at me. I remembered that my feet got torn up from the new sandals I was wearing and that I had walked one leg of the trip, but I knew I didn't walk home. I also remember walking south, past Yoyogi and through part of Shinjuku Gyoen (新宿御苑). And in a flash, I remembered what really happened--I didn't buy a ticket. I watched people for a long time, waiting for a lull in the crush of people buying tickets so that I could go buy one myself without holding up the line or having to walk away without figuring it out, and there never was a spot in the line. I didn't have a ticket but I wasn't going to sit in the hotel room all day, so I walked. On the way back, Harajuku Station was significantly less crowded and I bought a ticket there to go back, and thereafter I was fine.

My mind rewrote the whole thing as a story of triumph over unfamiliar circumstances and persistence in the face of discouragement and, actually, it was completely the opposite. I got too worried and gave up, though at least I actually went to the shrine instead of hiding inside all day. But until I thought about the inconsistencies, I would have sworn that the first version of the story was the true one.

This is part of why I still keep a blog of mundane events when nearly everyone else I know has stopped doing so. I don't trust my memories, and writing down accounts of vacations or weekends or cultural events immediately after they happen helps preserve the first impression in my mind. Maybe no one else will read it, but I sometimes go back and read them, and it helps me remember things I've forgotten or that my mind has distorted over the years.

It's also why I'm terrible for giving advice. Sure, "Go not to the elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes," but even when I do give an answer I wrap it in as many qualifications as I can based on how ignorant I am of the parties to a situation, the circumstances, whether I was there or not, whether it's ever happened to me before, etc.

I look forward to the perfect robot future, when everything we experience will be perfectly recorded for later access and we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
dorchadas: (Angst)
I've spent most of today with my stomach trying to dissolve its way out of my abominal cavity. Or maybe trying to compress its way out? At least it's not quite as bad as it was earlier this afternoon, when I also had a pounding headache and was sweating in room temperature.

I thought it might be leftover anxiety from LARP, since I spent a lot of yesterday feeling the same. It got a bit better during the actual LARP, since I was able to relax and get into character, and then ramped up a bit when we left and apparently went into overdrive overnight. I woke up feeling bad, then it went to awful, then it went to bad again, now it's just at Emoji Nyoron. I wasn't able to attend Call of Cthulhu today because of it--I would have been utterly useless with the headache even assuming I did manage to make it out there. And then I ended up feeling bad because I hadn't missed a game until this point, had blogged about most of the games, and here I was staying home. And yes, it's because I was sick or the next best thing, but if this were logical it wouldn't be happening at all, would it?

I feel slightly better now--no more headache or sweating, at least--but my stomach is still trying to escape and has been pretty much non-stop all day. I thought that staying home and relaxing would make be feel better? Ha! How can I when I'm thinking about what I'm missing by staying home. Pretty cool no-win scenario my brain has set up for me here, isn't it?

Hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow, and hopefully I won't be saying that tomorrow since it's what I said yesterday.
dorchadas: (Yui Studying)
We've mostly been discussing news articles, but last class my tutor had a different suggestion--reading a novel.

Not the 源氏物語 or anything like that. She said that when she was last in Japan, her roommate gave her a book called 世界の中心で愛を叫ぶ (my translation: "I Shouted Out Love at the Heart of the World"), which google tells me has the English title of Socrates in Love. Google also says that was supposed to be the original title, and it does sound better in English. Anyway, my tutor mentioned that she never read it because it sounded like a bunch of sappy mush, but that it might make a good discussion topic.

I'm a bit apprehensive. Partially because while readying the NHK Easy Japanese articles isn't very hard for me, I've never tried to read a novel before. That and going to the Amazon page for the book, the reviews are...mixed. The one that shows up at the top for me starts with, "この本が、日本で一番売れた書籍、になってしまったことが何だかな," which means "Somehow this book has become the top-selling book in Japan..." Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Especially when it goes on to say, "最後は読むのがつらくなってきてナナメ読み," which could mean either that the book became heartbreaking at the end or that it was painful to read because of the mood it was trying to evoke. Judging by the one-star review, I'm going to assume the latter.

Well, maybe I can practice complaining in Japanese!
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
Yeah, I know that it wouldn't make a difference, because it's pretty unlikely that this is a problem rooted in my stomach. But my stomach has hurt, to a greater or lesser degree, for about two weeks now. Sometimes it hurts more after I eat a meal, sometimes less. Right now, I know it's bothering me because I have Japanese lessons later today, but it was bothering me yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that...

I'm set to talk to someone about it in the new year. We'll see if that helps, though me being me, I think the cost is causing even more trouble than it might end up solving.  photo emot-psyboom.gif
dorchadas: (Nyarlathotep)
I realized I haven't talked about Japanese tutoring in a while, so here's an update!

I had a rather long period in September when a variety of things, like my tutor being unexpectedly out of town, stomach trouble, and Yom Kippur kept me from meeting for a month, but since then I've gotten back into the groove. I mentioned to Aya-sensei in the first class that I could study up on grammar and vocab on my own time, and what I really needed was someone to actually practice all those words and bits I use, so class is mostly just us talking about whatever comes to mind. She's been giving me articles from NHK's Easy Japanese News section, and sometimes we stick to the topic, and sometimes we don't.

For example, last week's article was about a robot that supposedly can read people's moods and provide recommendations about restaurants and so on and we didn't say two words about it. Instead we ended up talking about Shabbat and what [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I do for it--ろうそくを点けて、ワインを飲んで、パンを食べて、祈ります--how long it takes, why Jews go out to Chinese food on Christmas, etc. And I actually really like that we get sent off on tangents so easily, because in a real conversation I'm not going to be able to refer to a script or prepared materials most of the time, I'm going to have to think on my feet, and talking about totally random topics definitely does that.

My stomach still ties up in knots on the way to class every week and I'd rather be hit by a meteor than go, but when I get there it's fine. I mean, that's pretty much the story of my mind, right? Everything is terrible until it happens and things turn out better than expected.

Dodged the headsman

2015-Nov-19, Thursday 11:10
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
The Grim Reaper was stalking our halls, as my father puts it. We had a bit of warning, and it turned out to be almost a year to the day since the last time this happened, but I managed to avoid it and am still gainfully employed. And that after spending some time taking the recommendations of The Antidote into account and meditating on the possibility of being laid off.

Our division wasn't hugely impacted--no one I specifically work with on a daily basis--but almost everyone hit was a manager. Apparently that was deliberate, and it's some kindness I wasn't expecting from American businesses (if that term even applies when I work for a nonprofit). I mean, "kindness" is a relative term here since people still lost their jobs, and it's easy for me to make that declaration from my desk where I listen to podcasts all day and no one talks to me, but the 課長 did say that they were taking the amount of work we have to do into account in not reducing our number too much. Small favors.

From my perspective, the other benefit is now I can plan for the future again. I was stuck between wanting to go into austerity mode--stop buying anything extraneous, don't go out for any food, bread and water diet, etc.--and realizing that I had no news and there's no point in acting like I am already dead. I mostly fell on the latter end, but it was a struggle.

As a present for myself, I bought a horror-themed dice bag to put those new dice thing. Smooth is the hand which makes the world, and steady is the mind which grasps it.
dorchadas: (Default)
I was walking along the bank of a stream when I saw a mother otter with her cubs, a very endearing sight, I'm sure you'll agree. And even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued and dragged onto a half submerged log. As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and I remember to this day the sweet pinkness of its roes as they spilled out, much to the delight of the baby otters, who scrambled over themselves to feed on the delicacy. One of nature's wonders, gentlemen. Mother and children dining upon mother and children. And that is when I first learned about evil. It is built into the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.
Terry Pratchett, Unseen Academicals
As a pessimist and someone who's one step removed from dystheism, I have a bit of a hard time with Yom Kippur. Fortunately, it is written
For transgressions against G-d, the Day of Atonement atones; but for transgressions of one human being against another, the Day of Atonement does not atone until they have made peace with one another.
so despite my opening quote, this is going to be about the latter.

At the beginning of the month, I wrote about being an introvert and how that affects my interest in social events. And that post is true--[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd can tell you that even doing things that I love, among people whom I love, if I don't have enough social battery I'll end up like a rat in a cage, constantly looking for an exit. But you know, a nicely-appointed cage filled with wonderful people.

Perhaps I could have picked a better metaphor.

That's about half of it, though. The other half is anxiety. I've had huge problems with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I taught English in Japan for years, including a year spent teaching in a private school, and I never got used to it. Every single lesson was as nerve-wracking as the very first lesson I taught. And actually, just writing about it now and remembering it made my stomach twist up for a moment.  photo emot-sweatdrop.gif It's part of the reason I have my current job, where I listen to podcasts all day, don't talk to anyone, and can relax.

So where am I going with this on the Day of Atonement? Well, on a whim, I checked out my Facebook memories from a year ago, and there on the page was one that seems pretty topical:
"Maybe I am alone because I am not good."
-Screen quote, Mountain
One of the effects of my anxiety is that I'm always worried that no one actually likes me. Maybe they're just too polite to tell me, or maybe they're resigned to my presence, or maybe they like [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and are willing to put up with me to hang out with her (this one is particularly insidious, since [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd is so fantastic). But in effect, this is assuming the worst of everyone else. For any of that to be true, my friends would have to uniformly be the kind of people that become the villains in young adult books, simultaneously capable of sociopathic emotional masks and extreme cruelty in their black hearts. And that's really not a very flattering thing to believe about one's friends.

So, I ask your forgiveness for thinking the worst of you, even inadvertently. For letting the Hedgehog's Dilemma twist around my thoughts so that I keep you at arms' length, to the point where people assume that I'm anti-contact and ask before giving me a hug (which is not a bad course of action to take! But I love hugs). For withdrawing into myself. For spending so much time worrying that I avoid you at social events or don't go entirely. For not saying anything in any non-structured group larger than maybe two or three. For joking about how I hate people as a cover for the truth, which is that I'm nervous around them.

.תיעתענו ,תעינו ,פשענו ,ניאצנו ,טפלנו שקר ,זדנו ,דברנו דופי ,אשמנו

If you got this far, thank you for reading.
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
Last weekend, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I took a trip to King Spa, which I normally wouldn't bother writing about, but I had kind of an odd reaction to it--I found it really stressful.

I've been once before a few weeks ago, and one of the people we went with mentioned that it was uncharacteristically empty. There were a couple dozen other people there, but about half the tables in the cafeteria were empty and most of the remaining ones had one or two people, the chairs were empty, the sauna rooms had one or two people or were empty, and it was otherwise mostly our playground. In contrast, last weekend there were lines outside some of the sauna rooms and the cafeteria was jam-packed to the point that [ profile] drydem commented that with all the identical spa clothes and people sitting at small tables it felt like being in a prison.

I found it impossible to relax and ended up heading upstairs to the quiet room with the couches to read The Roads to Sata, but even there I was interrupted by the occasional person chatting or one incredibly rude old woman on her cell phone. Despite the interruptions, lying down up there was the best part of the trip, and as soon as I left the upstairs room and went back into the main area I just wanted to leave immediately. I ended up going home even more wound up than I had been when I arrived, and it reminded me a lot of a day working at Suzugamine.

But I'm writing about this because of how odd I found it. I'm not...hmm. I was going to say "I'm not usually bothered by crowds," but that's not entirely true. I'm fine with crowded cities and usually with crowded public events, but I'd had to leave parties before because I found the atmosphere oppressive for no reason relating to the people there. The spa had a bit of that feeling to it as well. Though it might have just been all the people talking. Relaxing, for me, usually means quiet, with maybe some music or a podcast on. The constant low murmur of conversations around me but not too me is exhausting.

Hmm. That's probably it, really. I get unreasonably annoyed when co-workers are talking around my cubicle, or even a row away, and I'm sure anyone reading this knows my feelings about people talking on the L or the bus. And while that's just a personal quirk under most circumstances since I don't go around yelling at people to shut up, it did completely sabotage the spa visit. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd are thinking of trying to go again, but on a weekday for lunch that we both have off but that isn't a holiday, in order to minimize the number of people there. Maybe then I'll actually feel like the visit was restful.
dorchadas: (Default)
It started out with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and making the snap decision to move back to Japan. The beginning glossed over all the preliminaries, like finding a job arranging transit, and so on, and pretty soon we were on a plane and headed back. We landed, made our way to the town where we would be living (which was not Chiyoda, even though parts of it looked like it) and went shopping for some initial supplies. The place we went shopping looked almost exactly like the small stores we stopped at at the foot of the climb to Mount Fuji, with the dark cul-de-sac and the products glowing through the shop windows and the mountains oddly close the shops. Having bought everything we needed, we headed back to our house and settled in.

The house looked nothing like any Japanese house I've ever seen. Now that I think about it, it actually reminds me a lot of my maternal grandmother's house, with overstuffed furniture and lace and dark colors and no tatami or shōji to be seen anywhere. In this most un-Japanese of houses, we unpacked, sat down, and I realized something with a start--I had forgotten to quit my job in America and it was Sunday evening! They'd be expecting me on Monday!

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd tried to comfort me as a panicked about how to quit without being the jerk who suddenly quits right before they're supposed to show up. I worried that I wouldn't be able to find any jobs when I came back to America (something I remember worrying about at the time, too), and trying to figure out how to send them notice. At this point, we remembered that I had been interviewed too, during the shadowy job process that took place in the prelude of the dream, so we went to our luggage and pulled out the letter they had sent us. It was pretty short, and the only field I remember was the prospects one that just said: "Useless. Possibly retail or similar."

On that depressing note, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd suggested I look up Game of Thrones for reasons I cannot remember at all. I mentioned that all I would find would be ways to download and watch it in Japan, and indeed that was pretty much all I found. I looked over at [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, wondering what I should do, and then I woke up.

I also think [ profile] melishus_b was there in the beginning, but she vanished once the panic started.

I expect this is driven by Monday's layoffs, even though I wasn't affected.
dorchadas: (Angst)
I just finished real Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma (and if you have a Goodreads account and aren't friends with me, you should be--I write a full review for every book I read), and it kind of brought something home to me that I didn't put in the review, but I've been thinking about since then.

Just recently, [ profile] softlykarou and I made some edits to the CSA that we get every week. Canceling the corn was mostly because we don't really eat corn anymore, but cancelling the bananas was because I didn't want to contribute to climate change due to having them trucked up from Mexico every week. It's not like bananas grow around here.

Now, I'm not going to say that getting food from far away is wrong, because that's silly. People have been trading for food for as long as there have been enough people to trade long distances. However, I would submit that there's a difference between non-perishable spices carted along the Silk Road and bananas shipped up from Mexico or asparagus flown in from Argentina. At least enough of one in my mind that buying the former isn't so bad but buying the latter is problematic.

The thing I'm running into here is that a desire to eat seasonally butts up hard against deciding to live in Chicago. Basically no food plants come in during the winter, and while traditionally we'd have canned food or have laid down potatos in the root cellar or salted things and so on and lived on them through the winter, we bought a two-people-sized apartment without any room to store such things, even if I knew anything about canning. Which I don't. Maybe [ profile] softlykarou does--do you, dear?

This is, of course, why the globalized food network developed in the first place, because people wanted oranges in December. And, barring moving to farm country, it's basically impossible to avoid this completely. I'm not sure I'd want to, either, because it would mean never going out to eat and eating an extremely restricted diet for months during the winter. But I can at least limit it, and not buying fruit in the winter, or having bananas trucked up from Mexico every week, is a good start.
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
Hopefully, I can keep from ending up like this:
Click for huge )

Well...I'm home.

2011-Aug-01, Monday 22:25
dorchadas: (In America)
Or am I? Do multiple places count as home? I know I had a tendency to use "home" to interchangeably refer to our house in Chiyoda and to Chicago, depending on the exact circumstances of the conversation. Home for different reasons, I guess.

I've had few moments of serious culture shock, but there have been a lot of little things. The way money looks. The trains into and out of Chicago (once every 2 hours? Seriously?). Women's fashion. People having different hair colors. And then, it's hard to tell how much is culture shock and how much is just the standard malaise you get when you move away from a place you've lived a while, leaving your friends and the places you love behind. It hasn't been as difficult to adjust, but the fact that I speak the language fluently here is probably a lot of the reason for that.

Waiting on news on an apartment. If we're turned down, it's back into the city to look again.
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
Try as I might, I cannot hear the n in "Mange" in this song, except in the beginning. Not in the chorus. I'd need more practice to speak Swedish, I suppose.

That video is absolutely hilarious, by the way. It looks like it was made by a bunch of random frat guys. :p

I admit, I'm starting to get worried about coming back to America. Not just about culture shock or employment, but about what's happened in the meantime. It's true I have a lot of friends there, and because [ profile] softlykarou is going to school in Chicago we'll be close to them, but...well, I don't know. Three years is a while. How much have things changed? I don't know. When [ profile] ashiri_chan came to visit, it was like no time had passed, really. If that's a portent of things to come, then that's good, but I won't know until I go home. I guess we'll see. It's a bit hard to tell, because a lot of the people I hung out with most at home are not particularly active on the internets, or at least, not the parts I frequent.

I suppose all I can do is wait and see.

I'm also a bit worried about keeping in touch with the people I met in Japan. This is mostly because I have the lesson of the people I met in Ireland, none of whom I talk to more than infrequently and most of whom I don't talk to at all. Then again, there are a few differences: 1) I was only in Ireland for four months, and 2) We didn't have Facebook then. I've been in Japan for three years, and while I haven't known most of the people I talk to now for that long (and it doesn't help that I'm usually quite introverted), well...again, we'll have to see.

Enough whining.


dorchadas: (Default)

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