Monday, July 25, 2016

starting up again

It's been three months since my last post. I had been feeling pretty down.

I always feel down. But this time it was pretty bad. Get up. Go to work. Do some lessons. Go home. Worry about money. Repeat.

It didn't help that the rainy season came at us in full force. The past few years it seemed like there were two weeks of on and off rain before the break. This year it was like pouring rain or drizzles for at least a month and a half.

In that short time, I discovered a huge amount of mold in my closets, on my shoes, bags, even on a small box and my plastic suitcase!
Most of the people I know here are no help with these kinds of things. They always laugh it off, which then stresses me even more.

I'm pretty sure I'm quite depressed, but I'm not sure what to do.

I know that I can't talk to anyone on an internet forum because most people give really lame, biting advice. Admittedly, I do the same.

No one to talk to? Find some friends.
No friends? Move back to America.

Job problems? Move back to America.
No money? Move back to America.
Issues? Deal.

It's really hard holding in stress and putting on a good face at work. It's hard when you can't go home and talk to someone about your work issues or cultural issues and get a solid answer. 

While I don't know how to get out of my rut, I do know that exercising is what makes me happy. After going out to exercise for the first time in months, I felt so much better. Now that Pokemon GO has be released here, I have another socially acceptable reason to wander around outside...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

No Adults Here

I guess technically I am an "adult," but I don't feel that way. Not only have I never been eager to grow up, I've always been treated in this strange "take responsibility/you can't have responsibility" manner. 

In school, I was younger than most of my classmates. When I approached assignments seriously, I was told I was too serious. When I joked around, I was told that I needed to take things seriously. I honestly felt like I could do no right. This of course crept into group projects. If I tried to take the lead (or was directed to lead a group), I was ignored, talked over and pushed aside.

I guess a lifetime of deferring to others has firmly imprinted itself upon my body, and when I meet new people and need them to follow my directives, they don't trust my decisions.

Since I began tutoring about two and a half years ago, I've really felt how a lack of 'adultness'?, an air of...'adultness'? affects my lessons. 

Parents, I can either be friends with your kid or I can beat the shit out of your kid. I can't force them into speaking English. I can't force them to listen to me. I need your help here. Don't just throw your kids at me. I don't know how to control them. Heck, maybe this has nothing to do with being an adult, but still, I feel like if I had something within myself that made people want to listen to and follow what I say, I'd have an easier time with a lot of things.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Not a Good Weekend

I came home Friday night after teaching my student feeling exhausted. Luckily, my weekend was pretty free, with no lessons and only a kid's birthday party on Sunday. 

Slept in on Saturday and woke up feeling icky. 

Woke up Sunday feeling pretty blah, but after a shower and some breakfast, I felt better and headed to the kid's party. The party wasn't a bunch of kids, just the birthday kid and the kid's family...and me. 
This family has a house that's large by Japanese standards and when I'm invited over, they prepare a lot of food and alcohol is on tap. 

Perhaps it was the yakiniku. Or maybe the drinks. But midway through the event, I headed to the bathroom and barfed out everything. Compared to what I normally drink, I had a lot less this time, but my body was just too tired to care.

I don't think anyone heard me hurling. I really hope that I didn't leave some hidden barf somewhere. 

Had to confess somewhere!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Rage Thoughts 04062016

Today I did a bit of window shopping before going home. I stopped in a store that sells athletic goods, and the staff might have greeted me? I don't know. I wasn't really looking to buy anything and was happy at first that he left me alone.

But as I wandered through the store, it became apparent to me that he was avoiding me. 

I mean...I glanced over to where he was standing and saw him picking at a pimple! His face was practically on the mirror, head tilted back, chin thrust forward.

Sorry to disturb your pimple picking...I'll leave now...

Monday, April 4, 2016

Happy Not to be in Middle School

I really dislike the middle school students I come across.

Yesterday, my hanami plans were cancelled due to the chance of rain. I rarely have a whole weekend to myself, and I'm rarely awake before 1pm on a free weekend. Yet, there I was.
So, I headed downtown to window shop and clear my mind.

At some point I thought that I should eat something. I am the type of person that forgets to eat or drink...or even use the bathroom, and I've gotten into the habit of checking in with myself. "You have a headache, why? Is it because you haven't had anything to drink all day and it's 6pm? Go buy some water."

My check-in told me to eat something, and wanting to get the biggest bang for my yen, I decided on McDonald's.


First, the line was hella long.


Then I noticed that most of the line was foreign tourists or middle school students.

The group of four students directly in front of me decided they were too cool to line up. One girl stood in the middle of the narrow aisle and made no effort to move aside for people. Her thumb was busy flicking through dumb shit on her phone. Literally dumb shit. She wasn't texting anyone. She wasn't looking up information. She was scrolling through the different screens on her phone, turning the screen off then on again.

No. You are not cute.

I debated with myself and decided against saying anything. You can't say anything to anyone under 20 because you'll be called a "ba-ba" or something, as if I really care what 13 year olds think of me?

I take my order and head up to the topmost floor, and ugh, FML, it's filled...FILLED with middle schoolers. 

Middle school mentality:
- throwing your trays into a pile is cool, because people cleaning up your mess is cool
- talking about how ugly someone is is cool, despite being ugly yourself, because...??
(That's right. I called a middle schooler 'ugly' and I'll do it again.)
- wearing revealing clothing is cool...but being 'old' isn't, but you wear clothes and make-up to make yourself look older and what??
- taking up space and acting oblivious to others is cool because your parents and the adults around you allow it because you're in middle school. idiots. 

Did I do this stuff in middle school? 


You know why? Because I had a job and no car. To get to the mall required a huge amount of coordinating bus schedules and homework. Going to the mall with friends was like a once in a lifetime experience since going with friends meant coordinating not only work and bus schedules, but getting permission from parents and arranging rides if someone offered. 

And if I had dared to leave a table messy after a meal or thrown a tray, my mom would have heard about it before I even got home.


Sunday, April 3, 2016


I think I'm the only person that has gained weight since coming to Japan.
It's so frustrating seeing posts and articles written by people boasting about how the pounds melted off soon after they came to Japan.

I started at a lower weight and then gained. So, while I can understand somewhat that someone overweight would lose more weight than me by doing a similar amount of walking, it still pisses me off that I'm gaining weight.

Honestly, I do not think Japan is *that* great for staying in shape. Maybe that's adult life? I don't know. But, I do know that I move less here than I did back home. Thankfully, I love walking and getting out. I would love to get out to the gym more often, but the cost is too high for what I make per month. Advice about weight-loss doesn't help because I don't drink fraps everyday, nor do I eat fried or greasy foods.

Maybe my body is totally rejecting life in Japan. So frustrating.

/ today's rant

Monday, February 29, 2016

Random Thoughts 0229

First, omg! It's a leap year! Four years ago, I don't think I was in a state of mind that would allow me to think about it.

It's uru-u doshi うるう年, in Japanese for anyone who is interested...

Now, for the main reason for this post.

I have a "coworker" who is slowly working my last nerve. She's actually a temp worker and in her 40s, I think. She's kind of chubby, which is not something that should matter, but will as I go on.

I'm just going to make a list. 

Ugh...this sounds so mean. Maybe some of this is revenge for the amount of pestering I did of Chinese friends in middle school to teach me Chinese...

- Touching my ass without permission.
   I not a "touch" person and I'm really not a "pat someone's ass" person...

- Randomly saying stuff to me in English with that dumb, fucking "American" accent.
  It's just random words at random times. Instead of a 'welcome back,' I get a "come back." I am sure it's her way of trying to get to know me, or maybe she wants to be nice, but I feel like there's a line and she's dancing on it.

- Talks about weight; passes out sweets.
   I love sweets and I also know I need to lose weight. That's why I do stuff that doesn't involve talking about my weight and eating sweets. Maybe she's not interested in losing weight. I don't know. I'm interested in what people do to lose weight and I love to hear their tips. At the same time...I don't want to spend a bunch of time talking about weight.

- Suddenly gave me clothing...that was too big...then seemed disappointed when I didn't wear it immediately.
  This kind of feeds in to another issue I have with some women here, which is that they constantly tag me as being larger than I actually am. She wears a large and gave me two sweaters. I tried them on at home and decided to buy an undershirt to wear with them. I mean, one has a large opening at the neck and if I bend over, anyone would get a full view. When I wore a similar sweater soon after receiving hers, she fiddled with mine and seemed sad? pissed? that I wasn't wearing her sweater. So. Much. Pressure.

- Peeking into my lunch bag as soon as I get to work.
  Like. What are you expecting to find? A bag full of dildos? Yes. I've got bananas and mikan in my bag. No, I don't need to "eat more" because I've got two bananas, two mikans, oatmeal, yogurt, cakes, soup and tea. Plus, fruit doesn't hit me as hard as regular food at 1:30, making me want to roll over and sleep. And stop coughing and touching my food!

/ rant

I love exercise

I love exercising. 

Last year I bought 10,000 yen worth of "introductory" tickets (12 in total) to a fitness club that one of my coworkers goes to. I mostly used the tickets to go to zumba.

The two teachers they have are fit as hell and have some great dance moves. My Wednesday zumba teacher at the prefectural gym is nice, but she just can't compare.

With me going back to the States for Xmas and just being busy, I found myself with six unused tickets at the beginning of February that were set to expire at the end of the month. 

Normally, I go home and crash after a full day of work and then an eikaiwa lesson, but I didn't want to waste that precious money, so I forced myself to find the time to use the tickets. The best part about that gym is the new equipment and the treadmills and elliptical machines with TVs! Now, I could watch my favorite programs and get my exercise on!

I also decided to try to stick mostly to fruit and yogurt for lunch. One of my eikaiwa parents gives me a bunch of food and this month I got a shit ton (for me) of mikans. The plus was a pretty painless (for me) period! Exercise plus more fruit?? 
Downside is that I didn't lose any weight.

I don't really have a huge support network here, and I get down a lot, but I feel so much better and more relaxed when I can move and exercise. This month has shown me that I really need to make more time for going to the gym.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fuck You Japan, My Kid Couldn't Get into Preschool!!!

On February 15, an anonymous post to Hatelabo about their kid's failure to get into a preschool set Japan on fire. 

First, some background. Most prefectures in Japan are suffering from a preschool shortage. People who are planning to have a kid will probably put their names on a waiting list as soon as pregnancy is confirmed. 

Unlike the US, where we have large and small daycare centers, baby sitters, live-in nannies, and more; Japanese women typically stay home with their kid(s) until the kid can enter kindergarten or first grade. And, unlike the US, kindergarten is not included in public education. 

Japan has a multi-layered system that I find to be completely confusing. 
Instead of explaining, I will leave some links on Nintei Kodomoen, Hoikuen (daycare) and a very detailed explanation of the difference between youchien (kindergarten) and hoikuen.

Needless to say, it's a very stressful process and some places even have "exams" for the kids. I don't know if the author's kid had an exam, but she(?) did use the word "fail."

So, this is my rough translation of the original Japanese. I will try to add notes and links to sites that might better explain what she is talking about. Link to the original Japanese is my translation of the title.

Fuck You Japan, My Kid Couldn't Get into Preschool!!!*

What the fuck, Japan?!
Isn't this a 100 million-some strong active* society?!
We did a grand job of "failing*" preschool yesterday. 
What the hell, I'm not going to be "active" at all!
You tell me to have a kid, raise the kid, go work at a company, pay my taxes, so what the fuck is the problem, Japan?
Fuck this 'low-birthrate' shit.
No ones having kids 'cuz it's all fine when we birth them, but when we want to put them in preschool it's nearly impossible and you're all LULZ.
Go cheat on your spouse. Take some bribes. I don't care, just increase the number of preschools.
Spending trillions of yen on the fucking Olympics.
No one gives a shit about that emblem, just make some damn preschools!
If you have the money to pay some famous designer, you can build some preschools.
What the fuck am I supposed to do?! I have to quit work over this!
Fuck off, Japan!
If you're not going to build some preschools, give me 200,000 yen for my child allowance.
You're not going to build more preschools and you're only going to pay a few thousand yen for the child allowance, but you retards are going to be all: "We need to do something about the low birthrate," amirite?
If we don't have kids, what's supposed to happen?
There's at least 50,000 fuckers that'll have kids if you pay them, so how's about you either pay up or make all the shit we need for the kids free.
You can come up with the cash by firing at least half of parliament...cheating on their spouses, taking bribes...making fans...
Get your shit together, Japan!

- The title of the original post was 保育園落ちた日本死ね (Hoikuen Ochita Nihon Shine). A direct translation would be more like: (My kid) failed preschool, die Japan. I'm sure others will translate it differently.
- Active: The word used was 活躍 (katsuyaku), which I linked to. I typically see it used to describe someone or something that's a go-getter. Active, positive, getting shit done.
- Fail: Some school have exams for kids, especially somewhat elite schools. Others, due to limited space, have raffles. 

I don't really have a dog in this fight. I'm not going to have kids and I don't plan on living out my days in Japan. What I liked about that post was the realness of it. It appears the author has a twitter account and with so many media outlets reporting on it, some real attention is being focused on the preschool shortage and low wages of preschool staff. It will be interesting to see how this pans out...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

It's Paczki Day, Bitches!

I wouldn't be a true upper-midwestern girl if I passed up this golden opportunity to rave about paczkis.
These Polish jelly donuts are eaten on Fat Tuesday in the midwest, right before Lent. 

New Orleans has Mardi Gras and that weirdly decorated cake with a plastic doll baked into it, and we have these delicious, fattening donuts. 

This Polish American journal gives a great explanation of the food and a recipe. There are obviously no paczki in Japan, and every year I drool over the images online.

I'm not the best person to ask about Lent, but if I remember correctly, Christians...Catholics?  are supposed to use up the last of their "extravagant" (or zeitaku in Japanese) food before Lent. During Lent, they should eat simple meals with only fish as the "meat." Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday and the paczkis are the last gorge on the good stuff before it's stashed away for a month...40 days...?

I see paczkis as nondenominational, and good for all... nom nom nom

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Rolling Through the Cold Days

Well, it's been almost two months since I was last able to access my facebook page. What a pain in the ass.

My contract has been renewed for another year, which is great. I didn't think they'd let me go, but I don't think you can ever really assume anything. And while I am grateful that I can continue to translate at a place with pretty freaking good PTO, 20 days (!), I really know that I need to get my shit together and start figuring out my next steps.

Anyone who translates Japanese into English or, has studied Japanese for some time, knows that the Japanese language loves...LOVES passive sentences with no clear subject.
If I may be so bold as to state that the English language HATES overly passive sentences.

This fight comes up over and over again with me and my coworkers.

The other day when my boss said he's looking forward to working with me another year, he added that I should keep working on my Japanese, try to understand Japan better and work on more "formal" translations. I know that most Japanese people I meet will never give someone outright praise and I also know that this guy loves literal translations, so I didn't really take his words to heart.

But I did inwardly roll my eyes.

Whenever I'm asked to write something that sounds so wrong, I die a little bit inside. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Facebook Update

It's been a month...a MONTH! (31 days) since I last had access to my facebook page.

I was asked for ID on the night of Thursday, December 17. I sent a number of forms of ID, including:
  • Costco Card
  • Business Card
  • Foreigner Registration Card (aka Gaijin Card)
  • State ID (expired since I haven't lived in the US for years)
  • Japanese Insurance Card
  • Old Gaijin Card (the same card I sent in 2007 when my name was changed by facebook staff to First Name, First Initial of Last Name)
Until December 22, I got copy/paste replies from facebook signed with a Japanese name (three different names in total):
  • Tanaka (田中)
  • Ito (伊藤)
  • Watanabe (渡辺)
Click to see larger picture. All information sent matches what is on my account. What's the problem, facebook?!
Each name appeared as above, first in English and then in Japanese in parenthesis. The Japanese names made me assume that whoever was looking at my case was in Japan, so, I started writing replies in Japanese. The copy/paste replies continued in English until they stopped. 

To say that I'm pissed is an understatement. This is fucking bullshit. Each reply was some version of: "We cannot see your ID clearly." However, every. single. picture I took was either taken outside on a sunny day, or inside with sufficient lighting. Unfortunately for me, I was NOT using a fake name. My name in English, which is the name that's been on my page since 2007, is my name. I've even confirmed my account with a phone number and other confirmations in the past with no problem.

My name in Japanese is a combination of my first name and a nickname used by Japanese coworkers. I probably wrote it in some time in 2010. In my reply to the facebook staff, I explained that and said they were free to delete my Japanese name if they so desired. 

No reply.

Some things about my facebook page:

  • My profile is set to the highest settings
  • My profile does not show up in Google search
  • I only friend people I actually know
  • I don't participate in "facebook mining" apps...ones like the "what words have I used most this year?" 
  • I don't allow other sites to access my facebook page and I don't sign in to other sites with my facebook page
Basically, my page is for me and select friends. 

Since losing access to my page, I missed an end-of-the-year party with former Japanese co-workers because they organized everything through facebook. I missed meeting with friends in America when I went home this time because I didn't have their private contact information.

The biggest annoyance has been not having access to my friends. Most people contact each other through facebook and not email. Messages, everything. Living here in Japan alone, this experience made me realize that if I died tomorrow, there was no way that anyone could contact me. The majority of my facebook "friends" are either outside of Japan and have no idea about my daily life. The ones in Japan don't even know where I live, they don't know the names of my family members, they have no way to contact me outside of facebook. 

And that makes me uneasy. 

I have been able to contact some friends through Instagram and LINE, but really...this is bullshit. Fuck this shit. Facebook was way better when you needed a .edu address connected to a few select universities to sign up. Opening facebook to, literally, everyone and their mom, has meant that quality has turned to shit and we have to go through all of this shit because other people are idiots. 


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Happy New Year 2016

This is just a quick post.

I've been back home in the US for about 2 weeks and I'll be heading back to Japan in a few days. My mom and sister have both moved to very inconvenient areas transportation-wise.

Here are some observations:

- There are kairo in America and they are way more expensive than the ones in Japan. One individual kairo here is $1.60 vs five of the same size for 498yen!

- Laundry bags...the cloth ones with a zipper you can put delicate clothing in, are more expensive here, too. I've seen one for $5 at Marshalls, vs one for 108yen at Daiso.

- Prices seem more in line with Japan compared to when I moved to Japan in 2006.

- So many different flavors of Sprite at Wendy's!

- A touch panel drink machine at Wendy's!

- People are not nearly as fat as the internet would have you believe.

- Lots more Asian foods!

More to come later, if I can remember.