Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Doesn't really feel like Christmas

Here's what I did on Christmas Day 2013.

ぐずる <---the a="" alarm="" already="" and="" anyways="" awake="" bar="" be="" bed.="" body="" break="" but="" by="" clock="" cocoon.="" cold="" compounded="" day="" demands="" describes="" did="" do="" feel="" function="" futon="" get="" heat="" i="" in="" invested="" is="" it="" knowing="" knowledge="" less="" more="" much="" my="" nbsp="" of="" on="" or="" other="" out="" p="" phone="" s="" shame="" so="" soon="" taught="" that="" the="" this="" time="" to="" unwillingness="" up.="" up="" ve="" verb="" warming="" was="" when="" winter="" would="">
I knew (or thought I knew) I had skyping to do at 7 a.m. so after spring out of my blanket at 6:45 I assembled some silken tofu, fresh veggies, and microwave brown rice into something like a cross between a casserole and a stew and waited for a phone call or a message requesting a phone call or anything. Instead I turned down a friend's translation request, thinking I was busy, and then moooostly killed time for two hours. No, I did do a bit of work. I did.

But I also talked to a friend about how I (or I guess maybe lots of us) have forgotten how to live with other people. Having roommates means you sacrifice privacy for interaction, but that interaction is something people are supposed to be able to do, I think. We should cook together and eat together and watch old movies and discuss the books we read and co-exist in the same space at least some of the time. Living alone is great, but it's great because it's lazy. I guess that is how I've been feeling lately. I want to cop out and say I require that laziness to do all the rest of the things I do, but I bet I don't really. If I could live with a bf, I could live with a roommate, and we all know I'm proactive when it comes to guys.

Anyhow, then I went to work.

I was in a pretty unfestive mood, to be honest. Some guy was breathing audibly into a mask behind me on the train. So audible I could swear I felt it on the back of my neck. Too biological. I was horrified. If you have a cold so bad you can't breathe to yourself, you really really really really really really (etc.) need to stay home. I thought about how I wanted to stay at home and read the Xmas presents from my dad instead of go input data. I didn't wonder what I would have for lunch so much as mourn the fact that my favorite place is closed for the holidays. (They deserve a break, it's not that…) I got mad at everyone on the planet for all the usual reasons like walking to slow. And I got mad at myself for all the usual reasons like forgetting to bring my book. Who forgets their book?! A true lunch break (as opposed to a solo branch meeting of the Association of People Who Work Their Other Job On Their Lunch Break) without a book to read is actually pretty painful. I mainly resorted to switching between my two Twitter accounts, FB, and email. Yeah, painful. Lunch itself was pretty sad, too. A place that has twice been too busy for me to even get in to proved to have lackluster taco rice. Ho ho hum.

Oh right, it's Christmas. I have to say my boss spread more holiday cheer than I expected (anyone to spread?) Besides the mini tree perched precariously (on what, I haven't ever actually looked…maybe a PC tower?) over our desk island that has gradually sprouted more and more decorations over the month, he passed out holiday Snicker bites and M&Ms today. Someone else had a huge box of mikan, too. Kind of made a haul in terms of snacks.

And in terms of data input, thanks to listener-sponsored public radio. I put WBGO in my headphones and immediately felt 1,000x better about my entire life.

And you can count on them to play the same classic tracks I listened to on jazz NPR as a kid at Christmas. That is what I really want at Christmas, nostalgia, lol. There's no way to get back what you had, but you can get the right feels if the right music plays, or the right cookies show up in a box from your mom (the 29th, says the post office).

So somehow it became 6:00 and a few minutes later I had to decide what to eat for dinner. I tried a curry place I had eyed a while back while wandering the maze near Mita station, but in the end it wasn't really worth the trouble to cross to the other side of Tamachi station. Not bad, but not noteworthy. The combination of ingredients was fun, though: bacon, scrambled egg, cabbage, eggplant, and green pepper.

After that I got a little sweet potato cake. I hadn't gotten suckered into one in a while, and X-mas seems as good a time as any. But it's true, I should be saving up sugar consumption for the 12-type strong battalion of cookies coming my way.

I had thought about where I could go to like…see people or whatever, but in the end I decided that I would rather do what I wanted to do in the morning: read a book. So I came home, did the dishes from breakfast, and read. I meant to go to bed around 10 or 10:30 and was on track until I decided to write a blog post, but I dunno. If I don't write down any of this stuff I won't be able to look back at the posts because there won't be any.

Tonight was really nice because of the most part, I was able to just read and read and read without wondering what was happening on my phone. That must mean I was relaxed. It's a shame to be relaxed all alone like that — certainly it would be more fun with someone else — but I'd like to try to spend more time NOT actively avoiding my phone (because that is just as stressful and fake) but just genuinely not needing to know or care what is going on with it (and the Internet).

Tomorrow I am actually skyping with my family, then working, and finally having dinner with a friend I have never met outside of his returning to Japan for the holidays. We met a year ago. A whole year of knowing someone primarily through Facebook. I must be different now. Maybe he is, too.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

To all the 17 and a half year old girls who feel sad listening to The 1975's "Girls"

They're just boys, breakin' hearts
Lewd stares, don't care, just boys
You know he can't be what you need if he's 33
They're just boys
They're just boys

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sky diving off the O2

I had slipped and if it weren't for free motion flyer ball I managed to clutch for dear life, would have plummeted 50 odd floors, but looking out across the peachy-orange sky, I saw it and all my attention was immediately absorbed, "What IS that?

Alternate Universe Neo-Tokyo, lol. Dream time. Sky Tree was not completed yet, but that's because it wasn't Sky Tree, it was "O2," and it was going to reach into outer space. Or it was supposed to. It was clawing its way. Maybe the project got halted, or maybe they were just going to start letting people sky dive off it on the weekends, but we were going to do the jump (with a guide). It was for work, of course. Someone had to blog about it, though why it had to be me in particular I couldn't fathom.

The tower was by the beach and my friend abandoned her ski cap in the sand, saying it was dirty anyways. I was anxiously watch the sun go down as we walked over (we were going to jump at night?!) but then couldn't even do that because a dark cloud (so evil it had taken on a semi-solid form and was dripping actual filth) moved in to blot out nearly the entire sky. A slim horizon of hellfire marked the ocean.

Heading up, there seemed to be some sort of gorilla infestation, the outer walls just crawling with them, but no one working in the office seemed to mind. Our guide arrived looking like he had just descended a mountain: the backpack, the shoes, tights of a subdued magenta with some busy patterns in black and tan under his sporty black shorts, windbreaker mostly turquoise. Walking with quick steps, he seemed to think I, in particular, would never be fast enough to follow him. We were to turn off the hall lights behind us as we went. Setsuden? I woke up mulling whether I was prepared to die as we were boarding yet another elevator.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Note from the new abroad

Maybe you noticed I quit updating my overseas blog. It's because what used to count for overseas is now flip-flopped. I've been the states for a little over a week now and will head back to Tokyo on the 9th.

I'm not being Tokyo-centric, I'm just being honest. Returning to Japan for me, does actually mean to Tokyo, at least for now.

My goal for the afternoon is to either avoid eating pumpkin pie or being ok with eating more pumpkin pie. I can't decide which.

It seems like since I've gotten to visit relatives and see my brother graduate with his B.A. in computer animation and bake cookies and am on my way tomorrow to live it up in San Francisco for the rest of the week that I have gotten everything done that I felt like doing. What's kind of weird is that I can't really see myself living in any of the places I've been. Even SF has a kind of "been there" kind of feeling, which is strange, considering how much I like it there.

I decided to be ok with eating more pumpkin pie.

Anyways, who knows if Tokyo is the final answer either. Especially if I decide to go for the MA, which WOULD actually land me back in the states, or the UK. Before I do that though I need to find out what "significant preparation in one or more literary traditions" even means.

I finished the third story in きつねのはなし. It seemed to reach the conclusion I thought it would but in a hazier way than I imagined it might.

Other than that, still marching through that Yale Lit Crit class. It's really fun. I wish I weren't doing it alone. I love doing the readings and then being like, "Hm, I hope the prof goes over this concept." Of course, I can't ask questions so it's a little frustrating, but the fact that I can get talked at for 50 minutes about literature whenever I feel like, for free, is pretty nifty.

It's after three. Was writing this blog to put off deciding what to do, I guess I'm kind of out of time to decide. Just gotta do.

Friday, October 18, 2013

When you read other people's 2007s

You start to want to read your own 2007.

(I have read jottings from a couple different important peoples' 2007s lately.)

It's good to blog.

In terms of epochs of my life:

1. The town life of a toddler (before I can really remember what was going on)
2. Tribal existence in a country forest with bicycle (till 6th grade, 1996)
3. 青春 (middle school and high school, graduated 2003)
4. I'm an adult (all boundaries pushed, college before Paris, pre-2005: I started blogging)
5. Paris (lots of things changed, spring 2005)
6. California dreamin' (college after Paris, finished early Dec. 2006)
7. REAL LIFE (after college, pre-Twitter, 2007, 2008, early 2009)
8. Alternate universe (June 2009-Nov 2011, but also the dreamy period after that leading up to...)
9. Yet another realm (Japan, i.e. everything since March 2012)

Here are the most important events that have happened so far:

1. Summer 1985 Born (lol)
2. 1993? Some kids back from a foreign exchange taught us how to count to ten in French and it was the coolest thing in my life up to that point. Even if Paris wasn't as huge as Tokyo in the grand scheme of things, realizing that I cared about learning languages was.
3. Spring 2000 Got up the courage to partner with a guy I liked in my math class on a project which ended up leading me straight to Japanese and also further into the Internet. (Also was my first boyfriend.)
4. Fall 2005 Inspired to start writing freelance. (By my first serious boyfriend.)
5. Fall 2007 Went to Japan for the first time.
6. Summer 2008 Paradigm shift. For better or worse, we cannot say. (Via a guy who later claimed to be my boyfriend.)
7. Summer 2009 Got hired at Twitter.
8. Winter 2012 Bought ペンギン・ハイウェイ based on the cover.

That's only 8 things. I dislike the number 8. I wonder if there are two more important things.

I guess I'd say...
x. Fall 1996 Finally got to play saxophone (5th graders were not allowed for some reason; this is not on the original list because while it was crucial to my high school years, it became irrelevant later on except for the super bitter sweet nostalgic feeling I get whenever I listen to symphonic band music or jazz.)
z. Spring 2012 Moved to Japan (but I pretty much see this as a direct extension of #7 because it would not have been feasible otherwise, and the ball was already rolling at #5. I knew I would get here, even if at the time I had no idea when or how.)

I guess there is plenty of other stuff that happened. I mean, my whole life happened.

My universe is expanding and I have my own cosmic microwave background.
Seems to make sense.

One thing I think about a lot, though, is when I will feel like I'm in "real life" again, and/or how I will know when I am. Which I realize doesn't make sense, but if there is a time that I feel was "real" then wasn't it? And isn't now not? Actually lately I'm getting closer to that feeling, but...something still seems so meta. Maybe it's because I'm living in Japan I have this film of over-awareness that I didn't have in SF? SF was raw and crazy. Japan is still crazy sometimes, but I'm watching myself from somewhere. I wonder if it's really just Japan or if it happened earlier...I wanna climb back into my skin.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

flying update

I have a hard time flipping back into work mode lately. The stuff I am doing in non-work mode is too damn interesting and I'm so alone during much if it that my head spins off in a million directions and I can no longer concentrate even on that much less the project at hand. It's cool, though, I still have time tonight.

Today woke up to an alarm at 6:30.

I had a dream about running around a huge college campus to hand in a term paper.
There was a map like a video game with a glowing dot, but I couldn't navigate the halls properly.
It was a mess.
I haven't had a dream like that in so long.
I can only blame it on the fact that I am desperately wishing I could be an undergrad in a Japanese lit department.


I had granola and soy milk and did some newspaper work.

Then I went to K-town and did some work there.

Lately I have been getting omiyage from people via a representative. The other day I found a box of shark fin-flavored Pretz from Hong Kong on my desk ("from the CEO, for girls only, I got shrimp-flavored") and today I was given a mini snow globe from Germany ("when you have time, you should thank O-san").

Lunch was brown rice doria with chicken and asparagus, but they were really stingy with the asparagus.

That is why after work I went to a place in Akihabara where I knew I could eat a lot of vegetables.

It was like a dream. I sat and drank espresso till it seemed like dinner time, while reading some people talk about novels in this extremely over-my-head kind of way. I really want to learn how people become able to make judgements like that and just go riffing along about things. Or maybe I just wish I could lie on the floor near their feet while they talk, as long as I can hear.

I took the Yamanote line to Mejiro and walked home from there. It got a bit brisk so I was able to wear my Cool New Jacket Which Is Difficult To Zip today. You really have to choose carefully beforehand whether you will wear it zipped or unzipped and if you intend to zip it, you must zip it in the way you would like to zip it before you go before the public. Otherwise, if you fail repeatedly to zip your own jacket you look like an idiot.

I don't actually know why I'm blogging all of the sudden, but...but yes I do, it's because I have work to do. You'd think if I wanted to procrastinate I would go read some more Maupassant, but my frequency of procrastination is tuned so finely that I can't seem to do anything actually productive. The ONLY productive option right now is work and therefore I am left with unproductive options. I could roll around on my futon. That would be perfectly acceptable. I might.

Last night My Favorite K and I ate vegetables and fish and rice and soup (because we both like this kind of food and I'm so glad we have that in common) and walked walked walked around Nakameguro, Daikanyama, Ebisu. All roads there lead to T-Site, at least, I can't seem to go anywhere near Daikanyama without setting foot there, and he looked at cooking magazines. I looked at them over his shoulder, but also at him looking at them (which was more fun, I think).

Tomorrow is Friday. You know what I did last year on that day? Drummed taiko in the Oeshiki festival down the street. It was really fun. This year I was invited once again, but I can't go because I will have a translation to edit (the translation I'm supposed to be creating right now). I think I'm ok with that, but it's a little sad. It also makes me realize how hard it must be to keep up traditions as an adult. Like for your kids even or what not. Culture is hard work! Actually!

Honestly though, I'm losing my mind about literature lately. I need to meet people to talk about books with and more importantly learn how to talk about books. If anyone has some ideas, let me know.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Just before 夜の部

I call it 夜の部 to make it sound more fun, but really it's just more work. I should be excited to accomplish things and do a good job because I had a great day; keep that positive energy flowin' or whatnot, but I feel sort of crunched.

To exist in Japan I have to fit myself into a box called VISA and lately it is feeling pretty cramped. At the same time, my head is going in a zillion directions, so I know it's partly my fault.

Anyways, here's what I did today:

AWOKE. Couldn't remember my dream.

BREAKFAST. Specifically avoided eggs because I knew I was going to have Khao Pad Kra Prao Gai at a place that puts an egg on top for lunch. I had a natto maki and a banana and coffee.

WORK. I had to put some finishing touches on a translation project and then social media for a bit.

LAUNDRY. It had to be done. I did it in my usual extremely non-fussy manner that is part of the reason I have no real fashion.

LUNCH. Met my friend Simon for Thai food. It's always really good to catch up with him.

POETRY x FASHION. I went to an event in Shimokitazawa at a bookstore cum bar where the poet I like read some poems. I didn't know he used to play saxophone. I guess we have that in common. I wonder if he still plays.

THAT DREAM. The fashion part of the event was interesting, too, but its overall form was eclipsed by the fact that one of the photos jogged my memory as to that dream last night. Suddenly on the screen was an image of a women missing half of her right leg, but looking extremely stylish in heels and a great short dress, so that you ignored her disability (? Sorry if I'm butchering pc codes in this paragraph, but I'm just telling you what happened as simply as I know how) completely or perhaps even her prosthesis itself is cool. I wish I had the link, but I don't. Anyhow, I remembered that last night I dreamed I was told one of my legs would have to be amputated. What a weird coincidence. And I really wonder where that dream came from.

SHINJUKU. After buying some books related to translation that I need to somehow find time to read, I maneuvered through the evening Shimokita crowd to the Odakyu line. Felt the need to procrastinate (as I do even now...) so had Freshness Burger while contemplating life, etc. The classic burger seemed highly unadorned besides some vegetables, which was great.

IKEBUKURO. Wouldn't you know it, I took the express. And then wouldn't you know it, I took some exit and ended up who knows where on the other side of the station. I decided that it was fate, and walked home, during which time I thought I would like to tweet, やっぱリュックじゃないとダメだ、私。but had my hands full of my bag, which had gotten too heavy with books and things for me to trust to the shoulder strap.

MINOR GROCERY STORE VISIT. I bought bananas and soy milk. There is some granola I have that has too many raisins in it, but somehow I feel like I should persist in eating it until the bag is gone. Other than the too many raisins, there is nothing wrong with it, I don't think...

WORK. I really want to just read or listen to more Japanese people say more things, but I can't because tomorrow got unexpectedly busy.

Here wait, though, I can think of some more things to say quickly.

I finished the short story chapter in 文学レッスン. Saiichi Maruya (who died last year, I just read on Wikipedia : /) seems to make a lot of comments about this history based on nationality. I don't know if that is common in lit commentary or not, but like at one point he was even saying that maybe the short story initially became so popular in Japan because Japanese people like small things (like bonsai and dolls). Really? And among bourgeois French there would not have been very many novel readers, which is why they were so good at short stories? And Ireland was not yet developed at the time, so short stories were the thing and Ulysses was James Joyce trying to escape the short story? Is that true? I'm kind of taking all of it with a grain of salt. I guess I want to see what other people have to say about short stories. And read A LOT.

But I'm also trying to figure out ways to get what I've been reading to stick with me more, which is why I'm going to try maybe blogging more. I don't really expect what I'll say to be that interesting, but I just want to be able to reference it later.

Between stories in きつねのはなし I've been injecting some Maupassant. "Boule de Suif" was pretty great. It's a super interesting predicament, but wow, humans are evil, huh. I just can't imagine being that cruel to someone, especially after they've fed you. War, food, sex. This story is really in the thick of it.

While reading "Miss Harriet" most of what I thought was how tsundere the titular character was and how over the top it was that she died at the end.

"Francesca and Carlotta Rondoli" is another where it's just like "Really man, really?" But I really like these windows into the heads of guys who do stuff like leaving girls waiting for them, etc.

That reminds me, in the titular story in きつねのはなし the narrator Mutou lies so much. Not only to the creepy Amagi, but also to his gf and Natsume. I kept wishing he wouldn't. It didn't seem to help him that much anyways...

Now I'm running pretty late to 夜の部 but...maybe I'll be able to look back at this entry and remember what today was like. When I look at entries from back in 08 or whatnot, I sometimes can't even remember I spent a day like that. Reading entires like that is a really weird feeling, but I won't have it to savor unless I write something like this now and then.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Little Roommate

Had a dream where I don't remember what language was being spoken, but in which it was revealed that I had had a tiny roommate all along. That said, my room was also different, although I think I was still in Japan. Actually the room itself seemed a little confused, changing shape depending on the scene. There was one that was kind of door shaped with the kitchen on the left and the doorway on the right, a big window cradled in the living area at the "base." Another one was super shoeboxy, didn't even have a kitchen, or a bathroom. Or anything, really except a bed. Everything in that one was kind of a dirty yellow tan color, and I couldn't figure out if it was a product of the light or just bad design.

A bout of dancing in front of the mirror or whatever girls do in their room's when there's is no one around  (I think it was tongue-in-cheek strip tease prompted by the fact that the jeans I had tried to put on were so worn out I might as well not have been wearing any) had just at that exact second finished, so could properly feign doing "nothing" (albeit poorly dressed) when the guy (full-sized) walked out of my kitchen.

"[uncontrollable yelp of fear and surprise] Where did you come from?" (I was soooo not just dancing around in my near underwear.)

"Over there... I live here."


"I live here, in that pan."

"No! No, you don't! And what do you mean "in that pan!" That's my pan!"

"But you never cook, and indefinitely turned over to 'dry' like that on the rack, it makes kind of a nice...tent..."

"Don't change the subject!"

"I have to go or I'll be late for class."

"You're a student? I have a student freeloading under a pan in my kitchen?!"

"No, I'm an elementary school teacher."

Now this was too much. And he had to leave anyhow. It did actually dawn on me that it made no sense that a full-sized guy could live under a pan, but the only possible explanation was that he shrunk himself down when he arrived home, so as to not be a burden on me, and I accepted that immediately. Regardless, he was now a burden on me and the flood of all the previously-normal-but-now-extremely-embarrassing things that had occurred over the months since I had moved into that apartment momentarily crushed me.

But maybe it wouldn't be so bad to have a roommate. The only thing was that at this point our relationship was unequal, since he knew probably more than he ever wanted to know about me and I knew nothing about him.

The next day I came home (to room v.2 for some reason, the yellowy one) and there were a couple elementary schooler's notebooks on my desk, as well as a box of cherries labeled "cherries," but also "must not become contaminated." It seemed he had given up hiding himself now that he'd been discovered.


Actually there was a lot of other stuff that happened that I can't remember, but yeah, I dreamed a tiny elementary school teacher who could also be normal human-sized lived in my room. What the hell, lol.

For the record, you could not hide under my pan cuz I DO scramble breakfast if nothing else.

Oct. 8, 2013 in Five Minutes

Woke up late because I stayed up till 2 a.m. worrying too much about things I don't have to worry about. Late is 7:24.

I decided that was late enough to be lazy about breakfast, though I regret going to the cafe down the street. I should stay home in the morning, but I just wanted to leave my apt.

I read some lit stuff 'n then some きつねのはなし. Trying to take "good notes" but they aren't that good, they are just notes. I want to think more about what I'm reading instead of random nonsense. Why did Mutou lie to his gf about his heater? That bothered me.

Today was a JT day so I did JT things and then ate lunch. I did something novel and put half of the main dish in a box to take home because the cafe I go to is chill like that. A guy chatted to me about whether I am a student and if I can write kanji. He does triathlons and sometimes has meetings for work  near where this cafe is and studies English.

The afternoon was sort of a blur of JT things, but then it ended and I ate risotto with shrimp, kabocha, and broccoli that I am kind of addicted to. I don't know how many calories it is but it feels balanced because of the amount of vegetables. There is also porchetta or something in it, but I don't eat all of it.

I guess my five minutes are up, but I have some work to do anyways, so I guess it's good timing...


Things I'm Reading (10/6/2013)

Here are the things I'm reading outside of stuff I do at/for work:

きつねのはなし (I missed him so much even though he was there all along)

文学のレッスン (because someone said it's "easy-to-understand")

裸でベランダ/ウサギと女たち (which is kind of lonely because I'm used to aurally mainlining his poems)

The readings from this Introduction to Theory of Literature that I can scrounge up.

Back issues of

I'm considering getting a Kindle so I don't have to think anymore about how to acquire books in English. The back of 文学のレッスン has a reading list that I'd like to pick my way through, but I'm certainly not going to read Japanese translations of everything.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

October 5th, 2013 in Five Minutes

Woke up around 7:23 or so without my alarm, which was set for 8. Fried two eggs in olive oil, ate them with two slices of a round loaf from the neighborhood bakery and half a grapefruit and a cup of instant 7-Eleven coffee. Worked on some translation. Worked on my day job. Ran out the door because I was attending an orientation at the Museum of Modern Japanese Literature. On the way I ate lunch from this bakery in a savage fashion in the street, but it couldn't be helped. Not only did I have a pizza like thing, I had a rhubarb tart. RHUBARB. It was a good day just for that.

The event was good. I was very quiet. We saw original (real) manuscripts (that should not be even exposed to the light) by Natsume Soseki etc. You should not wear gloves (plastic ones?) because they catch on the paper and might rip it. Clean, dry hands are best. I'd like to attend more events at the museum but it seems like it will be a long time before I need to use their archive for something. I am level 0 lit nerd. I had a really unique lemon parfait with tea at the cafe there before I left.

On the way home I bought a salady thing. Then when I got home I worked more on both jobs. And then I read a ton of stuff about lit theory.

Oh I also finished reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao today.

All of these things combined to make me want to blog. I guess.

Wow, the timer went off with this incredibly obnoxious and unexpected noise.


Lately it seems like I'm super preoccupied with this notion that I must ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE, as quickly as possible because I've FALLEN BEHIND. I need to go BACK TO BASICS and recover things, but also THINK CRITICALLY, something I'm always convinced I never learned how to do.

I've been trying to figure out what it's all for, though. Like, if I read some popular science writing and hear some interesting factoids that is great — even if I don't remember it, it's great — but if I stack up enough of this do I get something? Do I actually get "smarter"? Does it matter? How about literature? Is reading books enough? How "close" should I read them? Should I study literature? I bet the more of those things I do the more "intelligent" I get. But what does THAT get me?

I guess one thing it gets me is another type of particle to add the busyness haze polluting my life (or is the haze the life? That is never clear. Well, it's haze, how can we expect it to be...) Conveniently, if I am busy, i.e. if I procrastinate by reading and studying and learning when I'm not working, I can put things like being a responsible adult on the back-burner. Clean my bathroom? Sure, I did that once this year. Cook? I fry my own eggs most of the time, thank you very much. A mention of the post office or the bank may inspire acute anxiety and guilt#, but at least I can take notes on this essay and refer to them later, and pretend that it somehow applies to something that will get me somewhere.

To where?

I keep trying to think of that, too. I guess in some way I'm on some kind of husband + baby trajectory but it's taken this insane arc and I can't tell what point I'm at along it. It could actually be the case that I've fallen off and I can't decide if that should be worrisome. It seems like it should because I ostensibly want to do that family kind of thing, but then I wonder how that fits in with workahol and this study bent. Or maybe it's just a way to run away from all that (a theory which I've heard someone has put forth in book form, but I don't know who or in what book), but you can't run away from the family thing, and again, what does that get you?

I guess I have some existential angst lately.

It seems to be because...things are going well, but I seem to want something from someone although I can't tell what it is. Like is it really the family thing? Do I just need to march up to someone and be like, 'Hey, let's get married and do that baby thing." I don't really think that would solve anything. To echo: "Does it matter? Where does THAT get me?"

At that point, it's like, why am I trying so hard at any of this? I seem to get happy now and then. It does seem related to satisfying work and satisfying study and the appreciation of art and good company etc. But it never seems so CAUGHT UP IN IT like I am all the time. The happiness I felt this morning came on without warning and lasted for a while and then dissolved into random anxieties## I was actually working at the time. Things were proceeding smoothly (it's similar to when I say "やった" to my partner on Skype out of genuine enthusiasm for successful problem solving) and so that must have made me happy? It seemed more than that, and also more random. Fluffier, somehow, and indistinct. Sunny, wanting to share so badly. The truest happiness makes me feel alone###

Oh that's another thing, though. Maybe getting "smart" is, in addition to distracting me from the perils of society (like the bank), it's making being alone ok, because hey, at least I'm "smart." It's somehow noble to be alone and smart. Maybe you'll write a really interesting, original, introspective blog post or something. (*cough* not)

I've been writing some blog posts actually, but just not posting them#### There are all these discussions I want to have, but I don't know who with, or when I imagine I have time to, or whether they would really transpire as I intend, or if it's even fair to intend a conversation to transpire a certain way, be honest, they aren't that well thought out and I'm just kind of getting caught up writing this sentence. I guess I just feel like people must be thinking things out there and I would like to hear about them. "ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE," says my head, after all. "There must be someone who can lead you to it. And you'll drink of course, without being made to. Whether you'll stay hydrated or not is another matter entirely, but..."

I have to move next year and I keep toying with the idea of some kind of shared living space, like having roommates only with more direction and intention, but that seems almost as intense as having a family, and about as lacking in privacy, too, so why not just hold out for the romance? ("Which is NOT to say that...I hold out," she pants, chasing steadily after the current and always hopefully last favorite.)

"But yes, while you're waiting, definitely acquire some knowledge."

#I'm on it, I really am.

##some anxiety regarding BEING ON TIME and EATING LIKE A WILD ANIMAL on the side of the road because I was IN A HURRY. Then I had to present myself as thoughtful, but I presented myself as so thoughtful that I said nothing the entire time even though I was surrounded by people who might have ended up great friends (seeing as we were all in a museum of literature to look at old manuscripts).

###Which always seems to link back to the family thing.

####For better or worse, I'm actually posting this one.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

First completed attempt at literary translation (process notes, etc.)

This is not going to be very professional or super high quality because I'm procrastinating on some work at the moment, but I wanted to try to get some notes down on the process I used to complete (and what I mean by "complete" is "work on up to the deadline and submit") my first literary translation. Outside of picture books. Outside of a project for a class I took (that did not have this level of polish, whatever "this level of polish" is).

No, I'm not posting it here. The translation was submitted to Asymptote Journal's Close Approximations contest. A partner and I did the opening of my favorite author's debut novel, with his permission (which in and of itself is a bit dreamlike). Anyways, here are notes:

On the process

*First, I had already read the book, and so had my partner, so we just needed to pick a good excerpt. We decided on the beginning because it had a compelling any good novel should, I suppose.

*Then I copied the selection by hand and did some color-coding underlining. The categories were based on the Defining Writing Style class from Intralingo, but a little loosely. I seemed to find that rather than going through everything we did in class, it was more useful to mark stuff I thought I needed to pay attention to, places where I needed to ask my partner about the nuance, stuff I needed to look up (in the sense of English spellings of real places or what not, not the meanings of words...)

*One day I tweeted something like, "Translation is a lot of things and one of those is looking up words you already know." Of course you look up the words you are less familiar with, but looking up words you understand to remind yourself of your options is pretty important, at seems important. Maybe it only seems important when you are inexperienced and not well-read enough and generally a poser. (Ahem.)

*I highlighted stuff in yellow that I thought kind of sucked or I wasn't sure I wanted to be in the final.

*Once the first draft (typed on a computer; I don't translate by hand) was done I asked my partner about the spots I underlined to ask him about. I fixed those things and then sent him the 1.1 draft to go over. This meant I got a total break from the text.

*Then we went over his fixes. There were not as many back-and-forth emails as I had expected.

*Then after that I looked at the text as a whole again because I hadn't in a while. There was some stuff I could improve.

*Had a native speaker look over it. I made a "beta" version of the next stripped of my notes and highlights. While he looked at it I took another complete break.

*I took my native checker's notes and fixed those.

*Then there was a period of really random editing. Maybe I was feeling discouraged or burned out, but I didn't want to do a serious pass, but I felt I should be working on it, so I would just kind of scroll around and see what caught my eye. Like some of those yellow highlights that remained. This was actually very productive and recommended. I mean I can't recommend it as a substitution for thoroughly front to back editing, but if you know you need to work on it but can't bring yourself to do "serious" work, it's surprising how much you can get done by just messing around with it.

*I had to type up the Japanese text to submit with the translation, but this was helpful because it got my head back into the Japanese. While I was going I would notice things and scroll up to compare to the English and think, "Oh, this would be better!" so it was pretty good to have to do that.

*In order to ensure the accuracy of the Japanese text I had my parter read from the typed up version aloud while I looked at the book. This was exactly as effective as I thought it would be.

*Then I had him read again, only from the book, and I looked at the English. I wanted to do this because while I had been typing up the Japanese I found at least one place where I had jumped a line, which is horrible. It's a nightmare! A missing line! So yeah, if there were any more I wanted to catch them. What I ended up catching more of, though, were tiny little things all sorts of tiny little things, mainly places where I felt maybe I should follow the Japanese a little more closely.

On working with a partner

I knew I couldn't do this alone. It may still have been too early even with a partner. It's frustrating to think that, but in the end I decided how do you know when you're "ready"? If I wait my whole life I will never translate anything. I will never be "good enough." Who is? If you feel "good enough," you are probably an accident waiting to happen [is what I sometimes say to myself, but it seems kind of mean so I wouldn't ever actually say it]. Honestly, I might be an accident waiting to happen.

Anyhow, I needed a partner and I found one. We met on Twitter because I was following tweets in real time from a book signing the author was having in Tokyo that I could not attend. When we met I hadn't really decided whether I would invite him to work with me or not, but his background as a lit student and his love for the author were clearly assets and we seemed to hit it off, so I broached the topic right away and he gleefully accepted.

More than a partner, I guess you could call him a native Japanese consultant. I'm not saying this is a bad thing (certainly he was incredibly helpful, and even caught a reference to an American novel that I didn't see), but just I'm not sure if you can say we were collaborators on the translation, if that makes sense. He would ask me things if he thought the English seemed too far from the Japanese, but his English was not enough to offer much beyond that (which he emphasized often). So...I don't know how other people collaborate but this felt very one-sided. Again, not in a bad or good way, just in that's how it was. I translated and asked him for help, basically.

It was interesting reading in this interview how David Mitchell worked with his wife on his first translation.

On accomplishment 

Today I submitted the document and paid the $10 entry fee, so that means it's "done" in some sense. After a while it almost started to feel like this novel was actually a short story that ended in a cliff hanger for some reason. We were so focused on these first bunch of pages that they positively loom over the rest of the story in my mind now.

In that same interview I just linked to, David Mitchell said, "As a writer I can be bad, but I can't be wrong. A translator can be good, but can never be right." This is something I'm painfully aware of at all times. What is right? It's just...not. It doesn't exist. And honestly I have no idea how to know if I am "good." I feel like I don't know the rules. I feel like I'm not even sure if there are rules.

People say (and I have been told) that as long as you can be edited relatively painlessly you are "good." Or maybe it was "good enough," I can't remember. I've never really been a "good enough" kind of person, much more of an "endless self-doubt/hatred" kind of person. I don't want to be "good enough," I want to be amazing, precisely because this is not about me at all, but about the author's work coming to you through me.

Translation is probably the closest I get to being spiritual because you basically feel like you have to purge yourself and be as empty as possible. "Sterile" is not really the right word, because you have to be creative and overflowing with a sense of style, but you have to be a clean conduit from source language to target language.

It's really hard! You can't say something because it sounds cool, you have to have a reason.

Anyways, this is going to end abruptly and has not been in essay form and is not edited, but I just wanted to splatter some thoughts here quick before I forget how this has felt. It has definitely felt different than anything I've experienced so far.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Waiting at home

Earlier I was waiting for a package and then it arrived. Now I'm waiting for an email, but it has not. I snuck out briefly to acquire pie. Usually if you


I found this saved draft. Vaguely amusing. Must have meant to continue it later that day.

I think it's starting to rain

Someone I know posted a video of their infant child having a dream about breast-feeding, air-suckling so cutely. I think everyone can relate to that.

Today I cooked a version of breakfast scramble using a type of tofu that is way softer than even soft tofu. I don't think it's really mean to be scrambled at all, but I was unconcerned by the wateriness. Later I had a 'roll' (I guess? You don't really say "a bread" in English...) with figs and nuts and cream cheese in it. Sort of wish I could have one of those every morning. Felt healthy, somehow, even tho the cheese was rich and there some of those big show-off crystals of sugar on top. Uhhh.

Watched the first five minutes of a movie I watched basically "on repeat" when I was a kid, except that terminology did not exist yet that I know of. Didn't feel particularly inspired to watch the rest. Alone. On YouTube.

Lately I feel like giving up love and children and having a real household (or whatever) in the name (Actually it's a more specific name than that.) I feel like I might be able to do it. Maybe there really is no deeper passion than what I feel right now.

Earlier I ate some extremely salty rice crackers. This was 2 hours ago actually, but my body is still reacting to the salt. It would be ideal to eat a dinner with a miniscule amount of salt, but that seems unlikely given I'm not going to cook one.

Pretty sure I decided I was going to try to finish the novel I'm reading tonight, so I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing typing mundane things into Blogger. I just wanted to see if I could manage to line up words on a page, I guess.

I thought about an idea for a short story, but I'm not sure what the point of writing it would be. That must mean it's not a great story idea? Haha, if it were better, I'm sure I would feel compelled. Surely. Then again I felt strangely compelled to write all this nonsense and it amounts to nothing more than...

May 16th, 2013.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I wrote a different post earlier

but then didn't post it. We'll see. Here is something:

Today was Sunday. I recall sneezing at around 3:29 AM. It was upsetting at the time, but then I fell back asleep and dreamed about wearing my ski cap cuz I hadn't taken a shower. I woke up to my alarm at six and, without showering, proceeded to McDonald's where I occasionally scarf Egg McMuffin's somewhat guiltily. I know I could just make my own better ones, I know.

It was still entirely too early, really. I was on my way to tai chi entirely too early. This trend continued even in the train as I read further than today's Required Reading. And when we reached Takao station, it was still, in fact, too early, so I drank too much coffee while reading more. After that I stood near a driveway waiting for my friend to pick me up. I know her car is blue but today she had to honk at me. I forget what I was doing that I wasn't looking. Maybe reading my phone.

We talked about cherry blossoms, but I found it difficult to keep the conversation moving.

(I just paused to eat a handful of tiny dried fish.)

Tai chi was good today. I missed last week due being depressed and fiddling with my iPhone and missing my train stop. We practiced standing still. Our teacher says 力を抜いて and we're supposed to imagine our posture as following from the way we are hung by an invisible string connected to the top of our heads leading to somewhere probably way higher than the ceiling. He said if we can do this for 20 minutes at a time without feeling sore somewhere or like we are falling over or any other abnormalities then...I dunno, I guess we are in good shape. He said really you should aim for 30 minutes. Maybe I'll practice... That is easy enough to do in my room. I will say that doing tai chi after you have practiced standing still is an entirely different experience—actually kind of thrilling, if you can imagine that.

I introduced my friend/English student to the textbook I chose for her. She thinks it is too hard. Textbooks are meant to be studied so it's better if you don't actually know the stuff that is in it beforehand. We're going to have a chat about the weather, but unfortunately it's going to be in three weeks because next week there is no tai chi and the next week I will be in Shikoku for the first time ever.

I walked home from a station farther from where I live than it is necessary for me to stop, admiring the cherry blossoms. At one point three ladies were gesticulating energetically in my direction, but beyond me. It felt weird all the same, so I moved over on the sidewalk.

I continued planning the project that is occupying most of my attention. I'm glad it's there to occupy it cuz it makes all my boyfriend haps, mishaps, and (mostly) lacking easier to relegate to some quieter mental realm where they can graze freely on less shepherded pastures.

Originally I had planned to go to Yurakucho to eat kaitenzushi but then I was worried the place I had in mind might not be open and was too lazy to check, so I just walked down the street and entered the first restaurant serving raw fish. It was pretty good. I'll go back. Apparently they make their own sesame tofu.

I consulted the Facebook of a bar I sometimes go to. I want to say "attend." I feel like you "attend" a bar. If there were roll call, I would learn people's names faster. It's so late for that now. I decided that although they were not open, I would play a game where I would walk over there and see if there were open by the time I arrived. They were not. I refreshed FB furiously all the way home to no avail.

Of course they opened like 6.5 paragraphs ago. I will go because I need to recover something of sentimental value. And because I feel like the reason I skipped the sesame tofu was to drink a glass of water with bourbon in it.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

January 3, 2012 in 5 minutes


Today I woke up ready to study kanji and realized I left it at my friend's house the other day. So instead the day ended up being a mix of Botchan and time wasting. Wish I could just understand that book, then I wouldn't have to waste so much time [dreading the dictionary]. But I'm pretty much running out of time altogether. Only 3 more days before I go back to school...

In the evening I went out with a friend to a vegetable restaurant neither of us had ever been to. I guess they serve some meat and things too; it's not vegetarian or vegan by any means, but just the veggies are super fresh and the variety is impressive. The salad bar had two types of tomatoes, the sweetest carrots I've ever eaten, at least two kinds of daikon, etc. Aside from that we had fried lotus root with melty mozzarella sandwiched in between and kabocha squash with curry gratin on top. That sounds really heavy and gross probably, but it was not. For desert, lemon tart.

And I'm past five minutes...

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

2012 in 5 minutes


In January and February I was doing a lot of anime/manga/videogame news blogging and some reviews and things. I was doing a lot a lot of that because I had already quit my job at Twitter. I was basically just chillin' in my studio in SF until moving to Japan.

A co-worker came to visit and we had some really productive working hours followed by really productive (in terms of relaxation and fun) leisure hours. I don't remember what month that was. I guess maybe Feburary?

My mom and her husband came to visit which meant I got to take them to my favorite restaurant before leaving. They also helped me pack up the rest of my apt that the Task Rabbit I hired didn't already help me pack up.

In the end, I moved to a hotel for the last night and then I was gone.

I reappeared, though, in Tokyo. There is some stuff about it on my other blog, but I was in school from April through July. Turned 27, then had summer vacation, which was less productive than hoped but I dunno, I worked on a farm for a week, volunteered as an interpreter at TGS,

*five minutes goes by really fast*

It was mostly school. And strange social relationships. 2012. It was probably the best number of year that I will live, because I like 12. It ended. I'm still in school and being social is still sometimes rather strange.

2013 so far in 5 minutes


The first maybe 20 minutes or so of New Year's this year were spent in some rowdy gross pub in Shinjuku. The guy I had just met that night for the first time (we ate soba) and I ducked in there because we were in danger of ringing in the New Year on the street and that seemed somehow inadequate, I guess. Really it would have been fine. Anything would have been fine at that point. I had abandoned fineness.

On the 1st I did some laundry, like my sheets. There are some mold spots on my futon but they did not come off when I brushed them with a dish soap-laced toothbrush, so I gave up and just put the clean sheets over it. I also did some homework, like sending a New Year's card to my classic lit prof. Oh, and I cooked for the first time in a really long time. I made spicy nabe with pork and tofu, lots of veggies.

On the 2nd I studied in the morning ("studied?") I am reading Botchan but I have gotten to a point where it's sort of tricky and it's hard to feel like I want to keep reading. I know that if I read more I will have to look up more words in the dictionary, which is a soulless exercise. And then I don't remember the words anyhow. I have learned some words, though, like 親譲り and 無鉄砲 and 無闇.

In the afternoon of the 2nd I went to a New Year's party at a friend's house. Actually, they are more like my Japanese family. We ate a huge spread of traditional Japanese New Year's food and then they made nabe with fish and stuff in it that we dipped in ponzu. Everything was super delicious. We drank a lot. I met some new people and some of them were single. That fact was is always pointed out kind of dramatically because they know I'm single too.

Oops, 6 minutes.