Saturday, September 27, 2014

From the Plaza

Working on this trip has been harder than I thought it would be. Before when I was an anime news hound it was easier because I always did all my work on my laptop, anytime, anywhere and I had a friend who was also doing it and we were both always online so we could help each other out, get each other pumped, whine and cheer, etc.

For the job that I spend the most time on now, my main computer is a desktop at an office. Granted it's not as if I didn't prep the files I would need, but even more than the computer itself is just the setting of having my partner on this project right there next to me if I need to ask him anything. It was so easy to sync on stuff, but while I am in the states we are 14 hours apart and it takes a lot of organization and concentration to keep everything going under the circumstances of me already being distracted by the U.S. and feeling stir crazy about being in my mom's house (or wanting to get out of my hotel room and enjoy my limited time in the city even though I'm not technically on vacation; yesterday I did get out of the hotel, but after lunch I spent four hours in a co-working lounge uploading files.)

I'm gonna have to have a serious day on Monday, I think, to really sift through my inbox because I have the feeling I've been a little scattered, which is frustrating. Mostly because I don't want other people to feel frustrated with me; I want everything to move smoothly no matter where I am because in 2014, it should be able to, lol.


What else can I say? It's been great being in Milwaukee. When I was in college I thought I got around but it was 10-11 years ago, so there was a limit to how around I could even really get. This time I got to sample some local beers, which is something I wouldn't even have really been that interested in before. I barely drank beer at all before I went to Japan. Met up with some people I used to know and will maybe know again...

10 more days. This trip is about half over. I'm not ungrateful, but the center of my life is over there on the moon. I need to set some work goals. I really only have a week during which I can work. Been cranking out draft words for a personal translation project, but that should really come after I get my work done. I think the big issue is not having my set up. The monitor and mouse make a big difference when you are looking at tons of files. Having to push them around the screen and zoom in and out makes it pretty tedious. It's okay, though. I'll have a meeting with myself and sort it out. Things are not bad…

And finally, here is a "Like c'mon" for ya.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

[Tale of the Heike] is hard

Man, I really want to like this, or even be able to tell you what is happening, but there are just so many names flying around and it's hard to care. Maybe it actually is hard to care. Is there a Dunbar number of literary characters in a single work? That said, I can't imagine that I really have or could have stable social relationships with 150 people so maybe I am social inept. In that case, maybe it's hard for me to keep tabs on characters in books, too. I could take copious notes and write summaries and spend lots of time on this, but maybe now is just not the time. I think I'm gonna abandon it for now. Seems like saving forced reading with lots of effort for situations like the book club (not that I expect the book club books to always be slogs; the first one certainly wasn't) where I know I will have a chance to at least discuss it with people. Even if I hack my way through it I don't think the way it is will do me much good. It's too bad because embedded in the book are some interesting ideas and quotes, but the book itself is kinda killing me, haha. Like the Bible, basically, which incidentally, I also haven't read much of. That said, though, if I ever wanted to study the Bible all I'd have to do is go to Church. (Just tweeted.)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Recent flix with spoilers

The Other Woman

I watched this on the plane. Basically I was interested in the scenario because when I was casually dating a guy I used to think it would be fun to meet all his other casual dates and bond. This movie is different because it real cheating, but they sure bonded, just like you'd expect rich girly girls to bond, I guess? I don't really get girls. Anyways, I thought it was fine until they started pulling all the immature and offensive pranks. Like hormones? They fed him hormones? Nevermind how they got them, it goes past immature to just wrong. So I dunno. Overall I think it was a stupid movie, but it's interesting to watch stupid movies now and then to see what kind of movies are being made,  I think. That is the other reason I chose this.

The Fault In Our Stars

This one was also available on the plane, but I specifically avoided it because it's about two teenagers with cancer who falls in love. I didn't really feel like getting sad. But I was fated to because my mom has apparently been waiting for it to come out. (I'm gonna make them watch Arsnenic and Lace tomorrow night.) Anyhow, it was a good movie. I really did enjoy it but it was just as sad as I expected. Also awkward because the two feelings I felt were:

1) Man, I really am grateful to be mostly healthy. I have my issues and am super aware that we are all terminal, but I am lucky I don't have to live on the edge like that and go through so much.

2) I am so jealous of that loooooove, mannnnn. That's where it gets awkward right? You can be jealous of dying people as long as they are in epic love. There is romantic stuff in the world, even stuff like in the movies, and it doesn't even have to be super mushy, but it just hasn't happened to me lately. I also totally agree with the idea in the movie about little infinities. Makes me kind of want to read the book, but I guess I will read the other books by the author. I'm armed with my Kindle, so…

Oh yeah, and I'm in Wisconsin for a couple WEEKS. Since I'm not in the office anytime I'm not answering email or doing work I can just screw off, so hope to read a lot. I did bring plenty of books, but I've been meaning to read some YA in English since I want to learn the kind of stuff anything YA I'd hope to translate would be up against.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The worst teeth nightmare I ever had

...was last night. I hope I don't get it again tonight.

Basically it was utter panic. Lots of sobbing. I've had dreams where all my teeth were crumbling or rotting and falling out, etc. but this time there was so much blood! I want to say I was crying and "spitting out" blood and teeth, but it wasn't even spitting: I didn't want to move my lips against my gums because it felt so gross and I was freaking out, so I would blow kind of like "fuu fuu" to "spit." It was awful. Blood and teeth in my hand.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

I'm taking a break until 4 p.m. so I'm going to tell you about Breakfast at Tiffany's.

I think I read the book like ten years ago, but I didn't really remember it. Random notes on the movie:

Instantaneous impressions were of Audrey Hepburn's cuteness and George Peppard's too-perfect manliness. (For real, though, hand that over.)

I remember thinking at one point, "What if you really did get a chorus of people 'loo-loo'ing every time you walked down the street in NYC?"

The "I love you — you belong to me!" exchange is so bizarre! The idea of owning someone comes up a couple times, but I can't imagine being able to say that. And if a guy said that to me I think I would burst out laughing.

The less said about Mickey Rooney the better. Everyone knows it's there; I just ignored it.

I want to watch more movies D:

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Middle of a three-dayer

Cars going by outside.

This afternoon I got a haircut and then ate dried fruit cheesecake. After that I came home and putzed with a personal translation project for a while. Had some toast, nuts, and half an apple for dinner and popped in a DVD. I rented a DVD today! I watched the movie that will be the topic of the book club meeting that I am missing.


Things I thought while watching this movie:

- "We're acting!"

- "Scenery!"

- It's so sad (by which I mean, boo-hoo sad, but also pathetic) that the romance shit had to happen that way, but I get it.

- Poor protagonist girl.

-  I dunno what the original intention was, but from how over-the-top the shot of the house being firebombed was, it felt like some really super hokey symbol of the household harmony breakdown. Felt kinda yucky.

- How did he not have even an inkling of what the letter was?

- I wonder if people have conflicting ideas on what the "little sin" was. To me it was her lie to the mom about having turned over the letter. But I'm torn on whether he thinks it is a sin more because the lie made the mom unhappy or more because she herself liked him. It got a little hard to tell how good of a maid she was being at the end.

- Actually, I think the best actor in the movie was the guy who played Itakura. He had the immature "spine in the wrong place" thing down pat. Also, I know it's not that hard, but considering I don't watch that many movies I'm pretty proud of myself for spotting him as the writer from ALWAYS三丁目の夕日. (Is this the official English title? What a debate we could have about that.)

- It annoys me that peeps never get married. You wouldn't say you'd lived too long if you had moved on. You just hung on to rough memories for WAY too long.

- PS - Who is this kid who visits this old lady all the time? Like it's so nice of him, but do people like that exist nowadays? He keeps haranguing the old lady about embellishing the truth in her memoir, but to me his very presence is the most belief-suspension-disrupting part of the whole story.


So yeah, I don't get to go the book club, cuz I'll be in the states, so I dunno what other people think about this movie. If you have any thoughts, please share. I haven't read the book.

Stayed up later than I wanted to. Hungry -_-

But let's see, I think I had a better day than I thought I would. Tomorrow I don't have to go to the office, but since I didn't work at all on manga yesterday or today I kinda gotta get on that.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Bought a gas range with a grill drawer thingy

1) Ultra productive day at work.
2) Said gas range with grill will mean I can finally cook at home boil water (I'm kidding, but lol).
3) Bourbon chicken for dinner. Bourbon! Chicken! I went ahead and even ate the fat.

The burners 'n grill are arriving on Saturday. The delivery person will set it up for me, I guess. My previous apartment did not have a grill drawer thingy, so it will be my first time using one. The one I got says it cooks both sides (there are side jets underneath) so you don't have to flip your fish/toast/whatever.

For some reason at the cafe after I ate that bourbon chicken, I was thinking literally the only thing I could do today now was work more. And it's true, I should work more, but it didn't even occur to me that I could read a book or watch some anime. Some kind of danger zone.

Btw, my goal today was to arrange my face so it wouldn't look like I would attack someone if they tried to talk to me, but I don't think I did a very good job. I generally look pretty miserable, I think.

I can't tell if tomorrow's goal should be to go to the bank or not.

Anyways I slept horribly last night so I think for now my plan will be to work a bit and then sack outtttt.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Ya know...

Yesterday some things happened.

1) I was in a good mood for part of the morning.
2) Something I was going to write here but forgot and/or something else. I'm sure it was good, though.
3) The lady at Subway remembered the hot peppers in my sandwich.

Running off again. It's always like this, but I'm not gonna let Wednesday get the better of me.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Yesterday was mostly awful but here are three good things cuz I'm just that spunky

1) Made it to the recording session on time (i.e. racing around was effective).
2) Ate "Napolitan" spaghetti for lunch and felt nostalgic for no reason.
3) Even when I have to work late I look forward to seeing the new developments in the manga titles I work on.

Didn't get to swim cuz I was at the office forever last night for some reason. I did walk more than usual though. Maybe I should just be happy making time (or at least excuses) to walk more and not worry about it. I don't need to add junk to my schedule...

I need to translate more...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Another tough Sunday

1) Healthy lunch with fish, veggies, mixed grain rice at one of my favorite places.
2) Tried a curry place I had never been to and it turned out to be epic comfort food.
3) Followed through on my water bottle plan so I can stop buying so much damn plastic.

Honestly though, I'm still having a really rough time on the weekends. I spent a bunch of time lying in bed either listening to jazz or napping. I hope I can sleep okay tonight. I shouldn't have napped, but it felt good to just actually give up instead of anxiously sit in front of the computer trying to force myself to work.

I say I had good curry like it was some happy thing, but honestly if I wouldn't have had the idea to bribe myself with curry for dinner, I wouldn't have gone shopping and got the filter and water bottle (I also picked up a book by an author a friend recommended me). In the end, I walked a bunch, too, so that was probably good for me, but I dunno. It shouldn't have been that hard.

Tomorrow I have to go to a recording session in the morning for a couple hours before heading back to the office in the afternoon. On my way home I'm going to swim. I got a trial gym membership, but really can't decide if I want to do the whole thing or not. In any case, if I join it'll be after I get back from the states...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

[Tale of the Heike] I've had a copy of this for a while...

I bought the Royall Tyler translation of The Tale of the Heike last summer for reference and then never read it. A friend was explaining part of the end to me the other day, and I spent most of the time feeling like a dork for having no clue. Not that I would have remembered specific details of the ending even if I had read it, but anyways, now seems like a fine time to give it a shot. Chipping away at it a little bit every day will help give my life some purpose, especially on the weekends, and I should pay attention to the classics.

Right now I'm just reading the introduction, but this is sort of obnoxious to me, "Sutoku was banished to the province of Sanuki on Shikoku, where (according to The Tale of Hōgen and other sources) he cursed the victors. Widespread opinion attributed the Heiji Conflict and other troubles to his wrath."

Shouldn't they attribute it to his dad, Tobu, for forcing him to abdicate?! Seriously, why should the "Retired Emperor" even be allowed to do something like that? Didn't anybody think it was totally absurd? Seems like Sutoku just got screwed over and over for no reason. Was there a reason? I am interested in Sutoku.

Something else I don't understand is how for the Heiji Conflict Yoshitomo and Kiyomori ended up on opposite sides after fighting together in the Hōgen Conflict. Did their clans just have their own issues that had to be put aside momentarily or what?

Yes, I made columns in a spreadsheet because I couldn't remember who was with who.

History is so weird. Really, what is all the power for, anyways? I thought I couldn't imagine caring about titles, but then I thought that seemed kind of weird considering I have a hard time personally subtracting who I am from what I do (or what I think of myself as doing, or aspire to do better, or whatever: being a translator), but in my case it's my [chief in attitude if not in hours] occupation so the "title" describes my occupation, not a power hierarchy, right? But then if you imagine there were ranks of translatordom that one could work oneself up by appeasing the higher bester godlier translators, maybe I would care.

Actually, I would probably just cease being a translator (and possibly also existing). I guess I can't imagine caring about titles after all.

Other things I cannot imagine including believing in God, much a whole bunch of buddhas or kami or [take your pick]. This is interesting to me in the same way it would be if I read it in a fantasy or sci-fi novel, "A dying person might wish to face an image of Amida and hold a five-colored cord attached to the image's hands, so that Amida should be able to draw the departing soul straight to paradise." Christians do some weird stuff, too. I'm not saying it's weirder, just that it's exotic from my point of view. I wonder if Catholic confessionals seems the stuff of fantasy novels to non-Christian tradition media consumers.

Oh, this is an interesting note about deities': "In theory such names should be restored in English to their Sanskrit original, if it exists. I practice, however, the confusion is so great that consistency is all but impossible. This translation does not attempt it. Some names appear in their Sanskrit form, others—the more common ones—as they were pronounced in Japan."

I think I would have just gone full-on Japanese pronunciation at that point, and include an appendix or something. Man, and all the name readings. Taketa vs. Takeda etc. History really is weird.

I'm glad there are people who are interested in translating the classics, but so far I am not one of them.

Still so early

1) Had my room cleaned via a service that is basically the equivalent of Task Rabbit, only in Japan. The lady was friendly but professional and my room is in much better shape.

2) Ate vegetable curry for lunch. The spices and lemon always make me feel like I'm doing myself a big favor.

3) A challenging book I am reading sort of linked up with some things I've been worrying about in my life in a way that kind of framed the issue and made it easier to understand. Doesn't mean I know how to solve all my issues, but it's nice that I can get something out of the book even though it is hard to understand at times.

I'm going to do some shopping tomorrow because I want to drastically reduce the amount of plastic bottles I've been buying.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Listening to "My Favorite Things"


1) Good music.
2) Finished a hellish rough draft.
3) Ate delicious pizza.

It's the weekend, so I gotta try a little harder than usual to to keep my head screwed on.

Thursday, August 28, 2014



1) I got to see someone I had been wanting to see.
2) I read some non-work related text this morning (actually ho-ho, it was "work" related since it's philosophy/political theory about labor and work, but)
3) A friend said if I needed to I could borrow her scanner.


I'm going to eat more slowly.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Curry Bar Shubell

I feel a little better tonight. Having dinner with a friend parted the angst-infested Red Sea of my consciousness. That's really what it feels like. I can sense all the stress still there, but it's like I'm in mysterious zone.

We went to Nishiogikubo, which, maybe the neighborhood was also comforting. Nishiogi was my sanctuary back when I was on my big long Twitter business trip. There's really no reason for me not to go there more, except that now I have places in my own neighborhood that serve as go-tos, I guess.

Anyways I had been following Curry Bar Shubell on Twitter for a while and always meant to go so it was really nice to finally get the chance. To be honest, the flavor of the curry itself was not ultra unique, but they seem to be very particular about the ingredients, special chicken, fresh veggies. I really like that. The main thing that set the curry itself apart was that it had cartilage? I guess? in it. I forget what you call it. Like parts of the chicken that crunch in a really satisfying way and taste good. I'm still not a huge fan of the fatty bits, but those crunchy joint bits are great.

We also had cream cheese potato salad, but it had some kind of maybe vinegar bite to it, too.  As far as potato salads go, pretty tasty.

I had been thinking I would get away without drinking, but I gave in — using the easy excuse of it being a while since I had seen this friend — and had a beer.

My friend told me about some trips he had been on recently that inspired him to take a more open approach to his passions. Basically, by sharing what you care about and focusing less on competition and more on community building, you can maybe create a more balanced way to live out your dreams.

This reminds me of something I used to think about sometimes. I wonder what I would have ended up doing if I lived in a time when the world was less global. Like, it is extremely unlikely that I would have been a translator in the 1800s. I guess part of the reason this thought exercise is hard (impossible) is that women didn't do anything back in the day except have babies and be wives. I guess I would have been a wife. Now that I think about it, that is probably how this ended last time, but anyways...

the main point was more that, in a small, local community there should be no need for a translator. Maybe I would have become a teacher. 

Tangents back to the side, uh, I guess I just wanted to be happy about some things today since I've been having a rough time lately:

1) I finally went to that curry spot.
2) I had dinner with a good friend.
3) He brought me souvenirs from his trip! One of them is a book I will read soon.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Jogged 20 min straight for possibly the first time in my life

I originally wrote this week.

-30 seconds: *looks at phone* Ah, I'm gonna have to start jogging soon. Can I do this? I dunno if I can do this. I have to do this.

o minute: Welp, here goes.

1 minute: Ahh, this is tough. Maybe I should have waited till later, but the weather is a little cooler now so this really this is best.

3 minutes: Good will towards all men. Heart wide open.

6 minutes: I can do this.

8 minutes: I guess it's almost time to turn around. The way back is always harder, plus the sun will be in my eyes. My breathing rhythm is off.

9 minutes: Is it time yet?

10 minutes: Homeward bound. I dunno if I can do this. I'm not looking at my clock anymore because all I have to do is run till the time runs down.

x minutes: Yeah, the way back is definitely harder.

x+1 minutes: More than the breathing it's the pain in my shoulders and arms.

(various pain-related thoughts)

1 minute left warning: Great, okay, Tough it out.

20 minutes: Did it! Omigod my ovaries are trying to claw out of my body. My uterus is trying to eject. Ow, ow, ow, ow.

2 minutes into cool down: I hope my heart realizes the pain I go through to ensure it stays healthy. Will this even work? If I die of heart disease I will be so upset. There has to be some better way to exercise.

3 minutes in cool down: GOD IT HURTS.

End of cool down: Huh, so it only took the five minutes to feel better.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

My business trip to Paris in airplane movies

From the 5th until today I was in Paris on an important business trip. In the airplane it turned out I couldn't sleep very well, so I watched four movies.

On the way:

Annie Hall

For some reason I didn't realize they had any new movies I wanted to see. I guess I was sort of tired when I was glancing through them or something. Or just didn't care that much. Anyways, Air France has this handy back catalogue of interesting flicks, so I jumped on the chance to watch Annie Hall for the first time least college, if not high school. Really, I may not have seen it since high school, which means all of my "real" dating experience (as an adult) came after. Maybe that's why this time I recognized almost every character for a horrible person I wouldn't want to spend time with, lolsob. I also got more of the references. I appreciated the fourth wall busting more, but I especially appreciated the message at the end more. In high school I was like, "Oh, yes, of course." But now it's like, "Hell yeah, we are friggin' lonely people and it really is so tragic to be lonely that we get into these awkward relationships and try to make things go or think we are" etc. etc. Speaking as a chick with an egg dearth, yeah.

On the way back:

The Grand Budapest Hotel

I read a couple lukewarm reviews and thoughts of friends who like Wes Anderson generally and were kind of "meh" or "it's formulaic" and I can totally see that, but I also feel like...well, that is why I go to a Wes Anderson movie. If it's one trick, it's a good trick. If you have a favorite ice cream shop some flavors are better than others, but they are all ice cream flavors? Maybe that is a stretch. Anyhow, Tony Revolori as Zero was great. He fit right in with the regulars, too. I hope he shows up again.


(When I looked over I realized out of four people in our row, me and two others were watching this, lol. SO POPULAR.)

I wrote about the Japanese translation of the title song without having seen the movie.  I haven't seen a Walt Disney Animation Studios film since Treasure Planet in 2002, I realized. That is weird. I was even looking forward to Winnie the Pooh. Ho well, anyways. I liked this pretty well. The musical style soundtrack worked really well. I had to get used to the animation at first — not used to faces that express like that, haha, but I liked the story okay. Good messages of not bottling up your troubles, sticking to your family, not rushing in...etc. Olaf is such a dork but his song had me in tears I was cracking up so hard.

The Jungle Book

They literally just do not make them like this anymore. That's all you can say. It was really interesting to see this for the first time since I was a little kid. So much of this movie bored me back then; I liked the scenes with Baloo and Louis, but the elephants and the vultures were basically snack time or bathroom break. Also I dunno what I thought back in elementary school, but now hearing these voices from the '67 I instantly feel, "Yeah, sounds like The Day." Not only do people not animate that way much anymore, they don't really talk that way anymore either.

So yeah, pretty good mix of flicks. Kind of wish I could have just slept better on the way back instead, but ya know.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Hilariously specific, ridiculous dream (4:00 a.m.)

I'm laughing so hard (in my mind because I should have an hour and a half to sleep still but for some reason I'm awake) at this dream because it's the kind of thing that could totally happen until halfway through when it goes completely surreal.

So I was on assignment with my [dream] Japanese boss to a FamilyMart to eat a new addition to the "Ore no" food line (something like a huge chocolate croissant) and a new coffee brand. He was going to be writing up the piece [I guess we worked for some kind of outlet] but I'm guessing the idea behind the column was really to see how different a Japanese guy and a foreign girl's perspectives would be on various food items. This was our first time out, though. I was sort of nervous. Also, for some reason we were sitting eating on the floor behind the candy isle, hahaha. That made me even more nervous, I think. (Sometimes FamilyMarts have chairs, even, so I don't know…) Then he's about halfway through eating his half of the croissant thing (he thought it was great, I was wondering how it could even be called a croissant) when he suddenly gets on the phone? To call the manager of the store? With this mischievous look on his face.

And yeah, this when the entire things turns into an anime episode. He calls them (even though the store cannot possibly be big enough to warrant it) and starts with this kind of long lead in that makes me think he's trying to use the fact that he's writing a column as a way to get free coffee. So then I'm not nervous, I'm mortified, but it turns out that's not why he was calling. He said we would "search the store" (what?) and then that we were hoping to meet with an employee after that, to talk as the three of us. He said he was calling from a TV spot (which, JUST like in manga or anime had name that was a pun on a real TV spot, hahaha) and that we would be FILMING and he winked at me. Before the pleading "What? Noooo" look on my face has even formed, he's like, "Yeah, Emily, you're an up-and-coming gaijin tarento now! Congrats." I shit you not, the words "gaijin tarento" descended out of the ceiling as a flickering colored lightbulb sign. The horror! He was suddenly standing up on a ladder (I guess maybe he had to push a button in the ceiling to get that sign out? Bizarrely practical for something that is basically like the captions in Kill La Kill) clapping and in my head I hear the onomatopoeia "pachi pachi pachi pachi" till I wake up and think lololololol till I realize it's 4:00 a.m.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Logic is so relaxing

Recently I had occasion to recall the logic class I took over winter break during my sophomore year of college. I loooooooved it. Really loved it. I loved it so much I regretted taking it over winter break, because the winter break version didn't go into as much depth as the normal semester version did.

I recalled it again today while reading a basic book on philosophy. I guess I've read simple versions of arguments for and refuting God's existence, but to see them all lined up in a row like this is somehow really calming. Just the feeling of, "I see what you mean," where I genuinely really do see exactly what you mean because of the logic flowing your your argument, is so incredibly beautiful to me. It's really powerful and I wish I could have thought that far on how I responded to logic (fireworks in my brain; I will never forgot taking that exam) back when I was taking the class in 2004/5…ten years ago.

You see, rather than despairing, I'm going to just keep marching straight into the future. Everything will be fine and then I'll die.

There's something I forgot to mention about Korean the other day. Phonics. Alphabets. Oh. My. God. Spelling is so difficult! I had mostly forgotten. Kanji is a blessing and a curse, but in this case it's a blessing. You don't even have to know how to pronounce it to know the meaning half of the time. You can often guess. A word written in an alphabet, it has no meaning until it's sounded out, right? I wonder if there are people who have written on this topic; there must be. Alphabets just feel crazy to me now. I fully appreciate the utility of displaying characters for sounds — you need so many fewer than for meanings; it's so much more manageable, but to actually try to sound out words on a page in a new language after dealing with kanji for so long is a real trip. Another reason I'm happy to be embarking on this Korean thing, even if I'm to keep it on the casual side.

I've gotten the study bug again. Of course, the ever-present idea of grad school shimmering in the upper right-hand corner of my brain, but also this weird pseudo-academic existence I try to build for myself mostly unsuccessful and alone. Been trying to think if there are places in town I can attend some lectures or something. Of course, I will check out schools, but I know there are one-off talks. I should just go check some out. Hearing people talk is such an interesting, though. Should never forget it. I guess in the era of TED talks on the Internet plenty of people are appreciating it all the time. I want to discuss more, too, though…

By the way, this neighborhood has been great for me. I'm so happy I moved here. The cafe I've been hanging out at lately continues to be a wonderful place and I'm meeting some more people bit by bit every time I go. I just have to try to remember their names...

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Korean Day 11?

In a few minutes I'm leaving to meet a Japanese coach. Part of the reason I say "coach" and not "tutor" is that I honestly dunno what we'll do together. She may end up being more support than actually teaching me stuff, but who knows. As long as I pass the N1 by the time I'm 30, I guess it doesn't matter.

As for Korean, I did end up picking up the first できる韓国語 book. If we use them in class, great, if not, it'll be an excellent supplement, and since I gave up on KoreanClass101 due to their questionable security practices (sending me plain text password in a sales email), I was hoping to find one.

Observations about Korean so far:

LOTS of cognates (can you call them cognates?) with Japanese, I guess due to Chinese. Honestly, I find this makes it harder. It's like katakana in Japanese. "But I know this word in English!" No, you still have to pronounce in Japanese. So no matter how much 여유 sounds like 余裕, say it in Korean or perish.

The times 오 sounds like 우 remind me of the issues of pronouncing Portuguese o when you're used to Spanish. Dunno if anyone else has had that experience. I don't think it's actually the same issue or not, but whenever I heard see 오 and hear 우 I'm not sure how to feel.

Been mostly learning Hangul so far, so my vocab is still almost zero. Trying to distinguish between certain kinds of sounds is extremely difficult. You think you understand the pattern (maybe ch becomes j when [x]?) but then you just don't hear that, no matter how much you want to. You start to wonder if Korean people themselves, or at least the ones doing the listening exercise recordings, don't distinguish as much as they think they do lol, but that's just slightly ridiculous. Anyways, maybe once classes start I'll get a better feel for it. Dunno when that will be, though…

I started listening to this podcast called まったり韓国語 and I am doing it in true まったり fashion, by not actually studying along with it at all. Basically I'm using it as Japanese listening practice while just letting whatever random knowledge about Korea and the language filter into my head as it manages to. The lady who lives in Seoul explains stuff about the city and Korean culture. For instance, the other day I learned about Black Day. That is totally useful and easy to remember. If I even get a few factoids out of it, then why not listen? Is basically how I feel.

Now and then I also just listen to Korean news podcasts, understanding nothing. It's pretty relaxing to understand nothing. Maybe "Hello" and that's it. Like a good reminder to just take it easy. When I listen  to Japanese news, I'm always trying to understand, but when you have absolutely no chance, you can just let it flow through your brain and chill out.

Except…I gotta run to my Japanese lesson now, lol. Not so chill after all.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

A brushing of the teeth

And so it came to pass that I really could not put off going to the dentist any longer. In fact, I was already there, trying simultaneously to gaze at the moisture on the surface of my eyeballs and also, out of some sense of duty to posterity (or of future dentist recommending), the cleanish and white-seeming waiting room, those patients shuffling through it. To be honest, part of the reason I picked this particular establishment was the sanitary mood, but not because I was taken in, but because it reminded me vaguely of the description of a dentist's office in a novel by my (very) favorite author.

In a fit of constructive multi-tasking, NHK news through headphones. (There is no music on my phone, the extent of which fact's full sadness had not wormed its way into my mind until recently insinuated there most likely near-unconsciously by a phantom.)

Name called, headphones removed, I sulk, resign into a chair where it is directed I may recline without even removing my shoes. A paper cup is placed in a technologically advanced circle which calls forth some diluted formula of mouth wash from a faucet when (no doubt by science, not magic) it is perceived said cup as near empty. I lost count of how many times I was instructed to rinse, but there were at least two occasions in which it was not the volume but viscosity of my spit that prompted the imperative.

What most impressed me about this visit besides the real-world oral hygiene advice given via brushes and mirrors, was the application of a solution whereby various manners of disease and decay-causing organisms colonizing the teeth may be seen in electric, shaming pink. It brought to mind a news piece I once saw about the amount of bacteria growing on mobile phones, where some similar chemical caused a handset's coat of normally invisible germy slime to appear yellow. Alas, a relative of that growth was flourishing along especially the interior wall of my still somehow and thankfully cavity-free incisors et al. This was mildly (for both related and unrelated reasons I was thenwhile endeavoring to arrest emotional reactions so as not to suffer unnecessarily wet eyes or inconvenient stuffing of the nose) alarming as I had (so I thought) been putting particular care into tending these hidden regions at home.

However, soon enough we had showed the bacteria they were unwelcome, and another paper cup of mouth rinse later, I was stumbling back into the world with sore gums and a secondary appointment two weeks hence. If you were to ask me why I needed to go twice for something as simple as cleaning I can only blame myself and say that perhaps if I had wanted to get as clean as possible in one visit I should have gone at a customary six-month interval and not waited over a year.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Korean Day 0

I started learning Korean this week (on Sunday, actually). The idea is to try not to take it too seriously, but knowing me I'll be ripping my hair out within a month and think I need to quit it plus half of the other things I do in order to recover. (No.)

I thought about not talking about any of this at all, but I actually feel like recommending the apps below.

Anyways, here are some starting observations...

Hangul is cool. I don't want to blindly praise King Sejong only for Hangul before I learn about whatever else he did, but dang, Hangul is easy to learn, especially compared to Japanese writing (or Chinese).

I need to learn the keyboard SOON. I guess I might get some stickers to help. I can't deal with romanization.

KoreanClass101 has the best lessons I've seen so far. I might sign up when my free trial ends. I've been watching Hana Hana Hangul and Korean in 3 Minutes. UPDATE: The only thing is that I'm nervous about their sales methods and the fact that they send passwords in plain text. I sent some feedback about that.

The apps I am using for Hangul.  (These are not the only ones I tried/looked up, but the ones that survived the cut.)

This one - One thing I like is that it introduces the names of the letters as well as the writing and pronunciations. Lots of vocab collections, too, but the vocab is not gonna stick unless I start learning some grammar to go with it.

Kambu Hangul Games - No, I never know what they are saying to me outside of the pictures, but it's still fun and eventually I will. Bonus is that the theme song is really cheerful. I mean, the words could be anything, but….the music and the kids singing make me happy. The characters are cute, too.

Here is my Korean Twitter account. I'm only going to speak Korean on it, so it'll be pretty quiet to start, but…yeah.

Today I looked at the Korean section of a big bookstore and was considering the 出来る韓国語 series, since it seemed easy-to-use and some people said nice things about it on Amazon, but as it happens a friend of mine has a friend who is starting private lessons soon. The group can be up to three people, so they are going to let me in. Seems like Saturday afternoons will be spent in Korea Town. (Now that I look again, I realized the school we're going to uses those books, so it's highly possible I'll end up getting them.)

I made a deal with myself that I could only study Korean if I study equal time in Japanese. I kind of want to get a JLPT coach and shoot for 1 in December. Maybe everything will come together after all.

Well, probably not everything…

Trying to not become completely scattered

First just let me respond to the list of "upcoming things" from the previous post because it seems unfair to leave them hanging.

- Asymptote Journal translation contest results (Really crossing my fingers for even an honorable mention.)

This didn't pan out for me, but maybe I can see why. The experience of doing it was still great and getting permission from the author meant more than anything.

Manga Translation Battle results (Already a finalist so that is pretty cool! Would be great to win in my category.)

My friend and I did actually win in our category. That gave me a smidgeon of confidence and has led to other opportunities.

- Seeing the 有頂天家族 stage play on the 19th. (You can imagine how excited I am about this!)

The play was great, although it reminded me of the anime "The Tatami Galaxy" (based on a novel by the same author) in that everyone talked a thousand miles a minute. Super demanding performances, but the music kept it fun and the staging was really creative.

- Will I be giving English lessons again? It's a possibility. (You know I would have to have a really good reason.)

I don't know.

- Taking a course called "The Modern and Postmodern" online.

I dropped immediately because with work and everything it would have been impossible.

- Accompanying a Japanese director to the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival to promote/hopefully accept awards for this.

He won Best Animation. I didn't do as much interpretation as I thought I would, but that is fine since I'm not an interpreter anyways.

Honestly my brain seriously feels like it's full of fog half the time. I'd like to blame the Internet, but it's how you use it that matters.

Yeah, maybe you can tell I've been stuck in a negative quagmire. Things are actually going good but I am never satisfied with myself. There has to be a way to be better or know more or—wait do I even really want to know? But how can I [x] if I don't know [y]? I'll never stop feeling like a poser.

Lately there is so much thinking I want to do, but I feel like I can't do it alone. I guess since I am alone, I should blog, but it just highlights how by myself I am in my room. Also, I love listening and discussing. I think better when I'm listening and asking questions than trying to say something. So yeah, I guess that means I should read more, and asks questions to my blog. I don't know.

Here are common themes lately...

Pointlessness of life: I can't remember exactly when the bottom dropped out of everything and my sense of purpose was plunged into a vat of existential crisis acid below, but maybe about a month ago. A little over a month ago? I feel better than I did for a while, but I still struggle to see how anything really has meaning. The key is to be happy enough that you don't realize. I guess the friction of superficial struggle (When in my life has anything been really hard or bad? Never.) has worn through my emotional flesh till the bones of despair started poking through. My underweight soul? I guess in that sense you could say I gave it a sugar rush the past couple days, but of course I knew it was going to crash...

The main outcome of this acute consciousness of my steadily approaching of death is that I really want to read and understand philosophy to see how other people think the meaning of life is and what you should spend your time doing. I do still want to translate, but I don't know what else I should do or if I should even actively engage in ANYTHING because I "should" do it. I can start to feel really motivated for totally questionable reasons (Love? What is that anyways?), but things like, say, my self-preservation instinct, are feeling kind of dulled. (I made a dentist appointment today, though. Pretty happy about that.)

My shrink ray vs. the world: I said this a little bit in Japanese on FB in Japanese and some people read it and いいね'd but no one engaged on the topic at hand even of the people who did (Thanks, those peeps!) comment. Actually, why don't I just translate ("restate in more fluent English") what I said. It was only 4 days ago. "At some point it seems like it became unacceptable to think about things that aren't Japanese. The reason for this is ostensibly that I won't be able to specialize if I don't focus, but it's not like I've actually been focusing or specializing anyways (*cry*). It just seems like I've made my world really small. It's quite vexing. But there's also a good chance that's a symptom of my recent existential crisis, and it seems like I'm kind of wandering. Anyways, when it gets to be summer, a lot of things will change, so even if I make huge efforts to figure things out now, all I'll be doing is consuming energy…is a convenient excuse I can make, so at least there's that (lol). Yes, I would much like to postpone this existential crisis, except…apparently…I am my greatest obstacle…"

But no, so there's a little more to it than that, too. Just basically, focusing on Japanese to the extent that I actively avoid things that aren't Japanese, is toxic. It's like I've 鎖国'd myself up in some weird Japan dreamworld but the stress of it makes it so I'm not happy or focused anyways? On the one hand if I am genuinely not interested in something that is fine, but the guilt I feel for wanting to see a movie in English or study another language is not. I guess it's partly because I want to keep improving at work (translating, writing) so anything that is not related to further those goals seems like the enemy, but I gotta get a step back from that. Like a hundred steps. I dunno. Honestly this train of thought is like a cancer lately and it's also kind of tied to…

Get your country out of my face: The next time someone says to me, "Wow, you must really love Japan," I kind of want to say "no." I think it's honestly true, though. Do I "love" Japan?!? Really? The country, Japan? No. My current answer is that I love Japanese. That is actually true. But it's not JUST Japanese. I picked Japanese as my working language because I happen to like anime, manga, Japanese lit, Japanese movies, etc. So to some extent, I enjoy Japanese media, but does that mean I LOVE Japan? Maybe if "People who love Japanese love Japan" were a correct premise, but I don't think it is.

If I sound angry, I'm not. I'm just stressed. Also, I don't love ANY country. I just want to focus on people. And try not to feel so negative.

Korean: I started learning Korean. The unfortunate (and therefore funny) thing is that it looks like this is directly tied to all the stuff I was just saying. It's not. At most it's a coincidental dovetail. It stems from completely different questionable motives, rest assured. More on this later, since I want to blog about how embarrassingly painful it is to start learning a language from 0.

Upcoming things…

Golden Week: I actually had the day off today—what the hell. I went to the office and it was locked. This used to happen a lot on holidays but today was not even a holiday; that's why I was surprised. I guess because this week is so Golden. Tomorrow I have to work. Saturday I'm working and then hanging out with a friend. Sunday I'm going to see a couple plays. Monday I'm going to a poetry event. Tuesday I imagine I have to work as normal, but that is fine with me.

Work: No kidding. No, but specifically… I've been at the newspaper for a year now, which normally you would like celebrate or something, but instead I quit. For good reasons, not bad reasons. This is actually the first time I'm saying that in public, but I don't think there's any reason not to? More on my new job later. Basically the next couple months are a big transition. I need to try to just let it happen and not fret so much.


Wisconsin: Well, since my sister is getting married I have to plan a trip home in October. Actually, what's awkward (in terms of my life in Japan) is that I have to really go in September. I guess I just have to accept there is nothing I can do about this and relay it to my various bosses who are generally  understanding.

In general I'd say I feel like things are pretty intense. I need to try to be more patient, open, and positive, especially when I'm with other people.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Substitution for the 2013 wrap I didn't like

Had a horrible dream that I inadvertently skipped out on work without telling anyone.

Woke up, relieved it was still Monday, and ate the last of the X-mas cookies mom sent before heating up some ume daikon okayu for breakfast.

Did assorted Internet tasks.

Went to work. It was the first day back after winter break and I couldn't really catch the rhythm of all the standing and bowing as people went around greeting each other for the first time in 2014. You'd barely know it, but we're kind of down to crunch time on [all the work I've done for the past year]. I wish I felt like I was a little more on top of the process in addition to the actual work, if that makes sense, but maybe that is a good goal for 2014.

I'm guessing it was the fish I had for lunch, but whatever it was, something upset my stomach, so I felt pretty crummy for much of the afternoon. I took a walk anyways, since I told a friend I would get him a Hello Kitty x Arino Kachou plushie, which you have to reserve at Lawson.

Got home and made lemon soda water, sipped it while doing email and assorted Internet tasks……

Had a slice of awesome bread from Wisconsin with wonky pb. (Seriously, you can taste the extra oil they added. Never add oil to pb. Gross. I can't wait till my next order of Good Spread shows up.)

Proofed some manga.

First I was thinking I would edit the 2013 wrap I wrote and didn't post, and then post it, but it's still just kinda hokey. I dunno. Then I thought I would write something about things I'm looking forward to in 2014, but I guess I can still do that right now.

By the way, I took my hands out of the below scarf before writing this, lol. It was a present and it keeps me pretty warm in my room.

Anyways, on the horizon so far in 2014:

- Asymptote Journal translation contest results (Really crossing my fingers for even an honorable mention.)
- Manga Translation Battle results (Already a finalist so that is pretty cool! Would be great to win in my category.)
- Seeing the 有頂天家族 stage play on the 19th. (You can imagine how excited I am about this!)
- Will I be giving English lessons again? It's a possibility. (You know I would have to have a really good reason.)
- Taking a course called "The Modern and Postmodern" online.
- Accompanying a Japanese director to the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival to promote/hopefully accept awards for this.

Probably plenty of other fun stuff. But for now, I need to get off my computer for a while.