Sunday, April 8, 2018

Clumsy, Etc.

Two blog posts in one day? What is going on with me?
I know. It's weird, but my brain wants things to be known, so I'm letting things be known.

So I was listening to Clumsy by Our Lady Peace in honor of today being the 21st anniversary of its release, and lots of things made sense to me in ways that they didn't when I was younger and listening to the song and memorizing every frame of the music video and such.

Now I know several things I didn't know then. 1) I am not attracted to many people, so when I am attracted to people, I am not great at discerning their actual talents. For instance, I am aware that David Tennant is likely a fine actor. I can't tell you for sure. I just know he's terribly attractive.
As such, several lines from these songs that were just words from Canadian rock stars when I was 14 are now more...startling? I want to tell my pubescent self that some guy singing, "I'm watching you!" loudly in a video that closes up on his huge eyes at the same time is a bit creepy. You should be a little creeped out, girl-person. The words and images are important.

2) I know that you cannot save everyone. You can't really save anyone, but you can provide outside assistance and counsel. Bottom line, you can't fight the battle for them. In the song, the main refrain starts with, "I'll be waving my hand, watching you drown..." which I heard many times explained as one of these moments when you have to watch someone battle one of these things you can't fight for them, so you stand by and wave, letting them know you support them as much as you can. I didn't really get it then, and that line stood out as something I wasn't quite sure of before. The complexity of these situations escaped me, and the fine details have only recently become fully formed for me. Sometimes, you can only wave.

And sometimes people are clumsy-- clumsy with words, with situations and such. Anyone who knew my teenage variation would immediately remind me of the thousand or so things that got simplified incorrectly in my head before they came out of my mouth dead-wrong. More embarrassing than pain-inducing, but regrettable all the same.

I've recently, after a poorly worded altercation, come to a certain conclusion. I endure to be kind, accurate, or both as much as possible in my words and to some degree I expect the same. I know some of my friends will be more accurate than kind, and occasionally neither but very rarely or I wouldn't call them friends. When someone chooses to be neither, I choose not to be around them.

But maybe I should be more forgiving. Sometimes. We can all be clumsy sometimes.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Ready for the End of Spring Break

There are about a million things I need to do right now, mostly having to do with cleaning my house so my friend can come crash on my couch for a few days without feeling terribly uncomfortable. The up side? This is someone I've known for almost a decade, and she's lived in japan before (it's where we met) and we talk weekly, so she has some idea what's really going on in my life and brain.

The down side? I still have a lot of little cleaning to do and Julia is uniquely skilled at destroying it, and my sense of calm, and the last of my patience. Yay for school.
I do love my kid. I also need a little me time to be the mom I want to be and didn't get a lot of that during her 2 week vacay.

One thing I love to pieces right now is the social norm of kids her age going to school in Japan. I have a feeling that, if we were doing this whole little family thing in my homeland, I would feel social pressure from every person I encounter regarding something I may be doing wrong. If she's home with me, I'm a drain on the economy for not going back to work, and I'm wasting my abilities and life away being a stay at home layabout instead of a contributing member of society. If she's in daycare, I'm a horrible parent who did not put my family first, and maybe they're all child molesters or abusive or whatever and I'm paying to let them to have access to my kid. Either way, a parent is somehow wrong. There is no right answer accept the right answer for you and your family. I know that, but it is easier to know that without people talking at me.

Here, kids usually go to daycare or kindergarten around age 3. Some moms go back to work. Others don't. Many engage in the full-time job that it is to maintain a Japanese home. I don't. Some go back to work earlier and there are daycare centers that accept kids as young as 6 months old. It's not as normal here for moms to work at all, but it is becoming more normal. I chose to stay home with my kid and work part time as a means of making ends meet, so I guess on some level I am comfortable here because my choices fit in somewhat with the societal standards.

Really, I like living here because I am an automatic outcast and don't have to try to fit in. I don't feel compelled to listen to someone enthusiastically lecture me about Jesus in a Walmart parking lot because I am not quite irritated enough to scream at them or storm off. No one thinks I'm just as "normal" as they are here, in whatever that means to them. The standard "normal" for someone who looked like me in Texas when I was young involved a lot of labels I do not subscribe to and drove a lot of my adolescent pretentiousness into overdrive, trying to find the most effective ways of showing them before they talk to me that maybe they should not bother, but doing it in such a way to not provoke worse or put myself in a position of constant discomfort. I failed at all of that, mind you, but I tried.

Here it is different. They do not know what to make of me. I'm alright with that. At least they are quiet about it.

So I don't get too-friendly advice from everyone-under-the-sun regarding my child-rearing or our choice of school, though a neighbor was surprised that we weren't sending out little one to the Catholic kindergarten in town (long story short: Buddhism is normal and I'm more than okay with that ) and weirdly this schooling thing wound up being the way we got the one confrontational religious group to leave me alone. I cannot remember what they were now, but it wasn't the Mormons, though they shared a fear of medicine. One lady from the group kept happening upon me in town and talking at me, and I was the same as I was back home, only with less confidence in my verbiage and without a way to accurately express my thoughts in a way I found satisfactory. So I smiled and nodded and ran away. That was all that happened, literally over the course of years, with the woman calling me by a number of western names, a different one every time she saw me, and once running into me at my apartment lobby, which was the most terrifying.

Then the most amazing thing happened. She ran into me shortly before Julia started school and asked what day care we had chosen (since obviously no one following her cult-like pseudo-Christianity would be able to tolerate Catholic or Buddhist kindergartens) and recoiled when I told her the name of the school we had chosen. "But it's Buddhist!"
"Yes, I know."

And that was the end of that.

So maybe the rest of the society still has the same judgmental ideas that I'm hiding from and it is only that I am not engaging with it. Maybe that's all of it. I don't know but I also do not have more time to worry about it today.

I'm currently listening to A Handmaid's Tale. I'm almost done. I really want to finish it. An emotional book, and a good adult-level vacation from the chaotic child-land of the vacay living room.
Also kinda scary. Not great to pair with Malala unless you're wanting to freak out over the modern state of American politics and what it could mean for our future generations for a while. I guess you could get the same effect by watching any major news channel these days, though.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

March Musings

This is my attempt to feel accomplished today. It's almost 9PM and I feel like I have done nothing.

Logically, I know that isn't completely accurate. I fed myself and my daughter. I coordinated a long chat via internet video with some of my friends back home. Our kids squealed at each other. Lunch was had, as was a massive and necessary on the part of both my daughter and myself.

We didn't clean the house, which is the one thing we should be doing and I wanted to get done early this week, before I am so exhausted by my lacking alone time that I cannot focus enough to clean. We didn't make it happen, and I'm annoyed with myself. I gave in to exhaustion and let us rest instead, which we needed to do, and the hints of a narrowly avoided migraine attest to this being the right course of action. But I still feel like nothing is happening.

After our nap, we did run to the grocery store, and while we were there, Julia wandered around a little, occasionally getting in the way of other customers, most of whom were happy to smile at my four-year-old, perhaps remembering their own little people at the same age. There were two professionally dressed people who thought casting me a dirty look was a better option, and whether those looks were meant to indicate a need for my kid to be tethered or dismay at our nearly-6PM shopping trip, I'll never know.

As a teen, I spent a lot of time at some friends' house (They're twins. They're both my friends. I'm not just being clumsy with my apostrophes or noun agreement.) and their dad tended to point out parents with children at Walmart after 6PM, if we happened to be there at that time, saying that it was practically child abuse to have a kid out so late and that those kids should be in bed. At the time, I agreed, but now I see it in a little bit different light. What if the only parent works a job that doesn't allow for them to hit the grocery before/during work hours and with shifts that don't end immediately at 5? What if they can't afford a babysitter for something like a trip to the store, or they need to get that kid new sneakers or supplies for some last minute school project they only found out that evening? I can come up with a dozen reasons that don't involve people just being unreliable or horrible, and that's with my brain half-exhausted. I think it's a bit judgmental.

And that's not just because I get a lot of side-eye when my kid and I make a grocery stop after 5PM. But I do live in a country of quiet bigotry and low-level English understanding, so I get to pull my daughter to me and advise her to stay close so the mean old bats stop staring at us. And I can say this loudly. And if they understand me, they are far too restrained to take it up with me. I'll have to nip that in the bud before our trip to Michigan this summer. I need to not instigate crap.

Otherwise, this month has been a lot better than last month. I blogged on city-cost a bit, bought a bunch of random Chinese knock-offs at Wish.com instead of the 100 yen store, and generally had an OK time.

I have become obsessed with audiobooks and listening to one or another while I wash the dishes or do some basic chores is how I am making the lack of alone time up to myself. Ready Player One was a lot of fun, Old Man's War interesting, and Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology compelling. Now I am listening to Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts, which is interesting and a bit creepy. Also more compelling than I thought it would be. I've got three hours left in it and can't wait.

The other day, Julia had her first over-eating induced tummy ache ever, and her response to this new sensation was to cry, "Mommy! I want to go to the doctor!" to which I wanted to immediately compliment her on proper sentence structure but instead had to focus on trying to help her. I explained to her (three times) that there were no emergency pediatrics in the area (there aren't) and going to the hospital wouldn't mean that we could see a doctor who could help with this anyway. Slowly, I convinced her to calm down and wait it out, and within an hour she was back to normal and happy to be feeling better.

So now the big challenge is figuring out how to get her to eat enough to be full without giving herself a stomachache. I'm mostly just limited snacks and stressing meals as eating time.

As for me and this evening, I am happy to report that writing this blog update has helped me feel more accomplished.
9PM. Next, bed time! As I found out yesterday, letting Julia sleep in leads to evening craziness, as the excitement of the later hour propels her over the threshold between exhaustion and nutball. Then it's all chaos and anarchy and headaches. So better to go with an earlier bed time.

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise. I can't attest to all that but kid in bed keeps pain from my head, so we're going this way.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Exhaustion and Foreign Opinions: A Rambling

My kid is sick, but it is just a cold with a bit of a fever. It will be okay. We already got a checkup and medication yesterday, so at least that is taken care of for now. We'll see how it shapes the coming week. On the upside, I did get to work yesterday so my paycheck won't be quite as screwed as otherwise.

Also, this gives a better reason for our delay in setting up the Girl's Day dolls, a yearly Japanese tradition that I suck at preparing for as it requires an entire house deep cleaning session and I am a hoarder.

I've been working toward the clean house goal over the last few weeks but failed to take out the recycling this week so I am still staring at a large box filled with compacted cardboard boxes. I know I am supposed to see a pile of garbage or at best a pile of recycling waiting to go out. Instead, I see raw materials for any number of great projects, and just looking at it, my mind starts to wander. If I could get my hands on a small jigsaw, wood glue, dowels, and appropriate fabric coverings, I could build a massive, wall-sized dragon-shaped shelving unit and it. would. be. beautiful!
And the good thing now is that I have been around long enough to know that the vast majority of these massive project ideas are not possible for me to realistically accomplish. I do not have the time or space required for this task, much less the rest of the materials. In the end, this would wind up being yet another box of rubbish taking up more space than it should be allowed to in the back room of my apartment until one day I get fed up and take it out finally or die and someone else takes it and everything else to the curb.

So there's that. Despite being in a bit of a slump, I managed to get 5 blog posts written last month and will work toward getting nine out this coming month. I'm already toying with ideas for this month's incentivized posts on my Japan blog over at City-Cost.

The other thought I had today with some level of interest was in regards to whether or not we're "allowed" to have opinions about foreign cultures and customs and how our unique position changes that. Specifically, someone mentioned how weird Groundhog Day is and I responded with the weirdness that is Setsubun, which happens this week in Japan. Today actually. Then someone told me that that was why we should respect foreign cultures and that she thought my custom was interesting.

That was a fine reaction, and there was nothing wrong with that except that it isn't my custom. It's my husband's and his culture's and just really not mine. In Japan, I am essentially Jack Skellington in Christmas town, if he'd decided to just live there after he passed through the tree in the forest. Nothing here is really allowed to be mine and yet it is. It isn't my culture but it is my life and the course of my experience.

And this goes back to a debate from ages ago that isn't really worth commenting on except to get it out of my head. I was told by some random-internet-white-chick that I was a bigot for using the term Engrish to describe mass-produced products with English errors. The point she had was it sounded racist to her, having visited some parts of Asia a few times in her short life, and Asian languages are hard so we shouldn't make fun of others for not knowing English. I agreed that we shouldn't make fun of people for not knowing English and further explained that as an English teacher and expat living in Japan, I have to say that companies that employ copywriters can easily get these things checked by a native English speaker for a small fee. Instead of doing that, they assume their grasp of a language they refuse to note the complexity of must be good enough to forego that small charge. Then we wind up with weird bits that I think everyone should have a chance to laugh at. I'm not knocking down the doors of the copywriting office, accusing people of speaking "Engrish" but instead buying the products and sending them to people who will enjoy them all over the world. So the companies are still getting paid for their sub-par work and the patrons of my second Patreon get to enjoy silliness. Me calling it Engrish doesn't seem to hurt anyone's feelings, not even those of my Japanese husband.

What bugs me most about this interaction is probably that the woman refused to listen to me and just kept calling me a bigot. Her methods were flawed but when I tried to work with her to better our mutual understanding anyway, she revealed that she wasn't capable of operating at that level. I thought she was giving a corresponding theoretical analogy. She was actually just trying to accuse me of being a bully like some real-life bullies she once knew. When I pointed to the errors in her logic, her responses became even less logical. That was the day I learned that it isn't just the conservatives who plug their ears and ignore whatever makes them uncomfortable. Liberals do it too.

I'm not saying we should all engage in hate speech or that Engrish itself is a universally OK term. It is in a gray area, as it could conceivably be used to hurt others, so it depends on how it is used. The way I use it is not racist, as confirmed by my Japanese husband and multiple Asian and Asian-American friends. The companies that produce these products have a chance to fix these errors and not assume lingual superiority despite their inadequacy. They do not. Either they do not understand the nuances of language, as almost any foreign language media should be checked my a native speaker to ensure quality, or they do not care. Either way, it is their failing, and an easily correctable failing, so we get to laugh at the results. They still get paid for making the silly things. Who is losing here?

But this also speaks to my time abroad. I no longer consider anything that could theoretically in some way be considered somewhat racist as definitely racist and unusable. There is more to it than that and at the end of the day, any Caucasian American person deciding what other cultures and races can consider offensive is inherently wrong. We don't get to say what they must or must not consider offensive. Some terms are patently offensive while others are currently considered innocuous, and those definitions do change over time.

One must have an informed opinion, and no one speaks for an entire race, but calling someone in an interracial marriage with an Asian man racist against Asians shows a level of willful ignorance I am not comfortable with engaging. And I shouldn't feel bad about leaving the conversation after the one Asian person in the conversation confirmed that Engrish as it is used by me is NOT racist.
Some part of me keeps bringing this back up though, like I need to feel constantly under attack by strangers who know nothing about me. I think it's the inner-teacher-brain, wanting to have better taught this person about the realities of the world around her despite the fact that she would never have been able to understand them without living them.

But that leads me back to my point for today, which was along the lines of this: Living in Japan means I get to have an opinion about some Japanese things. I'm not a tourist, fresh of a plane, gawking at the maid cafes. Nor am I an expert, fluent in the language and well versed in the content of every newspaper. I know some things from classes I took in college and some things from my personal experiences in living here long term. In a few months, I'll have been living in Japan for a decade. Ten years of watching these seemingly bizarre cultural elements and figuring out some while others continue to baffle me; ten years of changing inside and out while struggling to find comfort in a country where I will never be allowed to own property or become a citizen; ten solid years of studying this culture from the inner outside and analyzing the living hell out of it...Yeah, I'd say I get to have an opinion.

And those are my thoughts for today.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year people of the internet! I hope 2018 brings you some wondrous and awesome things and alleviates some of the crap that may have been dealt to you in years previous. Whoever you are, I wish this for you.

For us, it has meant one day of hanging with my in-laws at their home, with me catching more of the conversation than usual, but most of that was about my father-in-law correcting his father-in-law's word choice for fear of Julia using weird old words at kindergarten and getting laughed at. Now I know another (weird, old) word for using the bathroom. Huzzah!

I did take some time scouring the advert section in the newspaper, searching for a good washing machine. Our old one is semi-functional. Still an upgrade from the first one I had in Japan, which was so old and small that the load had to be transferred by hand from the soaking area to the spin dry, which would also be rendered noisily ineffective by the slightest variation on weight. I called it a communist washing machine as it so earnestly believed in the redistribution of filth.

Har har. No really, I still think that's a little funny.

Anyway, the current machine is six years old and past its warranty and we've been looking to upgrade to a fully functioning model for a few months. First, we were waiting for our anniversary, so we could save up for it. Then it was put off for the New Years Sales.

New Years in Japan is sales time. Many shops put together grab-bags of the previous season's goods and shell them out cheap. Others just offer a discount on certain models in-store. Others now offer the same sales online, which is new to me. In any case, I had been waiting months for this opportunity and we had even gone out to 3 shops the other week to check our options and get an idea of what is available in our price range.

To replace our previous model exactly with its new variation would cost twice what we can afford, so we were planning to scale down on size and ability. The current machine has more than a dozen options, and I have only ever used 3 of them. What we know we need is a 5 year warranty and free delivery with a drying option. It may sound impressive to say our washing machine is also our dryer, but the drying function is not 100%, even on a brand new, top-of-the-line model. The best I have seen or experienced is a 70% drying rate, meaning you could fill 70% of a full load to wash and dry and have it come out dry. On our machine, it was closer to 50%, which still isn't bad. It seems you are meant to hang up most large things, drying mostly underwear, towels and socks. Fine by me.

I found an ad for a machine with better capacity in both washing and drying, 5 year warranty and free delivery at one of the electronic stores we had checked out before. The ad said they only had five machines offered per store. I suggested we might go early to my husband, who blew me off, saying it wasn't necessary.

These things always seem like Black Friday to me and I forget that our largest close city, Sendai, has about the same population as Dallas and Fort Worth averaged out according to recent google data. that said, we're not shopping in Sendai, and there are several of these stores around the area.

Still I was surprised today when we got to the store, were ushered to a parking spot by friendly parking attendants, found the machine with 4 sales slips still attached, waiting to be taken. Tomo snatched one before talking to the staff about the various machines and their performance factors. I caught more of it than I thought I would, but Tomo clarified anything I didn't get afterward. Then we bought the nice cheap one I saw in the advert and we headed off to lunch. We wound up having a curry buffet at Namaskar near Sendai station followed by The Last Jedi at the movie theater in the same building and a little bit of game center mischief to pass the time between the two.

There are so many more modes to things like Tekken and basic racing games now and my lack of Japanese ability means I inevitably panic and pick the wrong thing, leading my husband and I to have to waste some extra coins and time trying to play together. I am bad at this thing.

At the end, we raced and had fun and enjoyed the movie and all else.

This year, I am going to get better at Japanese and actually try to study on a regular basis, whatever that looks like. It would be different if the payoff were more obvious or easy or if there were normalized steps between where I am and the complete fluency expected of me. I get why most people with Japanese spouses speak Japanese well. Most of them needed that to get their foot in the door with their intended. Mine sounds fancy in English. I have no interest in speaking to my husband in Japanese. So instead of wanting to show off that I learned a little, I feel more like my Japanese ability and my Japanese husband have nothing to do with each other.
This is lame and I am going to fix it, but not today.

In the meantime, my husband actually really helped punch my depression in the face today, and for that I am grateful.

Happy 2018 everyone!!

Friday, December 29, 2017

This Week of Adventure

This week was full of adventure for us.

Monday was Christmas morning, in which we woke up before dawn and drove for 4 hours south and west to find Edo Wonderland in Tochigi prefecture. It's essentially a samurai amusement park, which was more fun than it probably sounds to anyone not that enthusiastic about Japanese history. I was thrilled that they offered a female sword-master dress up option, as I would much rather carry a sword than deal with everything that goes with trying to look like a small Japanese woman.
And wearing the male-style kimono (with fake hakama pants) was SOOOOOO comfortable. Instead of covering my entire waist and bulking it out to match the rest of my curves then trying to force a flatness upon a rounded shape, they wrapped my lower waist and left it at that, essentially giving me a back brace for the day. It wasn't bad.
Also, my daughter is the cutest ninja ever.
And other tourists took pictures of my husband, believing him to be part of the entertainment. He blends in that way. I mean, it makes sense for a Japanese guy to look kinda normal in a kimono. This doesn't explain why he also looks normal in a cowboy hat, nor why I always look like a tourist in my hometown or anywhere else. Meh.

We planned to spend half a day running around the old-style fake-town but wound up only getting back to the costume place 15 minutes before it closed, so it was a pretty full day. Then we drove to our hotel, which was nice and comfortable near a farm in the countryside. Then came the onsen, which I didn't have energy for but made happen anyway. They had a small sauna room, so Julia tried the sauna for the first time ever. She has a natural fear of the glowing hot stones. If only she were so naturally wary of drinking onsen water.

The next day, boxing day, we enjoyed the hotel's morning breakfast buffet, which I would call continental but I don't know if that applies on this continent. They offered a small assortment of Japanese and western food options, and it was pretty delicious. We bought cheese at their farm shop, even though we were warned that the cheese would be bad before we could ship it home "to Tokyo" the woman suggested, and when we corrected, a short conversation about sushi restaurants in Shiogama ensued, which was relatively surprising.

Then came the alpaca farm, which I demanded and enjoyed. I even stood up to Trump, who happened to be a fluffy and aggressive brown alpaca in the alpaca petting pen. Then came the monkey park, where menstruation, the resilient tail-end of a migraine, and crazy monkey noises combined to make me more stressed out than necessary. Julia enjoyed it though. She got to hold a bottle to feed a tiny monkey, as well as feeding veggies to rabbits and guinea pigs. We watched the monkey show and had a good time overall.

Next we tried to make a run for Lake View, a board-walk amusement park built alongside a municipal overflow pond. We were out of the car, walking between shops near the entrance ticket booth when we realized the paddle boats Tomo had so wanted to share with our daughter were land bound. We weren't looking at Lakeview after all. The lake had been drained during winter for whatever reason. This was Swamp View, and we were not paying to ride a carousel next to a mud pit.

Instead we ran off to the Teddy Bear Museum, which had a huge Ghibli section, with a neko-bus mock up so kids could climb aboard for a photo op and a practically life-sized Totoro as well. There were also vignettes from the movie done up with dolls, some of which moved at the press of a button. It was lovely. Then we headed home.

The next day, Julia and I took it easy and spent some time at home before running up to Sendai to enjoy the Pageant of Lights or whatever they call the fairy-lights adorning all the trees on Jozenji Street. This time, Julia could shate a baked sweet potato with me while we walked. It was lovely.

Yesterday came next, and we woke early for a run toward toe cat island with a friend from Sendai. We got there, and I learned what I had done wrong before. I know where the cats of cat island hide when construction takes over the port side. We ran around, fed and took pictures of many cats, and enjoyed the lot of it. It was exhausting but good. Julia was so tired by the time we got on the ferry that she fell asleep on me and would not walk off of the ferry, meaning I had to carry the 4 year old off of the boat, meaning I could not see my feet nor the position of the board connecting the boat to land.

So I tripped, and smashed my kid into the metal slats of the board, and bruised myself most terribly. Julia appears to be fine, but I'll have background fear of a subdural hematoma for the next few days. I now also have scabs in unfortunate places on my palms and fingers, limiting my manual ability for the time being. I cannot even uncork my wine, but we're making things work. We even went shopping today, not that I wanted to but that we needed to.

Today, we slept and talked to family in Michigan. If we can get through a week without another reminder that I am a terrible failure as a parent, I'll probably find a way to forgive myself for dropping her.
I mean logically, I can't fault myself for not seeing something I could not see, and not predicting the placement nor height of the thing I tripped over/onto. Still, none of it matters if Julia is hurt. If she died of a brain bruise I had a part in causing, even by accident, I do not know how I could survive that.

So now, to rapid GISHMAS and running about like mad, changing what we can of the world for the better if we can manage it.
In the meantime, relax. Count down to the end of 2017. Try to find a way to overthrow the godawful in power in 2018.
And sleep.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Things and Happenings

Things are looking up, overall.
I did get to 50,000 words in my NaNoWriMo manuscript, though around 5,000 of that is blog posts. Still, spending more than 40,000 words with Turing and Tesla was kind of awesome. There are some great scenes in there I think, though I am entirely unsure about my characterizations right now.
Also, I would like to further condemn my high school physics teacher for being slightly pervy and scaring me away from physics as a subject. Now I feel really stupid trying to write about two geniuses explaining the mechanics of time travel to each other when I barely have a grasp of a lot of the basics there, but I think it's okay. I did NOT do the stupid make-a-loop-with-paper-to-show-overlapping-timelines thing, which has just been overused in scifi. None of that crap at least.

Honestly, I am kind of proud of it, and I think it is the most editable of my manuscripts.
That also means that I need to get on that soon if I am going to and turn it around while I still care.

I might do it that way-- work backward from this year, doing each NaNo novel until I get back to Occupational Hazard and finally get it sorted. Next November, that unedited manuscript will be a decade old.

I made a self-promotion post in a facebook group and wanted to share it here, in case anyone is asking themselves what I am up to when I am not teaching.

Want a care package of weirdness from Japan on a monthly basis? I've got a Patreon for that, starting from just $10, shipping included: 
https://www.patreon.com/JapanBox


Want the chance to win a creature-of-the-month that I make myself? Check out my other Patreon! One patron a couple months back won a sock-cloth-geisha. I'm actually super proud of that one.
https://www.patreon.com/geekcraftsjapan

My mom has some cool Stranger-Things themed Christmas things, as a printable from her patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/user/posts?u=2832535
They are also available on some website, but I forgot the address. Message me or her for details.

Also, I blog about my life in Japan here:
https://www.city-cost.com/blogs/JTsuzuki
And my normal whine-of-the-month posts wind up here:
http://jessicatsuzuki.blogspot.jp/

Follow me wherever! And if things are sucking for you right now and you would like a holiday card from a random stranger abroad (me),PM me an address and I will make it happen.
The card offer stands for anyone who wants one, not just the random people I don't know in that Facebook group. Anyway, in other excitement, each of my patreons gained at least one patron last month, which is nice after I had lost a few and was starting to feel like I wasn't doing anything too productive.

This month's goals include getting all the holiday stuff for people outside of Japan done and sent before the 14th, taking out the fake tree on the 10th, taking a holiday trip with husband and child at some point when each of them have a 2 day vacay (which happens twice but we lack the funds for 2 trips, and honestly the energy), getting ready for Julia's 2 week holiday from school, writing around 14 blog posts on my other blog, and figuring out what to get my husband. Also figuring out one of a number of fairly complex card games that I am excited to play and finding a way onto one of Tohoku's Joyful Trains. Alas, my husband and I still have to go and get our anniversary present, which may well wait for the New Year's Sales.
What is it supposed to be, for your 6th wedding anniversary and your 9th year together? I don't care. We're buying a washing machine and going halfsies.

I might have married a man who went to boarding school in England, but his wife and budget are firmly middle class or below, so we're sticking with the basics this year.

But we are making it work.
And I am writing.
But for now I am watching old episodes of QI. Old for anyone in the UK. New to me as I only discovered the quiz show a few weeks ago. Sometimes, one needs the joy of randomness and comedy presented in a quiz-style series.

Also, FIGHT THE FCC! Net Neutrality must be a thing! I need to call my senators and everyone I am supposed to call, like the chairman of the FCC. Also, if you're out there and reading this and can find a way to do it, lodge complaints with your congress people over the ridiculous budget they concocted. Somehow in the year since the election, I have managed to stop fighting fascism and started instead to just get by. I also had a tough couple of months in there, so it is what it is. Now it's winter, and I am going to fight my hatred of everything due to cold by actively fighting the crap going down in Washington and sending out holiday cards and packages.

Whatever you are out there doing, do it well.
Adios Muchachos.
(my daughter thinks muchacho = "cho cho s" with chocho being the Japanese word for butterfly, with English pluralization rules.)