Saturday, October 21, 2017

My Vague-ish #MeToo Response

Lots of little things have happened and I legitimately did not write anything longer than an email, paid or unpaid, in the better part of a month. now I am back into it though, churning out content on city-cost and gearing up for NaNoWriMo. This year, for the first time ever, I am using actual historical figures instead of people I make up. It's essentially science-history-fan-fiction and I am excited about starting this bizarre journey. Let's see where November takes us!

In the meantime, the #MeToo thing happened, and I found it awe-inspiring to see so many people coming out of the woodwork and sharing stories, bringing light to the fact that these things are a problem and far too frequent occurrence, but I also think it's hard to find a grown woman who has never been sexually harassed or never had an experience that anyone else might classify as harassment even if the would-be victim may not see it that way.
That said, shit has gone down in my life by more hands than I want to count, and while it sucks that those thing happened, and I wouldn't wish them on people, I'm still alive, and that's pretty awesome.

But when I shared my #MeToo tweet, it was only that, the hashtag, because there are stories, plural, more horrific than the asshole on the train in Nagoya who shoved his hand onto my upper thigh while feigning sleep and did not move it or "wake up"even when I shoved a cold soda can on top of his hand and pushed down with significant weight. A woman sitting across from me looked at me with disgust, which I still don't need to understand. The best thing that happened was that I got to steal her seat when she left and Mr. Grabby McAsshole was left alone. I stopped exploring Nagoya as much after that, staying in my little mountain town where no one tried to touch me. I took a sharpie with me so the next time something like that happened, I could draw on the face of the fucker, telling all the world what a dickhead he was. I never had to use it, though, which is probably good because I imagine the train-cops would probably have fined me for assault and told the asshole in question that groping is totally okay and would he like to press charges to send me packing. These things are different when you're an immigrant in a politely xenophobic country.

That story alone is hard to describe in 140 characters or less. The public is not owed more of my horror stories than that.

But I do want to add, just as a side-point for other survivors of serious shit, that there is a special hellish quality to abuse at the hands of people with whom you share a family resemblance. What do you do when your mirror is a trigger, eh? Well, if you're like me, you apparently get fat and keep your hair long to distinguish the reflection from anything that might repulse you. You wear glasses even though your eyesight isn't that bad. You pledge to dye the living shit out of your hair the moment it starts going patchy gray because fuck off are you not going to look like someone who doesn't understand how to not traumatize others with their libido.

And then you swear a lot and rejoice in the fact that you found someone with whom you actually want an intimate physical relationship, and that they felt the same, and that they married you.
And despite your partner and your adorable offspring and your fancy digs (that you've hoarded into chaos), you battle depression, which isn't new and didn't start with being slightly destroyed by a person sharing a significant part of your genetic structure, but still. It didn't help.
And you move on. And you don't. And it comes back to you.
And it's been more than a decade. And it wasn't the first or last fucked up thing to occur, but to this day I can't stand anyone breathing on my neck. It brings it all back, and I have to force my mind clear of the physical sensation of revulsion.

These experiences are extremely awful and unfortunately not rare, not even in the alleged land of the free. I don't know that Japan is better. In fact, I know in a lot of ways it is more backward and strange about the progress of women's roles. But at least here I am 6,000 miles away from the only person to cause me that much trauma whom I still have to know.
That's not why I stay here, mind you. It's also got free healthcare for my kid till she's 12 and a number of jobs I can do with skills I've already acquired and without the desire to set my workplace on fire.
I cannot say the same for Linens N Things, which of course no longer exists, but when it was not an awesome place to work.

But really the point is that finding solidarity with the MeToo thing was cathartic in a way, and I needed to share part of that. Maybe it's a weird thing, but I needed it out.

I also really thought Jim Beaver (Uncle Bobby from Supernatural) had a great response, which was to share his own story but alter the tag. I think anyone could be sexually harassed or assaulted and limiting it to women isn't necessary. Limiting perpetrators to men is also unfair.

There's also a meme going around about that scene at the end of Moana that makes basically a lot of people cry, including me, when the heroine brings the heart of Te Fiti to the island only to find that the island turned into the lava monster when its heart was stolen, so calming the lava monster, saying basically, "I see you. Your pain does not define you." allows her to get close enough to put the small stone heart back in its place and restore things to their natural order.
The meme says that the important part was the genders of those involved-- that only a woman like Moana could understand a fellow female's suffering and help them overcome. If that works for you, awesome. Good for you. Happy to hear it.
But it doesn't work for me at all. Every time shit has hit the fan with these fucked up situations in my life, it's been the men in my life I could turn to, even if it was just the fellow weird kid who happened to have the only phone number I knew at the time, or a family friend and counselor, or whatever. For me, getting help had less to do with the gender of the person and more to do with their ability to listen and attempt to help.
That's not to say that those traumatized by men must seek male assistance. Hell no. Seek the assistance that works for you, whatever that looks like, but telling me that only a woman can help heal a woman is garbage.

And honestly, in the end, you have to choose to heal yourself, and take the steps to make that happen, no matter who is around you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Today's Little Weirdnesses (and then I swear a lot)

Today was my kid's second day off from school due to illness. As of right now, I am not sure if she's going to the kindergarten tomorrow either, even for the special parents-and-grandparents observation day which I have been somewhat afraid of, mostly because I'm not fluent and don't always know what's going on and my husband/translator will be working at the time.

Many good things happened today. We talked for a bit to a couple of my longest-lasting friends (and their adorable offspring) before I got lunch together for everyone, gave the kid her medicine, and went shopping for dinner stuff. I also scoured all nearby potential sources for eco-safe water-based textile ink, as I REALLLLLLLY want to print stuff from Japanese grating, in the style of the pirate printer of Europe. So damn cool! But alas, no ink. Instead, I ran into a former student from back when  I worked in Sendai. This one took exactly one trial lesson post-baby from me and told me she had some other family medical trouble that she needed to spend her time on at the time. She stopped me to ask if my family was okay in Kentucky. So far as I know, I don't have any family whatsoever in Kentucky. "Actually, it's Texas, but yeah, they're all fine. We're far from the water," I said. She said she had to run as she was on her way to her English class now. We parted ways.

And part of my wonders if I could have done something to make her choose me as her English teacher, but the rest of me is so damned tired that it cannot fathom why that would matter. I haven't been able to keep any pre-baby students because my mind post-baby is not as dedicated to the art of teaching. I still care a lot, but not to the same extent. She would have inevitably been disappointed by this. Good that she didn't lead me on.

I took over a Pokemon Go gym, which got retaken, so I retook it again and put an even-higher-level creature in it. I also managed to smash 5 guys out of another gym and plant one of mine in their place with seconds left before a legendary raid began at that location. That was pretty exciting for me.

I came home to a husband playing video games and a daughter napping on the couch, so I put away the groceries and started again into Fallout New Vegas, which I have been playing for too long and am really ready to get to the end of. I'm in the Dead Money expansion, almost at the end. I die a lot. Oh well.

Then, after about a week's worth of thought, I un-followed a friend on Facebook. It was the least harmful (also least interactive) of potential options. Part of me had wanted to talk to her about a recent share-- a declaration of mental health awareness. It was basically a memo stating the half a dozen reasonable reasons she would cancel plans with people she otherwise enjoys the company of. This isn't a bad thing to let people know-- I'm over-peopled, exhausted, whatever today. Sorry I can't meetup.

Here's the thing though. We've known each other for almost 20 years. I can probably count the number of times we have seen each other since starting college on one hand. That was more than a decade ago. The last time I saw her was at my wedding, where we didn't have time to speak. I've been stateside since then, and even bought tickets to a play she had interest in (I had a group of friends going) when she went suddenly incommunicado. Never had an explanation for that. I don't know if there was an apology because after not getting to see her or talk to her at all the one week I was in Texas for likely a decade, I was too disappointed to notice. I do know that she never paid me back for the non-refundable ticket to the play (that she didn't ask me to buy, but fell off the face of the Earth instead of telling me she couldn't go, so it's a small thing and on me, but still shitty...)

Most of our communication in the last 6 years has been her occasionally posting "Let's Skype soon!" as a comment and then never getting online or arranging anything. I can keep asking, inquiring, giving times and options, but it's just me talking to myself. She will just ignore me until I go away.

At one point (pre-2011) she actually gave her cell phone (that I had arranged to call her on at a certain time) to a random friend who apparently had no phone at some point when they had to be apart or some crap. It doesn't matter if their weird story was accurate or utter shit. No apologies. No re-working of times. Nothing but "Oh, I'm girl-you-met-once, not the person you were intending on speaking to, and she isn't anywhere near me..."
And it's just such crap.

The bottom line here is that there are limits to my patience with long-distance, low-interaction relationships. I accept that anxiety problems may get in the way of maintaining contact. That buys you six months of 0 contact, no questions asked. After that, assuming you're not in a mental hospital, I expect a few words of "Hey, sorry talking sucks for me, but I give a shit!" or it isn't really a friendship. I also get that there is some issue with her manipulative roommate, which is part of something completely different and beyond my need to explain to the internet. As an adult above 30, that gets you a few missed chats and forgotten responses, but not 6 years worth of goddamn silence. That's not a friendship.

If it's been 6 years and we have had fewer than 3 conversations outside of "Let's chat!" "When?" "..........." it isn't a friendship anymore.

I hate that this kind of thing is painful and I hate that I am whining about it on my blog. Makes me feel like I'm back on livejournal, being a whiny film-major.

But I think college is part of it. I think she is likely re-initiating her narrative, telling her life story from a happier beginning, which I can't blame her for. I know enough of what went on under the roof of her childhood home to know that shutting that door may well be necessary for sustained happiness or even just non-despair.

The shitty thing is that her narrative seems to now begin after she moved away to college. After we stopped being close. It erases one of the most important early friendships of my life.
And that fucking sucks.

But I guess that's life.

Hell, I'm lucky to have the friends I do, because the ones who do think I am worth more than 12 seconds of their time every couple of years? They are amazing.

If you read this, you're probably one of them.

So thank you for being you.

The other major thing on my mind these days is a few frustrations with an employer that doesn't seem to share my concept of professional behavior. If things don't work out, that's that. We won't starve for it, but I also can't bend over backward to please people who seem to think that I am a simple, uneducated and unskilled house-woman with all the free time and nothing to do but wait for them to summon me on an hour-long journey each way in the hopes that perhaps this time they will elect to be present for the agreed-upon meeting time. This summons also came with no apologies or mentions of our previous (missed) meeting time, for which I scheduled and emailed and prepared and arrived to find no managers present.

I don't think it's professional to whine about this shit on a blog either, or to swear so much when you do, but fuck it man. I worked for GEOS, which gave us a bullshit video-chat-meeting where the woman talking to us couldn't remember what camera we were on and wound up showing us her butt for 20 minutes. This was a day before the meeting where they told us that we didn't have jobs anymore and our last paychecks were toast, eaten by the great corporate machine.

When people can't be bothered to treat me with respect, I start looking for the door. I've been through too many eikaiwa gigs to do otherwise.

Also, as of last month I've been teaching for 10 years. That's right. A decade ago I walked into several classrooms at Southwest High School as Ms. Fleming, the SAT prep teacher, 6 periods a day. I worked my ass off, and every once in a while, I miss those kids. I am happy that I came to Japan and have had the ensuing adventures, but there was something particularly bad ass about teaching kids at my high school. So weird, but pretty damn cool.

Glad I don't have to wear suits anymore though.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Belated High School Drama in Houston

GISHWHES was amazing, as usual, though even this morning I was reminded that I am kind of glad that this was the last big thing. I need these to be smaller more frequent events. That's what I am hoping for anyway.

In other and more current news, Hurricane Harvey (which downgraded and dissipated and disappeared, leaving flooding and off-shot tornadoes in its wake) struck the Gulf Coast region of Texas this week and I was reminded of 2011. Pretty strongly.

While I have lots of sympathy for those who lacked the means to evacuate and will be giving a fair sum of my Patreon money for the month to whatever charity in the affected areas I can find that accepts Paypal, I find my emotions turning in a less altruistic perspective.

In March of 2011, a friend from high school was taking a vacation with his then-boyfriend now-husband to Las Vegas. When news of the shit going down in the country where I'd been residing for several years at that point came to light and made international headlines, I do not know how he felt or what he did. All I do know is that he never contacted me. Not that weekend. Not the week after. At no point did he even give my potential destruction at the hands of something unfathomable more attention than a like on a facebook post. Literally. That is all he did. No comment. No message.

People I hadn't seen in over a decade were finding me on facebook and messaging me to see if I was okay. My mom's boyfriend sent me almost harassing emails, encouraging my communication with her as if I were some wayward teen and not a grown ass woman in an area that just lost all access to electricity and phone lines.

People I hardly knew were coming out of the woodwork to ask if I was okay or say they were happy to hear I hadn't died.

Yet an uncaring jackass with whom I shared my first non-familial home couldn't give me more than a thumbs up. I did hear that at some point he texted a mutual friend for news. Does anyone else get how weird that is as for communication? He did the same thing a few months later when he decided 2 weeks before my wedding that he no longer wanted to play to role of groomsman even though he had agreed to it 6 months previous. Again, he could not bring himself to contact me but instead whined at a mutual friend. Was this for hope of her brokering a better deal? No idea.

I came up with 2 answers for this scenario. Either he cared but was afraid to show me that he cared so he used the intermediary to be able to pretend to be aloof or he never cared in the first place and was using the intermediary to make sure our mutual friends still believed him to be something other than an unfeeling jackass. Option 1 is more likely I believe, even now, but kit doesn't matter. We're grown ass adults. If you need an intermediary to communicate with me, we aren't friends. We may never have been.

Well, the shoe is on the other foot now, Jeffery. Shit's going down in H-town and I've got to say, even now, 6 years after I blocked you from my Facebook and stopped having any kind of contact with you, I give more of a shit about your survival than you may have ever given about mine.

Because I'm fucking writing about it, even though I should really not even care. If anyone who knows him is reading this, know that I still hope he and his people are okay, though I know they all have connections to other folks further north. I do hope they got out okay.

Which is more than they ever said to me.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What I learned This Week

This week has had some ups and downs.

Ups like my slight bout of insomnia the other day combined with some awesome Facebook friends helped get all my mom's cats re-homed in the nick of time. I also reconnected with a bunch of awesome people in the Metroplex while searching for someone who could help with the cats. I may have alienated some people who don't want that level of interaction with me, but that's alright with me overall really.

But the downs, oh man.

Given how things have gone, I am a bit relieved that this year is the last big GISHWHES. I don't think I want to try to make 15 person teams anymore. Every year, every player has a friend or two they'd love to drag along. The problem is I don't know any of these new people. The problem is that a lot of the names on Facebook do not match the names on the GISHWHES site. The problem is I don't know anyone anymore and trying to untangle the mass of named from one site to the other bothers me.

In my attempt to be open and inviting, back when we had space on the team, I offered one of our remaining spaces to a woman I had just met online, named A for this retelling. She seemed really cool-- in her 40s, living in Canada, studying abroad in Japan but moving back to be with her family. She's excited and wants to participate. I give her the sign up info. Spaces get filled. Days pass.

2 hours before the end of registration, she informs me that she cannot participate this year. I spend 20 minutes scrambling to replace her only to find that no one has left the team. There are two people from the province she lives in that I don't know, X and Y. Y was the most recent signup, so I kick Y off the team and get on a friend I begged to join at the last minute.

Registration ends. I think everything is settled. Nothing really is.

A few hours later, one of my friends on the team asks why her friend was kicked off the team. I freak out, race home, email GISHWHES, and it takes us 2 days of email exchanges to boot X instead and get Y back on the list.

And I think it's settled. I breathe a sigh of relief. It isn't.

Days later, I get a message from X, who was actually a genuine member of the team and not A at all, saying that she doesn't get why she isn't on the team anymore.

I think other people are better at accepting failure than I am. That's a skill I need to learn. I suck at it.

So I explain so confused X about the whole A situation. I went nuts trying to replace someone who I had understood to be signed up when in reality apparently she had done nothing of the sort. I spazzed and freaked and alienated even more people searching for help before finding it when in reality, I did not need a damned thing.

And then I had to cancel an online pre-gish get-together, and by cancel I mean just not show up and feel like crap. Just getting my mojo back up after this is going to take more energy and time than I have before GISH starts. It's probably kinda screwed up that I get that much psychic pain from what many around me are calling an honest mistake.

Even X is saying that shit happens and it's okay.

Now do you see why I'm a Hufflepuff? I mean of course I am! When a mistake I make hurts anyone, especially by excluding them unjustly from something I love so much, I fucking ache.

I've gotta figure out how to bandage that shit up and get it healed before Saturday night, when the big event begins.

So what did we learn from this?

1) Do not trust people you just met on the internet.
2) Instead of guessing, ask what email they used to sign up with when people quit your GISHWHES team.
3) Get to know everyone on the team and double check before doing anything rash.
4) Forgive yourself. You are human. Get over it.
5) Watch for PMS. It's out there, waiting to screw with your hormones and make you crazier than normal.

So this week I used the internet for good and screwing things up.

But no one died. I didn't start any revolutions. I'm ready to do something different. Probably.

I don't think it helps that the next 2 days are crammed full of crap that needs to be done, including feeding a cat in Sendai and walking out to a school to change out books.

Somehow, Saturday afternoon, when the work week is done, I need to heal and recharge in like no time. Good luck, future self.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Take A Cat PLEASE!

So today I did something crazy/brave for me.

I'm not actually good with people, as most people who know me probably know. I get anxious and awkward easily with people I don't have a chance to communicate with relatively frequently. I go quickly from just wanting to say hi to just wanting to run and hide for fear that I might bother them.

Today I shoved that all out the window and messaged literally every person I know in DFW on my Facebook friends list. Why? My mom has 2 cats that need homes right now as she is moving out of her current home TODAY and will leave the continental US in about a week. She's beeing using social media and I have shared her posts and ....not a lot of anything. One of her three has found a home with a friend and GISHWHES teammate. The others? Nada.

Is it the social networking algorithms, making the posts invisible to the people who might be able to help, or the apathy or inability of the people we connect with? Is it just that no one needs a cat right now?

I don't know, and the why is less important than the how, as in how do we fix this?

Of course, the back of my mind has been screaming that I must be alienating everyone I know and no one wants to help and no one cares and I'm just pissing them off and you know what? If my saying Hi and asking if you know anyone who could take in a cat is that offensive, I am so okay with being unfriended by you. I love having Facebook friends but what I love most is people who are more than acquaintances.

You can't help with the cat? No worries! Thanks for getting back to me and letting me know. Also, really, how are you?

You have a lead on another sheltering company or provider? Awesome! Maybe they can help and thanks!

Dead silence? Whatever! Maybe you didn't see it or know what to say. I've been there. I don't mind and it was worth a shot. Good day to you regardless!

And honestly, if you are that offended by my attempts to keep my mom from having to hand over her fur-babies to people who will kill them (or the elements, which in the Texas heat will do the same), then you should not be on my friend's list, in my news feed, or even kept at a base acquaintance level.

If I am offending you, I am sorry, but do delete me.

Honestly having 300 friend-links who aren't actually friends but someone I met once who doesn't know me or want to know me anymore isn't beneficial to me. Having 5 badasses who really try to help me? That is all I need in the world sometimes. Having all these connections can be helpful, especially for things like GISHWHES, but if I would offend someone so much with the messages I sent out today, they would never have been helpful for GISHWHES anyway. With this being the final year of the hunt, it really isn't worth it in my opinion to maintain hundreds of acquaintance-ships with folks who want nothing to do with me.

So I do apologize if my abrupt and strange message of the day disturbed anyone who doesn't usually chat with me, but it was for a good cause and I don't see myself needing to do that literally ever again. But if it really bugged you, make sure I can't bug you again.

The great thing that came out of this? A number of neat little conversations with people I haven't talked to in ages. Because that is why this is not spam. If you respond, we talk, and I'm not just a robot trying to sell you my mom's cat.

The squeamish part of me that's still a bit pretentious thinks that last sentence is in questionable sanity. The rest of me feels that people in my life know that I saw weird things when I'm sleep-deprived, but they are usually interesting/entertaining.

But the point is that I chatted with a bunch of people, all separately, all interestingly. Not all people I know that well or have seen in years. Some were even people I don't know if I would jump at the chance to talk to if I saw them on the street in DFW (because I'll talk to anyone I know when they're in Japan, but back home, that's not something I'd do), but still, conversations were had.

2 of the cats still need homes. They go wherever they go tomorrow.
It's super depressing.
I woke up at 2AM and spent 2.5 hours trying to track down new homes for them.
I have done my part. For now.

EDIT: Within a couple of hours of this post, thanks in no small part to the assistance of a friend and patron, the cats have been re-homed in foster care. All the cats have homes, at least for now, and we can all relax a bit more now.
Thank you, all and any of you.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Current Thought Soup or You might say I'm a failure, but I'm not the only one...

So, as I embroider details into a felt model of Jupiter that will complete a project I've been working on for months, my mind is fighting itself over fairly inane things.

Like maybe all of my friends from high school seriously doubt my parenting abilities. But 1) they probably don't and 2) what does that even matter? I'm on the other side of the world from literally all of them, no one is coming to visit me from that group any time soon if ever...who cares?
This really relates back to this snarky perspective that keeps coming up in my mental stew and really needs to be put into character form in a novel so I can be done with it. Being insecure about things we've already found the logic to and know there's no reason to be hurt by is a waste of time and emotional energy.
Yet I still get that every once in a while, and it still doesn't matter. Thanks, brain.

Then there's thoughts regarding the project, ranging from how proud I am of the texturing I've achieved on the swirling clouds of the gas giant to how imperfect it all is and how no one would ever want this junk so what is wrong with me for continuing to put effort into projects like this when it is obvious I cannot ever make them work the way I want them to.

On the upside, Julia's asleep and the week is over, save for teaching and Julia's music class tomorrow. This week I didn't realize there was an event that required her sports uniform Tuesday, so she went out in the wrong uniform. Wednesday was extremely busy for me (run to Sendai for a private lesson, then take the train halfway home and stop to refresh the book selection for a private family lesson, then home in time for Julia to come home followed by a private lesson that had to be moved from Thursday to accommodate a fancy dinner with my in-laws) so I goofed and sent her out in the sports uniform for Thursday, which was of course wrong. Then Thursday came and my husband had the day off and I was so distracted by him and all the other stuff that had to be done to prepare for the dinner that I put her in the regular uniform instead of the sports uniform and my husband did not understand why I didn't make a bus of children wait 10 minutes while I brought her up to change instead of just sending her off on the bus in the wrong outfit as I had.

This morning, Friday morning, we had the right outfit, save for the hat which I completely forgot. But hey, fitting end I'd say. I then treated myself to a little coffee and Greek yogurt from the grocery store before meeting up to go to teach at a different kindergarten as part of yet another part-time job.

Thursday night's dinner went really well. It was meant to commemorate the death of my grandmother-in-law, who passed last year. We had to go get Julia a new dress and shoes for the affair, since we were meant to be in formal black attire.

The restaurant was an upscale place in Izumi, the rich suburb of Sendai, and offered Kyoto-style food served by kimono-clad staff in fancy separate dining rooms. This was nice, but I don't know what the staff are thinking in regards to dish placement.
Traditional or fancy Japanese meals tend to use a bunch of different tiny dishes, and we arrived 5 minutes late, so everyone was already seated, with our spaces open on the other side. My daughter sat between my husband and I with my in-laws, including Grandpa, on the other side. It is important to note here that Grandpa is from my mother-in-law's side, not the husband of the deceased. His wife is also deceased, but that's a different story from some time ago. As I recall from 2011, when we all shared a living space for a few weeks, the two of them did not get along too well. They didn't fight like anyone in my family, but things sometimes came out with a snarky tone, not that I could understand everything but I have been around enough family drama in my time to be able to get the idea of what's going down to some extent.
At Thursday night's dinner, Grandpa made a point of reading a little something (that I understood none of but seemed heart-felt and somber) regarding the deceased before we ate, and I felt that was really special.

So anyway, back to the dishes. They bring in drinks- orange juice for everyone in tall glasses with fluted mouths, and proceed to place them at the very corners of the table, so mine is right off of my right elbow. Then they place a bunch of smaller dishes around. Then they bring the children's bento for my daughter and ask that my husband and I move all the shit they just put into the place in front of my daughter so that they might place the bento box down. There isn't space and as my mind decides I am troubling the poor waitress, I rush a little in moving all of the things. I barely feel a nudge at my elbow and turn to see the fluted glass falling in slow motion, knowing I'm powerless to stop it as it empties its contents on the floor. Lucky, the room was not carpeted and my mother-in-law apologized as I was too embarrassed to speak while also being pissed off at whoever's stupid idea it was to place the glasses at the damn corners and then ask us to move all the shit they put out.

So I spent about 10 minutes feeling like a massive failure, but I did not cry. Instead I focused on the messed up task of trying to feed the fussy child while she climbs out of the chair and attempts to play with everything she can find before spitting rice directly onto my made-up face. I never wear make-up, so this was especially unpleasant for me.

The food was beautiful and some of it quite delicious. Everything was made better by a few small interactions. No one freaked out when I scooped the tiny fish from my rice bowl onto my husband's portion or when I openly handed him the chunk of iced tofu they served in the first course. In fact, my father-in-law made it a point to give me the au gratin dish from his specialty meal so that I could enjoy something they knew I could eat. Also, there was laughter.
They served a soup, and like many fancy places that do this, the soup served in a bowl over a candle, which you were to then ladle into your own separate service-ware despite everyone having their own soup-and-candle thing. After serving myself, I was unsure of the temperature and checked by licking a large chunk from the soup. My tongue darted back in as the soup was too hot, and then my father-in-law started laughing. I laughed too, acknowledging it was a little bit of a silly gesture, licking the soup. He then said that he had done the exact same thing, and suddenly I didn't feel like such a failure.

So this week was long and tricky and my brain is trying to jump in a dozen different directions, but for now I am going to sit back and relax.

And maybe finish Jupiter.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, May 8, 2017

And it ALL SUCKS again. But I'm Still Here.

Golden week is over, and we mostly just relaxed at home, sometimes with friends. We also went out to Sendai once and watched all the Marvel movies we missed courtesy of Amazon streaming with Tomo on his one day off during the week.

Then came today, a day I was so looking forward to. I've noticed that a lack of time spent alone makes me somewhat more irritable than usual. I don't like snapping at my toddler for little reason, so I was really happy about having time to recharge...
And then she was sick,

She had a bit of a fever, so Tomo called off the school bus and I surrendered my plans for the day, keeping an eye on her temperature.
I also needed a walk. I also needed to relax somehow. I also needed a bit of time away from the hyper-yet-feverish kid, and in the end I screwed everything up by not alerting my in-laws the second her temp was over 38 (it oscillated between 37.5 and 38.1, making me wary of our equipment's readings) and rushing to the hospital. In Japan, this visit is free and the medicine is free, but everything must be done before 10:30 AM, which it wasn't.

Around 11, Tomo came home, called his parents, got us picked up and went back to work. Julia was right at 39. We went off to the hospital, which told us we were too late, then to the clinic where we got flu shots before. The doc fit us in just before lunch and took a nose swab, which came back in a few minutes confirming 1) a viral presence and 2) not the flu. He wrote us a little prescription and we went across the street to get it filled.

Because it was our first time at that pharmacy, we had to fill out a questionnaire and I discovered something new: My Mother-in-law is apparently tired of my shit.
Tomo fills out all the paperwork for everything we do. He chose the complex kanji for our daughter's name. I can't even read the questions on this form, and my mother-in-law is just looking at me, asking why I can't fill it out on my own.
I tell her I don't know Julia's kanji. I don't tell her that I spent the weekend filling out submission forms to the grocery store's seasonal write-in contest, where my kanji for my fairly complex address has improved greatly, but is still awkward. I did not explain how little time there is for study when I am trying to do all the other things they want me to do (lose 80 pounds, clean the house, maintain sanity) and take care of the three-year-old. I still don't even know where she caught this stupid virus.
My MIL, exasperated, writes the form in sloppy kanji. She read and tried to simplify the form for me to circle the answers on. A lot of it was not actually understandable to me. By this point, my embarrassment was verging toward self-loathing.
There was a question about allergies.
According to a recent blood test, Julia is not allergic to anything. This is in spite of the fact that she breaks out in hives every time she eats anything with the tiniest amount of peaches in it. Apparently that's not an allergic reaction in this case, and apparently this isn't weird in Japan. Some kids have immune systems that have to get used to certain things (egg whites and some kinds of fruit) which usually happens after a few years. The most you can do is treat the symptoms by having some medicine (not over-the-counter) on hand for those times. All of Julia's medicine for her peach-related attacks has been used.
We marked "No" on the allergy form and went on. We got the medicine, my MIL spent $6 on that and some cool packs for my daughter's head and the back of her neck, and we went on our way.
Under the guise of assistance, my MIL brought the 2 extremely light bags of things up to the apartment where she got to peek into my messy living room and appraise my lack-luster cleaning skills.

In my defense, I couldn't get crap done with Julia home all week and did actually manage to clean well enough to have a decent gathering for Star Wars Day, so I did my best. This was not a hell-hole.

Still I know she would never let anyone she loved live in such a place.

And I am trying my best.

But it just isn't good enough.

I never felt this way in school. Ever. Like seriously, even when I barely studied for Hellenistic Greek at 8AM, I felt more confident walking into that mid-term and final than I have ever felt in this hard-core Japanese Housewife Skills Test that is my everyday life and that I so thoroughly suck at.

And it doesn't really matter what I do, see? If I think we need a walk and we take a walk then obviously we should have stayed home and called everyone we know to discuss the readings on the thermometer. Whatever the situation is, I should assess the answer choices and immediately eliminate anything that makes sense to me, choosing only the most stressful or peculiar option.

I started having time to myself last month, so I started walking a lot and trying to jump-start this weight loss thing, acknowledging that it is probably the longest process in the multi-pronged list that is left between my current position and the expectations I am failing to meet.
Cleaning and organizing has also begun, including finally cleaning off the dining table and building a small book shelf with Hana's help. More salads, fewer carbs, constantly checking my daughter's uniform for spots to clean...I'm not exactly drowning in actual free time. I am trying to do all of the things.

And I am failing.

So, while Julia ate her lunch and I washed the dishes in the sink, I battled through some dark contemplation. I pulled myself back to the present long enough to get Julia to take her medicine and deliver her a tiny ice cream from the fridge as a reward.
I rinsed and de-labeled the plastic recycling while by brain dove back into less pleasant topics. When the recycling in the house was done, a tiny surge of accomplishment stirred within. Coming out the other side of internalized-garbage-land, I elected to write down some things I would like to see/do before I die. For this I chose the front page of my schedule book, where I will see this list every time I open the book. The biggest and boldest item there is USING THE WHOLE HOARD, which I later realized would of course take more than an afternoon. I hoard crafting supplies and fabric. This is not a short-term goal, but it should be done before I am incapacitated, pregnant again, or dead-- I would be saddling someone else with sorting through or trashing all that junk otherwise and I would rather have it all used.
The goal is to make stuff people actually want or need out of all the things without replacing the hoard.

Julia fell asleep on the couch after finishing her late lunch. I also chose to take a nap, which ended abruptly when Julia woke up after an hour. My mood had improved a bit.
I got Julia to drink more fluids and noticed that her wrist was covered with hives. Thankfully we still have medicated cream and after using it on the splotches, Julia appears to be free of the itchy bumps. Around this point, I decided finally that I could eat something, so I had a bowl of granola. The only way I thought I could even attempt to do what all they want in the time frame they have in mind is through starvation, but with more logic alive in my mind, I know that way lies madness. And fever. Whatever virus Julia caught will kick my ass if I don't keep myself fed and healthy.

So now we're here and I am talking online about things I don't really want everyone knowing but at the same time, if this helps anyone else re-assess and choose life, then it deserves a place in cyberspace.