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Viva Esoterica!
20 most recent entries

Date:2016-11-09 18:57
Subject:Election Day


That happened.

I'm still in shock. I stayed late at work, and kept busy. But I lost it after I checked Facebook, and saw someone's posting of Bread and Roses.

Here it is behind a cut, so I don't instantly cry again.

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Date:2016-03-21 21:10

Sunday was super successful. I went in to Tokyo for the Bread Festival, met Katy for some lunch, and spent some time putting together a giant puzzle at her place, went to a giant picnic with some new people, and went to the Mori Gallery to see the Dutch Golden Age exhibit. Frans Hals for the wiiiiiiin.

Though Jan Steen's put upon women's faces and Gotfried Schlacken's derpy men were also excellent.

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Date:2016-02-01 20:10
Subject:More adventures

I am burrowing myself into my apartment with herbal tea, my space heater, and Margaret Rutherford movies in sad hope of surviving this month of chills. It was my long day today, with a break for lunch and that's it. The first class had a slightly manic energy that I couldn't quite turn push toward joy and enthusiasm, and the rest of the day's classes were up, then flat. Students have a 5 day weekend next week; at least they'll get a rest and a chance to blow off steam.

The past weekend was good, but I bailed on the second social event scheduled on Sunday because of a sore throat. Saturday was interesting. I met Paula and one of her friends Ron for the Akiu Art showcase for 7 craftsmen that live in Sendai. (I'm in their social media publicity now.) Paula knows the man that makes the Edo-style tops, and runs a website about his work. How she came to be involved with it, and the government supported artisan colony of septuagenarians, was a very random twist of internet searching, responsiveness to a stranger living in Tennessee, and her commitment to Japanese culture.
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The woodwork was gorgeous, and I am ready to visit Sendai to see the actual workshops. Happily, a coworker's son turned 6 the Friday before, so I bought him a top for a birthday present. My friend sent me a video of him playing with it and thanking me; it was very cute. ...I have not told her I also got 2 tops for myself.

After that, we were pointed to a big shrine that was getting ready for Setsubun. Officially it's this Wednesday, and it has to be one of my favorite holidays here: Dads (or somebody) dress up like ogres with demon masks (oni), and tiny children throw soybeans at him while chanting "Demons out! Luck in!" Families decorate with holly and/or sardine heads.

It's supposed to mark the day before spring starts, but it sure doesn't feel like it.

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Date:2016-01-23 20:32
Subject:Looking for the good in the small

The past work week was a little strange. After the snow day Monday, I had to stay in school until about 8:15 for a student exhibition. (I did leave the building to buy groceries, and found butter caramel soft serve ice cream, though!)

Then the next two nights I stayed on average until 7 grading for the upcoming semester report card. (My work this week will be manageable thanks to working longer last week. And I didn't take any marking home, maintaining a boundary of work life and home space.)

I went on a date that didn't end very pleasantly or well last Friday, but I did get to go ice skating.

So much of life can be summed up in platitudes or petty complaints. (Or major hurts. I've got petty complaints, but everybody's got something.) I'm doing my best to focus on the happier parts, without ignoring or lying about the other stuff. My school administrators are shortsighted and wrong in their system of curriculum documentation and articulation; it is frustrating. Friday night, I bought fruit from the corner stand next to me, and the woman who sold it was so entertained with my exact change! I went to a late dinner with my friend Paule, and had ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter and banana. When I got home, my cat had vomited on a sweater I had placed near the heater for her; my first book purchased from the Garage Sale Books Japan Facebook group came in the mail wrapped like a present but in plain paper with the address written on it. Today I woke up early, but got out of bed late. But I put on bright lipstick, and saw the very friendly homeless woman who lives in my neighborhood, but I hadn't seen for several weeks. She doesn't have adequate socks for this weather at all, but I was able to catch her and give her some money.

Always a split. And not an even one at all; the many people living without shelter laughably outweighs any brief flash of altruism endorphins.

My friend Liz and one of her kids accepted my invitation to join me strawberry picking tomorrow. I found my missing house key that I thought John had, and I can stop worrying about it. I'll keep some spare socks in my bike basket.

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Date:2016-01-18 20:31
Subject:Day of sleep and snow

To my complete surprise, we had a snow day today. I found out while I was still in bed at 10 till 7, when I should have been up at least 20 minutes earlier, so it was welcome news. Unfortunately, in excitement and the requirement of setting 'elearning' assignments on days off, I had a flurry of computer-based work for the next hour and a half instead of sleeping in. At least I got oatmeal, and started the day sort of normally.

But instead of going back to bed then, I explored the short and tragically canceled magic of Other Space, designed by Paul Feig, Judd Apatow's more compassionate and feminist producing partner. It is so precious and delicate and sexually fluid and sweetly funny. When I started it, I didn't know that Joel Hodgson was on it and played the spaced out engineer, and Trace Beaulieu works and voices a puppet robot. (electricwitch, get on this if you haven't seen it.) It was made by Yahoo, the completely unnecessary streaming service that saved Community, and has been dissolved because it lost so much money. I am sad for its loss, but grateful to its experiment.

I kept foolishly putting off a nap until about 5, and now I am refreshed and ready for adventure when I need to get ready for bed. It barely snowed, but it was sleety and raining for most of the day. So I stayed inside and drank tea and hot chocolate.

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Date:2015-12-27 13:53
Subject:Even more gratitude

Today I am grateful for:

-Steam rooms with salt scrubs and lemon

-Getting over myself a little, accepting relationships as they are, and reconnecting with friends

-Spending all of yesterday in bed, napping and watching movies. I thank me, and my sinuses thank me for the break.

-Getting a package from my mother this morning, with a giant stuffed s'more and a tiny Royals jersey that is still way too big for my cat.

-Hearing from a guy I haven't talked to in at least 6 months Christmas evening. He still lives in Shanghai, he's still a no-good two bit heel, and has now been checking on how work and life has been going for four years since we both left Saigon. I have no delusions about his suitability as a romantic interest, but it was nice to hear from him, and nice to feel wanted.

-The new clothes I bought actually fit and are flattering.

-Murdoch Mysteries, the show I've been watching for days and days, is goofily charming, and has a pleasantly gentle, Canadian attitude towards abortion, sex work, racism and homophobia that is both anachronistic and weirdly appropriate. Plus there is an episode that's an homage to Chinatown AND one to Friday the 13th. (It is set around 1900 and has cozy mysteries in Toronto.)

-ETA: How could I forget! The perfect holiday "shit, time to pick up the pieces" song. Thanks Dolly:

It feels like I'm in a money spending spree, and I can't tell if I'm just trying to cover up feelings with consumerism, or if I'm just having a vacation at home and adding things to my apartment that I have wanted for a while. (A spree in this case is still within budgets, it's just...weeeeird.)

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Date:2015-12-24 14:32
Subject:More gratitude

-It is a sunny day.

-I got to talk to my beautiful grandmother this morning. Some of her great grandkids interrupted our call to sing happy birthday to her; she is well loved and surrounded with people who know she is wonderful.

-Going to the dentist. (Implies and includes: access to healthcare, time to make and go to an appointment, the buzzy polish after the unpleasant scraping, my lucky, lucky teeth)

-Finding 'peppermint face mist.' What/oh Japan.

-Seeing Star Wars in 9 minutes :)

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Date:2015-12-23 14:55
Subject:Gratitude #5

It is grey, chilly and damp out. But right now it is 2:35pm, I am still in flannel pajamas, and I am sitting next to my little space heater with a cat on my lap. So there is a lot to feel good about.

Things I'm grateful for today:

-Yesterday I had a very long afternoon tea with Paula, and was able to give her some lemon curd. She is so interesting to talk to, and I learned about one of her side projects on this craftsman in Sendai in his eighties who hand carves Edo-style tops. They are so beautiful.

-After drinking lots and lots of tea and food off of three tiers, I went to Jimbocho, the book seller's section of Tokyo. I always spend too much money there, which is a little alarming. But today, the morning after, I am so happy with the things I bought: A really nice edition of the Harry Belafonte record Harry Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall. It's the one with the Chad Mitchell Trio and Odetta and Mariam Makeba as guest singers.

-Overpriced postcards that I have wanted for a year, that pop out and fold back and make Japanese storefronts and buildings. I bought each one they fucking had.

-Listening to records (excerpts from The Nutcracker, with trippy pink, purple and orange art, and Harry Belafonte) while organizing DVDs, cooking supplies, and the boxes of tea on top of my fridge. Productivity!

-Opening up a box I ordered from Modcloth EARLY, BEFORE CHRISTMAS. True to form, I had forgotten two out of four things I ordered, and half of the things are bigger than expected.

-My cat standing right in front of the space heater like she is in worship.

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Date:2015-12-20 16:37
Subject:Gratitude Entry 3

Today, I'm grateful for:

-Getting to talk to my mom this morning. She is doing much better.

-Being invited out last night to a party. Even though I knew one person there, and most of the guests preferred speaking Japanese, I had a good time and have four new contacts.

-Getting to sleep in tomorrow, even though it will be Monday.

-Getting a couple of rude/angry texts from John last night. It's much easier to keep going now.

-Cuddly cat.

-Clean sheets and vacuumed floors.

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Date:2015-12-16 11:58
Subject:Gratitude Entry!

Things I am grateful for:

-Wanting to stay friends with an ex: Even though it hurts now and is very complicated, and we are not compatible as romantic partners (kids and reaction to stress/harping), I am grateful that I dated someone decent (ETA: Interesting?) enough that I want to be a friend.

-Going on a date Monday with someone with whom I have no romantic interest: I didn't know he was a huge Two and a Half Men (the Charlie years!) and Ayn Rand fan before the date, but having a goofily bad time made me laugh sincerely.

-My friend Paule for offering to hang out over break, and offering to show me how to make lemon curd. She is a lovely person, and lemon curd is the best.

-New friend Paula for sending cute cat emojis, and wanting to hang our some more!

-Jennie for wanting to hang out at an onsen next week!

-The sun is out today!

-I am wearing a dress with candy canes on it!

-I will soon go to Costco and buy real candy canes and a big bag of lemons!

-Today at work I got to write some more holiday cards to tell people I love that they are great and decorate envelopes with washi tape, give a test, and dissect eyes with excited 7th graders.

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Date:2015-11-14 13:26
Subject:Running and running

My last entry only filled things out until about last week. Life is actually pretty good, except for very particular relationships. So I will focus on the good and the awesome.

Last weekend I successfully made the long journey to the International Christian University's Gender Studies room for a symposium on fairy tales. My friend from work came with me, and I met a new potential friend from OkCupid there. The keynote speaker was pretty terrible, but I enjoyed the other talks, and LOVED the talk on the painter Paula Rego. The speaker was just so great, and kept referencing my favorite angry second generation feminists. (I understand the feminist backlash against them, in an attempt to move things along, and that the movement was/is seriously flawed with women of color and dealing with intersectionality. But I love Julia Kristeva and Germaine Greer's energy and furious indignation so much, it's like a tonic.)

I found out about the event from Louis, and after I told him I was going he said he was going too, and he assumed we would go together. But he came late with his friends, and we sat in different places. We did meet up for dinner later, though.

Then Sunday I sorted garbage in the rain, and fought with John in an honest way. These things feel thematically linked.

Monday was a school holiday, so I was able to go running and got to meet jenbys for a late lunch. We were trying to go to an afternoon tea, but I failed miserably at finding the place and she was incredibly gracious about it, and listened to me complain inappropriately about relationships. Happily, my whining was balanced out with her awesome prospects/news.

I hadn't gone running in ages, and my legs felt kind of wobbly the next day. But it used to be important to me, and seems like a good self care routine to get back into. I write about it regularly enough on lj, but I don't post very often either, so... It's been a little while. (Interestingly, the past month of emotional stress coincided completely with a month of no regular exercise, besides biking to school. COINCIDENCE.) So I went again on Wednesday, and Friday night. I even got a running app on my phone, so I can lug that expensive and breakable thing around. I like having real information about how far and how long I've gone; my regular run is 6 km. I am slow compared to 'real runners,' but I need to get that out of my head and never talk to Louis the marathoner about it. Because I'm proud of that! 6k! If I can do the same next week, and the next, maybe I'll work on adding a little distance or trying to go faster. But good job for now, body!

Unrelated, the shining star of my Halloween at home was finding the web comic The Last Halloween. It's creepy, it's funny, it's beautifully drawn and fantastically paced. The world should read it.

ETA: Cookie baking. Cookie baking also happened. This recipe is not up to par with my grandmother's, but for my first attempt they are extremely edible. Underbake the hell out of them.

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Date:2015-09-25 19:27
Subject:Rainy season hikes and non-Miyazaki Ghibli

The last day of the 12 day week! And of course tomorrow I will still wake up early, because I have sort of agreed to a hike up Takao-san, a nearby mountain. It is supposed to be beautiful, but it is 1.5 hours away, and if it is raining like it was this morning I am BAILING.

The kittens are gone, and the room they stayed in now smells faintly of orange cleaning spray. For the last two nights I have tried the "daily 20 minutes" plan of cleaning, just fixing whatever you can for 20 minutes and then calling it done. I will see if I can keep it; laundry drying and putting away takes me a long time, and it helps to 'count it' toward actual cleaning.

I have also started to watch the Ghibli movies I have missed. Castle of Cagliostro was one of Miyazaki's first movies, before the studio was founded. It was very late 70s action adventure anime; I am sorry I avoided it when my high school boyfriend tried to get me to watch it. I also watched Whispers of the Heart, which Miyazaki did not direct, but was still good. It was very cheesy, and 14 year olds declare their intentions to marry one day, but it was worth it for the fantasy sequences and the visual cultural landmarks. (The main character's apartment, the trains, the streets and the sidewalks are very accurate.)

I guess I should get on the Isao Takahata train. The only movie of his I've seen is the latest, The Tale of Princess Kaguya. It was good, and very beautiful, but super depressing. I only managed about 3 minutes of Grave of Fireflies the last time I tried it, so I'm not holding my breath for that one.

In other news, it is the right time to buy a decrepit house in Japan: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2015-09-21/why-8-million-homes-lie-empty-in-japan

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Date:2015-09-10 13:35
Subject:Rain and more rain

I have not run since Friday, and it is sad. The mountain walking was on Saturday, so that was fine, but every day so far this week has been very rainy. There are two storms swinging by Japan from both ends, and yesterday the roads were just sheeting with water. (I still biked home, though. What else are these stylish rain pants for?)

Today in school, my two classes are cancelled because of a grade 7 iPad roll out thing. It is normally my one light day of the week anyway, but now it is completely empty. I went to visit the 7th graders to be a body on hand, but there is nothing to do. I've planned until the 21st for all classes. There is nothing else I should do. Maybe documentation/unit planning, or fixing some old test that we might use again in two months, but the coordinator hasn't opened up anything for us to do for this year, and planning two months ahead is just dumb.

So I had a sweet potato and brown sugar ice cream, wrote half a letter, and lurk around livejournal. I feel restless, but also tired. This week has been strange so far, and I will be very happy when it is over, and I can reset.

ETA: Volunteering to be with the grade 7 iPad thing and with the grade 6 'everybody make a blog!' thing was absolutely the best thing I could have done with my time.

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Date:2015-09-02 21:25
Subject:Running Progress...

Recalibrated Google Maps, and have actually run 6.2 km Monday night, and tonight.

Also saw my first rat in Japan. Eeeeeeh. Some days you can work your butt off and focus on as many positives as possible, and it's still kind of a poor to mediocre draw. Time to stare wistfully at job placements, and contemplate life.

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Date:2015-08-21 09:47
Subject:Bravery in the face of feelings and medical procedures

I am brave today, because I got blood drawn for my yearly staff medical check in front of millions of colleagues, and I am a weenie about needles. But the nurse practitioner was amazing. And afterward I got to eat a giant breakfast, and CUDDLE PUPPIES. One of the math teachers had to bring his toy poodle dogs in because of some family movement, and one crawled in my lap and just... stayed there, so happy. Right before lunch the other science teachers called me in, and 'surprised' me with a birthday cake. (Banana chocolate. Stupid delicious.) All in all, not a bad day to pee in a cup and get stabbed in the arm.

Last night I went for a run for the second time this week, and went 4.6k according to Google Maps later. If I keep going, I could maybe do a 10k race some time in the fall, though that sounds very long and very stressful. But another teacher posted something for the races on runner.net, and one of them is trekking through a beautiful trail. I'm tempted. Maybe it will combine the worst parts about running and the slippery, dangerous parts of hiking, but maybe it will combine the relaxation of moving under trees with the mellowness of running slowly.

Also last night, had another 'fight' with boyfriend 1 about feelings, which I'm convinced now were caused by hormones trying to flush my uterus in the next 8 hours. (By the end of the run, my body felt good, but my brain was at the numb stage of 'why am I dating anyone at all?') But like all my fights, it followed the pattern of:
A: I have a feeling
J: Okay. Tell me about this feeling.
A: Here are details about this feeling, and maybe why, and a few other feelings.
J: Okay.
A/J: Maybe we could do these things, and feelings will get better.

One day, I want to have a cliched fight, just to know what they feel like.

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Date:2015-08-14 20:20
Subject:Survived Summer!

Or very nearly. I don't think of the summer as really done until my birthday, which will be in a week. But this morning my dad got on a plane to return to the US, after two weeks in Japan, and boy does that feel like an accomplished, desperate ending.

He did pretty well, and had a pretty good time for a man nearly 60 taking a huge step outside of his comfort zone who can't communicate his feelings or even mild preferences, making planning for him impossible. Many times he was miserable, because of the intense heat or that I had failed to read how hungry he was.

Yesterday night I was shocked when he started talking about maybe visiting in the spring, when it was nicer. I wanted to respond, "You hated everything, why are you talking about returning??" But okay.

I intend to walk around my apartment naked as much as I can before I need to go back to school Tuesday.

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Date:2015-07-27 21:55
Subject:Alive! Just in the Midwest...

Thank you for holding the lj torch, greensword!

I have driven from Maryland to Kansas City in 17.5 hours, saw a seriously mentally unwell relative who is slowly turning my late grandfather's home into a garbage house, went to the Czech Capital of Kansas and saw my lovely grandmother and the world's largest painted Czech egg. And am finally returned to a wifi connection in Wichita.

I don't even know, folks. I'm spending a lot of energy trying to reassure my dad that visiting Japan with me will be fine/great, but I am of course nervous that he will be unhappy/it will not go well. A learning experience for both of us!

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Date:2015-07-15 16:45
Subject:Taxes filed!

A couple months late, but done and dusted.

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Date:2015-07-12 17:17
Subject:Connecticut is a green place

I have emptied my teenage closet, and fixed my mother's range. I have also been slightly dumped (by the extra guy, for lack of a better term, with whom I only went on one official date) via text, then panic/angst texted the next day saying it had been a terrible mistake we should date I'm wonderful, and moved up to Connecticut to see my brother and his wife, and got to see friend Anna for the first time in years, and will get to make a pit stop in New York and see friend Shauna whom I also haven't seen in years.

I'm very proud of the closet. On the guy, I've got three weeks before I'm back in Japan, so I'm not holding my breath on any of that, but will monitor things.

Visiting people has been wonderful. Seeing my younger brother's house and yard and in laws is very surreal, but I am happy for him. It is a sleepy scattered town; I hope he'll be happy here.

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Date:2015-07-08 06:28
Subject:Survived everything

Including Myanmar. And my first poly date. And the 20 hour travel loop. And the first 2 days of jetlag.

Myanmar was amazing, and a very troubled place. My brain is kind of empty at the moment, especially after pouring it all out in a letter to a friend.

So... braindead list time!

To do while in the US:
-Goodwill runs
-Clean out closet
-Trader Joe's (deodorant, almond butter)
-Target (cetaphil, hippie conditioner, ibuprofen, tampons)
-Costco (underwear; super classy style)

-Wells Fargo (sort out the cancelled credit card)

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