Monday, February 20, 2012

Winter, Winter

Winter, winter
go away.
Please come back
another day, but only when I am on a winter wonderland vacation far away from the place that I actually live.

How do you like my new poem?  I'm cold.  I'm ready for a warm spring.  Crocus, where are thee?

I made bread yesterday for the first time in about two years, and for the very first time using the bread maker that my friend Megan most generously passed on to me.  It was really easy, and I have visions of making bread for every occasion that comes my way for a while.  Every favor shall be repaid in bread.  And I didn't even need yeast!!  It was way easier than my past experiences with very temperamental bread recipes.  I just tossed all of the ingredients into the machine and Wa La!  Perfect bread.  I should make it sound harder.

Knox helped.  I messured ingredients and then let him pour them in.  He really likes helping and is always very excited about eating anything that he helped with.  This morning as we were leaving the apartment he ran over to the bread maker and said, "I want to eat that!"  I promised that we could eat it after school, so today I'll be enjoying banana bread when I get home, and I want to start another loaf for a friend that just had a baby.  I hope I get that done!!

I have very few classes over the next week because the students have four days of exams, so I am hoping to get down to business studying for the GRE.  Like I have said before, I don't know how I'll do it, but I know I will.  Math, I shall conquer thee, if only for a day!

I have lots of big plans for this year.  I'm going to a friend's wedding April 1st in Kyoto, and while I'm there, Peter and I are going to take Knox to Universal Studios Japan.  I have wanted to take him there for so long!!  I'm hoping to go to Okinawa for part of Golden Week, but I'm not sure what will happen yet.  Maybe I'll go on a cheaper-than-going-to-Okinawa shopping spree instead, because I have to save up for my mom's visit in July!!  Tickets to Japan are crazy expensive right now, but I have to make it work.  And I am visiting the United States along with Knox and Peter in December/January.  I am in need of a trip home and I'm really happy, but I'm probably going to cringe when I spend upwards of $6,000 on plane tickets. 

Family, will you feed us when we get there?  I hope so.

I've been trying to keep up to date on Castle, The Bachelor, and Californication in the midst of the streaming crackdown.  It seems if I watch things in a timely manner, I catch them before they get pulled down.  I've given up on Pretty Little Liars.  The girls are cute and I like the hair and fashion, but the show just got too terrible to withstand any longer.  Also, Archer is great, but I don't have to stream that as I have other sources. 

Oh, remember when I said the flu doesn't exist for me, and it was confirmed, at least with type A?  Well, Peter had the stomach flu last week (from like 20 kids that had it at his school), and then Knox got it, and he puked in the ball pit the other day and I had to go to a neighboring store to buy him all new clothes, and I took care of Knox and all his pukey clothes and had to change the entire bed twice one night... but guess who DIDN'T get stomach flu?  Wahahahahaa!

Ummmm... that's all for now!!

From Japan,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Kid is Alright

Ok.  That's it.

I'm my mother's daughter, and there is only so much wallowing and crying about something before we say enough, take a sharp turn, and slap things into shape.

Lately, I've wasted too much time on resisting what is.   

Getting divorced is hard.  Watching the changes happen in your child is a lot harder.  I wonder if I am doing the right thing as a parent... that dynamic question goes on and on, and in the face of this major change, I have suffocated myself with doubt and indecision for long enough.  No one knows the answers.  There is no one right way to do things.  And things are not and never will be perfect.  So, I just have to make a decision and go with it, and hope it is a good one, and more than that, have confidence that the decision is good.  I have said before that, over time, self doubt has been my most prominent failure.  What is there to do with self doubt but to decide it away?  

You know what?  Yeah, I have wished that it had just worked for me.  Of course I have.  And I see my friends' family pictures and updates and feel... sad... But you know what?  Pictures are a lot more romantic than real life.  Pictures show a moment, not reality, which is a string of moments that add up to life.  And LIFE is, in this comparative aspect, so different for each of us.  Also, as I think about that feeling I have gotten when I see my friends' pictures, and as I try to put it into words, I find that I can't.  What am I sad about?  At this moment of reflection I'm uplifted, and I'm finding right now as I write this that it's true... when we shine the light of our consciousness on negative feelings, they dissolve. Here I go, and I hope you'll see more than cliche, but I think our consciousness is our essence, that our essence is love, and that love conquers all.

My heart aches so often over Knox; I hear Knox over the phone asking me to come to him at Peter's house, and I don't know what to think or how to feel.  All I can think is that I'm failing him. I get down when I have to do chores and he says, "Mommy, can you play with me?"  And I have to say, "No, baby, I have to make you dinner right now."  But you know what?  Parents have to work, and go to school, and do all sorts of things that keep them from their children.  Some couples have to work opposite day and night jobs to take care of their children and make ends meet.  I could romanticize the pictures, or I could compare myself to others all day and night, but what I should really remember is this:

Do not compare yourself to others, for you may become vain or bitter.   

Desiderata always indicates the right direction, and right now, the right direction is away from comparison.  The right thing to do is to recognize the blessings in Knox's life, and to stop lamenting for all he may have had.  The future holds infinite possibilities despite this moment and the past.  And besides, Knox was born to smart, successful, and loving parents, and those parents are still working together, even from separate homes, to make his environments as healthy and positive as possible.  He's a beautiful child and he'll have as beautiful a future as any of us. 

Part of this aching I've been experiencing and inflicting on myself is caused by my perfectionist tendencies, and that's nobody's fault but mine (and maybe my DNA a little bit).  Again, I just have to make a better decision about how to perceive myself and get on with it.     

You know what else?  I spank.  I don't like it and I don't want to do it, but I read and research and try different tactics and yet sometimes it's the only way to get Knox to understand that it is not ok to run in the bath (child, you are going to kill yourself!!).  It is not ok to spit in my face for any reason (child, I am going to kill you!!).  As a last resort, I do it.  I guess I feel like putting it out there like this is my way of convincing myself that it's ok to do sometimes.  We do what we can, I think.  I reflect.  I ask advice and look around.  I research discipline.  I do my best for my baby boy.  It's time for me to give myself credit for that, and to stop doubting.  

Writing is healing.  This has been good for me.  I'd be really happy to receive comments on this post.  I live in Japan and I'm no longer a stay-home mommy.  My family is far away.  I don't have a moms group for support and advice.  I miss those things a lot, so if you are reading this and maybe could fill some of that void, I'd be grateful.

From Japan,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

USA Friends: My New Skype Number


Call me and I might actually answer now cause I have a phone number through Skype that I can answer on my cell phone!


Call a homesick-experiencing-a-cyclical-culture-shock-episode friend today!  (Don't be worried; I was just pissed about how long it took me to find unsalted butter in the grocery store the other day... actually.  I never found it.  My cookies were just really salty.  Sigh.  On the flip side, giant hugs for all the birthday love.  Above and beyond, my loves.)


From Japan,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tomorrow Is My Birthday!!

Tomorrow is my birthday.  I will be 32 years old.  I guess I'll always feel like a baby, cause I still get wide-eyed by the beauty of the world and feel hungry to understand its complexities.  I don't have any big plans.  I don't feel like I need any big plans.  My mommy loves me and never fails to make me feel special on every occasion.  My mom sent me presents that I am excited to open tomorrow.

Now, I will give you another example of how Knox is a genius.  Last night I let him have the stickers from my calendar.  He put all of the like stickers on a different piece of origami paper.  He put all of the random entertainment stickers, like one to denote a movie night or a party, on a separate piece, and he put the birthday and shopping stickers on one piece of purple paper and gave it to me, saying, "Here Mommy, this is your birthday one."  Yeah.  Crazy.

Knox is a maniac!  He's a very demanding child, that's for sure.  This weekend, he didn't want to play on his own at all, which makes it difficult to get anything done.  Thank God he loves Peter Pan.  He would watch it over and over again if I let him, and he always wants to play pirates.  He picks things up and calls them his "pirate," and uses them as a sword.  I managed to get a ton of stuff done AND play with him a lot, but he's always asking for more, and I'm never sure if I should be doing something differently or if this is just how it is with little kids.  He never seems satisfied and that makes me sad.  Even when things are good I'm always thinking of improvements, so when things are bad I get a little down.  Even leaving the house to go to the Pirate Ship Beach, something he really wanted to do, was a fight because I brought my sunglasses and he didn't want to leave the house until I found his sunglasses.  I looked everywhere and couldn't find them.  I said, "Do you want to stay here all day and try to find them or do you want to go to the beach?"  He said, "Stay here and find them."  I got him and hat and said, "We're leaving."  We went to the store with Judy the other day, and he said he didn't want to go in to the store.  I took him in anyway, of course, and he was a wild animal.  He literally fought so hard I could not get him into a cart, and he wouldn't let me hold him, and he lay on the floor screaming.  It took all of my power to get his flailing body out of the store and into the car while keeping him from throwing his head in to something.  He sat in the car with Judy while I got what we needed for dinner.  I got him animal crackers in the store, but he screamed his head off half way home because there were no bears in the package.  Despite how hard it is to be Knox's mommy, I find myself smiling a lot.  Even when he's demanding or runs through mud in clean clothes I just put on, I enjoy him.  I mean, sometimes he drives me so mad that I have to leave the room and drive the heels of my hands in to my forehead, but most of the time, he brings me more joy than anything else could.        

On Saturday night, February 11th, 2012, Knox slept in underwear for the first time ever at my house, and he had no accidents!!  I just bought a new pack of diapers and I'm wondering if I'll ever use them.  This is a major milestone.  So much of his potty training has been accomplished at school that his potty training almost seems to have come out of nowhere and I am shocked.

My students gave me sweets from their Valentine party for my birthday.  That was thoughtful of them. 

I tried to make cookies last night.  There are several people I want to make cookies for, including enough for all the teachers in my staff room; about 50.  Remember, this isn't America:  My co-workers are happy with one small cookie each.  But like I said, I TRIED to make cookies.  A couple of them look cute, but as so few turned out, I haven't eaten any of them to see if they're edible.  I haven't baked in over a year, I can't find all of the proper ingredients, I have to guess on the measurements, and my oven is the size of a microwave.  The odds are against me.  Making rollable dough good for a cookie cutter takes work.  You really have to put some muscle into it.  At the end of the night, I had about 10 presumably-edible cookies.  I'll try again tonight with a different recipe.  Plain old chocolate chip cookies shouldn't be too difficult.  I hope.  If that fails, I'm thinking of cutting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with my heart cookie cutter.

I'm really looking forward to having a giant, American oven again, and to Florida winter.  I've been wearing my winter coat for three straight months, and the Japanese have no qualms about suffering ice cold homes and schools.  One student told me that her whole house is warm, and that made the other students listening ooh and ahhhh.  Central heating is an urban legend here.  Time for spring, in my opinion.

I learned something cool about how Japanese people save water.  Washing machines often come with a pump and hose, and when people are done in the bath, they pump the water into the washing machine.  Now, now, before you cringe and eeew remember that Japanese people scrub and shower before they get into the bath, and if the home is like the onsen, they keep their hair out of the bath.  I was commenting the other day that I felt wasteful if I ran an entire bath after I was already clean, and that's when I learned about this water saving technique.  This is another one of those things about Japanese culture that seems like an inconvenience to us Americans, but also one of those things that makes Japan a reasonable place, willing to leave a lighter footprint on the Earth.  I do look at American culture differently now, and I do think some things are unreasonable.  Like trash.  It's country wide that there are few trash cans around for the public.  People take care of their own trash by throwing it away at home, and the inconvenience is less in the first place because people use fewer disposable plates and towels and stuff.  The differences are hard to get used to, and there are lots of things culturally, especially when it comes to human interaction, that I may never gel with, but a lot of the habits make sense.  I wish all we Americans made our own lunches more.  Imagine this:  My school doesn't even have a cafeteria.

My brain is in a different place right now.  I know I said it before, and I'll say it again; I could really use some focus drugs.  I only had one class today.  It was at 1:30pm.  Before that, I think I wrote two e-mails or something.  Made coffee.  Checked out my NY Times app.  In other words, I did nothing.  I need to mix things up!  Anyway.

From Japan,

Monday, February 6, 2012

Stalking the Wild Pendulum: A Book Report, Part 2

In case you have happened upon this and are unawares, I'll let you know that I am reading Stalking the Wild Pendulum by Itzhak Bentov, hereto referred to as Ben, and it is cool.  This is part two of my book report.

To read part 1, go here... Stalking...

"Perhaps a piece of space can be traversed by a particle of matter in any direction without necessarily being synchronized with a piece of time."


Dudes.  This stuff won't stick to my brain.  It's like math that way.  Writing it helps...  The conclusion of the chapter is difficult to grasp:  Without change or movement there is no objective or subjective reality.  The author comes to this conclusion after talking a lot of jive turkey about physics, including his explanations of what objective and subjective reality ARE.  He says that objective reality is a void, which I'm thinking of in grand scale like the void of SPACE, SPACE, SPACE.  That void is filled with stuff that moves, like you and me and lots of other stuff.  On the most micro level imagineable, or not even imagineable, the movement is actually a successions of motion and rest.  Subjective reality is everything we soak up with our senses.  But, our senses transmit the information to us through the electronic firings of the nervous system, making subjective reality also a succession of motion and rest.  Ben says that without motion, there would be no percievable reality Here Ben quotes a book called The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects:  "The tangible world is movement, say the masters, not a collection of moving objects, but movement itself."  There is a lot more to the quote, but that's the gist of how an ancient tradition from a distant part of the world backs up his findings. 

What I suspect Ben is getting at is what happens, or what could happen, or what we could make happen, during the periods of rest, and I bet also how we can expand those periods of rest.

I thought I would write more on this book, as I indicated in my first post about it, but it turned out to be... less spiritual than I anticipated.  I found myself questioning the trails the author was leaving, so when we came to the destinations, I couldn't quite be on board.  It's funny though, because I THINK I agree with what Bentov is getting at.  I knew what the book was about, and I thought that I already believed the conclusions of the theories he was about to explain.  It was almost as though instead of giving me a greater understanding of ideas I already believed, he made me have doubts.  I just thought he left gaping holes in explanations that were meant to remove question of the author's logic.

Bentov wants to give a metaphor for the intangible nature of understanding and believing the concepts in the book, concepts like the different levels of reality we experience, and those that exist even if we aren't aware of experiencing them, and concepts like reincarnation and manipulating our own place within the continuum of consciousness levels.  I think he wants to say that you have to have a leap of faith, but that if you make that leap, you can experience what he is talking about, and then believe it.  He uses this:

"Suppose that we show a bicycle to someone who has never seen one and try to convince him that it is a safe and practical conveyance.  He will think that we are joking since it is clear through observation that the bicycle is a highly unstable contraption.  Clearly, no amount of explaining will help, and only after learning how to ride it will our subject be convinced of the merits of the bicycle.  In other words, only after having gone through the subjective experience is he ready to start using the bicycle...  He recognizes that in his previous thinking he missed an important point, and that was the invisible principle of inertia that keeps the bicycle upright when in motion."
-Bentov, page 88-89

All I can think while reading this is that it would be very easy to ride the bike for him.  Or show him a child riding a bike.  Or show him a video.  Or ask him why the fuck he has never seen someone ride a bike.  Ahem.  Sorry.

Stalking the Wild Pendulum definitely has its good and inspiring points.  I love this part...

"...meaningful breakthroughs in science, art and technology come not by "figuring out" things to the nth degree but through intuitive leaps or insight, which are later rationalized.  ...when operating in uncharted territory, intuition is the only thing we can rely on.  Take as an example entrepreneurs.  In making decisions, these people rely to a great extent on intuition or "gut feeling," as they call it.  The reason for this is that the number of variables to be considered in each decision is just too great to handle, and with conditions constantly changing, it is simply impossible to figure things out completely.  So they rely on their intuitive input.  They will say that that decision "felt right," that they knew that things would work out for the best."

-Bentov, page 88

But even here in this passage he kills me again with the whole idea that "intuition [is the] only thing we can rely on."  Intuition is a great thing, but I'm sure there is a lot of intelligence that plays into discoveries.  It is not THE ONLY thing. 

I dropped the ball on the rest.

From Japan,

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Stalking the Wild Pendulum Part 1


In response to reading my post about spirituality, a friend of mine loaned me this book, Stalking the Wild Pendulum (I know, who underlines book titles anymore, right?).  I'm going to record my thoughts on anything that strikes me as particularly cool.  This book covers topics that I have explored and am keen to explore more; topics that I don't think I could ever stop exploring, like our interconnectedness and the subjectivity of reality and time.  A few times already I have come across sections that articulate ideas that I have had, but have not been able to express as clearly as Ben, the author of this book.  For instance...

"...ones level of ignorance increases exponentially with accumulated knowledge.  For example, when one acquires a bit of new information, there are many new questions that are generated by it, and each new piece of information breeds five or ten new questions... the more one knows, therefore, the greater his level of ignorance." 

...This why I urged my nephew to go to college; because this idea occurs to the more intelligent population at some point, and for me, that the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know, and the more I want to know.  The less you know, the more you think you know 'cause your ignorance hasn't reached adequate levels to prove to you that you don't know nothin', and at 19 people seem to think they've seen quite a lot.  I think if you stop your formal education at 18 or 19, you might go on for too long thinking you've hit the important points, when you're barely lounging on the surface of all there is to know.  And the ideas expressed in the quote are exactly why I always say I don't know anything; because the more I have learned, the more I am certain that my breadth of knowledge is laughably insignificant.  I have come to wonder if I can ever know much about anything.  Even if I were to spend the rest of my life studying one topic, my ignorance, as Bentov puts it, would continue to grow.  (Which continues to support the topic at large over all of these things: that I want to know more about this wonderfully infinite universe we reside in.  How can one ever say they are bored when there is infinite exploration at our finger tips?)  Thanks Ben, for your adroit articulation of that idea.

In the preface, William Tiller asserts that "our physical science ... has ... generated a set of consistency relationships to explain our common ground of experience, which is determined by... the capacity and capabilities of our physical sensory perception mechanisms.  (I love that he didn't just say, "our senses.")  We have developed these mathematical laws based ultimately on a set of definitions of mass, charge, space, and time.  We don't really know what these quantities are, but we have defined them to have certain unchanging properties and have thus constructed our edifice of knowledge on these pillars.  The edifice will be stable so long as the pillars are unchanging."  Now, this is going to sound like an excuse, maybe, but this notion is where my lack of appreciation for the rules comes from.  Some dude said this thing, right, so we all have to do it.  I don't really roll like that.  Is the rule or law necessary?  Does it follow from sound reasoning?  Is there a good reason why I can't do this or should do that?  I try to be good, but it's definitely in my nature to resist the rules if I don't respect them. 

This is big for me in Japan.  People do things and expect us foreigners to do mind boggling things on a daily basis for no apparent reason.  For instance, last year we were freezing at school.  We could see our breath at our desks.  But the heaters were not to be turned on until December 6th.  Why?  No reason, really, just an arbitrary date.  I'm not into arbitrary rules, but, as a foreigner here on the good grace and the dime of the country, I try to roll along with the status quo.  

Now, having said that, I have learned as I've gotten older that following the rule for the rule's sake is not the only end to following stupid, arbitrary rules.  Sometimes I've been ignorant and realized later that there are good reasons for things.  Like speed limits.  Sometimes you just have to prove to the world that you will jump through the necessary hoops to function in society.  Like graduating college.  Congratulations.  You navigated through an ass-load of red tape.  That takes skills; here's your diploma.  Graduating college is not about what you learned in class per say, but about the life skills you develop and use along the way, just like following the rules is sometimes just a message to other people that you are part of the club.  

All things are subjective:

"The theory of relativity emphasizes the notion that no mater what we observe, we always do so relative to a frame of reference that may differ from someone else's, that we must compare our frames of reference in order to get meaningful measurements and results about the events we observe."
-Page 3

If something as fundamental as time is subjective... I don't know... learning this has made me more understanding and patient, in some ways, because I have witnessed what I saw as absolute objective truth proven subjective.  When that happens I feel like a child, and I don't think that's a bad thing.  I feel like I've seen something for the first time, and I feel like I've been opened up to something in the world that I didn't know about, and like I said, that's what I want:  To know more.  I don't mind being wrong.  It means I learned something. 

The quote also emphasizes the importance of sharing.  We have no ultimate basis of comparison for our experiences, so the only way to understand our "selves" is to talk to others, who, if you believe in the all-is-one doctrine, are you too.  Ideally, there would be no judgement or embarrassment because each of us would recognize the other person IS us.  Issues arise because most people operate as separates.  Judgement comes in the space between.  A space that only exists because we create it. 

So, I'm not doing as thorough a job of writing about this book as I had planned.  I'm definitely feeling unfocused lately.  As happens to us foreigners in Japan, I'm "losing my English" a little.  A combo package of a funk, PMS, getting wintered out, speaking in slow motion every day, and regularly using the simplest word strings possible is affecting my brain at the moment.  Yesterday, several times with different people, I couldn't come up with the words I was looking for.  It's as though the word is behind a dirty, translucent shower curtain; it's there, I just can't quite make it out.  I need some ginkgo and a few good nights of sleep.  And to read.  And to pay attention to some things more stimulating than Facebok and knock-off iPhone scrabble.

I've read recently but not written.  A few days ago I identified strongly with what this book was saying about how everything touches everything else in imperceptible ways.  It was talking about how the energy of one thing can change the state of being of another thing.  This happens for a bunch of reasons, but the explanations that I best understood and that stuck with me were...

1. The Earth has an electrostatic field that we're all in, and our bodies have an electrostatic field, too.  This electrostatic stuff is energy, and energy has mass.  Energy is a thing.  So, we can't see it, and it's difficult to soak it in, but since we are energy, and our energies are touching always, everything is touching everything else.  All the time.  All Is One.  You feel me?

2. So when we meditate, we change the frequency of our energy, and it just happens to get closer to the frequency of the energy of the Earth, and when energies start recognizing each other, they also start assimilating like the Borg.  What I mean is, they get in rhythm with each other and start dancing together.  This is called rhythm entrainment.  Energy states are contagious.  That's not hard to understand cause we've all been in situations where we can feel the mood in the room.  Like when I went to Hooters to watch a Gator game, and although I walked in feeling introspective and stuff, I ended up doing turkey calls and screaming at people wearing Ohio shirts.  When we meditate, we become rhythmically entrained with the Earth, and that frequency we settle at in the meditative state happens to be optimal for our health.  In addition, energy is constantly flowing from us, and from everything, and when our energy gets entrained with the Earth's, it travels farther and faster and is contagious...

...This reminds me of a study I read about in an Eckhart Tolle book; again, I'm gonna be lazy today, not look up the study or site it, and just tell you what I remember.  Some dudes had a meditation conference, in Washington DC I think, and their aim was to focus their meditative powers on a peaceful DC.  They told the police that they were doing this, and that they wanted to try to reduce the crime rate by 10%.  Now that I think about it, I think the people were meditating from India, on DC.  Anyway, apparently it worked and peeps were all surprised and shit.  Another proof of this contagious energy theory... there's that book on water crystals.  In the book, the author gives the results, including awesome pictures, of studies on water in different environments:  In cities, in nature, and -this is crazy- with different words written on the containers, and in some cases, studies on water that were talked to in different ways and meditated on in different ways.  What happened?! What happened?!  Well, the water in cities with high crime made ugly water crystals.  They were malformed, plain, and generally unattractive.  Water from peaceful places and containers that had positive words attached were beautiful and better formed.  They looked like snowflakes.  This book, coupled with my hippie adventures in LA with Kombucha and stuff like that, inspired an idea:  I thought, wouldn't it be cool, and possibly lucrative, to sell water that had been meditated on.  I could have rooms of people meditating different stuff on different batches of water, and then sell the water with labels like LOVE, MONEY, HEALTH, etc.  People would so buy that jive turkey...

Back to the book:  I was nodding my head like a born-again in church while I was reading this stuff about energy and how our state is affected by it.  I feel it strongly at work.  I've got some unhealthy energy close to me, and often, and it is fuckin wit my mojo.

...reading ...reading

Oooooooo:  I love this.  Image: A swinging pendulum.  Facts: The pendulum swings, then stops and moves the other direction.  When the pendulum is at rest, it's acceleration is maximum, it's potential is maximum, it's velocity is zero, and the time required to change the velocity of the pendulum is zero.  Tiff's perspective:  I find this very, very encouraging.  Apply it to your life.  Do you feel at a stand still, at a pause between this and that?  Do you wonder if you are achieving anything?  Do you question what it might take to make the changes you desire in your life?  Good.  That's great, because right now, while you are in this state of rest, your potential is at its maximum and the time it would take you to start moving in another direction is none.  Awesome.

More to come on Stalking the Wild Pendulum.

From Japan,

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Comin' Out of the Funk

Ok, people, I'm lifting out of the funk.  I have been in a funk for approximately 5 days... that's funny... it feels like I have been in a funk for longer than that.  That's because I find my vocational situation to be ridiculous, and I am borderline grumpy about it all the time.  But that's not a funk.

Anyway, I think what helped me, cliche as it sounds, was exercise.  I have been exercising religiously since last May (before which I had a very spotty 9 or 10 months from the August that I got to Japan).  I've been doing the Spartacus workout, but I've been bored with it for some time, and not only that, I've plateaued and I really have needed to change things up for a while.  Finally, last night I looked up the Spartacus 2 and glanced at some P90x stuff.  I did the Spartacus 2 and the P90x ab ripper video.  The video I did was only about 15 minutes long, so I'm not sure if that was the whole thing.  Also, I hate to say this cause I don't want to give the wrong impression, but it seemed too easy to live up to the stories I've heard about P90x.  Not that it was easy FOR ME.  But I got through it alright, which I was surprised about.  I always have to alter ab exercises a little because I have such an arched back, and I definitely took some breathers, but the first time through a new routine is always shoddy, and I just was surprised.  It wasn't what I expected, but I liked it.  Maybe it seemed easy because it took me time during each exercise to find a version that was ok for my back.  Yeah, that's it.

Spartacus 2 seems a bit more leg heavy than Spartacus 1, and the cardio exercises are placed differently throughout the routine.  When I was finished last night I felt really refreshed, and my legs are sore today, so that's a good sign that I have shaken things up.  I want to try several P90x routines and see what combo will make a good routine for me.  I can't work out every day, and I can't work out for an hour and a half, which I think is what P90x is all about, but I'm sure I can integrate some things to make an interesting and varied routine.  I wish I could dance, too, but I just haven't found any classes in Japan that fit my tastes and needs.  I feel like the funk has seriously ebbed since my work out last night.  The squat jumps punched that funk in the face.

In other news, I am going to sign to stay in Japan for one more year.  I feel positive that this will be my last year.  I've got grad school on the mind, and family.  I think it's important to get back to my family, especially for Knox's sake.  I can't go another year without going home.  My plan is to have my mom come out to Japan in July/August for a visit, and I will go home over Christmas for a visit.  I want to go home during the summer, but my nenkyuu (paid time off) isn't going to stretch that far, I think, and the Christmas holidays make vacationing at that time optimal.  I Like it here.  I kinda love Japan.  But my job?  No.  It is not for loving.  But, as I have said before, I will continue to sit here, and I will do it so that I can enjoy the benefits of Japan for one more year, and at the end of that time, really be ready to go.

Everything outside of work is great.  I wish I could pick up my apartment and scootch it on over to America.  I love it's character.  I love that the only door in the whole apartment that swings is the door to the toilet.  I LOVE how inexpensive it is.  I have a room for everything I need, and lots of storage space.  I have a routine and places I like to go, and people I like to be with.  I could go for some central heat.  I could go for a TV and a computer that isn't so temperamental... but things are so good.  My eikaiwa (conversation circle) is wonderful; the people are sweet and it's a real treat to get to spend time with them every week.  Knox is great, and I think we are both settling into our new routines together and enjoying each other more.  My bath tub is bad ass.  My water pressure rocks.  Yeah.

Now, I sent in like 60 pages of fiction to a company for writers that does critiques.  I've had a lot of issues with this place; DZanc Books.  First, they took my money and never said another word.  I wrote them, and they said it was an honest mistake and that my account got closed accidentally the day they took my payment.  They gave me a refund and still took my pages.  I paid extra to send in extra pages.  It was supposed to take 2 weeks to receive my critique.  That was about 7 weeks ago.  I've had many exchanges with the dude from the company.  About 2 weeks ago he offered to give me a full refund again, and to get my critique back to me... I refused the refund, considering I had already been refunded most of the cost anyway, and said just give me my critique!  I haven't heard from him since I refused the refund, about 2 weeks ago.  I have written him, but he didn't get back to me.  I'm not sure what to do at this point.  Time shall tell, I suppose, and I hope I do get my critique at some point.

From Japan,