When Negative feels Positive!

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Lots of beautiful sunsets this summer :)  Shot on my iPhone.

HELLO everyone, it’s been so long, hasn’t it?  It’s also been so long since I received good medical news! After some delay due to changing my insurance (hate you ACA for causing me to change insurance every year, but I won’t rant about that right now) and having to find new doctors….it really sucks to break your care from one doctor to another for the same issue.  But anyway, it took me almost half a year to find a new Gyno Oncologist to take my case and check to see if the LEEP and everything went well from 2015.  They did blood test for HPV and a pap to check for lesions – before the LEEP I had CIN-2 lesions.

And everything was negative!!

No HPV. No lesions.  Nothing on my skin.  Everything is healed.  I cried a little when I got my results.  And this might be the first time I ever shed a tear out of joy.  Special thanks to my boyfriend, who supported me through a whole lot of crying, depression, and panic attacks related to my health and whether I could pay for my health.

On the downside, I got a letter that says, yet again, my insurance is ending this year as this company is pulling out of the Individuals market.  Goddammit.  I don’t know what to do about insurance anymore.  I can hardly afford what’s left in the individual market, and the prices keep going up, yet I do not qualify for subsidies.  Insurance should NOT cost as much as rent, what the FUCK.  So the pressure is on to find a staff job with benefits….which is tough in my industry.

I have several posts about my medical issues, such as getting the LEEP procedure here. I’m just so happy to be healthy.  Now let’s see what my primary care doctor has to say about my cholesterol, hahaha….

My Roommates are weird.

In what feels like a short span of time, I’m tiring of roommates.  The ones I have now…my one official roommate whom I’ll call “Lisa”, and her boyfriend “Jason” who unofficially now lives in her room…they’re kind of weird.

This isn’t going to be a roommate horror story, because they’re not that bad. We haven’t told them to leave since they’re nice, they’re pretty clean, and don’t clutter things much. But there are a few things I wanna vent. My boyfriend and I just returned from a weeklong trip away for the holidays, and it’s made me notice a few things I had to get out.

THIS IS PURE VENTING.

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2016 Resolutions

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 It’s been difficult to sort through my feelings about the new year ahead. What do I really want from life? I’m almost afraid to declare it because it means I can measure my progress in December, and that could lead to disappointment. It could end up being a source of pride too, but my imagination always errs towards worse case scenarios!

  1. Keep making home a nicer, cozier place. Whether that means buying new furniture or simply cleaning every nook on a consistent basis, I think this one is a big one. And figure out how to decorate. 
  2. Drawing once a day. I’ve so far been doing this since the new year! Most of the time it’s rather crap doodles so they remain private, in my sketchbook. 
  3. Read a new book every month. I read a lot of comics but that doesn’t count. One year, I did read 25 books, but I’d be happy with a minimum of 12 for 2016. I no longer have an aversion to non fiction, too. It’s just nice to read something that isn’t inane social media. I was hoping Winds of Winter, the next A Song Of Ice And Fire book would be out in January but it’s not. I can wait. There’s literally millions of other books to read while I wait :) 
  4. Be healthy. This is huge and like, FOUR years in the making. I have yet to get the true “all clear” from my doctors but things are looking up. No suspicious moles in December 2015. Things looked good at the Gyno in Nov. Sadly, my insurance changed because I can no longer afford the higher premium cost of my old one, so I can’t see the gyno-oncologist that has been treating me :/ I would vastly prefer her since she knows my history and body. But I can’t afford it. Anyway, I don’t wanna get into how much premiums and deductibles have become monsters since the ACA passed. I just want to say I want to be in good health. 
  5. Time manage my cooking. Smart people cook on weekends and eat for days. I always cook after work, and end up with no time for anything before sleeping. I haven’t figured out how I’ll make this work, but it’s important to me. If I can do this, I can both have hobbies AND have a good night’s sleep!

2015 Recap!

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The holidays really snuck up on me! December went by within a week and suddenly here we are in January, 2016. I kept forgetting my birthday, and was surprised 3 times on Dec. 31 that it was New Year’s Eve!

Young people (comparatively I’m 28) in their teens use Instagram a certain way — they are heavily curated and they rarely have more than 20 photos up. Things they “outgrow” get deleted quick. They also barely use tags. So I’m super lame and NEVER delete photos (and use a ton of tags), but I’m really glad I don’t delete. I could not remember  what the hell I did this year, and looking back, there’s been quite a few things.

1. Home Improvements

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This blurb got so extensive, I decided to put it in a future post. That way I can gush all about the big cost stuff I bought and feel good about it!! Haha! To summarize, this apartment is a rental but my boyfriend and I plan to be here for a few years. We worked on furnishing the bedroom and office and I think it worked out well…no more step stool nightstand! :D I’ve seen others rush to set up a homey home in 3 weeks time, and sometimes I feel impatient, but the place is looking nicer. 2016 should see even more improvements. Wish it wasn’t such a mental struggle to figure out how to deal with the weird layout of a railroad apartment. I’d like to finally frame and hang some art, and mayyybe get a new couch or something. The seating is not great, especially when guests come by.

2. Plant Rearing

I do NOT have a green thumb. The Amarylis my friend gifted to me did well for several months, and then withered and died.

My basil seedlings grew up decently, but then got flies (EWWWW) in the summer. Thankfully they seem all dead since the Fall. But it made me afraid to water it, and now 3/4 of its stems are perpetually brown. On the bright side…the basil smells and tastes amazing! I need to prune it and encourage bushiness. It’s not looking attractive but I think it’s salvageable. I forget to water it often.

My two lucky bamboo shoots are doing great! Nice green color. Nice orange roots. No growth in length but I just bought some 50 cent plant food. Let’s see if it helps in 2016! This may be the only plant I should ever own.  That and fake plants.

The Peace Lily isn’t doing great. It was awesome for so many months, but then I went on a two week vacation and my roommate overwatered it…SEVERELY. I haven’t checked but it probably has root rot or something.  The leaves keep dying slowly, and thus has become sparse. It’s not attractive. But enough of it is still alive that I have some hope.

3. Gainfully [Freelance] employed!

I’m usually so worried about whether I’ll have work (and thus money, my true pursuit in life), but this year was a pretty good one. There’s just two months that I didn’t work, and I think I’ve made up for at least one of those in overtime billing. I hope this continues, I love moneyyyyy. My big fear is ending up homeless and poor. BUT.  It would be way more ideal to just have steady income and not have to work so hard that I feel the instinctual urge to escape the continent.

4. Trip to Japan

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It was the first time traveling somewhere fun with my boyfriend and HIS first time outside of North America! We primarily ate our way through Osaka, with a little bit of Kyoto sightseeing and a few days of some illness in Tokyo. First time using AirBnB too. As it happened out, our Japanese host in Osaka ran a beautifully clean apartment while our American hosted Tokyo apartment kinda grossed me out. Hopefully the latter isn’t the norm. I already want to go back and I miss the food…and how the Dollar was so strong while we were there. It was so fun seeing Japan through my boyfriend’s fresh eyes, and I reconnected with a few friends…even if we didn’t get to meet again in person. Last night I dreamed in Japanese. I don’t think that’s happened for 9 years.

5. I have photos with my boyfriend!!

This was actually a goal of mine for 2015+! All I had before was shots of food we ate and our dog. Now I have damning proof that we enjoy each other’s company!

6. First time in a Halloween costume since early college

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Every year I’d say I’ll start my costume in the summer, and every year I’d do nothing. Except for 2015!! I dressed up as Boltie (Ellen Page) from James Gun’s movie, Super. Great great movie. More people have to see it, it’s on Netflix. I consider the outfit a work in progress, as I lacked her belt, her bolt appliqués, and hated my skirt. But overall it is Boltie and it was fun :) My boyfriend dressed up as the main hero, The Crimson Bolt.

7. I went to Shop class and made a cutting board!

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I’ve only ever seen woodworking shops on TV…NYC high schools don’t exactly have the resources for shop class. My sister couldn’t make it to this cutting board making class, so I took her spot. It was REALLU fun and I can see why people get so in to woodworking. The power you feel as you mold wood, like soft putty, with your hands is addicting. I love how my board came out and how pro it looks! I gifted it to my mom for Christmas. We used it to cut dinner right away. If it wasn’t so expensive to get my hands on the tools to make stuff, I would definitely do it more.

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That’s about it for 2015!

 Not sure what 2016 Resolutions I would have for myself, that’s something that will have to simmer in the back of my brain for a bit.

Can An Animal Have A Spirit Animal?

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….Because Jasper’s spirit animal would be like a Macy’s Thanksgiving balloon.  Doesn’t matter how much he eats, he will always always be begging for food!  Doodled this during a phone meeting today.

I haven’t been too motivated to post lately, just feeling really drained.  It’d be nice to just not do anything.  I don’t mean just staying home from work, I mean I want to be a hermit and do absolutely nothing except my hobbies.  No more house chores either.  But that’s never going to happen, realistically.  People rely on me.  I guess that can be a nice thought, but right now I just feel drained.  I want some help too.  But I don’t even know how others could help me with my non-work workload.  I’m slowly trying to push myself to just DO the stuff I want to do.  Things I let fall by the wayside.  I uploaded a bunch of photos I took 2 months ago in Japan — it was actually done a month ago but I never got around to sharing them online.  Not sure where that sudden drop in motivation comes from.  At the same time, I feel like I am strangely, unwillingly, but undeniably have a direct connection of getting likes on photos to self-esteem, in times like this.  It’s unhealthy!  But it’s there.  At least I don’t do drugs? :)

Japan 2006 Versus 2015

Snapped this during an evening walk in Namba, Osaka.

I’m back from Japan!  And super late in declaring that here because I returned October 1!!  It took me a while to count – damn my memory – but it’s been 9 years since the last time I travelled there, and a full 11 years since the first time I did study abroad in Tokushima at age 16.  Needless to say, a LOT of things have changed in 9 years…pretty much all in good ways, especially for a foreigner.

Cash has been dethroned!

Part of me is a bit nostalgic for the cash-only society that I remember from my youth, but it’s REALLY convenient to use credit card!!  Overall, many retail shops accept credit card now — and not just American Express — and large (famous) restaurants.  The small, local eateries are still cash-only places, but that’s totally fine since…

ATMs are foreigner-friendly and convenient

No more need to convert stacks of dollars to yen at the airport.  From a security standpoint, you are therefore less likely to have your money stolen or misplaced.  I felt weird about this and still exchanged about $300 USD at the airport (and for an American, the airport in Japan is sadly the best exchange rate I can get).  That was spent on food, random knickknacks, and train tickets that my JR Pass didn’t cover.  It was kinda perfect, there was only a few yen coins left by the end of 2 weeks.  The ATMs are at every 7-11 and..well…basically any of the innumerable convenience stores in Japan, with fees imposed only by your own bank.  For most banks, that means 3% conversion fee and a $2.50 transaction fee (same price as in the States).  Considering the exchange rate you get in Japan, it was a good deal.

English has spread

This should be obvious, but I found myself prepared to translate everything spoken and written in Osaka for my boyfriend.  9 years ago, when I went with friends, this was an exhausting task.  A few days in and I found myself so mentally tired from translating every sentence for my friend, I wanted to just lie in bed all day.  Tokyo has always been a place with lots of foreigners, and locals who understand English.  Osaka was not like that 9 years ago.  Now….compared to Tokyo, it still isn’t that English-friendly.  I have a friend who recently worked in Japan for 1.5 years, in both Tokyo and Osaka.  She told me that it was difficult in Osaka, because there was drastically less English there compared to Tokyo.  But there is noticeably WAY more English signage now, and even little local alleyway restaurants have a good chance of having English menus.  Their staff may not actually speak English, and many menus I saw in Osaka looked like they were simply submitted to Google Translate (weird word choices and syntax issues).  So my Japanese language skills were still useful, at a level where I wasn’t getting mentally drained.  80% of the time we had to catch a train somewhere or were searching for a place, it was really handy to be able to ask for help in Japanese…and understand the answer.  I imagine the rural areas are still not English friendly.

Tourism has spread

This is another obvious one, although in a way I guess I should be more surprised it hasn’t spread more thoroughly than it has.  Especially when you compare it to how drastically NYC has changed in 10 years.  Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo are still 99% recognizable.  The changes are small but pretty good for foreigners.  Dotonbori, which superficially looks kinda like our Times Square, has grown a little.  The river area has been nicely done up, with seating and a boardwalk sorta thing.  Some of the restaurants are more “grand” looking than I remember, so you don’t forget you’re in a tourist spot.  Don Quijiote, among a few other stores, now boast “TAX FREE” signs to entice foreigners.  I don’t know if that was a thing before, but they certainly didn’t display giant signs about it 9 years ago.  There’s a little more people too, and the low-key parts of Namba are starting to….I guess, “gentrify”.  Areas that used to have pretty much no one now have interesting looking shops, restaurants, and people.

Consumption tax increased :(

I guess it was bound to happen!  Japan’s economic woes are no secret.  Unless you have not been paying attention to Asian news.  9 years ago, their tax was 5%…and that was AWESOME and easy to mentally calculate.  They recently bumped it up to 8%, very similar to what we have here in NYC.  That’s almost double, though, and the news says Japanese consumers (obviously!) haaaate it.  Here in NYC, we have NO TAX on clothing that costs less than $110 per item, so paying tax on clothes again was a liiiittle foreign to me.

Things are affordable

Okay, this is a subjective comparison point!  Objectively, you could write pages and pages about Japan’s economy in the past 10 years, but I was really happy that a lot of stuff worked in my favor this time around.  9 years ago, the exchange was generally 110 JPY to $1 USD.  When we went this Fall, it was ~119 JPY to $1 USD!  So even if I was buying from stores we have in the States, like Uniqlo or Muji, it was still cheaper because the exchange rate worked in our favor.  Personally, I think Japan had always been relatively affordable in terms of goods and food.  I know people have said the opposite of that.  Some things that should be less than $3 in the US would be more like $5 in Japan, but generally a lot of meals didn’t exceed $11 USD.  You would be stuffed full by the end of it, too.  You know what you can get for $11 at a trendy or non-ethnic restaurant in NYC?  A tiny appetizer.

You could say Japan has expensive fashion, but you could say the exact same about New York, or any other major city.  I see people drop literally hundreds of dollars at a clothing store in NYC….but I also see people buy 3 whole outfits for $25 in NYC.  It’s the same with Japan.  If you buy during a sale, or go to certain stores (which are still of good, wearable and fashionable quality), you can find some great stuff.  I was finding a lot of knitted clothing for cheap.  A thick, knitted sweater would cost you $60 to well over $110 here in the US.  In Osaka, I was grabbing giant knit sweaters for $35-45 USD.  Big and slouchy is in, and there was lots of it for relatively cheap.  If you find an oversized cable knit sweater here in the US, of shitty and scratchy quality, it’ll still cost you at least $60.

Moreover, 9 years ago I was 20 and in college. I worked 30+hrs a week, more in the summer, and that’s how I afforded a trip to Japan in 2006.  But being able to afford it meant I had a strict budget. I couldn’t eat more than 2 meals a day, and that first meal was often cheap stuff from the convini.  But now I’ve been working for those 9 years….I’ve got a real job….and I could afford splurging and getting whatever I could shove in my face.  Felt GREAT being able to just go down the menu and order top-of-the-line stuff at yakiniku and yakitori places.  And that said, ordering top-grade, A5 and A4 meat at yakiniku for 2 people, drinks included, ran us about $80 USD.  I can have a severely mediocre meal for 2 in the US for $80 USD.

Not much stuff is Japan-exclusive anymore

That means there’s no point in buying a lot of what I used to buy as souvenirs.  Uniqlo is now in the US, and growing fast.  Muji is in the US.  And thanks to online shopping, pretty much every Japanese makeup product is available to Americans as well.  It’s typically only like, $2 extra for most makeup stuff online, compared to buying it in Japan….and even if you save a few bucks, you have to think of the limited luggage space you may be using up. I’d rather pack light but spend a little more than have to drag a heavy suitcase full of stuff around the country.  I even saw the Rosette facewash pasta, which is cheap and personally I love it, in a Manhattan Chinatown grocery for $5 USD.  CHEAP!  And if you’re an artist and love geeking out over pens, markers, and brushes that used to be Japan exclusives, well, just order from JetPens.com.

In 2006, I struggled to close my suitcase, and wore several layers of clothes on to the airplane….because I couldn’t fit them in my luggage. SO many clothes, manga, etc. were bought!!  In 2015, I went with a carry-on sized suitcase and left with some room to spare in it.

The one category that’s still good to buy and bring over from Japan is food.  And even though we have green tea Kit Kats readily available in NYC, they are freaking $9!!!  In Osaka, it was about $2 USD.

Smartphones have changed the world.

In 2006, the first iPhone had not been released yet.  Smart phones didn’t exist.  If I got lost, I was actually lost and thought I might die (that was in the farmlands of Tokushima).  If you wanted internet, to email your family or post something on Facebook, you either waited for the communal computer at your hostel or ducked in to an Apple Store to use their computers with free internet.  And if you wanted to call a friend in Japan OR call your family overseas….you bought a calling card and used a payphone!!  Man!  I can barely fathom doing that nowadays.  Some areas in Japan still have those iconic green payphones, and the nostalgia really hit me hard.  I used to use those every day when I was living in Tokushima.  There were so many nights were I slapped mosquitos on my leg and held the green payphone’s receiver between my shoulder and cheek.

I have T-mobile, so I get free 2G internet in Japan, and free texting.  Unless its GPS couldn’t locate me, which happens sometimes in cities, I didn’t have to worry about being lost.  I was always in contact with my family at home.  I could FACETIME my dad on the otherside of the world!!  Oh, and a smartphone is also a portable dictionary, and being able to check Tabelog for restaurant recommendations was really useful.

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That’s all for my comparisons!  It became a little longer than I expected…but if this was 2006 NYC versus 2015 NYC, I sure as hell would have 100 pages of content up here!  Next I’ll be writing about how my boyfriend’s first trip to Asia (or simply a non-English speaking country) affected him :)

17 Years of Cold Feet

Fresh original sketch for my fresh blog post ;)

White vines entwined her neck, making it hard to swallow. Yards of tulle and silk wrapped her legs, immobilized them. She could barely breathe. And all she wanted to do, deep down, instinctually, was RUN.

Is this really what I’m supposed to think on the day of my wedding? Is this a sign, a red flag that we aren’t meant to be together? She looked in the full length mirror of her bridal suite, and sighed. I look like my mother, she thought. I look like a girly girl. I look….unrecognizable. She worried about losing herself to this marriage, losing her personality and becoming a slave, a zombie, a…housewife. The bride shuddered. It went against her entire self-image for the past 28 years. Hell, the bride never thought she’d live past 25, and took all the drugs she could to ensure of that.
And yet here she was, 30 minutes before her wedding….about to walk down the aisle and commit herself (which is crazy considering she could never even commit to a tattoo design) to a man who was….stable. Never partied in college. Has a financial job. He represented everything she rallied against just 10 years ago.

There was a knock on the door. No wait, it was the window. The bride struggled to pull up her 15lb skirt, tripped and nearly tore it. There was now a black streak on the hem, but she didn’t notice nor care. Two unfamiliarly lacey arms stretched out infront of her, and without much conscious thought, she threw open the window, slamming it upwards on its track. And there he was, her friend of the past 15 years, the man who had seen her at her worst…the man who held her hair when she threw up, who raced his motorcycle right by hers in the best memories of her life, the man who was everything Mike the Groom was not. With no hesitation, without feeling the white lacy vines strangle her throat as she swallowed, the Bride could say it comfortably. Casey was her best friend.

Casey stretched out his hand.

Casey was her salvation.

“This isn’t you,” he said. Everyone else gawked and cried and said things like “you look beautiful”, “you look like a princess”, but he said exactly what she was thinking. “You look like a princess,” he said, with a snarl and a scoff. “Come with us. The van’s parked right out here. We’ll take you away, far away from this.”

Her tunnel vision broke, and she noticed the other voices coming from behind him. All her friends, they spilled out from the side of a junky van, calling and beckoning to her. It would be so easy to just jump out the window and run. Throw off the hideous white gown. Leave behind this adult, mature life she was marrying in to.

But then, a thought occurred to her. What if this is “cold feet”, as they say? What if this is natural, this is what EVERY bride in history felt before walking down the aisle? They had spent so much money, spared no expense. At first, she demanded Mike buy her things she didn’t even want for the wedding, just to test him…just to make him feel fed up and maybe he’d call it all off himself. But here they were, at someone’s dream wedding, the kind a normal little girl would see in a magazine and envy for the rest of her days. Her family, many of whom had scattered to the wind since she was 8, was here. They were all here, all together, sitting and waiting eagerly to watch their youngest daughter hit this milestone in her life. This was what her cousin, her de facto mother, had wanted for her – a normal life. Her father flew from the opposite side of the world to be here, to see her.

One step out the window, and she would disappoint them all yet again. It would be worse than all the arrests of her teenage years, and all the times they had come to see her at the hospital after a (mild, in her thinking) overdose. This could, this would, wreck any chance of a family connection she could have.

Casey stood there, his hand still outstretched, ready to pull her and that hideous dress through to freedom. The faces of her friends screamed at her, beckoning, begging.

The Bride tilted her head up just slightly, took a deep breathe and didn’t exhale. “I love you guys,” she squeaked, tears threatening to spill over her cheeks. She tilted her head just slightly higher. “But I have a date with my future husband.”

Casey didn’t move, even when she tried to close the window. He made no expression, he had no words, for the very first time in his young life.

The Bride turned her back to her only escape. She fluffed her dress, straightened her veil, wiped a finger under each eye.

And then she got married to the man of someone else’s dreams.

Part of her knew it was a mistake. She told herself it was just cold feet, but even before the engagement ring was on her finger, she had her doubts. The thing is, who didn’t? The first time they moved in together, they had a small apartment in the heart of the City. And it was barely tolerable. Thing is, she had never really lived with just one other person in her entire life; even as a kid, there was always at least 5 other family members running around, slamming doors and screaming. Maybe it was just her, she thought at the time. Maybe it’s normal to need several layers of rooms and walls between you and your roommate, to feel sane and unaggravated. Instead of dealing with why they couldn’t coexist in the same or adjacent rooms happily, they simply got a new and much larger home. Mike could afford it, after all. And now that they were married, she could afford it too.

Two kids and a dog later, 16 years after her marriage, Jessica found herself looking back at her old wedding photo. She held a bouquet in her hands, her pitch-black hair was pinned up, white veil pouring down over her shoulders. And then there was her smile, or more like a grimace. She was a frightened animal showing her teeth, feeling cornered. And 16 years later, she felt even more cornered. Jessica stared at the day she ruined her life, and cried.

Once her emotions were spent, Jessica found herself able to think logically. Coldly, one might even say. She came up with a strategy. She wasn’t that bad looking. Hell, when she reposted her old wedding photo on Facebook earlier today, dozens of her friends commented that she barely aged at all. She was in her early 40s and had kept herself trim; Jessica was one of the lucky women who worked her body like hell after her two pregnancies and managed to get back in to her high school jeans….the dream goal of every woman over age 20. So what if she ruined the past 16 years of her life. So what if her kids are a disappointment, if her kids are assholes, if her dog is a piece of hyperactive shit that doesn’t even respond to a shock collar. 40 is almost the middle of her life. 40, she never thought she’d make it. But the human life expectancy leaves her with another 40 years at least, and she sure as hell wasn’t going to waste any more time with Mike, who just never understood her.

Jessica put her strategy to work. She tackled the issues holding her back…using Mike’s money to pay for driving lessons and eventually getting her license. She cried to her friends that this was freedom, that she could finally drive the hell away from her housewife life. She was free to go anywhere in North America. She entered grad school, claiming it was time to go back to work, now that the kids were teens and didn’t need constant supervision. She claimed the new training would help her help and understand her eldest son more, who was somewhere on the spectrum that made the first few years of his life her own living hell. It was just enough of a self-less thing that she could feel okay doing this selfish thing. She bought vintage motorcycles and hid them from her husband, her way of reliving days past. The housewife bought a condo in a state 500 miles away, attended a school 500 miles away from her children, and flew back once a month for a weekend. Jessica gave herself a means to escape and the ability to sustain herself on Mike’s dime, after “wasting” her life for the past 16 years.

And then, once graduation was in sight….she filed for divorce. And she was not ever going to return to her old home, except to sign some papers. Her kids came to visit now and then, and the dog, well, good riddance. That dog was nothing, absolutely nothing compared to the genius of the same breed she grew up with, who could understand human commands instantly and calmly, as she bragged online to friends.

*********

This a true story, though of course dramatized since I was not actually present in most of Jessica’s life. But it’s things I’ve heard from herself, things I’ve gathered from her husband, and from her social media. I don’t know what to think about this woman. She’s a huge disaster. I saw her husband the other day, which is when he told me about his impending divorce, and I feel a bit of regret not telling him that…as a child of divorce….this could be the single best thing that happened to him in the past 17 years. That now he can finally be happy without that negative deadweight. It’s weird. When I first met Jessica, she seemed like a cool lady; she seemed “real”, unlike many of the rich housewives here. But she was really just a lost soul, lost since she was born and came in to this world, a person who could only see the downsides to heaven. The more time I spent with her, the more I wondered how her husband or any of her friends could put up with it for more than an hour. Her logic wasn’t sound, the way she thought was bizarre, and she was so miserably unhappy. The more I got to know her, the more I realized Jessica wasn’t a cool lady, she was a selfish asshole who hated her kids, her dog, her entire life and what she has “become”, and blamed it all on Mike.

On the other hand. It’s quite smart of her to use Mike’s money to get on her feet before divorcing. To get herself a place to live, a job to keep her sustained. It’s really pretty smart of her. But also really…unethical. Devious. Not illegal, but very…I don’t know. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Creative [non-fic] writing isn’t really my thing, but after thinking about their situation for a while, I just had to get this out.  I do think this was a long time coming, and I’m actually….happy for both of them to be divorcing.  I don’t know Mike well, I don’t know if he’s truly as bad as she claims (which didn’t sound that bad when she complained), but they were very clearly unhappy together…and I think that affects the kids way more than a divorce does.

The Mood Wall

It’s so dark and horribly lit in my bedroom. Left the color balance to be “accurate” to what you’d see here in person.  Right to left: Smokey Embers, Stormy Monday, Pigeon Grey (all Benjamin Moore).

There’s innumerable blog posts online, from professional to amateur sites, that tell you how to pick wall paint color and offer inspiration. What’s frustrating for me is how everything seems to be about rooms in ideal situations. They have lots of wall space, square footage, and tons of daylight. Daylight makes everything and everyone look good!

Then there’s my bedroom, which has a lot of challenges to it. It’s the middle room of a railroad apartment. Two doors, a Victorian style built-in almost-closet, a drab window, and an exposed radiator limit where I can put furniture. There’s just one spot for the bed, and a full sized mattress frame is too big for the alcove by half an inch. There is no, repeat, NO daylight in this room. The one window opens to an airshaft.

Layout of my bedroom, the middle room of a railroad apartment built at the turn of the 20th century. It’s nearly 100 years old and shows its age.  I forgot to place another closet/cabinet thing on the right-hand wall in this picture, near the window.

There’s very little decor info on railroad apartments, and the ones I find online are not rentals. I don’t have the freedom to knock down walls to let in more light, or expand the room.

Little by little, I’m trying to make things nicer. A pretty, vibrant curtain over the hideous airshaft window helps a lot. A bright red dresser. Loud bedding that almost emits a light of its own. And soon….a fresh coat of paint!

Grey sounded like a good choice since I already have loud, red furniture in the bedroom. But who knew picking a grey was so hard?! The swatches, which look pale and varied at the hardware store, are suddenly 3 shades darker with a green tinge at home. Swatches that were barely blue become totally blue. We painted patches on all four walls and each one looks different, even though it was the same paint!

After another week of deliberation, we finally chose one…Stormy Monday!  Partially it’s because of the cool name.  But mostly, it looks beautiful :)  Next post will have some bedroom pics, it’s 99% complete now.

Stormy Monday (Benjamin Moore) is the swatch in the middle of the picture at the top of the post, which looks slightly red.  The one to the right was Benjamin Moore’s Smokey Embers, which looked way too green once it was in my bedroom, but looked like a very pale, neutral grey at the store (in daylight).  The swatch to the left is Benjamin Moore’s Pigeon Grey, which has the same “value” as Stormy but its hue went way too blue in my room.  Again, it totally looked like a nice normal grey at the store.  Even the paper sample looked fine, everything was different once the actual paint got on the wall.

Atom Eve Fan-art

Drawn & Colored in Photoshop

After burning myself out with work since March, it feels good to draw something again :) I’ve also been reading a lot of comics on my commute, so here’s those two hobbies together…some fanart of Atom Eve, a character from Invincible. Right now, it’s my favorite comic. At its core, it’s a satire, a spoof of classic superhero comics…but takes things seriously at the same time. Side characters always return and death is very real. I noticed there isn’t much fandom/merch out there for Invincible, so it felt good to throw my own fanart out there!

It’s Official! Japan Trip 2015!

A takoyaki stand near my hostel, Osaka, 2006

It’s actually happening!! This September will be the first time I’ve been back to Japan in ~8 years, and the FIRST time my boyfriend is leaving North America! It’s gonna be fun…aside from the pain of traveling across the world in Economy class.  I do wish we could stay for a whole month, but we can’t leave Jasper for that long. That just means we’ll have to take MORE trips to Asia… :)

This week, the two of us got the itinerary together.  The flights are BOOKED, the lodging is BOOKED, I’ve generally researched train timetables and routes.  There’s still some holes, like I want to have a list of yummy restaurants to try out while there so I don’t have to look while on vacation.  But overall, I feel good – the things that need to be locked down are now locked down!  Come July, I’ll purchase a couple JR Passes and everything should be good to go.

BASIC TRIP ITINERARY:

Sept. 17: Depart U.S.
Sept. 18: Arrive in Narita Airport.
Stay one night in Tokyo.
Sept. 19: Shinkansen to Osaka, settle in.
Sept. 19-25: Explore Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara
Sept. 26~28: Two nights of strict relaxation at a traditional ryokan in Hakone, enjoy the hotsprings.  The both of us are REALLY looking forward to this one!

Sept. 28~30: Explore Tokyo.

Oct. 1: Return to the U.S.  :(

I’m pretty excited about everything.  It’s leaning more towards sightseeing and touristy things overall, but in a way I haven’t done that much of that in Japan.  I’ve never been to Nara or Hakone, I haven’t tried coffee in Kyoto, I haven’t been to a rabbit cafe (!!), and…..I get to see my boyfriend react to the new foods and new sights!  Maybe it will make him more concerned about taking his shoes off at home, at the door :D!  With only 12ish days to explore several cities, there may not be much time for shopping, like I’ve wanted for years.  But at least there’s good food.

You know what’s crazy…8 years is a really long time. The last time I was in Japan, smart phones weren’t a thing yet.  I would run in to the Apple Store to get some internet time, or wait to use the communal computer at the hostels.  You had to plan things out way in advance “or else”, and expect to get lost a lot…which I did….if you messed up following your printed map.  Also, I was 10lb lighter, haha!  But I’m not any taller, so I think Japanese clothes will still fit ^_~  There’s this thing called Pocket Wifi now, which we’re getting from our Air BnBs for free…OH, and there’s a thing called Air BnB.  And I didn’t know anything about cameras, I just had this chunky plastic point and shoot.  Man.  I was still a part time worker in 2006!!  And not heavily in to VFX.  I feel so old because of the awe that modern technology and entrepreneurship has inspired.  Anyway, I’m really excited to see how else Japan has changed.  There’s at least 2 old friends in Japan that I haven’t seen for a decade and will likely meet up with too for some food.  And maybe an even older friend, although that’s iffy because he moved to Okinawa.  What sucks is none of them really talk to me anymore – I’ve sent messages and only 1/5 of the time they get replied to.  But, eh, at least they sound excited to meet up again!  Perhaps this will restart our friendships.

One thing that hasn’t changed, from what I can tell online, is that Cash is still King.  Is it weird that this is kind of comforting to me?  At any rate, it makes it easier for me to budget on the go.  I’m estimating that the entire trip will cost somewhere around $3500 ~ $4000 per person, depending on how much we spend on shopping and eating.  Our lodging wasn’t bad, since Air BnB really does have great deals, and our plane tickets were just about as cheap as I could hope – $812/person.

My Japanese is a bit rusty after a decade.  It’s time to find some more live action dramas to practice with!