Category Archives: Not Writing

March 20 – April 3 | Japan: the food post

(I got a better phone with a better camera so my pictures don’t look quite so shit. Like usual, this isn’t everything we ate, but it’s fairly representative.)

konbini - 7i

Konbinis! Convenience stores in Japan are the second best thing (the best is the vending machines on literally every other block that sell ALL THE DRINKS). You can get trash food, you can get healthy food, you can get a proper meal put together without much effort. Kitchens are small and it’s more typical for people to eat out more often than cooking at home (my s/o’s tendency to pick up Subway on the way home instead of trying to make food at home suddenly makes more sense).

nabin

Oh my god I have missed Indian food so much since moving back to Montana. Nabin is a Sri Lankan place with delicious curry and naan and saffron rice and samosas and these little dumplings called “momos” (pictured). Since getting home, I’ve started making curries and rice. So good.

dominos

DOMINO’S IN JAPAN. The ingredients are better, the flavor combinations are to suit Japanese tastes (teriyaki chicken, chicken and corn with mayo, pork and roasted garlic) besides also offering more typical flavors (margherita, all meat), the option of 4 sections on a pizza is a standard thing, the pizza is cut into 12 instead of 8 and the pizzas are smaller.

conveyor sushi

I don’t know the name of the place but it was conveyor sushi! We went to see the new Tomb Raider (English with Japanese subs), then went to this conveyor sushi place so we could say we’d done it. Everyone I tell this story to is some degree of squicked out but I had no problems with any of the raw fish I ate, or any of the water I drank, or anything else. Either I got luck or food-handling standards are more strictly monitored over there (I know which one I bet it is).

sweet potato ice cream

In Kawagoe there was a soft serve stand selling sweet potato ice cream: it’s half orange and half purple sweet potato flavor (not that I noticed a difference in flavor, but I’m not super familiar with the flavors of different dessert-style sweet potatoes, so). After we got our ice cream we saw like 5 more of these stands, so it’s a popular thing.

rest stop

At the rest stop on the way back from the mountains, there were all kinds of little snacky vendors, and a Starbucks, and a couple of proper restaurants where you could get an actual meal. We opted for Starbucks and takoyaki, because I have this compulsion to eat trash. Takoyaki has this weird kind of texture where I wouldn’t order it for myself (because an order there had 8), but if someone was offering it around, I’d have 1.

gyoza place

Aaand speaking of eating trash: GYOZA. I was thoroughly schooled in some cultural aspects I wasn’t aware of, one of which is that gyoza and beer is considered kind of a garbage meal and something salary men have after work before stumbling home. Obviously we went to this amazing gyoza franchise place 3 different times at 2 different locations (both of them close to a train station, because smart real estate placement). I had karaage, and steak fried up with green peppers, and a kind of hot and sour beef sauce with tofu in it (not pictured, because I ate it before thinking to photograph)—this was on 3 separate visits, not all at once, and we always got the “sets” that come with an order of gyoza, rice, soup and pickled veg. Fucking delicious.

heartful bakery

Last one: Heartful Bread Bakery. This is a few blocks from my s/o’s parent’s house where we were staying and it’s where all the bread in the house was from. They even had Irish soda bread (but they didn’t know that’s what it was, it was labeled “fruit bread” or something and it was really good with butter on for breakfast). We walked over for breakfast one day before getting on a train and got the most delightful little assortment of things, plus a coffee from the vending machine outside.

vending machines

I lied. Vending machines. I will miss the vending machines most of all. *single sad tear*

Advertisements

March 20 – April 3 | Japan

PSA: I have a passport now. (It’s like I’m an adult or something.)

First international trip: Japan. I don’t speak the language—other than knowing the difference between “domo” and “arigato“, which got me further than it had any right to—and I planned nothing. My s/o is from there, speaks well enough to get us around, and knows how the trains work.

Strangely, I had next to no experience of jet lag from Montana to Tokyo (unless the long stretch of time in airports and on planes where I had no idea what time or day it was is jet lag; if that’s it, then I had jet lag for like a day). In all fairness, my sleep schedule was proper fucked before we left, and there’s a 15-hour time difference, so it’s possible everything just lined up to mask my usual sleep disorders into looking like a normal sleeping pattern. Yeah. That sounds right.

downtown 1

We walked around Tokyo a lot, near the train station. There are temples (Buddhist) and shrines (Shinto) everywhere, which I like a lot in the same way that I like churches for the architecture and the sense of history.

sakura

It was sakura season. Turns out it only lasts for about 2 weeks between blooming, full bloom, and falling to clog all the streets and rivers, but it’s aesthetically pleasing enough to be considered worth the effort (?) and there are cherry trees basically everywhere.

kawagoya

Kawagoe dates back to the Edo period and it’s a huge tourism destination. They have places where you can rent kimonos and then walk around shopping and taking photos and learning history (we didn’t rent kimonos). I felt like less of an asshole taking pictures of everything because everyone else was doing it too.

harajuku

I fucking hated Harajuku. It was everything I loathe about big cities, all condensed into a couple of city blocks. That main section of the picture above? That goes all the way down the blocks, that many people, that tight together. I don’t regret going, but I wouldn’t go again, I guess is what I’m saying.

mountains

Towards the end of the trip, we went up to the mountains and stayed overnight at the most adorable little cabin (IT HAD BUNK BEDS WE SLEPT IN BUNK BEDS IT WAS THE BEST), then we went hiking the next day. There were a lot of little gazebos that had “Refuge Shelter” signs in front of them; I think I was probably missing something (like a door to some stairs to the actual shelter) because what I saw would not be sufficient refuge or shelter if the volcano went up.

3 of my favorite things:

favorites

Sesame milk (it tastes like halvah), a little shrine in the street, the volcano that could have killed us all but decided not to (thank you for letting us live, volcano, <3).

INTERIOR, NIGHT, DARKENED BEDROOM

If you happen to get sick with this year’s plague/flu, and you’re curled up in bed, shaking with chills, half-wake and in and out of fever-dreams, trying to prevent your lungs from evacuating your chest—and your soul from evacuating your mortal coil—you know what’s a really, really fun movie to watch?

IT COMES AT NIGHT.

Just the latest in a long line of bad investments

First, I wanted to get an AS in accounting, because it seemed safe and stable and like something that wouldn’t eat so many braincycles I wouldn’t be able to do creative work on the side. (I’m terrible at math, so I don’t know why I thought this would be a good idea.) The further I went, the more obvious it was that everyone in accounting was only getting their AS as a first step to getting a masters or doctorate, because an associates degree doesn’t qualify you to do shit except keep going. The people with the accounting jobs I thought I’d be able to get didn’t have their degrees in accounting, they just sort of stumbled into accounting jobs. Wtf.

In between terms, I changed my major from accounting to computer science, because all the computer science classes sounded really interesting and I’m interested in high-level science fiction concepts like “artificial intelligence” and “machine learning,” and there were courses on how to make apps, which is currently a reliably in-demand skill set. My (not well thought-out) plan was that if I could learn enough to make apps on the side, I could do that while I finished the degree. Right? Right. Except all the courses are just programming boot camps, even the one that said it was an intro course that didn’t require programming knowledge, the one that was listed as an overview of the subject in general, so I thought that would be a good place to start—and then it was just Python boot camp. Wtf again. This tanked my GPA (which was already on the borderline), so I took a term off to try to learn the subject on my own.

Over the next 2 months, I learned my brain isn’t wired for coding, so it would be kind of stupid to keep bashing my head against that particular brick wall, but I wanted to do it anyway. I was signed up to take the next class, a class that (again) sounded more introductory, that my program advisor said was more introductory, but did have some coding, and I’d been studying while I was off and I thought I could handle it. On the first day the course opened, I checked it out and it was just another Python boot camp. The curriculum was almost exactly the same. I freaked out and started frantically looking through all the online course offerings—exactly everything because I was desperate to find something I could do—and of course I landed on an art degree.*

I’m cynical enough to believe that one of the most important functions of an art degree is that it forces you to 1) produce work, and 2) have that work critiqued. Another value is the networking with other students and professors who may have connections in the industry and/or become valuable connections over time. Like any other skill, you have to invest the time, and one of the best ways to invest time is to pay for some time to be blocked off for that specific purpose. That’s kind of all a college degree is to me at this point, just a series of blocks of time I’m paying to have carved out for a specific purpose. Could I do that myself? Yeah, probably. And also, no, not successfully.

Tl;dr: On March 5, I’ll start classes for a BA in Game Art and Development. The first class I’ll be taking is World Mythology, followed by Intro to Creative Writing, then I’ll get into actual art classes. This feels like one of the least stupid decisions I’ve made since I’ve gone back to college again.

POSTSCRIPT 2/1/18: My financial aid appeal was approved. I will have funding to take classes starting next term. I will be able to continue deferring my student loan payments. I won’t have to enter bankruptcy because I can’t afford payments on an unfinished degree that I can’t afford to finish without financial aid. O THANK THE OLD GODS.

_____________
*Back up here to explain my issue with art degrees: They’ve always been presented to me as a waste of money, since they don’t qualify you for a job like a technical certificate or teach you “real skills” like a STEM degree.** The thing is, I know logically that’s bullshit. I know there are a lot of people making money off of their creative work. I read their blogs, I follow them on Etsy and Tumblr. This isn’t impossible.
**There’s also the assumption that creative people will be creative whether they have any formal training or not (and formal training beyond a vocational certificate is kind of low-key discouraged if you’re poor,*** since you’ll be wasting resources by following a path you can’t afford to walk on your own—how dare you pursue self-fulfillment needs! Don’t you even know where you are on Maslow’s Hierarchy?! You should be concerned with food and shelter, maybe personal safety if you really want something to aspire to).
***When it isn’t being openly/loudly discouraged.

This is an arbitrary annual temporal marker post

2018 drink

I don’t know whether I’ve ever made a New Years post here before* (and I’m too lazy to check). Point is, a lot of things have changed since I started this blog, and New Years is the traditional time to think about changes, etc.

LAST YEAR, I

THIS YEAR, I WILL

  • Not fail any more classes
  • Find a part time job
  • Keep freelancing
  • Pay off my credit cards
  • Save up to travel
    • Go on (at least) 1 trip***
  • Write a novel****

_____________
*The birthday angst posts are intended to fill a similar function, so.
**See: any Best Laid Plans post for 2017.
***Feel free to tell me all  about how stupid/unrealistic it is for me to prioritize travel while I’m drowning in debt—I’ll nod and watch your lips move if you need that to feel superior or whatever.
****Except for real this time.

Notes on sleep

If I’m staying home for the day/don’t have a real schedule or anywhere I need to be, I need somewhere between 9 and 10 hours to feel rested and awake. Less sleep than that, and I’ll have an increased tendency to get sick.

If I have to be at work, or have somewhere else to be, I’m usually up-too-late anxious and sleep for 6 or 7 hours, but I’m not tired during the day, and I’m not any more susceptible to picking up an illness (that I’ve noticed).

Stupid human construct. O_o

I hate money :(

My savings account balance is low, my checking account balance is low, and my credit cards are nearly maxed out. Thank the old gods for seasonal work, amirite?

  • I have a freelancing ghostwriting job in progress that pays what seems like a sort-of low rate, but from what I understand, all ghostwriting pays poorly when you get it through glorified content mills. The upside is it has the potential to become steady work, and since I have more time than money right now, any steady work seems like a good idea.
  • I’m in the process of interviewing for a political advocacy remote job. It’s pretty much just ghostwriting letters to elected officials under the names of people who agreed to talk about how a political decision is going to impact them and then they accepted the advocacy group’s offer to “help draft a letter based on our conversation.” This seems interesting,* and I can write, and it’s work I’d do in my own shiny new home office.
  • I have an interview tomorrow afternoon for a seasonal retail thing. I can do the work. I can show up on time, and not call out, and not bail in the middle of the season. Black Friday will suck, because this is a popular retailer, not an out-of-the-way cell phone store that most of the valley doesn’t even know about like last year, but I can handle it. (I can handle most things if there’s a clock on it.)
  • I am also in the process of interviewing for a remote seasonal customer service job with a major call center.** No idea who the client is or what the actual job responsibilities will be—it was all vague nonsense like “show concern” and “resolve issues” and “meet goals.” I think I would like this job the least, because I’m not super-into the idea of going back to phone work, but I’m good at it … and being able to roll out of bed and have a 30-second commute sounds appealing. And it’s seasonal, but with the potential to apply for more jobs with the call center.

This is weird, because even though I’ve been pretending to be a real, grown-up adult for over a decade now, I’ve never done multiple hiring processes at the same time before. Usually I throw applications like crazy, and then someone calls me for an interview that ends with “So when can you start?”*** I’ve rarely been involved in a hiring process that has a real interview, or more than one interview.

I hope I get something that can pay the bills, with enough left over to start to make a dent in my credit card debt. (#adultinggoals?)

ETA: I got an offer for the seasonal retail thing. Waiting on a background check, then I have the job.

_____________
*I’m not discussing politics irl or online for my mental health (especially after reading this post by The Oatmeal) but I think this work would be distanced enough, and I could refuse to work on anything I’m ethically opposed to, so whatever.
**Not the shitty one I left, a different one. They, um, won’t hire me back again, because I’ve left 3 times (over the 10 years I worked for them).
***Fairly sure this means I’ve never had a real, grown-up adult hiring process before.