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Nov. 10th, 2013

Another Reason to Go Back To Japan ASAP

Owl cafes!

Seriously, if I ever make it back there, this is the first place I'm going to go. Forget about getting my stuff to a hotel. I am getting my ass and my crap into a taxi and telling the driver to take me to the nearest owl cafe.

And then, once I've had a snack and got to hang out with some owls, I'll have someone take me to a penguin bar to get some drinks. I'm actually pretty pissed at myself- I was in Ikebukuro for several days and I didn't notice the penguin bar because I was so busy hanging out in Sunshine City. Oh well. Just another reason to go back there as soon as I can. Playing with owls and getting drunk with penguins sounds like the most amazing vacation ever.

Jul. 29th, 2013

帰りました

As of yesterday, I’m back in the United States. Instead of being relieved to be home, however, I feel a sort of sense of loss.

Maybe it was because I was actually happy for once when I was in Japan. I didn’t wake up every morning full of despair that I was going to have to face another day- dredge myself up out of bed to another day of mind-numbing boredom at work or school or both, only to come home and try to numb the numbness even more by wasting time on the Internet in a vain attempt to stimulate my mind. Maybe it was because the more time I spent in Japan, the more it started to look like I could actually have a future there, a better life. All through elementary through high school, everyone told us that America was the land of the opportunity- people from all over the world came here to have a better life- my ancestors did. But at the same time, I started to feel like I might actually be able to have some sort of life in Japan- I could get a job with a company without a college degree, I could teach English or computer science without a degree, from what I was told.

An acquaintance of mine told me that the job market in Japan is so much better than in America, and they told me that I’d be able to get work. He suggested that I come back to America for a while, then try to apply for immigration permits. And I have to say that the suggestion has merit, and it’s very tempting. I could have a better life. I could actually have a life in general, not just one where I sort of… exist, like what I’ve been doing for the past twenty-one years.

But, it’s futile. I’m going to stay in college in the US, and by the time I manage to graduate the opportunities will probably all be gone. I will likely live out the rest of my life the way I’ve lived it up to this point now.

It frustrates me. I saw, for seven wonderful weeks, that I could have a future, that I could actually be happy somewhere. I haven’t even been back in the US for twenty-four hours, before my parents are getting on my case about graduating from school, doing x, doing y, doing z. It’s enough to drive a person out of their mind.

Finally, I’d like to end with a song I sang at karaoke one night, that sums up my feelings on this matter pretty well. The translation isn’t entirely accurate, but the song is very difficult to properly translate into English, and it is more or less correct, just not the exact words at the right time.

Jul. 18th, 2013

Coming to an End

Ten days from today I'm going back home to the United States. Before I can do that, though, I need to get about ninety billion pounds of stuff from Akita to Tokyo via the Shinkansen. I did it before, I can do it again... although it was not fun the first time and will probably be even less fun this time, now that I've got even more crap to deal with. I also have to take a taxi from the university to the train station, which I've done before. It was expensive. Then I will need to take another taxi from Tokyo Station to the hotel I will be staying at for the two days I have left before I go back home, and that's going to be even MORE expensive, since Narita International Airport is fairly far away from the station.

Now that my time in Japan is coming to an end, I'm sort of struggling with the implications of that. Before this trip, countries that weren't the United States might as well have been the moon, they were that far out of reach. I am twenty-one years old. Until this trip I'd never even gone over the border to Canada or Mexico, let alone gone across the world. Most of my friends have left the country at one point or another- plenty of them were born in a country other than the US. I kind of miss some things about home, like being able to have all of my stuff with me, and sleeping in my own bed without my roommate waking me up at 3:00 AM because her alarm clock malfunctioned. But at the same time, I am kind of sad. If this trip has shown me one thing, it's that traveling internationally is expensive. My savings account is almost cleaned out now, and that's just from trying to do my day-to-day life. It took me a litle over a decade to get that much money saved. Granted, I was very young for the majority of that time, but still- it looks like it will be quite some time before I can even afford to go out of the state I live in, let alone go out of the country again. And if something unexpected happens, where I need to pay a lot of money, I'm basically screwed. It probably doesn't help that I've come to a decision regarding what I'm going to do with regards to my jobs.

I a m fairly sure I'm going to quit one- the lower-paying, longer-hours one.

The last semester showed me something: I cannot work two jobs, go to school full time, and expect to be able to keep my health intact. The illnesses I contracted multiple times throughout the last semester showed me that. It has happened before, but constantly despairing is not good for my health, I've learned that the hard way in the past. Last semester, I was dealing with some serious issues with regards to my classes and jobs. It seemed like no matter what I did I just kept digging myself deeper and deeper. I felt like I was running out of time, like nothing I did was going to make a difference, so what the hell was I doing bothering with college, when I was just going to be stuck working in my miserable job for the rest of my life? I was running out of ways to convince myself that things were not completely hopeless. As it is I'm not entirely sure that it's still not the case, but this trip to Japan has really helped me get away from the other university and helped me put things in perspective. And I don't really like what I've realized. If anything, I've realized that I will probably be miserable for the rest of my life, unless something drastically changes.

Obviously I cannot stay in Japan, but I don't particularly want to go back to the US either. If I could somehow get all my stuff shipped over here, and get the Japanese government to grant me permanent resident status. Maybe I'll be able to get another retail job or something. Of course, this is all wishful thinking- I was born in the US, and I'll likely die in the US. At least I managed to leave at least once in my lifetime, so I can check one thing off my bucket list.

I know I sound really depressed and miserable here, and that's really not what I'm going for. I actually am happy at the moment, just kind of sad that my trip is coming to a close. I don't even really mind being broke, since it's been a good trip. I can only hope I can come back someday, without going bankrupt.

Jun. 24th, 2013

I Didn't Choose The Office Supply Life...

the office supply life chose me!

But seriously, now I need to figure out how to get a whole bunch of notebooks and pens back to the United States without either going bankrupt or breaking my spine trying to haul it all around. One of these days my obsession with hoarding stationery is going to bite me in the ass- I always knew that. I just didn't think that the day would be so soon, although I should have seen it coming. I just can't stop, it's like a horrible compulsion that I can't control. I have enough office supplies now to open up my own Office Depot, and this is going to end up driving me to the poorhouse.

Stay tuned for some pictures coming up later this week (although not of the office supplies, I'm not going to bore you like that)!

Jun. 21st, 2013

Kaboom's Japan Adventure: Weeks 1&2

I am not entirely sure if this is going to go through or not, the Internet here is absolutely wretched and I cannot afford 5000 yen for a half an hour of access at the closest Internet cafe. I was planning to do an update while I was in Tokyo, but then I fell ill again and was too busy trying to get ready to go to Akita to do much of anything else. As it is, I've been in Japan for a week and a half so far, and things have been... strange.

Not strange in a bad way, mind you, just... strange in general. I got lost in Ginza. I went a bit overboard in Itoya (also in Ginza), which is one of the biggest office supply stores in the world. I now need to figure out how to ship half an Office Depot back to the United States with me, since I bought a ridiculous amount of stuff while there. I went shopping, which was fun, although a bit frustrating. I'm a bit taller than the average Japanese woman, and a bit wider as well, even though I'm within the norms for my age and ethnic group, so finding clothes here is a bit of a challenge. Trying to do the wash here is a challenge as well, as I do not read Japanese enough and I think the washing machines here are older than me. I am getting along quite well with my roommate, and my classes seem to be going well. I got placed a little bit lower than I would have liked- apparently I kind of bombed the placement test. But oh well, it's not as though I wasn't really expecting something like this. Considering how smooth the trip has been until now (with the obvious exception of me getting sick again), it was only a matter of time before something went wrong, really. And of things that could potentially go wrong, getting placed in a lower class barely registers. I haven't lost my passport, had my shit stolen, ended up hospitalized, or gotten deported. When I think of that, it doesn't matter.

I've been enjoying Japan so far. My biggest complaint is the lousy Internet connection. As I type this, it's kicked me off a couple of times. Most of the permanent students here at Akita International University don't try to bother with the university's Internet, it's that bad. But I can't afford to go to the Internet cafe whenever I want to get online, I'd be broke in a couple of hours. So I'm just trying to access when I can, and only then for a few minutes at a time. It's been difficult. My parents always like to yell at me about my “Internet addiction,” and for a while I thought they were full of crap. Now, I'm not so sure. I don't know what to do with myself when I'm not in class or studying. I don't want to go to the shoipping mall all the time, because, again, the whole money problem. My dormitory is too small to spend a lot of time in there, and every time I go out into the public areas people always want to try to make conversation. Which I don't mind, usually, but it does get a bit annoying when I'm trying to study. I am not really sure if it's cultural differences or something, but where I am from, sitting with headphones in and a textbook open in front of you means “sod off, I'm trying to study here!”

But it doesn't matter. All in all, I've been having a great time. I just wish this nasty cold would go away already, I want to be able to enjoy my trip to the fullest. I'm also not super impressed with the university's food. It's not terrible, but it's also not great, either. It's actually very bland. And I never thought this would happen, since I love rice, but I'm actually getting kind of tired of it. I also miss being able to drink soda whenever I want to. There's soda here, but it's not the same soda we get in America. It's got all sorts of different flavors. And some of them are just... baffling, for lack of a better word. Corn flavored soda? No thanks. Although the melon flavor is tasty.

Tomorrow we are going to an aquarium and a seaside town as part of the program. I am kind of torn between being a bit annoyed that they're herding us arund like a bunch of kindergarten kids (seriously, I'm 21 years old, I do not need to be kept in line like a little kid anymore) and being excited. Apparently there is a very cute baby polar bear at the aquarium that I want to see. And there might be penguins! I will try to get some pictures, although I cannot promies that I will actually be able to upload anything, given the terrible Internet connection. I am somewhat worried that this post might not even go through, but I will try.

I just hope I can figure something out about the Internet problem, because I think I'm going to lose my mind if I can't connect regularly. I don't even need to be online every second of every day, I just need to be able to do something other than study and sleep.

Jun. 10th, 2013

Oh SHI-

So I just found out that I might not be able to take my medicine to Japan with me.

If that's actually the case, then I am so fucked.

I can see on my stat counter that I've had a visitor from Japan. If you're out there and you see this, would you mind contacting me at kaboomisthebest@aol.com to let me know if there's going to be a problem? This is incredibly important, I have a little over 24 hours to get this sorted.

Thanks in advance.

私は日本人の読みがある場合は、私にメールしてくださいできますか?私はあなたの国に私と一緒に持参する必要が薬を持っているそれは私と一緒に持参することも可能である場合しかし、私は知っている必要があります。私のメールは kaboomisthebest@aol.com です。

ありがとうございます。

Jun. 3rd, 2013

Fun With Luggage

I don't leave for another week, but my parents have been on my case about packing for at least the last month or so, so I've finally decided to bite the bullet and get started with the packing. It's... not going well.

It's not that I don't have things to take with me, it's that my mother seems to hate every single stitch of clothing that I own. “Kaboom, are you really taking that shirt to Japan with you? It looks so tacky!” or “Ugh, those shorts are too short! Where did you get those?”

Well, mother, you bought me those shorts the last time you went on a rant about how short my shorts were. And they come down practically to my knees. If they get much longer they won't count as shorts anymore, they'll be pants. And by the way, I am a grown woman, I think I know how to dress myself. It's not like my goddaughter and her sudden obsession with wearing a Batman costume everywhere. Believe it or not I do know how to look like a responsible adult.

It would be bad enough with just her on my case, but now it seems like everyone in my family, and even people who AREN'T in my family, are getting in on lecturing me about packing. My dad keeps going on and on about how I need to pack lightly and giving me “helpful” tips about what to pack. No dad, I do not need to pack a business suit. Mainly because I do not have a business suit, and I will not be attending any business meetings in Japan. I know he travels a lot for work, but that's the key word there- I am not going on a business trip for a Fortune 500 company. I am going on a seven-week study abroad program. And what the hell am I going to do with snow boots? I'm going to be there in JULY. Unless you expect me to climb Mount Fuji or something, I don't know what the point of snow boots would be.

And then my professor is getting in on the action. “Email me your packing list!” Uh, really? No offense, sensei, but do you really need to know what I'm bringing with me? I mean, my socks and panties and pajamas aren't all that interesting. Neither are my shirts or shoes. I am giving her the benefit of the doubt and going with the fact that she meant things along the lines of computers, batteries, textbooks, office supplies, and whatnot, because I don't really know why my professor would care what else I was packing.

And it's getting to the point where I keep tripping over the luggage. Stupid luggage. No matter where I put it, it always seems to be in the way. I almost fell down the stairs last night because I put the suitcase in the hallway, thinking it wouldn't be a problem out there. Apparently one of the brilliant members of the brain trust I live with decided to move it near the stairs. Thanks a lot, whoever you were, because that was quite alarming trying to go downstairs to get some water and realizing, oh hello there, Mr Suitcase.

I am at the point where I just want to get my ass on that plane and not worry too much about it anymore.

Mar. 8th, 2013

カーブムは日本に行きます!

(Title Translation: Kaboom Goes to Japan! )

Some of you might be wondering why I’ve been so absent lately. I haven’t really regularly updated the blog since 2012, and it might be confusing you a bit. And since I got my final confirmation today, I feel like I can finally give an explanation as to why I’ve been AWOL, and why I will probably continue to be updating rather sporadically through the end of July.

I have been pulling extra shifts at both of my jobs to make some extra money. I need five grand by June, but for once it’s not for an emergency or anything. I am going to participate in a study abroad program in Akita, Japan!

Obviously I’m very excited about this, and I can’t wait to go. But due to the high cost of the trip (a plane ticket by itself is $1300 USD), I am going to have to work even more than usual to help to take care of the costs. While the cost of the trip is ridiculously low for seven weeks in Japan, it still costs approximately the same as a used car, and there’s no pay-as-you-go plan. Not only will I need to pay for the trip itself, I’ll also need several thousand dollars for incidentals and potential emergencies. Add in the fact that I still have my other classes to deal with, and it’s clear I won’t have a ton of free time until after my final exams for the semester are over. And even then I’ll still probably be running around like a crazy person until I actually head out of the country, to save as much money as possible for my trip.

So what does this mean for the Lawn, and for my writing?

Well, to put it bluntly, the Lawn and my writing will be going on semi-hiatus until I leave for the trip in mid-June. This means that apart from the fic rec, there will probably only be about two or three posts a month, when I have the time to write them up. As for my fanfiction… well, that one’s a little trickier, because I tend to write when I have the inspiration. As I usually come back from my classes or my jobs exhausted, that’s not really conducive to writing well, either blog posts or fic, but if I do get in the mood to write, I probably will. I will attempt to keep the fic to a somewhat regular posting schedule.

Of course, none of this is set in stone. If something big happens and I want to blog about it, I will, but as a general rule, don’t freak out if it seems like only the fic rec and a few random pieces get published every now and then. I’m fine, I’m just working my ass off.
I’m really looking forward to this trip, and I’m really hoping that my Japanese language skills will improve dramatically while I’m there!

Aug. 15th, 2012

Fish Pics

Underneath the cut are some of the pictures I took at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. I would have had them up a lot earlier, but I misplaced my SD card reader and had no way to get them off the camera. They're actually not as great as I would have hoped, seeing them in full size... I actually had a lot more pictures, but most of them didn't turn out all that well. The ones I chose to post here are the ones I liked the most.

Aug. 8th, 2012

Kaboom vs. Salmonella

So it turns out that nasty illness I contracted on my trip was salmonella poisoning. I don't want to get into the disgusting details of what I went through, but suffice to say that I cannot remember the last time I felt that bad, and that includes the times I broke my collarbone, the time I fell off a cliff, and the times my cysts acted up. I still feel kind of poorly, and I'm going to the doctor tomorrow again to make sure that everything is okay, that I'm not relapsing or so,mething like that.

The problem with salmonella is that once you get it, it can take a few months for you to totally recover. You'll stop throwing up in about four or five days, apparently, but it can take months for your system to totally go back to normal. Another potential serious issue is a side effect from the bacteria called Reiter's syndrome, which causes premature arthritis. While I was told that this side effect is very rare, knowing my luck with health issues, I wouldn't be surprised if I did get it.

My dad and I are both pretty sure we got the illness at a Cracker Barrel, so that's the last time I am ever eating at one. I know it was probably a once-in-a-million incident, but still, it's the principle of the thing. I won't eat at Taco Bell, either, since I got sick after eating there once in grade school. If something makes me sick once, I wan't eat it again. It's the same way if I eat something and then get very sick afterwards, even if it wasn't from food poisoning. I won't eat pickle relish either, since the last thing I ate before the flu knocked me on my ass a few years ago was a hot-dog with some pickle relish. There's a few other things I'm paranoid about eating, since I got fevers or migraines or my other medical issues acted up after I ate them.

All in all, though, I'm actually very glad to be back at home. Being sick and having to sleep in the spare room in your grandmother's basement on the lumpy-ass bed that's been there since 1975 really kind of sucks and isn't all that conducive to healing.

Aug. 3rd, 2012

Kaboom's Miserable Vacation

Last Sunday, my family and I left to head on out to Chicago, to visit some relatives there. At this point in time, I am currently hanging out in my grandmother's house in Nebraska, since my father and I both contracted a nasty bout of food poisoning. I am doing somewhat better- I am not getting violently ill every couple of minutes anymore, although I also have slept for the better part of 48 hours. My dad, unfortunately is not doing as well. Our plans have basically been turned upside down, and I will tell you that this is just miserable. I am never going to a damnable Cracker Barrel again, as long as I live.

On a slightly happier note, I did get some cool pictures from the Sheds Aquarium in Chicago. When I get back home, I will post them. Right now I'm using my Kindle on a somewhat sketchy Internet connection, so I don't think it is possible to upload them right now. But yeah,that's what's been going on the past few days. I am really quite annoyed that I had to get sick on vacation. I couldn't get sick during a work week?

Jun. 13th, 2012

Sorry, We're Temporarily Closed



Tomorrow I'm heading out to a "fun-filled" week of family events, and I've been informed that there is not really any reliable Internet access where I'm going, and even if there is, I'm going to be surrounded by my relatives, so blogging will be pretty much impossible. So until next week, the Lawn is going dark, but don't worry, it's not permanent. I'll be back to share the tales of that most dastardly of battles- the Family Reunion. (And when I say battle, I do mean battle- putting my dad in a room with my maternal grandparents always ends... interestingly.) So yeah. We'll see if I survive this. Actually, a more accurate statement would be that we'll see if my dad and my grandparents can get along for an entire week. And now I need to go pack.

See you then! Kaboom out, bitches~! :D
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Mar. 4th, 2011

Where did my week go?

This week was supposed to be my spring break. My plans were to enjoy the time off at home- trying to catch up on the sleep I've been missing out on since I went back to university in January, work on some fic, see my friends who are in my home city right now, and get the takeout I can't get down university. I left a week ago today, and it's already Friday afternoon after my week off. Overall, I managed to fulfill a few of my goals- I spent time with my friends, and I've gotten a lot of takeout. But I haven't been sleeping very well, despite the lack of idiots partying all night next door to me, and I haven't been feeling up to working on any fic. I feel like some weird brand of vampire decided to suck all of my inspiration out of my brain. It would be a lot easier for me to work on srs bsns blog posts, but I have a lot of feelings, and I'm not sure how to articulate those feelings all that well.

One thing that I've realized is that I have a lot of internalized trauma from events in my past, that really affect my perception of the world, and I really need to realize if my reaction to something is legitimate or my brain trying to scream “GTFO!” in a response to something that reminds me of something from the past. But that deserves its own post itself, which I don't really feel like typing up today. This isn't meant to be a srs bsns post.

Anyway, I've basically done nothing this entire week, and now that it's almost time for me to return, it really hit me that I'm really fucking lazy. I had all this time to actually do something other than watch videos on the Internet and read fic, but that's seriously all I did. And now I'm really depressed, knowing that I have one more full day before I get sent back to university to enjoy another month and a half of depression and of me wasting my time in useless classes, and procrastinating on things I really need to do. Or, in other words- THE SAME DAMN THING I DID ON MY VACATION.

At least I got spend time with my friends- that was nice, I get so lonely when I'm at university.

Nov. 25th, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Day, for everyone in the U.S. For my family, it's a time when we get together, make traditional Thanksgiving food (minus sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. Everyone in my family except my mother hates sweet potatoes, and my dad absolutely despises green beans), and traditional Lithuanian food (kugelis, anyone?). So far, everything is cooking well. It took about an  hour to get the kugelis ready to cook (grating five pounds of potatoes tends to take a long time), and as usual I grated myself in the process. At least I didn't majorly cut myself this year, like I have in the past. Bleeding all over the potatoes is kind of disgusting and ruins the dish. Thankfully that didn't happen this year.

My one major complaint about Thanksgiving? The turkey. I don't like turkey. I don't like the game-y taste, and other than that, I find it to be incredibly bland. Every year I try to get the parental units to get a chicken, or a ham, or even a duck, just because I really do not like turkey. It hasn't worked. And the one year I suggested Tofurkey? My dad threw something at me and started yelling about how while he was alive this family would never have Tofurkey for Thanksgiving. Which I can kind of see his point. I like tofu, but Tofurkey might be a bit much. (And I really like typing Tofurkey because it's a funny word).

Yesterday I took the AMTRAK home from university. Usually the station where I get on is relatively quiet. There might be twenty or so people, max, and TSA is nowhere to be found. Yesterday, there were about 150 people trying to get on the train, and TSA officials were there waving those wand things at people. So many people were taking the AMTRAK because they wanted to avoid flying with those new security measures in place, the pat-down and the naked body scan, which apparently causes cancer as well. But I guess the government wasn't about to let people go over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house without having some security measures, so they sent TSA in. Which a lot of good that did for them. There's no baggage scanner, no metal detector, no "take your shoes and your belt and your sweatshirt and everything else that might cause the scanner to go off, off and walk through this thing that will beep if you even have a little tiny bit of metal on you, then get patted down." I like to travel, but seriously, air security is getting crazy, and I'm really not sure how much safer it makes us. After all, all the metal detectors in the world can't pick up a ceramic knife in a body cavity, and the whole thing is just causing problems for people who legitimately need liquids/metals on the airplane. What if you're diabetic? You're going to need your insulin and your sharps to jab yourself with. I guess TSA would be smart enough to be able to tell "This person is diabetic and needs these things to be healthy," instead of thinking, "OMFG! INSULIN TERRORIST!"

I do appreciate the work they do to keep us safe, but there's a difference between keeping people safe and treating the elderly and people with medical conditions like terrorists because they try to take their meds on the plane. I'm just glad that my meds are pill format so that I don't have to worry about not being allowed to have them if I need to travel by plane.

Unfortunately, this break is too short before I have to go back to university, but then it's only two weeks until the end of the semester. With any luck I can manage to survive until then, and not go berserk. Only with exams coming up, good luck with that. :P

Anyway, have a great holiday and remember to reflect on things you're thankful for. I'm thankful for the Internet. I'm thankful for my friends and family. I'm thankful for soda. I'm thankful for slash!! :D (Hey, everyone's got to have something less serious to be thankful for, otherwise the holiday isn't as entertaining!)