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Feb. 24th, 2015

Oh Holy Shit

Yesterday I turned 23 and I was going to post about my birthday. Until I saw this insane plan to make people comment on fanfiction for a college class, and all of a sudden recounting my boring birthday celebration didn't seem all that important anymore. There is more information on this topic here

And dear god, I'm horrified by this. I'm incredibly relieved that I'm such a shitty writer that I've never gotten on the radar of any of these professor-types. And I'm glad that my most popular fic ever is written under a sock account (which I'm not going to give out here, given the circumstances). And even that is crappy enough that nobody would have ever thought to make it required reading for a college course.

Look, I am a college student. I have been a college student for five years. I am very well familiar with college students. This is one of the worst things these professors could have possibly done to fanfiction writers. College students are, quite often, tone-deaf galoots, and that's putting it politely. Trust me, I could say way more on the subject, but I'm not going to, because I'm going to assume most people know what I'm talking about. Let's just say that Accepted and Animal House were made for a reason. The idea of some of the people I go to school with barging into some poor unsuspecting author's work and leaving the sort of dumbass comments I'd expect from them is making me cringe in my desk chair. And I'm not even a well-known writer! I have like five people that regularly read this blog, maybe a few more for my old fic, and most people who know me in real life don't know I read/write fic. I've been careful to keep my two lives separate, partially out of fear of something like this happening! Well, okay, maybe not this happening, because in what universe is fanfiction considered an appropriate topic for a college class? Some of the stuff that's required reading for this class is explicit slash fic, or explicit incest fic. I would assume that would get the professor reprimanded at the very least, but maybe not. After all we're supposed to be adults...

Good lord, it's like all of my nightmares came true at once, and I'm not even involved! I can only imagine that it is much worse for the writers involved.

Jan. 19th, 2015

Dorms Are Not Supposed To Be Re-education Camps

Apparently it's now required to discuss your most private thoughts with the RA if you live on campus at the University of Delaware.

According to the article, students at the University of Delaware are being required to submit to a fairly invasive questionnare administered by their Resident Advisor f they live in the dormitories. If they refuse or do not answer the questions “properly” they can be reported to the campus police, or face other disciplinary action.

It seems that the logic behind this is to educate students on issues their peers might face. Okay, fine. But why does that need to include invasive questions about the student's sexual orientation, and why does it need to delve so deeply into the student's personal lives? My first year at university, I had a very good RA, who helped me through a difficult time after I found out that a friend of mine had died very suddenly. But I sure as hell wouldn't have wanted to discuss things like my “sexual awakening” with him. He was a good guy, but that was none of his damn business. And getting into people's political beliefs? That was of no concern to the rest of the people on my floor. I barely spoke to any of them! A few of them I strongly disliked!

I'm also pretty disturbed by the way the article states that the students were forced to act out racial stereotypes, in the name of “breaking them down.” I'm sorry, but I don't really see how that's going to demolish any stereotypes. All it's going to do is make everyone very uncomfortable.

I'm honestly quite shocked, and very glad that I moved back in with my parents. Dormitory life was just annoying, when I lived in one. At least all I had to deal with was annoying neighbors, not this gulag-type environment.

If you're a university student, and you've been subjected to something invasive like this, I would suggest that you contact FIRE, the organization this article came from. They might be able to help you better than I could. Even if you are comfortable with the questions being asked, please understand that not everyone might be. I certainly do not want to discuss my sexuality or my family life IRL with people I barely know.

Sep. 22nd, 2014

When The Herd Comes To Town

Right now, I have pretty much all of my father's side of the family staying in my house. The only people who aren't here right now is my cousin from Thailand, and that's probably because she has to take care of her son. While my dad's family is generally a bit easier to get along with than my mom's family (and a lot smaller- seriously, if my mom's whole family came by we'd have to rent out an entire hotel), it's kind of bad timing, because midterm exams start next week and I need to study. However, I will be going out of town again on Thursday with the rest of the family. While it's nice to be able to see my relatives, I'm a little concerned about this weekend- I have an exam on Monday, and I have a kanji test this Thursday in Japanese. Between all the stuff I have to do this weekend and the exams, as well as shuttling relatives around from Point A to Point B, I'm a little concerned.

Ah well, I should probably just relax. Some people I know actually live with their extended family all the time and still manage to get things done. This isn't the end of the world.

Jul. 9th, 2014

Research Results

Just in case anyone has been wondering what the hell has happened to me lately, I've been trying desperately to cram 14 weeks of class into eight weeks of class, and I've been trying really, really hard to get a project that should have taken four months into one one month. It's also made a lot more complicated by the fact that the professor picked the database we're supposed to be getting the data from, and unfortunately for me, he gave me one that is both very difficult to navigate and that is slightly awkward to have to write about. Yes, that's right folks, the professor has told me my data needs to come from the Race and Religion database.

Isn't it just my luck that I'd get stuck with the most sensitive, potentially explosively offensive dataset. I tried to do something that I thought would be relatively inoffensive (which race goes to church most often), but it's still incredibly awkward.

It hasn't been all bad- I've learned a lot about African-American churches from my research, and it's been pretty interesting. But I'm not particularly religious myself, so it feels kind of strange to be reading all of this stuff. The librarian at the government library gave me a really weird look when I had to ask for the books I needed (and yes, the university library is still out of commission, so I had to use the government one. Which was a huge pain in the ass since it's like an hour away and you have to go through a lot of rigamarole to get access to it). Is it that hard to believe that I might be interested in the topic? Well, maybe it is, and I did need to access some pretty arcane, unusual information for it.

Another problem with this topic of research is that it isn't always clear whether or not something will actually be of use for the project until you're about halfway through the seventy-five page document or the 400 page book. Really, it's a good thing I can read as fast as I do. The problem is that all of these professors and researches like to give their work the most pretentious-sounding titles, so you'll find something that sounds like it might actually be of use. You're reading along, bopping through the text, hmm, this is interesting, I wonder where the data is, and then you'll get to the paragraph where the writer will say “and so, now we relate this back to our woman's studies perspective” or “we will now engage with this information from a queer studies perspective” or in one really memorable case, going off on a racist tangent. That's when you spend about five minutes swearing under your breath, cursing the writer of the paper/book, the professor, the government library, the database, the university, and everything else you can think of before moving on to the next one. And then the cycle repeats itself all over again.

Truthfully, it's times like this that I sort of regret changing my major. Well, that's a lie- I regret it every day, but I didn't really have a choice. If there is such a thing as reincarnation I hope that in my next life I will be better at math, so that I can go back to being an information technology person. That was all I wanted out of life, really.

But it didn't turn out that way.

Jun. 23rd, 2014

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

My university's library system, is, to put it quite bluntly, utter shit. If the articles database hasn't crashed, then the card catalog crashed, and if neither of those have crashed, then the Blackboard site is down. Today, I thought it was a miracle all three things were working. Unfortunately I needed to get an actual physical book from the library, only I found out that the actual library itself has crashed. Or, at least, the sprinkler system did. It malfunctioned, and they're not letting anyone into the library until the thing is fixed- and the estimated time of that happening is sometime in July. Which isn't going to work, because the paper I need to write is due sometime in July.

This is why I didn't want to take a summer class. My university is remarkably incompetent even when there is a normal class session in progress. With most people on holiday now, it's really a miracle that the campus is still standing, considering how poorly things seem to work around here.

Really, it’s a huge pain. I can’t wait until I’ve graduated. Then I’ll finally be free from all of this hassle, unless the company I end up working for has the same problems.

Jun. 2nd, 2014

Smooth Move, Kaboom

Sorry in advance guys, this might be a bit disgusting.
Today is not going very well.

Not only do my summer classes start today, but I practically cut off the top of my thumb accidentally by trying to cut some bread for lunch. I was actually a bit concerned I might need to go to the hospital, because it did bleed quite a bit, but I don't think it's really big enough to need stitches. Hopefully it won't bleed through the tourniquet though, that would be annoying and I don't have very many cloth bandages. I'd really prefer to not have to go buy more, those things are expensive. As it is I'm probably going to need to change the bandages before I go to class at 4:00.

Ugh, what a hassle. And what an auspicious start to the summer term. It almost feels like an omen, you know? Cut your hand open the day your classes start, maybe the universe is trying to tell me something.

Please excuse any typos. The bandages make it hard to type and I keep typing "v" when I mean to hit the spacebar.

May. 18th, 2014

Trigger Warning: University- Part 3

It's not going away...

I've already written in depth about this in the past, so I'm not going to rehash all the arguments I've made except to reiterate that I think this is a stupid idea. I understand that professors may make use of disturbing content for their classes, and if they choose to warn, then that is fine and I would encourage that. But these special precious hothouse flowers are demanding trigger warnings for the goddamn Great Gatsby and other things. Like the one professor towards the end of the article says, this could have a chilling effect on professors and could make them scared to actually teach their subject.

The fact of the matter is that if you're in university, you're supposed to be an adult. If you can't handle things that upset you like a mature adult, then you have no business being in university. If you have a concern about something in the syllabus might be upsetting for you, then go talk to the professor. Believe it or not, they're actually not going to screw you over. If you're concerned, let them know, and they may give you an alternate assignment, or warn you ahead of time.

In the adult world no one is going to hold your hand and protect you from everything. It's time these undergrads learn that before they get out into the workforce.

I'm not saying this to be cruel, either. I understand the use of trigger warnings for people who have truly experienced trauma. But let's face it- the majority of people who are clamoring for these warnings are not trauma survivors. They want to be protected and coddled from their big bad scary class assignments. I've seen trigger warnings on the Internet for the most inane things, too- will that be expected to become part of university syllabi too? I would feel scammed out of my tuition if I showed up for class and my professor handed out a syllabus that had trigger warnings for toast.

Hopefully this will eventually die down, because if it doesn't, I'm worried about what the value of a university education will become.

Apr. 18th, 2014

It's Done

I finally turned in my paperwork to switch majors.

Now if you'll excuse me I have a bottle of vodka that's calling my name so I can drown my sorrows.

Mar. 31st, 2014

Burnout

I'm in that weird headspace again where the only thing I want to do anymore is drink and then sleep. The past few weeks have been an exercise in disappointment and upset, and I'm really tired of it all.

I honestly haven't felt this bad since I left my first university- and this might even be worse than that.

Don't worry, I'm not at the critical point yet, just starting to wonder what the point is to all of this. I work my ass off to get a damn letter at the top of the piece of paper and then it ends up not being the right letter. It doesn't matter how much I study, my grades never improve. I feel like I can't relate to anyone anymore, and my parents' moving preparations are just grating on me all the time. I actually got in the first major fight with my dad since I was in middle school the other day, and I've been feeling really shaky ever since. It honestly was my fault, but still- I haven't felt the desire to lash out at him like that for, what, eight years now?

Some of you may know that I have some health problems. Please don't worry- I don't think this is a symptom of them flaring up again, I've just been very stressed out lately and I haven't really been dealing with it in the healthiest of ways as of late. I have been sleeping for about fifteen hours a day when possible, and I probably shouldn't do that. I will probably be better once the semester ends and things calm down- it's just the double punch to the face of the preparations and the amount of work I've had to do this semester has been pretty bad, and I haven't been handling it well. Or, I was handling it well, until the other day.

So if I'm not around as much as usual, that's why. I don't have much energy once I've finished with the work I have to do and the only thing I have the capacity to do is watch stupid Youtube videos and sleep again.

Things should hopefully be back to normal soon.

Mar. 7th, 2014

Trigger Warning: University: Link Roundup

The whole debacle is still ongoing. I've already made my thoughts on the matter known, so I'm not going to rehash them. That would get boring. However, there's been discussions of it all over the Internet. Some I agree with, some I don't, but they've all been pretty fascinating to read, so I'll link to them here.

This post is from a university professor who is extremely uncomfortable with the idea of this, because it infringes on academic freedom. Please note the link goes to an archived snapshot, done because the website itself was making my antivirus software go bonkers. But I think it's worth reading anyway, so here you can avoid any potential virus problems.

This goes to a thread on Fail Fandom Anon. It's kind of all over the place with regards to opinions so you can read it and form your own.

This goes to the Feministe article/comments section, as linked to by the above thread. I just want to say, though, that by linking to Feministe I don't necessarily endorse anything you might find on that website. This is the first time I've ever visited that site and I have not vetted the rest of it, so don't take this as any sort of endorsement of anything other than “the article I linked to on this particular topic might be of interest.”

And here I break one of my own rules and link to Shakesville. Please note that I absolutely do not endorse anything written by Melissa McEwan at all. Ever. The only reason I'm including this link is because it's on topic for this infodump. Also, for the love of god, do not comment over there saying you came from here. I'm not up for dealing with McEwan's poodles flooding my poor Lawn. I don't think IJ's servers could take it either. I mean it, no poking the beehive. And make no mistake- that website is a beehive. That’s why this one is an archived link, to discourage any beehive-poking and to avoid any pingbacks that might bring any of her commentariat over here.

This link goes to Student Activism defending the practice, which I found very interesting- it takes a slightly more preventative view towards the whole debacle than I do, but overall I think this is a more logical way to deal with the issue than a lot of people have been proposing. At least it recognizes that there might be some problems inherent with the whole trigger warning model., but understands that some students may need the extra heads-up.

This post touches on some of my least favorite words- seriously, if someone tried to tell me that “this thing we’re studying is problematic” I’d probably head-desk. But, again, other than that, this writer seems to be logical about the whole thing, with regards to teaching things that could be upsetting for the students.

This one’s fairly snarky, but does accurately describe what I think a lot of people were thinking when they first heard about this. People want fandom-style warnings for their college classes now? Seriously? Special snowflakes! The blog owner is quite a bit more conservative politically than I am, however (and considering that compared to some of the other blogs linked here *coughMelissaMcEwancough*- I’m essentially the second coming of Rush Limbaugh, that’s saying something).

Salon had what I would consider a profoundly simplistic reaction to the debacle- no nuance whatsoever, but I’ll include it here because the next article references it. And you’re all big boys and girls, you can make up your mind on the article itself.

The Daily Banter’s response to the Salon article, which I personally find more useful than the Salon article, but again, you can make up your own minds.

There’s a whole lot more about this out there, but this is what I’ve had the time to read. Like I said, you all are smart- if you weren’t you wouldn’t be reading the Lawn. You can make up your own minds, and you don’t have to agree with anyone who wrote these articles, or even me, if you don’t want to.

As I mentioned before, in the previous post, I will continue to use warnings for my fiction and any blog posts that contain things that are particularly graphic- any future articles about Michael and Debi Pearl, for example, will contain warnings. However, I’m not going to put up trigger warnings for anything anyone could conceivably find offensive, nor am I going to put in warnings for individual words or non-graphic descriptions of things. “X shot the guy” doesn’t get a warning, but a more graphic description of X shooting the guy would.

And even though I come off as kind of prickly in these posts, if something here on the Lawn legitimately triggers you, it is logical, and you let me know, I’ll edit the post to put a note up. 9 of 10 times, if you can logically make your case to me, even if it’s something idiosyncratic, I’ll put a note or something up. The 1 time I won’t, likely it was something conveyed to me abusively (calling me a stupid triggering cunt isn’t going to endear you to me, let’s put it that way) or was just so out there that I wouldn’t even begin to know where to start with the warning. Put even more bluntly, if I somehow forget to tag graphic violence, suicide, or assaul.t, or it slips past me, go ahead. I’m not going to put up warnings for office supplies, though.

And hopefully that’s the end of that, although I kind of doubt it. Seems like the trigger warning debates flare up every six months or so.

Mar. 4th, 2014

Trigger Warning: University

And here I thought the online warnings debate was getting out of hand. Now, apparently, the trigger warning debacle has gone into university classrooms. (Please note: link is to an archiving site because the original is behind a paywall after reading a handful of articles. I can no longer access the original but someone put up an archive link, so that's what I'm linking to here).

Let me preface this by saying that I have no particular objection to trigger warnings. I use them on my series about Michael and Debi Pearl, because those articles contain graphic descriptions of child abuse. I wasn't ever abused like that, but on a bad day, reading the base articles for those posts can make me shaky and feeling sick to my stomach- someone who went through what the Pearls recommend could be much worse affected than I am. I know several military veterans who get flashbacks to the wars they were in when fireworks go off/they see trash by the side of the road/a plane flies overhead/etc. But this is truly getting out of hand.

I have no problem warning for the major stuff on my blog and on my fiction, as do most people. But when people are going into fanfiction writing communities and demanding trigger warnings for random things (like parrots, which I actually saw the other day), this is getting absurd. As the article says: people have wanted trigger warnings for things as varied and bizarre as small holes and animals in wigs.

Warnings for graphic violence, child abuse, suicide, and sexual assault are the ones I'm willing to accommodate, unless someone can give me a damn good reason to add another. I might warn if, for some reason, I was going to link to something really blatantly racist or sexist or something, but because I don't really do that, it's never come up before.

The thing is, triggers are not something that hurts your feels. Triggers are a very specific psychological thing. Someone who has PTSD will get triggered, and they will flash back to their trauma. And truthfully, it's very rarely caused by reading some words on the Internet. I have a relative who was in the Vietnam War who gets extremely tense every time he hears an airplane fly overhead. I have an acquaintance who freaks the fuck out if there's trash on the side of the road because in Afghanistan, where he served, terrorists liked to hide IEDs in trash piles on the side of the road. I've also heard of rape victims being triggered by the smell of the cologne their attacker wore, or hearing a specific song that was on the radio during their assault. Rape victims can be triggered by graphic descriptions of sexual assault, while veterans can be triggered by graphic descriptions of war violence, but a single word, or a non-graphic sentence? Please, people, you're watering down the concept beyond all help. Trigger warnings were originally invented to help people with PTSD. Not people who get in a twist if someone in a story calls someone else a slut, or makes an allusion to something else that upsets you.

I'm willing to believe there's probably at least one person out there who could be legitimately triggered by some of these things, but it is literally not possible to potentially warn for every potential trauma trigger a person could possibly have. It's just not feasible. The whole world would have to have trigger warnings on everything.

It strikes me too, that professors wouldn't appreciate being made to put trigger warnings on their syllabus. I had to watch a movie for one of my classes that had an incredibly graphic scene of actual violence filmed while it was taking place- we're not talking Quentin Tarantino levels of ridiculous graphic violence either where people explode and shower the room in unrealistic bright red goo , this was the legitimate thing, and it actually happened. It was so disgusting a few people threw up, and I spent the rest of the day utterly shaken to my core. The professor warned us going in that it was graphic, and that he would understand if we had to step out, but we were not allowed to skip class just because a potentially upsetting film was going to be shown. That was the best example I can think of that would even warrant someone being allowed to skip class for their potential triggers, and we weren't even allowed to do that. The professor just told us that the film was very graphic and he warned us before the scene came up in case anyone needed to step outside. I'm pretty sure everyone wishes they'd done so, but that's neither here nor there. People being allowed to skip class because a topic of discussion may be upsetting for them? What the fuck is the point of going to university in the first place? If you can't handle people discussing sexual assault, then maybe don't take the women's studies class entitled “The Politics of the Rape Culture” (which is a real thing at my university). I would think that would be common sense, but apparently not. Apparently my generation is incredibly dim when it comes to this sort of thing. Maybe it's all those warnings spelling out every single word of the post before they actually read it on the Internet.

I'm not opposed to trigger warnings, and I think they are, in fact, quite valuable when used rationally Putting warnings for everything under the sun that might make someone somewhere a bit sad or uncomfortable? That just dilutes the term's usefulness for people who need them for PTSD. And being offended is not a symptom, nor a cause of PTSD.

Feb. 5th, 2014

In Which I Get Screwed By The University Again

Anyone who's read my blog before probably knows about my ongoing fight with the university I attend- it seems like every single damn semester something else gets screwed up and I end up having to do damage control for something that wasn't my fault in the first place, yet it gets blamed on me. This time is no exception.

Yesterday I was late for a class because, apparently, the university oversold its designated parking permits over the winter holiday. Previously, in all of the semesters I have attended this particular university, my part of the parking garage that I have the access card for has been more or less empty. It's never been difficult to find a parking place, mainly because the area I park in is 1- expensive as fuck to get the access card for, and 2- in the middle of nowhere. But apparently the general spots were too difficult to find, so people started paying more for the more expensive permits. Which wouldn't be a problem if the university didn't oversell them. So now there's way more people parking in the place I have the permit for than there are parking places. Which is a problem- especially because I can't park outside of that designated area without getting a $150 parking ticket. I can't afford to pay $150 every time I need to go to class!

As usual, the university doesn't give a shit about the students. We're just there for them to bleed dry for money.

Jan. 25th, 2014

My First Semester

The past few days it's been ridiculously cold here, and this morning I woke up aching all over. I think it happened because I had to walk to class yesterday in bitter cold, the kind of cold that seeps into your bones and makes you feel frozen from the inside out. I had to take an hour-long shower when I got home to be able to feel anything in my extremities again. An auspicious start to my first semester in my new major.

My professors seem... interesting this time. I don't want to talk too much about what they're like with details because some of them are pretty unique, and it could out me and them, and I don't particularly want my professors reading my blog. Because that's just weird. But most of them seem like they'll be pretty good. However, there's one guy I'm a bit concerned about. If I had to guess I'd guess he's in his mid to late seventies, and he is either going senile or he has some pretty severe ADHD that was never diagnosed. He bounces around, and can't seem to keep his mind on track. He ranted on and on about... psychology, I think it was, for forty-five minutes before he managed to steer himself back on track. This wasn't a psychology class. This was a government class. The guys seems like a nice enough person, but... I don't know how I am supposed to pass the class if he can't remember what class he's supposed to be teaching.

Of course, it was only the first day. Maybe he'll manage to figure things out better once the semester gets into full swing.

I'm also really not looking forward to some of the projects I will have to do in my classes. All of them- every single one- has at least one group project. Considering I failed a class because of a group project last spring, I'm considering playing up the “I have medical issues” card to get out of it. I cannot afford to fail any more classes because I got stuck with a bunch of dumbfucks in my group. I need to graduate as soon as possible, as well as keep my GPA up if I want to be accepted with either a Japanese/English teacher exchange, or if I want to be accepted to a good law school. And I worry that if I am forced into more group projects I will have difficulty again this semester. Unfortunately, making hay of the fact that I have medical issues probably won't help much in the long term- if it goes in my file I might not get accepted to either of the things I am considering doing after college.

Honestly, I just want the weather to get better ASAP. I'm cold, and tired, and grouchy, and this semester isn't really off to the best start. At least it might be bearable if it wasn't -5 F with the windchill and I had to walk a mile in that weather. At least I would feel healthier and not be huddled around a computer and a space-heater trying to warm the cold out of my bones.

Dec. 21st, 2013

Integration Under The Moon of Codes

I recently discovered this song- apparently it's an ending from a video game or something? Anyway, while I love the music, it hurts me to listen to it, because it's a reminder of everything I've lost this year.

My entire life. My entire life up until this point was spent preparing to go into information technology, and now, thanks to goddamn calculus, my whole life plan is laying shattered at my feet. Maybe I'll go to law school now, but I never really wanted to be a lawyer.

At least the song is good, even though I cried for about an hour after I heard it the first time.

Aug. 19th, 2013

GODDAMN UNIVERSITY

I swear to god, if I ever meet the jackass who decided it would be a brilliant idea to force an upgrade of the university's email system, and then put a fucking idiot in charge, I'm going to punch them in the face. Thanks to this fucker I can no longer access my email account, and I am getting error messages in fucking Hebrew. I cannot read Hebrew, and Google Translate seems to kind of suck and translating that language, because all i'm getting is a bunch of whaargarble when I try to translate it.

They always do this- they contract out the IT work to the lowest bidder, we end up with some moron bangning on a keyboard, and then the system becomes entirely unusable for a month or so. I've sent emails to the help desk, but considering they're the morons that fucked it up in the first place my hopes are not high that they'll be able to fix it. This is especially irritating because that email address is linked to my financial accounts. If I cannot access that email address, I am not getting information from my credit card company or Paypal.

FUCK. Just once I would appreciate it if the university could actually do something competent for a change.

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.

Jul. 3rd, 2013

PSA for Professors

Don't tweet stupid shit.

Last semester, for my sociology class, I wrote a paper discussing trends of social media use in the United States and Japan. One thing that was common to both countries was that people who make ill-advised postings on social media websites sometimes end up bringing down the wrath of god on their asses. Earlier this year, there was the Donglegate incident. Last year, according to Asahi Shinbun, a woman who was part of a BL doujinshi circle accidentally posted some of her drawings to the Facebook account she had under her real name, and she lost her job because of it.


I'm not going to go into whether or not the professor in that story should be fired for being sarcastic about fat people- I have a feeling that no matter what I say it's going to upset someone, but anyone who has read my blog for any length of time probably knows my thoughts on the matter. I like free speech and a free Internet- three guesses and the first two don't count. It is incredibly dumb to so blatantly put your controversial views out there connected to your actual name. There's a reason I am careful to not connect my fandom or blogging activities to my actual name- it would be bad for my jobs.

I'm not going to try to stop you from thinking things that are less than politically correct. Longcat knows that the second you tell someone not to think about something, they're going to think about it. I get intrusive thoughts sometimes- it's a side effect of the paranoid personality disorder. As such I tend to be a bit susceptible to unwanted thoughts popping into my head, especially if someone brings it up. It can be terrible in the cases of when I have to deal with obnoxious customers as well- “don't think about that person don't think nasty thoughts about that person... GODDAMN SHE'S BIGGER THAN MY FUCKING CAR!” But I have the presence of mind to not broadcast them to everyone who happens to pass by (with the exception of this instance). You can't always control your thoughts, but you can control who you tell them to.

I also want to bring up something that came up in the comments of that article. Apparently when the mayor of New York City tried to ban soda, Sarah Palin and some other people got up in arms about it. That's not trying to win the votes of fat people, that's trying to win the votes of people whose first thought about that was “fuck you I won't do what you tell me!” And honestly, if someone told me I couldn't have soda anymore, I would definitely tell them to take a long walk off a short pier, and any politician who tried to ban it would not be getting my vote. GOTTA HAVE CAFFEINE!

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.

May. 12th, 2013

They Say Bad Luck Comes In Threes...

First, I contracted strep throat.

Yesterday, I crashed and possibly totaled my car. I seriously thought I was going to die.

I was driving on a notoriously treacherous stretch of road up where I live, in a violent downpour. The people in front of me suddenly stopped in the middle of the highway (why, I have no fucking idea, the nearest stoplight was about half a mile down the road). I tried to hit the breaks, but my steering locked and my car hydroplaned into them. They (and their tank of a van that’s three years older than me, according to the police report) were perfectly fine. I somehow managed to make it through without any serious injuries other than hitting my head on the steering wheel on impact, thankfully with nothing more than a bit of a headache, but my car… well, the KaboomMobile probably isn’t going anywhere for a while. Plus the cops held me at fault even though I wasn’t the dumbfuck that came to a full stop in the middle of the goddamn highway- in a 60 MPH zone, in pouring down rain, no less.


So now I have to pay for a huge ticket, as well as costly repairs and possibly a new car if it’s not fixable. And I’m going to Japan in exactly a month as of yesterday. I don’t know how I’m going to pay for all of this, especially since today was my last day at Job A until I get back from Japan. I might have to take a temp job, or sell my knitting or something, although I hope it doesn’t come down to that. If the car is totaled, I’m probably not going to get much from insurance, since the car is over 10 years old.

Honestly, though, I think I’m lucky that no one was more seriously hurt. I really thought I was going to die. A few seconds before impact, the only thing I could think of was “fuck, I’m going to die and I’m not going to get to go to Japan. Maybe the university will give my parents the money back.”

They say bad luck comes in threes. I’m really scared to find out what’s going to happen next.

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