Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Having an Elsa Moment



Maybe a month ago I was flipping through sermon notes from last year. My sermon notes resemble the ramblings of Mystery Science Theater 3000. And I came across this quote that I heard in a sermon.

"God hates sin so much that he saw my sin on his son and he killed his son."

Then my face did this.


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Even a year ago, I thought that was pretty stupid. Now it's just another thought that crystallizes like an icy blast.

I still go to church events because I know some sweet, genuine Christians. But there's a certain kind of arrogance that I would have accepted unquestioningly in college--and that's what I'm never going back to.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Things about being in your 20s....

Every year since my late teens, I've found new wrinkles. First it was my eyelids, because I started using eyeshadow and had no idea how to apply it gently or wash it off properly.

Yeah....I can't believe how lax I was about washing my face in college. I didn't even know there were special soaps for removing makeup. No one ever freakin' told me, so I kept wondering why hot water wasn't doing it. Seriously, are girl things like some Mason's Guild-esque secret???? I think the rule is as soon as you find out something girly, you have to pretend you knew it all along. Or admit you didn't in a voice that says, "Silly me! I can't believe I didn't shave my arms until last year. What a cavewoman, amirite?"

Anyway, first it was the eyelids. Then...probably either the lines on my wrists (I have extremely bony hands and thin wrists) and on my forehead. That was all during college.

Then last year I got a desk job and lines appeared UNDER my eyes because I was using a computer all day. Wearing PC glasses did not make them disappear.

This year it's smile lines!!!!!!!!

And seriously, they are the WORST. They're always just waiting at the corners of your mouth, ready to spring into action the next time you find something funny, making you look sad and pouty until they fade again. Why did they appear? Probably genetics. I've been getting new wrinkles for the last five years, and I'm sure the crows feet will be next. Also there's not much fat on my face and I haven't been moisturizing worth shit.

I realize it's inevitable and even really young-looking people have flaws, but seeing laugh lines on my face was a moment of panic. I kept thinking Quinn Morgendorfer-style "My laugh lines are cute, my laugh lines are tiny, I DO NOT HAVE LAUGH LINES!"

But I had to face reality. And I resolved that even though I was stuck with signs of aging, I would not go gentle into that good night, and have consequently fortified myself with a wide variety of skin care products to postpone the inevitable. I may do another post about just how many different goops you can buy for skin in Japan. (Some over $100 dollars.)

The lines are still there, but as soon as I started moisturizing my skin looked a lot happier. Lines I thought I couldn't do anything about suddenly got much less noticeable. Actually, I barely use concealer now because it always looked gloppy and didn't cover up dark circles anyway, and only made the lines more obvious. Huh. Moisturizer clears that up before I even put any base makeup on.

My goal is that even if I'm doomed to be lined by thirty, at least I can do my best to have soft, clear skin.

It's been a long time...

I've been either coding or memorizing Japanese in almost every spare moment, so haven't had as much time for blogging recently.

The most interesting thing I've done this month is do some modeling for a friend to show off a dress she designed. I'm supposed to be a lost doll looking for my owner, or so the story goes. This was my first experience modeling, so I can see why people say it's a lot of work. No kidding!

Yes, technically it's all other people doing your hair and makeup and deciding how you should pose. But sitting still for an hour while someone else does stuff to your face (which you obviously can't see), and puts fake eyelashes on you--not easy!

And then when you're posing you have to stand one way for 10 seconds, and then look the other way, and never move too fast because it will mess up the photos. And have the right expression. It gets tiring. Not to mention I was outside in November in a flimsy doll dress and pumps. Between all the shots I was huddled into my jacket.

Not to mention I dripped hot wax on my leg and couldn't get it out of my tights.


We also got harassed by a bunch of drunk Japanese guys who thought it was totally okay just to stand around and watch and shout encouragement to us. It's hard enough pose right without a group of strangers treating you like you're some animal in a zoo.

However, I like trying something weird and new and I'm interested to see how the pictures turned out. The goth makeup isn't really my thing (it doesn't even match the dress imo) but I think they'll look really otherwordly.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Programming--No Syntax Errors!

Yesterday I tried to write my own program and it ran the first time I tried it with no syntax errors! This is a with any program I've tried, even when I'm following directions. Of course, the program still didn't do what I wanted...

This week's topic was functions and I don't understand them that well so on Saturday I tried making my own program that included a function. A very simple function. In fact, I just used one of the chapter examples. I wrote down some code in a notebook and then tried it on my computer, making sure all the colons were in the right places.

The program was just to take your birth month and birth day and add them together for a "secret number." The function was adding two numbers together.

Surprisingly, it started running no problem. The prompts came up. But when the answer showed up it was "716" which meant it was adding the numbers as strings instead of integers. So I went back and changed the line int(month) to month = (int)month, ran the program again, and got the answer I wanted, which was 23.

However, the program still didn't work the way I wanted it to because of the error messages. I had put in a try/except clause, but the program just kept going when I entered weird information, so it gave something like "Julyquit" as the final result. So I added quit() to the except clause and that stopped the program every time I entered something that couldn't be converted into an integer.

Overall, it was a good feeling to be able to use a function correctly. And even though I still had to do some debugging, I felt very knowledgeable to be able to think, "Ohhhh it didn't actually convert to an integer," or "I need an extra line of code here," instead of "OH NO HOW DID I SCREW IT UP?????"

Next week is loops, which I also know nothing about but hopefully I'll get the hang of it eventually.

Friday, October 24, 2014

This week's project--pick-up lines! Well, sorta...

Email from my boss be like:

I'm want to show how you have to use informal language if you want to be successful picking up women. Can you check the dialog?

Me:

As the woman I don't care how bad some guy's English is, if he's cute enough I'll speak Japanese!

(Actually thinking "WTF it's not like if your English is good enough people will be obligated to go out with you...this is so sexist.)

Boss:

Then I don't need to worry about my English.

(Pretty sure he's joking because it sounds like his humor.)

Me:

But some guys aren't so handsome and socially skilled so they might need some tips.

Later my coworker says to me:

"I read your very interesting exchange the boss, and he says he wants you to write some natural scenes for at a bar when you want to..."

Me: "Pick up women? Ehhh..."

Coworker: Hahaha, not exactly like that.

Me: And what about women? They need tips too!

Coworker: Like, at a bar, how to meet someone and say hi and ask for a date. A lot of Japanese are interested in this kind of English.

Me: Um...I don't have a lot of experience, but I'll try something.

Later, reading a bunch of articles on Dr. Nerdlove, writing several dialogs. Send them to boss and coworker.

Coworker: The boss read your dialogs and thinks they're good! They're very natural and not at all creepy! Can you write some more?

Me: OK....

(I'm thinking, "How did I become the expert???")

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Earring Skills

When it comes to doing new things to my body, I only have two modes. "OMG I can't figure this out," and "This is so incredibly easy."

Six months ago I got my ears pierced for the first time and it felt so weird. The idea of actually touching the holes was like "Ick no!" Then the openings got infected and I had to take the stud out (which was not fun when the skin was swelling up around the metal). When I tried to put new earrings in a day later the holes had closed up and getting anything through was impossible. There was blood and puss. I had to go back to the pierce shop and have the holes widened so overall I felt like a failure.

So I wore the same studs for a while, and when the skin started getting red last month I took them out BEFORE things got really bad. After the last incident I had bought plastic earrings as backup and I decided I might as well try putting those in by myself. This time I tried right after removing the studs so that the holes would have ABSOLUTELY NO TIME to close on me.

Surprisingly it worked! Putting the back on was a bit touch and go because I couldn't see it, but pretty soon I got the hang of it. As my ear condition got better I tried other regular earrings and was able to use them with no problem.

However, I couldn't get the studs back in because you have to insert them from the back. I couldn't find the hole, and also the shaft of the stud was not rounded so it was much harder to slip in. Imagine trying to use a supersize tampon with no applicator. Yeah...

Essentially, the kind you buy at Claire's looks like a thin rod with a holder you stick on the back. The kind I got originally is like a thin metal tube and you stick a thinner rod (with the jewel) into that. 

I was a bit worried that the holes might close with either thinner piercings or just plastic, so I went back to the pierce shop today. The guy said not to worry because the plain plastic ones I had been using were the same width as the original studs. He also showed me how to insert the studs by first using a regular thinner earring and then sticking the open part of the stud onto the end of that and drawing the whole thing back through the ear. I don't know why I couldn't figure that out before.

Although the guy had special tools for it at the shop, he seemed to think I would be able to do it at home, so I gave it a try. Amazingly, it worked! With just a little bit of guidance, the stud went smoothly through my ear even from the back. Now I can put them on any time as long as I have a thinner earring to use to start with.

That's how I became an expert in putting on earrings. Now I have confidence that I can take care of my piercing in most situations whether it's changing the earrings or caring for redness and swelling. The next mission is to learn how to wear dangly earrings!

Even though it's only recently that I've been able to actually change the style, I've had a lot of fun trying different accessories. It's so much more comfortable that then clip-on kind. I never liked the feeling of something pinching my ear. It's like the difference between using a tampon and using a pad. One seems more icky but you don't notice it at all, while the other you're always aware of.

Looking forward to more adventures in the future!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

My First Live Show in Hiroshima (or like ever...)

On Saturday I did something pretty unusual for me and went to a Japanese metal show. Here are some pictures I took:


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 Mostly, I remember it being pretty LOUD. It was a pretty small venue as you can see from the pictures. We just had to pay 1,000 yen to get in and another 500 yen for a drink ticket. The guests ranged from high school age to 40s. Some people were punked out in leather jackets and a lot of camouflage and other people were dressed in normal clothes. (Like me. I had no idea what to wear so just decided not to bother.)

The most amusing was to see these 15-17 year old high school boys hanging out. (Usually up at the railing.) I just kept imagining that this place must seem so rebellious and cool to them and they were so cute and dorky. There's smoking and drinking! People in weird costumes screeching!

Never having been to a concert before, much less death metal, I was kind of taken aback when people started running around in the center of the floor pushing each other. (Including the person I came with.) Some of the younger boys took their shirts off. There was also one punk teenage girl who ran around, although she kept all her clothes. I think that's a circle pit? They seemed to be having fun, though. I just didn't get it.

After about two hours my ears were hurting so I waited a bit in the entryway where the music was just a dull roar instead of an earsplitting one. Overall it was pretty unique but I felt unexpectedly tired afterward. Still I got to see people in weird masks and guys with really long hair swinging it around as they played guitar.






Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Programming

This week I started a programming class! My book even came on time, which was a surprise. I haven't done any assignments yet, but I managed to install everything and play all the videos so that's at least a relief. The class focuses on Python which seems to be very basic. So far I've only used the command "print" and "x = 2."

The class starts at the most basic level, but even the easy textbook assumes things about how computers work that I don't actually know what they're talking about...Hopefully everything will become clear bit by bit.

Unfortunately this week I also caught a cold so that doesn't increase study motivation. "Learning Python is a lot like learning a human language..." And I'm like NO! I'm already learning a human language--that's trouble enough, thank you!

Friday, September 26, 2014

7 Ways to Title Your Blog Post

Want to write something for your personal blog but are stuck on the title? Use these time-honored ways to clue your readers in as to what will come next.

1. In Which...

Followed by a sentence. The goofier the sentence, the more it contrasts with the Victorianesque tone and therefore the greater humor. Best for recent life events but fine for discussions too. ("In which I discuss...")

2. An Open Letter to...

To someone who would never give me the time of day in real life so I have to blast them through cyberspace where everyone else can see. This is the equivalent of Marnie writing "Why do I even bother, she'll never read this," in the infamous Thanksgiving email.

3. ...A Response

Someone else said something stupid on the internet, but it's technically my area of expertise so I've got to mention it or people will go nuts in the comments section. Sections of text will be quoted, but you only have to read the bold parts. The general tone should be, "Here are the big obvious important issues you missed when writing your original post."

4. Why I...

People have been giving me flak about this thing since forever so once and for all I HAVE A GOOD REASON. Now leave me alone.

5. When...

Followed by sentence describing a current issue in the most click-baity terms possible. If the rest of the sentence couldn't be in a movie trailer after the words "In A World" then it needs to be more dramatic.

6. Is...? (any yes/no question)

If you don't know the answer to the question without reading the actual post, then...No, actually there is never a situation when you don't have at least an inkling of how this will go down. Even if you've never read the blog before.

7. Two to Three Apparently Random Words

But the secret is they're all actually related! Muwhahahaha! But you have to do it in a certain order. Word #1 is be a current event or famous person. #2 must be a catchphrase of some kind. #3 will either be "me" or a gerund.

But the real question is, what on earth should I call this post? Here are my ideas:

In Which I Blog About Blogging
An Open Letter To My Fellow Bloggers
Everyone Else's Blog Titles: A response
Why I Can Never Think of an Original Title
When All Blogs Are Equal
Are We Running Out of Blog Post Titles?
The Blogosphere, "Genre," and Me

Wait!!!!!!

I forgot the classic "X Ways To Do Something!" Now I'll have to start all over again...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Piercing again--Revenge of the Pierce!

Back in June my ear got super red and swelled up, and though I eventually got it sorted out, my only attempt to put the piercing back in was a dismal failure. With blood. In the end I just had to wait and get the holes opened again at the pierce shop because they had started to close up so fast.

Which meant a good hour of lying on my back while a Japanese hippie first poked around in my ear with a needle and then wedged increasingly thick metal rods through my ears until the hole was dilated back to the original position. Every time I reached my limit and said, "It hurts! It hurts!" he would stop, but he wouldn't take the rod out, so I just had to lie there with the rod in place until I could continue. Eventually he just told me, "Just endure a bit more, 'kay?" and tried to finish quickly.

This week I noticed that my right earlobe had gotten swollen again and instead of waiting for it to get really bad, I removed the piercing the same night. There was a lot of puss. To make matters worse, my other piercing had gotten stuck and didn't want to come out of my ear without taking blood with it.

Once the piercings were out, it was already late at night so I considered whether to try to fight to put the temporary plastic things in or wait until tomorrow at the pierce shop. I decided to give it a go and surprisingly was successful on the first try! This time I found the holes easily and was even able to get the backs on afterward. The left ear was a bit tighter but I found out I could stretch the hole a bit by tugging on my earlobe while inserting the pierce. Tampons have given me some expertise in this area.

The pierce guy said I should wait another week or so before putting metal piercings in again so maybe then I'll try some of the new piercings that Hannah gave me!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Back to studying...

Japanese class started up again this week! I tried to study at least somewhat (about twice a week?) during August so I wouldn't be left behind. Looks like I'm doing ok. Several people seemed happy to see me again, which was nice. The teacher was a new lady, and I could understand her Japanese pretty well.

However, class was a rather grueling experience because we got stuck on a grammar point for FOREVER, and it was like I just cannot, right now...

WE STUDIED THE SAME THING TWO MONTHS AGO!!!! Essentially, the section that threw a bunch of people was the transitive/intransitive verb thing. And I didn't understand this tense for nearly two years because I thought I was just using totally different verbs that happened to share kanji.

(There's not really an English equivalent where we can slightly change the pronunciation and suddenly the verb needs a direct object. Either the verb can only be used with a direct object, or it's the same verb. Like "I fried fish in the pan." "The fish was frying for about ten minutes.")

Anyway, the point is, even before I knew the rule, I could use the verbs no problem. And the concept is not too difficult so when it did come up in class I just went "Ok, I'll remember that." At least, anyone can notice that all the verbs with E in Japanese happen to be transitive verbs.

So we had to all sit through an explanation because SOMEONE forgot what a transitive verb is, and then we looked at the example of four verbs with the kanji 広.

Hirogaru--when an object widens or spreads out
Hirogeru--when you spread something out
Hiromaru--when an object, idea multiplies
Hiromeru--when you multiply an object, idea

At this point all hell of misunderstanding broke loose, and after I caught on to the nuance of the words, I could only sit there trying futilely to help convey to my classmates that the forms with E were transitive and had the exact same meaning as their intransitive counterparts.

Somewhere around here the voice of Jeremy Irons' Scar started playing in my head and wouldn't stop...That can't be a good sign.




When I'm not in class I try to study some vocabulary using these flash card sets. They're pretty small so I can fit them in my purse or my pocket. They're on a key ring so cards won't get lost, and I can change the order whenever. The shape isn't symmetrical, so they don't get flipped around the wrong way.

During work I read through a few at at time to practice. I start with the Japanese side and try to remember the English, and at the end of the stack I flip backwards with English-to-Japanese. There's 80 sheets in each, so If I word hard, maybe I can learn over 300 new words!



Okayama



Due to a bad wifi connection I haven’t been able to blog about my trip to Okayama. It was sort of a weird “Japanese teacher knows some people who are filming a DVD and happen to be looking for foreigners” connection. So I thought “Why not? This is the closest I’ll ever get to being on a real piece of media.” However, when I got the schedule it turned out I had to get up at six, which almost made me want to quit. But by that time I had already agreed, so…

We did two events. In the morning it was going to a shrine and getting a prayer for safety, and in the afternoon it was doing bizen pottery. The prayer was the weirdest thing ever because the ceremony was so elaborate. I had to follow this priest down to a special room where they burned incense and sang a prayer.

I had the most fun doing the pottery, even though it was really difficult. There are some funny pictures of me trying to make a bowl or coffee mug while the teacher is looking on critically! 

Initially I thought there would be other foreigners but it turned out they were on different days and at different locations. So in the end it was just me and the three Japanese dudes who were the film crew. Which was kind of awkward because they didn't speak much English, but I've gotten surprisingly chill about speaking Japanese lately.

For some reason the top bar of the "chi" in my last name disappeared and they at first wrote my name as "Sutefani Ghana" instead of "Gatchi." The sad part is that probably sounds better than the correct version...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Beach and Marnie

This weekend I went to the beach for the first time this summer! And even though my skin has gotten pretty pale, I didn't get sunburn. I met a guy from Okcupid who works in a hostel near Miyajima and we hung out and had a good time.

When we swam out to the raft we were joined by a British father and his two adorable British kids. (Who probably would resent being called adorable as they were teens, but they were so freakin' beautiful and had accents to die for. I'm totally jealous.) We talked together for a while, and then they swam off. But later we saw them again in the shopping area on Miyajima, this time with Mom too, and the six of us went to have dinner together! It was super fun hanging out and I taught the daughter some Japanese phrases. They were an interesting family and all seemed to really enjoy hanging out together. I was feeling a bit nostalgic for when I traveled with my family and was also thinking, "Someday me too; I'll get married and have some cool kids and take them cool places...."

Today I went to Hatchoza theater downtown to see 思い出のマーニー. This is the first all-Japanese movie I've seen, and I saw it by myself. However, as there was no version with subtitles the choices were either to see the Japanese version or not see it in theaters at all. And I didn't want to let summer go by without seeing it.

There was a lot I couldn't understand, especially for some of the adult characters, but I could understand a lot of short sentences and the children's dialog. Luckily the main story is the same as the book so when people started talking for a long time about something complicated I at least knew what the topic was based on the animation and a few key words. If you know Anna's backstory and Marnie's back (future?) story then it's not too hard to follow what's going on.

I think fans of the book will mostly like the movie because even though the story's Ghiblified and a few things are changed or moved around in the plot, the main story is the same, and more importantly the emotion of the story is the same. You really feel what Anna is going through and her redemption.

Maybe the book leans more toward "It really happened but don't ask how" and the movie is more "It was all in her head" but I have to watch it again to decide. :)

However, this is definitely not a movie to watch alone. There may have been some tears...Any story about a character who's lonely really gets to me.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tokyo--Again!

During Obon vacation I went to Tokyo again for two days. Unfortunately I manged to catch a cold two days before I went, so I didn't have as much energy as I had hoped. To make things worse, I managed to deactivate both my available cash cards (don't ask how) and was left with very little money until I could go to the Japan Post head office on the second day and get my cash card reactivated.

This is why most of the pictures I took do not show my face...


In spite of these setbacks, I was able to see both Tokyo Tower and Meiji Shrine (in Harajuku) and have a nice dinner with my friend Akiko, who was an excellent host for my stay. I'm glad we got to meet up again because she's going to Germany this month. I wish I had such an exciting life....

Friday, August 8, 2014

New Glasses! And sound recording mishaps.

On Thursday one of the nose pads on  my purple PC glasses broke off. They did this once before but I was able to repair them with tweezers to tighten the screw. This time the pad fell off completely when I was unaware and was lost in the mists of the carpet.

So I took the glasses into the Alook shop in Hondori and the guy was all, sure I can repair these easy--no problem. Unfortunately in the process of repair he inadvertently snapped the base of the nose pad clean off. And since last year the purple glasses had been discontinued.

Luckily, he offered to let me choose a new pair as long as it was the same price. By then I had been looking at all the other PC glasses for the last five minutes and was actually rather elated that I would be able to switch up my frames for no cost at all.

At first I wanted to get a pair in red, but the only red pair was the sample so I chose brown instead. It's exactly the color of my hair, so maybe that was the best choice in the end.