Friday, December 27, 2019

Being an Adult: Thoughts at 26

Here I am at the age of 26, and the fact that I'm an adult seldom crosses my mind. I’m more or less past the stage of feeling like I'm not one or wondering when I'll magically feel like I've entered adulthood and onto acceptance that being an adult is not a sudden switch from being a teenager. The two periods flow into each other, and there's never a real time when you transition between the two, even if we like to create artificial milestones to make it feel like you do.

Often, I wonder if getting married, buying a house, having kids, etc. would make me feel more like an adult. Maybe it would. I couldn’t know, but I also know that not having those things doesn’t make me less of an adult now. (Being home for Christmas and hearing what my cousins of various ages are doing now makes me even more sure of that.)

I often have to take a step back and remind myself that I’m on equal footing with the other adults around. I still feel like I should be looking to other people for guidance in any given situation. When I first started my job, just feeling like I could make suggestions to my co-workers (many of whom are my age) felt strange to me, and for a while, touching anything in the office felt forbidden. I wanted to ask for permission before touching anything.

This isn’t unique to work.

Anytime I need to be seen as an adult by strangers, I have a brief moment where I think they're going to question my age because there's no way they could look at me and see a capable adult.

Back in college and in the time after college when I was living with my parents, my parents would constantly remind me that I didn’t need to ask for permission to do things, and though I logically knew that, I kept asking as if it were an instinct I couldn’t shake off.

Perhaps I would understand that if I'd had more overbearing parents, but even my parents laughed about my inability to stop asking for permission. They gave me quite a bit of freedom as a kid and teenager anyway, so transitioning to adulthood shouldn't have been that big of a change.

And at work, one of the most frequent pieces of feedback I got in the beginning was that they wanted me to speak up more and take more initiative.

It's clear to me that a lot of this comes from my personality or, perhaps even more, my social anxiety. Reflecting on it, I realize that almost all of this comes back to how others see me, not how I see myself. I expect other people to not see me as a capable adult, and I'm hesitant to act like one sometimes because I feel as if I'll be called out for faking it.

There are other things that I believe factor into this that I don't want to throw out publicly for the first time in a post ultimately about something else, but following rules as a kid was very easy for me. I liked having clear expectations, and when I didn't know what was expected of me, I faltered. I never got detention, and when I did get in trouble, I got very panicked over it. I liked knowing what was expected of me.

Technically, there are still rules as an adult. Aside from the ever important laws I have to follow, there are rules I have to follow at work and social rules that I'm expected to follow at all times. But, in many ways, I'm still freer than I was as a kid, and part of me is terrified of that.

It's not just the rules though. As a teacher, I'm often teaching students who are older than me, which was difficult at first. During my student teaching, I had a hard time feeling like I had authority over my students (who were in high school) because I didn't feel old enough, and when I started teaching adults, I honestly had no idea how to balance the idea of "don't let them off easy if they don't do their homework" but also "they're adults, not children." I think I've gotten there, but there was a learning curve, just as there's been a learning curve to interacting with all adults since becoming one myself.

My first eight (at least in the legal sense) years of being an adult have definitely been interesting. There's essentially no way I could call myself a kid anymore. I live in a different country from my family, work full time, pay my own bills, and have plenty of student loan debt.

But it feels nothing like what child me would have imagined, which I guess is the truest thing I can say about adulthood.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Life Post: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it! (Even though it's almost over here and already is in many parts of the world.)

As you know from my previous posts, I'm in the US for Christmas now. Before I left, I'd been getting a cold, and the first night here it really got bad, so I've been dealing with that along with the jetlag. I slept more than 15 hours when I got home, and last night I slept much longer than usual too. I think that's helped with the cold though, and I feel better adjusted to the time now. So, cheers for that.

Yesterday, my dad's side of the family got together for Christmas. I saw a lot of them in August when I visited, but some of them I hadn't seen for a couple of years. Some of our family from Georgia was there, and I hadn't even seen them for a while before I left for Japan, so it had been years. It was good to see everyone and get updated about their lives. I only wish I hadn't been sick and had a pounding headache the whole time.

Now, I plan on spending the next few days recovering until I head back to Japan with my mom and siblings to be a tourist for a week. Fingers crossed that the jetlag doesn't take me down a second time.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Book Review: Marked by Kim Richardson

Published: March 15, 2011
Publisher: self-published
Read from February 25 to March 2, 2019
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Kara Nightingale’s ordinary life is suddenly turned upside down when she dies and wakes up in a strange new world with a new career—as a rookie for the Guardian Angel Legion. Kara is pulled into the supernatural, where monkeys drive the elevators, oracles scurry above giant crystal balls, and where demons feed on the souls of mortals.
With the help of her Petty Officer and friend, David, Kara hurtles towards an adventure that will change her life forever…


It's time to review another book I read as part of the Gods and Mortals anthology. Spoiler alert: I disliked it just as I disliked every other book in the anthology.

Out of all the books in the anthology, this is probably the one that had the most ridiculous sounding premise from the start. It's the kind of thing that I can see working well as a comedy, particularly a parody or satire of some kind, but it read as if it was meant to be taken seriously, which was near impossible to do.

This book is set in Horizon, which is essentially a (strange) version of Heaven where monkeys operate the elevators. Because heaven isn't capable of elevators that run themselves and heavenly monkeys need jobs I guess?

Oh, and the angels have to put on these creepy "body suits" in order to visit earth because they don't have bodies of their own. Even though the angels not having physical bodies makes sense, the way the process of putting the suits on was described in the book was off putting for me.

There are two uses of offensive language that I want to point out. (Trigger warning for albleist language.) Kara describes someone as a "psycho" in chapter one and herself as a "spaz" in chapter three, neither of which were a good start to the book.

The bizarre elements like the monkey-operated elevators stuck out, but the actual plot itself was cliche and easily forgettable. All I remember about this book are the laughable parts. I don't remember being particularly engaged by the story itself or the characters.

Some choices made narration-wise were frustrating. Kara, the main character, talks out loud to herself way too much when we could have gotten the same information through her thoughts in the narration. David's speech also struck me as sounding child-like despite his age. There are a lot of cringe-worthy language choices throughout the novel, including one piece of dialogue that's, "HOLY CRRRAAAAPP!!!" And yes, that is how it's formatted in the book.

And my last complaint is a spoiler for the book:

Kara finds out her mother was an angel, which is supposed to explain a lot of strange behavior she saw from her mother over the years. But this is never explained in a way that makes sense. Kara is forbidden from going back to earth once she's an angel, yet she saw her mother regularly as a kid. (Presumably, her mother raised her and was there every day even if she sometimes disappeared randomly.) How exactly could her mother do that considering the rules?

And if angels don't have bodies, how exactly did the pregnancy work? Did no other angels realize that she was pregnant? If her body suit was pregnant, then what happened when she went back to Horizon?

That all seems like a huge, gaping plot hole.

There are these things called elemental children in the book, and if Kara's mom was an angel, then Kara must be an elemental child. She learns about these elemental children before learning her mom's an angel, but then, when she later discovers she's an elemental, she's shocked despite having had all the information necessary to link that together for ages. It's treated like a big reveal when it's already blatantly obvious to the reader (and should be to the characters themselves). It made me feel like I was being treated like an idiot.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Life Post: And More Stress

It's been one week since my last life post, and I hate that this is also going to be about how stressed I am. It's honestly unbelievable how much happened after I posted that last post.

More than half of our staff were gone for most of the week last week for different reasons, including the flu. While I'm very grateful to not have had the flu, that meant work was hectic, and as you can probably guess after my last post, I felt pretty run into the ground by the end of the week.

Today's my only day off before I leave for the United States for Christmas. Tomorrow, I have training for work followed by five days of work. A week from now, I leave for the US.

I've bought Christmas presents, including my secret Santa present for work, but none of them are wrapped yet. I also haven't packed, and my apartment is a complete mess after everything that's been happening recently. While I should probably be working on all of that right now instead of writing this post, I need a break from all of the cleaning I've been doing. I fully expect to be running around packing the night before I leave now, but maybe I can still get at least some of it done today. (Just please don't let me forget my passport or something else crucial.)

I don't know if the trip itself will help relieve my stress or just make things worse. I'm hoping it'll be the former, but considering I'm flying just a few days before Christmas, who knows. All I know right now is that I don't feel prepared at all.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Naruto Shippuden Talk: Episodes 396-400

Man, it's been a long time since I've talked about Naruto, hasn't it? It's also been a long time since I actually watched these episodes, and I don't have time to re-watch them before I write this, so... I'm going to try my best because I've been doing this for so long that I feel like I just have to talk about all of the episodes (eventually).

Episode 396 is in the midst of a flashback arc about the chunin exams that were conducted while Naruto was gone from Konoha (during the first series and Shippuden).

As an ardent ShikaTema shipper, I'm always up for Shikamaru and Temari interacting, so I loved getting to see them work together for the chunin exams. It didn't disappoint, even if it was a minor point of the episode.

This should be somewhat of a throwaway storyline. While many of the characters becoming chunin could be considered important, actually seeing them do it (when we already know they do) isn't necessarily stuff to keep you on the edge of your seat. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by how interesting I found Shikamaru's task. I love the idea of needing to know your teammates well enough to know how you should answer the questions on the test. It's a really cool mix of logic and teamwork, and I think it was executed in an interesting way within the episode.

While I've found the other tasks entertaining so far as well, the test was probably my favorite. It's stuck with me the most since I watched the episodes as well, but I remember finding some of the scenes in the desert with Lee quite emotional and enjoying them as well.

Hopefully, it won't take me too long to get another post about about the next several episodes. I haven't actually watched any episodes past this, and it's been nearly a year. (Believe it or not, it's harder to watch Naruto in Japan than America when you don't want to do it illegally.) I'll get on that soon.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Life Post: Christmas Stress

In the week since my last life post, my stress levels have increased dramatically. If you read my last post, that may not be the most surprising thing in the world, but I'm feeling it even more.

It's hit me how little time I have to prepare for my trip to the US considering how many days I'll be at work, including an extra day for training. I still have two Christmas presents I need to buy, and they absolutely need to be bought this weekend. That might be a little less stressful if I had any idea what to buy, but I don't. I'm going to the store tomorrow to look and hope I find something. If not, I'm kind of screwed there.

Honestly, though, I'm feeling pretty exhausted today. Yesterday my allergies started flaring up. One of my co-workers got sick, so yesterday, everyone was saying, "I'm not getting sick," throughout the day. I don't think I'm actually sick; it's just allergies. However, my allergies are bad enough that I woke up at 4:00 a.m. last night and couldn't fall back asleep for an hour, so I'm feeling quite exhausted today.

Logically, I know that tomorrow's a new day, and I could feel way better (or at least not as bad). Still, I keep thinking about how I have to go buy the presents, and it feels me with dread. (My anxiety refuses to let me just forget about it until tomorrow.) So, fingers crossed that it all works out. After that, I just have to pack, which I'd also prefer to think about it.

Other than tomorrow, I also only have one more day off in Japan before I leave for the U.S., which is strange to think about because if you include the days I'm working it's much longer.

Maybe once I get the shopping done, I can take the time to watch some Christmas movies and actually feel the holiday spirit a bit.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Book Review: Nolander by Becca Mills

Published: April 2, 2012
Publisher: Recompense Press (self-published)
Read December 26-29, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Nice girls don't believe in monsters. They're wrong.
Amateur photographer Beth Ryder is in trouble. She's taking pictures of things she can't see, things that aren't human. Beth has her own dreams, but people like her don't get to go free. She's seized by a dangerous organization dedicated to keeping Earth's shadow world -- and its frightening inhabitants -- a secret. Forced into otherworldly politics and uncertain whom to trust, Beth must come to terms with a radically altered future -- one in which her own humanity seems to be draining away.


TW: rape

This was another one of the books that was in the Gods and Mortals anthology that I downloaded for free. It's also the one I remember the least about, and I hardly wrote any notes while reading (which I typically do to help me write reviews later). Interpret that how you will, but because of that, I'll try to keep this brief and just run through what I did make note of.

One of the things I do remember about this book was that it felt like the author had brought out a thesaurus to throw in some fancy-sounding words. These big words didn't sound natural and took me out of the story. It was one of those scenarios were it felt like the book was trying too hard to sound smart.

The book contains statutory rape, with one character describing how he raped a fifteen year old. His actions are even described as statutory rape on the page, but he does not care. I've re-read that passage for this review, and it's really disgusting how it's handled. And the rapist in question isn't a villain in the story either; it's one of the love interests who did it.

In fact, all of the men in this book are complete creeps who you want to yell at Beth (the main character) to stay away from, not kiss.

Overall, what I remember most about this book is how terrible the guys were and how confused I was by the whole thing. It's good to have suspense, of course, and leave readers wondering what happens next, but I was just baffled by the whole thing. I'd feel uncomfortable recommending this to anyone.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Life Post: Welcome, December

By the end of November, it finally began to feel like fall, and there's no doubting that winter is coming now. This will be my third winter in Japan, and last winter happened to be unusually warm. This winter is shaping up to be colder than the last (more like my first winter in Japan), and while that's great in that this is more typical, I'm also not looking forward to it exactly.

Winter is always a weird time of year for me because, on one hand, I love wearing sweatshirts and wrapping up in blankets and drinking hot chocolate. But I like all of those things because I like being warm, and a lot of the time, I'm not warm in the winter. If I get to stay home huddled in a blanket, that's great, but actually being productive in the winter is difficult. Waking up in the morning is already a much longer process than it was a month ago because I have to convince myself that I can brave the cold. (My apartment's heater has a three hour time limit, so it shuts off during the night, leaving the apartment very cold come morning.)

Things are a bit hectic right now. I'm going home for Christmas, and it just hit me the other day how soon that is. I still need to buy Christmas presents, and I love packing to do. Cleaning my apartment before I leave would also be a good idea, but one that may not happen to the extent I'd like it to.

My goal for this winter is to stay positive even when the cold is getting to me though, so I'm excited for the weather and the holidays and everything else that winter brings. (If I say that enough, it'll be true.)

Maybe I'll be back with another one of these posts before I leave for the US, so I can update you on how much I'm actually getting done. We'll see. If not, I'll at least update you on the trip afterward.