Feel free to shoot me a message introducing yourself, or just add me and I will check you out :) I'm open to people of all kinds, as long as you aren't the type to be mean for the sake of being mean. Entries related to personal problems will be immediately friend-locked. Entries of lighter nature will remain public for a short period, but locked in rotation.
Looking forward to getting to know you.
It's being requested that we no longer leave our houses in the evenings or on the weekends, and while there is no mandatory order, a lot of larger shopping complexes are starting to shut down early on Fridays, and closing completely on Saturdays and Sundays. It's been joked that the Japanese COVID-19 is, much like the Japanese, very polite, and does not want to interfere with work, so it chooses only to spread only on the weekends, as opposed to on the weekdays when everyone is packed in to trains and busses and stations on a commute. Ryu and I already rarely go out as it is, and when we do it's usually to a local business during hours that usually aren't crowded anyway, so we plan on continuing as normal.
After visiting the hair salon, we swung by the flourist to pick up a succulent I'd been wanting to buy. "A succulent" turned in to several. Also, for the two weeks, I'd been planting any seeds that remained on the cutting board after cutting a tomato. When I went to water the soil today, three had sprouted! I have very little faith they will live for long, but I'm still happy. On top of that, flowers on a plant that I'd written off as dead, re-bloomed. I immediately repotted them and watered them down to see if they'll last. I have no idea what kind of flowers they are though. They were given to us as a small bouquet at a wedding. They were table decorations.
To end on a positive note -- while doing spring cleaning, I found my old laptop from 2010. It has many keys that no longer work and apparently, the windows isn't genuine, so there is a lot I can't do. But I CAN listen to all my music from way back in the day. Have I been dancing around the flat? Of course. Am I embarrassed? Not at all :)
Since the weather was nice, Ryu and I went for a walk in hopes of spotting dogs being walked, and we ended up finding a park just on the other side of the woods behind our mansion. It's well lit and without stop-lights, perfect for a safe night jog. However, in order to get there, I have to cut through the woods, which doesn't have any sort of illumination. There is another somewhat lit path to get there, but it's a route made for cars, so there are no side walks and I'd have to walk right along traffic. It also takes thrice the amount of time than if I were to cut through the woods. I suppose I could carry a light, but I don't really like to carry anything when I go for runs.
But given everything I have going on right now, it only served as a reminder of how good I am at putting on an act and shutting people out. For four years, this is how they saw me. For the past two years, I've been emotionally unbalanced, unsatisfied with my job, and (while being happy with my relationship with Ryu) unsatisfied with myself and the realization that what they were doing now -- jumping towards a new goal -- I'd stopped doing long ago. And because I've put on this "act," people I've tried to turn to can't really understand why I feel this way, as in their eyes, I've got everything put together. I usually never get more than a "It'll be fine, you always manage to get things done."
I took some time to read over old entries, trying to get a sense of exactly what changed that led to my feeling this way these past few years. I used to have so much going on. There was always a goal, always something to strive for, something to change, something to improve on. Somewhere down the line, that flickered out. But why? I didn't get any sense of accomplishment while reading old entries. Many things I set out to do were left uncompleted, though I seemed to be constantly working on them. When did I just....stop?
I tried talking to Ryu about these feelings. He was able to understand the things I was worried about and why someone would be worried about those things, but was surprised that I felt that way. It led to a discussion about our future together, and he confessed that once our two-year lease here is up, he doesn't plan on re-newing, as he wants to buy a house. It was surprising to hear, as he's extremely "my-pace," and is horrible at making decisions. It doesn't really resolve my mess of feelings, but it helps slightly having an "end-game" of sorts.
On a more positive note, I took myself on a date. to buy a purple dress for April 22nd, when we go to get married at city hall. I held off on buying a new pair of shoes though because...I might have a pair too many for this season.
I'm sure Japan is doing something in regards to the pandemic. The news apparently says it is. I just don't know what that something is. It feels a bit surreal watching the world go on lock-down while things here are for the most part, save for the lack of basic toiletries, pretty normal. Go to Work, Go back Home. Clean, Workout, Eat, Sleep, repeat. Things are so normal, it almost scares me, honestly. I'd even momentarily forgotten there was a pandemic going on until I went to a massage parlor and was asked to take my temperature.
What doesn't scare me at the moment is my health. In my last post I mentioned going off the majority of my medications and replacing them with サジー（さじーSaji: Sea Buckthorn). I'm not promoting this as a cure-all, and I acknowledge it could all be mental, but absolutely none of my symptoms have reared their heads over these past two weeks, my stomach has begun functioning on a regular schedule, and I've lost fat. I'm still on the 3-month trial and won't make a final decision on whether I continue until then, but I've been happy with the results so far.
But I don't want to write about happy things while everyone is filled with anxiety, stress and worry. So let me write about what I AM worried about...
There is construction going on across the street. They are building seven..SEVEN houses in a lot where back home, you'd only have maaaaaaaybe three.This was one of the things that impressed Ryu when he went to meet my family and stayed at our house -- the space in between homes. Just looking at the groundwork, it seems so...cramped. There's more space between my room and our kitchen than there is between these homes. And this particular company built another four houses on the other end that STILL haven't sold despite being up for half a year now, so I'm not sure what their objective is.
I used to dream of buying a house. Now, I'm not so sure. I think I'd much prefer living in a dog-friendly condominium. Once we get everything settled with the marriage, my visa, and finally get a dog, I want to try to talk to Ryu about it. It would be better to put our monthly rent towards the cost of owning a place, but at the same time, I'm not sure how the inheritence works with the house his parents own, as all his brothers already have their own places that they out-right own....It might be too soon to think about these things...but the more I watch construction take place, the more it sits on my mind.
I've never been fond of clutter. So all this unnecessary cramming is just so irritating to me and I can't understand how they don't see the hazards they are creating.
It seems that a lot of schools are opening up again and should be on regular schedule starting April. Hopefully this means that the dog adoption events will be up and going again so that we can hurry up and get a dog.
Since we've prepared everything we need for the city hall, we've also begun looking in to what we have to prepare in order to change my visa from a work visa to a spousal visa. It's a lot of work. I understand the logic behind making it such a tiresome process, but at the same time, it doesn't seem fair that we have to do so much to prove we are "really a couple." It's not as though fake marriages don't happen amongst their own....
It feels so...intrusive? For example, if someone introduced you, you have to write that person's name, address, phone number, birthday, when they introduced you, and the best way to contact that person...
In addition to selecting and printing photos that "represent our relationship" and writing detailed explanations on the back, we also have to submit an 8 page (minimum) application form explaning the most minute details of our relationship. Journal entries here on LJ were really helpful in filling in some details, but I've had to go as far as digging out planners from two years ago for specific dates and locations and times. How much detail is too much detail to the point of suspicion? How little detail is too detail to the point that things seem vague and fake? I'm scared. I'm scared because I'm nervous, and I'm nervous because I don't have anyone I can physically sit down and consult with, get advise from, because I don't know any mixed couples. Yes, I can easily consult with people online and google things, but it's not the same as a face-to-face discussion.
Anyway, going through old entries and photos and conversations between Ryu and I, made me realize that there are a lot of people here on LJ that I genuinely enjoy reading about and talking with in comments both in my journal and theirs. But there are also a lot of people who don't make a real attempt to socialize with me, and who only seem to turn up when something negative is taking place in my life -- they are never around to offer a "Wow, that's great!" a "Haha!" or a "That seems fun!" when things are good.
I'm not one of those people that believes everyone needs to be positive all the time. But I'm also one of those people who simply can't handle a situation based on constant negativity. It's not about whether the person comments on every entry, or whether I comment on every one of theirs, but how we interact when we DO interact, if that makes sense. So, I need to roll back. Instead of posting on a weekly basis, I want to focus a little more on everyone's journals, weeding out people who I don't see a healthy relationship with. I'll only be posting when something eventful happens/I need opinions, instead of making myself do it weekly...Though I'll maintain a weekly paper journal still.
Things to get done between March-April:
- Review marriage forms to make sure they are properly done. We'll submit them on April 22nd at the City Hall.
- Start organizing information to use on the Spouse Visa interview form.
- Visit Immigration office.
- Contact NPO about getting a dog through them. (This depends on how the whole Coronavirus scare plays out, as they've cancelled all of their March and early April events)
- Get new work suits or get my current ones tailored.
- Finish a textbook I've been given, any subject. I have too many sitting around and I need to put my brain back to work.
- Create a stricter budget.
- Cut myself back down to one cup of coffee a day, and go back to drinking more tea.
On Thursday night, Prime Minister Abe called for a shut down of all elementary, Jr.High and High schools, as well as the cancellation or rescheduling of large events, concerts, and gatherings across the entire country in order to prevent the spread of the Corona virus. We've already been going through a major mask shortage, but by Friday morning, we were experiencing a toilet paper and tissue shortage as well. I hadn't known anything until my stylist told me that morning, so as soon as we finished, I dashed off to find what I could. I never panic so much over food shortages...but toilet paper is toilet paper, you know?
There was nothing. It took me two hours to find a store that just happened to be trying to restock their shelves, but were limiting everything to one item per family. I bought what I could and headed home. Once I dropped those things off, I headed out again to try and get a real idea about how bad things were. By noon, there was also a shortage of things like women's pads and tampons, alcohol wipes, air freshners, paper towels, rice, instant foods and large containers of beverages.
I texted Ryu and sent him photos, and asked him to stop by somewhere on his way home and try to find toilet paper, tissue paper and maybe grab some noodles, then went to a local bakery to enjoy some breads and coffee. The amount of coffee I've been drinking is rediculous these days. My tea collection has sat untouched for several weeks now. I'm sure it has to do with my lack of time. It takes only a minute to prep a cup of coffee, while making tea is a process. One of the good things to come of this panic is that restaurants and shops are empty because everyone is hoarding up at home. Mind you, I don't hate kids, but it was so nice to be able to sit in silence and take my time eating.
The word on the street is that this panic was sparked by some fake news that the Chinese were buying up all these things to send home. It was never a government call to supply oneselves and no one knows what really sparked this panic. There have been some jokes on facebook saying that the panic was caused by housewives panicing over having to now have their kids at home for a month. Given the timing, and the fact that sani-pads have also been taken up, that makes a little more sense to me, in a light hearted way. Even with some of the things I've heard on TV, it seems like people have no idea what to do with their own kids. "Make sure they study at home, give them chores to do at home, make sure they eat, prepare movies and books, crafts...." Common sense. Hardly worth a news segment.
Work will continue on as usual, but we have been told that we must wear masks throughout the entirety of our shifts. I ordered some re-usable masks online, but they haven't arrived yet. Between this panic and all the construction going on around me for the olympics, I'm starting to get really irritated.
I've finally purchased a new magazine for this year. Because I tend to read magazines very slowly, a single issue usually last's me a full year. The magazine came with samples of a facewash and concealer, as well as a headband used during face-washing. I'm going to wait until I run out of my current items before I give them a try.
I'm in a rut and have been feeling unsatisfied with my appearance. It could very well be hormones now that I'm off my birth control, but it probably also has to do with the fact that my weight has shot up to 55kg (122lbs) again. I don't hate how I look, nor do I feel insecure. I just feel...blah?
My hair stylist said it's more than likely I've subconsciously accepted that I might never actually quit my job for something better, and have simply shifted in to "Going through the motions" mode and have let myself go. The fact that his words stung so much tells me he's probably right. It might be time to go back to religiously using my planner to plan every aspect of my day so that I don't let a minute go to waste, and so I actually DO something with myself.
Saturday, I had work and a dance performance, back to back. We got a water-server, and it's pretty nifty. The server itself was free via our gas company, as a loyalty present, and the 12-liter water refills only cost us roughly 1,000 yen ($9?) whenever we need them.It dispenses both hot and cold water, and It's the first decision Ryu has made without "getting my permission," and I'm totally backing him on it because I can never get him to make a decision on anything for us. Usually we sit and discuss things and I make the final call. This time, I just told him to give me the pros and cons for it, then basically said "Well, there you go. What do you want to do?" When I go home from work, we had a new server set up. He seems happy with it, and it was so nice being able to brew my coffee without having to take out the kettle, filling it with water, waiting for it to heat, then pouring a mug.
We went to the used book store. All the books I had sold to them the previous week and got 30 yen total (27 cents) for were on the shelves being sold for 300 ($2.96) each. I'm pretty sure that there are only four of us actually selling English books because the same style of books, same artists, seem to constantly appear. Wouldn't it be great to find these people and just swap with them/buy from them directly? Maybe I should try writing my email address or something in some of the next books I sell. I bought two dog-related books. Ryu bought us Starbucks and got me the Sakura Latte. I'd had it before, and have it every year, and it's always much too sweet to finish. But I downed it because it was nice of him to get me something unprompted.
Sunday, Ryu's been bored with our food choices lately, so we decided to hit up a different market. What. A. Mistake. Not only were the prices more expensive than our usual market, but the staff was really disorganized and we had a lot of problems. Ryu agreed to continue going to our main market, and that when Ryu got bored, he'd come with me to a different market by the station to try new things to supplement our usual items. After that, we went to the hair salon, Ryu got his hair cut and I got my hair treated. When we finished with the salon we went to Ryu's parent's home for a meal and to have his parent's stamp our papers to release him from his family registry so that we can get married. We're aiming for either March 19, Music day, or April 22, Good couples day.
Monday, I headed out to Shinjuku to meet with K for girl talk at 椿屋珈琲. Shinjuku was a lot emptier than it usually is, with everyone being freaked out over the Coronavirus and choosing to stay in their homes. Those who did decide to go out wore masks. The first case of Coronavirus has been found in my city, so I might have to start wearing masks daily as well. But anyway not only was the cafe empty, but also our usual game center, usually packed to the elevator doors with school girls and couples, was completely empty and we were able to peacefully try some new machines. We talked a lot about things going on at work.She doesn't seem to be super busy, but theres a lot of drama. In my case, there isn't a lot of drama, but I'm super busy.
Afterwards, I ended up getting sick though, with the usual signs of an oncoming black out, so we rushed to the near-by tourist center to try and get some help. It was a holiday, so no hospitals were open, and I had to sit in a wheel chair, dipping in and out as they called around to find something for me. There was a camera-man there filming for a segment on the center for whatever reason, and not only did he film me and what was going on (My friend tried as best as she could to block the camera) but he followed us as the tourist center lady wheeled me in the wheel-chair to a clinic in a new building seven stories high. He handed me his business card, wished me well, and left. I'm hoping my situation doesn't get used on TV. He wasn't all in my face or anything, but it just felt like an invasion of privacy having him follow us all the way up and straight to the clinic doors, even though I recall his introducing himself to my friend and hearing her tell him that now really wasn't the time.
Starting this entry with a picture of myself, Ryu, my little brother and parents hanging out at Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando before catching BLUE MAN GROUP. We had wanted to see them when they came to Japan, but it conflicted with work. It was my second time seeing the show, but Ryu's first, so I'm glad that he really loved it. Ryu also loved the cafe, as it's the biggest one and he's a big fan of American Rock. He and my father actually have a lot of favorite songs in common, and when we got home, my father let Ryu borrow his acoustic guitar to play around with for a bit.
And now, apologies for not being extremely active these days. I ended up blacking out at the station on my way to work and being carried off to the hospital by ambulance, and I've been kind of out of it since. A quick reminder to myself -- don't have an episode while on the morning commute train. Literally no one will care or help you because everyone is in robot mode. When my symptoms started showing up, I asked aloud, explaining that I have a heart issue, for someone to help me, but no one batted an eye. I ended up sitting on the floor, leaning against a wall, fading in and out until we got to the station, I dragged myself up the stairs, and then blacked out in front of a station worker just after handing him my smartphone.
When I woke up at the hospital, Ryu was at my bedside. While I haven't had an episode since, I've been feeling constantly dizzy and out of breath, so by the time I'm home, I haven't had energy to do more than just skim entries.
Despite how out-of-it I've been feeling, I've also been running around after work trying to do everything I need to do to get married within the next few months. I'm very glad I had decided to head to the city hall after work, as the information they provided me with was very different from what I had found on my own on-line (Apparently, what you need depends on not only your city hall, but also the state your original documents are coming from.) Ryu doesn't really have to do much, but I on the other hand, have loads of documents I need to gather and translate, and I have to wait for my father to send in a copy of my birth certificate, as the city hall won't accept a copy of the copy. I had tried ordering one online, but one site didn't accept non-american credit cards, and the other wanted roughly $100 to get it done. Thank goodness for dad!
Ryu wants to ask his parents to be our witnesses on paperwork, but I'm a bit nervous to ask. Ryu's father has always been nice to me and continues to be treat me as family, but I worry that we'd be placing him in an awkward position by asking him to stamp his seal after having expressed his worries. Ryu says it's not a big deal, but if I were in Ryu's father's shoes, I might feel a bit odd being put in a place where I'd look like an ass for refusing.
Personally, I only have one friend I truly trust enough to consider asking in a case like this, but they don't have a seal, and the city hall told me that any nationality was okay, but that there had to be a seal used -- no signature. I still have time to ask my friend to get one, but we'll see. I pointed out to the worker who was helping me that I had read online that the city halls in Tokyo allow signatures in place of seals, and he basically told me that places with more foreigners were more relaxed on the rules, but that that wasn't how it worked in our ward.
My appointment with the embassy is February 11th, and once I'm given the affidavit, we have three months to finalize the marriage. Of course I'm happy about getting married, but I'm more annoyed with all the paperwork. Maybe it's just my city hall that is so picky, but I had to re-write one form around 8 times because I kept making small mistakes and they wouldn't accept it. I kind of understood why a lot of people have their Japanese spouse do the paperwork...but I'm still sticking to the "If I can do it myself, I'm going to do it myself" camp.
After hitting the embassy, I went to a near-by cafe and had some ぜんざい, a red bean soup with rice cakes.
Yesterday, we went to Ryu's parent's house to pick up a bag of rice she had for us, and ended up getting a few other things that she says will help with my health. We talked about what I've been dealing with in relation to my health, how I'm not eating enough, and how I haven't been cooking as much as I used to. The lack of meat in my diet also came up. I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat meat often unless it's given to me. Ryu's mom lectured me on my lack of balance -- how not eating meat is fine if that's what I want to do, but then I need to take the appropriate amount of suppliments and buy the right produce and the proper amount to make up for the nutrition. But I don't have the money for the supplements and dosages that I need(because of a pre-existing condition, my body already has an extremely difficult time absorbing nutrients and even with prescribed suppliments covered by insurance, I'm almost always low) and I don't have enough money to buy the variety of produce I need on a daily basis to make up for a meat-less diet. Because we already buy meat for Ryu, I can't use the excuse that I can't afford meat. It's already in the house.
I promised to try cooking more, so over the next week I'll be researching recipes I'd like to try that use at least a little meat.
I plan on writting more about America, but I wanted to get a New Year's Goals post out before too long passes. We usually tend to do Hatsumōde between the first and second days of the new year, but because we were in America for New Years, we weren't able to. We decided to swing by Hikawa Shrine, the shrine closest place to our house so that we could pull fortunes. I ended up getting a good luck slip, which isn't bad, but I'm not entirely please either, since I've gotten very good luck for three years in a row. There were still a lot of people paying visits and making prayers, but it wasn't overly crowded, so we're thinking to continue going around this time again next year instead of lining up for hours in massive crowds.
Once we got back home, we stood out on our balcony and watched the construction going on just across the street. We wonder if they are building either new houses or a new apartment complex, as the sign only says 専用住宅. We live on the top floor of our complex, so I'm not really worried about losing a view, and since they cut down 1/4 of the woods, there isn't really much of a view left anyway.But I'm worried about it from a safety perspective. More living accomodations means more cars. We only have a single narrow road that leads in an out of what's left of the woods. If two cards come from opposite directions at the same time, one car has to back out until the other passes. That's how narrow we're talking. In the case of an emergency where police vehicles or fire trucks or ambulances need to come, we're basically blocked in, and even now when the garbage truck is scheduled to come, we stay off the road because no one else can get through.
In any case, goals.
1. Health: I do have some kilos I want to lose. But more than that, I want to work more with my doctor to improve my health and try to get off at least one medicine I'm currently on. This is a goal I've had since 2017, and since then I've managed to get off three medicines.
2. Money: I want to save more money in my pension account and for "family use." I pay in to the pension system every month, but I have literally 0% faith that there will be any money by the time Ryu and I retire, so I want to save money on my own for that. And I want to help my family out financially a bit more, and pay for almost everything if I can when they finally come out to visit. I'm already really good at saving money, so this is more of a reminder to myself than an actual goal.
3. Get married: We're going to take care of paperwork first and decide a celebration later. I don't want a ceremony, but he wants to do something. I'm thinking a photoshoot and then a trip to a nice 旅館 with friends would be a nice idea, but we'll see. We'll also have to think about whether or not I change my name and if I want to switch to spousal visa immediately.
4. Get a dog: That's the reason we live where we do -- because they allow dogs. We have to get a small or medium-sized dog, as per rules here. We don't know what kind of dog we'll get but we've agreed that we're going to try and get a shelter dog. Apparently the process is really a hassle and a lot of foreigners get rejected, so we want to get married before we try and get a dog, so they can't use the "But if you leave..." excuse.
5. Go out on my own: Rarely ever do I go out on my own. I'm either with Ryu, or with a friend. I think it's important to have "me time" outside of the home and to develop a hobby I can be passionate about. It used to be dancing, but I lost interest with the decline of my health. Even if it's just sitting in a cafe for an hour and reading a book, I need to get out more.
6. Japanese: I need to work on my business Japanese. I can use it well enough, but it doesn't come naturally to me and I always feel so exhausted after having to use it. We took some time to look at some language schools, but it seems that a lot of it is geared towards people who come specifically to study, and not really those who are also working. There is only one school in my area that offers classes but they close at 17:30, and I'm not even done with work until then.
7. Teach Ryu English: After coming back from America, Ryu's expressed a serious interest in wanting to learn English because he hated not only not being able to communicate with my family, but also feeling helpless when I was sick and struggling to take care of both myself and him at the airport.
8. Explore more of Japan: Being here as long as I have, I've already been to a lot of places, but there are alot of new tourist spots I haven't been to yet. Personally, I hate tourist spots, but I should explore different places so that I'm more aware for when my family comes.
I promise to catch up with everyone over this three day weekend. I'm not exactly sure why, but I was feeling really worn out while hooked up to the heart monitor, but now that it's off, I'm slowly starting to have the desire to do things again. Sorry about that! As for the results and such, they were both good and bad. They were bad in the sense that they showed there indeed is a problem with my heart, and that it could be a long term issue and that I need to consider some lifestyle changes.... but they were also good in that they gave us a clear problem so that we can better prepare to handle it. Ryu's being quite the trooper about it.
Speaking of Ryu, he has a hair appointment with my hair stylist (Again! It's like my stylist has become our stylist) and I'm going to try and get a honey treatment done. I've not had one before, but I read in a magazine it does wonders for thinning hair. Then it's off for some shopping before the tax increase begins next month. It will rise from 8% to 10%. It's only a 2% difference, but it matters to some degree, I suppose, and a lot of stores around our mansion are having sales. I need new slacks and shoes for work since I've dropped all this weight (Doctor confirmed the meds do that, but that my weight will eventually plateau again.)