r_pendragon's journal

One of those irritating but semi-necessary update posts

68% | 5

# 42600

As promised, an update on where I have been in the last, oh, ten months...

I believe I posted here last summer that I would be working in a Japanese-immersion camp for 6 weeks. It was fun, albeit exhausting. There was something nice about being around a bunch of other Japanese-speaking Americans-- in Minnesota, we tend to be few and far between. I will be working at Mori no Ike again this summer (though in a more administrative capacity), and I'm looking forward to it.

This fall I started working for a major airline, which, to put it succinctly, sucked royal ass. I am glad to be finished with them. I will not overtly say which airline it was, but you can find a great mockery of them at www.untied.com. Do not fly with them, they make evil incarnate look like a chocolate-chip cookie-baking grandma.

Then the airline-from-hell outsoured my job to a firm in India, so...

I am currently working at the HQ for the program that sponsors the Japanese camp I worked at (it's a department of a local college.) I love my job. Right now we are in the middle of a big push to promote the Arabic Language Village, which is opening this summer. We got a big grant from the U.S. State Department to launch the camp, so now we are trying to recruit kids to attend it. (The gov't wants at least 100 kids, and we're not very close yet. If you know anyone, anyone at all between the ages of 8-18 who would like to learn Arabic and can afford to shell out $1325 to come to MN for two weeks this summer, please let me know....)

I wish I were 8-18, I'd go in a heartbeat.

For this fall, I was offered a research assistantship in the Japan Studies program at the Univ. of Washington, so I will be moving to Seattle, an exciting but semi-daunting task. I'm looking forward to being back in school, though. It's a two-year master's program for a degree in Int'l Relations. I don't have a particularly strong feel for what I'm going to do with this degree, but I've got two years to figure that out, I suppose.

And that must be all the news about me that can possibly fit to print. Serious kudos to anyone who made it to the end of this rather boring fill-in.

Now I ask-- what are the juicy goings-on with everyone here? Any exciting NAO-related gossip?

Also, what's with everyone's rankings being down so much? I was surprised by the lack of white and yellow stars around here.... Do all the cool kids leave posts unrated now? I am so out of the loop... ;)

This post was edited by r_pendragon on Apr 23, 2006.

Mori no Ike

82% | 4

# 35195

In an exciting development, I am to be a counselor at a Japanese-language summer camp this summer. Yes, once again someone is trusting me to teach a language to their children. Let's hope I don't confuse my hashi with my sushi or my sashimi with my tawashi.

Or very worst of all, a shoujo with a shojo. (Because while all shoujo [little girls] are [hopefully!] shojo [virgins], not all shojo are shoujo. Isn't lingusitics a joy?)

I'm enthused, mainly because it will be like going back to Japan for a few months, except that there will be more native English speakers than just the Roommate™, and it's a mere few hours drive from my home. I'm still waiting for someone to arrage for Japan to be moved closer to North America for my personal convenience. That would be nice. ;)

The only downside so far is that I had registered to run a 5K race on June 12, and that now falls during the staff orientation period, which means I don't get to run after all. :(

But as another friend of mine is often wont to say: "Every silver lining has a cloud."

This post was edited by r_pendragon on Apr 14, 2005.

Memories, Loss, and Inanimate Attachment

79% | 5

# 35021

Two weeks ago I flew out to New York to meet up with a good friend of mine from Tokyo. It was a great time, we had a lot of fun, etc., etc., and all that trip stuff that was lovely but doesn't really merit recounting here. (Though as an aside, it was a strange role reversal, being in my country with my language, culture, currency, when we're both used to being on her turf. We got a Susan B. Anthony dollar from the subway ticket machine and she was so adorably confused and enthused. ;))

Anyway, my flights were good, and as I was waiting for my baggage to come out when I got back to Minneapolis, I reflected smugly that my trip had been a success, with nary a snag.

Murphy's Law applies here, of course: at that moment, my bag came tooling down the ramp with the front pocket open. I elbowed my way over to it, and unsurprisingly, something was missing–

My makeup bag.

Of all the things that could have been missing– souvenirs, cameras, CDs, at least this wasn't a major item. And clearly it hadn't been stolen; who would want used makeup? Gross.

But I've been so upset by the loss, primarily because the bag was a parting gift from my friend's parents before I left Japan. The makeup itself, though expensive, is replaceable, but the bag was a gift from the Kobayashis.

This got me to thinking about how much attachment one can have to inanimate objects (somewhat in tandem to my last journal entry on a similar topic.) Money cannot buy happiness, but it seems as if sentiment can: every time I opened that bag to pull out mascara, I'd think of the Kobayashi family and the time they took us on a brutal-but-fun hike through the mountains in Nagano, or the time we met in Shinjuku for desserts and made goofy videos on my friend's cell phone.

I've called both the Minneapolis airport and JFK airport repeatedly, and nothing's turned up. I still have my memories, of course, but losing the bag was like losing the physical manifestation of those memories.

I think what surprised me the most was how attached I can be to things; I've always maintained the conceit that, if need be, I could give up everything I had, as long as I still had good friends and family, and still be happy.

Now I've realized that although I'm still not terribly attached to things per se (though I have do have grotesque materialistic tendencies), I am very attached to the tangible nostalgia that things can represent.

This post was edited by r_pendragon on Apr 08, 2005.

Inanimate Guilt and the Emotional Supremacists

83% | 3

# 34319

It occurs to me that children are being warped, from a fairly early age, to feel strong emotion about things that don't necessarily require it.

For example, take "The Velveteen Rabbit." It's just one of countless stories where children are coaxed into feeling guilt over the fate of an inanimate object. I hated that story when I was a child because it made me feel guilty whenever my mother asked me to donate some old toys to goodwill. I suppose the more recent equivalent would be "Toy Story 2," where the Adam Sandler-voiced penguin is barely rescued from ending up as garage-sale merchandise.

The entire message of "Toy Story" is really a bit psychotic. "Be nice to your toys, kiddies, or they'll rise up and SLAY YOU!" That is warped. As an adult who's suffered through that movie more times than I can count– one of the kids at my preschool in Japan wanted to watch it every day: "TOY STORY GA II! TOY STORY MITAI!"– I can agree that it's a cute little film. But the message? Appropriate? Um, with some reflection: no.

This kind of emotionally manipulative bullshit is directed at adults, too. Last summer, the Tokyo metropolitan government had an ad campaign to stop smoking in public places. (Since the whole city is submerged in a haze of nicotine smog.) I can't remember the precise ad, but it was something to the effect of: "Inhaled, loved, exhaled, thrown away. If it were anything but a cigarette, it would be crying."

Ouch.

Poor little cigarette. Do it the honor of a decent Christian burial and put it in the ashtray where it belongs, won't you?

I am tired of people/situations/attitudes that try to prevail on my sympathies and make me feel bad about things that don't even possess feelings.

But in conjunction with this, I'm tired of having people try to make me feel emotional about things that, up until we were speaking, I felt completely fine about. My old Roommate™ and I were talking about this the other day, in part reflecting upon our time in Japan. One thing that I've noticed is how tired I am of having people ask me if I miss Japan.

Well, of course, you moron. Thanks for bringing it up.

I understand that to some extent, people just try to make small talk, and since I'm everyone's token "hey, she lived in Japan for awhile" girl, it's not surprising that Japan comes up.

But I don't want to have some in-depth conversation about how I miss my friends, apartment, Tokyo life. I'm trying to focus on the U.S. things that I'm so glad to have back in my life, not get misty-eyed when I dig in a coat pocket and find ¥57. What then burns me further are the people who seem kind of miffy that I don't want to talk about my "experiences."

Sorry if I don't see it as "experiences from which others can learn." To me, it's a part of my life and I don't want it dissected, and somehow that's made me cold, when seen through the lens of Emotional Supremacy.

Grr.

Angry Chic

93% | 7

# 33681

I was wondering to myself, after a recent unpleasant interchange with a co-worker, why angry is so chic; i.e., why do people tend to think that people who are somewhat nasty are better than they are?

Take high school kids as a primary example. In many schools, the kids who are nasty (the preps or whatever you want to call them) are considered to be "the most popular." Which is so subjective, because really, is it that they're popular, or is it just that everyone knows who they are? I'd say there's a difference.

But as much as people like to think they outgrow high school attitudes, I think a lot of this persists into adulthood and adult interaction. Whether in person or online.

My disagreement with my co-worker is a good example– pushed to extreme ire, I finally lit into the stupid woman and told her exactly what I thought of her overbearing incompetence. She has since tiptoed around me. Some of this is probably fear that I'll snap at her again, but I think, with this particular person, is that she respects me now that I've been rude to her.

This in obnoxious. I am more than worthy of respect when I am being pleasant and friendly. Why should I have to inform someone of my rather low opinion of their intellect and capabilities to get them to respect me? I don't think someone who has a temper tantrum (me) is much worth respecting, but she had really, really pissed me off. (One of those people who thinks she's better at shouting my job at me from across the room than I am at actually do it. The breaking point came when she told me a basic, stupid thing, and I snapped "I am fully cognizant of that fact, thank you very much," and then proceeded to tell her off.)

Suddenly, my opinion means something to this infernally galling woman, simply because I gave her what for. Gah.

Work isn't the only place where things like this happen. On another internet message board that a friend and I frequented for awhile, an idiotic person made incorrect assumptions about me. My friend lambasted them, and for months afterwards that girl would attach little awed apologies to every post she wrote in response to me or my friend. Literally, she would type: "I think blah, blah, blah, blah," and then tack on: "And I'm so sorry, Rachel and Callie. I hope you don't hate me. You're such talented writers, blah, blah, blah."

Do people have such poor self-images that they think they're unworthy of people who dress them down? Whereas people who are kind to them must be stupid for being kind to them in the first place?

So much for my armchair psychology.

I <3 NY (New Year's)

90% | 4

# 30553

"Blood is thicker than water."

This has to be one of my least favorite clichés– my irritation with it zooms to the forefront in particular during the holiday season.

I do not like my family nearly as well as my friends. I would even be so harsh as to say that, in general, I love my friends more.

There are specific family members I could never do without. My mother is one of my best friends. One of my uncles, a retured USAF colonel (or whatever they're called; I'm not militarily well-versed) is articulate, well-read, opinionated, and interesting. I get along quite well with one of my older brothers– he and I went to Vegas together last month.

But for the most part, I find family infuriating. My aunt's Christmas letter read like a self-congratulation: "And then your uncle and I filled in the place where the pool used to be and started landscaping. And then we went on a cruise to Alaska. And then–" Oh, she's so wonderful, blah, blah, blah. Pat yourself on the back once more, Aunt Sharon.

Her type of Christmas letter is the rule rather than the exception in my family. Everyone competing to tell each other how fabulous they are, everyone secretly hoping that they'll be the most fabulous of all.

They're not bad people, but I find them incredibly materialistic, snobbish, and shallow. Even their kindnesses read like bragging: "Oh, we volunteer with underprivileged children." "Well, we teach ESL lessons to immigrants."

Wow. You're all just such good, perfect people. How lucky I am that you're my family.[/sarcasm]

My friends, on the other hand, actually are fabulous. They're the kind of people I want to spend the holidays with, because there's no pressure, no competition, no ugliness– we just have fun.

I find it interesting (and irritating?) that, if I married one of my male best friends, he would suddenly count as my family, and it would be fine to prefer him over all others during the holidays. But since he (and all the others) are "merely" good friends, they theoretically shouldn't matter as much.

I spent Christmas with the family but I'll be ringing in the New Year with five of my best friends from college. (Since only one of them was able to visit me in Japan, it's been a year since I've seen the other four).

I'm so excited... which is why I <3 New Year's.

This post was edited by r_pendragon on Dec 28, 2004.


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