Five Things About Me

This is a positivity blog, so not any old five things, but five things I like/love about myself. Because a friend asked me that the other day, and I had a hard time answering.

1. Bravery
I’ve been brave many times in my life, thinking on it. A high school girl, shaking so bad I would’ve spilled water all down my front, on stage auditioning for a play. Moving to Japan, twice, alone. Many smaller instances, like standing up for myself at work when I was being treated unfairly. I’m not always successful, but I can count on fear not stopping me from trying.

2. Support
Being there for my friends is important to me, and I like that I can be there for them at least some of the time. I don’t always have the right things to say, or a good enough wit to make them laugh, but it’s not always about doing the right thing. It’s about being willing to ignore how tired I am to pick someone up from the train station in the middle of the night. It’s about not simply saying “let me know if you need something” but making an effort to think about what they might need and providing it in case they didn’t want to ask. Or simply being present. All your other choices can be wrong sometimes, but if you’re present, it’s enough.

3. Intelligence
This one is easy to forget these days because I’ve so successfully made a wonderful group of brilliant friends, but I’m smart, y’all. These days, being reminded by my tea ceremony teacher–who is not quick with praise–that I pick up her criticisms within one or two times of being told, or she’s impressed that I improved something from watching her correct another student, helps me remember this fact about myself. It’s easy to lose sight of, and why it’s important to try your best not to compare yourself to others, when surrounded by people equally or more smart on a regular basis. Feeling dumb and being dumb are vastly different.

4. Organization
This one may make some of my friends laugh who have seen how well (or not, more to the point) I keep house, but it’s actually true. When working on professional things or together with a group, I’m impeccably organized. The files I kept on my schools in Japan, all my extra materials for classes, my lesson plans, all of it was organized such that I never walked into a class not knowing what I was doing that day. (I may have had too much or too little to do, but I always knew what I was doing.) I only rarely had problems with my materials being wrong or missing. I love that when it counts–to me, that means when other people rely on it–I’m organized. At home, which is personal, is a totally different story.

5. Sensitivity
This one also might sound counter-intuitive, but for a wider audience. “Sensitive” is generally thought to be kind of an insult. But as I’ve written on this blog before (get a link for this later), I’m quite proud of my emotional sensitivity. I love how easily I laugh, even though it’s a bit detrimental to my performances. I love how easily I cry, even when I wish I wasn’t. I love how deeply I feel, because as bad as the lows are, the highs are exhilirating. Most importantly, I don’t end up numbing myself off from these things. I don’t learn emotional lessons very quickly. I don’t close myself off from something after having a bad experience with it from someone else. It’s not terribly smart, and has led to wounds, but I’d rather leave myself open to the good than close myself off in fear of the bad.

What are five things you love about yourself? You don’t have to be as detailed, or you can go even more in depth. You might have to dig deep. This post was not easy for me to write. I had to think harder than I’m happy to admit. And if you need to revert to small things, go ahead. Large or small, deep or shallow, five things you love about yourself. Go.

WIL Workshops Week #1

I work for the street cast of a local Renaissance festival that is preparing for our spring show now. And many of us like to keep logs of things we learned over the weekends as they go by, called a W(hat) I L(earned). I’ll often add anecdotes of fun stories or things I’d like to remember when looking back later at the end of mine.

I’m a bit late getting started (it’s nearly week 2 already), but I have one night before the new weekend. Let’s see what I remember.

1. I can do this sleep deprivation thing. Sunday wasn’t as much of a knock out of the park as Saturday was, sure, but I was functioning and contributing to scenes.
1a. My lowered brain power is actively noticeable to the instructors, at the very least.
1b. I have an awesome ensemble to work with who can work with me even when at limited capacity.
1c. Holy hell can I sleep after these weekends.

2. My confidence has grown noticeably while I have been gone.
2a. Related but also separate, I don’t feel any need to go first, though I often volunteer first. If there is any kind of fight over it, I step back and let others.

3. I may have become a bit of a steamroller.
3a. I default to it, but I think I can still wingman. The times I was a wingman, though they were few, went fine.

4. Faith’s nemesis is Grace (her big sister).
4a. Apparently the only people who didn’t know this were the Potter kids because no one else was surprised in the least.
4b. Grace’s nemesis is not Faith, nor should it be. The whole reason Grace is Faith’s nemesis is because Faith struggles against having an irresponsible big sister who doesn’t listen to common sense. Since Grace disregards most of what Faith says, it disqualifies Faith as her nemesis automatically. Interestingly, this is a strengthening factor in Faith’s opposition to Grace.

5. I default to negative emotions with Faith. Particularly anger/indignation/etc.
5a. When trying to go outside of that, using a happier emotion, while sleep deprived, I was without a doubt still acting, but I was not acting as Faith for that scene, which disturbs me. When choosing a positive emotion, the reasoning for said emotion that I reach for should not be out of character. Being tired is a good excuse for plenty of things, but finding a reason Faith is happy with a current situation should not require large amounts of concentration.

6. I don’t just throw myself under buses, I hand the wheel over to my partner and lie down in front of them.
6a. And then attempt to insist, in the scene, that they run me over if they refuse to.

7. I am not a flat-out ridiculous performer. I like for what I do in scenes to make some kind of logical sense and be relatively believable. My way of imparting magic is to seem as real as possible, so that my game of make-believe that we’re in Renaissance England is harder to deny. Real people with real problems lived there, and I prefer to impart real empathy to the patrons whenever possible.
7a. This does not invalidate anyone else’s way of playing in the lanes. I am only saying out-and-out ridiculous scenes that give the patrons “okay, just smile and play along” expressions make me, personally, feel uncomfortable, and I’m not good at them. I can support them until the cows come home to our pasture, but I do not enjoy driving them, and don’t see the point in driving scenes I don’t enjoy.
7b. I may be wrong, but I don’t see this as a weakness, only a personal preference. As long as I don’t deny other performers’ scenes because they’re not what I would’ve done, I feel comfortable with my performing style.

My two favorite moments this weekend happened with the same performer, both on Sunday.

The first was meant to be a “three-line scene,” with only three lines of dialogue to form a miniature story that told the audience all the essential things they needed to know about us, the conflict, and the setting. I stepped out with a veteran performer who is a good friend of mine, and both of us sort of forgot the technical rules of the scene and telepathically decided that once we were finished speaking, that was “one line.”

She plays a professional mourner, so I started the scene by explosively telling her to stay away from my father’s funeral, despite being paid by another character (and good friend of the family). She got affronted at my reaction, then flipped to upset and informed me she would be doing it for free, and stormed off. I went after her, telling her she could come.

The icing on the cake was that the instructor overseeing that group is the actor playing the friend of the family I name-dropped, and he threw a minor tantrum at being called into scenes he can’t join because he’s teaching.

The second was a regular scene, no special rules. The same actress stomped toward me, so I ran away, and we argued over whether or not she had been intending to hit me. But instead of being aggressive about it, she got all sniffly and upset at the accusation. I was on the defensive the entire time, and gathered her up in the middle of the stage, apologized, and asked her what she had been mad about. She proceeded to hit me and demanded I “stop burning the bread!”

Jerk.

Joy in Kimono

During the three years I lived in Japan, I studied tea ceremony. In the process, I started collecting two things: tea ceremony tools and kimono.

pinkkimono

The first time I wore a kimono, busting with happiness because I figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Wrong~

I actually have a good collection of them now, many of which were gifts. I spent a year or so with only one:

goldkimono

Photo of a physical photo. One day I’ll have a good digital picture of this kimono.

I went to Kyoto on my first spring break in Japan, and stumbled on a flea market. Without having the first clue what I was doing, I bought that kimono, that obi (the blue belt), and the nagajihan (the under robe, that little bit of red you see in the sleeve), all while only intending to buy a fan. Which the shopkeepers then gave to me for free because they didn’t know I was intending to buy it all along.

Because I had no idea how to put on this beautiful piece of clothing, and my first attempt at putting on a yukata (festival garb, much simpler than the clothing I’d just bought) via internet instruction didn’t go well, I brought it to my tea ceremony teacher and asked, eloquently, for help.

askingforhelp

“So, Sensei, I kind of impulse-bought this last week, but I have no clue how to put it on. Help?” 

While no dictionary or phrase book will list “help” under translations for “yoroshiku” or any of its variants, that phrase truly doesn’t get enough credit for its versatility in translations much of the time.

Both of us knew I meant “help.”

So, alongside learning tea ceremony, I learned how to put on and function in a kimono. How to walk naturally when your feet only make it a foot and a half apart, how to avoid knocking things over with the sleeves, but those were only the obvious ones. How to stand elegantly, particularly how to place your feet (with your toes pointed in, and one foot slightly behind the other). How to store small items in your sleeves (women insert things in their sleeves from the side closest to their body, men insert them on the side closest to their hand, clean items go in the right sleeve, dirty items in the left sleeve). How to sit so you didn’t end up tripping over your own kimono when you stand up (mostly practice, but also make sure to keep a fist-sized gap between your knees when sitting down, so your legs can move).

After a while, I finally started collecting more. Some of them, I bought myself:

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I still brag about getting this for 5000 yen (~$50), marked down 90% from its actual list price.

Many of them, I got from my host family back when I studied abroad. I went kimono shopping while visiting them one year, and while gushing about the kimono I’d bought, my host mother asked if I wanted their kimono.

homer

Actual photo of Lucia in that moment.

None of them knew how to wear them, she said, or had any interest in them, even. They had them sitting in storage, taking up space.

I thought she was kidding.

Spoiler: she was not kidding.

I got three boxes of kimono and kimono-related clothing that I had to ship home because it wouldn’t fit in my luggage back to Shimane. The fact that I’d also bought several on my own, even after she gave me all of those is not evidence that I have a problem.

No, the evidence that I have a problem came when Sensei, helping me sort through them and telling me about them, mentioned that I have so many, and my response wasn’t, “you’re totally right, I do,” it was, “man, and I still want more.”

Her response, after laughing, was to offer to give me some of hers that she didn’t need anymore.

And she fucking did.

I still haven’t had an opportunity to wear most of the kimono I have. I might be approaching about half of them having been worn at least once.

Quite aside from all the amazing things that happened to me to lead to having this collection of happiness, the items themselves inspire joy. Whenever going through my kimono, I can’t help but smile. I admire even the ones I’ve seen a hundred times, like that gold one I bought first, every time I pull them out. Most of them feel positively amazing to the touch. The one with maple-leaves in particular is pettable in the extreme.

Here are a few other favorites of mine:

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Gift from Sensei, a dancing kimono, and it feels like water woven into fabric. 

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Another gift from Sensei, one of the fanciest kimono I have. I have another of this type as well, but the phoenix on here takes my breath away.

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Gift from Host Mom, this one’s made of wool, and I simply love the colors on it. 

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For some reason a tiny picture, but these I purchased myself, gorgeous blue hakama. 

 

What do you collect that brings you joy?

What Kind of Blog is This?

I’ve struggled with this blog for a while. Trying to find a topic I can write about regularly that I had anything real to say about. I have plenty of opinions, but I’m not much of an expert on really anything. Amateur at everything I like.

It’s supposed to be my “author” blog, but I’m not an author yet. Plus, I’d honestly much rather people learn about writing from those who know a lot more about it than I do.

In thinking about what people might want to read, I thought the best option would be something interactive. It would help me get to know my audience, too, and provide more topics to discuss on the blog. I’m a critical person, so I could try critiquing old favorites of mine, or new hits, or latest releases, or or or. The idea being to bond with my audience over tearing something apart for its flaws.

But my whole country is tearing itself apart over its flaws right now. People arguing we don’t have flaws, people arguing what our flaws are, how to deal with them, how they’re being dealt with. I saw a Daily Show with Trevor Noah episode where they were talking about post-election recovery, and one of the men they interviewed ripped my heart out. He cried on camera about how awful everyone is to each other right now. Friends and family, tearing each other and themselves apart over differences in opinion.* He hugged someone from the opposing party, and possibly dribbled snot on the guy’s jacket.

This hatred and shit-flinging has been getting under my skin for a while now, as I’m sure it has most of the country and whatever parts of the world are watching it consistently.

I’m not turning this into a political blog. To the contrary, I’m turning it into a positivity blog. Things that make me happy, make me laugh, improved my day or my life. I could use more of that myself. I should spend more of my time being grateful and laughing than I do complaining and frowning.

I’m not sure yet how frequent it will be. Hopefully, I can turn it into a daily thing, but it’ll have to become a routine so I remember first.

 

*I’m not minimizing these issues. However, not all of them are as serious as others are. Yet all of them are causing these arguments. I’m not taking a political stance here, either. I’m calling people’s political stances opinions. That’s all.

Sleep Journal

Due to extenuating circumstances yesterday that involved hanging out with friends and a nasty storm, I didn’t actually sleep during the day at all. I fell asleep a little after midnight this morning and slept until about 5:30 am.

Bad mood persisting. I’m unsure how relevant this is to the sleep issue this time since I fell asleep not long after getting home, though I didn’t feel too warm when I woke up. I’m not sure what woke me up or why I couldn’t get back to sleep.

Sleep Journal

1/13/17

Started to do this yesterday, but got sidetracked.

Slept a lot, fitfully. I recall being awake around noon for a while, and waking up around 5 for a while, and getting out of bed at 9 pm.

I’m not sure what’s up with the pattern of waking up after a few hours of sleep in the morning, but I believe it has to do with the cold. My room is cold, and the space heater helps, but makes it difficult to regulate the temperature. If I leave the things on that make me warm, I wake up a few hours later, too hot. If I turn them off, I wake up a few hours later, too cold.

1/14/17

Slept a lot, but off and on. I know I slept from 9~12, and was awake until about 2 pm, but I remained in bed until work at 10 pm and slept fitfully.

Context: I ended up with some things to be upset about, and my feelings hadn’t calmed down yet. I spent the entire time awake sulking, occasionally messing with my phone, but didn’t get out of bed except to go to the bathroom once or twice.

Sleep Journal

I’ve started counseling not too long ago, and one thing she asks me about constantly is how I’ve been sleeping. Which makes sense because I’ve never been friends with sleep. Or even gotten along. Sleep never listens to me, abandons me with no warning for weeks at a time, and is fickle even when around.

Because my memory for this sort of thing is as bad as my ability to sleep, a journal seemed appropriate. For the interest or possibly assistance of anyone else out there, I’ll be keeping track of it here.

Slept from 7:30ish am to 9 am and 3~4ish pm to 10 pm (~7.5 total)
Woke up once around 8:30 pm, but went back to sleep.

Context: Took a nap after work, but had to wake up for tea ceremony late that morning.

Things to fret about: I had some minor drama with a friend that was as yet unresolved, but I wasn’t thinking about it the last I remember before sleep or upon waking up, so I’m unsure if it kept me up. I also realized around the time I laid down that I’d lost about a thousand words of writing I’d done the previous night, but after telling myself off for carelessness and promising myself to rewrite it tonight (which I did), I stopped thinking about it. Unlikely to be an issue.

Further context: I’ve had issues sleeping the last few days previous to this, getting max three hours a sleep at a time, for one day getting only three hours before work.