Rethinking Anonymity


After scribbling away in private journals and anonymous blog posts for most of my adolescence and early adulthood, I think it’s time to finally go public with my writing. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been writing and editing like crazy, and I am so excited for how my poetry collection has developed.


This weekend, I have plans to go to a poetry workshop. Then, in the following weeks, I am meeting with an established poet at my library who is supposed to give advice on publishing. Unless something earth-shattering is revealed during that meeting, I plan to enter my poetry manuscript into a contest. If I am fortunate enough to win, the contest holder will publish my manuscript. If I don’t win, I plan to self-publish my collection this fall.


Either way, I now have a set deadline to finish my manuscript. And when it comes out, I want the name on the cover to match the name on this blog. This means my blog will be getting another facelift, and some posts may be deleted to protect my friends and family.


I suppose I could pick another pen name, but I have yet to think of one I like at least as much as my real name. We shall see.

Thanks, as always, for reading.


Emotion in The Ancient Magus’ Bride and Violet Evergarden

This season, I have been watching Mahoutsukai no Yome and Violet Evergarden and was pleasantly surprised to discover that they explore many of the same ideas.

In Mahoutsukai no Yome, we are introduced to Elias as a character who is devoid of emotion. At the beginning of the series, Elias believes that about himself, but as his relationship with Chise develops, it becomes self-evident that he does have emotions but has not been socialized enough to understand himself or those around him.

Violet, the titular character of Violet Evergarden, is definitely human, but at this point in the series we’re not exactly sure of her backstory. We know that she has been used as a weapon on the battlefield, but it’s unclear what that entailed. Unlike Elias, we know she has definitely been around people for a long time, but she thrived in the military environment of complete order. She works as an Auto Memoir Doll in part to understand what love is, but also largely because it’s the only thing she can do now that the war is over.

While I was initially hoping that Mahoutsukai no Yome would develop differently – I wanted the series to further operate as though Elias was actually devoid of emotion and show the limits of relationships when one side is unable to reciprocate emotionally – now Elias and Violet are both in the thick of it, learning what it means to love and be loved.

I’m sure I will have more profound things to say once both series conclude, but for now, I will simply say that I am hooked.

Comparing Devilman Crybaby and Tokyo Ghoul

This post is very spoiler heavy for both Devilman Crybaby and Tokyo Ghoul. You have been warned.

First it was PewDiePie. Then it was akidearest. And after that The Anime Man and Gigguk also boarded the hype train for “Devilman Crybaby.” So I watched it last night with hubby and after being so amped up for it… It fell short. Really short.

The first two episodes were difficult to watch. It felt like the anime was trying to make up for its lack of an original plot by being edgy. While, for the most part, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the art style, it did keep the graphic sexual scenes from becoming completely impossible to watch. The sex scenes aren’t the “sexposition” type in “Game of Thrones” and they aren’t meant to be arousing. They are meant to disgust you. Disgusted I was and if it weren’t for the hype, I would have stopped watching after the second episode.

“Tokyo Ghoul” explored very similar themes and, in my humble opinion, did it better than “Devilman Crybaby” in almost every single way. The sad thing is, even with all its religious references “Devilman Crybaby” just didn’t go as deep as “Tokyo Ghoul.”

The Root of All Evil

In “Devilman Crybaby,” the devils possess humans at the raves. These parties are dubbed “Sabbath” gatherings, which can be interpreted as a strictly ironic name, but can also be understood as the height of a kind of hedonistic cultural belief that casual sex and drugs is as close as people can come to reaching the divine on earth. This suggests that society at large abandoned religion and traditional spirituality and was instead embracing an artificial, chemically induced kind of religious experience that was focused solely on bodily pleasures. In fact, the only religious characters we see are Miki and her family, who are ill-equipped in the face of pure malevolence; they are so out of touch with the mindset of the general populace that it is no wonder they all die.

Miko is another character whose physical desires corrupt her. She hates Miki for being a faster runner than her. She believes the people around her only value her due to her connection with Miki (which is somewhat true). Miko loses herself spiritually and thinks she must reclaim her identity as the true “Miki” by proving herself to be the physical superior of the two. Miko derives her worth from her body, so it makes sense that she allows Nagasaki to take lewd photos of her while Miki does not.

At the rave, Ryo breaks a bottle and starts attacking people to make the devils appear and begin possessing people, further driving home the point that evil manifests when people operate purely as animals. While Akira had agreed to become possessed to defeat other devils, he remains a good character because he retains his empathy and love for others. This is what sets him apart from Ryo and the other devils; Ryo doesn’t believe in love and has no compassion. On the other hand, Akira does not want to sacrifice those at the rave for the sake of the greater good. Akira becomes a “devilman” somewhat against his will after his body was contaminated (he is forced to drink some alcoholic beverage and swallows some other drug, most likely ecstasy).

In “Tokyo Ghoul,” Kaneki becoming a ghoul is somewhat similar. Kaneki is socially a bit awkward and very innocent. He is attacked by the ghoul Rize on their first “date” (ghouls survive by eating human flesh). Rize dies from steel beams falling on her and the doctor who saves Kaneki decides he’s going to transplant Rize’s kidney into Kaneki to save his life. Like Akira, Kaneki’s body becomes contaminated. However, Akira goes in with his eyes open while Kaneki is blindsided. They both become hybrids; half monster, half human.

In “Devilman Crybaby” the existence of evil in the world is demonstrated to be a lack of compassion for others and surrendering to physical desires. In “Tokyo Ghoul,” the origin of evil is not nearly as straightforward. The existence of ghouls is never explained. Yet, we see characters who take their condition as ghouls in different ways, and their choices of how they manage their urge to eat flesh show their differing moral standards. On one end of the spectrum is the gourmet, who makes a spectacle of finding the best tasting people and eating them, and on the other end are characters like Hinami, who is just a child, and Yoshimura, who takes in wayward ghouls and helps them blend into human society. “Devilman Crybaby” introduces the devils as having a predisposition toward evil. In fact, Silene briefly comments on the sexual depravity of the devils and flippantly asks why they should resist their urges, a point that is never brought up again. Only Akira has overcome those urges and influences others to follow suit. The characters lack depth and immediately flip from evil to good. “Tokyo Ghoul,” by contrast, shows that people (and ghouls) all have the ability to be evil and most only choose to do what they believe to be necessary, though some will go out of their way to cultivate their evil tendencies.

The Price of War

“Devilman Crybaby” and “Tokyo Ghoul” both end with all-out warfare between the “monsters” and the humans. However, the battles begin and end very differently. In the beginning, Kaneki and Akira’s bodies are invaded by evil forces, but Kaneki, who was completely innocent and did not consent to what was happening to him, must recover and almost died from the experience. Akira, on the other hand, knew what he was getting into and actively tries to grapple with the evil in the world and use it to his advantage. (This is the difference between Bilbo stumbling upon the ring and Elrond thinking he can wield the power of the ring without being corrupted, though this does not seem to factor into why Akira ultimately dies while Kaneki lives.)

Side-note: Kaneki is simply more developed than Akira. After Akira becomes a devilman, his personality does not change. Kaneki, however, radically changes as a result of Jason’s torture. Before his encounter with Jason, Kaneki struggles to exist as a ghoul, being too conflicted to eat. After being tortured, he embraces the power that comes from being a ghoul and puts himself on the front lines, eating other ghouls to become stronger, so that he can protect the people he cares about. (I would say this is similar to Frodo using the ring to hide from enemies when he needs to.)

Akira and Kaneki both position themselves as leaders against the “true monsters” they face for the same reason: they both want to protect those they care about. However, the line between good and evil is less clear in “Tokyo Ghoul” than in “Devilman Crybaby.” In “Tokyo Ghoul,” the ghouls that Yoshimura brings together at Anteiku (a coffee shop) regard each other as a family. The viewer sees them as the good guys and they are the ones that end up being attacked by humans – not Aogiri, the ghouls that do not attempt to live peacefully among humans. In other words, the final war is between two sets of people that the viewer believes to be good. The humans are retaliating against all of the innocent people that have died and the Anteiku family are fighting for their right to exist. This is what makes the final battle so heartbreaking.

Conversely, in “Devilman Crybaby,” the final battle still feels like a war between good and evil. As stated previously, the only devils who reclaim their humanity are the ones approached by Akira. Plus, the only human death the viewer really cares about is Miki’s. Sure, the circumstances of Miki’s family’s deaths are quite sad, but it was the situation that was sad, not the loss of any beloved character. Ultimately, there was Ryo/Lucifer, his band of devils, versus the humans, who were misguided but good for the most part.

Both shows have that one human character that is basically Jesus/completely pure and is almost killed for knowing too much fairly early on in the series. In “Tokyo Ghoul,” Hide represents everything that is good and innocent. I don’t think this needs to be explained if you have seen the anime. During the final battle, he is wounded trying to save humanity, of course, at Anteiku: where good and evil meet, literally and figuratively. We don’t know for sure if he dies in the anime but he sure looks dead.

Miki is the sacrificial lamb in “Devilman Crybaby.” While the deaths of Hide and Miki symbolized the inability of the good guys to protect the innocent from the evil of the world, the ending of “Devilman Crybaby” is much more nihilistic. While Hide dies because he inserted himself into the fray (which, perhaps, is inevitable in its own way), Miki has no chance whatsoever. Miki is hunted down by humans because she announced to the humans that Akira is a devilman and that not all the devils are evil. Humanity didn’t want to believe her and just wanted to silence her. People already referred to her as a witch because of how fast she was at running. Both humans and devils wanted her dead and the vast majority of the good guys died trying to protect her.

The final battle in “Tokyo Ghoul” is a purge. The wrongs of the past are wiped out and the survivors have a chance to rebuild and learn from the past. The final battle of “Devilman Crybaby” is the end of the world. Good cannot compete with the destructive nature of evil. Not only does the symbolic representation of good die, but then its strongest defender, Akira, dies as well. Lucifer regrets killing Akira but there is nothing to be done. God finally steps in and destroys the world. Really, though, the world seems to have already been destroyed by the time God pokes his nose in.

While “Tokyo Ghoul” is a cautionary tale that exemplifies the dangers of embracing the evil within and not looking for the good in others, “Devilman Crybaby” laments the unavoidable destruction of all that is good in the world. “Tokyo Ghoul” is a story of hope and “Devilman Crybaby” is a story of mankind imploding due its lack of humanity.

Appropriate Analysis and Sleeping Beauty

Disney movies have long been labelled Problematic. Sleeping Beauty, one of the supposed worst offenders, actually has a very positive message that has been drowned out by all the Feminist outrage. Not only is this outrage unnecessary, it is completely out of place for this story.

Feminists, in general, have two main complaints about the film. The first, more reasonable argument is that Aurora lacks agency and exists only as a prize for others to fight for. The second criticism is that the film romanticizes sexual assault; it’s not okay to kiss a sleeping woman. While this article by Leigh Butler argues that Sleeping Beauty is actually a Feminist-friendly film because the main characters are the three good fairies and they are the ones truly responsible for defeating Maleficent, this analysis isn’t very fruitful. Rather, it undercuts the heroism of the Prince taking down a dragon for the sake of making the film more female-centric. It also forces the reader to consider the main conflict of the story to be the three good fairies against Maleficent – nothing could be more black and white than good vs evil. This reading takes away from the message of the plot rather than adding to it.

The second Feminist criticism, that the film depicts sexual assault in a positive light, is simply laughable.

When Aurora opens her eyes and sees the Prince, she smiles. She is not a victim of sexual assault. What more needs to be said?

A more straightforward analysis of the plot is that Aurora’s parents tried to shield their daughter from the evil in the world. Even as a baby, she is exposed to the horrors of reality, and instead of realizing their error, her parents shelter her even more. She is so sheltered that pricking her finger causes her to fall into a coma. It is only through outside help (the Prince breaking the spell) that she is able to return to the real world. She then marries the man that actually helps her cope with the world as it truly is, immediately fleeing her parents and the fairies who are at fault for the entire mess.


A Day Downtown

This past Tuesday, the powers that be decided it was going to be my day.

I had been planning since February of this year to go to Disney World in mid-October with two of my best friends (who are sisters). Unfortunately, for financial reasons I was unable to go, and it was quite disappointing.


However, on this fateful Tuesday, I saw on Facebook that their mother was actually in my neck of the woods (they all live in South Carolina now, so this was quite unexpected). I commented as much and a few hours later, I was driving into Seattle to meet up with her and one of her friends that I had never met before.

While it was a little odd to spend time with my friends’ mother without them there, I have gone on family vacations with them before and she’s known me since I was 5 years old, so it really wasn’t awkward. It was just unprecedented.

As I was making plans with them, I found out that my friends’ mother had flown to Washington to help take care of her friend. I didn’t think much of this because she’s a nurse. I figured it was a former patient and probably an older person that she had connected with since she was referring to her friend as an invalid. We were originally planning to go to the aquarium, so I figured we would be pushing the friend around in a wheelchair.

This, however, was not at all an accurate assessment of the situation. When I arrived at the friend’s house, I found out that the “invalid” actually just had a broken ankle and was getting around on a knee scooter. She was not an old person or a former patient, but had actually known my friends’ mom since they were teenagers. They met in “The Way” and neither one of them realized when they joined that it was a cult. I really can’t imagine a more cult-y name than “The Way,” but it matters not.

We ended up going to Pike’s Market rather than the aquarium, and the knee scooter did not at all impede our progress. In fact, she zipped around on that thing with ease and left us in the dust.

Here are a few pictures from our adventure.

Seattle Seattle

Seattle Seattle



Pike Place Fish Co.

Our first stop was actually the original Starbucks, but it was a bit of a letdown. I’ve been to Starbucks three times now and really just don’t like their coffee. Plus, the place was, of course, a madhouse. It was tiny but there were at least 30 people packed in there with very little sense of order. There are no tables or anywhere to sit (which makes sense since it is right by the outdoor market so most people are on the go), but it makes for an unpleasant atmosphere. Everyone is cramped and impatient (and staring at their phones).

We got king crab from the place in the last picture. They normally throw the things customers purchase, so the fish “fly.” I don’t think it’s normal for them to throw crab, but they threw it for us upon request. It’s fun to watch.

I had never had king crab before but was told I looked like a pirate while eating it.

Did Somebody Say Free Classes?

I’ve been caught in a cycle for the past few months that looks a little something like this:

  • Week 1: Existential crisis
  • Week 2: Less panicking, careful consideration of my career and school options
  • Week 3: Decide I’m not decided enough for grad school and can’t afford to waste my time on a random pursuit like massage therapy
  • Week 4: Comfort myself with fulfilling projects until the next existential crisis

Therefore, when T-Mobile decided that one of its T-Mobile Tuesday perks was going to be a free class from Shaw Academy, I was elated (and very skeptical). I’ve wanted to take up graphic design for so long but could never justify it. If I’m going to go back to school, the results need to be tangible. I’ve been doing the freelance/work from home thing for a few months now and it is not all it’s cracked up to be.

When I looked through the reviews for Shaw Academy, they were pretty mixed. Some people were saying that they got charged when they were doing the free trial, some said the lectures were obviously not live, and some had other complaints about it. After seeing that it was accredited and digging around on the website, I decided that I would try the regular free trial and, if it went well, later on I would redeem the T-Mobile credit for another class. Part of me also figured that T-Mobile wouldn’t give credits to a scam school, but then I remembered that they did the whole free year of magazine subscriptions thing and figured it was pretty much on the same level.

I signed up for Principles of Graphic Design and was quite taken aback. I enrolled on a Wednesday or Thursday and the class started the following Monday. That seemed way too convenient. Then, the same day I signed up I got several text messages and 3 phone calls with verification codes for the email account I used to sign up for the class. I’m not saying that the school tried to hack my email…. but that has definitely never happened to me before. (If you do not have 2-factor authentication set up for your email accounts, you should definitely get on that!) The key thing is that they didn’t ask for my credit card information.

Despite the red flags, I logged in on Monday and attended my first lecture. There was definitely a real person teaching the class. However, it was also very definitely not live. You do have a chat option, but you aren’t talking to the professor. Instead you can talk to support. I very cheekily asked how to partake in the “live chat” that the professor kept referencing and got no response. However, this past week I attended my fifth lecture and they had a drawing for someone to receive a free year-long membership and you had to put your name in the chat. I opened the support box and noticed that support had been asking questions to help me stay engaged through the lecture. I was quite surprised.

While the first week was very basic, I must say I have actually really enjoyed the subsequent lectures. I went in knowing nothing about Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign.* After week 2, I asked my best friend to send me a picture to Photoshop and ended up making a picture of her dog being sucked into a black hole. Progress!

*In my high school photography class, we only had one assignment using a digital camera and I didn’t have Photoshop at home. I played with sharpening, contrast, and saturation, and that was it. Then, in my college photography class, we had a few more assignments where we used digital cameras, but I still only did super light editing. It’s been… 4 years since I even did that, so for all intents and purposes, I knew nothing.

I just finished my third week of lectures (meaning I’ve attended 6 in total), and I don’t feel like an expert on any of the Adobe programs, but I know where to start.

Overall, I have really enjoyed Principles of Graphic Design. The whole email thing still seems really shady… and I usually have issues with my web browser crashing after I’ve attended a lecture, but I’m not too worried. (Mostly because hubby can fix anything that happens with my computer and I know whoever it was didn’t successfully breach my email account.)

If you want to take a class and actually have proof that you know what you are doing, then this is not the program for you. You can theoretically get the equivalent of an associate’s degree through the program, but it’s not worth actually paying for, in my humble opinion. For one, there is no homework. You just take these 20 question quizzes on the material and as long as you get the answers right, you’ll get a completion certificate. Of course, if you’re interested in pursuing graphic design, I don’t think a degree matters anyway. You just have to have a good portfolio. This program works for me, though, because I’m just learning because I want to. I’m not necessarily going to do anything with the material other than make my blog look better.

When I finish this course, I am undecided on what to take next with the credit from T-Mobile. It would make sense to take the Advanced Graphic Design course, but I feel like now that I’ve gotten my feet wet with Photoshop I might be able to figure out the rest of what I want to know from YouTube tutorials. The other course I’m interested in taking is Digital Media Marketing. Luckily I have until November to decide. (Thank you, T-Mobile!)

If you’re feeling adventurous, I would definitely recommend taking a free course. Maybe consider making a new email account just for the class, though.

Mystery Blogger Award

Ahh! Thank you so much Maddie for the nomination! After a couple weeks away from the blog, logging in to see this has given me the kick in the butt I needed to get writing again.

Also, thank you Okoto Enigma for creating the Mystery Blogger Award.


  • Display the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to the nominator’s blog
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • Answer 5 questions from the nominator
  • Nominate 10-20 bloggers

Three Things About Me:

  1. I took hip-hop dance classes for 2 or 3 years in high school and loved it, even though it was quite out of character for me. The annual recital/performance was my least favorite part – sure, I’m impressed that I can pop, lock, and drop it, but that doesn’t mean I want anyone else to see it.
  2.  This past weekend I discovered that the Harry Potter podcasts I listened to in high school (MuggleCast and Pottercast) are actually still making new episodes. Listening to the familiar voices and a couple new ones was great. It was like catching up with friends I’d forgotten I had.
  3. I had a few guinea pigs in elementary school. The last was a long-haired guinea pig named Cheetara. Yes, I was a huge Thundercats fan.

Answering Maddie’s Questions:


Do you think you spend too much time on social media?

I don’t get on Facebook or Twitter too much (in fact, I was pretty much resolved to delete my Facebook this week but decided not to after unexpectedly talking to people on messenger), but I definitely spend wayyyyyyyyy too much time on YouTube.

Do you think people are born evil or become evil?

I don’t think people are inherently good or evil. People are, by nature, self-interested and can either learn to care for others or develop beliefs that allow them to continue being self-centered.

What’s your favorite lyric?

“What are regrets? They’re just lessons we haven’t learned yet.”  – Sweetest Decline, Beth Orton

However, for songs that overall have brilliant lyrics, I’d have to go with some older Ingrid Michaelson songs like “Breakable” and “Starting Now.”

Do you believe in second chances?

I’d be pretty screwed if I didn’t.

What lie do you tell yourself regularly?

This might sound a little depressing, but anything along the lines of, “Tomorrow is going to be better/easier.” However, the truth of the matter is tomorrow isn’t going to be any different if I don’t make a change today.


(I’m only doing 5.)

Sara in LaLaLand – Sara keeps it real talking about mental health stuff and engages so much with her followers. She’s the first blogger that made me feel like there was a real community on WordPress.

Down the Road – Jim is a down to earth film photographer. I like seeing his pictures because his style is very different from mine.

Brain Bonbons – Dina talks about her studies and is all around awesome.

Kawaiipaperpandas – If you like anime and have a good sense of humor, you will like this blog.

Today’s Perfect Moment – Anthony’s blog is genuine and all about slowing down to appreciate the little things.

Questions for Nominees

  1. Do you tend to read a lot of blogs that are similar to yours or that are different from what you do?
  2. How has your blog changed over time?
  3. What’s something you want to get better at (can be blog-related but doesn’t have to be)?
  4. Describe your corner of the internet. (Which sites do you visit most and what do you do there?)
  5. What’s the last movie you saw and what did you think of it?

Thank you again, Maddie! This was a lot of fun.


Port Angeles

This week, hubby and I took an impromptu 3-day mini vacation in Port Angeles.

DAY #1


From the beginning of our journey, taking the ferry.DSCN9192The first place we went after checking into our hotel was Crescent Bay. I had been debating between Crescent Bay and Hollywood Beach, but according to the visit Port Angeles website, you can see “orcas, humpback, gray, and minke whales” from shore at Crescent Bay, so that’s where we went. DSCN9198Spoiler alert: we didn’t see a single whale. But it was still gorgeous. The water was super clear and there really wasn’t a lot of people around.DSCN9212

DSCN9207 DSCN9211We weren’t up for hiking or swimming yet, so after walking the length of the beach, we ended up heading back to Hollywood Beach anyway.DSCN9219As you can see, Hollywood Beach is right on the city pier. We got there just as the Feiro Marine Life Center was closing, and the girl at the counter let us in for free (but strongly recommended we make a donation, which we did). I wish we had had more time there because there were so many beautiful starfish. DSCN9222We went out on the pier before settling down by the sand. It was incredibly windy, and I imagine it is there all the time. We saw a few seagulls get blown off course.

DAY #2

20170830_122444Our next day was completely devoted to seeing what we could see in the Olympic National Park. You would need at least a week to adequately explore the park, so our plan was just to get to the hot springs and see what we would along the way. 20170830_12394720170830_123545Madison Falls – you don’t need to pay to see this part of the park.

DSCN9263  20170830_133007_HDRGlines Canyon Spillway Overlook DSCN9276

DSCN9292The drive to the end of the road was more exciting than I anticipated. My anxiety was going a little crazy thinking the car was going to go crashing down the hillside.

We didn’t make it to the hot springs. I was banking on the springs being a little over 2 miles away from the parking lot, since that was what was listed on the sign, but after over an hour of walking, we ran into some people and they said we were barely even halfway there. They also said that it was rather disappointing. Jason had fallen and hurt his ankle, I was chafing and hungry, and I was ready for a cold swimming pool rather than hot springs. We ended up going out for Chinese then spending the rest of the night alternating between the hot tub and the pool at the hotel. It wasn’t what I originally had in mind, but still a very relaxing evening with the hubby.

DAY #320170831_122408

Our last day was the most laid back as we started the drive home. I also didn’t want to push hubby to do anything too intense since his ankle was in bad shape. We stopped by a lavender farm, B&B Family Farm, and it was so relaxing. It smelled heavenly and Bruce was very kind. He didn’t mind at all taking 20 minutes out of his workday to explain the different types of lavender and how they process them. We learned that French lavender is mostly used for fragrance while English lavender is used in cooking, that lavender buds will stay on the stem for years if undisturbed, and saw how the oil is extracted from the buds. We also found out that lavender can be used as an insect repellent. Lavender FarmUnfortunately for us, we arrived just after they finished their harvest, so there wasn’t a whole lot of purple for us to see. Even so, it was beautiful. DSCN9295

DSCN9296They also have a shop where they sell all kinds of lavender stuff. Lip balm, insect repellent, candles, hand cream, air freshener, lavender oil, cleaning products, soap – you name it, it was there. DSCN9300Our last stop was a bit crazy. We ate at a diner for breakfast and our server highly recommended it. She said it was a place where show animals were taken when they weren’t being used in movies. I was expecting a walking tour, but that was not the case.

DSCN9312Olympic Game Farm was a bit more intense and exciting than I had anticipated. Most of the animals actively came to the car and put their heads inside the vehicle to be fed. I was a bit worried about the safety of my car, especially when going through the high risk area.DSCN9319

DSCN9322 DSCN9325

DSCN9328 DSCN9331

Smiling BearI don’t know how Jason managed to do it, but he got all three kodiak bears to smile for the camera.Smiling Bear #2

Smiling Bear #3 DSCN9356This was the high risk area. The pamphlet specifically said not to stop your vehicle because the animals will swarm your vehicle. To that I say easier said than done. The car in front of us was going too slow and we did end up getting trapped with animals blocking our way. However, we managed to get through without damaging the car or losing any fingers. It was definitely a once in a lifetime event.  I would highly recommend it if you have an older vehicle you’re not worried about getting scratched up.

This was the first real vacation hubby and I have gone on together. It was really nice to have a few days out of the apartment to do fun things and enjoy each other’s company. I just wish he would stop hurting his ankle every time we go somewhere.

Pulled in a New Direction

Over the past few weeks, I have been so tired. Spiritually, physically, mentally exhausted. I’m adjusting my sleep schedule for working third shift, and I’m about halfway there.

I’ve been very lax about my Japanese studies. However, I have tried out Human Japanese at Dina’s recommendation and can’t say too many good things about it. It gives actual pointers on how to make your characters look good rather than just giving you an outline of how to do them, it explains the material succinctly, and it moves at a good pace. Hubby also surprised me by ordering a couple Crazy Kana Notebooks, which I have yet to use though they look lovely.

I was also briefly inspired to finally start working on a side project I’ve wanted to get up and running for a long time. I started a music blog where I will be analyzing song lyrics and otherwise doing music reviews. So far, I’ve only written a review of Kesha’s new album Rainbow, but it was a lot of fun and I hope to get back into it soon. I’m planning on covering music by Rufus Wainwright, Vienna Teng, Jillette Johnson, and maybe even Pink Floyd (who I adored throughout my teens). So, if you would be interested in that sort of thing, go check it out.

Other things I’ve been up to:

  • Binge watched season 7 of Game of Thrones yesterday and am not so patiently waiting for the finale
  • Finished watching season 1 of The Worst Witch on Netflix and loved it – it is as heartwarming as the books, which I listened to when I couldn’t sleep in college
  • Got bored watching Little Witch Academia on Netflix because it’s so similar to The Worst Witch (but with less character development and more nods to Harry Potter)
  • Cracked up while watching the first episode of One Punch Man
  • Tried reading the otome Locked Heart and ended up deleting it… The protagonist was annoying and disbelief could not be suspended
  • Spent half a day looking up fun things for hubby and I to do (botanical gardens this weekend!) so I would feel more motivated about life
  • Did some research on hikikomori (social recluse) in Japan
  • Learned about crime in Japan (or the lack thereof) and some criticisms of their justice system
  • Started my trial of Apple Music (after being a long time Spotify user) and can say that I will never make the switch
  • Updated my phone to Oreo and have barely noticed a difference

This weekend, I will be watching the new version of Death Note that’s coming out on Netflix and I’m hoping it exceeds my expectations…

If you read my list and thought that I have watched too much television lately, you’re probably right. I banned myself from YouTube for a week and when it was over the binge watching got a little out of control. It didn’t help that I was home alone for 3 days while hubby was out of state for work.

I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking, and have decided that it’s high time to get back to work on my more creative endeavors. I enjoy blogging about mental health, documenting my progress in Japanese, and writing reviews of things, but that’s not really what I feel called to write. Essentially, it feels like busy work when I should be working on my novels or even returning to poetry (which I wrote daily for a very long time).

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to write less about the things I already write about. Rather, it simply means that I need to write more.

That thought makes me very tired.

How are you all doing? What are you excited about doing in the future?

At My Worst

I recently read Sara’s post “Depression Does Not Make You a Monster” and her follow up post, and felt compelled to finally put pen to paper, so to speak, on something that has been on my mind for a long time now.

I’ve spent a lot of time mentally processing my diagnosis, and here’s what I’ve concluded: Depression is and is not controllable. Depression is disabling, sometimes. And trying to tease out whether any particular bad patch could have been prevented is not worth the effort.

Most advice about depression is contradictory. That doesn’t mean it’s incorrect; depression is just complicated. The advice about how to help people with depression is similarly full of conflicting ideas.

On the one hand, I have had days where I agree with Sara’s advice to “ignore the depression, not the person suffering from it.” Sometimes the only way to feel better is to escape the thoughts in your head, which cannot be done if those around you are constantly asking you what’s wrong, why you’re not happy, and if there’s anything they can do. If I’m out and about, trying to distract myself, the last thing I want is to be pulled back to the thoughts I am trying to get away from. I certainly don’t want to feel like a burden, or like everything needs to come to a standstill while I get my emotions back in check.

All that being said, it is my responsibility to communicate my needs. If I drag my husband to the beach in an effort to lift my spirits and am still in the dumps, it is only natural for him to ask me why I’m upset. He is not a mind reader.

On those days, the best thing I’ve found to do is to go somewhere I’ve never been before and focus on the new surroundings. Otherwise, I read, sing, or otherwise find a way to silence the unwanted thoughts.

I should note that my therapist has also recommended focusing on sensory information. For example, think about the way your body feels against whatever furniture you’re in contact with. Now imagine what the furniture feels like supporting you. It’s slightly different, but it effectively changes the flow of your thoughts. (Aromatherapy can also work wonders.)

On the other hand, there are times when you need to express what you are feeling. I’m going to borrow again from my therapist. If you are worrying about something, imagine your brain is trying to send you a letter. It wants to tell you something important. First it’s going to knock on the door. If you ignore it, the mailman is going to start ringing the bell. Then, he might start yelling or trying to shove the letter through the cracks.

Once you acknowledge the mailman, he stops trying to break down the door. The urgency is gone and you can peruse the contents of the letter and move on. This is partly why it is so therapeutic to journal (or blog).

However, even writing about your experience has some problems. I experienced this when I tried online therapy. I spent so much time finding the words to describe what was happening to me and waiting for a response that I never gave myself the chance to bounce back from my bad times naturally. Writing is wonderful, but it makes you revisit your old emotions so you can immortalize them accurately. Then later on you might notice a typo. Before you know it, you’ve read your own angst-ridden sentence twenty times. Sure, your creative head space is probably not as bad as your original raw emotion, but you still relive that moment every time you interact with your writing.

All this is to say that there isn’t a “right” way to handle your depression. There isn’t a “right” way for others to interact with you. Every day, you have to assess your capabilities and determine what you need to do to maximize your productivity. Some days, all you may be able to do is cry over your failed drawing of a Tyrannosaurus rex (my Tuesday afternoon). Other days, you can muster the determination to clean half your house, put in a few hours of professional work, and write a blog post to boot.

What’s important is that you give yourself an A every day you do your best, even if your best today isn’t what it was yesterday.