Happy Post is Happy

My last post was a little… intense for me to write. While I love how cathartic those “bare your soul” kind of posts are, I need a breather.

So, today, I’m going to share some funny stories about hubby and I.

A few weeks ago, hubby and I celebrated our one year anniversary… on the wrong day. How did I deduce that it was the wrong day? I looked at my Facebook timeline and realized that I was a week off. (I also got a big old, “You mean I was RIGHT??” from Jason about that one.)

This actually follows in the tradition of everything regarding our wedding being a bit of a hot mess. From the hilarity of mistakes made while filling out our marriage license to utterly failing to plan literally anything until the day before the wedding (which also happened to be the day I got a new job), our wedding was absolute chaos from start to finish. Don’t get me wrong, I loved our wedding ceremony and wouldn’t have had it any other way, but there’s no denying that it was insane.

Before we got married, we didn’t know what we were doing and while we’ve learned along the way, we’re still pretty clueless.

Story from before we got married:

Jason hurt himself and since we didn’t have a hot-pack, he filled a sock with rice and threw it in the microwave… for 6 minutes. I was in the bedroom and noticed an awful smell and some smoke. Then the fire alarm starts going off. Jason yells at me to get outside, so I do. He dumped the flaming sock into the sink and doused it with water to put out the flames before bringing the melted sock and ruined microwave outside. Neighbors came by to see what the ruckus was about and I watched the grass slowly die around the remains of the sock.

The apartment smelled for about a month after that.

Now, we have a dual hot and cold pack that looks like a kitty. (This means we get to say fun things like, “Would you like me to put the kitty in the freezer?”) We know that it is not to be in the microwave for over 2 minutes and that it needs to be put inside a plastic bag before it goes in the freezer.

Isn’t it cute?

Story from several weeks ago:

Please reference this post, in which I discuss going out to explore nature at 8 PM, hiking 1.5 miles to get to the beach and watch the sunset, then realizing that the way back was 90% uphill. This ended with us realizing our car was broken into and a chat with the park ranger about why we were out so late. Good times.

Now, hubby won’t take me anywhere when it’s that close to dark and he makes sure I’m not signing him up for masochistic activities.

Some other silly things I’ve done include:

  • Before marriage: Going to the beach and wearing flip-flops when it was actually rather cold and discovering that the beach doesn’t have sand. Instead, it has a lot of broken seashells and other hard things that really hurt when you step on them.
  • After marriage: Going on a week-long vacation with my husband and limiting my footwear to two pairs of flip-flops (when I should’ve anticipated we would be hiking and visiting the zoo).

On the other hand, there have been times where I think we have perhaps learned the wrong thing. For instance, a while ago I totally freaked out while I was taking a shower because a very large mosquito almost landed on me. Jason heard me screaming and comes running into the bathroom, thinking someone is trying to kill me. When I told him that a mosquito was in the shower, he just walked away. He was so angry. “My knife was drawn. I was ready to end someone and it was a freaking mosquito!”

A couple days ago, there was a giant fly in the house. It landed on me and I freaked out a little. Later on, I spot it going in the bathroom so I shut the door and tell Jason to go kill it. While he’s trying to kill it, I start playing music from the Undertale soundtrack, so hubby thinks I’m mocking him. (I didn’t mean it that way, but once it started playing I laughed a little.)

He comes out in a few minutes and says he hit it a few times but can’t find the body. It then appears in the kitchen again and I’m like whatever I’m taking a shower. As I’m washing my hair, my earring back falls off. I call for Jason because I can’t tell if it went down the drain and regardless I want him to take the rest of my earring so I don’t lose it. He doesn’t come. I figure he can’t hear me because he’s either outside or my music is too loud. When I get out of the shower, I say, “Why aren’t you ever inside when I need you?” Yadda yadda yadda…

“Oh, that’s what you wanted. I thought you were yelling because that fly was in there or something.”

“I specifically tried to sound less panicked so you would realize I wasn’t screaming about an insect. Though you should still come if I’m screaming because someone could actually be trying to kill me.”

One last thing…

I never had a dog or a cat while I was growing up. We took in a stray kitten when she was a wee little thing, maybe a week or two old, a year before I moved in with hubby. It broke my heart to leave her behind. Ever since then, I have wanted to get a cat.

This week, we almost succeeded in getting one.

This is Panther. Panther showed up Monday and we got her to come inside. However, when we closed the screen door, Panther made the most pathetic, horribly sad sound I have ever heard in my life. We let Panther return to the outdoors.

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Logic and Mental Illness

Sometimes, mental illness feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy. When I have the worst of my worst days, it is easy to write off what I’m feeling as a consequence of being mentally ill. I am anguished, disconnected, and listless because I have anxiety and am depressed. There is no logical reason for me to feel so incredibly low. Therefore, it is just a thing that happens to me.

That is how I viewed my depression for a long time. There was just this cloud of sadness that followed me around, and sometimes it would come low and I would be forced to wait for the fog to clear to be able to interact with the outside world.

Any alternative solution seemed completely dismissive of what I was going through. If I divulged that I was having a hard time with my depression, I would get angry and defensive if someone asked me why I was depressed.

depressed

What do you mean, why am I depressed? I am like this because I *have depression* and my emotions aren’t logical. If I knew why I was like this, I wouldn’t be like this. Don’t you get it?

When I was diagnosed with depression several years ago, I didn’t think I viewed myself any differently. It just felt like a logical conclusion for my behavior/my personality. I accepted the label as an explanation for why it was always nigh impossible for me to get excited about anything, an explanation of why I was so passive about everything, and I moved on. The diagnosis was a means to an end; because I was depressed, I could receive therapy and try different medications.

A few months ago, I called my mother specifically because I knew I needed to go back to therapy, but I couldn’t afford it. Yes, I called my mother to ask her to pay for my therapy. It was embarrassing and the whole conversation just made me want to puke and punch things at the same time. I’d definitely say it was one of the lowest points in my life.

When we got off the phone, my mother had agreed to pay for one month of therapy. But I was infuriated. She had asked me, “what are you depressed about?”

“Well, I quit my job…  and now we could be homeless in a few months… and other things.”

“Don’t you think you’d be better off to spend your time looking for a job, then? If you’re stressed about money, spending money on therapy is probably just going to make it worse.”

“Mom… no. Did you miss the part where I was having panic attacks at my last job? I had to quit. Getting another job isn’t going to magically make me better. It’s so much more than that. I feel like I am actually losing my mind.”

At that point in the conversation, I completely lost control and started sobbing hysterically, so it took another twenty minutes for me to work up the nerve to ask for money.

The whole conversation just reinforced my belief that depression and anxiety make zero sense. In my mind, yes, they were triggered by the stress of my everyday life, but trying to say, “I am depressed because x, y, and z” would never be able to cover it. There was no explanation for what I was feeling, and trying to answer why I was broken felt like a huge slap in the face.

The next day, my mom e-mailed me and said I should try taking St. John’s wort. I had never heard of it, so I did a quick Google. This was the first thing I saw:

Psychosis is a rare but possible side effect of taking St. John’s wort.

St. John’s wort is not a proven therapy for depression. Do not use St. John’s wort to replace conventional care or to postpone seeing your health care provider. Inadequately treated depression may become severe and, in some cases, may be associated with suicide.

Um… thanks, ma? I know you’re trying to help, but this isn’t the right way to go about it. Just let me go to therapy.

The thing is, her suggestion actually fit with what I was thinking. If depression/anxiety is totally random, there’s nothing you can do about it except medicate and hope that it goes away. I have never thought that medication is my only treatment option, but I have always felt like it can’t be helped that depression is a condition that I have.

Something finally clicked in my brain this week. Last week, my therapist stressed the importance of allowing yourself to feel what you feel without guilt (something I struggle with). However, she also said (for probably the tenth time and it was only my second session with her) that one way I can help ward off panic attacks is to acknowledge what is making me anxious. Accept that my emotions are, in fact, logical and use my emotions as information.

What does this look like?

When I am nervous about taking my trash to the dumpster, I will remind myself that my reaction isn’t crazy since we’ve had so many car break-ins and we live in a rough area. I will try to not let my feelings hold me back.

When I am scared of going to the store by myself because something could happen to me, I will acknowledge that there are good reasons to be cautious. I will be grateful that I wasn’t at the mall when the shooter was there and say a prayer for the victims and their families. I won’t tell myself I’m being stupid or to get over it.

When I am angry, I will try to stop feeling guilty about being angry and not tell myself that I am overreacting. That doesn’t mean I give myself free reign to be hurtful and say horrible things when I’m angry. Rather, it means that when I am angry, I won’t tell myself that my feelings are illogical and I shouldn’t be upset.

I won’t write off doing fun things as a waste of time because I could be making money. My happiness is important and worth setting aside time for.

When I feel like I’m going to have a panic attack, I will try to tell my husband so he can help me through it instead of hiding my anxiety. I shouldn’t be ashamed.

I will try to not feel weak when I cry. When I start feeling guilty for being sad, I will remind myself that I am trying to get better.

When I wake up feeling anguished, I won’t dismiss my feelings as a side-effect of depression.

And, most importantly, I will remember that my past failures are not indicative of my future successes.

Debunked! – Japanese Week 3

As I mentioned at the end of my first week studying Japanese, learning the language can be quite intimidating. However, most of the hurdles that seem overwhelming really aren’t as bad as they seem initially. I wouldn’t say I’ve been an absolute slave to my studies, but I do feel like I’ve already come a long way. So, without further ado, I want to discuss some misconceptions I had and what I’ve actually learned so far.

#1: Learning kanji is going to be the death of me.
While it is true that there are a lot of kanji, there are tricks to learn them quickly. Radicals, for one, make guessing meanings easier, and thinking of a story for why each character means what it means or is pronounced a certain way helps cement the characters in your mind. Plus, it’s fun; the satisfaction of being able to write such beautiful characters is a very strong motivator to keep going.

Additionally, when I first saw how many kanji characters there are, part of me very irrationally thought that I may as well learn Chinese first. That is a terrible idea for so many reasons!

If you want to learn Japanese, instead of viewing the language as one difficulty after another, think of it as an enjoyable journey that can last for as long as you want it to. It’s only overwhelming if you approach it with that attitude. It’s really not that different from any other language.

#2: There are no spaces between the words. I’ll never be able to read Japanese!
Spaces aren’t necessary in Japanese. Once you have built up your vocabulary, you will be able to differentiate words from one another. For instance, if the sentence ends with the hiragana character for “ka,” it’s probably a question. The different scripts make reading much easier. Practicing reading and writing with no spaces is extraordinarily beneficial for learners, too. Without the spaces, you naturally read and say words faster.

In short, if you’re worried about this when you start learning Japanese, take a deep breath. There are texts for beginners with spaces in them, but you will eventually be comfortable enough in the language that the lack of spaces won’t be an issue.

#3: I need to memorize the stroke order for everything!
While you should practice what you learn correctly, it’s not the end of the world if you write things in the wrong order. As long as you make your horizontal strokes from left-to-right and your vertical strokes from top-to-bottom, it will probably be legible, and that’s the whole point of writing, isn’t it? If you need to look up the meaning of a word you’ve never seen before, or if you have forgotten what a word means, follow the basic guidelines for stroke order and you will probably be able to find it, though it might take a while.

Last weekend, hubby wrote me a note in Japanese that I tried (and failed) to translate (because I don’t have a big enough vocabulary and thus struggled to find the ends of words and his translation was flawed to begin with). However, I was able to find every single kanji character using kanji recognizer. If I’ve been studying for 3 weeks and can find the characters I need, so can you.

#4: Typing in Japanese is insanely difficult. I’m never doing it.
Actually, it’s not that bad. When I had my first personal victory of being able to write sayonara, arigato, and kon’nichiwa in hiragana, I added the Japanese keyboard on my cellphone and texted a friend all those words. Now, as I learn words, I text my hubby and then ask him if he understood what I sent. My experiences, obviously, are pretty minimal, but it is much more intuitive than I thought it would be.

If you don’t know how it works, here’s what you do: you type in everything using your regular English alphabet. You select the correct hiragana for what you are typing as you go along. Then, you select the appropriate kanji when it populates. So, for instance, you would type in ko-n-ni-chi-ha and select the correct hiragana after every syllable. ( sometimes changes from the “ha” sound to the “wa” sound and I learned it that way, so that’s what I’m sticking with.) Kon’nichiwa is typically written in hiragana, so no kanji is necessary. If the process still doesn’t make sense, watch this video.

#5: People are probably going to judge you if you are learning Japanese and like anime/manga.
Does the term “weeaboo” ring a bell? I’ve been waiting for the hate comments, but I haven’t gotten a single one.

For the most part, I’ve actually found that people will support you in your studies and respect your efforts since the language is so complicated, regardless of your motivation to do so. While attempting to learn Japanese from anime/manga exclusively is not a good idea, there’s nothing wrong with supplementing your studies with your favorite series. Most educational resources encourage it!

I, personally, see nothing wrong in wanting to learn Japanese specifically for anime/manga. Why? Because a lot of people learn a little bit of another language specifically for a trip or because they have to for school and then they forget everything they learned afterward. How is learning French so that you can take selfies in Paris any less superficial than learning Japanese to deepen your appreciate for something you actually care about? If you are going to enjoy anime/manga for the rest of your life, then by all means, learn Japanese for that reason and make yourself happy. Just don’t assume you’re an expert on Japanese culture because you watch a lot of anime.

Thoughts on Square Breathing

The basic premise of meditation is that our lives are too busy and we need to take time to slow down and smell the roses. Therefore, we sit down for 15 minutes once or twice a day, focus on our breathing, and arise, fresh and ready to battle the world again.

This might work for very busy people like overbooked celebrities and mommies that just need some time alone, but for those with mental health issues, the idea of devoting more time to sitting still and being in your head does not make sense. Ideally, we want to gain momentum, not lose it.

Instead of meditating, then, the idea is to practice mindfulness. While meditation, very generally, is about letting go and learning to dismiss unwanted thoughts, mindfulness is about focusing your thoughts – thinking more actively.

If you are depressed, the best thing you can do for yourself is chase your happiness. Of course, if you are depressed, that feels impossible. Mindfulness is like taking baby steps.

This week, I was advised to try square breathing up to 6 times a day. If that seems like a lot, I would have to agree. I’m lucky if I remember to do it two or three times a day. However, I get the logic behind it.

So, what is square breathing?

Breathe in for 4 beats, hold 4 beats, breathe out 4 beats, hold 4 beats. Repeat until completed 4 times.

Super simple, right? Too simple?

For me, I do think this is too simple. I’ve played piano since I was 5 and was in choir for several years, so I have so much practice doing this that I barely have to focus to do it. That’s why, in my very unprofessional opinion, this should be modified. If you can do this and still have room to think about other things, you’re either doing it wrong or you need to make it more difficult. Count backwards, count in a different language, count backwards in a different language, count backwards in intervals of 7, etc.

If you’re wondering about the method behind the madness, let me explain further. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, so why should I bother with talk therapy or this weird mindfulness stuff when I can just take antidepressants,” I totally get it.

Think of every thought you have as a chemical reaction in your brain. If you have a bunch of sad thoughts, your brain is going to be full of sad chemicals. In a way, mindfulness helps your brain take a break from having so many incoming “sadness chemicals” because you are focused on something else. Over time, this helps improve your emotional baseline. While you’re probably not overjoyed when you practice square breathing, it makes it easier for you to be happy every day.

Sailor Moon & Hiragana – Japanese Week 2

I feel so accomplished. This week, all of my hours spent on Memrise and DuoLingo paid off. Now that I can recognize a good portion of hiragana, I can sound out words by myself and guess how they should be pronounced. It might seem like a very small milestone, but I am now able to spell kon’nichiwa, arigato, sayonara, and a few other real Japanese words in hiragana. When I realized that, I went back to DuoLingo for comparison’s sake and was able to look at the hiragana for a few basic words (numbers, colors, etc.) and sound them out and guess how they should be said. Granted, I still haven’t memorized the meaning of those particular words, but I still felt incredibly satisfied.

After saying a few basic phrases to my hubby, we were also able to deduce that the main problem that I am going to have learning the language is mastering my pronunciation. The major issue you will have from learning any language from an application or beginner program is that all of the words are overemphasized so that you can hear the appropriate sounds. If you try to learn to speak from that, you’re going to sound really weird. You have to listen to native speakers and match their pronunciation.

In light of my success with hiragana, I felt spurred on to assign myself a fun project for the week. I have loved Sailor Moon since I was in 4th grade, and I especially adore the theme song. Therefore, to help iron out my fundamentals, I am working on learning to sing the theme song. I also went to memorize what exactly each word means because I know I will remember the meanings if I can place them in the song.

Since I play piano and I already happen to have sheet music for the song, it will be relatively easy to practice, too.

The rest of the week I am devoting to this project, and also to nailing down all the hiragana. In addition to the apps, I have found that these two videos have been the most helpful.

I love this video because it goes through each section of the hiragana chart logically and gives you clever ways to remember what each character looks like. It also shows you what the characters look like in a variety of fonts, which is super helpful.

While this video is much more amateur than the other one in terms of audio quality, I still find it really insightful. This video tackles the hiragana in a different order. Instead of going by their position in the hiragana chart,it goes by how visually similar the characters are. I think this helps differentiate between characters that look really similar. I also like that she writes out everything multiple times so you can see the stroke order.

Overall, I’m really pleased with my progress. I actually feel like I’m making a lot more headway than I would if I were studying in a classroom setting.

I would eventually like to be able to blog in Japanese, but I’m not sure I will ever be able to deal with the frustration that comes with typing in Japanese. We’ll see.

Matane!

Image credit: Exceel on zerochan.net.

Japanese – Week 1

I grossly underestimated how hard it’s going to be to learn Japanese. Every time I thought I knew why people said Japanese was difficult and was ready to persevere regardless, I found yet another reason why Japanese is going to be insane. However, I will stay determined. I really want to learn Japanese. I’m not learning it because it’s a requirement for graduation or to look good on college applications, and it’s not necessarily a skill I will ever put on job applications; learning Japanese is something that I want to do for myself.

So, how did I study this week?

On Friday and Saturday, hubby and I “studied” by listening to as much Japanese as possible. We watched Hellsing Ultimate for a while and called it studyingbut we also listened to a beginning Japanese podcast. I also watched a lot of YouTube videos of people talking about what tools worked best for them. Although we had purchased books to help us learn kanji, looking at them was overwhelming, so those got put to the side. I figured it would be easier to learn hiragana and katakana first, then start tackling kanji once I had some basics down.

Throughout the week, I listened to the Japanese podcast more and also started using some of the apps I downloaded, with mixed success. Some of the apps I don’t think I will be able to get anything out of for several weeks or even months. I had been warned against relying on Duolingo by a friend who actually studied Japanese in school, but I felt like that app was one of the few that actually started from the ground up. Memrise has been pretty similar to Duolingo so far, so I’ve been trying to use that one more than Duolingo (though I really have no idea if one is better than the other).

Write It! Japanese has been the most beginner friendly of the writing apps I’ve tried. Someone recommended KanjiSenpai on YouTube, but even I know that the app should be called kanji sensei instead of kanji senpai, so that makes me doubt its credibility a little bit. Kanji Study was a bit over my head, so I’m hoping in a few weeks to give that one another try.

One of the things I don’t understand is why most teaching resources still list sayonara as goodbye and rarely talk about the context of when you would use that particular goodbye. They also teach kon’nichiwa as hello when it means good afternoon. This is why I have been relying fairly heavily on YouTube videos of native Japanese speakers explaining Japanese to English speakers instead of using a textbook or app to learn the words. However, sometimes I wonder about their credibility as well. For instance, I watched a video where a guy really struggled to say “no” in Japanese. I understand that people there are much more polite, but to not have a word for it seems really odd. I’m not sure what the character(s) would be for it, but the apps have told me that iie means no.

Probably the most helpful resource I found about Japanese in general was the introduction to one of the books on kanji. Learning about the roots of Japanese and how kanji are structured was very helpful and made the rest of the book look less overwhelming.

Before I go too crazy with learning kanji, or even practicing the different types of brush strokes at all, I would like to invest in a set of brush pens or even a Buddha board. (Okay, maybe I have just wanted a Buddha board for a long time and could never justify it. I know it really wouldn’t be that helpful for learning Japanese.)

My goal for next week is to make my studies less disjointed. Instead of trying a new thing every day and getting stuck, I just want to find something that works and stick with it. I also want to take more notes than I did this week.

Matane!

Ups and Downs

Picnic Point Park

Where to begin…

Sunday morning, hubby woke me up early to go see his parents. However, since it felt like I had randomly decided to do 5,000 crunches every time I moved, I stayed in bed, not moving an inch until my muscles loosened up at around 4 in the afternoon. I thought I was all better on Monday, aside from a headache. Then at around 3:30 AM I felt nauseous. I asked hubby to clean up the puke bucket while I went in the bathroom and proceeded to puke all over myself. After that, I was actually all better.

Wednesday was a super fun adventure in the land of student loans. I was working on submitting my yearly income driven repayment certification paperwork and had to help hubby figure out his federal loan situation (because now that we are married his income counts toward my ability to repay my loans). He just graduated so he had yet to even figure out who services his federal loans… It was not a fun time. We ended up going to the park to blow off some steam after that.

Yesterday, hubby’s work truck got broken into. But wait, didn’t that just happen to me like three weeks ago? Yes, yes it did. (Total car break-in count: 4.) So, hubby got to entertain the police yesterday morning. Lovely.

While he was on the phone with what seemed like nearly every person that works with him, hubby discovered a hidden benefit and I will be going to a real, in-person therapist next week. I have three free visits, so I’m going to try to make the most of them because I don’t think we will be able to afford additional ones for a while off yet.

In the evening, I finally took my test to be a search engine evaluator and I am pleased to say I passed and will be starting in a couple weeks! Taking the test was fun, though I didn’t expect the test to be as in-depth as it was. I read the first 30 pages of the manual and was like, “I know all this stuff already!” and never got to the other… 120 pages. Most of it was fairly intuitive when you read it, but the questions were still pretty tricky. Anyway, I am very excited to have another work-from-home job that is actually paid at an hourly rate and not per task.

Today, hubby and I took a few things down to the pawn shop and made $200. (We also took a few things to Half Price Books on Wednesday and got $30.) Not bad.

We also had to go to the post office so I could have a notary electronically sign that I am who I say I am for the job. The notary was amazed at how simple it was and didn’t even charge us when the fee is usually at least $10. Thank you, kind stranger.

Another thing that happened today was nearly all of the images broke on the site. That was just grand. Apparently Photobucket does not do third party image hosting anymore (I used Photobucket for years when I was still blogging on LiveJournal), so I got this email saying parts of my account were disabled and it was all around not good. So, after a wonderful morning, I got to come home and upload all of my images on Flickr and fix all the broken parts of the site. Yay.

Once all that excitement was over, I started working on my Japanese studies, but you will hear about how that is going tomorrow. For now, I need a break!

Anne With An “E” – Season 1 Review

As a general rule of thumb, I believe book lovers anticipate literary adaptations will fall short of their expectations. A beloved scene gets cut, a relationship is developed oddly, the mood of the story is altered, and before you know it, there is a strange disconnect from the story you loved so well in its literary form and what you’re seeing on-screen. Book lovers tend to want the adaptation to be 100% true to the source material. After all, shouldn’t they be? The developers are taking advantage of the existing fandom.

Anne With An “E,” in some respects, is faithful to L.M. Montgomery’s original work. However, the overall tone is much darker and the adaptation is more political than I remember the book being. In fact, the edition I purchased when I about 10 was part of the Charming Classics collection and came with a necklace.

Every adaptation of Anne of Green Gables that I have seen features a beautiful actress with red hair. While the actress for Anne in the Netflix series, Amybeth McNulty, is gorgeous, she still looks like an awkward little girl in the series. Her hair is thin, her teeth are crooked, and her clothes aren’t flattering. In every other adaptation, Anne feeling plain or hating her hair has always been a bit mystifying because the actresses were always stunning. When Mrs. Lynde calls Anne ugly in the Netflix series, it actually makes sense why she would say that.

The superficial difference of Anne’s appearance I think demonstrates the main difference between this adaptation and every other adaptation I’ve seen. While most adaptations focus on how bright and sunny Anne’s view of the world is and paint the outside world as well-meaning but a bit snooty, Anne with an E takes a very different approach.

The thing is, Anne’s past is not wildly different in the Netflix series than it is in the book. How she copes with it, on the other hand, is radically different. Instead of Anne having an annoyingly overactive imagination that earns her some extra knocks, we see that Anne has been traumatized by her past and has frequent anxiety attacks. Rather, her imagination is truly a coping mechanism. Her discussions with Katie were particularly poignant.

I really enjoyed that interpretation of the work. It adds to Anne’s character and gives her more room for character growth, and seems very realistic. In the various homes she grew up in, Anne was treated as free labor. If she wasn’t seen as useful enough, she was sent back to the orphanage.

There were a few changes I did not like nearly as much, though. For instance, everything surrounding the supposedly stolen brooch was handled very badly. For one, if Marilla and Matthew did decide to send Anne back, they had previously decided that she would go to the Blewitt family. Instead, we see Anne back at the orphanage, which was quite confusing. Additionally, no matter how angry Marilla was, I don’t think she or Matthew would let Anne go alone. There was no reason to put her in that much danger, and it reflected badly on Marilla’s character. These changes to the plot I don’t think were justifiable. They only served to add unnecessary drama.

I also don’t think Marilla would have had such a hard time apologizing to Anne. Coming right after Anne’s apology to Mrs. Lynde, seeing Marilla reflect on that would have also been nice. Anne said that Mrs. Lynde should apologize to her since Mrs. Lynde gave the first offense, and Marilla could have reflected on that moment and found the strength to apologize sooner.

On a completely different note, I’m not sure how I feel about the frequent references to Jane Eyre. While I can definitely see why Anne would cling to Jane as a good role model and identify very strongly with her, it feels really odd to mix fictional universes. Every mention takes me a bit out of the story. I also don’t know when Anne would have been able to read it. Where has she been that would have that book?

Although I was a bit dubious of the fire scene, my main criticism of the series comes in the final episode of this season. Matthew deciding to mortgage the farm, attempting suicide for the life insurance, and the suspense surrounding the renters really rubbed me the wrong way. I have no idea where they are going with this, but I really don’t like it. Again, this seems like unnecessary drama that changes who the characters are. While some of the other changes felt like they were adding to the story, making it more realistic, or making the work more overtly relevant for modern feminists, these changes aren’t subtle or meaningful. They just add suspense for the sake of adding suspense.

Overall, I liked the series… until the last episode. To me, it signals a major departure from the canon that I really don’t care for. I will probably watch the first episode of the next season, just to see where they’re taking the story, but I doubt I will make it through season 2.

Learning Japanese

As of last night, hubby and I are working as a team to learn Japanese. So far, we have excelled at the gathering resources stage. We have books, apps, videos, websites, etc. Lack of tools will not be our downfall.

Learning Japanese will hopefully go better than my French studies. After 3 years of French in high school, my teacher retired and was not replaced, so I had the option of either starting a new language or using Rosetta Stone. I didn’t think it would make much sense to study any other language for a year and I didn’t want to be in a class with a bunch of freshmen, so I did Rosetta Stone, and it was painful. I think if you are going to use Rosetta Stone you need to be starting from nothing. Otherwise, it really isn’t going to do anything for you because as long as you know the nouns, it is easy to get the right answer.

Since high school, I have not used French at all. I don’t listen to French music, didn’t go to France while I was abroad, and don’t read anything in French. I don’t think I will have that issue once I learn Japanese because there are already a million things in Japanese that I want to read.

I think it will be fun to document our progress on the blog. Writing as a “waifu,” it only makes sense to learn Japanese and learn more about Japanese culture and history. So, I think maybe once a week I will make a summary post showing what progress we have made with our Japanese.

Of course, last night we went to a Japanese restaurant to kick off our studies. I had never been to one before. I grew up in a small town and there was just nothing like that. It was only when I moved in with my hubby that we could have tried new things like this. However, I really don’t like much seafood (though I am branching out more and more), so I didn’t think it would end well if we went to a Japanese restaurant.

I am very glad to say I was wrong. Every single food that I tried I loved. Watching the chef make everything was great, too. It made me feel like I was behind the scenes on a Food Network program. Also, I have no idea what was in the sauce they gave us for our rice, but it was addictive.

That’s all for now. Since it’s day two of our studies, there’s not much to say about what we have covered so far.

また来週

(See you next week!)

Cinderella Phenomenon Review

I downloaded “Cinderella Phenomenon” on a whim—I was actually waiting for “Fausts Alptraum” to finish downloading and browsing the other free games on Steam when I came across it, and I was absolutely blown away.

In the game, you play as Princess Lucette, the “ice princess” who shows more affection for her dolls than for anyone in her actual life. In an effort to thaw her frozen heart, a witch places the fairy tale curse upon her. Her curse is a twist on the Cinderella story. Instead of going from rags to riches, the princess finds herself in an alley with nothing but rags to her name. No one in the kingdom seems to remember who she is. In order to break the curse, the princess must perform three good deeds.

Eventually, the princess arrives at a tavern for the cursed. The player is then given the option of choosing who to ask for help. There are 5 different people to choose from, and each story can either have a happy ending or a bad ending, depending on what you do.

The Good Stuff (No Spoilers)

This game has beautiful artwork, and the in-game music is incredible. (Oddly enough, the only music I don’t like is the song they used in the promo trailer.) While the plot may seem simple, the longer you play the game, the more nuanced it becomes. Each character gives you entirely different pieces of the puzzle, and each arc becomes more complex. Plus, if you forgot to save the game and need to retry for a happy ending, you can fast forward through everything you’ve seen before.

The Bad Stuff (No Spoilers)

My main complaint with the game is that your choices really don’t make that much of a difference. The main plot of the game is predetermined, so your “choices” are more preferences on how you would like to phrase what you say. Even if there appears to be a major choice in front of you, you will likely end up actually performing the same actions eventually, though your character will feel differently about what happened later on. In short, though there are a lot of “choices,” remember that each route only has two possible endings. You will unlock a bit of different dialogue depending on your choice, but it isn’t going to make much of a difference.

Additionally, in intense moments where the characters comes closer to the camera, the models don’t always look so good. It’s not something that particularly bothered me until I got to the last character. The game has so many gorgeous backgrounds and artwork, but there are those few moments that stick out like a sore thumb.

Finally, there are more than a few grammatical errors and some of the descriptions are a bit redundant. One more pair of eyes on the finished product could have easily eliminated those issues.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed “Cinderella Phenomenon.” If you like re-imaginings of classic fairy tales, you should definitely download it. It’s currently free on steam.

Spoiler-Filled Plot Critique

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