I have an app called Fluentu which I use every day to help with my language practice. The way it works is that you select your language, and then you watch videos culled from the internet which help you to learn vocabulary and grammar from actual native speakers. These are real videos, not videos created specifically to teach you vocabulary or grammar, and it covers everything from children’s shows to songs to movie advertisements to comedy sketches…. real videos that native speakers created so you can see the language used in normal situations.
The past two weeks, I’ve come across a video in the intermediate Japanese range that I absolutely love. The English title is “Stop Irritating Me!” Complete with exclamation point.
It’s a cutesy animated video of a choir marching through a town and singing about all the things they encounter which are irritating, like a shop worker reading a magazine on his break even when there is a long line at the register, someone who says they’re not a person who watches tv when other people are discussing celebrities, a guy who takes his girlfriend into the adult section of the video rental store, etc.
The opening line of the song goes:
Ohisama pokapoka odekake biyori, machi ni ha iraira suru koto bakari…
The sun is shining warmly, it’s perfect weather for an outing, in the town there are nothing but irritating things.
This whole day has felt like that song for me. Maybe I’ll try to come up with a cute song in Japanese, but for now, here’s a raw overview of all the things that went wrong for me:
The bus was 15 minutes late, making me 15 minutes late for work. That is a very concise statement, but I was on the bus for over an hour, getting more and more irritated as the ride progressed. “Why did we slow down for that fucker who isn’t even getting on, now we’re stuck waiting for a break in traffic to get back into the lane we need.” “You don’t actually have to wait for the elderly couple to take their seats before you start driving, just go!” “Have there always been this many fucking stop signs?”
And don’t get me started on the train which had to stop because there was a train stopped on the platform ahead of us. Because the Washington metropolitan area transit authority (wmata) irrationally hates blue line riders and wants to ensure every day is a nightmare of abysmal service for us. Not good enough they run our trains only every 12 minutes even in rush hour, but they have to keep us waiting while more important lines get to service the platform first. If trains are more than 2 minutes apart even in rush hour (fellow wmata riders will scoff at the idea of trains every 2 minutes) how is spacing such an issue that there is still a train on the platform ahead of us?
Then, after a long day at work, I come home to 2 scary looking pieces of mail. The first has the name of a hospital I visited in May on the envelope so I’m freaked out that maybe there’s yet another bill they didn’t send me yet. I decide to wait on that one, so I open the other one. It’s from my dentist, for nearly the full amount of my last visit because they just gave up on my step-mom’s insurance paying up, I guess. I know her insurance is processing but now I have to take time out of my day tomorrow to waste my time calling the dental office and getting it squared.
Feeling terrified as I always am when a big scary medical bill comes, I open the hospital’s envelope. It turns out it’s not a bill, thank God. No, the fuckers want me to make a donation to them. Straight to the trash with that junk, and to hell with them for giving me a medical bill related heart attack. That’s probably why they ask for donations, to scare you so much when you see a hospital logo that you do have a heart attack and go straight back to them, giving way more money in the long run than the $5, $10, $15, $25, or $50 they suggest you give as a “grateful patient,” yes, so grateful you have access to the best medical care in the world, don’t you want to help someone else have that experience?
So, to top off this shitfest of a day, the wifi has been out since I got home (I’m writing this on my phone, using data). It wasn’t out when my boyfriend left earlier to pick me up from the train station. It’s been out for more than an hour and a half. Our landlady is out and we can’t find the router, and my connection to data sucks in our basement room. I took a shower, hoping the problem would have just fixed itself by the time I got out, but it’s still not fixed. I have a tendency to hulk out and murder my loved ones like Heracles driven mad by Hera whenever I am deprived of the Internet, so, you know, maybe pray for my boyfriend right now.
Let’s see what I’ve got:
Bus driver who doesn’t apologize after I waited more than 15 minutes. Irritating irritating irritating!
Train constantly stopping before the station for no reason. Irritating irritating irritating!
Not being able to use the Internet while I read scary mail when I come home late. Irritating irritating irritating!
Well there you go, people who always bitch at me to make a negative into a positive, I used my murderous rage at lack of Internet to practice Japanese and flex my creative muscles.
Listening to the podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You in their coverage of the life of Phyllis Schlafly has got me thinking. Cristen and Caroline have been pointing out Schlafly’s hypocrisy and her denial of it, especially in her takedown of the idea that she was against women having careers. She claimed she never told women they should be housewives, she just didn’t think we needed a Constitutional protection for women.
Ok, Phyllis, you’ve got an eternity to learn now, hopefully your spirit will transcend your earthly blind spots.
Anyway, Schlafly and her ilk often claimed that feminists wanted to devalue housework and women who choose to be housewives. That’s a conservative rallying cry, has been for decades.
But here’s my thought. Throughout my life, it’s always been feminists who taught me that there is no shame in taking care of a family and keeping things clean. That’s not where I learned my disdain for that lifestyle.
But if not feminists, Kylie, then who? Get ready for this: PATRIARCHY.
Yes, the patriarchy. The system that says women just need to run their husbands’ homes and take care of children.
But Kylie, conservatives love and honor the women who take care of their homes, how did you figure that they hate housewives?
Because, if you teach your sons that doing housework is beneath them, you necessarily teach them that whoever is doing it is the bitch of the family. To be clear, I mean “bitch” as in “to make (someone) your bitch.”
From the patriarchal society around me, I learned that people who don’t work outside the home are lesser people whose dreams and aspirations matter less than the man they are married to, or the children they bear.
They can make all the noise they want about honoring women, but we all know the truth. They ain’t doing that shit, so it falls to you, bitch.
Feminists are the ones who say, “look, the dishes need to be done, and there is honor in doing them, whether you have a penis or a vagina or something else.”
So can we stop with this whole “feminists are the real oppressors” bit? No?
Ah well, the struggle continues.
I am so freaking tired of this election. I’ve honestly been tired since this time last year, but now I really just want the GOP candidate to go away. I have always thought he was useless garbage not worth paying attention to, and I am so mad that his racist xenophobic conspiracy theory believing base has forced us all to pay attention to him for more than a year.
That’s actually not the point of this post, misleading title aside. I was on Twitter earlier, following my radical lefty people, and I saw a story about two prisoners who died in the prison strike going on right now. This is big freaking news. This strike has been going for over a month, and people are dying. And it doesn’t appear to be big news in the mainstream.
I’m not super familiar with mainstream media anymore. I don’t have a newspaper subscription, and I don’t watch cable news, mainly because we do not get tv channels in my apartment, not because I think I’m better than you. So I decided to check whether this story is actually being covered.
I did a google search just for the words “prison strike” and then I clicked the news tab, just to be fair.
First three results were from:
1. The Week Magazine
2. RT (Russian state tv’s U.S. news page)
3. Buzzfeed News
Lower on the list were Vice News, the Florida Times, and The New Yorker.
So, not totally obscure publications, but not major mainstream sites either. But if you search Washington Post, they put some election based article above the main homepage in the Google results.
I can’t help but think the election is distracting us from the real news.
Right now, the residents of Flint Michigan are still suffering from poisoned water.
Right now, the Standing Rock Sioux and their fellow water protectors are in a standoff with corporations for the safety of our environment.
And people are killed by police every day in those country.
Why can’t we get the media to focus on any of that?
Now, I’m not saying the election isn’t important. We are choosing the leader of the United States, an that has ripple effects on the whole world. I’m not saying that as a nationalist, I’m stating it as fact. But the spectacle, the years long parade of ridiculous people building a media personality and invading our homes through the nightly news every single day, that surely isn’t good for Democracy.
I don’t know how to fix it.
I just know that paying attention to the real issues is more important than obsessing over a few polling points (unless it’s your job to look at the stats). The work to fix our country will go on no matter who wins. I can’t wait for this election to be over, and I hope they start focusing on the issues of today, rather than just say, “Well, let’s see what will happen in 2020.”
Let’s refocus, please.
I usually say that I hate cooking. It’s time consuming, and I just hate the hassle of being in the kitchen and having to navigate around anyone else who comes inside. I don’t think that I would hate it so much if I lived alone. I could pull up netflix on my computer and play it as loud as I need while I chopped vegetables and boiled water to make stock, without someone coming in and needing to get into cabinets where I’m standing, or asking what I’m making or telling me an easier way to chop onions or making a pointed comment about the puddle of water on the stove from where the water escaped out from under the pot lid or the crumbles of grated cheese on the counter which I’ll need to wipe up. It’s not that the act of cooking is so terrible, but all the baggage that goes with it.
So yesterday night, I was enjoying the chance to cook some new soup recipe – ossobucco. My roommate was upstairs and then she and her boyfriend left, leaving me alone to get through the process. I had time to chop the onion, celery and carrots, mostly, while I heated olive oil in a pan. Then I was able to get water for the 8 cups of stock boiling as I cooked the vegetables in the 3 cups of white wine for 10 minutes, which should have given me time to prep the herbs I would add later.
Of course 8 cups of water needed more than 10 minutes to come to a boil, even with a lid over the pot to trap the heat. I was also zesting a lemon, which took a lot more energy than you would think, and I wasn’t totally done by the time the wine had cooked, meaning I had to move the pot as I finished prepping the lemon zest and other herbs (sage, thyme and rosemary) and waited for the pot of water to come to a rolling boil.
Apologies for the long delay in posting, some real life got in the way, but now that things are looking up, I wanted to return to writing.
So, without further ado…
I was on Twitter just now, and came across one of those generic “10 Things Men Don’t Care About” articles, which dating advice advocates love to tout. It involved such gems as: We don’t care if you wear makeup, or we don’t care if you don’t look perfect, or we don’t care if you drink, what you eat, etc.
I suppose there are people who need these messages, either because they are surrounded by a culture where men do degrade women for not eating daintily or for daring not to wear concealer over their faces.
But I always feel that these articles are missing the point.
I’m rather introverted. I prefer not to have to interact with people outside of situations when I choose to do so. Even so, I often have to be around people, even if I wouldn’t choose it in an ideal world: sitting on the train or the bus, walking down the street, sitting in the lobby while waiting for an appointment, eating in a cafe, just anywhere.
I can’t help that people are around me in these situations, but I can try to keep from bothering them, and keep them from engaging with me. Usually, I do this with headphones: I listen to music or podcasts, and sometimes I’m reading a book (or Kindle).
So it’s really jarring for me if I’m in a space where no one really has a reason to talk to me, nor am I in anyone’s way, and I’ve found my own little nest at a table or in a seat on the bus, and someone interrupts my personal time.
Often times it takes me awhile to realize they’re even talking to me. Sometimes I can hear them talking, but I don’t connect, “Excuse me, miss” with me. Either I can’t see them because I’m looking down, or they are behind me or otherwise outside my line of vision, but I assume their voice is directed at someone else whom I can’t see either.
Sometimes I am so unused to being addressed in the specific situation I find myself. For example, I’ve had bus drivers call something out to me, everything from asking for directions when they’re new to the route to asking me if I mind whether they turn on the air conditioner. I try not to get angry in this incidents, because after all the driver is a person who deserves to be treated with dignity. As such, I answer them politely and try to build a good rapport. It’s not always a bad thing to have to talk to someone I wouldn’t normally notice.
The New Year is usually the time when we reflect on our lives, and make a concerted effort to change. So why am I talking about that now? In many cultures, this is the start of the new year. Rosh Hashanah starts next weekend, but I’m not Jewish and therefore am not equipped to explain the significance of this day to you.
More relevant to my life is that this is the time of year when a new school year begins. Technically all my school years started in August, so we’re a little behind schedule, but fall has always been the time of new beginnings for me.
I don’t know how I’m going to mark it now that I’m not taking classes anymore, but this season is still my favorite.
As a kid I didn’t think there was anything special about the leaves turning colors, though adults remarked on that point. For me, autumn’s specialness wasn’t tied to nature. I loved the holidays, and the accompanying foods – candy at Halloween, pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, all my dad’s homemade soups.
Now that I live outside Washington D.C. the season of fall has another significance: it starts to get cool again. I am the sort of person who much prefers cold weather to hot weather. Not having to sweat all the way to the bus stop is a huge boon of this time of year.
But autumn’s joys, like those of spring, are ephemeral. The heat of summer gives way to a little bit of cool, perfect weather, which never lasts. We talk about the seasons like they follow a natural progression, but it never flows in a perfect circle of cold to cool to warm to hot to warm to cool to cold. For instance, we had milder summer days in mid September, only to shoot back up into the 90s on the first actual day of fall. Yesterday, I remarked to my boyfriend, was the first day I could actually call cool since last spring. We went to get lunch at around noon and the air was still crisp. I hadn’t experienced that in so long I had almost forgotten what it felt like. The artificial coldness of the air conditioning in the library where I work was my only experience of cold this summer.
I suppose life changes are like the changing of the seasons: you don’t just progress along a straight line, always advancing toward your goals. Sometimes you make a big stride and you feel like you’re so close you can touch it, only to fall backwards just as far as you had progressed. It’s cold for a day, then it gets hot again. Sometimes it seems like the heat will never recede. Sometimes it just won’t, and you’re stuck sweating and panting with no relief. It’s time like that when you have to remind yourself that there is such a thing as winter, and you can experience it again.
Even if the only way that seems possible is to abandon your town and move toward one of the earth’s poles.
Photo credit:By Maimaid – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44065963
I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life, but I feel as if I’ve only recently grown into the stereotype of a book nerd – someone who reads classical literature and understands and enjoys it as well as engaging with the text, someone who reads nonfiction in order to learn something new. As a kid, from late elementary school through college, I read fantasy almost exclusively, outside of class assignments. Nothing else seemed interesting.
Even though I enjoyed my English classes growing up, and I often got accolades for reading so many books, my tastes weren’t what you would call literary. In early elementary school as I learned to read, I enjoyed a variety of genres, from historical fiction, to mystery to just general slice of life stories about kids my age in roughly modern times. But from late elementary school through, oh, about college, I was an avid fantasy reader. I read some of the classics of the genre, I read crappy romance with a supernatural theme, I read many Harry Potter knock-offs. Outside of schoolwork, I really had to force myself to read anything which didn’t include magic in some way.
I’m convinced the only reason that my taste in literature changed was because of the dearth of available books on my study abroad. I had to learn to get less picky when normal when I went to the only English language bookstore I had seen in months in Kota Kinabalu, or when perusing the teachers’ library at Hwa Nan Women’s College, or in the little bookshops all over Dharamsala. When there’s nothing but books on Buddhist practice, Twilight, Paulo Coelho and Mitch Albom books, you learn to make do with what you can find.
When you live in the Washington DC area, the course of your entire day depends on one thing: The metro.
But Kylie, I don’t take the metro, I drive.
Shut up, it still affects you. When the trains are failing at the rate they’ve been this year, many people are turning away from wmata, which means more road traffic, and the area was not built to accommodate as many cars as there are now.
Every day, hundreds of thousands of people ride the metro to and from work, usually going from the residential suburbs to the urban core of DC. Most days, passengers encounter some kind of problem in their commute.