Friday, May 30, 2014

The Counting Game

I've started watching what I eat lately.  It's all a numbers game.  I feel like it's very easy to just fudge the numbers.  Too bad you can't fudge the results.  (Ooh, fudge...)

My sister returned to the US today.  I've been on countdown mode for about 2 months now.  It's finally here (and she's safely on US soil, which makes me just that much happier.)  When I told a girl at work today, "My sister is coming back from South Korea," she asked, "Wait, that's the safe one, right?"

Hasebe-san returned to the US today as well.  The World Cup is getting closer.  Can you feel the excitement or is it just me?  I keep watching Youtube for exciting World Cup songs.  Any favorites?

Pretty Boy can walk five or six steps now without falling or giving up and crawling.  He likes it best when food is offered as reward but gets so excited at the prospect of Kix that he prefers crawling to walking to get to the food faster.

Work has inspired me to consider health care and health care costs in entirely new ways.  I'm currently reading T.R. Reid's The Healing of American and enjoying it.  Did you know that, according to a Harvard study, over 700,000 people go bankrupt every year in the US from medical bills?  That number in every developed country in the rest of the world is zero.

I woke up this morning early enough that my roommate asked me if something was wrong and decided to use the  time to look for more jobs.  I've lost count of how many jobs I've applied to.

And, this...
Somehow I always hope my hair will be silky and smooth when I straighten it.  It always ends up coarse and poofy.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

What I Think About While Filing Folders at Work

I lost count of how many times I listened to this song today: Beside You by William Wei
"How much I hope that I could be the person at your side."

I made up this little sentence:
日文很難說,中文很難學。(Japanese is hard to speak, Chinese is hard to learn)  (Yeah, I think I'm clever.)

Also, I've filed so many folders that my hands start hurting the moment I see a filing box.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Trivial Matters

Listening to Pretty Boy tonight as his mother was putting him to bed, I realized that, as developing humans, we learn how to cry before we learn how to smile or laugh.  Does that mean something or am I just tired?

Moving on...Recently, when I've told people about Hasebe's injury woes, I've been surprised to find many of them brush it off with such words as, "Yeah, I would feel bad for him, but then I remember how much money he makes."  Or when I was in a car with some coworkers and we passed some people begging, people made such comments as, "They don't know what real hunger is.  No one in America has any idea what real poverty is."  Or when anyone I know is going through a hard time, there is the inclination to point out, "Well, you did choose this."

These comments surprised me.  Comments from people I respect and admire.  Let's face it: anyone who even bothers to listen to me talk about Hasebe is an indication of how nice they are.  But to return with such a comment just left me feeling, well, disappointed.

Yes, Hasebe makes a couple million dollars a year (I'm guessing here) playing soccer (much more, if you count endorsements.)  Yes, people in America, even the poorest of the poor, will probably never experience the extreme starvation as in other countries.  And yes, our choices can lead us into challenging circumstances.

But I'm confused.  Why do I need to check someone's bank account balance before I decide to show compassion?  Why do we need to make sure someone is in the worst circumstances possible before we give them the time of day?

I realized something during my time as a graduate student: people trivialize graduate school.  It was hard for me.  I can't even put words into how hard it was for me.  It was a battle and the wounds are still healing, the scars are still bright red.  When I talked about it with other people, I would look them in the eyes as I spoke and realize: they had no idea what I was going through.  Meanwhile, their eyes would be filled with worry about other things: jobs, families, law school, undergraduate degrees, getting asked out on a date, adopting a puppy, the list goes on.  I found, during grad school, especially during my last semester, when someone started to tell me about their stressful life, that I would instinctively start to roll my eyes and think to myself, "I'm getting a PhD and you're trying to tell me your life is stressful?"  I was doing the same thing they were doing to me.  I had no idea what they were going through; I was trivializing their experiences.   When I realized I was doing this, I decided to stop.

I resolved that one lesson I wanted to take from graduate school, IF NOTHING ELSE, was to respect those around me enough that I gave their hopes and dreams and trials and challenges equal weight to my own.  That when they told me life was hard, that I would believe them and not compare it to mine or try to compare it to someone else.  That I would be in that moment with that person and just listen, at the very least.  But hopefully, I would also have compassion and respect.

Five months after graduate school, I'm still not good at it.  I thought I understood parenthood a little since I help with Pretty Boy, but since I started this 40 hour a week job, I've gained a whole new respect for mothers and fathers, people with jobs, and people without jobs.  I've learned tired comes in many different forms and, recently, I've experienced a new kind of one.  I have the privilege of leaving Pretty Boy in his parents' capable hands for the weekend and returning to singleness and sleeping in and long Saturday runs but it's a privilege that makes me more grateful for Pretty Boy's parents, and my nieces' parents and my own parents.

Life is a serious experience for all of us.  I'm trying to remember that.  I want to do better.

CS Lewis sums it up nicely: There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit... (The Weight of Glory) 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Baby Talk

Pretty Boy is really good at saying one word - cat.  

To be perfectly honest, it's not exactly the word 'cat'.  It actually sounds more like 'thlka' if such a phoneme is even possible.  (I can't recreate it).  

In the morning, when I'm spooning Pretty Boy full of yogurt and he pauses for a second to say, 'thlka' I know the Cat has entered the room.  Pretty Boy adores the cat- he chases him around the room, crawls under the bed to find him and generally makes the cat's life miserable, all the while excitedly declaring that unpronounceable (to me) phoneme.  

But lately, I'm starting to wonder if Pretty Boy is actually saying 'cat' at all because this is how all conversations go: 

Pretty Boy observes object.  "Thlka!"

Me: Yes, that's a fan.  Fan!  
Pretty Boy: Thlka!
Me: Good job!  

OR 

Me: Yes, that's a person.  
Pretty Boy: Thlka!
Me: Yep!  

OR 

Me: Noodles, these are noodles. 
Pretty Boy: Thlka.
Me: You're right.  They do look like Cat's fur.  
(Except they don't.  Not at all.)  

As you can tell, this baby and I have a problem.  I agree with everything he says.  And he thinks the world can be summed up with the first unpronounceable phoneme he created.  

But I can't help it!  He looks like the Gerber baby.  I've been socially conditioned to find everything about him utterly adorable.  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Life in a Cube

I've worked six full days at my new full-time, temporary admin job.

I spend most of my time filing folders.

I've spent so much time filing, in fact, that the cuticles on my fingers started bleeding today.  

Looking forward to more filing tomorrow, I promise.