Posted in Slice of Life

Too Busy To Even Do Laundry

Whoa boy! What a Golden Week.

I finished up my training for work. Yay! Which means I now have to work. Yay? Kind of yay. I’m getting used to it. Now that I’m back into eikaiwa work, it’s odd to try and teach all ages again. And I gotta get used to the program this company uses, too. The books for each level, the specific process for the classes, and so on and so forth are all new with a side of confusing.

But let’s get back to that later (like tomorrow).

I also ended up doing the Tokyo Rainbow Pride planning and volunteering for Stonewall Japan. I decided to step down as Vice President, as I believe I mentioned before, so now I’m Kanto East Block Leader. I will mostly be making events happen in Tokyo in the near future as well as posting other people’s events to the Facebook page, but there are also many other responsibilities.

The planning process for TRP took some time. L____ the VP, P____ the Treasurer, and myself all got together on Google Hangouts to discuss ideas for the event for a couple of hours. Once we got our ideas finalized, we had a couple of weeks to get our projects done. As I was still in job training, that meant I needed to find free time with a super limited budget in order to get my materials for my project.

I didn’t really succeed. My “plan” was to buy Polaroid film for a camera, borrow my roommates camera, and have an album frame a la Instagram so people could take a picture home with them. As it turns out, the film costs 1,000 yen for a pack of 10 sheets. At 100 yen a sheet, I couldn’t afford to buy over 10,000 yen worth of sheets for this big event. I ended up just making the frame, which was cute and everyone loved it, but I just wished I could’ve afforded those sheets.

But in between all of these activities, I also needed to get my visa things sorted before May 1st. See, during Golden Week there were two days in which I could go to immigration to change my visa from an Instructor to a Humanities visa. I also needed to send off a self-addressed stamped envelope to my old city for tax information, which I didn’t realize was necessary for changing a status, but whatever. I got that done, it came in the mail after about a week.

I was a nervous wreck at the visa office. I was number 964, which meant 964 people had come in line before me. NOT GOOD. I had arrived at 11:00 a.m. in case you’re thinking I must’ve arrived later in the day. I knew, I just KNEW I should’ve arrived at opening time, but I just didn’t have the gumption in the morning to get up and get moving. Regrets, I have them!

Every hour that passed I was panicking. What if I can’t get my visa things done today? What if I have to come back? There were so many people around me standing because all the seats were taken. I could hear the window people getting yelled at by people who didn’t bring their passport copies, demanding that the employees make an exception for them. I could also overhear various people wondering if it mattered that they didn’t bring their university degree copy. OF COURSE IT DOES!!

Basically, it took over seven hours before my visa papers were finally submitted to the slowest receptionist available at the visa immigration office. She refused to rush, getting each paper a look over, then stamping in certain places, then going to get a different sheet of paper, and looking over it again- WOMAN JUST GIVE ME MY TEMPORARY NUMBER PLEASE!!

Finally, at 18:15, I got out of there. Now I have to wait two weeks or more to get a new visa. Luckily with eikaiwa work I’ll be off on one weekday in a week, so I’ll be able to go get it (pending approval) sometime soon.

All these different things kind of happening all at the same time means my laundry just kind of piled up around the apartment. I now live with a roommate K____ and we don’t currently have a washer. We do have a coin laundry just down the street, but with everything else going on and with the rainy season coming a bit early, it’s been a while since I’ve had a good day to do it.

Today will be that day. Tomorrow I want to talk about the new eikaiwa job, and then a little later I want to write about Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2018. I want to say a lot of things about TRP2018, but I need to collect my thoughts before I do. Until next time!

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Posted in Slice of Life, Uncategorized

MORE Black and Queer Music PLEASE!!

Everything from Janelle Monáe has been awesome and fight me if you think otherwise. It’s apologetically black, queer, and woman empowering in a way that I think is groundbreaking.

And the she just dropped the whole damn Dirty Computer album’s movie on us.

She just came out as pansexual, which is HIGHLY REPRESENTED in this movie. My bisexual heart is in love with it (I say bi because I like the honor the history that comes with it, I am open to dating anyone I fall in love with much like pansexuality). I adore how this entire music was a work of art and a labor of love.
Specifically though, I want to just point out the Make Me Feel song.
I cried when I saw this music video. I have been telling people for YEARS that when I like someone, I just like them. There’s no way to explain, “But why?” Because I just do? I don’t really have a particular type, I just like who I like. And then there is a music video that puts it out there!!! I haven’t stopped listening to this song since I heard it. At least once a day like a vitamin I take this song in and let it soothe my soul.
But let’s also talk about Todrick Hall!
Firstly, I want his outfit from Dem Beats. I get called a unicorn so often I might as well just own it and become one.
Yes, RuPaul is in it and I have issues with Ru, but the style of this video and its non-binary 80’s punk vibe is just the best. The entire album Forbidden is just amazing. While I’m not a gay man, I love Todrick flaunts who his is in his identity, dancing with other men who dance with other men and just own it.
 
While there have been some talks about one particular song, Thug, as “furthering stereotypes” and “fetishes black male bodies” I gotta disagree. I’m a white woman so I can’t speak for all gay black men (ever, at all, I’m not that trashy), but from my eyes it looks like Todrick is trying flip the script on what it means to be/want a “Thug.” Queer used to be a slur, but the community took it back. By taking a word commonly associated with criminality and stereotyping and using it to describe a rough top, it’s taking ownership of that word to use it in a different context.
Also, it’s not a “fetish” to want a black male gay man when the person in the damn music video is a BLACK MALE GAY MAN TRYING TO BRING ATTENTION TO BLACK MALE GAY MEN. Dammit people, being sexual and gay doesn’t automatically equal “fetish,” I’m so tired of this argument. Same for Janelle’s PYNK video!
People got their panties all in a twist because she featured *gasp* VAGINAS in her video. I loved it, because how often do we actually get to talk about vaginas not in a comedy or gross context? Rarely if ever, and rarely if ever do vaginas get the celebration they deserve. People went back to that same old that she’s “exploiting” or turning black lesbian/bi women into a “fetish.” NO, she’s wanting to celebrate being those things and show the world it’s fine to celebrate all of those aspects of being a woman and/or loving a woman.
Anyways, all of these tunes are fantastic. Thanks to the YouTube algorithm, it also reminded me that Bob the Drag Queen exists and told me I missed a video released last year.
 
This one I like because, well, it’s funny! I mean, I wish I could say I love it for its artistic value and because oh what an age we live in that drag queens can be YouTube stars…but if I’m being honest I just adore the fact that it’s legit just all about the drama of the Drag Race and people slamming on each other. I’m not perfect, people, sometimes I like drama too, but I like really specific drama, men in dresses and ten pounds of makeup calling each other bitches specifically.
Is it problematic? Yes, but all of these videos are, and I love them. I want to see more, more beats, more drama, more queens flaunting their identities please! I want a new music age where black queerness gets to be on top and running for months on top 10 billboard countdowns.  I want them dominating the charts!
GIMME MORE!

 

Posted in Uncategorized, Slice of Life

Adorable Puppers “Saved” by Japanese Police

Today, I ate lunch outside in the sun with M____ and N____, two other training buddies at my new company. We were talking about a variety of topics while eating sandwiches, when suddenly a horrid crime was committed.

Two tiny fluffy puppers got left outside by their owner.

The pups were obviously distraught by literally all the love and attention thrown their way by the “dangerous” people petting them. An old lady took it a step further and reported this crime to the police (after all of five minutes of observation).

Immediately, the heroes came to the rescue!

With totally not just absolutely pleased smiles on their faces.

After a cursory check via lots of petting and cooing noises, the police searched nearby stores for the owner to come fetch these totally abandoned baby doggos.

The two men switched out every five minutes or so, and they totally didn’t keep bending down to reassure their fluffy wards that everything was fine each time they changed out. After about twenty minutes from the police “call,” the bewildered owner/criminal came out to find the police with his pups.

Confused about what exact crime he committed, the police politely explained that leaving cute things unattended will bring the wrath of retired housewives and he must take better care not to leave his furry family members out on the street (presumably anyway, as I wasn’t close enough to hear).

With their mission accomplished, I made sure to shout a very well appropriate “Ostukaresamadeshita!” to the giggling policemen as they passed by. They thanked me before resuming their ever vigilant watch at the station for other nefarious deeds.

The pups are well and expecting to have a full recovery from their ordeal.

*Note: For those of you who will inevitably cry foul about the owner’s behavior, he left the two little puff balls leashed on a poll in the shade while he ran an errand. It’s a common occurrence here, he just had the unfortunate luck to do it at a busier point in the day nearer to a station. He’s not a bad dad, I petted his pups afterward and he’s got a bag stuffed full with doggy things. Also, their fur was well kept and fluffy when I petted them, so neglect isn’t a problem. Thank you for understanding satire! Peace.

Posted in Slice of Life, Uncategorized

Advice I Gave Today

Today at training I got asked a lot of questions, because I’ve lived in Japan for over six years (gonna be seven in July). The questions ranged from things that one could Google, but some weren’t so much. I wrote some down just for this particular post, mostly because I want to just be able to pull this post up when people ask in the future.

What do I do about (home country) taxes in Japan? 

For the first year, you’ll have to make sure you file for your home country’s taxes stuff. In America, I had to get a form from a rather surly I.R.S. employee lady that would be used as proof that I’m living abroad so don’t tax me twice, please and thanks.

Be sure to check with your embassy to see what exact rules and regulations there are, because each country is gonna be different. I discovered today that South Africa is awful and demands that people pay taxes in South Africa as well as Japanese taxes no matter what, which I think is robbery but whatever. For us Americans, so long as you don’t have any estate or investments back in the U.S.A., you file your income made in Japan and don’t pay taxes back in America. Once again though, do research and check on

Check your local Japan city hall or ward office if you’ve got Japanese tax questions in particular. Income taxes are deducted automatically from most salaries, you generally have to pay a city tax if you live in a city for over a year, and etc. Talk to people there for more information.

Can I leave my food or drink trash here at this *training center?

Not recommended, as it’s considered bad manners to leave trash in a place that you’re only using temporarily that doesn’t belong to you. Japanese people aren’t going to tell you not to do it, they’ll just not be happy about it and maybe won’t invite you back into the space next time. Also, odds are there will be complaints filed to supervisors about it, too. Not the best way to start off your job at the mere training stages by being known as the “rude” and “gross” employee. Kept a plastic bag on you and throw stuff away later.

*Note: Ignore if your training center is a huge public place with multiple trash cans, I’m talking about a small space with only one or two small bins.

Are Japanese students better than (British/American/ Western) students?

Japanese students aren’t really “better” in the sense of learning or studying than Westerners. They just learn differently. Japanese school systems are still very much lecture based, so it’s difficult to get them out of that format and into an active classroom.

A Japanese student will perhaps on average be more passive and disciplined, but not always. Also, for English language acquisition, both of those traits can be disadvantageous. If a student is passive, then they can’t actively communicate well. If they’re disciplined or really focused, then they are more likely to focus on the wrong aspects on language (i.e. grammar rules over actually trying to speak).

In other words, they have their own sets of challenges.

Where can I buy a (bicycle/electric bike/ kitchen appliances/etc)? 

Recycle shops would be the best place to buy necessary items like a bike or a microwave on a budget. In America we would call them “second hand stores” or “thrift shops,” but I want to emphasize that in Japan second hand items are so gently used they generally look brand new. Everything gets checked to make sure it works, so the odds of you going home with something broken is exceedingly rare. Hard Off and House Off are the two main chain stores with electronic and household things available, Book Off is more for used books and action figures store, and you can get clothes at Book Off Bazaar.

Is it really hard to find a new apartment? 

No, not really for urban areas. Back in the day foreigner friendly apartments were rare, but nowadays through websites and real estate agents you can find an apartment no problem. The real issue is can you afford the move in fees? Usually there’s a one month or two month deposit plus key money, and from there the fees could include cleaning fees, paper work fees, lock exchange fees, fire insurance, life support fees, and the list goes on. You generally need at least 200,000 yen in order to move into a new place in a city.

Now, in the countryside the rules are different. Foreign friendly apartments are harder to find, but the move in costs are usually much cheaper and you can get way more space for less rent money. In many cases, your apartment may even get paid for by a company or school just to have you close by.

But for Tokyo, yeah, save up before you decide you wanna move.

Where should I go to withdraw money? What’s the best bank to use?

Any Japan Post ATM will do foreign cards and most of the time a 7-11 ATM will work too.

If you’re using a domestic Japanese bank card, it’s either a convenience store or your chosen bank’s ATM from 9-5 on working day. I recommend you just simplify your life and get a Shinsei Bank account which is accepted by most convenience stores, Japan Post, and even outside the country. Also, you don’t get charged withdrawing fees from convenience stores with Shinsei and you can withdraw money 24/7.

How to a sort my trash at home? What are trash days?

Every city and even city district is different. Go to your city hall or ward office to get information on that.

And there’s that. I’m sure there are more but I’m exhausted. Tomorrow if I get more questions I’ll answer them here again. Might as well, I’m sure it’s helpful to other people out there too.

 

 

Posted in Slice of Life

Moving Was Hell, Here’s the Whole Horrid Story

I hate moving, but I especially hate moving in Japan. Even though this particular moving process ended up working out, with some good twists and turns along the way, it was also hell. Hell on my nerves, hell on my body, and hell on my mental state. I’ve had non-stop nightmares from beginning to end, and I’m still not feeling settled in quite yet. I don’t know when I will, honestly.

But let’s start on a positive note first. I ended up doing what I should’ve done a long time ago and asked for help, so a very very good friend named D____ came down to help me. He actually drove me up with my bigger things (the bed, some shelves, books, kitchen things, gas stove, etc.). I couldn’t believe he was so kind enough to do it, and then even help me with my job hunt too. D____ and I had fun on the drive, talking and signing along to songs. We also went out to dinner and hung out, so that was a great memory to create. I will always be so thankful to him.

From there, things kind of go on into a roller-coaster of events. I had an issue: the big items couldn’t go into the new apartment yet. Instead, I actually stored them for another week at future roommates’ place. My new roommate, K, was working with things on her end to get big things moved to the new place too. She and I decided to consolidate our big items, and then by only moving the big stuff with a moving company. We would carry our smaller things ourselves.

You see, before I could move I had to finish up my job at the high school. I needed to do paperwork done on a variety of things, like the pension papers for the private company and getting the letter of leaving from this employment. There was also a goodbye party thrown for all the English teachers leaving that year, which of course I had to attend! It was bittersweet to say goodbye, but I intend to go back for bunkasai in the fall.

Also, I had to still get rid of things. I threw things away, donated clothes, went to the recycle shop to sell things, I did everything I could. Without a car or other means of getting these stuff done easily, that meant a lot of running around and train rides. I was just constantly moving, and all the while still job hunting too. I was sending out applications and cover letters, trying to get my life in order!

Still, I focused on what I could control and do. I cleaned, I packed, I threw away, it was just constant motion and movement. I knew I would need to just keep at it, but it never seemed to end.

On the “real” moving day, even though I did my best to get rid of so much, I still had too much stuff to carry up all at once to the new apartment. I lugged four suitcases up, hurting myself multiple times in the process of going from train to train to walking to bus. It was honestly horrendous. People thought I was crazy, but I managed, in no small part due to Japanese citizens taking time out of their day to help me get through turnstiles and into/out of elevators. Also, god bless our new apartment manager, she sweetly let me keep two suitcases that broke on the way up.

I got the keys from the key office and raced to the apartment to catch the moving company coming with the big items. Luckily, they were understanding of me being late, and they quickly put all ours stuff where it needed to go. K actually got our friend E____ to bring around a car to get the suitcases moved from K’s apartment to the new place, too (and we also picked up two suitcases I left at the key office).

By the end of the day, K and I were exhausted. My mind wouldn’t shut up about how I didn’t quite move everything, and I prayed that the next day I would get it done. I had to be there by 3 to let the utilities people come and turn everything on, but I also had to go back down to the old apartment to get the keys returned. That meant money down and up, time I didn’t really have in order to pack up the last of my stuff, and get the keys to the apartment company.

Long story short, I did not succeed. I ended up having to reschedule because I had two job interviews in the next couple of days. I decided to just set my stress levels to max to get the last stuff packed up right after I did my second interview. I can’t describe the amount of stress that I felt in those 48 hours. I needed to get a job, get moved out, and get back to the apartment all in that short span of time.

Luckily, I did.

When I received my offer of employment, I cried such happy tears. At this particular place of employment, there is a Masters degree program I can get into, and I can get certified for things too. I wanted it so bad ever since I found out it had this program.

On the rescheduled move out date, I was a bit late, but I managed to get everything out of the apartment. I ended up having to throw away some things that were really dear to me, but I did get to keep all my writing notebooks. Those were the most important, of course, but there were just so many. I’m making another goal this year to digitize and/or publish these things so I’ll not have to keep lugging them around.

When I got back to my new home, something clicked and I realized it was over. I was covered in bruises, my wallet was slim, but I was home. K and I didn’t have everything we needed, but I knew this place was where I belonged. I loved the street we would walk down every day past flowers and tiny creeks. I loved the size of our big kitchen and living room.

Home. I was home.

Like I said before, I’m not quite settled in, mainly because it’s still just so new. All the same, it feels right. All the effort and pain that went into this process was worth it. I’m closer to my support base as well as working in a job that suits me and will improve my skills. I wish it hadn’t been so terrible to move, I wish at the time I had more funds to afford a really good moving company, but I am glad I ended up where I am.

And now that I’m here, I think I’m going to stay a while.

Posted in Slice of Life

Weird Superstitions I Have

Weird Superstition #1: Throwing away gifts = bad luck

I am currently in the process of moving, which means inevitably stuff needs to get thrown out. Because I’m moving in Japan, that means essentially getting rid of nearly everything, as that would be cheaper than bringing all my stuff with me.

Not even kidding, it’s about 14,000 yen (about $150) to “recycle” my fridge, washer, and a broken microwave. It would cost me triple of that to move them, and that’s not even considering the hassle of finding that company that would have a moving van in the next couple of weeks.

I’m downsizing all of my material possessions into boxes and suitcases. With any luck, I’ll be able to move without a lot of hassle into the new place. However, I have a hard time letting go of gifts.

I imagine most sane people can chuck stuff without much issue. For me, it’s a tough call. I have odd and weird superstitions about my stuff (i.e. junk) that I really shouldn’t. A keychain someone gave me three years ago that I never use shouldn’t be something I take with me, right? Yes?

But it was a gift, says my inner-not-so-sane voice. You can’t get rid of it. Why? Because all that good will given to me will then be promptly thrown away with it. All the love, the thoughtfulness, will go straight in the garbage!

Which made this particular move so difficult, as the washer and desk I currently possess are also gifts. The desk is huge with a glass top and shelves on the side. My friend Alex gave it to me before he left for South Korea, which was great! But now I’m terrified of getting rid of it, even though I literally have no money to take this with me. 

The washer is about ready to die, though. Its spin cycle is more of a slosh cycle, so I rarely use it anymore. It’s actually more convenient to run to the laundromat and get all my clothes washed in one go. So for that particular machine, I can let it go without feeling like I’m also tossing out the good intentions of my friend.

And yes, I’m fully aware all of my friends probably A) don’t remember giving me most of this stuff in the first place and B) would absolutely forgive me for tossing it all out and C) would think I’m nuts for getting all worked up about it in the first place.

Tomorrow, I’m taking my stuff up to future roommate’s apartment for storage. After tomorrow, I gotta either get rid of the rest of the things in the apartment or get screwed over come mid-April with everything else going on (job training, having very little money, etc.). Fighting against this superstition is vital for my own good.

But it still sucks. I hate tossing love away.

Weird Superstition #2: If I Spend Over 100,000 yen (over $1,000) at one time = DEATH

I grew up in a “feast and famine” household.

Whenever my mother received her tax returns or got a bonus of some sort, we could eat out and buy stuff. Most of the time, paycheck to paycheck struggles were our normal. Only a few occasions did the electricity or water get turned off from a bounced check, and I do mean few, but still it happened. My mother was a single parent doing the best she could, we didn’t starve or anything.

All the same, I have a difficult time spending money on things. I am frugal about a lot of stuff. I don’t pay for hundreds of dollars in any brand of clothing ever, I don’t eat out at places that are over 5,000 yen (not even for nomikais ). I buy used electronics and household things, literally most of the stuff in my kitchen is a collection of Daiso things and appliances handed over to me by people leaving the country.

Most people probably assume that I’m doing it out of trying to save money, and that is partly true. I like to save money more than I like spending it, and in general that’s a good way to go through life. However, at the same time I’m also dealing with my brain constantly shouting at me about spending money.

Especially for expensive things, like say I dunno, moving. I need to pay move-in costs for the new apartment, I need to pay for things to get chucked, and I gotta pay for everything in quick succession. The move-in costs for the new apartment are about 300,000 yen, but I’m splitting those costs with roommate, so it’s about 150,000-170,000 yen (over $1,500-1,700) depending upon the move-in date.

My brain is not a fan of these costs. It doesn’t matter that I saved up enough for it, it doesn’t matter that I have a credit card in the event of unforeseen costs so I can get food, doesn’t matter that I’ve already planned out my whole damn budget for the next two months! I will starve and die because I’m spending this money all at once!

It’s a bad move, because I will surely not have thought of something and it will be too much for me to deal with, and without this money I will-!

Go ask my mother or my roommate for a temporary loan. It’s not a big deal, and I recognize this fact as logical, but logic has got nothing to do with random anxiety. I hate dealing with this superstition on top of the other one, but what can you do?

Weird Superstition #3: If I Don’t Do Everything Myself, Everything Will Fall Apart

I have a hard time asking for help.

It’s a trifecta of problems to sort through right now. I hate putting my burdens onto other people, and asking for help is the worst way to do just that. It means I’ve let myself and others down by not being able to do it all on my own. Even though historically speaking I’ve gotten to where I’ve been because of all the support I’ve received, I still live everyday trying to be a pillar of support for others instead of the one needing support.

So when I’m the one standing in the middle of a wrecked room, unsure about everything that will happen and if I can do it all on my own, I feel strangely defeated in the knowledge that I’ll need to ask for help. I have these thoughts that my friends and family will be so disappointed and disgusted with me for it.

Which is quite ridiculous, because my friends gave me job recommendations and assisted me in trying to find a new place without me even needing to ask. For some reason, getting unasked for help is fine, but me actually having to say the words, “I’m sorry, but I need your help,” ties me up in knots.

If I don’t do it, it won’t get done. I took this lesson instilled in me by my mother who did everything herself and from my own personal experiences. Somewhere along the line it turned into a more twisted version of, if I don’t do it, everything will go horribly wrong.

I’m working on it, or I should say I’m pushing through it, because projects like moving demand that I must. I need help to get everything done, I need to spend that money to move into an awesome new place, and I need to get rid of the things holding me down. If I continue to keep thinking in these same old patterns, I’m never going to go anywhere.

Taking these steps towards change is a terrifying concept, but I’m going to do it anyway. It’s also exhilarating, I’ll admit, to go into this new territory where I don’t let my weird superstitions own me anymore. I’m fighting through them, and no matter what things are going to change.

I’ll talk more about the exact changes later. For now, I just wonder who else has weird superstitions or anxieties, and how they changed things for themselves. Lord knows it’s not easy, but I hope we can all get through it.

 

Posted in Slice of Life

Self-Care Days, We All Need ‘Em

If I’m being honest, this whole post is just me procrastinating on writing a personal statement for a job application, but that’s totally fine! It’s not like my future is completely up in the air or anything, she said with a slightly hysterical giggle.

Anyways, today started off perfectly fine. I know, you were expecting with the title that it started off a shit show, but NOPE. My students have actually been too exhausted the first week back to really do much mischief, as in the one boy I had to lecture yesterday slept through class kind of week. The morning meeting held no surprise drama, the first hour class was smoother than it had any right to be for a morning class, and the proceeding hours held students that did as told.

All the same, I felt worn out. Coming back to work and stressing myself out with the job hunt was grinding me down in little ways that just built up. Getting back into a normal sleep schedule, prepping for classes, filling out this application form, writing yet another cover letter, and then all of a sudden in the midst of this funk today it hit me.

HOLY SHIT I HAVE PHOTO SHOOT TOMORROW!

For those of you who are new (Hi, welcome, glad you came), I recently started performing comedy shows. This new hobby fills me with joy, but as I’m the most amateurs of all amateurs, I’ve yet to get around to making headshots or bodyshots. These are semi-important for promotional materials, although I’ve just been getting away with sending bad selfies taken at the last minute.

Tomorrow, I’ve got to head up to Tokyo with a bunch of the Tokyo Women’s Comedy group to get our faces put on glossy paper by a fantastic camera guy, John. Which is great, necessary even, but my hair was shaggy as all hell. I hadn’t gone to my hair stylist in over a month because, ya know, winter vacation. I called up my hair salon and got the last booking for the day, thank God and Jesus and Mary.

I don’t know if anyone is aware of how amazing it is to get your hair cut in Japan, but it is beyond fantastic. I love that for only about $40 I can get a nice hair cut, shampoo, hair treatment, and then getting a scalp, neck, and shoulder massage before I get my hair dried. My hair salon also gives me candy and tea if I have to wait a long time.

This time I couldn’t go with my usual stylist, but this different girl (let’s call her Aya) was super nice. She talked with me about going to New York, and there she was taught by Cameron Diaz’s stylist! So I got my haircut by a person who was taught by a celebrity’s hair stylist, so I’m three degrees away from cool.

I actually will never tell my usual hairstylist, but my hair looked bangin’ after Aya was done. Also, when I mentioned I was thinking about plucking my eyebrows for tomorrow, she told me to wait a moment and got out an eyebrow trimmer from seemingly nowhere.

“Eh?!” I shouted in disbelief. “You do that here?” I said in bad Japanese.

“Yes,” she said in English, and then switched back to Japanese, “If only do the eyebrows, it’s usually 500 yen. If you do it with a haircut, it’s free.”

“I had no idea! That’s awesome. Please, yes, do it.”

And that’s the story of how, after two goddang years of going to this salon, I found out they did eyebrow work the entire time.

Sidenote: For those American ladies confused as to A) why I assumed they didn’t do eyebrow work and B) why on Earth would they use an eyebrow trimmer instead of waxing, it’s because in Japan hair salons are generally just for, well, hair. Also, even if they do eyebrows, they never use wax. You have to go to an actual spa for that service, and even then not as often as you might like.

So I left the salon feeling more pampered than expected, but my shoulders still felt stiff despite the best efforts of the trainee guy. As I was walking towards the direction of home, I realized of course my shoulders were tight, I’d been clicking and clacking away on my keyboard non-stop for a week. When I got to my train station, I remembered there was a cheap massage parlor the next floor up.

And from there, I decided the rest of this day would be about self-care. I went upstairs and reserved a time for a 40 minute massage, but needed to wait one hour. No problem at all, I just popped over to Tully’s Coffee for a Snow Man Latte, a nice sweet treat. I also stopped at the drug store for Biore face strips and bought face masks. Might as well do a home spa!

As you can probably tell, my forms of self-care are all easily affordable. I don’t really spend hundreds of dollars on myself, but when the mood strikes me I will put forth effort to care for myself in little ways. As it is the little things that get me down, it’s usually the little things that can pick me back up again.

My masseuse was a dude with a very nervous air about him. He tried speaking to me in English, which I appreciated, even if I’m fairly certain it was causing him several internal strokes trying to do basic words and phrases. Kudos for trying though! Luckily, for the 40 minutes, he mostly concentrated on trying to get the knots out of my shoulders, so we didn’t talk much. I am also fairly certain we went over 40 minutes, and I’m guessing that’s because no one came in during the entire time I was there to schedule an appointment, so yay for me!

After the haircut, the coffee break, and the massage I felt amazing. I honestly forgot what it felt like to be good to myself, and not just physically but even emotionally as well as mentally. I’ve been consistently harsh and critical of myself ever since November, telling myself that I should be better at nearly everything I’ve been doing: better at studying, better at applying, better at writing, better at vlogging, better at teaching, better at being this or that or the other.

As I’ve been home I took a long shower and I’m currently doing my face spa, I realized that I don’t need to keep beating myself up all the damn time. I can be good to myself, at least for this day. Tomorrow I’m sure I’ll start back up on wearing myself down, as my own worst enemy, but for the next little bit of time I have left today I want to remind myself that I’m worth the effort I’m putting into myself.

Hey, and you readers, be good to yourselves! We all need a little rest, relaxation, and self-care. You deserve it so let no one, not even you, say otherwise.