Unpacking & Unboxing

Three and a half thoughts:

1.  I spent my afternoon today opening and sorting boxes from Japan.  I finally have the much-needed winter clothing I’ve been wanting the past month and a half.  Good thing it was almost warm today.

2.  I was happily surprised that almost everything I brought back was totally practical and useful and something I really like.  I was worried that I wouldn’t like loads of it all.

3.  It’s interesting to me how Japan no longer feels like a sort of adventure.  It actually surprises me when people have big reactions to the fact that I was there, living there.  It feels the same as saying that I buy vegetables at the grocery store – it’s just something simple and everyday.  I lived in Japan… and so do millions of other people.  I know that it isn’t the regular deal for people around here; I’m clear on that.  I just mean that it feels so not special to me specifically.  It almost feels more unique that I floss my teeth every day (sometimes more than once a day), than that I lived in Japan.  I guess it’s just old news for me now. So does that mean I need some new news, then, if only for myself?

1/2.  Wait until you see the tubs of kimono that I have…!  (Doesn’t that sound like ice cream or something?)  😛

Post-a-day 2018

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Asian-English teatime with the bff sister

This evening, by a wonderful unfolding of events, I ended up having tea with my best friend’s little sister.  As my best friend’s little sister, she holds a sweet spot in my heart.  What’s more, the fact that she’s the first person I’ve seen go from little kid, singing nursery-rhyme-type songs, to a mature young adult (and soon full-blown adult), makes that spot even sweeter.

As we sat in the tapioca teahouse, drinking our warm (Taiwanese style, I think – at least, that’s what a friend of mine saw constantly while in Taiwan, and which we haven’t seen much elsewhere) bubble tea, our attention somehow turned to the menu on the wall.  Naturally, we hadn’t thought anything special of it when we actually were looking at the menu to order earlier on, but it was suddenly relevant to our conversation, so our attention turned to it.  She is studying Mandarin this year (since August), and I’ve just moved here from Japan.  So, we have some common ground on understanding Chinese characters.  (For those who don’t know, Japanese kind of stole the characters from Chinese, and adapted them a bit, so loads of them look exactly or almost exactly the same and have the same or very similar meanings.)

We joyfully pointed out that “ice” was on the end of each name in the ‘Snowy Drink’ category, and that “little” was next to one other character on the “Snacks” sections – likely ‘little meal’ or ‘little food’.  Something like that.  And then we discussed how we were scouring the menu, picking out little pieces that we understood.  It was like a fun little puzzle that we were putting together, piece by piece… one that we know will take months, even years, but the timing of which doesn’t seem to bother us in the slightest.  We’re just excited that we’re able to make the little sense of it all that we already can.  And we aren’t even using the same language to do it, technically, making it simultaneously that much sillier and that much more awesome.

So, we got to enjoy one another’s company and be nerdy language-lovers together, while sipping warm asian versions of English tea (Earl Grey) on a cold, cold night (for Houston, anyway).  Blessings abound when open our minds and schedules to them, it seems.  And I am grateful for this one in particular.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

In the raw… not

Sometimes I wonder if my OCD isn’t the only thing I have.  I had a sort of episode today, which is what called to mind this idea (though I have had it regularly for years).

I had just showered, and was using the bathroom briefly before dressing.  My mom had just shown me a dress she was considering for my cousin’s upcoming wedding, while I had been wrapped in my towel.  When she came back toward my bathroom a minute or so later, telling me to look at another outfit, I told her to wait a minute, because I was peeing.  She, in good humor, and not thinking much into it, said, ‘No, look at it now.  I have it on already,’ and began to open my bathroom door, to show me the outfit.

Without having my chance to think anything through, I had thrown my arms around me protectively, and was almost yelling – not actual yelling, but much louder and more panicky than regular speech – to tell her to shut the door, and saying that she doesn’t ‘get it’; I was serious about waiting a minute.

I was almost in tears.  My mind was able to view the situation with sanity – What on Earth, girl?  It really is okay that your mother see you naked and/or on the pot.  What just happened in here, darling?  My reaction, however, had been instantaneous and automatic, leaving no attempt to consult with my brain on the matter before responding to the situation.

I went to talk to my mom about it afterward, and my eyes teared while we hugged.  It had taken me a while to go see her outfit, because something had me feel a need to be fully dressed before going to see her, as opposed to my usual comfort level of a bra and underwear being just fine.  It was like an odd means of making up for having felt exposed – compensating by over-dressing.

Growing up, I never was very comfortable with nudity of my own body.  My female family members were all incredibly comfortable with being nude around the house.  I’m not sure I went a week at any given point in my childhood without seeing at least one of them walking around naked.  And it never disturbed me.  I even marveled at how comfortable they were with being nude, and respected it.  I think I even thought that I would be so comfortable by the time I was around their then-ages (college-aged).

It never happened, though. College came and went, and here I stand totally uncomfortable with my own nudity around others.  In college, I was surprised that more girls in the dorm didn’t walk around more often in their towels.  I had just learned so well from my sisters how to make a towel stay in place wrapped around my body, that I spent plenty of time down the hall with friends, their constantly wondering and asking how my towel stayed up.  I didn’t even have to consider if I were comfortable in a towel – I just was.  In the same way, I suppose, I never even considered the idea of being comfortable nude – I just wasn’t.

And I imagine that all of that is somewhat normal for a good chunk of my society.  Some girls strip down entirely in the locker rooms after water polo practice, and some just don’t.  I have actively pursued being comfortable with my own nudity, just in my own presence, over the years, in hopes of 1) learning to appreciate my own body, and 2) being comfortable with certain close family and friends being around when I’m changing or have to use the bathroom.  (There are just certain scenarios that are part of life, and I can’t seem to see myself possibly functioning in them.)

But, just to throw in a sort of curve ball, let’s talk about how I am fine with other cultures and my own nudity.  I specify: Bath houses in Japan and a topless beach in Spain all had my full participation.  I was slightly nervous initially, but the social acceptance of the behavior allowed me to accept mentally the task.  I even appreciated the ease and comfort of the accepted nudity.  For the topless beach, I wasn’t with friends, so that made it loads easier. But the bath houses in Japan were easy enough to do with multiple friends, after my initial exposure to how the whole thing worked.  So, social context makes a huge difference in my comfort levels, it seems.  In my apartment in Japan, with the same friend with whom I had hung out naked in an onsen, I would not be found nude… take away the bath house, and the comfort disappears with it.

So, sometimes I seem to be in good shape and totally normal.  I changed at the YMCA the other week after swimming, and I did it in a way that was much more exposed and easy-going than I ever would have done in the past.  Perhaps, despite the fact that the general social context has changed (not Japan anymore), since it is a changing area at the gym, I still can grasp the behavior mentally, and participate to a certain degree, after my experiences in Japan.  However, since it is not Japan, and the general social context has changed in terms of nudity acceptability, I am only okay with it, because no one I know is around to notice me.  Add a family member to the equation, and I’d bet that I would be wrapped up or in a bathroom stall while changing clothes.

And I think all of that is somewhat normal, too.  However, when something like today happens, where it is not just a matter of my being uncomfortable, but a matter of my having a panicked, immediate reaction to the situation, I wonder if there is something more to it.

Post-a-day 2017

Lifetime Movies

I have no idea why, but today I was thinking about how I knew various wonderful things to do to have an exciting relationship/marriage with my future man.  One thing in particular that I recalled, is the trick of buying a guy a shirt, and getting him to try it on when you give it to him.  The situation can remain completely innocent, or can turn in a more sultry direction, if you get my drift.  As this thought was going through my head, I began to wonder why on Earth I had this idea, that I knew this was a sort of trick, and that I even thought of it as a “trick”.

It suddenly occurred to me that I knew this from a movie.  And this isn’t just any movie – this is a Lifetime movie.  Suffice it to say that I was totally embarrassed at discovering this fact.

“Really?!  You’re getting your relationship tips and tricks from a Lifetime movie?!” 

I’m not sure it can get more messed up than that! 😛

Thinking it over, though, I came to realize how much I had enjoyed Lifetime movies growing up.  It was a favorite pastime of ours: my two older sisters and I spending lazy days watching the Lifetime channel together.  It remains today one of my favorite memories of growing up.  (One of many, of course.)

I mentioned all of this to my eldest sister tonight while we were on the phone, and we couldn’t contain our laughter.  At first, I couldn’t recall why I had even been thinking about the Lifetime movies.  When I suddenly remembered that it was from the t-shirt gift trick, she was practically snorting with delight.

We proceeded to discuss a few of the movies that we remembered most clearly, which I think were also some of the last ones we had all watched together.  

One of them, of course, was the one with this t-shirt trick, starring Erica from the soap opera All My Children (it was actually a button-up shirt, and the actress’s name is Susan Lucci).  This young guy to whom she gave the shirt eventually bores her, and, when she tries to dump him, he goes kind of psycho on her, eventually meeting this slightly older guy who tries explaining to him that she doesn’t love him – it was just her thing, her most recent fling.  “She gave you a shirt, right?”  That was the key line from that film, where we realize that she likely had a whole line of poor young guys who had it all start with the shirt gift.

Another was about a writer who was renting out a house from these older people, and the older people got so excited knowing that they might be in her next book, because she always used people around her to inspire the characters of her stories.  There was a hot 30-something neighbor next-door, who liked to use her basketball hoop.  Beyond that, neither one of us could remember anything about the story, which led us to believe that we might’ve had to leave before we’d watched the whole movie.

The third movie we recalled, – and we recalled this one the best – was one that, at first, my sister did not recall at all.  I mentioned that the main lady was someone I knew from maybe another movie or a TV show, and her name was something like Christie, possibly three names (to which my sister responded initially with Anna Nicole Smith), and she seemed a rather largely built woman, but she wasn’t usually very heavy.  Although, she was somewhat heavy in this particular movie.

The general outline of the movie was something like that this woman was a foster mother, and she would force her foster daughter to steal things from the store when they went shopping.  Early in the movie, when the girl got caught shoplifting, this lady, the foster mother, began yelling at her and throwing a fit and ripping out from her clothes all of the items the girl had stolen, and so the shop did not prosecute.  When they get back to their house, we find out that the girl’s actual mother is being kept in the basement, and the girl has to steal stuff so that her mother can have things.

We could not for the life of us remember the name of this actress, though the movie rang a clear bell for my sister as I described it.  We figured our best bet was looking up Lifetime movies and scrolling through to find one that sounded right, or that had a picture of this lady actress with it.  However, seeing as I was sitting right next to my phone, I went ahead and tried a longshot search. 

I typed the following:

lifetime movie girl steals things.for her mom in basement

Believe it or not, the very first search result from Google was the IMDb link to the movie.  Neither one of us could quite believe the results of such a search – we were somewhat baffled, even.  “Now that’s the Internet for you,” my sister declared.

So, in case you were wondering, the film is called Family Sins, apparently.  It was a totally freaky movie, like any Lifetime movie, so totally watch it, but make sure you have your girlfriends or sisters or family with you when you do watch it.

Anyway, that’s all I care to say about all of that for now.  Be blessed.  🙂
Post-a-day 2017