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I Am Home [Jul. 3rd, 2006|05:30 am]
Shin
[Emotionally |contentcontent]
[Acoustically |The Shins - Pink Bullets]

No number of apologies or list of reasons could possibly explain or forgive my absence. I need look no further than the life I hold outside of this comfortable place and my own personal neglectfulness to understand why it has been so long since I have visited a place that has been so kind to me, even when such kindness was no more than an illusion. Much of this place is merely my own imagination superimposed onto memories and ideas that originated from there, but I do not mind this juxtaposition of supposed realities. I feel as if I have returned to a home of some sort, no matter how positively ludicrous that seems. Of course, it is probably nothing more than my bizarre mental complexities in conjunction with my empathy.

I will probably never know whether or not I have reached some semblance of understanding, but I have come to feel that happiness is not the pinnacle of existence, so to speak. It is contentment. Happiness is the most direct and straightforward path to contentment; as such, they are usually seen as parallels. This is not so. The essence of contentment is acceptance, is being at peace with existence. The essence of happiness is that of pleasure and joy. From this, it is understandable that it would seem easiest to be at peace whilst under the influence of pleasure. But this does not mean that contentment is unattainable in a state other than happiness.

For the sake of that which I discuss, I will impart to you the fact that the experiences that life has shown me and the ways in which I have perceived them has given me something of an underlying sadness. This is not to say that I cannot be happy, as I often am, but after the happiness dissipates, I am left with a melancholy base. Under normal circumstances, this would be a fact that I would never impart, for the concession of sadness would do little more than to raise the concern of some, the pity of others, and the ire of many. But it is not a sort of sadness that makes me upset or discontent. I have come to accept this strange, transparent weight which dwells within my breast. I am content with the way that I am. My sadness is merely an aspect of my being, not an ailment that needs to be remedied or a curse that needs to be pitied. I realize that if I did not have this sadness, I would be a drastically different person. My thoughts, my views, my experiences and the way they are shaded and interpreted; these things share a part in my sadness, but they nonetheless compromise a part of my very being. As such, I do not see this as something that can or necessarily should be helped. Acceptance of the sadness is tantamount to acceptance of myself and of my existence.

No matter what you do, or how you live your life, it is my greatest hope that you will be at peace with both yourself and the world in which you reside and with which you interact.

Perhaps I will update on the more mundane aspects of this life later on.

'Yasumi.
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Finland Is Love [Feb. 7th, 2006|12:43 am]
Shin
[Emotionally |exanimateexanimate]
[Acoustically |Takako Minekawa - Cat House]

R.I.P. Dennis Carlson (8/29/46 - 2/05/06). I'll always remember playing with toads in your backyard and removing the garter snakes from your windows. Thanks for being there, old friend.

Strange day. Lots of work to get done tonight (managed to get enough sleep this weekend to last for a while). Curious about what this week is going to be like. Unsure about this week is going to be like. Excited about what this week is going to be like. Listening to an odd mixture of Takako Minekawa and various death metal (cold weather, good music, and socialist attributes? Ben, I think Scandinavia may be my one true home...). Try it sometime. You can almost feel your brain curl around itself like some manner of cumbersome nerve tissue python. The combination of "Cat House" and Children of Bodom is particularly intriguing.

The moon is beautiful as always. It seemed as if it were hidden from view as of late. That is the only thing I dislike about clouds; you can't see into space on a cloudy night. Since my window faces west, it is about this time of year that I am treated to an astounding view of the night sky. First, the sunset is a glorious occasion, then Cassiopeia, Mars, and the Pleiades drift towards the horizon at a downward northerly slope, followed by [the moon, as of now], Orion, Sirius, and, a little later on, a picture perfect view of Saturn. It is with these little shards of natural beauty that my evening is filled with awe and contentment. At the moment, the clouds are slowly drifting beneath the moon, thick enough that they block any starlight from peering through, but thin enough that the moonlight pierces through the moving clouds, making the clouds surrounding the moon glow with a translucent navy and lavender tinge.

...I must, at some time or another, attempt to acquire a camera of discernible qualitie. But in order to do that, I'll need to seek employment, preferably at some type of book selling establishment (although it is quite possible that I will receive employment as some kind of subordinate custodian at the school, cleaning up after all of you messy young whippersnappers ^_~). And there are the troubling matters of finding a decent automobile and the upcoming trip to Japan, both of which must be dealt with financially. All in all, I will need to be rather efficient in my spending of gold notes these next few months.

Current educational agenda: detach myself from unpleasant teachers and stay awake in class -_-;;

'Yasumi.
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What The French Pressed Sumatran Dark Roast Has Taught Me About Life [Feb. 3rd, 2006|03:54 am]
Shin
[Emotionally |contemplativecontemplative]
[Acoustically |various]

I love coffee.

In giving you stimulation and energy, it helps you to relax somewhat, act without so many of the doubts and fears that normally lurk in the shadows of the mind, be more enthusiastic and open than you may have been before. To do that gives you a happiness and sense of ease that everyday life can sometimes overshadow.

This is the positive side of coffee.

But after there is no more external stimulation to focus on, after you are left alone with your own mind for a time, that energy and stimulation helps to bring out and amplify all of those doubts and fears that were formerly forgotten about. "Did I word my thoughts in the way that best conveys them? Should I have said this or done this differently? Did I come off in a way that I feel is unlike me or not close enough to what I consider to be me?". When that increased mental focus and stimulation tunes into the darker aspects of ones thoughts, petty insecurities and doubts are capable of manifesting themselves with a vigor and intensity that normally doesn't come to the surface in everyday life.

This is the negative side of coffee.

Both of these sides I have experienced, and I'm sure that most would prefer the positive aspects. But the fact that the negative aspects of my mind revealed themselves gave me the opportunity to analyze them and make sense of them in a way that I wouldn't have been capable of by merely thinking about them. No, I had to experience with increased force the things that plague my brain in order to better understand them. In considering the origins of such things, I think that much of my doubt comes from not wishing to cross the line between being intrigued by the internal workings of myself as a person and being conceited. I have a certain distaste for such vanity and find the concept to be a rather unpleasant one, so I can understand why I'd want to avoid it. But that desire eventually branches into my interpersonal relationships, and so I become cautious about being as such. Also, my tendencies as something of a perfectionist come into the equation as well, as I can become paranoid about not getting my meaning across, or having my words being taken differently than they were intended, or creating misunderstanding.

I have completely disregarded the fact that I am not capable of relaying my exact meanings and intentions. If humans were capable of such a thing, many of the troubles that continually serve to destroy mankind would be virtually nonexistent. When I say something, even if I use the words that I feel best convey what I mean, or if I do something, even if I think of the action as communicating a certain concept, those words and actions don't necessarily mean the same thing to every person. One single factor could change someones entire interpretation of what I wish to express, due to memories, associations, intuitions, and countless other influences that I could never possibly take into account. So no matter how I try to translate, each person will convert these expressions into their own language, and I am helpless to the fact that a single component could have several different definitions. Thus, I have decided that from now on, if I become nervous about speaking or acting due to the subconscious fear that I will be misunderstood, I must be sure to take all of this into account.

This does not mean that I will not attempt accuracy in self-expression, but I should no longer be as doubtful about myself as I have been. I should have confidence in myself.

As to whether or not I will be capable of such confidence, I have no fucking idea.

'Yasumi.
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The Logs and Musings of the Weary [Feb. 1st, 2006|05:31 am]
Shin
[Emotionally |calmcalm]
[Acoustically |Philip Glass's "Glassworks"]

In all honesty, this is probably the most socially active I've been in the last two years or so.

In other words, an interval in my usual loserness.

Now don't get me wrong. I do not use the term 'loser' as a derogatory one. But if people are going to classify and categorize other people, I would rather classify myself as a loser. This is something that I've thought on for a while now, and being a loser seems to make the most sense. Throughout the past five years, or thereabouts, I've drifted the social spectrum from somewhat popular (even preppy in some regards, although this would be getting back into the middle of elementary, when I was blissfully unaware of how society segments its population), to gangster, to punk, to loner, to slacker, to nerd, to intellectual, to probably a bunch of other classifications if I actually took the time to think about it, but that wouldn't really accomplish anything aside from taking bits and pieces of personality and experience and setting them inside of a tidy, organized filing system. But rather than trying to let one part of my personality hold dominance over the other parts by choosing one subculture and adopting it completely, if I just decide to be a loser, then I am better able to just be who I am. Aside from all the negativity associated with it, loser is essentially the subculture that all of the random, indistinct attributes of a person are tossed into. A category for the boring, for the weird, for those that are typically uncategorized. Besides, I have lost (or am at least failing at) many aspects of the fascinating game that life has turned into: in some areas, my schoolwork is a mess, I routinely display my ineptitude at understanding or responding to things (primarily social), and, in posting my thoughts and monologues like this, I have lost at discretion, as well. But if I went on talking about all of the negative things about myself, this would quickly go from observation and contemplation to flat-out bitching, which is something I'd rather attempt to avoid. Overall, I guess I consider 'loser' to be a free-form, indiscriminate concept; the 'miscellaneous' section of the social structure, which is why I do not see the term as a strictly pejorative one, and thus do not mind being described as such.

Of course, it isn't as though I am trying to avoid using pejoratives to describe myself. But as I have said in the above rabble, pointing out my faults will accomplish little, other than making this post even longer than it is turning out to be. ^_~

For the sake of convenience, my little social renaissance (embellishment, although making me feel like a bit of a prick, does wonders for hyperbole application) shall be divided int two sections: eateries and residences.

Eateries are an absolute joy to visit. An abundance of all sorts of wonderful, fantastic, delicious food! One such visit was at Red Robins. This was enjoyable for many reasons: it was something I was invited to (pardon me for being as giddy as a schoolgirl about what would otherwise be a minute detail, but when you've spent the last couple years with your social interaction limited to 10-15 people tops and an assortment of arachnids, these sort of things are exciting), Markie-sempai works there, and the fact that I haven't had a mushroom burger in an overly long time (it was juicier/drippier than I remember, though O.o). There was much talking, and meeting of people, and crayon drawings, and balloons, and other assorted silliness. Afterwards, some went to Target, where the toys were, in some instances, sort of creepy. The night ended around ten, and there was significantly less coffee than other times riding with Brandon-kun. In another instance, after getting out of detention (as to what I was serving it for, I am not quite sure...), there was a journey up to Arby's, where I, lacking the portrait of Abraham Lincoln I thought I had brought with me, shamelessly mooched off of Kayla's $20 of mysterious origin. I had forgotten how good their chicken was, although the mozzarella sticks were more troublesome to eat than one might expect (I ended up with cheese suspended between my hand and my mouth and an empty breadcrust shell -_-;; ). No gigantic, spiraling curly fries this time, though...

Birthday parties are likewise a joy to visit. It is like being locked in a basement for a few hours with a group of moderately-sane people and foodstuffs. The first of the two birthday parties that I attended was the more insane of the two. Two major rooms, a steady stream of people (20-25 or something like that), and bowls of candy, part of which were consumed, and part of which were used as ammunition in a small-scale food quarrel. There was dancing, which I was dragged into on a few occasions (some instances more... friendly than others -#-;; ), and there was much music made with guitars (including a two-stringed guitar), an accordion, and a tiny piano. The general atmosphere was very... interpersonal, and there was additional people-meeting taking place. Loosening up was probably most successful at this party, for I get more towards the extremes of social discretion when I lack adequate (or any, for that matter) rest (in that I am either very much involved or are very much introverted). This was what took place on this particular weekend. I went to the first party with less-than-decent rest (a couple of hours the night before, with no sleep the night before that), but there was an Academic Decathlon competition that following morning, so I spent much of that night attempting to study, until eventually I passed out at some point. Overall sleep this night: 1-2 hours tops. The competition went alright, but a peculiar incident took place: before lunch, tired as I was, I did alright on my testing. But during lunch, I decided to have a cup of coffee, which I drank while standing outside of the room with the other Varsities, waiting to be let in. I started off alright; the effects of the coffee weren't terribly noticeable. But during my Economics test, I began to space out; I would stare at a question, trying to read it for a minute or so, but it just felt so bloody difficult to concentrate. I think I may have even drifted into another state of consciousness at one point, which is not good to do on a timed test; I almost didn't finish on time. I am not sure if, because of my fatigue, the coffee had a stronger psychoactive effect on me, or if the aftereffects of the caffeine were much more pronounced due to being fatigued, but never in my drinking of it has coffee acted as a sedative (nor should it, medically speaking). I struggled with the next couple of tests. I believe we placed third overall, but it apparently wasn't enough to go to Nationals. So, as I was riding home, preparing to relax and have a nice, quiet dinner, I noticed that there was a new voicemail on my phone. Upon checking it, it was Sheena, inquiring as to when I would be arriving at the party. "The party? What in hell..."; and then it hit me like a goddamned baseball bat. So, instead of my relaxing evening and all that, I grabbed a quick bite to eat and sped off to the party that I had nearly forgotten about. This party was the saner of the two. The basement was smaller, there were more decorations, and there were cupcakes. ^___^ Unlike the former celebration, this was to be a surprise party. Needless to say, our unknowing hostess was indeed surprised. Various happenings included assisting in the piercing of an ear, karaoke (of which I, unlike my less-than-skillful dancing of the previous night, did not participate in), and an unexpected wrestling match (neither of us won, for Liz, fearing that her grandmother (who is apparently a strict Catholic) would happen to come downstairs and see what looked like, if you were not aware that it was wrestling, blatantly yaoi positions, stopped the match). The lack of sufficient rest was noticeable to me as the night went on, mainly through one of the symptoms: rapid emotional changes. At one time, I would be filled with happiness, feeling as though I were part of the group, but at another time, I felt so distant and lonely that I could feel the increased tear stimulation in my eyes. It shifted around like this for a while; as the night wore on, I became more comfortable, though, if only to an extent. This gradual acceptance reached its peak after most of those in attendance had left. Those of us left, few enough to occupy one couch between us, had a pleasant chat, which I enjoyed more than most other events of the evening. I then left; this would have been a good stopping point, but I had accidentally left my hoodie there. Upon returning, I, not thinking in an entirely rational manner, embarrassed myself to no end by, in my carelessness, attempting to pick Sheena up (it is a difficult series of events to explain...) without considering my hand placement, which resulted in most disastrous consequences (i.e. me dropping Sheena). -___-;;;;;;; After thoroughly filling myself with dishonor and shame, I finally left. Since I was at the pinnacle of my exhaustion by this time, I slept in. This would have been fine, except that I needed to get up and go work on an English project with Marissa. After sleeping through my alarm multiple times, I finally ended up over there sometime after nightfall. We worked/ate cookies, making notable progress on both tasks, ending up with a 93% on the project (not a bad start to the semester, comparatively...). And that, my now-bored readers, is the tale of my enriching, yet unintentionally self-destructive weekend.

Been having strange moments of lucidity on the few occasions that I've spaced out in class (last week was pretty bad spacing-wise, for some reason). From driving with my father in our old van to a somehow familiar Indian sacred site, to, just this morning, realizing that I was unconscious and, knowing that I had to get up for school and that my mother would be pissed off if she came back downstairs (as I was sleeping on the couch) and found me dozing off, proceeding to "run" back and forth to try and wake myself up; it is humorous, for I was so glad that I was finally awake, reasoning as such that, when I patted the dog on the head as I ran by her, she did not morph into some other creature (as she sat on the couch that we no longer own, heh). I realized that I was unconscious when, while in the bathroom for an unknown reason, feeling the light switch (it was partially dark) and noticing that the switch was sideways; upon flicking the switch and hearing the toilet flush, I exclaimed something like, "Damn it, she's trying to trick me!" (whoever 'she' was...) and tried to wake up, with the unusual consequences that I've described. Another was in Biology, when, after spacing out, noticed that I was inside of a basement, which turned into a garage, in which myself and some other people began to drive somewhere or another. I find the feeling of reality in them to be fascinating, and I anticipate more of these quirky happenings (although preferably not in the middle of class ^_^;; ).

Even if you'd rather not read all of it, I still appreciate your having been here, if only briefly. ^_^

'Yasumi.
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Devoured [Jan. 18th, 2006|07:07 am]
Shin
[Emotionally |lethargiclethargic]
[Acoustically |Happatai - Yatta!]

Oh dear. I believe I may have failed this semester of English.

It's not as if I don't care about English. I enjoy writing reports and reading good, classic literature, like Homer and Shakespeare. But for some reason, there is that unnoticeable bit of apathy that seems to cling to various things and concepts and pieces of my existence, infecting them with a sort of subliminal nonchalance in a way that no sense of mine is capable of perceiving until its presence has long since faded away. Since English is the only tongue I am familiar enough with to describe such things, and since I haven't the mental/psychic abilities required to beam my exact thoughts and feelings into your brain, this is the best way I can find to describe whatever the hell it is I am talking about.

I love learning, I despise some aspects of school, and my indirect family is strangely comforting.

It is unlikely that these things will ever change much.

I do not usually watch a large amount of television, but when I have nothing better or more constructive to do, I spend some of my time watching The Knowledge Network of Greater Omaha. Maybe it is the overabundance of unappealing content on television. Materialism, self-indulgence, stupidity... I have no idea if any of it is, or if these labels necessarily apply to the programs which I speak of; this is due to the fact that they make me feel so negative, so blunted, so unenlightened that I do not watch them long enough to categorize or describe them. Or perhaps it is because my parents have sitcoms on so often that I can hardly stand to hear Raymond Romano's voice anymore. But, whatever the reason may be, college telecourses and student-produced programming are much more interesting and/or appealing to me. Heh. I suppose it could be as simple as me getting some kind of lurid enjoyment watching programming that was created and filmed in the late 1980s to early 1990s. Either way, regardless of how or why, Vincent Lombardo and the Annenberg/CPB project kick much uneducated ass. Fuck yeah. Lombardo'll be all "What does this inkblot look like?" upside your head.

...I should be beaten for that last statement.

One of my teachers recently did an excellent job of pissing me off. Surprise and amazement complimented the anger they roused within me. I do not know whether I was feeling emotionally weaker than I usually am, or if it was with a particular frequency/acuteness they carried out their actions, although it was most likely both of these factors in conjunction with the few hours of sleep per day/couple of days I had been getting, but I was made outwardly frustrated by them. I displayed my emotions in a way that was observable to others. This is unlike me. Of course, the actions of which I speak had to do with them inflicting their will upon me, in the form of drawing attention to me, trying to take papers and such of mine from my possession, and acting with general condescendence towards me, as if I were some stupid, ignorant child that did not know what was good for itself. My counselor, in later speaking to me in regards to a meeting that we had with said teacher, said it was the first time I had become outwardly angered. I am ashamed at this. I am ashamed at the fact that a person managed to, no matter how easy the access to them at the time was, affect me in a way that made me reveal that which is most bestial, most savage, most human in public. This shows that I have become careless; I left the door too far open, the locks too loose, the entrance to my psyche too unwatched, and someone took the opportunity to trespass too far inside. Far enough to trip the alarm system, at least. My mind remains untouched, but I fear that this too may someday be jarred and disrupted in the same way that my emotions were. This sort of thing will not happen again.

Some finals went better than others. Some finals I cared about more than others.

My cousin came to visit during the weekend from Lincoln, where she is currently enrolled as a student at UNL. It was a nice change in pace, although she did not stay for too long. We (myself, my mother, and my cousin) all went to the mall on Monday. Most of the time was spent with those two looking at clothes, and me being bored/disturbed by people/possibly disturbing other people. After a while, I found myself a cozy spot to stand and watch all of the people walk by, where I observed them and pondered at random. To see all of the smaller ones dressed in skate and hip-hop culture was interesting and thought-provoking. Heh. It made me think of long ago, many years back, when, fresh out of elementary, I was absorbed into the hip-hop culture. I dressed the part, all of my favorite music was rap... hell, I even remember wondering at one time what it was like to be of African descendancy, as if it held some distinct charm or difference to it, as if being that way would be somehow preferable *chuckles bitterly at his youthful ignorance*. I suppose it is that fascination, that curiosity, that absolute naivete that marks childhood and really defines it as such. But now cultural aspects like those that I once embraced as my own seem alien to me, seem unreal, seem like byproducts of both a social and commercial phenomenon which I no longer embrace with any great interest. Identity. That is what it all inevitably comes down to. I took up the culture of hip-hop as my own at a time in my life where it was difficult to find my identity. Maybe that is the importance/purpose of culture for all of those colorful yet bland youths that I happened to observe on that grey, uneventful Monday afternoon: although their presence affects the individual in some ways, some longer lasting than others, subcultures, in this country that has no dominant traditional culture, serve as a kind of placeholder for those youth who are raised without a culture of their own, filling some void that is created when a child is born without a certain background or a strong culture. But then my cousin came by and commented on all of the fluffy things that she had purchased, and my thoughts receded, knowing that they would resurface soon enough, most likely in the form of a journal published online (smart little bastards, aren't they?). We also went to A Hill of Beans, where I purchased some fine, hypercaffeinated coffee, although the odd half-mugs that they served coffee samples in piqued my interest, if only for their genericy (plain, white, ordinary half-mug). I got to take my cousin to Tokyo Kitchen, where I introduced her to the delights of Japanese fast food (but still healthy, too! I think I've most-likely written about it before; if not, then I'm bound to elaborate upon its Asiany goodness at some point, but this post has gone on long enough ^_^;; ).

Random event: I was working at the counter a night or two ago and happened to somehow slice open my finger, and there happened to be a spider walking around on the counter, looking for a meal, no doubt. So, having plenty to spare, I set a droplet of my lifeblood nearby him, not really sure whether he'd want it or not. He detected it after a moment, and after examining it, proceeded to devour my lifeblood. Instead of finishing any actual work, I sat there for the next five or ten minutes watching the spider feast upon me, watching with sparsely-blinking eyes as its moon-white body began to shade pink with the crimson blood that pulsed through it. It left after a while; I know not what happened afterwards, but it had looked so hungry and sad before (as it had been wandering around the same bit of counter for quite a while) that I was glad that I was able to help him out in some way.

Hn. Apparently, I have decided that quantity is preferable to quality in the case of journals.

Ah, well. At least I am able to help people kill time, or perhaps improve their reading skills.

Just like Annenberg.

'Yasumi.
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The Little Central Processing Engine That Could (i.e. Journal en Masse) [Jan. 3rd, 2006|05:47 am]
Shin
[Emotionally |exhaustedexhausted]
[Acoustically |assorted Modest Mouse/The Coral/The Shins]

*sigh*

Once again, due to various factors, which include, but are not limited to, technical difficulties, increased presence of relatives, and my ongoing battle with procrastination, I am posting much later than expected/preferred. Much later. I've found a small but usable piece of spare, distraction-free time to get this written down and posted... which may prove rather difficult, seeing as this post encompasses everything that's been going on since Thanksgiving; needless to say, this will be quite a long post.

Thanksgiving went alright (ah, damn, time compression feels strange...). Nothing terribly noteworthy about this one, as it was only my parents, my brothers, and myself (as opposed to last Thanksgiving, when both of my brothers brought their special lady friends along). Except the food; that is almost always a noteworthy topic. Strawberry Tapioca Pudding/Salad once again proved to kick me in the head with its delicious, strawberry goodness. But aside from the food, I also enjoyed spending time with my brothers; one of my brothers is working and at college, so I see him sporadically at best, and my other brother is enrolled at a law school in Chicago (he hopes to one day work with the UN and the International Criminal Court), so I only see him on special occasions, it seems. We spent much of the time (when not eating) doing crossword puzzles together and playing video games that existed long before I was born and dipping chips into a bowl of shrimp dip to see who could...hm...well, I suppose it wasn't for any reason in particular, but it was done nonetheless.

The snow and cold spells that appeared were wonderful. I enjoyed taking walks after school and watching the snow fall gently and gracefully to the ground and/or whip and wraggle about in the wind, lines of flakes cascading rapidly across the sky (depending on what day it was). Occasionally, I've been able to take the camera with me to school, so I was able to take some pictures of such fantastic weather. Since the winters recently have been uncommonly devoid of any good storms or blizzards, I was overly pleased/excited/(giddy might be stretching it, but it was kind of like that...) with the weather this year. The first couple of storms were, while still brilliant, a bit of a downer, due to the fact that some of my fingers were slightly frozen/frostbitten, but then I found a nifty pair of old gloves that I can use, so that helped me to stay outside longer, which also allowed me to take more pictures, which didn't really allow me to do anything, but I like them regardless.

One of the things that I very much enjoy about winter is the night sky. Perhaps it is the brisk, chilly air that makes the stars seem so much clearer (unless such detail is merely an illusion and/or delusion -_-;;), or maybe it is being able to gaze upwards much longer due to the shortening of day, but the winter sky appeals to me much more than any other time during the year. A definite part of this is that some of my favorite constellations/celestial bodies are visible. Orion (along with his lovely nebula), Sirius, and the Pleiades are visible throughout most of the night, as well as the now-receding planet of Mars, making for a wonderful display of cosmic beauty. I have also had the fortune of watching a few light meteor showers over the course of these past couple of months, but, as of now, aurora borealis has not revealed itself to me anytime recently (the last time was during the big geomagnetic storm in September). On a side note: perihelion (the time in which the Earth is closest to the sun) is on January 4th.

Academic Decathlon testing went alright. I got to eat a quesadilla. ^___^

Christmas/Yule/Winter Solstice/whatever went over alright. My aunt and uncle (the one who thinks I should get my ears pierced) came up from Arizona for Christmas, as well as my brothers and my eldest brother's special lady friend. There was delicious food in abundance, but I was more interested in what my uncle was telling me about Japan. He and my aunt are both retired naval officers, so they spent time stationed at various American military bases/ports around the area. Some of his stories were strange (he did what with whose daughter?!), while others were somewhat incorrect (such as his exaggeration of the alcoholic content of sake, which is usually around that of a standard wine), but overall, it was interesting to listen to. My legal superiors saved up some money (although I don't think it was terribly expensive) and got me a spiffy new camera, so I'm not constantly running off with theirs; I was initially kind of weirded out by its smallness (in comparison to the other camera), but I've since gotten used to it... kind of. I'll miss the loveable bulkiness of the older camera (that thing is built like a tank! [camera]), as well as the fact that the older one didn't seem to be as sensitive to motion as the new one is; you have to be still as hell, or it turns out to have some degree of blurriness. -_- Aside from that, it works quite well, and if you manage to take a relatively blurless picture, the detail is pretty/somewhat sharp(ish). I am very grateful for such a gift, and will no doubt be wasting much of my otherwise-productive time messing around with it. ^_^;; Unfortunately, there was very little snow around, so I am hopeful that there will be more frozen weather to come in the next couple of months.

After my family's Christmas celebrations, we (everyone who came to dinner) went up to a family gathering up by the Niobrara River, near Valentine, Nebraska. This was pretty much my first opportunity to test out my camera, so, in figuring out how to work the blasted contraption, I managed to get some decent shots of the natural surroundings (when I get everything downloaded, I'll post one of them; its a beautiful area). Although being in both a natural setting and a family setting took my mind off of various thoughts, being there brought one thing floating back to the surface of my mind; I am part of a rather alcohol-enthusiastic family. I found it interesting that, in roughly an hour's worth of time (I was downstairs watching a movie with some of my younger cousins), four-fifths of the bottle of vodka had been consumed (White Russians are a favorite holiday pastime, albeit that imagining my parents/relatives taking vodka shots is slightly amusing). In addition to the wide selection of beverages, the food selection was even more expansive. My eldest brother made his special chili (in addition to the usual chili ingredients, his had things like corn, garlic, freshly-diced onions and bell peppers, and plenty of spice), which far surpasses any chili I've ever tasted. A rare treat was that my grandfather baked some of his raisin bread, which he hardly ever makes anymore, on account of his age, they say. He has a fantastic moustache, though. It curls at the ends (completely unrelated piece of information, but there is a fellow at the nearby Hy-Vee who has quite possibly the grandest moustache I have ever come across in my lifetime: it looks almost exactly like something you'd expect to see on some old British military recruitment poster... big, dark, bushy yet well-defined, and the curls are pointed to perfection; it is quite possible that he is some kind of facial hair deity). We also built a fire outside of one of the cabins and made s'mores (delicious...). The great thing about being that far out in the country is how amazing the night becomes. I probably sat outside for around 20 minutes, pitch dark, listening to the owls and marvelling at the sky; part of the Milky Way streaked across the sky, along with countless stars of varying sizes, like droplets of water or specks of dust. Breathtaking.

I'm sure that there were plenty of other things that I had wanted to and/or had scribbled/written down to post here, but this is good enough. If you actually read everything in here, then you deserve something. Perhaps cake. I'm not quite sure. Well, whatever it is that you deserve, you definitely deserve it.

*nods decisively*

Today is once again the final day of Shogatsu. Happy 2006 and all that.

'Yasumi.
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...System Stability Achieved...Transmitting Report...Now... [Nov. 11th, 2005|04:53 am]
Shin
[Emotionally |awakewired]
[Acoustically |Tool (mentally)]

Been a while, eh?

Even now, the Internet doesn't function completely, but it is currently stable enough to log on, at least. After this entry is posted, I am going to load some tests and see if anything devious comes up, and then, since I am on the downward slope of an evening coffee binge, perhaps I'll try and meditate some, as I doubt that I am currently capable of the act of sleep. But it's been a few weeks, so by the time I finish writing this, maybe I'll reconsider that sleeping thing, although I doubt I'll actually sleep; in conjunction with the caffeine, I have to get up at 6:something anyway, so... better luck tonight, I suppose.

In these past weeks, two Intramurals/Japanese Club Volleyball games have taken place. The former of the two was a bit of a downer for me. I hadn't been feeling the best around then anyways, but playing didn't help any. During the pre-game practicing and such, I did alright, I suppose. Alan-kun and I started with just tossing the ball back and forth; I served a few times (probably the only thing I can do that I am decent at) and passed it successfully, for the most part. Soon, the other players began to arrive, and it seemed as more and more people began to fill the two sides, I began to grow increasingly anxious inside. This reached its culmination as the other team arrived, and the game began. For a while, I wasn't needed, since there were plenty of other Japanese Club members there, but eventually I was asked if I wanted to play or not. I reluctantly agreed, and soon after I began playing, my mental state worsened. I tried to play, but my reactions were off; I just couldn't get myself to move in time, or I'd hesitate, or I'd misjudge where the volleyball was headed. With each subsequent miss or mistake, I sunk deeper, until I was in some state of bleak apathy. Even when some of the other team members, whom my appreciation for went unrecognized, tried to encourage me or cheer me up, I just wasn't able to remove myself from that mindset. At first, I removed myself from that place as soon as I possibly could, but after I sat outside for a while and let my mind thaw somewhat, the rest of the night helped me to stabilize. Some talking, some food left over/momentarily left unattended from a sports banquet, and some strangeness, led by Alex-kun, which mainly concerned applauding anyone who exited the building (most of whom were from the previously mentioned banquet) for a span of approximately 15-20 minutes helped me to achieve empathetic escape velocity, so to speak. Finally, I took a peaceful, moonlit walk around the school grounds; all of these things caused me to leave feeling much better than I had been (although I still felt a bit ill, I barely noticed it). The latter of the two, which was the last of our Intramurals, was much less eventful than the one before it (and no banquet T_T). We still lost, but it was an alright time, even though Kakiyama-sensei arrived to watch us play - approximately 15 minutes after the game was over. The game itself went well, although I think the coach who oversaw all of the games taking place asked the other team to show us some mercy, for after she spoke to them with a calendar (?) covering her face, the server flung it up into the gym ceiling (we're a culture club, not an athletics club; what do you expect?). Afterwards, Stefan-kun dazzled the remaining members with his spiffy iPod speakers, and some strange word fight broke out that resulted in something about a Triton V10, as I believe it was spoken. It was a nice opportunity to meet with other members of the Japanese Club, even if there were athletics involved, so I didn't mind going to/participating in Intramurals.

The PSAT tests were recently carried out amongst the Sophomores of the student body in preparation for the actual SATs which will eventually be taken. The test was composed of four main sections: English, Mathematics, Reading Comprehension, and Science (I believe these were the categories...); I did not finish any of them. To start off, I had completely forgotten that the tests were being taken on that particular day, so I ended up coming in late for the testing. Because of this, I had to stay and work on the information portion of the test while my peers went down and feasted upon whatever snacks they were serving in the Commons. But even with sacrificing the food that I had been indirectly offered, I did not even finish the information section. I did not finish mainly because of two factors: I took the time to actually answer the questions that I read, as opposed to indiscriminately filling in the dots, and I believe that I unintentionally nodded off a few times, so... probably not the best thing to happen during a timed test. Another day, we were herded into the Auditorium to take a survey that mainly dealt with safety, drugs, gangs, etc. But, as I have mentioned earlier in this paragraph, I am a thorough/slow test taker, so my 2nd Period teacher was angry that I took much of that period to do the test; we were told to take our time on the survey, so that's precisely what I did. Then, upon going to 2nd Period, I was ordered down to the office to finish the information section of the PSAT, which took up the rest of 2nd Period, so that I had no time to study for the test in Japanese (3rd Period). I suppose that much of this time could be described as testacular (if I were referring to testing instead of the tests themselves, I suppose you could say that it's been testicular, but I have refrained from referring to the testing for reasons made obvious by your giggling).

Tonight was the going away dinner for Joey-kun, who is moving to Wisconsin somewhere around this/next Friday or so. Because of this, Kakiyama-sensei arranged for a group of us (his classmates) to go to Sushi Japan. I had a big bowl of seafood, such as octopus, shrimp, pickled vegetables, and the like, as well as some tempura squid (although I had wanted to get broiled, but they were out...) and a cup of miso soup. I was so excited about such delicious and wonderful food that I accidentally began eating before Joey-kun got his; although I was ignorant of this custom (as it seemed that most of the class was ignorant of it, too), I was still ashamed that my meal was almost finished by the time Joey-kun got his. He didn't seem to mind that others were eating while Sensei, Burichu-sempai, and Markie-sempai patiently waited with him, even though their food was sitting right in front of them. Even while I was filled with the joy of the food and the shame of having eaten it, Joey-kun still thanked me for coming. I'm going to miss him, since I talked with him after volleyball, when we were usually the only two people left still waiting for rides. Even Burichu-sempai remarked with disdain that she didn't want him to leave after finding out, after much, mainly anime-related, conversation, that he was cool. Afterwards, some headed for home while the rest migrated over to OakView Mall, where much time was spent at Hot Topic. After the mall closed, there was loitering and conversation outside the front doors, and then what remained of the group headed over to Barnes and Noble's for coffee and warmth. There the conversations continued, varying from subject to subject, but much of them concerned various books. Somehow, I ended up with two cups of coffee from Barnes and Noble's and another from a gas station. It was enjoyable to get out and converse and socialize and such. To have conversations in which I participated as well as listened in the same way that I do with the few people that I usually hang out with, to feel like part of a group in that same way, to be comfortable in a similar way... that was a kind of experience that I haven't had in a long while. Ever since I was forbidden from going up to the bowling alley and hanging out there, what little social life I have has been under strict observation, but this was an opportunity to get to know other people and hang out with those I did know, instead of only being with those I already know and that my legal superiors approve of. I got to spend a lot of time talking with Brandon-kun, since he was my ride for most of the night. We talked a lot about different books and the like; it was nice to have that sort of conversation with someone. Afterwards, there was good music, good conversation, and more coffee to be had on the ride back to town.

So now, in addition to being wired, my head is filled with Tool, and I am content. There have been some low points, and some high points, but overall, I'd say that these last few weeks have been alright. Now, if I can just get my computer to function normally, that would be wonderful...

My uncle thinks that I should get my ear(s) pierced; he even said that he'd send me the money for it...

Hmm...
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A Tale of Two Rivers, a Full Moon, and In-General "Kawaii"ness [Oct. 19th, 2005|03:29 am]
Shin
[Emotionally |tiredcontent yet tired]
[Acoustically |Grateful Dead - Bird Song]

I got back from western Nebraska around mid-afternoon on Sunday. The wedding went well. Nothing especially noteworthy about it, although they did hand out some small units of bubble liquid. I suppose that, instead of showering the newly-wedded couple with rice, we were supposed to shower them with bubbles *shrugs*. Afterwards was the reception. This gave people a chance to mingle with relatives, enjoy the food that was graciously provided, and to partake in the festivities on the dance floor. Although there were only a few slightly-intoxicated relatives out there, it was still rather entertaining (entertainment that I did not expend much energy in joining into... a little, but not much). One of my cousins in particular, the brother of the bride, was especially dance-tastic; he led most of the dancing, pulling random relatives onto the floor and generally enjoying himself. In short, he had 'much funk' as I believe the youth would speak of it nowadays...

The trip helped me to get some time away from my thoughts; the scenery was breathtaking. From the gently-sloping hills of grass and sand, to the great emerald-green forests of pine, to the colors changing in the leaves of the trees along the Platte and the Elkhorn, it bestowed me with the tranquility and contemplation that I had been lacking before I left. The nighttime sky, unobstructed by anything but the light of the near-full moon, was equally awe-inspiring, to say the somewhat least (since "It was cool" would be much shorter...). I think that I'd like to go canoing down the Elkhorn sometime before fall ends, although I doubt that I'll have the opportunity to.

The Intramural (?) Volleyball Games were last night. Kakiyama-sensei brought food; rice, curry, and sushi ^_^. This brought great joy to my heart, as well as to my stomach. I considered making some onigiri, but my rice cooker was angry at me for some reason, so I did not. Since plenty of people showed up this time, I did not have to play, so I contented myself with watching the game from the sideline. Sensei's Japanese students very much enjoy fluffy hair, it seems. They also thought that Alan-kun was very "kawaii", which he found very confusing, since there were a group of Japanese girls flocking about him and stroking his hair and hugging him while giggling and chattering in Japanese. After the game ended, some of the Japanese Club went down to watch the football game, since a few of the players are members of said club. After a while, everyone else left, so I, having at least a half-hour before I was to be picked up, decided to talk a moonlit walk around the school grounds. As some of you may know, last night was the full moon, known as the Hunter's Moon or the Blood Moon. This title fit well, for every so often, the thin clouds in the sky would drift in front of the moon in a way that created a reddish-colored aura/band around its pale, bright orb. I went down to the Japanese Garden and watched the moon for a while, took a stroll down the avenue of pines on the school's northern border, and eventually ending up back on the south-facing hill in front of the building. The Garden looked most beautiful in the light of the full moon.

...I have a lot of work to do before the quarter ends on Thursday *sigh*...

'Yasumi.
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Fell Down, Slept For A While, Then Got Back Up Again [Oct. 6th, 2005|03:54 am]
Shin
[Emotionally |contemplativecontemplative]
[Acoustically |The Pillows - Carnival]

I apologize for the lack of recent posts. About a week or so ago, the/this computer, while flush with data, was overrun by a nomadic tribe of computer viruses that happened to be passing through my region of the internet when, due to an attempt at getting some machinery to work, the security settings were temporarily disabled. Alas, I have been incapable of providing you with writings such as this one. As for the reasons behind my lack of posts before the crash, it is most likely a combination of forgetfulness, academics, and a lack of adequate free time.

Much seems to have occurred since I wrote here last.

The changes to my after school routine have continued. The wonderful room that I just recently spoke about can no longer be my cozy little sanctuary, for some of the educational officials have taken it upon themselves to start locking various old storerooms, including said room T_T. Even though I was saddened by this, I understood that my use of the room was not an activity that could have been sustained throughout the rest of the year; with my counselor continuously inquiring about my after school activities and the concept of a student using school facilities without explicit approval/permission being granted by a school official, I suppose it was not meant to be. So, in order to still be able to work on things after school and appease my counselor, I am/will be studying out in the school commons from now on. This is a satisfactory location, considering that, after about 15-20 minutes, there are hardly any people left in there, except for the usual group of Japanese students, which makes for some interesting, and occasionally downright entertaining, happenings.

I have noticed that I am gradually becoming more comfortable around them. I feel more like sitting on the floor with them, as they often do, and perhaps even joining in their conversations. This feeling is not unknown to me, but it feels a bit strange nonetheless. The urge to engage in a society/to be social. I have occasionally felt the slight pangs of such a desire, but it has been well over two years since I have seriously contemplated my social life. Sociability has never been much of a strong suit of mine, but during the last couple of years, what social life I had began to atrophy. Over this period of time, I became more concerned with the pursuit of knowledge, and, in doing so, neglected what friends I had. I am unsure as to the catalyst(s?) of this shift in behavior, although I theorize that it was most likely several gradual changes, as opposed to the singular, oft traumatic events that are commonly associated with such shifts. Since then, I have come to understand how valuable those friends that I have managed to keep (or that have managed to keep me) are, even though these changes may have affected the relationships I have with said friends. I do not think that I will ever be able to, nor do I think that would want to, remove my sense of introversion. The desire for the quiet, uninterrupted pursuit of knowledge has fused with my personality, and I do not feel that can be changed; but still, I feel that I should be somewhat more open towards people than I have been. Personalities, while usually retaining a few base characteristics that develop from early on, are overly abstract; personalities evolve throughout one's life through the thoughts and experiences of that person, and I must contend with how my personality has evolved over these years. This seems to be the closest that I can come to a explanation, for it isn't something that I completely understand myself.

On a colder note, it has finally started to cool down during the night; hopefully the day will retain some of the same coolness that I have been able to enjoy this evening. Last week, it reached a record high of 92*F in Omaha, so I am relieved that it is starting to feel like autumn again; some of the trees have even began to change color! I left my window open, so when I am finally able to get some sleep, it will feel as if I'm taking a nap inside of a particularly large ice box ^_^.

I should probably get started on that sleep thing. The lack of rest has made me far too empathetic.

'Yasumi.

P.S. To H: I will get those photos posted as soon as technologically possible!
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Screens, Scenes, and Fermented Soybeans [Sep. 10th, 2005|03:31 am]
Shin
[Emotionally |calmcalm]
[Acoustically |The Pillows - Tiny Boat]

This computer still seems like it's a bit agitated, but for the most part, it's been relatively content for the last few days. It's been on and offline sporadically for the past few weeks, mainly because of the screen; we've been using the same screen since we acquired our current computer (somewhere around five years or so ago), so it's growing old and darkened and has this weird, flickery, computer screen dementia thing going on, so my father wants to replace it. I guess that'd be nice, but I'll still love the old, awkwardly-bulbous screen anyways; maybe I'll retire it to some strange, cluttered seat of honor in my room, perhaps occasionally being used as a desk or a shelf of some sort.

I have been moderately excited about a new development at school for the past few days. As you may or most likely don't know, I am prone to staying after school for a while, working on homework, writing, reading, or just laying my head down and resting my eyes a bit. Anyways, I usually was allowed to stay in some of the empty classrooms after the teachers had already left, giving me an indefinite amount of time with which I could engage in the aforementioned activities (or lack, thereof...), but due to changes in the policies of teachers towards this kind of behavior, it has been increasingly difficult to find a quiet, deserted room in which I can find sanctuary. If you are in the hallways after the school bell has rung and most of the students have long since departed, you may happen across me, backpack slung over my shoulder, slowly traversing the halls in a nomadic fashion. Well, you are much less likely to see this from here on, for I have found a wonderful old room where I will be able to reside. It is kind of an old storage room-esque place, with lots of desk space and big windows; part of the reason I am so pleased with this location is that during the winter months, when the days are shorter, I will be able to watch the evening sun set and the snowstorms that will most likely grace the school grounds with their presence and the beautiful textures of the grey, overcast skies... *stares off into space for a few moments*

The Japanese Club meeting was today. I am very curious as to what activities will take place during the course of the year, but I think that I will enjoy being in Japanese Club nonetheless. The members of the Japanese Club are interesting and eccentric people; it makes me wonder what odd and potentially baffling occurrences will take place. Even with the little work and involvement I had with the Japanese Club last year [while doing their website], I was able to observe some things that were... thought-provoking, to say the least. I look forward, not without any nervousness, to what experiences and observances this year will bring. And food! What delicious food I may be able to taste during my involvement with the Japanese Club! My psyche dances with utmost joy at the thought of the onigiri, and the gyoza, and the miso, and the tea, and the udon...

Perhaps I'll be able to go to Tokyo Kitchen sometime this week. That would be wonderful.

'Yasumi.
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