Saturday, March 27, 2010

It just has to be said...

I normally do not go this route, but I have just have to say it.

Sandra Bullock, your life sucks right now.

It goes without saying that I am a fan of hers, and like many, will root for her whatever she decides to do, but for the love of god, get rid of that white trash piece of shit! You must have known he was white trash when you met him! How could you have missed that!? But, in case you did, and in case love is totally blind, then now you know. He is a piece of shit. Get...rid...of...him.

And, I am wondering what those nasty, trashy women are thinking by "coming forward with the details of their affair." Do they think that Sandra Bullock is going to pay them off somehow? Do they just want to screw with her and with him (some more)? I mean, what the hell does anyone care if yet another scumbag porno model comes out of the woodwork and claims to have been with him?

Sorry, just had to get that out in the open. Does anyone else feel the same way?

Oh, and one more thing. If Mr JJ white-trash-piece-of-shit comes out and says he has a sex addiction problem and then goes into rehab, that will be the joke of the century! What a copout that is! How many male celebrities in the past 10 years have used that excuse!?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Date Night (Project 52) #5

Project 52: Date Nights logo

I know that we should be on Date #12 by now, we had to take a few weeks off because my husband is so lame. Without further ado, here is a run-down of our latest date night which was chalk-full of "happenings"!

Yusuke announced that he had arranged for Ailin to spend the night at Baba's house for her "monthly otomari" which meant we could enjoy a quiet evening to ourselves (with Luka, of course).

I requested that he make a fancy steak dinner for us, so after dropping her off at Baba's, we went shopping for the best steak money can buy. No, not really the best or most expensive, but fancier than we would have normally.

I gave Luka a bath and put him to bed earlier than usual because he had not had a good nap that day, and suggested that we eat our dinner after Luka goes to bed.

Happening #1
While Yusuke was cooking our steaks, which were marbled with beautiful fat, some fat and oil splashed up onto his neck and face. For the rest of the evening, he complained about these burns. Now, I have been burned several times in my cooking-life, but we are talking about a hypochondriac here. I asked him if he would like to go to the hospital. No. Okay, must not be that serious.

Earlier that day, I asked Yusuke if he likes guacamole. He said yes. I had this great idea to make a movie snack for us - chips with guac and salsa & homemade margueritas. He was game, so before dinner, I had prepared the guac and put it in the fridge.

Happening #2
After dinner, I cleaned up and accidently spilled dishwasher soap powder all over the floor. It was nearly 10pm, but I had no choice but to get out the vacuum and clean it up. (Condo rules - no vacuum cleaners after 10pm).

Happening #3
I put the vacuum away and proceeded to prepare our snack. I was tidying up the counter when a container of strawberry milk powder spilled onto the floor. I managed to salvage most of it, but still, I need to get out the vacuum all over again.

By the time, I got the snack ready, it was 10:30pm. Hey, check out those homemade margueritas. I had no triple sec, no tequila, and no fancy glasses. What I did have was rum, so I put a little of that in.

Happening #4
Turns out that Yusuke, who said he likes guac, does not in fact like avacado! So, he wouldn't eat the guacamole in the end.

We watched My Sister's Keeper. I liked it and had tears streaming down my face during many parts of the film. Yusuke thought it was kind of boring and fell asleep. I guess the burn injury caused him to feel tired or something.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Reframing One Story

Like I mentioned before, I want to try this reframing technique using a story that just occurred a couple weekends ago. There are so many versions of this story I could tell, but I'll narrow it down to the following:

The Facts Version
The Victim Version
The Other Side
The Funny Version

Just the Facts, Ma'am
It was cold and raining. I had taken the kids to a birthday party and then picked up my husband, who was grocery shopping, and we returned home, parked the car and loaded up the stroller with all the bags. Both kids had fallen asleep on the way home, so I put Luka in my carrier, and Yusuke carried Ailin from the car to the apartment building. The stroller was very imbalanced because of all the bags and it was constantly in danger of falling over. Yusuke had run ahead, leaving me with the stroller, and by the time I reached the gate which leads from the parking lot to the building, he was already going inside the lobby. I put my key in the door, but when I attempted to open it, the stroller fell backwards and both the diaper bag and my purse fell to the wet ground. There were 2 ladies standing nearby (a mother and grown daughter), and they began walking towards me. Then they stepped over my bags and the stroller, opened the door (my key was still in the lock) and went inside. I began yelling obscenities at them, and they ran towards the elevator, jumped on and disappeared.

I am having a really hard time reframing this because the FACTS version is so apt in explaining what happened - I really doubt that adding more to the story would change the way a listener or reader would feel. I mean, it is so obvious that these women are cold-hearted & inhumane. (And, I think I have problems! Just think about people in Dafur, and it really puts a story like this into perspective.)

Anyway, I am going to try the Funny Version instead.

Ha Ha, the Joke's on Me
So, here I am a foreign woman with 2 kids, living a normal life in a normal condominium, where I sometimes come across totally clueless individuals - one in particular - we'll call her Ms Clueless. The other day, it was pouring rain and I was struggling with a stroller loaded up with groceries, Luka sleeping in my carrier & an umbrella. The door from our parking lot to our garden requires special skills to hold open while pushing a stroller through, and every time I opened the door, it would slam shut before I could push the stroller through, and in the process, the stroller fell backwards...not once, but twice. Meanwhile, Ms Clueless was standing nearby with her daughter, Clueless Jr., and they were chatting away. When they saw me struggling, I thought for sure they would rush over to help like any good, decent human beings would do. And, they did rush over, but then they stepped right over my bags and my stroller, opened the door and ran inside, leaving me in the mud. (I would say "leaving me in the dust," but as I said, it was pouring rain.) Shocked, as any person would be, I yelled "Thank you!" in the most sarcastic tone I could muster, but sarcasm goes over Japanese peoples' heads, so then I yelled "That is so rude!" in Japanese. It only made them run faster. They jumped onto the elevator and disappeared. I have seen Ms Clueless a few times since, and though I promised myself that I would give her a piece of my mind if such an opportunity presented itself, I have not said anything because a clueless, heartless, inhumane person would not understand what she did wrong anyway.

Okay, it was sort of funny until the end when my true feelings took over. The word diatribe floats to my mind whenever I want tell someone off or when I am on the receiving end myself. In this case, it is hard for me to avoid wanting to soak her in a diatribe of my own spit every time I see her, but she is the coldest, most stuck-up, heartless woman I have ever met, and I think she would actually turn her head away and ignore my very existence. It wouldn't be worth the rise in my blood pressure.

(Speaking of blood pressure though, on the day that this happened, my temples were about the explode, and my heart was beating out of my chest, and my hands were shaking uncontrollably. I yelled at my husband shortly afterwards. I broke an umbrella too. These are things I am working on - anger management.)

Now, for the Other Side version. When thinking through a situation which involves other people, try looking at it from their side. Of course, you can't possibly know what a heartless, inhumane woman might be thinking, but let's give it a try.

The Other Side
I was a young mother once. I had 2 girls, but that was a long time ago. 35 years ago to be exact, and I never once, not even once, needed help. Back then, we had no elevators or strollers. I carried both girls on my back, rode a bicycle, and balanced all my grocery bags around my neck, both arms, and my head without any trouble at all. I have no idea why this foreign woman is getting all worked up just because I stepped over her bags and her stroller to get inside my building. It was raining. I didn't have my umbrella and neither did my sweet, sweet 35-year-old daughter (who is unmarried and still lives with us, by the way). We didn't want to get wet. Look, I have seen this foreign mom before and she is a tough lady. I was sure that she didn't need my help, and I wouldn't want to interfere with her private business anyway.

Okay, that actually worked. I honestly feel much better after examining the situation from Ms. Clueless' side. She didn't want to get wet. The poor thing.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Story I Tell

When I was in high school, I was a big fan of Toad the Wet Sprocket and they had a song called "Stories I Tell." Here is a portion of the lyrics:

Now what is a blessing and what is a dream
Caught between portraits and none's what it seems
And why is it people expect there's a change
When I feel I'm a part of something I can't see
I feel the same

Do we ever wonder?
And do you ever care...

Last night, I was listening to a podcast entitled "The Stories We Tell" from the unitarian church in Madison, and this topic was really interesting. Rev. Kelly J. Crocker alludes to her own story of rejection and explains that at a certain point in her life, she began to reframe this story that had forever defined her. She reframed it in a more hopeful & positive way, and it became a story of "welcoming" and "freedom to be yourself" instead.

I thought this was so interesting. In college, I went out on lots of dates with loser guys who treated me like absolute crap. After each date, I would go home and recount the story to my friends who were eager to know the punch line. What crappy, funny thing did the guy do next? Then what horribly inappropriate thing did he say? To them, it was amusing. To me, it was the only way I could cope with all the crappiness - to laugh about it, to find the humor hidden deep within. This was my first experience in "reframing" my stories.

As for a story that defined me, I would have to say that living in Japan while in high school "defined me" for many years and I began to resent that. I wanted a new story because I was sick of telling the same one over and over. I was not Japan. Japan was not me. Unfortunately, I could not completely erase Japan from my heart, and I eventually ended up going back there for marriage.

So, then, marriage defined me. Of course, it couldn't a typical marriage. No, it had to be a "met in high school, fell in love, were separated for many years, couldn't stay apart, got married & moved to Japan" kind of romantic-sounding story, and this too began to define me. I had to retell this story again and again, but I hated that too. I was not my marriage, and my marriage was not me. Here I was stuck in Japan married to a person that was so different from his beautifully-written letters, and everything about my life was suddenly equal to two things = Japan + Crappy Marriage. Where was the humor in that? I couldn't find it no matter how deep I dug with my crappy shovel and my crappy complaints.

But, then I began to realize that I could reframe my life in Japan and my marriage. I am the only one who can change it - not the facts of it - I am in Japan and I am married - that will stay the same. But, I can change my reaction to it, my attitude about it, and the story I choose to tell. This is partly why I started Working Mom in Japan, so that I could write about the things that make me happy rather than all the crappy situations that seem to never end.

This is why I decided to educate myself and continue on my journey of change, spiritual growth & personal development. Learning new software, learning new scrapbooking techniques, saving money for my Masters Degree (someday!), reading books about success, child development, politics, etc. - these are feeding my passions every day. I know my husband is stuck inside himself somewhere, and I realize now that I can't wait around for him to change. If he does, that is his business. There is always the possibility that he will be affected by my changes, but I can't even depend on that. I just need to work on myself, and that is exactly what I am doing. Don't get me wrong because I do love Yusuke ... I just came to the realization that we are not on the same path. Even though we are married, we still have our own paths.

At 33, this was a huge revelation to me, and it probably would not have happened unless I went through all the crap to get here.

Upcoming: I want to try this re-framing technique more often and would like to do a writing experiment some time this week. Wait for that!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Behold these January Lay Outs

Following is a mixture of digital pages & traditional pages - can you tell which is which?

I made this for the Hybrid Scrapbooking class I am taking at Big Picture Scrapbooking. We were supposed to use some elements from a digital kit. The Journaling box and the diamond background paper just behind the photos is from a Sande Krieger kit.

This is just an overview of our month and was done in the Design Your Life class by Cathy Zielske. The template is by Cathy and the focus for that week was on "white space."
Materials used include: Creativity by Crystal Funky Fresh Paper Collection See-through Polka's paper, Kate Pertiet Little Prince Kit green paper, Kate Pertiet Journaling spots, LivE Designs squiggle border.

Again, template by Cathy. Were supposed to use purple, green, black and orange in our color scheme as part of our weekly color challenge. I so wanted to use the sticker sheets from Ailin's potty training period. She finally made it over the hump in January! I used all my own materials here - the papers were made by putting textures behind them to make them appear crumpled or faded. That was a fun new discovery for me.

Again with the white space! This was also a template designed by Cathy Zielske. I was running out of things to scrapbook about, as you can see. But, it is always good to pause and take notice of where you are right now in your life and to make pages about YOURSELF! You can look back and laugh (or sigh) and your kids will appreciate it someday!
Materials used include the following: Jessica Sprague Windsong Kit yellow paper, blue paper, blue brush, Bleeding Cowboy font for title.

For the hybrid class, we were supposed to use that black and white label on a page. See the label? It's behind the word FRIENDS. I love these felt lace borders - so pretty and sturdy at the same time, and they house the rhinestones so nicely.

For Cathy's class, the topic this time was "unity." We have decided to do more day trips to Tokyo because we need the exercise, but mostly because Yusuke refuses to drive the car anywhere. So, just to get out of the house on weekend, we have compromised by taking the train to Tokyo and exploring various neighborhoods. Yes, it is fun. But, I have to admit that I would MUCH RATHER be listening to Ryan Seacrest's Top 40 in the car while the kids sleep in the back!!!
Materials used include the following: LivE Designs Sun Fun Green paper, Kate Pertiet Brushed Petal set red paper, Abstract flower brushes downloaded from Eezy brushes for free.

News on the Scrapbooking Front

I have some great news for scrapbookers out there.

Grow Your Skills Educator Program
If you are looking to learn about digital scrapbooking - how to use Photoshop (or PSE), or just want to buy some digital supplies, you can now get a teacher's discount at Jessica Sprague's web site. This is good for her classes as well as for the digital supplies and templates. Note that this offer is NOT good for classes taught by her "guest lecturers." For example, the photography class would not be eligible for this discount.

I asked about whether teachers working in other countries can apply for this discount program. In the USA, you have to prove you area teacher by emailing the name of your school and such along with a scanned copy of your school ID. We don't have such a thing in Japan, and our documents would be in Japanese anyway, but Tory, the person in charge of this over at Jessica Sprague, decided to let me sign up after I explained my situation to her.

So, go ahead, if you are a teacher, and sign up for this great deal!

New Classes at Big Picture Scrapbooking
I am currently taking 3 classes there. I am a BPS junkie now. Cathy Zielske's class is starting to wrap up, and I just started a class which focuses on Hybrid Scrapbooking - combining digital and traditional elements on your pages. On April 1, a 12-week class called Dimensional Design begins, and I highly recommend. Nic Howard will show you the way around a layered page by taking you step-by-step through several craft techniques that you have probably seen in magazines but had no idea how to imitate. Nic is funny too. I like her style.

Self-paced Projects at BPS
I also want to alert you to the numerous self-paced projects listed at BPS. Many of them sound so inviting! These prices range from free to $10.00 so it is a good way to get started on something. I am thinking about doing the Book of Why project by Karen G. I took a class by Karen G last year and she is one of the sweetest instructors ever. Her focus is always on writing and exploring your past through scrapbook pages.