This is just to say...

I may not blog properly for a while. Not that I'm that great at doing it anyway, but I have been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel syndrome this week. If you don't know, that's a thing where one of the nerves that runs through your hands becomes compressed in the carpal tunnel (at the base of your palm), and it makes some of your fingers (thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of the ring finger) become numb/tingly/painful, and that part of your hand and wrist too. It can get really really bad, and quite a lot of people end up having surgery for it. Luckily I only have it very mildly at the moment.

BUT I think probably one of the contributing factors to me getting it is using the computer as much as I do (it's the only thing I can really think of), so I want to cut down and rest my hands as much as possible. My job, which is pretty much 100% computer based, really has to take priority, so I'm probably only going to be posting here on days where I have little to no work. (If that, because let's face it, I'm hardly a prolific blogger in the first place!)

Hopefully once I've figured out how to manage my symptoms and have made my computer setup a bit more wrist friendly I will stop having issues when typing. In the meantime though I'm still going to be reading other blogs.

Now I need to find hobbies that don't involve me using my hands!


Things that made me happy this week #4

Ellie is off jetting around Europe this week so I doubt that she will be posting, but I thought I would write a happy things list this week anyway. I am finding this really helpful in making me appreciate the good, even when everything seems pretty dark and gloomy (like it did last week).


1) Beautiful sunsets

jimjamjenikoさん(@jimjamjeniko)が投稿した写真 -

I don't know what it was about last week but for whatever reason, on clear days the sunsets have been pretty spectacular. Plus, I have been able to see Mt. Fuji way more often than I normally can this time of year, which always makes me happy.

2) Walks in the park

Okay, I say walks, I've only really been on one.. but whatever. About 3 minutes away from where I live there is a pretty massive park which I went for walks in all of the time over the winter, but have avoided since it got hot out. But I decided that I was going to go for a walk after lunch today, sweat be damned! And I am glad that I did because it was BEAUTIFUL. There were loads of flowers out (mainly hydrangeas), and while I was walking I could hear Japanese bush warblers (鶯 (uguisu) in Japanese) chirping away (click here for a video of one. Awww), and honestly it was lovely. Even though I had chosen a slightly silly sock/shoe combination that led to getting pretty painful rubs on my ankles. It was TOTALLY WORTH IT!

3) Being in a feast month

Nothing to do with eating, but more to do with the amount of work I have to do! I had heard before quitting my old job that freelancing was a bit of a feast or famine kind of situation, and that is definitely true. I have actually been doing way better than I predicted I would, but there's still a little knot of worry in my stomach at the beginning of every month that I won't get enough work coming in (the nature of the kind of translation I do means that larger projects are few and far between, and most things come in suddenly)... but this month I definitely have enough already, with more work on the horizon. Huzzah!

4) Spending quality time with my husband

I think I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but my husband is working insane hours recently, and has also been going in at the weekends. This means though that I appreciate the time that I do get to spend with him SO much more, which is definitely a good thing! Hopefully this will only carry on until the end of July though...

I am super busy this week but hopefully it'll be a good one!


Things that made me happy this week #3

Another week, another list of happy things! As always, you can find the things that have made Ellie over at Lit Nerd happy this week and see links to other people's lists here.

1. Chihayafuru 

I think this is from the anime rather than the manga, but whatever!
I haven't read any manga that I have become addicted to for a while, so it was a pleasant surprise to find Chihayafuru! I have read 14 or so volumes in the past week (in Japanese - that is an astoundingly fast pace for me) and I am actually having to stop myself from reading it all of the time so I can get other things done. Alas, I don't think there is an official English version. If nothing else, I think it would be really difficult to translate as it is based around competitve karuta, a card game that uses waka (a traditional type of Japanese poetry)... It is giving me a new appreciation for classical Japanese though (whereas up until now I have just thought I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE SAYING!!! even though I did a module on it at university, hehe).

2. Book shopping

Despite having a book based blog I don't actually go book shopping that much, weirdly! If I am in the area of one of the big bookshops with a decent English section in Tokyo I will always go and have a look, but because I am trying to read in Japanese all this month I have been going to bookshops and picking up things that look interesting to try to keep my motivation up. I forgot how much I love book shopping! I forgot how much my wallet doesn't love book shopping! Hehe.

3. Barley tea

Now that it is warmish in Japan (although having said that, it's really not very warm today), I feel like I can start enjoying all of my usual food and drink that gets me through Japanese summers, starting with barley tea. It's super easy to make, you just throw a teabag into a jug of water, put it in the fridge and wait for a few hours, but there is nothing quite so refreshing as a glass of barley tea when you've been walking around in the sun all day. Yum!

4. Realising that I can change things that are making me unhappy

So I didn't have the best week last week (in spite of all the books!), but after thinking about everything that has been bothering me, I have realised that although I can't control some of the things that are making me unhappy, I can accept things and try to make the most of them, or think of ways to stop them from getting me down. I can also take a step back and realise that although things aren't too great at the moment, overall I am pretty lucky!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some Japanese reading to do.


May reading round-up

I am actually posting this only 4 days into June! I AM SO PROUD OF MYSELF!

The books that I read in May:

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

I saw the film a few years ago and enjoyed it, and I have liked everything else by Gaiman I have read so I was pretty sure I would like the book. It turned out that I had forgotten almost everything about the film so I can't really compare the two, but I really liked it! I was under the impression though that it was aimed at children (not entirely sure why), but one of the characters gets it on in a field towards the beginning so... I guess not! Anyway, Neil Gaiman is quickly turning into one of my favourite reliably good authors! Any advice on which book I should read next?

Under the Skin by Michel Faber

The book is about a woman who drives around picking up hitchhikers in Scotland, for what are initially mysterious reasons. Some of them she drugs and takes away with her, and some of them she actually takes wherever it is that they were heading. She starts off as a complete mystery, although actually I knew some major spoilers before reading the book (thanks to reviews of the film that came out a while ago), but the book made me want to find out what I knew again, if that makes any sense! It was well done, is basically what I'm trying to say. If you are interested in reading it I suggest maybe not finding out too much about it beforehand.
I thought it was a really interesting book. It kept on surprising me, and I pretty much couldn't put it down while I was reading it.

Seconds by Brian Lee O' Malley

I have not read Scott Pilgrim, although I did see and really like the film, so this is my first graphic novel of his. Katie, the main character, discovers that she can travel back in time to undo past mistakes, and then takes that idea to extremes. I really liked her as a character, and even though there are a lot of takes on this kind of idea, I thought it was done really well and am looking forward to reading it again at some point! I am also definitely going to get to Scott Pilgrim one day as well now (although I believe the general consensus is that this is better?)

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

The hosts of the Bookrageous podcast talk about how much they love A. S. King's YA fiction a lot, and I've always meant to try it at some point. Then they had her as a guest on a recent (might not be so recent, I tend to store up lots of podcasts and binge on them) podcast, and a lot of what she was saying struck a chord with me so I immediately decided to buy one of her books. I'm glad I did, because I really liked it! This is definitely more of an issue based YA book, where the main character is struggling with how the other people in her life will deal with her sexuality. The book also contains a slightly fantastical element, as the main character, Astrid, sends up love, questions and thoughts to the passengers on planes that fly overhead, and then we see how this affects the passengers. Sometimes I thought this fantastic part didn't quite work as well as it could have, but for the most part I loved it! I already have another A.S. King book lined up to read, and I am looking forward to getting to it!

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

This is the second discworld book, and it also follows the adventures of Rincewind and Twoflower immediately following the events of the last book, and with an impending apocalypse hanging over them. This is definitely much more of an actual novel than The Colour of Magic which is more like a series of set pieces put together, and I think it is the better for it. I still think that the Rincewind books are a bit weaker than some of the others in general, but overall it was very enjoyable!

A Girl is a Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

Oh I do not know what to say about this one. On the one hand, the book is written so it is kind of like a stream of consciousness, which I found immensely irritating and pretentious at first. But once I got into the flow of it I started to get into the story more, although to be honest the story was pretty bleak and nasty, so.... hmm. Overall I think I did like it, but this is definitely not an easy read, and I found myself getting really annoyed at the main character and some of the decisions that she was making, while also sort of understanding why she was doing it at the same time. To be honest, my reaction to the main character's behaviour made me question quite a few of my in-built prejudices, which I think is always a good thing! I think it will stick with me for quite a long time, although I'm not sure how widely I would recommend it. If you are not afraid of a slightly more challenging book that requires quite a bit of concentration to read, then why not!

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman

Loved it. Proper review (mainly of the whole Magicians series rather than this one) coming shortly!

Attack on Titan volumes 6 and 7 by Hajime Isayama (read in Japanese)

So I picked this back up again after my husband pointed out that I was rubbish at finishing things that I start and used this manga as an example, and I did actually enjoy these volumes. I have already picked up the next few volumes for the Tadoku thing I'm doing now, yay. My one major nitpick with the books is that quite a few of the characters look pretty similar and I have problems telling them apart. This may be because I actually am pretty bad at reading manga though, especially manga with lots of action like this one.

Saga volume 4 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Excellent. If you haven't started reading Saga yet, what are you doing?! This and Ms. Marvel are seriously making me consider starting to read individual comic issues.


Things that made me happy this week #2

1) My friend visiting from Korea

My friend Dave (that is, unsurprisingly, not his Korean name) came over to Japan to see the Kendo world championship and stayed a night at my house, and then I was able to spend the next day with him and it was really nice to catch up! He was like an older brother to me in my makeshift year abroad studying in Japan family.

From the left: Taka (my husband!), Saroda (another member of my year
abroad family) and Dave, taken when we visited Korea in 2011. I would
have put up a picture from this time but I didn't take any because I suck

2) Cleaning all the things!

So I wasn't super happy about this before I did it, but in preparation for Dave coming I cleaned my flat much more thoroughly than I normally would, and now I get to enjoy the fact that all of the places that I always mean to clean but somehow never get round to are actually clean! If only things didn't naturally get dirty again over time.

3) Realising that I might actually be developing a healthy body image

This is heading into super shallow country, but, as most girls do, I had serious problems with self-image for years, but I realised a few days ago that I just really don't care about it in the way that I used to. So although I know I'm not as healthy as I could be and still have some issues with food (I'm working on it), I don't get down about how look at all any more. I'm not sure whether I would have naturally got to this place by now anyway, or whether a large part of it is to do with living in Japan where I look completely different to the majority of people around me (I do not in any way have the same body type as a lot of girls here do, and I think that stops me from comparing myself so much! I also get lots of positive comments about how I look (but I have also been told that I look really like Nicole Kidman (I do not) so I tend to take these with a grain of salt)) This is definitely a good thing though! Yay!

4) Studying and spending free time productively

So the MOOC thing I talked about last week is going well so far, and I am actually finding it nice to have productive to do when I'm not working. I have also decided to make more of an effort to do things in Japanese, and I have signed up for a Tadoku contest. Tadoku is basically the idea of learning a language through reading a LOT - it is made up of Kanji which mean "many" and "read", which makes sense, right? The contest is basically who can read the most in a foreign language over a month in this case, although there's a massive range of learners doing it, so I think most people find someone who is around the same level as them and compete with them, rather than aiming for first place (I could probably aim for first place, but we'll see how it goes!) I am actually still in 13th place in the overall rankings for the contest, even though I haven't actually taken part in one since 2011 (I think???) - goes to show how much free time I had that year I think, hehe.

Anyway, I already finished my first book (it was only a tiny one) and I remembered that I actually really enjoy reading in Japanese. Not sure how I forgot that...

See Ellie's list and things that have made other people happy here!