Monthly Archives: August 2013

In A Hundred Words

Today, instead of a topic post, I’m gonna share some creative writing.  But first, I’m gonna give you, dear readers, a little information on what’s going to become a regular thing.

For these new In A Hundred Words posts, the challenge is to (obviously) write a story in a mere one hundred words.  The thing is, this is much more difficult than it sounds.  In just one hundred words, you as the writer have to convey an entire beginning middle and end of a plot.  You have to develop a character and portray that character’s personality.  It’s an intense exercise in writing.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s my first In A Hundred Words.

The hallway was silent. Lockers hung open on their tarnished hinges, shreds of decaying backpacks dripping from what hooks hadn’t rusted away. Rats scurry to their dark hiding places as I pass.

My heart beat in my chest so loud that I could hear it echoing just as loud as my own footsteps. I took a breath in.

Something else breathed out. I could feel the heat of it behind me. My blood ran cold. The rats had stopped scurrying. Without other sound to mask it, I could hear the faint drip splat of saliva hitting the cracked tile floor.

Please feel free to leave a comment telling me what you think!

An remember to enjoy the journey as creatively as possible!

-Kate

Weekly Update #3

Okay, okay, I know this is late going up.  But you know what?  I was at a wedding on Sunday.  No time to post!  As for yesterday, I drove back down from Walker, MN and sort of crashed for the rest of the day.  I’m an introvert and being around so many people took a lot out of me.

So, let’s just recap the wedding first.  MIKE AND MISSY ARE MARRIED!! I’m beyond happy for them!  Mike is one of my best friends and I’m just pleased as punch to see him find someone as special as Missy is.  She’s basically perfect for him in every possible way.  It was a gorgeous ceremony at an amazing location.  And free booze at the bar at the reception!  But really, it was really just perfection to see two people who love each other like Mike and Missy do united by marriage.

I was lucky enough to be invited to hang with Mike and Missy, Missy’s sister Molly and friend Missy S., and Mike’s friend Pat at the MN State Fair on Thursday before we caravaned up to Mike’s parent’s place in Nevis.  So many delicious fried foods!  I’m sure I lost about 6 months of my life from all that deep fried goodness.  Not that I’m mad about it, mind you.

Friday and Saturday were spent hanging out with the M&M gang on the lake interspersed with wedding work – I was the wedding photographer.  Friday we scouted locations for bridal party photos and family photos, Saturday was the rehearsal.  And Sunday, of course, was the big day!  Busy day for not just the happy couple, but for me as well!  I have somewhere around 1,000 photos to go through and edit.  I’m looking forward to seeing my shots on my nice, big computer screen, but I’m socialized out from the past four days and need to recuperate.

Don’t get me wrong, it was fun to meet new people and get to know others a bit better – Missy’s sister Molly and her friend “Other” Missy for example.  And I got to meet more of Mike’s family, too, which was cool.  His brother Eric and his sister Emma I got to meet for the first time.  Mike’s whole family is simply too sweet for words!

I got a lot of color being outside so much, too.  Burned at the State Fair, like I always burn when I neglect to put on sunscreen, but managed to keep the sun at bay on the boat with some SPF 70 liberally applied.  So for the first time that I can remember, I’m what some might consider tan instead of either a pasty white or a fiery red.  That’s what you have to deal with when you’ve got Scandinavian blood!

Let’s see, what else?  Moving day is coming up pretty quickly.  I was just informed my mom is coming up this weekend to help me pack and start bringing things back to IA.  I have a lot of work to do before then and I really don’t want to do any of it.  Sometimes packing seems too overwhelming for me.  But, it’s gotta get done.  Maybe I’ll reward myself tomorrow by packing all day and then getting ice cream.

It’s almost time for more Welcome to Night Vale.  I hope you’ve all given it a listen, dear readers.  It really is quite the entertaining podcast.  You know, as long as you stay away from the dog park.

Sorry if this post seems to ramble; I’m still feeling drained from my busy weekend.  I just wanted to get some sort of update up before I got all off schedule. Regular posting schedule should be resuming tomorrow.

No matter how busy it gets, enjoy the journey.

-Kate

Imagine

I daydream. A lot.  About everything.  And one of those everythings I daydream a lot about is how I’m going to change my lifestyle once I move to Japan.

Part of it is imagining my “perfect” life.  Part of it is knowing I need to change my ways to be healthier and happier regardless of where I’m living.  Part of it is wanting to just completely reinvent myself and be a different version of me.

I imagine how I would decorate my room/apartment: what kind of furniture I’d get, how I’d make conscious choices to accent the room, the color scheme of each room, how I’d style the things I owned/used in an aesthetically pleasing way.

I imagine how I’d pitch my entire wardrobe and get all brand new clothes in a brand new style.  No more band t-shirts and baggy jeans.  I imagine myself wearing fashionable, well-fitting jeans and pants with plain tanks and t-shirts, layering blouses or cardigans over top.  I imagine myself sporting natural-looking make-up and easy, “thrown together” hair styles.

I imagine myself eating healthier, being more physically active, waking up earlier, being more productive on a daily basis, cleaning every day and keeping everything neat and tidy.  I imagine myself drinking tea on the balcony, surrounded by greenery, reading a book in the dimming light of sunset.  I imagine myself sitting at a local cafe with a notebook and pen, fleshing out one of the million stories swirling around my mind.  I imagine myself taking more and better photos and getting paid to do so.

But here’s the thing.  Most of this stuff doesn’t actually depend on where I’m living.  If I want a fresh start, I can just make a fresh start.  It won’t be as easy to reinvent myself if I’m surrounded by things from my “old life,” but it’s doable.

For instance, if I want to start eating healthier, I can simply start eating healthier.  I know it’s not that simple, but I could make better choices regarding the food I eat.  I could absolutely start going for daily walks and build up into daily runs.  It would take dedication, but it’s doable.  If I want to read more, I should just grab a book, walk to the park, and sit and read.  Not difficult by any means.

I don’t know about you, dear readers, but sometimes I feel trapped in my life.  I feel trapped in this version of myself.  Sometimes I feel like I can’t go read in the park because I have other issues I need to work on first.

I feel like I can’t do one thing without doing some other thing first.  But I’m currently up in Nevis, MN, staying with one of my best friends and getting prepared for his wedding on Sunday.  And you know what I did today?  I sat out on a boat for hours and read.  I drank water instead of soda.  I did a lot of walking yesterday at the State Fair.

These are things I could do every day.  I could read every day.  I could drink water every day.  I could go walk every day.  But when I’m at home in my apartment, I feel like I’m back in a cycle of eating junk food, sleeping all day, and just sitting around watching whatever I find mildly interesting on Netflix.

As I was thinking about this and working out what exactly I was going to write about for this post, I thought to myself ‘Yeah, I don’t have to wait until I move to Japan to make these changes.  I can do it when I move home in October!

And then I realized what I’d just thought.  That’s the whole point of this post.  I don’t need to wait for some major life event to change the things I want to change about myself and my lifestyle.

Because it’s your journey and you deserve to enjoy it exactly the way you want.

-Kate

Weekly Update #2

Time for a weekly update of the goings-on of my life!  Because I know you’re all so interested in what I’ve been up to.  I mean, keeping tabs on my schedule will help all of you, my dear readers, to figure out the best times and places to stalk me.  I’m sure that’s the only reason you all read my blog.

Anyway, I haven’t really been up to much.  Slowly packing for my impending move back to IA.  A lot of the things I’ve acquired over the years are things that I could probably stand to get rid of.  So a lot of my clothes, knickknacks, and other odds and ends are going to Good Will or, in the event that I can’t give it away, in the trash.  Where it will probably be taken away, either by trash collector or garbage man.  Some of my furniture that I won’t be needing at home or taking to Japan I’m trying to find good homes for.  My couch is already safely rescued by my dear friend John, but I still am looking to rid myself of a coffee table, an end table, and a TV stand, if anyone in the Minneapolis area that reads this might be interested.

My flight to Seattle has been booked!  Hotel also booked!  I’m excited to get this process underway because I just want a “Yes, we’d like to hire you and you will be working in Nagoya and you can start in March.” Those are all the things I want, by the way.  I would like to be hired, I would like to work in Nagoya, and I would like to start training in March.  But I can’t get any of those answers until September.

I’m going to be photographing one of my best friend’s wedding this weekend.  I’m heading up north to Nevis on Thursday and probably won’t come back until Monday at the earliest.  I’ll be staying at Mike’s parents’ cabin, which I’ve been to before and absolutely adore.  It’ll be a nice change in pace and scenery.  Also, it’s on a lake and I plan on getting some color.  The color will be bright red because I’m the whitest of whites and don’t tan.  I will do my best to post my weekly update on Sunday, like always, but I make no promises.  I never make any promises.

To fill in all of the free time I have being self-employed, I’ve been starting to prep for my hopeful move to Japan.  I cracked open one of my old textbooks from when I studied in Japan and went “uuugh, whaaa?” because I couldn’t read it as naturally as I could read English.  I used to be pretty fluent, but I haven’t spoken, written, or read Japanese since I moved to Minnesota and it shows.  So I’m working through some of my older textbooks to get back some of my fluency.

In the rest of my free time, I’ve been watching an anime called Fairy Tail, which is really good.  And me saying an anime is really good means it’s really good because I don’t usually like many anime.  I know, shocking that someone who loves all things Japan doesn’t automatically love all things anime.  And then there is Night Vale.  Oh, dear readers, Night Vale!  If you enjoy Lovecraft-ian stories, then you will most definitely probably enjoy the podcast Welcome to Night Vale.  If you are already part of the Night Vale inner circle, then please join me in hailing the Glow Cloud.  ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY GLOW CLOUD MASTER OF US ALL.

ALL HAIL.

Kate

Dollars and Sense

So, I have my confirmed interview date from ECC as September 24th in Seattle, WA.  Now, I don’t know if you remember, but I live in the Midwest.  Specifically Minneapolis.  That’s a little far away.  And by “a little” I mean it’s a 2 day drive at least.  If I were to drive.  The other interview locations are all just as far away from home base for me.  San Francisco, New York, and Toronto.  All out on the coasts.  I kind of wish ECC had a location in Chicago.  That would make life way easier for me and everyone else from the center of the US who wanted to apply.

My plan is to fly out to Seattle the day before my interview, and fly back home the day after.  This requires a plane ticket and a hotel room.  As well as money for food and cost of transportation to and from the airport.  And if I land the job, there’s even more money I need to throw at a plane ticket to Japan and an apartment and all the other costs which come with moving, let alone moving to a different country.  On top of all of that, I have student loans looming over my head.  I have bills to pay and currently have zero money coming in to offset those costs.

So what can I do to at least try and make ends meet?  I’ve lucked out on having basically the best parents out there.  They’ve been helping me financially since I got out of school and haven’t been able to find a job.  But I know I can’t rely on them for much longer.  They have their own bills to pay.  My current lease is up at the end of September, so I’m doing something I swore to myself that I would never absolutely ever do:

I’m moving back home.

I was of the mindset that I’d live on the street before I moved back home.  There’s a lot of reasons I was set on never doing this.  The biggest reason being as that I saw moving back in with your parents meant that you failed.  You failed at being a functioning adult.  You failed at living your dream.  You just failed in every way you possibly could fail.  And failure – even the mere idea of it – terrifies me.  I still struggle with failure and my attitude towards it, and I still struggle with the decision I’ve made to move home.  But I know it’s something I’ve just got to bite the bullet and do.  I can’t save any money when I do get a job if I have to spend all that money on rent and electricity and internet and whatnot.

I recognize that living with my parents for a while again is financially necessary for me.  And even though I don’t think I’ll ever really be comfortable with the idea, I just keep telling myself that it’s only until I can move to Japan.  I’m fairly confident that I’ll do well in my ECC interview and will land the job.  Then it’s just a matter of getting a start date.  If I had my choice, I’d move over in March.  I feel like that would give me enough time to find a job in IA and save up the money required to get myself and my stuff to Japan without pushing my limits on living with my parents again.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and I’m beyond grateful to them for helping me out at this rough time in my life.  But I am 25 and I’ve been living on my own since I started college (the first time) in 2006.  I’m used to having my own schedule and living my own way.  I’m worried that I might clash with my parents over that sort of thing.

I already get frustrated with my father over silly things that don’t matter in the long run.  For example, he suggested I contact a cousin of mine who has a teaching degree and teaches ESL in Indonesia.  Which is a fine idea, one I will probably end up doing, but the way it was suggested to me made me feel like he wasn’t just suggesting, but telling me that I needed to do this.  We got into a bit of a fight then because I mentioned that my best friend already works for ECC (the company I’m applying to) and has gone through the exact same application process I will be going through.  Then we butted heads about how I should contact my cousin – email or Facebook.  My dad said email because he said my cousin might not like having a conversation like that in a place where the whole public can see.  But, Facebook does have private messaging, as I mentioned, and since my cousin is the same age as me, probably is quicker to respond via Facebook than via email.  It boils down to my father wanting to help me in every way he can and coming across as wanting to control how I do things while all I want is for him to be supportive of my choices and decisions while letting me make my own mistakes and letting me do things in my own time and on my own terms.

So while I’m going to get frustrated with Dad over this, I’m going to ask him to help me keep a budget to save as much money as I can while I’m living at home.  I know I’ve never been good at managing my money or sticking to a budget.  But I want to give myself the best start in Japan, and I know the amount of money I can stockpile will play a key part in that.  I know my downfalls whenever I try to create a budget is that I don’t write down every single thing I spend money on.  I’ll leave off the $5 I spend at CVS on snacks that I don’t really need.  I’ll forget to write down the lunch I grabbed while I was out running errands because I didn’t bring my designated budget notebook with me.  And next thing I know I’ll glance at my little budget notebook as I carry in groceries or pull out my guilty book buy that I “didn’t intend” on buying but really did intend on buying.

The other big thing that kills my budgeting plan before it even gets started is that I typically use my debit or credit cards instead of cash.  It’s very true that it’s easy to overspend if you’re not physically handing paper money over to the cashier.  If I’m paying by card, yeah, I’ll throw that box of tea I’ve been meaning to try in my cart without even glancing at the price.  But when I’ve got $30 in my wallet and I need milk, bread, and eggs, then I’m only getting milk, bread, and eggs, no matter how longingly I stare at the pint of ice cream on sale.  Okay, well, maybe if it’s on sale…  But then I can’t afford coffee when my friends want to hang out downtown and catch up.

If you have similar poor spending habits, might I suggest the envelope system?  I’m going to try this once I have income to try it with.  In Japan, it’s a very cash-based society.  I hardly ever used my debit card, unless I was withdrawing money for the weekend or whatever.  But I tended to spend more wisely and think twice and twice again about the things I was buying because I was handing over cash.  And when a coin says “100” on it, even if it’s only the equivalent of US$1, it feels like it’s worth more, silly as it may seem.

So I think I’ll just leave this post about budgeting and save my fury over the ridiculously low minimum wage for another day.

However much it costs, enjoy the journey.

-Kate

DOS Weekly Update #1

I’m still trying to figure out the best posting schedule for me and for this blog. It’ll probably be changing pretty often until I settle in to a steady job and sort out my posting schedule with Anne. So please bear with me as I get it all sorted out! For the time being, I’m trying to post bi weekly on Wednesdays and Sundays, with Sundays being just a weekly update and Wednesdays being in depth on a certain subject. I’d like to add some creative writing or crafting in somewhere along the line, but I haven’t figured that bit out yet.

Before this becomes a post about me trying to figure out what to post, let me recap my week for all you curious people out there.

Last weekend, I cat-sit for one of my best friends. I’m doing the same this weekend. His two boys, Blackie and T (Tail Light), are very comfortable around me as I’ve been hanging out with them since I moved to MN in 2010. I make it a point to spend several hours over at my friend’s apartment so the kitties can have some company. I use that time to come up with blog post ideas and do research on those ideas as needed. I mean to use that time to get some creative writing done or work on my cross stitch or read some more of Good Omens, but I end up watching Always Sunny and intermittently napping on the couch instead.

Tuesday, I went to see The National play at Roy Wilkins with two of my best friends and a fiance. Mike and John were down on the floor while Missy (Mike’s fiance) and I had balcony seats. It was an amazing night. I got to get to know Missy better, as Mike is one of my best friends, and got to see an awesome show. I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of The National, but I have listened to them and do enjoy them from time to time. The way I describe it is I don’t really actively seek to listen to them when I’ve got iTunes on shuffle, but if The National comes on I don’t skip it. But holy crap, these guys were 200x better live, in my opinion. Their music is pretty mellow, at least from what I’ve listened to, and that’s not my favorite thing for music to be, but when this band was on stage I was riveted. I was recording it for Mike, and I cannot wait to get a copy of the show to watch over and over and over again.

Notice how this BAMF doesn’t use a microphone. His voice is that powerful. I was in complete awe. I can’t say enough good things about The National.

I gained some new followers on Instagram because of the show, too, which makes me happy. I was taking pictures and videos pretty much non-stop until my phone died and tagging them, as instructed by The National on Facebook, #ntnlroy and I’m actually really impressed with the photos I was able to get with my phone’s camera in the balcony. Pretty sure you can find my Instagram at the bottom of this blog, so just keep scrolling. And if you don’t see it there, I was lying and I’m sorry, I’ll fix it shortly.

Wednesday and Thursday were just kinda chill days. I ran errands when I needed to, but mostly stayed home and played Skyrim and started looking at places that are hiring in the QC.

Thursday night, I got the reply from ECC. It was actually sent to me several days before I actually saw it, but it slipped through the cracks and ended up in the junk folder. I don’t know why, I added the email address the application told me I’d be getting a reply from so that wouldn’t happen, but computers, man. What’s up with those things, am I right? [insert forced laugh here] Anyway, I called my mom at, like, 11:30 PM and woke her up. I’m sorry mom! I was just super excited! I hope you got back to sleep!

Friday, I discussed with my father how this would all go down because I had to reply by yesterday about what dates/locations I could interview at. I was frustrated because to me, it didn’t seem like dad was taking this as seriously and urgently as I thought it needed to be dealt with. But Saturday morning, we got it sorted out and a reply sent off. I just really hope I didn’t miss the deadline and that I get a reply tomorrow about interview dates.

Other than all of that, I’ve been listening to an inordinate amount of Mumford & Sons‘ new album Babel lately. I was really digging the music because I’m basically in love with Mumford’s voice, but when I started listening to the lyrics, they were sometimes-not-so-subtly Christian. Which weirds me out a little bit, seeing as I’m not really religious by any stretch of the imagination. But my religious beliefs is a whole ‘nother string of posts to deal with at a later date. For now, have a video and a song that I absolutely love beyond words.

Enjoy the journey, guys.

Kate

Thank You For Your Consideration

Last Tuesday night I filled out and sent in an application for ECC.  It was incredibly nerve-wracking to sit there and try to answer questions like “Describe your personality/character” and make the little teaching experience I have seem like I have a good grasp of what I’m doing in a classroom.  Thankfully, my friend Anne was there to help me out.  She’s worked for ECC for three years and knows what the company is looking for in a teacher.

The application process is entirely online.  After you submit your application and double-check the information you entered and submit it again, the website informs you that you’ll get a reply in 12 days, if you’re chosen by the powers that be in the ECC hiring hierarchy.  Seeing as I submitted my application around 9 PM, I figured no one would start processing it until Wednesday morning.  So, 12 days from the date I submitted myself for the consideration of ECC – July 31 – ends up falling on Sunday, August 11th.  But, me being typical overly nervous, constantly over-thinking me, obviously need to compensate for weekends, even if ECC’s website doesn’t explicitly say “business days.”  That gives me until August 15th before I start freaking out and crying about not getting the job.

However, as Anne informed me, this “12 day” reply policy is not very strict.  According to her, she got her invitation to an interview after the 12 day period.  And there’s apparently a similar time restraint on hearing back after your interview.  Which also seems to not apply in some cases.  Like Anne’s case.  She didn’t get a job offer until after the “we will reply to you within XX days” deadline.

This all means that I am going to worry unnecessarily until I have a clear, definitive answer as to whether or not I can continue in ECC’s hiring process.  Getting this job will change my life.  And I’m not being dramatic.  It’s either get this job now or move back in with my parents to save money.  One thing is clearly preferable over the other.  (Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and I’m beyond grateful that they’re willing and able to help me out).  So, until I know for sure what my future holds, I’m going to sit here and have a mini heart attack every time my phone alerts me that I have a new email.  I’m going to rack my brain trying to remember if I mistyped my email address (I know for a fact that I didn’t, but facts don’t matter to my nerves).  I’m going to count down the days, the hours, the very minutes until I get a reply.  Or don’t get a reply.

This is the most nervous I’ve ever been about a job.  I just need to breathe and believe I put forth my best face on my application.  If I don’t get an interview, then I’ll just have to apply and try again.  I need to remember that one rejection does not mean I should give up.

Whatever happens, enjoy the journey.

Kate