Intro post

Dec. 12th, 2020 07:29 pm
tossino: (Default)
This is a short, sweet thing (or at least it tried to be) about who the Toss is.

Snip snip )
tossino: (Default)
The Japanese are a badass people, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Sweden is a pretty rude country, at least in comparison. And I'm rude even for Sweden, if I'm going to be completely honest. I struggle somewhat with 'please's and 'thank you's because, for some reason, they feel wrong in my mouth. I'm getting better about it, seeing as it's just kind of a given to let people know you appreciate something they've done, and it's kind of pleasant in general or something.

Japan is incredibly polite in that way. Because of this, they might come off as somewhat meek and quiet and ... stuff. In a way I guess that's not completely out there. And as much as Japan is one of cleanliest and safest countries in the world - a place where you can leave your bag and jacket and stuff in your bike and be certain that it'll still be there when you come back - it's also a place that works against you in all kinds of ways.

At least if you don't have a car. And somewhat even then.

It's not news that they don't have a lot of space. I think everyone knows that. Sweden is quite a lot bigger, but we have much fewer people. We have so much space, with forests that stretch for kilometers upon kilometers, and we can build big, with wide spaces. Japan builds high because they have hardly any space anywhere else, and their living spaces are generally small.

And it's not just the buildings. It's everything. Biking in Japan is awful. I haven't liked biking much for a long time, especially not at high speeds. I think I developed that attitude after a particularly bad fall when my siblings and I raced down a hill. Let's just say that after my homestay period, when I biked about three hours every day, I've gained a sort of trust in my own abilities on a bike.

Unless it's a big road - and sometimes even then - if there is a walkway at all, it's narrow. On one side you have either a wall to someone's yard, bushes or even buildings, and on the other you either have some barrier - thick cement or metal railing - blocking the way to the road or just the road with cars rushing by.

To get to school I had to cross two bridges. Which, by the way, were pretty narrow for half of it, when the cars needed three lanes. In between those bridges, there is one stretch where you have a lovely cement barrier. Beside every road are asphalt lids with holes in them covering the sewer system. They're maybe half a meter wide, if even that. 40 cm? Something liike that. Right before a traffic light, the walkway inexplicably narrows to only that half meter, with the cement on the other side. It's just enough space for one bike to pass through. The first time, I ended up sort of hopping along it with one foot on the barrier, but very soon I managed to get myself to actually bike through it.

I really don't like biking much.

Never mind the short stretch of one-bike-fit, though. Usually, you can just fit two bikes next to each other on the walkways in Japan. And Japanese people don't bike on the road with the cars. Supposedly people should bike on the left side of the road, but if you know anything about people you know that we don't listen to those kind of rules. We go on any side. I do try to mostly go on the left, but if that's just bothersome, I don't.

Inevitably, you're going to meet another bike. At first I much preferred stopping, trying to take up as little space as possible and letting the other bike pass. Now I can actually keep biking myself too, but every time I feel like a crash is somewhat inevitable and while I try to keep up the speed enough that it's easy to hold the bike steady, it's incredibly difficult for me to do so.

The Japanese just swish by. In fact, quite often, they bike side by side as they chat. When two bikes can only just fit. I'm enchanted every time I see it.

And then, the drivers just don't care. In Sweden, if there's no walkway or bikelane for people to bike on, the drivers generally slow down and pass with a lot of space if possible, and if not possible, if they pass at all it's very slowly. In Japan, you have to make sure there's enough space so you don't get hit yourself. While the cars will more or less yield if there's room, if there's not they're very likely to just go right ahead anyway, without necessarily slowing down.

I have had to got into a habit of not going further to the side if there's a pillar of any sort up ahead, because either I stop, collide with the pillar or hold a line that makes it possible for me to go past the pillar. Several times cars have passed me with something like a decimeter between me and them. In Japan, you have to hold a straight line. And I mean hold it. No one will fix space for you. Take just as much space as you need, and you'll be fine.

At the same time, though, I must say a lot of them are very nice in that they let you pass when I'm pretty sure they're technically the ones that should pass first. If they see you, they'll let you through.

Then there are the lights. Japan has no. Streetlights. Or if they do, they probably don't light up the street properly anyway. Since I have afternoon classes, when I was in the homestay I had to bike home in the dark, and it is incredibly bad. I'm still puzzled as to why they do that. I've seen streets with lights that simply didn't have the lights on.

So not only are the streets narrow, the walkways bad or nonexistent, and the cars not quite so careful, you can't really see. The cars provide more light than anything else. So because of that, I actually kind of liked when there was a lot of traffic, as much as it was also kind of terrifying because traffic.

And a lot of the Japanese bike fast, despite all this. I'm in awe, to be honest.

Then, while they're doing that, the girls have an added amazing thing. Japan has school uniforms. This requires girls to wear skirts, and here's the kicker.

They're not allowed to wear tights or leggings with them.

While I have seen some of them, now that it's colder, wear trousers under the skirts that I assume they've carried with them in their bag and just don't wear in school, I have also seen plenty that wait at bus stops, walk or bike home with their legs bare. Now, the winter here is far from as cold as Sweden's can get, and the coldest it's been has been a couple of minus degrees, but there is no way I would go in a skirt without anything else in anything below 15C. Japanese girls do.

Sometimes they do when they're not wearing school uniforms either. In which case I don't know if they're tough or just ... I mean, why would you put yourself through that willingly? I don't really get it.

Still. Respect. That's some hardass shit right there.
tossino: (Default)
Ask a westerner what sushi is and the'll probably answer "raw fish," and possibly add something about it being wrapped in seaweed. Also wasabi. In fact, a friend said that he knows of people who consider sushi only salmon, which is just so far out there, even in the western world. Where have you eaten sushi?

The truth is, sushi is so much more than that, at least in Japan. If you're talking raw fish, you're talking about something called sashimi 刺身. Which, when putting it on rice or wrapping it in seaweed with rice, becomes sushi.

Considering Japan is the land of soy, soy milk, tofu, sweet bean paste etc. etc., you'd think it might be reasonably easy to be a vegetarian. I didn't really know what to expect, but I have discovered that this is really not the case. Before I arrived in Japan, I was the talk of the school because I'd answered in the forms that I'm a vegetarian. This is something rare and shocking and amazing in Japan, it seems. Not to mention that say you're a vegetarian and they think you eat fish because fish isn't meat I guess.

I ask for food with no meat or fish rather than say I'm vegetarian at restaurants because it's simply the quickest way. And when I do that, they're always taken aback. At least in Sweden, more and more people are becoming vegetarian and it's not strange at all anymore. I mean, an all vegetarian restaurant even opened in Liseberg and it was very crowded. Here, it makes me even more of an alien.

"Sou desu neee..." they say - a polite way to say "uhhhh" (or "let me think," if you like) in Japanese - scratching their chin and thinking hard while they flip through the menu.

As a vegetarian anywhere, though, you don't really tend to expect there to be more than, say, a sallad for you, if anything at all. When my school was arranging a Christmas party and said they'd offer a small lunch (pizza), I prepared myself for having to arrange my own. One of the teachers surprised me by coming up and asking what I eat. "No meat, no fish. Do you eat egg?" And they made sure there was vegetarian pizza for me. I was very touched.

Now you probably wouldn't expect this - I sure didn't - but it turns out that so far the food with the most options for me have been sushi. Because it is, in fact, not raw fish. It's fish and meat and soy beans (fermented called natto 納豆 and I don't like them, alas) and egg and soy sauce and nori (the seaweed you wrap the rice and stuff in) and cucumber and corn and mayonnaise (Japan loves mayonnaise) and wasabi and another kind of seaweed that you put in the wraps and not the wrapping and which's name I forgot. Oh, and the rice of course. Also meatballs??? Don't ask me.

The world of sushi is vast and while there would be far more options for me if I weren't a vegetarian, there are easily at least three options and it's not just salads that won't actually fill me up. I can actually last for a few hours on what it offers.

Bless sushi.
tossino: (Dozing)
This post touches on a controversial topic (racism) so if you do not wish to read that I suggest you move on.

Before I left Sweden, many times when I was discussing my plans to go to Japan with people - especially family - the topic of whether or not I would stay would come up. I always took the tone in it as mostly joking, but someone always said I'd fall so in love with the country that I'd end up just not leaving. I can say with certainty that this is very unlikely to happen, because Sweden is, as of this moment, my one true love (country-wise).

I was talking about this with a classmate, and we discussed what could make it difficult to see ourselves sticking around. And she's not the first one to bring this one point up.

In Japan, if you are a foreigner, you will always be a foreigner.

Doesn't matter if you've lived in Japan for four years or fifteen years or forty years; doesn't matter if you're fluent in Japanese; doesn't matter if you know over 2000 kanji (Chinese characters) and is thus considered literate in the language; doesn't matter if you're married to a Japanese person and have a Japanese name. You will always be a foreigner.

My kneejerk reaction was: Eugh, no, I don't want that.

Then I thought about it more.

Matters about race have been on my mind a decent bit even before coming here, because I knew I'd be one of few white people in this country. Don't get me wrong; I can't say the Japanese people have been anything but kind, so far. The people who treat me well are in definite majority. In Japan you get leeway as a foreigner, not scrutinised or judged harsher. I wouldn't think to call it the exact same situation, but I still thought:

Could it be fairly similar to what people of colour in countries with clear white majority might experience?

My kneejerk reaction was to see the "foreigner forever" idea as nearly a dealbreaker as to why I wouldn't want to stay longer than a year or two.

If you're a person of colour in a country with white majority, chances are you'll be assumed to be and get treated as a foreigner. A lot of people of colour were born in that country, speak the language - likely with a native accent too - and don't feel like they belong anywhere else, but might still get questions like: "Where are you really from?"

People look at you and see a foreigner.

My kneejerk reaction was: Eugh, no, I don't want that.

Think about that for a second.
tossino: (Default)
Inspired by a meme on Plurk with the prompt "cloak" and a compliment to Faith's drabble

When Uther mapped out Arthur’s learning, he put up milestones. Because he has always liked having something to mark his results and Arthur is a Pendragon and would surely end up doing the same (purely an assumption, really – who can truly know). Because Arthur should have something that he can see and touch to mark his growth as prince.

Uther always follows the milestones and when Arthur is eight and prince enough to wear it, he has the Pendragon cloak tailored for Arthur.

During the day, he doesn’t see much of Arthur but on the day the cloak is finished, he keeps an extra eye out because this is the day Arthur will wear the Pendragon cloak for the first time and he wants to see it. Arthur who has grown up all too slowly along with the passage of time after her, Arthur who is the only light he has left, Arthur who at least makes it worth something and he’ll be walking around with the Pendragon cloak and look taller than ever, Uther knows that for certain.

Arthur is great and bright and when he stands before Uther with his head held high and the red falling off his shoulders, Uther can’t not smile at his boy, his son who will be the greatest Prince and the greatest King of all and this is not a wish. No, this is a fact and as clear as the sky outside and Uther will make sure it happens.

And when Uther sees Arthur with the cloak day after day, constantly, and he knows that it’s because of eagerness and excitement that really is not quite fit for a prince, he does not have the heart to tell Arthur to stop it. It is a rare thing, to see Arthur glowing quite as much and the reason why is a constant ache in Uther’s heart that can only truly be soothed by Arthur alone. This soothes it – not the red of the cloak, not the way it billows with Arthur’s steps, not the way Arthur holds himself like a true prince when he walks, not the way Arthur is so proud of being a Pendragon – but the way Arthur gives off a childish glee that is nothing but that of his son.

Doesn’t belong to the prince so it should be hidden away, not shown on lessons or councils, but Uther cannot find it in him to stop it.

When the cloak is ruined and Arthur is devastated he doesn’t expect Arthur to throw it away, but he says nothing about that either. It’s just a cloak, but at the same time so much more than that and he could never take it from Arthur. Not any of it.

Not from his son, Ygraine’s son, and Uther takes every small memory of Arthur with his new cloak and puts it away far, far back with everything he keeps for the days that are most dark.
tossino: (Default)
When my best (and only) friends left me the spring of 2007 I sort of had to do some serious work on my self-esteem because how the hell else was I going to survive basically completely on my own? And if you all know me, you ought to know that by now I have a lot where that comes from.

I am an amazing fucker.

I don't know if maybe I talk about it as if it's some easy thing when I give advice on how to view things and yourself to feel better about it, but I do know that it's really not. And I had the great luck of having a mother and family who have always been supportive and encouraged me to feel good about myself and be the best I can be while not being hard on myself about it etc etc, and a lot of people don't have that. I do know it's not easy, but I do know it can be done, and so I want to share a few pointers that I used, and still use, that I think are very important.

I don't claim to be an expert or anything, but I think that I have at least some decent knowledge of it, and I hope that it can be of at least some help for you.

And I don't know if you've heard them before; you might have. But I think they really do bear repeating, and punching into your head over and over again until you really start to believe them. I have no illusion that this is an easy thing either; it's not.

One and two and three and four )

And your well-being and happiness is worth fighting for. You are worth it.
tossino: (Default)
Lately, I seem to be in a constant state of slightly panicking.

I have been pondering over my flaws a lot, and I guess that's connected. I'm loud, I'm perhaps a bit too touchy-feely, I'm lazy, short-tempered even while infinitely patient, and I get stupidly jealous and possessive. Those are mainly minor things, but then there are also such things like being unable to keep check on myself, and being such a going-with-the-flow and almost indifferent person that when there are actual issues I generally don't see them until someone points them out. I'm optimistic to the point that I prefer closing my eyes and shutting my ears while telling myself that whatever issues I finally see will fix themselves.

I'm kind of working on these things, but that's another matter than what's currently on my mind, because they are rather things that stop me from sorting stuff out.

Lately, I've gotten better at both managing my time and spreading things out reasonably rather than procrastinate every single thing until I can't put it up anymore. I've gotten better at getting to sleep on time, but the amount of time I actually care enough to has been decreasing. At the same time that I've gotten quite a lot better at managing hobbies and schoolwork, everything else seems to be suffering.

A part of me wishes I could just take a break from everything. I'm honestly getting tired of obligations. I can only do so much with the obligations I have, because that's where all my energy goes. But I can't exactly just ignore everything. School stuff isn't going to go away, and I can't postpone it for a time, really, because this is my last term before university so I kind of... need to get a grip, rather.

That's not the biggest issue, though, because I'm managing somehow, but then comes all the other things I need to do; I need to look up schools, I need to change my habits because they're bad and I fear I'm slowly ruining my teeth and my body because of them and they're wasting money, I need to exercise more, I need to do this and I need to do that-- And the worst part about it is that this means obligations. They're all things I need to do to feel better, and to get anywhere good, but I don't want to, and I don't really know how much time I really have, and university stuff certainly isn't going to wait for me. I was going to do it during my Christmas break but then I didn't. And I get more angry at myself every fucking time.

Oh, and most of all? I need to calm the fuck down, because my body can't relax but, oh, what does that mean? Obligations, because that means I need to find time to relax, to listen to music or meditate or take more time with sleeping routines or. Something. And, it's actually not that I don't have time, because I do, I just can't... get myself to use this because I need to control myself, and that means effort, and I don't want effort.

I seem to be stuck in this evil spiral of needing to get a grip and needing to fix things and needing to work on stuff, myself most importantly, but then not having the energy to beyond schoolwork and my hobbies (that I need, good god).

I'm not looking for asspats, or pity, or anything, but I think... I needed to get that out. Maybe some advice would be helpful but, honestly, it's not that I don't know what I can and need to do. I just... don't do it. And no one can really deal with that but myself, right?

tossino: (Default)
A lot of people seem to be going through rough times this start of the new year, in different ways. It sucks so much because I really want every single one of you to be happy, to not have to worry so much over different things, to not have to feel lost and confused, to not have to struggle with being down all the time. I wish so much I could just fix everything for you, make you all as happy as I am with my own life right now because it's amazing, but of course I can't magically make it so.

And the worst part is that I'm not even capable of helping all of you in a way I'd like to be able to. I can't be there for you in the way I would like; when I don't know what to say whenever you talk to me personally about things or do it on Plurk or wherever, I can't settle for skipping the words and going for a hug instead because we're in different parts of the world.

I like to think that I'm at least helping as much as possible by being there as much as I can, and letting you talk to me, and reading your concerns or at rare times listen to it on Skype and maybe offer at least some words of advice, and I have been told that it's appreciated. It can never be the same as having someone there to physically pull you up in the mornings and help you face the day while really staying at your side, however, and when I go through tough times I know I have that in my family, but not everyone even has that.

A lot of the time the only thing I can think of to say is that it'll be okay, and as true as that can be (and the very most of the time is) I remember myself that I've never really liked hearing that when down. Of course, this is probably an individual thing, but that is the reason I always try to think of something else to say. Sometimes this leaves me not saying anything, or just responding with some smiley, or giving a hug in text that I'm not even sure really means anything.

But I always try my best, and you're all very important to me and I hope all of you know that I'm here whenever you need me, definitely, to do whatever I can possibly think of. And if there is ever anything I can do, like talk to you in the wee hours of the morning or write you something or play something stupid, just tell me. Since I can't hug you or really be there, I'd like to do whatever I can.

I love you, and you're amazing people, and you're never a burden on me and you never have to apologise for dumping anything on me. I can carry this "burden" just fine, and I'm happy if I can help even a little.

So just keep going and being gorgeous people, okay? And life will take you wherever, but most likely it'll be something good, no matter how long it takes.

I should upload icons...
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