Thursday, November 26, 2015

Favorite Foods: Croque madame

Happy Thanksgiving, lovely people!

‪#‎favoritefoods‬ Thursday:

Croque madame. Bread, cheese, and ham. Layered together in melty goodness, plus an egg on top, yolk all runny and perfect. When I did go to restaurants while in Paris last summer (which wasn't terribly often), I was tempted to order this every time because it's so good! Also with the commonly elaborate descriptions of menu items at French restaurants, croque madame was often the first or only item where I understood what it was. Haha. But seriously, try it sometime!

So, what are you all's favorite foods (NON-Thanksgiving dishes included)? ‪#‎fatnessfirst‬

Ain't no privacy.

Me: Ma, why do you always have to go telling people my business?

Ma: What are you talking about?

Me: Why'd you tell Uncle Rod about (secret thing)?

Ma: Uh, because he's my brother and we talk about things. I can't talk to my brother?

Me: You can't talk to your brother about your own stuff?

Ma: Uh, you are my own stuff!

My mom is such a mom sometimes, it's  sickening hahaha. Happy Thanksgiving!

All the Thanks.

In Loo-uh-vuhl. At Grandpa's  house.

My uncle, aunt, and two cousins arrive. I can hear everyone moving around and conversing upstairs as I read downstairs. The older of the boys comes down first, a teenager who's too cool for school, but still manages to mumble hello in his voice that has acquired new depth. Then uncle comes down, kind and mellow, innocently inquiring about something I'd never discussed with him (Ma aways tellin' folks my business, dang!). Aunt with her broken toe sitting upstairs talking loudly, always the life of the party, yelling "Where's  Danielle?". And then the younger boy, almost a teenager, comes downstairs to hug me, commenting on how quiet it is with just me sitting here, reading. "You'd rather read than watch TV?! That's crazy!"

Thanksgiving has begun. :) Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

TALK TO YOUR KIDS!

Why are some parents so afraid to talk to their children? 

While I was helping at the registers today, a woman came up to return a book she'd bought an hour prior. "It's for my daughter. She's in 6th grade. The first story has someone getting drunk in it. And the next story has someone getting high. And that's just too much. I have to be careful."

You know what that book was? The Best American Short Stories 2015, edited by T.C. Boyle. This is quality literature here! You mean to tell me that you'd rather deprive your daughter of experiencing the written treasures collected in this year's volume of one of the oldest and most venerable literary anthologies (100 years and counting)... because you don't want her to know about people getting drunk or high?

Granted, ideally she knows her child and what the girl could handle, and doesn't  overestimate what's too much for her. But this lady talked like any mention of any drug or alcohol was an automatic disqualifier; as if these substances are top secrets-that-shall-not-be-named except amongst the adult-iest of adults. Why shelter your child from life, when you could just as well say, "Look Suzie. I'm  going to let you read this book, but understand something first. It has some themes in it that are a little mature, so if you have any questions, I want you to talk to me about them. Also, there are certain actions going on in it that I don't want you to emulate. These are real things that people do, but I don't condone them, and here's why.... Just don't go thinking that something is acceptable or cool just because you read about it in this book. Okay? Understood? Okay. Happy reading. And again, talk to me if there's  anything you don't understand."

This is a conversation that may be difficult, but is by no means impossible. Ma had this conversation with me many a time, and they worked. Like this customer's  daughter, I was also a bookworm of a young'n who read beyond her grade level, but my mom didn't hinder me just because she was scared or wanted to avoid discomfort. She read/flipped through it, she explained her conditions to me, I agreed to follow them, and then she let me read!

People, talk to your kids about difficult and confusing stuff! Your children are not made of glass; I can bet you they're not that fragile. Please talk to your kids instead of coddling them forever.

Favorite Foods: Takoyaki

#‎favoritefoods‬ Wednesday:

Takoyaki! My absolute favorite Japanese food so far. Fried dough balls, stuffed with chopped octopus tentacle, often topped with a special sauce, mayonnaise, and bonito flakes. I tried it for the first time at the Novi Japan Festival senior year of high school, not knowing that it had octopus in it (they advertised it in English as "fried pancake balls" or something like that). But it was love at first bite! Since then I've had the real thing in its birthplace of Osaka, as well as some great renditions of it stateside. The outside's crisp, the inside's chewy, and the whole thing just melts in your mouth!

So, what are you all's favorite foods (NON-Thanksgiving dishes included)? ‪#‎fatnessfirst‬

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Favorite Foods: Oranges

#‎favoritefoods‬ Tuesday:

Oranges. Been eating an orange almost everyday/every other day since about junior year of high school. I remember two years ago my friend Irene and I were at this cafe in Hikone likening certain foods to hypothetical boyfriends/ex-boyfriends (don't ask). And I said something like oranges would be that dude who's in it for the long haul that I never get tired of. Like even when we're not together, we're together.

So, what are you all's favorite foods (NON-Thanksgiving dishes included)? ‪#‎fatnessfirst‬

Monday, November 23, 2015

Favorite Foods: Cornbread

Lovely people! What are you all's favorite foods?

Celebrating one of the fattest weeks of the year by reflecting on some of my favorite foods (in general, NOT just Thanksgiving dishes). In the wisdom of the illustrious Daisha Hunter, #‎fatnessfirst‬!

For Monday:

Cornbread is key for me. A person or "soul food" restaurant could be doing my people's food all kinds of disservice, but if the cornbread is on point, then all is forgiven! ‪#‎favoritefoods‬

Talking with Yasmin 6

Again, not much to report from last Thursday's appointment. Yasmin's a good listener but other than that I don't get much from her. Still debating on whether/when to bring up meds. Or maybe I need to start over and find a new therapist altogether. Meh, who knows. Notes:
  • It's okay to not be good at things; you don't have to excel or even be remotely good at every single thing you do
  • To quit the boring, draining part-time job or not to quit the boring, draining part-time job; that is the question
    • Feeling like a robot doing the same thing all the time, over and over; but aren't I too young to be feeling like a robot already?
  • Having to face the fact that you're the fat girl that you never wanted to be (or at least, that's how you see it). Been trying to fix yourself your whole life; haven't succeeded yet and feel like you've left little Danielle down

Thursday, November 19, 2015

BOOKS! (The Art of Asking)

Similar to Kevin Breel's Boy Meets Depression, this is another book written by an artist who gained massive attention following their appearance at a TED Conference. Unlike Kevin Breel, however, I had both heard of Amanda Palmer and seen her noteworthy TED Talk "The art of asking" before I'd known that she had a book coming out. That Talk blessed me, and when I found out she had a book coming out with the same title, I was on board! Ma bought a copy for me as a graduation present, and I just recently was able to dig into it.

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

For those who don't know, Amanda Palmer is a rock star known for forging an unusually tight community between her, fellow musicians, and her fans throughout her career. She utilizes her blog, Twitter, and intimate performance settings and fan meetings to do so, believing that it's best to create as few boundaries between her and her audience as possible. Having started as a street performer and then indie musician, Palmer put out one album under a major label before being dropped. Continuing from there as an independent artist again, she reached out to the internet to fund her next album through Kickstarter, and within three weeks she became the first musician to crowdfund $1 million.

From what I can tell Palmer is no stranger to receiving heat and hatred because of her straightforward nature, openness, and unconventional/outlandish way of doing things. But the Kickstarter feat was what really set the Internet ablaze. Media and netizen tongues wagged about how she was an atrocious beggar (how dare you not have a real job and have the gall to ask people for money without presenting a tangible return on investment!), and how she wasn't a real artist (how dare you sell yourself out to the masses online, how dare you beg for money but then not pay all the artists who perform at your shows, how dare you even ask for money when you were once signed to a major label, are married to a rich writer, and should be able to finance the project yourself!). This book is her way of clearing some things up about how the Kickstarter thing all went down, reflecting on her development as an artist and performer, and explaining her perspective on asking and receiving. Thus, The Art of Asking.

Seeing as how this book is more self-help than autobiography, Palmer takes nearly every opportunity she can to relate her experiences back to the conversation of giving and receiving. Though an artist's offering to those who sow into them may not be immediately tangible (or tangible at all), that is not to say that what he/she has to offer is not valuable. So one shouldn't feel ashamed of asking for and accepting help (or money, you name it), especially if they need it to create something. Or even if they need it just to be okay. Substitute "an artist" for "any person", and the idea stands the same.

After having read her story, what I respect most about Palmer is that though she may not always believe in herself, she believes in the power of her art to connect with people. She notes that she may not be the most skilled or highly-trained musician (she often references an "Imposter Syndrome" that she feels at times when she doubts she's worthy of the position that she's in), but she knows that her work still has value. The satisfaction of expressing herself, and seeing how people all over the world are positively moved by her art and are even willing to chip in to help her perform and create it, that's what keeps her going. Even with her doubts and fears, she just can't not create art. And that's phenomenally inspiring to me.

I must say, though, getting through this book felt like a really long experience. Since reading Wendell Pierce's Wind in the Reeds this summer, I've been enthralled with reading about performer's perspectives on their own artistry and the function/necessity of art. So I can't say that I didn't appreciate Amanda Palmer's insight. It was just, I don't know. She seems to be incredibly trusting and needy, which she's not ashamed of and shouldn't be. But the way she tells it, sometimes that came off to me as naive, and other times redundant. Like okay, you trust people more than you should and in extraordinary circumstances, and as a result good things happen for you most of the time. Got it. I was excited to finally read this book and tried to approach it with an open mind. Perhaps my cynicism got in the way of my appreciating her whimsy at times. Eh well. That doesn't take away from the fact that this is a beautiful book! Amanda Palmer's done us all a tremendous favor, and if you have any creative inclinations or have ever felt ashamed about anything, then The Art of Asking is for you.

Favorite quotes:

"I'm often asked 'How can you trust people so much?' Because that's the only way it works. When you accept somebody's offer for help, whether it's in the form of food, crash space, money, or love, you have to trust the help offered. You can't accept things halfway and walk through the door with your guard up" (158).

"But you know. You would say, 'I'm an ARTIST... fuck you, Mom! What do you know?! You're just a computer programmer....' You know, Amanda, it always bothered me. You can't see my art, but... I'm one of the best artists I know. It's just... nobody could ever see the beautiful things I made. Because you couldn't hang them in a gallery" (204).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Talking with Yasmin 5

Notes from my appointment last Friday. Not much to report.
  • cancelled my appointment last week 'cause I didn't feel up to it; was feeling down and overwhelmed and just felt like staying at home 
  • October 30, decided to stop trying to lose weight for the near future (no significance to this date; just happened to come across ChoNunMigookSaram's channel that day and was inspired by her #carefreeblackgirl aura); the weight thing was stressing me out and making me tired all the time, so I've stopped
    • Been a slight relief; not as stressed now, but still not comfortable with myself
  • started cooking again! that's been nice
  • 6 months post-grad and still nothing; sometimes feel like I've failed myself. People would always tell me variations of, "You're going places", "You're going to do great things", "You're going to be great". I'm so great, got these two degrees, but I'm still sitting at my mom's house, working part-time at a bookstore, picking up after rude and lazy people. Maybe I really don't have it like that.
    • doing the same actions over and over (sending applications/throwing things into a hole, repetitiveness of my job) and nothing's happening; feeling bored, stifled, trapped, somewhat hopeless
  • Extremely hard on myself (supposedly common amongst only children, so Yasmin says. Also the only way I know how to be)
    • Shouldn't be so hard on myself, these things take time; need to believe in myself more and become comfortable with myself

Since I've graduated, more and more I'm thinking that I need meds. Sue tried to recommend this to me a number of times but I always refused because 1) "Meds are for crazy people" and 2) I'm already taking three prescriptions for other conditions and I don't want anymore. But nothing is working. Talking to Yasmin, bless her heart, is not working. I don't go outside unless it's for work or an appointment. I don't interact with anyone in person regularly other than Ma and my dog. I've stopped singing again. And it's not that I just don't want to do these things; it's gotten to the point where I can't do them. Being around people is scary, having to perform in front of them (this includes singing and just keeping up a conversation) is terrifying, and having to see or talk to people I know is stressful. Everyday I just feel really heavy and disappointed/ashamed and unmotivated and afraid and tired. So maybe I need meds. But Yasmin's only an intern at this clinic so I know she wouldn't be the one to ask. How should I go about this?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Casual Kids

It always gets a little unnerving when they assign me to the kids' department for a long stretch of hours because well, first of all, onslaught of other people's kids. But it's doubly unnerving because kids of a certain persuasion will get casual with their parents of the same persuasian, who just let them do it and don't reprimand them for what I see as blatant disrespect. I witness exchanges such as these and can't  help but wince and shudder, imagining all the whoopin's that Ma would've given me if I'd dared to talk to her the same way when I was their age.

Parent: Avery!
Avery: What. (or What? or What!)

(Ma in my head: "'What'? Excuse you?  You don't say 'what' to me when I call you! You say 'Yes ma'am'! Have you lost your mind?" *whapwhap*)

Parent: Quinn, come over here please.
Quinn: But I'm over here right now.

(Ma in my head: "I didn't ask you where you were, I said come here! I don't know who you think you are or what you think this is, but you bettnot eva..." *whapwhapwhap*)

Pssh. I wish I would. Not in Ma's house. The "What" thing is what really makes me nervous, because it happens so often between these kids and their parents, and this was an offense that Ma especially did not appreciate from me. Do/did any of you all's parents get on you about responding with "What" when they call you? Like on a good day I could say "Huh?/Hmm?", "Come again?", "What was that?" and sometimes even "Say what now?", with the necessary tone adjustments. But if I ever try to respond with just "What", then I'm in trouble. And don't ever tell Ma to wait, oh no no! You might as well just throw your life away at that point.

Seeing what their parents put up with (and in public, no less!), I'm hard-pressed to think of much that these kids of a certain persuasion would get scolded or punished for. At least not when it comes to how they address adults/their parents. I'm just glad that it's me within earshot and not Ma. Whereas my personality and my time in retail have taught me to shake my head at people in silence, Ma's tolerance for foolishness is non-existent, and she'd be liable to let fly no matter whose kid it was, paycheck or no paycheck.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

That's not my name!

That moment when someone attempts to modify or erase you by tacking on a nickname that you didn't authorize, and you correct them on it, and they just brush it off with "Ok well anyway..." as if your name and what you prefer to be called are inconsequential.

Customer (over the phone): Now, what's  your name?

Me: Danielle.

Customer: Danielle? 

Me: Yes, Danielle.

Customer: Ok. I'll go ahead and just call you Danny for short--

Me: Danielle is fine. Now what was it you were looking for?

I put up with "sweetheart" and "hon/honey" and "dear" *shuddershuddershudder* because, you know, men are everywhere (in my experience men are generally the main utterers of these outdated patronizing pats-on-the-head in verbal form), this is retail, I'm trying to be nice to people, pick your battles. But my name is mine. MINE. How are you gonna get casual with a complete stranger enough to ask them their name, and confirm that you heard their name correctly, only to give them a nickname of your own choosing just because it's convenient for you? Without even asking if it's ok with them? Or acknowledging your misstep when they correct you?

Nah. Danielle is fine.

Monday, November 9, 2015

ドラマ (Dorama) Time! 11

While I'm currently engrossed in my drama selections for this fall season, I wanted to write about a long-awaited sequel that I watched in between the summer and fall broadcasting seasons. That sequel is FIRST CLASS 2, the follow-up to summer 2014's 'FIRST CLASS'. By now the show is old news since it aired in the fall of 2014, but it was long-awaited by me because its English subs have been nowhere to be found. But since I don't really need them anymore, I decided why wait? and started watching it on good ol' Bilibili. Six months after leaving her post as fashion editor at FIRST CLASS magazine to pursue her lifelong dream of being a designer, Yoshinari Chinami (Sawajiri Erika) has managed to join the roster as a lead designer at TATSUKO YANO, one of the most venerable and avant-garde fashion houses in Japan. And let me tell you, the ploys and backbiting that make up this season make last season's antics look like hopscoth. Keep it cute. Trust nobody.

FIRST CLASS 2 (ファースト クラス) - Fuji TV/2014

This season focuses more on the business and office politics of the fashion industry, even more so than last season. In nearly every episode the TATSUKO YANO staff is given an assignment with the threat of losing their jobs or the company being liquidated if they fail, and so heifers back-stab accordingly. Basically none of the characters are loyal to anyone or anything except themselves, and the work that they produce. Which from an artistic standpoint somewhat makes sense, if you argue that competition and a strong sense of self-preservation advance the art of fashion (or any art, for that matter). But from a business standpoint it's just messy. They take the same brand and re-brand it at least 4 times, under 3 different names, with too many leadership switches and personnel changes to count.  All within less than a year. Why? Because people can't get themselves together and everyone's always out for number one.

Yoshinari Chinami, as the lead, is far from the goody two-shoes she started out as in the first season. But while 'FIRST CLASS' saw her as a rookie swallowed up by the fashion editorial world and devolving 'Mean Girl'-style to embody the cutthroatness of her colleagues/enemies, FIRST CLASS 2 has her using that acumen more as a seasoned vet. A self-assured, never-give-up designer who is concerned most about the quality of the work and the well-being of the staff, but also isn't unwilling to play the game and call people's hand if it means getting the job done.

I gotta say, I absolutely LOVED this second season!  It's not nearly as corny as the first, and they re-upped on their budget and writing so that the draamaaa is even juicier but also makes more logical sense, while everyone is  WERKIN' and SERVIN' and looking faaabulous in the process. Plus, the theme song "Brighter Day" by Amuro Namie is jammin'! The show still seems to leave us with the impression that all people,  especially all women,  are snake-like b*tches who can't be trusted. A message I don't particularly appreciate. But the drama is just so titillating and the plot is always keeping you on your toes that I'm cool with it. Thank you, FIRST CLASS production staff, for rightly using this second season as an opportunity to correct the pitfalls of the first. Bravo!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

From a formerly unresponsive little Black girl

Thinking about little Black girls being unresponsive in class. 

When I stopped talking in class for a significant stretch of  my 4th grade year, even when addressed directly, Mrs. Talmage pulled me aside outside the classroom. She got mad and scolded me, but then she was also determined to get to the bottom of what was going on with me, because she'd noticed that something wasn't right. She met with my mom. They had conversations. They sat me down and made an agreement with me. They both kept tabs on me. They exchanged weekly reports on the progress of my behavior at home and at school. By the time I graduated 4th grade I was in a better state of mind, and I got my dog Madison as a reward. 

But all of that only happened because Mrs. Talmage took the initiative to be a compassionate educator rather than a warden. Imagine if she would've called a cop to come deal with me? Mrs. Talmage cared about me being okay in the long run, even more than she cared about me being obedient at that particular moment in time. Because she knew that something deeper and more significant was at the root of my behavior. "Disrespectful" or not, she treated me like a human being. As she should have.

Folks are out here really acting like it's easier, it's only natural, to brutalize a Black girl rather than to talk to her and figure out what's wrong. And nobody can see what's despicable, backwards, and unacceptable about that? Some of y'all are truly too far gone.

Signed, 

A formerly unresponsive little Black girl. A Black girl who was once a little Black girl, who was listened to and supported rather than manhandled and blamed for her own injuries.