uuugghhhhh it is so hard waiting for my life to change! I need to vent and complain so it’s blog time, sorry that’s the only time I write in this thing. Funny how I always seem to be waiting for my life to change – it seems to happen once a year. A year ago I was waiting to move to Tokyo from Matsue, a year before that I was waiting to quit my job and do the Japanese program and then move to Japan, and it just seems like I make a major change in my life – job, living situation, whatever – every single year. I’m getting sooooo sick of not being able to stay happy and content with everything as it is. I hope I can do that this time, but I say that knowing that I already want to move to a bigger place once my new higher salary kicks in! And I haven’t even started living at my new place yet!

Okay, let’s back up. So, things at work haven’t really gotten any better. The issues with repeated scrutiny and criticism over non-job-performance-related (what I perceive to be minor) things continue, and I just can’t take it anymore. I don’t feel trusted and it saps my motivation. The last time (fifth so far), last week, my boss sent me an email saying that I’d gotten up from my desk too often that morning and my latest break had been 7 minutes. 7 minutes!!! Who cares!? Why are you timing my breaks anyway?? When I asked, he said he does that to everyone. Wow. How the hell do you get any work done when you’re so busy micromanaging everyone in the department? I’m not mad at him, though, I know the orders come from our CEO, who I seriously think is losing his mind. He’s the one who has me on his shit list because of this break issue and he probably told my boss to watch me extra closely. Sorry, but my only reaction to that kind of behavior is to ESCAPE. FAST. Micromanaging does no one any favors and I do NOT respond well to it. It’s what made me leave my job at the wire company in 2011. And seriously, I can’t make them happy. I’m not taking any more breaks than necessary for my regular human bodily functions, and I’m not longer taking overly long breaks either (I don’t think 7 minutes is excessive). But they disagree, so that makes us incompatible.
(Also, and while I am HOPING it is not exactly like this or this bad at every Japanese/Tokyo workplace, I am a pretty sensitive person – no, really? you are shocked I know – and so many things at this place grate on my nerves and wear them down to the quick every single day. The high-pitched customer service phone calls in Japanese, which constantly distract me from my work, the way my scheduler ALWAYS slaps his hands on his thighs after he drops off work at my desk, the bad Japanese I hear from the foreign men in the office, the fake-ass hos who act nice to your face but I can tell are ready to gossip about you the second you turn your back [and complain about you to HR if you start preemptively kind of ignoring them], the frustratingly passive girls who are constantly “Oh I’m so sorry! Oh please forgive me!” anytime you cross paths and you just want to shake them and tell them to grow a backbone, how you always nearly smack into people in the tiny hallways, how 30 women have to share 2 stalls and 1 sink, the weird coolness I get from people lately [who won’t return my greetings or even offer one to me], all of it, I’m just sooooo sick of it and I can’t tune it out and I hope hope hope it’s different somewhere else, if the industry is different and the office is bigger. I am so tired of feeling like a terrible employee because I just can’t get along with this place even though I made it almost a year of trying!)

So in January I set about updating my resume and my profile on various job-seeking websites, all of which I’d used in my search just last year. Very quickly, I got a message from a recruiter saying I might be a good fit for a job. I’ve gotten these messages before, and usually the job is something I’m not interested in – executive assistant or whatever. But this time, while it was not the entire job, translation would be involved. Interest piqued, I agreed to meet the recruiter to discuss the job. The meeting went really well, and the more I learned about this company the more I wanted to work there. It’s a “mobile content” company that mostly makes dating simulation games for women for smartphone platforms. And they release English translations in the US so they wanted an American to help with the translating, localizing, and overseas release work. And the salary range was insane (for me). My recruiter, who quickly became my ally and supporter, sent my resume and information to them, and they wanted to interview me.

Preparing for the interview was nervewracking. I wanted this really bad, but it was going to be my first time interviewing all in Japanese, and in a change of plans the CEO of the company decided he wanted to be at the first interview. I met with my recruiter the week before for what was supposed to be a mock interview, but it ended up me asking him a bunch of questions about how I should answer, messing up my answer to the one actual practice question in Japanese he asked me, and just sort of spazzing out. But I also spent a lot of time on my own going over the example questions I’d been given and running through answers in my head (and out loud in my room). By the time the interview happened, I didn’t feel fully ready, and I was so nervous, but I gave it my best shot. The offices definitely reminded me SO much of TOKYOPOP with the posters of releases on the walls and everything. I had an interview with the CEO and the head of the department I’d be working in, a math test (?? standard for interviews here), and a translation test. The interview part really threw me off because they didn’t ask me the hard-hitting, tough questions I’d been expecting and preparing for (like, explaining and defending with logic and reasons exactly why I wanted to work there and what I wanted to achieve there), and it seemed like it was over really fast. The math test I absolutely failed, it was ridiculously hard, and the translation test was no problem (I thought). I left feeling like I had absolutely no idea how I’d done, but like I had a feeling it wasn’t good because of how short the interview had been and how they hadn’t asked those questions – like, what if they had already decided partway through they didn’t want to pursue me, so they didn’t bother with the real questions?

The next day I talked with my recruiter about my impression of how it went, and he reassured me that not asking the questions probably didn’t mean as much as I thought. He thought it sounded like it had gone well. Over the next few days, he gathered their impressions and relayed them to me. And – good news!! They wanted to make me an offer!!! Yay! I still can’t believe it, it’s like a dream come true – finally working in translation, at a game/content company, in the creative/media industry again. It’s the ‘cool job’ I’ve been trying to reach for so long. Also, I’m filling in for a Viz manga translator who will go on maternity leave soon too! And I’m translating (for free) for a very very small BL manga publisher here, and I’m writing a few profiles a month for my old company the coffee table book publisher… So much is happening all at once…

So that’s the career news. At the same time all this was happening, I was also planning to move. Before this all started, I told myself “Apartment and job hunting at the same time is going to be too crazy, so I’m going to move first, THEN look for a job.” Why did I want to move first, especially since my contract at the sharehouse wasn’t up until mid-March? Two reasons: NOISE and THEFT. The British guys and their noise was just driving me up the wall, and THEN I discovered that someone in the house had been stealing money out of my wallet!! By entering my room, which I left unlocked when I went to the bathroom or the kitchen or to take a shower, while I was out. I first noticed a 5000 yen note missing, then a 10,000 yen note, then another 5,000. The 1000s would always be left untouched. The last incident was the most suspicious because there was only a 5-minute span of time when it could have happened, when I went downstairs to refill my water bottle and go to the bathroom. At that time, one of the British guys and his girlfriend were in his room with the door shut, talking. My Japanese female roommate was in her room next to me with her door open a crack. It had to have been one of them – the money was there when I went downstairs but gone when I came back up, and no one else was home or could have gone upstairs in that span of time. Because I was already mad at them about the noise issue, I dismissed the possibility that it could be my sweet Japanese roommate and focused my rage on the British guy and his girlfriend. I mentioned what had happened to my other Japanese roommates, only to have one come forward and say “Actually, I’ve had money stolen too.” The four of us went to the sharehouse office the next day. Our goal was to get the British guys kicked out for this and other issues. My roommate who’d also been a victim and I also went to the police station the following week to file a theft report. In both cases, since we had no proof, there wasn’t much that could be done.

A few weeks later, I finally talked to the British guys – my enemies until that point. I happened to mention the money theft offhand to them – both immediately burst out that they had had money stolen too, and got very riled up about it. I was so confused. Then I thought more about it. If my Japanese roommate was in her room with the door open a crack, wouldn’t she have seen anyone go past to get to my room, and noticed they weren’t me? Wouldn’t her presence have deterred anyone who would have thought about trying to get into my room, and wouldn’t she have heard the British guy’s door open if it were him? Couldn’t she, very easily, slip from her room to mine, grab a bill, and run back before I returned? Hadn’t she just gotten hair extensions and new furniture even though she’s a student with a part-time job? ……..!!!!!! I realized it had to be her. Even though I also had no proof like with before, it just all made sense. Still, I couldn’t do anything with this knowledge. I still can’t. She took 20,000 yen (at least – possibly more) from me and I have no way of getting it back, it’s gone. She took about 30,000 yen combined from three other people in the house. Just ridiculous. She’s since moved out (very quickly – 2 weeks after she told us she had decided to), supposedly scared by all the thefts – I kinda suspect it’s more like she knows that we have to be zeroing in on her and she doesn’t want to be around if any proof is uncovered. I still can’t believe it’s her, she was always so sweet and I liked talking with her. Oh well…

Anyway, so I found a new (pet-friendly, as my cat arrives in May! Two months!) apartment in a new neighborhood (it’s nice living in Shibuya and close to Omotesando and Harajuku, but the grocery store options here suck and I buy too much convenience store food – plus it’s way too expensive to get an apartment in) and have signed the contract. I was nervous about getting my first apartment all on my own, and as a foreigner without a guarantor who needed a pet-friendly place, but it ended up not being too bad. My new place is definitely pretty small, but it has two floors (one is an attic bedroom with its own A/C+heater unit!) so I’m hoping it won’t feel too cramped. My new salary is pretty sweet (although my monthly income, because it’s 1/16 and not 1/12 of my annual salary, is actually going down about $160 compared to what I make now, which was a bit of a shock, but the twice-yearly crazy bonuses should make up for it) so it seems silly to be living in a tiny place that’s soon to be quite below my means, but I can save up for a nicer place with an elevator and more space over the next year or so! And with the help of some amazing friends (one with a big car), I moved most of my stuff over the other night. I’m still living in this room for the next week and a half, until I’m done working at my current job, because I want to keep using this commuter pass and not have to get a new one for my new route, but I can pack all the remaining stuff into a suitcase and a backpack and ride the train over. (I’ll also have to ride my bike over too.) I have to admit, it’s already pretty lonely in my room with only the furniture that came with it in it (bed, small desk, chair), and I am hating my job so much every day, I want to be done with this place and out of here SO bad, but I have to hold out for another week and a half… again, it’s just like I’m doing nothing but waiting for things to change. It’s maddening. At the same time though, when is that NOT my life? I need to cut it out with this act, it’s getting old.

ALSO at the same time as all this, my relationship with Mitsu was going downhill fast. Around my birthday (mid-January), at about two months together, things had been great and I had really thought we were in love. But then work got crazy for him and he put me right on the back burner, more or less without a word. Messages I sent to him during the workday on breaks would go unread and unreplied for hours, and maybe even not acknowledged at all that day. I didn’t even find out why things were so hectic at work for him (two people had left) until I started making a fuss about his unresponsiveness. This was the second time this issue with irregular communication had come up, and the first time he had been very apologetic. This time? I was basically told “This is how it is. You have to wait for my timing to be right for me to contact you.” I’m sorry, YOUR timing? What about my timing?? I am being stolen from at home, my job sucks, I’m trying to find a new place to live and a new job all at the same time and I can’t rely on you to be there for me when I need you to, only if it aligns with YOUR schedule! Once that happened, my feelings cooled FAST. Unbelievably fast. I considered holding onto him for the companionship and physical affection, even if the emotional component was long gone, but I couldn’t do it – I felt nothing for him anymore, and it meant I had zero patience for his crap (like asking me to help him hang up his laundry, or telling me what to do, or not being my ally when I encountered subtle racism in his presence [like being brought a spoon in a rice bowl restaurant when I was already using chopsticks, or being addressed in English], his reluctance to come over to my place instead of me coming to his), all of which I had forgiven at first. After a couple weeks of feeling like this, I was finally able to meet up with him in person and break up. It was really hard because he thought it was a normal date while I was searching for the right place to start the conversation. He took it well and it was over from there. So, that was my first relationship with a Japanese guy, lasted three months. I’m a little jaded now on whether they’re all going to be like this (shunt me aside as soon as work gets crazy, no matter what’s going on in my life), especially because I really thought Mitsu was a sweet guy, but now I see he was actually pretty selfish and inconsiderate. Right now I don’t want to date or do anything with anyone, so we’ll see what happens. I am going to try just being happy being single. I don’t even know what I want or what I should do or what kind of person I should look for or where I should be to find them or anything… it’s just too much.

I just want to hurry up and move completely, start my new job, get my cat, and enjoy a fun yet relaxing life in Tokyo with my friends. I’m so impatient for that. I hope I can be happy with that. Please let me be happy with that.