“Let me die still loving and so, never die.”

(The title of this post probably sounds a bit morbid, but it’s more trying to describe how I feel lately. It probably sounds so silly, but every day I feel all this love towards my favorite characters in the games I’m playing, and towards my friends that I talk to every day about fan stuff and other things, and towards my family I get to see next month, and I’m just really enjoying having a mindset of “I love this” instead of “I hate/don’t like this.” The quote in the title is from the play Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman–an amazing, amazing play I was lucky enough to see live once–and it really resonates with what I’m feeling lately. I want this love to go on and on.)

Oh man, was my last post really in February? Yikes.

I think I still feel the same way as I did in that post. I haven’t been seized with a burning urge to move back to the US again. I still feel like I’ve gotten too deep into the fangirl life to want to leave–everything is here, after all! And the next Ensemble Stars play is happening, and it’s centered around an event for my favorite group, so my BOY is there, he’s been cast and he’s adorable… and I’m trying so hard to get tickets but I might not be able to because it’s insanely competitive and it’s killing me. Please please please let a miracle happen and I can go see it live. PLEASE.

So I’ve mentioned many times before that there is a very narcissistic, self-important, hypocritical American girl as a manager on my team at work, known here as Sena. She apparently never approved of me from the start, thought I’d quit within 3-6 months, doubted my ability to do the job, deliberately didn’t consider me for promotion, has treated me with condescension, and refuses to believe that my previous experience at our biggest competitor is worth anything at this company. Basically, this means that no matter how hard I try on this team, I’m limited because of her. She’s also a huge stickler for the most inane of rules and will butter up HR to get them on her side before informing me that I must do something or other, without understanding my circumstances. It just makes me want to run screaming away, not to “try to do better” and comply with her wishes.

What I never understand, by the way, is why managers don’t think more about trying to retain good people. I feel like we’ve been searching for new people for this team for months and months now, and we’ve only hired two, and one had to quit after the first day because of unexpected personal circumstances, so we were already short-staffed even before I quit (spoiler alert, this post is about me quitting my job). Why? Because finding someone with the skills required to do this job (native English level + business level Japanese), who is willing to work for fairly low salary comparatively speaking, is actually pretty difficult. And I can not only translate (saving the company TONS of money) but do actual game planning work too. So you’d think they’d want to keep the people they have instead of forcing them out and/or judging them too harshly from the start (she has complaints about almost all of the applicants, including “no game industry experience”–which she also didn’t have before starting here, but I did, and she considers it worthless). But no, she’s forced out about four people already. Four! And I’ll be the fifth.

The irony is that I was going to get promoted. Finally! But it happened in a really demoralizing way. I was calling into a meeting with the two managers, including her, and the director of my game (you know, the one who has much less experience and ability to pay attention to details and was promoted over me basically because Sena wanted someone who would obey her). I was told that the director of my game would be moving to a new game in several months and when that happened, I would be made the director of my current game and a new person would come in to work under me. But I also received about four warnings for things I needed to be conscious of or fix about myself (be calmer at work, etc).

It felt like they weren’t choosing me as the best person for the role (in fact, they already chose someone else over me once!), they just had no choice so they were going to promote me, but they had a lot of doubts about me, and I was going to have to work really hard to overcome them. They were going to work with me and support me, but I’d have to work hard. Great, I feel awesome knowing you guys have so much confidence in me that you’re promoting me just because you don’t have a better option but you’d really rather not, clearly. I also really think a lot of the “concerns” about me have been blown out of proportion by Sena, but that wasn’t the time to argue them, so I didn’t say anything. But I hate how she’s poisoned people against me when she doesn’t even have all the facts and a lot of her conclusions are based on mistaken assumptions.

Then another person quit–my friend, someone who had been bullied and demoralized on a daily basis by this terrible manager girl for months. She finally moved to another department and had a different boss, though was still sitting with us and working with us, but it didn’t end. Sena still found ways to call my friend’s skills and abilities into question in the most condescending and humiliating of ways. The thing is, she doesn’t see that as what she’s doing. She thinks she’s just pursuing quality and correctness. She doesn’t understand that she’s trampling on people and demoralizing them in the process.

When the other manager, a Japanese guy who went to high school in the US and is fairly Americanized (ish), heard that Sena was the reason my friend was quitting, he finally took us seriously about this issue. He alerted his manager, a Japanese man, and both of them held separate one-on-one meetings with each of us about Sena. The Japanese higher manager laid out a new team hierarchy, where she would be demoted from manager, no longer in charge of our time sheets or checking in on our progress or anything like that, and she would instead do a purely translation/proofreading type role. Honestly, she’s been responsible for so many people quitting and other serious issues that if this were the US, she would have been let go, but because of the category of employee she is (and we’re not, by the way), she can’t be fired, so another place had to be found.

Well, that all sounded great, and what with the promotion, I thought I could hold on a while longer. But… in the end, I couldn’t. While Sena was definitely demoted in terms of she doesn’t manage our timesheets or meet with us one-on-one to discuss our work anymore, she managed to finagle herself an equally fancy new role on the team, a “Project Manager” who works with our engineers on rolling out new features. She’s definitely not the in-house translator the Japanese manager first envisioned she would be. Honestly, I don’t know what she really does all day, but it pisses me off that she gets away with this. It seems like she has so much free time she’s able to notice small mistakes very easily, and then she treats them like huge problems and calls all of us into meetings so we know how very wrong we were to do what we did and how we should have consulted with her or someone else first before deciding. (Of course, she makes decisions herself all the time that could and have backfired in the same way, but handwaves any concerns away and refuses to take responsibility if something blows up in her face.)

So our other manager is now the one who deals with us personally and has one-on-one meetings, but the last one I had with him is the one where I decided I had to quit because I didn’t feel supported by him. While he’d been sympathetic and concerned about the Sena situation when my friend first quit, it was obvious that Sena had gotten him back on her side again (the meeting occurred, coincidentally, right after they had lunch together) and when I tried to bring up concerns with her, all he said was “We all have to do things we don’t like as part of our jobs.” Excuse me?! No, in fact, we don’t. We can quit. And if you don’t care about me quitting, which apparently you don’t, then I’m going to. I don’t get paid enough and this company will never make me a permanent employee anyway.

There was also the fact that since April, I’d been experiencing physical symptoms of stress. It took me a while to figure out that’s what it was, because I didn’t think I felt stressed, but over time the symptoms got so bad I couldn’t ignore them. Basically, I woke up every morning with my neck feeling stiff and in pain. I switched pillows, saw a physiotherapist, had a deep tissue massage (which helped for one day), but none of it helped. It’s gotten a little better lately, but it took a while. The other thing is that I lost my appetite. I’d be sitting at lunch with my friend/coworker and I’d eat about a third of my food and then I wouldn’t be able to eat the rest. Or I wouldn’t feel hungry at all so I would go nap during lunch and not eat anything. Around 4 or 5pm I’d get hungry and eat something random. Naturally, I lost weight despite not really exercising or anything. It’s both a good and a bad thing because I like being skinny and I fit into my clothes better, but I know it’s not healthy. My appetite has come back somewhat, though I’ve realized that just being in the office–and sitting only two desks away from Sena and she’s always in my peripheral vision–stresses me out, and my appetite goes down again.

I finally realized that unless I quit this job, it was all going to continue. And it wouldn’t get better once I was promoted, it would get worse. I’d probably have to work even closer with Sena because she insists on still being very involved in the game I work on, I know she considers it her baby. She’d probably be the one to train me in the role, and I knew I just couldn’t handle that. Plus, the added responsibility and tasks of taking on that role sounded stressful too and also, just frankly not what I wanted to do with my career. Numbers… bleh.

So, even though I thought I’d never job hunt in Japan again and had even moved my interview suit to my parents’ house so I didn’t even have a blazer here with me, I started job hunting. I got a lot of interest almost immediately, because I have the skills that make you extremely marketable in Tokyo (native English speaker + high Japanese ability). I actually had to cancel several initial phone interviews with recruiters because things started moving so fast on other fronts. Within a week or so I had three interviews scheduled at three different game companies (including one very famous one). One of them turned out to be at the company where my friend who quit (and caused Sena’s “demotion”) had gone to, for a position in a sister department to the one she was in. She put in a good word for me with the hiring manager and I had an interview with him and really liked the sound of the job. It was definitely my top choice. The type of job also wasn’t localization, but PR type work, so I was going to get to try out a new type of job that maybe utilized a lot more of my skills and experience, plus get to be involved in cool stuff like events (and… maybe meet voice actors…). The other two interviews I wasn’t as excited about, even the one at Famous Game Company, and while they went well enough, one didn’t think I was a good “culture fit” and the whole atmosphere at Famous Game Company freaked me out (it was reminiscent of that one episode of Black Mirror), plus they didn’t even let me ask any questions! They just quizzed me for 20 minutes and then everyone left the room! In the end, I got a second interview but was super shocked that I’d advanced.

Then it was time to go with my company–everyone on my team EXCEPT Sena, thank the lord–to a big anime convention in LA. I’d been wanting to go with either this company or my previous one for about three years at this point, so it was like a dream come true, although in the end it was so much hard work. We were there for about a week, and on one night before it began I was able to have dinner with my relatives, but the rest of the time was work work work. We were worried beforehand that our booth wouldn’t be popular, but we shouldn’t have worried because it was actually crazy popular and full of people all day long, especially when we did our special event with our cosplayer (also my manager). He got so many new fans… it was ridiculous. But we also got to talk to a lot of fans and I became friends with some of them on social media. And during lunch break, my friend/coworker and I started talking to cosplayers for Ensemble Stars and we had so much fun talking to them and became friends on twitter with them too. It was great! Plus, Aro (my best friend since middle school who stayed with me for a few weeks last year, and then for 2.5 months this spring) was there as well as an artist, so we spent some time visiting his table as well and I got to hang out with him after the con and stuff. Which was great!

An old coworker from my last company also stopped by the booth (he was totally scoping it out and spying on it to report back to other people), scaring the shit out of me because I didn’t recognize him at first (his hair and clothes were totally different), and then on the last day while walking around artist’s alley with my friend/coworker during our lunch break, we spotted the one person we both happen to know, though she knows both of us separately! For me, she was an editor I worked with when I was an intern at TOKYOPOP, and for my friend, she was her upperclassman at their college and they also have an editor-and-mangaka-contest-winner TOKYOPOP connection as well. Both of us knew that we both knew her, but she didn’t know we knew each other, so she was probably really surprised to see us! We were rushing back to our booth, but we told her to stop by, and towards the end of the day she showed up and chatted with us for about an hour! It was amazing! We all got caught up on so much and she seemed super impressed with both of us and our careers. Yay!

But it was just so exhausting every day, hahaha. A lot of nights I’d come back to my hotel room and just crawl into bed–the first day was the worst because I wasn’t used to it. It had been 10 years since I’d worked a booth with a company (and also, incidentally, 10 years since the last time I attended this convention, though that time was as a fan), and that time I would also get drunk every night afterwards! Oh man, I must have been so young then, hahaha. Overall it was a lot of fun and a great experience, and we got to eat some delicious food (paid for with our company per diem!), and I think a good bonding experience for our team, but also so much work!

But yeah, then I came back and had a second interview with my top choice, which went really well (it quickly became apparent that they were super into the idea of hiring me), and later that day I heard back from my recruiter that they wanted to make me an offer! (I heard later from my friend who works there that I beat out 20 applicants they were considering, including a former coworker who quit my current place a bit too hastily. I’m so happy that for the first time in maybe forever, I wasn’t hired as one of a batch of people, I was chosen over everyone else as the sole person for the job and no one else will be starting with me. It feels really good!) So I went in and signed the paperwork and then I was able to quit with my current place. My last day is Friday! My new company is actually pretty well-known for the games it makes, more than my current one, so I’m excited to work at a place that’s a bit more high-profile! I don’t start my new job until September 1 so I have almost all of August off and will be spending two weeks of it in the US. I have a huge translation project to work on, so it’s perfect timing–well, I was hoping it would work out this way so I could do this, and I’m so glad it did. There’s more to tell but it will have to wait for another post…

Overall, I’m feeling very happy lately. I’m not on any meds but I can still feel lots of serotonin coursing through me (you can tell when that is when you go on meds–you start to be able to recognize the sensation), which is probably because I’m having a ton of fun playing these dumb games on my phone every day with dumb boys I love and freaking out over them with my friends. Every single day, that is my life lately. And it’s ridiculous, I know, but it’s making me really happy! I’m having absolutely zero success with my love life (well–not zero, but I’m not getting a boyfriend anytime soon) but I’m trying not to let it bother me and just enjoy this silly, fun life I have right now.

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