5:2 and the final fantasy cafe (ARTNIA)

Everything has been :-( since I’ve been back in California, so I am going to go back to happier times, a couple of days ago when I spent the same day fasting and eating chocobo-themed pancakes at the Square Enix cafe, ARTNIA.

The Crystal room – jewelry (ones I would be into sold out, thank god), figures, and t-shirts. I really wanted to shop, but made it out with just a tote bag and a Yuna keychain.
the store
Strawberry pancakes. The food was much, much better than I expected. Visiting cafes in Japan has taught me there is often an inverse relationship between the deliciousness of the food and the uniqueness of the design.
moogle pancakes
Chocolate pancakes. So good. I wanted chocobo everything to commemorate the many, many hours lost in the late 90s raising chocobo in order to get all the materia.
chocobo pancakes
Chocobo everything. Latte art like this is made by shaking the cinnamon over a stencil. If they sold the stencils, I would totally buy them even though I haven’t made a cappuccino at home since I was scurrying around buying sylkis greens and carob nuts.
chocobo cappuccino

I hit the reset button and restarted the day at the airport. Fasting on the airplane was easy, not because the food was terrible, Singapore has decent food, it was easy because I was exhausted and nervous and sad. My kindle wasn’t working and my computer had died, so I reread Brideshead Revisted and tried to sleep. After the airport and after getting rid of my luggage, I ate a bowl of turkey vegetable soup and tried not to think about all of the rough drafts I would lose if my computer was truly dead.

from Crome Yellow, Aldous Huxley

There was a silence. Mr. Barbecue-Smith stood with his back to the hearth, warming himself at the memory of last winter’s fires. He could not control his interior satisfaction, but still went on smiling to himself. At last he turned to Denis.

“You write,” he asked, “don’t you?”

“Well, yes—a little, you know.”

“How many words do you find you can write in an hour?”

“I don’t think I’ve ever counted.”

“Oh, you ought to, you ought to. It’s most important.”

Denis exercised his memory. “When I’m in good form,” he said, “I fancy I do a twelve-hundred-word review in about four hours. But sometimes it takes me much longer.”

Mr. Barbecue-Smith nodded. “Yes, three hundred words an hour at your best.” He walked out into the middle of the room, turned round on his heels, and confronted Denis again. “Guess how many words I wrote this evening between five and half-past seven.”

“I can’t imagine.”

“No, but you must guess. Between five and half-past seven—that’s two and a half hours.”

“Twelve hundred words,” Denis hazarded.

“No, no, no.” Mr. Barbecue-Smith’s expanded face shone with gaiety. “Try again.”

“Fifteen hundred.”

“No.”

“I give it up,” said Denis. He found he couldn’t summon up much interest in Mr. Barbecue-Smith’s writing.

“Well, I’ll tell you. Three thousand eight hundred.”

Denis opened his eyes. “You must get a lot done in a day,” he said.

I love this scene so damn much because 300 words an hour is about the best I can do and I feel like such a turtle-esque freak. Writing on a computer always turns into YouTube and FreeCell, somehow this happens even on computers where games are disabled and the internet is heavily filtered. So, my writing crawls, pen on paper, 300 words an hour at most.

Crome Yellow

rainy season

It’s rainy season now and it will be until almost the day I leave. The smiley ghosts are teruteru-bozu, small paper dolls that are supposed to bring good weather.

“you look tired”

Failing to get enough sleep night after night can compromise your health and may even shorten your life. From infancy to old age, the effects of inadequate sleep can profoundly affect memory, learning, creativity, productivity and emotional stability, as well as your physical health.

According to sleep specialists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, among others, a number of bodily systems are negatively affected by inadequate sleep: the heart, lungs and kidneys; appetite, metabolism and weight control; immune function and disease resistance; sensitivity to pain; reaction time; mood; and brain function.

Cheating Ourselves of Sleep
The New York Times seems determined to make me paranoid about my sleep problems. A couple of months ago, they were saying that Lost sleep can lead to weight gain. And, Sleep Less, Weigh More.

Last night I dreamt I was staying in Michigan and translating pharmacy signs into Japanese. I’ve never been to Michigan, and my Japanese shouldn’t be relied on for anything of real importance.

The Way of All Flesh – Samuel Butler

“Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself, and the more he tries to conceal himself the more clearly will his character appear in spite of him.”

Sometimes I feel like I’ve read every book. This isn’t true at all, more like a bucket of water from the ocean, but I have read (or started to read and dismissed) most of the British and American “classics.” So I was surprised to find a Victorian I hadn’t read: The Way of All Flesh.

Train of thought – looking for The Forsyte Saga at Tsutaya, not finding it, deciding to go home and read The Forsyte Saga even though I reread it last year and it is really not that good, thinking about books in the same style, thinking oh have I actually read that?

“Yet when a man is very fond of his money it is not easy for him at all times to be very fond of his children also.”

Expectations: light satire and family drama, Galsworthy and early Forster. Reality: child abuse and barely repressed homosexuality. Its direct style felt modern, closer to Waugh than Dickens. Families, and the Society that is built on them, are held together by fear, guilt, and physical violence. The book’s “hero,” Ernest Pontifex, is abused by his father and by his religion until he finds a better way to live.

“Young people have a marvellous faculty of either dying or adapting themselves to circumstances.”

Literature is full of unhappy families, what surprised me was Butler’s solution to the problem. Ernest gives his children to someone else to raise and retreats to live with a small circle of unmarried men. Immediately after finishing, I hit wikipedia to see if Samuel Butler was gay.

“There is nothing an old bachelor likes better than to find a young married man who wishes he had not got married-”

Confirmed bachelor.

5:2

I used to be able to say that I’d tried every diet out there, from Atkins to cabbage soup to South Beach to Weight Watchers, but that’s no longer true. The last fad diet I tried was the banana diet* and that was all the way back in 1998. I know the banana diet isn’t really a thing anymore because Seiyu always has bins full of bananas.

New fad diets appear every day, and since I’ve been too busy to obsess over what goes into my mouth, I’ve missed two big ones: paleo and intermittent fasting.

There’s no way I can do paleo here in Japan, land of delicious rice, but after reading an article in The Guardian, I decided to give 5:2 a try.**

My first fast day was Thursday, June 6, I forgot to fast on Monday the 10th because I didn’t know it was Monday (very confusing week), on Thursday the 13th, I was at Disneyland, which is incompatible with fasting. I sort of fasted on Friday, if eating an Egg McMuffin set and then passing out for the day can be considered fasting.

Which brings me to today. Lunch used up all my calories, which is a problem because I’ve gotten in the habit of a pre-gym snack. For some reason, I am incredibly hungry after work. I tried telling myself that it is psychological and inspired by my feelings about my job, but I think this is only partly true. It seems reasonable to be hungry four hours after a carbohydrate-heavy lunch.

*Bananas for breakfast, no eating after 8PM. Simple, right? But breakfast doesn’t really work for me, and at the time it was almost impossible for me to be in bed before midnight. Banana diet may get a second chance once I’m back in America.

**I also read the wikipedia article. No one can say I didn’t do any research!

Disneyland hotel

Victorian theme, which means Alice and dollhouses. Children are already crying and there is still an hour until the park opens.

lessons from self-help books

Lessons from 31 Self-Help Books
I’ve read four of the books summarized here, The Power of Habit, Getting Things Done, The 48 Laws of Power, and The Miracle of Mindfulness. Getting Things Done was completely useless for me because it seemed to be for office workers and management, not for someone who is trying to balance creative work and teaching. I read The 48 Laws of Power while looking after some cats. My friends had bookshelves filled with fiction and literary theory, but I picked up The 48 Laws of Power because I’d heard of it and it was not the kind of thing I would think of buying for myself. It was half silly and half obvious, but I did enjoy using silly voices to read it to the cats. Now that I think about it, I probably shouldn’t have read it to the cats – they don’t need help with their plans for world domination.

from The Power of Habit

Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.

Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.

  • Identify the routine
  • Experiment with rewards
  • Isolate the cue
  • Have a plan

One reason I wasn’t able to follow Resolution #2 (a New Year’s resolution I’m not ready to talk about yet) this morning was that last night was different from my usual routine and I hadn’t planned on what I would do when I couldn’t go to bed at the ideal time. I thought January would be free from unexpected interruptions and I would have time to establish a routine. Now, it looks like the rest of my calendar for January is free, but I will make a plan to deal with interruptions just in case. As for today, there’s still time to get everything done as long as I don’t spend too much time staring out the window at the snow. It was so clear this morning, now everything is white!

New Year’s Resolution #1 – Read Less

I am so excited about this: Blandings. For some reason I never got into Downton Abbey, I thought it was too silly and camp in a bad way, but a new Wodehouse series should be silly and camp in a good way, especially with that cast.

So, it is now the seventh day of the 2013, and I have broken my first resolution. Read less. I want to read mindfully and I definitely want to spend less time online reading blog posts I don’t care about. But, back at my desk, I found myself reading EVERYTHING I missed on the New Yorker’s book blog, even though the only post I found interesting was this: Literary Feuds of 2012. And, of course, the news about Blandings.

Kindle + Project Gutenberg has been like crack for me. I start my day meaning to clean or do laundry or write or at least go outside, but then I find myself hours later, huddling under the kotatsu with Daniel Deronda and planning to write epic Daniel/Gwendolyn fan fiction (because I know so much more about human nature than George Eliot).

Reading less means choosing what I read and reflecting on it once I’ve finished. It means balancing new works and rereads, and having a reason to reread something, not sticking it on my kindle because of some random google search. Reading less means I can answer the question “what have you been reading,” without staring blankly into space for much too long.

I was recently asked, “did you read a book during vacation?” I said, “um, yes?” My reading was all “light” reading, but that adds up. Two Sherlock Holmes, two Terry Pratchetts, The Hobbit, A Murder of Quality, The Book of Dragons, and Cat’s Cradle. And Daniel Deronda. The problem is that none of that reading has anything to do with what I should be working on or what I want to do. In 2013, less reading.

second snow

This one looks almost ready to stay.

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