Sunday, January 11, 2009

New years resolutions vol. 2

Which brings me to the morning, where i also have issues. Mainly these revolve around my tendency to sleep in, which i suppose is really not a tendency, but what I do all the time regardless. Well basically I tried a number of strategies to deal with this, mainly "factoring in" my sleeping in time to my morning schedule and setting my alarm ridiculously early. This doesn' t really work because I still know that i have time to sleep and if i just hit the snooze, its so easy. I'm not sure the the snooze is patently counter-productive, but I think at least until i can get in the habit of NOT using it, then I can possibly, eventually, use it, carefully.

Anyway, in the mean time, the first step is getting up when the alarm goes off. Yeah, I'm tired, but look, I'll still be tired and want to get out of bed even less in 20 minutes (even though it seems like I would feel more rested and ready to get out of bed if I slept in). So that's the basic thing for mornings: get out of bed as soon as the first alarm goes off. just do it. just throw the covers off and stand up. Yes it sucks, but it will soon stop sucking and become habit, just like swimming did, just like listening to japanese did, just like signing up for bento in the morning. Developing good habits, and getting rid of old, unproductive ones. That's the main thing.

I'm hoping that eventually I'll be able to move my going to bed and waking up times even earlier, because I think it would be good to be able to get some work done in the morning before school. Namely, meditating and doing flashcards. I'd like to have that up and running by april or may.

Which reminds me to mention that all the goals I'm taking one at a time; rather than stacking them all on top of each other. Its tempting to try to achieve everything in one fell swoop, especially with the burst of motivation and confidence that comes with the new years, but it's better, i think to get good at one thing, make it a habit, and move on to the next step. Better to do one thing well then try to do a whole bunch of things and do them all part way. Single tasking over multi tasking. The temptation is there when the motivation is high, but motivation is not the only thing. Motivation over time is what you have to maintain and that's best achieve by meeting small goals on a regular basis rather than big goals on a long-term basis. Which, of course is pretty much contrary to the way everything worked in life before "the real world" hit.

Anyway, after conquering the actuall getting out of bed problem, Ima work on the getting from the bed to out the door problem. Actually, I've been working on this a couple of months already, but there's still a few bugs to be worked out. Mostly its a matter of order of operations. A lot of shit has to get done in the morning, but for the most part it doesn't change from one day to the next. Keeping the routine steady and standard: repitition, is the best way to deal with things you have to do on a daily basis. So here's the routine:
1. Out of bed (put on slippers/sweater)
2. turn on news (ajatt stuff), heater in living room, heater in bathroom
3. make breakfast (i almost always eat the same thing these days: yogurt with jam and cereal. Milk coffee. Sometimes fruit. In theory, I'd like to make something like eggs, or toast, but they take a lot more time. I might implement this when I start waking up earlier)
4. Eat breakfast (timebox?)
5. Put away breakfast dishes and stuff
6. Take of PJs
7. Turn on shower
8. Take shower (Ok, i know how ridiculous and anal this all seems, but whatever this is how i operate. less thinking=more better)(anyway, with showers, I have the problem of taking too much time. Originally i tried timeboxing, but regardless I would always run into the alarm without having finished actually washing myself. Basically, I have the habit of going in the shower and then spending a long time just standing there, getting wet and enjoying the heat. Kind of thinking time (singing in the shower time i suppose). But that just kind of kept taking longer without ever actually, um, showering. Anyway, to fix this, I realized i could timebox the "getting wet" part of the shower (with the alarm i have there), so the alarm reminds me to stop getting wet and like... put soap on myself. that pretty much takes the same amount of time. the only other thing i have to worry about is the "getting the soap off" part which can easily turn into more "just standing in the shower enjoying the heat." So pretty much just gotta finish by the time that second alarm goes off, which is not too hard and then be sure to just turn off the shower and get out at that point. The final bit is the actual drying off, which can take an inordinate amout of time, too if I'm not careful, but generally is not that big a problem.

man i can't believe im writing about my showering habits.
my god am i weird or what?

9. Shave (if necessary)
10. Brush teeth/ put on deoderant and whatever.
11. Back to the living room to change.
12. Put clothes on (these should have been laid out the night before)
13. Put pocket crap in pockets
13. Put jacket on and gather computer, bag, (made ready the night before) keys, (garbage if necessary)
14. Roll out (Ideally, this would be about 7:35, giving me about 15 minutes before work officially starts to get work done. This time was originally set to compensate for waking up late, and just like with waking up, i tended to push this one back as late as possible and leave so I arrived just in time-and not infrequently-late. This time pretty much corresponds with what time I wake up, so waking up on time should lead to leaving on time naturally. However, that doesn't mean that If i wake up, I can dawdle around in the morning either. Hopefully mornings won't generally feel rushed, but that kind of nice feeling when you're getting what needs to get done done consistiently and at a good pace. Anyway, that's it. this post took about twice as long to write as I had planned (more on that problem later)...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New years

Basically, this is a response to an e-mail from a friend.
I started typing it on my cell phone but my thumbs started to hurt.

New years was fun. Me and a friend inadvertently paid 7000 to get into a club and then just danced and drank. unfortunely no midnight kiss/new years sex Tokyo girls are cold as iceeeee

as for nudity, on the 3rd there was a big festival at 筥崎宮 called 玉せせりthat a friend of mine invited me to. I thought it was just to watch but no-no they want me to *participate* in it. So i strip naked in some random house in 箱崎 that I suppose my friend has some relation to, and some half-deaf japanese granpa puts on "traditional japanese underwear" which is basically a poor-mans sumo belt-just two pieces of thin, white cotton. I guess its a good thing he tied it tight, being the only thing between my manhood and the outside world, but-i kid you not-my balls are still sore today.

Then we all march outside barefoot, to the shrine to PRAY TO GOD YOU WONT GET KILLED and then to the street in front of the shrine to discuss strategy and wait for the だませせりto begin while having buckets of "力水" splashed on us by "supporters." It was a warm day with a cloudless sky, which is a good thing because apparently last year it was snowing.

Basically the だませせり is one guy gets on top of another guy's shoulders who are then supported by one guy in the front and two in the back. "You'll get it when you see it." As close as I could tell, the goal is to get the tama-a wooden ball a bit bigger than a basketball, and put in a hole somewhere in the shrine. "Where's the hole?" "Down there" "K, thanks." Oh, and by the way,When you get the tama you also have to raise it towards the heavens and praise the Kami and your ancestors for not having gotten killed. yet. And don't take your eye off it, because if someone drops it and it lands on yer foot, it hurts. a lot.

We waited for about 15 minutes, and down the street, I could see a brown ball on top of a clump-well actually "clusterfuck" is a better word-a ball on top of a clusterfuck of maybe 20 men, and soon it was my turn to join in the excitement. i mean join the CULTURE! I first started in the front as the kind of driver and we bumped around the clusterfuck for a few minutes before the "horse"-he was in fact called the horse- got tired and we switched. This went a couple rounds, and we got the ball a couple of times, but soon-guess who's number was up? So, I mount up my faithful steed-a japanese man I had no more than an hour ago and was now placing my nuts a cotton cloth's width away from his head.

Now, more then ever I felt the tightness of the belt, but quickly forgot as my steed rose and carried me forward toward the clusterfuck. The Tama is near. Now, it is within reach. I grab it and pull it away from my foes. I lift it in the air. Oh my god I have the Tama! I have the Tama! Now what? Ok, pass it to the next guy!

This experience was not unlike many middle school PE classes. "Oh i have the ball! Finally! I got the ball! I don't want this responsibility; get this fucking ball away from me!" I could have held it longer, being relatively taller and longer limbed than most of the Japanese guys participating, but I was told later that at that shining moment when I had the Tama in my hands, the camera shutters went crazy-the one white in an orgy of japanese men. INTERNATIONALIZATION DEKI-motherfucking-MASHITA!

Anyway they let me down, and next it was my turn to be the horse. Japanese men are not big, but carrying any grown man on your shoulders is no easy task. Especially barefoot. on gravel. Reaching for the ball, he thrusted his pelvis to thrust forward, into the back of my head, forcing it forward so I couldn't lift it to see the Tama. To support my neck, I put my forehead on the shoulder of the man in front and trusted him to steer. All I could see was his bare shoulders, and within ten seconds I was about to fall over from the weight. All i could do was hold on and chant with the rest of the clusterfuck "yo-SHOI yo-SHOI." words of power. I don't know how long had passed, and i tapped my head to indicate to my teammates I needed to change. As the three men in front and back of me moved away, my legs crumpled beneath me and i went down on my side. My rider fortunately, got away fine. I stood up, disoriented. "Daijobu?" "Un, Daijobu."

We were nearly at the gate of the shrine, and someone dropped the ball. The man who picked it up carried under his arm like a football and made a break for the gate-only to be rebuffed by the cluster. Now I could see where the goal was--through a square hole in the door, I could see a priest, dressed in his sunday best, standing behind the door waiting to recieve the tama. Everyone is gathered in front of the gate, packed in like a tokyo subway, some people even standing on the wood beams of the gate chanting yo-shoi, and grabbing for the ball. We passed the ball around the group a few times before we put it through the hole to give to the priest, and every time someone grabbed it, the cluster of men let up a cheer. After a few times around, someone finally put the ball through the hole and the cluster let up a big cheer, and began to move away from the gate, back where we came.

Walking back was a relief that it was over. As we walked, the crowd started singing a traditional song that marked the end of the matsuri. As we were walking, i noticed how cold i was, as I had been continually splashed with "力水" throughout the ordeal. Next was the remedy-a nice traditional japanese bath-with about seventy other dirty sweaty men. The bath house was a tiny shack on the grounds of the jinja. After waiting in line, i hopped in the bath. The bath itself was maybe about 1 meter square and about 1 meter deep. The bath water, already quite dirty from the groups who had gone before me, only filled up half the bath when empty, but was overflowing when you 20 men got packed into it. One more round of the song to make how long we took a bath before it was the next groups' turn.

Afterward, we walked back to the house, and after taking off the Fundoshi (magic underwear), took another bath, this time with only one other japanese guy, and then ate a big lunch and got really drunk with the girl who invited me and everyone in our group.

It was fun.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Years Resolutions

Jeez its fucking January. Ive been off the rag for a couple weeks cuz they took the internet away at work :(. Lame.

Ok so relating to my post on goals here is a little more concrete list of goals for this year. Once again one thing at a time.

Basically, I think the whole life project deals with my tendency to procrastinate. It may be oversimplification, but basically my difficulties with Japanese, waking up, and otherwise getting done what needs to get done can be boiled down to a tendency to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse-off for the delay.
I don't wake up on time because i can always wake up later and always rush out the door. I don't go to bed on time because whatever i'm doing at the time seems more important than sleeping, or at least more fun. Anyway I'm being too vague. Basically, I'm gonna learn some time-management techniques and learn to put those into practice.

Mental tools. Here's some books that I'm gonna read to learn some time management. these seem like the best place to start: Getting things Done and The Now Principle.
First, buy those books.
Second, read those books. 20 minutes a day until they're done.
Put the stuff in the books into practice right away.
Record progress in a notebook - using a spreadsheet-type calendar.
I hope that I can get one of those done in english and then the other one done in Japanese. Depends on where I'll be with the RTK

That Brings me to number 2: Sleeping, waking up, and being on time to work.
My goal is to, by the end of the year, wake up not just on time, but early. Early enough to meditate for 20 minutes in the morning. Possibly early enough to do SRS for about 20 minutes.
Despite seeming simple, this has been very hard for me up to now, which probably means the goals have been too many, too big and far away, or too fuzzily defined. So I'm gonna break this shite down right here and right now.

Going to bed: Stopping work at 10:30. This is tough. Just stopping when my alarm goes off. I have a tendency to just continue to work until i get tired. I'm not tired at 10:30, but if I don't go to bed around then, I'll be highly tired the next morning and feel awful and fall asleep at work. So here's the system: at 10:30 when the alarm goes off, look at what you are doing. Figure out the next best place to stop. Finish the sentence you are reading. Finish the SRS item. If whatever you are doing is "not completely finished" at that time, fuck it. This is important. Fuck it. Writing an e-mail; it can wait until tomorrow. Watching a movie or show? Turn off the TV. Reading the Interweb? Shut down firefox immidiately and turn off the computer. Its not importatnt. Talking to friends on Gchat? Sorry everyone, sorry mom. Gots to get da sleeps. Type the magic phrase: Sorry, but I have to go. Talk to you later. I know, I know, I want to keep talking to you too. Yes yes, I know its the middle of the afternoon there and its only 10:30 here. But it's bedtime. Sleep leads to good health, good health leads to long-term happiness. Talking to friends and surfing the internet bring short term rewards, but I gotta think about the bigger picture cuz I'm an adult now :(.

Ok so 10:30. LET IT GO. STOP. DROP.
From there, there is a pretty set order of operations to follow:
Turn off computer
Put computer and power cable in bag.
Prepare other work bag: Only one book per day, notebook, ds, pens.
Put both bags by the door.
Turn on heating blanket
Take melatonin (natural sleep aid, to get me in the rhythm)
Decide on tomorrow's work clothes
Gather tomorrow's work clothes.
Put "pocket stuff" on the bookshelf
Change into pjs
Brush teeth/wash face

This whole thing should really only take like 15-20 minutes, so I'll be in bed by 11:00, and if I wake up at 6:35 that gives me like 7.5 hours of sleep. That should be enough, but eventually I'll aim for more sleep, and an earlier waking time.

Ok i need to continue this so i'll post more later...