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Diary

The Book of Life Self-Knowledge Questionnaire

I stumbled across this questionnaire this morning, thought I’d take it and see what it thinks I am. Actually it seems rather accurate:

SHYNESS

Part of you is gripped by the fear that you’ll launch into something and completely mess it up. The upside of this is wise caution: people are indeed often too rash, whereas you know, by instinct, that holding back can save you. Probably, you feel shame and self-disgust a bit too much. But when you do feel in your element, you act with a wisdom and sensitivity never found in people with thicker skins.

AGGRESSION

One part of your character is anger in all its forms: frustration, outrage – and when anger is suppressed – bitterness, grumpiness, and bodily aches. Fundamentally, frustration comes from hope: you get upset because you expect your life will be more than a valley of tears. One way to deny aggression is to direct it inwards, as self-criticism. But you’re at your best when you acknowledge anger, and act it out clearly and in a focussed way, with honour.

PLAYFULNESS

You are good at seeing what’s funny, at relaxing and finding the pleasure of the moment. Play is random, whimsical, fantasy-driven behaviour which releases internal tension. Because it is detached from some pressures it allows you to act on weirder, perhaps neglected, parts of yourself. The downside is that it is no help in sticking with things that are not much fun but which need to be addressed. So it is well complemented by its opposite, Stoicism.

What color is your rainbow?

Your rainbow is intensely shaded brown, white, and violet.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What is says about you: You are a deep thinking person. You appreciate quiet moments. People depend on you to make them feel secure. You are patient and will keep trying to understand something until you’ve mastered it.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.

I don’t know about all that! But it’s a fun quiz nonetheless. via @Merujo.

What does your browsing history say about your gender?

This guy uses known demographics about the visitors to certain sites to check your browser history and guess your gender. It’s kind of interesting to see the male-female ratio of visitors to some of these sites!

Here are my results:

Likelihood of you being FEMALE is 92%
Likelihood of you being MALE is 8%

Site Male-Female Ratio
google.com
0.98
myspace.com
0.74
youtube.com
1
mapquest.com
0.83
amazon.com
0.9
facebook.com
0.83
blogger.com
1.06
imdb.com
1.06
flickr.com
1.15
weather.com
1.08
nytimes.com
1.13
allrecipes.com
0.57
noaa.gov
1.41
wachovia.com
0.87
snopes.com
0.74
cbsnews.com
1.17
mininova.org
1.63
barackobama.com
0.68
zillow.com
1.13
bhg.com
0.55
feedburner.com
1.11
godaddy.com
1.17
payless.com
0.47
pandora.com
0.9
rollingstone.com
1.08
johnmccain.com
1.27
tinyurl.com
0.83
usanetwork.com
0.59
pair.com
1.08
yousendit.com
0.9
kw.com
0.77

(I only visited rollingstone.com to tell them to stop sending us their magazine. I have no idea how we got subscribed. :P)

7 Random or Weird Facts

I have been tagged by Chuck…and you all know how much I love being tagged :D It’s taken me a month to get around to it. I may be slow, but I do get things done eventually!

Here are the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog; some random, some weird.

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.

4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

It gets harder and harder over the years to come up with unique things. But I’ll do my best!

FACT 1: I used to have a lot of trouble forming social relationships. I rarely looked people in the eye. I was so afraid of looking stupid that I never reached out to anyone. If a person latched on to me, I latched back, regardless of whether or not the relationship was healthy. It took a long time for me to break the cycle. I still have trouble with either being too aloof or too involved. But now I’m outgoing and even snarky. The internet really helped–being able to have real conversations with people without all the face-to-face distractions made me crave that kind of connection in all my relationships. My current job has also been a blessing. I meet so many new people each year that I just about have to be sociable. All in all, I’m really happy with where I am now.

FACT 2: I suffer from a completely illogical guilt complex. When I got cancer, I felt guilty that my parents had to pay for my treatment and make my car payment while I couldn’t work. When our apartment burned down, I felt guilty that I had ever married Sean in the first place, because after all, if he’d never met me, he wouldn’t have been living there, so he would still have all his stuff. And I felt guilty that family members had given me hand-me-downs and they’d all been destroyed. When I discovered Magazine Man’s identity, I felt guilty for the way I’d done it, even though dozens of people figured it out that way…and that guilt has made it hard for me to relate to him, to this day.

You may not believe this, but I’m better–at least a little bit–than I used to be. When I have to give up on something, when I don’t have time or circumstances change, I don’t beat myself up about it nearly as much as I used to. But it’s still a problem for me.

FACT 3: I only have one mole. It’s on my stomach. And it doesn’t stick out or anything, so it may as well be a huge freckle. I have lots of freckles.

FACT 4: The big toe on my right foot sticks out more than the one on my left. It’s hard for me to move it inwards. The other one moves back and forth just fine.

FACT 5: I am always having ideas, often for websites, for things that I think would be cool to design–not just graphically, but organizationally. But the thought of maintaining those things usually deters me. I think my strength lies in setting things up, and then letting other people use them.

FACT 6: I can, and do, pop almost every joint on my body.

FACT 7: I love rotenburos. A rotenburo is an outdoor Japanese bath. Yes, you go into it naked, with other people around. I’ve never gone to a co-ed onsen, but I honestly think I would try it. I think this is due to a random fact we’ll call 7A: when I’m not wearing my glasses, I’m less self-conscious about how I look.

There you go, Chuck! Sorry it took so long!

Update: I realized after posting that I totally forgot to tag others. I tag: Brooke, Mari, Charles, and Kayo. I realize that’s not seven, but I don’t read a lot of blogs, and of the ones I do read most have already done this questionnaire recently. So if there’s someone out there I didn’t name who wants to do this, let me know in the comments :)

Japanese name-based personality tests

Kayo linked to a couple websites where you put in your name and they give you a personality assessment. I went to the Japanese one and found a whole bunch linked from it.

heatherの脳内 (Heather’s Brain):

This one created an image so I’m unable to copy and paste the characters and try and figure out what it means. It doesn’t look good, though, does it?

Edit: Kayo says:

嘘 (uso) means a lie.
寂 (jaku) means sad or lonely.

But she also kindly pointed out that my full name has a better meaning:

友 (you) means a friend, friendship or friendly.
休 (kyu) means a rest or a holiday.

heatherの脳内フェチ (Heather’s Fetish Passion):

爪 means claw or nail.
己 is “ore”, the masculine personal pronoun…I’m wondering if this is also how you specify a dom? However, I’m also seeing it in a combination where it can mean “by oneself”, so I don’t know. I probably need a native speaker to tell me what it means.

I’m not really sure if this is saying I’m into manicures and tough guys, or if it’s talking about sexual things. I’m not sure how the word “fetish” is being used.

Edit: Kayo explains things in the comments. Yes, I think we can safely say that I am into myself. Not sure about the nails though!

heatherの前世の脳内 (Heather’s Brain in a Previous Life):

賭 means gambling.
酒, of course, is sake, or alcohol.

So apparently I was pretty worthless in my past life!

heatherの鞄の中身 (Inside Heather’s Bag):

鞄の種類 あのブランドっぽいハンドバッグ
鞄の中身 シックなハンカチ
カルボーン
おとまりセット
眼科の診察券
生徒手帳

Translation:

Type of Bag brand name-like (?) designer knock-off handbag
Bag’s Contents Chic handkerchief
Japanese sweets from 20 years ago (guess I won’t be eating them!)
? (maybe something to do with music?) overnight toiletries
ophthalmologist patient registration ticket
student notebook

heather弁当 (Heather’s lunch):

My obento costs 620 yen and contains rice (米) and something else. Again, it made an image, so no copy and paste :(

Edit: Kayo tells me that “貝 (kai) means shellfish”.

The Book Quiz

Okay, this is frightening.


You’re Les Miserables!
by Victor Hugo
One of the best known people in your community, you have become something of a phenomenon. People have sung about you, danced in your honor, created all manner of art in your name. And yet your story is one of failure and despair, with a few brief exceptions. A hopeless romantic, you’ll never stop hoping that more good will come from your failings than is ever possible. Beware detectives and prison guards bearing vendettas.
Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

Via Brooke.

Which Disney princess are you?

I’m Belle and Aurora, apparently.

Cinderella:

[ ] One of your parents is dead.

[x] You are expected to do a lot of chores.

[x] You love to dress up.

[x] You love animals.

[ ] You are waiting patiently for your Prince Charming. (Or princess)

[ ] Your mom is really strict.

[ ] You have sisters who seem kind of jealous of you.

[ ] You’re afraid to speak your mind sometimes.

[ ] You have left your shoes at a friend’s house before

[x] You have blond hair.

TOTAL: 4

Belle:

[ ] You’ve fallen in love like with someone your friends didn’t like.

[x] You’ve been lost in the forest.

[x] You love to read.

[ ] You are not shy at all, and not afraid to speak your mind.

[x] One of your family members is a bit weird.

[x] You have done volunteer work.

[x] You have a wild imagination.

[x] You love to take care of people in need.

[ ] You’ve had guys like you only because they think you’re pretty.

[x] You’ve rejected at least one person when they’ve asked you out.

TOTAL: 7

Jasmine:

[ ] Your dad is very rich/important.

[x] You are very clever.

[x] You’ve fallen in love like with someone way different from you.

[x] You’re unique and different from everyone else.

[x] You’d never marry someone just because they were rich.

[ ] You have set a lot of goals for yourself.

[ ] You don’t have a lot of friends.

[x] You’re independent

[ ] You are wealthy

[ ] Your parents try to control your life.

TOTAL: 5

Ariel:

[x] Your parents expect a lot from you.

[ ] You really try to follow the rules, but you always seem to break them.

[ ] You’re a bit of a trouble maker.

[ ] You’re the youngest in your family.

[ ] You have a sister.

[x] You collect something.

[ ] You have/had long, red hair

[x] You have/had a pet fish.

[x] You’re extremely curious.

[ ] You believe everything people tell you/you’re a bit gullible.

TOTAL: 4

Snow White:

[x] You know that you’re beautiful.

[ ] Sometimes it seems like your mom is jealous of you.

[ ] You’ve almost been killed.

[x] You have at least seven good friends.

[ ] You’ve had food poisoning.

[x] You have/had short hair.

[x] You get along with (most) everyone.

[x] All of your friends are different … in a good way…

[x] You love to have a good time.

[ ] You’re happier when you’re out of the house than in.

TOTAL: 6

Mulan:

[x] You can be a tomboy sometimes.

[ ] People wish you could be a bit more girly.

[ ] You’ve pretended to be someone you’re not.

[ ] You’ve had a physical fight with someone.

[x] You have/had considered running away from home.

[ ] Your parents try to plan your life out.

[x] Some of your friends are boys.

[ ] You sometimes find yourself in bad situations.

[x] You love your family so much that you’d do anything to protect them.

TOTAL: 4

Aurora:

[x] You live/have lived with someone other than your parents. (Assuming my husband counts ;P)

[ ] You almost died at a very young age.

[x] You are gentle, loving, and/or thoughtful.

[x] You have a decent singing voice.

[x] You like to sleep in late on the weekends.

[ ] You spend most of your time outside

[ ] You’re adopted

[x] You have/had long hair.

[x] You’re very romantic.

[x] Pink is one of your favorite colors

TOTAL: 7

Pocahontas:

[x] You love to walk around and explore your city.

[x] You are more spiritual than religious.

[ ] You’ve been in an interracial relationship.

[ ] One of your siblings is dead.

[x] Your parents are very protective of you.

[x] Someone you know has been in war.

[x] You love nature.

[ ] You have/had black hair.

[x] You would love to move somewhere exotic and beautiful.

[x] You’re very adventurous

TOTAL: 5

Because I live to take internet surveys

Found this on my GSP friend Shannon’s MySpace.

1. Song that always makes you sad?
Tears in Heaven

2. Last thing you bought?
Dinner at Arby’s – two beef and cheddars, two bacon beef and cheddars, and a large potato cake

3. Last person you argued with?
I…can’t remember.

4. Do you put Butter before putting the peanut butter on?
Er…no? And on what?

5. One of your stuffed animals’ names as a kid?
Brownie

6. Did you ever own at one time a Barenaked Ladies Cd?
No…they suck

7. Favorite day of the week?
It really depends. Sometimes Mondays are great because I’m tired of doing nothing all weekend; sometimes Wednesdays are great because I’m riding a good wave of momentum from the beginning of the week; and of course sometimes Fridays are good because the week’s over.

8. Favorite Sundae topping?
While I’ve got to have chocolate syrup and whipped cream, the best part is the cherry.

9. Did you take Piano lessons?
Yes…for ten years.

10. Most frequent song played?
“Fur Elise”…I still play it.

11. T.V. show you secretly enjoy?
I don’t really watch TV, and if I did I wouldn’t be ashamed of what I liked.

12. Would you rather play basketball or hockey?
I guess I would prefer hockey, if ice skates didn’t kill my feet.

13. Date someone older or younger?
Well, I’m married to someone four months younger than me, which isn’t really that much of a difference.

14. One place you could travel right now?
I could travel to lots of places right now :> If I could go anywhere, though, I’d go to a beach. Maybe a beach in Japan!

15. Do you use umbrellas?
Sometimes. I leave it in the car, so often I don’t have it when I need it.

16. Do you know all the words to the Canadian national anthem?
No. Is this a quiz for Canadians? Because I don’t know any national anthem other than my own.

17. Favorite Cheese?
I like blocks of sharp cheddar.

18. The Smith’s or the Cure?
Neither, I guess.

19. Do you prefer Blondes or Brunettes?
Don’t really have a preference.

20. Best job you ever had?
The one I have now.

21. did you go to your high school prom?
Unfortunately, yes. I guess it was good for the freshman I took with me, so he could hang out with his friends. But I honestly had no use for the prom itself. The restaurant beforehand and the early breakfast we had at a friend’s house after were far preferable.

22. perfect time to wake up?
Dawn

23. perfect time to go to bed?
Early enough to feel rested when I get up.

24. do you use your queen right away in chess?
It’s been years, but no, usually I’d use her mid-game.

25. Ever been in a car accident?
Yes, twice…once a kid crashed into my door as I was turning into a parking lot, and once a van pulled out in front of me on the interstate, and I crashed into the guardrail trying to avoid it.

26. closer to mom or dad…or neither?
I love both my parents very much, but I’m closest to my mom.

27. what age is this exciting life over for you?
Lately I’ve been feeling like my exciting life has been over for awhile.

28. what decade during the 20th century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
I’m fine with the 90s, although the 80s might have been interesting.

29. Favorite shoes you have EVER owned?
I used to have these high-top-esque black shoes with velcro closures on top. I loved those shoes. I had some white ones too, but the black ones were the coolest.

30. Do you have an article of clothing you have had since you were in high school?
No, I lost all that stuff in the fire :P

31. Were you in track and field?
No, but I did think about it. I’ve always hated running, but I thought maybe I could force myself past it. Never actually went for it though.

32. Were you ever in a school talent show?
Yes, playing piano

33. Have you ever written in a library book?
No…I was “good”.

34. Allergic to?
Not sure, but it seems to be getting worse

35. Favorite fruit?
Toss up among kiwi, plums, and blackberries.

36. Have you watched sex and the city?
I saw a censored version on Fox once. It was the stupidest show I’ve ever seen.

37. Baseball hat or toque?
WTF is a toque? *googles* Hmm, okay, in this climate, definitely the baseball cap.

38. Do you shampoo first in the shower or soap?
Soap, then shave, then shampoo last.

39. Wet the toothbrush or brush dry with the toothpaste?
I put the toothpaste on and then wet it all.

40. Pen or pencil?
I used to only like pencils, but now I’m all about pens.

41. Have you ever gambled at a casino?
No, but I’d like to try it once.

42. Have you thrown up on a plane?
No, flying doesn’t bother me.

43. Have you thrown up in a car?
Not that I recall.

44. Have you thrown up at work?
No.

45. Do you scream on roller coasters?
Yes, but I also avoid them like the plague.

46. Who was your first prom date?
My first and last prom date was a computer geek freshman, when I was a senior. Long story, and not really worth telling.

47. Who was your first roommate?
A girl from Alabama named Saxon.

48. ???
??? yourself.

49. What was your first job?
Other than working for my parents’ business…my first job was at Wal-Mart. I lasted about a week and a half.

50. What was your first car?
The first car I had to myself was our family’s Mercury Marquis, passed to us from Grandma when she bought a new car. But it wasn’t really MINE, so when I dropped out of college and got a full time job I bought my own car, a Ford Taurus. (Then I got cancer and had to be admitted to the hospital, so my parents ended up making payments on it…bleh.)

51. When did you go to your first funeral?
I guess it was when my great-grandmother died? But I’m not sure when that was exactly.

52. How old were you when you first moved away from your hometown?
I was 18 when I moved to Alabama for college. I was there nine months. It wasn’t until I was 24 that I moved away permanently, here to Augusta.

53. Who was your first grade teacher?
Mrs. Fosson, though I can’t tell you any more than that.

54. Where did you go on your first airplane ride?
Texas…I was a baby. I don’t know why my mom was going there.

55. When you snuck out of your house for the first time, who was it with?
I never snuck out. There was one time I thought about it, to go to a party hosted by some people I knew on a local BBS. But the idea of doing it was too scary, so I didn’t.

56. Who was your first Best Friend and are you still friends with them?
My very first best friend was Eddie, in fourth grade. I don’t know where he is or what he’s doing now.

57. Where did you live the first time you moved out of your parent’s house?
I don’t know if you can call going to college “moving out”, since most of my stuff was still at my parents’ house, but if you can, I lived in the dorms at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. They were very nice. If you can’t count that, then it would be Springhouse Apartments in Augusta.

58. Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
Twitter…that way Mom and Brooke both have a way of knowing.

59. Who’s Whose wedding were you in the first time you were a bridesmaid or a groomsmen?
Brooke’s AJ and Faye’s, duh. And the only time I was in a wedding before that was when I was a flower girl (or something) in Aunt Sally’s wedding. Brooke’s wedding was the first time I was a maid (technically matron) of honor.

60. What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Pick out my clothes and carry them to the bathroom.

61. What was the first concert you attended?
Errr…I don’t know. Maybe Carman, at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

62. First tattoo or piercing?
My ears are pierced…had them done when I turned 16. I’ve lived a fairly tame existence.

63. First celebrity crush?
I have two answers to this. I always rather liked Michael W. Smith–I had a big poster of him on my wall, and I’d stare into his bright blue eyes and sigh. But there was also a time when I saw part of An Officer and a Gentleman, when Richard Gere was wearing that white uniform…and, well, just whoa.

8 Random Things

Brooke tagged me 57 years ago to list 8 random things about myself, then tag 8 other bloggers to do the same. I’m getting around to it today, for some reason.

1. I hate our apartment. I really do. I’ve done what I can do so far to make it nice–more could obviously be done–but it finally hit me yesterday that I just hate it, and I don’t care about doing anything else to it. I loved our old apartment, and I want to live somewhere nice like that again, with a non-shotgun floor plan and vaulted ceilings and fewer bugs.

2. When I first moved here, I thought “Wife Saver” was a highly offensive name for a restaurant, and I still do. But I also thought it was hilarious, and I still do. And as you probably know, it’s one of my favorite places to eat.

3. I’m going to buy a dining room table soon. It has to be done.

4. I want to find some friends, because whenever I get the urge to go out and do something, I have no one to do it with. But when I make friends at work, they all end up leaving for other jobs. I’m lonely.

5. I just saw a picture of Allen Schezar from Escaflowne out of the corner of my eye and wondered why Kyou Kara Maou‘s Gunter had blond hair.

6. I hate being a woman. We’re more in touch with how we feel about things, which means we make decisions based more on feelings than logic, which can be good…but at the same time it makes us look emotional and flighty and illogical, which makes it hard to be taken seriously. I hate that. I don’t want men to roll over and do whatever women want in order to avoid a temper tantrum, but I don’t want men to ignore women’s feelings, either. I don’t know what a good solution is.

7. I am putting off starting my Cowboy Bebop game because I lack confidence in myself. I know this, and I know I just need to get over it and do it, but it’s hard.

8. My brother Ben keeps sending me cell phone pictures from the farm where he’s living. I want a camera phone!

Interview

Merujo sent me five interview questions. Here are my responses:


1. What do you love about anime? What recommendations would you make for an anime newbie as the best of the genre?

I originally got into anime because it, like other products of Japan, could tell me something about the culture. It was actually my brother AJ who was first interested in anime; I remember being kind of “meh” about it. I had seen and enjoyed Akira on the Sci-Fi Channel, but I didn’t pursue an interest in anime, didn’t go to Blockbuster and rent various titles like AJ did.

But I randomly took a Japanese culture class in college, and that really piqued my interest in Japanese history and society. There was a girl in my class who brought in a huge book of manga and explained the anime/manga phenomenon, and I remember feeling a little snobby towards her, like there was something wrong with her because she was interested in that.

But as time went on and I took more classes, both language and culture, and my professors actually used manga and anime to help them get their ideas across and to share the culture with me, I started to have a greater appreciation for it. I joined AMUK–Anime/Manga of the University of Kentucky. It was there that I first saw shows like Please Save My Earth and Yawara.

After awhile I stopped going to the meetings, but I was always grateful for the windows into Japanese culture that the club offered me.

(AMUK is now defunct. After some drama, the newer members took over, kicked the old-school members off the listserv, and renamed the club “UK Anime”. As an observer, I don’t know the whole story, but it seemed like a good move to me. People who weren’t even at UK anymore were trying to have a say in the club, which seemed a little backwards, in my opinion.)

I continued my research into the anime/manga phenomenon online. It was then that I discovered the world of fansubbing, which opened up a million opportunities for me to see anime. By this time I was pursuing a Japan Studies minor and had been to Japan on a six week trip (and AJ’s own interest in anime had flagged). Anime was the most convenient–and, I’ll admit, the easiest–way for me to keep a flood of Japanese culture coming into my life. After I graduated, this became even more important, because I had moved to another city and was no longer surrounded by Japan resources. (I never realized how many Japanese people lived in and around Lexington, Kentucky until I moved.)

So in a way, asking me what I like about anime is like asking me what I like about Japanese culture. And it’s hard to describe. I think part of it, honestly, is an interest in seeing US culture refracted in the lens of a culture that existed long before the US. Here is a land with so much history, so many things that are incomprehensible without detailed study, and yet English (in derivative forms) is everywhere, US music and movies abound, and certain ways of doing things are obvious imports.

But as you keep going, you realize it’s not just the US. Japan imports, and often improves, facets of every culture it comes in contact with. It is just fascinating to see. As a linguistics major, I studied how languages interact and change one another and evolve over time. Linguistics is just one branch of anthropology, which is the main lens through which I like to observe the world. I’m always wondering where certain traditions came from, why people dress a certain way, where a certain way of thinking came from.

In a way, Japan is an extreme cultural melting pot, and that is fascinating to me.

But there are inaccessible things about Japan, things that have been a part of the culture for so long that it’s not easy to trace their roots. Things that, as an outsider, mean there are always surprises, no matter how much you think you understand.

Japan is inaccessible in many ways, and I think that makes it attractive as well. Even as you are invited in with open arms, there are so many closed doors.

So I enjoy watching anime partly because it was not made for me. I like trying to understand why it was made the way it was, and what it says about the people who wrote it. I use it as a means of better understanding the culture and practicing my comprehension of the language.

I especially enjoy high school comedies and dramas because they are abundant…because this idea of “seishun”, youth, is such a driving force. High school is so important that people around the country watch the national high school baseball tournament, which takes place at the largest and most famous stadium in Japan, Koushien Stadium in Osaka [Koushien is not actually in Osaka]. One of my all-time favorite anime, Touch, centers around three high schoolers as their baseball team tries to make it to Koushien.

What’s intriguing is that Japan is not unaware of how it idealizes the high school experience. There was one short series whose name escapes me that dealt with life for a group of friends after high school. There was a love triangle, of course: two girls loved the same guy. One of the girls had been a brilliant swimmer in high school and looked to be on her way to being a professional swimmer. She loved the guy, but was best friends with the other, quieter girl who loved him, and so she cheered the two of them on and kept her feelings to herself. One day the quiet girl was waiting for the guy to show up for their date and she was hit by a car. This left her in a coma.

The story starts with everyone around 20. The guy is in college and working part time, and the swimmer girl has become an office worker. They have ended up dating each other, but aren’t happy about it because the other girl is still alive, albeit in the coma. A feeling of unfinished business permeates the story, until finally the girl comes out of the coma and everyone’s feelings are resolved.

What struck me most about this, beyond the thoughtful exploration of how people would respond to such horrible circumstances, was how small life seemed to be after high school for all of them. All they had to look forward to was work, and perhaps the comfort of each other. It wasn’t like school where their opportunities seemed limitless. It was interesting to see this actually shown, and striking to me that I haven’t seen it very often.

This gets to why I started enjoying anime beyond a tool to help me learn about Japanese culture. The stories are so rich. There are series that are nothing but fluff, obviously, and those have their place, and can be really fun. What I realized, though, was that anime was simply another medium for storytelling, and there were plenty of really good stories being told.

The reason I love Touch, for example, is not because it is so revealing about Japan’s love of high school and/or baseball, but because it has enduring, believable characters who all grow and change as they deal with both normal and extreme events in their lives. Something happens in this show that you will rarely see in a US series, but I won’t tell you what it is because I want you to watch it!

As far as recommendations…

There are just as many genres of anime as you would find in any other storytelling medium. Maybe more, since Japan likes to categorize things to the extreme. I have found myself drawn to the “sports” genre, which is essentially a story where the main character works and gets better at something, competing with a broad cast of various personalities and going through tests of skill. As you can guess, an actual sport is typically involved, but this can also cover things like board games, or fighting, or magic.

I also love the “high school comedy/romance” genre. The “mecha” genre, which involves giant robots that are piloted by people, can be good if done well. But as you’ll see below, I don’t trap myself within any genre. If the characters are real and the story is compelling, I’ll even watch an anime about, say, baking bread!

I can’t expect that everyone in the world is as obsessed with learning about Japanese culture as I am, so there are some series that are brilliant but might not quite work as “gateway” anime. Too many jokes that don’t make sense, etc. So with that in mind, here’s what I would recommend:

1) Cowboy Bebop

This show takes place in the future and spans the solar system. There are interesting projections of various cultures into a radically different world from the one we live in. I think this makes it pretty accessible, because it’s familiar and foreign at the same time, but you don’t have to know anything about the universe before you start.

The story centers around a group of people who are forced through various circumstances to come together and become bounty hunters. Each has his or her own issues to deal with that affect the lives of the others.

Plus there’s music by one of the greatest, most versatile composers in the world, Yoko Kanno, and the art and animation are stunning.

It’s just 26 episodes long–that’s a standard series length, though variations include 13, 12, and 24. There are other series that run far longer.

This series is licensed in the US, so you can Netflix it or buy it at the store or online.

If you’re not into reading subtitles, the dub isn’t bad.

2) Detective Conan (Case Closed)

If you like detective stories, including murder mysteries, and can handle the weirdness of having a group of elementary school kids who occasionally solve them, then that’s all you need to enjoy this show. Heartwarming and hilarious, it’s got a main character who might need to be taken down a peg or two–and boy, is he ever!

The main plot of the series is that high school detective Kudou Shin’ichi (Jimmy Kudo in the dub) is force-fed a pill that shrinks his body so it looks like that of a child. He spends his time solving mysteries as Edogawa Conan (this is a Sherlock Holmes in-joke name) and trying to find the crime syndicate that did it to him.

At first the plot centers around Conan, his love interest Ran, her father Mouri Kogoro, and the aforementioned group of junior detectives. As the show continues, more characters are introduced, each with their own issues that may or may not have anything to do with Conan’s.

The characters end up visiting many cultural spots in Japan throughout the series. Some episodes are hour-long or two-hour-long specials that often involve a discussion of Japanese history/legend. So in this way the series is good for learning more about Japan. But someone uninterested in this might find these episodes rather dull.

Another thing is that while it is possible to guess who the criminal is, most of the murders are absolutely ridiculous. For me that’s part of the fun, but someone who is an avid mystery fan might find that annoying.

The show’s been running in Japan since 1996! But the episodes are slowly coming out on DVD here in the US, under the name Case Closed, and you can get them at Amazon.

As I mentioned previously, the dub for this show is amazing. It’s not a literal translation, and they did add some jokes of their own, but the general feeling of the show and who the characters are absolutely comes through, which is what I want from any translation.

You’ll want to keep in mind that names are changed, both character names and place names. So Mt. Fuji is called Mt. Fincher, or something.

3) Touch

The previous two series I’ve recommended are both licensed in the US and pretty much universally appealing. Touch is neither.

It isn’t licensed, so you won’t be able to rent or buy it anywhere. And it’s a story about Japanese high schoolers and baseball…so it might not engage you if you’re not interested in those things.

But it has some of the best character development I have ever seen in any series, anime or not. This show made me want to learn about baseball! If good storytelling floats your boat, do not pass this series up.

The tale centers around Uesugi Tatsuya, his twin brother Kazuya, and their next-door neighbor and childhood friend, Asakura Minami. Tatsuya is naturally gifted at many things, but doesn’t try hard at anything. Kazuya has some talent, but has had to work very hard to become the brilliant pitcher that he is.

The main conflicts/crises are how the brothers feel about each other, how they feel about Minami, and what all three of them are going to do with their lives.

There are 101 episodes in this series. There are also some movies, but I haven’t seen them and don’t plan to. The series stands on its own; the movies are, as far as I can tell, rehashes. (Even the one that takes place after the series just seems to cover old ground instead of doing anything new.)

4) NANA

This is another one in the amazing character development department. It’s ongoing and just started last year. It hasn’t been licensed, so there’s nowhere to buy it with subtitles/dubbing. (You can buy the movie, which only covers part of the story, and the manga, which is where the story originated.)

This is the story of two girls with the same name. They meet coincidentally on a train and become friends. At first their lives are completely different, but then they grow together. And then complications arise…

It’s a brilliant exploration of the relationships between women and other women and women and men and what people expect out of life versus what they actually get. I can’t say enough about this series. I eagerly await each episode.

5) Rose of Versailles

As you might guess, this is historical fiction based in France. It begins a bit before the French Revolution. The main character is a fictional Royal Guard named Oscar Francois de Jarjeyes…who is a woman who was raised as a man.

I love that.

You might also guess that this story ends tragically, and you’d be right. But it is brilliantly done. It presents Marie Antoinette from a more sympathetic perspective, but still manages to show how how she fell from glory and ultimately ruined her country.

This 41-episode series is not licensed. It was made in the 70s, and that leads me to wonder if it ever will be. Manly women don’t seem to sell in the US anime market. (We love us some girly men, though; see below!)

6) Kyou Kara Maou!

Once you’ve gotten through the anime above, you might want to try this one, which happens to be my all-time favorite. It’s often quirky and silly, yet it also deals with themes of prejudice and war. I think the real reason it appeals to me is that the main character has such strength and such a sense of honor and justice. He seems naive, but the truth is he makes an active choice to believe in people. And in this series, that approach to life has some amazing results.

So this show speaks to my eternal optimism :)

The basic premise is a Japanese high schooler named Yuuri (who happens to love baseball) gets flushed down a toilet (I told you it was silly) and into another dimension, where he is told that he’s the king of the demons.

There are some funny cultural things, like how they eat with sporks in the Demon Kingdom, and how hardly anyone has black eyes and black hair (this is cute because the opposite is true in Japan), and how when Yuuri first arrives one of the demons calls him a “foreigner”. What a role-reversal for a Japanese person!

By the way, demons in this series look like humans, only they are typically flashier, with more varied hair colors. There are other things about them that get revealed as the series goes on. But basically, the main difference between them and regular people is that they have natural magic from making a pact with the elements, while humans have to pray (to something undefined in the series) whenever they want to do magic. Human magic is weaker and contrived, which has caused resentment and fear between the two groups. Now the demons all live in their own country, and many of them despise humans as stupid, lesser beings.

The characters are great. My favorite after Yuuri is Adelbert–I can’t explain why without discussing his plot in detail, but suffice it to say he gets a lot of character development. Then there’s Conrad, who is simply fabulous.

One thing you have to understand is that this series is made to appeal to people who like looking at handsome/pretty men. There are many homosexual overtones. There also aren’t a whole lot of female characters, and most of the ones who do exist have really weird personalities. I think this is a lot of fun, but it might be off-putting to others.

Other than those, I definitely recommend Hikaru no Go (“sports” anime about playing the board game go), Initial D (“sports” anime about illegally street racing cars on twisting mountain roads), Vision of Escaflowne (fantasy in which a girl with prophetic powers is transported to a dimension where people fight inside giant robots), and The Prince of Tennis (an absolutely ridiculous “sports” genre anime about playing tennis, with extreme special effects. The characters are fabulous).


2. Let’s say you just won a tidy sum on a scratch-off ticket and you have two weeks of vacation time to burn. Where are you headed and what will you do/buy?

My answers to questions about what I would do with a million dollars always involve traveling around the world, experiencing as many different places as possible. (My way of experiencing places is usually going to restaurants, wandering the streets, going to performances like plays, operas, or classical music concerts, and visiting museums, by the way…I’m not much of a partier.)

If I only had two weeks and a few thou, though, there are a few places I’d consider.

First, Japan. I’ve been there twice already, but there is so much I have yet to see, and so many bloggers over there I want to meet. My next (non-theoretical) vacation will hopefully involve both.

Then there’s Wales. My dad’s side of the family, the Aubreys, descended from Wales, and I’ve always wanted to see it.

England, of course, because Brooke’s there. I considered visiting back when it was just David there, too, but I’m not an Anglophile or anything.

One thing I have really always wanted to do is take a road trip around the United States, and stop at all those weird tourist attractions along the interstates.

I’d also like to visit all my far-flung friends and family, but that would probably take longer than two weeks.

All of the above assume I have time to plan. If I don’t have time, I might very well chuck the majority of the money in savings, spend some nice time off at home (or perhaps in Kentucky visiting the immediate fam), and then run off to the beach. I’m not the type to “lay out”, but I love playing in the waves, and beach culture fascinates me. Plus seafood is damn good! So I could definitely see myself slipping away to Myrtle Beach or Savannah for a few days.


3. What is your dream profession? Is it really “a dream” or something you are aiming for as a life goal?

I like to joke that my dream profession is “rich man’s wife” ;) Basically, I want to be free to pursue my interests, so my dream job would involve doing that.

The closest thing I’ve found is the job I hold currently: web content manager. I get to find cool things to put on the web or link to, and design things. It’s diverse enough to keep my interest and it involves stuff I do in my free time anyway! Hell, I even take photos for the site sometimes.

But I’m always thinking about what I want to be doing. Part of me still dreams of living in Japan for a few years, so I keep my mind open to possibilities there.

I like the idea of owning my own business, but as my parents own their own and I know a few small business owners, I’m quite aware of the sheer amount of dedication it takes to get anywhere, and the costs involved. I don’t have any product or service that I feel excited enough about to give up my free time and financial security for.

I also like the idea of living off investments. I want to do more research into how I could achieve that, because then I would have plenty of time for travel and learning new things. But so far I haven’t done anything. ;P


4. You have come through a genuine life/health crisis victorious. What advice would you give to anyone facing real adversity like you have?

Be cheerful to everyone around you. Don’t be demanding. Focus on good things in your life. Be appreciative of people’s efforts on your behalf.

There may not be anyone around you who understands what you’re going through. But they’re trying. And this situation is not their fault.

If you’re negative all the time, they won’t want to be around you and will stop helping you, and loneliness is one of the hardest things when you’re already dealing with so much. Having people near you will help you stay positive.

That said, let yourself be angry. Cry. Express yourself when you need to. Let the emotions roll through you until you’re exhausted…and then move past them.

Dedicate yourself to something tangible. Work hard. I spent my time in the hospital learning web design. You never know how what you focus your attention on in the hard times might affect your future–now my career is all about the web.

That’s really it. All you can do is decide to beat it, whatever it is, and then do it. You have to somehow accept that you can’t control what’s happening. You can only endure. You can control your own reactions. You can decide to drive people away or draw them to you. You can keep moving forward in your life, or you can stop everything and feel sorry for yourself and accomplish nothing. No one can take those decisions away from you.

Merujo, the face you show to us on your blog is the face I tried to show. You are suffering, and you share that pain when it gets to the breaking point, but you come back later with a joke, and you keep moving forward. You’re not letting it beat you. It’s hard, especially with no end in sight…but you have to keep it up. You can win. And you will.


5. Chocolate: evil device of Satan or one of the best things in the world?

Whoa, okay, that’s a total 180 question :)

I would have to say: both. ;)

Seriously, at this point, I don’t find chocolate anywhere near as much of a threat to my health as I do the fast food I eat regularly for lunch and dinner. There was a time when I ate a candy bar every day, but I haven’t done that in a long time. I think chocolate is just like anything else in this world: good in moderation, bad if you let it control you.


Would you like to be interviewed? If you want me to send you a set of five questions to ponder and answer, follow the directions below:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.” (And make sure I have your e-mail addy so I can zap you the questions!)

2. I will respond by e-mailing you five questions. I get to pick them, and you have to answer them all.

3. You will update your blog (or comment here if you don’t have a blog) with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


If anybody else wants to interview me, use the comment form here to send me questions :) I’m all about stuff like this (as you well know).

Expensive

I am worth $1,366,630 on HumanForSale.com
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Fuzzy

Via Mari. Yes, I did fix the spelling errors.

Chinchilla
You’re a chinchilla:
Super cute and adorable, groomed to be the fuzzy master! You’re the FUZZIEST!!!!!!!! You have so many layers of fuzz you can’t even find your own feet. You’re cute and proud of it, so fuzzy and outgoing, no wonder people like you! And just look at those whiskers! =^_^= =^_^= What fuzzy animal are you? =^_^= {-With Pictures!-}
brought to you by Quizilla

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Heh.

You are Aeris...You are AERIS. Benevolent, beautiful and…well,
hopefully not dead.

What Final Fantasy VII character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

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Well, that’s interesting

You are a
Social Liberal
(66% permissive)

and an…


Economic Liberal
(36% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Democrat
 

Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Via Kirkie.

I never try to “beat the test” or figure out what the questions are leading to, because I think that messes up the results. So I just answered honestly, and this is what happened :>

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Just for Fun

NERD!

Pure Nerd
78 % Nerd, 47% Geek, 26% Dork
For The Record:A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the “dork.” No-longer. Being smart isn’t as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.

Congratulations!

THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

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You scored higher than 86% on nerdiness
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You scored higher than 66% on geekosity
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You scored higher than 37% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid