Category Archives: My Life

When I get old …

Yesterday, while out on our Sunday drive to the Best Buy to buy a cable, we found ourselves exiting the freeway slowly behind a lumbering Cadillac driven by a elderly gentlemen who, too, was out on a Sunday drive with his wife.  I turned to my husband and asked, “What will be our Cadillac, seeing as how neither one of us thinks a Cadillac is anything to strive for?”  T’is true, the Cadillac is/was the aim for my grandparents and some of my parents’ older siblings.  But now that is not the automobile aspiration of my parents or myself.   My husband was silent and contemplated it for a minute, and then after a stop light or two we saw a beautiful beast drive by — a vacation on wheels, and together we said, “Oooh, an RV …”  Yes, my husband and I want to the travel around the US in an RV when we retire and 30 – 40-years from now and when we do retire, that RV better drive itself, because I can’t even imagine how much worse my driving could get when I become a senior citizen (anyone who has been in a car with me, knows what I’m talking about …).  Ahh, I can see it now, living in an RV, plugging in waypoints into the navigation computer and waking up in a new place every morning like a cruise ship.  And we can meet up with other land cruisers we’ve met on the Internet and roam the land as one of the many bands of senior land cruisers (Ryans anyone?).  Of course by then, there will be no gas, so it will be fueled by waste or whatever clever fuel alternative emerges victorious from the research that is being done now.  It will be wonderful :).  But you know, if my dream doesn’t come true and my RV doesn’t drive itself within 30-years, then I’m going to be very, very disappointed.

Hello Again …

I’m Jen. I’m a gadget freak and so is my husband — we’re those folks who have no furniture but each of us has 3-computers in our shared office space (mess) and at least 2 iPod products apiece (one for the car, one for the gym, one for the home office, one for work … and so on — somebody help us). Yep, I’m a gamer and hand-in-hand with that I’m into anime and the like. I sorta feel like I’m experiencing the childhood I never had because I spent 6th grade through grad school in the pursuit of a 4.0+ GPA (yes, this is what happens to a lot of those children that were pushed hard to do well … that is if they don’t burn-out and become “Domestic Gods” or “Goddesses”.). I have a little brother who chose childhood over school and I have a feeling that within a few years he’ll overtake me in professional success. He concentrated on learning about people and maintaining relationships — he’s a naturally likeable guy and he’s got the entrapeneurial spirit. We’re mutually jealous of each other, but I imagine he would never imagine that I envy his ease and likeability. He really looks up to big sister, but he has no idea that I look up to him … silly boy! So … I’m starting my 7th quarter of Japanese at UCSD extension. I’ve decided that I aspire to be an anime fansubber. To each his own I suppose. I have the full support of my husband who has me translating manga for him. I just translated my first manga this week. It took me several hours over 5 days. In these 5-days, I have learned to use a kanji dictionary and increased my vocabulary and grammar skills a little bit. I’m quite proud of myself. I’ve began my second manga a couple of days ago. It’s even more challenging than the first since there’s no furigana to help me with the Kanji’s I don’t know. As usual I can understand most of what is being said to me in Japanese (if common conversational words are used) and I can translate text pretty well with the aid of dictionaries, but I have lots of trouble getting it out of my mouth. Everything feels like a tongue twister — chotto hen na no … (I also learned Spanish and understand quite a bit, but I can’t get it out of my mouth either.) Translating text is actually a lot of fun. I find it stimulating because it’s like unscrambling riddles. Sometimes there isn’t a direct translation to English, so a lot adjectives are used to describe an object or a feeling — it’s kinda poetic. Anyhow, my neck hurts from hours of hunching over my dictionaries. I now lose big chunks of the evening and the weekends to translating, which isn’t so bad since my husband has joined WOW. We do these activities in the same space so we have a lot of funny side conversations about what WOW foolishness my husband has involved himself in and I share the Japanese “riddles.” It’s becoming a secret language — it like it :)! Anyhow, that’s enough for today … I’ll try to write something weekly in this blog and we’ll see how it goes :).

No Security at the Gates in SD, Again …

So … I suppose this will end once cars start disappearing from the lot and assets (physical and intellectual) grow legs and walk out the door.  I’m feeling quite salty about this, but since my previous tirade magically disappeared from an errant mouse-click, I feel like some unseen greater power is telling me to keep my salt to myself.

So it’s Monday morning and my home technology has gone into shock.  Apparently somehow last night 9-Gigs of “something” showed up on my hard-drive causing me to have ~300-MB HD space which locked my poor little ‘puter hard.  First, things first, disconnect the computer from the Internet … sigh … I imagine I’ll be having fun tonight wiping my drive of some interesting pictures some malicious bug has put on my system.  The joys of the Internet … I forgot my badge too, my car was out of gas, and I’m hungry.

So I spent another weekend translating manga and pretending to do laundry.  The one thing I noticed is how “analog” my manga translation process is.  I’m translating a hard copy book and I’m using 4 paper laden dictionaries — 2 kanji dictionaries and 2 Japanese dictionaries — going from the already big dictionaries to the 40-lb tomes when I run across something uncommon.  When working in English I use an online dictionary and thesaurus (“WordSmyth”).  It’s not nearly as labor intensive — but I supposed that’s because I know English (so I like to think), whereas every time I come across a new Kanji, particulary if it has lots of strokes, I can’t figure out what the primary radical is.  It sounds like I have a little home task — check out what’s online in terms of Japanese to English dictionaries.  Considering that I always have to go through the middle-man of furigana, I doubt there is going to be an easy way to do this, especially when the unknown Kanji has no Furigana “cheats”.

So, it’s about a month into the new anime season.  My favorites so far are:

-Romeo X Juliet (a new take on the Shakespeare’s famous play — very well done so far)

-Darker than Black (can’t tell whether the main character is good or evil — I like it!  The main character is Bad-A##)

-Claymore (a lone half-demon female warrior who takes on a whiny sidekick)

-Reideen (apparently a grown up version of some bad ’80’s anime)

-Hayate Combat Butler (guilty pleasure)

Adventures in the World of the Internet Garage Sale

It was Christmas time, the time when my husband and I take 2 – 3-weeks off of work to clean the house, catch-up on anime, manga, movies, and videogames, and spend a weekend attacking a small section of the garage pile.  Last year after my manga collection finally took over every flat surface in our bedroom, so we headed down to the local put-your-furniture-together-yourself store and bought 4 bookshelves.  After filling the bookshelves (we have books other than manga too), my husband scratched his head and said to me, “this is rediculous.  No more manga for you until you get rid of some this.”  Huh?  Of course, I ignored him and went on my merry way and the manga piled up … Finally, it occured to me a couple of months ago that I could sell some of this stuff online from the very website I had initially purchased the manga.  I had already purchased lots of manga from used book sellers upto this point but I never imagined that I could be one of those sellers.

I’m still too timid to participate in online auctions, so I didn’t chose the obvious middle-man website.  I went with another that charges a hefty commission, but the processes of setting up a store front, listing items and the actual transaction are so easy and secure feeling that I don’t mind paying for the service.  Here’s how the process goes:

1.  From within my seller’s account I search for the item I want to sell via the UPC code or ISBN number

2.  I give a brief description of the condition of the item via a drop down menu and set the price.  When setting the price, the lowest price others are seling the item for is visible.

3.  I pick my shipping term — normal, express, and international shipping are possible

4. And then post my item

5.  Someone buys my item through the website interface

6. The website sends me a message that the item has been sold and to now ship the item to the buyer — name and address and a summary of the transaction are within the message.

7.  Money is deposited into an “escrow” account = cost of item + shipping credit – commission

8.  I ship the item to the buyer and then send a courtesy e-mail to let the buyer know the order has been shipped

9.  Twice a month the money in the “escrow” account is deposited into my bank account.

It’s a wonderful thing.  So far I’ve made $300+ in a couple of months and I’ve cleared out a good deal of manga that isn’t very dear to me.  I expanded my “store” to include video games that my husband and I don’t foresee us replaying.  Things are going well and I have a good reputation (5/5 stars and some nice comments from some of my buyers).  I sell roughly 1 book a day and I have sold books to people all over the US and some internationally.  I even have repeat customers!

Anyhow, I’m thankful for this service because it would be rather embarassing and inconvenient to hold a garage sale.  For one, I don’t want nosy neighbors picking through my used stuff and making judgements about me based upon the books I read.  More importantly, I don’t have set up in my garage on the weekend and actually sell stuff.  Managing my little storefront online maybe takes 15-mins of my time per day and $300 buys lots more manga and an extra night or two of eating out :). 

What next:  My husband and I will spend an upcoming weekend digging through our garage looking for our old Nintendo and Atari sytems and video games.  It appears that this old junk fetches a nice price online :).

Homecoming — Part 1

My maternal grandmother passed away early morning on June 6th, ending several months of pain and suffering upon her wary body.  This was one of the 6 days in my life that I had been dreading (the other days being the death of my parents, brother, husband, and such …) because I knew my Mom would take her mother’s death hard and, therefore, I too would have a hard time worrying for her and feeling bad because I would not be able to do much to ease my Mother’s sorrow.   The family had been bracing for this day for months and my Mom was beyond her limit and signs of stress were manifesting physically on her body.


The funeral was scheduled for Thursday.  My Mom flew out to South Carolina on Tuesday to help her last remaining brother make final arrangements.  My father and I followed on Wednesday afternoon and evening, respectively.  My arrival to the Greenville airport was rather unceremonious.  I sat outside on a concrete planter rim dressed in a hoodie, cropped cargo pants, and socked feet in sandals, with my ever-present backpack affixed texting my husband about state of the airport and the absence of my mother, who, as usual, had turned off her cell phone as soon as she had confirmed that I was on the ground.  After a 40-minute wait, my Mom and her sister-in-law showed and with a hug I entered the car and we were on our way.  I, of course, wanted to freshen up from the plane ride at the hotel, but my Mom was agitated and vetoed my request instead insisting that we go see the body.


My grandmother was beautiful – minimal make-up was applied to her amazing ageless skin (my grandmother had amazing skin that, even at the age of 86, really never developed wrinkles and she only got gray hair very late in life).  She was dressed in a pink flowey dress adorned with little white pearls along the neckline that then ran down her chest.  She looked as though she was just sleeping.  I should kiss her I thought and then chuckled – as though that would bring her back … I turned my attentions to my Mom who was concerning herself with who sent what flowers.  I hugged her and we looked at my grandmother together and cried. 


Within that same funeral home, far more tragic corpses were present.  There were 3 caskets containing the bodies of most of a family who had died in an auto accident.  We went to pay our respects first to the father and then, to my horror, the children.  At that point I lost it and bolted out of the mortuary, crying, and shouting up to the sky “Those are children!  Old people can die!  But not children!”   I hadn’t been that disturbed in a while nor had I ever felt so much emotion for people I had never met.  All I could think about is how a mother had been deprived of her entire family and all she had left of them are her memories and photos.  What happened in the next few minutes, I don’t remember, but when I came to I was back in the car and we were heading to my Mom’s home in the small town of Jonesville South Carolina.