Shinji's Blog

WARNING: The big wall of text is approaching at full throttle

The past month has been interesting. While I’m all for waiting for actual content to generate before putting out an update, I’ve wanted to update much sooner than this. However, a variety of reasons ranging from insane sleep schedule disruptions to bursts of "potentially bad interpersonal political timing" have held me back. And yet, here we are. So, let’s dig in.

A word of caution: I’m going to be rather frank in this update. As someone who often boasts that they’re honest to a fault, that should be a loud enough warning as needed. I mainly trying to soften the impact of me speaking more openly about how I’m not happy with my current circle of friends and acquaintances. Before talking about that, I’d like to warm up with a few other subjects first, though.

I’ve heavily weighed out what I want to accomplish in the next few years. In the past decade I’ve had to shift my goals several times over. I found myself pushing "When I’m 26 I want to be…" to "When I’m 28…" and again to "When I’m 30…". Obviously, I have had to shfit my goals again, but for what I want to be the last time. Some of those delays stem from things out of my control, such as Dad, and in turn Mom and I, dealing with stage IV colon cancer. But, a lot of the delays stem from me and my lack of proper action. A month of proper productivity, in addition to the clarity the Adderall is adding and the deeper conversations I had with some friends, has been very sobering.

By the time I’m 35 I want to have my bachelors degree, be fluent in Japanese both spoken and written, and be interviewing for a company that I will career path in for the rest of my life. I’m confident that with a mixture of private study and personal instruction, likely long term work with one on one tutoring or private classes, I can be fluent in four years. I’ll need speaking partners to help with retention, but I have several friends I can potentially tap for that in addition to what is likely a plethora of online communities. For school, I was initially planning on getting or maintaining a $14/hour job for one to two years, then take a loan to cover my living expenses not covered by rent from my roommates, and attend school full blast for 1-2 years. However, this has changed which I’ll discuss more later. First though, I want to talk about a goal I’ve stepped away from.

I’m no longer pursuing opening an arcade or game store and trying to foster a gaming community in New England similar to how TGA was able to. It’s been a very difficult thing to realize, even though that decision has already been made for a while now. The biggest push to that is discussing the current state of the Bemani community in New England, and just outside Japan in general. I find the problem is twofold. First, and I’m using polite language, all the political dicksucking and backstabbing people are doing to do to keep access to either Programmed World or become a pariah in the community in general is very disheartening. There’s far too much walking on eggshells to avoid upsetting specific people in power or people that are friends of those in power, as the default response to any drama close to home is as a community to just exile whomever is raising a ruckus so they don’t upset things.

This is one of the biggest reasons I’ve avoided Facebook and being more involved in the community; I’m far too honest and I know I’d likely piss people off, even more so than I’ve already done. Plus since I don’t have any resources to bring the to table (I can’t work code, I don’t have lots of money, I’m not a good source to help fix or build machines), despite trying hard for several years to have a space where everyone could feel welcome and enjoy IIDX, I’m just some asshat in Warwick with a machine and pretty much dead to not only the people in charge but a lot of old friends I care about but haven’t returned the favor. What makes all this extremely frustrating is that if I drop names and specific cases, more than likely I’ll get some messages of "Oh, I’ve never said that/felt that way" and other socially polite sweet nothings, and then be kept even more in the dark about new developments. While I’d love to say "fuck it all" and just go atomic on some people I have some major issues with, I have dedicated too much of my life and emotional and financial resources to IIDX. As much as I want to not have to worry about pissing people off and potentially getting cut from PW, I don’t want to have a giant machine in my house be rendered useless. Plus, and this is the bigger factor than just my own preservation, I’m trying to keep my house as a location for other people to use as well. Anything I do that puts my location’s connection at risk puts their enjoyment at risk as well, and I just can’t stomach that possibility.

The second problem is that, both with and without effort, the amount of new blood that’s been drawn and the type of people it’s been attracting lately, I don’t think such a heavy personal investment into the Bemani subculture would be worth it in the long run. Years ago when it had more reach and there was less saturation, a much wider crowd was drawn in and involved, but now? The lack of a new generation of Bemani players and the old generation having as much difficulty as it is currently, I think we’re well past any golden days Bemani will see in the US.

Moving on to some cheerier topics, after jumping thru quite a few hoops, the potential job with Adecco flaked out as the spot the recruit was trying to fit me into got filled by someone else, and then another contract starting several weeks later was for less pay. At the same time, I’d successfully completed testing and interviews for Verizon, but I hadn’t had any further meaningful follow up from them. Then, several days before I was to start with Adecco, Verizon called. Not only did they offer employment working a position I want to career path in, but with nearly double the pay rate Adecco was offering.

It’s been… a bit unreal. When I was working for Cox, I was able to afford all my expenses, personal and survival, with no problem. Now, not only do I have three roommates paying rent, I also have a job that’s paying a good deal more than what I had at Cox. This means that provided Verizon works out, even if I’m attending school part time or full time I’ll likely still have money left over. If this position is as good as it seems, a much higher than expected pay rate and great career pathing chances, I’m now looking to start school this summer and work my way through it instead.

Speaking of schooling, I’ve started Japanese lessons. So far, I think they’re going very well, but I have some concerns. Several friends and contacts I was certain would be slam dunks for speaking partners continue to flake out on me whenever I ask "So when shall we meet / chat on Skype?". Trying to retain new vocabulary and grammar completely on my own is proving incredibly trying, so I’m now reaching to online groups and also meeting with my tutor more frequently. What is now less of a concern was that the tutor I’m currently meeting with hasn’t really covered the written aspect as a tutor; they’re a former native and can write and speak fluently but they’re only taught the spoken aspect up until now. However, we’re discussing trying to incorporate it into our work, and I’m also seeking a second tutor or professional source to better assist. I’m confident that I could learn kanji through self study, but I want a professional source to make sure I don’t develop any bad habits, such as disseminating potential context differences in meanings and making sure my penmanship is ok.

I’ve also been gaming a bit more seriously lately, and it’s been paying off both game wise and emotionally. I’ve been trying to practice, not play, IIDX for an hour a day, and in addition I’ve started playing danmaku again. In turn, I’m now doing much better in IIDX and the danmaku have been a joy to throw myself into. For right now I’m working on Ikaruga and Jamestown, and being able to just practice a shmup is a pleasure that I haven’t had for too long. I’m not sure what shmups I’m going to tackle next once I finish either Jamestown or Ikaruga, but I’m sure I’ll find something.

Lastly, a topic that’s been haunting me quite a bit. When I was initially prescribed the Adderall, I had doubts about my newfound success. The success was due to higher amounts of focus but more importantly much more consistent follow thru. While I wasn’t doubting the source persay, I was more concerned how much was due to a lack of proper medication and how much was me not truly being motivated up to this point. Expanding on the latter point, I’m concerned about my environment.

Over the past few years, due to whatever reason, the friends and acquaintances I’ve surrounded myself with are not terribly motivated people. They’re not bad people, most of them are incredible friends, but they’re just coasting by in life. To give an example of what I mean, a person goes to school for something they’re very passionate about, and then five years later they’re still working entry level retail jobs and have no plans on bettering themselves. No plans on saving up money to return to school, nor any personal projects relevant to what they really love, just working retail for the indefinite future due to a lack of plans or projects. They’re not stuck, no direly sick family members or massive debts that need to be paid off, there’s no action whatsoever.

This coasting mentality is present in all of my current friends and acquaintances, with only four exceptions. Even then, two of them I have in a "wait and see" status as they are currently dealing with issues that would genuinely hinder progress, and the other two I don’t see nearly as often as I’d like. Environment breeds behaviour, and while I don’t dislike my current circle I want a better environment something fierce. Certainly, once I start work at Verizon and school at CCRI I’m likely going to be meeting new people that will have a healthier mindset, but there’s a quandary. How do I change whom I’m associating with to cultivate a better mentality without hurting the feelings of my friends or accidentally burning bridges? I’ve dropped some hints about my dissatisfaction to quite a few people, but I’m now at a point where I can’t stay silent anymore.

Another issue that’s bothering me greatly is that while I have a great deal of stressors on the table, it doesn’t feel like I have anyone I can comfortably confide in. Most of the friends I had that held that status I just simply don’t see anymore; life has taken us on different paths. However, as I lose connections those, I should gain more. I’ve only gained two more and one of them for "political" reasons I can longer use and the other has been making themselves hard to reach, albeit I believe not on purpose. Regardless, this is making what is a large collection of minor issues that I should be able to easily sort through slowly turn into massive emotional stressors as they have no proper outlet. I’ve upped the frequency that I meet with my counselor, but that’s only one person and I need more than that to better regain balance. This problem… I’ve no idea what I’m going to do unless I very hastily, and unhealthily, establish trust with those I know or those I already trust make themselves better available. However with the former, I’ve just stated I don’t like my current friends and the latter I’ve already exerted what feels like the extent of my influence.

While I know my blog isn’t widely read, I’m hoping this post makes it way around as I think a neutral declaration of my discomfort, both from my unhappiness at an unmotivating environment and feeling like I can’t have "real talk" with anyone, may spur either action from my friends, or at the least some conversation to better level and understand them. Also, I know this blog update has been incredibly long, but as I mentioned I’d meant to update sooner than this. But, here we are.

Take care and be safe, everyone.