My Holiday

As far as I am concerned, the best traditions are the personal ones, the quirky little holidays and habits that you observe by yourself, or, at most, with your near and dear family who understand the symbolism of the event.  I sometimes wonder how many other people mark out time in this manner, or look forward to a certain time of year, the significance of which is meaningless to everyone else.  One of the holidays I have I call “Going to Japan Day,” which I celebrated today by going to St. Marks and eating okonomiyaki lunch in the sunshine, and stopping at the river park on my bike home.  Ten years ago to the day I landed at Narita and began my life as a high school exchange student, and again, six years ago on the same date I entered the country once again, this time to study at a Japanese University.  I happily celebrate this day every year.
The decision to spend my last year of high school in a foreign country was a momentous one, and one that caused the path of my life to change irrevocably.  Although I was 17 at the time, I consider this day to be the unofficial beginning of my life as an adult, my nest-leaving.  As I was suddenly catapulted to independence, I found myself without all the things was accustomed to relying on, my family, my friends, even the ability to communicate properly.  That first year was so hard, but simultaneously so satisfying, full of ups and downs.  It made me stronger, as though my emotional state was a muscle, that, through regular exertion, became hard and strong.  I met so many wonderful people and made so many memories, it is no wonder that to this day the exchange student experience continues to shape who I am, and the Japanese language continues to be a part of my every day life.
After my homecoming I entered NYU film school to study animation, and found myself surrounded by a community of fellow artists. I met my first darling boyfriend, Rym, who I live with to this day.  When I came back to Japan, it was as a more mature, more competent individual who had found her calling. The term spent at Nagoya was one of the happiest that I can recall, living in my little room in the international dorms.  I was so free and every day there was something to learn. All good things must come to an end, though, and my four years of college came to a successful conclusion.  Luckily, I chanced upon a fortuitous opportunity that led to my swift employment 3D animator and modeler, and I have been working at that very same studio ever since.  Like anything else, you have the requisite ups and downs, but all in all, I feel pretty satisfied with my current life.  And, of course, whenever I am blue, there are always two little rabbits right there to cheer me up.
Now the era that began with my airport landing has reached a decade, and I wonder where I will go from here.  I wonder what the next holiday I remember will be, and hope that not only will Japan, New York, and animation continue to be a part of my life but other things will start to add to the mix, changing and growing into a full and enjoyable life.  May the future be a happy one for Rym and me and our bunny-boys.

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In Review: Year of the Bunny

Huh, I guess I seem to average about one and some fraction of a blog post per year.  (Oy Gevalt.)  I was doing my internet rounds, freshening up my various haunts for the new year, updating my new Tumblr and trying to finish up my New Years Card for the year of the dragon at the very least before the Lunar New Year rolls around, when I remembered that “Oh Yeah! This lovely place needs a fresh coat of paint as well!”  To recap, it’s been both a fairly eventful year and one that just kind of flew by.  I think the biggest thing that happened in the Year of the Rabbit was the rabbits themselves.

Theo and Mugi Niceness

Licklick!

Theoden and Mugi, dubbed “The bucket brothers” by the rescue organization that brought them in, were found in a bucket at the farmer’s market near where I grew up, abandoned to the snow and winds of a Rochester winter.  We shall not dwell on the fact that who-so-ever did such a thing fails their humanity test hardcore, but rather explore the positives:  They boys were picked up by The Rabbit Resource and fostered by a nice volunteer named Diana, at which point I stumbled across them via a link from my mom sometime around Febuary of 2011.  It was love at first sight, and a following the Serious Talk with Rym and the interview with the Bunny People, I got to meet the rabbits for the first time around the time of Margaret’s Birthday.  They were, and continue to be, very full of zoom and almost unbelievably cute.  Now the apartment is home to two little buns, Fluffy white Theo and Amber-furred Mugi, destroyers of cardboard, and dancers at dawn.  Although I admit I am somewhat of a nervous mother, as they are the first rabbits to live with me and rather with my whole family, I rejoiced as they recently celebrated their first birthday!  The only drawback (other than the occasional chew-hole in a piece of clothing) is that while they are mostly lovable, occasionally the territorial nature of young, albeit neutered, bucks takes hold of the dynamic duo, and they get into a scrap.  They haven’t had much of a chance to mix it up, since they alternate excercise time, and they act quite friendly to each other when out in the hall, but in the hotly contested bedroom, tensions flare from time to time.  Rabbit ownership is a big responsibility, but totally worth it.  They are good rabbits, for sure.  (Also, Rym as bunny-dad is adorable.  He hangs out with them every morning as he is getting ready for work.)
What else happened?  I went to Japan again for a visit (almost two weeks) at the end of October.  That was pretty nice.  It had been way, WAY too long, but luckily I managed to slip back into Nihon mode and give Rym a decent introduction to the country I love so much.
Other than that?  I got a new bike and a new laptop, named Soyokaze and Tsubasa respectively, both of which are useful and lovely things to have. I mostly just worked a lot, exercised and animated, worked on Guns of Icarus Online at work, and generally was a pretty busy, but not completely overwhelmed person.  Let’s hope that this year is even better and full of love, happiness, and other good vibes.

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Snow is a-fallin’ on Douglas Mountain

La. One lovely Christmas, one crazy blizzard, and one hectic New Years Party later, I have decided to post some of the shots for my work-in-progress short as little .gifs. It fulfills the desire to post something visual and they don’t give too much away.

Shot 09

Shot 10Shot 13Shot 16Shot 20

Actually, the New York blizzard a few weeks ago was pretty intense.  It hit while my parents and I were driving back to my apartment, and we must have been less than 40 miles from of Queens when the storm started picking up steam.  It took us about four hours to get through the city, for a Target truck had spun out in front of us on the Cross Bronx expressway, blocking the road, and the policeman trying to help had gotten his patrol vehicle stuck in a drift.  With amazing good luck we made it within 3 blocks of my place, whereupon a mass of stuck cabs blocking the intersection forced us to park on the sidewalk by a building and trek through the blizzard on foot.  The snow was so thick we were blinded by it, but it felt a little adventurous, like we were exploring in the Arctic wilderness rather than a street in Long Island City.  After being tossed around by the wind for a few blocks we managed to arrive more or less unscathed and grateful of our relative luck in the matter, and awoke to find the .  Definitely a memory made.

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Late night road trip

Why is it that the only time I end up blogging this year is when something is bleh, or when I am stuck in the car going somewhere? My droid (affectionately named Beepo for the sheer amount of times it has interjected such a noise into telephone conversation) is apparently good for something other than aggravation.  I am on my way to Rochester again for to make merry on the Yule, and my cousin and her gentleman compatriot have kindly agreed to give Rym and myself a ride to the old home.  I told her that they needn’t come all the way out to New York, as it was out of their way by a significant margin, but they decided that a day in the city might be a fun diversion, and besides, there were other relatives nearby that they could swing by to see.  Shaking off the last of a recent head cold, I played a somewhat spacey tour guide for the two of them, and together we took in the sights at Saint John the Divine, and poked around Chinatown a bit.  It always makes me feel weird, idling around my work neighborhood during a holiday, and I can escape the constant feeling that I really ought to be getting back, even though the studio is empty and the workstations off.  We came there on a mission for cheap swords and cheaper dumplings, and  I feel I was able to deliver them to a decent solution on both counts.

I always forget that just because the novelty of an area has worn off for me, there are still people for whom it holds a fun that is not of the everyday. Thinking on it, I myself feel like a tourist inside grand old churches, as I am still entranced by the light and the quiet stone, and have yet to become accustomed to the everyday rituals performed within. Cathedrals and Japanese temples both inspire in me a similar sort of feeling, that of being solemn and thoughtful and small.  I like that feeling, that quiet dignified moment separate from any religious musings.  Perhaps when a place is large, old, and quiet, one adopts a frame of mind to match the weight of the history and silence.

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Gone Home to the Moon

I have some very sad news.  Very bad and sad.
The day after my last post, right before I went back home, suspicious because of her needy behavior, we decided to examine the rabbit to make sure she was alright.  Sometimes when animals are feeling ooky, they become clingy and try to get your attention.  Not only that, she hadn’t her usual appetite, merely nibbling hay and sipping water.  Sure enough, one of her back toes was swollen, injured where the nail joined the foot.  After I left, mom took her to the vet and sure enough, the verdict was confirmed: She had broken her toe.  He removed the nail and gave her a staple, and prescribed a regimen of antibiotics and liquid food, so to make sure she got enough to eat since she was refusing just about everything else.  Mom, wonderful bunny mom that she is, gave her the dose the required 5 times a day.  She did everything to make it easier on poor Spooky, but Spooky Marie’s appetite continued to wane. The staple was removed (Spooky jumped into my mom’s arms when she saw the vet.  She really didn’t like going there.) but her tummy was upset for lack of proper diet. On her return to the clinic, the nice vet and my parents decided to keep her overnight with an IV drip to get her system back in order.  That night she died of a heart attack.  No one expected it.  She wasn’t a young rabbit (7 years is slightly elderly) but who would have thought the stress and pain of a broken toe could lead to this.  My sister told me, and I talked to my sad parents, who buried her that night with a steel-cut oat in her mouth “for the journey.”
It is sad to lose pets, especially suddenly and strangely, but I am thankful for the memories that remain, and the people around me who give me comfort. Goodbye, little moon-bunny. May your wings carry you far.

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Odd Bun Out

So I got home to my parents’ house a few hours ago, and immediately went in search of Spooky Marie, our strange, shy little rabbit, in hopes of weedling her into letting me give her a reunion pat.  Lo and behold, she seemed to have pulled off a disappearing act above and beyond her usual anti-social tendencies.  Search as I might, she was not in or under any of her usual haunts, and all the random cardboard containers scattered throughout the downstairs were unoccupied.  The dining room where she spends most of her time is barricaded from the rest of the house with a baby gate in an attempt to protect the bunny from the electronics and the electronics from the bunny (as well as containing the plywood-cardboard decorating scheme to a few rooms) so her absence was rather troubling.  In the course of my tracking, I found many droppings in the downstairs bathroom, and eventually discovered her under an arm chair in an upstairs bedroom.  I scooped her up and surveyed the mercifully minor damage she had commited since the departure of my aunt the previous day.  (The only casualty was a chewed envelope.)  Deposited downstairs, she gulped water and made herself uncharacteristically friendly, getting underfoot and seeking petting while we reenforced the gate she had wedged herself through with cardboard panels.  Rabbit, what is your deal?  We freak you out when we are here and we freak you out more when we vacation.  Oh well.  I’ll just chalk your temporary neediness up to you missing us and enjoy it while it lasts.  At least this way I get to pet you, you weird animal.

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Canada Canada Canada

So here I am, on the long and rural road through Ontario to Niagara Falls, a trip familiar to me from many a childhood vacation.  It is a distinctive area for two reasons: The abundance of good Tim Horton’s, and the utter lack of anything else.  The sky seems so large and varied to me, and I realize how little of the horizon is visible in NY.  I have been living my life at the bottom of a glass and steel canyon, and the dome above me is vast in comparison to my daily sky.  (It’s currently doing this sunshine-stormcloud combination that’s rather fetching, thus I remark.) This is the stretch through which Detroit-born Rym would speed in the middle of the night on his way to RIT, and the area made bearable by Raffi carols when my sister and I were mini, and surprisingly, it reminds me of how much I like Canada.  The prospect of living in Toronto is surprisingly palatable, even to a New Yorker, and I would not be especially opposed to the idea should the opportunity arise.  Just going through customs reminds me of all the times we crossed the border growing up, but it weirds me out showing the passport.  Waltzing across the border requires a bit more preparation then it used to.  In any case, I salute you, polite neighbors to the North!  This American kinda has a thing for you, even though 403 is dang boring in places.

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Give Thanks

Today I am in Michigan.  After a dawn journey through the air, followed by short jaunt in the car up to Saginaw, I was greeted by many relatives and a bountiful table of food.  My parents and I got most of our liberal political conversation out of the way on the drive up from Detroit, which was probably good, seeing as we had previously promised each other not to start anything with our slightly conservative suburban brethren, and the meal proceeded in a warm and jovial fashion.  I was somewhat out of it, having slept a grand total of an hour in the airplane, so I left the brunt of the conversation fall to my witty medical student sister, who regaled us with tales of plebotomy practice and other needle related incidents.  I, having the tendency to keel over at the mere sight of such implements, thank my lucky stars that none of the courses in animator school ever involved practicing injections.  Now, the next day, we relax at my grandmother’s house, chatting over cold turkey sandwiches and tea.  Having a smart phone changes the dynamic, as this intenet-less house does not necessarily preclude us from sharing our favorite youtube cats. (Maru is win.) All in all, I am generally thankful for the chance to see my family.  Also, I give thanks for standard poodles.  Definetely standard poodles.

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Taru

Imagine an RPG where your party is made, not of friendly sorcerers and knights, but rather of monstrous boss creatures that you have defeated in battle.  Taru is a 2.5D sprite-based role playing game based on Finnish pagan myths, with a young female protagonist who wields not a sword but a magical staff that has the ability to bind and summon spirit creatures called haltijas.  These creatures are grouped into elemental tribes, väki, (fire, water, wind, etc.) each ruled over by a dragon-like boss, which, when defeated, assumes the form of a humanoid girl and either willingly or grudgingly joins your party.  Battles are turn-based, with combat occurring in the same environment as standard navigation rather than on a separate battle screen.  There are no random encounters, as almost all the enemies are visible wandering around and can be either sought or avoided, based on the players whims.  Defeating a creature for the first time allows the leader dragon of its tribe to summon it in battle. Coded in C# using unity engine for easy port to both the PC and the XBLA, here is a game that combines the creature collecting of Pokemon, the hybrid action/ turn-based combat of Chrono Trigger, and a strong, yet non-violent heroine appropriate for a young female audience.

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I am posting from my phone.

Scott migrated the hosting, so I can finally log back into my blog again. I got this nice little ap for my Droid that allows me to post right to wordpress. Blogging on the go! I just figured I would test it out and then maybe write a longer post later. Cool, eh? Now if only the touch screen would turn off when I put it up to my face, then this phone would be perfect.

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