Journal Entry – 12.2.2017

It is 8:52 AM on Saturday morning December 2nd, 2017.  This is the first time in a long while I’ve written a post at this hour.

I feel as though I never got back into my pre-Japan trip morning routine.  I have a memory that I was up very early every morning either working out, reading or writing in this journal.  I still get up early and I have been working out but only 2 – 3 days a week which isn’t as much as I’d like.  I never write in the mornings anymore.  Nor do I do my Japanese study!  But let’s just write about one thing at a time.

One main difference with before and after the Japan trip was I took up dipping again while I was a bachelor for that brief amount of time.  In the mornings the first thing I thought of doing was getting on the computer, and either playing Warcraft or just putzing on the internet – not writing in my journal – and putting a dip in!  Since dip took priority, working out and writing took a back seat in my morning routine.  Now, I should point out that I hadn’t dipped in probably 6 years and really had no desire to start again. However, that sense of absolute freedom took hold of me when I was by myself for a few weeks and I thought why not get back into WOW, and if I get back into Warcraft why not buy some Skoal since the two always went hand in hand for me?  It would be like transporting me back in time to my old life!

Well, I went to Japan, came back with the family and was able to stop playing Warcraft after a few weeks but did not quit the dip.  One of the reasons is it was something to always fall back on and to look forward to when working.  Work can be stressful but that good ‘ole can of Skoal helps you through it.  Furthermore, I would venture to say dip was part of my old identity since it is something I did from senior year of high school all the way until 2010.  By dipping I was revisiting my past in a way.

But I knew I could not continue and finally quit about a week ago.  It was both very difficult and easy.  It was difficult when I tried to force myself:  my brain would tell me not to buy a can when I was out driving but the other voice told me to go do it and there would be a war inside my head.  The voice telling me to buy more always won.  That went on for a while until I remembered the easy way and that is to just “ride the wave.” This is when you’re mentally ready, there are a lot of upcoming daily activities where you normally wouldn’t dip, and you train your mind to be against that product.  I realized the time was right and now here I am a week later and have successfully quit again.  Without dip taking up my time I can workout, write, read and generally just get back to a the pre-Japan routine.  It is hard to believe it has taken so long!

As for Japanese study I really don’t feel like using that website anymore.  I spent a year doing the kanji flashcards but still cannot recall their meaning when reading.  I’ll need to take a different track if I really want to get better.  One way would be to do my son’s Japanese homework with him.  I’m really shocked in that he has started learning kanji already and I’m even more shocked that there were a few I couldn’t read correctly.

I’ll explain.  Yes, he just started learning kanji and I know them all – they are very easy – but what I’m specifically referring to are days 1-10 of the month.  Japanese requires a special reading of them which I’ve always hated and never retained completely.  I just have a mental block against them and so only learned them briefly for tests.  And so, I’ve still got time before I really learn anything except the above from my son’s homework but I think learning together would be enjoyable.  The hard part will be making myself do it because just like in high school, I still hate doing homework no matter what it is!

In other news our neighbors are doing some massive landscaping and have asked us if we wanted to go in on the new fence separating our properties.  We let them know that we’d be happy to contribute and we absolutely are as the fence benefits us as well.  I got a call from the wife yesterday about the price and to be honest, it put me off a little.  Perhaps I’ve spent too much time in the “Japanese world” but the way people from Taiwan talk seems rude and aggressive even though I do not understand a word.  What I do understand is when they switch to English and it still seems rude and aggressive!

Anyway, she said the quoted amount for our share would be $2,200 which seems a bit high to me.  Now, we had a gorgeous fence done on one side and I shared all the costs for that fence with her so she could get an idea of the cost.  The glaring issue right off the bat is material + labor cost us approx $2,000 for our current fence which is almost twice as long as the one we’re currently looking at building with said neighbor!  So why does a much shorter fence, using the same Redwood cost more??  She mentioned something about some of the wood being ‘better’ but redwood is redwood so we’ll need some clarification.  Another reason it put me off was I had thought for a minute she was just going to have the contractor start without any input from us then just expect us to pay!  I had to stop her and confirm that this wasn’t going to happen which she did.

I told her to send over the quote, diagrams and any design proposals so we could talk about it.  Again, we’re more than happy to go in on this fence as we want one too, I just want to ensure we’re not getting ripped off.  And to be completely honest, her communication style here seems to be a little off-putting so far.  Perhaps I’m making too much of the first call and I certainly hope so.  I like to have a “harmonious” relationship with everyone, but especially my neighbors.  Now this is a stereotype but in my mind, when it comes to negotiating, women from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam are very combative, get overly excited/emotional and get angry very easily when they don’t get their way.  I’d much rather deal with a male from any of these countries as they are more reasonable and we can just talk and figure it out without the drama.

I really hope I’m wrong about how I think all of this will go.  I don’t want it to be just her when we talk, but her husband as well who is a great guy.  I also have faith in my skills to steer the conversation and come to a mutually agreeable conclusion/price.  I just don’t want to overpay but at the same time keep on great terms with the neighbors.

The time is now 9:47 AM and I need to get to karate class.  I was thrown for a loop yesterday when another karateka asked if I would be testing on December 15th.  I had thought we needed to wait for Saiko-shihan to be in town since we’re upper level now but she said that wasn’t the case. To be honest, I need to be mentally ready for the tests because they are really hard!  I was looking forward to a quiet/easy December and not doing any karate tests!  I think she is wrong and that we do need to wait until next year to test but it is causing some stress (along with the fence talk!) that I didn’t need.

And oh yea, I got a parking ticket yesterday because I didn’t have my wheels turned the right way on a hill.  Such a stupid mistake.  And I hate the SF parking police.

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! \(^.^)/