katharsis

This morning, I went to the dentist for the first time in four months. I work from 4PM to 7PM on most days, so I had plenty of time to kill after my appointment ended at eleven.

After running some errands for my husband, I had lunch at Gyoza no Ohsho—an inexpensive restaurant with branches across Japan that specializes in gyoza and Chinese food. It was lunchtime, so the shop was busy, but I didn’t have to wait to get a table. I ordered the gyoza lunch set, which includes a cup of rice, a small bowl of eggdrop soup, and two pieces of karaage, which today were uncharacteristically (and quite embarrassingly) small.

My husband introduced me to Gyoza no Ohsho when we came to Japan together for the first time in 2018. He then gave a disclaimer, saying that while the food is nothing special, it’s good enough for the price. This was back when we’ve never heard of the famous Gyoza no Ohsho in Mikage, highly recommended to us by some of the locals we’ve become friends with over the last year and a half. “It’s different,” they said. “The best in Kansai. Perhaps even in all of Japan.”

The Mikage shop is so popular, it has a 4.4 star rating on Google Maps, based on 695 reviews. It’s almost always full, and in the busiest times, there’d be a crowd waiting outside. My husband and I went there once, and I can confirm the food is tastier than your average Gyoza no Ohsho.

After eating, I walked to Hankyu Okamoto station in search of a new cafe to try, but couldn’t make my mind up and thus ended up walking northward to the neighborhoods in the mountains.

I’ve always liked to walk and wander. When I was still a student in UP Diliman, I sometimes skipped class and spent time walking aimlessly around the campus. So when I graduated and no longer lived inside the campus, I was frustrated at how unwalkable Manila (and even my hometown, Pampanga) is.

Walking calms me, especially when the weather is agreeable. Today, it was perfect. Sixteen degrees. Clear, azure skies. The wind whistling as it swept through trees, making it rain red and yellow—a scene I used to daydream about as I traversed the firetree lined Roces Street in UP.

Okamoto is one of the more affluent neighborhoods in Kobe. It’s not uncommon to pass by larger-than-average houses with manicured gardens and Mercedes Benzes in the garage. Where I live, not many people own cars (or a garage, even) since we’re near two train lines. But it makes sense to have a car (or two or three) when you’re wealthy and live on a mountain.

I say hike but it was really just a stroll around a residential area. While taking photos of the landscape and its features—mostly trees and shrubbery—I came across several elderly hikers on their way down and some high school students still in their P.E. uniforms. But most streets were empty, and at times it felt as if I were in a ghost town.

I’ve been living in Japan for over a year now, and yet every time I take leisurely walks in sleepy neighborhoods, I am overcome with gratitude. Something I don’t often feel, which is partly why I very easily slip into one of my darker, more depressive moods.

I really ought to take more of these solitary walks.

It was nearly 2PM when I decided to head for work and along the way, I came upon a part of Sumiyoshi river that I haven’t seen before.

My husband has always asserted that Sumiyoshi river is better than Ashiya river. After seeing this, I completely agree.

On my way down to the riverside path, my brother videocalled me, so I got to show him the river, the old people walking their dogs, the ducks, and the golden ginko trees. A slife of suburban life in Kobe.

#walk #hike #japan #autumn #musings #journal #sliceoflife #kobecity

For someone who hates Facebook, I sure talk about it a lot. But I think this would be over as soon as my accounts (yes, I have multiple) are permanently deleted from their servers.

Today I learned that if you request for your account to be deleted, Facebook gives you thirty days to undo the deletion and you can have your account back. Fuck that. Granted, I did feel strangely queasy while debating whether to delete or deactivate, which of course prompted me to wonder where this sensation was coming from and why it was even there to begin with.

I was scared of never being able to look back and reread posts my husband wrote on our anniversaries, of losing the chance to drown myself in nostalgia as I browse photos of trips I took with friends with whom I no longer have a relationship.

Then I thought, is that it? Is that what’s causing this weird knot in my stomach? The thought that I might someday want to reminisce and realize I wouldn’t have anything to look at because I deleted my Facebook? Why am I so fixated on the past anyway?

So I hit the delete button.

I am now in the process of transferring the photos and videos from my older Facebook account to Google Photos, and then I can delete this one too.

Facebook has lost its essence. I’ve been harboring negative feelings towards people I like on the regular and this has been gnawing at my conscience for a while. I don’t know how some people do it—not using social media so much. I’ve always enjoyed sharing details of my life to friends and family, but I don’t think social media does just that anymore. It takes more than it gives.

Since deciding to limit my social media activity after my worst meltdown in a while, my mood tracking app has seen an increase in big yellow smiley faces, and I feel lighter. Deciding to start this blog also helped, despite not having written much at present. I’ve also been reading more, which is always a pleasant thing. All in all, I just feel a lot more… present. Over the last few weeks, as I contemplated leaving Facebook and Instagram, I’ve been feeling like I’ve uploaded a huge chunk of my existence, and I did not want to live like that anymore.

So I left.

#facebook #socialmedia

This blog exists because I can no longer stand using Facebook. I want to share details about my life on a platform that would neither threaten my online privacy and identity, nor profit from holding my attention.

I did say in a previous entry that I despise social media. Facebook is at the very top of that list. That wretched company should be held accountable for allowing fake news and dangerous propaganda to proliferate on their platform.

It is most convenient, of course, to have everything in one place. Facebook is a journal, an album, a newspaper, a calendar, and more—but are we really supposed to have this much convenience in our lives? We no longer need to remember our friends' birthdays, because Facebook will remind us. We don't need to ask people how they've been, since scrolling down on our News Feed keeps us informed, and all we need to do to show we care is to leave a comment, or even simpler, a like or a reaction.

But, Kat, do you not enjoy convenience?

Of course, I do. I enjoy the convenience of Japanese trains, for one. Being able to travel one city to another in a matter of minutes and not having to guess when the next train is coming because trains here are always on time, unless there is a scheduled maintenance, or in the event of an unfortunate accident. I enjoy the obvious convenience of konbini. Of video calls. Of instant messaging.

But social media drives me mad. And even if I try to limit my use of it, just the fact that I have access to it makes it, and its consequences, feel inescapable. Suffocating.

What better way to freedom if not complete abstinence?

Is this the digital equivalent of reclusion?

#facebook #socialmedia

For someone who grew up in a tropical country, I sure cannot stand hot weather. I have hyperhidrosis, so hot or cold, I sweat, but you can imagine just how much worse it is with high temperatures and humidity. It's the worst.

So I'm glad I get to live in a country with four seasons, and in an area where winters are mild. After over three long months of torturous summer, fall arrived, carrying with it a slight chill, albeit inconsistently. There were days in early October that were not cold at all.

I love waking up to cool, autumn mornings. There is no need to turn on the heater just yet, but I purchased a bed pad from Muji that helps keep me and my husband warm at night, similar to those heattech ones they sell at Uniqlo. So far so good, but I doubt it would be sufficient for winter.

On weekdays, I wake up before 8. I pour cold brew coffee into my husband's thermos, which he takes with him to work. He can't drink hot coffee, so even on cold days, he takes his coffee iced. I wait for him to leave, and then I do my chores—emptying the dishwasher, doing the laundry, folding and ironing clothes, vacuuming, shopping for groceries—just regular housewife stuff.

Sometimes I spend my morning playing Animal Crossing on my Switch. Since the latest update, I've been playing more, especially since I also got the Happy Homes Paradise DLC. Every now and then I watch a movie, or perhaps a series, when I have the time and the patience required to see it through.

My life is painfully ordinary.

But do I want anything other than ordinary? I don't remember ever having big dreams, to be honest. I only want to live comfortably, and to not have to struggle to do so. I don't understand other people's seemingly infinite appetite for wealth and prestige. I only wish I did something to make the world a better place.

#life #musings #autumn

I feel like I’ve written about this before. On a blog, on paper. Or maybe I was asked by a friend, or a stranger, perhaps, and I gave an earnest answer.

What is sadder: forgetting or remembering?

When I was twenty three I got my first tattoo: 夢. Dream. Back then I’ve wanted a tattoo for a long while already, I just didn’t have the money to afford one. I don’t even remember how I got the one thousand pesos I used to pay for it, but for some reason I did, so I finally did it.

That was ten years ago. I’m thirty three now. I have six tattoos, none of which I’m particularly proud of, which is sad, too, because I remember believing at some point that I’d never regret any of my tattoos.

The proverbial naïveté of youth.

Not to say that I regret any of my tattoos. Each of them are a reminder of who I was when I got them. But I suppose that only works if I don’t forget the when.

I’ve been forgetting things more easily these days.

But I digress. Going back to the original question: how do you want to be remembered? About ten years ago I had an answer to this. I wanted to be remembered as someone who did what she wanted. Who not yield to societal pressures and regretted nothing.

Would this still be my answer now, ten years later? I haven’t given it much thought. Why am I even thinking about this in the first place?

#musings #remembering #forgetting #memories

I've been wanting to write again, but have only done so in my journals. I wanted to revive my old Wordpress blog, but it had stuff I didn't want to bother with anymore, and Wordpress has become a lot more complicated to use. I'm really getting old.

This seems like a nice, simple blogging platform. It's minimalistic, no frills, no distractions.

I've been reading novels again. Not that I stopped; I just didn't do it as much as I used to. But did I even read much to begin with? I read when I felt like it, and sometimes I didn't even finish the books I started. Regardless, I am reading novels again—physical copies—because even if I had a Kindle, the experience just doesn't compare to reading from an actual book.

I deleted my social media apps on my phone—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—and in a way I feel disconnected from the world. Weird, huh? I'm here. I exist. I live in Japan now and it's autumn, so it's comfortably cool. I have a life here. A job. Acquaintances. Maybe even friends. One of my best friends lives here, and next year she's moving to the same prefecture, two cities over.

It's not like I cut off my friends by deleting apps. Maybe this is just the proverbial FOMO creeping up on me. If I'm not online, do I even exist at all? A ridiculous thought, since we've already established that I'm here. Alive. Existing. Out here in the real world.

Funny, isn't it? What the internet has done to our brains. What social media has conditioned us to think, believe, and, consequently, feel. It has made connection convenient. But genuine human connection is anything but convenient.

There is so much I want to say about how much I despise social media, despite being so active on multiple platforms, but I'm afraid I'd have to do that some other time. Duty calls.

#musings #journal

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