Hello, I’m Sasha and I’m an Introvert

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The title says it all. It has taken me a while to get to the point where I understand this aspect of my personality and I am still actively involved in the learning process, but I figure this is a good opportunity to shed some light on this little understood personality trait.

An introvert is a person who is energized by SOLITUDE and an extrovert is one who is energized by SOCIALIZATION. This is the simplest definition and is definitely a starting point for understanding such people. There are several misconceptions out there about introverts and while some of them hold true depending on the INDIVIDUAL, it is not true for ALL introverts.

I’ve always been the girl who preferred to stay home and veg out than going out and partying all weekend. I can seriously stay home, by myself for an entire weekend and not once have a problem with it. I LOVE it (and Japan and its annoying tendencies sure haven’t helped that situation). It’s something my parents and friends have never quite understood. Sure, I enjoy a party every once in a while. I love going to things like games nights, dinners, movies, whatever. I don’t mind socializing, but the difference between me and an extrovert is that eventually I want the socializing to STOP. Whereas an extrovert can go out to dinner, then go to a party for hours, then go back to people’s house and chill, then see them again the next day at the beach with very little time in between where they aren’t around people, I, and other introverts, cannot take that much interaction. We like a break. We crave it. That much social activity is exhausting, draining and just straight up not fun. If I know I’m going to be in a position where I have to do that much socializing I have to mentally psyche myself up for it.

Introverts like myself enjoy being alone for two main reasons: either to take a break and recoup from having to be around people for an extended period of time, or to simply enjoy our own thoughts. We’re very introspective and reflective and this sort of reflection best takes place when there’s no one else there to disturb the process. It doesn’t mean we want to be alone ALL the time because like most other human beings, we like spending time with people we enjoy, doing things we enjoy. It’s just that we enjoy time being away from others just as much, if not more, than time spent being with them. Extroverts on the other hand, may also enjoy spending time alone, but they enjoy socializing much, much more and given a full day they would probably willingly spend the vast majority of the time with other people. Alone time isn’t as much of a necessity as it is to the introvert.

Some of the misunderstandings and incorrect ideas surrounding introversion are that introverts are social deviants (unable to interact with others), introverts are shy, introverts are rude, introverts are depressed etc. But for you people who have had the PLEASURE of knowing me (lol), you know that the vast majority of these things are not true. I’m not shy (shyness has a certain element of anxiety associated with it which I don’t have at all), not rude (my parents grow me with MANNERS, lol), I like people (well no…actually…generally speaking I don’t like people BUT I don’t not like them to the point where I avoid them) and I’m not depressed.

I get the feeling that I’m going all over with this post, and I also think some of you may be wondering why I’m highlighting this all. It’s two fold. I want the stigma of the introvert to be erased. I’ve told people that I’m an introvert before and have watched their faces contort into “what the heck” stares, as if I’d just told them I was an alien. It has such a negative connotation for reasons previously highlighted which are far from the true meaning of the word. Also, I really just want to get the extroverts (you know, you social butterflies that just cannot get enough of people)to start rethinking their opinions on persons who interact differently. The girl in the group that’s a little quieter isn’t necessarily shy, she’s probably just more observant and genuinely enjoys listening to others make an ass of themselves (yes, speaking from experience here). The guy that went out with you on Friday night and Saturday night but declined the invitation for Sunday night isn’t being rude, nor is he having problems, he probably just wants one weekend night to bask in his alone time knowing that he will have to deal with everybody at work for an entire week come Monday. The person who enjoys staying home for an entire weekend instead of going to Daydreams and Truck Stop the day after isn’t being anti-social, they just want a weekend where they have nothing to do and no-one to deal with. Is it really that bad to enjoy time to ourselves?

There’s a lot more about it I could go into but I’ll stop here for now. Think about it and let me know what you guys think. Hopefully I gave you some useful information today.

Until next time, take care.

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New School Year Fun Day

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I know, I know. I’ve been slacking off with this blogging thing. Here’s a short recap of what’s been going on:

-The school year came to an end in March so I had to say goodbye to my grade six elementary school students and my third grade junior high school students. I enjoyed both graduation ceremonies though I didn’t understand a word of what was going on. True to Japanese form, they were very calm and simple (worlds away from the hooting and hollering we do when the students are receiving their certificates). ¬†I also had to say goodbye to a number of teachers, some of whom I really, really liked. The line-up of teachers changes every year here and so I lost some wonderful colleagues. Such is life.

-Spring has FINALLY come around. After some five and a half months of absolute discomfort, I am now happy with the weather. I kept hearing that it would roll around come March, and so March came and………….nothing. Imagine my disappointment. There were a few good days here and there, but nothing solid. However, it’s been pretty good for the past week and I’m hoping it stays this way for a long time.

Now remember I said the school year ends in March? Well, following logic, it begins in April ūüôā One of my schools decided to have a “welcome hike” to ring in the new year, so to speak. I was not enthused about this event, first of all, because I was in no way interested in the idea of hiking. There was also the fact that the weather was disgusting (9 degrees C/ 48 F), it was overcast and there was a forecast of rain. You’ll see the dark sky in the pictures below. ¬†Anyway, I’m glad I went. It was a lot of fun, and the big monstrous hike I had imagined turned out to just be a giant picnic/fun day in the park.

We left school at about 9:30 a.m and it was interesting to see them execute a WHOLE SCHOOL field trip not on a bus, not having parents give rides, but walking. The teachers did an excellent job of keeping everyone safe, in line, paired up and moving smoothly. We walked for about twenty minutes pass open fields, graveyards and intrigued housewives and field workers to a big, open space where the children went wild. Running, one-two-three red-light (the Japanese version, anyway), skipping, climbing trees. They had a whale of a time. It just occurred to me that maybe it shouldn’t even be called a picnic since, come to think of it, no eating took place. It was just about two hours of playing and enjoying the outdoors. I loved the fact that students who I had never been given the chance to interact with came up and spoke to me. The ichi nenseis (first graders) were in awe of the gaijin sensei (foreign teacher) and I loved how the grade six students explained my role to them. I also liked getting in on the action. I learned a traditional Japanese game where…as usual…I didn’t understand a word that was being said BUT I had fun and I was glad they asked me to join. All in all, a day well spent.

Walking by open fields...

...and graveyards :-/

A day well spent!

Japanese School Lunch

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Prior to moving to Japan, lunch time was something I looked forward to. It was that special time when I was able to take a break from class or work, have something good (or at least okay) to eat and relax.You know, be one with the food. Well…then came Japan. I’d say that probably after a week of eating Japanese school lunch I realized I wasn’t too into it. As the weeks went on, my ‘not too into it’ only got worse. I started seriously dreading lunch time.

Students in Jamaica have options at lunch time. There’s the standard cooked lunch (also known as box[ed] lunch) as well as patty, hot dog, pizza etc. If you have as good a high school cafeteria as I did, then the options are endless.

Unlike Jamaican students, Japanese students have no options. Everyone eats the same lunch. Everyone. Principal right down to students. Kyushoku (school lunch) is a meal usually comprised of a soup of some kind, a starch (normally rice though there are exceptions, and sometimes you have more than one starch), protein (usually meat though it is sometimes tofu or egg), milk and often a fruit or vegetable salad. Each day there is a different meal, but whatever it is, you either eat it or go hungry. No other choices for you. See some for yourself:

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I don't even remember what type of soup and meat these were.

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I think the soup was pumpkin and seaweed. The meat was fish.

Tiny fried fish with peanuts, soup, bread and fruit salad. The salad was the meal's highlight.

Closer look....tiny fried fish with peanuts. Dear Lord...

Thickest slice of bread ever, tuna salad, egg and creamy potato soup. This soup is one of the two things I actually enjoy on the kyushoku menu.

Kare raisu! Curry and rice is by FAR my favourite thing on the menu. In fact, it is one of the few meals I enjoy in Japan, period. Japanese curry is delicious.

Does anything you see tickle your fancy?

Until next time,

Minny

P.S…I gave up kyushoku at the end of the last (my first) term. Hoo-ray.

You Down With O.P.P? Well actually, no…

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I was listening to Naughty By Nature’s “O.P.P” recently. If you don’t know, the song discusses meddling with people who are already involved in relationships. It’s really about men being with another guy’s girl but since I am woman I thought about other scenarios. Eventually I found myself wondering why would a woman willingly play the role of the other woman?

Back in the day I used to think wives and girlfriends outnumbered the “other women”. I thought this way because I figured that not many people wanted to play the role. They were awful women whose numbers were few. Well, few when compared to the “legit” women. Eh…wrong thinking, clearly. I’m now realizing that “other women” are in abundance. They are our coworkers, our bosses, our classmates, our hairdressers, our family members…you get my drift. I actually have quite a few friends who have played the role before, which leads me to wonder what in the hell does that say about me? You know…birds of a feather and all that jazz….anyway, that is another discussion for another day, lol.

Someone actually explained to me that her reasoning was simple, she would never seek a man who is involved, but if he chased her then it was not her responsibility to care about whatever was going on at home. i.e she didn’t give two hoots about his main woman. All right. Fair enough. It really isn’t your responsibility to care about them, or her, but what about yourself??? Am I the only one who sees the flaw in that?

Here is my thing. I respect respect. I respect honour and loyalty. I respect the sanctity of marriage. I respect myself! I want the best for myself and in no way, shape or form, can a man that doesn’t respect his relationship or the promise he made with someone when he decided to enter into a monogamous relationship with her be right for ME. That kind of man is fickle, selfish and untrustworthy. I don’t want any part in someone like that. So that is the first part of it.

Second of all, I’m a scaredy cat. STDs are going around like the flu. Why would I willingly be involved with someone who PROVES that they are not monogamous. Before anyone bites my head off with “but the boyfriend you think is monogamous doesn’t have to be, and you can get a disease from him too”…please stop. I know this. But you know what? If he gives me something, I can bite his head off because he shouldn’t have been doing a thing with anyone else. If my otherwise occupied partner passes something to me well then in a ¬†way I’d think I sort of had it coming. If he¬†cheats¬†with you then ahm…what would stop him from cheating¬†on¬†you too, boo?

Third and last…I am lazy. There, I said it. I don’t like extra work. I don’t like going the extra mile. I don’t do operations and scheming. I just can’t be bothered. I don’t do well with having to think back and cover tracks. Oh…can’t call him at 5 p.m because he might be in the car with her, so I’ll wait until after 11 when I know she’s asleep. Or you know, he will have to call me. Must private my number before placing the call as well. No no no. I just can’t. I like being all willy nilly about things.

I really believe that there are still respectful, trustworthy, GOOD men out there and I am willing to wait on one of those men, rather than go be with someone else’s Romeo. Perhaps the difference between people like me, and “other women” is that people like me are comfortable enough being single for as long as it takes to find our own gem, while “other women” would rather take anything and play second fiddle than wait for something for themselves. Oh well *shrug*¬†If anyone cares to break it down for me please be my guest.

War Against the Kitchen

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I don’t enjoy cooking. When I was younger (as if I’m that old, ha!) I was really of the mindset that I didn’t need to learn how to cook. My mother tried, but it was just not happening. I took no interest in it. I really thought I could do restaurants, take-out, and tin food all my life. Of course, people often asked “but what about your husband?”….uh….if my husband wants a nice, healthy, home-cooked meal then he better be prepared to cook it himself! He knows how to cook, right? No man was going to demand or expect ME to go in any kitchen! Yes people…I really thought like this.

I blame this irrational thinking on two things. 1) Cooking the Jamaican way seems TEDIOUS. I mean, really. Season the meat for hours on end, brown it, then fry it then this, then that. It just seems like it involves way too much. 2) I had the idea that modern women slaving away in the kitchen was, somehow, a tad bit archaic.

No Bueno

I am happy to report that coming to Japan has really kicked some sense into me. I realized today that I have gone from buying bentos (packaged meals) and Hotto Motto (popular food chain with relatively healthy options) from five or six times a week to maybe one or two. That is BIG folks, BIG! Now, while I still do not enjoy cooking ( I don’t think I’ll ever get to that point) I have a new found appreciation for the skill.

First of all, I think it’s important to be able to prepare healthy meals for yourself. Point blank, period. If we don’t love and take care of our own bodies, who will? Second, I’m really getting into this whole “becoming-the-woman-that-a-man-will-be-proud-to-have-as-his-wife” thing, and the idea of being able to provide a delicious meal for my husband and family, for both health and comfort, just tickles me quite honestly. Now while I am nowhere near the expertise of the typical Jamaican woman (I reference our women a lot because as I said, our food preparation is pretty intricate), I am taking baby steps in the kitchen. I realize that cooking doesn’t have to be that hard. It might not impress my Jamaican folks who are used to their oxtail and rice and peas or their stewed peas and pigstail, but hell, my oregano pork chops with steamed veggies and white rice is quite fine by me, thank you very much!

Yum (even the slightly burned ends)

I don’t think I’ll ever get to top chef status, but as long as my food has some decent flavour, I’m good. I’m no longer afraid of or entirely disgusted by the kitchen.

Now I just need to stop using the same spices over and over and over so that all my meats don’t taste the same, lol.

Better Late Than Never! New Year’s Resolutions

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It’s January 20th and I am just now getting around to a New Year’s Resolution post. Late, right? I know. I mean, I wanted to do one a long time ago but changed my mind. Tonight I’ve gone ahead and changed my mind again after seeing my friend Monique’s post over on her blog¬†http://iriediva.com/2012/01/19/the-2012-to-do-list/¬†. She inspired me, lol.

Resolutions are tricky stuff. 99.999% of us will never continue with them past February either because we get too lazy or just completely forget them. Well not me, damnit! I’m gonna stick to them and look back on December 31 2012 with glee when I see that I’ve been able to accomplish everything I set out to do. Why? Because the fact that I’m going to tell you lovely people what they are means that I will have someone to be accountable to. Also, I’m keeping things REALLY simple and specific. So here goes (no one is allowed to laugh at me and my resolutions, hmph!):

For 2012 I want to:

-develop abs

-be able to bend over and touch my toes/the ground without bending my knees (how I will be able to do this is beyond me…I’m the least flexible person I’ve ever met in life)

-be able to order a meal at a Japanese restaurant without assistance

-save atleast 20,000 yen a month (about 22,000 Ja which is very, very, very low and doable)

-decide what I want to do in grad school, where I want to do it and how I’m gonna get it done

That’s it. Simple and specific, right?

Monique AKA Irie Diva also did something I’ve been meaning to do for MONTHS now, which is start a vision board. Hers is online but I’d prefer to do a real one to hang above my bed or something. It’s a great idea and the logic behind it makes sense. So I’ll get on that really soon too.

In the mean time, we’ll see how these resolutions go. There’s a looooong year ahead. I hope you stick to yours too! Take care.

P.S Watch my girl Fi’s video about the ridiculous things people say to people from the Caribbean. Hi-la-ri-ous! Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYWXnpqUgI4

 

Vacation in Thailand

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Happy New Year folks! The year has gotten off to a good start and my hope is that it continues to get better.

I recently returned to Japan from my almost-two-weeks-long vacation in Thailand. It was very good. After about 11 hours, 3 bus rides,  two planes, and a taxi, I arrived in Bangkok, Thailand.  There was a short layover in Hong Kong included (Hong Kong has the prettiest money I have ever seen).

I didn’t do many touristy things. It was a very “connecting with the people and the true vibes” trip. In Bangkok I took the time to walk around the city. It is SO busy…my word. The city has about 10 million people living there. It’s full of life, full of colour, full of noise, which was a pleasant change from Japan’s stuffiness. I remember driving from the airport thinking “this place looks just like Jamaica”, then the next day when I actually went roaming I thought “this place is EXACTLY like Downton, Kingston just a million times bigger”. The buildings, the layout and the congestion of both places are similar.

Another similarity is that many things have a sexual undertone. That can be viewed as a good or bad thing depending on how you choose to take it but it’s definitely there, with the ping-pong shows and the lady boys and the abundance of ‘creatures of the night’. And the driving, my word. You think only Jamaicans create three and four lanes out of two? Think again.

Thai people are the TRUEST definition of hustlers. They have their stalls set up much like street stalls back home, and you can barter with the higglers until you are at a price you’re comfortable with. Admittedly, I didn’t do much shopping, but I watched as my travel partners bartered their way to some decent goods.

Next thing I was impressed with was the food. Again, a welcomed change from Japanese food. If you know me, you know I love my belly, so imagine how happy I was to be eating fried fish, steamed fish, roast pork…man…let me stop. Their food is very hot and I actually don’t really like peppery food, but I definitely appreciated the fact that the food had some spice and element to it. It was really cheap, really tasty and we were sure to eat street food or from simple, local run restaurants maybe 90% of the time.

After two days in Bangkok I headed on over to Phuket (pronounced poo-ket), which is much more touristy. Way too much for my taste. I did more eating and more massages (oh yes, Thailand is famous for their massages…cheap, relaxing, you know I had to get a couple). I went to a smaller island called Koh Phi Phi (pronounced ko-pee-pee) and headed to the beach, snorkeled, kayaked, ate and did a really short stint at a party. The party though? Not my speed, so after a few minutes I left.

Back in Phuket I got the time to do some white water rafting, see a waterfall, a Buddhist shrine full of monkeys and *drumroll please* ride an elephant. I will never ride an elephant again. Glad I took the pictures for memories. I ¬†rang in the New Year (which also happens to be my birthday) on a beach filled with what seemed like thousands of tourists. It was lovely. After New Year’s Day we headed back to ¬†Bangkok and visited ¬†a market and just got ready to head back to Japan.

I really enjoyed the trip. It was a good way to experience “Jamaican-ness” without being in Jamaica, but it still had it’s own qualities that made it uniquely Thai. The weather was lovely, the food was lovely, massages were great. In all, a good vacation.

If you’re interested in seeing pictures please send me your email address and I’ll send them to you. Until next time, take care.