Welcome! Honest Lies is the personal site of a 24 year old graduate electrical engineer living in the UK. Covering every day life, books and various other randomness. Read more about me and the site here.

It was my sister’s birthday recently so I met up with her yesterday to celebrate. We met up in Manchester, and did some shopping and then went for a meal. We happened upon a random food market and I discovered Manchester Tarts, which turned out to be a little sickly but delicious. My sister also took me to this awesome book and music store and I splurged on several new DVDs and books but they were so individually cheap I can’t feel too bad. I also bought new makeup, because there is no such thing as too much skincare and makeup (ahem.) Did I mention my sisters’ boyfriend came along? He was extremely patient whilst being dragged through the shops by my sister and me. I felt a little awkward with him there but I tried to nice, and I’m hoping he wasn’t too uncomfortable/wishing it was just my sister too much. Later, my mom and dad also joined us for the meal and it was a little overwhelming to have us all together (and so weird to be single whilst my sister is there settled into her relationship and bringing him into the family. I felt a little bit like a hanger on, OK. Group outings should always be even numbers.) But it was fun and the food was delicious. We went for Thai food at Chao Phraya. We last went there for my 21st birthday. It’s a good place to go to for special meals- with food that is a little up there in price, but extremely tasty, a lovely drinks menu including delicious mocktails, a good atmosphere and very nice staff too. Afterwards my mom and my sister insisted on going to one last shop, so they did, and myself, my dad and my sisters’ boyfriend sat on the comfy couches outside the changing rooms and waited. Then we all headed to get our respective trams/trains to get home. I got home late, and was sleepy, but happy.

Despite having high hopes for last weeks worth of work, I ended up having a terrible week (for various reasons I won’t bore you with) and it was great to have a nice day out with my family, not thinking about work, being a little frivolous, eating good food. I am a little nervous for this week at work, as last week has definitely kicked my already low motivation, but I’ve taken Friday off and I am going to look forward to a nice, long (much needed) weekend.

uri_mh1488118231382I went to see Cinderella last night. It was so good. Absolutely hilarious with a wonderfully talented cast. The music was stunning. The main actor / prince was played by a South African! The modern adaptation worked well, and wasn’t quite as surreal and experimental as Hansel and Gretel…I think I liked that it was more restrained when it came to the modern/digital effects. And did I mention that it was hilarious? I had a terrible view in the first half, blocked by those sat in front, but in the second half the woman behind me had somehow convinced those in front of me to switch seats with them…It was rather mysterious …. They didn’t seem to know each other and I don’t know how that happened. But my view improved too so I was pleased for whatever bargain had been made.

I went by myself but thankfully my sister let me text her as usual. It does make me feel a bit nervous going alone. A bit self conscious? At the interval I went to the bar to get a drink, I discovered you could get free water and ice to drink. Which yay. But . I stepped into someone before even getting to it, then I spilled the water, then I dropped my phone, then I managed to get my water and some ice in my bottle, picked up my phone and knocked into someone else on my way out. I get so clumsy when I’m feeling nervous. I was just so aware that everyone around me was in pairs or groups and it turned me into a clumsy idiot, making a fool of myself. I don’t mind doing things by myself, and I also like to use these outings as an opportunity to test/push my anxiety. If I can feel comfortable in my own skin when I’m alone, then I can surely feel comfortable around others. I don’t always succeed though. But that was just one small incident, the show itself was great.

Today I’m out in town. I went for my annual check up at the opticians (I’m that wierdo who actually goes every two years as recommended.) Thankfully my eyesight, although not perfect, is not so bad to need glasses. I’m in Starbucks now, writing this and treating myself to delicious things. :)

As usual the weekend is flying past. I’m sorta looking forward to the week as I’m out the office a lot…Nice to do different things and I get to go to site once which yes :)

uri_mh1487720008757uri_mh1487720102263I’m looking through some of the photos I took over the weekend; the sun was shining and it was warm, so I headed out for a walk at a local green space. I’d last been there when it was snowing and it wasn’t too different, still a winter landscape, but the warmth and brightness and stillness of the day made up for the bleak surroundings. Eventually, I even found a patch of snowdrops. Spring is finally approaching. It was wonderful to get some air, and get some movement, burn off some of my restlessness from anxiety. I listened to an audio book and the birds singing and felt a calm I desperately needed.

(Sadly my camera battery died so I only had my cellphone to take pictures but well, that’s not a deal breaker in these times is it, it just means a sad lack of zoom.)

After my walk I went to the city center to what else, shop. I got my brows done and ate out for supper as a treat, a comfort outing but not excessively (I was pretty good about staying away from browsing so I didn’t end up buying lots of stuff I didn’t need just to cheer myself up!) The next day I went out to shop again – I got more fish!! I bought ten new white cloud mountain minnows and two cherry shrimp. I’m quite taken aback by how many fish there are, it’s a little overwhelming, and I am fascinated by the shrimps…They are a little creepy looking but maybe also cute. I’m not 100% sure about how to care for them but they seem to be doing ok anyway. And thankfully none of my fish (read: my boisterous danios) have eaten them. Yet? I hope not yet, they were surprisingly expensive.

Tonight I had my dreaded Japanese test. I can take small comfort in the fact that I don’t think actually studying would have helped that much? In the sense that I massively struggle with remembering kanji, and the test was pretty much a kanji test. I’m trying to be annoyed, but mostly I feel resigned. After writing yesterday’s post I have come to an acceptance, I’ve not given up yet, but I’m accepting that I’m not in the right headspace for this now, and it’s ok not to do well the first time. Failure is not the end of the world, it’s just a bit embarrassing, and a lesson to be learnt.

I can’t believe it’s only Tuesday . I’m eager for the weekend when I get to see the last of the Opera North fairytales – Cinderella!

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On giving up

I think I want to quit learning Japanese.

But at the same time I’m not sure if I can.

It feels terrible and wrong to even think it, let alone put it out to the world like this.

I developed an interest in Japan when I was a teenager, and when I could finally begin to learn Japanese when I started university it felt like a dream come true. I’d tried self-study as a teen and I was terrible at it and I thought that the structure of classes would solve all my problems. I took classes in my first year, my third and fourth years too and so it only seemed natural to look for classes when I moved to this new city for work. So I did. So I am. The thing is, maybe classes worked for a while, but ultimately learning a language, as with learning all things, takes a fuck tonne of discipline, motivation and self-study. And I just cannot anymore. After 4-5 years of study I am burnt out and fed up.

And it makes me feel awful. I am very good at starting things, and then backing off once they get difficult. I tried to learn horse-riding, but I felt anxious around the horses and didn’t like my teacher so I quit. I tried to learn musical instruments, but I didn’t have the confidence to practice or perform so I failed and I quit in shame of my failure. I tried to join societies at university – I tried archery, I tried badminton, I tried charity, I tried hill walking. I didn’t last a year in any of them. I am a master of starting things and never fucking finishing them. Japanese is the thing I’ve stuck with the longest. My love of Japanese and Japanese culture has defined my teenage years through to the beginnings of my adulthood. I have told everyone possible I am learning Japanese and how much I love Japan. I have been to Japan twice – both of which were significant investment. Actually, on that note, learning a language is a serious investment. I have spent hundreds of pounds on classes and textbooks and bus journeys to get to class. And ultimately all this, for what.

I am in a very frustrating place with Japanese now – with a basic grasp of the language but unable to quite push through to the intermediate level. I never study enough though.(Though I will never understand how much is ‘enough’…always feels like there’s more.) I don’t want to; I don’t particularly enjoy it and I don’t particularly want to do it after a long day of work (I tried to study during my lunch breaks but work has been too full on lately that I haven’t been able to, and I can’t use my commute as I get travel sick when reading on buses.) But aren’t we told that the best things in life are the results of struggles and hard work? If it’s easy, then it’s not worth it? So I should struggle even though I’m miserable, for the sweetness of the reward?

What is that reward though, when learning a language for no real reason other than the love of it? I am not going to use Japanese for business reasons, I am not going to live in Japan, when I travel to Japan it’s easier and quicker to speak English (the Japanese grasp of English is significantly better than my clumsy attempts at communication in their language) (And I doubt I could afford another trip to Japan any time soon anyway.) It’s pretty fun to understand bits and pieces of the Japanese music and dramas I watch, but I feel like learning the language has in some ways ruined those for me – I’m too busy trying to translate, but not quite able to, that I end up completely distracted from my listening and enjoyment of said media. It’s really frustrating.

My love hasn’t died but I am starting to resent it somewhat. Why did I have to love this thing and what can I do to stop. It breaks my heart to think about this thing that was so precious, that defined me, my choices, and saved me in this manner, become an object of such resentment, to have faded. (Both trips to Japan were taken during two of the lowest points of my life, and they transformed me. My love of Japan has kept me going, a bright hope in dark times, something to look forward to, and something to love amongst all the bleak things. I loved it very much, especially my classes during university. I remember how at the end of the semester we would go out to eat as a group and even though I usually hate socializing it was so much fun to be surrounded by people like me, who loved other cultures, who had travelled and loved to do so, who loved Japan. Those moments when I am listening to a Japanese song and I understand a line, or I can understand a food item on a menu in a Japanese restaurant I feel so happy and proud.) I don’t like feeling this way about something I love, but at the same time maybe I am supposed to feel this way – that my love should be painful and it should be difficult because only then is it worth it? Again, I come back to this idea of no pain, no gain. It makes me feel so lazy and worthless to want to give up because it’s difficult. That’s it, isn’t it? Ultimately I am trying to make excuses for my own laziness – like all those other hobbies mentioned above. Like come on self, stop being a baby. That’s the whole point. You’re learning something here, that’s gotta hurt.

And because it feels like I should be doing something like this in my free time. Without Japanese, all my hobbies will be strictly home based and solitary and am I allowed that? And I think I will miss it – being around these like-minded people, hearing their stories. And then the fear kicks in – of that black dog sleeping deep within my soul, beginning to stir. Is this depression coming back, this lack of motivation? This desire to just chill at home by myself with a book or a drama? Is it depression to feel this demotivated? Am I letting my mental health stop me from something amazing here? Is it my mental health saying no to this or is it me? It’s a terrible thing to not be able to trust your own brain, your own heart.

I have a test tomorrow for Japanese. I haven’t studied. After all else failed, I decided to self sabotage. I will fail and then of course I will have to quit from the embarrassment/shame of failure.

Or will I? Do I say OK, this was a bad year make some lists as to why and start over again, retaking this year once more, trying again (actually trying!) to complete this level next year?

What for?

What am I trying to prove, and to who, by clinging onto this?

I don’t know why I am doing this anymore.

It’s stressing me out so much.

“Warm spring that left, won’t you come back to me?”

The past weeks have been swinging between extreme highs and extreme lows. Work is…there is a situation I cannot talk about but which is crushing me right now. I am stressed out and anxious. But in other ways things are good right now – my flat is not looking like a complete disaster for once, I have been getting into reading again and enjoying some good dramas too, my neighbour’s cat has taken to coming into my flat and letting me play with him and cuddle him, and I’ve had some pretty good weekends spent actually doing stuff and not holed up at home feeling sorry for myself (see: work.)

One of my goals when I moved to this city was to take advantage of the cultural elements available to me, and take advantage of my salary, to see more shows. I love going to the theatre to see ballets, plays and operas and I don’t do it nearly enough. So I’m doing something about that now. Opera North are currently hosting a Fairy Tale season and I’ve got tickets to them all. I love fairy tales, especially the dark originals. For these shows too, I admit I was drawn in by the posters, which show the main characters in traditional costuming, although I have been confused as to how different the operas are turning out to the posters. (Very confused.) Anyway, I also bought tickets for Turandot in May. This gives me something to look forward to in these stressful times, and gets me out the house, which is also good (see: no moping.) It’s not too expensive either. After all, you can get a seat for just £15, and I bought a three opera package which meant that both Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella were £13.70 each! (Lets not talk about how expensive Turandot was even with a three opera discount – I wanted a good seat and I better have got one!)

So, the other weekend I saw the first of the fairy tales: the Russian “Snow Maiden”. My sister came up to my city and we went out to supper and then to see the show and it was all awesome. The Snow Maiden was extremely odd – it felt like it should have been sung in Russian, and the costumes were a bizarre mix of traditional and modern that made little sense (I don’t get why the Snow Maiden was in jeans for nearly the entire show whilst all the other characters got to change into different costumes. It was in stark contrast to the beautiful dress that Snow Maiden is wearing in the posters for the show. Shouldn’t the main character be the most beautiful, the one that stands out the most?) But it was short and funny and wonderful. My sister and I went shopping the next day which was also great fun.

I went to see the second of the fairy tales last weekend: the German “Hansel and Gretel”. This was a full on modern production of the opera. Again not as advertised, at all, though I did end up loving it. The music was stunning, and the opera itself was…surreal. It was very odd and slightly disturbing (young children singing happily after brutally burning to death a witch OK then) but it felt true to the dark spirit of the original fairy tale. I thought it was a more successful modern rendition of the opera than the Snow Maiden – the snow maiden swung between traditional and modern, which was confusing, but this one went all out modern. So OK. It was also hilarious… and I loved some of the odd details, like the witches wand being an electric beater (so random) and the use of video and cameras. It was really great. I also appreciated that it was also short – as much as I enjoyed 5 hours of parsifal, it can be a big demand on your time to sit through such a long show! I missed my sister, my default show-going partner, but she let me text her throughout the evening so it was like she was right there with me anyway. :)

I am looking forward to Cinderella, although I was drawn in to that by the gorgeous poster (the dreamy dress Cinderella is wearing, with bare feet) and from these two I can tell already that the actual product is going to be very different. Cinderella will at least be sung in the traditional Italian. Both Snow Maiden and Hansel and Gretel were in English. :( I can understand that for accessibility and drawing younger crowds (a goal of this opera season, if I’m reading the programmes correctly) it makes sense to present the operas in their English versions, but one thing I enjoy about the opera is getting to hear different languages. I would have loved to have heard Russian. Oh well.

This weekend though I am…actually holed up at home. I had plans to go out and buy some more fish, but it’s too cold and miserable. Winter is starting to get to me – dark mornings, grey, dull days and then it’s only a matter of time before its dark again. Last weekend there was actually some sunshine and I felt optimistic that spring may have finally started to come…the bulbs are starting to show… surely it should be time? I need some sunshine already. I’m starting to get cabin fever. I pace through my own flat, filled with restless energy. That’s maybe just the anxiety though. I wish work would be better. Then everything would be so great. I suppose it’s an impossible dream to want everything to be going perfectly well at all times. Come spring, hopefully things can settle down at least. Being pushed to these extremes, often quickly, is exhausting. I try on focus on all the good things going on in my life right now, those highs, but the stress of the lows leaves me so tired out and makes even being happy feel too effortful.