Sunday, January 11, 2015

(R) WHAT, new blog post?! Back to the roots of blogging--emptying my thoughts

I started typing a Twitter post and once I hit -396 characters I realized I needed somewhere else to share my thoughts.


You mean we have something specifically for that?!

Initially when we created this blog I wanted it to be a, you know, blog, where Jun and I could just share things we were thinking about. Things happen and that never really took off, but it's midnight now and I'm feeling muse-y so how about some embarrassing thoughts!

(By the way, does anyone else feel like they start sharing too much information late at night? I don't get deep-secrets-talky with drinking, but I do when I stay up too late.)

I've been so, so happy to have a real hobby for once (YouTube) that it's become a bit of an obsession and it's distracted me from the fact that I haven't done anything else I enjoy for a long, long time. I don't know what's happening in the news, I don't know what games are out, I don't even know what SYSTEMS are out. The past few months every time I try to paint my nails I only have time to get the first coat on and it looks all crappy, and then I don't have time to redo them so I end up with chipped/half-painted nails for weeks.

I love where I am in life. I have a hobby that's productive (produces something, affects people, sometimes makes differences [both good and bad], and even brings in a little bit of money), which is something I've been wanting for a long time. I used to really enjoy spending my evenings surfing the internet and playing video games, but at the same time there was always a vague sense of dissatisfaction and slight feeling of anxiety that I wasn't really doing anything of value.

I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and have a series of events occur that led to shedding my laziness (the AF got me exercising, Jun got me making videos), and I kind of feel like I'm in a moderately successful place in my life now. But I have a slightly obsessive personality, which means that as time has gone on I've put everything, and I mean everything, into this video-making hobby.

And it took a thoughtful Facebook post (lol wut) to suddenly remind me that I haven't been doing any of the other things that used to make me happy. One of those things was learning new things (to a slightly obsessive level of detail). This may not surprise you, considering some of the videos I've made that required a significant amount of research into areas I hadn't studied since 8th grade (biology). I loved reading the Wikipedia page, and then reading the links at the bottom (very frequently half-nonsense sites/half expired links), reading the top pages on Google, and then reading the scientific studies. And then repeating the Wikipedia and Google page look-up for every other word in those scientific studies! I did this over and over until I understood every piece of information, which is how I was able to explain things so (I believe) clearly and simply. The difference is, I didn't used to do this only for Japan.

I absolutely love what we do with YouTube. And I absolutely love learning about Japan. Even now learning new things here still hasn't lost its appeal. But honestly, this is all I know now. I didn't used to just focus on things about one country. I initially studied all of Asia (for my major) and then expanded to major world region hot spots for the military. I kept up to date with everything, on a variety of subjects. I would read books in two or three days. Now I read one, maybe two books a year? I used to muse indefinitely on tons of pointless, dumb things (like this blog post right here). I had my period of angsty, no-one-else-understands-the-world-like-I-do teenage thoughts, which resulted in an entirely horrible livejournal that I believe no longer exists (at least I hope it doesn't).

Granted, most those thoughts were stupid and embarrassing, and I probably wouldn't be able to even stomach my way through reading a whole post now (I'm sure this will be the same later on down the road). But it was fun. I don't feel like I've really thought about things like that in a while. My life has been very fast-paced for a long time. I'm a very anxious person. Even just taking a break now raises my blood pressure! Can you believe it? I feel like I'm wasting time. Jun will ask me to just come sit with him for a few minutes, and I'll be thinking, "How long is this going to take? I'm not done responding to people. I still need to watch that video for that one person. We don't have our next video done yet." And I can't sit still. My eyebrows start scrunching upward together, I start breathing a little faster, and I start fidgeting. This is somewhat of a problem.

Jun and I tried to take a vacation during the New Year holiday. First we wanted 5 days, and then thought to settle for 3, and then 2, and then it just didn't happen at all. We went out together one day... and we made a YouTube video. It was fun, but it really wasn't a break at all. I've forgotten how to take things slowly. I was hoping, praying that a vacation with no internet and no camera would finally force some relaxation time on us. But with planning it, any decent place to stay overnight was $200 a night per person. PER PERSON! And then the area would be so crowded in a city, with people. We'd take a train and not the car so we'd be walking in the cold. And could we really afford to take that many days off right now? We couldn't.

(You also may be surprised how many hotels have nice bathing areas... but only communal ones. That's not a problem for me, until it's gender-segregated [hint: they're pretty much all gender-segregated] which means that on a vacation with my husband I'd be sitting naked in a nice bath with strangers, and not the person I wanted to spend time with the most. What's the point of that?!)

And you know, even though I feel like the insane price-tag of a vacation is one of the big reasons we decided not to do it, even if we had a lot of money, I still don't think I'd be comfortable spending $200 a night, per person, just to sleep in a room with a bath. My parents divorced when I was 7 (no biggie) but after that, neither of them did quite well with their jobs. We were on welfare on my mom's side for... pretty much all of it, I guess. We weren't dirt poor, but I shopped mostly at thrift stores. And the thing is, even after becoming an adult and getting a real job... I still shop at thrift stores. Everything I make goes into the bank. There's no spending budget--the budget is everything gets saved, and every now and then we can treat ourselves to a meal or a little bit of shopping. Jun asked me the other day what I would do if I was just given $50. I of course said I'd put it in the bank, and when he said that wasn't an option, I couldn't think of something else to do with it. (He said he'd put his into one of his aquariums, btw).

This does not bode well for future vacation planning. Someone could literally give us money for a vacation, and my thoughts in order would be:
1. No, I don't want your money for vacation.
2. Okay, look, I don't need your money for vacation.
3. If you give me that money, I'm going to put it in the bank.

I'm not quite sure how to get over this hurdle. Even Donna and Tom's advice didn't work.

Well, it almost worked.

I had the time to research all those videos in the past because I was living in America, which made making videos about Japan a bit difficult. That meant my best option for video making was finding interesting things I could talk about, like facts and statistics. At the same time, I was also horribly depressed and dealing with anxiety, so the obsessive research every waking second helped keep my mind off the fact that Jun and I were apart and were still going to be apart for an indefinite period of time. Now that we're together, there are so many things we're doing and so many videos we're making that I don't have those large chunks of time to put into research anymore.

That issue I've been working to solve. I finally made the "What Souvenirs Should You Bring to Japan" video, which took reading through a few hundred comments, translating them all into English, sorting them, and then organizing the video. But that was a relatively "simple" research video, since it didn't really require much actual digging research--it was mostly just conducting our own survey and analyzing the results. And I do have one subject that I've wanted to talk about for a long time, that is somewhere near the top of our mental which-video-to-make-first list. It's just been hard finding the time to do the research, and when I think back to how much time I put into those other videos, it feels a little daunting knowing how much effort it's going to take. I'm not in the military anymore, which means I don't have a reliable income. YouTube isn't reliable at all, and calling it an income would be stretching. So can I even afford to spend that much time on a single video now? (The answer doesn't matter, because I'll make the video anyway. No guarantees when I'll be able to finish it, though.)

Well, those are just some questions, and some thoughts. I'm really horrible at conclusions, but I realize this is all basically just a giant ramble with absolutely no point or formatting and so it really should end now. The longer I make this, the more vaguely dissatisfied I think people will feel if they manage to read the whole thing, realizing they wasted all that time on pretty much nothing! Sorry. If this really sucked or was confusing, sorry for that, too. And it's probably embarrassing, I can't tell right now, so I'm sorry to future me, too. And if it sounded like just complaints, sorry, because it's really just some thoughts. I absolutely love what we do, and wouldn't trade it for anything. I wouldn't be able to obsessively work day in and day out on something I didn't love.

(By the way, that reminded me, I realized a little while ago why the big bosses at companies work such long hours and so obsessively, when working for those companies feels like torture for us. It's because the company, or that department, or that responsibility--it's theirs. It's their baby. They probably even love it in a way. I relate so much now. There are no quitting hours with YouTube. You just work until it's done, and then you have a thousand other things to do so you end up continuing to work even after finishing your project. Its success depends on you. The more time and effort you put in, the more you're going to get out of it. It's the same with video games. To be successful you have to be able and willing to put that work above everything else [or get lucky; usually a combination of both (oh, or be early, i.e. be the first; being early is also a pretty big factor in success)]. Well, those are just thoughts, too. Guess I shouldn't have said it like it was some secret truth-reveal or something. And that's an entirely different subject for another time. Or not, depending on how horrible I think this is in the morning.)


  1. I think your blog post is perfectly fine. If it's something you want, I really hope you're able to find ways to relax or take a vacation from things. Even if you're doing something you love, I think it might still be good to take a break from it.

    I absolutely love your YouTube videos. I watch every one. (Unfortunately, I don't like G+ so I can't comment on your videos.) I'll be in Japan teaching English with Interac starting this Spring. So watching your videos kind of tides me over until I'm actually there. So, thank you! <3

    1. Thank you so much! We'll try again for a vacation later on. :) Congratulations on your job! Do you know which part of Japan you're going to?

  2. Take a deep breath. Your post was fine (and a most pleasant surprise). Alanna214 is absolutely right. You need a break, regardless of your love for it. If you can't force yourself to step back for a moment, try making a video where you do something else you love too.

    Your videos are wonderful, and it won't kill you to press pause on making them for a few moments. :)

    1. Thank you. :) It's hard to take breaks, but I did start up with the more relaxed vids with our gaming channel a bit! It's been crazy over the holidays but I'm hoping to start back up again this week!

  3. I think a vacation is probably needed, or maybe not a vacation but just moments in the day to breathe and reflect. If life becomes about being solely busy and doing this and that but never having moments of just relaxing...then that doesn't seem living in my opinion. I encourage the both of you to visit countries who are not about "workworkworkwork" but are family-friend oriented and go-with-the-flow. My friend from Rwanda has this attitude and is always relaxed, and shares a vibrant perspective of life. Just a thought. :) This is a great article about being busy:

    1. I would so love to visit a country like that! I used to enjoy yoga in the morning but it's hard for me not to immediately head start to the computer and start working these days. I'll work harder to try to fit that back in.

  4. I can sort of relate to some of your comments a bit. Especially when you talk about how you manage your time. I'm currently preparing myself because I have to take a really important exam but I'm not even studying properly, I'm not even doing what I like the most, which is reading, during that time. I just don't know where all my time is going! It makes me feel anxious since I always try to give the best of me at whatever I do. Now I'm doing things half baked, and I feel even more pressure when people tell me I'm not gonna be young forever haha. Moreover, I can totally understand when it comes to saving up as much money as you can. I've been through really hard times so I know what it's like to have little money and try to survive with that much. So it's difficult for me to waste money on things I can actually live without. But some person told me that I shouldn't be so strict, that it's more important to make good memories that I can recall in the future and feel happy. To be honest, I still find it quite difficult, but I'm trying to enjoy more. But no, I wouldn't pay those $200, it's just crazy!
    Anyway, in case you read this comment, I apologize for venting my frustration in your blog! Sorry!

    1. haha no, thank you for sharing your thoughts, too! As for the "you won't be young forever" thing--my mom is in her 50's, and she's just now working her way through university. Last year she was president of student government! She seems happier and with brighter future prospects now than she ever was before. Watching her has made me realize I'll still be able to enjoy my life for a long time to come. :)

      It'd probably be easier to spend money if I set up a budget... @_@ I'll look into starting that up soon, haha.

      Try not to burn out! My method for studying was working for a few hours at night and then sleeping. Your sleep cycle is where your brain reviews everything you did and locks in the important stuff, so it's always so much easier to remember things quickly after sleeping on it. I figured that out when I used to have a hard time beating bosses in video games, and then would get on the first try the next morning. Years later I read an actual study about it, but I can't remember where that was anymore!

  5. It is important to find time to reflect on your station in life. What are you doing? What do you want to be doing? What can you do now to achieve your goals? At least that's what I always try to do! It becomes easy to fall into routines and habits which may be compromising your well-being. Your videos have provided a great service for many people (I also watch every one!) but ultimately you've got to take care of yourself and find the balance between service to others and service to yourself. And don't ever feel embarrassed for expressing your thoughts, if they are your true and sincere feelings they are worth sharing, plus it can be therapeutic!

    I am so happy that you and Jun can be together now and I hope that you will always be able to cherish every moment! がんばってください!

    1. That's the problem, since all this video work IS going toward those goals! So even if I work myself to death, I can still rest well at night knowing I did something productive and helpful. But I think I need to put relaxation higher up on the list. Thank you so much!

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  7. 1. Writing helps putting order into your ideas and releasing part of your stress, so also the stupidest (not in this case) considerations and reflections are NEVER a waste of time.

    2. I think I'm speaking for the whole (well, maybe most) of your subscribers when I say that if you'll ever feel the need to take a break from video making, the western civilization will do just fine, nobody will get angry, we'll miss you a bit but we'll be happy you're taking your time with Jun! :)

    1. Thank you so much for your support! I've been having a lot of thoughts so maybe I'll start sharing them a little more frequently, haha.

  8. Everyone deserves a break from time to time. It's nice that you care so much about your viewers, but there comes a time to sit back and tend to yourself. Take a break, spending some time with your husband will do you some good!

    1. Thank you! I'll see if we can plan ourselves a date day. :)

  9. I think your 'rambling' is fine. I'm the same way. A vacation sounds well deserved and really rather necessary. Many facets to our lives and each needs taken care of. Pardon my poor grammar. LuAnn

    1. Your grammar is fine! haha
      Thanks for being supportive, and I'll see if we can't start planning a vacation for his next break from work.

  10. Yaaay! You're blogging :)

    I also have an incredibly obsessive personality. I've dealt with this by assigning "days."
    Monday is my comic drawing day, tuesday is my writing day, Wednesday is my video-editing day, Thursday is my "relax" day, and Friday is whatever I want.
    Each place has it's day, so when I finish the work for that day, I'm not allowed to move on. Right now I have 10 videos that have been edited (but not posted) and about 90 comics that have been drawn (but not posted).

    I miss when I used to be able to lie under a tree all day and read 1-2 books. Those were good days :)

    1. That sounds like a good idea! It'd be helpful if we could get ahead a few videos instead of always finishing one right before upload, haha
      Come summer maybe I'll designate a read a book in the park day. That would be nice. :)

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  12. Thank you for the inside! I can't even imagine how exhausted you guys must be, but at least it is for doing something that you love, and this worth a lot, if not everything! But I think you need to slow a little down and get really settled in your new life, and have some alone time with Jun (which means no cameras or twitter or instagram ;) )! And than go on vacation! I think traveling is the most awesome thing ever, and it is an awesome feeling to be in a new surrounding where most things are different and you just can enjoy them because you know you're just staying for a while.
    My parents divorced when I was 7 as well but I was fortuned enough to grow in kind of a middle class surrounding, but I totally get the money thing. My dad acts exactly like you and puts every penny on the bank, but I kind of showed him that spending a little can be a lot fun too :D
    So do what makes you happy and don't over work yourself to much, even if you love what you are doing everyone needs a little time out once in while!
    So thats my thoughts for tonight, and I apologize for my bad english but it's 12:30am and I worked twelve hours straight, it's not the smarted idea to wirte something in english as a non native speaker, but hey I I'm understandable :D - Flown87

  13. I just love your videos so it's so nice to see you blogging too! :) But never forget that in order to be truly successful (in whatever sense) and productive, you need to first think about yourself. I've realized that nowadays we're surrounded by technology (and Internet/Wi-Fi) almost anywhere we go, so in an instant we are able to connect with a vast number of people and feel the need to interact, talk, write, do something/anything 24/7 otherwise it feels like we waste time doing nothing, but it's not true. Time spent with your beloved ones is never a wasted one. In fact, we start to think the opposite which in my opinion is dangerous. It's good to be active, to push yourself to your limits but it's always good to stop for a while and invest your time into people who are the closest to you, because those are the people who will hold you when times get worse. And how beautiful it is when another person is willing to spend their time with you! :) Think about it and never feel bad for spending a few days without your camera, phone, laptop or whatever modern tools we have. And this post in not rambling at all! I think it's a nice way to organize your thoughts, analyze them, learn from them. And yes, the night is the most productive time for 'endless deep thoughts' :) Anyway, keep up with what makes you happy, don't care too much about the 'world' cause that can always wait. Care about yourself in the first place! (And sorry for my long and probably pointless comment :D)

  14. Hi Rachel!

    It's good letting out your thoughts sometimes, it helps to get them off the mind a little and one can see them better instead of taking storage up there ^_^" oh and I agree with the late night thing, I think a lot more deeply, get more emotional and express more in the late night >.<

    I could relate to your post here, and being around the similar age, I think it's a similar struggle during this period of time.

    I'm doing design in advertising and work has been day and night for more than 1.5 years now (literally day and night, rarely leave the office seeing the sun set), up until 2 weeks before Christmas it took a toll on my lower back. And then it really shook me up. I was overworking. Overworking myself, my body, my well being..not only that, I lost time with friends, family, my interests (I can't think of a hobby I have other than needing to catch sleep). I lost my very own self and I lost a balance of life. Rushing for deadlines every single day went into my system and made my (already) anxious self worse. Even when I took a 10days vacation to Japan in October, I found myself rushing through everything & feeling anxiety most of the time, until I had to consciously try to calm myself down that it's all ok to take it slow because it's a break I deserve. That made me anxious too because I felt that was the only vacation I could take and I had to do all I can to make sure it's good, it's worth it, it'll help to last till the next time (don't know when) I do it again. That was quite a stressful trip, but I still had a share of many good memories and blessed in many ways throughout it.

    Late December, I decided to quit my job to recuperate my back, and put back a balance in my life. Things are uncertain, living arrangements need to be settled (working abroad), barely have much savings (lowly paid all along)...but I figured it's important and it is okay to step out of the hustle and bustle of everyday at work or our busy minds (those thoughts that tells us there's so much to be done still!), to take a break and find ourselves, do the simple things we like, or may have used to do, or have been wanting to do, or travel (near or far) and just be in the moment with the people we care about on our side. It's okay to leave some baggage and learn to let things go.

    I think sometimes being able to take time & plug off from the everyday tasks, and live, see and be with the simplest things around us, will help bring some life balance back :)

    Sorry my post doesn't seem to bring much conclusion either (I often get drifted away >.<)

    All in all, yes, find time where both you and Jun can take a break~! A few days or a weekend for a start can be great too! As much as we love your videos, it's understandable that you guys are human too, you have your life and privacy~ not everything needs to be recorded and posted for us (as much we may enjoy you guys sharing ^_^), it's equally important you both live in the moment of it and record it with only your eyes and heart that'll last longer and more meaningful for the two of you :)

  15. I seriously know how you feel, Rachel. I used to love to watch shows and play video games, but now they never leave me feeling satisfied because when I do play them I feel very unproductive and get anxious that I am not doing enough. That's why I try to spend some of my extra time learning Japanese, drawing, and I've thought about making videos for youtube.

  16. It's important to take time off! I understand that we all get pretty busy and caught up in what we do every day, whether or not we enjoy it--we even need time off from things we enjoy! Personally, I'm currently studying in a design program. As a student, I'm very happy and proud that I enjoy my program. Although I love it, I also need breaks--it's so easy to burn out and start hating what I enjoy.

    One of my favourite Ted speakers, Stefan Sagmeister. 'The Power of Time Off'.

  17. Hmmm, I'd like to second the notion of "even if you love what you do, you still need to take good and healthy breaks".
    A very good friend of mine had to leave her job because it burned her out, to the point she even developed an autoimmune disease of unspecific nature.
    She was totally giving her everything, always somewhat believing if she couldn't do what was expected of her in the shortest amount of time, she'd let everyone else down. (Apparently, this has something to do with her childhood; she's a preemie and her birth almost killed her and her mother. She was kept away from her mother in an incubator for months, which apparently set in her deepest consciousness as "her fault". So, not meeting people's expectations would be "her fault" all over again, which triggers her fear of being left alone and makes her giving herself up rather than fail at something.)

    I believe I speak for all of your subscribers when I say that this would be the last thing we wanted to happen to you.
    So maybe it'd help if you stamped video-editing and research as "work" and only allowed it the amount of time an office job would take, like 6-8 hours a day, Monday to Friday? No cheating, breaks included. You could section the hours into editiong, reading comments, research and so on, making yourself a schedule.

    Say... Could it be you - in a way - felt like a burden to your mother? Because she had to work hard and still your family lived off welfare and couldn't or wouldn't afford all the nice stuff media tell you to absolutely MUST have in order to be an acceptable member of society? So you save your money instead of spending it, in order to never be a burden to anyone again?
    It kind of plays along with your inner need to be of help to others, to provide information as best as you can, to make your videaos as entertaining and informative as you can, not to bother anyone with potentially "pointless" entrys ON YOUR OWN FRIGGIN BLOG (sorry)...

    Just want to let you know you're not a bother to anyone, but you're an incredibly beautiful, warm, kind-hearted, well-mannered person who has every right in this world NOT to be at each and everyone's service, the right to make mistakes, to take days off, heck, even WEEKS if you feel like it. And who has the right to treat herself and/or her hubby occasionally.

    Take the time to do your nails. Take a walk with Jun in the park. Have a picknick.
    Take care of yourself, for yourself and Jun.

    All love to you, Rachel.

  18. Agree with everyone here. Everyone needs to have a schedule and make time to take breaks and try new things with our loved ones!!!!!

  19. Rachel,
    I am a student at a university in the U.S., and I stumbled on your 'research' videos because I was slightly interested in Japanese culture. I think I watched every one, and then I started watching your other videos (the ones where you interact with your family), and this 'foreign' culture suddenly became less foreign. You and Jun really opened a whole new world for me. I'm even taking Japanese language classes and studying on my own. So thank you for that.

    With that said, I also agree with many of these replies. Jay, for example, suggested an 8 hour work day, where you research and edit your videos, and take the rest of the night off. Many people suggested vacationing or pursuing your other hobbies. If it were financially possible at all, I would jump on those things. It sounds like you know from growing up that money isn't everything. You save all the money you make, right? Well, there's merit to that, and I'm all for being frugal, but we make money so we don't need to cut every corner and live miserably. It's like owning a bed, but sleeping on the floor. Like having a heater, but freezing in the winters.

    Thanks for letting us peer into your life in such a personal way. The videos you do post continue to make me smile. I know that if you want to keep making videos, you’ll find something to film or vlog about. You’ve got thousands of people rooting for you!

    Wishing you the best,

    (P.S. if you and Jun ever visit Miami, let me know if you need a place to stay!)

    1. Very well said. I agree with everything! ��

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